Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Minestrone Soup on a Cold Autumn Day

(this is NOT my photo, photo can be found here)

Ok, it's not really that cold was 60! But it WILL be!

I forgot to take a picture of my minestrone, so I found one that looked similar online. 

The other day I was at Whole Foods and I bought their Tomato Basil Soup (in a container) and then I thought...."Hmmm, I could really add to this!"  And I did. 

Minestrone Soup
serves 3-4

1 container (24 oz) of Whole Foods Roasted Tomato Basil soup (or other roasted tomato soup)
~10-15 oz of pureed tomatoes (depending how liquidy you like it)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2-3 large kale leaves, chopped
1 cup dry small pasta shells (I used corn pasta)
1 15-oz can canellini beans
Red pepper flakes
Creole Seasoning

In a medium soup pot, add about 1/4 cup water, along with the celery, onions, and carrots. Cook on medium until onion is almost translucent, about 5-8 minutes. While that's cooking, cook the pasta al dente (it will cook a little more in the soup). Drain. 

Add the soup, pureed tomatoes, kale, pasta, and beans to the pot. Bring to boil, and then cook on medium (covered) for about 6-8 minutes until completely heated through. Add seasoning to taste. 

Optional: serve garnished with shredded vegan mozzarella. 

Enjoy! We both thought this was an excellent soup! I will definitely make it again. 

And with winter coming, this is a great addition to your recipe box! What's your favorite winter soup?

Eat smart,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Vegetarian Cafe in Easthampton

(Fall in Easthampton, MA)

We've been in Western Massachusetts for almost 1 1/2 years now. (wow, has it been that long?) We love it here....lots of delicious vegan food to be found, great local breweries, Fall colors, friendly people, and little traffic.

Recently, we started teaching at the Williston Northampton school in Easthampton, MA and we discovered a cute little place right in town. We drove by it every time we went there, so we finally stopped in to try it. It's called Christine's Bean Sprout Juice Bar and Cafe. The first time I went in, I was by myself and picked up a delicious juice: the Green Monsta!

 (the Specials Board)

Next time, I brought S with me. On the specials board they had the "Ecstatic Vegan", which is brown rice and sauteed greens, topped with grilled marinated tofu and housemade peanut sauce. It was absolutely amazing!! I thought they could have added some other vegetables like broccoli and carrots or something, but it was great as it was.  S had the Green Goddess Salad and that was really delicious too.

(The Ecstatic Vegan, the 2nd time I got it)

(the Green Goddess salad)

I think we've been there 2 more times since. I've gotten the exact same thing each time. I noticed that each subsequent time we went in, the amount of greens were fewer (though they added a little red cabbage). Last time, though still good, there weren't too many greens and there wasn't even a teaspoon of sauce on top of the whole thing. Now, I probably could have asked for more sauce and I bet they would have given it to me, so maybe it was my fault. The owners are super nice so I'm sure that would not have been a problem. On the other hand, I hope they pile on the greens again and add a bit more sauce for next time! Still delicious though :)

They had a new special last time and S got the Fake Philee Sandwich (which we split). It was very tasty. All vegan. There wasn't too much filling in the sandwich  (seitan, onions, peppers, cheese sauce), but it was quite tasty! The side of coleslaw was good too (no mayo, yay!).

(the Fake Philee sandwich)

They do specify what is Gluten Free and/or Vegan on the Specials board and on their menu. I think that's great! Some items, like the Fake Philee can be made vegan upon request. I still have yet to try one of the soups.

They seem to have a lot of baked goods behind the counter. Unfortunately, I don't think they are vegan, but they do specify that they are Gluten Free.

I'm glad to see that there are many people coming in and out of there. It's a relatively new business and the restaurant business is a risky one. I hope it's here to stay! We're definitely going to keep going for lunches every so often. Haven't tried their coffee yet...perhaps that's next.

Visit their Facebook page, as their home website seems to be empty still. You can see their regular menu there and they post their specials as well.

I give this place a 4 out of 5 stars....if you are near Easthampton, it's definitely worth a visit.

Do you have any favorite eateries in New England?

Eat smart,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My first real vegetable garden

So I've planted my first REAL garden!! I did, however, cave and purchase a garden bed kit, which I put together easily. I used a sort of "lasagna" style gardening method. As you can see in the following pictures, I've layered the garden bed with wet newspaper, peat moss, old dead leaves, cow manure, and soil.

(a view of the empty bed with my composter, from the back patio)

This is what I direct sowed from seed into my garden bed: carrots, kale, mizuna, spinach, and lettuce. Only 2 lettuce seedlings ever emerged and a bird ate most of one, so I don't have much in there. The mizuna is doing awesome, and so are the carrots. The kale is doing pretty well, I think. A lot of the lettuce seeds didn't germinate, because I think maybe I sowed them too deep. I've made new plantings of those and they've already emerged. 

Then I bought some tomato plants (Jet Star, Green Zebra, San Marzano, and Celebrity), broccoli, and pepper plants and transplanted those into the garden bed. I also bought some green and yellow squashes, both are in pots (no room in my garden bed). 

 (summer squash)

 (Celebrity tomato and the chives my mom gave me)

 (the whole garden bed, with bird netting)

 (closeup of my kale!!)

 (closeup of my mizuna)

 (transplanted broccoli on left and transplanted peppers on right)

(my carrots, purple and orange ones)

(super closeup of my Russian Kale!)

So how does it look?? Hopefully the lettuce will really fill in the left side of the bed, in front of the tomatoes. I've been taking the bird netting off every other day to pick the weeds out, or should I say, the maple seedlings. Yes, the maple seeds have blown everywhere! They are all over my garden and they are sprouting like wildfire, especially with all the rain we've had. 

Ok, now where's my harvest??? Hahahaha......I may pick off some of the Mizuna leaves soon, for some salads. I think our apple trees (Empire and Liberty) have some sort of Cedar Apple Rust disease.....raised yellow spots all over the leaves. The apples are growing really hopefully they will be ok. Anyone know about apple trees?

What are you growing in YOUR garden?

Eat smart,

Monday, April 8, 2013

Help needed starting a vegetable garden

Now that we have our own home with a yard....I'd like to start a vegetable garden. I don't know what I'm doing, but I've gotten some tips from family members. I've previously grown a few things here and there, mostly in containers, due to living in apartments without much outdoor space.

I have to start from in, digging up the whole thing! There's only grass outside, so it's going to be a lot of work. It's 70 degrees today, but technically the last frost won't be until at least May 15th, I think.

Here's what I'd like to plant:

Sweet Peppers
...maybe Zucchini.

Is this too much for a beginner? I gave up the idea of raised beds, because it's expensive and I'd also need to have soil/dirt delivered. I read that a 10' x 16' garden is good for a beginner. Seems a bit large to me. I was outside measuring today and it looked like maybe a 9' x 9' or 9' x 12' might be good. I was calculating a single row at 1 1/2', then a path at 1 1/2', a double row (3'), then another path (1 1/2') and finally a single row (1 1/2'). I'd like to put chicken wire around the whole thing.

Flood me with your suggestions PLEASE!! I'm such a beginner.

Oh, and here are the tools I have so far:

Large shovel
Small shovel
Pruning Shears

So I think I need a hand tiller and a hoe perhaps? How do I start? Dig up the grass with a pitchfork? HELP!

PS-we have clay soil.

Eat smart,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quick Vegan Meals

Sometimes we all wish we had food already prepared and ready to go, because we're just too tired or busy to create an entire meal from scratch, right?

I've put together a few meals that are fairly quick to create. Some require a sauce or dressing that you've previously made (I'll tell you which are my favorites).

BBQ Tempeh with Greens
(serves 2-3)

1 package of tempeh (I use Trader Joe's)
2 or 3 bags of frozen greens (spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc.)
1 tbsp vegan butter (optional)
BBQ sauce of your choice

Cut the tempeh cross-wise, to make 4 pieces. Then take each of those pieces and slice them down the middle to make them half the thickness. Now you have 8 fairly thin pieces of tempeh. Put them in a bowl with the bbq sauce and mix it around until every piece is covered. Now lay them down on a pan with aluminum foil. Bake in a toaster oven (or regular oven) at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes. 

While the tempeh is baking, put a little water at the bottom of a saute pan and add the greens (the frozen greens will shrink a lot!). Heat on medium. When the greens are almost done (about 12 minutes or so), add salt and pepper, and the vegan butter if you're using it. Stir. They should be done when the tempeh is done. Serve side by side.

Cheezy Potatoes with broccoli and tomatoes
(serves 3-4)

4 medium sized potatoes
1 cup vegan queso sauce (I love Happy Herbivore's...with some chunky salsa added in) 
1 cup broccoli florets (you can use the pre-bagged kind to save time)
1 large tomato, cut into smallish pieces (not too small!)
~1/2 cup nondairy milk

Steam the potatoes. Sometimes I put them in a paper bag in the microwave (pierce them all over first!) for 10+ minutes. Sometimes I use a steamer bag specifically for the microwave (I cut them into smaller pieces first). While those are steaming, put the sauce in a small pot and add the broccoli and tomatoes. Heat on medium and stir periodically. Add the milk to your liking (thicker or thinner sauce). Maybe you want to use a little more cheezy sauce instead of milk? Make sure the broccoli is covered by the sauce, so it can cook. Once your potatoes are done, the sauce should be too. The broccoli will be al dente, but that's healthy! Divide the potatoes, cut them up, top with the sauce and enjoy!

Veggie Sandwich
(serves 1)

Bread of your choice (bagel, sprouted grain bread, etc.)
1/2 cup hummus (you can make the hummus without the lentils.....the roasted red peppers are a must!)
a handful of sprouted lentils 
a handful of sprouted alfalfa/clover,etc
a handful of arugula
1/4 avocado
sweet pickles 

Toast your bread, if you are so inclined (I always do!). If using sprouted lentils, mix them into your hummus first (so they'll stick). Spread that on your bread. Then take the avocado and layer that on top (or mash it up first and then add it) of the hummus. Add the arugula, other sprouts, and pickles if you are using. Done! 

Another option: Skip the bread. Put down a little extra hummus (with sprouted lentils) in a bowl, then add the other ingredients on top.

Other quick recipes:

SuperPower Kale Salad
More Easy Sandwiches
This Lemony Spinach Pesto on some pasta

Items to have ready for the week, to make these kinds of meals easier:

Big batch of hummus (I cook a whole bag of chickpeas and turn it into hummus!)
Batch of queso sauce (I usually double HH's recipe...and it helps to make it with a thicker milk)
Constant supply of sprouts (any kind)
Frozen greens
Salad vegetables (even if it's in bags, though it won't last as long if it's already cut)
Salad dressing of your choice (I love making recipes from the Forks over Knives book, but this one is awesome too!)
Avocados (always have one outside of the fridge, ripening)
Organic potatoes
Millet (it's pretty quick to make)

What are your favorite quick and easy meals?

Eat smart,

Friday, March 1, 2013


Oh how I love cookbooks! I think I'm an addict. I love sitting at the dining room table with a cup of coffee, flipping through the pages. I tried getting a cookbook on Kindle once (Happy Herbivore's first cookbook), but it just wasn't the same. No offense to Lindsay...her book was great....but I'd rather have a real physical book. So I got her second book as a real book! Haven't gotten her third book yet, but I'm sure I will.

Anyway, that's the only cookbook I ever got on Kindle. Not the same. From now on it's physical cookbooks for me. What are your thoughts on that? Of course the next question is, where will they all fit? If our house lacks anything, it's storage room. But, maybe down the road we'll get a bookcase for the living room, to fit all my awesome vegan cookbooks. We've got some small cubicles for all my archives of VegNews and VegetarianTimes magazines, and a couple of small square crates for cookbooks. Not sure that's totally ideal, but it works for right now.

If you want to see what awesome new vegan cookbooks are coming out, check out this article. My top 3 picks from that list:

Isa Does It
One Dish Vegan
Whole Grain Vegan Baking or Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats from Around the World

Which ones are on your shopping list?

*I tried to upload photos from my phone for this post, but it's not working at the moment. Ugh.

Eat smart,

Monday, February 4, 2013

Einkorn Wheat

Einkorn Wheat

It's the new wheat....errrr.....rather, the old wheat! But it's coming back into "style." It seems our current wheat has been drastically modified from its original version. You can read more about it here. I am currently reading Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. It's pretty eye-opening. In it, he mentions Eli Rogosa from So I looked over the website and decided to email her. The farm is in Western Massachusetts, so I'm not too far! I will likely visit sometime in the summer (and purchase more Einkorn). I got some of her Einkorn wheat in the mail. Here's what it looks like:

I wasn't sure what I would use it for, but I decided to start with a pizza since that doesn't need to rise a ton. I used it in my pizza recipe. As it turns out, I probably should have done a bit more research. As the machine was kneading the dough, it looked super sticky. I thought that was the end, and I wasn't sure how I'd fix it. I ended up adding maybe another 1/2 cup to 1 cup of the wheat during the kneading process. I think with this wheat, you have to use a lot less liquid, or a lot more wheat. I will adjust properly next time. This is what it first looked like:

At the end it looked much better, but still a bit sticky:

I formed it into the usual two balls for two pizzas. Usually I don't let it rise again, but here I did, because I don't think this kind of wheat rises quite as much as today's wheat (less gluten!):


After a rise:

I rolled it out, but I couldn't roll it too thinly, as it was just breaking apart. So I made a slightly smaller pizza and put it onto the pan, and then tried to stretch it out more with my hands (directly on the pan). That seemed to work. Though during the baking process, some of it cracked open a bit and sauce fell through and made the dough stick to the pan quite a bit. I don't use oil, but if you spray the pan first, it probably won't stick at all. I may have to, for this particular wheat. But it turned out great...very tasty! With some adjustments, I will definitely make pizza again with it. Next try...a loaf of bread.

Delicious :)  

You can purchase Einkorn and other ancient wheats (bread and pasta too) from Eli at I believe you can also purchase seeds if you'd like to grow your own! I also would love to try her sourdough bread :)

Have you tried Einkorn wheat or any other ancient wheats?

Eat smart,

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Restaurant Review: 3 Brothers Pizza

Yes, that's the door of 3 Brothers Pizza!
(you can see their whole vegan menu on their site)

Unfortunately, we had to drive to Long Island last week. Don't get me started about the toll for the George Washington Bridge ($13!!!!). Plus the Throg's Neck...both ways....sheesh.

Anyway, I did some research to see what kind of vegan food was nearby and I found this place in Rockville Centre, NY (near Baldwin). They have a whole vegan menu! Tons of appetizers, entrees, pasta dishes, and pizza. Wow! We got there right when it opened, so they weren't completely ready yet (chairs still on the tables, etc.). It was nice inside and the waitress was very pleasant. I immediately ordered a soy cappuccino. So good!

I was torn because I originally wanted pizza. But.....I make pizza at home and the only difference here was the Daiya cheese. So we all went for non-pizza dishes. But, since I'd probably never be there again and love trying vegan places, we ordered appetizers:

Mozzarella sticks (made with Daiya) I LOVED these:

Oyster Mushroom Calamari (not really my thing, but they liked them):

Buffalo Soy Drumsticks (not my thing either, but they were ok):

Tofu Crab Cakes (SO DELICIOUS!!):

And as if we weren't already stuffed, we ordered....

Penne alla Vodka (pretty darn good):

Marsala They didn't have the spinach (can't remember if it was seitan or tofu...didn't try it):

Tempeh Parmesan (very good, even though you can't really see the tempeh under the Daiya):

Seitan Cacciatore  They were out of polenta (not my thing...capers, ick...S loved it!):

Their desserts hadn't been delivered yet, so they put these things on our table, free of charge (they were hot and delicious!):

These photos were all from my phone, so I'm sorry for the blurriness... 

Overall, I'm really glad we went. We had a good time with friends, spent a couple of hours there....eating, drinking.....p.s. S had some vegan wine (I think it's actually called "The Vegan Wine"). 

If I were in the area (which to be honest, I hope I'm not)...I'll definitely stop in there again! Mozzarella sticks please!! 

For pasta dishes, you have the option of getting whole wheat or gluten free, for a small extra fee. And I believe you can do the same for the pizzas. They have vegan cheese options too: Daiya or Teese!

Thank you, 3 Brothers Pizza, for a great afternoon! (I think it has new owners now....the vegan brother has moved on...hopefully they keep the vegan menu)

You can find them on Facebook too. Do follow them there, as they give out discounts from time to time...we used it to our advantage :)

Eat smart,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Subscription Winners

Thanks to those that entered the Zinio it turns out, you are ALL winners!

I will be emailing them directly with your full name, email address and the name of the magazine you wish to receive:

Samantha R. (since you did not leave me info, please comment here with your info or email me!)
MaryAnn (please get me your info as well,  I can't find a way to contact you!)

I will contact you to get your information. Please get back to me by Wednesday, January 23rd, so I can email Zinio by the deadline!


Eat smart,