Thursday, November 18, 2010

cooking with jess :)

Ever since I knew how to read, I've developed such an interest in cooking. I am currently taking a food preparation class in college and find it extremely enlightening. I love to cook for my closest friends and family because it's my own way of showing them that I care for them. Good, nutritious, and fresh food is what brings families together. I make my family dinner most days of the week, because my mom now works full time. So, in a way I am giving my mom a break and also sharpening up my cooking skills. Who can argue with that?
Well, last night I made my own rendition of Shepherds pie. A much healthier and animal-friendly version of course!

(these are blurry cellphone quality pictures, my apologies! but thank-you aria) 

Vegan Shepherd's Pie 

  • 1 1/4 cup cooked lentils (you can prepare them ahead of time or use canned)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (preferably fire roasted!) 
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • a few fresh basil leaves cut into strips 
  • salt & pepper to taste 
Mashed Potato Crust:
  •  5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled, and cubed 
  • 4 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350 degrees!

1. If using dried lentils, cook them and drain them thoroughly. 
2. Heat the olive oil in large saucepan and toss in onion and garlic in it, allowing it to cook for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir in the eggplant and allow to cook for approximately 5 minutes. 
3. Mix in the carrots, mushrooms, corn, rosemary, and basil and cook for 2 minutes, and then add tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Cover the sauce pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Boil or steam the potatoes until they are soft. Drain and mash them, then add non-dairy milk and onion powder, and beat until smooth. 
5. Uncover the pan of vegetables and cook more briskly for 5 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Stir in the cooked lentils, vegetable stock, and season with salt and pepper. 
6. Smooth out a thin layer of the mashed potatoes onto an ovenproof dish, making sure you cover the bottom of the dish with potatoes. Layer it with the vegetable and lentil mixture, then spread the rest of the potatoes, covering the mixture, and mark with a fork. Sprinkle some dried basil or maybe even grated cheese on top. Cook in the heated oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

This shepherds pie will certainly warm you up on a cold day! I guarantee it :) 

For dessert I opted to Dreena's "Triple Layer Chocolate Cream Cake" from her cookbook The Everyday Vegan.
 Holy... this cake was probably the most moist vegan cake I've ever eaten! I normally don't like chocolate frosting, but this one was so much different than the others, it wasn't sugary and artificial at all. The cake was seriously rich and chocolately. Being the berry-fiend that I am, I, of course topped it off with some very juicy strawberries. I definitely recommend you indulge in this animal friendly dessert, ASAP!
well.. my work here is done....peace!

- Jess

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good Karma Cafe

This evening Jess and I hit up this artsy little vegan restaurant in Redbank, Good Karma Cafe. It was a very nice little area surrounded by tons of  shops and cozy little restaurants. Once inside there was interesting artwork decorating the walls, intimate table settings, and the indie background music fit the scene perfectly. It was as healthy as it was delicious, here are some highlights of our lovely dinner date :)
awaiting the meal to come...
Our appetizer, queso dip and nachos! The dip was not necessarily reminiscent of a true queso dip however the pico on top made it fresh and it was an interesting spin on traditional cheesy dips.
Now onto the main courses! I had pineapple and mango tempeh. This meal was everything I had hoped and more! It consisted of coconut crusted tempeh, jasmine rice and sauteed veggies then topped off with Thai coconut sauce and pineapple mango chutney. The creamy Thai coconut sauce was my absolute favorite part of this dish, so rich and flavorful. Then you have tender tempeh, veggies and warm fruit which when all mixed together created a delicious flavor explosion in my mouth! Super tasty!

Now here is Jess's meal, a Cajun seitan wrap. Which was a tortilla filled with Cajun spiced seitan, sauteed greens, caramelized onions, crisp carrots and a drizzle of sweet mustard sauce. This was also equally delicious (of course I had to try some). The seitan was crunchy and the Cajun seasoning added just the right touch of spice while the onions and vegetables complemented the seitan wonderfully!
This beverage right here is Live Lemonade, Good Karma's most popular freshly made beverage. It is made with fresh apple and lemon with a pinch of ginger over ice. It was soo fresh and delish! It tasted like freshly squeezed lemony goodness!

And now for the best part...desert!
Tiramisu! It was fun to try a new take on one of my favorite non vegan deserts. It was spongy and creamy and the chocolate crumbles topped it off very nicely.
And here's a little treat we brought home for the parent's, a hemp seed chocolate chip cookie, no word on how this tasted yet so we'll get back to that later.
Overall, our experience at Good Karma Cafe was delicious and delightful, the staff was friendly and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. It is definitely a place I will recommend and I'm hoping to be back there soon to try some more vegan deliciousness. Check out their website for menu information, and add visiting Good Karma Cafe to your to-do list! 

Be back soon, <3Aria

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pancakes :)

These pancakes are lovely! I am going to share with you my favorite pancake recipe. I got the recipe from Tina's blog, "Carrots 'n' Cake." They're filling, doughy, and deeeelicioussss! They certainly give Aunt Jemima a run for her money.

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp sugar 
  •  1 1/2 non dairy milk (ie: soy, rice, almond, or simply cow's milk)
  • 3 oz Greek yogurt *
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp canola oil

  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • Heat pan (or griddle) over medium heat; coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Drop 1/4 cup cupfuls of batter onto the pan/griddle.
  • Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes and then flip. Cook on the other side for about 1 minute.
  • Serve with your favorite toppings. (before cooking them, I like to add 1/2 cup blueberries and 1 tsp ground cinnamon!)
*(I normally use two heaping tablespoons of chobani greek yogurt. sour cream and cottage cheese works well too)


What is yoga?

Yoga is the practice of physical postures and poses. It means "union" in Sanskirt and the unity occurs through the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga was first originated in India, over 26,000 years ago, and believed to be during the period of the Golden Age. It surfaced during the discovery of the largest valley of civilization, Indus.

Firstly, yoga doesn't have to be a religion. I think of it as a way to reach towards greater potential. It builds an awareness of your bodies mobility giving you concentration, flexibility, and stamina. If Yoga is a great stress reliever and melts away unhealthy feelings that captivate your mind and body. It's both freeing and limitless. I'll cultivate mindfulness and bring positive energy into your body which allows you to shine. Yoga is truly emotionally and physically healing and it's actually been scientifically proven.

Health Benefits:
  • decrease in high blood pressure
  • increase in circulation and oxygen throughout the body
  • stronger immunity
  • higher metabolism
  • detoxifies organs   

I only know this from personal experience! My first encounter with yoga was a little over a year ago; sounds like a short amount of time, right? It's crazy because it feels like I've been doing it a life time. Yoga has provided me with strength, motivation, and confidence. Being already flexible was definitely an advantage, but now I can do poses I never knew were even possible. My horrible posture is now noticeably impeccable! My yoga practice has brought me an awareness and abundance to try my best in everything. You really can't give up on your first try, like life, yoga can be a challenge, and practice only makes you stronger. 

There's hundreds of different ways to do yoga and it's probably the most wide ranged physical activity out there. So please don't hesitate to try something new and I am positive you'll receive only positive results. I really hope this post inspires you to give yoga a chance and I encourage that you'll stick with it! :)