Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sprouted Quinoa

Music: Doris Day on shuffle on the Macbook

We're starting to experiment more with sprouting. It's just another way we're trying to get more raw foods into our daily lifestyle.

I mix the quinoa with lots of different chopped and/or fermented vegetables, whatever I happen to have on hand: cucumbers, radishes, onions, olives, carrots, celery, beets, avocado, leftover greens. I'll add some sea salt or gomashio and perhaps a little toasted sesame oil or tamari.

It's surprisingly easy to sprout quinoa:

Take 1 C quinoa (any kind; Jim likes the tri-colored because it's pretty) and rinse throughly in a fine sieve. Place in a bowl and add two to three times as much water. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Drain and rinse again. Place back into bowl & cover with plate. Let sit overnight. In the morning, rinse again and drain very well. You'll notice that it has sprouted as tiny little tails will have appeared; this also happens when you cook it so you know it's ready.

Place in a sealable container with lid and store in the refrigerator and use within 3 days. If you want, you can put it back into the bowl and let it sit for a few more hours to soften more (& then rinse & drain) but, if you do, once you place it in the refrigerator, you should eat it within a day or two. Enjoy in salads or alone with spices. It has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Inn Season Cafe, Royal Oak, Michigan

Music: Sunday Baroque, on WQED

Back home in Michigan, I lived in Royal Oak, and my favorite restaurant happened to be a vegetarian restaurant. (Notice I didn't say vegan, as they do serve dairy). The Inn Season Cafe (or just the Inn Season for short) has been in the same location in Royal Oak since 1981(tucked in a residential neighborhood a few blocks from the bustling downtown) and is one of the gems of the metro Detroit area. I've been eating here since I first moved to Royal Oak in 1993 and every time I go home again, I make sure I make time to savor a meal there.

This is what we enjoyed on our last visit:

Hummus with greens (mixed in!), pitas with herbs on top,
marinated mushroom salad, beets, olives and more greens 

Quinoa salad with fresh sprouts, greens, & avocado

It's gourmet in that it's all original, fresh, and delicious, but it's not pretentious or expensive. It's just plain good whole food that's good for you. Everyone I've recommended it to has raved about it and visited again, even my meat eating friends. My favorite feature of the menu is the Chef's Specials where they create special seasonal dishes (like the ones we enjoyed pictured above).

I have not found a restaurant like this here in Pittsburgh; Zenith in South Side* and Quiet Storm in Friendship* are more like diners that serve good but unspectacular food. My restaurant of choice here is a Middle Eastern place in South Side called Kassab's which, while not vegetarian, serves delicious vegan options.

The Inn Season's gardens, along the side of the restaurant

The service at the Inn Season is wonderful and everyone is very friendly and accommodating. The atmosphere is elegant and cozy, with wood antique tables, unique and one-of-a-kind china tea cups for coffee and tea, and cloth napkins. And their homemade chai tea (hot or cold) is to die for. The last time I was here they softly played Motown music that just seemed right as I'm still terribly homesick. 

It's located off a side street in downtown Royal Oak, which is about 12 miles north of Detroit. If you're ever in southeast Michigan, I highly recommend you make the Inn Season Cafe a stop for lunch or dinner whether you're a vegetarian or not. You won't be disappointed.

*These are neighborhoods within the city limits of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh is known geographically by its neighborhoods.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Green Smoothies

My daily greens, with a sprinkling of bee pollen on top

Today's post was prompted by questions about my green smoothies, so I'm happy to write about something I drink every single day.

I drink green smoothies (instead of green juice made in a juicer) because I want more greens in my daily lifestyle. This way, I know I'm getting them even if I don't get a chance to eat other greens or a salad in my day.

I also want the fiber that's left when you blend the ingredients; juicers remove this fiber. This is not to say that there are no benefits to green juice; you get more concentrated nutrients in juice. I just prefer smoothies to juice.

I first learned about green smoothies in 2009 when I attended Jill Ovnik's vegan retreat in South Haven, Michigan. She invited many speakers and one of them, Susan Milliron, spoke about the benefits of raw foods and green smoothies. She demonstrated how to make them and gave out taste samples. I was intrigued and curious to try them. So, since then, I drink them every day; when I don't have them or miss a day (which is rare), I feel like something's missing in my body.

When I make them, I use about 2 large handfuls (perhaps about 2 cups? I've never measured) of greens. My favorites are parsley, baby spinach, and collard greens. I have used kale but usually I mix it up with one of my three favorites which are not as strong. Sometimes, I will also toss in about a 1/4 C of herbs such as dill, cilantro, or basil, usually to use them up when I've had leftovers from a recipe--and you know you always do because they sell herbs in big bunches in the grocery store when all you sometimes need is 2 tablespoons or so! I have read that you should change up the greens every day but that it's okay to use the same fruit if you have a favorite.

They are delicious and I'm not just saying that. The secret is the fruit. You might need to add a little sweetener (such as dates, honey, or stevia) if your tongue is used to sweetness and you eat a lot of sweets. I've been vegan for over five years and no longer eat sweets so my taste buds have drastically changed.

Here is a typical green smoothie recipe:

2 handfuls organic baby spinach (usually I buy the bags from Trader Joe's then rinse them well)
1/4 C coconut water & slice of coconut meat (from a young coconut; when the water is fermented, this is a great probiotic)*
1 tsp bee pollen (protein superfood)*
2-3 tablets spirulina (a complete plant protein)*
1 1/2 C cold water
1 banana (for creaminess and sweetness)
1 C frozen fruit (my favorites for flavor are peaches, mango, strawberries, pineapple, or mixed berries; sometimes I'll use one fruit or several)
1 small spoon of avocado (about a 1 tbsp? avocado prevents the smoothie from foaming)

Sometimes I will also add part of a cucumber, some celery, or even an apple.

Blend all in a high speed blender until smooth. Makes between 3-4 cups. I take it to work every day in my thermos and drink it between 9:30 and 11am, between my 6:30am breakfast and my noon lunch.

*I add these as supplements; I didn't use them when I first started making green smoothies so you don't have to either. I just add them in for extra nutritional value.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I cringe today remembering what I used to eat for breakfast before I became vegan. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day but it wasn't pretty:

Toasted Italian bread with butter and hot chocolate. Mind you, this bread was really, really white, and the hot chocolate was Quik with whole milk. Plus I ate way more than just two pieces!

Boxed cereal with skim milk. This was very expensive and I was hungry again in less than 2 hours.

Hostess Frosted Chocolate Donuts with a glass of milk. An entire box of minis or two to three regular-sized.  Yikes!

Kellogg's Pop Tarts with a glass of milk. No explanation needed.

Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, made with eggs, and milk, with the faux maple syrup and butter. I think I needed at least 8-10 pancakes to feel full.

Kellogg's Eggo Frozen Waffles. I ate two but they didn't fill me up enough.

Now what do I eat? It's always whole rolled oats in some form: muesli, granola, raw soaked oat groats, or oatmeal. Oats keep me feeling full until I drink my daily green smoothie, about 4 hours after breakfast. They are also an amazing source of soluble fiber which keeps you feeling fuller longer. Depending on the season, I'll add fresh berries in summer and sliced apples in the fall and winter. And always a tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal.

Homemade granola*

Jim makes our granola about every 10 days while I make the muesli once a week. With Jim's homemade almond milk, it's delicious AND filling.

Homemade muesli (aka practically raw cereal)

We even make the granola into breakfast wraps with banana, coconut milk yogurt, & peanut butter on millet flax tortillas.

Jim's Granola
5 c whole rolled oats
1 C any nut (pecan, walnut, hazelnut) chopped
1/2 C raw sunflower seeds
1/4 C cacao nibs
1/4 C any other seed (sesame, hemp, pumpkin, etc.)
1/2 C dates packed tightly (obviously, remove pits)
1/2 C warm water
1/3 C brown rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of sea salt

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In high speed blender, combine dates, water, & brown rice syrup & blend until smooth. Pour liquid over dry mix and stir to combine. Spread on lightly oiled baking sheets and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, then bake for another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Watch carefully to prevent burning.

*Jim loves to try new recipes. This one pictured is the Cacao Nib Coconut granola from the blog, Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.