Friday, December 31, 2010

Plum Bistro - Gourmet Vegan

Today is the last day of year 2010! A lot has happened...just like any other year. Became a vegan. Quit my job. Started to learn how to play the guitar. Made a cross county road trip. Started this blog. Had cardiac surgery. Experienced both pain and growth. I guess it was a good year.

The holiday season has thrown me off of my diet a little bit. As I proclaimed at the very beginning of this blog, I'm not a hard-core vegan. (Hence the 'Antidisestablishment Vegetarianism.') Yes, I ate a small piece of turkey my neighbor cooked for Thanksgiving. Yes, I had a slice of non-vegan pies that my mother-in-law made for Christmas. (I skipped the ice cream!) I think it's okay to give myself a little slack here and there for special reasons...

Anyways, my loving husband took me out to Plum Bistro for lunch today. It is one of those vegan restaurants that I've wanted to check out for quite some time. Those who follow me on Facebook saw that GROUPON was offering a 50% off deal several days ago. We paid $12 and got $25 worth of food!

Sauteed Mushroom & Chard Crepe
(My order: This was really delicious! The creamy sauce on the crepe was a nice touch. Red Potatoes were perfectly prepared, but I can go without creamy dressing.)

Corn Flour Quinoa Crepe
(My non-vegan husband's order: This was really delicious too! He was very happy with it.)

Spicy Mac 'N' Yease
(I don't think I'll order again. It was a little too oily for me.)

The food was a little too rich and over-seasoned for my taste. I personally prefer flavorful food over rich&tasty food. But overall it was good. Most of the lunch items are under $10 and I think it's reasonable considering they use organic ingredients. They don't give you a huge portion like some restaurants do, which I like. But I can see that others may be disappointed... I would like to try their dinner menu some time!

Plum Bistro - Gourmet Vegan
Location: 1429 12th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122
Hours: 9:00am - 10:30pm (Mon-Fri)
            10:00am - 10:30pm (Sat&Sun)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Flax Seed and Chia Seed

Yesterday, I wrote a post about my super-nutritious oatmeal breakfast. Most of the ingredients are commonly found in regular grocery stores.

Flax seeds have been becoming more and more common in recent years due to the widely acknowledged benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can buy flax seed oil for making salad dressing or in capsule form as a supplement as well. (Flax seed oil needs to be kept refrigerated and can not be heated.) When taken as oil, you get a higher concentration of Omega-3 Fatty Acid but you lose some of the nutritional value from flax seeds themselves. Flax seeds are good source of fiber as well. I heard from a nutritionist that you can get more nutritional benefits from ground seeds than whole seeds. The problem is that ground flax seeds tend to go rancid rather quickly. You can keep them fresh longer by keeping them in refrigerator or freezer in an air-tight container.

But I much prefer the taste and texture of whole flax seeds better. Especially the roasted ones have really nice flavor. They may loose some nutritional value in roasting process...but, you know, I'm more likely to keep eating if it tastes good. I usually buy these roasted flax seeds from Trader Joe's. It's only around $3 for a 15oz bag, and t's in a resealable bag!

You may have never had chia seeds, but I'm sure you all are familiar with Chia Pets. (Yes, one of those things you hope you never get for a Christmas gift...) I had never had chia seed either until a friend of mine gave me a bag of ground chia seeds.

According to the Lifemax who sells MILA brand chia seeds, they contain 8x more Omega-3 than salmon, 6x more calcium than milk, 6x more protein than kidney beans, 3x more iron than spinach, etc. when compared gram per gram. They are very nutrition-rich seeds. They don't have a strong flavor, which makes it easy to mix them into a smoothie although the brownish color is not quite appealing to me in smoothies. Though they don't have much flavor, I don't put too much in my food since they get kind of sticky and gooey. Perhaps I should use as a thickening agent like nutritional yeast? I sometimes sprinkle them over my food after I finish cooking, just as I do with flax seeds or sesame seeds when neither of them seem to go with what I cooked.

Anyways, those tiny seeds are packed with lots of nutrition. Keep them handy so that you can sprinkle extra nutrition into your food!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Super-Nutritious Oatmeal Breakfast - Vegan

We've all heard at some point in our lives that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?

What do you eat for breakfast? Do you even eat breakfast? I can't function without breakfast... I usually start my day with a glass of water and a protein shake, but that's only half of the breakfast I eat everyday, just enough to give me energy to take my dogs out for a walk. I eat the other half of my breakfast after the walk.
When I'm running out of time, I just grab a bowl of cereal or a couple of pieces of whole wheat toast with almond butter. When I have 5 extra minutes to spare in the morning, I cook this Super-Nutritious Oatmeal Breakfast. Well, it really doesn't take 5 minutes to cook, but it seems like it take a little longer to eat it since it's really hearty.

What goes in your body (1 vegan):
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp raisins
  • 1-2 tbsp roasted flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup diced apple (sauteed with "butter" and cinnamon)
  • 1-2 tbsp roasted wallnuts
  • 1-2 tbsp ground chia seed
  • 2-3 tbsp almond milk

You are going to:
  1. In a small pan, cook oatmeal in water over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add all the ingredients except almond milk into the pan while cooking and mix well.
  2. Adjust the thickness to your liking by adding some almond milk.

Tips from the chef:
  • If you prefer cooking in a microwave, you can use quick-cook oats. (Remember though that old fashioned rolled oats are more whole and nutritious.)
  • If it's not sweet enough, you can add sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, honey, etc. I recommend having several bites before adding a sweetener since raisins and apples add a natural sweetness to it.
  • I lightly cook a couple of diced apples in "butter" and cinnamon, and keep it in the refrigerator so that I don't have to prep an apple each time I make this breakfast. As you saw on the 'Power Couple' article I posted on my Facebook page, oatmeal and apples make perfect couple! If you are short on time to cook apples, just add diced apples and sprinkle some cinnamon to your oatmeal. 
Bon appétit!

This soluble fiber rich breakfast is a perfect choice to promote heart health. Oatmeal contains beta-glucan, a cholesterol-lowering fiber, and avenanthramides, compounds that shield LDL cholesterol from harmful free radicals. I will write more about the benefits of flax seeds and chia seeds tomorrow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Potato&Cauliflower Curry - Vegan

The more I cooked Indian food, the more I realized how handy my spice box is! I end up adding a little more of this and that from my spice box as I adjust the taste according to my liking. I'm posting one of the easy curry recipes that I like here. The amount of spices used in this recipe is quite moderate in my opinion, but I will stick to the original recipe here since I know some of us are not used to eating food with a lot of spices (I don't just mean "hot" spices when I say spices) and prefer mildly flavored food. But, if you prefer spice-rich foods like me, please feel free to be generous with your spices!

What goes in your body (4 vegan):
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 2 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh gingerroot
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1/2 cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 fresh green chilies
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2/3 cup water
You are going to:
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the cumin seeds and dried red chilies, stirring to mix.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
  3. Mix the ginger, garlic, chili powder, salt and turmeric together in a bowl. Add the spice mixture to the onions and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the potatoes and cauliflower to the onion and spice mixture, stirring to coat the vegetables in the spice mixture.
  5. Reduce the heat and add the green chilies, cilantro and water to the pan. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve with cooked rice and/or Indian breads. 

This one is served with Basmati rice cooked in the Punjab style and Dhal (lentil dish).

Tips from the chef:
  • I recommend serving with Dhal or other kind of more liquidy curry dish with it since this is a relatively dry curry.
  • It may seem like 1/2 cup of vegetable oil is too much but it's needed to evenly coat all the vegetables with spice mixture. 
  • I typically use olive oil for most of my cooking but I particularly like to use vegetable oil with this recipe since high cooking temperature of vegetable oil brings out more sweet flavor out of onion.
Bon appétit! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Pecan Upside Down Cake - Vegan

Winter came to Seattle before Fall left this year...everything is white outside and it is really beautiful! When it snows in Seattle it creates certain chaos and calmness. I feel sorry for the ones who got stuck in chaotic snow traffic last night and spent many hours trying to get back to home. I hope everyone gets to enjoy the calmness today. We are snowed in today and not planning on risking our lives to go somewhere, so I thought it was a good day to bake!

With the holiday season approaching, whether you are a vegan or not, I know you are looking forward to all the great food but dreading counting the calories and fat grams you are going to put into yourself... This is a healthier alternative to your typical holiday desserts and it is delicious!! No refined flower. No refined sugar. Only a good kind of fat from nuts... can it be true? 

What goes in your body:
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 apple, diced into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup agave nector
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract

You are going to:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Lightly grease a cake pan and lay pecans on the bottom of the pan, then make another layer with apples.
  3. Pour non-dairy milk and maple syrup on top.
  4. In a mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together ,add all the remaining wet ingredients and mix well to make batter.
  5. Pour batter into the cake pan and bake 40-45 minutes or until the center of the cake is cooked.
  6. Take it out from the oven and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to settle.
  7. Cover the cake pan with a serving platter you want to use and flip it upside down!

Secrets from the chef:
  • It is very unfortunate that we don't have any ice cream at home now and we can't go to the store to pick some up... this will certainly go well with ice cream!
  • I used Almond milk as my non-dairy milk choice.
Bon appétit!