Monday, March 23, 2009

Green... The Color of Good Health

Green… The Color of Good Health

As you shop for ingredients for your salads, don’t ignore the bitter greens, such as dandelion, mustard greens, arugula, watercress, field cress, radicchio, spinach and Belgian endive. According to Daniel Vitalis of, the bitter part of plants contain alkaloids, a strong medicine that are the healing part of plants. Alkaloids have been bred out of many of our foods today because bitter is considered an undesirable flavor. If you tend to avoid bitter greens, I encourage you to chop-up some and toss them into any salad. According to Vitalis, it is salt that counteracts the taste of bitter and a good salt will contain all 90 minerals and trace minerals in an easily assimilated form. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how good bitter greens can taste and they are so good for us. Bitter greens can also be blended into green smoothies (I’ll talk about green smoothies in another blog posting) and juiced with other leafy green vegetables.

With knowledge we open-up to new taste, textures and foods we thought we would never eat. With knowledge we can make good food choices for ourselves and for those we love. As our health improves, we add to the collective health of our planet.

Bitter Greens... Getting Off to a Green Start

Bitter greens stimulate digestive secretions and so does chewing. If a few bitter greens are eaten 15 minutes before dinner they will set-up your digestive system so it is super-ready for your dinner. It's easy to do.

Chop-up a few bitter greens (see above), about a ½ cup per person, and dress them up with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (pessed or grated small), and a good whole salt. Use just one green or a combination of greens like dandelion, mustard greens, arugula, watercress, field cress, radicchio and/or Belgian endive. Some excellent salts are Himalayan pink crystal salt, Real Salt and Celtic salt. Enjoy!

Tools for Making the Most Amazing Salads

* Lettuce spinner (not the one with a pull-string as the string can harbor germs)

* Julianne Peeler (this can also take the place of a vegetable peeler, see March 16 posting below)

* Kitchen Scissors (keep a pair just for your culinary needs)

* 8-inch Chef Knife (I like ceramic knives as they are very light and sharp)

* Large Cutting Board (my favorite are the very thin wood composite because they are light)

* Large Wooden Salad Bowl (I love wood for salads, it just feels right)

Kale Salad

Kale… a culinary super star! In this unique salad, kale shows off its uniqueness and versatility by featuring it raw. When serving kale raw, chop it fine and marinate it for about a half hour before serving. Raw kale is packed-full of phytonutrients, life giving enzymes, minerals including calcium, beta carotene, vitamin C, and a good source of fiber. I add dulse, a sea vegetable, for extra life affirming minerals. I cut the vegetables small or Julianne them. Cutting vegetables small helps with digestion as small pieces require less chewing and besides it creates a nice mouth-feel. Make this salad often. It travels well so take some to work, on a picnic or when you travel. When traveling by air plane do not put too much dressing on your salad and it will get through security. I have done it many times. ♥ Bring a feeling of joy and gratitude into the making and serving of this salad… you and your guests will taste the difference!

Tips to the Cook: I have listed many vegetables that can be added to a kale salad. You can use them all or just the ones you want or have on hand. It is always best to use vegetables in season that are grown locally in a sustainable way. Try your local farmer’s market for the freshest produce.

Dressing… Made in Bottom of Salad Bowl

olive oil or flax oil, about 1 tablespoon per person

raw apple cider vinegar, about 1 tablespoon per person

white miso, about 1 teaspoon per person

1-3 cloves garlic, pressed or grated small

pink crystal salt or Real Salt, to taste

cayenne pepper, to taste

Made dressing in a large wooden salad bowl and whisk together: In a large wooden salad bowl, put all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk together. Add a tablespoon or 2 of water, as needed. Now make the salad right on top of the dressing.


8 leaves kale, any variety, chopped small1 handful bitter greens, sliced thi

(dandelion, mustard greens, watercress, arugula)2 medium tomatoes, diced small (if in season)

6 radishes, diced small

1 medium Japanese or English cucumber, diced small

1 medium carrot, Julianne (see March 16 posting on this blog)

1/4 purple cabbage, sliced and chopped small

1/3 cup dulse (a sea vegetable), cut in small pieces (use kitchen scissors)

Add the salad ingredients on top of the mixed dressing and toss: In the bowl with the mixed salad dressing, add the salad ingredients and toss to mix.

How to Serve: Let marinate for 30 minutes before serving. Serve as a side salad or main dish salad.

How to Store: Store any undressed salad in a covered glass bowl in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Eating Lots of Raw & Living Foods

Fifty-Fifty… Where Health Begins

The VeganFresh Cuisine encourages you to have at least half your plate at every meal consist of raw and living foods. Raw and living foods are essential to good health as they contain all their nutrients and enzymes. The VeganFresh Cuisine includes cultured foods at each meal as well. Cultured foods are foods like sauerkraut and kefirs that have not been heated. Cultured foods are probiotic foods, meaning “for life” and probiotic foods are filled with lively little micro-organisiums that promote life. Probiotic foods are the foundation to strong digestive and immune systems. I will talk more about cultured foods in another blog posting and show you how you can make your own easily and inexpensively. In the mean time, look for unpasteurized cultured vegetables (sauerkraut and Kim Chi) in the refrigerator section of your natural food store and upscale grocery stores.

Salads Salads… Raw Raw Raw!!!

The easiest way to start eating the VeganFresh way is to add a fresh, crisp, juicy salad to every meal you serve… yes, even your breakfast can have a quick salad of baby field greens and a simple vinaigrette (see recipe below).

Raw and living foods are culinary super stars. They contain very few calories while providing lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and much needed enzymes that will help break down any cooked foods that are eaten along with them.

In my next few postings, I will show you how to build a VeganFresh salad that has a mandala of colors, textures and tastes and served as a piece of edible art. One will be based around dark leafy greens and fresh herbs, another on cabbage and a third one will be a Kale Salad. Salads can be served along side a grain or other main dish as a supportive dish or served as a main dish salad for a 100% raw food meal. A salad is much more than a side dish in the VeganFresh Cuisine.

Build your salads with as much locally grown, organic, sustainably grown, seasonal ingredients as you can find. As you are hunting down these treasures of nature, check your local farmer’s market, health food stores and, if you have one, your own organic garden.

Vegetables, Vegetables… Fun Fun Fun!

VeganFresh for Kids

My granddaughter, Amber Light, loves vegetables cut in large pieces and in interesting shapes. Raw vegetables were some of her first foods after her teeth came in. We gave her raw vegetables at snack time, lunch and dinner. Amber just turned five years old and she is starting to like salads where vegetables are cut small and mixed all up together with a dressing. The day Amber turned five she announced, “Now that I am five years old I am going to like salads.”

Watching Amber and talking to her about her likes and dislikes around raw vegetables I learned a lot of interesting things that could help you understand your young children and grandchildren. At about the age of 8 months Amber started eating lightly steamed vegetables until she got her teeth. After she had her teeth she started eating raw vegetables cut into large pieces she could easily grab a hold of and when they were served to her on a plate she liked each vegetable in a separate little pile. Kids like simple, pure flavors and I feel it is important to respect their simple way of eating. Young children have not damaged their taste buds with hot beverages and foods and strong flavors. I am sure a carrot must taste very different to a young child than to me.

When serving young children, take some of the vegetables you plan to cut-up for your salad and cut them into large pieces for serving to your children. Put these cut vegetables into separate little bundles or arrange them into a mandala pattern on their plate. At around three years old, slowly add stronger flavored vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and radish. Amber especially likes purple cauliflower and the spiral-looking cauliflower as well as carrots, cucumbers and red, yellow and orange sweet bell pepper. Serve their vegetables raw or very lightly steamed (just until they turn a bright color and still have a crunch). Cauliflower and broccoli can be separated into flowerettes. Carrots and bell pepper can be cut into large strips and cucumber sliced in large rounds. Continue to serve vegetables plain until your children ask for a dressing or sauce. As your children grow, start cutting their vegetables into smaller pieces and offer more and more of a variety. Just a couple of weeks ago, Amber started eating spinach. Spinach is probably the best dark leafy green to introduce raw. She likes the organic, baby prewashed spinach, and she likes it plain and raw.

Vegetables for Kids… Amber’s Favorite Kitchen Tool!

Amber's favorite kitchen tool is a “Julienner”. It looks like a vegetable peeler but does much more. It turns a carrot and other harder type vegetables into long slender strips, a special cut known in the culinary world as Julienne. Besides cutting vegetables into Julienne, Amber Light likes to use the Julienner to peel carrots, cucumbers and other harder type vegetables then slice them up into rings. They look like little star bursts (see the picture to the right). Also, it is important to let your children be involved in the making of meals. They love to be the little helper. They want to learn and be involved. As you prepare foods with children, talk to them about each food you are preparing and why it will make them strong and healthy. They may not get exactly what you are talking about when you say, “carrots are good for your

Amber’s favorite kitchen tool i eyes and skin because they have carotinoids in them, but in time you help build their vocabulary and understanding of foods on a much deeper meaningful level.

KitchenYoga… Making Food Prep Fun!

When you come into your kitchen to prepare food, drop all your concerns and cares; in other words, clear your mind and ready yourself for the task at hand. An easy way to clear your mind is to sing a song or chant, recite a mantra or put on some music, and, if you like, dance. Now you are ready to cook. Remember to bring love, joy and gratitude into every meal you prepare and serve. It’s a practice and as such you must practice every time you go into your kitchen and each time it will become easier and easier. After all, a joyful state is our natural state. Practice being happy for no reason at all!

A Simple Breakfast Salad

(Serves 2)

1 handful baby field greens

½ handful watercress, cut medium

½ handful mustard greens, cut in ribbons

½ handful dandelion greens, cut in ribbons

1 golden beet, grated large

1 carrot, grated large

Toss all ingredients together: In a wooden salad bowl, put all the ingredients for the salad and toss together.

A Simple Mustard Vinaigrette

(Makes ½ cup)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

(stoneground is best if you can find it)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or

balsamic vinegar or a combination of

lemon and a vinegar

1 tablespoon stoneground mustard

2 cloves garlic, grated small or pressed

½ teaspoon pink crystal salt, Celtic salt

or Real Salt (unrefined)

Whisk together all ingredients: In a small bowl, put all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk together.

Toss Salad with Dressing: In a wooden salad bowl, put just the amount of salad you expect to eat. Add just enough dressing to coat salad. Toss well to mix.

How to Store: Store any undressed salad in a plastic produce bag in the refrigerator. Store the vinaigrette in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Welcome to VeganFresh

VeganFresh is my new direction in food preparation based on over 23 years of experience as a vegan chef, cookbook author and cooking instructor. VeganFresh is whole natural plant foods. that are sustainably grown and harvested from our Earth; land and sea. VeganFresh foods are prepared in ways, often raw, that preserve their freshness and nutritional value. I will guide you to better health through good eating.

This blog will highlight at least one plant food each week. I will talk about its nutritional benefits, how to shop for it, and a recipe that features the highlighted food. You will find foods you are already familiar with and others that may be new to you, all prepared in delicious, exciting new ways and served with a touch of elegance.

I will also bring
you a continuous stream of KitchenWisdom, valuable information about vegan ingredients. I will make KitchenWisdom extra special by adding pictures. KitchenWisdom will include information on herbs and spices, fruits, vegetables and sea vegetables, beans and grains, natural sweetners and unrefined oils as well as other important ingredients, cooking and prepping techniques, kitchen equipment and some fun and useful unexpected culinary tips

Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore looking to add more plant based foods to your diet, you will find valuable new information to enhance your life and those you love. As a yogi, I will guide you in bringing more joy, love and gratitude into your kitchen experience and into every meal you prepare and serve.

In Vibrant Health... Jia

Chia See
ds... Nature's Wonder Seed!

Chia is the Mayan word for strength, and Indians in Southern Mexico know chia seeds as “Indian Running Food.” In the raw food world, chia seeds are being hailed as a near perfect food as they are easy to digest, promote healthy elimination, are the highest known plant source of the essential fatty acid, Omega 3, are between 19 to 23% protein and have lots of soluble fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Chia seeds hold more than nine times their weight in water and as such are super hydrating to our cells. Chia seeds are so full of antioxidants that they will keep up to 5 years if stored in a cool dark place. When chia seeds are mixed with a liquid they turn into a gel that is easily a
dded to foods such as juices, salad dressings, dessert puddings and cereals. Look for organically grown chia seeds… they are good for you, the farmer, insects and our Earth!

Daily Amount: Eat 2 to 4 tablespoons of the dry chia seeds every day, but make them into a gel first.

Chia Gel: In a pint jar, put 1/3 cup dry chia seeds and fill to the top with pure water or fruit juice. Secure with the lid and shake to mix. Let sit 10 minutes then shake again. Refrigerate for 12 hours before eating for the best absor
ption of nutrients. Makes 3 servings.

Chia Pudding: To make a simple chia pudding, put 1 pint Chia Gel (see above) into a blender with 1 cup unsweetened pomegranate, black cherry or cranberry juice and 1 chopped apple. Blend until smooth. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator. Makes 4 servings.

Quick & Easy Chia Pudding:
In a dessert bowl, put 1/2 cup Chia Gel (see above) and 1/4 cup pomegranate juice or other juice (unpasteurized is best). Stir and enjoy.

Chia: Chia seeds can also be ground and added to raw and living foods as a thickening agent and nutritional booster. Grind the dry seeds in a spice or coffee grinder or a high speed blender (be sure blender is dry). Use soon after grinding.

As your hands and spirit dance with the chias,
you add your energy and love to these precious gifts from our Earth