Archive for September, 2011

September 30, 2011

Vegan Friday: Whole Wheat Guava Pop Tarts

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

Who didn’t wake up some mornings as a child and run to the cabinet to see if there were any pop tarts left in the box? Unfortunately those pop tarts were laced with ingredients we couldn’t even pronounce and had so much sugar it hyped us up and then drugged us for the rest of the day.  Fortunately, the web is filled with great recipes and I was able to find a healthier, veganized version.

In order to “Miami” these Pop Tarts, I used Guava jam to fill them.  The recipe for these amazing tarts came from: though I did tweak it to include almond milk instead of soy and whole wheat vs. regular flour.  I also used Guava Jam instead of strawberry.  It was incredibly easy and so fun to make.


The first step is to make the dough which is only four ingredients (see the link for the recipe).  I was only able to make 3 full pop tarts out of it so if you want more, I would double it.


Roll out your dough and cut your squares evenly (so they match together).
First lay out your bottoms and add about a tablespoon and a half of jam to each one and spread it out.


Next, put the tops on and seal them by pressing your fork on the sides.  I have heard of some people dipping their fork in warm water first before making the seal to make it close better.

Stick it in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.  Take it out and let them cool.  In the meantime, make the frosting.  I added a teaspoon of Guava jam to make it tastier but it is just as pretty to have the plain white frosting as well.

Once they are cool, add your frosting and sprinkles (right away so they stick).  These are so easy and you can make so many ways:


Guava, strawberry, apple pie, chocolate, blueberry, banana, pumpkin (wow that would be amazing), pineapple, etc. etc.

So happy I found this recipe!

September 27, 2011

Brazilian Brigadeiros (Chocolate Bonbons) Veganized

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

There is seldom a party in Brazil without these tiny rounds of chocolately goodness, but as they are traditionally made almost entirely of condensed milk, they certainly weren’t something vegans could indulge in. This recipe attempts to capture the rich taste and texture without the dairy. It took a few tries before I came out with a version good enough to serve alongside the original, however the results were definitely worth the work.

You will need to either start a day in advance or set aside a few hours to make these, as I wasn’t able to find vegan condensed milk in my local Whole Foods. If you are able to find (or have some made ahead) vegan condensed milk, then skip the first part of the recipe and start right with heating the condensed milk and adding cocoa.

Ingredients for vegan condensed milk:

3 cups dairy-free milk (I’ve used almond milk here)

¼ cup water

1 tblsp vegetable-based margarine

1 tblsp sugar

Ingredients for Brigadeiros:

2 tblsp cocoa drink mix

1 tblsp dark cocoa

1 tblsp vegetable-based margarine

Sugar sprinkles, powdered sugar, coconut flakes and/or anything else you’d like to use for decoration

Directions for Vegan Condensed Milk

In a large pot, add all ingredients (milk, water, margarine, sugar) and stir constantly over medium heat until boiling. Lower to a simmer and allow to reduce until thick. This will take several hours.

Directions for Brigadeiros

In a large pot (if using your own vegan condensed milk, otherwise use the same pot) heat the condensed milk over medium heat, adding the cocoa drink mix, dark cocoa powder and margarine. Stir constantly, heating until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the pot, about 5 minutes. Transfer to another dish and cool completely.

Once completely cool, the mixture should look a lot like a very thick, sticky chocolate pudding. Setup your decorations in small bowls for rolling onto your brigadeiros. Using the palms of your hand, roll the chocolate mixture into small balls, about an inch in diameter. Roll in decoration of choice and place in aside for presentation or for storing in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes approximately 24 brigadeiros.

September 26, 2011

China Grill Vegetarian Spice Menu

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

I’ve lived in Miami for ten years and have never taken advantage of Miami Spice.  For those of you not from Miami; Miami Spice is a event that the higher-end restaurants participate in every year.  There are about 80-100 restaurants in and around Miami that create a special menu for the price points of: $22/lunch and $35/dinner.   For some restaurants, this is an incredible deal that you don’t want to miss.

Each restaurant offers their own menu and a separate “Spice” menu for their customers.  The menu usually includes a starter, a main meal and a desert (drinks are not included).  At China Grill, regular menu items for just the entrees usually start at around $18 and go up from there, most averaging about $30.

So, for the last week of Miami Spice, a friend and I decided to check out China Grill.  The staff were very friendly and accommodating.  Most people there for lunch were ordering off the spice menu (why not for that deal!).

The only negative about China Grill’s menu is that it’s a “Share” menu.  If you have three people in your party, you split two entrees.  If one of you is vegetarian and the others aren’t, that means that you are sharing one entree with two other people while you can’t even touch their’s because unfortunately, China Grill only has one vegetarian entree option on the spice menu.  Not that I’m complaining! 😉 It was a very good mushroom and sundried tomato pasta and the Wasabi mashed potatoes were amazing.

At the end of our meal we got to share these incredible deserts!

We had a great lunch and are looking forward to checking out more restaurants next year during Spice month!

For more information on Miami Spice go to

September 22, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini (Vegan)

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

Fresh Out of The Oven

Pinterest has become a new obsession of mine.  Not only do they have images of beautiful home decor, great clothes, and great places to visit; they also have pictures of pretty food.  Those pictures inspire my creativity (which can be good and bad) and I end up trying to do things I’ve never tried before.  The bad part is that I tried making my own lamps and they turned out looking like a child’s art project.  The good part?  My Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini.

It was a crunchy, fresh, healthy dinner option that I have for lunch today as well because 3 Zucchini’s magically turn into 6:


1/2 c Quinoa
3  Medium Zucchinis
1/2 Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Veggie Bullion
1/2 Tomato
Crushed Pecans
Veggie Cheese Sprinkles
Panko (bread crumbs to make it crispy on top)
To get started, put about 1/2 cup of quinoa to heat on the stove.  Add 1/4 cup of kernel-ed corn as well as 1/2 a veggie bullion (if it’s the big ones).  Make sure this is done ahead of time so it’s ready when you start stir-frying the onions and other veggies.

Preheat the oven to 375-400 degrees depending on your oven.


Prior to Baking

For the Zucchini, first cut in half long-ways.  Next, take a spoon and scrape out the middle (keep the scraps) until it’s thin enough to bake quickly but not too thin that it can’t hold the stuffing.  Set aside.

Heat a pan with coconut oil/olive oil and toss in the diced onion.  You also want a tomato that has been alleviated of its seeds (it’s too watery with the seeds).  Dice the tomatoes and throw them in along with one or two chopped garlic cloves (depends on how garlicky you like things).

Once the onion mixture has a nice brown tinge to it, add in the scraps from the zucchini (never waste!).  Next, add the quinoa and corn to the pan and stir it all together for a few minutes.  Add cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Now you’re ready to stuff!  Fill them to overflowing but not too overflowing.  On top sprinkle your panko, crushed pecans and veggie cheese sprinkles (these are the magic ingredients).

Put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the tops get brown.  Eat and enjoy your totally healthy, protein-rich dinner/snack/party favor!

September 21, 2011

Blk Water: Fulvic Acid and pH Imbalance

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

While I normally avoid cloudy water, both Jessica and I were intrigued by the extremely dark Blk(sic -brand name) water while browsing our local health foods store. Neither of us were extremely knowledgeable on fulvic acid, which is Blk’s claim to balancing pH in the body, however we decided to give it a try since it was only $0.99. The first thing that really caught my attention when opening the bottle is the surreal feeling you get when drinking it – the water is pitch black, yet it tastes no different than regular spring water. It’s something I’d have to get used to if I decide to continue drinking it.

When we got back to a computer, I decided to do some research on fulvic acid and maintaining pH levels in the body, since I really was (and still am) pretty ignorant on the subject. Doing a simple search on the subject brings up a lot of false advertising – claims that body pH can cause cancers,  is a cure to all sorts of diseases and also that the body doesn’t naturally heal itself to these contagions. The simple fact is that most of these sites are looking to sell you something, and therefore their information is questionable at best. So I delved deeper into the internet, trying to find scientific facts on the subject of pH and fulvic acid. I couldn’t find much on fulvic acid, other than it is a naturally occurring substance made of dead organic matter (plant). Being that it is made from several algae species, I can understand how it would have a high alkaline pH. Dark, leafy green vegetables are well-known for being very alkaline.

Most of the other information I have found is quite contradictory, though. There are many arguments to the effectiveness of consuming alkaline liquids and several more against it. After hours of research, I still couldn’t find a definitive answer, however I am starting to lean toward believing we do need to watch our body’s pH levels but that alkaline products are not necessarily the answer. As with many other health aspects, the best way to maintain a healthy body pH is through a proper diet rich in dark, leafy vegetables and low in dairy/fats.

There may be individuals who need more than just a simple diet change, such as those who suffer from acidosis. But these conditions are rare and should be treated under the strict guidance of a trusted doctor. A simple alkaline beverage will not cure you of any disease. I don’t think drinking alkaline products, such as Blk water, are bad for you. However due to the fact that most people who will come in contact with this beverage, i.e. through their health foods store, are already conscious and therefore simply do not need the help. Be careful with over consumption of high-alkaline products as well, as the opposite of acidosis is alkalosis and can be triggered by a highly alkaline bloodstream.

I’m certainly not trying to bash an entire diet, as I’m not qualified enough to do so, however as with any other fad diet, you should always check out every argument to make an informed decision. We only get one body, so treat it with respect and love!

Here are some good resources I’ve found on this subject:

September 19, 2011

The Triple H Threat Can Still Happen To Vegetarians

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

Recently our office provided us a free health screening with nurses consultation (as well as a nifty gift) so that everyone in our company can start on a healthier path.  I went on Thursday to get my blood taken so they could do an analysis of the things that needed to change in my lifestyle.  I’m happy to report that as a vegetarian, I have excellent results on almost all the tests.  However, there was one thing that concerned me.  I do have low levels of blood sugar as well as a very high thyroid panel (healthy range is .450 to 4.50 and mine is 6.130).

I’ve always had a hard time keeping my blood sugar normal.  While not diabetic, I experience frequent bouts of hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar) which is related to Hyperinsulinemia, a over production of insulin to combat sugar in the blood.  This tends to make me tired, hungry and angry all at the same time (think PMS times 10).  It’s not a fun experience and makes it difficult to have energy to exercise or make good choices when I eat (though as a vegetarian I am 75% better than before).  Hypothyroidism also comes with difficulty losing weight.  Last year when training for the 13.1 race, I didn’t even lose a pound though I was working out sometimes five days a week for hours at a time.  At the time I didn’t know I was experiencing Hypothyroidism, I thought it was just because I wasn’t eating the perfect combination of foods.

After a conversation with a friend last week who cut out sugar because she has PCOS (also something I struggle with) and my test results this week, I’m realizing that something has to change drastically.  The only real cure for Hypothyroidism is losing weight (go figure).  The only way to lose weight is to eat whole grains, greens, and good protein as well as exercising regularly.  I will not be a pill popper if it’s not absolutely necessary.

I’m telling you all this because I think it’s important for everyone, men and women, to  re-evaluate how you’re living.  We never realize the consequences of what we put in our mouth until it’s too late.  Either the scale hits you with a horrific number or the doctor hits you with a horrific diagnosis.  As vegetarians we can tend to think we’re just fine because we’ve cut out meat but vegetarians can be just as unhealthy as carnivores.

I’m going to change the way I eat, I promise myself that I will not be as cavalier about the way I take care of my body as I used to be.   I can’t promise that I’ll be perfect but I’ll certainly do everything I can to make sure I’m responsible for a healthier future.  I’m switching sugars for low sugar fruits like apples and berries; white flours and starches for whole grains; and cutting the coffee (OMG did I just say that?).

If you’re looking for a change as well, join me as I take the journey to cut out sugar (including high sugar fruits), processed white flour products, excess fats and carbs like potatoes.  It’s going to be a hard road, fraught with struggles and strife but I’m so ready to take charge of my health.  I hope you are too!

For more information on Hypothyroidism which is connected to Hyperinsulinemia and Hyopoglycemia, check out these great resources and schedule an appointment with your doctor!

September 16, 2011

Vegan Friday’s Raspberry Sorbet

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

I’ve been wanting to try making Ice Cream in my Healthmaster Blender for a while but haven’t made the time to do it.  In preparation for “Vegan Friday”, I was looking at the Healthmaster website and found a super easy Raspberry Sorbet and thought I would try it for myself.  I made a little tweak to it but it was a perfect Sorbet.  Check it out:


I am so proud of my sorbet!  I’m sure you can make this in a regular blender, it may not be as “creamy” but it’s such a simple recipe that I can’t imagine it being that difficult.

Here are the ingredients:

1 Tin of Raspberries
2 Cups of Ice (I would recommend you get crushed ice or at least crush the ice first)
2 Tbsp Agave Syrup
1 Banana (this was my addition because I wanted something smoother)

Blend on 5 for 1 or 2 minutes; with the Healthmaster blender you need to use the pusher plunger to make sure everything gets pushed into the blades.  You may need to use a wooden spoon or something similar in your regular blender.

Enjoy your end of summer treat!

If you’d like more recipes for the blender, please go to:

September 14, 2011

Vega “On the Run” Breakfast Challenge

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

Chocolate, Very Berry, Natural and Vanilla Chai

I recently tried Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer as an experiment to see how it measures up to a regular breakfast and the results were eye-opening.   As most of you know, I already am an avid Vega/Sequel Naturals enthusiast but haven’t been drinking the shakes for a couple of months out of sheer laziness so this was a much needed reminder for me of how I should be eating.  Thankfully, Vega sent me four different flavors to try as I have only previously had the Vanilla Chai so I was excited to check them out!

When I don’t have my Vega shake, I eat a variety of things for breakfast including building my own smoothies (I need about 500 different ingredients in there to just get the same health benefits as a Vega Shake).  Unfortunately I’m not always good and do go for the bagel and cream cheese or the luscious but crappy pecan roll from Panera.

Here is how they add up (from Panera site):

Ouch – 730 calories from a tiny pecan roll?  I don’t think I need to tell you how fattening and terrible that is for you.

Here are the benefits from Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer (p.s. it’s only 240 calories):

Needless to say, I was looking forward to starting my four days of Vega to try to flush that Pecan Roll from my system.  Here is the lowdown on the four days of Power Breakfasts:


Day 1: There is no better way to start off your power smoothie breakfast challenge than with a little bit o’ chocolate.  Whether you add Cocao Nibs (oh yes, I went there) or just a banana, this Vega shake gave me so much energy and I didn’t have to put in tons of fruits and veggies to make sure I had enough vitamins and minerals because it’s already in there (though I do still like to add a little fresh greens to my smoothies for freshness sake, this week I’m letting it go)!  I haven’t had my Vega Shake for a while now and have been subsisting on whatever food I could find on my way to work.  Needless to say, my lack of Vega shakes has killed my path to veganism.  So I’m back on track this week, I feel so much cleaner and healthier knowing that what I’m putting in my body for breakfast is straight from nature itself.  Plus the added benefits of a cleaner running system (I won’t go into that here).   I also love the Vega smoothies because it doesn’t feel like I’m having this overwhelming chocolate swampy drink that tastes like it’s got so much sugar in it that it negates any healthy benefits.  It’s clean tasting and made with natural sweeteners like Stevia.


Day 2: I only have two days left after today to have my smoothies and I’m kind of bummed out that I don’t have more healthy deliciousness for the rest of my week.  In today’s shake, I added some cacao nibs and Almond Milk.  Most of my shakes are made with unsweetened almond milk because I find that fruit juices provide a little too much sugar, I don’t know about you but overdosing on sugar sometimes makes me sick.
The Very Berry taste is definitely not overwhelming, it’s not as “berry” tasting as I would have liked but still really good.


Day 3: Vanilla Chai is the flavor that I usually purchase on my own.  I love this flavor because it is probably the sweetest one of all the Vega WFHO.  What can I say, I have a sweet tooth! 


Day 4: Final day, sniff sniff.  This one might be the best of all four flavors because you can play with it.  You can make it anything you want.  You want it to taste “Peachy Keen” add a peach and some apple juice.  You want it to be chocolaty?  Add some Cacao nibs and cocoa powder and maybe a date or two, you’re free to be completely creative.

All in all it has been a great four days of not having to think about what I’m eating for breakfast.  I know that I’ve been able to get all the vitamins, minerals, protein and carbs that I need in one fantastic meal.  It’s been so easy to just pop it in the blender with some ice and take on the go and it gives me the energy I need to get through my morning.

Thanks Vega for letting me have four fantastic days of Whole Food Love!  If you’d like to see how your breakfast compares, take the Breakfast Challenge on your own.  Check out these links for more information:

·         Breakfast Challenge:

·         Facebook:


·         Vega Twitter:!/VegaTeam?cid=BCBLOG

September 9, 2011

Vegan Friday: Tuscan Veggie Bake with Tofu

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

Sometimes craving a hearty meal isn’t detrimental to your diet. Take this Vegan Tuscan Veggie Bake, similar to lasagna, but sans noodles for a filling, healthy meal. Seasonal ingredients, eggplant and tomatoes, are the stars of this recipe, bringing welcome antioxidants and bright colors to your plate. Serving this to children is easy with just a sprinkle of vegan mozzarella cheese on top, Daiya being my favorite choice. A great way to get the whole family to eat their veggies, and like them! Tofu adds protein and additional nutrition to make this a well-balanced, one pot meal that can be made in under 45 minutes.


Vegan Tuscan Veggie Bake with Tofu

10 Minutes Prep Time

35 Minutes Baking Time


Serves 6


1 small eggplant

1 small firm tomato

1 medium zucchini

1 portabello mushroom cap

1 pkg soft tofu

1 tblsp dried oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tblsp garlic powder

1 tblsp dried rosemary

3 cups marinara sauce

Optional: ½ cup vegan mozzarella shredded cheese for sprinkling on top


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the eggplant, tomato, zucchini and mushroom cap into long slices. I usually cut the zucchini and eggplant lengthwise to represent noodles. Drain the water from the tofu, pressing to release as much liquid as possible. Mix the tofu with oregano, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and dried rosemary. In a deep baking pan, layer one layer of vegetables, then one layer of tofu mixture, then a layer of marinara sauce until pan is full. Leave about a ¼ inch space on top for settling and the mozzarella cheese, if choosing to add it.


Bake for about 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender with a slight bite. Enjoy!

September 8, 2011

Hangawi Vegetarian Restaurant: New York

by jem614

By Jessica Michael

Day 2: New York – Hangawi

Sadly, I only had two full days in New York.  It is a good thing though or I would have had to buy a second seat on the airplane just so I could get home.

Day 2’s restaurant was on 32nd between Madison and Fifth Avenue, around the corner from the Empire State Building.  This is one of those restaurants that is a “can’t miss” experience.  First of all, when you walk in, they make you take your shoes off (no holey socks or bad manicures will be missed).  Then they seat you on a wooden platform with pillows for comfort, very “traditional” Korean style, it was so much fun!

It had to be the best food experience I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever.  From the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave, you’re transported to another place.  The tea is a bit pricey ($5-10) but it’s a experience on its own.  My friend and former roommate Melissa, who recommended the place, met me for lunch and tried the pomegranate iced. The tea was lightly sweetened and tasted so divine, I could have drunk buckets of it.  My own drink, the Ginger Tea, tasted freshly made and was a welcome mixture of sweet and spicy.

There are three prix fixe menus for lunch and I believe for dinner as well.  I tried the Ginseng Lunch, Mel had the mini Emperors lunch and they were both only $20.  But there was nothing mini about these lunches:

First course was a very thick “porridge” of pumpkin soup.  It was creamy and filling, not as tasty as the rest of the food but it actually was perfect because it didn’t overpower your actual meal.

Second course was the Vegetarian Dumplings that were fantastic and came out so pretty that I had a hard time eating it.

Steamed Veggie Dumplings

And that’s not all…  there was a third course which consisted of (this is from the menu), “tofu clay pot in ginger sauce served with multi-grain rice and kimchi”.  Yum-mo.

Tofu Clay Pot

Finally, desert was served and it was a perfect ending to a perfect meal.  The desert tasted like a thick apple cider with bits of apple and pine nuts floating in it.


Seriously, one of the best meals available in New York.  This is a DON’T MISS.

If I could give them a six carrot rating, I would but I’ll stick with 5.

For more information on Hangawi go to

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