Not Just Tofu

Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Don’t Forget Your Crockpot!

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2014 at 6:33 pm

crockpot 2Do you associate your Crockpot with the 1960’s? Remember mom making pot roast in it? Well vegetarians can use it too. Especially if you have the same situation that I do; you don’t have central air. When you cook, you yourself feel that you too are in the pot. A few weeks ago northern NJ had 90 degree weather with the worst humidity. I had to cook because my brother was visiting from Florida; I couldn’t make him starve. I broke out my 2 slow cookers to make chicken wings in one and rice in the other. It was so successful that I decided to cook Sabbath lunch in them; I made a side of macaroni and cheese and corn pudding. Well to my surprise,  they were a hit. Who knew that this low heat cooking kitchen wonder could do so much.

What else have I made in my slow cooker? I have made season brown rice. I have also made lentils or lentils and rice?  My best vegetarian dish is Latin Picadillo. I know right! It was so good. So next time a heat wave is coming your way or you just want to enjoy your Sunday, dust off your slow cooker and enjoy a slow cooked meal on a hot day. Enjoy the recipes below. Tell me how you like it in comments.

Seasoned Brown Rice
soak your brown rice from the night before  to cook the rice quicker

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of bell peppers, small dice
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil or canola oil
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth (low sodium preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp of seasoning salt (Adobo preferred)
  • 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of flat leaf parsley
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)

Recipe

  1. Spray the sides and bottom of your slow cooker with cooking spray
  2. warm oil in frying pan
  3. sauté onions, peppers and garlic until slightly softened
  4. transfer veggies into slow cooker
  5. mix in rice
  6. cover with vegetable broth and water
  7. mix in seasoning, spices and parsley
  8. cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours

add water if necessary

picadillo1VEGETARIAN PICADILLO

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of thawed sofrito (retail brand La Fe)
  • Frozen Soy Crumbles (preferred Gardein)
  • Spanish style tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of acaparrado (Spanish style bottled olives)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Recipe

  1. Dump everything except the acaparrado
  2. Cook for 1 hour then mix in acaparrado
  3. last 5 minutes stir in cilantro
  4. Cook for an additional 30 minutes
  5. serve over rice with fried plantains

 Photo borrowed from: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/04/963259/-Macca-s-Meatless-Monday-Cuban-On-The-Run#

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Sneaky Bandits: MSG & Gelatin

In Editorial on July 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm

chinese take out Have you ever wondered why your favorite Chinese food leaves you bloated or with a headache? You could be reacting to the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate.  How about that bag of gummi bears you keep in your desk draw? Do you know what makes them so gummy? We are so concerned about eating organic and not buying GMO products, yet and still we mindlessly eat food that won’t make us sick but they won’t keep us well either.

I like Chinese takeout, I often use it as my go to when running late with dinner.  While in the food court at a local mall, I saw a sign that said no MSG. A little light bulb went off in my mind; do people know how much MSG they eat everyday? Monosodium glutamate aka MSG can be found in flavored chips, frozen dinners, salad dressings, seasoning packets and Chinese takeout.  MSG is used to help create flavor by manufacturers in the same way they use sugar and salt.  I remember watching “No Reservations” and while Anthony Bourdain was in either Costa Rica or Panama they purposely added MSG to their dishes.  In my local Korean market, you can find bottles of MSG like you find salt. MSG has not been proven to cause any damage over long-term use but some people do have a reaction to it; some get bloated while others can get headaches.  Next time you eat Chinese takeout or eat a bag of BBQ chips, gauge how you feel.

msgWhy do we need a flavor enhancers? Is it because our food has become so artificial that we need to add MSG to make it taste good. When you cooked last night’s dinner, did you need to enhance the flavor or was it delicious on its own? We don’t need MSG in our kitchens!  This just proves my point, the more you cook the better off you will be.  When you are in control of what goes in your dishes, you can control the flavor.  Who doesn’t like control? So it’s not only the GMO products we should be concerned about but the MSG too.  Take this pledge with me ” I will try not to cook with or eat anything artificial.”

With that thought in mind, I never bought my kids Chef Boy Ardee ravioli or beefaroni or…I think you get my drift.  We also never bought Hawaiian Punch or bologna because they were too artificial and highly processed. It wasn’t until years later that I started to read the ingredients on snacks that I was used to. One day I was eating a Starburst, my church aunt told me that they were made with gelatin.  Knowing that gelatin was derived from questionable sources of meat including the pig, I knew that it was a no-no.  From that moment on I started to wonder what else was in the snacks that I didn’t want me or my family to eat.  I found gelatin in marshmallows which make rice crispy treats, go in cereals and used to decorate desserts, gummi bears, jello snacks, Pop Tarts and yogurt.  Most surprising place I found a use for gelatin was in vitamins. The list grew longer and longer. So what you ask?pop tart

If you don’t want to put harsh pesticides, artificial colors or flavors into our bodies, why are you eating collagen from discarded carcasses in your snacks? Sometimes it may be a cow, other times it may be pig. Did you know that they use the ears, the skin and the feet to create gelatin? No matter how you put a spin on it, vegetarian or not, it just isn’t something you want to eat today or any other day.  FDA says it’s ok, but the FDA says using pesticides and feeding livestock hormones is OK too but I don’t see you buying that.  Just because the FDA approves it, doesn’t mean that it passes your test.

There are healthy alternatives to gelatin and MSG.  Instead of gelatin, try pectin or venture off to Whole Foods and purchase vegetarian gelatin made from seaweed.  If in a bind, I would use a Kosher Product just because I believe their standard of butchering is more sanitary than a regular slaughter-house.  Beware of the “k” found on packages, which I always thought meant  that Kosher gelatin was used but that is not always the case.  As for MSG, try using citrus zest, fresh herbs and exotic spices to enhance the flavor of whatever you are cooking.  Let cooking be an organic activity; meaning don’t bring a bunch of artificial ingredients to an original experience.

Shop wisely, prepare carefully and eat well.

Crispy Chickpea Tacos

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Try this on your next Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday. Give the soy a break! Thank you Sea Salt for the awesome recipe.

The Sea Salt

Living in Southern California we eat tacos for dinner 7 times a week.

The rest of our meals are fresh kale juice with wheatgrass.

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Englewood Night Market: A Block Party Unlike Any Other is Tuesday, July 15th

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 9:02 pm

The date has been moved to Wednesday , July 16th. Hope to see you there. I’m excited that my town is moving into the social age. Even though I don’t drink, I know there will be a bunch of things for me to try. #very excited

New Jersey Isn't Boring!

Untitled

The Englewood Night Market is set for Tues, July 15th with a rain date of Wed, July 16th.  Food sampling, live music, retailers, reserved seating, sangria, beer, free admission.

Date: July 15th, 5 – 11pm. Rain date for July 16
Address: EAST PALISADE AVE. BETWEEN ENGLE STREET AND VAN BRUNT STREET ENGLEWOOD, NJ
Cost: Admission is free, but you can buy food tickets, VIP tickets and more HERE

Be sure to like Exposure North Jersey on Facebook more updated info as the date gets closer! RSVP to the Facebook event Here.

Official Press Release:

Participate in a unique event on Tuesday, July 15 from 5 to 11 p.m. Englewood Night Market will turn Englewood, New Jersey’s East Palisade Avenue into a pedestrian-only area for one evening. Produced by Exposure, the event will feature food sampling from area restaurants, live music, an outdoor beer and sangria bar and family activities…

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The Dirty Dozen

In Food, Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm

How often have you heard that eating healthy is expensive? It can be especially if you want to eat organic. Before you spend your whole check on organic produce, read on to find out what to buy organic, how to prep what you buy and clean all your produce.

Farming involves a lot more science than in the past. With chemicals being included in the fertilizers and pesticides, some fruits and vegetables are more susceptible to absorbing them into their flesh; these fruits and veggies are called the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen are suggested to buy organic by farmers, doctors and dieticians.

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Grapes
  4. Cherries
  5. Lettuce
  6. Nectarines
  7. Peaches
  8. Pears
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell pepper

So now that you saved a few bucks don’t waste your savings by throwing them a way. It doesn’t really make sense to use your whole pay check to buy what you may never cook.  It makes more sense to spend the money on what you can use quickly, eat instantly, or last long like potatoes.  If you can’t use up all the produce, freeze it. I buy bell peppers but sometimes I can’t always use them up before it they go bad. So I cut them into strips or dice them up, put them in a good quality freezer bag so that I always have them on hand. Hard leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens can be frozen raw; wash, dry, cut and store in a good quality freezer bags. For everything organic or not organic, wash with a fruit and vegetable wash. Of course you  can buy one but you can also make one for a few pennies. A simple wash to remove pesticides is simple as a soak of warm water and sea salt. Use one tspn of sea salt for every cup of water and let them soak for a few minutes.  You can also use a mixture of water, baking soda and lemon juice that you can store in a spray bottle. Dont worry, it wont change the way they taste. With berries, if you are not going to eat them right away or freeze them, wait to wash them until you are going to eat them because they will spoil due to the moisture.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash

1 cup of water 1 cup of vinegar Juice of 1/2 lemon Shop wisely,  prep mindfully, cook deliciously and eat well.

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