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!

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I was shopping at Target, of all places, and while browsing the food section (yes, Target has a food section) I came across Riblets! I just had to get them. On a side-note, I noticed that Target is surprisingly vegan-friendly. I saw all kinds of things that I would normally buy at the natural foods store (Amy's pizza, Odwalla bars, Cliff bars, soymilk, veggie burgers, etc).

Anyway, I was a little cautious with the first bite. I've had some pretty gross faux-meat products is all the years being vegetarian and vegan, and was worried Riblets would be yet another thing on that list. Let me tell you, Riblets are officially my favorite! They come slathered in a ton of sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and have a scary-similar texture and taste as "real" ribs.

I don't feel I need to "justify" my choice of eating fake meat (because I feel it is a controversial subject among vegans/vegetarians), but I want to make one thing clear: I think a lot of omnis mistakenly assume all vegans/vegetarians miss meat terribly and consume "fake" meat for the purpose of satisfying a craving for the real thing. This is not the case. When I was younger, my dad used to cook ribs on Sundays in the summer and we'd eat it with sweet corn and mashed potatoes. I have a lot of good memories of my family that are tied along with this food, and having something very similar yet without the cruelty is nice because it brings back memories. I also want to point out that meat itself is not what appeals to people, it is the emotional ties we have to it, as well as whatever cooking method makes it taste good. Very few people would kill an animal with their bare hands and eat the flesh raw.

Anyway, now that I'm done grossing you much as I would have loved some sweet corn and mashed potatoes like my dad used to make, we didn't have any, so along with my riblets, I cooked up some Greens With Envy from Trader Joes (spinach, broccoli, green beans, asparagus and edamame) and some pre-packaged sundried tomato-flavored roasted potatoes.

My sister is also vegetarian and we both agreed that Riblets taste just like dad used to make. Awww... That's my Hallmark Moment for ya'll.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Picnic, The Sequel

JenniferSchmoo doesn't get to have all the fun! For my picnic on Friday, I used up the leftover mashed tofu from Wednesday's stuffed pasta shells and turned it into eggless egg salad. You can find the recipe in a previous post of mine. With the egg salad I threw in some toasted bread squares (I didn't have any crackers). I have discovered NaSoya's Creamy Dill dressing and love it! It is great in eggless egg salad in place of veganaise or a homemade version, as a spread on Tofurkey sandwiches, or as a dip with veggies. I like to stir in extra dried dill, because I really don't think it has enough dill flavor.

I also packed a small salad of fresh organic lettuce, spinach and carrots with Goddess Dressing in the cute little container. Right above the salad is my new favorite thing: vanilla soy yogurt with rhubarb compote. The sweet, creamy yogurt paired with the tangy, fruity rhubarb is a heavenly combination and makes for a light, healthy sweet treat. Yummm!! You have to make this. Just take about 4 long stalks of rhubarb and chop them into small pieces. Place them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat, uncover, and simmer gently until the rhubarb falls apart and resembles thin jam. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and stir until dissolved. Let cool before spooning over yogurt or ice cream.

This was a great lunch that gave me plenty of energy for a 2-mile bike ride!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Teriyaki Tofu and Plantains

First, lets talk plantains. This was my very first time a.) cooking plantains and b.) eating them. Everyone always says how plantains and bananas are nothing alike, but I beg to differ. At least the one I got; it was sweet and, raw, tasted very much like a very starchy banana. I lightly fried the thinly sliced plantain in a little canola oil. A word of caution: be careful not to let them go too long--the sugar tends to caramelize quickly and therefore burn (I flipped each plantain slice over for the photo...the other side is considerably darker.) I really enjoyed these plantains. They were sweet and slightly tangy, with a light crunch from the frying. I salted them, but I regretted it once I tasted them--they would have been perfect even without seasoning.
Next up is Nava Atlas's Teriyaki Tofu Triangles from Vegetarian Family Cookbook. The marinade consists of fresh ginger, soy sauce (I used Braggs), sesame oil, maple syrup (I used molasses instead), rice vinegar, and hoisin sauce (AKA Chinese Barbecue Sauce). First off, if you've never tried hoisin sauce, get on it! It's so good and adds a lot of flavor to the party. In fact, this marinade is so flavorful, you don't have to let the tofu sit in it for hours. 10 minutes is sufficient. I doubled the marinade because I like it saucy! I garnished with a little scallion. The last time I made this recipe, my mom and sister both loved it, as did I. It was just as delicious this time around.
Finally, to add some color and freshness to the plate, we have our loyal friend, broccoli.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dinner with my Sister

Of all the dishes I cook for my family, Italian Stuffed Pasta Shells is probably the #1 favorite. It is simple, flavorful, nourishing and comforting. Plus, it can be assembled ahead of time and baked right before you're ready to eat. So, when I invited my sister over for dinner tonight, it was a no-brainer as to what I was going to cook.

Here's what the shells look like before being slathered in marinara sauce:

Ingredients (serves 4-5 generously)
* 15-17 large pasta shells
* 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I love Newman's Own Mushroom Marinara)

For the filling:
* 1 block firm tofu, drained and patted dry (do not use silken) then mashed up in a large bowl
* 1/2 teaspoon each: dried oregano, dried basil, salt and garlic powder
* 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
* 1 teaspoon soy Parmesan (optional but really good)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all filling ingredients together well. If possible, cover the surface of the mashed tofu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors combine.

Cook the pasta shells in boiling salted water until just under al dente, about 7-9 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Cover the bottom of a large, shallow baking dish with about 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Fill each cooked pasta shell with 1-2 tablespoons of the tofu mixture, then lay each shell neatly in the dish. Cover with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle with soy Parmesan and/or any leftover tofu mixture. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Along with this steaming dish of deliciousness, I made some special Roasted Garlic and Herb Bread, which couldn't be easier:

To make the roasted garlic: simply get your bad self a whole bulb of garlic (not a clove, but the whole darn thing) and just cut the top off it, so all the cloves get their little heads cut off. Place on a small piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the garlic up (not too tight) and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let cool before squeezing each soft clove out of the skin.
For the garlic bread, mix together 3 tablespoons of Earth Balance, some dried oregano, basil and thyme along with the contents of a whole bulb of roasted garlic. Spread this on both sides of 4-5 slices of whole grain bread and bake at 350-375 for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy.

Finally, to finish off this glorious feast, I made a colorful fresh salad consisting of spinach, lettuce, radishes, purple cabbage and sugar snap peas.

I was delighted to find out that I have been tagged for a meme by the wonderful and sweet Bazu! Here's what she had to say about my blog: "Roxy comes up with some of the most colorful, refreshing recipes I've ever come across. Whether ultra-healthy or super-decadent, you won't be able to get her foods out of your mind!" So, as per the directive, I will name at least 5 of my favorite blogs, and therefore these people will be tagged to, lets say, either name their top 5 blogs, or top 5 anything!

* Vive le Vegan! Dreena Burton is always coming up with new and mouth-watering recipes that are both nourishing and comforting at the same time. In my eyes, her specialty is dessert! I will admit that I bought her The Everyday Vegan just for the coconut-raspberry bar recipe!

* Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan! This vegan goddess really knows how to make food fun, easy and personal. I love all her ideas on homemade veggie burgers especially, and the photos are wonderful.

* Supper and the Single Girl: Danielle does a beautiful job of fusing quick and easy with yummy and healthy. I look forward to the stories she shares in each post as well as the great recipes and ideas.

* Pisces Place: Kleo has a sweet, vivacious personality that really comes through in her blog. Not only food, but she also blogs about her adorable dogs, events she attends, and animal activist issues.

* What do Vegans Eat? This is a fun and unique food blog that invites anyone to post their recipes and ideas. It really has a very diverse recipe collection and is a great source for new ideas. Very fun!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Let's go on a Picnic!

Ever since I got my Laptop Lunch Bento Box (thanks to JenniferSchmoo for popularizing this great product!) packing meals to-go has been so much fun. I found the cute fruit and veggie stickers at the art and craft store, and just had to slap a few on my lunchbox!

The day was beautiful and I had enough time to take a bike ride down to the park for a little impromptu picnic. So, I packed a Tofurkey sandwich on sprouted grain bread with fresh spinach and Dijon vinaigrette. Baby organic radishes (wow they were spicy!) from our CSA box, organic carrots, and a fresh juicy orange. A pretty basic lunch, but very healthy and fresh--perfect for a picnic on a gorgeous spring day.

A lot of people ask Jennifer on her blog if these lunch boxes are big enough for an adult. I say YES!! I am a pretty big eater (last night at dinner, I ate 4 or 5 big pieces of veggie pizza and 2 cupcakes--my dining companions were staring at me, wondering where I was putting it all), but there were two radishes and about half the carrots rolling around in my lunchbox today. I was more than full. I think especially if you include lots of whole grains and veggies in your lunch, you will get filled up rather than if you are eating white bread, sweets, and chips which is basically fat and sugar and is digested really quickly and leaves you hungry and cranky an hour later.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Coconut Cupcakes

For her birthday celebration, my sister made a special request for coconut cupcakes. Yum! Right on sista! (That's me in the photo, by the way). So I looked all over the world-wide-interweb for a recipe. I came across this one (scroll down to "vegan birthday cupcakes") and decided to give it a go. They turned out perfectly! Just the right amount of coconut flavor, and not too tooth-shatteringly sweet (that's what the frosting is for)--although they are very rich, with the coconut milk and canola oil. The only thing I adjusted was the amount of dried coconut. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but I used more like 1/3 cup. Don't ask why, I just felt 1/2 cup might have been a little too much.

I basically followed her guidelines for the frosting too. Use 1/3 cup Earth Balance, beaten with an electric hand mixer, and gradually add in about 3-4 cups of powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of coconut milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I wanted to make a trip to the natural foods store today to pick up some beet powder to naturally color some dried coconut to decorate the tops of these luscious cupcakes (this would have been purely experimental), but it didn't happen...maybe next time.

But what DID happen today is I got my camera!! As you can see above, it takes great pictures and I love it! Sony Cybershot all the way.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

White Beans and Asparagus with Lemon-Mint Dressing

Today we received our first CSA box of the season! I was very excited. If you don't know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is a way for people to support local (often organic) farmers. It's a great way to reduce the amount of energy it takes for your food to get to your table, as well as get to know where your food comes from.

In our box this week, we got spinach, lettuce, radishes, arugula, rhubarb, green garlic (which is actually the immature garlic plant picked before it forms the garlic bulb. It looks a lot like a scallion but has a very strong garlic flavor.) and asparagus. I wish I had my camera (I know, I know, I've been saying I'm getting a camera now for awhile, but soon, I promise) because one of the asparagus spears was HUGE--at least 1/2 inch thick! I'm telling you, this was the best asparagus I've ever had.

I created this recipe as a simple way to utilize the fresh, clean flavors of the asparagus and green garlic. I've never cooked with green garlic before, so I just used one, but I think two or three would have been great--the strong garlic taste mellows quite a bit out once cooked. Serve this deliciousness over a bed of fresh spinach with a slice of whole grain bread on the side.

You have to make this! I suggest doubling the recipe, because several hours after eating it, I'm craving more! The rich, buttery white beans contrast perfectly with the crisp-tender fresh taste of the asparagus, and the lemon and mint add a nice fresh burst of flavor. It's perfect.

White Beans and Asparagus with Mint-Lemon Dressing
Ingredients (Serves 2 as a main dish)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided use)
* 1-3 green garlics or 1 clove regular garlic, chopped
* 1 LB fresh asparagus, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
* generous pinch of salt
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* black pepper, to taste
* 2 tablespoons fresh mint, julienned
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and add the garlic. Saute for one minute, then add the asparagus, salt and water. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and let steam for 3-5 minutes (depending on how large your asparagus are). Add the beans and simmer uncovered, another 3-5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, remaining olive oil, mint and black pepper. When the beans and asparagus are done (do not overcook the asparagus!!) stir in the dressing and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cooking as Therapy

I'm back! Moving was a success, but I am STILL not totally unpacked yet. It's a little frustrating to be so bogged down by material possessions. Which leads me to the subject of this post. So, lately I've been feeling down-in-the-dumps with the stress of moving, being newly single (which is very bitter-sweet) and some other personal issues. It might sound cheesy, but all this stress and anxiety has really made me realize how important cooking is to me. Feeling in need of some cooking therapy, Friday night I cracked open my copy of Nava Atlas's Vegetarian Family Cookbook and made Teriyaki Tofu Triangles. Halfway through cutting the tofu and mixing the marinade, I started to feel like my old self. Pretty soon I was getting my fingers dirty in that luscious teriyaki marinade and singing "This Little Light of Mine..." I felt uplifted and comforted by what I was creating: something nourishing, pure, and honest...not to mention really, really yummy! Note-if you don't have Vegetarian Family Cookbook, get it. Really. If you love easy, simple, comforting yet healthy recipes, this book is for you, whether you just cook for yourself, or for your whole family.

By the way, I will be making Nava's Teriyaki Tofu again and will dedicate a whole post to it--yes, it's that good! I'm also getting a new camera soon (like, tomorrow) and am very excited about posting pictures again!! I am also looking forward to being able to cook a lot more than I have in the last couple months. Roxy's back and better than ever!