2010-12-13

Winter's Brew (Glühwein)



A few weeks ago, one of my husband's friends brought us a huge bag of juicy sweet raisins from Turkey. They were so good, but unlike the raisins we buy here, they had seeds in them. I wanted to find a way to enjoy them while they're still fresh, so I brought out my crock pot and came up with this drink. It's a warm, sweet mulled-spices drink. It tastes just like German Glühwein - except it's completely alcohol free. It's a great family-friendly alternative to hot apple cider. It's so good, if I do say so myself! :)


Winter's Brew (AF Glühwein)


2 cups raisins
Peel of 1 orange
1/4 cup dried elderberries (great for colds and congestion - get it in the bulk herbs section of your local health food store)
1 whole nutmeg (use one you've already grated from)
1 dried clove (use more if you like - I just like a hint of it)
1 small stick cinnamon
Cheesecloth or nutmilk/nylon bag


Place everything in your nylon (nutmilk) bag or a large piece of cheesecloth. Tie the bag or, if using cheesecloth, gather ends together and tie at the top. Place in a crock pot/electric ceramic cooker. Fill with water 1 inch from the top (I don't know the exact capacity of my crock pot - but it's large - though the pic below doesn't represent that well). 





Turn crock pot to the highest setting and place the top on it. Every few hours, use a large spoon to press on bag (to help crush the softened raisins).


Let your brew stew for 6-8 hours. More sugar will be released from the raisins the longer you stew it- and the sweeter it will be.

Serve warm! This is a delicious drink to serve at parties or to enjoy with family on a cold day.

Tip: The elderberries give this a great fruity taste. If you can't find them, try frozen cherries or dried blueberries.



I hope you'll give this a try!




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2010-12-10

What I would do for 5 dollars



I'm working on a qualifying paper, a precursor to doing my PhD dissertation. I think it will determine whether or not I will/can continue in the program. Not 100% sure I want to, though :) --- It's been a hectic and fast year.


I'm glad I had the summer off where I spent nearly 3 months at Optimum Health Institute in San Diego. Even got to visit their facility in Austin a few weeks ago....


Anyhow, on to what I would do for five bucks.


I've been editing and writing for about 10 years now - for the past five, consulting on everything from government documents to fiction/non-fiction manuscripts. Due to school, I had to get out of major professional writing, but was still able to manage a few large/ongoing editing jobs a year. 


However, since I really don't have a lot of time these days, I figured I'd try doing a lot of small jobs. In comes a website I stumbled upon: www.fiverr.com

You can find a whole host of things people are willing to offer up or want to buy for $5. It's pretty cool.

I know a lot of people out there are looking for jobs (I guess I sorta am too :), so I figured offering a proofing service for resume cover letters would be a fun way to try the service out.

What would YOU do for five dollars?

Check it out:


http://www.fiverr.com/users/toyatanis/gigs/edit-your-cover-letter


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2010-06-17

OHI Raw Food Detox Program - Days 3-7

                      




Detox Day 7 ---- 13 pounds down so far.


We did a 3 day juice fast the first week. There were two basic juices


1. the hypoglycemic "hypo" juice: cucumber, celery, zucchini, chard, green cabbage, bok choy, mixed sprouts, parsley, basil, kale, ginger, fennel, kelp and dulse.


2. regular juice: the same as the hypo plus beets and carrots are added.


Breakfast is always some type of fruit, such as watermelon (my favorite), cantaloupe soup (super yum), orange and grapefruit wedges or whole fruit applesauce. Most other meals consist of sprouts, mixed salad, a vegan seed cheese - which are basically seeds which are soaked, ground, fermented and seasoned, and some side dish. Past side dishes have included raw crackers, guacamole, half an avocado, radish salad, sauerkraut, seaweed salad, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper spears or cucumbers. Although I do love the avocado and guac., they do slow down the detox for people who don't want to lose a lot of weight.


One of these days I'll take pics of what they serve. Cheers!


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2010-06-10

Optimum Health Institute (OHI) Days 1-2

                       


So today is actually my fourth day at the holistic health, body, mind detox center (OHI) and I'm feeling exhausted but fantastic. All the food is raw but not gourmet at all, but I really don't mind. I'm having a great time. Part of the detox is also detaching from phones, tv, and internet as much as possible..so I'm only going to upload a video every few days. I will be documenting as much as I can about the program though for people who are interested in coming to OHI themselves or would like to do something similar on their own.

The vid. below is just an introduction to the program and my first couple of days here. Peace and greens! - Toya

2010-05-24

Eritrean Fiery Potato Stew (D'Nish Zigni) - Recipe



I made this recipe in honor of "Africa Day" designated for May 25th, 2010. I was inspired to put this post together by Casey Angelova over at "Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria" who encouraged other foodies and bloggers to help recognize the diverse and often under-appreciated cuisine from the African Continent. At first I had no idea what to make because I don't have a lot of experience with African cuisine. The more I thought about it though, I knew I wanted to try and re-create an awesome potato dish I had at my Eritrean friend's house several months ago. So, I did a search for some recipes online and found something that sounded like what I remembered eating. Although it doesn't compare to the authentic Eritrean spicy potatoes my friend's mom made that day, it is pretty darn close.  

When I originally tried to recreate this a few months ago, it didn't come out quite right--but that's because it was missing one key ingredient: Berbere. Berbere is a staple in Eritrean cuisine. It is a complex blend of chilis, peppercorns and lots of other spices that I don't normally use, such as fenugreek, cardamom, cloves and coriander ---I would liken it to a super hot Indian curry spice - but African style. It also includes the more familiar cinnamon and allspice. You can get the complete recipe for Eritrean Berbere here.

Other than mixing and roasting the spices for the Berbere, the recipe itself was pretty easy (Note: If you do decide to make your own berbere, make sure you open a window! The aroma from roasting and stirring a bunch of chilis caused lots of whooping and coughing in my house! :). Overall, I was really pleased with how this came out. The dish is so simple, yet the flavors are so complex. Served along with some pita and yogurt (I used Turkish pide), this makes a great lunch entree or dinner side dish. I hope you'll give it a try.


D'Nish Zigni (Fiery Potato Stew) 
(Recipe taken from recipeisland.com - which was adapted from Olivia Warren's "Taste of Eritrea.")

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion — Chopped
4 Teaspoons Berbere — Or Hot Sauce
6 Medium Potato — Cubed ( I peeled before cutting)
1 Can Tomato Paste
1 Teaspoon Salt
4 Cups Chicken Stock (I used vegetable broth)
 

Directions: Saute onion in oil for 5 minutes. Add berbere, and potatoes, saute for 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and salt, simmer for 10 more minutes (I simmered 25 minutes instead of 10). Serve with injera or pita bread.


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2010-05-19

What the Heck is Raw Food? -- Plus some resources to get you started!


Photo courtesy of my bud Aimee "The Wellness Woman." You can find the recipe to this gorgeous all Raw Bento Box here. Aimee is an amazing raw food chef and an inspiring life coach. She has also graciously agreed to do a guest post for my blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!



So, What the Heck is Raw Food Anyway?


The terms "Raw Food" and to a lesser degree "Living Cuisine" have been making their way into the mainstream public's consciousness recently. This is due in part to a few celebrities who've adopted a raw foods lifestyle (... Anyone  remember the hoopla surrounding Demi Moore's amazing bikini body when she appeared in the Charlie's Angels movie? Well, she achieved her svelte figure by going raw.).


But what exactly is raw food, you may be asking. Simply put, raw food consists of fresh, minimally processed and uncooked ingredients. Raw foodists are almost all exclusively vegan or vegetarian, so in this sense, raw food does not refer to raw meat and seafood. As an additional guideline, if you pick up any raw foods book (see resources list below), you'll read that food is no longer considered "raw" once it has been heated above a certain temperature -- most agree that's somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees.



So what do raw foodists eat?


Well, it's not just salads. There's an unending supply of fabulous raw food recipes out there (one of my favorites is raw, vegan lasagna). Still, leafy green vegetables, including wild greens and sprouts are usually at the top of a raw foodist's menu. Then there's a healthy dose of fruits (both sweet and unsweet), nuts and seeds, and fats/oils (avocados, coconut, olives). Some also include seaweeds and so-called "super foods" such as maca, cacao (raw chocolate) and goji berries. (more about super foods another day).


Some people do eat a 100% raw food diet. However, this is just not realistic for most (especially me), so many who are into the raw foods lifestyle eat "high raw" where they strive to eat anywhere from a 60% to 90% fresh, plant based diet.




Why would people eat only raw food?


There are many reasons why people adopt this way of eating. Many health buffs are turned on by the super high content of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients this diet offers; still, others claim this diet gives them more energy, improves digestion and makes them more conscious of where their food comes from; but the major reason people go raw is because they are facing some sort of health challenge. For instance, there are many people who have reversed their type-II diabetes and have completely come off of insulin after going raw. While training as a raw food chef, I even met one Type-I diabetic who has been able to significantly reduce the number of daily insulin shots by eating a diet high in raw foods.


Though, the biggest impetus behind people going raw seems to be Weight Loss. This is certainly true for me. Do a google search for before and after pics of people on a raw diet. There are some really amazing stories of people who have shed massive amounts of weight on this diet. One woman (Angela Stokes-Monarch),  for example, lost and kept off about 160 pounds eating this way. The reason why people lose so much weight on raw foods is because raw foods are nutritionally dense but still low in calories. Thus you can eat a lot more raw food by volume while still consuming significantly fewer calories than you would by eating cooked food. Raw food also has more dietary fiber than cooked food, which is great for weight loss since foods with fiber make you feel fuller longer.




A Diet for the Masses?


Many people think that a 100% raw food diet is too restrictive. I happen to be one of them, but I think that it is a great Healing Diet, and periods of all raw can be great after days (or weeks) of eating too much junk. (Speaking of healing diets, I will be doing 3 weeks at Optimum Health Institute in June --stay tuned for my video-blogs about my experience!)


So, even though all raw many not be for everyone, most people could stand to add a little more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diets. And if you're feeling stuck in a salad rut and want to find fun new, healthy ways to feed your family, I highly recommend you give some raw food recipes a try.



Some Raw Food Resources


The following is a partial list of some raw food resources I've found helpful over the years. Although I do not agree with every opinion in the raw food movement, I like the overall messages of the people and products below and I think they are a great resource for beginners. Still, with most things in life, I take what is good for me, learn from it, and leave the rest behind. I suggest you do the same.



The Raw Food Detox Diet, by Natalia Rose


Super accessible, with multiple transition plans to help you incorporate more raw foods into your diet...especially for those who do not wish to go 100% raw. I also really liked her "raw before dinner" recommendations.




Everyday Raw, by Matthew Kenney


This is, by far, my favorite raw food recipe book of all time! It has everything: soups, salads, snacks, desserts, main courses and more. The mango wrapper on the cover is what prompted me to buy this book, and it did not disappoint!




The Vita-Mix blender


This blender is used by professional chefs and kitchens (such as on Food Network's Iron Chef Kitchen stadium) and it's usually the go-to-gadget for raw foodists everywhere. I even know people who travel with theirs! See my glowing review of the amazingness that is the Vita-Mix here.



 Online Raw Food Shopping 

 

Most things I need I can get at a regular grocery store, at my local health food store or Whole Foods. However, when I need a specialty item or just feel like treating myself to a tasty treat, The Raw Food World is where I go. It's my online stop for raw goodies and natural/health items for my home.


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2010-05-17

Research links pesticides with ADHD in children

                        Crop duster in West Texas (Image Bank/Getty Images) - from ABCNews


Scientists have recently found a link between Attention Deficit Disorder and pesticides commonly used in food production-- Good news for organics, but bad news for the kids (and their parents). Maybe this will hush up some of the annoying "scientists" who call people quacks for seeking out organic alternatives. Of course one study won't change the world, but it might lead to more studies and hopefully challenge us (agricultural industry and consumers) to reassess and CHANGE how we choose to grow our food. 


An excerpt of one of many articles on this topic is below (bold emphasis added by me); you can read the full version here


From the Associated Press...

Children may be especially prone to the health risks of pesticides because they're still growing and they may consume more pesticide residue than adults relative to their body weight.
In the body, pesticides break down into compounds that can be measured in urine. Almost universally, the study found detectable levels: The compounds turned up in the urine of 94 percent of the children.

The kids with higher levels had increased chances of having ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a common problem that causes students to have trouble in school. The findings were published Monday in Pediatrics.

The children may have eaten food treated with pesticides, breathed it in the air or swallowed it in their drinking water. The study didn't determine how they were exposed. Experts said it's likely children who don't live near farms are exposed through what they eat.

"Exposure is practically ubiquitous. We're all exposed," said lead author Maryse Bouchard of the University of Montreal.

She said people can limit their exposure by eating organic produce. Frozen blueberries, strawberries and celery had more pesticide residue than other foods in one government report.

A 2008 Emory University study found that in children who switched to organically grown fruits and vegetables, urine levels of pesticide compounds dropped to undetectable or close to undetectable levels.


(Continue reading here)


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2010-05-10

Pineapple Mango Lassi - Smoothie Recipe


So, my final exams still aren't over -- I have my last one tomorrow --but my husband informed me that my self imposed "1 week break" from my blog has expired! lol : ) Thus, I've decided to take a quick break from sociolinguistics to put one of my latest creations up.


On Friday I had minor oral surgery (bit of bone and gum tissue removed - exciting stuff!) and unfortunately that means I've been taking antibiotics. Although I prefer natural remedies, I do feel like conventional medicine also has its place, in my life at least. With that in mind, I like to combat the bad effects of taking said antibiotics with some pro-active treatment. What bad effects you ask? Well, anti-biotics, while good at fending off infection, can wreak  havoc on your intestinal flora, destroying the good bacteria that helps keep our tummies healthy. Antibiotics have also been known to cause recurrent yeast infections in some women. So what can you do about it, if you plan on downing your penicillin? I, personally, ALWAYS make sure to take probiotics -- 4 hours before or four hours after -- each time I take antibiotics --for the duration of my treatment...and for a few days after. Probiotics help by restoring the good bacteria, giving us "healthy guts."  And for those skeptics of alternative medicine out there, recently, even main stream docs have been recommending probiotic therapy for when their patients take antibiotics.(Note: Antibiotics will destroy the probiotics if taken too close together.)


As for this tasty beverage, I normally don't like putting dairy in my smoothies (I'm not vegan, but I just don't prefer it). But seeing as I've been chewing-challenged, I've made an exception. Though, the real reason why I opted for yogurt (i.e., dairy) in this smoothie is because yogurt contains the probiotic acidophilus (among others)...Check out the side of a yogurt container. They should all say something like "contains live and active cultures" followed by which strains of good bacteria are present. These live and active cultures are super beneficial in maintaining digestive and intestinal health. So although I take my probiotics in pill form, for good measure I like to ingest mass quantities of yogurt during this time as well. 

Although I may be using the term "lassi" somewhat loosely, I take full advantage of creative license here. I love mango lassis ( a tasty Indian beverage), thus mangos made it into this drink. The pineapple made it for another reason. Although there's only a small amount in this, I love pineapple because it contains the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain is great for indigestion (it's also the active agent in most meat tenderizing seasonings) and it also is an anti-inflammatory. Since my face and mouth have been a bit swollen, I figured a little food-grade anti-inflammatory medicine wouldn't hurt any.

Well, enough of the background info. Here's my contribution to all you yogurt-filled smoothie lovers out there! Hope you enjoy it!


Pineapple Mango Lassi - Smoothie Recipe - serves 2


1 1/3 cup yogurt
3/4 cup pineapple
1 cup mango (I used frozen)
1 Tbs honey
2-3 pieces ice
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste - optional


Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth and serve!




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2010-05-02

1 Week Break - Final Exams


Dear luscious readers:


I've decided to break away from my blog for one whole week to prepare for final exams. I have lots of studying and a looong paper to write. Don't worry, though, I'll be back with the Raw Food article I promised. I'll also be coming at you live from Oklahoma City, OK, where I will be tasting and reviewing the cuisine at the cutting edge "105 Degrees" Raw Food Academy and Restaurant. Super exciting stuff. See you then!


Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman.

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2010-05-01

Music Post - My Husband's in a Music Video! :)

Here's a Nature/Charity music video my husband is in. It's meant to help raise awareness about environmental issues and to encourage people to honor the earth. He has a 5 second spot - around minute 7. He's the one looking mildly disinterested (lol)..Yours truly was the camerawoman. It will be premiering on Turkish TV sometime next week...



                            
             Doga icin Cal 2 / Uzun ince bir yoldayim - official video from Doga icin cal on Vimeo.

2010-04-29

Better than Salad - Collard Wraps - Recipe


This recipe is basically a continuation of my previous post - the Creamy Maple Tahini Dipping Sauce. I meant to post this two days ago, but sheer laziness --and delight at having a few days off from school --got in the way ;) Although I often vary the seasonings I put in that dressing, I usually always have some version of it when I make collard wraps. I'm a hungry girl - and I love to eat! But, I've found that four or five of these wraps, paired with this rich and creamy dressing make for a gratifying and highly satisfying, healthy meal.

Now, when most people think of a wrap, they probably think of a flour tortilla, perhaps shredded lettuce, cheese and who knows what else. This, however, is a raw food version ("What the Heck is Raw Food" article to appear tomorrow) --and my wrap is made from collard leaves, instead of tortillas (great for gluten free diets). So when I'm sick of salad, but still want to get some fresh veggies onto my plate, these are great because they're basically like a salad - but refined and kicked up a notch.

Growing up, I never would have imagined eating collard greens raw. I didn't even know you could. If any of you come from households where Soul Foods or southern foods are featured prominently, then you know that collard greens - and nearly all vegetables - are cooked until they're soft and falling apart, or "tender" as my grandma likes to call them. Unfortunately, cooking your greens for over an hour destroys so many of the vital enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Although I still love my nana - and her greens, I will only eat them this way on holidays. I've been eating (and juicing) them raw for so long, I can't even fathom ever cooking mine. Of course, I'm not telling you not to cook your greens, but perhaps consider eating them raw sometimes, or if necessary, try to just lightly steam them.


Okay, back to the recipe...This is one of our all time favorite meals - cooked or raw. I highly recommend you give this a try!



Better than Salad - Collard Wraps (Serves 2)



6 collard leaves
1 red bell pepper
1 medium cucumber
1 package sprouts - alfalfa, radish or broccoli will do fine
1/2 carrot
3 Tbs basil - chiffonade or chopped
any other vegetable you like - optional (ex: spring onion, avocado, mint, radish)


To prepare the collard, simply cut along both sides of the stem in order to separate it from the leaves:


Discard the stem (or use for  juicing). De-stem all 6 pieces of collard. You should now have 12 leaves/wraps. Next, julienne the carrot, cucumber and bell pepper. They should be about the size of 3 inch matchsticks.

To roll: Place a collard leaf with the darkest side down and the more veiny side facing up. This is where you will stack the vegetables. On the lower third of the leaf - the part closest to you - start stacking your veggies. Depending on the size of your leaves, place 4-5 pieces of each julienned vegetable on your leaf, leaving a bit hanging over each end. Next, top with a few pieces of the chopped basil and a generous bit of sprouts (Note: I ended up adding twice as many sprouts as what is pictured below).


Tightly, but carefully, roll the bottom flap over the stacked vegetables. Try to roll one side more tightly then the other so that you will get a slightly conical shape  (this will make it easier, i.e., less messy to hold and dip in the sauce when it's time to eat them). Continue rolling all the way to the end of the leaf. Place seam side down on the plate. 


Roll the remaining 11 leaves in the same manner as above. Serve and Enjoy!


Tip: These stay together quite well, considering they are not sealed. Still, I find it best to hold them by the side that is slightly smaller - this prevents veggie matter from coming out of both ends.




Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman


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2010-04-26

Creamy Maple Tahini Dressing



Looking for an Asian inspired dressing or dipping sauce? Then look no further, cause this one is spicy, sweet, creamy....and good enough to drink!

I use this as a dressing for  hearty salads like romaine mixed with root vegetables (think carrots, beets, radishes). It's also AMAZING as a dip for crudites, veggie wraps, or vegetarian satays.


I really do love making homemade dressings and I hope you'll give this one a try.



Creamy Maple Tahini Dressing - (Makes a lil more than 2 cups)


1/2 cup tahini ( If you use almond or peanut butter, you'll need to increase the water)
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs + 1 tsp sesame oil (I used toasted)
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs maple syrup (If you don't have real maple syrup, use honey)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice (I used a combination)
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 cup water
1/4 cup basil, chopped


Place all ingredients except basil in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add in basil and pulse until blended...leaving a few flecks of green visible. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving - This will allow sauce to thicken and flavors to combine. Enjoy!


Tip 1: I was a bit heavy handed with the soy. I meant to do 2 1/2 Tbs but managed to spill (inside the mix) while I was measuring! : )...I compensated for the extra saltiness by adding more water. Feel free to reduce the amount of soy if salt is a concern for you.


Tip 2: I used a bit of Thai basil in this, but regular basil tastes great too. 

Tip 3: For a variation, try adding 2 Tbs of mint instead of basil, and/or honey instead of maple syrup.
 


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2010-04-24

Tropical Green Nectar - Juice Recipe

                  (If I do say so myself, this pic came out pretty great considering it's  unedited)

I splurged and bought a nice plump guava at my local asian market last week. Since then, it's been hanging out in my fruit bowl, calling my name, begging to be put in a juice. It was also passing the peak of ripeness, with its intoxicating, outrageously sweet fragrance wafting through my living room. I knew it wouldn't last another few days before it went bad.  

I wasn't planning on posting another juice recipe this week, but since this one is SO EASY to make (and so delicious), I figured I'd share. Quite frankly this is delicious as a juice or a smoothie - and I've had it both ways; but be warned: if you don't have a high speed blender (such as the VitaMix - which can crush avocado seeds) you should just have this drink as a juice because guava seeds probably won't be completely pulverized by a regular ol' store-bought blender. Either way, though, this is definitely a recipe for beginners, i.e., those not used to drinking vitamin-rich green drinks. Although there are greens in it, this is not bitter or earthy tasting at all. It's mildly sweet, incredibly fragrant and quite pleasing to the palate. Enjoy!



Tropical Green Nectar


1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup mango - I used frozen
1 large guava (you'll know they're ripe if they smell like a piece of heaven!)
1 1/2 cups water


Process fruit and veg through juicer. Mix in water. Alternately, place fruit/veg AND water in blender. Strain through fine mesh. Serve on ice.


Tip: This juice is somewhat on the thick, nectar-y side. Because of the amount of fruit and the thickness, I  added a bit more water than I usually do with my drinks. Use your discretion. If you "need" it sweeter, use less water; if you like your juice less sweet,  like me, add up to 2 cups water.

2010-04-23

Çoban Salatası (aka Shepherd's Salad)



So this is another very traditional Turkish dish. I love it because it is so simple to make, yet still so delicious. It's a perfect spring or summer dish, pairing cool crunchy cucumbers with sweet and succulent tomatoes. It's so light; so refreshing; and so tasty. The folklore/history behind this dish is that shepherds, while out all day tending their flocks, would pick a bit of this and a bit of that..basically, whatever veggies were available out in the fields, and that's what they would eat while working. And well that's where the name comes from..as shepherd is "Çoban" and Salatası is, you guessed it, salad. There really is no set ingredient amount for this, so I'll just tell you how I made it last night.


Çoban Salatası (aka Shepherd's Salad) - Serves 4


2 cucumbers ( I seeded mine, but I don't usually)
4 roma tomatoes --or 2 large regular tomatoes (Again,  I seeded mine, but I don't usually)
1/4 onion, chopped or minced - I used red -but use whatever you like
3 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup chopped (or minced) parsley
1 garlic clove, minced


Chop cucumbers and tomatoes, mix with remaining ingredients. Let rest at least 15 minutes so flavors combine. Serve.


Tip (1): I always like this dish a little on the lemony side. I've also had it made with more of an accent on the olive oil. So, if you don't want yours as lemony as I like mine, try increasing to 3 Tbs of olive oil.


Tip (2): I was in the mood for a chunkier salad last night. Generally, the veg in this dish are chopped a little finer than what I did. Have fun and play around - and make it however you like. This really is an easy-to-make,  fail proof dish.


Cheers!


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I finally have a translator on my website!


Turk ailem icin "Google Translator" mevcuttur. Sayfanin sol ust tarafindan dilinizi seciniz.Umarim isinize yarar. Sevgiler, Toya.

(Thanks to my husband for the updated, better Turkish translation than google was able to give me! lol)


I finally have a language translator on the website. Use the Google Translator logo on the left side of the page to select your language.


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2010-04-20

Love Your Ovaries (aka Antioxidant Powerhouse) - Juice Recipe


Earlier this month  I saw an episode of a TV show called "The Doctors." The whole show was about 50 Dos and Don'ts for your health - with many alternative, do it yourself, methods for self care. 

The show seems like it's trying to cater to a mainstream, pop culture audience, so I was really excited when they started talking about cures, remedies, and prevention protocols using food! In particular, they cited recent studies which showed that parsley and celery can help in the prevention of ovarian cancer.


Since these are two of my favorite juicing ingredients, this episode inspired me to make a vitamin-packed, ovary friendly, cancer-fighting drink. I rounded out this antioxidant powerhouse by adding other goodies known to help prevent ovarian cancer: blueberries, spinach, collard, and beet.


I talked about the benefits of dark, leafy greens here and beets here. So, now a bit about blueberries.


Blueberries, with their dark, blue-purple color, reportedly have the highest antioxidant (cancer-fighting) capacity of all fresh fruit. Further, a study at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center suggests that blueberries may help reduce belly fat and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Blueberries have also been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 40 percent in women. Ladies, I think that alone is reason enough to include them in your diet. Plus, they are, of course, amazing tasting on their own but they really give a great taste to drinks --and for whatever reason it's just fun to drink something purple. 

A side note on blueberries: Although I won’t knock anyone who wants the thick creaminess that yogurt gives to a smoothie, if you're including blueberries in your drinks for cancer prevention, there's something you should know. I was really shocked to find that "milk destroys the antioxidant benefits in blueberries!" (See info here.)

The skinny on this juice -  with the exception of the pear (which is great for fiber), all of the ingredients in this juice have been shown to be packed with ovarian cancer fighting nutrients. Of course these fruits and veggies have other health benefits - so guys, you can drink some too - but I think us ladies should definitely take some time out to focus on loving our ovaries. Enjoy!

 Love Your Ovaries - aka - Antioxidant Powerhouse Juice


1 1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen, because that's what I had)
1 pear
1 cup spinach, packed
1 cup collard greens, destemmed, packed
1 cup parsley, packed
3 ribs of celery
1/2 beet
 1 cup water

Run all fruit and  veg through your  juicer and mix with water. If making in blender, place all ingredients in blender, strain through fine mesh and serve!




Tip: I'd classify this as an intermediate juice. For some, it might be getting out of the realm of the familiar, but I think it's quite tasty and refreshing. So if you're adventurous, go ahead and give it a try as is. If you are new to juicing, but still want to get some of the benefits, you might want to decrease the amount of beet to 1/4 and perhaps use only 1/2 cup of collards - this should cut down on the earthiness.



Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman


*****


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2010-04-16

Cream Pop Punch - Juice Recipe



I never really liked creamsicles as a child. Yet, like many people, I find my tastes are constantly evolving as I get older. And today, for some strange reason, I found myself craving the taste of a creamsicle ice cream pop. For those who don't know - a creamsicle is a frozen vanilla ice cream bar enrobbed in an orange (juice) flavored shell.  As a kid, there was something about the combination of orange and cream that just felt so wrong, but now it feels oh so right. I won't be going out to buy any real creamsicles anytime soon, but I've recreated my own version with a twist. I'm calling this one Cream Pop Punch. There's orange, a dash of vanilla, and.....bananas to give it a thicker, creamier texture. So, although there's no ice cream or dairy in this version, it's still nice and creamy and oh so dreamy. Enjoy!




Cream Pop Punch

1 1/2 cups dairy free milk (I used rice milk - soy,  almond, or any other dairy free milk will work as well)
2 oranges, peeled
1 banana
dash of vanilla extract
10 pieces ice


Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes 2 - 3 servings.


Tip: Although the banana is by no means over powering - or the star of this drink, if you want nothing to do with bananas in your cream pop, try eliminating the banana and adding a half cup of yogurt - plain or vanilla flavored.


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2010-04-14

Green Grape Cooler - Juice Recipe


Those of you who've been following my blog know that I love greens - especially in my juice. I generally don't juice a lot with grapes, but I find that beginners, i.e., people new to juicing, do well with grapes because they're one fruit "normal" people consume on a regular basis. Grape juice is also used quite frequently in most commercial juices and juice blends you buy in the grocery store. For some reason, drinking cucumbers in water has gone more main stream, too, so newbies seem to like these in juice as well. I suppose it's all about familiarity and comfort. 

This recipe isn't necessarily an everyday juice - due to the sweetness factor - but the combination of celery, cucumber, and collard are sure to give your body a healthy dose of minerals, thus refreshing and replenishing you after a workout or a hot day of basking in the sun.


Green Grape Cooler

1 cup green grapes
3 ribs celery
1 medium cucumber
5 large collard leaves - stems removed and discarded
1 cup water.

Method

If there are a lot of seeds in the cucumber, or if they are really large - simply spoon them out and discard -  otherwise, juice the whole cucumber (sometimes really seedy cucumbers can give a bitter taste to juice). 
If using a Juicer: Process all fruit and vegetables through juicer, mix with water and serve.
If using a Blender: Place all ingredients, including water, in the blender. Puree until smooth. Strain juice through a fine mesh strainer - to separate it from the pulp.


Serve on ice. - Enjoy!



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Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman


******




2010-04-13

The Great Vegan Lava Cake Experiment



This year for Valentine's day, I made lava cake for the very first time. I served it with whipped cream, a dusting of powdered sugar and some fresh raspberries. It had to be one of the best desserts I've ever had - ever. It was, however, EXTREMELY rich and sweet! There were 3 eggs, a whole lot of chocolate, and even more butter. Although, I knew I couldn't exactly make a healthy lava cake, I started thinking of how I could cut out at least some of the fat. This led me to the idea of a vegan lava cake. This version I came up with has no eggs and no butter; instead, I opted for pureed fruit (egg substitute) and coconut oil (butter replacement). I cooked it a lot longer then I would a traditional lava cake, baking it 20 minutes instead of  10 minutes, but when I removed it from the oven, it was still quite jiggly and wet inside, yet it was set on top. So we decided to take a quick post-dinner walk while the lava cake cooled. Unfortunately, I left the lava cakes on the sheet pan on top of the still-warm oven, and by the time we came back from our walk, the lava cakes were no longer so lava-y (more fudgey) and had completely set all the way through.

Looking back, I will definitely try this experiment again. Next time I will probably only use one type of fruit and won't let it "cool" on top of a warm stove. This vegan version was still very sweet like the original, but I think I will also reduce the amount of sugar next time since the fruit added a bit more sweetness. That being said, I liked it, but my husband loved it. In his words, the fact that a cake without eggs could taste this good was "revolutionary." While I wouldn't go that far, it was still rather tasty. Enjoy!

 

The Great Vegan Lava Cake Experiment #1



1 apple, peeled and deseeded
12 de-stemmed strawberries
1/4 cup water
6 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place jar of coconut oil under hot running water - or place jar in bowl filled with hot water. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature - so this will liquefy it.


Place apple, strawberries and water in blender or food processor - and puree until smooth. Strain puree through fine mesh strainer in order to remove strawberry seeds. Set aside.


Put coconut oil and chocolate in large sauce pan. Melt over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and fruit puree. Slowly, whisk dry ingredients into chocolate mixture.


Grease 4 ramekins with coconut oil and place on sheet pan. Ladle mixture into ramekins and place sheet pan into oven. Bake 18-20 minutes. Remove from sheet pan and let cool for a few minutes on cooling rack. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or creme Anglaise.

2010-04-10

Orange Spritzer - Recipe


This one is short and simple, just like the Ginger-Aid Soda recipe I posted a few days ago. I decided I should probably call this a spritzer though, since it is nowhere near as syrupy or sweet as a traditional orange soda. I've been wanting to make this drink all week - but we ate all our oranges before I got the chance. I also intended to throw one or two baby carrots in, so the color would be more reminiscent of a Minute Maid or Orange Crush soda, but oh well - I forgot : )


I generally like to keep plain seltzer water in the house to quench our cravings for carbonated beverages, but I thought it would be fun to sweeten it up by adding a bit of fruit. Enjoy!


Orange Spritzer


2 oranges, peeled
1 Tbs honey
Orange zest
Seltzer water

Blend all ingredients in blender - except for the seltzer water. Strain the blended ingredients and discard the pulp. Fill 2 or 3 large glasses with ice. Fill the glasses half way with juice and top them off with seltzer.

2010-04-07

Product Review - Imagine's Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

      (FYI -They've recently changed the packaging - so it looks slightly different than this pic)

Today marked yet another wondrous day at the dentist. Although my dentist does actually care when I'm in pain, sometimes it seems like dentists in general forget that your mouth is actually attached to your face. That being said, I'm back to sucking down soups; and as much as I love making my own homemade soups, after 2 hours in the dentist's chair, I'm just too tired to move. So this morning - before my fateful appointment - I stopped by my local market for some of my favorite pre-packaged soup: Imagine's Creamy Butternut Squash Soup. As the name suggests, it's creamy and also, it's oh so delicious. I first tried this soup about 10 years ago, and it's still as good  now as it was then. Although I occasionally spice it up by adding curry or cinnamon, it's one of the few soups that I find perfectly balanced in flavors - so I also like plain, right out of the container.


What I like about it:


First, it's organic, which is always a plus. Second, it only has a handful of ingredients; and better, I recognize and can pronounce them all. There are no weird additives or unidentified who-knows-what lurking in my bowl. There's also only 2 grams of fat and 90 calories per serving. So, if I'm really famished or have to go a whole day without chewing, I can unabashedly knock back the entire 4-serving container, and this would only set me back 360 calories and 8 grams of fat. Not bad for an unassuming (big) bowl of soup.

So, if your looking to try something new - and need a bit of a break from the kitchen - I'd absolutely, 100% recommend you get yourself some of Imagine's Butternut Squash Soup.

Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman


******
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2010-04-06

Fresh Ginger-Aid Soda - Recipe



This past week, I've been busy trying to get a term paper together, healing from multiple dentist appointments, and fighting off allergies and the cold I caught from my husband. My stomach has been growling, out of control, with discomfort for the past couple of days. I have a feeling it's due to the zinc lozenges I've been supplementing with. So, I bought some seltzer/soda water to sip on and figured I'd experiment with a little homemade ginger ale - hoping for a little added relief. I've never made this recipe before and I think I'll tweak it a bit in the future to make it more like store-bought ginger ale. As for it's medicinal usage, I'm sipping on it as I type, so we'll see if it works it's tummy-calming magic in time for class tonight : )

Here goes...


Fresh Ginger-Aid Soda (makes 2 large servings)



1 1/2 cups green grapes
1/4 cup water
pinch of fresh lime zest
juice from 1/2 lime
2 tsp honey
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger
12 oz seltzer water


Blend all ingredients in blender - except for the seltzer water. You will add this later. Strain the blended ingredients and discard the pulp. Fill 2 large glasses with ice. Fill the glasses half way with juice and top them off with seltzer. Sip and wait for some healin'...

2010-04-02

Steals & Deals at your local Asian Market



                                                 Produce Bill (partial) for Household of 2




This post is all about the joys of shopping at your local Asian grocery store. Here in the metro DC region, where I live, there are tons of Asian markets around. Large ones, small ones, independent ones and chains. The ones near me also have sizable sections devoted to middle eastern and Latin/Hispanic foods (two communities with a large presence here). The two largest chains (at least in this area) are the Korean-owned "H-Mart"and "Grand Mart". Although I occasionally shop at Grand Mart, H-Mart is where I'm sure to find a large assortment of inexpensive "conventional" produce and other specialty goodies such as seaweeds galore, kimc
hee, burdock root, persimmons, gigantic aloe leaves, sugar cane, durians, jackfruit, lychee, young coconuts, tamarind, multiple types of dates, 3 or 4 varieties of bananas, dragon fruits; the list goes on and on. What's more, a lot of the produce consists of items I've never heard of or tasted - which is exciting to me. So if you're adventurous when it comes to food, an Asian mart is a great place to try lots of interesting new things.

Although I love eating organic (and sometimes do), as an occasionally employed, apartment-dwelling, grad student and housewife, this is not usually an option. So, for the past 5 years or so, most of our fresh food comes from the Asian mart. On average most fruits and vegetables there cost between .50 cents to $1.00 cheaper (per pound) than at say, Giant or Safeway. And when you eat a lot of fruit and veg, these things add up. Although there are a few items that compare within .10 or .20 cents, most items at the Asian mart are significantly cheaper. And cheaper doesn't mean lower quality, either. These aren't second-rate, fallen-off-the-back-of-a-truck vegetables. The majority of them are the same brands, companies and packaging as at a regular grocery store.

To illustrate just how much you can save, check out the graphic above of some of the items I purchased this past week. To compare, I took a little field trip to Giant to see what I would have paid for the same items. I was quite impressed with just how much I'm saving (More than $23 dollars!). Although I bought -and saved - lots more, I chose only to include items that were at least .50 cents cheaper. There was even one item, a young white coconut that was $4 more expensive at Whole Foods than it was at my beloved Asian mart (Giant and Safeway never have young, white coconuts so I couldn't compare this on my chart.). Every week, their deals change, but it's not uncommon to find seasonal specials like .11 cents/lb bananas, or 9 bunches of scallions for $1, or .49 cents/lb apples; the difference is quite staggering when you have a lot of mouths to feed.

The bottom line: Asian marts have a few organic items like sprouts, mushrooms and a few odd grocery items; but if you're looking for organic fruits and vegetables, this is probably not the store for you. I also don't suggest shopping at an Asian mart for things like toiletries or packaged goods, because the regular grocery stores usually have better sales on these items. However, when it comes to fresh produce and specialty items, you can be sure to find a plethora of steals and deals at your local Asian mart. And, even if some of the prices are comparable, I think doing a little price-checking is always worth the field trip.



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Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman


******

2010-04-01

Turkish Style Green Beans - Recipe


This is my take on the classic Turkish dish of "Green Beans and Olive Oil". I absolutely love the simple combination of flavors used, and especially dig the addition of chopped tomatoes.  Although I think the way the Turks make it is delicious, I wanted to give my own, slightly healthier spin to it. Traditionally, this dish has quite a lot of olive oil in it, but I've used significantly less. Also, the green beans are generally stewed for an hour, until extremely soft, but I wanted to retain some of the crispness; and so mine are cooked in about half the time. I've also tweaked the recipe by adding a bit of lemon. Hopefully I haven't offended any Turks by messing with their classic ; ) - At least, my husband approved!



Turkish Style Green Beans



About 1 lb Green Beans ( I forgot to weigh them, so this is a guesstimate : )

1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 lemon, for juice and zest
2 large tomatoes
1 cup water
Generous pinch of sugar




Method:

Wash green beans and trim the ends. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot (Use a pot that has a lid). Saute red onions in olive oil until they soften - about 5 minutes. Toss in green beans, salt, pepper, and garlic. Saute 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half. Using your fingers (or a tomato shark), pull out the seeds and discard them. Then, chop the tomatoes into chunks.


Stir tomatoes, water and sugar into pot. Then, zest 1/2 to 1 whole lemon into pot (I zested the whole lemon. It was tangy but delicious). Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into the pot.  Stir, and cover pot. Simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached.


Traditionally, this dish is served cold or at room temperature. Although it's great either way, I like to eat mine hot. Well, here's hoping you'll give it a try. Enjoy!

2010-03-30

Beta-Caro-Greens - Juice Recipe



This juice features carrots, beets, celery and spinach. Previously, I've talked about the benefits of spinach (see smoothie recipe), so only I'll talk a bit now about the other ingredients in this juice. 


Celery is a natural diuretic and a great source of natural sodium. Some even claim that celery is an appetite suppressant, as this low calorie vegetable is often included as a "free for all" food in various diet programs.  

Carrots, as I'm sure you've heard, are known for their abundance of beta-carotene, a vitamin well-known for it's ability to protect our eyesight. Beta-carotene is also an anti-oxidant, thought to be helpful in ridding the body of cancer-causing free radicals.


Beets contain folic acid, essential during pregnancy to help prevent fetal birth defects. In addition, some preliminary studies have shown that the amino acid betaine, present in beet root, can help prevent certain types of cancer, e.g., colon cancer. There is also anecdotal evidence that beets, combined with carrots, are helpful in the treatment of gout, as well as liver and kidney disorders. Regular intake of beets is also said to aid in the lowering of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. One study even found that blood pressure was reduced only one hour after consuming beet juice, while another found that consuming beetroot juice increases stamina while exercising.


The carrots in this juice are quite sweet,  but most people find that they need something sweet to counteract the earthiness of raw beets.  So, if you've never had beet juice before, start off with just a bit (say 1/4 of a beet) and work your way up until you get used to the flavor (which I find quite pleasing). The vibrant, dark red color of this juice is both visually and gastronomically pleasing. It feels great to feed myself something so full of vitamins and minerals and even better, I always feel nice and energized after drinking some. Enjoy!


Beta-Caro-Greens Juice

6 large carrots
1/4 to 1/2 of medium beet
1/2 cup spinach
3 sticks of celery
1/2 cup water


Process all veg through a juicer (I used my Champion), mix in water and serve!

2010-03-28

VitaMix - Product Review


So, this post was supposed to go out last week, but I guess being a PhD student and trying to manage a five-post a week blog was a bit overly ambitious on my part. So, sigh, realizing I am not superwoman, I'm scaling back the ambition, and have concluded that a 3 - 5 posts per week goal is probably more doable.


Well, on to the review...As I mentioned about a week ago, I partnered up with VitaMix and became an affiliate. I generally am annoyed by kitchen gadgets because they are used infrequently and take up valuable counter-top real estate. However, I gladly give the VitaMix blender center stage in my kitchen. I use it so much that it never, ever gets put away. In fact, I easily use it 2 or 3 times every day. Here's a run-down of what I personally use it for:
  • homemade cashew butter
  • instant ice cream and sorbet
  • soups - both Raw & Cooked
  • smoothies & juices
  • vegan cheeses
  • whipped cream
  • grinding coffee beans
  • grinding flax seeds
  • homemade salad dressings
  • marinara sauce
  • pesto sauce
  • homemade hummus
  • grinding grains for homemade flour - e.g., oat groats and barley or other gluten free goodies


Me being a super thrifty (cheap) saver, I have to be honest about the price though. This machine is high end, but it's one of the few big buys I've made that I feel is worth every single penny.


Before my husband and I made the decision to buy this machine - we watched nearly all of their quick (and strangely entertaining) "52 food feats" videos - which give short demonstrations of how to make all sorts of culinary creations using the VitaMix. What got my husband most excited about this machine is the fact that you can cook scrambled eggs in it (strange, but true). It can cook all manner of things, as you can go from room temperature ingredients to steaming, hot deliciousness (e.g., soup) in just a few minutes. What sold me, however, was the ease with which it could make my beloved green smoothies and the super easy clean up of the caraffe. With just a drop of dish soap, a bit of warm water, and a flick of the on switch, the VitaMix basically cleans itself..which is, um...awesome!

 
A Few Details:


The VitaMix has a 64 oz container with a 2 horsepower motor (apparently this is enough to power a small lawnmower). According to my research, most blenders you'll find, at say Target or Walmart, have motors of 300-700 watts. With 745 watts equaling 1 horsepower, and remember, the VitaMix has 2, that's a major difference in power. Further, most of your standard blenders have warranties lasting only a few months to one year. The VitaMix Standard Warranty is 7 years; and if you're so inclined, you can extend it to 10. This blend-o-wonderful also comes with an instructional dvd, a quick start recipe pamphlet, and a huge, colorful binder full of recipes and ideas.


If you think your kitchen can do with a bit of this amazingness, you can check out the VitaMix (in all it's splendor) by clicking here. You can also order one (and get Free Shipping) by clicking my magical VitaMix affiliate logo on the right side of this page. : )







2010-03-26

"Vegetarian, Vegan, Flexitarian - What's the Big Deal?"




This post is all about the Vegetarian, Vegan, and so-called, "Flexitarian" diets. I basically want to define what these three diets encompass and then give my take on them. I know there are some who will never be appealed to via the animal rights argument, so I will mostly be approaching these diets from the "they're healthy for you" standpoint. But first, a word from The American Dietetic Association (ADA), from Science Daily,

"Vegetarian diets are often associated with health advantages including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes...Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index [this means less fat!] and lower overall cancer rates. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals. These nutritional differences may explain some of the health advantages of those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet."

Vegetarian

Vegetarians exist solely on plant based food - hence the "vege" stem, indicating vegetables or vegetation. (So, if you don't eat red meat but still eat things like fish and chicken, no you are not a vegetarian.)  Some of you may know that I used to be vegetarian. In fact, I was vegetarian for 9 years, starting in my teens and ending about two years after I got married. Back then, I was highly inflexible, and could not stand to touch, smell, see, let alone taste meat. Inflexibility aside, and contrary to popular opinion about vegetarians, I did not have a problem getting protein. In fact, I often had more protein than was nutritionally necessary, easily surpassing the recommended daily amount. So how do vegetarians get their protein if they don't eat meat? Well, many vegetarians eat eggs, dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.,) or both. Nuts and seeds (in moderation) are also an excellent way to obtain protein. Then there's the ever prevalent soy on the vegetarian’s menu. Without exaggerating, there are probably millions of ways to cook with soy products. There are plain soy beans, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, tvp, and surely lots more I've never heard of. Then there are beans and some grains (quinoa) which have protein. Even greens, yes GREENS, can be good sources of protein. So, with a little imagination, creativity, and practice, one can easily live, thrive and, perhaps more importantly, eat delicious foods on the vegetarian diet.

Vegan

Veganism is basically a stricter form of vegetarianism. Vegans go a step further and eliminate all animal products from their diet. This means no eggs or dairy (bye, bye, cheese!). Some vegans even say no to honey, since it comes from bees, a living creature. Veganism is truly a lifestyle and many also take care to avoid cosmetics and clothing that use animal ingredients. For those who are interested in including more fresh fruits and vegetables, (and therefore less meat), in their diets, jumping into veganism may be hard to do because it is so restrictive. It is not impossible, however, and many achieve great success on this diet. Though some vegans do find that they need to take B12 to supplement what they’re not getting in their food. Personally, when I was a vegetarian, I experienced intermittent bouts of lactose intolerance and have therefore dabbled in veganism; but, despite the stomach cramps, it's always the cheese that stopped me from going all the way to the vegan camp. So, although I do not know if I will ever be vegan again, I do love experimenting with vegan foods and I plan to have lots of vegan recipes featured on this site.

Flexitarian

The term flexitarian is somewhat new, not widely accepted, and is sometimes even derided by members of the vegan/vegetarian camp. A self-described flexitarian is usually someone who eats a primarily vegetarian diet, but occasionally eats some form of meat. Flexitarians are often somewhat conscious of where their food comes from and have ethical or dietary concerns for why they choose to eat a mostly plant-based diet. The key with flexitarians is, well, flexibility. A flexitarian may go weeks on end eating a completely plant-based diet, but may occasionally eat a meat-based meal if a well-intentioned loved one prepares it for them.
Although I am not completely sold on the term flexitarianism, I think this way of eating has merit – especially for those who are completely against strictly vegetarian/vegan diets.

For better or worse, many people are disinterested in the rigid dogma that many vegans and vegetarians espouse (I know, I used to be one of them). Further, many who might be swayed or interested in learning about animal rights or healthier, (mostly) meatless eating become turned off when those who care so much for the humane treatment of animals have not yet managed to treat their fellow humans with much humanity. This, for me, is a problem. It is my personal belief that eating a vegetarian diet is the most ethical choice, but we all have to arrive at this choice on our own, as conscious individuals. It is not my place to cast judgment on those who do not choose the vegetarian path. No one deserves to be berated for that choice. Further, I do not know if I will be vegetarian forever. I’ve only been back on the vegetarian diet for about 2 months now. It hasn’t been hard, but I’m still just taking it one day at a time, doing my best to lose a few pounds and improve my overall well-being.

On a final note, I will say that we should all have a goal of increasing the amount of healthy fruits and vegetables in our diets, whether we continue to eat meat or not. Most of us just don’t eat enough veg. So if you are someone who is interested in becoming vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian, you don’t have to magically transform over night. Though if you are an all or nothing type – go for it! Otherwise, start small by decreasing the size of your meat serving and increasing the size of your vegetable portions. Then, go one day a week without meat; then go two, three or more. It’s OK to take baby steps. Just give it a try and see how it goes. Your health will thank you!

Peace and Greens, from the Diary of a Smart Black Woman