Archive for June, 2011

June 27, 2011

Super Antioxidant Detox Smoothie: Raspberry, Blueberry, Strawberry and Spinach

by ashley

by Ashley MorganThis detox has certainly kicked my butt – but it’s been good for me. While I may never again look at a fruit smoothie the same way, I’ve learned a lot about the way that I think about food and what hold it really has on me. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I can control my cravings, I don’t have to give in to my addictions. It takes a lot of energy and dedication at first, but believe me, you will learn to not even think about other foods.

I also learned that it’s okay to cheat every now and then. Just cheat smart – if you’re starving and craving something big, first drink a big glass of water. If after a few minutes you still feel hungry, cook up some portobello mushrooms and onions. If you’re craving something salty, grab some olive hummus and seed crackers. And if you’re feeling especially guilty: vegan dark chocolate certainly hits the spot 🙂

For my last day of the detox, I wanted to share my smoothie that I’ve eaten almost everyday. It really is tasty, especially when you’re not dreading eating it three times a day for a week!

I freeze my own fruit, I just feel more comfortable knowing the state of the fruit before being frozen. That is just a pet-peeve of mine, and it’s perfectly acceptable to buy flash-frozen fruit (and usually it is much fresher).

Here is a simple detox smoothie recipe, using on fresh fruits and spinach, that will keep your body nourished and healthy, without any preservatives or added sugars.

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1 cup fresh strawberries

1/2 cup fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup ice-cold water

Simply toss in a blender and blend until smooth. Nature’s tastiest concoction!

Do you have any favorite smoothie recipes, using only all-natural ingredients? Share them below!

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June 26, 2011

Ashley’s Vegan Eggplant “Meat”ball Sub

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

A few days ago Earth Balance put out a post on their site about vegan-ized versions of classic American sandwiches, which made me think of one of my most favorite things I make: the eggplant “meat”ball sub. I’ve been making this sandwich long before I even thought about the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, however that version did have several different cheeses, which I have omitted for my new, completely vegan version.

I’m extremely excited to share this with you, as I’m chowing down on my sandwich as I type and, while it may be due to being the first “normal” food I’ve eaten since starting the detox, it tastes like one of the best things I’ve ever had. I think this version is even better than its previous, dairy-filled counterpart. I hope that you find it as enjoyable as I do.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (I chose one about 12 inches long)

1 medium sweet onion

Bunch of fresh basil, to taste (I used five, 3-inch long leaves)

2 tablespoons chopped garlic (I used bottled, you can do it fresh)

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 to 2 cups of panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup ground pine nuts

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 cup extra virgin olive oil (add little by little to feel)

1 cup canola oil (for frying)

1 cup marinara sauce (I used Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Brand, Mushroom Flavor)

Earth Balance butter

Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (I used Daiya brand shredded cheese)

Vegan hoagie rolls (I used Whole Foods’ Hearth Bread Petite French Rolls)

Makes about 20 large eggplant “meat”balls, enough for about 10 sandwiches. The eggplant “meat”balls freeze very well, so they are good to make ahead.

Instructions:

Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large frying pan (I used a large Paella pan that I love because it has high lips). Thinly chop the onions and add to the pan, along with the chopped garlic. While the onions and garlic are simmering, chop the eggplant into very small cubes, about 1/4 of an inch wide. Once the onions are translucent and are beginning to caramelize, lower the heat to medium and add the eggplant. Stir liberally while hand-tearing in the fresh basil.

Stirring frequently, add in all other spices. Continue stirring while adding 1/4 cup of olive oil, slowly, to the pan. Once the eggplant is translucent and mushing, remove pan from heat. Place a separate pan on the burner, filled with one cup of canola oil. Heat over medium heat.

While waiting for the canola oil to heat, let the eggplant cool slightly before beginning to slowly add the panko bread crumbs, ground pine nuts and nutritional yeast. Once cool enough, use your hands to mash the mixture together until you receive a uniform consistency that will stay together with minimal coaxing. Keep adding additional olive oil to the mixture until you feel the balls forming nicely. You may need a little more or a little less than two cups of panko. At this point, taste the mixture to make sure the spices are balanced. You can still add salt, pepper or any of the dried spices to increase flavor, just ensure to mix well.

Once you are happy with the flavor of the mixture, begin forming your “meat”balls using the palms of your hands. I like mine to be quite large, therefore I usually will form balls that are a little larger than a golf ball. The size is entirely up to your tastes.

Make sure to pack the balls well in the palms of your hands, smoothing them so that they will not fall apart in the frying process. Once you have formed the “meat”balls, check the oil by carefully putting a tiny amount of salt in the oil. If it sizzles rapidly, the oil is ready.

Fry the balls well in the oil, until they are crispy golden brown. They fry extremely quickly, so it’s best to only put one or two in the oil at a time, carefully using a metal slotted spatula or spoon to roll them around, giving them even color. Carefully pull them out of the oil once golden brown and place on a paper towel, to soak up any additional oil.

Once all have been fried, remove pan from burner and place in the cold oven, this will keep the smell of oil from permeating any more into your home. While your eggplant “meat”balls are cooling, spread Earth Balance on each of your split rolls and put into a warmed toaster oven until the spread has melted. While this is melting, warm your marinara sauce either in a saucepan or in the microwave (carefully, this splatters A LOT in the microwave).

Assemble subs by placing desired amount of eggplant “meat”balls on each roll (if you made them as big as I do, you will probably only need two per sub). Pour warmed marinara sauce over the balls and sprinkle with vegan mozzarella cheese, in my case, Daiya shredded cheese.

Place sandwiches carefully on a piece of aluminum foil and broil in the toaster oven until cheese has melted. Serve immediately and enjoy!

If you have made a large batch in order to freeze some of the eggplant “meat”balls, assemble the fried, but cooled, balls (without any sauce) into a freezer-tight container. I’ve frozen them up to a month without any problem, as long as your container really is freezer-tight. Warm up either in a toaster oven or traditional oven at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.

I hope you enjoy and please let me know how they turn out, if you decide to make them 🙂

June 22, 2011

Healthy Detox Snack: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

Day 2 and 3 of our Detox Diet (click here to see our Detox Confessions page) have so far been super easy with the help of advance planning and some creative snack ideas. Yesterday I decided that I needed some veggies to snack on, but I didn’t want the normal carrot sticks or celery, I wanted something with more taste and nutrition. So I picked up a few bags of Brussels sprouts and decided I would roast them, and then keep them around in the refrigerator for snacks.

The recipe is super simple, fresh and healthy.

Ingredients

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp garlic powder

Olive oil spray, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and move the top rack to the highest position.  Spray to coat a baking sheet with olive oil spray, set aside. In a large bowl mix the sprouts, salt, garlic powder and a little olive oil spray until the sprouts are evenly coated. Pour onto the baking sheet and place on top rack in the oven. Bake 10-15 minutes, shaking the rack every five minutes to evenly roast. They are done once evenly browned.

Serves 4-6.

These are great as snacks or a side dish. For the past two days, I’ve kept a freezer bag full of them next to me for munching on my allotted snack times. While they are certainly best fresh from the oven, they are still good the next day.

Enjoy!

June 22, 2011

Robeks Fruit Smoothies, With A Squeeze of Spinach

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

If you’ve been reading our blog, you’ll know that we frequent Robek’s on a regular basis since we found it offers spinach as an additive for your smoothies.  The last few times we’ve been there, two teen/twenty-something guys have been there to serve us.  Although they don’t seem like the source of all knowledge in smoothies, they are extremely helpful and willing to put just about anything in your liquid meal. 

We found out today, after some work with the “new” guy and what looked like a manager, that you can actually get fresh squeezed apple juice and spinach juice instead of the standard juices served with the smoothies.  The owner of the store explained to us what was in the nutrient blend and we decided to leave it out for DETOX sake.  What I ended up with was a creamy bliss of a smoothie that had nothing more than fruit, spinach and ice.  I literally wanted to eat buckets of this smoothie.
If you go into a Robek’s today ask for the following:

  • Banana
  • Raspberry
  • Spinach (come on, we all know popeye was strong and healthy because he ate spinach so don’t deny it!)
  • Fresh Squeezed apple Juice
  • Ice

Slurp, gulp, pour it down your throat, on your face, bathe in it.  But run down and get one, I promise it will be a moment of seeing the light.

Four carrots for taste and the Owner was really helpful but three carrots for the workers that were there today.  All together, 3 1/2.

June 20, 2011

Thai Coconut Curry at Tamarind Thai Restaurant

by jem614

by Jessica Michael

image

If the picture looks delicious, it’s because it is.  Tamarind Thai Restaurant is a little hole in the wall restaurant on Normandy Drive just over the 79th street Causeway in Miami Beach.  On Sunday afternoon, the only person waiting on you is a pretty, older, Thai woman who is very intent on serving you well.  The ambiance is a little cheese with a little sophistication wrapped into one (if that can be done).  The artwork on the walls could be described as “uneventful” but I don’t think that’s the fault of the restaurant.

I chose the Coconut Curry Tofu with basmati rice that turned out amazing.  It was very spicy but coconut curry is supposed to be that way!  The curry was rich and saucy and I was sad to run out of rice to pour it on.  The only complaint I have is that the curry would have been better with some more vegetables as it was a bit soupy and the tofu could have been a little less crispy but besides that, it was the best tasting Coconut Curry I have eaten in a long time.  They do have quite a few vegetarian options and even have two on their lunch specials menu which ranges from 6.99 to about 10.00.

This restaurant is Zagat rated and is supposed to have THE BEST empanadas?  Odd that a Thai restaurant has been recognized for it’s empanadas but I guess you just need to check it out and see for yourself!

They also apparently have some cooking classes that you just have to try out!  Their website is a plethora of information on their restaurant and Thai Cooking. Go to http://tamarindthai.us/ for more information and tell them Veg On The Run sent you!

They get four carrots for great service and yummy curry!

June 17, 2011

Delicious, Delightful and Sinful Plantain Tortas

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

I am in love with the Global Table Adventure blog. I am addicted to her recipes, her rich writing and her adorable daughter. Yesterday I saw her recipe for sweet plantain tortas and I just knew I needed to make them, the sooner the better.

I left work and went straight to the market, picking up the ingredients and rushing home to start making my little masterpieces. I am no stranger to empanadas, I’ve probably made at least a few thousand in my lifetime, between home cooking and working in several restaurants. But I’d never heard of making dough out of plantains for empanadas, or tortas, as they are called in some countries. So I gathered up my ingredients, setup my laptop in the kitchen on Global Table’s website and got to cooking.

I followed the directions religiously, taking time and care in every little step to ensure they came out perfect. And perfect they were. My boyfriend came home and devoured quite a few, and the next morning my coworkers and I enjoyed the rest. They are gooey, greasy goodness to the last bite. Are they vegetarian? Yes. Are they vegan? They certainly can be, just substitute Earth Balance for the butter and your favorite vegan cheese for the filling. Or you can try filling with vegetables, which would also be tasty.

Thank you, Global Table Adventure, for your amazing blog. I am your number one fan!

For the recipe, visit http://globaltableadventure.com/2011/06/16/recipe-plantain-cheese-turnovers-tortas-de-platano/

June 17, 2011

Miami Lakes’ Own Tex-Mex Haven: Cancun Grill

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

A substantial, healthy meal is hard to come by in Miami Lakes, FL, the mecca of chain restaurants and fast food. However in the middle of this mess is an inconspicuous Tex-Mex restaurant named Cancun Grill that actually offers several vegetarian options. While I haven’t yet tried, I’m sure they would also amend some of these options to be vegan, as well.

Their triple vegetarian combination is my favorite dish here. It comes with a black bean tostada, a veggie enchilada and a spinach quesadilla, with a side of refried beans and yellow rice. It is enough food for at least two people, and at a price of just $7.00, it really is a steal. The veggie enchilada actually comes sans cheese, so it could possibly be vegan (not sure about the butter content). It is really delicious, though. Freshly cut squash and zucchini wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and topped with a tomato salsa. The vegetables seem to be marinated and then steamed fresh; they have a great fresh bite and wonderful flavor. The spinach quesadilla is actually more full of steamed spinach than cheese, with just a little bit of cheese, but I love spinach so I am more than happy with it. It’s also a nice change from the normal cheese-laden, flavorless quesadillas of chain restaurants. A toasted tortilla really makes a difference with flavor, too.

By the time I’ve tackled both the spinach quesadilla and the veggie enchilada, I’m usually too full to continue. The refried beans are good, but not much different from what I’ve tasted in other Tex-Mex establishments. The yellow rice pales in comparison with the other items on the plate. I do like the black bean tostada, but it isn’t my favorite item in the dish. It is basically two crunch-fried corn tortillas topped with a heavy serving of black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese and sour cream. I normally nibble on just the black beans as I’m deciding that I really should stop because my stomach feels like it’s going to explode.

While the noise level is lively, it isn’t anything overwhelming. I’ve not been here during dinner, however during lunch they do have quite a following. And that’s good – that means turnover is good, the food is fresh and they have tons of regulars.

At the moment their website is down, however Menu Pages has a good listing on them that includes their menu:

http://southflorida.menupages.com/restaurants/cancun-grill/menu

June 16, 2011

You Don’t have To Go To Mexico (Cancun Grill is here!)

by jem614

By Jessica Michael


Ashley and I found out that Cancun Grill now has several vegetarian options a few months ago and we’ve been going back ever since.

Growing up in the Southwest, it was essential for me to have a love of Mexican food.  My mom used to make homemade tortillas and would pair it with a pot of chili or just beans with cheese and that was dinner.  During the summertime she would buy bags of dried chilis, soak them in water and then strip them of their seeds to make chili rellenos (vegetarian) that were to die for but then again my mom’s food was always the best.

Home cooked meals can never compare with store bought but today’s lunch at Cancun was really delicious.  The vegetarian enchiladas were covered in this sweet mole or chipotle sauce and contained corn, carmelized onions and mushrooms.  The side of refried beans covered in cheese is perfect mixed in with the rice.  They don’t get it right all the time but there is something about that sauce that keeps me coming back.

image

Freshly Made Chips and Salsa

Mushroom Enchiladas with Chipotle

Watch Out Vegans! That’s alot of Cheese!

The waiters here are very attentive but if you’re looking for a quiet place to hang out, this is not the place for you.  Loud, gaffawing and half-drunken patrons are the norm, especially when they serve margaritas at lunch during the work week (I may be over exaggerating a little here but just a little).

For some reason their website says “this account has been suspended” but if you want to check them, just stop in at lunch time – right off the Palmetto on the west side of 154th in Miami Lakes.

June 15, 2011

South Beach Takes a Spin with Greener Transportation

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

While I may be a Miami local, for some reason I always fall into the touristy areas when it comes to weekend outings. I think it’s just the lure of living in a vacation destination. Regardless, I am absolutely ecstatic to say that Miami is now competing with larger, greener cities by introducing the DecoBike program. Tourists and Miami Beach locals alike can now easily and affordably maneuver through the crowded streets of South Beach, on rented bicycles that are available at terminals throughout the city.

What I love about the program is firstly, the affordability. For a quick ride around the city, whether for exercise or just to enjoy the ocean air, is only $5 an hour. And if you decide you want to stay out longer, keep the bicycle up to 24 hours total for $4 per 30 minute increment. Yes, this can get VERY expensive if you keep it out for too long, however this program is really meant as a means of transportation. There are docking stations located throughout South Beach and up into parts of North Beach, therefore just dock it wherever you head and pick it back up when you’re ready to jet off again.

What I also love about this program is the iPhone app they have. It shows all the different stations, on a map so they can be easily found, and also how many empty slots (for dropping off) or bikes are available to pick up. Here are some screenshots, it really is a very user-friendly interface:

         

My only qualm is that on my most recent trip, I did have a problem docking the bike (I wasn’t sure if it registered as being returned, and they charge you $675 for a lost bike). When attempting to dial the telephone number on the actual docking station, I found it was disconnected. I looked on the app and the website, and to my dismay they were all the same number, all disconnected. It has now been a couple of weeks since then, and I was not charged anything more than I should have been. All is well, but I hope they fix this soon.

Overall, DecoBike has been a welcome addition to the area. It is a fun way to spend an afternoon, a good way for tourists to see the sights and a great way to have cheap transportation for beach residents. If you are a resident of Miami Beach, they have a pass that is $15 month that offers unlimited 30 minute rides. However, I have spoken to many people in the area and the passes take a while to get and you are still charged the $4 per 30 minutes over if you forget to dock the bike. I think this is a great step towards independency from cars on the beach and I applaud Miami Beach for supporting this effort. This program is still in its infancy, and as it grows I’m sure the kinks will be worked out.

Miami Beach DecoBike:  http://www.decobike.com/index.php

UPDATE 17 JUNE 2011:

DecoBike (via Twitter) has advised that they were having troubles with Atlantic Broadband, but their telephone line is now working properly.

June 13, 2011

Follow the Food Trucks!

by jem614

by Jessica Michael

Unexpectedly, after church on Sunday, we were told that there would be food trucks coming.  My first reaction was, “oh disgusting, a bunch of grease traps on wheels”.  My husband’s first reaction, “Oh yeah, Baby, we’re staying for lunch!” Needless to say, I lost out so our lunch on Sunday was from a food truck, albeit a rather glamorous one.  I can’t say that it was entirely healthy but I can say that it was delicious.   The Goat Cheese Veggie Philly (the vegetarian “Philly Cheese Steak”) looked fresh and smelled amazing, I had my doubts that there would be any vegetarian options.  The only negatives were that the sandwiches were on white bread that looked similar to overgrown hot dog buns which turn into sugar once it goes down and the veggies on the sandwich were just a tad overcooked. However, it was eons better than expected and fun to eat; though my husband did down half of my sandwich before I had my first bite.

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All in all it was a great experience.  One person I met there asked if this was my first time with the food trucks and I had to ask her, “you’ve done this before?”.  She filled me in a little on “food truck mania”, she had been to an event at a catholic church a month or two before, in the evening.  They had spread out a blanket, brought their friends and family and had a great time.  Churches seem to use food truck events  for collecting donations for mission teams, etc. but it can be pricey paying for both the donation and your food.

I do recommend doing a food truck event at least once, it’s an experience that ranks up there with buying a knock-off in China Town.

Next up- a Petition for a Vegetarian/Vegan food truck!

They get four carrots for fun and three for healthy options (but let’s face it, you’re not there for the health options).

You can follow the food trucks at http://www.miamifoodtrucks.com to see where their next event will be.

Update! The food truck event I went to was in the SunSentinel today! http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/miramar/fl-cn-foodtruck-0619-20110618,0,6256911.story

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