Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eggplant Parmesean

Listen!  When I find a good vegan counterpart for any dish, I have to make it known.  And this one is it.  There is something very wonderful about food that I have realized.  All the wonderful flavors that make any dish delicious and satisfying really come from the vegetables and herbs.  Flavors can be recreated through different combinations.  So you can get a meaty flavor from some combo of beans and fresh seasonings or a cheesy flavor from something like cashews and other ingredients.  I think what your taste buds are really looking for is simply the flavor and it doesn't really matter how it gets it. This dish is some deliciousness.  Let's do this:

What you will need:

A jar/can of marinara sauce ( I bought mine from Trader Joe's)
1 tbsp of Italian seasoning
1 eggplant
1 slice of bread
1 cup of cashews
juice of one lemon
1 -1 and 1/2 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil for brushing

Opening a can of marinara sauce yardie (Jamaican) style.
Please do not try this at home!......if you've never done this before.  
I'd rather not get a call from a lawyer.  :)

Heat sauce on the stove until steaming.  I like to infuse my sauces even more if I think it needs it so I added 2 cloves of garlic, garlic powder, a little more Italian seasoning and a tiny bit more salt.  The sauce you buy may be good as gold, so this may not be necessary.  I'm just obsessed with garlic.

Meanwhile, blend cashews, water, lemon, nutritional yeast, salt and red bell pepper until smooth.   

 Blend bread, flour and Italian seasoning in a food processor into crumbs. 

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch thick slices.
Brush the eggplant with olive oil on one side.

Cover the eggplant slice in crumbs until eggplant is coat.  Repeat coating and crumbing for other side.

 Place coated eggplant on a baking tray and bake for 15 - 20 mins at 375 degrees.

Lay breaded eggplant in the same arrangement in the baking dish and cover with the hot sauce.   Pour cashew cheese sauce over the marinara sauce and bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 mins or until cheese darkens.  Once out of the oven, let sit for 15 mins.

It almost looks like cheese, doesn't it?  Craziness.

Serve with whole wheat or any other grain pasta.  The Garden in a Bowl salad goes great with this.

*Eggplant is a delicate vegetable, so you don't want to overcook it. This is why I am keeping it to 20 - 35 mins max.  If you cook it too much, it will become a bit rubbery. It will still taste great but texture won't be as wonderful as it could be.
Time to eat!


Now, I'm happy. 


Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy.  Ciao!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mushroom and Broccoli Risotto

I've been fascinated with this dish for a while now.  Risoootto.  I just love the way it sounds when you say it.  It sounds like it supposed to taste delicious.  The thing is, I've been shying away from making this because all the recipes I've seen say that it is time-consuming.

I am not down with that.

The only time I am down with time consuming recipes is when it is two days till a special Thursday in November or two days till December 25.  In regular everyday life, I need simple and I need quick.  So it came to me one day when I was thinking what I was going to cook for dinner and I realized risotto didn't have to be time-consuming.   Or at least with the version I came up with.  If we are considering technicalities, this is in no way real risotto.....but if we are considering appearance, texture and comparable deliciousness, I'm right on the money.   Let's do this:

What you will need:

2-3 cups of cooked brown rice
One 5 oz package of baby bella mushrooms
1/2 of an onion
1 head of broccoli
3 - 4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup water
1 tomato
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 - 1 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
juice of one lemon

Chop onions, garlic, tomato, mushrooms and broccoli.  Saute onions, garlic and tomato first for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli and 1/4 cup of water and let simmer for 5 mins.  While the veggies are cooking, blend the cashews, water, lemon and salt until smooth.  This will serve as the cream for the risotto.  Once veggies are cooked and create a natural sauce, add the cooked rice and mix.  Add the cashew cream and mix together until everything is incorporated.  Squeeze a little more lemon on the top for a nice tang.


Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.     Be healthy and happy!  Ciao!

Mashed Potaytas and Chickpeas

You know when most people think of a typical American dinner, they think of meat and "potaytas".  Well, I got my own....................veganize everything I will!   :)

I'm a flexible and fluid cook and that means that I tend to stray from recipes and do my own thing................unless it's baking and then I actually have to be obedient to those measurements!   We're not trying to have problems.  This is one of those recipes where you can stray. I encourage tweaking because not everyone has the same taste buds.  So you may not like what I like and thus you have to make it the way you like so you like it, right?  This meal is pretty darn tasty.  In the words of my sister, "This junk is delicious".  My sister actually makes "junk"a suitable replacement for "thing" in only the way she can.  Let's do this:

Mashed "potaytas"

5-7 potatoes
2 tbsp Italian seasoning and/or fresh herbs
sea salt to taste (1-2 tsp)
pepper to taste
1/4 unsweetened soy milk
pour of olive oil (optional)


1/2 onion
1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 green red pepper
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
3 - 4 sprigs of thyme or 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning
3 - 4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp of sea salt 
1 tbsp of olive oil

All the ingredients ready to go.

Wash and peel your potatoes.  I don't mind if they are not peeled to perfection.

Now chop up all the veggies.  I chop the potatoes quite small so that they cook much faster.

Throw the potatoes in a pot and boil until they are cooked (15-20 mins).  You can add about 1 tsp of salt to the water.

Saute your veggies on medium heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 mins.

Add the cooked chickpeas and saute for 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling begins, turn the stove down to low and simmer for 15 mins.

Strain potatoes and smash em' in a bowl.  Add herbs, soy milk, salt and a little pour of olive oil for flavor (optional - I do for some reason).  Smash and mix until smooth.


Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.     Be healthy and happy!  Ciao!

Garden in a Bowl

This is what I call a good ole' salad.  It has pretty much everything you would find in my kind of garden: lettuce, kale, carrots, spinach, red bell peppers, cucumbers, red onions, avocado, lemon and a variety of other plant life.  This is also an incredibly versatile salad.  Anything you want to put in, you put in and anything you want to leave out, you leave out.  If you don't like onions, add bell peppers instead.  Whateeeever you want to do.  Just keep the greens.  :)

This salad has two extremely complicated parts.  So listen carefully.
1.  Chopped, torn or sliced veggies
2.  A dressing



1 Avocado
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp of olive oil (optional)
1/4 cup water 
1 tsp sea salt

*There is some information out there supporting the avoidance of any processed fat.  Olive oil is included in this group.  I understand the thought process and the idea of focusing on foods that in addition to providing you with calories also provide you with adequate nutrition.  I like using olive oil but I don't use it everyday.   That works for me.  Now back to making this salad.


Kale (Green or Purple)
Carrots (I buy these organic because I taste a difference)
Red onions
Red bell peppers

Blend the above ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Set aside until salad veggies have been prepared.

The next step is to prep your veggies.  You can do it three ways:
1.  You can do what my uncle does and chop everything into small pieces so that they are easier to chew.  
2.  Or you can take the rustic route and just tear the leaves, slice the veggie into round chips (carrots and cucumbers) and throw everything together. 
3.  Or you can arrange it with some kind of artistic goal in mind as my mother taught me to do.  My mom is salad artist.  I will have to show you some of her work in the future.  Let's do this:

I chose option two and tore the leaves into bite-sized pieces.

Slice cucumbers, carrots and red bell peppers.  I always slice carrots on an angle very thinly so they have a nice shape and are easier to eat.

So beautiful! This makes me very happy.

Pour the dressing on to the veggies.

Mix together!  I find tongs work best.

My people, what did I say.....Garden in a Bowl.

............and then after I finish eating it, I will probably feel like this: "Golden".


Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy.  Ciao! 

Avocado Basil Sandwich

I just recently began a herb garden on my porch.  I love the idea of growing and eating my own food and right now I am slowly trying to make that a reality.  You have to start somewhere, right? I currently have basil, cilantro, thyme, oregano and mint sprouting their roots.  A fellow med student I met told me basil and tomato are the gateway drugs to gardening.  Looks like I'm done for now.  Haha.  I might have been having a little too much fun with my basil plant this week because I ate sandwiches with basil as the main ingredient all week.  Heyyy, that's what gardening does to you :)

My baby's growing up! (tear)

These sandwiches are both simple and simply delicious.  Sometimes I like my food to be very light and fresh in flavor so I can enjoy the unique flavors of the food itself without them being overpowered by the seasoning.  I LOVE avocado so I had to have it in at least one sandwich and the second recipe I found here and decided to give it a try.  Check it!

What you'll need:
1/2 Avocado
5-7 basil leaves
Two slices of multi-grain bread
(I opt for multi-grain over whole wheat these days.  I find it more nutritious.)

Spread hummus on the slices.

Layer one slice with 1/2 of an avocado and the other one with the basil leaves.

Put your slices together!

For the second recipe, click here!
I kinda like sandwiches, so more of these recipes to come in the future......


Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy.  Ciao!

Basil and Peanut Butter Sandwich

I know what you're thinking.  Marsha-Gail, you're getting a little carried away now.  I know you're extra excited about your basil plant but Basil + Peanut Butter ?!??!  You are doing the most.  

Side note:  One thing about being a new gardener is that you get so excited about charting this new course of cultivating plant life that you forget that other creatures in the natural world will become just as excited as you.  I happened to find that out when I was picking some leaves for this sandwich.  
I love plant life.

I began to wonder why I felt movement on my elbow..................Whoa there, buddy:

Don't worry yourself darling, I can share.  :)

I was thinking the same thing when I found this recipe on Minimalist Baker the other day.   These two extremely strong flavors weren't really coming together in my mind.  The thing is, I LOVE Peanut Butter and I LOVE Basil.  So I took a chance.  I like getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things, ya know, so this became Thursday's lunch.

What you'll need:
5-7 basil leaves
Peanut Butter
Two slices of Multi-grain bread 

I love myself some 7 and up multi-grain bread!

Spread the peanut butter over the slices.

Layer one side with the basil leaves.

Put the two slices together!

Slice and enjoy!

If my little green friend gets too excited, I might have to ask him to leave.  :(  For now, he's not a big problem so I'll let him have a couple freebies.   :)

Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy.  Ciao!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Collard Wraps

Now don't click on another recipe just yet.  You might miss a good thing.  Most people think of collards in one way:  Cooked Down Collard Greens.  Greased up, porked up, boiled up and cooking for weeks collard greens.  They're GOOD for sure but I've got something better.  :)    These collard are colorful and creative.   Who would've thought that you could use a collard leaf as a wrap.  I love creative things like that.  So I've been wanting to try this collard wrap thing for a while and I took the opportunity when I was shopping and happened to see a gorgeous bunch of organic collards.  

I specify organic here because there was a big difference in the organic kind and the conventionally grown collards from the store.  I am still working out my position when it comes to organic vs. conventionally grown.  On one hand, a lot of the research I have come across keeps telling me that there is virtually no difference in nutrient content between the two methods.  On the other hand, when I buy and EAT organic, it not only looks different (usually more colorful and appetizing) but there is seriously a noticeable difference in texture and flavor.  That says something.  So with some things, I will buy organic and others not so much.  Anywhos, let's see how it turned out.....................

What you will need:
Your choice of veggies for filling the wrap (spinach, kale, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, white cabbage, red cabbage, red onions, etc)
Hummus or another spread of your choice (pesto, veggie dip, etc)

1.  Wash your collards thoroughly.  Slice down the stem in the center to reduce the bulkiness and allow the wrap to be flexible. 

2.  Prepare your choice of veggies for filling the wrap.  I used carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, avocado and red bell peppers.  If I had some spinach and cucumbers, I would probably throw that in there as well.

3.  Spread the hummus in the center of the wrap and layer the veggies on top.

4.  Continue until all the veggies have been placed on the wrap.  Fold the longer sides to the center and roll across the length of the wrap.  

This is a great choice for lunches.


Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy!  Ciao!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Green Smoothie

Wadup, my people.   One of my previous posts shared the workings behind the green goodness I have come to know as green juice.   It's amazing in so many ways.  Today, I have another green concoction to share with you.  It is almost like green juice but a little more hearty.   This is what I call a green smoothie.  In comparison to green juice, which is water-based, my green smoothies are milk-based.  Some people make their green smoothies without almond milk or other non-dairy milks but this one just makes my life.  It is just as easy to make, if not easier, than the green juice and has the same benefits.  The added benefit from green smoothies is that they can serve as a meal because it consists of a lot of foods that satiate your hunger like bananas, almonds (nuts), spinach and kale.  Let's do this

Bangin' Green Smoothie:
Almond Milk/Kale/Spinach/Banana/Blueberries/Strawberries

1 cup of almond milk
1 banana
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of kale 
1 cup of strawberries
1 handful of blueberries

There might be only three steps to this recipe.  First, blend your milk, bananas, strawberries and blueberries.   Second, add your kale and spinach.  Third, blend until smooth.   Boom.  Bam.  Done!    That is a complete zero on the difficulty scale and I'm glad because the less stress, the more likely you are to try it.    Occasionally, I will add some flaxseeds, which provide you with good fats (omega-3), high levels of natural antioxidants that your body needs and tons of fiber.  These little babies bring it!  It gives the drink a nuttier flavor, which I like, but it's not for everyone.  Sometimes, I also add a little bit of honey if I want a sweeter taste.  So give it a try and tweak it as much as you want..........just get those greens in!   I only nag because I care.  :)


Thank you for reading!  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy.  Ciao!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Knowledge Addicts: Breaking a Sweat Gives You a Bangin' Brain

Knowledge Addicts

Today's does of knowledge comes from good ole' New York Times.........which also keeps telling me I only have one more free article that I can view.  I'm not down with putting a price on my intellectual development.  That's disrespectful!  Anywhos.....

Title: How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain

MGD getting a bangin' brain
MGD breaking a sweat

It ain't nothin new!  We all know exercise is good for us and we should do it.  It heightens feelings of well-being, increases blood circulation, helps maintain a healthy weight, decreases our risk of depression, etcetera, etcetera, etcerteraaaa (.......If you've ever seen the King and I).  Buuuuuut did we ever consider how it could massively enhance our brain power.  We are always trying to find ways to become smarter but did we ever think the answer could possibly lie in a pound of weights rather than a pile of books.  Don't get me wrong because you know I am all about the books but this article provides reason that "exercise does more thinking than thinking does."  

Recent studies have been highlighting this fact.  Author and physician, John Ratey, has even dedicated his career to proving the impact of exercise on your well-being and has consolidated all his findings in a book called Spark.  "Think of exercise as medicine", he says.

In a particularly convincing study showcased in the article, a team of researchers from the University of Illinois compared the cognitive abilities of four groups of rats placed in four different living arrangements.  The first arrangement could be considered rat resort heaven as it was decked out with all sorts of goodies.  All access to nuts, fruits and cheese of your choice as well as colorful plastic igloos, neon-colored balls, mirrors and seesaws.  I doubt the rats were that hype about it.  From what I've seen, a running wheel trumps all of that any day.  

The second arrangement had the same thing but included running wheels.  See, now they're hype!  

The third arrangement is kinda sad.  The poor babies only had standard kibble.  

The fourth arrangement had running wheels but excluded the posh scenario I described previously.  The animals completed cognitive tests at the beginning and ending of the study and researchers examined changes in brain tissue.  

So what happened? Borrowing a quote from the article, it says:

"'Only one thing mattered', Rhodes says, 'and that's whether they had a running wheel'.  Animals that exercised whether or not they had any other enrichments in their cages, had healthier brains and performed significantly better on cognitive tests than other mice.  Animals that didn't run no matter how enriched their world was otherwise, did not improve their brainpower, in the complex lasting ways Rhodes was studying.  'They loved the toys', Rhodes says, and the mice rarely ventured into the empty, quieter portions of their cages.  But unless they also exercised, they did not become smarter."

Now check this out!  The article says that like any tissue or organ in the body, the brain declines with underuse and age and that once we jump the hurdle of age 20, we begin to lose 1% of our hippocampus every year.  This particular part of the brain is related to memory and learning. Exercise prevents this decline by jumpstarting neurogenesis meaning it initiates the production of new brain cells meaning you start making more neural connections meaning you get smarter. Bam!  

What's the takeaway:  Gyming it will make you the next Albert Einstein!

If you combine it with some bangin' bird food, you will probably enter the super human realm.  

Please do check out this article in full.

Knowledge is MOST DEFINITELY power and I want you to have it.

Thank you for reading.  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy.  Ciao!