They’re Here! The much anticipated Vegan Chocolate Truffles brought to you by the collaboration of Bittersweet Artisan Chocolates and STLVegGirl are now on the shelves at Parkers Table in St. Louis. Currently you can choose from a blast from the past Chocolate Cookie Dough or a smooth velvety Chocolate Coconut Ganache. They can also be mail ordered to you directly by contacting Bittersweet.
You can learn more about the collaboration here.
My Everybody Cooks Story
In September as I was driving to Branson (don’t ask…), I get this giddy call from Chef Marianne Moore who is all things culinary at Dierbergs Markets. (http://dierbergs.com/) I recently landed a teaching gig there, but had not yet had my first class, so this call was even more of a surprise. Marianne was calling to ask me to be featured in their Everybody Cooks Magazine AND to be the special guest on the accompanying TV show, Everybody Cooks. Umm… hold on, let me think for a moment…. YES! In fact, ask me, ME? Who am I? Just some girl on plant-based mission to create a healthier you. It’s not too tough, pretty simple in fact, however, when I received the call I nearly ran off the road in my own spastic excitement; this was my chance to (hopefully) appeal to a large audience and PROVE to them that adopting a plant-based diet, really is deliciously doable!
In November I walked into the brand new Dierbergs Kitchen for my first class The location in Des Peres (Da-Pare), MO is their new flagship store and it is beautiful. The attention to detail is spectacular in every inch! (I fully appreciate that their small carts come well equipped with a wine glass holder so that you can drink and shop, but that’s another post…) The kitchen is multipurposed, it’s a teaching kitchen, it’s an event center and it’s a TV studio, therefore is has to be well equipped, spacious, well lit and beautiful. Check, Check and Check.
Thankfully I have spent some time in the kitch before rehearsal and then tape days. When I walked in on tape day the space was transformed into a TV set. Blood pressure rising. Barb (host) immediately greeted me with her infectious smile, crazy Chef Marianne Moore swept in soon thereafter and director, Michael who I also worked with on rehearsal day all made me feel immediately comfortable. We started going over our lines, and after a couple of walk throughs… ACTION! Over the six hours of continual taping, I was spent, but in a happy blissful way. The production crew and the Dierbergs staff and I all became very chummy and I can see how easily it is to quickly become close with your co-workers in this environment.
I will be forever thankful to Dierbergs for this incredible opportunity. Everybody Cooks airs on Monday, March 4 at 7:00pm on channel 4 (in St. Louis) and the magazine is on stands now.
And, yes, that is Tyler Florence who was on the last episode of Everybody Cooks…What a kick!
Here’s your inexpensive, seasonal and TASTY Meatless Monday dish:
Spicy Simple Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash, poked several times with a fork
1 tsp sea salt
2 C marinara sauce
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
½ C fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400°.
In a shallow baking dish filled with 1” water, roast the squash for one hour. Once the squash is soft, Cut it in half, de-seed and scrape out the insides with a fork to create “spaghetti noodles”. Top with salt, marinara, hot sauce and basil.
Two years ago my now cooking assistant walked into one of our classes as a student. Little did I know she was on a mission to save her husband’s life. Below is his story on how and why he adopted a vegan diet.
So there I was sitting in my cardiologist office, and after running every test under the sun, the Dr. looks at me and says, “David, you’re going to die! You’re headed down a one way street towards disaster, and if you don’t turn around and find a new path, you’re soon going to die.”
Now let me set this scene for you: I had just turned 30 years old. My wife and I were happily married with two kids (both under the age of 3), and like most every other young family, food was not the priority in life. Meals generally consisted of which drive-thru would be least likely to recognize us, and when we did cook at home it was usually a combination of the quickest foods we could get to the table (lots of frozen goods, or chicken on the grill). Anything fast and easy!
But one night I found myself lying in bed and my left arm started to go numb a bit, and my fingers started to tingle. It was pretty sporadic, and I was quite confident that I wasn’t having a heart attack, but it got my attention for sure.
The next day I got up and headed off to work. I was talking to my Dad and told him what I experienced the night before, and he told me to call right away and see if I could get in to see the doctor.
I saw the cardiologist and he looked me over – up down – left right – even did an exploratory surgical heart catheter (let me tell you, it wasn’t fun). Long story short, the test results concluded that I didn’t have a heart attach (YET), but I did have a rare heart defect from birth. It was fairly slight, and only became unmasked because of the weight my body was carrying, and the amount of work my heart had to do to support myself.
The Dr. told me I needed to quickly find a way to not only drop some weight, but more importantly to get HEART HEALTHY. He said “David, if you want to be here to see your kids grow up, and live to old age with your wife, you need to find what will work for you and get at it.”
I WAS TERRIFIED!
All I could think about was my family (who I love more than anything in the whole world), and at the same time I had all these questions floating around in my head: How was I going to go home and tell my wife this news? Where do I begin to find information? What does “heart healthy” even mean??
That night my wife and I talked, and she was awesome! She’s always been my biggest cheerleader, and advocate in everything in life, and she truly shined here!! She put her nose to the grindstone and set about finding what to do while I on the other hand did what any guy in my situation would do - I jetted off to Las Vegas on a boys trip for the weekend.
When I returned she sat me down (my life kind of felt like a mafia movie with all the “sit-downs”), and told me everything she’s read, and all the information she can find, keeps pointing back to a plant-based lifestyle. She explained to me everything it was – all the things it wasn’t – and said becoming vegan is the most heart healthy way of living! She said: It’s not just for people fighting cancer, and not just for people with heart issues, it’s for anyone who wants to live a long healthy life, and we’re going to do it together!!
I said “F that!! I’m a man! I need to eat meat! I love milk way too much to give up! Thanks, but we’re going to have to find something else because that’s not me.”
She looked at me (with that look only wives and mothers can give) and asked softly, “David do you trust me?” I said, “of course I do.” She replied, “Then SHUT UP. Eat what I feed you for the next 30 days, and don’t say a word about it until the 30 days is up!”
I said OK! What could I do? Besides I had been a yoyo dieter my whole life so what’s another 30 days of something. No sweat I thought.
Well, the transition to veganism didn’t get off to an amazing start. There were a number of recipes that met the garbage disposal, and a few meals out that we would have liked to of dined & dashed on, but we we’re committed to giving it a chance, and quickly found some new foods we really did like, and eventually found our groove. Then a crazy thing happened. About three weeks into that 30 days we were eating dinner together (I had been eating what she told me to eat, and reading what she told me to read), and I turned to my wife and said “if this is really what being vegan is, then I’m all in.” And I never turned back!
It was 2 years ago that I walked out of that Dr. office (scared, with five expensive medial prescriptions, and tipping the scales at 315lbs).
And, here I am today: More than 100 lbs lighter. A proud, healthy, vegan man!
In that first year alone my cholesterol went from 290 – 107, and I lost about 60lbs. The most amazing part about it was that my Dr. had put me under orders for zero physical activity (for almost all of that 1st year so he could monitor my heart due to the abnormality). So those numbers were strictly (I repeat STRICTLY) a result of the foods I was eating.
Now some will say: David, obviously you had those kind of results. As heavy as you were your numbers were bound to drop. Maybe so, however, one of the things I absolutely love most about being vegan is that while I achieved those kind of results, I didn’t have to diet! I didn’t have to count calories – drink shakes – count Weight Watcher points – I SIMPLY had to be vegan – Truth be told, I didn’t even really practice portion control.
Just recently, my wife and I welcomed our third child (our first “veggie-baby”), and the experience of watching her carry him as a vegan was truly magical. The difference in her pregnancy (compared to her previous ones being non-vegan) was quite unique, and I attribute some of the amazingly blessed health of our new son to the nutrients he consumed (and the foods he didn’t) while in the womb.
There is tremendous power in the foods we eat, and as you can see becoming vegan didn’t just change my life, it prolonged it!
OK, so it is literally one hundred and seven f’ing degrees here in the Gateway City and why I am craving hot soup, I will never know. To turn on the oven, stove or even the microwave for that matter may just be a felony in some books, it also makes me a little sick. That said, I had a refrigerator full of beautiful greens, a ripe avocado, newly picked tomatoes from mom’s garden and various herbs/spices that were calling out my name. I know this says, “make a salad, you fool!” to many, but at least for the next 20 minutes, I am tossing that out the window.
Looking, looking, looking around the kitch…. and there she is: The Vitamix! The VM comes with a soup setting (genius!), so all you do it throw in your ingredients and let it run for a few minutes. And, before you know it, voila! you have SOUP without turning on that pesky (and dreadfully hot) oven/stove.
Here’s what I used for the best dern green tomato soup ever to run down my throat:
3 whole tomatoes (quartered, not seeded)
1 handful of kale
1 handful of spinach
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp each of ::
garlic powder, dried granulated smoked onion, dried oregano, cumin, kelp flakes
1/4 C water
s/p to taste
Yes, I know this looks like something you might serve to your child as a punishment, but please take my word (or don’t and just live dangerously) it tastes like heaven and looks like hell. Next time, I will make a cashew cheese sauce to drizzle on top and garnish with an edible flower.
The good people at Great Day St. Louis actually put up with these antics. I heart Matt Chambers - and really only because he finds me humorous. He has never had anyone walk off his set, much less actually strangle him on live TV. We broke some boundaries today.
Oh yeah, the food? That was good, too.
Jeeze…that’s a mouthful!
OK, who doesn’t love pizza?! In my quest to control ingredients and have a handle on what the heck is in my food, for some reason or another I’ve always been intimidated by making a pizza crust. I’m not necessarily put off by the prospect of defeat, in fact, I often invite it, even poke fun of it. Shoot, if never defeated, how would we learn? I believe Mr. Woodbury said it best:
“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.”
This engrained in my head and and constantly eating at me, I took the plunge - HARD. I thought, OK, since I’ve been such a wuss about making a friggin’ crust, why not go balls out and really challenge myself?! All this talk about gluten-free (of which I am mos def. NOT), I decided to try my hand at making a (deep breath here) Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Herb Infused Pizza Crust.
Or, we could just call it HGFVHIPC - OMG, no!
I looked around at A LOT of recipes to familiarize myself a bit with this gluten-free world, while of course keeping the dough vegan and clean. I played around a ton (yes, defeat reared its ugly head, but I gave it my best bitchy look and tried again) and settled (for the moment) on this one. I will say the herbs are pretty interchangeable, but until I get bored (next week) with this combo of herbalicious deliciousness in my mouth, I’ll be piling my pies on this crust.
HOMEMADE GLUTEN FREE VEGAN HERB INFUSED PIZZA CRUST
Preheat your oven to 325°. Combine all ingredients and smooth with your hands onto a flat crust on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. If your hands become too sticky, run them under cold water and continue. Prick with a fork several times and bake for 20 minutes.
Top your crust with any ingredients you like and put back in the oven for an additional 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Looking for a SUPER-DUPER quick and easy one pot meal that you can serve hot (right away) or chilled? It’s incredibly versatile - take it to a picnic or serve it at a dinner party. And, the nutritional value is through the roof! We’ve added organic greens from the farmers’ market, the complete protein compliments of the quinoa add a nutty flavor and the beans round out the texture. This is a winner every time.
Quinoa with Greens and Beans
2 C uncooked quinoa, rinsed
4 C vegetable broth
1 C roasted corn
1 1/2 C red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 C kale, de-stemmed, rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 C watercress, rinsed and de-stemmed
1 1/2 tsp each: ground cumin, coriander, garlic powder, granulated onion powder
s/p to taste
Cook the quinoa in the vegetable broth - about 15 minutes (bring to a boil, then simmer)
Remove from heat and gently fold in greens, beans and corn.
Once integrated add spices, mix well and serve immediately or chill in fridge.