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Healthy Kitchen

Easy Zucchini Noodles with Peanut Sauce

zucchini "noodles" with peanut butter sauce

When the heat gets this intense, I try to make meals that don’t require much if any heat (even if the A/C is on!). I’ve really enjoyed my spiral slicer, which makes instant “noodles” from raw zucchini. Now, don’t get me wrong—I have no problem with pasta, but in the summer heat, zucchini noodles just feel lighter. And they’re ready pretty much instantly, with a few cranks of the lever, and no heat needed. If you don’t have a spiral slicer, you can use your favorite noodles—rice noodles, bean-thread noodles, soba, or linguini—this works with all of them. And this recipe adds a nice twist with some tasty peanut sauce. Continue Reading…

Power Smoothie (Romaine and Superfood Seeds)

Romaine lettuce green smoothie

Typically in raw circles, expressions like “power food” refer to Himalayan berries, maca powder, and deep sea algae. What I mean by it is pretty simple: foods that are nutrient dense, easy to assimilate, and that give a boost of energy and focus. In this recipe, dark leafy greens, hemp, chia, and fruit add up to a killer morning smoothie. Contributed by Gena Hamshaw, from Choosing Raw. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.

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5 Festive Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

Pumpkin bread pudding

Here’s a handful of five fun and festive pumpkin recipes for fall—bread pudding, muffins, soup, pie, and even ice cream. All vegan, and all delicious.

Warm, creamy, and comforting, Pumpkin Bread Pudding is the perfect dessert to ward off those autumn chills while celebrating the season’s bounty. It’s a snap to customize depending on your preference; consider the spices as a mere suggestion. Recipe and photo above by Hannah Kaminsky.
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Kiwi and Apple Popsicles

Kiwi and Apple Popsicles

These fruity popsicles are a delicious mix of kiwi, apple, and fresh mint—a perfect recipe to make ahead for hot summer days!

 

 

Kiwi and Apple Popsicles
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 mint leaves, crushed
  • 1 cups raw apple juice
  • 3 large ripe kiwis, peeled
Instructions
  1. Put the water with the mint and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Remove mint syrup from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place the apple juice and kiwi fruit in a blender. Grind to obtain a smooth puree.
  4. When the brewing time is over, add ¾ cup mint syrup and stir well.
  5. Place the mixture in popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours.

 

Can The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet Help You Lose Weight?

Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Bottles of ACV

Many of you have already heard that raw, organic, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar can assist in weight loss and overall well-being. The apple cider vinegar diet is probiotic, and has many additional health benefits. Here we explore how the apple cider vinegar diet as part of a healthy lifestyle can help you lose weight while at the same time, acting as a tonic for the body.

Although many fad diets that create rapid weight loss have come and gone over the years, it is encouraging to note that the apple cider vinegar diet leads to gradual weight loss. It would be nice if we could shed pounds quickly and never see them again, but experience has shown that weight that leaves easily comes back easily.

The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet

If you lose weight quickly, your body will oblige you by kicking in mechanisms to make it more likely this weight will slip back on in no time. But if you can be patient and do not expect instant results, your fat cells will adjust to their new size more willingly and not insist on contributing on your waistline. The apple cider vinegar diet is perfect for this. Continue Reading…

10 Easy, Inexpensive Party Snacks to Make at the Last Minute

Sweet and Savory Nuts and Pretzels

Parties and celebrations help keep the winter blues at bay, whether for New Year’s eve or day, Super Bowl (aka the big game), Oscar-watching. Or any impromptu gathering for whatever reason helps to allay the post-holiday let-down. For your next gathering, whether hosting or attending, it’s handy to have a list of healthy, yummy snack ideas that can be made at the last minute. These are all vegan, super-quick to make, don’t require special equipment or expensive ingredients, and are relatively healthy. So get your munchies on, and be prepared for any of these to disappear quickly!

Sweet and Savory Nuts and Pretzels, at top, is an easy snack or appetizer to make for the winter holiday season and beyond. It’s also good for munching on while watching movies or sports. Continue Reading…

How to Eat Dragon Fruit? There Are More Ways Than You Might Imagine

how to eat dragon fruit

Pitaya, better known as dragon fruit, is probably the most unique-looking edible fruit on the planet. The fruit itself has a bright pink outer skin with a kiwi-like inside. The taste is vaguely similar to kiwi, though it is more like a crossover between a kiwi and a pear. Pitaya is actually a cactus fruit, and the cactus stem gives it plenty of moisture and a very specific succulent taste.

Apart from the exotic look and taste, dragon fruit is also packed with immune-boosting nutrients like manganese, minerals, and vitamins. However, you might be wondering—how do you eat it?

Well, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the unusual look of this plant because it is surprisingly simple to eat. But before you actually eat one, you should know how to pick up the best dragon fruit.

Selecting the Best Dragon Fruit

Chances are that a well-stocked supermarket in your neighborhood will offer dragon fruit all year round. To get the best pitayas, you should aim for the period when the fruit is in season. Peak dragon fruit season begins in the summer and lasts until early autumn.

Generally, you should go for a pitaya that has a uniform bright pink color. It is OK to get a fruit with some blemishes. However, if there are a bunch of blotches on the skin, it indicates that the fruit is too ripe. You should also squeeze the fruit a little to make sure that it is neither too soft nor too firm.

It is also worth mentioning that dragon fruit is native to both Asia and Central America and that there are some small differences between these two fruits. Namely, the Asian pitaya is not as sweet as the Central American. Also, the kiwi-like flesh is red in the Central American fruit.

How to Eat Dragon Fruit Raw

Similar to most other exotic fruits, pitaya is best when eaten raw, though it can also be a great addition to smoothies, fruit salads, and even fruit kebabs. First, you should know how to properly extract the succulent flesh in order to avoid the bitter dragon fruit skin.

You need to do the following:

  1. Put your dragon fruit on a clean flat surface or a cutting board and cut it into two halves. It is quite easy to cut the fruit, but you should make sure to get a sharp knife for an even cut. Hold the fruit with your other hand so it doesn’t budge.
  2. After you cut it, you need to remove the skin from the fruit. If you’ve ever skinned an avocado, removing the pitaya skin should be plain sailing. Use a tablespoon to carefully get the flesh out and go around each dragon fruit half until you completely remove the flesh.
  3. Once you get the flesh out, you should check if there is any skin left on it. Peel or cut the leftover skin because it is not suitable for eating. Now you can cut the dragon fruit flesh any way you want and enjoy the specific taste of this exotic plant.

Some Extra Tips

If you have a melon baller, you can scoop out the pitaya flesh to create bite-sized balls. There is no reason not to eat the dragon fruit straight from the skin in a similar way you would eat an avocado. Just avoid digging in too deep because the skin might add some unpleasant bitterness.

There is also a way to filet the flesh out of the dragon fruit. Cut it into halves and then quarters and run your knife from to bottom between the skin and flesh.

Other Ways to Eat Dragon Fruit

At this point, you should have a perfect understanding of how to eat dragon fruit raw. However, there are some other ways to consume this healthy exotic treat.

Blending the dragon fruit into a mouth-watering smoothie might be the most common, but did you know that you can also grill it?

Here is how to eat dragon fruit on a kebab or as part of a smoothie.

Chili Powder Dragon Fruit Kebab

This recipe provides you with a taste few other kebabs can match. The sweet dragon fruit complements the pineapple, and both fruits are well-rounded with a chili powder seasoning on top.

Ingredients:

  • 1 dragon fruit
  • 1 pineapple
  • Some extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • A light pinch of salt

Preparation:

  1. Remove the skin from the pineapple and dragon fruit, then cut them into bite-sized cubes. Once you’ve finished cutting, put the cubes into a bowl and add the chili powder and salt. Toss the bowl a few times so you get an even seasoning all around.
  2. After you’ve seasoned the cubes, thread them onto a skewer. Each skewer should have an equal amount of pineapple and dragon fruit. Make sure to leave enough space at the bottom of the skewer so you can turn them on the grill.
  3. Put the fruit kebabs on a grill and turn until each side becomes light brown. You should brush the kebabs with the olive oil every so often so they do not stick to the grill. In about 10 minutes, your dragon fruit kebabs will be ready for serving.

Simple Dragon Fruit Smoothie

Dragon fruit mixes really well with most fruits and other vegan ingredients. This recipe gives you an idea of how to prepare a healthy and tasty smoothie quickly and easily.

Ingredients:

  • 1 dragon fruit
  • 1 banana
  • A cup of blueberries
  • A cup of soy milk
  • Sweeteners to taste

Preparation

  1. Cut the dragon fruit and the banana into chunks, put them in a blender together with the blueberries, and add a spoonful of your favorite sweetener.
  2. Pour a cup of soy milk and blend the fruits until you get the desired smoothness. You can add some extra soy milk to thin the smoothie.
  3. Once you are happy with the thickness, pour the dragon fruit into glasses and enjoy.

Endnote

These tips on how to eat dragon fruit are simple and very easy to follow. This special fruit works really well with a bunch of other fruits, nuts, and veggie ingredients, so you shouldn’t hesitate to experiment. And if you want the ultimate exotic vegan taste, you should give the chili powder dragon fruit kebabs a try.

Top Vegan Diet Benefits for Healthy Living

vegan diet benefits

There are quite a few benefits to eating a vegan diet, but some people still fail to grasp how plant-only nourishment can be good for your health.

The doubt about the vegan choice of foods stems partly from the fact that human beings have evolved to be omnivores. The omnivore nature of humans can be observed in the teeth. Humans, like most other omnivores, have canines, incisors, and chewing molars—ideal tools for their usual meals.

In the contemporary world, however, people don’t have to hunt for meat in order to survive and thrive. In fact, the vegan diet benefits may even exceed the advantages of an omnivore diet.

Take a look at some of the top benefits vegan foods may bring. These benefits should help you get a better understanding of all the positive changes your choice to go vegan may bring.

You Can Shed Excess Weight

A growing number of people resort to a vegan diet to lose weight, and there are some good reasons for making this kind of choice.

As a rule, vegans are much thinner and leaner than non-vegans. A 2013 study found that the participants on a vegan diet were able to lose 9.3lbs more than the group on a regular controlled diet. This is an interesting fact because the participants on a vegan diet were allowed to eat as much as they wanted.

So if you are looking for an effective way to shed excess pounds, going vegan may be just the thing you need. You won’t have to starve yourself or feel hungry all the time. To get the best results, make sure to consume only healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.

Rich in Nutrients

The richness of nutrients that comes with some vegan foods is among the primary vegan diet benefits. As a matter of fact, the vegan diet is even richer in some essential nutrients than most other diet options.

When you decide to ditch animal-based products, you consequently rely solely on other types of food for sustenance. Most vegans, for example, resort to whole foods as a good replacement for animal-based protein and nutrients. Since a vegan diet consists mainly of whole foods, there is a higher intake of healthy nutrients.

What’s more, clear scientific evidence shows that a vegan diet is richer in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. As such, your body won’t lack any of these essential compounds that are required for healthy living.

Improved Heart Health

Cardiovascular diseases are among the most widespread chronic illnesses in the modern world. Recent data indicates that about one in every three deaths in the U.S. is linked to a heart disease or some other cardiovascular condition.

On the bright side, the vegan diet benefits can significantly improve the health of your heart and blood vessels. Namely, eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits provides all the fibers, minerals, and other nutrients your cardiovascular system needs.

On top of that, vegan foods like nuts and legumes may keep your blood pressure at an optimal level. Due to this, there is much less risk of stroke and you will feel fitter and more energized.

An Energy Boost

Non-vegans tend to consume a great number of processed sugars and fats. The negative side-effect of these foods is that they notably reduce your energy levels. On the other hand, a vegan diet provides an opposite effect.

When you eat fresh vegan foods rich in minerals and vitamins, you will feel a significant improvement in your energy levels. Even if you are new to the vegan diet, it takes only a week or so for these vegan diet benefits to kick in.

However, being a vegan does not mean that you should deprive yourself of sugars. There are a lot of healthy syrups that add sweetness to your vegan meals. At the same time, you can go for some sugar alternatives like stevia, rapadura, or maple sugar.

Improved Brain Health

Vegans generally feel less anxious and stressed out compared to omnivores. They also tend to have sharper brains than their non-vegan friends. This mental stability and capacity are inextricably linked to the vegan diet and lifestyle.

As you already understand, a vegan diet is packed with foods that are rich in vitamins. The vitamins B12, D, and A are all essential for the proper function of your brain. These vitamins affect the brain’s metabolic processes and may influence your mood and cognitive functions.

When planning your vegan diet, look for fruits and vegetables that are rich in the vitamins mentioned above. This will ensure that you are a sharp and happy cookie.

Healthy Bones

Calcium is the most important element for healthy bones. Non-vegans mostly get their calcium from milk and cheese. However, animal-based dairy products are not the only source of this mineral.

Great calcium sources for vegans include black-eyed peas, figs, and turnip greens. Spinach is another leafy green that contains a bunch of calcium and iron as well. You can also give some animal milk alternatives a try, seeing as plant-based milk substitutes can be highly beneficial for your bones.

You can take almond or soy milk since they are both rich in magnesium and potassium. These minerals are also important for the strength of your bones.

On top of that, a study shows that vegan metabolism is also better at absorbing calcium and some other essential elements.

Lower Risk of Cancer

Among all other vegan diet benefits, a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer might be the most important one.

According to research, if you eat seven or more portions of fresh vegetables or fruits a day, there is 15% less chance you’ll die from cancer. The vegan diet consists of large amounts of legumes and soy products that provide protection from some types of cancer.

In addition, vegans don’t smoke their food or cook it at high temperatures. As a rule, food that has not been processed too much retains all the nutrients and provides better nourishment. Consequently, there is a lower risk of developing cancer.

The Final Takeaway

In today’s fast-paced world, a healthy diet is of utmost importance. Contrary to popular belief, the vegan diet provides your body with all the nourishment it needs. That’s not to mention all the other vegan diet benefits for your overall health. Thus there is no reason to deprive your body of the minerals, vitamins, and nutrients it can get from a vegan diet.

Luscious Pistachio Smoothie

Pistachio smoothie

This smoothie brings back happy memories of eating gobs of pistachio ice cream with my cousins at Jones Beach. Pistachio was always one of my favorite flavors. The texture is smooth and thick like an old-fashioned milk shake. Pistachios contain large amounts of antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin E and lutein compared to other nuts. They are also lower in calories than other nuts and are loaded with flavor and healthy fats. Contributed by Helyn Dunn, from  Helyn’s Healthy Kitchen.
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How to Make Cashew Milk in Just a Few Easy Steps

how to make cashew milk

Plant-based alternatives for cow’s milk have been around for quite some time. However, their reputation has really grown in recent years, and they’ve become a staple on many store shelves. Of course, this coincides with the growing popularity of veganism, but non-vegans use milk substitutes as well due to lactose intolerance, cholesterol concerns, or simply taste preference.

Because of this, there is a rather wide range of options to choose from. Soy milk is likely the most popular, but rice, almond, and coconut milk also rate highly. However, a new contender has entered the race—cashew milk. It has quite a few things going for it and is definitely worth a try. What is more, it is very simple to make at home, so you can easily see its benefits for yourself.

To help you do that, this article will tell you everything you need to know about how to make cashew milk and why it might just be the best choice for you.

Why Choose Cashew Milk?

Cashews contain minerals such as magnesium and copper, along with plenty of vitamins. These benefits extend to cashew milk, which is also cholesterol-free. However, despite the nutritional goodness, the main draw is the taste.

As you may be aware, the taste of popular milk substitutes is not to everyone’s liking. For example, many find that soy milk has a “bean-like” flavor that not all can enjoy.

In general, milk substitutes tend to have an aftertaste that can be problematic. Additionally, they can also be very watery and thin. In essence they are really nothing like the liquid they are replacing. But that is not the case with cashew milk!

Instead, cashew milk may very well be the creamiest plant-based milk you can get. It is delicious, rich, and thick.

Now, while it is possible to buy cashew milk in some stores, it is not the easiest product to find. Thankfully, you don’t need to scour every supermarket in your vicinity, because you can just make it yourself. It requires a bit of preparation beforehand, but the actual work time takes only minutes.

In addition to the convenience, making your own cashew milk also gives you complete control over the end product. You can tweak the thickness to your liking, choose whether you want to add any sweetener, etc.

All you need to do is simply stick to the following steps and you will know how to make cashew milk that is just right for you.

How to Make Cashew Milk at Home: What You Need

Core Ingredients:

  • Raw cashews, 1 cup
  • Filtered water, 4 cups for blending plus what you need to soak the cashews

You also need a blender or a food processor.

Optional Ingredients:

  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Your sweetener of choice (maple syrup, vanilla extract, agave syrup, etc.)

You may also want to use a mesh strainer.

The quantities are here mainly for reference and you can make a bigger batch if you want to. However, this is an amount that most blenders will be able to handle, and it is best to only process this much milk at a time. If it’s your first time trying cashew milk, this is more than enough to see if cashew milk is for you.

How to Make Cashew Milk at Home: Step-by-Step

When it comes to the question of how to make cashew milk at home, the answer is: very easily. As you can see, the list of ingredients is quite short. If you want the purest taste, you just need cashew nuts, water, and a blender.

Consequently, the process itself is also rather simple. Even if you include the optional steps, the work you have to do is pretty much effortless.

Step 1: Soaking

The first thing you need to do is place the cashew nuts in a bowl of some sort and completely cover them with water (filtered works best). You’re doing this for two reasons.

First, it’s so the cashews will be easier to blend. Second, it helps remove the phytic acid from the cashews. Phytic acid makes it more difficult for your body to absorb minerals, and you may have heard people call it an anti-nutrient. By soaking the cashew nuts beforehand, you are ensuring that you get the healthiest milk possible.

The cashews need to stay underwater for at least four hours. However, it is best if you just put them in the fridge and leave overnight. Either way, drain them once they are done soaking and rinse thoroughly.

Step 2: Blending

Now, while the cashews are still wet, add them to your blender along with four cups of filtered water. Begin blending on a low setting, then switch to high after a bit. You are done when you have a completely smooth liquid with no traces of nuts. If you have a high-powered blender, this only takes a minute. If not, it’ll be a little longer, but it is still a quick job.

Here is one note about the water-to-cashews ratio: This proportion will result in a liquid that is similar to whole milk in terms of texture. You can adjust the creaminess by adding more or less water. Just make sure you don’t go too far either way. You can also add the water gradually until you reach a consistency you’re happy with. But for your first time, it’s best to stick to the 4-to-1 scale.

Step 3: Add the Sweetener and/or Salt (Optional)

Just before you finish blending, you have the opportunity to enhance the flavor, if you wish. You can add a little bit of salt or go the other way and make the milk sweeter. A huge benefit of making it yourself is that you can simply adjust the taste to your preferences.

Step 4: Straining (Optional)

A great thing about cashew milk is that you absolutely do not need to strain it. If you have a weaker blender, it is possible for some chunks to remain, though. You may also simply want the milk to be as smooth as possible. Either way, pour the milk through a strainer and stir the solid part if needed. You can even make two batches, strain one, and see which you prefer.

That’s all there is to it! Keep the cashew milk in the fridge until you’re ready to use it, and it should be good for at least three or four days. Just remember to shake it, because the ingredients can separate a bit.

As you can see, the entire process is very straightforward. The end product tastes great, has a wonderful texture, and can be used in a variety of situations. Now that you know how to make cashew milk on your own, there is no reason not to give it a try as soon as possible.

Smart Tips for Plant-Based Food Shopping at the Supermarket

Vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods

Ninety percent of all food shopping dollars in the U.S. are spent on processed foods. Now, there’s a sobering statistic! The overall goal in transitioning to a plant-based diet is to use as many whole foods as possible — and it can be surprisingly easy to find all-natural, healthful foods at the supermarket.

Fortunately, in response to consumer demand, supermarkets are offering more healthy, vegan options than ever. Here are some tips for choosing wisely when you’re transitioning to plant-based fare, or are already there!
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EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ Produce List

Strawberries in a bowl

VegKitchen regularly shares the Environmental Working Group’s annual lists of the Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ produce. The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that are the most pesticide-laden. Consumers would do well to buy the organic varieties of the produce on this list.

On the other hand, the Clean Fifteen list features fruits and vegetables that have little or no pesticide residue. That’s where you can make an informed choice and save a bit of money on your food bill, though you’re always welcome to buy these in organic form if available.

There’s always the argument that organic fruits and vegetables aren’t necessarily more nutritious than conventionally grown. That may be true, but who needs to consume all those toxins? Remember also that pesticides become part of the soil, groundwater, and air. And the human factor is rarely discussed. We gloss over the fact that farm workers who harvest pesticide-laden produce get sick at a far higher rate. Continue Reading…

Beyond Brown Rice: Whole Grains for Everyday Meals

Quinoa Pilaf with Cauliflower and nuts

When you need a grain to cushion stews and stir-fries, to stuff into vegetables, or to power pilafs, chances are you reach for rice. And while there’s nothing wrong with rice—especially if you’ve made the switch to brown rice —exploring a variety of whole grains can expand your culinary horizons and add even greater nourishment to your family meals.

Aside from adding character to meals, whole grains are superb sources of fiber and protein. Because the bran and germ are left intact, they also are fine sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, and an array of minerals.  It’s certainly possible to be health-conscious and never eat bulgur or quinoa. But why miss out on one of the richest sources of nourishment available?

Here are a few common whole grains everyone should be using more of. Give them a try to boost your everyday meals! Shown at top: Quinoa with Cauliflower, Cranberries, and Nuts. Continue Reading…

How To Make Sourdough Starter

Sourdough breads cropped

Sourdough bread is all the rage right now, and rightfully so. Display cases of artisanal bakeries are loaded with deep caramel-hued loaves, the surfaces beautifully scored with signature designs and gently dusted with flour like winter’s first snow fall. While it may seem like a trend, both professional and home bakers alike are reaching back to one of the earliest and natural forms of bread baking. If you’d like to learn how to make sourdough starter, this primer will take you through the steps.

A sourdough starter, or “culture,” is the key to creating authentic sourdough bread. This culture, once thriving and well developed, is the natural yeast that not only encourages your sourdough bread to rise, but adds a nuanced element of flavor. It’s easier on your digestion system than bread made without it, and is loaded with gut-friendly bacteria. Continue Reading…

16 Meal Prep Tips for Healthier Eating Every Day

Countertop food prep - quinoa and broccoli

Most of us are caught up with work, school, or family (or all of the above!) and don’t allow enough time to plan and prep meals. So eating in restaurants or ordering take-out food becomes a habit that’s too easy to fall back on. Having good meal tips and strategies can help you enjoy healthy, balanced meals. Fortunately, you can eat healthy without spending much time cooking, if you prep your meals ahead of time. In fact, if done right, meal prepping can save you money. Whether your goal is to maintain weight, lose weight, save money, or have more energy, here are 16 tips that will help you prep meals with ease. This study shows that people who take time to prep meals have healthier eating habits.
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Vegan recipes by VegKitchen