Tag Archives: avocado

Testing in the Raw

It’s not as intense as it sounds, I swear – actually, it’s pretty warm and fuzzy.

I’m lucky enough to be testing recipes for my favorite cookbook author (and friend), Dreena Burton! (You’ve seen me rave about her soups here…) Well, it turns out, she makes pretty darn good raw desserts too.

I’ve tested two of these delectable delicacies thus far. Chocolate Avocado Mousse, because you’re worth it. Oh wait, is that slogan taken?

I’ve had variations on chocolate avocado pudding before, but I’ve never made it myself; my Vitamix inspires me to reach new heights, what can I say?

I’m not at liberty to disclose the ingredients of this dreamy whipped mousse, but let’s just say it’s simple and healthy! Plus, the mousse is thick enough that it could even work as a frosting, methinks.

If veggies in pudding frighten you – they shouldn’t, but I’m not judging! – fear not. Dreena’s upcoming book will still satisfy your raw taste buds. Only Dreena Burton could create raw, non-dairy cream cheese frosting. Genius.

Raw Banana Nut Squares with Coconut “Cream Cheese” Frosting. These “buttery” bars – on a base reminiscent of graham crackers – are loaded with healthy fats and homestyle taste. With flavors much more complex and familiar than your run-of-the-mill raw dessert, these babies were a hit at the party my mom brought them to. Even skeptical omnis couldn’t resist.

More Dreena testers to come!

Tofu Scramble at Full of Life

Hello all! I’m writing from the kitchen counter of the beach house in San Diego that 18 of my senior friends and I are renting for the week! We finished college last Wednesday, and it’s a Pomona tradition to pass the time between then and graduation weekend (which begins this Friday) by doing absolutely nothing besides lying on the beach and drinking for seven days. I’m not a big drinker myself, so I’ve been lying on the beach twice as hard to make up for my deficiencies in that arena. True to my blog’s namesake, I’ve already finished Pride and Prejudice in just two days. I also brought Wuthering Heights–one of my other favorite novels–with me, but I’m having trouble getting into it while lying on a sunny beach. If you’ve read WH, I’m sure you understand me perfectly!

Anyways, this post actually has nothing to do with San Diego; it just seemed weird to blog without mentioning where I am now. Rather, in the spirit of school being done, I’m going to post about a delicious breakfast I had last weekend while writing my last college paper! My favorite café in which to spend an industrious morning in Claremont is Full of Life. It’s not even vegetarian, but the few vegan options they have are so good that I don’t get bored ordering them on rotation.

I usually get their sandwiches, but on this fine morning I decided that a tofu scramble was what I needed to finish my Global Politics of Food and Agriculture paper. Off the menu, the tofu scramble only includes peppers and onions, but I asked if, in addition to those two, I could have mine with all of the veggies that come with the (non-vegan) omelet: zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes, with avocado on top. They were happy to oblige, for just a little extra!

The portion is generous, especially considering the fine variety of fresh fruit offered on the side. Paired with my soy latte, I couldn’t have hoped for a more satisfying breakfast. Well, except for the fact that Full of Life couldn”t make decent foam for their lattes if the lives that they’re so full of depended on it! ;)

I’m a tofu scramble snob, and I have to say, prior to this guy, I had yet to really enjoy a nooch-less tofu scramble. What can I say? Vegan with a Vengeance spoiled me. This scramble was primarily seasoned with paprika, but I didn’t even miss the nooch! It was perfectly seasoned just how it was. I’ll always prefer good ol’ yeasty scrambles, but I’m finally able to acknowledge that nooch isn’t necessary for a satisfying scramble.

Despite my brain-fueling breakfast, I still ended up pulling a full all-nighter that evening in order to finish my paper for my 1:15 class the next day. But the important thing is that I did finish that paper, that class, and college; and I’ll be living it up here in Mission Beach until Thursday, when I return to Claremont for a whirlwind of a weekend!

Primavera en Costa Rica

¡Hola amigos! Lo siento que…Oh, wait–I’m not in Central America anymore! I mean: I’m sorry that I’ve been absent so long (it seems like I start a lot of posts like that, which probably isn’t a good thing!), but I have a good reason. I spent my spring break in the lovely country of Costa Rica with mi familia!

Luckily, we found this article on Jeff Probst’s travel “must-haves” our first day there, so we were prepared!

Okay, just kidding, but my family does love Jeff Probst and Survivor (we’ve watched all twenty seasons!), so we were pretty tickled when we found this.

We stayed in the small town of Uvita, on the Southern Pacific Coast, about 15 minutes from the surfer town, Dominical. The small resort we stayed at–Rancho Pacifico–was absolutely gorgeous, sitting atop an extremely steep hill, er, mountain. We got stuck driving up the first night in our non-four-wheel drive car, and had to be rescued by the staff in their SUV! Oh, and this was just after we’d driven a couple of densely foggy hours on what we later learned is called “the ridge of death.” But the important thing is that we made it, and were promptly greeted by a tray of strawberry smoothies. :)

This was our bathroom at Rancho Pacifico. Check out that view!

The plunge pool had a similarly breathtaking view:

If you’re looking for an easy place to be vegan, look no further! Beans, check. Avocado, check. Plantains, check. Papaya, check. I’m pretty sure 80 percent of my diet consisted of those four foods while in Costa Rica, which, believe me, was NOT a problem.

A typical breakfast in Costa Rica is gallo pinto, a dish of sautéed seasoned rice and beans, often with onions or peppers. In fact, gallo pinto–which means “painted rooster,” referring to the speckled appearance of the rice when colored by the black beans–is Costa Rica’s national dish!

Gallo pinto was my first meal in Costa Rica, at our Bed & Breakfast in San José (okay, that’s only if you don’t count the Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered pretzels I ate while we argued with the people at Thrifty Car Rental the night we arrived…):

Here’s a slightly more upscale version from Rancho Pacifico, complete with avocado, fried pantains, homemade tortillas, and a spicy dipping sauce:

¡Qué delicioso!

And if you thought appetizers were just for lunch and dinner, think again! At Rancho Pacifico, every breakfast starts off with appetizers: mini muffins, sadly not vegan. But don’t worry–I wasn’t left out! Actually, I think I came out on top, as I was served my own specially-made vegan empanada each morning. These cornmeal pastries were filled with whatever the jam of the day was. This particular day, it was spiced papaya. Perfect with a steaming cup of café costarricense!

On days when I desired lighter fare, fruit it was! Pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, you name it!

Always served with a glass of fresh juice, of course. My favorite was papaya-mango. This was watermelon, I believe:

I only had one lunch at Rancho Pacifico, but it definitely hit the spot. They replaced the mayo in their vegetable wrap with hummus, and voilà!

Avocado, onions, olives, lettuce, and mango, all nestled in a homemade tortilla. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Alright, so you’ve seen some plantains already, but the best kind were the ones that were fried into fritters. Like these ones my dad and I had for lunch after our mangrove boat tour in Sierpe:

Served with refried black beans, naturally.

If you haven’t noticed yet, many meals in Costa Rica–or the best ones, at least, in my opinion–are those served casado-style, which basically translates to a medley of small dishes, such as beans, rice, plantains, salad, tortillas, etc. Think of it as the Central American version of the mezze platter.

Such was the style of one surprisingly good meal we had in San José. I say “surprising” because the restaurant was a chain called RostiPollos, a.k.a. “Roasty Chickens.” I know, I know.

We got the buffet, which included chicken and a few dairy-containing items, but I made out pretty darn well as a vegan (I’m pretty decent at Spanish, so I had no trouble telling people I don’t eat “productos lácteos”). I ended up with refried black beans, seasoned rice (there was a separate chicken rice), shredded lettuce, salsa, yuca wedges, and sautéed plantains.

I really like that fries/chips in Costa Rica are more often made with yuca than potatoes. What a nice change. I piled all the elements of my casado onto a corn tortilla, and ate it like a soft taco.

For a chain, semi-fast food joint, I was really impressed with this meal. Never thought I’d say this, but score one for RostiPollos.

That’s pretty much it for food. We found a great, mostly vegetarian restaurant in Dominical called Maracatú. The food was great, and we ate there twice, but it was too dark for decent photos. They even had vegan-tailored drinks. I got an “orange creamsicle” vodka-based drink made with soy milk there, and if I wasn’t so sensitive to late-night caffeine, I would have ordered the “vegan mistake maker,” a vanilla-vodka, espresso, soy milk concoction. If any of you end up in Dominical, please do yourself a favor and hit up Maracatú!

But of course there’s more to Costa Rica than food! There’s also great beaches.

My mom, looking as young as ever! (And she’s only gonna get younger given that, after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer on our trip, she has dropped her pescatarianism and become a full vegetarian! Congrats, mom! Even though you’re only just now a true vegetarian, I owe my veganism and love of healthy food to the values you’ve always held and instilled in me as I grew up!). My sister, Olivia, is in the background, picking at her peeling skin from the awful sunburn she contracted our very first day. Poor girl. She really was purple by the end of the trip.

My dad coated himself in sand. He was really proud of himself. Good job, dad.

And of course, the lovely Lauren–or as I’ve always liked to call her, Laurenzo!

One of the highlights of the trip was playing soccer on the beach with four Costa Rican boys, who had jammed some sticks into the sand as goal posts, and were playing two on two. My sister, Lauren, my dad, and I joined them, making it four on four (we split up so that there were two of them and two of us on each team). It was a pretty evenly matched game! I played soccer for ten years (my first year in college included), Liv and Lauren played club together their whole life (and Liv plays DI now at Colgate), and my dad played in college as well, so we all loved getting out there, just playing in our bathing suits and bare feet.

There go nuestros amigos, walking off into the beautiful sunset!

Other adventures we had include zip lining through the jungle (um, if you think I brought my camera with me for that, you’re INSANE), and a mangrove boat tour that I went on with my dad. Our tour guide, Oscar, and the boat driver (¡se me olvidó su nombre!):

Here’s Oscar showing us a mangrove seed!

The tour included beers. :)

It’s hard to ask for more than being with the people you love in an exotically gorgeous place, so I won’t!

I hope this post was enjoyable enough to make up for my extended absence! In my next post (soon, I promise!), I’ll be introducing you to some of the animals of Costa Rica!

Dorm Room Dinners: Raw Avocado Veggie Wrap

Hi, guys! Sorry I’ve been absent so long. I’ve just been eating boring dining hall food (thank God I’m graduating in…nine weeks!), and I didn’t want to bore you. But I think my lunch/dinner today were interesting enough that there shouldn’t be an upheaval of the blogging masses when I publish this post. :)

I’ve been eating a lot of raw food the past few days, which basically equates to green smoothies in my Magic Bullet blender and giant salads for lunch and dinner. Today, however, I felt like having something a little more interesting. To this end, I grabbed some veggies from the dining hall, and combined with a few ingredients from my own stores and a little creativity, I had me some delicious raw wraps!

Basically, I mashed half an avocado with some chopped up cherry tomatoes, a clove of minced garlic, some sea salt, and a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Then I just julienned some jicama, carrots, and cucumbers–and lightly steamed some broccoli in my microwave–and laid them all on some gorgeous collard leaves. I topped ‘em with the “guacanoochy” and called it a burrito!

I ended up with two of these wraps, but only had time to eat one before my 1:15 class, so I had the other one for dinner (and I added some cubed TJ’s baked tofu to that one).

I’m not gonna lie; I’m pretty proud of myself for making this in my dorm room using all dining hall ingredients except collard greens, avocado, and nooch. Still…get me out of here, into my own kitchen, and off of this godforsaken meal plan!!!

Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna

There’s been some Mexi-love going down in my house lately, first in the form of the Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna with Avocado from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

This is another recipe I’ve wanted to make as long as I can remember, so I’m glad I finally got around to it. Alternating layers of spicy beans and tomatoes, avocado, corn tortillas, and Daiya cheese make this dish a veritable fiesta!

Cooked avocado is different, but I’m always pleasantly surprised by how good it is.

My dad commented on how light and fresh it was, especially considering that lasagna is usually pretty heavy. I think that lightness is attributable not only to the fact that this lasagna is vegan and loaded with veggies, but to the lime (squeezed on between layers and on top) and cilantro.

More lime please!

We still had a lot of Daiya hanging around the next day, so nachos it was! These were even better than my Teese-y nachos from over the summer! Actually, MUCH better.

The great thing about living in Arizona is that you can eat al fresco in the middle of the winter:

TJ’s Reduced Guilt Tortilla Chips, Refried Black Beans (I made my own using the recipe in Yellow Rose Recipes!), Cheddar and Italian Daiya “cheese,” guacamole (also made from scratch, but just off the top of my head), and lotsa salsa. My dad and I devoured this lunch.

On an entirely different note, I’m running my 2nd half marathon tomorrow morning: the P.F. Chang’s Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2.

I got 2:10:47 in my first half last September, so I’m going for under 2:00 this time. Wish me luck! I’m gonna get started on my carbo-loading dinner from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook!

A Celebration of Healthy Fats

I might as well call this post “A Celebration of Color,” because I just realized my recent eats have also been a veritable rainbow. You’ll see.

But back to fats. Healthy fats. Like avocado, cashews, almond butter, and–my favorite–coconut! I’ve been incorporating a larger than usual variety of these foods into my diet lately because my usual main source of fat (peanut butter–do I even need to tell you that?) has been absent due to the fact that I’ve been doing an elimination diet the past week to see if I have any food sensitivities.

Anyways, I gotta satisfy the place in my heart that PB generally fills somehow, right? So, how about avocado smashed rice cakes?!

I just “smashed” half a beautiful avocado on two brown rice cakes, sprinkled on some salt, and called it a day (maybe next time I’ll try some nooch too). This would be better warm on toast, but I didn’t have any gluten-free toast (for the elimination diet), and rice cakes are cute, so there.

I bought some perfectly ripe juicy peaches at the farmer’s market last Sunday. They were also ridiculously humongous considering they were organic.

For a light breakfast a few days ago, I just sliced one up and drizzled it with coconut oil, and cinnamon. That was enough to fill me up because I’m not joking when I say these peaches were oddly large. The coconut oil kind of solidified on the peach slices because they were cold. It was weird, but still delicious.

Finally, a brilliant discovery I made at my local health food store, Ecoterra: Tomberlie’s Raw Vegan Ice Cream! I bought a–I wanna say pint, but the container was so tiny, it was probably half a pint–of the blueberry flavor because how often do you have blueberry ice cream? Or maybe I just wanted to complete the color spectrum of this post.

Tomberlie’s uses young thai coconut and raw cashews to achieve its creamy texture, and raw agave nectar for sweetness. Most of the ingredients are organic, and there are literally no thickeners or filler ingredients. Besides the ingredients I already mentioned, there was only filtered water, blueberries, lemon juice, and vanilla bean!

I think it’s pretty amazing that the ice cream had such a wonderful, authentic texture given that there’s no emulsifiers or anything. As much as I love So Delicious and Purely Decadent, they have fairly lengthy ingredient lists. Snaps for Tomberlie’s! Plus, what a cool name! :)

Despite its excellence on its own, I had to try the ice cream in my own elimination diet-friendly form of a sundae! The obvious solution: add more frozen blueberries, a squeeze pack of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, and some cinnamon and more cashews (the last two aren’t pictured here). It was decadent, and, as this post is all about, full of healthy fats!

I can’t wait to try more Tomberlie’s flavors! Especially Fudge Ripple, Chocolate Chip, Praline Pecan, and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. It’s definitely hard on the wallet, but for being raw and mostly organic, I’ll take it. :)

Raw Week So Far

Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to update for about 2 days now, but I’ve been transitioning from Photoshop to Aperture and having some issues therein with uploading my photos. Anyways, as I said in my last post, I’m eating 100 % raw this week–well, just Monday to Friday because my mom and sister and I are going to a spa with wonderful (non-raw) vegan food in Tucson this weekend. My main reason being a general cleanse, I guess, but honestly I just think it’s fun and I have some raw cookbooks/recipes I’ve wanted to dabble in.

So far, it’s been great! And I’m sure under normal circumstances, I would be able to report feeling amazing eating only living foods, but it just so happens that I’ve sorta been having appetite/digestion issues the past few weeks, so I honestly feel pretty crummy. I went to my doctor about it today, so hopefully they clear up and I regain my desire and physical ability to pig out on amazing vegan food soon!

I started Monday morning with a Green Smoothie with spirulina! This was my first time trying spirulina, and I was a little squeamish of a potential fishy taste, but you really couldn’t tell it was there once blended with the other ingredients, which were mango, banana, spinach, and enough water to blend.

Spirulina, for those of you not in the know, is a supposed superfood–blue-green algae with unusually high amounts of protein (and a complete protein at that!), essential fatty acids, B vitamins (including B-12), various minerals, and healthy photosynthetic pigments. It really does turn smoothies a vibrant shade of deep green!

I think I just had a salad for lunch, but for dinner, I pulled out all the stops and made raw sushi: Carpe Diem Carrot Almond Paté Nori Rolls from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, which has a lot of living recipes. Pre-rolling:

I filled ‘em with zuchinni, carrot, and cucumber matchsticks, alfalfa sprouts, and cilanttro leaves. I also made an impromtu sauce to accompany them out of raw almonds, pineapple, shoyu, coconut extract, garlic, and some spices. It was pretty good if I don’t say so myself!

The paté was delicious–gingery carrot almond dill deliciousness!–and I thought the whole roll was good at first…but after a piece or two, I started to get some little gag reflexes, and I realized that I just can’t stomach the fishy taste of nori, which I’ve never had if you can believe it! I never even had fish as an omni (only shrimp), so that characteristic fishy taste is just really foreign and revolting to me. I can take it in small quanities, like in miso soup, but this didn’t fly! Thankfully, my dad promised to eat the other three servings it made in the near future, so I don’t have to feel wasteful.

We had some really good friends over for dinner that night, our old neighbors, Kerry and Jen, and their adorable kids, Jackson and Frannie. For the dinner party, I made Isa’s Raw Strawberry Cheesecake from the PPK blog. I halved the recipe because she said it made 16 servings (!), and as a result, mine was much thinner than hers…and less pretty, I know! :(

It’s basically a pecan-almond-date crust with cashew-strawberry-agave filling. I even messed up a bit, putting too many cashews (the ones meant for the frosting) into the filling, and it was still delicious! I was worried everyone would be too weirded out by a raw dessert, but thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong–everyone loved it!

The crust is totally the best part. The sea salt in it makes all the difference, and contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of everything else.

Served in a pool of Strawberry Coulis:

For Tuesday’s breakfast, I had a yummy raw fruit bowl with mashed banana, mango, raspberries, figs, and dates, topped with leftover strawberry cheesecake filling and live granola that I made myself: Queen Esther’s Live Granola Funk from Vegan Fusion (seriously, what’s with these recipe names?!) It’s soaked buckwheat groats mixed with blended soaked dried fruit, spices, and sea salt. And the coolest part is that I don’t even own a dehydrator. Instead, I used the most natural dehydrator in the world: the sun! Living in Arizona has its perks! Most raw recipes call for dehydration between 104-115° F, which is pretty much all day, every day here!

My granola was a little too bland, but I think that’s because I used dried cherries instead of dates (thereby decreasing the sweetness a lot). Plus, in the bowl, you don’t even notice. You just get a nice crunch!

For dinner that night I made Aiyah’s Garden Living Corn Chowder from Vegan Fusion again! This was absolutely fab. Raw corn, avocado, onion, ginger, garlic, and cayenne blended into oblivion and topped with more fresh corn, red bell pepper, and flavorful cilantro. Dayummm. This soup makes me feel light and happy. Perfect for summer!

The only changes I made were subbing cucumber for celery and leaving out the jalapeño (and adding extra cayenne) because I didn’t have any of either. I don’t think it lost anything in translation! Tomorrow I plan on making raw chili and sweet potato chips! Yay! :)

I’ll try not to be better about posting from now on! I think all my photo importing/organizing/editing/uploading should be a lot quicker and easier with Aperture.