13 February 2017

Gluten Free Vegan 2 Ingredient Brownies

2 Ingredient Healthy Brownies

  • 3 Bananas
  • 1/4 cup Carob Powder
Simply cut up and mash the bananas. I actually tossed the banana coins into the microwave for a bit to soften them and make the mash a bit easier. 

Once mashed, I mixed in the Carob powder. 

Place in the over at 350 for about 20 minutes. 
The center may possibly still look a bit undercooked, but so long as the sides are firming up - you are good to go. 

Set in the fridge to continue to firm up - I would say an hour or two is all that is needed. 

These turned out fabulous! 

Next time, I will add in some coconut and almonds!





10 February 2017

Gluten Free and Vegan Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Using my latest creation for my pumpkin vegan cheese - I followed everything to a "t" except, I used another winter squash variation.

I found that it did not settle the way the original recipe did.

Not sure why, but I am sure I will do some more experimenting.

Not wanting to waste, I figured, cheese sauce it is.

I plain roasted some spaghetti squash. Tossed a bed of fresh arugula down and coated it with my "cheese" sauce.

It was evident that it did not give that melty-cheese-like consistency I was hopeful for, but the flavor was enjoyable!

Just remember- experimenting is the only way to an answer a question you didn't once know. :)

06 February 2017

Life's Reflections

2017 has brought with it a lot of new beginnings. For some, it is hard getting past the fact that something you have grown used to, comfortable with,  or even hard-coded into your daily routine is closing so that another new opportunity may shine in its place.

"When one door closes, another one opens"

18 months ago, I may have been one of those people struggling with change. I would have become overwhelmed in changing my routine, I would have had panic attacks and I may have even run home and cried. It was a point in time for me when I was extremely vulnerable and lost. I had somehow allowed myself to succumb to others negativity and my health was, well declining. I had sat my parents and sisters down and opened up to them about my health and that I truly didn't know that my body would keep up with what I had in store for it. I still dreamt of being the "boss-lady", getting married, having a family, traveling the world, and simply put.... experiencing life! 

I was careful to articulate that it was NOT ME giving up, but my body was not keeping up with me. It was one of the most difficult and scary conversations I have ever had to have with my family - but I felt that honesty was needed at this point - despite feeling as if I was tearing their hearts out and then proceeding to stomp on it just for the fun of it. 

Since this point in time, I have spent a great deal of time:
1. By myself
2. Cleaning out and eliminating stuff from my life (old clothes, old collectibles, "stuff")
3. Removing negative people from my life
4. Rediscovering who I was, who I am, and who I want to be
5. Focusing on my health - that's right, I went the holistic, Ayurvedic, essential oil, yoga, breathing, sound healing route and I have to say.... get this.... it was the only thing that has shown me any type of positive progress! Why Can't America see the benefit of this health approach and start covering it under my expensive health insurance plan?
6. Reflecting on my childhood. Oddly enough, it had been a very long time since I was able to recall much from my childhood so I have been basking in the new memories that I have been gifted. 
7. Making time for "ME"
8. Finding ways to stress less often
9. Determining where my anxiety magically grew from?

Where I am today
1. By myself and 100% loving me. I am comfortable with "ME". Even though there are times when I feel guilty telling others "no" and thinking about me for that random moment that I do. 
2. Still cleaning out "stuff" and trying to learn from those minimalist experts ;)
3. Trying to find good people to add to my life
4. I am remembering who I was in the past, understanding that I am broken but on the way to recovery and I know that I am still a kick-ass awesome person and will continue to be in the future but instead of trying to mold myself into what I think I should be in the future, I am going to just unfold like a blossom and see what comes my way. I might catch some sunshine and flourish, or maybe a harsh winter will come and I will close my wings for a bit. Who knows? I do know, that regardless of what comes, I will never be defeated! I will keep a smile on my face and an open heart to myself and to everyone around me. 
5. Still focusing on my health - it will be a life long journey. 
I have started an at-home practice and I am loving it! The peace and joy that a candle-light morning practice provides for me, well it is my PEACE, my GRATITUDE, and my PRAYER. 
6. Sharing my family memories with all :)
7. Setting "ME" as a priority.
I have been reading more, coloring, and studying things of interest to me (unique aspects of yoga, breathing, acupuncture, ayurvedic.... ) 
8. Stressing less often 
9. Stomping anxiety down!

"When there is love, there is no fear. When there is fear, there is no love"

Where am I going?
1. Wherever the wind takes me

"Trust the light. face the darkness and live with the question."

Health really is a full circle of MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT. 
As I find myself healing in each component of the circle - I have these ah-ha moments of, that's where.... the anxiety.... the sadness... the fear... the FILL IN THE BLANK came from. It is amazing to watch myself heal and become the NICOLE FIAMINGO I knew and know to be! Strong, beautiful and bold - in my own way!

2. Spending time with my family

3. Getting back into cooking

Here are a few of my favorite things:


Caption: Little Miss Priss. Even Play clothes were dresses and skirts. Hair was always long and typically with a bow 


Caption: Rocking that Valentine's sweater and smiling from ear-to-ear




Caption: Having fun in the snow



Caption: I had just moved to a new city and Fran and I were ready to party!


Caption: Shopping, I remember loving to clothes shop. 


 
Caption: Nana and I both Alumni at Keystone College, La Plume PA





Caption: Dad's an amazing cook and people admire his delicious creations. So I share with you today, three of our most treasured family recipes - Dad's Thanksgiving Turkey, Baked Ziti, and Nesco Mac and Cheese. 


Caption: Papa and his little chickens cooking away!


"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." -Maya Angelou


31 January 2017

Gluten Free and Vegan Pumpkin Cheese

As my body starts to heal, I find that I am craving my old ways - reminiscing on the times when I would spend the entire day cooking new recipes (meals, bread, cakes, granola, you get the picture...)

Knowing that I am not back to my 100%-self, I do take it easy and sometimes get leery of new things  - How will my body handle it? Will I be sick for days and need time to recover? Will it be a win?

You don't know without taking changes, right? So, I have decided to take chances, just in baby-steps.

I have been craving cheese. I am going to blame the holidays - I watched everyone indulge in their Italian Antipasto plates filled with cheese. Omelets smothered in healthy doses of cheese - or was it the other way around, cheese topped with an egg, and pasta drenched in gooey melted cheeses! Oh my, hungry just thinking about it.

Why can't I, a gluten-free and vegan gal also enjoy my Italian heritage? I started doing what I do with anything, Google-searcing. I found a couple of articles noting I should use this stuff called agar-agar powder, as it would be my "glue" for the cheese. I hadn't had any experience with agar-agar in the past and was somewhat resisting the use of this ingredient due to the cost - almost $4.00 per ounce - YIKES!

I broke down, bought the agar-agar powder and started creating my own recipe.

I still had one last pumpkin left - so this would be my base. I figured the color would work perfectly!

INGREDIENTS
1. Pumpkin Puree
2. A tiny bit of water
3. Raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
4. Garlic
5. Rosemary, and whatever seasonings you wish
6. Tumeric
7. 1 tablespoon agar-agar powder

INSTRUCTIONS
I made the pumpkin puree.
Added the pumpkin and a tad bit of water to my Vitamix
Pureed on high for about 30 seconds
Added in the apple cider vinegar, agar-agar powder, and seasonings
Pureed on high for about a minute
Poured the batter into a silicone bread loaf
Let set in the fridge for about 3 hours
ENJOYED it!

Verdict, texture was "jelled" almost similar to cheddar and the taste is, well, as far as I can remember reminiscent of cheese :)



18 January 2017

Inside-Out Gluten Free And Vegan Spaghetti Squash Pot Pie

Okay - confession here - it really is not an inside out pot pie, because I have 100% omitted the crust aspect on this one BUT - it was still yummy!

It has been a very very long time since I have had a potpie, but the winter months are settling in and I am longing for old-time classic comfort foods, with my own health-twist.

I did a lot of google-searching for "vegan pot pie", "gluten free pot pie", "winter squash pot pie" and nothing came up that I wanted to even remotely base a recipe from so I took my basic knowledge of ingredients that would typically be captured in a pot pie: onion, garlic, vegetable broth, bay leaves, mushrooms, milk, celery, carrots, peas, butter, flour.... and figured I would eliminate those that I either don't have on hand or are currently not Nicole-Friendly.

Here is what I came out with.
1. I started a vegetable broth....ginger, star anise, cinnamon, vegetable scraps, ginger, garlic, spring onions and bay leaves.
2. I roasted my spaghetti squash with just a touch of fennel, garlic, and turmeric
3. I boiled some vegetables I had on hand with my homemade vegetable broth (I found carrots and celery)
4. I omitted flour and almond milk because I just didn't think it was working and topped my spaghetti squash with the vegetables.
5. Taste test, okay so it was missing the creamy, buttery, flaky, creamy aspects but oddly enough, it still resembled the pot pie taste.

Next time - I might get dangerous and go for the more traditional pot pie recipe.

16 January 2017

Star Anise & Turmeric Basmati Rice

Somedays you just don't give a damn about making dinner. You don't want to be bothered with standing over a stove or chopping and prepping vegetables or watching a pot of water to boil. I mean, it happens. We ALL have those days. Society wears us down.

We try to be "fit" and healthy so we get up at the crack of dawn to sneak in a workout. Then it's rushing through the gym shower and off to a busy day at work. When you finally get a moment to look up - you notice it is way past the time you wanted to leave the office. You quickly toss everything into your bag, telling yourself you will finish work later tonight. Leaving later than you wanted to, you are now stuck in traffic. Yippie! Finally, you have reached home, had to fight for parking and deal with the idiots that do not know how to park. In the house we go, now time to put todays' items away and pack up for yet another very early morning tomorrow.

In hopes to keep up with your routine, it is time for a daily oil massage (I have been using coconut oil with a touch of essential oils, jasmine, orange, tea tree...) then off to shower, breath work, and finally dinner time.

Blah! I'm not in the mood for anything I have in my fridge or cupboards - what's a gal to do? I despise calling for delivery because I have no idea what the heck is in their food, how it will effect me, and because it is EXPENSIVE!

I'm really not in the mood for a sink full of dishes.... hmmm thinking, searching.... and BOOM! A thought, I am going to use the rice cooker and just toss most everything into it and walk away!

I sprinkle in some turmeric, a couple star anise pods, and ginger. I add the water. Toss in the rice, plug that baby in and start prepping my protein aspect of the dish.

I had some tahini left, so I decided I would be super lazy and add in some dried fruit (I had white raisins and figs on hand) some fresh spring onions, sage and drizzle some tahini.

I quickly added the dried fruit to the rice cooker and waited until the light switched to warming-status.

I scooped out the rice, drizzled some tahini, honey, and fresh spring onions. YUM and just wanted I needed for a lazy dinner night.

Sorry for the crappy, dark, and not totally finished meal - I told you I was feeling lazy :)





15 January 2017

101 Pennsylvania Farm Show

It has become my tradition to make it every year to the PA Farm Show with my dad. We enjoy walking around looking at the animals - the baby chickens are always my favorite. I always find myself stuck to the observation glass as if I had never seen a baby chicken before. I mean, seriously, I am shaming myself here, no one would even know that I grew up on my father's self-proclaimed farm. For goodness sake, I can recall my twin hiding eggs in her side dresser draw with a heat lamp until they hatched, or until mom found them.

It's a time for dad and I just spend time together and enjoy some good food!

This year, we were blessed to join a very good family friend and her two little guys. I mean, the farm show is always more fun with kiddos!

They indulged in the free samples - I think the fresh soft pretzels were the favorite, enjoyed the baby cows, goats, and of course the bunnies!

Then we stopped to pick up some potato donuts for mom and the boys needed a famous Farm Show Milk Shake!

Lastly, we found ourselves mingling around the shows produce contests! I think I saw the largest sweet potato of all time! There was some vibrant lettuce, garlic, winter squash and much more!

If you have never been out to the PA Farm Show, I highly recommend it, no matter your age!



05 January 2017

Hot Apple Cider

Growing up, my parents would make a LARGE batch of locally warmed apple cider for every occasion - birthday's, Halloween, Thanksgiving and so on. I remember always looking forward to this special treat and find that I certain herbs recall this memory for me.

While I found a gallon of unused apple cider in my parent's fridge, I quickly grabbed it and started creating my own version.

Ingredients
1. 2 Mug fulls of apple cider
2. A sprinkle of cloves
3. Couple pieces of cinnamon sticks
4. A sprinkle of nutmeg
5. Star Anise pod
6. A piece of ginger
7. A tangerine (or two)
8. Some fresh cranberries

I added the cider into a stock pan, sprinkled in the nutmeg and then added the remaining ingredients into a tea ball and dropped it in. I allowed the mixture to slowly roast at minimum 30 minutes and then about 5 minutes before I was ready to consume, I added in the cranberries, covered and allowed the cranberries to pop open.

YUM YUM!

Besides it being a cup of delicious memories (or perhaps even better than the thing I remember) there are a number of health benefits to drinking spiced apple cider. It is a great digestive aid and very soathing to ones' digestive tract. And we all know what time of year it is........ flue season....drink some spiced apple cider to help wared off any signs on the flu!


03 January 2017

A Squash A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

I am still on a rather simple squash (easily digested and rather healing vegetable) meal plan.

Sometimes I get a little bored- but thankfully there is a wide variety of squash available at the local farmers' markets. Speaking of which- I really do make an effort to avoid grocery stores as I as much possible and try to rely on the local farmers' markets for as much as possible.

Today I struck with a very simple steamed zucchini and some sort of squash- taste more like a pumpkin to me so I don't think the farmer actually knew what it was (which I am finding more and more often).... the more squash I eat, the more dad and I educate ourselves on the wide variety available. We like to consider ourselves sort of "squash experts" now.

Anyhow, back to my lunch - I added some steamed veggies and lightly seasoned spaghetti squash topped with scallions and parsley.



While I reflect back on the year- I'm proud of myself. I have come a long way! I'm still not where I would like to be-  it I can give myself credit for a lot!

1. I have mainly stuck to the simple Doctor requested diet and I have made the most of it!
2. I exercise regularly
3. I've started reading again
4. I've forced upon myself "me time"- allowing myself to be comfortable in my own skin
5. I have removed some not so positive people and things from my life
6. I have revisited what is most important to me
7. I have decided to be happy

29 December 2016

Happy Holidays!

Everyone spends their holidays in different ways, but the important part is that we take the time to do something for others, ourselves, and to reflect on how we can do better for the coming year. 

While my family is a crazy loud Italian family, I love them with my entire heart, soul, body, mind.....
They may not always get along, they may be embarrassing at times, they may anger me at times - BUT I do love them and the holidays wouldn't be a success without them and their screaming. 

This year, I got a bit crafty ( I AM NEVER CRAFTY) but I knew they would appreciate it. So out came the crafts and my Pinterest account :)
I made table settings,

Decorated Mason Jars

Shower Bombs

Clementine Wreathes 




Oh, and my Nana's Favorite - rice pudding. Mom's traditional recipe is not the creamy rice pudding that I notice Nana always reaches for. After some research, dad and I were ready to mix and match recipes and see what we would come up with. We ended up tripling the below recipe.

 1 1/2 cups cooked basmati rice
2 cups milk
Sprinkle of salt
A couple of handfuls of golden raisins
1 egg (we used two duck eggs)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sprinkle of cinnamon 

1. We cooked the rice in a rice cooker. 
2. Transfer the rice to the stove top with 1 1/2 (*2) cups milk and sprinkle of salt
3. We cooked until creamy about 15 minutes
4. We stirred in the remaining milk and added the golden raisins (keep in mind, they will plump up). 
5. We added the beaten eggs and white sugar - cooked for about 2 more minutes
6. Removed the saucepan from the heat and added in cinnamon, butter, and vanilla.

IT SMELLED SO GOOD and was extra creamy! 

28 December 2016

Miracle Noodles

Miracle Noodles are an easy no-calorie option for those that are gluten-free and vegan.

While I am not watching calories, I do love Miracle noodles for their consistency, ease of use, and how quick they are ready to enjoy!

When you first open the package, it has a bit of a weird smell but the instructions note to rinse the noodles for a bit and then simply cook for 2 minutes. The very first time I tried these noodles, I was a bit leery and pretty sure this weird smell would stick around and I wouldn't be able to stand eating them. However, I am always down to try new things so I rinsed the noodles and tossed them in a vegetable broth for two minutes.

I was in love and they were so kind to my stomach - especially since I have been working so hard to help heal my digestion.

The company has a couple of product lines:
1. Miracle Noodles and Rice - I would really like to try the Ziti, Dry Kanteen, and the rice versions (having a bit of a hard time finding them at my local stores).
2. Miracle Match Products -
3. Dr, Carp's Specials - Would love to try the sea spaghetti and the Hot Yuza Sauce (not sure of the ingredients).
4. Miracle Meals and Soups

I used the angel hair variety for my vegetable soup and packed it full with the doctor prescribed zucchini!

Zucchini is an alkaline food and one of the easiest vegetables to digest. High in fiber and low in calories helps with weight loss, reducing constipation, and bloating.

19 December 2016

Straw Propeller Gourmet Gluten Free Oatmeal

With my recent addiction to gluten-free oatmeal and the need to have food accessible on-the-go - I was beyond excited when I found Straw Propeller's Gourmet foods. They market themselves as using only real ingredients, with no additives or preservatives - win win!

Straw Propeller offers 15 unique flavored gluten-free non-GMO on-the-go oatmeal varieties.
Here is what sets the company apart from their competition:

  • Gourmet Grab-and-Go
  • Gluten-Free
  • Non-GMO
  • All Natural 
  • Kosher
  • Vegan options
  • Nut-Free options
  • USA Made
  • Women-owned Company (YAY)
  • Hot and Cold Cereal options
  • 10% goes to a charitable cause

While attending a recent event, I quickly tossed the Indian Curry Variety into my bag and ran out the door. When it came time to eat, I carefully read the instructions - added my boiling hot water and let it set. 

I waited about 3 minutes, as per recommended and noticed it still wasn't set. I continued to let it set, but it never seemed to arrive in that cooked consistency I was looking for :(

The taste wasn't really there for me either. 

I think what I need to do next time, is treat this more like a packet of oatmeal. 
      Removing it from the prepared container and into a microwave safe bowl and heat it up that way. 

I will try again. I am not yet eliminating Straw Propeller from my list, as I am passionate about their healthy products and that they are a women-owned company! 

I have high hopes that this was just an oopsy and the next variety will be awesome! 


16 December 2016

Indeblue, Philadelphia Gluten Free and Vegetarian Friendly

After having had such a wonderful experience at Desi Village and experiencing the true wonders of the Indian cuisine during our work team's Diwali event - I have been trying to emerge myself more and more into the Indian options around the Philadelphia area.

I came across Craig LaBan's review of Indeblue and immediately became intrigued. I ran to their website to see that they clearly mark their gluten-free and vegetarian options on menu.

I did some reviews and it appears most people enjoy the meat dishes and their most reviewed appetizer, or starter dish would be the crispy spinach chaat salad.

Upon arrival, we were welcomed into a warm and cozy atmosphere - which was much appreciated after the short chilly, the smell of snow coming, walk from the parking garage. We were seated towards the back and while it was tight and a bit loud - somehow it worked and provided that cozy-like feeling that was needed for a family reunion.

While I was a bit late, the remainder of the table was ready to order and boarding that hangry stage. When it came to my turn to order, I just let the server know what my food preferences and allergies are and asked that they just bring something out.

I was getting towards the starving part and eager to see what was coming my way.

The chef sent out a complimentary Crispy Spinach Chatt for our table to share. The little pillow like spinach "flakes"  drizzled with a mixture of housemade chutneys and yogurt dressing, topped with fresh tomatoes and a fried chickpea. This dish was LOVED. Honestly, the combination of flavor profiles is just exquisite. Prior to arriving and doing my menu research, I have to say, the photos of the spinach chatt just do NOT do it justice! If you are visiting Indeblue, you must order this dish!


For my main entree, I was served a chana saag. Chana saag is a combinate of mildly spiced chickpeas, baby spinach, pomegranate juice and tomatoes all cooked together and served with a side of saffron basmati rice.

First things first, basmati, rice my favorite rice variety! Indeblue did an excellent job preparing the rice in just the right way. The saffron added a little that addicting aspect where you just couldn't stop coming back for more!

The Chana saag was hearty, well-portioned, flavorful, and more of the more reasonably priced dishes.

I was also blessed with the option to try a gluten-free version of their naan made from chickpeas.

The bread was okay - to me a bit of a gooey texture and became cold rather quickly. When devoured warm, it was more enjoyable than chilled.

The remainder of our party went with the chicken madras, goan paella with booni raita and pork vindallo. All were devoured and enjoyed! The only negative feedback was that the goan paella was a bit too salty - and a tad dry but the flavor was enjoyed.


14 December 2016

Asiana Garden, Radnor, PA Gluten Free and Vegan

Happy Holidays! It is that time of year for holiday events - aka ladies day out with their manager.

These types of events tend to freak me out and we all know why. Not all restaurants are Nicole-friendly and if they are, ordering can be painful and difficult to explain - but you have to be a team player and get involved in these events.......... so here we go.

Things I do before attending a new restaurant:
1. I call and ask to speak with a manager. I try to discuss the gluten-free allergy and get a feel for their understanding and importance of contamination

2. I use Facebook to communicate some of my additional food preferences/ allergies.

3. I review the menu 1,000+ times trying to see where I could ask for modifications and not just be served a piece of lettuce.

Day of the event:
1. Pray

2. Arrive at the restaurant. After being seated, I excuse myself from the table and find a manager to speak with. I explain all of my allergies and what I am looking for and together, the team and I came up with a meal. While the idea of the meal is bland, no seasonings, oils, butter, etc - it should be a meal I can eat and not become ill - so I will take it!


Asiana Garden, and I spoke on the phone prior to the event and I got the sense that they did in fact, understand the gluten free diet rather well. I felt confident I would be able to work something out with them for a safe meal.

On the day of our team lunch, we were greeted and seated in the back of the restaurant. It was nice because it was secluded and I honestly couldn't tell you if they had any other clientele during out lunch.

When I excused myself from the table, I spoke with the waitress and together we decided on a side salad with a substitute of lime juice for dressing, steamed vegetables, and a side of steamed white rice.

As food was brought out, it seemed to come out delayed. Some of our team had their appetizers and soup a good 10-15 minutes prior to the others. Which is awkward when you want them to eat their food while warm, but they are polite and insist on waiting until the entire team has their meals.

Additionally, for those who ordered the same dish- each portion seemed to not match the others. Example, my side salad was significantly smaller than my coworker's side salad.

In the long run, what happened is, yes I had a meal that was Nicole safe, bland but safe - it was cold! I didn't really enjoy it. However, the rest of the team commented on the love of their dishes and that they look forward to ordering delivery soon! To me, it seemed like the restaurant was slow at this time, so there was no reason for each members' dish not to be served simultaneously and portions to be consistent.

A big thank you to Asana for accommodating me but next time I hope for a warmer plate.

11 December 2016

Philly Gala for the Humane Leaque

I was recently invited to attend the Philly Gala - A celebration for the Animals hosted by The Humane League - Philadelphia Chapter. The location of the event was at the Goldilocks Gallery - neighboring the Philadelphia Union Trust building.

This was my first time to this particular venue but found it to be a nice little gem tucked into a corner of Philadelphia's pockets. While it was a bit on the "chilly" side for me - most attendees found the temperature to be comfortable.

I arrived early and found it to be a bit on the hectic side. In a private room, attendees were enjoying their VIP dinner by Vegan Chef Lenka, while additional volunteers seemed a bit scrambled to set up the donated vegan appetizers, light meals, and desserts.

I gladly jumped in and offered my assistance. As a team, the tables were displayed and everything was ready for their general admission guests 7:00pm arrival.

In review, of how the tables were arranged, I could see that there was clearly some gluten free options BUT they were unfortunately mixed in with non-gluten-free items (such as pizza, field roast skewers, pasta and so on), so I made the decision to skip on all of the LOVELY donated vegan delicacies. I was definitely a bit bummed because the food looked and smelled amazing and some of the dishes were donated from some local Philadelphia establishments that I have been meaning to try (magic carpet foods, vegan commissionary, ...) Such is the life of a gluten free vegan gal and you get used to not being able to enjoy all the abundances with others and you come prepared to feed yourself.
While I made my way around to the back and found a microwave to heat up my oatmeal, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Chef Lenka herself. In our discussion, I had noted that I was both gluten free and vegan and had to bring my own dish to prepare as a means to avoid any cross-contamination. Chef Lenka said, "no no no, I make you something. I have some gluten-free and vegan butternut squash risotto, you like?" Do I like?! Are you kidding me,
yes I like! Chef Lenka made me a rather large portion size ( I came to find out, it was actually a larger portion that those that had attended her private VIP dinner) for me and I dove right in!

We all know - since I make a lot of gluten-free vegan dishes for myself, I tend to be disappointed in the execution in most others' dishes - well, Chef Lenka is amazing and I couldn't stop shoving this risotto into my mouth! It was amazing! So creamy! So flavorful! It is definitely a dish I will continue to remember. I was beyond honored and I look forward to visiting Chef Lenka again in the near future!


I managed to find my way back to the event where I met a couple of people here and there. I spent my time engaging in conversations and found that overall, people are looking for a network of individuals who share their same beliefs. While Philadelphia is amping up their vegan options, they are still looking for more venues that cater to both vegans and non-vegans so that they don't feel so "isolated" from the remainder of the world.

To me, it was interesting to hear the guests discuss these concerns, because as a gluten-free, vegan, I find it very isolating at times and didn't even consider that others might also be joining me in this feeling.

The event was well attended and I think it allowed many participants the network of like-minded individuals they are so eager to find. Thanks to the Humane League for providing this media for all to connect.

While it was a great networking opportunity, this event was also an educational and charitable event. Attendees had the opportunity to listen to the guest speaker, Jack Griffin, President of Metropolis Farms, Philadelphia, PA. The Metropolis Farm is the first certified vegan farm in the US. Please make your way over to their website or this great technical.ly philly article to learn more.

I truly enjoyed my time speaking with David Coman-Hidy, Executive Director of the Humane League and found it inspiring how young and passionate he is.You can see his actions inspire the entire team and essentially, he is the engine of this entire locomotive.

Additionally, it was a pleasure getting to know Michelle Kucerak, Director of Development, and Rachel Black, Philadelphia Grassroots Director.

Overall, I would say this event was a successful one at that and it certainly has me wondering, how I can become more involved on a personal level. If you too question this, check out their "Get Involved" section.

05 December 2016

Foods When You Are Battling the Flu

I have been feeling a bit under the weather the last week and food has not been appealing to me. Things I used to really enjoy all of the sudden taste like dirt or the smell freaks me out. All of this is very typical for when I am not feeling well - thank you people for sharing your flu with me, it was such a nice surprise! - I wish there was an emoji that rolled his eyes, I would totally insert it here. Okay, enough ranting...on to some topics of food.

I was pretty excited to try making a pumpkin sauce for my zoodles. I literally just added whatever I had laying around and included some zucchini and kale. It smelled pretty decent and appeared to set rather thick so I was pumped! However, when I prepped the dish and sat down to eat, I was no soo enthusiastic. It was NOT at all what I wanted it to be. Oh well, not every dish can be a success.

Not feeling great, the one day I decided to rock some soup for breakfast.

I made my basic vegetable broth and added in some scallions, cilantro (very cleansing for the body), and zoodles. The flavor was a bit too bland for me, but honestly, I think the bland flavor was exactly what I needed that morning!

I hope everyone is staying healthy this season - but if you are not, keep everything you do and eat SIMPLE!


30 November 2016

Philly Vegan Gala 12/10/2016

To all my vegan folks in the Philadelphia area - come out next Saturday to join the Philly Vegan Gala- A Celebration for the Animals. Ticket prices range from $50- $250. 

Come celebrate with us and learn about The Humane League's groundbreaking efforts to reduce animal suffering! Hear from inspiring speakers, enjoy delicious drinks and mouthwatering vegan appetizers and desserts, bid on amazing prizes in our silent auction, and learn all about what your support of The Humane League means for animals!
Our Gala returns to Goldilocks Gallery this year. Nestled between Old City and Center City, mere steps from the Liberty Bell, Goldilocks Gallery occupies a space like no other in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. An enormous, loft-style complex houses its white-wall gallery, performance venue, and two floors of artist/production studios.

Additional information, including guest speakers and VIP ticket information, can be found at their website - https://donate.thehumaneleague.com/philadelphia/events/philly-gala-celebration-for-animals/e102573

I hope to see you there!

xoxo


Soba Noodle Soup (Gluten Free & Vegan)


I have been feeling a bit under the weather - I have NOT yet gotten sick, but with everyone else around me coming down with the flu, sinus infections, pink eye and so much more, I have been certainly working hard to fight it all off!

Adding in some traveling for the holidays and I knew I wasn't going to be up for too much.

I grabbed my sister late Wednesday evening and headed into the big city of Harrisburg - or what I like to call "home".

Knowing that Thursday was going to be a busy day in the kitchen prepping and cooking for everyone else's traditional Thanksgiving meal, I decided to get an early start of my dish.

I made a large batch of vegetable broth to which I planned to add some additional vegetables and some King Soba Pumpkin and Ginger Rice Noodles.

I have had this pasta for some time now and struggled to decide exactly what I wanted to make with them and for some reason, this really clicked for me and I knew immediately this is what I was going to make!

Ingredients:
- Ginger
- Seaweed (Dulse)
- Star Anise
- Lemon-grass
- Nutmeg
- Water
- Soba Noodles
- Cilantro
- Arugula
- Pumpkin Slices
- Gluten Free Soy Sauce (optional)
- Gluten Free Hot Sauce (optional)

I dry toasted the seasonings and seaweed. I then added about 8 cups of water and let everything simmer for about 2 hours before I turned it off to cool.

When dinner was approaching, I added in the pumpkin slices ( I used a fairy tail pumpkin) to steam.

The Soba Noodles were cooked right into the broth - I let it come to a boil and then added the noodles in to cook for about 5 minutes.

At the last minute, I added some of arugula and cilantro.

This made three meals for me and each one I did something slightly different  - one time I added gluten free soy sauce, another time, I added hot sauce and another I ate it as-is.

I enjoyed each one for what it was but would likely say the soy sauce variety was my favorite.

The noodles were, of course, everything I thought they would be and then some. The texture was my absolute favorite of any gluten free noodle variety I have EVER had! The taste was subtle on the pumpkin and ginger, but just enough that it added a bit extra to the dish!

Thank you King Soba for such an awesome product! I have my eye on the Ramen, Fair Trade Basmati Brown Rice, and of course the Organic Brown Rice and Wakame version!