Starbucks' New 'Real Food' is Natural. Still Not Vegan.

Starbucks is following in the footsteps of big brand names like Snapple and Lays Potato Chips, as they go natural. Starbucks' new food campaign:

"Real food. Simply Delicious."

But to me, it's still simply not vegan. And is it really healthier? Frustration ensues, as I contemplate Starbucks' 'healthier food' branding twist. Starbucks: always dodging the vegan ball, but with so many Soy beverage fans, are they playing a smart game?....


Starbucks Has Real Food Now. So what does 'real food' mean to Starbucks?

* No artificial flavors
* No artificial trans fats
* No artificial dyes
* No high-fructose corn syrup


Starbucks' New Campaign.
This new campaign even includes at-home, do-it-yourself recipes inspired the new Starbucks menu item creations. Huh? Weird. Starbucks now wants their customers to whip out an apron and bake their own banana bread? I don't think so. When I am running to catch an uptown subway on my lunch hour and I need to speed into Starbucks for a quick Starbucks soy chai, the last thing on my mind is picking up a recipe for baking my own oatmeal cookies. Starbucks oatmeal cookie recipe here. And the Banana bread recipe here. And while I personally am an avid chef, baker and foodie, most busy Starbucks lovers probably don't bake their own breakfast banana bread or oatmeal cookies. So yes, I find this new branding twist and turn a bit odd.

Is Natural Better in Fast Food? I love baking my own vegan recipes with all natural healthy ingredients, but that does not always match up with the needs of fast food. And yes, Starbucks is not baking their bread in-store each morning. It's still 'fast-food'. So I have to wonder: will these new food recipes hold up to travel, storage, re-heating and shelf-life-ing-it in a Starbucks store? I know my made-at-home banana bread would be inedible in a week and in a few days, not as good as day one. So if Starbucks is really going home-style. I just hope the food shelf-life doesn't suffer.

Still Not Vegan.
But all in all, the news about new food makes me frustrated because none of the new items are vegan. none. So really, until a vegan banana bread hits the Starbucks baked goodies window, I'm just sitting in the corner twiddling my fingers drinking a soy chai and my pack of Starbucks almonds. Those are vegan.

Read all about the Starbucks "Real Food. Simply Delicious." campaign here.


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Birdbath Green Bakery, NYC. Vegan Cookie Review.

This past weekend I trekked out to Birdbath-Build a Green Bakery, in the East Village. Isn't Birdbath a great name? They supposedly had the best vegan chocolate chip cookies -ever! Well here's my review of the cookies and of this tiny, but proud Eco-friendly green NYC bakery...


My Review of Birdbath: Build a Green Bakery:

Pretty delicious. But not as vegan-friendly as I thought. I went twice and both times they didn't have any signs of their 'famous' vegan cornbread. Darn. The only vegan options were the sesame seed muffin and the vegan chocolate chip cookies. The cookie was delicious, but not the best I've ever had. It actually tasted exactly like Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies-only Birdbath's are vegan.
My non-veg hubby loved the pretzel croissant. And yes, it looked tasty. Birdbath is a must try for Eco-green, non-vegan foodies. And vegan foodies- if you're into cookies.


Customer Service: The first time I went the counter girl was a bit stand-offish. But the second visit-an older woman was incredibly nice. I might be back, but I probably won't crave to be. A less-than-stellar customer service experience can dig deep.

Now here is my official Review...Breakdown Review: Birdbath

Shelf Appeal: Awesome little 'green store' everything is made from recycled, and truly re-used materials. The floor is cork and the table is bamboo with recycled fiber as the base. Learn more here: Birdbath Construction. The bakery goods are not enclosed in a case though-not so appealing. They give discounts to customers who arrive on bikes or skateboards. Cool.

Label Check: We're talking cookies and muffins here, so the nutrition level won't win any awards. But, like all vegan baked goods, lower in saturated fat and other animal product 'bad' stuff. Plus vegan means these are cruelty-free cookies. The sesame seed muffin-bread thingy (honestly, I forget the name) tasted pretty healthy. Lots of good-for-you sesame seeds and bananas I recall.

Taste Test: The 'famous' vegan chocolate chip cookie was excellent. Not the best ever, but very good. However, by the time I got home to do an official photo shoot, the cookies had all crumbled up and soaked the paper bag with oil. Not the best travel cookies. The hubby loved loved loved his pretzel croissant-not vegan. He keeps asking if we can stop by Birdbath after our yummy Liquiteria smoothie/juice outings. It's kinda in the same neighborhood!

Price Check: Moderate. I think our 3 cookies, 1 croissant order came out to around $12 or so. Good gourmet green prices for green gourmet taste. Worth it.

Last Word: Excellent 'earthy' treats at Birdbath. But it's the non-vegan Eco-foodies who are the true winners here.

Birdbath First Avenue NYC Website


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Soy Joy Bars: Butter? Eggs? Cheese? Joy? Not So much.

I recently attended Vital Juice Daily's Wellness Fair, here in NYC. It was a rainy Saturday, and set up inside the old Virgin Megastore were a healthy array of brands giving away free samples and wellness-insider news. I visited KeriBar, by dietitian Keri Glassman, love her and those bars. Canyon Ranch: bliss. Blue Print Cleanse giving away sample sizes of their yummy Spicy Lemonade. Attune Bars and the GNC folks trying to get me to sign up for a Gold card. No thanks. I was also given a few free samples at SoyJoy. "Are these vegan?" I asked, expecting them to say yes. But the response was no! And the SoyJoy Rep's explanation was a little bit annoying. Healthy food: marketing facts or marketing fiction? I review a SoyJoy bar...

It's Not Just Me. Before writing this review, I decided to research and see what other bloggers are reporting on these bars. Here are a few of the quotes I found:

"I almost couldn't choke down the hard, dry first bite of the Strawberry bar, let alone finish the almost powdery and strangely chewy-hard textured brick." -Slashfood

"As exciting as it was to get free treats in the mail, I'm sorry to say these bars are pretty gross. They look homemade which is cool, but they tasted more like cookies gone bad." -FitSugar


Is SoyJoy vegan? Nope. Really, not vegan? A soy bar? Why not? Two slightly un-informed booth workers proceeded to check the label for me, almost as if they had never done so before. Soy joy is not vegan. They explained that this 'healthy' bar contained butter, eggs, whole milk and even cheese. Now is it just me or does that throw anyone else off? I read 'soy' and I sometimes assume that soy ingredients are used instead of dairy. Not so. These soy bars remind me a lot of the dairy-free veggie cheese that contains casein, aka milk-protein. Totally absurd.


Baked Goods Branding. SoyJoy uses branding that markets their soy bars to taste like baked goods, because they use the same ingredients in most traditional baked goods: eggs, butter, whole milk, milk chocolate, and even butter oil. Baked good, maybe, but isn't SoyJoy marketing their product as a healthy? I mean they were at a Wellness Fair. And they are constantly advertising in vegetarian markets. And their website reads like they are selling an ancient anti-aging secret. But really it is just soy stuffed into a baked good bar. Personally, if I ate baked goods I'd go for the good stuff like a home-baked cookie with a side of soy milk. Not this bar.

How Much Protein? So the theory is that you buy these bars for the soy goodness right? Well guess what, each bar only has 4 grams of soy protein! That's less than a cup of soy milk! Oddly, the SoyJoy FAQ's say that each bar contains 8 grams of whole soy. They must have included the fat, carbs and fiber in the 8 grams for that misleading answer.

Taste Test. Since the soy bars are not vegan. (That sounds weird) I won't eat them But my husband proceeded to taste test the sample we were given: Mango Coconut. Six grams of fat and 3.5 grams of saturated fat. That's 18% your RDA of saturated fat from one little soy bar. He couldn't finish it. He expected a 'baked goods' taste considering the eggs and butter. But no such luck. It was a hard bar. Not so tasty.

SoyJoy Ingredients: Take a look at the ingredients in these bars: butter, milk, milk chocolate, eggs, sugar, Parmesan Cheese (in the Peanut Butter Chocolate flavor I might add-weird), chocolate liquor, dextrose and brown sugar. Not my idea of healthy vegan ingredients. I just don't get how they reasoned Parmesan cheese into a 'healthy' bar. Now if the bars tasted fantastic, they would have more of a case from vegetarians. But hard-as-a-rock (the first reaction from my taste-tester) does not seem tasty to me.

Soy is Joy. I applaud SoyJoy's plight to bring high quality whole ground soy bean to the mass markets of people. But there is a lot of confusion and propaganda from their marketing. I will bet a lot of people eat these bars thinking, wow I'm being so healthy right now. But 3.5 grams of saturated fat from one tiny bar is not so healthy.

Craving non-vegan soy? Go eat a real cookie, with a glass of soy milk.

My Advice to SoyJoy: Re-brand. Cut out the butter, eggs and milk and go vegan. Keep the high quality whole bean soy and add in more of the healthy stuff. Bars aren't as trendy as they used to be, so you really gave to be on top of your flavor, texture and nutrition game to sell bars. I could tell you the perfect vegan bar, but that's a whole second post...Good luck!

EVENT NOTE: I want to add that the majority of the participants at Vital Juice Daily's Wellness Fair were awesome! They even had live exercise classes going on-for free. It was a fabulous rainy day treat. So big shout-out to VJD for putting on the event. But next time, maybe nix the SoyJoy people. And tell GNC to lay off the 'membership card' pushiness! :)


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The Next Food Network Star: Week Four Rankings!

Did you watch last night's episode of The Next Food Network Star? Here are my week four contestant rankings. And my "Lobster Blueberry Pot Pie?!" reactions to the random-food-combo challenge recipes. And this week, I'm a little peeved about the contestants choices, as Bobby says, "No one is grabbing the title!"....

Week Four Reactions:

* I'm still loving Melissa. She's my fave to win thus far-still.
* Debbie always delivers, but her dish was a bit blah this week. I know, I know, she got whacked in the face by Michael. But even still, I whipped out a Thanksgiving dinner on crutches one year so beat that!
* On to Michael. Gosh, my blink about him was that I liked him. And I still do. A lot. In fact this week he has stolen my number two ranking, right behind Mel. He's got a spark and always delivers creative food.
* Now for my annoyances. Is it just me or do a few of the judges (Bob Tuschman) like Jamika too much? What has she really shown or proved in her skills? Yes she is super friendly, but I think a bit too friendly. Where's her edge? This is Food Network, but not PBS!
* Another blah for me is Jeffrey. He's fading fast and I've lost interest.
* Katie continues to disappoint. Enough said.
* Teddy is gone. A bit shocked by this. I thought, honestly, Jeffrey should go for his horrible Lobster Blueberry Pot Pie. Who does that?! Who pairs shellfish with berries. Even a vegan like me finds that incredibly odd.
* And, PS, the lack of veg-friendly food options and ingredients is continually bugging me. Where is the tofu, seitain or tempeh? Why do they always have to cook with meat??? Frustration ensues once again....

So here are this week's rankings, by moi:


My The Next Food Network Star rankings (Week Four):

*+/- indicates how they moved on my rankings

1. Melissa +1
2. Michael +2
3. Debbie -1
4. Katie +2
5. Jamika n/c
6. Jeffrey -3


On Who Went Home:
Voted Off: Teddy So far, once again my last place ranked person from last week has gone home. Does that mean Jeffrey is next??? We'll see...

Be sure to check back each week when I'll update my rankings and let you know who I think should be winning. Hopefully, the judges will get it right!

Oh, and did you know that casting for the next show has begun?! Check it out on the foodnetwork.com

Watch it: Sunday nights on The Food Network.




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Sunday Brunch Menu: Part 7 Healthy Summer Series.

Let's wrap up part seven of the Healthy Makeover Summer Eats Series: Healthy Sunny Sunday Brunch! Here is the full menu for a healthy Sunday Brunch! It's packed with vegan versions of your favorite summertime brunch menu items: (Tofu Quiche, Goji Lime Pancakes, Spicy Goji Chai, Kumquat Mandarin Juice, Tiki Squares, Melty Muffin Sandwich, Spring Green Fruit Salad and Tempeh Bacon)....

Sunny Sunday Brunch Menu

Select a few recipes below, mix and match to create your perfect healthy vegan Sunny Sunday Brunch!

*Click on the recipe name to link to the full recipe post.

1. Kumquat Mandarin Juice.










2. Banana Almond Butter Toast, a la Jean-Georges.









3. Goji Berry-Lime Pancakes.










4. Tempeh Bacon.










5. Spicy Goji Chai Tea Latte.










6. Vegan Tofu Quiche. With an Herbed Grain Crust.









7. Spring Green Fruit Salad.










8. Tiki Squares Oatmeal Bake.










9. Savory Brunch Melty Muffin. With Tempeh Bacon.









Next up, Fourth of July Celebration...




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Vegan Tofu Quiche. Herbs. Mushrooms. Scallions.

Sunday Brunch can flow over into Monday morning right?...

Vegetarian Quiche was one of may favorite recipes as a little girl back in California. I remember visiting the local French Bakery on Sunday mornings with my family. Sweet mood? Order a Sticky Bun. But if I was in a savory mood, I'd order the veggie quiche. It was soft and creamy with a buttery crust. The roasted bell peppers and zesty cheeses were an explosion of flavor in my mouth. But sadly, since going vegan, I hadn't yet found a good vegan quiche-anywhere! Until now. My Vegan Tofu Quiche with a bright blend of veggies, cheeses, spices, pine nuts and fresh herbs is filled with nutrients and flavor, and minus all the bad stuff we traditionally find in quiche, such as cream, butter, traditional cheese and egg yolks. This recipe is a must try for quiche lovers of all diets, veg or not...


Spicy Italian Summer Quiche. This quiche is perfect for a light summer brunch or a mid-week light lunch. Yet it has a robust amount of flavor. And even a bite of spiciness from the red pepper flakes. Add more or less to adjust your spiciness preference. The recipe may look daunting, but it is actually an easy process-with a lot of ingredients. But you won't believe the layers and depth of the flavor that comes out of each bite.

Silken vs. Firm Tofu? Every vegan tofu quiche recipe that I have looked at online shows that they use firm tofu in their quiche. I don't get that at all. When I think of quiche, I think smooth, creamy, not grainy. When I have tested puddings or tofu-based cream pies with firm tofu it always comes out grainy. Thus, I decided to go against the mainstream advice and try Silken tofu in my quiche. And oh boy am I glad I did! I used my blend-it creamy method when using the silken tofu and then folded the blend into the cooked veggie mixture. The texture turned out perfect! The tofu was apparent enough to make it firm, yet the soft texture made the quiche almost custard-like. Delicious!

Homemade Herbed Crust. It's easy to whip up your own healthy crust. Pre-bake it for a few minutes before filling and baking the quiche. I love using herbs, and a mixture of healthy grains like spelt, wheat, fava-garbanzo bean and flaxseed flour in my crust. I also love the chewy texture that a bit of cornmeal adds to the edges. There's nothing that pleases me more than kneading my own dough rather than using a store bought crust.


Here is my amazing recipe for vegan quiche...

Mushroom Scallion Tofu Quiche with Herbed Grain Crust
vegan, makes one 9" quiche
*If you have leftover filling, the mixture can be used to make mini-quiches or even a pan-fried fritter.

Crust:
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp agave
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
*Ground up flax seeds
3/4 cup flour (any variety)
1/4 cup fava-garbanzo bean flour (or any variety you'd like)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, basil)
cornmeal for dusting

Quiche Filling:
Part One Filling-blender:
1 block 15 ounces, silken tofu
1/4 cup Arrowroot powder
*Arrowroot powder is like cornstarch, it thickens the texture.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup soy milk
1 Tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup white vegan cheese (mozzarella or Jack)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup agave syrup
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
Part Two Filling-Saute:
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp pine nuts
4 scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp vegan buttery spread
Quiche Topping:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp agave syrup
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp vegan white cheese
garnish: lemon slices, chopped parsley

Directions:

Crust:
Grease a 8-9" cake pan with vegan buttery spread.
Flour dust the inside as well.
Combine all the crust ingredients in a large bowl.
Add a bit more or less flour as needed to get a soft, but kneadable dough.
Roll out dough on floured surface to about a 12" circle.
Drag bottom of crust through a few Tablespoons of corn meal.
Position dough in cake pan.
Try to get a nice even wrap-around crust with edges, but it's OK if it isn't perfect.
Brush crust with an olive oil/agave glaze.
Poke a few holes in bottom of dough.
Place a parchment paper circle on top of crust, fill with cooking weights or dry beans.
(This will prevent the crust from rising during baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to partially brown edges.
Set Pan aside to cool while you work on filling.

Filling:
Prep the veggies.
Saute all the saute filling ingredients over high heat for about five minutes-or until cooked down and slightly caramelized.
note: add the pine nuts last, as they can toast up quite quickly over high heat.
Pour into large mixing bowl.
In a blender, combine all the blender filling ingredients.
Blend until smooth.
Should be a thick milky white mixture with accents of green and red.
Pour white mixture into veggie mixture.
Lightly fold in 1/4 cup of shredded white vegan cheese.
Pour the mixture into the crust.
Prep top glaze by combining vinegar, oil, agave syrup and black pepper.
Pour glaze over top of quiche.
Sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on top.
Sprinkle last 2 Tbsp of vegan white cheese over that.
Add a few lemon slices to the quiche before baking.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until top is browned and edges are firm.
If the center is a bit soft, that is OK.
As the quiche cools, it will firm up.

Remove quiche from oven, allow to cool for an hour.
You may serve it warm or place in fridge to harden for a few hours or overnight.
Serve with a fresh grating of black pepper, fresh lemon slices and fresh chopped parsley.

Ingredients notes:
I use the Follow Your Heart brand of vegan cheese. I like a white cheese in this quiche (Mozz. or Jack).
Remember that you must adjust the salt for the ingredients. If your pine nuts are salted, use less salt in the recipe. If your tofu, pine nuts and butter have less or no salt, make sure you add enough. Tofu needs salt and seasonings to bring absorb flavors.







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Oatmeal Bake Tiki Squares. Kid-Approved Breakfast.

Breakfast for adults means a hot coffee, chai or cappuccino. A fruit salad, savory breakfast sandwich, homestyle potatoes, protein shake, or a blissful muffin. But kids (of all ages) like things a lot simpler than a big breakfast spread. Heck, even a bowl of oatmeal, nut butter and fresh fruit can seem to lack the simplicity that kids crave. Well how about the healthy-yummy taste of oatmeal, fruit and nuts baked into a fun square? Yes!

Tropical Tiki Oatmeal, Squares! These kid-approved Oatmeal Bake Tiki Squares turn oatmeal into a warm chewy muffin-like treat that any kid, and OK, any adult will love. Tiki Squares combine the tropical flavors of coconut, banana and cashew nuts. Bake them once, eat them all week. And let the kids help out in the kitchen-this is a super easy recipe. Warm Oatmeal Tiki Squares anyone?....

A Square Meal in a Square. These fluffy scrumptious squares have it all. (And guess what, they are a lot healthier than those pop-up toaster squares.) My Tiki Squares have oatmeal, soy, almond, coconut or hemp milk, fiber-rich cashews, potassium rch bananas and even some healthy flaxseed four mixed into these maple and agave-sweetened squares. Toasted-on-top coconut flakes give these squares a fun tropical tiki feel. Yummy, healthy and both kid and adult approved. You can bake them once and eat them all week. Easy as dropping something into the toaster!

Oatmeal Bake Tiki Squares
vegan, makes 12 large squares

2 cups non-dairy milk beverage (soy, coconut, hemp, almond)
*do not use a low-fat or lite milk option
4 cups toasted rolled oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup agave syrup
3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes (fine)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 large organic bananas, sliced thin
1/2 cup cashew nuts, whole or crushed
2 Tbsp almond butter, salted
3 Tbsp coconut oil
(canola oil OK if you do not have coconut oil)
1 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup applesauce
Topping:
3 Tbsp coconut flakes, handful cashews, a few banana slices and 1 Tbsp maple syrup.

Directions:
Combine these ingredients in a large bowl: toasted rolled oats, flaxseed meal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon.
Stir in milk, maple syrup, agave syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, applesauce and almond butter.
Fold in cashews, bananas and coconut flakes.
Pour mixture into a greased casserole pan.
Top with coconut flakes, a few banana slices and dot with cashews.
Drizzle with maple syrup.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the center of the bake is firm.
Top should be browned.
Allow to cool for a half hour.
Cut into large squares.
Serve with fresh fruit .

Get Creative with this Recipe:
You can even get creative with this recipe by using different versions of fresh fruit, nuts, and seasonings.
Try macadamia nuts and dried papaya.
Dried cherries and almonds.
Peanut butter and pears.
Apples and walnuts.
Raspberries and coconut.



More delicious Oatmeal Bake photos...









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Summer Eats Series Part 6: Ballpark Sidewalk Snacks

Let's wrap up part six of the Healthy Makeover Summer Eats Series: Ballpark and Sidewalk Snacks! Here's the duo of two healthier vegan versions of your favorite summertime ballpark and sidewalk snacks: (Party Nachos and Giant Soft Pretzels)....

Ballpark and Sidewalk Snacks

1. Vegan Party Nachos: Fresh spicy veggies, protein and fiber-rich refried black beans, fresh jalapenos, bubbly vegan cheese and a mix of perfectly crisped baked and traditional tortilla chips. Vegan.
*Healthier than traditional Ballpark or Party Nachos. Contains 5.5g less saturated fat per ounce of cheese. More beans means more fiber and protein. And fresh ingredients are healthier and more flavorful than canned.




2. Healthy Giant Soft Sidewalk Pretzels. Whole wheat flour, nothing artificial, olive oil, sea salt, herbs, side of spicy Dijon (not neon yellow) mustard.
*Healthier than traditional Giant Soft pretzels which have 300-500 calories, corn syrup (most of the time) fiber-less white flour, and glowing white salt cubes. Oh and they are really not that good either-hard and overly chewy most of the time!





Next up, Sunny Sunday Brunch...




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Organic Fresh Kiwi Raspberry Acai Smoothie.

I try to make a healthy, delicious and creative beverage every morning. Whether it's a Goji Soy Chai, or a Fresh Pineapple Enzyme Smoothie. I am always shopping for new ingredients to blend, juice or swirl into my morning beverage, juice or smoothie. Today I made an Organic Raspberry Kiwi Acai Smoothie. Beautiful fresh organic kiwis were my inspiration. I adore Kiwi's in the morning! They have a clean sweet zesty flavor and are high in Vitamin C. See what else I added in this yummy recipe, more photos and nutrition benefits ahead...



Organic Fruit Flavors. I added organic frozen raspberries, fresh acai juice, a bit of soy, banana, coconut water ice cubes and a hint of fresh grated ginger.

I Love Kiwis! It's the sweet, tart and tangy kiwi flavors that really give this smoothie its unique fruity flavor. For this smoothie you can either use a New Zealand green kiwi, and remember to peel the skin. Or you can use a New Zealand yellow kiwi. Zespri is the brand that I can always find in stores and love. And guess what, if you use the yellow kiwi with the fuzz-free skin, you don't really have to peel it! Just pop it in your blender whole! However, it may darken the color of the smoothie slightly. Yum!


Nutrient Dense Smoothie.
This smoothie is incredibly nutrient packed! Talk about healthy. Kiwi's are one of the most nutrient dense fruits around. They are super high in vitamin C, K, E, potassium, fiber, calcium, copper and even folate. Add in antioxidant and fiber rich raspberries, potassium-rich bananas and the all-around super berry acai and you are in healthy smoothie bliss.

Raspberry Kiwi Acai Smoothie
vegan, serves 1-2

2/3 cup frozen organic raspberries
2-3 Zespri green or golden kiwis, peeled and chopped
*Golden kiwis do not have to be peeled! But the skin may alter the color a bit.
3/4 cup organic acai juice
1/3 cup organic soy milk
6 coconut water ice cubes
dash sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 ripe organic banana
1/4 cup organic wild blueberries

Directions:
Blend all ingredients except kiwi and banana and 2 ice cubes.
When smoothie is smooth, add in additional ice cubes and fresh fruit.
Blend lightly and serve.

Garnish with fresh kiwi fruit slices, and other fresh fruit leftovers.

Nutrition Benefits:
This smoothie is high in antioxidants-especially Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. The ginger gives a nice kick and the soy milk adds a nice serving of soy protein. The acai juice adds omega fatty acids as well!





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Eat Nachos Again! Healthy. Vegan. Party-Approved.

I still remember my first knock-out plate of nachos. Crisp, chewy and brown-burnt edged chips smothered in gobs of white and orange melted cheese. Beans, sour cream, diced veggies, jalapeno circles and salsa. Heavenly. But not healthy. Until now. Eat Nachos again! Learn how to cut out 5.5g of saturated fat per ounce of cheese and create a plate of party nachos you can feel good about...

Healthy Nacho Keys:
*load up on the beans! Choose fat-free refried black beans. Protein and fiber-rich
*Use fresh veggies and jalapenos. Can canned.
*Load up on the 'veggie mixture' topping.
*Spicy is good for you! Go spicy.
*Use spices and herbs like cilantro and cumin to add flavor (rather than added fat from sour cream, oil or more cheese.)
*Use a mix of baked/traditional chips. (The more baked the better)
*Use vegan cheese.
*Add healthy sides like fat-free salsa and healthy avocado slices (or guacamole)

Lift Your Nacho Ban. If you are a healthy eating devotee, you've probably pushed the party, ballpark, snack-worthy food Nachos out of your culinary spectrum. But hold your jalapenos! Nachos aren't all bad! The beans and spicy veggies give this dish good-for-you potential. Improve the chips, add a lot more of the healthy veggies and upgrade the cheese to a vegan version and you are in nacho business! FYI, vegan cheese has 5.5g less saturated fat per ounce than traditional cheese! Discover my recipe for fast, friendly, fun and furiously delicious Vegan Nachos.

Who invented nachos?
It is said that in 1943, Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, invented nachos. He lived in Mexico, not far from the Texas border. He used a Tostada, cheese and a few jalapenos. But that was it! Then in 1977 Frank Liberto, A Texas resident, changed up the recipe to use chips. But wow, nachos sure have evolved since then. Why not continue the evolution....

Nachos. Circa 1980. In the past, nachos have consisted of fried chips, thin greasy neon-orange cheese and sliced jalapenos-sometimes canned. More gourmet versions have included blue corn or gourmet style tortilla chips, piles of an exotic variety of cheeses, beans, sour cream, rice, cilantro and a variety of veggie toppings including onions and tomatoes. Not a 'healthy' food, and definitely not vegan. Until now...

Healthy Nachos. My healthier nachos use a mix of traditional and low-fat chips. They use a large serving of protein and fiber-rich black beans (the vegan, fat-free kind), lots of fresh-chopped veggies, spicy fresh jalapenos and the big kicker is changing up the traditional cheese for some vegan cheese!

Cheese vs. Vegan Cheese Comparison
per one ounce
Vegan Cheese (Follow Your Heart Brand): 80 calories, 8g fat, 0.5g saturated fat
Traditional Cheddar Cheese: 113 calories, 9 g fat, 6g saturated fat.

Lets get to it, here is my recipe for Healthy Vegan Party Nachos:


Vegan Party Nachos
vegan, makes one big plate

1 cup restaurant style tortilla chips
1 cup baked tortilla chips or oven-baked tortilla strips
*low salt is preferred
3/4 cup canned black refried beans, vegan/fat-free
2 Tbsp black olive slices
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced into circles
cheese mixture:
1/3 cup vegan cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp Monterey Jack cheese
*I use the Follow Your Heart brand
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 lime, juiced
pinch of salt and black pepper
olive oil spray
garnish: cilantro or parsley, chopped
4 orange slices

optional: chopped spinach, sliced mushrooms, side of fresh chopped avocados soaked in citrus juice and black pepper.

Directions:

Veggie mix:
In a medium bowl, combine diced tomatoes, diced onions, cumin powder, olive oil, lime juice and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Toss gently to coat the veggies. Set aside.

Line a casserole dish with parchment paper or foil.
Spray with olive oil spray.
Lay a handful of chips on bottom of dish.
Next, empty beans into microwave-safe dish.
Heat refried beans in microwave for one minute-to warm them.
Now take your remaining chips and spread 1 tsp of beans on each chip, then layer them in the casserole dish.
Grate the cheese.
Sprinkle 3/4 of your cheese mixture on top of the chips.
Next, spoon about 1/2 cup of the veggie mixture on top of the cheese and chips.
Then add your remaining cheese to the top of that.
Add your olives and jalapeno slices to the top layer of cheese.
Spray entire nacho dish with olive oil spray (this will assist in browning the cheese and chips)
Now place your nachos of the top rack of your oven.
Broil them on high for about ten minutes-or until the chip ends are toasty brown and some of the cheese has bubbled brown as well.
Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
While the nachos cool, prep your serving plate.
Place 4 orange slice circles and 4 lime wedges on the dish.
(See image)
Finally, with a large spatula, transfer the nachos onto the serving plate.
Serve warm.
Serve any leftover beans or veggies in side dish bowls.
You can also serve with some spicy salsa or guacamole.







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