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Sweet Potatoes and Tempeh: A Mash Made in Heaven.

One of my favorite food pairings is a hot plate of Lemon Pepper Tempeh and Mashed Sweet Potatoes. It's a mash made in vegan heaven! Soon to be right up there with veggie burgers and fries, peas and carrots, beans and rice and salsa and chips. Mark my words!

My easy Sweet Potato and Tempeh recipes to make this combo in your kitchen tonight!...

Sweet Potatoes.
I love sweet potatoes with just about anything. I've pretty much mastered my Kathy's Famous Sweet Potato Mash. And now I've found the perfect food pairing for it: Lemon Pepper Tempeh. And quite frankly, I eat this combo least 3-4 times a week! I love it.

Lemon Pepper Tempeh.
One of my favorite ways to prepare tempeh is to lemon pepper it. I've got an easy recipe that you can prepare in just a few minutes. It's zesty, nutty and satisfying.

You can use the super easy recipes below, or reference my Lightlife Lemon Peppered Tempeh and Kathy's Famous Sweet Potato Mash recipes.

First, the Lemon Pepper Tempeh:


Lemon Pepper Tempeh
serves one

1/2 block of tempeh, about 1 cup, cubed.*
*in this dish (photos shown) I used SoyBoy Multigrain tempeh.
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp (a drizzle to grease the pan) olive oil
3 Tbsp veggie broth
1 tsp agave syrup
1 tsp sea salt, optional-veggie broth adds salt
Mixture of fine black pepper and fresh ground black pepper (LOTS of it, to taste)

Directions:
Turn heat on med-high
Add olive oil to pan.
Add lemon juice and veggie broth to pan.
When pan is sizzling, add in tempeh.
Saute for a few minutes, uncovered.
Add agave and a few dashes of fine black pepper.
Saute for a few more minutes, brown all sides.
*tip: cover for a few minutes and toss in steam. 'Fluffs up' the tempeh for a moist bite.
When tempeh looks done, turn off heat.
Add salt and a lot more pepper.
Stir tempeh around(still in hot pan)
Plate tempeh and grind a bit of fresh black pepper on top.

Now for the sweet potatoes half of this pairing...




Sweet Potatoes
See Kathy's Famous Sweet Potato Mash here.
or a quick mash recipe:

Quick Sweet Potato Mash
serves two

1 medium organic garnet yam.
1 Tbsp vegan buttery spread
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1 dash cayenne

Directions:
Cook sweet potato in microwave or oven.
Mash all ingredients together by hand using fork.
For thinner potatoes add a bit of olive oil and/or veggie broth.

Plate the pair together.

Garnish with fresh lemon slices and parsley

...and enjoy my fave vegan combo.

It's a Mash Made in Vegan Heaven.





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A Yummy Green Superfood Powder? Taste Test!

Does a yummy, good-tasting green superfood powder exist? If you're like me, you love the health and nutrition benefits of green superfoods like spirulina and wheatgrass, but you are a bit turned off by the 'green powder' taste.

Quest for Green.
So on my quest to find a great tasting and easy to love green nutrition smoothie powder, I pulled three random brands of sample-sized green food powder packets off the shelf of my Whole Foods and decided to do a side to side taste test comparison. And because to me, it doesn't matter how healthy something is, if it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to use it. Click ahead to see my taste test of the three brands (and my winning brand)....

Green Nutrition Powder Taste Test

For the taste test, I blended up a classic Soymilk Acai smoothie. Here's the recipe:

Acai Soy Smoothie

1 frozen acai smoothie pack by Sambazon
1 cup soy milk
1 raw banana, ripe
1 cup blueberries
6 coconut water ice cubes
1/2 cup acai juice

Blend.



The Brands

The three random Green Powder brands I chose and their main health claims and ingredients:

1. Amazing Grass Green Super Food.
Premium blend of Superfoods. Supports body alkalinity, boosts energy and immune system, gluten free and vegan.
Main ingredients of interest: 5722mg Green Food Blend includes organic spirulina and organic wheat grass, among others.
30 calories. 100% RDA Vitamin A. 50% RDA Vitamin K. 25% RDA Vitamin B12.
Other ingredients: energizing herbs, digestive enzyme and active culture blend, fiber blend and antioxidant blend.

2. Macro Greens Nutrient Rich Super Food Supplement.
Surpasses the raw food nutrition of five servings of fruits and veggies.
Main ingredients of interest: 600mg of Spirulina.
Other ingredients: Nutrient rich superfoods, barley grass powder, antioxidants, probiotic cultures, adaptogenic and metabolic herbs, fibers, harmonizing and supporting herbs, plant enzymes.
667% RDA Vitamin C. 334% RDA Vitamin E.

3. Vibrant Health Green Vibrance.
Probiotics (25 billion) organic greens, restorative, concentrated superfood, version 9.0.
Main ingredients of interest: 1500mg of spirulina and wheat grass. 25 billion probiotic cultures from 12 strains.
Other ingredients: nutrient dense greens, cell and membrane support ingredients, high fiber foods and probiotics, antioxidants, adaptogens, immune support, sea veggie complex, probiotic blend, enzyme complex, phyto-minerals, tonics, sketetal support, flavor enhancer: mango.
Vegan, gluten-free.
Low carb, gluten free. 50 calories.



So I mixed a sample of each powder into three separate cups of the same Acai smoothie. Here are my tasting notes...

TASTING NOTES for Green Superfood Powders:

1. Amazing Grass Green Superfood:
Dark green color. Thin powder. Taste essence of hay, oats, slightly milky. Grassy. Perky flavor assists in palpability. Zesty yet milky taste overpowers any grassy bitterness.
TASTE RATING: 7/10
NUTRITION RATING: 6/10
Notes: Love that every ingredient is organic. Easily dissolves in smoothie.

2. Macro Greens Nutrient Rich Superfood:
Light colored powder. Very fine powder. Taste essence of mango, very fruity, citrus. Tastes like a children's vitamin pill. Nice and zesty, no bitterness.
TASTE RATING: 9/10
NUTRITION RATING: 8/10
Notes: This tastes pretty great! I love the fruity rather than overly-grassy flavor. Actually enhances the flavor of the smoothie. I wish it had a bit more spirulina, but the taste is so light and yummy that I an pleased.

3. Vibrant Health Green Vibrance:
Dark powder. Dark green and a bit grainy. Thickest powder out of the three. Taste essence is less astringent than the other. Grassy bitterness is overpowering. Deep, strong 'green' flavor. Milky undertones.
TASTE RATING: 6/10
NUTRITION RATING: 10/10
Notes: Darn! This stuff is packed with a lot of excellent nutrients including a nice 1500mg of spirulina. But the taste is not as palpable as the others. The grainy texture even effects the smoothie a bit. But the nutrient label is very impressive.

Taste Test Results Overview:
So I can definitely say that the best tasting powder is the one by Macro Greens brand. The worst tasting was the Vibrant Health. Although, the best nutrition rating also went to vibrant health. Tricky! So it depends what you can stomach I guess. If you are all in it for the nutrition, try Vibrant Health. If you need the best tasting, like me, go for the Macro Greens and give Amazing Grass a try. If you don't like a fruity flavor, try the Amazing Grass brand. However, I must say I was impressed with all three brands. Not nearly as ill-tasting as green powder's I remember using say five years ago.

My rankings:

BEST TASTE: Macro Greens brand
BEST NUTRITION: Vibrant Health

Ranked:

First Place: Macro Greens
Second Place: Amazing Grass
Third Place: Vibrant Health

...I love the nutrition in Vibrant Health, but for me personally, it has to taste good. However, I know a lot of you love the green food taste and might contest y personal rankings.

If you have another green food brand you love please leave a comment! I'd love to taste test more.

Websites:
www.macrogreens.com
www.amazinggrass.com
www.vibranthealth.us

Read more about the green superfood spirulina.



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Giveaway: Crofter's Superfruit Spread.

UPDATE: Amazing response, the first 5 good answer responses have been chosen. This Giveaway has closed.

I love Crofter's Superfruit Spreads. The exotic superfruit ingredients and the yummy fresh taste and thick gooey texture blew me away. You really have to try these jam-aisle gems for yourself. You'll be hooked too. Read my complete review here: Crofter's Superfruit Review.

Giveaway! And the wonderful folks at Crofter's want to let five lucky giveaway winners try their spreads too! Click ahead for the details about how you can win a generous giveaway pack from Crofter's Superfruit Spreads....



To Enter this Giveaway:

Simply send me an email to: contact@lunchboxbunch.com
Subject: Crofter's Giveaway.

And the answer to this question:

Q: Crofter's contains several exotic and healthy superfruit ingredients including Maqui and Yumberries. What is a yumberry and what is a maqui? Name one health benefit of each!

THE PRIZE: The first FIVE entrants to give me a good answer will win the amazing giveaway packs which include a full sized sample of each of the four spread flavors including: Europe, South America, North America, Asia.

Good Luck. Check out the delicious Crofter's photos below and read my review here.











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Simple Wild Ramps Tasting

I finally got my hands on some fresh wild California Ramps, on sale at Whole Foods. And after my indulgent ramps photo shoot, the white truffle essence hovering in the air was making me woozy for a delicious ramps tasting. Since I was a ramps newbie I wanted to keep the flavors clean, crisp and simple.

Ramps and Shrooms: A Perfect Pair. I decided to add a bit of shiitake shrooms to my tasting recipe, ramps and shrooms go hand in hand. Come along for my ramps tasting experience and my simple recipe ahead...

How Do I Cook Ramps?

Ramps look a lot like scallions, but must be handled more delicately. Ramps have delicate wispy spring green leaves shooting out of the crisp white and purple root stems. I didn't know exactly how to chop the ramps up for cooking. A few recipes I found online instructed to chop them up pretty harshly and add them to a saute dish for some all around flavor. But since I was doing a tasting I wanted as little chopping as possible. I wanted to really taste these ramps!

Here's my ramp tasting process:

1. Clean the ramps. Pull off any dead or wilted layers around the bulb.

2. Chop off the rooted bulb. Just a tiny slice because a lot of the ramp flavor is in that tiny white bulbed end.

3. Do a 1 inch rule. Chop the ramp into about 1 inch strips starting with the white bulb. I liked keeping the white bulb slice and the purple stem slice separate so I could taste the differing flavors of the ramp.
4. That's it for prep. Now onto the recipe:

Simple Wild Ramps Tasting

Here's the ingredients:

5-6 small wild ramps, chopped as stated above.
1 Tbsp olive oil
5 shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin.
3 Tbsp veggie broth
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the ramps:
In a hot skillet, add the oil, veggie broth and garlic.
When liquid is sizzling, add mushrooms.
Saute for 1-2 minutes uncovered.
Add in a pinch of black pepper and the thick ends of the ramps (white bulbs and purple stems, leave out the green leaves thus far.)
Saute for another minute on med-high.
When the ingredients look just about perfect, add in the green ends of the ramps and cover pan for about 30 seconds. The steam from the pan should cook the ends very quickly.
Uncover and do a quick stir with your spoon to mesh all the flavors together.
Turn heat off.
Sprinkle a dash of salt and grind some fresh pepper on the dish-still in the pan.
Toss salt/pepper with the dish.
Plate in small servings dishes while still steamy hot.
The smell will be divine!
Serve with some crusty bread and small forks.

Let the ramp tasting begin.








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Ramps: Veg Photo Esssay.

I don't know what it is about ramps, but they fascinate me. Maybe it's the fact that they are in-season for such a limited time. Maybe it's the fact that trend-setting chef's like Tom Colicchio of Craft NYC likes to add ramps to the tasting menu and at the same time wild ramp seekers are foraging through the woody wilderness collecting these treasured green sprouted roots. High brow, gourmet, earthy and wild all at the same time. Oh yeah, and the fact that they have a flavor reminiscent of white truffles doesn't hurt either.

Wild Ramps from California. I had never tasted or even seen a ramp! So when I spotted wild ramps for sale at my NYC Whole Foods Market, I was thrilled, excited and ready for a veggie photo shoot....

My Ramps Photo Essay.
Here are a few of my ramp photos. I wanted to get every beautiful inch of the lovely green leafed, purple stalked, white bulbed, rooted ramps. But I'll let the ramps speak for themselves...

(and yes I will be posting my ramp tasting recipe in the next post!)























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