Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Road to Dietary Salvation is Dotted with Vegetables

This past week a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that it's not low carb, low fat, low-anything else that helps people lose weight and keep it off, but it's eating fewer calories.

Many of you might not know this but at least 3 times in my adult life I have had to lose a significant amount (I am small so I won't share the number but it's been about 15% of my body weight). I did it by paying attention to what I put in my mouth and eating as many vegetables as I could. And you know that I really like vegetables so...

In my opinion (and by this time if you've read previous posts you know that I absolutely have one), the easiest way to eat fewer calories is by filling yourself up with vegetables and other plant-foods. I put vegetables first because you can eat almost unlimited amounts of the more watery or dense green vegetables such as (I'll start with those in season here in Northern CA) greens, think collards, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, onions, leeks and garlic, and then the warmer weather vegetables such as summer squash, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant, radishes and many more.

The vegetables that are still good for you but present issues due to their higher caloric nature are potatoes, carrots, parsnips, corn, peas and winter squash. There are some that fall between these categories. Beets and celery root are the only two that come to mind.

As for the other plant foods such as beans and grains, the beans will give you more bang for your buck and fewer calories, depending upon how many you eat. In-season fruit is wonderful, in moderation. This time of year in the Northern hemisphere in the U.S. we don't have an issue with this as we are in "apple-pear-citrus" season so the temptations are few.

My message is not something new for me and not something that I've studied for endless hours. I know that it works because I practice it myself. I eat lots of food and I maintain my weight. I eat salad almost every day. My husband now does this, too. And not just a small amount but at least 3 cups each with dinner. See how you can squeeze in extra vegetables such as those sprouts that I've been raving about for a while now. Add greens to your cooked vegetables. Shoot for eating a bunch or two or three a week.

I don't have any magic and I'm not going to give up my vegetable evangelism. I've now shared my story on the road to salvation. I hope that you'll come along.

If you like what I write you can subscribe to my blog by signing up in the box on the right hand side of the page.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More on Flax Your Baking Muscles Recipe Contest

In an attempt to avoid restating everything about the contest, here are more details.

You may enter more than one baked recipe that contains flax but you can only win one prize. Recipes must be original and will become property of The Veggie Queen and Flax USA.

Grand prize is a 12 month supply of flax (ground or whole seed; you choose). Three runners up will win three 12 ounce shakers of Ground Flax Sprinkles and three packages of Roasted Golden Flax Seed Snacks.

Your recipe must contain at least 3 tablespoons of flax, in any form. You may use any type of flour in the recipe, and gluten-free recipes are welcome and appreciated.

Bake something vegan, lowfat, fat-free or any other alternative baking, if you like. You can use sugar, stevia, agave, or other natural sweeteners. The critical decision for the winning recipe is that it has to taste great.

Savory recipes are appreciated just as much as the sweet ones.

Standard recipe format works well and we encourage it:
List of ingredients in order of use, instructions, how many it serves or makes, the usual stuff in a recipe. A note about how you came up with it or why you really like it is good, too.

You must be 18 to enter. You do not need to be a blogger. Please post the name of the recipe on this blog in the comments section and send the entire recipe with your name, email and phone number to

The winners will be chosen on March 10th and notified by March 16th.

Happy baking.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flax Your Baking Muscles Contest Starts Today

Time to "Flax" Your Baking Muscles!

If you bake with flax and have a great recipe, put it to the test to win a year's supply of flax from
FlaxUSA, the country's leading producer of ground, roasted and whole seed flax from America's flax heartland, North Dakota.

Never tried baking with flax? Well it's time you did! Flax is a great substitute for eggs and butter, not to mention the most potent plant based source of heart-healthy Omega 3s. Click
here to learn more on how to bake with flax.

If you don't want to click above, let me give you a brief heads up on baking with flax from my experience:

5 tablespoons of already ground flax, or grind 3 tablespoons in a blender or spice grinder, mixed with 1/2 cup water substitutes for 2 eggs in baking. It works best as a binder, and not as well as a leavener. So no Angel Food Flax cakes -- yet.

Do not mix the flax long before mixing with other ingredients or you could end up with a very stiff, yet sticky mess.

Use golden, not brown, flax in lighter colored baked goods. Flax works well in cookies, cakes, muffins, quick breads, yeast breads, and more. Let's see what you come up with.

Your recipe must be original, or so highly adapted that you are not accidentally "stealing" some else's recipe. The recipes will be judged on use of flax, and most of all taste. Since this is a vegetarian blog, I prefer recipes without meat, especially in cupcakes. Your recipe can be for sweet or savory baking. So thinking out of the box (but not too far) is encouraged.

Entering is easy. Just post the title of your recipe here on this blog in the comment section (so that this blog doesn't get clogged with recipe text) and send a copy of the actual recipe with your email address, blog URL, if you have one, a photo (optional) to All recipe submissions become property of The Veggie Queen and FlaxUSA.

I will test the recipes with Stephanie Stober, the "Flax Queen" of North Dakota (and co-founder of flaxUSA). Grand prize is a 12 month supply of flax (ground or whole seed; you choose). Three runners up will win three 12 ounce shakers of
Ground Flax Sprinkles and three packages of Roasted Golden Flax Seed Snacks.

The contest starts today, February 24th and ends March 11th, so get cracking - or baking as it were.

Winners will be notified on March 16th. If you have any questions, please email me or post a comment.

Looking forward to reading about your wonderful creations. Good luck.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Veggie Queen Cooks Under Pressure with John Ash

I am rushing off to the farmer's market to buy ingredients so that I can appear on the radio this morning. I will be demonstrating live, how to use a pressure cooker to make 2 of the recipes on my DVD Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look, Delicious Dishes in Minutes. I will be on KSRO, 1350 am here in Sonoma County, on the Good Food Hour with John Ash and Steve Garner at 11 am PST.

I will be making Shane's Fabulous Lentil Soup and Market Fresh Breakfast Tofu, Potatoes and Vegetables. I have not yet done live radio pressure cooking but I am sure that all will go just fine. It's a beautiful day and we will be out at Bassignani's Nursery in Sebastopol on a live broadcast.

I am really excited to see what gems appear at the market this morning to go into my vegetable dish. That surely will help relieve the pressure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

More on Healthy Eating, Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

I am thankful that I have my husband Rick to teach me new tricks, or is it the other way around? If I didn't have him, I'd have to rely on my dog as the subject for many of my stories. And when it comes to eating habits there's not much to learn from my dog. He pretty much eats the same dry food every day, except sometimes I remember to put the flax oil, ground flax and/or seaweed sprinkles on his dry kibble. Otherwise, nothing new there. But for the husband, on the other hand, there's often progress toward healthier eating, even if it's in baby steps.

My husband has always asked for flour tortillas - the white kind, very pliable, can be rolled well and have plenty of fat. I have managed to switch him to the organic olive oil brown type that they carry at Trader Joe's. It turns out, though, that when I bothered to read the label, they weren't really much different than the white organic type, or than the regular flour ones. I've tried buying the healthier white tortillas, made by a number of different companies, but my husband complains, something that the dog rarely does. (And if he does, I am able to ignore him.)

I prefer corn tortillas. My favorites are Food For Life sprouted organic corn tortillas and also locally produced hand made organic corn tortillas, which I buy at the farmer's market. I like the latter so much that I was reluctant to share them. But one day my husband saw me eating some yummy looking soft taco, with one of my mish-mash fillings containing vegetables (think tempeh and broccoli or sprouted garbanzos, onion and potato), and asked for a bite. After that he told me that he liked those tortillas and would eat them instead of the flour type, although one cannot make burritos with corn tortillas.

I also eat Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted wheat tortillas, Food for Life Ezekiel tortillas or some other dark version but my husband flat out rejects them. So I still buy the others that he likes when it's burrito time. Now the problem is that I have to share the oh-so-delicious corn tortillas (at $5 per dozen) with him. But in the interest of his health, I am happy to do so, at least most of the time. At least I don't have to share all my great finds with the dog.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Veggie Queen's Vegan Valentine's Day

Most of my favorite foods are naturally vegan because they are "real food", not processed. They include all kinds of vegetables, especially beets and greens at this time of year, chocolate, dates and other dried fruit, and, of course, chocolate.

I have always liked chocolate and my favorite has always been dark. When I was a kid and could have candy bars, I liked Mounds best because of the dark chocolate but always wished that Almond Joy came in dark chocolate. Now it does but it's just so inferior to the single origin and very dark bars that one can get these days.

I have written about chocolate a couple of times for Natural Food Network magazine and I don't seem to tire of the subject, especially if there is tasting involved. Just like most other plant foods, but possibly even more so, chocolate is complex. The flavors can often be compared to wine in their descriptions.

When I've done chocolate tastings in my vegetarian cooking classes, everyone tastes something different in the bars. One that I really liked and found fruity and deep, someone thought tasted like mushrooms.

And when someone asks what something tastes like, I've come to answer that I cannot know because I am not in your mouth. And I will stand by that.

I tried a lot of chocolate at the Fancy Food show and was most impressed by the Amano chocolate, among others. If you can find it, give it a try. Or hold your own chocolate tasting with your friends. Remember, the dark chocolate is vegan, and that's got to be good.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Do You Want to Eat Healthier -- For Real?

Last night I taught a private pressure cooking class for a group of runners. The host thought that it would be fun to get her friends interested in pressure cooking because they're all busy and want to eat fast. But do they want to eat healthy? And more importantly, what do they think that even means? And what do you think that it means?

I know that I live in some other reality where I am choosing between red rice or quinoa for breakfast, of all things. Should I eat it with tofu or tempeh? And include nettles or the beautiful purple kale that is new to our farmer's market?

This is a far cry from a bowl of dry cereal with a splash of milk and a banana, which is something I rarely eat. But many people do. So where is healthy on the continuum of life? Does it mean never eating any white products such as pasta or sourdough bread? Only eating organic?

Honestly, I don't know the answers to these questions. I know that the more that I think about it, the more questions I have.

What do you think? What's your best suggestion or tip for "real" healthy eating? I really want to know.

BTW, the menu for the evening was White Bean Soup with Sage, Red Rice with Braised Tofu and Vegetables, Maple Winter Squash Puree, Winter Greens Salad with Beets and Avocado with Blood Orange and Smoked Olive Oil Vinaigrette and Winter Fruit Compote for dessert. All easy, delicious and, dare I say it, healthy.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Match Meat Crab Substitute a Hit with The Veggie Queen's Cooking Class

A while ago I got samples of "fake meat" from Match Meat in St. Louis. I was a bit freaked out when the UPS man dropped off a large box with a picture of a pig on it, reading BBQ. I wasn't sure what to think. I had completely forgotten that I was going to get Match "meat".

I had spoken to Allison Burgess, the owner and founder, of the Match(TM) about her vision and what Match (TM) was all about. She sees it as a way to get meat eaters to eat less meat, thereby saving animals' lives. And if my class is at all typical of most meat eaters, she's got a hit with her product, especially the "crab". All I did with it was form it into patties, sprinkled with a bit of Old Bay seasoning, and pan saute them in a bit of pure olive oil.

If I'd had more time I would have made more traditional "crab cakes" but I was in a hurry. When asked which of the foods the students in my class last night liked best, a significant number responded by saying, "The crab." I was quite surprised.
They had many foods to choose from: chicken Match meat saute, tempeh 3 ways, quinoa pilaf, millet with mushrooms, sauteed greens, chocolate mousse, Thai tapioca and brownie cookies, plus an impromptu dish of Mexican stir-in (another meat sub).

I hope that Allison is successful in her quest because it will help people with their health, and benefit the planet. If you live in the St. Louis area, you can purchase a variety of Match meat at retail and in a whole host of restaurants. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, eating this kind of "crab" won't make you crabby.