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!