Recipe: Best Beet Burger Ever!

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I have to share this with you. In the recent months, I’ve been obsessing over beet burgers, thanks to Ground Control 😉 They make an awesome beet burger! And I have, for the absolute longest, been testing out ingredients, trying to put together a really, really great recipe… One that has the best of everything — healthy, tasty, hearty and more. This recipe has it all. Add a little red onion on top and you’re good to go! AND/OR, some melted Chao (yumm…), cilantro or avocado (to die for!). Hope that you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 large red beets (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (not cooked)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown rice crips cereal (rice crispy-like cereal)
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1/4 cup dates, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 flax egg
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook’n the beets – Heat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil and roast for about 50 to 60 minutes (until fork tender). Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook’n the rice – Bring a 2-quart pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add rice. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until it’s a bit beyond al dente. About 35 to 40 minutes.
  3. SautĂ©’n the onions – Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a bit of salt. Cook until golden brown and charred around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in cider vinegar. Continue to simmer until the cider has evaporated and the pan is nearly dry again. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Process’n the oats – oats in food processor until reduced to a fine flour. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
    veggieluvDrain and rinse one of the cans of beans -and transfer the beans to the food processor. Scatter the dates on top. Pulse in bursts until the beans are roughly chopped. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the second can of beans and add the whole beans to the mixing bowl.
  5. Grate’n the roasted beets – Scrape the skins off the cooled roasted beets with the edge of a spoon. Grate the peeled beets on the largest holes of a grater. Transfer the beet gratings to a strainer set over sink. Press and squeeze the gratings to remove as much liquid as possible from the beets (or save juice for other fun recipe). Combine’n the veggie burger mix – Transfer the squeezed beets, cooked rice, and sautĂ©ed onions to the bowl with the beans. Sprinkle the olive oil, brown mustard, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and thyme over the top of the mixture. Mix all the ingredients until combined. Taste the mixture and add salt, pepper to taste. Finally, add the oatmeal flour, cereal and flax egg and mix until you no longer see any dry oatmeal or flax egg.
  6. Refrigerate’n the burger mix for 2 hours, or up to 3 days – Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the mixture to a refrigerator container, and refrigerate. Best case burger scenario, let it sit in the frig overnight.
  7. Shape’n the burgers – When ready to cook the burgers, first shape them into burgers. Scoop up about a scant cup of the burger mixture and shape it between your palms into a thick patty the size of your hamburger buns. You should end up with about 6 large patties.
  8. Cook’n the burgers – Heat a skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan.
    Cook the patties for 2 minutes on each side. Should see a nice crust. Then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 4 more minutes until the patties are warmed through.

Take the ‘Veg of Allegiance’ with Top Chef Host, Padma Lakshmi!

When Padma Lakshmi isn’t hosting the super popular, Emmy award-winning cooking competition show, Bravo’s Top Chef, she is eating plant-based diet – for her health, the environment and her pocket. She has teamed up with the Morningstar Farms brand to promote the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. I support this entirely. It is a friendly way for anyone to incorporate a more balanced diet into their lives. So Pledge! – One meal, two meals, twenty-one meals a week. It’s up to you. Check out her interview [Video: Padma Lakshmi and Morningstar Farms Present the Pledge] and also the ‘Veg of Allegiance’ video below with more details on ‘The Pledge’!

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Bill Nye the Science Guy! And His ‘Eye’ on the Controversial Topic — GMO Foods

Bill Nye! Boy! Growing up, I remember how excited I was to watch his show every week. And he still exists! 😉 Now, with a different show — “Eyes of Nye” — educating young kids just as he has for 20 years! But the information on this video is not only relevant to the youngsters, it is relevant to everyone. He breaks down the GMO (genetically modified organisms) debate in his amazingly fun and thorough way! Check it out!

The Best Guide to Finding Fresh, Organic Produce (during the bitter cold, winter months…)

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Hi All! Whether we like it or not, winter is in full-effect. 😉 I cannot believe that we find ourselves in December! December!! How fast does time fly?! Better yet, how fast did this year fly by?! We are just weeks away from 2015. Wowza! I recently ran across an excellent quote for December…this being the last month of the year… “You have one month to finish the book of 2014. Make the last chapter the best one yet.” Pretty powerful, right?! Let’s make December a great one!
In efforts to continue eating healthy and fresh (which can be pretty difficult when the cold weather hits us), as well as continuing a diet free of the ‘not-so-great’ pesticides, processed foods and GMOs, I discovered this really amazing link (Your Guide to Obtaining Fresh, Organic Produce in The Middle of Winter). Easy guide to finding produce in the winter (right now!) and it does not have to be expensive nor difficult. And not all fruits and veggies need to be organic — anyone know about the clean 15?? This guide is the best! Hope that you enjoy! 🙂

Recipe: Vegan Hummingbird Cake

I absolutely love hummingbird cake. The banana, pineapple, cinnamon, walnuts…this is a delectable treat! I first fell in love after a visit to my favorite donut shop, Do-rite Donuts. Don’t let the inconspicuous location fool you…if you ask me, they have some of the best donuts in Chicago. And for us vegan folk, they have one vegan option every single day. Can’t beat that!

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**always check the top left, the vegan option is there!

So, after my exposure to their mouthwatering, tasty, vegan hummingbird donut, the search was on! I wanted more! Had to take a crack at this recipe. So, I google’d “hummingbird cake” and found a few vegan cake options. Score! After a little bit of tweaking, I think that I’ve mastered this dessert. Thanks Do-rite! Hope that you enjoy!

Hummingbirdcake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 3 cups coconut flour (all-purpose flour is an option too)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 flax “eggs” (3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal + 9 Tablespoons warm water)
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil (canola oil is an option)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 – 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, do not drain
  • 4 bananas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two – 9 x 2 inch round cake pans.
  2. Chop walnuts finely (as desired)
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
  4. In a small bowl, mix the flaxseed meal and water and set aside for 3-5 minutes
  5. In another large bowl, mash bananas. Mix in the flax “eggs”, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple and chopped walnuts
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined
  7. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

2 Tbsp. “butter”, room temperature
8 ounces Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

In the bowl, beat the “butter” and cream cheese, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.

Assembly:

Place one cake, top side down, onto your platter. Spread with about a third of the frosting. Gently place the other cake layer, top of cake facing up, onto the frosting, and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate cake for a hour for frosting to set.

courtesy of and adapted by  — www.singerskitchen.com

Enjoy!

Vegan Cheesecake?! Yes, please!

logoMariano’s is making a huge stamp here in Chicago. Their grocery stores are popping up all over the city with a huge following. I absolutely love the store… they always have a vast assortment of impeccably fresh produce. And not to forget, their prices are definitely hard to beat. So, when I found out that they now carry vegan cheesecake, I could hardly contain myself, as well-made vegan cheesecake is hard to come by. I was ecstatic.

The famous Eli’s Cheesecake came out with a vegan line. Now, they supposedly only sell them at Mariano’s. And it is SO good. Rich. Smooth. Creamy. Delicious. All of the above 😉 As a VeggieLuv‘r, every once in a while, it’s nice to indulge in a very tasty vegan dessert. They currently have a two flavors: Belgian Chocolate and Carrot Cake Cheesecake. Even Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern describes the cheesecake as “…really good. It has the right texture”. Cheers to that! Also — Check out the Eli’s Cheesecake website for more details!

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Girl Scout Cookies…With Vegan Options!

girl_scoutsI have always been a HUGE fan of Girl Scout cookies…and it began when I used to sell them with my Brownies troop in the second grade…many, many years ago. Lol. But, when I changed my diet several years ago, my yearly contribution to the Girl Scouts of America (by buying several boxes of their amazing cookies) came to an end…

Last year, I ran across an article somewhere mentioning that there are two Girl Scout cookie manufacturers — (1) ABC Smart Cookies & (2)  Little Brownie Bakers. Unlike ‘Little Brownie Bakers‘, a few types of ABC Smart Cookies are vegan friendly. I was so excited! So excited, in fact, I found out where to buy them. Unfortunately, nowhere in the Chicagoland area 😩 …. BUT, after some serious research, I found that Troop 9267 in Kenosha, WI does. And they are willing to send them directly to your door [contact avahascookies@gmail.com for more details]. How fantastic! They have a gluten-free option too! Cheers to that!

Check out the ‘vegan’ and ‘gluten-free’ options here.

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Guide to Chicago Restaurant Week…Plant-based Style!

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Chicago Restaurant Week is back and in full swing! This year, it has been extended for two weeks, not just one. And there happens to be a few vegan/plant-based restaurants to highlight. I’m definitely excited about my options and was quick to reserve a table, as the restaurants book up extremely fast around this time.

chicagodinerChicago Diner – it is just that, diner vibe with really great, home-style vegan food. I like taking friends and family here because they do have vegetarian options as well. They serve eggs, cheese and the like. My favorite is the Country Fried Steak. Check out their Restaurant Week menu here.

greenzebraGreen Zebra – it is vegetarian/vegan fine dining at its best. I’ve been a few times and the Chef’s Tasting Menu is an amazing 5-courses of plant-based greatness. It changes frequently which makes it a fun choice. Always something new and unique to try. Check out their Restaurant Week menu here. The risotto and the white chocolate mousse sound amazing.

A New Year ~ A Fresh, New You: Juice with Cruice!

Fresh vegetable juices on wooden table, on green background
Juicing has some really amazing benefits and through my interests in juicing the right way, met Marcy Cruice. Marcy Cruice is a Vegan Health and Lifestyle Coach based in Chicago. When it comes to optimal health and nutrition, she has a wealth of knowledge and conversing with her is always enlightening and inspiring. Her programs are fantastic and can help you with any aspect of ‘health and wellness’. Plus, she has such an incredible energy and is so passionate about her mission to support clients through their discovery of optimal health. And for the New Year, she has a great ‘Juice Cleanse’ offer — Schedule your 14-day Juice Cleanse for 2014 by 1/31 and receive 25% off! . We recently met for an interview at Next Door Cafe, a great little community cafe with a really fun vibe (and I can’t forget to mention their great plant-based food and beverage options 😉 ). Check out our interview below!
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How would you describe yourself and your work?

I am a Vegan Health and Lifestyle Coach and I support my clients to be healthier versions of themselves, most of which are either new, existing or hopeful vegetarians, vegans, or raw foodies. I also am a Food Revolution Ambassador, vegan mentor and Arbonne Consultant.  I like to think of myself as a positive, energetic, honest, motivating, and compassionate individual.  In my work, I strive to create a personalized, safe, and open space that is filled with education, exploration, insight, challenges and “ah hah!” moments.  Growing up as a “sick kid”, I never thought I could feel as good as I did once I committed to a plant-based diet and I want everyone to discover that. Most people don’t know how good they can feel with small lifestyle tweaks — so I am here to support my clients through a pretty amazing journey of discovering optimal health!

There seems to be a lot of buzz about juicing. So the simple question, why juice?

That is a fantastic question. I think it’s important to start with the difference between juice and smoothies. Green smoothies are absolutely fantastic, and are a great way to quickly increase your vegetable intake. My boyfriend is a great testament to this, as he recently lost 40 pounds by changing his eating habits and incorporating green smoothies into his daily routine. Watching his transformation has been both eye-opening and inspiring. My clients’ experience, as well as my own, with juice has been truly significant. Juicing is beneficial and imperative because it provides your body with an array of nutrients and the opportunity to rest.  The average American has 8-10 pounds of waste in his or her gut that he or she will never rid themselves of, if they don’t cleanse.  This waste slows us down and encourages additional build up. And, since 60% of our body’s energy is spent on digestion, we tend to see a pretty severe increase in energy when juice is incorporated. So, if you go a meal or if you go a week without requiring your digestive system to work on breaking food particles down, your body will have a lot of resources to boost your immune system, push out the toxins, and do critical work so that you can experience the benefits within a few days. And like I said, green smoothies are fantastic, but there still is a digestion component. So, drinking green smoothies is a great way to get a lot of vegetables into your diet, but drinking juice is powerful because it gives your body an abundance of nutrients and an opportunity to rest. Additionally, juice cleanses can detox each organ, restores taste buds and food cravings, improves sleep quality, libido, and energy, can clear up skin, reverse food allergies, and the list goes on and on.

How would you recommend someone to start juicing? And in the beginning, some find it to be a bit overwhelming. How long, how often should you juice?

It depends on who you are, and what your circumstances and goals are. It’s very different if you work 60 hours a week or if you work at home. And also, we must consider the juicer’s eating habits. I wouldn’t want anyone to go from a standard American diet to juicing every single meal. Of course, if you’ve seen “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, you know that it can be helpful depending on your status with chronic disease. But for some people, it’s once or twice a week, it’s a dinner here or a snack there. Commonly, people will start with it as a morning routine or a 7-day juice cleanse twice a year.

Honestly though, just have fun. There are a few things that you can’t juice. But get your favorite vegetables, don’t try to juice something that you don’t like. If you don’t like kale, don’t juice it. There are things that you can experiment with though. Kale, for instance, is quite bitter raw, but if you put it in a juice with cucumber, celery, carrot and beet, you can’t taste it, but you can reap the benefits it has to offer. So, be open-minded and explore what works for you.

What is the secret to incorporating juicing into your life for the long-haul?

Like anything, being deliberate about your intention and your goal is a sure-fire way to ensure success. This is one of the things we talk a lot about in the ‘Juice with Cruice Club’. What happens often, is people do it for a while, fall off and forget. They forget why they did it in the beginning and they forget what the consequences are when they are not juicing, or, even worse, they forget about how good they felt while juicing. At the beginning, it’s important to say, “This is why I am doing it. This is what I want to get out of it.” Being intentional and deliberate with the change is ‘number one’. And then ‘number two’, we’ve heard it before, but it takes 21 days to create a habit. So trying something for a week is not enough. If you’re going to try it once or twice a week or per day, you have to give it at least 3 weeks to really get into a rhythm. It will take a couple of weeks to see what works with your schedule and with your life. My recommendation is to dedicate at least 3 weeks after you’ve gotten into a good groove. So, in short, time, experimentation and intention.

What is the Juice with Cruice Club?

The Juice With Cruice Club is something that I started for people who are interested in drinking raw vegetable juice for their own health and well-being. It started with a few of clients that completed a juice cleanse together. One of my offered programs is a coaching through a cleanse. A lot of people will go to their local juice bar and will buy a cleanse, get the juice, but then what? On ‘Day 2′ they are wondering, “Why do I feel this way?.” I provide expectations, tips and tricks, education about what is happening to your body physiologically when you eliminate solid foods, an understanding of the potential benefits and support for all aspects of your life that a juice cleanse or lifestyle change can impact. The ‘Juice with Cruice Club’ is about sharing resources, sharing recipes, asking questions and supporting one another.  It’s a community of people that have a similar interests and addresses the importance of having a support system, even if just electronically. In February, we will get back to monthly meetings and outings, too!

I see that you have a few other programs available to those interested in living a more healthy lifestyle? (What are they and what do they provide?)

So my focus as a Vegan Health and Lifestyle Coach is specifically geared towards new, existing and hopefuls of a plant-based lifestyle. The programs support: those who are revisiting or are brand new to the lifestyle and want to get started properly and ensure a healthful and safe transition, as well as existing vegans that are interested in incorporating healthier lifestyle decisions. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma and stereotypes about vegans and vegetarians and I would love to change that by really giving people the opportunity to be healthy and vegan. (Many vegetarians and vegans, truth be told, are not healthy. They are doing a lot of good for the animals and the environment, but are loading their bodies, with highly-processed, high-sodium, high-sugar foods.) My programs are specific to the client, his or her goals and current lifestyle. I offer monthly and accelerated programs as well as a-la-carte services like grocery shopping and meal planning. So whether you are new, existing or just excited to get started, there is a program for you! I truly believe that when you combine dedication, motivation, passion, intention and add in a little education, direction and support, you are undoubtedly set up for success. And, it helps to have someone there to help you, motivate you, and remind you why you’re doing it. Someone that has been through it all.

MORE ABOUT MARCY…
If you had to pick: what are your top 5 favorite ingredients to juice and why?

Beets (Golden beets specifically) – I have a sweet tooth and beets are very earthy, hearty, substantial and sweet. Also, the amount of vitamins and healing properties they have are immense.

Parsnips – They are very earthy, but in a subtle way. They go very well with granny smith apples, celery, and other refreshing vegetables like cucumbers. Try “The Big Book of Juices” Apples and Neeps recipe: 3 parsnips, 3 green apples, 1/2 lime and 3 sprigs of fresh mint.

Mint, Parsley and Cilantro – the vast array of benefits are impressive, and you don’t need to add a lot to taste it in the juice. They add a strong refreshing flavor to any juice, though I wouldn’t use all 3 in one juice 😉

Any Greens – There are so many out there to choose from. Experiment with it! Kale, spinach, collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens. Any of them can be juiced and they all have very unique flavors of their own. Swiss chard is my favorite. It’s not bitter like kale and it’s not sweet, its a subtle, yet earthy flavor.

Sweet Potatoes – Great with oranges, carrots and ginger and adds a wonderful creaminess which is hard to find in a raw vegetable juice!

Living in Chicago, how do you survive ‘what is being healthy’ here (especially right now in the dead of winter)?

What will always motivate me to continue, is how I feel. If I go a week, and i’ve fallen off the health wagon, I immediately feel it. I don’t sleep as well, I feel tired, I’m not in a great mood, and that list goes on and on. And I know now, that as soon as I get back on track, I feel great. My intense desire to consistently feel great and maintain my energy motivates me through not just the winter, but life. In Chicago, there is a growing community of health conscious people and restaurants who are interested in plant-based lifestyles, juicing and cleanses, and there are also some really great resources. I’ve been in Chicago for almost four years and there are resources, books, people and restaurants that I’ve still yet to explore which keeps it exciting. I am a vessel of inward and outward energy, and there is a lot that I would like to do in this lifetime. It has been the discovery of optimal health that allows me to live the life I want to live.

Check out her website for more information! (www.marcyecruice.com)

78-year-old Vegan Bodybuilder!

78-year-old Vegan Bodybuilder!

Bodybuilder, 78, Strips Off To Promote Vegan Lifestyle

Such an inspiration. Jim Morris has been vegetarian/vegan for almost 30 years. He believes his veggie diet is strongly linked to his great physique and incredible health, “I know as a fact I would not be here and I would not be in this condition now had I continued eating the way I was.” That’s fantastic. He is now apart of PETA’s “Think Before You Eat” campaign. Cheers to that!