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Home Made Fresh Vegetable Soup: Good For Your Soul (and Your Health!)

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Aaaahhhh! There’s just something about soup that makes you want to put on PJ’s and hug yo mamma.

The problem is, when you buy soup from the store, you don’t really know what’s in it. It’s probably loaded with sugar or sodium. It’s probably got some chemical in it to make it last a long time on a shelf. Gross!

Soup is an intimate thing (that’s why we want someone to bring it to us when we are sick, right?) Let’s reacquaint ourselves with some kick-ass soup that is really good in your mouth and really good on your waistline!

Chef B’Friend’s Impromptu Veggie Soup Recipe: 

Ingredients: (and make sure they’re of good quality, and that means farmers market or organic. It’s important!) Continue reading

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Viva Las Vegas! Sin City Vegan Challenge: Day Two

So, if you’re just joining me on this post and haven’t been following along… I’m visiting my best friend in Las Vegas and writing about eating vegan while on vacation. Here we go!

Yesterday, we went to the Hoover Dam. It’s was pretty impressive.

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The only bad thing about going to see the Hoover Dam was not eating beforehand. Once you start eating a regular breakfast, it gets real weird when you skip it. (Read about the benefits of eating breakfast and how it helps you lose weight here.)

After (what seemed like) hours of driving and touring the damn dam, my friend took me to Skinny Fats. It’s an interesting concept, half of the menu is “live healthy” and the other half is “live happy.” Even though I think living healthy is living happy, that’s their shtick.  Continue reading

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Homemade Tomato Sauce with Fava Beans (The Beans So Nice, You Shell Them Twice!)

I am a huge fan of the easy, ten minute tomato sauce a la Jamie Oliver. His recipe is brilliant and can be used as pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or tomato soup. Rad, right?

I don’t strain it… I just blend it together and use all of it (I also add some thai chili in with the garlic at the beginning), but you get the idea. Anyway, I usually always use this method for tomato sauce… but not last night!

Yesterday I realized the fridge had accumulated a large number of Roma tomatoes. I’d been to the farmers market and Fairway and ended up with a nice little stash of the guys. Chef B’friend also remembered we had acquired a good amount of fava beans and had a brilliant idea. Time to make a vegan pasta dish! (Check that your pasta doesn’t contain egg… some do. If you’re not worried about the egg, then use whatever you want.)

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How to make Chef B’Friend’s Ziti and Homemade Tomato Sauce with Fava Beans: Continue reading

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Perfect Breakfast Bite: PB, Banana, and Honey Toast

This little toast creation is the perfect quick and easy breakfast. I’ve been buzzing around all morning, totally satisfied and feeling light. Here’s how to slap it together:

  1. Choose your toast of choice. This morning I used “Bread Alone” bread (I like them because they hand-make their bread using little more than organic grains, salt, and water.) I usually use Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread, but I wanted a little change this week.
  2. Once the toast has popped out of the toaster, slap on your nut butter of choice. I like almond butter or any organic peanut butter where the ingredients say: peanuts (and that’s it!)
  3. Slice up a banana and pile it on top. I like to make the slices look like scales, but that’s because I’m a bit weird.
  4. Sprinkle some flax seeds on top. Why flax seeds? Because it’s an ancient grain that can reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Gladiators used to chew them. Friggin’ awesome, right? Also, they look cute and give a tiny crunch texture.
  5. Drizzle your local seasonal honey on top. If you take honey to reduce seasonal allergies, make sure you have the right season of honey to match the time of year. Spring honey will not help you in the fall because the bees that made that spring honey weren’t exposed to the flowers and spores that bloom in the fall. Immune yourself with the proper season you’re trying to battle. (Got that little tip from a beekeeper in Union Square.)

Enjoy, yall!

Let me know if you make this and like it, or if you’ve made something similar before. Leave a comment! 

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Memphis Vegan Challenge: Day Two

Woke up. Juiced. Put juice in mason jar so it felt more “country.” Duh, I’m visiting Tennessee.

IMG_0356 IMG_0358While going through my parents’ kitchen drawers, I found a ridiculously small Tabasco bottle. Why do they have this in their house? (Apple for scale.)

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Why do you exist, teeniest bottle?

Went to choreograph all day at a dance studio out in Germantown. The studio is right by one of my favorite Italian delis, Vanelli’s Deli. Grabbed a quick salad with their homemade Italian dressing and some garlic olives.

IMG_0360 IMG_0361I had to google whether croutons were vegan or not. They mostly are.

Finished a very long day of choreographing at the studio and met my parents for dinner at Memphis Pizza Cafe.

Now, I’ve been preparing myself to be super sad about missing out on the Ultimate Cheese pizza that MPC serves up so deliciously. I opted for the vegetarian without cheese. It was real purdy, and I gobbled many a slice.

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Verdict on the pizza: I did miss having cheese on pizza, but I realized I wasn’t uncomfortable after the meal. I walked out of Memphis Pizza Cafe going, “Wow. I don’t have that weird sinking, stomach-full-of-rocks feeling I usually have leaving this joint. Oh, I guess I came out of here feeling bad every single time I went? Weird.”

Day 2: Fine. It’s whatever. My body feels really good, but I’m more impressed with the tiny Tabasco bottle.

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Upcoming Ten-Year High School Reunion: Oh, GOD, NO!!! WHY!?!?

I just realized that my ten-year high school reunion is coming up this fall. Thankfully, the universe was somewhat kind to me this morning, and I realized it’s in November. If it were at the beginning of September, I might have to make like a lemming and (metaphorically, of course) jump of the nearest cliff. IMG_0341

Combine the impending doom of the reunion and all the weddings I need to attend this fall, and it makes me want to crash diet like there’s no tomorrow. It makes me want to cut carbs and pop pills, which I can’t understand because I know that’s not the right way. It’s got to be my fear and not my better judgement whispering, “Eat only meat! I know you’re a vegetarian and don’t believe in it… but just buy a cow and eat only that for the next three months! You’ve got room in the freezer, right?”

I’m not going to crash diet. I’m not going to diet at all. I’m going to reverse the brainwashing in me that is screaming DIET! DIET! DIET! because diet’s don’t work. They. Do. Not. Work.

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Mayo-free Coleslaw! Warning: Seriously Addictive

I grew up hating coleslaw.

I was born hating it, and I carried a passionate desire within my child-self to destroy all that was coleslaw. This was a big deal because I’m from Memphis, TN (the BBQ capital of the universe). I hated coleslaw so much that I refused to eat BBQ for the first 15 years of my life because it was guilty by association. That cabbage-sprinkled cup of mayo looked disgusting, and I wrote it off forever until I found out there was a better way… the non-mayonaise way.

In the south, pasta salad is drenched in mayonnaise. Potato salad consists of potatoes swimming in mayo. Egg salad is mayonnaise with a side of egg. Cole slaw is not excluded from the mayo-party. It’s the host.

When I moved up to NY for college, I was ASTONISHED to find out my best friend Ray’s pasta salad recipe called for Italian dressing rather than mayonnaise. It was sacrilegious! And I liked it. Three years ago, my boyfriend informed me that we would be making coleslaw, and it didn’t include traditional mayo. With great trepidation and tremendous courage, I tried the stuff. Now, I’m addicted to it.

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I love this recipe because it’s super easy, super fast, and it keeps the veggies you use raw. Raw means nutrients. Delicious and healthy: Boom!

And now without any further ado, I present to you Chef B’friend’s Mayoless Coleslaw Recipe. (I’m going to share with you the completely white-stuff free version as well as the mayo-substitute version. Both are fantastic.)

Continue reading

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My NYC Fire Escape Garden

Growing your own food is easy, responsible, and super tasty. Plus, you don’t need that much space. Just utilize your imagination!

Reasons why growing your own food rocks:

  1. Lessen your carbon footprint by growing some things yourself. (Remember… those tomatoes at PathMart didn’t grow there. They grew hundreds of miles away. They hitched a ride on a huge truck across the country.)
  2. It’s cheaper to grow your own herbs than to keep buying those small packets. Plus, you only use about half of it before it goes off and you have to throw the thing away.
  3. Wanna be healthier? If you’ve grown it… you’ll eat it. Anything that makes us eat more fruits and veggies is a good thing.
  4. It forces you to be outdoors. Or, kind of outdoors. Anyway, you’ll probably get a little vitamin D from this activity.
  5. Monsanto can’t get you if you know where your food is coming from. (Make sure your seeds and seedlings are not genetically altered or modified.)
  6. You’ll reduce food waste. If you’ve waited for something to ripen on a vine that you take care of… you’re less likely to let it spoil and throw it out. That’s not really the case with that stupid banana that has gross brown spots you paid 50 cents for, right? That guy is going to spoil and get thrown out.
  7. It doesn’t take up that much time. I’d equate it to caring for fish in a tank.
  8. I sound like a hippie, but it’s fun. It turned fun. I don’t know how. Just kinda snuck up on me.

I can hear you say, “Well, I don’t have a backyard with room for a garden. I have no space!”

Dude. I live in New York City. I don’t have access to a yard… but I do use every inch of outdoorsey-type space I’ve got!

My First Fire Escape Garden:

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Chilis, mint, tomatoes, basil, lettuce. YUM!

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The tomatoes had a lovely view!

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Instant Oatmeal: Surprise! It’s not boring!

When we think about oatmeal, we think about mush. Then, we think about that scene from Oliver.


Not so appetizing. Right?

Let’s make this meal of oats into something that’s a bit more exciting, shall we?

Breakfast Idea:

If you’re in a rush, here’s an easy way to not skip breakfast. (Skipping breakfast will make you gain weight.)

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  1. Get some instant oatmeal (Ain’t nobody got time for the other stuff.)
  2. Shake some into a bowl and add just a little sea salt.
  3. Add boiling water to oatmeal to activate it, and mix with spoon.
  4. While the oatmeal is soaking, chop some strawberries or get out whatever other berries you want to add. (Chef B’friend’s fabulous mother suggests adding fresh ground black peppercorn to strawberries to make the flavor pop.)
  5. Add berries.
  6. Pour on a little soy or almond milk.
  7. Add honey to naturally sweeten it.
  8. Eat it!

Quick and easy. Delicious and will keep you from skipping breakfast. Or eating some horrid breakfast bar that has so many ingredients that you get bored whilst reading the label.

Dessert Idea: 

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This recipe was inspired by Chef B’friend’s mother’s recipe.

Everyone has an overripe banana or two hanging around the kitchen. Now, you don’t have to throw them away!

  1. Peel and mash bananas in bowl
  2. Add about 1 cup oatmeal (you can use instant) per banana in and mix. (Remember, you can stop right here for the no-bake option. Just form the cookies and throw them in the freezer to enjoy later!)
  3. Add any fillers you want: blueberries, chocolate, cinnamon, nuts, etc.
  4. Form the cookies
  5. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line it with parchment paper or a silpat.
  6. Put them in the preheated (350 degrees) for 15 minutes
  7. Take them out. Let them cool. Look how cute they are. Eat them!

Do YOU have any bright ideas for using oatmeal? Leave a comment! 

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Juice is my crack: How to juice and not feel like a snob.

fruit and veggie juice

If I’m going to be honest, the entire “juicing culture” has got a bad rap. When we think of juicing, we usually think of an expensive juice cleanse that some celebrity says she went on and lost all of her baby weight in one week. Sometimes, it makes us think of that strange Cayenne pepper thing Beyonce supposedly did for Dreamgirls. Most often, it makes us think of self-righteous jerks who tell everyone they need to juice in order to be considered health-conscious. Those idiots give my sweet, sweet crack a bad name.

I’m not kidding when I make that comparison. Of course, I have never smoked that pipe. I’m just imagining the amazing rush I get after downing 10 veggies and 3 fruits in one go to be somewhat comparable to, well, feeling rather high.

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