cashew cream

concerning the voicemail / minty pea soup with cashew cream

Posted on

DSC_0038I’m pretty sure that the voicemail is nearing extinction, however, as an 80’s child and former owner of a Star-TAC flip phone (those are still awesome), I have enjoyed the progression of the voicemail personality. My first message went along the lines of “Hey! You’ve reached Jenny’s phone, leave a message and I’ll call you back, thanks…bye!”  Translation: I just got a phone, I like boys, messages are cool, yay!

When I was college bound, it morphed into “Hey, this is Jenny, leave a message.” Translation: I smoke cigarettes and am too important to talk to you. So important in fact, that once I graduated from college I found myself folding Life is Good tee-shirts and developing anxiety. Solution? I changed my message to…oh no, wait– I moved to Hawaii. And they don’t have phones there. See my travels in semi-employment here. No, seriously, I think the next time my message changed was when I heard some of my productive girlfriend’s voicemails. You know, the ones with real jobs and briefcases and lady suits. Their voicemails sound like you have actually reached a company. “Hello, you have reached the voicemail of _____, I am unavailable to take your call at this time, but if you leave your name, number, and a brief message I will get back to you as soon as possible. Have a great day.” Translation: I have a job, and I kind of hate it, but this message will make you wonder if I’m filthy rich and important. And I did wonder…and I did get nervous. So I updated mine to a milder version and tried my best to sound friendly and upbeat instead of my usual, monotone man voice. Translation: I sound like Johnny Cash. Lately, however, I’ve noticed a trend towards the mysterious Siri-type computerized “You have reached 000-000-0000, at the tone, please record your voice message”. Translation: you’re basically the Dos Equis beer guy and you don’t need to have something as archaic as a voicemail message (or you’re just a lazy cow). Hmm, I may have to do that next…

Now that you’ve re-recorded your voicemail fifty times and are so terrified of your own voice that you wonder how anyone can like you, why not make some minty pea soup with cashew cream? Peas are in season for 3 seconds so if you can’t find fresh english peas (which are incredible), you can easily substitute frozen peas. On a side note, if you are native to Beantown and raising a little organic baby, you can use Lovage BabyBlends’ Minty Peas in this soup as an alternative to buying peas and mint. The recipe for that can be found soon on Lovage BabyBlend’s website. Check it out!

DSC_0039Minty Pea Soup with Cashew Cream

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 ½ cups stock

About 2 cups of freshly shelled english peas OR 1 bag of frozen peas

Handful of fresh mint

Pinch of sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper

¼ cup cashew crème

DSC_0048In a saucepan, heat oil over a medium flame and add onions and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent, but not browning. Add stock and bring to a gentle boil. Add peas, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper. Stir in mint and cook for another minute or so. Turn off flame and leave on stovetop. In a high speed blender, puree ½ cup raw cashews and ½ cup filtered water on high until it resembles a thick heavy cream (you only need half of the cream, but your blender won’t be happy with less. Translation: it will probably smoke and smell like burning rubber). Save the other half of the cream for a topping on fresh fruit or stirred into granola or other soup dishes). Pour some of the cream into a bowl, leaving about half in the blender. Now add your pea soup, and briefly puree until smooth. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a swirl of cashew cream. Makes enough for 2-4 unicorns who still can’t figure out their voicemail passwords. DSC_0053

the unhealthy vegan? / smoky cream of fennel soup

Posted on Updated on

DSC_0239There are a lot of unhealthy vegans out there. Wait, what? you ask in bewilderment. I thought vegans were plant eating hippie health nuts who eat bark and berries? Well, yeah, in the good ol’ days, but as veganism has become more mainstream, so has the food industry’s development of meat and dairy replacements. According to a recent study, there are over 7 million vegetarians in the US, and of that group, about 1 million are vegan. This means that there are over 7 million people spending their money on plant-based foods, and that number is steadily on the rise. As a result, there’s been a major influx of meat and dairy replacement “convenience” foods, and shopping for vegan and vegetarian food has never been more accessible. Sounds great, right? In theory, yes, and if you’re considering a plant based diet, the transition couldn’t be easier. But the problem is, we plant eaters have become brainwashed by the same marketing propaganda that our meat eating comrades often experience. Grocery stores now market highly processed vegetarian foods, glittering with magical phrases like “all natural meat alternative” (translation: processed soy isolate crap with cane sugar, “natural” i.e. we-don’t-want-to-tell-you flavorings, cornstarch, and maybe some good old MSG (no, not Madison Square Garden…Monosodium Glutamate, otherwise known as the devil’s (sugar’s) right hand man.)

But are these foods really better than the animal products they’re replacing? From an ethical standpoint, yes, but from a nutritional standpoint…I don’t think so. A vegan or vegetarian that consumes a diet high in processed soy meat alternatives and other convenience foods made from refined flours and sugars is in danger of becoming just as unhealthy as someone who follows a standard American diet. The bottom line is, processed foods, whether vegetarian or not, are high in sodium and sugars and low in nutrient density. Over time, eating nutrient poor foods can lead to deficiencies and chronic degenerative diseases. Solution? Eat a mostly WHOLE foods plant-based diet, rich in sprouted whole grains, legumes, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Don’t just go veg for ethical reasons, go veg for your health!

Now that I’ve ruined your sugar-laden soy latte and fake sausage breakfast, why not try something more WHOLEsome? Sweet tasting fennel, creamy cashews, smoked sea salt and the refreshing zip of licorice come together in this easy, dreamy, creamy fennel soup.

DSC_0236

DSC_0234

DSC_0240

DSC_0243Smoky Cream of Fennel Soup

1 T cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 bulb of fennel, green fronds and bulb root removed, then chopped

3 large carrots or 5-6 small carrots, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped

3 cups stock

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour or up to overnight + 1/2 cup fresh water

1 T unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp fennel seeds, ground with a mortar & pestle

1/2 tsp smoked sea salt (I recommend alder smoked sea salt)

Fresh black pepper and sea salt to taste

IN a soup pot, heat oil over a medium flame and add onion. Sweat for a few minutes until onion begins to soften, then pour in fennel, carrots, and garlic. Stir to combine. Allow to cook for several minutes, then add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce flame to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a high speed blender, add soaked (and rinsed) cashews and water. Blend on high until mixture resembles a thick cream. Pour cashew cream into simmering soup and stir. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender. Turn off flame and add vinegar. Pour soup into blender and puree until smooth. Transfer pureed soup back to pot and season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with crushed fennel seed and smoked sea salt. Makes enough soup for 4-6 recovering junk food addict vegan unicorns.

DSC_0242

snowpocalypse / new england no-clams chowdah

Posted on

DSC_0015I’m a big fan of storms, especially ones involving blankets of snow and the necessity for roaring fires, daytime pajamas & copious amounts of tea. And thanks to the sensationalism of The Weather Channel, Americans like me can become easily convinced that this storm is going to be the most “crippling blizzard since 1978”. Because let’s be honest, once a storm has a name- and this one has two– it means we’re doomed for a snowpocalypse! I am however, still confused as to why this storm has two names, but I’ve already decided that blizzard Nemo is a lot freaking cooler sounding than blizzard Charlotte. I know at first you might think of that do-gooder fish looking for his dad, which is all good and fine, but what about Captain Nemo! The bad ass anti-hero scientist! That’s the kind of blizzard name that will inspire millions of Americans to go spend thousands of dollars on a generator.

But since I already have one, the only thing I need to do is wash my softest pair of yoga pants, buy lots of food, and make a creamy bowl of vegan clam chowdah! (Yes I have to say it like that. I can’t help myself). Don’t worry, there aren’t any fake clams going into this yummy soup; in fact, just thinking of them conjures flashbacks of my first (and only) time eating a fake soy shrimp. Translation: rubbery, dyed pink processed soy dumped into a bowl of broth and noodles that tasted like a fish made out of plastic. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of faux meats. However, if you’re making the transition to a plant based diet, and you’re craving a little familiarity, faux meats can be helpful in bridging the gap. Just keep your consumption to a minimum and remember that very processed soy products are usually GMO and contain soy protein isolate (a highly processed carcinogenic form of soy). In this recipe, I use king trumpet mushrooms, which have a nice chewy texture and even look a little bit like clams when chopped up. Sauteed with veggies and a generous dollop of cashew cream and you will become Bill Murray from What about Bob?. 

Vegan No Clams Chowdah!

1 T refined coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 potato, peeled and diced

4 king trumpet mushrooms, chopped into small, clam-sized pieces

Splash of white wine, any variety is fine

Pinch of paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp white truffle oil

2 1/2 cups stock ( I recommend Imagine Foods No-Chicken Stock)

2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours or overnight

3 T nutritional yeast (I buy it in bulk from Whole Foods and other natural foods stores)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tsp tamari or shoyu

Optional toppings:

1 crumbled nori sheet or a few shakes of Eden seaweed gomasio (this is great if you want a little taste of the sea without the sea creatures)

Dash of hot sauce (I tend to put hot sauce on everything!)

Funny Seasonal Ecard: Everyone's freaking out about the blizzard, and I'm like 'Hey, I made vegan no-clams chowdah!'

In a wide soup pot or dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat and add onion. Saute until soft, then add potato, celery and chopped mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown. Deglaze with a splash of white wine, scraping up any bits of veggies that have become stuck to the bottom of the pan. Season with paprika, onion powder and truffle oil, then pour in stock and bring to a lively simmer. Allow to simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes, or until potato can be easily pierced with a knife. Meanwhile, rinse soaked cashews and pour into a high speed blender. Add 4 cups of fresh water and blend until smooth and creamy. Add cashew cream, nutritional yeast, tamari and lemon juice to the chowder. Simmer on low heat for another five minutes. Season with fresh black pepper and sea salt. To serve, ladle into soup bowls with a big hunk of whole wheat sourdough bread. Makes enough for 4-6 snuggling unicorns in pajamas, ready to embrace the snowy wonderland.

DSC_0025

DSC_0026

DSC_0018

DSC_0022

and now for something completely different / fettuccine with cashew alfredo

Posted on Updated on

Sometimes I like to write poetry. And since I’m on a cleanse right now (translation: no life), I’m feeling less cynical and more contemplative. I know…boring, boring, boring. But what else am I supposed to do when it’s 20 degrees outside and I can’t drink? Exactly. Poetry is the answer. Here’s one that I wrote about my mom and I.

“I had a thought today,” said my mother to me,
“and it didn’t make me sad or glad. It was just there in front of me
like a wide-eyed creature.”
A sparrow landed on the slate patio and picked up a piece of millet.
I asked her what it was.
“That we are insignificant. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, 
we don’t matter.” 
The sky was ocean blue with white-capped clouds.
“We are dust gathering in a corner, we are blades of grass
hanging onto the earth;
we are the small things that no one ever sees, we are seeds blowing on a wayward sojourn;
we are the raindrops that never reach the ground,
splattered on a bough, a fence, a rooftop—we are nothing.”
The phone was ringing. Mom always answers, but she didn’t get up. 
I guess she didn’t hear it. 
I smiled. She knew that I knew exactly what she meant because I always did. 
I agreed, of course, and asked her how this insignificance made her feel. 
“Like a wet blanket lifting from my shoulders,” she said, “like the first burst of radiant sunlight over a sleeping field—shouting—go on and do it Kim! 
Go on and wear the clothes you want, go on and tell the world how you feel about it, 
because in the end, none of it will matter!”
We shared a maniacal laugh. 
The laundry announced that it was clean. 
Yes, I thought to myself, this is one of those pure moments. 
This is what really matters.   

Now that you’re feeling nostalgic and want to call your mom and tell her you love her, why not indulge in a sinfully rich dish with your unicorn friends and watch Steel Magnolias? This fettuccine alfredo will blow you away with its creaminess without the added nastiness of dairy. In fact, this dish is soy and gluten free too so I can’t think of one person who won’t be able to eat this (unless you’re allergic to cashews in which case, I feel sorry for you because they are the greatest nut on the planet). 

Fettuccine with Cashew Alfredo

for the pasta:
1 box of fettuccine noodles (use whole wheat noodles or brown rice noodles to make it gluten free)
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 box of button mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
A few handfuls of spinach or kale or chard (everything I make has greens in it because I am a dirty hippie…and unicorns love their greens)
sea salt & black pepper to taste

for the sauce:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked preferably for at least an hour
1/2 cup stock or water
3 T fresh lemon juice
1 clove raw garlic OR 2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup unsweetened nut milk of choice (I use EdenSoy Unsweetened Soy Milk)
Handful of nutritional yeast 
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, optional
1 T tamari 

Get out a big pot and fill it up with lots of water and a generous pinch of sea salt. Cover, and bring to a boil, then add noodles and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, saute your onion in some olive oil until soft, then add mushrooms, stir once or twice, then add the rest of your veggies. Season with salt and pepper. 
In a high speed blender (buy a Vita-Mix! They’re amazing!) add all sauce ingredients and blend on variable speed until combined, then pump it up to highest speed until creamy and smooth. If you’re using a Vita-Mix, leave motor running until sauce is heated up. If you’re using a conventional blender, remove once creamy and smooth, then gently heat in a saucepan until warm. Toss noodles with sauce, fresh black pepper, and a bit of the starchy water from the pot to thin out the sauce, if desired. Add veggies and serve to four nostalgic unicorns who want to feed their emotions.