Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Am I . . . Vegan Chopped Liver?

Does the idea of eating chopped chicken livers seem really strange to you? Well, if you grew up in a house like mine (Eastern European and Jewish), it would seem really run-of-the-mill. But delicious run-of-the-mill, if you know what I mean.

Chopped liver was something my grandmother made, and also my mother, to this day. It was served at every single family and friend gathering that I can recall from my childhood. Everyone loved it. Even if you loathed liver in any other form, there was something so amazing about Chopped Liver that would make you forget all about exactly what you were eating.

You can probably imagine, it's been a long time since I've eaten Chopped Liver.

So when we were served "Mock Chopped Liver" at dinner at a friend's this past Friday night, I was excited to take a walk down memory lane. It was delicious and I made a pact with myself that I would find out exactly how I could make it so I could share it with you.

Many Mock Chopped Liver recipes include hard boiled eggs and of course, oil to saute the onion in. Mine however is 100% no-oil vegan. It's so simple, I can't believe it's taken me this long to make it.

If the idea of Chopped Liver totally freaks you out, just think of this as a completely amazing Lentil Walnut Pate and proudly serve it to rave reviews at all of your social gatherings.

Everyone will be glad you did.

Vegan Mock Chopped Liver (aka Lentil Walnut Pate)
makes 4 cups, serves a crowd

Print me!

1 17.6 oz. package steamed lentils from Trader Joe's, OR 3 cups of water plus 1 1/2 cup of dry lentils (should yield 3 cups cooked lentils)
1 large onion, diced
vegetable broth for sauteing
1 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp red miso paste
1 1/2 tsp low sodium Tamari or low sodium soy sauce

If you don't have access to Trader Joe's precooked lentils, the first thing that you will need to do is cook your lentils. Place lentils and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer lentils for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain lentils.

Place a saute pan (nonstick is best) over medium-high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable broth. When broth is bubbling, add onion. Cook onion, stirring often, adding a bit more broth and lowering the heat as you go, until onion is translucent and very soft, about 20-30 minutes. By the end of the process, your heat should be on low and the onions will be soft and no liquid will be left.

Place walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "s" blade. Pulse walnuts a few times until the are  chopped. Add lentils, onions, red miso paste and Tamari or soy sauce and puree until smooth.

Refrigerate for a few hours and serve.

Did your family eat Chopped Liver growing up? Did you love it or loathe it? Do you make a mock version now?

Was the expression "What am I, Chopped Liver?" used in your home growing up?

If you would like to read the comments to this post or leave a comment to this post, you must first click on this post's title (the orange text above).

Healthy Hair on Youtube: Lala

Lala is another type 4 natural with healthy, waistlength hair (when stretched).  In the video below, hear her discuss her simple bi-weekly regimen:

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REVIEW #14: Carol's Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Serum

NOTE:  I am not paid to review this product.

Purpose: Frizz-fighting, smoothing gloss with thermal protection

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Phenyl Trimethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Alcohol Denat., Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Silk, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sprout Extract, Panthenol (Pro-vitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum).

Number of trials: 1

How I used it:
Applied to freshly washed and conditioned hair that was dried.  Hair was then flat ironed.


This product is amazing all around.  Compared to other heat protectants I've tried in the past (e.g., Redken and Proclaim), Carol's Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Serum left my hair shinier and feeling smoother and lighter.  There was no added weight or stiffness due to application of the product.  Additionally, it functioned well as a protectant; my hair reverted after a wash and didn't suffer heat damage.  Could I ask for anything more?  Well, I got more.  This product also has a very pleasant, natural scent leaving your tresses smelling divine.  The scent is almost addictive.  Additionally, the combination of Carol's Daughter, dry weather, and good heat styling allowed my hair to stay frizz-free for up to two weeks.  Aside from all of these positives, the only downside to this product is the cost of $18.  However, I think it's worth the price.

PROS: addictive pleasant smell, adds nice shine to hair, leaves hair feeling smooth and lightweight, provides sufficient thermal protection
CONS: expensive ($18)

RATING: Overall, I give the Carol's Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Serum 5 out of 5 stars.  

This product is ideal for those who frequently:
- flat-iron
- blow dry

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jojoba oil, Wax, & Relaxers

According to one study, most conditioning agents in relaxer kits break down and have no effect by the time the consumer uses them. This finding implies that using some level of added conditioning while relaxing may minimize damage. What is the best conditioner? According to a second study, jojoba oil is amongst the best at protecting the hair while relaxing (with thioglycolate-based relaxers). Polymethylene wax (in conjunction with other substances) is beneficial for the traditional NaOH- and LiOH-based relaxers.  For further reading, check out the links below.

Originally posted as part of the "Retaining the Hair You Grow" series.



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Oldies, But Goodies

Amodimethicone, Castor Oil for Sheen?
Homemade Spa Treatment
Household Makeup Removers
Oh Honey, Honey ... Deep Conditioners
Nape Breakage?
Healthy Hairstyling: The Twistout

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Farro Salad

We were invited over to a friend's house for dinner last Friday night and I was given the task of bringing a side dish. It's been a long time since I've made a grain salad, and I was itching to use the farro that remained in my pantry since I made Farro with Roasted Eggplant Pesto.

There is a wonderful chewiness to farro that I really enjoy. And the raw garlic and ginger in this dressing give this salad a nice kick. Serve it as a side dish, or spoon it over a bed of any lettuce to make a main course salad. In my opinion, this grain salad rocks!

Farro Salad with Apricots, Chick Peas and Sunflower Seeds
serves 10-12 as a side dish

1 1/2 cups uncooked farro
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup grated carrots
1 15 oz. can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
3 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1 medium bunch cilantro, washed
4 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
1 large clove garlic
1 inch piece fresh ginger
1/3 cup water

First, cook the farro. There are two ways you can do this. You can put the farro and the water in a rice cooker and turn it on. Or you can bring the water to a boil, add the farro, simmer for 45 minutes and then drain off whatever liquid remains (if any).

Place all dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Combine the cooked farro, carrots, chick peas, scallions, apricots and sunflower seeds in a med-large bowl. Pour dressing on top and mix until dressing covers the salad. 

If you would like to read the comments to this post or leave a comment to this post, you must first click on this post's title (the orange text above).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Simple, Healthy Recipes for a Busy Schedule

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

The second I wake up in the morning, the first thing that runs through my mind is the long list of things that I need to try to get done that day. That includes fitting in my working out and trying to eat/snack on HEALTHY things.

With busy schedules, that may be tough some days. What are some suggestions to help with this problem? Plan a cooking day. I have one (or two days depending on the week) that I will cook a few things and divide them up into the right portion sizes and put them in Tupperware in my refrigerator. This helps me out by allowing me the option to have several things ready when I am in a hurry and need to grab dinner or lunch. If you make two or three recipes (and most recipes have a serving size of 4-6) this will give you PLENTY of meals for that week. I also make a few so that I am not eating the same thing each day. I will also try to make things that I can slightly change from meal to meal. By adding pasta, rice, a salad, or something else I can give the meal a slightly different look and taste.

Here are a few examples of some simple, healthy, and non-expensive meals that you can make for your menu:

Chicken Piccata with Pasta & Mushrooms

4 servings
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Read more �

Citrus Fruits and Stroke

Sixteen years ago, my mother collapsed onto the hallway carpet of our apartment.  My sisters and I thought she had fainted, not realizing that she had just suffered a stroke.  Fortunately, she survived and recovered after months of hospitalization and therapy.  The catalyst of her stroke was high blood pressure.

A recently published study states that "citrus fruit consumption may be associated with a reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke."  It is the flavonoid, a substance found in citrus fruits, that is of interest in this association.  Further research is needed to confirm this connection, but in the mean time, you can read more about the current study in the links below.  Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet; certain foods (e.g., grapefruit) can react with stroke medications. 


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Going from the Standard American Diet to Eat to Live: How I Got Started

In order to leave a comment to this post or see the comments of this post, you must click on the title of the post (the orange text), directly above.

Hello Everybody!

I thought I would start off this week by sharing an e-mail that I received over the weekend. This reader needs our help, just like this reader did a few weeks ago. I know we will give her amazing advice, so here goes:

"Hi Wendy!
I recently found your blog and love it!  I'm writing to you because I have been toying with the idea of trying out Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live lifestyle change but don't really seem to know how to get going.  How did you start out?  I am quite overweight and while losing weight is a goal, I am more interested in making a permanent lifestyle change.  However, I'm concerned that Dr. Fuhrman's plan is so overwhelming and cold turkey that I may not stick with it for long.  Did you jump right in or start by making smaller changes?  Were your days just full of salad, salad, and more salad?  I'm just curious about how you made it work for you in a way that stuck; thanks for any advice!!"

Great question. For me, it did not happen in an instant.

I also want to begin answering this by saying that I am not 100% a Nutritarian nor could I be considered "Plant-perfect." The realities of this lifestyle for me are that I fall somewhere between "Plant-strong" and "Nutritarian" most every day. Although I love the idea of being a perfect Nutritarian, it has not been the reality of my journey, and I don't want you to think that it has.

I'll explain by giving an example. Yesterday, I was invited to a brunch buffet by my in-laws. I knew that eating my way would be challenging, both materially (what food was going to be available) and psychologically (resisting the ridiculous amount of temptation at a brunch buffet). The way I handle these situations these days is as follows: I make myself a huge plate of salad greens, topped with any and all raw and cooked vegetables on the buffet, as well as the vinaigrette that was available (yes, it had oil in it). It was a delicious salad, and I pretty much filled up on that. Then I  indulged in something totally not Nutritarian, which was blueberry bread pudding. And I'm not proud to say that I had quite a bit of it. I also avoided everything else on the brunch buffet--all the rest of the meaty, cheesy, oily dishes. But that's the truth, and I want you to know that.

What happened after the brunch? Did I give up on myself and eat junk for the rest of the day, figuring I had blown it at lunch? Heck no! I went right back to eating Plant-strong at dinner time and I will have no problem continuing to eat this way for days and days, maybe weeks, until I eat off plan again, which I am sure will happen. I have been at this long enough to understand that perfection is elusive and for me, unnecessary.

Now that does not mean that I am advising you to go at this in a willy nilly way. There is plenty of advice out there that says "Just Do It 100% Starting Right Now." But what I don't want to happen is that you think that you can't, and that you walk away.

The way I got started went like this: I was actually on Weight Watchers for my umpteenth time. I won't go into the details, but I was lucky enough to be introduced to Eat to Live and also to the book Volumetrics. So I began to incorporate the principles of nutrient density and high volume, low calorie eating into my Weight Watchers Points counting and weighing and measuring program. It worked like a charm and over the course of less than I year, I was thinner than I had been in a very, very long time.

I was still using some oil and eating some animal products. Dr. Fuhrman has an allowance of 10% of your calories to come from these things, I believe.

I was about a year into this journey when I heard Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, speak for the first time, followed shortly by his son, Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet. I had already started this blog, so you can see how my recipes changed after this experience. I became convinced that I could eliminate oil and all animal products from my diet. It wasn't difficult at all because I was armed with all of the knowledge that came from reading their books and also the book The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. I had effectively brainwashed myself for the positive!

The more books I read on the subject of a no-oil vegan diet, the easier it became to make better choices, meal by meal, day by day, week by week.

I actually gained weight because I stopped weighing and measuring my food according to the Weight Watcher's plan. That was sort of okay by me because I knew that following a counting plan was unsustainable for me in the long run, while eating almost 100% no-oil vegan was something I could do for the rest of my life.

Pretty early on in this story, I was also lucky enough to be introduced to a book called The Beck Diet Solution. Without a doubt, I would be no where today without the ideas and exercises of Dr. Judith Beck. This is not a book about food, it's a book about the different thought patterns of naturally thin people versus overweight people. I learned to think like a thin person. I cannot possibly give this book enough credit for my success. Without it, I would be at square one, hating myself and feeling awful about being overweight, because there would have been no chance for me to stick to any plan.

So it's been almost three years since this story began. I have been able to pretty easily maintain about 40 pounds of my weight loss and I am thrilled every day when I wake up in the morning! I can't believe this is my life, when not so long ago I was so lost and confused every minute of every day about why I could not maintain a healthy weight.

I'm not a perfect Nutritarian, although I aspire to be. And yes, I do eat loads of salad (I love it now), but I also eat tons of wonderful soups, casseroles, oatmeals, smoothies, wraps and the no-oil, low sugar, Vegan sweets that I cannot seem to live without.

I'm not a Vegan, although all of the recipes that I create and cook are no-oil vegan recipes. And yes, I'd love to be a 100% Vegan.

I'm not Plant-perfect, but it would be nice if I was!

I am truly Plant-strong, easily and happily. I am still learning and making small tweaks to my diet as I go. I would never go back to my old way of eating. This really is a lifestyle change and not a "diet."

What about you, HGK readers? Where do you fall right now? Plant-strong? Plant-perfect? Are you able to follow a plan perfectly? Do you feel that in order to be successful, you need to be perfect?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Healthy Hairstyling #6: Braid Extensions

I remember as a little girl sitting in a hard wooden chair while a woman braided my tresses. Tears rolled down my face as each strand on my head was pulled tightly to blend with the extension hair. I remember the final outcome: a head of protected hair with which my Mom and I did not have to bother for the next three months.

Braid extensions were painful in those days, but over time I've learned that that does not have to be the case. I've also learned valuable lessons for proper care of the hair while in braids. Some lessons have come with experience. Some with mistakes. Some with advice from others. From Senegalese twists to micros to individuals to kinky twists, whatever braid extension style you choose to wear, it is important to know the truth about maintaining a healthy scalp and hair underneath it all. Let's dispel some myths:

MYTH: Braid extensions pull out the hair.
FACT: It depends on your scalp's condition, the way your braids are done, the duration of wear, and the care you give to your hair while in braids. Extremely tight braids may damage the follicle and also contribute to hair loss. Not properly caring for your hair while in braids may lead to hair breakage and loss. What are other factors? Leaving the extensions in for too long. Roughly removing the braids. Wearing heavy braid extensions. Wearing styles that tug on the hairline. Not re-doing the edges when needed. Avoid these habits and your hair will flourish. However, those with a sensitive scalp/hairline or a history of alopecia may want to refrain from braid extensions altogether.

MYTH: The only way for braid extensions to last long is if they are done excruciatingly tightly.
FACT: A big false on that one. Poorly done braids age quickly. Very loosely done braids age quickly. However, braids that are installed neatly and snugly (but comfortably) close to the scalp will last long. You do not have to go through severe red-blister-forming pain to achieve a long lasting braid style.

MYTH: It is okay to wear braid extensions for 6 months.
FACT: I do not recommend wearing braids for this long.  The length of wear depends on how fast your hair grows, how much your hair sheds, how quickly your hair locs, and other factors. The faster your hair growth rate, the shorter the time frame you can wear the extensions. The more your hair sheds, the shorter the time frame you can wear the braids. The quicker your hair locs, the shorter ... you get the point. Many people generally keep braid extensions in for 2 to 3 months.

MYTH: Deep protein treatments are required before installing braids.
FACT: It depends on what your hair needs. I recommend a deep conditioning session before installing braids, but whether your hair requires protein, moisture, or both is entirely up to your hair. Those with chemically straightened tresses may find a deep protein treatment followed by a moisturizing session most beneficial. Naturals, on the other hand, are a mixed bunch. I (natural) perform a strictly moisturizing deep treatment before installing braids because 1) my hair thrives on moisture and 2) my hair does not require protein. Learn what your hair needs.

MYTH: It is necessary to blow dry your hair before putting in braids.
FACT: It depends on whether you want to avoid heat, your schedule, etc. Before braiding, I stretch my hair via jumbo twists or big braids. Some people may stretch via banding or roller sets. Some people blow dry because it's more efficient, straightens better, etc.. Others simply braid their hair from its shrunken or regular state. Do not assume that blow drying is your only option for stretching your hair. If you want to avoid the heat usage and manipulation of blow drying, there are other methods.

MYTH: I do not have to wash my hair while in braid extensions.
FACT: It is simply good hygiene to cleanse every part of your body on a regular basis -- including your hair. How you cleanse your hair and how often depends on how quickly your hair gets dirty and how much product you use. Understand one thing though: being in braid extensions does not exclude you from having to wash your hair.

MYTH: It is not important to condition regularly while in braid extensions.
FACT: It is important to condition after each wash while in braids. In the past, I have retained length using Pantene Pro-V for about 10-15 minutes after each wash. That was all my hair required at the time. While transitioning, I used protein deep conditioners because my demarcation line and relaxed tresses were weak.  Learn what type of conditioner your hair needs. Some level of conditioning is necessary after washing, if at the very least, to smooth down the cuticles that have become raised during the cleansing process.

MYTH: I do not have to moisturize my hair while in braids.
FACT: Braids, particularly those done with synthetic hair (and even more so those done with yarn), have a tendency to suck the moisture from your hair. For this reason, it is important to moisturize regularly while in braids. Additionally, it is harder for sebum -- our natural conditioner -- to travel down to the ends of your hair. Thus, we must get our moisture from somewhere.

For a braid extension regimen, check out:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Curry Pumpkin Stoup Dr. Fuhrman Would Love

Greens, onions, mushrooms and beans are a big part of Dr. Fuhrman's magical G.O.M.B.B.S. list and I try to be aware of eating these foods every single day. So when I saw that this soup recipe from Kitchen of Health had G.O.M.B.B.S. ingredients that are commonly found in my kitchen, I though it might be an easy, and hopefully fast, weeknight dinner.

It was.

And delicious too.

Not quite a soup but not totally a stew, this hearty and flavorful stoup (to borrow a phrase from Rachel Ray) just might become a regular weeknight thing for us.

Curry Pumpkin Superfood Stoup
serves 6

Print me!

1 large onion, chopped (approx. 2 cups chopped onion)
1 box (4 cups) low sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbsp curry powder (I prefer sweet curry powder, so if your curry powder is  hot/spicy, you may want to use only 1 tbsp)
1 large can (29 ounces) pumpkin puree
2 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
2 tsp coconut extract
2 Tbsp natural creamy peanut butter
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups swiss chard (or other green you have on hand), chiffonaided
2 cups very thinly sliced mushrooms
hot sauce to taste (I used Sriracha)
salt (or not)

Coat the bottom of a large dutch oven or soup pot with vegetable broth. Turn heat to medium. When broth is bubbling, add chopped onion. Stir frequently. After 5 minutes, add curry powder and stir. Turn heat a touch lower and stirring frequently, saute onions and curry powder until onions are very soft (about 15 minutes).

Add vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, nut milk, coconut extract and peanut butter. Stir to combine.

When mixture is simmering, add garbanzo beans, swiss chard and mushrooms. Stir.

Let simmer for 20 minutes. Taste. Season with hot sauce (to taste) and salt (or not).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Body Wash Recipe: Meadow Milk Bath


  • Powdered Milk, finely sifted--4 oz
  • Citric Acid--2 oz
  • Corn starch--2 oz
  • Vitamin E Oil--One 400 IU Capsule (or Grapefruit Seed Oil--30 drops)
  • Jasmine--60 drops

Blend the powdered milk and corn starch, then sift. Mix vitamin E (or grapefruit seed oil) and Jasmine in CitricAcid. Make sure oils are thoroughly blended in the Citric Acid. Combine the Citric Acid blend with milk/corn starchblend.

Use 3 tablespoons per bath.

FOR MORE: 250 Bath Body Recipes

It's Time to Make the Oil-free Sugar-Free Vegan Donuts

If you're an Internet junkie like me, you are probably well aware of all of the homemade donut baking that is going on these days. Donuts, not a good trend. Homemade donuts, better. Especially if they have no white flour, no added sugar, and no added oil. Oh, and then happen to taste delicious.

If you think that's a good trend, this recipe will work for you.

One word of caution. These donuts are pretty sweet. The sweetness comes from the bananas (a good thing) and also from a new product that I am testing that is made by the NuNaturals company called "MoreFiber Stevia Baking Blend." I have never been a big fan of Stevia. I just thought it was far too sweet for even my sweet tooth, and it left a long lasting odd aftertaste.

That's what I thought, until I made these donuts. I think I finally used the stuff correctly.

But the last thing I need is to fuel my own sweet cravings. Better for me to get used to the natural sweetness that is inherent in fruit and even many vegetables. Even so, sometimes a girl just wants to bake. And the upside of the NuNaturals Baking Blend product is that you can actually eliminate most if not all of the added sugar from a baked good and achieve excellent results. Plus, the fiber blend actually improves the texture of baked goods. The results were far better than I expected.

I have tested four different donut recipes with the NuNaturals Stevia products and this Peanut Butter Banana Donut with Date Nut Glaze recipe is by far the winner.

Peanut Butter Banana  Donuts
serves 10-12

Print Me!

dry ingredients
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup peanut flour
1/3 cup NuNaturals MoreFiber Sweetener Baking Blend
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

wet ingredients
1 1/2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (approx. 4 medium bananas)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp flax meal plus 4 Tbsp water, whisked together and refrigerated for 15 minutes to 1 hour)
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare flax eggs (see instructions under wet ingredients).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Place all wet ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Do not over mix.

Lightly spray a donut pan with cooking spray, even if the pan has a non-stick surface. Spoon the batter evenly into the holes, filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the donut comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with second batch if you only have one donut pan.

Date Nut Glaze (optional)

3 medjool dates
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp almond milk (or other alternative milk)
2 Tbsp sunflower seed or peanut butter
4 drops NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Soak dates in 1/4 cup almond milk for 30 minutes.

Place all ingredients, including soaking milk, into a small food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Using a knife, spread "glaze" on top side of donuts. Place donuts in a single layer on a plate (do not stack) until "glaze" sets.

Refrigerate donuts.

What's been your experience baking with stevia? Have you ever done it? Did you have success? Failure? Do you want to try it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

HHB is Now on Facebook!

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Hearty Mexican Stew with Seitan Sausage

This past weekend brought my second attempt at homemade seitan. This time I chose a recipe by the famous Vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The recipe is called Simple Italian Sausages and my results were, well, just okay. Nothing to write home about, or really blog about for that matter. The texture was fine, but I think I was expecting to be "wowed" by incredible sausagey flavors. It didn't happen for me.

But on Sunday afternoon I felt like making a stew. And I knew that almost any seitan, even this one, would be great in a stew. Cut into chunks, it gives a vegetable/bean stew that meaty texture that is so rare in Vegan cooking.

I had just gotten some huge sweet potatoes in my vegetable share that I was itching to use, and along with black beans and some Mexican seasonings, I prepared a quick Mexican Stew that was totally delicious. This recipe makes quite a lot, so it's great for a crowd or sharing with your friends.

Coincidentally, Debby over at was just talking about a fabulous new faux sausage product that she discovered when travelling. It's made by Upton's Naturals and it's called Chorizo Seitan.

photo courtesy

If you have access to this product, I highly recommend making this stew and using Upton's Chorizo. You can find out if it is sold near you by visiting their website. Unfortunately, it's not sold in Cleveland yet. Yet. I'll have to work on that!

Hearty Mexican Stew with Seitan Sausage
serves 10

Print me!

3 cups diced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
8 cups peeled and diced sweet potato (3 large sweet potatoes)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
up to 1 Tbsp ground chipotle chili power
3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can fat free refried black beans
1 recipe Seitan Sausage, cubed OR 2 packages Uptons Naturals Chorizo-style Seitan
1 large bunch kale, sliced into ribbons about 1/2" thick
juice of 1 large lime
1 Tbsp salt (or not)
optional: cilantro to garnish

Prepare seitan sausages according to recipe if you do not have packages of Upton's Seitan Chorizo.

Coat to base of a large soup pot with 1/4 cup of vegetable broth. Turn heat to medium high. When vegetable broth begins to bubble, add onion. Cook onion, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

Turn heat to medium low and add garlic. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.

Add sweet potato and 1/4 cup of vegetable broth. Stir. Add cumin and chipotle chili powder. Add less chili powder if you like your food less spicy (the full 1 Tbsp of chipotle chili powder will make this quite spicy). Stir to coat onions and potatoes. Cover, turn heat to medium high, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Add 8 cups of vegetable broth, all of the black beans, and the refried black beans. Bring to a boil, stirring gently until the refried beans have dissolved.

Add kale and stir. Lower heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes, until kale softens.

Add lime juice and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately or keep over very low heat until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Have you tried any of the Upton's Naturals Seitan products?

Have you ever made a homemade Chorizo Seitan? If you know of a kick a$# recipe for that, please let me know!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reader's Question: How to Gain Weight

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

{Image Source}
Well I know when you think of health and fitness you think of ways to lose weight, but there are some people who desire to gain weight as opposed to losing weight. For some people it is hard to gain weight or they will gain weight but they will quickly lose it again. Here I will list some suggestions that may help those who want to gain weight the RIGHT way.

The main thing that needs to happen if you want to gain weight is that you need to take in more calories than you are burning each day. If you consume more calories than you can burn off, the end result is that you will gain weight. There is a great article HERE to help you learn the minimum of how much you need to eat each day to maintain your current body weight. For those who want to lose weight they would look at that article and consume FEWER calories than the recommended amount. But for those who want to gain weight you will eat MORE calories than the suggested amount.

According to THIS article I found they suggested some of the following tips when wanting to gain weight:

  • Have meals with the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and the right kinds of fat (such as unsaturated and monounsaturated fats, olive oil, canola oil, pistachios, almonds and walnuts).
  • Eat foods higher in calories, vitamins, and minerals, as opposed to higher in fat or sugar.
  • Pack more nutritious calories in each serving. For example, you may add grated cooked eggs to mashed potatoes, ground chicken to soups and gravies, cheese in casseroles, eggs, and soups, and nonfat dried milk in soups, shakes, milk, and mashed potatoes.
  • If you get too full too fast, try having more high-calorie foods or slices of foods as opposed to consuming the whole thing (raisins versus grapes, granola and Grape Nuts versus corn flakes, mango slices versus the whole mango).
  • Limit drinking beverages to a half-hour before and after a meal.
  • Drink mixed juices (apple/berry, peach/orange/banana as opposed to one juice beverages) for a higher calorie intake.
  • IF YOU ARE OF LEGAL DRINKING AGE: Try a small amount of alcohol (4 ounces of wine, 6 ounces of beer, or a half-ounce of liquor with juice) before a meal, as it could stimulate appetite. This recommendation must be cleared with your doctor, especially if you are on any medication. Too much alcohol can be detrimental to health, and could lessen your resolve for eating healthy.
  • With moderation, you may add in good fat sources to meals such as nuts, avocado, olives, and fatty fish (salmon and mackerel).
  • Snack in between meals. Nuts, dried fruits, and yogurt are good options, but it's also important to find nutritious foods that you will enjoy.
  • Have a nutritious snack before bedtime, such as a peanut butter sandwich.

Make sure that you try to eat every 3-4 hours. Waiting past that will not allow you the chance to consume more calories than your body is burning. You can also look into adding some type of protein supplement/powder to your diet. You can have a �liquid meal� in which you have a smoothie or juice in which you add the protein supplement/powder. It is also suggested that you consume a meal right before you go to bed.

I found an article HERE that lists a few foods to help you gain weight the HEALTHY way:

  • Grains: heavy, thick breads like whole wheat or pumpernickel, dense cereals such as grape nuts, granola, and raisin bran, bran muffins, bagels, wheat germ and flaxseed (add to yogurt or cereal)
  • Fruit: bananas, pineapple, raisins and other dried fruit, fruit juices, avocados
  • Vegetables: peas, corn, potatoes, winter squash
  • Dairy: cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt; add instant breakfast or powdered milk to low fat milk or yogurt 
  • Meat/Plant proteins: peanut butter and other nut butters, nuts and seeds, hummus
  • Other foods: any kind of instant breakfast or meal replacement drinks, honey, guacamole

Hope that these suggestions will help you give you some ideas to help you start to gain weight the HEALTHY way!

Please do not forget to check out for other health and fitness tips!

Study on Relaxers and Fibroids

The findings of a study at Boston University "raise the hypothesis that hair relaxer use increases" fibroids in women.  So can relaxers cause fibroids?  Further research is necessary, but the study points to a possibility.



If You Like Pina Colada and Gettin' Caught in the Rain

I have to admit, I have a total weakness for pina coladas. Yes, I know they are sickeningly sweet. But the combination of coconut and pineapple along with the cool, creamy sweetness of the concoction just gets me every time. But it probably goes without saying here on HGK that drinking a pina colada is like a once-in-a-decade event for me. It helps that I live in Cleveland and not Saint Something or others.

I spent much of my weekend experimenting with NuNaturals Stevia products. I had some real highs and some real lows. If replacing the sugar with stevia in a recipe was easy, everyone would be doing it by now, right? Well, it's not that simple. I'm learning as I go.

I'll share my successes with you. My failures? I'm sharing them with the garbage pail.

I've been making batches of oatmeal, four servings at a time, and refrigerating single servings so that I have a healthy and convenient breakfast every day. Oatmeal is like a blank slate, and we can get really creative with the ingredients we add to it.

I began yesterday's batch with a pioneering spirit. Inspiration struck. I wondered what would happen if I included the flavors in a pina colada?

It was a risk. It could have been a bomb.

But it wasn't. It's phenomenal, one of the best original creations I have ever made.

Pina Colada Oatmeal
serves 4

Print me!

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
2 cups alternative milk, I used unsweetened almond milk
2 small very ripe bananas (fresh or frozen), cut into 1/2" slices
1/4 cup partially defatted, unsweetened coconut (I get this at Whole Foods and my local Indian Market)
2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
1 Tbsp coconut extract
optional: sweetener-8 drops NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia drops (or to taste) or 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a large pot (I use a stock pot to avoid the boiling over that always occurs with a sauce pan). Bring to a boil.

Lower to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes.

Taste. You may not need any additional sweetener. Sweetened with liquid stevia (I used 8 drops) or maple syrup if desired.

Do you like pina coladas? Or do they totally turn you off?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Healthy Hair on Youtube: JoStylin

JoStylin is a type 4 natural with healthy waistlength hair (when stretched).  Listen to her hair care routine, which is an easy mix of braids and braidouts.  Keeping it simple is the name of the game!

Friday's Length Retention Tip!

Do you want to reach your goal? Then ...

adopt a low/no comb routine.  Combing the hair is a form of mechanical manipulation and may encourage breakage (Source).  Thus, keep combing to a minimum (e.g., once a month, every few months, or never).  If possible, opt for finger detangling instead.

Other tips:
*Use a wide tooth bone/resin comb instead of a regular comb
*Finger detangle on dry, lubricated, stretched hair
*Comb on damp, conditioner-soaked hair
*Toss out your brushes (denman, tangle teezer, paddle, etc.)

    A Check in WIth You and Blondie Bites: A Sweet Treat for Your Weekend

    Good morning! I'm so excited for the weekend ahead because I have almost NO plans. That means lots of time in the kitchen and behind the camera, which is total fun for me.

    Last weekend we had four families over to our house for a pot luck. I wanted to make sure that there was one "alternative" dessert that was "relatively" healthy. And who doesn't love a blondie? So I decided to go out on a limb and adapt a dessert recipe that had beans in it. My track record with beans in baked goods has been pretty hit or miss. Sometimes I like the results, other times, not so much. But the recipe was so intriguing, I had to at least give it a try.

    I also decided to keep the portions bite sized (well, maybe 2 or three bites), because even though I eliminated the oil and used the least processed form of sugar on the market (sucanat), I find it's easier to manage my own sweet tooth when portions are small and predetermined.

    Blondie Bites
    makes 48 "bites"
    adapted from a recipe at Chocolate Covered Katie

    Print Me!

    1 cup quick oats
    2 cans canellini or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 cups organic sucanat (it sounds like a lot, but it's only 1/2 Tbsp per "bite")
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup vegan chocolate chips

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 (or 4 if you have that many) 12 cup mini muffin pans by lightly spraying with nonstick cooking spray. If you don't have mini muffin pans, use a 9"x13" baking pan.

    Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "s" blade and process until "smooth." (It may not get totally smooth, but the ingredients should be well blended.) Right into the food processor bowl, stir in the chocolate chips.

    Spoon 1 Tbsp of batter into each cup. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove bites from pan (they will be gooey on the inside), spray pan with non-stick spray and refill muffin cups with second half of batter. Bake for 20 minutes.

    If you don't have mini muffin pans, spread batter into a greased 9"x13" baking pan and bake for at least 25 minutes (I haven't done this method myself, so I don't know an exact baking time, but it will be significantly longer).

    The results were a success! Everyone liked these blondie bites (kids and adults), but not in a way where you would just want to keep eating one after another (if you know what I mean). I'd say they are a safe way to go if you want to bake a sweet treat.

    One thing that I have found over the past many months experimenting with healthier baking has been that I can eliminate all of the oil or butter or Earth Balance in any baked good with no ill effect. I simply substitute all of the oil in a 1:1 ratio with unsweetened apple sauce, even if there is already apple sauce in the recipe. This has never failed me. I keep individual unsweetened apple sauce containers in stock in my kitchen (my kids love them) and each one is 1/2 cup. I never have a half-eaten jar hanging around my refrigerator growing mold.

    My next experiments are going to revolve around eliminating the sugar in baked goods. The nice people over at NuNaturals sent me the most generous box of their products to test and try and I just can't wait. There's a virgin donut pan in my baking drawer just calling my name!

    But what is going on with you? Where are you on this journey?What is coming easy to you? What are you struggling with? 

    No matter what is going on with you and your food, I hope you are not beating yourself up over it.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Basic Regimen & Products for HEALTHY Relaxed Hair

    For "Basic Regimen & Products for HEALTHY Natural Hair", check this post.

    Part of perfecting a regimen is learning what your hair likes and dislikes. But before you reach that point ... before you come to know your hair, where do you begin?

    Prior to going natural, I was relaxed for several years.  During that period, I learned what to do and what not to do for my hair to thrive.  In this post, I list the basic "to do's" which I hope can be a good starting point for those who desire healthy relaxed tresses. In time, as you learn your hair, you can tweak these "basics":

    Damage can occur when the hair is relaxed too frequently.  It is important to allow sufficient new growth to accumulate before your next touch up session; this waiting period is called "stretching".  Another benefit to this technique is less exposure to the chemicals associated with relaxing.  The scalp gets a longer "break" between relaxing sessions.
    Many women with healthy relaxed hair "stretch" their relaxers for 3-6 months at a time, and I recommend the same to you.  During that period, do low manipulation styles in order to minimize breakage and tangling.

    A clean scalp is vital for healthy growth. Cleansing the hair is also a product of good hygiene. Start by washing your hair 1x a week and tweak it from there. In between washes, does your scalp or hair feel extra dirty? If so, increase the frequency of your washes. If your new growth is significant, I highly recommend washing in braided sections.
    Choosing a shampoo: It is ideal to invest in a weekly shampoo that lacks Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which are surfactants that may be too harsh for the hair and scalp. Instead, gravitate towards shampoos containing gentler cleansing agents to be on the safer side.
    Product recommendations: Giovanni Tea Tree, Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Shampoo, Desert Essence Shampoos

    Whether you wash 1x a week or 3x a week, follow it up with a deep conditioning session. Why? Because each wash rinses away the benefits of the previous the deep conditioning session. Deep conditioners are important because they temporarily bind to (and sometimes penetrate into) the hair protecting and smoothing the strand until the next wash. Undo each braid, apply the conditioner, and rebraid. Put on a plastic bag and be sure to allow the conditioner to sit for at least 30 minutes.  Then detangle with a wide tooth comb and rinse.
    Choosing a deep conditioner: Look for one that contains strengthening ingredients, such as hydrolyzed collagen or hydrolyzed keratin, near the top of the list.  The amount/type of the ingredient depends on how much strengthening your hair requires.  I also recommend finding a deep conditioner that has 'slip' and moisture.  This will ease the detangling process and provide a protein-moisture balance, respectively. Deep conditioners like this usually contain an oil and/or a fatty alcohol (e.g., cetyl alcohol) for slip ... and glycerin and other humectants for moisture.
    Product recommendations for strength: Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor; Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise; Homemade egg conditioner (recipes here)
    Product recommendations for strength, moisture, & slip: Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Pak; Lekair Cholesterol (mixed with olive oil); Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Conditioner; Egg/mayonnaise/olive oil (recipe here under "Loo's recipe"); 

    Water is the best moisturizer out there for our hair. After a good wash and deep conditioning session, you can follow up with an oil or butter to seal in the water. In between washes, if your hair gets dry, you can apply a bit of water or do a full-on spritz and then re-seal. Another option is to use a water-based spritz or moisturizer.
    Choosing a moisturizer: Go straight for the water or look for water-based moisturizers (where water will be the first ingredient listed).
    Product recommendations: Water, Homemade spritz of rosewater and glycerin (a humectant)
    Choosing a sealant: Look for products that contain oils and/or butters.
    Product recommendations: Homemade whipped shea butter (recipe here), grapeseed oil, olive oil, avocado oil, castor oil, Jane Carter Nourish & Shine

    Get a smooth sleek look while minimizing heat usage by airdrying in a rollerset.  For hair with a lot of new growth, do a ponytail rollerset to avoid puffy roots (video tutorial); just be sure not to apply too much tension via hair ties.  Be sure to wear a silk scarf to bed or use a silk pillow case to protect your cuticles as you sleep.

    Extra steps you may want to include in your regimen:

    If you find that frequent shampooing is drying to your hair, you may want to explore using a conditioner to wash. Just wet your hair, apply conditioner, and massage your scalp and hair as usual. After rinsing the conditioner the out, seal and style.
    Choosing a conditioner: Look for a non-heavy inexpensive conditioner. Heavy conditioners will build up on the hair too quickly.  Avoid protein-based and silicone-based conditioners when it comes to co-washing.
    Product recommendations: Suave Coconut Conditioner, V05 Champagne Kisses, V05 Honeydew Smoothie, V05 Passionfruit Smoothie, V05 Blackberry Sage Tea

    If you find that regular shampooing does not adequately remove product buildup from your hair, you may want to explore clarifying. Start with doing this once a month and then adjust as needed.
    Product recommendations: V05 Kiwi Clarifying Shampoo (not as drying as other clarifying shampoos)

    For more on prepooing, check this post.

    If your internal health is not on point, work on it. Drink sufficient water, get plenty of rest, exercise, and include the hair foods (click here) in your diet! Internal health as just as crucial to hair care as external care.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    The Proof is in the Nutritarian Pudding

    Nope, there's no yummy recipe here for pudding. Rather, a letter I received from an HGK reader that provides me with a whole lot of good feelings. I wanted to share it with all of you.

    "Hi Wendy,
    Just wanted to thank you for an awesome, awesome blog. At this point, I don't even remember how I came to find your blog -- the most important part is that I did!

    I read 'Eat To Live' back in October, a few months ago. I have high cholesterol (even though I'm 29) and have for most of my life. I hover around a 25 BMI, so I'm not overweight, and at 5'9" I carry it all pretty well. After reading E2L, I starting planning for January when I was going to begin the 6-week aggressive program. So, it was around this time, I started looking for resources, recipes, etc. I found your blog and started reading the backlog of posts, and joined the Yahoo! group for E2L. I used these few months to get prepared, finding recipes or ideas that would work for me.

    Finally, on January 3rd, I started the 6-week program. I had gone for blood work the week before. On Saturday, February 11th, I went back for my 40-day blood work and got the results today. I am ecstatic!

    December 28, 2011: 
    Total Cholesterol - 233
    LDL - 149
    Triglycerides - 184

    February 11, 2012 (after 40 days of Eating to Live):
    Total Cholesterol - 159
    LDL - 105
    Triglycerides - 43

    I am also down about 15lbs. in 40 days, too! (with my BMI now below 23) What an added bonus to this healthful way of living!

    I just wanted to say thank you for the ideas, the motivation, and the support -- even though you didn't even know I was reading. You are inspirational! I look forward to your blog every day!

    Take care,

    There you have it. The power of real, good food. It's stories like this that keep me inspired to keep eating this way and to keep blogging about it. Thank YOU for sharing Nicole!