Sunday, March 28, 2010


So, as I mentioned in my previous blog ... Friday was a beautiful day off. Unfortunately, it left me down and out for this weekend was spent sick in bed :( boo-hoo.

Friday though, man, what an awesome day, and to the start of any awesome day is an awesome meal... 
Lauren from vegan royale, made bomb TLT (tofu, lettuce, tomato) - soooo delicious!! I need to make these more often ... weekly, daily... She told me how to make the fakin' bacon with tofu, but two days have passed and I just don't remember ... I do remember that it isn't as time consuming as I once thought. On the side we had a great salad (thanks codee), my lovely split pea soup, and date balls for dessert! 
Our plans were to then see Alice in Wonderland in 3-D, but we got the times mixed up, grabbed a six-er and walked into Hot Tub Time Machine. Im not going to recommend it to anybody, but I will say if you go see it, sneak in a beer or two. 
We then hit up happy hour at the POPE and my lovely, healthy lunch was sabotaged by deep fried seitan wings and french fries ... oh a girl can only do so much. 

T.L.T equipped with avo, veganaise, and mustard

Split-Peasy Soup

Happy Hour was never so happy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's a Date!

Today is not only my day off, but my two best buds and roomies day off!
On the menu: we got lunch, matinee, and happy hour. Perfect for this cold, soon to be raining day.

For our lunch date, I decided to make some awesome date balls for dessert! Easy to whip up, and delicious to sink your teeth into. Sugar free, gluten free ... hells yes. I found the recipe on Earth Muffin. I followed the recipe, but thought that they were a little too sticky so I went ahead and added about 3/4 cups of rolled oats ... it worked out beautiful!
Speaking of Earth Muffin she is also hosting an awesome give away! Check it out, along with the date recipe!!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easy Pea-sy

All good things must come to an end (why is that again?) and our lovely 70 degree sunshine stint saw its way out, and the rain came in, and when it rains ... it pours. 
Nothing, and I mean nothing beats the rainy day blues like a warm cup of soup.
Today's choice: Split Peasy!
Looking online for a recipe I realized that our vegetable selection was a little bleak. No carrots, no celery, no bay leaf, no garlic. Who needs 'em!
I created this to suite my mood - lazy.

Soups on!

Easy Split Peasy Soup

-2 tbsp. earth balance
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1/2 cup button mushrooms, diced
-1 tsp. garlic salt
-2 cups split peas
-1/2 cup barley
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-7 1/2 cups water
-1/2 - 1 tsp of the following: basil, thyme, cayenne, cumin, black pepper

In a large soup pot melt the earth balance on medium heat and saute the onions, mushrooms, and sprinkle the garlic salt a top. Saute for about 7 minutes until the onions are translucent and smelling reeeaaaalll nice. Add the water, split peas, barley, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about an hour. Add the rest of the spices, and whatever else you may feel like, and let simmer for another hour.
Easy Peasy!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Being Belgian

Ladies and Gents, it is my greatest pleasure to introduce to you my all time favorite restaurant (in philadelphia) ... 
The Belgian Cafe
Equipped with sidewalk patio seating, 200 bottled brews, spectacular veg and non veg food, what is there not to love? 
John reading about art nouveau in the sun. 

Located at 21st and Green Street this cafe was introduced to me one year ago, when a good friend told me about a set vegan dinner/drink menu they were hosting for beer week. Done and Done. Well, unfortunately the set vegan menu they had that night didn't do the cafe too much justice. It was mediocre to put it lightly. But, for some reason I let this little place redeem itself ... not once, but over and over again.

The main draw is the vegan seitan BBQ wings (ask for them extra spicy). Coming with a nice cool vegan aioli (that isn't just veganaise, chaa) and a nice little bed of greens with celery, this is the meal I've tried ample times to recreate but have just never quite landed it. Something magical happens in their kitchen that I just don't have... 
BBQ seitan wings

Close up

Besides the best vegan wings in the city, they also offer a vegan soup, burger, meatloaf, fries, and sweet potato hummus. Oh, and did I mention the beer?

LaRulles Tripel 

Specializing in belgian brews, they have quite an impressive bottled collection and always evolving draft selection. This past visit was as wonderful as the new budding flowers. It couldn't have been a more perfect Sunday afternoon. It started with biking there on our new tandom (AHHH!!!). Then mother nature decided to be exceptionally cooperative giving us 65 degrees and warm sun. The outdoor seating and spring beers on tap fit the mood like a glove. 

I started with Southampton's Biere de Mars a smooth, fruity, light, very crisp and refreshing beverage that's based on the authentic french-farmhouse version. It's like drinking those budding flowers. I would've had another one, but I wanted to expand my horizons and try another bubbly rendition of this perfect spring day. My choice: a belgium brew LaRulles Tripel. Having a classic triple belgium taste, but with a faint and surprising far sweet after taste. If this ale was indeed spring it would come in like a lion and out like lamb. 

I recommend this cafe to any and all interested in fab food and delish drinks. 


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Food For All Collective Adventure

As I've mentioned before Im part of the food bulk buying club here in South Philly, The Food For All Collective. My roomie Riley (being one of the founders) loves the idea of bulk buying, supporting sustainable farmers and community, thus ordering A LOT.  Not to mention we live in a house with three hungry boys + me .. . food here goes fast. Our order this month was more than just a shit load of food ... it was an adventure ....

Besides living in a hungry household, we also live in a vehicle-less household. Needing to step it up a notch from our wagon, "rolling thunder" (the name gives it away) John decided to put his habit of collecting old/used bike parts (especially frames), artistic and practical talent to use making our house a bike trailer! Ya know,  for those trips to the grocery store, beer distributor and the bulk food pick up for those times when your messenger bag just doesn't cut it. Being the first bike trailer that John's ever welded, there were some kinks that needed to be ironed out. Fortunately, I got to do just that.  Being the only roomy available during the pick up time I was deemed assignment FIRST RIDE : ride bike trailer in rain. collect 40 lbs. of food. make it back in one piece. Besides taking a spill on south street and having our food fly everywhere (my entourage quickly helped gather the goods), almost getting hit numerous times, having angry drivers yell at me for taking up the road and swerving, I made it home safely with everything still in it's tightly sealed bags and containers ... Food for All!

the bike trailer ... equipped with red plastic bin ... 

front view ... 

12 lbs. of raisins .. + 9 lbs. sweet potatoes,  5 lbs. coffee, 3 lbs. portobellos, 9 lbs. apples, 10 lbs. cashews, 5 lbs. granola, 3 lbs. dates, 6 lbs. almonds, and a 4 lb. loaf of sourdough .... 

myself carrying out the 40 lb load ... 

loading up ... 

explaining the route to James, my front man ... 

So worth it! Dinner that night = grilled portobello mushroom sammies with caramelized onions, yellow peppers, spinach, tomatoes, oak groves organic (and amazing) relish and veganaise with sweet potato fries on the side!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Do I need to Spelt it out??

In a previous post, I need to Spelt it out, I mentioned the awesome food buying club I am a part of The Food For All Collective   and my purchase of 10 lbs of spelt flour. Since the blueberry pancakes featured in "I need to Spelt it out", I haven't really touched the stuff. Then I was flipping through my cookbooks and found in Babycakes a recipe for Raspberry Scones ... having blueberries in the freezer I knew exactly what I was going to have for breakfast.

A note about Spelt : So, I've recently gotten a new position at Wholefoods as the "Healthy Eating Specialist". It's a pretty rad position, I basically read a whole bunch, get a couple of certifications, then teach the Wholefoods team members and customers about healthy eating alternatives, and focus on a plant based, whole foods diet! Not too shabby. Not too shabby. As you can imagine, I'm being bombarded with information right now, so why not share that with my loyal readers, I mean who doesn't want to know about the food they are putting in their body??

Spelt, an ancient cousin of wheat that originated in the Middle East at least 6,000 years ago has a great nutty, sweet flavor and contains more protein than typical wheat flour. Being related to wheat it does indeed contain gluten, however, it has proportionally less gliadin, (gluten is made up of two proteins gliadin and glutenin - both responsible for different properties) which prohibits the develop of air pockets to capture gases created by the leavening agents ... this is also the component that appears to be responsible for adverse reactions to gluten, making it a great substitute for people who have trouble digesting gluten or have a gluten intolerance (remember, this is only the case for some people, if you have severe reactions to gluten or are gluton intolerant, always consult a doctor before having spelt).  Spelt is also more water-soluble leading some people to believe this aids in the digestibility and makes nutrients more easily absorbed in the body. However, because of this, if you are substituting spelt flour for a typical wheat flour it may be a good idea to reduce the liquid, Margaret Wittenberg author of New Good Food, suggests reducing the liquid by 25%, and then going from there to obtain the consistency that's necessary for the recipe/batter you're working with.

Well, there's your cliff notes on spelt. If anyone wants further info about gliadin and glutenin just ask. Im happy to ramble on about this stuff all day.

Wait ... wasn't I going to share a recipe with you! Ahhh yes, the beautiful spelt scone I made!

Blueberry Spelt Scones
by Erin McKenna

-2 cups whole spelt flour
-1 tbsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/3 cup coconut oil - + a little more for brushing
-1/3 cup agave nectar - + a little more for brushing
-1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
-1/4 cup hot water
-1 cup fresh raspberries or in my case, frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking pow, and salt.
Add the oil, agave, and vanilla and stir together until thick, slightly dry batter is formed.
Pour the hot water into batter and mix.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the berries until they are marbled throughout.
For each scone, scoop 1/3 cup batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Space the scoops 1 inch apart to allow them to spread. Lightly brush the tops with oil (something I forgot to do, and same with agave, still came out great ... )
Bake the scones on center rack for 14 mns, rotating the sheet 180 degrees after 7 minutes.
The finished scones will be golden and slightly firm. Remove from oven and brush with agave.
Let scones stand on sheet for 15 minutes. Carefully slide a spatula under each and transfer it to a wire rack and cool completely.
Store in airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Raw Strawberry Cake

So today is day 10 for me on the SSSC (super sexy sugar cleanse) - that's refined sugar have you.  As you can imagine my sweet tooth cravings have been calmed by nature's candy such as fruit and agave! Thus, volunteering for cake duty for my boyfriends mom (before the cleanse...), I wanted to make a delicious cake without any refined sugar (a little selfish, but if I'm making it, I want to enjoy it .. ey?) 

You can't go wrong with raw. Amazing, delectable desserts just by throwing some things in a processor and letting them sit over night ... incredible!!! 

I decided to try a cake I've been eyeing for a while that I found on the post punk kitchen, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's blog. 

It turned out great! If you're in the mood for a light, fluffy, rich cake this is just what the doc ordered. On her website she describes it as being very "rich" and that because of this it does indeed serve 16. Mine, for whatever reason didn't turn out as insanely rich as she had described, and it served 5 ... all with seconds (and one piece left over - :). 

Being a non-dairy consumer, this cake reminded me of a yogurt parfait. The cake itself an amazing yogurt (that is what the texture reminded me of) and the crust a rocking granola. 

Not to mention, if you cut strawberries to top it off, it comes out adorable :)

YUM! For the recipe off of the post punk kitchen, click here!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Vegan Brunch at Studio 34

Calling all Philadelphian Vegans!

Studio 34 located at 4522 Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia is not just a yoga studio. Yes, offering a wide range of yoga classes, and offering the only Forrest Yoga class in the city, this place is the definition of community.

To start off, every last Sunday of every month they host a pay what you can Vegan Brunch. It is incredible, especially if you attend after the 2 hour Forrest session! The instructor of the class is so jazzed up about the brunch for a partner activity one person was deemed "tofu scramble" and the other "sweet potato corn bread". But, why shouldn't she be jazzed, not only is there an amazing array of vegan food (like the two listed above) but an entire community eating and coming together for a beautiful sunday meal.

Last months brunch! The samosa soup was the most amazing thing I've ever put in my mouth. Other dishes include: sweet potato bread (a staple, along with tofu scramble) curry basmati rice, apple raisin quinoa, lemon pepper seitan, and an awesome chickpea casserole. 

This months meal included fantastic selections such as: lemon herbed potatoes, polenta gravy, seitan chili, curry sweet potatoes, and then a shepard pie-ish concoction. YUM! 

This is just one example of Studio 34's community greatness. To name a few others... they hold an assortment of classes that focus on wellness and healing many with a "pay what you can" or "community ($5.00)" label.  Some of the classes they offer include numerous yoga based classes (including in and out of chair yoga, new this month!), pilates, tai chi, african dancing, hoop dancing,  etc ... other than classes they hold community based programs such as workshops, art lectures by ArcheDream director Allan Bell, art openings, live music (Scott McMicken from Dr. Dog will be performing there this Saturday), children's music class, various dance classes, meditation sessions ... I mean the list goes on and on!!! And to top it all off they have a community lounge that's open daily where anyone is welcome to hang out and enjoy a nice cup of tea on them.

I stumbled upon this studio looking to continue my Forrest yoga practice when I came to Philly. Not only is the buildling spacious and welcoming, but every instructor I have ever had there has been healing and inspiring. I highly recommend Studio 34 to anyone in the Philly area, even if your not into .... anything ... at least go for the vegan brunch, which I know you're alll into!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blazing Brussels

I don't know when or how these miniature cabbages made there way into my life, but let me tell you something ... They are here to stay!!! For some reason (maybe due from a trauma incident .. the attack of the giant brussels sprouts??) I can not for the life of me, ever recall eating brussels sprouts ever in my life before this past year.... 
And then they were there. Suddenly. Its like a woke up from a long long nap and as I opened the fridge brussels were there to greet me. I was eating them on a weekly basis. Craving brussels. Not being able to picture a life without these leafy little gems. . .

Coming from the same family as cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, and kale - they are packed with vitamins and fiber!

Brussels are featured in this months issue of Vegetarian Times, in the "Chef's Guide to Frozen Vegetables". Now, I don't want to sound snobby, but I try to steer away from frozen veggies, buuuuuuuut if frozen veggies are your thing, then this article is great, giving amazing recipes for veggies found in the freezer section that are both affordable and hold on to their nutritional value.  Apparently 80-85% of the US brussels production is used for the frozen food market... crazy.

I used fresh brussels for this 'pie, but go ahead and use whatever you're comfortable with. This is a great lunch or dinner side dish ... as always, Enjoy.

Miso-roasted Brussels Sprouts
(if you're using fresh brussels cut the end off and do quarter florets, follow recipe as is)

-3 tsp. toasted sesame oil
-3 tsp. rice vinegar, divided (I substituted Apple Cider Vinegar)
-2 tsp. miso paste - (I used red...)
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 16-oz. bag frozen Brussels sprouts
-1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
-1/2 tsp. sriracha chile sauce (or any hot sauce of your choice)

Preheat oven to 450. Whisk together 2 tsp. sesame oil, 2 tsp. vinegar, miso, garlic, and hot sauce. Add Brussels and toss to coat.
Spread brussels on baking sheet (I used a casserole dish) and roast for 20 minutes. Tossing about half way through.
When done, transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining oil, vinegar, and sesame seeds.
Add salt and pepper if desired!