Nutrition Ambition

Welcome to my vegan food blog! When it comes to food, my philosophy is that taking time to lovingly prepare your own meals can result in better health and greater life satisfaction. I use natural, whole ingredients to create nourishing, exciting meals which replenish mind, body and spirit. Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Not Much Cookin' Going On...

I've been quite busy getting ready to move, so I haven't had a chance to do a lot of cooking. I'll be back to posting in a week and a half, or so. In the meantime, check out some of these links:

Read about Kombucha, a great health tonic made from fremented tea:

The Post Punk Kitchen:
Lots of yummy vegan recipes!

The Sunny Raw Kitchen: my favorite raw food blog

Another great raw food blog!

Crafters For Critters: If you love handmade goods, then support this great site. They donate proceeds to helping animals.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Decadent 4-Ingredient Chocolate Truffles

I have had a mean sweet tooth lately, so when I saw dates, cocoa powder and peanut butter in my fridge, the wheels started turning. Truffles! They turned out perfectly with a smooth, creamy texture and rich flavor. If these won't satisfy your chocolate craving, I don't know what will!

Ingredients (makes about 10-12 small truffles):
* 8-9 dates, pitted and soaked a few hours if not overnight
* 1 1/2 tablespoons good-quality natural cocoa powder
* 2 heaping tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter (or any nut butter...almond would be wonderful)
* shredded dried coconut and/or cocoa powder, for rolling
In a food processor, combine the dates and nut butter and blend until smooth. Add in the cocoa powder and blend again. You may need to add a couple teaspoons of water if the mixture is too dry and crumbly. The finished mixture should have a smooth, moist, fudge-like consistancy and not be too sticky. Roll the truffles into small bite-size balls and roll in coconut or cocoa powder. Enjoy!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lime-Cilantro Rice Bowl

If you've ever been to Qudoba (the Subway of Mexican restaurants) you've probably had the vegetarian burrito. I LOVE the lime-cilantro rice they put in the burritos, so when today I started craving it, I knew I had to make my own. It tasted exactly the same! I was so happy. And it couldn't be easier.
Lime-Cilantro Rice
Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
* 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed well
* 2 cups water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
* 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan, then add the rice and salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the rice in tender. Fluff with a fork and add in the lime juice and cilantro.

I topped this delicious and flavorful rice with My Favorite Black Beans
Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
* 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, undrained
* Cayenne pepper, to taste
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 1/2 tablespoons liquid aminos
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* 1 bay leaf
Combine all the ingredients in a saute pan and bring to a bubble, stirring well. Simmer over medium-low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic and bay leaf before serving.

As if this isn't absolutely fantastic as it is, there was some leftover roasted corn salsa in the fridge that my mom made. Here are the basic components: red onion, sauteed/roasted corn, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper or hot sauce, lime juice and cilantro. I piled this on top of the beans for a filling and delicious dinner. You could also add some chopped fresh tomato and avocado/guacamole to the bowl.

This meal is very low in fat, high in fiber (and flavor!), with protein, iron and calcium. It also makes a great quick dinner. Yumm!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flax-y Nut Butter Sandwiches

I have been getting creative with peanut butter ever since picking up Robin Robertson's new book Peanut Butter Planet. Check out this fun little cookbook for lots of great vegan comfort food dishes and of course, lots of great-looking desserts! I will admit that some of the dessert recipes could use a few healthier ingredients (powdered sugar, for one, I have an issue with). But all the recipes are vegan and sound delicious. Also, whenever olive oil is used, it is used by the tablespoon. Each recipe gives a nutritional analysis and the fat and calorie content of most of the dishes is rather high. To cut this down, I would use 1-2 teaspoons of oil instead of 1-2 tablespoons, or cut the oil out all together when possible.
So, here is my creative spin on peanut butter sandwiches. For each sammie, mix 1-2 tablespoons natural peanut butter or other nut butter with 2 teaspoons ground flax seeds. Chose from the following fillings, or make up your own: tomatoes, dark green lettuce, thinly sliced cucumber, natural/organic pickles, shredded carrot, black olives, raisins or raisin butter (simply soak raisins until moist and plump and then blend them with a little soak water in food processor or blender until smooth), sliced apple, sliced banana, sliced kiwi, sliced fresh strawberries, a drizzle of your favorite salad dressing (Italian would be good), etc. I like mixing the sweet and savory ingredients. Spread the nut butter/flax mixture on whole grain bread or wrap, stuff with your choice of fillings, and enjoy!

This makes a satisfying, nutritious, and filling lunch or dinner. You could even have it for breakfast! I even think kids would go for this because they get to chose the combination of fillings in their sandwich (lets just hope they chose at least one veggie!)
Photo credit: visit her website for great recipes from all her books, including this one!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Goji -Berry Smoothie

Goji berries are a great source of antioxidants, they have anti-cancer properties, are a good source of protein, and contain the highest amount of caretenoids known. Goji berries also have lots of vitamin C, B vitamins, Vitamin E (which is rarely found in fruit), and selenium.

I was thrilled when I saw these tiny superfood berries in the bulk section at my natural foods store co-op. They are quite expensive, about $16 a pound! When I want to treat myself, I get a little bag of them (some people buy donuts or candy as a treat--I buy expensive heath food!) If you can't find them in a store near you, they can be easily ordered online. Just do a Google search and you'll find at least 5-6 websites that sell them.

If you've never tasted a goji berry, they taste quite earthy, slightly bitter and are not very sweet at all. To make them more palatable, I like blending goji berries in a smoothie. Soaking them helps soften them so they blend into the smoothie better.

Goji -Berry Smoothie
* 2 tablespoons goji berries
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
* 6 fresh strawberries, sliced
* 1/2 ripe banana (add the whole thing if you like a real thick smoothie)
* 1 to 1 1/2 cups pomegranate, cranberry or cherry juice
Combine the goji berries and water in a small bowl and let soak 10-15 minutes, until they have plumped up, then blend all ingredients (including the soak water) until smooth. Enjoy!

Informational source:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Dinner

This year, I was in charge of cooking Easter Dinner for the family--much to my delight. Anytime I get to cook for people is a real treat. At first I thought I would make a big buffet of snacks and salads so everyone could pick and chose what they wanted to eat. But then I decided that making 8-10 different dishes could get a little expensive and result in A LOT of leftovers, so I opted to make 4 dishes plus dessert. I wanted to prepare a nice big raw salad (organic veggies including lettuce, spinach, grape tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, purple cabbage, carrot and cucumber) and I also made roasted veggies--just cut sweet potato, regular potato (unpeeled), carrots and parsnip into large bite-size pieces and toss with olive oil, black pepper, thyme and rosemary. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Next was wild rice salad with pecans and cranberries (see recipe in a previous post) and this amazing stuffed avocado dish:
Ingredients (makes 4 servings as a side dish or 2 servings as a main dish):
* 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
* scant 1 cup water
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
* juice of 1 lemon
* 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
* 4-5 mint leaves, juliened (optional)
* 2 ripe avocados
* 4 thin slices of lemon as garnish, optional
Combine the rinsed quinoa with the water in a small sauce pan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to Low and simmer 10-12 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Put in the fridge to chill. Meanwhile, cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Carefully cut the flesh into cubes, leaving the shell intact. Scoop out the cut flesh and toss with the herbs, salt and lemon juice. When the quinoa is chilled, mix it with the avocado and then stuff the avocado shells with the mixture and garnish with a lemon twist. Yummy!

This was SO GOOD! I loved it. The flavor is light and refreshing and I loved the creamy texture of the avocado pieces intermingled with the little quinoa grains and the green specs of herbs. Perfect for a light summer meal or cookout.

For dessert, I made the Chocolate Cake I posted about a few days ago. I decorated it with fresh strawberries (yay--the forst strawberries of the season!), mint leaves and kumquats cut in half shortways to reveal the cross-section. I wish I had my digital camera to make a picture of this beautiful cake!

My grandma has been ill lately, so really it was just my mom, sister and I eating. I feel so sad for my grandma--I wish I could help her by telling her how to eat right. She has been very dehydrated, but all she drinks is diet soda--not a whole lot of water. I made her some tea, but she had to have sugar in it! It broke my heart. At dinner, all she cared to eat was a small bit of roasted veggies. When asked if she wanted some salad, she said "No, I better not, I don't think the raw vegetables would do me much good." The truth is, they would do a world of good for her body. People always think raw foods are somehow harsh and hard to digest, but it's really the opposite. Cooked foods demand a lot of enzyme secretion and can actually cause the body to lose more nutrients than is gained from the food.

I find it hard to realize that people are so out of touch with what is natural and healthy for their bodies. Even a simple thing like drinking enough water is neglected. I remember being younger and having so many chronic health problems caused by dehydration--fatigue, headaches, depression, anxiety, learning problems, etc. Loking back, I realize this because once I started drinking more water, these problems disappeared. I wish my parents had payed more attention to health and encouraged me to drink more water and not let cofffee (yes, I drank coffee from the time I was in middle school up to about 8 months ago) be available to me--especially when I was so young.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Super Green Smoothie

I have been starting out everyday with this fantastic smoothie. You'll get 2-3 servings of fruit and at least 1-2 servings of veggies per smoothie! This would be great for kids, because it tastes very fruity, and you really can't taste the greens. Full of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, Omega-3's, chlorophyll, structured water, protein (especially if you use spirulina), and B vitamins, this super-food drink will keep you going all morning. It takes no time to make and really fills me up and gives a great burst of energy. I just love the beautiful green color! If you're looking for new ways of adding more raw fruits and veggies in your diet, this is definitely the way to do it!

Super Green Smoothie

Ingredients (makes one serving):

* 1-2 large kale leaves, cleaned and torn into small pieces

* large handful clean fresh spinach leaves

* 1 teaspoon spirulina (optional)

* 1 ripe banana

* 2 kiwi, peeled and chopped or 1/2 cup peeled mango

* 2 teaspoons ground flax seed

* 1 to 1 1/2 cups orange, pineapple or mango juice, depending on how thick you like your smoothie

Blend until smooth and enjoy immediately.

Photo Credit:

Monday, April 02, 2007

Two Cakes: One Raw and One Not

(In case you're wondering what the heck these pictures have to do with cake, read below--hint: they have nothing to do with cake!)
On Saturday, my sister and her boyfriend came over around dinner time. Her bf, who won't eat veggies (yeah, I know), and therefore didn't want any of the chili I made ate garlic bread and this amazing chocolate cake I made. First, the garlic bread is really easy: just take some Earth Balance or other non-hydrogenated vegan margarine and mix it with dried oregano, basil, thyme and garlic powder. Spread it on both sides of your whole grain bread and pop in in the oven at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Yumm!

For the chocolate cake, I followed the recipe here. The orange juice gave a hint of orange flavor which went nicely with the chocolate, but next time I think I'll use water or soymilk instead. I also added a pinch of salt, which wasn't listed in the ingredients. For the super-creamy frosting, I put one box of silken tofu in the food processor along with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and blended until smooth, then I melted 1 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave on 80% power until melted. Stir the two together until smooth and refrigerate until ready to use. My sister ate two pieces of this cake and her bf raved about it too. Little does he know he ate tofu!

Late last week, I was craving carrot cake. I wanted to make it healthy as well as delicious, so I concocted a raw carrot cake. It was fantastic! It has just the right amount of sweetness and really makes a great breakfast. Here's the recipe:
* 1 cup rolled oats
* 2 small carrots, grated or chopped small
* 1/2 cup soaked almonds
* 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* pinch salt
* juice from 1 orange
* 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
* 5-6 pitted dates
* 1/3 cup raisins
Put the oats in the food processor and grind until they resemble flour. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the raisins and pulse until the mixture becomes sticky and holds together. Stir in the raisins. Line a small bowl with plastic wrap and transfer the carrot cake mixture into the bowl, pressing the cake firmly and evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 min.
To make the frosting:
* 1/2 cup cashews, soaked at least 1.5 hours
* 3 dates soaked (or 3-4 tablespoon agave)
* 2 teaspoons agave
* 2-4 tablespoons water
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend until smooth. Add just enough water to help the blending process; you want a thick frosting, not a runny one. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to serve, gently un-mold the cake and remove the plastic. Spread the frosting evenly. Garnish with orange zest, edible flowers, or chopped nuts, if you want. Cut into wedges. Makes about 4 large servings.

On an unrelated side-note: For the past 2 years, I have been making super-cute tote bags and selling them. When I saw Jennifer Schmoo over at Vegan Lunch Box selling her wares, it got me thinking. So, anyone who is interested in buying a bag hand-made by yours truly can contact me via the comments section. Here is the run-down of my product:

* I use mostly recycled fabrics

* All my bags are durable, with high-quality construction

* All my bags are vegan, of course

* They make great gifts

* Original, one-of-a-kind designs

* Fairly priced: $20-$25

If I get enough interest, I will set up a pay-pal and post pictures of bags for sale. I may even include a goodie-bag (pins, buttons, postcards, etc.) with each order. To give an idea of what my designs look like, see the images above of past bags I've made.