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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Great Way to Start Your Day

Do you know why the first meal 'of the day' is called breakfast?  Because you've been sleeping and not eating for a few hours, kind of like a fast, and then you wake up and you eat something, thereby breaking the fast.  Don't you love it when words actually make sense?  

The reason why many people say breakfast is the most important meal 'of the day' is because eating revs up your metabolism which is very good.  And if that first meal 'of the day' includes a little protein, fiber, carbs, and some vitamins, minerals, and other good things, then you're more likely to stay energetic, focused, and away from tempting but nutrient poor snacks until you have your next healthy meal.

Why do I keep using 'of the day'?  Because 'du jour' 
is French for 'of the day' (there I go again), and 
commonly refers to an item that changes each day, 
e.g., soup du jour.  But since I'm talking about 
breakfast, today's recipe is Parfait du jour, and 
although 'du jour' usually means 'of the day' 
and changes each day, this parfait is so good 
you'll want to have this Parfait du Jour every jour.

Parfait du Jour  
2/3 cup high fiber twigs cereal (TJ's/99 Cents Store)
1 cup mixed red and green grapes
3 Tbsp. toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. ground flax seed 
3 Tbsp. pomegranate arils (aka seeds, but they're really the fruit around the seed and the seed)
2 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger

If you have a glass parfait glass that would be so nice, but any old bowl or glass will do.  Simply layer all the ingredients starting at the beginning of the list and the bottom of the glass.  Admire the beautiful layers.  Resist any urge to stir the parfait up, because part of the Parfait du Jour experience is to dig your spoon down to the bottom of the glass, scoop up a bit of everything, then put it all in your mouth and get ready for a fantastic surprise.  Do this a few more times, then you can start mixing it up a little and finish it on your own terms.

Also look for Melissa's Pomegranate Arils at your favorite supermarket! 
Although cousin Lee, a recent Parfait du Jour convert, likes to use sliced almonds and those are delicious too, since I am the all-knowing creator of this recipe please do it my way, at least the first time.

One more thing:  while Parfait du Jour is just about a perfect breakfast and you should have one every day, it also makes a very tasty before bedtime treat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Give Us This Day Our Daily Unleavened Bread

Show me the matzo!
My favorite Passover holiday memories from long ago include my mother's wonderful cooking but my most favorite was finding the hidden matzo and getting a $20 bill from my Uncle Art.  On the downside, going without leavened bread for the week was tough (when I actually did it), but the upside was the fried matzo (matzo brei) we'd have for breakfast every single day.  Sometimes cinnamon & sugar was the topping of choice, and other times it was good old, delicious maple syrup - Log Cabin, I think.  Just writing about it makes me want to go to sleep so I can wake up and have it for breakfast ASAP.

Passover Bulletin:  Here's the lost 5th question that we now ask at the sedar:  "Why, if matzo is spelled matzo, do we still call it matza?"

The other "sacrifice" we had to make during Passover was the very limited choices when it came to baked goods.  There were a couple of types of cake, made with matzo meal, and coconut macaroons (not those fancy French kind that are all the rage), and that was about it.  Today there are endless choices, if you can drive all the way to Fairfax or a few special bakeries scattered throughout the Los Angeles area to wait in an endless line with other mensches.  If not, here's an easy recipe that has just a few ingredients, takes just a little bit of time, and makes the best Passover macaroons you'll ever have - or so said my friend Bonnie.

Fancy French Macaroons Non                          
4 cups Melissa's coconut chips
1 cup raw almonds
equivalent of 3-4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup teeny semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Melissa's Dried Orange Peels, diced

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil.  Separately mince the almonds in a processor and then do the same for the coconut chips.

Mix all the ingredients together.  The mixture will not be like cookie dough but like a mixture of stuff slightly held together by wet egg whites which is what it is.  If not wet enough, add more egg white.  Then put some mixture in a tablespoon, press it lightly with your fingers, then place it carefully on the parchment and repeat, leaving at least 1" between mounds.  If the mixture scatters a little when placing it on the baking sheet then just pat the loose pieces back together.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let rest for a minute or so and then move to a cooling rack.  Start another batch until all the mixture is baked.  When cooled place the macaroons in an airtight container, each layer separated by parchment paper, or place a few in a cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon, and think of how much easier this was then driving to Fairfax. 


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Celebrate National Grilled Soy Cheese Month

Blogger Rendering of Grilled Soy Cheese Sandwich, Miscellaneous Optional Garnishes, and Hot Tomato Soup

Ok, so there isn't a National Grilled Soy Cheese Month, yet.  But, April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month and April is also National Soy Month, so I thought I'd combine both celebrations to create a totally new, better reason to eat one of the most classic of all sandwiches.  Full disclosure: I've been a very enthusiastic vegetarian for many years and try to keep dairy intake down as much as I can

Most people don't realize that you can make a fantastic, flavorful, creamy, messy, greasy (in a good way) and "please can I have another one of these" grilled cheese sandwiches using shredded soy cheddar & mozzarella cheese.  Honestly I think all grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty darn good tasting- now I don't mean toasted cheese but truly grilled, i.e., in a hot pan, seared and flipped side over side - but they're also pretty darn full of saturated (bad), unhealthy fats.

So why not do your heart a favor by trying this simple and ridiculously delicious grilled soy cheese sandwich as soon as you can.  Remember, Passover starts next week and that means days on end with no grilled cheese sandwiches in sight.  Better stock up, don't you think? 

More Grilled Soy Cheese Please
2 slices of your favorite bread
2 tsp. or so of earth balance natural buttery spread
1/2 cup or so shredded soy cheese
2 tsp. sweet & spicy mustard or apricot jam
miscellaneous optional embellishments, e.g., tomatoes (fresh or sun dried), pickles, grilled onions
miscellaneous optional garnishes, e.g., cherry tomatoes, stuffed green olives

Spread one side of each slice of bread with the mustard or jam.  Add the shredded soy cheese.  Here's where the miscellaneous optional embellishment(s) should go if using.  Close the sandwich.  Spread the top slice with the buttery spread.  Heat a non-stick saute pan to medium high 1-2 minutes.  Place the sandwich in the pan, buttery spread side down.  Cook about 2-3 minutes, pressing down on the sandwich with a spatula.  Before flipping the sandwich over, cover the top slice of bread with the other teaspoon of buttery spread. Flip the sandwich over and cook another 2-3 minutes, pressing down again with a spatula.  Flip the sandwich back over for another minute then turn off the pan and remove the sandwich to your plate, maybe next to a matching bowl of hot tomato soup.  Cut the sandwich up, or not, garnish with miscellaneous optional garnishes, or not, dunk into hot tomato soup, or not.  Any way you have it - what a celebration!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Extra! Extra!! Vegetarian Times Discovers Fantastic New Writer!

I'm thrilled to let you all know that Vegetarian Times magazine has published my story on Supper Clubs in the April/May issue.  As a vegetarian for 25 years,   
VT has helped guide me through a wonderful, 
plant-based, compassionate lifestyle filled with delicious, beautiful food.   Health experts, chefs,  and many other culinary professionals are now all in agreement that eating primarily fruits and  vegetables, with whole grains, legumes, soy,  and mainly unsaturated fats, + exercise,  is the best way to achieve wellness.   Plus, it opens up your culinary creativity to so many fantastic ingredients.
you may have overlooked in the past.

     The story was inspired by an idea to create a fun, low-key, stress-free way to bring people together to enjoy vegetarian food.  One of the recipes I picked for the story from the VT archives was a refreshing and colorful 3 Citrus Basil Cocktail or Mocktail.  While the theme of the story was "Spring", this is the perfect drink for anytime of the year, and it lets you choose your favorite citrus fruits of the season.  Though the original recipe calls for orange, lemon, and lime juice, I went with Pixie Tangerines, Kishu Mandarins, and a bit of lime.  I also used fresh frozen strawberries instead of the raspberries, so use the recipe as a guide to make this tasty drink your own. 

I hope you'll pick up a copy of the magazine - but you'd better hurry.  I hear the issue is flying off the shelves! 

For the Citrus Basil Cocktail recipe go to:

For more info about Pixie Tangerines, Kishu Mandarins, and every other citrus fruit known to man, go to:

Monday, April 4, 2011


Blogger's Rendering of Greek Salad 
 Breaking News: There are no original ideas so stop trying to have them.  Well maybe there's one original thought per idea.  Just when I was thinking how clever I was to come up with the perfect post theme,  I did a search and found that several someones had already beat me to it.  So now I know I'm going to have thoughts/ideas that although not original they still really work.  Like here for example, where I'm going to tell you about my little twist on a classic Greek salad.

My culinary creativity is based on, but not limited to, these concepts:

1.  Recreate recipes at home that I enjoy at restaurants.
2.  Vegetarianize recipes that aren't already vegetarian.
3.  Veganize recipes if possible.
4.  Use what's in the fridge, freezer, or pantry before shopping for more food.
5.  Don't let a recipe define your food - just let it be your guide.

Tomato Pie at Tomato Pie

The other day mommy and me went to a place in Torrance called Tomato Pie because we both love pizza.  (Sorry for those of you who are hoping for a pizza recipe, but this post is about Greek salad.)  As you can see from the picture, the pizza was perfection.  But the great extra bonus was the delicious Greek salad that we had first, definitely big and fat and filled with the usual GS ingredients plus a few artichoke hearts and yellow bell peppers for extra deliciousness. 

Greek Salad at Tomato Pie

Because I like to recreate recipes at home that I enjoy in restaurants and because I also like to veganize recipes if possible and because there's no way you can have a Greek salad without feta cheese or a really good facsimile, I went about making my version of a classic Greek salad with "feta' and here it is now:

My Big Fat Greek Salad (veganized)
feta:                                                                    salad:
1/2 pkg. extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes        4 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil                                 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thickly
1 Tbsp. liquid from Kalamata olives                     1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. dried oregano                                          2 baby cucumbers, cubed
s & p                                                                   Kalamata olives (as many as you like)
1 tsp. minced garlic

My Big Fat Greek Salad with tofu "feta"
 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil                                  
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
pinch of dried oregano

Put the tofu cubes in a container, add the oil, olive liquid, oregano, s & p, and minced garlic, and toss to combine.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours, but overnight or longer is even better.

Put all the salad ingredients in a bowl.  Add the "feta" with the marinade.  Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad.  Toss again and enjoy.  Oopa!