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The Green Life

The Green Life The world of health, vegan food, and all things Green!

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Escape to Morrocco without flying...

The other day I got a call from someone asking me to cook for a private dinner party she was having at her house. Here was the catch: she wanted easy, quick, vegan, light food, to be served buffet style, and the biggest catch of all... the theme of the night was Morroccan/Syrain food! I was so excited! I love when I'm hired to host dinner parties or cook privately for people but the hardest part of doing that is deciding WHAT to make. With this job the cool part was that my genre of food to cook was decided for me! Now the hard part about this task is that aside from my husband being Syrian, I am TOTALLY American. While I do cook a great deal of Morroccan and Syrian food I like to think of myself as a 'self taught middle eastern chef' that being said here's what I made for the Middle Eastern night...

Red Lentil Soup (the recipe for this is posted on an older blog posting)

Fattoush Salad

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Tahina

Red Onions with Sumac*

Baked Falafel Burgers

Vegan Whole Wheat Laham'bajeen

Vegan Basil spread for the falafel sandwiches

Purple raw cabbage salad with Za'atar*

Toasted Whole Wheat Pita brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Za'atar

Dessert:

Turkish Coffee

Naana (mint) Tea

Freshly sliced watermelon

Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies fresh from the oven...

 

* Sumac is a delicious and tangy middle eastern spice. It makes for a great spice in salad dressings but even easier than that is to simply sprinkle it on any raw vegetable. You can buy it at any middle eastern grocery store.

* Za'atar is another delicious Middle Eastern seasoning, while the combination of spices in Za'atar vary greatly it usually consists of: ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, and a combination of toasted sesame seeds and salt.

 

Contact me if you're interested in having any private cooking done.

AtaraSchweky@gmail.com

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Cornbread under 130 Cals??

The EASIEST (vegan) Cornbread Muffins you might EVER make!

So I've been cravingggg hardcore Cornbread lately and couldn't figure out where I could satisfy this craving where the cornbread would be moist, fluffly and FRESH and also without all that vegan margarine that most bakeries like to use. I understand that the margarines are vegan but still they are pretty overly processed so I try and steer clear of using too much of it and if I can steer clear of uSing it at all I do. After debating where in NYC I could find a promising Vegan cornbread i decided why not whip one up of my own? When I crave a dessert I like to make sure it will be made with the freshest ingredients and healthiest flours etc... so I usually end up making it myself :) I came across a recipe for Cornbread Muffins and of course since I have to tweak every single recipe I get my hands on, I did just that...

These Muffins are made with Spelt flour, and sweetened with Agave Nectar, Also, I like the course texture of the corn meal so I use "extra coarse" corn meal- but feel free to use fine corn meal if you like. This is a sweet cornbread recipe, the best part about these muffins is there are only 125 Calories per muffin! and they totally hit the spot!

All Natural Spelt Agave Cornbread Muffins: Serves- 12 muffins

1 cup coarse corn meal

1 cup spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened applesauce the agave nectar is sweet enough)

1 cup vanilla almond breeze (unsweetened)

1/2 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (I add this in to almost every baking recipe I make because i figure why not add in some extra fiber and Omega 3?!)

** You can replace the Almond Breeze with Soy Milk if you dont like Almond Milk or you dont have it handy, I happen to love Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze more than any kind of Soy milk but its a personal preference. Just use the same amount of Soy Milk to Almond Milk I called for. **

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees, Lightly grease muffin pan.

Step 2: In a mixing bowl combine the cornmeal, spelt flour, baking soda, ground flaxseed and salt, stir in the applesauce, Almond Breeze, and Agave Nectar. Slowly add the 2 tablespoons oil while stirring. Pour the mixture into the muffin pan.

Step 3: Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Mine needed a few minutes longer then 20 mins but just keep an eye on them and when toothpick comes out clean they're done. Place on a wire rack to cool and.....

 ENJOY!!!

I usually eat one fresh from the oven, make hubby eat one and then wait til they have completely cooled and freeze em'. When they're frozen so fresh they reheat realllly well.


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Peaches Peaches Peaches!

I just got home from the Farmers Market on Second Ave. and E.10th in NYC and wowwwww they had suchhhhh gawgeous fruit today!! The Blueberries were bright blue hard and nice sizes but the fruit I'm most excited for are the PEACHES I bought! I love love a cold juicy peach more then any fruit. For some reason to me a fresh cold peach is summer. The reason I love catching a great Fresh Farmers Market in NYC is because there is NOTHING like fresh, local produce picked from the farms right in our tri-state area. The fruits and veggies today were picked from two farms, one just over the Hudson River in New Jersey, and the other right out in Long Island! It makes me so happy to know that what I'm going to eat didn't sit in some nasty smelly huge truck in the heat of summer driving from Florida or even way further, not to mention all the chemicals needed to preserve the fruit being transported in those sorts of conditions!

Anywayyyyy..... part of why I Love Summer is because there are so many more Farmers Markets around then in the winter! YAYYYYY! : )

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Yummy Red Lentil Soup (except not quite red)

OK so yesterday in NYC it was terribly dreary, cloudy and grey out all day. Those are the kind of days for me when all I crave is a big hearty soup, a dinner where I can get so many nutrients and health benfeits in one bowl. Soups are my all time favorite and lets face it once the heat of summer hits, other than Gazpacho- soups are kicked to the curb for a while. I use any rainy day as an excuse for SOUP...
Red Lentils like the ones used in this soup are packed with tons of fiber, protein, and even folate and iron. I use red lentils instead of brown for different reasons. Firstly, red lentils take half the time to cook as brown do! and secondly, I like the consistency that the red lentils make ater they simmer for a while, it forms this really thick soup and the lentils sort of cook into the entire liquid of the soup and lose their shape whereas brown lentils retain their shape no matter how long they cook.
If you've never cooked red lentils before dont be fooled they arent red after they cook long enough they really look more like a yellowish light brown color.

Red Lentil Soup
1 large onion chopped
6 cloves of garlic crushed
2 cups red lentils
1 cup barley (my favorite kind to use is pearled barley I love the crunchy texture)
8 cups water
1 tspn. cumin
1 1/2 tspn. cardamon
3 tspn. coriander
3 tspn. sea salt (you can add more after cooking based on your own salt desire, always salt after legumes cook because the salt slows down the cooking of legumes)

(Sidenote: if you're not a barley lover u can just leave it out, I LOVE it but if I'm ever out of barley I make the soup without and its just as good. However if leaving out the barley make sure you only use 6 cups of water and not 8)

Step 1: Drizzle olive oil in medium size stock pot, set flame to low, once oil is warm but not too hot add onions, let onions become translucent and add crushed garlic, let onion garlic mixture brown.
Step 2: Add coriander, cumin, cardamon, and sea salt to the onion and garlic saute mixture, mix it up. At this point I add a few tablespoons of water to the spice mixture just so it doesn't stick to the pot and this way I avoid using more oil. Make sure the mixture is combined well.
Step 3: Add the red lentils, and barley and combine into the onion garlic spice mixture, once well combined add the 8 cups of water, cover, put flame to low and let it cook at least an hour! I let it keep on cooking after that because I like it super thick but the consistency is your preference. After it is finished cooking, taste and add sea salt if necessary to your little taste buds ; )

Most importantly....ENJOY!!!

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"Ice Cream" You Scream

OK- So I'm embarrassed to admit that 2 years ago I bought an ice cream maker because I told myself "I really needed it and would make ice cream all summer..." Well 2 years later I decided to break in my machine and give it a whirl (literally). While the actual concoction of the recipe I came up with was a piece of cake to make, the assembling of my machine was unfortunately its own task. After reading the manual at least 15 times i finally attempted to give it a try... It worked!! and the Vegan Ice Cream was everything I had hoped it would come out to be! I sort of put together a bunch of different recipes that I had into one, but you can really switch up the ice cream flavor to your own personal taste and cravings. I was in a pretty basic mood so I made Vanilla Chocolate Chip. Whether you are vegan or not this ice cream makes for a delicious totally guilt free cold treat on a hot day, so ENJOY! and remember get creative substitute the choc. chips for fruit, or nuts, and if you're feeling crazy sometimes I add 1/2 cup cocoa powder for a dark chocolate flavor.
Vanilla Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Cream:
1 Cup Vanilla Almond Breeze (or soy or rice milk whatever you prefer)
1 Cup Coconut Milk Creamer
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Block of Tofu (make sure it is very well drained of the water, otherwise the ice cream will turn out icy and not creamy)
Step 1: Blend the tofu before placing it into the ice cream maker to ensure that the ice cream will be smooth and not chunky (ew), I used an immersion blender.
Step 2: After blending tofu, combine all ingredients into your ice cream maker and follow your machine directions!
Step 3: Place in freezer immediately and ENJOY!

 
 

 

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Hangawi Heaven!

 

Let me start by saying I have a really great husband. I do not mean that in a bratty way at all! What I mean is this:
My husband is a serious and hard core carnivore. I know, you're probably thinking WTF??? The writer of a blog called "Vegan Green Life" is married to a man that loves meat??!! Sounds weird trust me I think about that a lot. But hey we're all our own people so lets love everyone for who they are- meat lovers or not. Anyway, I'll stop rambling. So the reason my husband, who's name lets call him 'Giggles' cause hes got a pretty cute laugh. So Giggles has managed to really and truly embrace Vegan life. Pretty rockin' I know... For my birthday he surprised me and made resos for us at a Vegan Restaurant called
Hangawi. I read all about Hangawi a few years ago on a website DailyCandy and later on read about it again in my absolute faveeee veg restaurant resource book called Clean Plates. Anyway, it  sounded very cool because the description of it said that you must remove your shoes upon entering and that you sit on the floor (its wayyy more comfy than it sounds, I swear). I was pretty psyched when Giggles told me we were going there because I never could have imagined him remembering my mention of this restaurant over a yr ago. He totally remembered and we had a fab time. I highly recommend it to anyone/everyone. The ambiance was great, the staff were super sweet and the Sake was UHmayyzingg, it came in a huge bowl with a ladle so it was even fun refilling your cup! To start we ordered the Black Bean Dumplings and lets just say Giggles loved them so much he ordered a second order of them before the mains even came! For my main dish I ordered the Grilled Eggplant in chili sauce and it was really amazing and the portion was so huge I barely finished half of the dish. Giggles ordered the Mushroom sizzler on a stone plate it was unreal ( if you love mushrooms). For dessert we had a delish Tofu Cheesecake with a candle for me to blow out ; ) The service was truly a pleasure from start to finish the staff had a smile on their face. For my Birthday our waitress had me stand up and put on a Korean robe and hat while they all sang "Happy Birthday" I was quite embarrassed but truly a fabulous experience! Recommend this place to anyone looking for a different and unique Vegan dining experience! A Hidden Gem!


                                                          The DEEEEElish 'cheesecake'

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Lets Get Stahhted Boys and Girls...

So, after much contemplation I have finally decided to enter Blog life. I've hesitated for a very long time because I am SO NOT a writer so for all you English majors please hold back from correcting my posts- Much appreciated! xxx
 
Why did I decide to finally blog? Well, because I figure why not write about what I live everyday. I have been Vegan for 7 and a half years (Yeah, I know i sound like a 3 year old with the half counting).

I want to make a place for all us Vegans and even you Non Vegans to get together and share vegan cooking, health, new products that hit the market and new environmentally friendly and what I like to refer to as "Green Life Products"

When I talk about something as being for "The Green Life" it basically means a few things;
1. It benefits our environment in one way or another
2. It's healthy
And last but not least,
3. It makes you feel good, and face it we all like to feel good...

 

Before I get into my real posting of the topics I want to share with you all I'll tell you a little about myself so you can get to know who the writer is that you are reading.
I like to think of myself as a Vegan Chef minus the education from Natural Gourmet Institute. I know that's kind of a reach but I always feel why do I need the schooling when I live my life teaching myself how to cook these foods? Maybe it sounds like the easy way out but for me I simply can't justify going back to school to learn how to cook vegan when everyday in my kitchen in essence I'm 'learning' this. I work like any other chef would, putting together Vegan menus, events, and dinner parties for many different people and enjoy every second of it. I ALWAYS use strictly whole and all natural ingredients and all animal free!
Hence the business name I chose, "Strictly Vegan". So now that you know enough about me lets get talking about Vegan Life!!


About Me