General Tso’s Tofu and Cauliflower

tsotofucaul0

Damn these short winter days, killing the food blogging realm. I never really put much thought to it before the blog, but nighttime really clobbers photographs. Since I am a working girl in a small apartment, I pretty much only have time to take photos of food the night I make it. Maybe one day I will have enough time to make these great dishes in the middle or the day, or have a special corner to set up lights to photograph at night.

tsotofucaul1

My latest dish was inspired from our last trip for Chinese takeout. My husband has switched over from General Tso’s Chicken to General Tso’s Tofu. But I haven’t found a place in New Jersey that I liked their tofu, my favorites being in Philadelphia. I’ve been going nuts for some of the baked cauliflower dishes. I thought I might try making a tofu and cauliflower mix.

tsotofucaul2

Of coarse to make this dish gluten free you have to make some alterations. First is that you need a gluten-free soy sauce or something similar. Coconut aminos, braggs, or tamari should work wonderfully in this dish. You also need to be careful about which hoisin sauce you buy. Most have wheat in it, but Joyce Chen has a gluten-free and kosher hoisin sauce. These are pretty much the only major problems to tackle with this recipe.

tsotofucaul3

Continue reading

Sunday Reading 03-01-15 #25

025

Hi everyone! Another lazy day, it is snowing outside and turning into rain. I love snow but I am at the point where I am happy to see spring. It is the gross type of cold outside. It is constantly snowing then raining, creating sheets of ice overnight. Since it is warmer, the ground is muddy and gross. Basically it is harder to get outside and be active than the actual wintertime! Regardless, here is your weekly reads (and views.. or whatever).

usmigration

Mapping Migration in the United States Since 1900

Have I ever expressed my love of data on this site before? I am not sure if this relates to food or veganism, but I find it really interesting regardless. New York Times made an interactive map saying where people moved to within the United States. The data is interesting and kind-of makes sense. Of coarse it gets pretty clunky in the Northeast since the states are so small. But it is a cool thing to check out if you lived in the US.

Simply Delicious Shower Thoughts with Cookie Monster

He had me on onions rings are just vegetable donuts.

16druckerman-articleLarge

The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy

I am in a current clutter crisis. Since I am helping my work move I’ve found some interesting yet questionable items, surgical stapler anyone? So this article about the world’s new obsession with clutter struck a cord with me.

Is Medication Vegan?

I love this new video from Emily of Bite Size Vegan. She breaks down what makes medications not vegan. I also like her conclusion, just because there are animal products or animal testing being done, doesn’t mean you should stop taking birth control or anti-depressants. But that doesn’t mean you can’t voice some concern or try some alternatives. She even leaves a bunch of helpful links to expand on the topic and for your own research.

Fitnessista’s YouTube Channel

I’ve been reading The Fitnessista’s blog for a few weeks now. She updates it A LOT! Luckily her posts are fast reads so that makes it okay. But I started to do some of the workouts from her YouTube page. Man, I am loving it. I am particularly loving her barre exercises. I love the muscle quakes from the exercises, but the healing process seems to be faster. I also love her body friendly instructing.

Project 365: Days 46-52

Day 46: It snowed all day on Saturday. Weather predictions said there was going to be two inches of snow, so Jon and I made plans to eat out for dinner. So sat inside, placed our order and as we stepped outside we realized it snowed at least four to six inches! It was a slippery drive, but we luckily got behind a snow plow all the way to the Chinese food restaurant. Bonus? Some extra snow shoveling action.

022115-w

Day 47: I made a new recipe for Maca Maple Latte, posted on Monday.

022215-w

Day 48: I got the impulse to start a puzzle on Sunday, so I felt compelled to take some puzzle photos on Monday.

022315-w

Day 49: Took a photo for my Winter reading reviews. Hopefully it will be posted within the first two weeks of March *crosses fingers* There will also be a review on the first volume of the Sailor Moon manga, I read it on the kindle so it couldn’t be part of the photo.

022415-w

Day 50: Taking some photos of my Florida avocado for a new blog post. Looks like Toulouse is licking her chops since this looks so dang tasty.

022515-w

Day 51: More puzzlin’ going on. Got one of the spirit wolves put together.

022615-w

Day 52: Busy day at work, there was a last minute shadowbox for a funeral, and I stayed an extra two hours, and saw a car crash! No photos since I left my camera at home.

Alexa Asks, Jen Answers #13: Vitamin D- the Sunshine Vitamin

asksnanswers

Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaIs it true there is no vegan source of vitamin D?

Of coarse there is a vegan source of vitamin D, it’s called the sun.

Oh you wanted a better answer. Okay, well if you are deficient in vitamin D and need to take supplements, there are vegan source pills you can take for vitamin D. 

Done, and done.

Oh still need more? Understandable.

See, we need vitamin D to help absorb calcium in bones. Also being deficient in vitamin D is linked to many diseases such as cancer, autism, weight gain, depression, and heart disease. The problem is that many doctors argue what levels of vitamin D we need to stay healthy.

It is also worth noting that many meat eating, milk guzzling Americans have low vitamin D levels. The reason? We are all cooped up inside with conventional 9 to 5 jobs. The easiest way to stay healthy is get 10 to 20 minutes of sun everyday. 

That’s it.

How can you do this? Start biking or walking to work. Park at the far end of the parking lot. If you work a 9 to 5 office job, take small 2 minute breaks outside when you stretch your legs. Try some simple activities outside, like reading outside, gardening, raking leaves, walking the dog, etc. 

It is a struggle since we are often told to wear sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. And you should keep that in mind if you are going to be outside for an hour or longer, or in direct sunlight. If you are traveling to a brighter area like places near the equator or a dessert, lather up! Cancer or not, your skin might not be use to it and you might burn.

Yes you can take supplements but keep in mind there is a free alternative. Plus you could use some fresh air.

Blog Recipe Round Up: Chickpeas

chickpeas

There aren’t many vegan’s who don’t love chickpeas. They are so versatile and they even have been growing in popularity in their flour form- besan. But this chickpea round-up is all about chickpeas in their cooked bean form. We tried to give lots of options here, pizza, curry, sandwich, salad, and even blondies!

This grouping I am happy to report yummy findings with very different flavor profiles! So I recommend reading all these reviews and pick at least one to cook at home. We got a wide range of styles so you can’t say there isn’t anything you would like.

03

Curried Chickpea Salad

I made this recipe on a whim – I wanted to try something new in the kitchen and something that was easy and flexible. I tend to look at a recipe and will tailor it to my liking by either adding a vegetable or spice if I think it’ll improve upon itself. This recipe only really asked for chickpeas, carrots, onions and the home-made curry sauce, but I added craisins to balance out the savoriness and add a little bit of sweet to it and the result was delicious! And it was nice because I was able to make enough to last me throughout the week for meals at work. It’s a great light dish or summer dish to bring to barbeques as well, I would think.

Bottom Line: Good recipe, will make again, would recommend.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chickpea Cookie Bars

Funny thing is when I picked this recipe I had my doubts from the photos alone. The outside of the bar looks so nice and crunchy but the insides a little undercooked. My first instinct was to spread the batter out, but figured I would follow the recipe fairly strictly and kept with the loaf pan.

The dough was promising, in it’s raw state it was sweet and yummy with a little hint of chickpea. I poured the batter into the pan and baked for a full hour. The end result for the first day is alright. The outside was so crunchy compared to the inside that it was hard to cut into squares. But once the bars sat in a container for a day, they are a lot more paletable. I think I still might try and bake these in a larger more spread out pan next time.

Bottom Line: Not bad for a dessert chickpea bar.

Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea + Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Lime Dressing

I made this dish thinking about my lunches for the week. I figured it would make two lunches, and it would be great. Not really. The dish was alright, and I had two things cross my mind. One was that the dish would of tasted better when the chickpea and cauliflower came fresh out of the oven. Then my second thought was that the the dressing was lacking. So if I would do this differently I would make this as a main dinner dish, and double the dressing.

Bottom Line: Yummy, best eat right away, needs more dressing

Crowd Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad

I made this dish a few times for family get togethers for this Christmas season. I can safely say it impressed everyone, vegans and omnivores alike. The dressing is creamy, garlicky, and salty. The crunchy chickpea croutons were different and added a unique twist to the dish. 

There are only one major “issue” which can be a plus (depending how you view it). The portions are HUGE! So much that I had a hard time tossing the greens in the dressing. This could be problematic if you are making this dish for yourself, but perfect when serving a large party.

But most/all aspects can be prepared a day before hand, so if you are bringing the salad to dinner you don’t have to sweat about cooking a dish while putting your hair up. I did have trouble storing the chickpeas, and they softened after a day. So if you are going to do something the day of, I would suggest roasting the chickpeas first thing that morning.

Bottom Line: Amazing, but large portions

021415-w

Buffalo Chickpea Ranch Pizza

This pizza can be easy to make, if you prep a few things in advance. For example I prepped the ranch dressing the morning of so I wouldn’t have to clean the blender again at night. Aside from that everything is easy to chop, coat, etc. The downside is the dough. I was not impressed by it. I got a tough and dense dough that I didn’t really like. And her recipe calls for pre-baking the dough creating too crunchy of a crust, and I found it broke in odd places.

BUT ignoring the crust, this dish was awesome. My husband had doubts as I spread such a small layer of sauce on the crust. But he was asking for more. I think this dish would probably find it’s way as a standard pizza in this household since it is so easy to make.

Bottom Line: Awesome, but I would use a different dough

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Chickpea Massaman Curry

This is a super easy dish to make, especially if you have the massaman curry already made. It takes about 30 minutes total and it is super filling. I jazzed the recipe up a little and served it over couscous instead of rice, but both would taste great. The only downside is that the dish largely relies on the curry paste of choice, so if you curry sucks, the dish will suck.

But the recipe given to make your own massaman curry at home was pretty good. I used that recipe to a t, with two exceptions, I didn’t add any shallots and I used pre-ground chili powder. The curry was awesome but sadly doesn’t freeze in solid cubes. Instead it is still soft in the freezer. Actually I am not sure if this is a bad or good thing.

Bottom Line: Quick to make.

Continue reading

Maple Maca Latte

macamaple0

I am sure many of you have been reading blog posts about how cold it has been on the northern hemisphere. On the East Coast of the United States we’ve been stuck in the coldest weather for the past two weeks. I am loving it, but I am craving creamy and hot drinks non-stop.

macamaple1

Saturday there was the largest “snow storm” we’ve had all winter. Granted that isn’t saying much since, even though it has been cold, it hasn’t snowed much. During Saturday I just laid down on the couch with a blanket over me. I switched out from reading, watching the snow fall, and drinking this yummy latte.

macamaple2

I don’t want to seem like I should take credit for this drink. I actually saw that Fragrant Vanilla Cake made a Raw Maca Maple Hot Chocolate, and tried it out. I didn’t really like it. I mean it TASTED good, but I had an image already set in my mind. So I figured I would make it the way I wanted it.

macamaple3

I am slightly hesitant to share this recipe since there is a maca shortage. The price for maca is CRAZY! I managed to buy a bag of it before the prices really spiked, and you can sometimes find some cheaper priced packages on Amazon

macamaple4 Continue reading

Sunday Reading 02-22-15 #24

024

Lots of people are complaining about the cold weather, but I’m loving it. I’ve been snuggling under blankets at the apartment, and finally getting to relax. My apartment controls the heating, so I am usually too hot, and opening windows in the winter. Not now. It is finally so cold, it is creating the perfect temperature inside. 

I also mentioned in my other 365 project post that my work is moving, and it pretty much happened during the coldest time during the whole winter. I am fine with that. It made moving kind-of nice, and sometimes I got TOO hot. The only downside is that once I stopped moving around, all I wanted to do was curl up in a blanket. 

food

Your Healthy Eating Habits Are Pummeling The Packaged Foods Industry

Here’s an interesting article that gives me a little hope with my generation- we are eating less packaged foods! I started to notice this when I started working with my bosses that were late fifties and sixties. I noticed that in some ways they were completely cool with eating packaged goods, even being health conscious. But the article also notes the decline in sales is also because there are just more competition.

articleInline

The Best Exercises for Healthy Bones

 I found this old article when looking up something for Alexa Asks about calcium post. The article talks about which exercises really helps strengthens bones. It is interesting as it talks about how scientifically it makes a difference.

Guide-to-Gluten-Free-Ancient-Grains-724x1024

Guide to Gluten-free Ancient Grains

One thing I like about the Gluten-free movement is that it forces people to vary their grains. Variation is an important part of a healthy diet. Sadly, I think we are all guilty of eating some of the same foods over and over again. I mean this week I think all I ate was rice! So this blog post is cool since it talks about other grains, and leaves links to recipes! I know I will check out a few for teff, I got a whole bag of it sitting in the cupboard.

The Science of Anti-Vaccination

I am not thrilled by all the articles people are sharing on Facebook about vaccinations. Almost all articles write in a demeaning voice, and pretty much always has a voice of “just vaccinate your kids dumbass!” This isn’t going to change people’s opinions. Viewpoints like Saywards’ are important to convince people to vaccinate children. This SciShow video is great since it explains the logic about the anti-vaccination movement, and doesn’t paint a picture that these people are simply stupid. Watching the video I sat there thinking about how I follow many of those logic traps. 

How Long Are You Going to Live?

Did I mention how I was watching a lot of YouTube videos since it is so chilly out? Well, here is another great video about how to read life expectancy rates. It also talks about how race and education effects life expectancy.

Project 365: Days 46-52

Day 46: Made buffalo chickpea pizza for Valentine’s Day.

021415-w

Day 47: Worked on the weekend, and loving the skyline when I head home.

021515-w

Day 48: My Boss showed me his gang of turkeys at his house. He’s been feeding them, and now has a wild security system. He supposedly saw some male turkey’s chase after the garbage truck, and he thinks they were chasing it away from the house. But I found a turkey feather and had fun playing around with it.

021615-w

Day 49: The past week my work has been moving to it’s new location. We happened to put it our first temporary sign.

021715-w

Day 50: We always cover table tops with paper at my job so it is easy to rip off and “clean” the table. This time we used old Valentine’s Day wrapping paper since we hated it so much, and we had SOOOO much of it.

021815-w

Day 51: The sun is out a little longer, giving beautiful colors when I get home.

021915-w

Day 52: Switched my cat to the old harder to get food “bowl.” She’s not too happy but she is so cute getting her food out.

022015-w

Alexa Asks, Jen Answers #12: Calcium and you bones

asksnanswers

Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaWe talked about how much calcium is in soy milk, but should I be concerned about how much calcium I get?

We hear a lot about calcium as vegans. It is the next obvious nutritional concern people have after protein. We grow up in school learning that we drink milk for calcium, as if nothing else has it. When my husband found out he was lactose intolerant, he got a lot of questions of how he got his calcium. It seemed that people assumed that we had force milk in our tummies regardless to fill the calcium void. Which got me thinking, how important is calcium?

Here is a little food for thought, hundreds and thousands of years ago humans were designed to drink breast milk until they were a few years old. After a certain point, the human body looses the ability to break down the lactose molecule easily. Then one day there is a mutation in the human gene that let the body continue to break down lactose, letting humans consume milk for their whole lives.

But you might make the argument that our ancestors didn’t live as long as we do now, and that we need that extra calcium as we get older. I mean think about osteoporosis! Women are always being told to consume more milk to prevent brittle bones. Several studies have shown that additional calcium have no link to decreased bone fractures, and in some studies may increase them. To make things more crazy, some studies show that milk consumption may actually leech calcium from bones. 

So is calcium a giant fraud? No. We still need calcium for bone strength, and other bodily functions like nerve connections to muscles. I think perspective is in need. We may of heard about how we need three glasses of milk to get our calcium recommendation. That would mean three glasses of milk will provide 100% of the calcium for the day. That is great, but that would imply we don’t get calcium from any other foods. Beans, sesame seeds, soy, and leafy greens all have calcium. Just like protein, there is a little bit of calcium in almost any food.

If you are worried about bone density and strength, try weight training. It has been proven to strengthen bones, but isn’t as widely advertised. So lifting a dumbbell may do more for you as you age than chugging the milk.

As a vegan you might not need to be worried about calcium intake. Many vegan foods are now fortified in calcium. Most milks contain more calcium than dairy milk as a marketing strategy. Lots of protein powder mixes have added calcium, and even oats are fortified. And if you are told by your doctor to take calcium supplements, you are covered as well. Any search will help you find vegan sourced calcium tablets.

I look at calcium like most vitamins, I know I need it but I don’t worry about it. How many times do you think about your potassium levels? Or worry about your vitamin C levels? Probably not often.

My Vegan Restaurant: Grindcore House, Philadelphia PA

storefront

Grindcore House

1515 S 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
website | facebook | google plus | twitter

Grindcore House is a coffee shop that is off the beaten path in Philadelphia. It is located in South Philadelphia and take about 30 to 60 minutes to walk from Center City to the coffee shop. So why the long trek? Well, Grindcore House is Philadelphia’s only all vegan coffee shop. They are known for serving coffee, vegan food that’s savory and sweet, and playing grindcore music. 

The atmosphere is pretty laid back, and made me feel like I was getting coffee with all the visual arts major from my school (I went to the Philadelphia’s University of the Arts). There is a small area where you can order, and a small hallway leads you to a sitting area. In the sitting area features plenty of seats and couch to sit on. There is also a big bookshelf filled with various reading materials, including fiction, non-fiction, and even Marvel comic books. Despite the name, they don’t just play grindcore music, there is a wide range of metal and indie music.

books

I came to Grindcore for two reasons, coffee and donuts. You can find your average selection of coffee at the shop, drip or espresso. But unlike most coffee shops you have more milk choices. You can pick between soy, almond, or coconut milk. I tried a coconut milk latte, and it was alright. I think it was mostly based on my choice of coconut milk over soy. But the actual coffee was pretty good, I would recommend sticking with soy when having a hot latte.

lattedonut

The donuts on the other hand are amazing. I can safely say that no one would be able to tell the difference between a regular and these vegan donuts. They are yeasty and fluffy, and covered in a yummy glaze. Who makes these donuts? Dottie’s Donuts. 

The company was started by two guys who worked at Blackbird Pizzeria, another all vegan eatery in Philadelphia. The two started to make donuts and ship them to other coffee shops, Grindcore House being one of them. They are thinking about opening a storefront in West Philly, making a second all vegan coffee shop in Philly. I picked the elderflower and matcha donuts (the elderflower donut is pictured) Both were amazing, and will make vegans and omnivores salvate.

donut
Positives:
Dottie’s Donuts: I think the trip to Grindcore House is worth it just for the donuts. There are donuts available in other locations closer to center city. But Grindcore House is one of the original locations to get these goodies.

The Coffee’s Pretty Good: Despite my very “meh” description of the coffee, it is still pretty good. I would rank it higher than the local coffee shops I go to, which I have four to choose from in less than a mile radius. As mentioned I would stick to soy milk for hot drinks. There is something about steamed coconut and almond milk that never seems to work. 

Environment is Nice: If hardcore music isn’t your thing, you’ll be surprised how much you will still like this place. The music is never too loud. The store is on a corner so there is lots of natural light in the store. There was always a certain amount of traffic flow, so it isn’t awkwardly quiet.

Unlimited Selection: Okay they only have SO much food, but it was the first time walking into a coffee shop and not thinking what I can’t eat. There is plenty to choose from including sandwiches, pastries, and chocolates from other vegan companies. This is the reason why I plan on coming back over and over again.
mybook
Negatives
It’s Off the Beaten Path: No, this store isn’t in the middle of nowhere, but if you aren’t from the area, you have to go out of YOUR way to get there. If your visiting in Philadelphia, you’ll have walk at least 10 minutes past South Street, the closest tourist site I can think of. Most of the people in the shop looked like they probably lived near the area.

Wobbly Tables: This seems silly, but I didn’t feel too great sitting at some of the tables. They swayed a little more than I liked. And probably need to be replaced. Anytime I shifted I could feel the chair joints move.

Grindcore Music: I like some heavy and intricate music, but sometimes this music tested me. It was less distracting in the sense I could of wrote, researched, studies, talked, or searched the internet all perfectly fine. But read? No way. I can’t really pinpoint why it was so distracting to read a book, but it was.

Getting There
Remember how I said Grindcore House is off the beaten path? Well, it is neighborhood that is more residential, and google maps can take you down some not so hot neighborhoods. So here is my recommendation to walk or bike all the way down 4th Street, until you hit the coffee shop. By going down 4th Street you will go down Fabric Row, pass some newly built housing, a church, and an abandoned hospital. Plus it is very easy to cross Washington, a major street in Philadelphia, from 4th Street. If you choose to drive, there should be fairly easy parking to be found.