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! 

Monday, November 22, 2010


As I had mentioned in my last post, I challenged myself to cook Indian food everyday for a week. Luckily, there are several Indian grocery stores in Seattle area since we have a good-sized Indian community here. I was able to get all of the ingredients from one of the Indian grocery stores. I also found my favorite Indian flatbread there. One of the Indian restaurants I go to usually gives a crispy flatbread with some dipping sauce to every customer as we wait for our food. It's like the equivalent of bread sticks at the Olive Garden or tortilla chips in a Mexican restaurant... One day, I asked the waiter what the name of this bread was and all I remembered was that it sounded like 'paper.' As it turned out it's called 'papad' or 'papadum'. According to Wikipedia, "they are typically made from flour or paste derived from either lentil, chickpea, black gram (urid flour), rice or potato.

This is how the package for the one I bought looks like. (There were several varieties.) The picture of the kid on the package makes me think that eating this is some sort of punishment... but it really tastes good. (I don't know what the creepy bunny has to do with this bread either...)

My Indian friend taught me that the easiest way to prepare it is to just microwave them piece by piece. It's fun to watch this paper like dry dough turn into nice crispy flatbread. It's kinda like popping popcorn...?

I particularly like the ones with cumin seeds. If you have never had one of these, I hope you'll give it a try!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spice Box

Last week, I challenged myself to cook Indian food everyday for a week. Why?
  1. I love Indian food.
  2. My husband is half Indian and grew up eating delicious curry dishes made by his mom.
  3. I wanted to learn how to incorporate a variety of spices into my cooking
  4. Since I had to buy several new spices, I wanted to make it worthwhile by using them for several dishes at least.
As a starter, I followed recipes exactly from my cookbook. Most of the dishes turned out just okay, not great. The best way to describe them was 'something is missing...', so I'm not ready to post any recipe here on my blog yet. I think I can do better now that I've tried different recipes and have a better understanding of the flavors of spices. Maybe I'll have another week of Indian food between holidays...

When I visited my Indian friend a while ago, I saw her using a beautiful spice box to store all of her basic spices. Since she uses so many different kinds of spices in one dish, I thought it was really practical that she didn't have to open and close spice jars for each spice. The spice box has always been in the back of my mind, so I finally got one for myself!

As I expected, it is very handy! The fact that I have most (not all) of my spices in one container and don't have to open/close each spice jar makes this spice box very practical. I'm sure this is probably a standard kitchen item among Indian families...

I put cumin seed (center), then clock wise from a red one; chili powder, turmeric, mustard seeds, onion seeds, cumin, garam masala.

I don't know if there is some kind of standard to which seven spices go into a box. I'm thinking about buying another one to create my Italian cooking spice box as well.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Braised Lebanese Eggplant with Chickpeas - Vegan

This dish was so good that just thinking about it makes my mouth water... I forgive you if you haven't tried any of the recipes from my blog, but you must try this one! (If you don't, it's your loss!) Okay, I'll stop... so that you can start cooking...

What goes in your body (4 vegan):
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 medium Japanese eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 tbx red wine vinegar
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large int springs, plus 2 tbs chopped mint
  • Karam's garlic sauce

You are going to:
  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 7 minutes or until soft.
  3. Stir in eggplant, and cook 5 minutes or until beginning to brown.
  4. Add garlic, allspice, and cumin, and cook 1 more minute.
  5. Stir in marinara sauce, vinegar and 2/3 cup water, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, and stir in chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Lay mint springs on top of eggplant mixture, cover, and transfer pot to oven. Cook 45 to 50 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.
  8. Remove mint springs, and stir in chopped mint. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Secrets from the chef:
  • I don't have a Dutch oven, it turned out fine with my oven-proof stainless steel pot.
  • I didn't have any mint handy... so I replaced water with mint tea to add a minty flavor. It's probably much better with fresh mint, but I didn't feel like spending any money on mint which grows like a weed in my yard during summer time...
  • You MUST have Karam's garlic sauce!
  • This can be served with brown rice, quinoa or flat bread.
  • The original recipe is from the Vegetarian Times
 Bon appétit!

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Araya's Place - Thai Vegan and Vegetarian Food

    "I should like just to remember the order of the houses here. It is a hobby of mine to have an exact knowledge of London. There is Mortimer's, the tobacconist, the little newspaper shop, the Coburg branch of the City and Suburban Bank, the Vegetarian Restaurant, and McFarlane's carriage-building depot. That carries us right onto the other block. And now, Doctor, we've done our work, so it's time we had some play...."

    Can you guess where this is quoted from? This is Sherlock Holmes in "The red-headed league", one of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" which was published in 1892. The plot was set in London, 1890... did you notice that he mentioned a Vegetarian Restaurant? I thought it was quite interesting! Well, I know that the vegetarian diet has been around since much earlier, but the thought of a vegetarian restaurant's existence in London  in 1890 is intriguing.

    My husband and I went to Araya's Plate for lunch last week. It is a Thai Vegan and Vegetarian restaurant located near the University of Washington. It is a good size restaurant but almost all the tables were occupied during their lunch hour. We decided to do their lunch buffet, so that we can try a variety of food. There was Phad Thai, Coconut Curry, Fried Rice, Stir Fried Vegetables, Tom Yam Kung, Spring Rolls, Steamed Vegetables, Fresh Salad, Brown Rice, Fresh Fruit, Black Sticky Rice with Coconut, etc.

    It's a little hard to judge the quality of food from lunch buffet, but they were all tasty. (They also offer regular menu items during lunch hours.) The only thing I didn't care for was their Black Sticky Rice with Coconut Sauce. It was way too sweet for my taste.

    This was my first plate...

    And this was my second plate...

    I have to say that the big plus of this restaurant is that they have a good size parking lot which is not typical for the University District. I also recommend visiting their restrooms... you'll find all sorts of interesting vegan & vegetarian information just outside of the restrooms.

    Location: 1121 NE 45th St. Seattle, WA 98105
    Hours: 11:30am-9:00pm (Mon-Thu)
                11:30am-10:00pm (Fri & Sat)
             11:00am-3:00pm (Sundays)

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Tapioca Pudding - Vegan

    I was just browsing through some items at a local oriental grocery store the other day and I saw a bag of tapioca for $0.99. I've never bought or cooked tapioca before, so I don't know if it's a good price or not, but... I thought, "hey I could make some tapioca pudding and it's only ninety-nine cents even if it doesn't turn out to be good!" The instructions on the bag were written in poorly translated English, but I think I got the essence of how to cook it. I understand some people are absolutely turned off by tapioca's texture... so this may not be for everyone. But, if you like something light for a dessert, you may want to give it a shot!

    What goes in your body (4-6 vegan):
    • 1/4 cup of small tapioca pearls
    • 1 can of coconut milk
    • 1-2 tsp sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
    • 2 tbsp flaked coconuts (optional) 

     You are going to:
    1. In a medium sauce pan, bring 4-5 cups of water to boil.
    2. Add tapioca to boiling water, cook for about 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let it stand for an hour.
    3. Using strainer, rinse tapioca under cold running water. If the pearls get stuck together, separate them into individual pieces with you finger.
    4. In a bowl, mix tapioca with coconut milk. (Add some water if needed to achieve desired consistency.)
    5. Mix in sugar and optional ingredients.

      Secrets from the chef:
    • Stirring frequently while re-hydrating tapioca will prevent them from sticking together. 
    • Tapioca is made out of starch extracted from cassava ( a root vegetable commonly used in Southeast Asia and South America) and is gluten free.
    Bon appétit!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    For the love of garlic...

    If you have been following my blog, you have probably figured out how much I love garlic! (Didn't I just post a recipe for Peperoncino yesterday?) I usually throw in a few more extra cloves of garlic than what the recipe requires, so I go through my garlic pretty quick. Good thing they are fairly inexpensive... Around here, Fred Meyer has the best price for garlic, three for $1. Their size varies, but I guess it's true with any other stores.

    Besides using fresh garlic for cooking, I also make garlic paste which is a really easy way to add garlic flavor to curry, soup, sauce, etc. All you have to do to make garlic paste is just to blend 4 ounces of garlic and 1/2 cup of water in the blender. You can keep it in the refrigerator in a glass jar for about a month. Whenever I feel like something is missing from my cooking, I just add a drizzle of this paste and it's an instant fix! I also have a secret recipe for a delicious garlic sauce, but that one remains a family secret... sorry.

    Pickled Garlic from McSweet is another of my favorite! I sampled their pickles at a farmer's market this summer and I had to have them. The farmer's market season is over, but you can order samples from McSweet website for a small shipping charge. (They make variety of delicious pickles.)

    Oh, and don't forget about Karam's Garlic Sauce!!

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Peperoncino - Vegan

    This has been one of my favorite pasta dishes for many years, and it happens to be one of the easiest and cheapest meals to cook. It only requires five ingredients from your pantry!

    What goes in your body (4-6 vegan):
    • One bag of whole wheat spaghetti
    • 1/3 cups of extra virgin olive oil
    • 8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
    • 4 dried red chili pepper
    • Salt to taste

    You are going to:
    1. In a large pot, boil water and cook spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.
    2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.
    3. Cook garlic in heated oil until crisp and golden.
    4. Using kitchen scissors, cut red chili pepper into small rings, add them to the pan and cook for a minutes. Turn off the heat.
    5. Drain spaghetti, add to the pan along with salt and mix well with oil.
    6. Serve immediately. 

    Secrets from the chef:
    • You can use more (or less) garlic depending on your perferences.
    • To make it less spicy, de-seed chili before cutting.
    • Please be careful not to overcook garlic to avoid bitter taste to develop.
    • I usually serve it with fresh green salad. 
    Bon appétit! 

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Chipotle Chili - Vegan

    I like Chili because I can throw a lot of nutritious and tasty ingredients into one pot! It's so easy to make and pretty inexpensive and satisfying. There are so many varieties of Chili recipes out there, this one has a nice smoky flavor from chipotle.

    What goes in your body (4-6 vegan):
    • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    • 2 large carrots, chopped
    • 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
    • 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped 
    • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped 
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 to 3 tablespoon finely chopped chipotles in adobo
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid 
    • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 avocado, chopped (optional)
    • Green onion to garnish (optional)

    You are going to:
    1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned. 
    2. Add chipotle, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
    3. Add beans and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with green onions and avocado, if desired.

    Secrets from the chef:
    • You can use vegan sour cream and cheese as optional toppings.
    • I served with my favorite tortilla chips - 'Veggie and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips' from Trader Joe's.
    • The original recipe can be found here.
    Bon appétit! 

      Friday, October 29, 2010

      Happy Halloween!

      Happy Halloween from Veggiable!

      Squashky the ghost wants to wish you a Happy Halloween too! (He's a friend of Blinky, Pinky and Inky, he's just a little less famous...)

      I don't know why both of my pumpkins have a spider design... I don't like real spiders, though I think that spider webs are pretty amazing! These are actually fake pumpkins made out of some kind of plastic. It's like really durable styrofoam, super light weight and very easy to carve. I just don't feel like buying pumpkins every year (not that I have to) just to make Halloween decorations anymore. So I decided to buy fake pumpkins several years ago and have been reusing them every year. They were less than $5 each. The only thing I miss are pumpkin seeds.

      Did you know that pumpkin seeds contain high amounts of trace minerals such as magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, which are important for brain health and development. They are also good sources of iron, copper, zinc and protein. A a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds can give you 46.1 percent magnesium, 16.9 percent protein and 28.7 percent of your daily iron requirement.

      Also, recent studies suggest that pumpkin seeds can help those suffering from arthritis or other chronic conditions where inflammation is a problem because they have a similar anti-inflammatory effect as indomethacin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine. (Read more on health benefits of pumpkin seeds.)

      Well good luck to any teenagers who may try to smash my pumpkins.. it is going to be very hard to accomplish their mission on my doorstep!

      Wednesday, October 27, 2010

      Sprouted Beans and Mushrooms

      One day, my friend Sarah visited me with some yummy food from a health food store. One thing she had was sprouted beans, and I believe the original intent was to use them as a topping for a salad. They certainly added interesting texture and flavor to my salad, but I had a feeling they would taste much better when cooked lightly and decided to make quick stir-fry dish for my lunch with leftover beans... and I was right! (At least in my own opinion.) Quickly cooking them brought out more flavor and sweetness from the beans.

      Here's what I did with them:

      What goes in your body (1 vegan):
      • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 packet of mixed bean sprouts
      • 1/2 pound of mushrooms, sliced
      • 1/2 tsp of curry powder
      • Salt and pepper to taste
      You are going to:
      1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.
      2. Add mushroom to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.
      3. Add bean sprouts and curry powder to the pan and cook another 2 minutes.
      4. Season with salt and pepper.
      Secrets from the chef:
      • As you can see in the picture, the bean sprouts used here are very different from the mung bean sprout you typically see in oriental grocery stores. (You can find mixed bean sprouts in health food stores where you find items like alfalfa.)
      Bon appétit! 

      I've also learned from kelli's blog that you can sprout your own beans. I have not tried yet, it looks like an interesting project and I'm sure it's a much cheaper way. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there are gadgets out there for sprouting beans... Who knew!

      Tuesday, October 26, 2010

      You expect me to eat this and get better?

      Well, I haven't been lazy, I have been sick. Last Monday morning, I checked in with my clinic to have an outpatient cardiac catheterization test done. Long story short, I ended up spending the night at the hospital since I gave him a consent to treat me for an unrelated issue he had found during the test. (I don't think it was the best time to ask me anything of that weight since I was in and out of la-la-land...)

      I was wheeled in on my bed to my room on the fourth floor after I was stable enough to move. I think it was late afternoon and my nurse gave me some instructions (or restrictions, should I say...) and a menu for "Room Service". Though I had been fasting since the previous night, I wasn't quite ready to eat. But I needed to place an order before they closes at 7pm. So, I reluctantly look a look at the menu...

      Seriously? You expect me to eat this and get better? Hmmm... the entree choices were Beef Pot Roast, Mac&Cheese, Artichoke Mushroom Chicken and Grilled Salmon. No vegetarian choices? A few things I could order were Salad with Tofu (instead of grilled salmon or chicken breast), Corn Flakes, Toast, and Vegetarian Soup. I don't want to even go over breakfast choices of sugary cereals and everything with bacon...  I think you get my point...

      Fortunately, one of my friends was planning on bringing a meal to our house that night. (She's a Le Cordon Bleu graduate and planning to be a personal chef. Though I probably can't afford her service, she's been so kind and gracious to cook for our family several times over the last few weeks.) And my wonderful husband went home to pick up the food for me. I have to repeat what I said several posts ago, "Friendship is the best medicine".

      This is what I had! Stuffed Eggplant, Sautéed Green Beans and Orzo (not in the picture). It was so delicious and healthy.

      Thank you Allyson, for rescuing me from that horrible hospital food!!

      Sunday, October 17, 2010

      Mozambique Vegetable Stew - Vegan

      This recipe was shared by @brigidigit via Twitter and I was intrigued by its name. It has so many different kinds of vegetables and is very satisfying!

      What goes in your body (4-6vegan):
      • 1 large sweet potato or yam, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
      • 2 stalks celery, sliced lengthwise and chopped into bits
      • 1 Tbsp or to taste minced fresh ginger
      • 1 Tbsp or to taste minced fresh jalapeno
      • 3 Tbsp olive oil or to taste
      • 2 - 3 chopped scallions
      • 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
      • 1 tsp cumin
      • 1 tsp turmeric
      • Pinch of asefetida
      • 1/2 - 1 cup tomato sauce
      • 1 head broccoli, stalks peeled, chopped small
      • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
      • 1 cup chopped green beans or peas
      • 14 oz can coconut milk
      • 2 cups kale, stemmed and chopped in small pieces
      • Salt or soy sauce to taste

      You are going to:
      1. Heat olive oil on medium high in a pan, sauté celery, asefetida, fresh ginger and jalapeno briefly.
      2. Add yam, cook stirring for five minutes, lower heat, cover and cook for another five minutes.
      3. Add scallions, cilantro, spices, broccoli, carrots and beans. Turn up the heat, cook stirring for five minutes.
      4. Mix in tomato sauce, cook until hot, cover and simmer five minutes.
      5. Mix in coconut milk, cook two minutes. (Add water if it seems too thick.)
      6. Add chopped kale, stir and cook for two more minutes. (Cook a few minutes extra if the veggies seem to need it.)
      7. Add salt or soy sauce to taste
      Secrets from the chef:
      • Excellent with rice, quinoa, or flat bread.
      • Don't overcook the vegetables unless you like them mushy. 
      • I didn't know (and still don't know) what is "asefetida" and where I can buy it... I added some chopped garlic instead. 
      • Original recipe can be found at 'Savvy Vegetarian'.
      Bon appétit! 

        Thursday, October 14, 2010

        Bill and I are on the same page on this issue...

        The news story of the former US President Bill Clinton going to an almost vegan diet was quite the buzz a couple of weeks ago. He decided to go on mostly plant-based diet with occasional fish. Hey, just like my diet!! Yes, Bill and I are seeing eye to eye... He made this change for his heart health, and as a result he also lost 24 pounds! Maybe my 'Identity Crisis' is over...?

        Doesn't he look much younger than before in this interview video? He was inspired to change the way he eats by reading books written by Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr.Caldwell Esselstyn. I haven't read any of their books personally, but I'm all for doctors who educate their patients about their diet and what they can do, besides giving them medications and procedures. (I posted links to their books and more from for your convenience.)

        Way to go, Mr. President!!


        Wednesday, October 13, 2010

        Boneless Chicken?

        Have you seen this cartoon strip from the Far Side?

        Well, we think it's funny because we know it's not a boneless chicken we have been eating. You know that the factory farms de-bone chickens after they have been killed... Are you sure about that?

        Just like what I wrote in '380-million-eggs-recalled' article a couple months ago, there are so many things that we are not generally informed about the factory farms. Did you know that 90% of factory farm raised broiler chickens have leg problems and 26% suffer from chronic pain as a result of bone disease.? It is because the chickens grow much faster and bigger due to selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs. In the 1950s, it took 84 days to raise a five-pound chicken, it now takes only 45 days. Two researchers in The Veterinary Record report, “We consider that birds might have been bred to grow so fast they are on the verge of structural collapse.” (For more info, please visit The picture is not too far from this cartoon strip, at least these cartoon chickens seems to be raised free-range...that is if they can move around without any bones...

        I also want to share this You Tube clip that one of my friends posted on Facebook a while ago.

        You can make fun of my 'Chickenless Nuggets', but I think I'll stick to them...

        Tuesday, October 12, 2010

        Chickenless Nuggets - Trader Joe's

        Who doesn't like Chicken Nuggets? Maybe you don't, but they were my favorite junk food. I still have occasional cravings for Chicken Nuggets. When I found this at Trader Joe's, it was like I saw heaven's door open and a choir of angels singing... Okay, I'm exaggerating here...

        Of course it's not quite Chicken Nuggets, but it's not bad at all! You would be surprised. I'm secretly (I guess now it's public) thinking that I should serve this without saying what it is and see if anyone realize that it's not made out of chicken.

        I don't consider this to be a healthy food since it's a processed food. But it is a healthier option. It's healthy junk food, now that's an oxymoron!

        Monday, October 11, 2010

        Friendship is the best medicine

        When I started this blog on July 28th, 2010, I promised myself that I will write one post a day. I had kept that promise for 68days! I think it's an accomplishment though a small one.. I really enjoy sharing what I'm learning with you as I try to eat healthy each day. If you have been following my blog, you probably noticed that I haven't kept my promise for the last week or so. Well, unfortunately, I fell very ill and spent most of last week in my bed...

        I was born with very rare and complex heart condition and had undergone several surgeries in the past. This is something I have to live with for my entire life, and there is no complete cure for this yet. I've been under a cardiologist's care since I was a baby. I still have to go through several more tests to figure out what is making my heart give me such trouble this time around, before the doctors can suggest some treatments for me. The good news is that the blood tests confirmed that none of the essential nutrients are lacking from my body. (I have been eating almost vegan for about 4 months now.) Considering the fact that animal fat consumption can cause coronary artery blockage (heart attack in severe cases) in persons with a normal heart, it's probably a really good thing that I don't consume animal fat anymore...

        I have such wonderful friends who have been bringing us meals almost everyday so that I don't have to cook. None of them are vegan, but they honor my wish to eat vegan food. I appreciate their love and friendship with all my heart. Without their help, it would have been much harder to eat healthy food while I'm too sick to cook. I think it's ironic that it's harder to find quick and healthy food from the store when you really need to be eating healthy to get better. I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just not as easy as finding quick, junky food.

        I may not be able to post quite as many recipes as I have been since I haven't been cooking much lately, but I hope I can still provide useful information to my readers.

        Thursday, October 7, 2010


        I've been cooking dinner almost everyday for my family for nearly 10 years and I finally invested in a quality grater/zester this year as I was switching my diet to nearly vegan. You may laugh at me for not having a grater/zester... I had a box grater which I mainly used to grate and slice cheese. I never enjoyed grating cheese though... Now, check it out! This is the one I use.

        I know, I know, I'm being silly for getting excited about a grater. But this really changed my cooking experience! I can add lemon and lime zest as a finishing touch. I can easily add flavor to my dishes by simply grating a ginger root. And my favorite way of using this tool is to grate garlic! It's much faster than mincing and you get more flavor out of the garlic. Well, it has less texture compared with minced garlic, but it's perfect for adding an extra garlic kick towards the end of meal preparation. You can also add some grated garlic into soup, when you feel like something is missing...

        This tool is something you apply force to, so you don't want to get a flimsy one. I generally avoid ones with rubber or plastic handles for my cooking gadgets, but that's just my thing, I guess... It may seem a little pricey, but I suggest investing in a sturdy one if you haven't had one yet.


        Sunday, October 3, 2010

        Squash Invasion!

        OMG! Look at these pictures! What is it?

        I got this week's fruits and vegetables via 'Farm To You' a couple days ago, and I noticed that something is growing out of my squash this morning! It's kind of pretty, but creepy... The sensible side of me tells me that I must eat this squash as soon as possible...but the curious side of me tells me to let it grow further...

        Hmmm... what should I do?

        Saturday, October 2, 2010

        Couscous-filled Mushrooms - Vegan

        I love mushrooms! I still think the underside of big mushrooms are rather creepy... you know the massive dark brown layers... Anyway, this recipe is so easy to make, yet has a gourmet feel to it.

        What goes in your body (4vegan):
        • 2/3 cup couscous
        • 2/3 boiling water
        • 1/2 tbsp "butter" or margarine
        • 2 tsp olive oil
        • 1 onion, chopped
        • 2 cloves garlic, minced
        • 1tsp garam masala
        • Pinch of cayenne pepper
        • 8 large mushrooms, such as portobello

        You are going to:
        1. Preheat oven for 400°F.
        2. In a large bowl, add couscous, pour over boiling water, cover and set aside for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Add "butter" and toss gently with a fork.
        3. Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion is soft. Add garam masala and cayenne pepper and cook for one more minute.
        4. Add onion mixture to couscous and toss to combine.
        5. Remove stalks from mushrooms and fill with couscous mixture.
        6. Bake them on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
        7. Serve with fresh greens or roasted vegetables.

        Secrets from the chef:
        • If it is an outdoor grilling season, you can cook them on a grill as well.
        • For your non-vegan friends, you can top them with crumbled feta cheese prior to cooking.
        Bon appétit!

        Friday, October 1, 2010

        The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

        To buy organic or not to buy organic...that is the question. I don't know what kind of food Hamlet was eating, but I don't think he had to worry a about grocery budget...after all he was a prince. I, on the other hand, have a certain budget for my groceries. Until the day I somehow make a lot of money, I can't buy everything organic. Why is organic food so much more expensive than regular food..? (Well, I posted an insightful article on Veggiable's Facebook page to answer the question.)

        As a guideline, I always come back to "The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen" guide. This is a list released by the Environmental Working Group revealing which produce has the highest/lowest pesticide residues. Of course, organic food is always much healthier since there are much more strict standards than just not using pesticides in order to be a certified organic producer. But this list has been very helpful to me in deciding where I spend my grocery money.

        The Dirty Dozen (Most Pesticide Residue. Buy these organic!)
        1. Celery
        2. Peaches
        3. Strawberries
        4. Apples
        5. Blueberries
        6. Nectarines
        7. Bell Peppers
        8. Spinach
        9. Cherries
        10. Kale/Collard Greens
        11. Potatoes
        12. Grapes (Imported)
        The Clean 15 (Lowest in pesticide)
        1. Onions
        2. Avocado
        3. Sweet Corn
        4. Pineapple
        5. Mango
        6. Sweet Peas
        7. Asparagus
        8. Kiwi
        9. Cabbage
        10. Eggplant
        11. Cantaloupe
        12. Watermelon
        13. Grape Fruit
        14. Sweet Potateo
        15. Honeydew Melon
        (The data used to create these lists is based on produce tested as it is typically eaten (meaning washed, rinsed or peeled, depending on the type of produce. For more detailed information, you can visit can also download the list in PDF or the iPhone app from here.)

        As I organically grow more food in my own garden, I'm also starting to notice that certain produce has more problems with bugs than the others. I'm not an expert on this subject but herbs will be the last thing I buy organic since many kinds of herbs can be actually used to repel bugs in my garden.

        I hope this information is helpful for you to eat healthier and stay within your budget!

        Thursday, September 30, 2010

        Teapot Vegetarian House - Redmond

        About two months ago, I wrote a post about the Teapot Vegetarian House in the Capitol Hill area. This time, I went to their Redmond location with seven of my non-vegan friends for dinner. One of my friends organizes a 'Diners Club' once a month, where the idea is to go check out different restaurant together. It is a great way to try a new restaurant, because we usually share a meal 'family-style' which enables us to eat a variety of foods, then one of us would write an overall review on behalf of everyone. A friend of mine wrote a review this time, and she can probably give you a less biased opinion about vegan dishes than I could since she's not a vegan, and she is an excellent writer. I took bunch of pictures for you to enjoy...

         Bo Bo Platter

        "Beef" Fried Rice

        Mushroom Yaki Udon
        Roasted Tofu Soup Noodle
        String Beans in Hot Garlic Sauce

        We also ordered Sizzling Rice Soup, Spring Rolls, and Fried Wide Noodles in Dark Sauce though I don't have the pictures to prove it... I like their Sizzling Rice Soup, but I think they gave it to me in a bigger bowl at the other location. I was really anxious to try their "Cheese"cake after reading bunch of good reviews... I actually liked it more than regular cheesecake. Even before becoming a vegan (not quite yet), I could only have a bite or two of regular cheesecake, it was too sweet and rich for me. Anyways, here's my friend's review. Enjoy! 

        "Teapot Vegetarian House is actually a vegan restaurant, and a good choice for lunch or dinner in the Redmond, WA area.

        Teapot is located in a strip mall near Microsoft, convenient to shopping, although the off-street parking is in a lot with an approximately 30-degree grade, which could be a challenge to disabled patrons. From the outside, the restaurant appears smaller than it really is. Inside is pleasantly generic Asian décor, Tables are sturdy, and the floor plan seems well thought out as well as flexible enough to comfortably accommodate our party of 8. Bathrooms were clean-ish and accessible to the disabled, although we did spot a dead cricket in one.
        We had a range of diners, from vegan to unadventurous to an adventurous hot chili lover. The menu is varied, and everyone found something that suited them. One of our diners ordered beer, and there is a decent variety of beer and wine to be consumed with dinner for those who prefer that.
        Note that several dishes at Teapot contain a protein source designated by the name in quotes of the meat it most tastes like, for example, “Chicken” fingers.
        We started off with the BoBo platter, which was a combination plate of all the available appetizers—“chicken” fingers, satay, spring rolls, fried wonton dumplings, tofu fritters and tofu rolls. Everyone seemed to like these, except one diner who found the fried wontons to be overly greasy.
        We then enjoyed a shared family-style meal of deluxe fried rice with “beef”, sizzling rice soup, mushroom yaki udon, roasted tofu soup noodle, string beans in hot garlic sauce, and fried wide noodles in dark sauce. The last two were the favorites—the slight heat of the garlic sauce on the string beans was appreciated, and the wide noodles were cooked to the perfect point. We also were pleased by the mysterious non-descript name ‘dark’ sauce. The “chicken” was better than the “beef”, but both were good, and neither was necessary to the taste of the dish—probably just thrown in to placate carnivores.
        Overall, our hot chili lover found several of the dishes to be slightly too heavy on salt, and too light on spice. Our unadventurous eater skipped the family-style hodgepodge and stuck contentedly to a personal order of spring rolls.

        For dessert, we all shared bites of a single large slice of tofu cheesecake decorated with mango sauce and blueberries. The ‘cheesecake’ was savory with a tofu-esque aftertaste; a suitable very nice dessert that I’d order again, but not American cheesecake.
        The bill for all of this food was very reasonable, and I’ve chosen not to discuss our (mis)handling of the payment process, other than to say it was hilarious. "
        Location: 15230 NE 24th St. Redmond, WA 98052 
        Hours: Hours: 11:00am-10:30pm (Daily)

        Wednesday, September 29, 2010

        Edamame Hummus - Vegan

        Yesterday, I posted a recipe for 'Garliciest Garlic Hummus', but I understand that not everyone is a garlic junkie like me... Here's another hummus recipe for you! This one has a much milder flavor and beautiful light green color.

        'Edamame' is the Japanese word for soybean. If you are trying to get more soy protein in your diet, eating unprocessed soybean is a much healthier way than buying processed soy products. You can buy frozen edamame with or without shells at Trader Joe's, while fresh ones are also available at oriental grocery stores. You can just boil them and sprinkle a little bit of salt for a snack/appetizer. It's not only delicious and healthy, but also fun to pop edamame beans out of the shells into your mouth!

        What goes in your body (vegan):
        • 2 garlic cloves
        • 1/2 cup Italian parsley
        • 1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame
        • 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
        • 1 tsp salt
        • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
        • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
        • 2 tbsp tahini
        • 1/4 cup water
        • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
        • paprika to garnish

        You are going to:
        1. Cook edamame according to the package instructions. (Boil 5-10 minutes.)

        2. Chop garlic and parsley in a food processor until very finely chopped.
        3. Add remaining ingredients except for 2 tsp olive oil and paprika and process until smooth. 
        4. Spoon hummus into a serving bowl. Drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, and serve with fresh vegetables, crackers or pita bread.
        Secrets from the chef:
        • You may want to serve with herb or salt crackers since this is very mild flavored hummus. I don't recommend serving along with yesterday's 'Garliciest Garlic Hummus'... (The delicate flavor will be completely overwhelmed by garlic... I'm speaking from experience here.)
        Bon appétit! 

        Tuesday, September 28, 2010

        Garliciest Garlic Hummus - Vegan

        Disclaimer: You should not try this recipe if you are 'Twilight' fan... It will scare your handsome vampire right out of his pale white skin...!

        What goes in your body (vegan):

        • 2 cups garbanzo beans 
        • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
        • 1/4 ~ 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
        • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
        • 1 lemon
        • Paprika & cilantro to garnish (optional) 
        You are going to:
        1. Mix garlic and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor until the mixture is smooth. 
        2. Add garbanzo beans, tahini and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the mixture and process until smooth. (If the mixture seems too thick, add some more olive oil)
        3. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.
        4. Garnish with paprika and cilantro, and serve with fresh vegetables, crackers or pita bread.
        Secrets from the chef:
        • Letting it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours brings out more flavor from the garlic and takes the edge off of spiciness from fresh garlic . If you have to serve immediately, use only 1/2 bulb of garlic or roasted garlic instead.
        • Avoid eating this before going out to see someone ;)
        • If you don't own a food processor, buy Trader Joe's Garlic Hummus Dip. It's delicious, though it's not as garlicy as this one.

        Bon appétit! 

        Monday, September 27, 2010

        Crispy Napa Cabbage Salad - Vegan

        After a pretty good experience from my first order, I decided to continue on the 'Farm To You', organic produce delivery service by Full Circle Farm, at least for now. This week's order contained a head of napa cabbage. I don't think it's really a staple vegetable here in the U.S., but I grew up eating it all the time in Japan. My mom used to cook them in a hotpot or soup and she also made a pickled cabbage with it too. But I had a hunch that my husband wouldn't like any of those. After getting some ideas from online recipes, I decided to make a salad because I realized that I never had a raw napa cabbage. I went Asian-style in honor of this Asian vegetable.

        What goes in your body (4 vegan servings):

        • 1 head napa cabbage
        • 1 bunch green onion
        • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
        • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
        • 1/4 cup sesame oil
        • 1/2 cup white suger
        • 2 tbsp soy sauce
        • 1 package of crispy chow mein
        • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
        •  1 cup silvered almonds

        You are going to:
        1. In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and let cool. 
        2. Thinly slice (or shred) napa cabbage and green onion. 
        3. Combine vegetables, sesame seeds, almonds and chow mein in a large bowl.
        4. Pour the dressing into vegetable mix and serve immediately.

        Secrets from the chef:
        • Crunchy chow mein can be found at the oriental food section in a regular grocery store. If you can't find them, break ramen noodles into smaller pieces as a substitute.
        • Dressing doesn't have to be cold, but not hot. It actually seasons the vegetable better if it's still a little warm. 
        • Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.

        Bon appétit!