Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fresh is Best!

Leftover beans and Brussels.
So yesterday I wrote about my Winter,  well,  like I said I did find something to cook.  Red beans and brown/wild rice blend and brussels sprouts.  The brussels were frozen so I simply sauteed a little onion and garlic, added salt, pepper, and a little water and added the sprouts.  I guess I've become so accustomed to eating as much fresh as possible that I wasn't too crazy about how the frozen veggies tasted.  Well, it's all good because everyone was well fed and that's what it's all about!  And the adventure continues...
Fried Won Tons and salsa for an appetizer

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter's not Always so Bad

In life we all have season's and right now, I'm in winter.  Things are a lot slower and not as green and sunny.  Some days I just want to hibernate.  What I have found though, is that some of my best cooking ideas and tastiest dishes have been during this time.  I've had to stretch my mind and creativity to come up with dishes with the few items I have in the pantry and fridge.  Last night, I was really beginning to panic because I didn't have any veggies.  After searching I found a bag of frozen green beans (not the biggest fan of frozen veggies but it's what I had), a turnip, and potato, which were uncooked from Thanksgiving.  I made a classic string beans and potatoes (with turnips) and made a sweet potato crunch (with ginger) from an extra unused sweet potato.  With both dishes, I played with flavors to make them as tasty as possible.  Yes things are tight, and today I don't know what I am going to cook, but one thing is for sure; I know I will be cooking something, and I know that something is going to be great!  ("Singing":  Just keep cooking, just keep cooking, just keep cooking, cooking, cooking, all you have to do is cook, cook, cook!)

Recipe sketch for String Beans, Potatoes, and Turnips
1 bag of string beans
1 potato sliced into small pieces
1 turnip sliced into small pieces
1 small onion chopped
1 small bell pepper chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 stalk green onion chopped
1 veggie bouillon cube
Unsalted Cajun seasoning or cook's choice
  • Saute' or seal onion, bell pepper, garlic, green onion in olive oil.
  • Add about a half cup of water, veggie bouillon, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add sliced potatoes and turnips and keep on medium heat covered for about 8 mins
  • When potatoes and turnips are beginning to turn translucent add frozen string beans and a bit more salt and pepper. (I also added unsalted Cajun seasoning to kick it up a bit)
  • Let simmer covered for another 10 minutes.  Be careful not to let the string beans cook too long or they will loose their color.  
  • Enjoy!
P.S. my youngest cleaned her plate.  Well she left the potatoes and turnips and ate the green beans.
P.P.S  I tried making seitan from scratch.  Will have to revisit that later. :-)
Also, here is the sweet potato crunch recipe.  http://www.southernvegchronicles.com/2010/01/sweert.html (didn't have some of the ingredients so I added ginger for flavor)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks!

This Thanksgiving I have a lot to be thankful for.  Some days though, I feel like throwing in the towel on this cooking thing getting back to teaching my dance classes full time.  Not that I will never dance again, but I am curious how deep the rabbit hole goes with my love for cooking.  The funny thing is that when I feel like giving up something happens to make me hold on just a little longer.  Well, here is a pic of some vegan Jambalaya that someone made from my recipe that was in the local paper 5 years ago.  Just when I think "who cares?", I see this from a friend on Facebook who actually made his vegetable stock from scratch and gave me a shout out on his page.  So today I am thankful for the gift of sharing great food with others. 

In concluding, I wanted to leave you all with this little story.  I've been having a few dreams lately about not giving up.  Well today I took a nap and had a dream that I was in a cooking competition.  All the other contestants were busy making love connections and partying while me and a few others were chilling in our room preparing for the next day's cook off.  As I lay in the bed I began to write a mantra for myself that if I did something wrong to take the lesson and make it better.  While writing one of the contestants came over and wanted to see what I was doing.  Without thinking about the competition, I told my fellow contestant, "Never Lose Focus!".  I know that was for me to remember and I just wanted to share that with everyone this holiday season.  No matter the good or the bad in life never loose focus of what your true gifts and blessings are.  Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving from Southern Vegetarian Chronicles.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't Forget to Take Care of your Mental Health this Holiday Season!

The holidays can be a happy time for many folks but for some it's a somber time that can easily lead to over eating or over drinking.  Here's a little message from my friend, social worker Carey Yazeed, on how to manage emotionally this holiday season.  Enjoy!

Tis the Season to be Blue

Seasons that are supposed to be filled with thanksgiving, joy and merriness are sometimes overshadowed with feelings of hopelessness, sadness and most often, loneliness.  Referred to as the “Holiday Blues” according to Mental Health America, several factors can contribute to a person not having the holiday spirit.  Stress, fatigue, financial problems or the inability to be amongst family and friends are just a few situations that can alter your mood during the holidays. 

 So how can one avoid the “Holiday Blues:”

·         Focus on the good things that are taking place in your life at this very moment versus the past or negative experiences

·         If the holidays have always given you the blues, surround yourself with supportive people who understand and will be there for you.

·         Don’t deprive yourself or your family members of the holidays be saying “We don’t do Thanksgiving or Christmas” because of financial constraints, instead, set spending limits so you won’t overspend and remember, it’s okay to say “NO!”

·         Be grateful for what you do have.  There are many people in the world who are less fortunate than you. 

·         If you’ll be away from family and friends find activities in your area that will allow you to connect with others, like volunteering to feed the homeless. 

·         Take Care of yourself.  You can do this by being mindful of what you eat and those extra calories that we sometimes tend to attract during the holidays from the bounty of foods that will surround us.  Take time for self-relaxation, to rejuvenate your spirit and easy the feeling of stress that may creep up.

Hopefully these suggestions will help to put you in the spirit of the holiday season. ~ Happy Holidays! 

Carey Domino Yazeed is a licensed clinical social worker and a Professor of Social Work at Southern University in Baton Rouge.  For more information on the author please visit her website at www.careyyazeed.com

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Food Gallery

I cook a lot and most of the time I take pictures even if I don't write down the recipe.  Most of the time I cook from the heart so what is flowing creatively often has a hand in what the days breakfast, lunch, or dinner will be.  Enjoy for now and I will work on writing more recipes soon.

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Scone
Vegetarian Stuffed Crust Pizza

Vegan Gumbo
Vegan Choc Chip Cookies
No, this in not food but my pineapple plant

Below are pics of things I found at the farmers market and grocery store.

Local fermented soda
Satsumas, cantaloupe, local oatmeal

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Louisiana Sweet Potatoes and the Local Foods Revolution!

Recently I began to teach classes on something I call "Your Food Lifestyle".  It's a unique class that presents an opportunity to become more in tune with what you eat daily and not focus on a specific diet.  One of the first assignments I gave my class attendees was to check out their local Farmers Market.  I told them to talk to the farmers;  taste and smell the food.  For me, preparing food is an experience, not a chore and if we know where our food comes from, we can feel more connected to it in a positive way. 

This morning, I found an article on the popularity of the local foods movement and it's sales.  Check it out below and let me know what you think!  Do you buy local foods?  What's your opinion on the whole movement?  Also, I wanted to let everyone know that there is an abundance of sweet potatoes now in Louisiana so I've been experimenting with various seasonings and roastng them.  Here are two seasoning ideas I found tasty.
Sweet Potato from the Farmers Market

Roasted Jerk Sweet Potatoes
Cut 2 medium sweet potatoes into small cubes
In a large bowl add 3 tablespoons of olive oil
Add 3 teaspoons of jerk seasoning or more to your taste
Add a pinch or two of salt and a shake of cracked black pepper
Put potatoes in bowl and coat thoroughly. 
Spread on baking sheet making sure all potatoes are flat
roast for 20 to 30 mins until soft.

Roasted Curry Sweet Potatoes
Cut 2 medium sweet potatoes into small cubes
In a large bowl add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
Add 2 teaspoons of curry powder or more to your taste
Add a pinch or two of salt and a shake of cracked black pepper
Put potatoes in bowl and coat thoroughly.
Spread on baking sheet making sure all potatoes are flat
roast for 20 to 30 mins until soft.

Click on the link to your right for information on the Growth of the Local Foods Movement

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Supplement?

Wild Blueberry, Courtesy of Natures Compunds

My friend Nika Miller wrote this article and owns an awesome whole foods supplement business.  Check out his article and website link below.  He also does bio-dynamic farming.  Enjoy!

Why add supplements to your existing diet
The use of supplements (vitamins and super food blends) has gained momentum in recent years while the question remains just how beneficial they are, and why they are needed. It was presented some decades ago how the body was able to produce certain essentials while not being able to produce others.

The nutritional profile of recommended foods showed that they also were lacking in certain essentials; this gave rise to Supplements. In time vitamins (vital minerals) were the most recommended form of supplements; they were becoming a common household favorite. The vast improvements in various aspects of health, showed their weight in gold.

The origin of the supplement and vitamin is predicated on the study of wild and native edible plants; the thorough examination of each integral molecule, compound and element gave rise to the uncovering of vitamins, nutrients and the dynamic chemistry of plants in complex-whole form, not fragmented, separated nor isolated into an adulterated form, only allowing the body to utilize not revitalize deficiencies.

The foods that once upon a time were adequate in the nutritional aspect; providing the body those essentials it could not produce on its own. The extensive use of chemical fertilizers significantly changed the profile of food nutrition; the over abundance of certain minerals prevented the absorption and assimilation of others (its counterpart). It became known over time that minerals were better absorbed as pairs and cell salts; two examples of this pair dynamic is sodium (constricts) –potassium (dilates), and iron-phosphate, sodium-chloride and calcium-& magnesium phosphate are three examples of this cell salt dynamic. This dynamic is much more efficient when in organic form - whole plant substance.

When reports began to surface about the body’s inability to absorb the entire vitamin or mineral substance; many reports also showed urine analysis containing 80% of the vitamins and mineral content, a very inefficient showing of metabolism

The body functions in a particular fashion, in that when one mineral counterpart value is too high or low it inhibits the functioning of the other, giving the impression that a deficiency is prevalent. The two-fold function in metabolism is expressed as deficiency or excess. If one component is over abundant than its counterparts it's essence will go unexpressed-not absorbed. The foods high in phosphorus, when eaten in abundance will inhibit iron absorption; just as foods too high in iron will inhibit phosphorus absorption. Sodium-potassium and calcium- magnesium exist in ratios of one another; this is the other dynamic of body functioning.

We must answer the question does deficiency exist?  In the matter of nutrients there is no deficiency, but there is a very prevalent enzymatic deficiency. The body’s embryonic stem cells set the stage by providing the body with every component it requires to properly function; it also equipped us with a store house of vital substances known as metabolic enzymes, allowing the cells to replicate the calcium, protein enzymes, iron etc..

The enzymes can only be revitalized by live plant substance, carrying vital enzymes. The principle of self perpetual cell revitalization is based on replenishing the body with its most needed substance – Enzymatic enzymes, the most prevalent deficiency

The body possesses all the minerals required for proper functioning; it’s the proportion in which they exist and whether they are recharged-revitalized by enzymes attached to protein substances possessing the same chemistry. Enzymes have a metallic substance at its core, which conducts electricity. There are three (3) forms of Enzymes: Metabolic, digestive and food. The enzymes from lightly steamed or uncooked food revitalize the metabolic enzymes-stem cells, which are the powerhouse of the human body.

We now understand that our metabolic enzyme supply is predicated on our intake of foods pronounced with enzymes, thus revitalizing the mineral and vitamins the body already possesses is the most efficient approach to supplementing that which the body is in need of.

In retrospect, supplements are only sub-parts of a more complex form; all individual vitamins are but sub-parts of one vitamin. The other notables such as enzymes which are in essence functional proteins, along with co-enzymes, electrolytes, glucose etc.. should be in complex form consisting of all the vital substances. The organization of the human body is predicated on balance and proportion.  The concept of filling in the missing pieces of the nutritional puzzle still is void of the most important aspect – enzymatic proteins.

In understanding the extent of poor food quality and the non-affordability of quality food brings us to a crossroad. The purchasing of supplements versus the additional cost of Organic food; the awareness of organic food quality in comparison to standard quality. The advent of the super food movement has raised eyebrows in the health field. The principle of super foods meets the requirement of having complex form; being more beneficial than vitamins, minerals and enzymes in individual forms.

The organization of a super food consists of sea vegetation and land vegetation; plants grown organically or wild harvested-sea vegetation. This is the most obvious choice of a supplement; certain blends are more vital than others.  

"Cell Nutrition” by Natures Compounds, is a superb blend consisting of all nutritional wild plants from lakes, oceans and land.   Click on the link below for more information.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Did Someone say Gumbo?

Check out the newest video of me playing around in the kitchen.  I know I haven't done one in a while but I felt inspired to try a Vegan Gumbo using sweet potatoes.  It came out o.k.  I have to experiment a little more with the flavors.  Have a great weekend and enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Last Supper

I wrote this little ditty for a contest on OWN television.  It's a true story of my love affair with food.  At first I didn't want to share but decided that sharing my loves and passions with other people could be an inspiration.  Hope you enjoy!
P.S.  My son came up with a new recipe idea.  I've been meaning to post it but the plate is empty before I can take pics.  Look for it and other exciting videos soon!

The Last Supper

The last thing I did for my grandmother when she was living was cook her supper.  At the time I wasn’t a very good cook, but for me, it was one of the few ways I could show an old lady who didn’t do public displays of affection my love.  We had chopped beef steaks with gravy.   She didn’t jump for joy or sing my praises; she just filled her belly and said, “That wasn’t bad.”  Good I thought;  that’s the least I could do for the lady who helped take care of me and made the best eggs and grits in the world.  Fast forward 15 years and I am blogging about food, teaching cooking classes, and even gathering information and recipes to write a book on food; finally making the connection that using my creative energy to manipulate fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices is an important part my life.

I started out as a dancer but remember saying as a child that if I didn’t have to go to college I would cook.  Unfortunately in the 70’s, the only women of color I saw who cooked worked in the cafeterias at school.  There was no Food TV, no Cooking Channel.   The only person I did see on television was Cajun cook Justin Wilson on PBS.  I didn’t see any major cooking role models therefore I went to college and danced.   That was the only other thing I enjoyed in life and between watching Debbie Allen on Fame and Soul Train, I knew I could do it.  I was a dancing machine and after undergrad went into Dance/Movement Therapy for graduate school.  While in school, I got lost in cooking stores loving on the pots, pans, and egg timers.  I picked my dad’s brain for his Jambalaya recipe, and made the tofu recipes I saw on the back of it's packaging.  My graduate studies in dance didn’t feel like my main love anymore.  I felt like I was in a marriage not totally in love and passionate about my significant other; feeling too ashamed to admit that I was seeing someone else and didn’t feel the marriage arrangement was the right fit in the first place.  “I must go on!” I said; I had to finish what I started, so I danced until my heart felt whispers became little rocks thrown at the windows of my glass house.  My sudden illness before graduation; pebble one.    The awesome job opportunity I accepted that helped me to realize I wasn’t cut out to be a Dance Therapist; pebble two.  My journal entries that stated “I HATE THIS!”, meaning my life; pebble three.  My only reprieve;  my high rise apartment overlooking Lake Michigan that I was able to get because of my job, and a new network I discovered called Food TV.   Watching cooking shows and trying new recipes became my comfort, my refuge.  Whereas dance gave me the self-esteem I needed as a teenager to keep me from totally losing my mind; cooking gave me a sense of comfort, of true creativity, and joy.  The same comfort, creativity, and joy I shared with my grandmother a few years earlier.  Though it wasn’t her last supper, it was my last gesture of love to someone who didn’t always know how to give a hug and my re-introduction to a lover that tickled my tasetbuds and warmed my soul.