Friday, September 30, 2011

Brad's Raw Chips

In my Whole Foods on P Street in Washington, DC, our raw chip selection is pretty limited. Recently, they started lining several shelves with Brad's Raw Foods Chips so I thought I'd give them a shot.  They come in many different and unusual flavors such as red bell pepper, sun-dried tomato, kale, beet, sweet potato, Indian, and "cheddar." Some of the flavors are available as either hot or not, which I love because I love hot, spicy food!

These chips are pretty thin and very flavorful! I tried the hot red bell pepper to start. This thin, yet crispy and crunchy chip packed a punch! The ingredients are all good-for-you stuff such as carrots, red bell peppers, flax seeds, sprouted buckwheat grouts, jalapeno peppers, scallions, olive oil, garlic, and sea salt as well as "lots of love." Cute. There are 3 servings per bag with 120 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving. Not too bad.

The story of Brad is printed on each bag -- he was the typical American guy -- overweight with high cholesterol and low energy. Then, he went on a predominantly raw food diet and lost 40 pounds, dropped his cholesterol to a healthy level, and recovered his lost energy. He then decided to make his own raw chips and that is how Brad's Raw Foods was born.

These chips are dehydrated below 115-degrees to retain the healthy, active enzymes and nutrients which aid digestion. They are all gluten-free, vegan, and contain no preservatives, binders, or chemicals.

The next chip I tried was the Indian flavor and I think I liked this one the best!  It was super spicy and I could have sworn I tasted cardamom yet it wasn't listed on the bag. But, either way, they were so darned good!

Lastly, I tried the hot kale chips, not to be confused with their leafy kale chips. These are kale flavored chips like the others. I liked these as well. They definitely tasted the healthiest and were delicious when eaten with hummus.

All of these chips are loaded with omega-3s, live enzymes, lean protein, complex carbs, vital minerals, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. If you come across these in  a Whole Foods or anywhere else, I highly recommend that you try them. At $7.50 per 3-ounce bag, they are in line with other raw chips.  You can order some directly from Brad's by clicking here and you too can experience the "World's Healthiest Chip."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Natural Products Expo East

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Natural Products Expo East -- a huge tradeshow at which 1,300 natural product manufacturers exhibited their products and met with retailers and distributors.  There is also one held on the west coast earlier in the year, which is supposed to be bigger and better, but since this one was in Baltimore, I thought I'd check it out.

It was divided into three areas: new products, all food manufacturers, and all other manufacturers such as health & beauty and cleaning products. I spent 6 hours in the food products area tasting more food than any one person should ever be allowed to eat in one day! Instead of writing about all of the products here, I thought I'd share just a few of my top picks.  They are as follows:

  • Divvies -- Choco-Lot Brownie Cookies. These cookies are meant for sharing, but I'm not so sure I'd share mine.  
  • Earthsource Organics: Righteously Raw -- amazing raw chocolate bars! I tried the caramel bar made of cacao butter, cacao powder, dates, lucuma fruit, agave nectar, vanilla bean, and salt and I loved it! 
  • Go Raw -- Pizza Flax Snax are loaded with all organic ingredients and spices and are spectacular!
  • Peanut Butter & Co. -- Heat is On hot peanut butter. I love a little kick in anything and who would've expected it in their peanut butter?! What a great idea!
  • Sukhi's -- Vegan Chili Chicken frozen meal. Need I say more?

As I mentioned, there were too many great products to mention in one story so just stay tuned as I am planning to write about my favorites over the coming months! So much good food, so little time. Now, I want to go to the Expo West too!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Elizabeth's Gone Raw, DC #2

As I mentioned in my last review of Elizabeth's, Elizabeth's Gone Raw is the premier upscale raw vegan restaurant in DC. Because I just reviewed Elizabeth's a couple months ago, I am just going to provide a little raw vegan food porn showcasing my most recent dinner there.

Appetizer: Cilantro Macadamia filled Squash Blossom with Curry Chayote

Salad: Watermelon and Avocado with Basil


Main: Heirloom Tomato and Corn Tartet with Parsley Salad


Dessert: Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


There you have it -- 4 more reasons to dine at Elizabeth's Gone Raw!

Elizabeth's Gone Raw
1341 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-8349

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two Moms in the Raw - Sea Crackers

A couple months ago, Zach said he had a surprise for me. He had picked up this bag of raw chips in the Whole Foods in Pleasanton, California and said they were really good. Well, I'll be the judge of that. I've been on a raw foods kick lately and I've tried a lot of raw chips so I know a good raw chip when I taste one...and I must say, these are absolutely delicious!

They chips are called, "Sea Crackers," and are made by a company called, "Two Moms in the Raw." Clever and cute, huh?!  The company was started by a mother named Shari in 2004 after she had been diagnosed with MS. She found it difficult to find tasty, natural, satisfying treats to eat on the run so after experimenting in the kitchen with lots of other moms, she developed these delicious Sea Crackers. They are called Sea Crackers because they contain kombu, a Japanese sea vegetable, that gives them a unique flavor.

The first one I tried that remains my favorite flavor is the Pesto Sea Cracker. They are amazing!  They have whole pine nuts in them along with organic flaxseed and herbs and spices. I dipped these in hummus and gobbled them up pretty quickly.

I also tried the Garden Herb and Tomato Basil flavors.  I loved the fresh herbs in the garden herb flavor while the tomato and basil ones were absolutely scrumptious.

In case you are new to the idea of raw foods and why this matters, I'll give you a little  more info. Raw foodists believe that by heating foods above a temperature of anywhere from 106- to 118-degrees (depending on who you speak to), you destroy their enzymes and much of their nutritional value.  Two Moms in the Raw believes that the body just doesn’t get what it needs for optimum well-being and works harder to extract what it can from heavily processed or cooked foods so they found a way to bring extraordinary taste and texture to raw foods. Not to mention that all of their ingredients are organic, gluten-free, and Kosher.

The chips are priced at $7 for a 4-ounce bag, which is pretty typical for a raw chip. The only complaint I have is that the servings per container are 20!  I speak from experience when I tell you that there is no way you are eating that bag in 20 sittings!  I ate them in 3! Other than that, I have no other complaints.

Look for these in Whole Foods and natural foods stores across the country and, of course, you can buy them on Amazon here.  I can guarantee you that you won't be able to eat just one.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Soyummi Foods Pudding Giveaway

Soyummi puddings are delicious and nutritious and that is why I'm very excited to be offering this giveaway!  If you haven't tried them yet, then this is your chance to do so. If you have, then you know you want more. This is your opportunity to get one coupon good for a 4-pack of puddings in whichever flavor you'd prefer!  Just tell me why you'd like to try them, then I'll choose a winner at random.

What are Soyummi Puddings?
I reviewed their puddings a few weeks ago here, but in case you didn't catch that post, I'll tell you a little bit about them. Soyummi makes puddings that are vegan, organic, gluten-free, Kosher, and made of natural ingredients without preservatives.  And, as if that weren't good enough, they are low calorie, low sodium, and contain a natural prebiotic.  Prebiotics stimulate bacterial flora in the gut rather than supplementing them as in a probiotic. So, they are just as important as probiotics, if not more!  The puddings come in 5 flavors: lime, tapioca, rice, dark chocolate, and cherry and are found in many Whole Foods across the country. Alright, on to the giveaway!

The Soyummi Foods Pudding Giveaway Summary
  • Prize: 6 coupons (to 6 winners) -- each for a free 4-pack of Soyummi puddings
  • Deadline: Friday, October 7, 2011 — 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern time
  • Eligibility: Contest open to residents of the U.S. only.
  • Winners will be announced on this blog on Monday, October 10, 2011. 
  • Entry: you may enter up to two times.  
    1. To enter the first time, please complete the form below.
    2. To enter the second time, just either click the Facebook "like" button on the left-hand side of the blog OR click the Google Friend Connect at the bottom of my page. Once you "like" my page or become a follower of my page, you will have effectively entered the contest a second time.  (Or feel free to do both!)  Please note: If you have already done one of these two things in the past, then you will automatically be entered a second time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Emperor's Forbidden Rice with Rapini and Cremini Mushrooms

While attending the School of Natural Cookery, I learned the language of cooking, which allowed me to continue to develop as a chef-in-training.  I developed this delicious recipe shortly after completing the intensive.


  • Walnut oil
  • 1/4 of a yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups Emperor's Forbidden black rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch rapini/broccoli rabe, chopped with stems removed
  • 8 oz cremini/baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
How to make it
First, heat your pan on medium, then add about 2 tablespoons of walnut oil.  Then, add the yellow onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens. Don't allow the garlic to burn to the pan. Then, add the rice and saute it in the oil with the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Next, add the vegetable stock and steep it for 30 minutes covered. Steep just means to bring it to a boil, then turn it down to medium-low to simmer. Then add the chopped rapini and cook it for another 10 minutes.

In the meantime, in a separate pan, saute the cremini mushrooms in walnut oil with 3 cloves of garlic minced and fresh thyme and parsley.

Once the rapini has cooked down in the pan, add a little salt and pepper, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes.

The rice will make everything black so it'll be important to garnish with parsley and thyme once plating the dish to add some color.

The rapini may be a bit bitter -- if it is, just add a little more salt to it. Delicious!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Naked Edge - Veggie-Go's

As I was walking through the Farmer's Market in Boulder, CO, I stumbled upon a guy selling these fruit leather like thingys only he said they are "anything but a fruit leather!"  The company is called, "The Naked Edge," and they believe that you should know and be able to pronounce exactly what you are putting into your body. It was started by John McHugh and Lisa Goode in late 2010. After living, working, and eating at organic farms in Europe, they returned home and quickly realized just how many processed foods were on the market. That was the inspiration they needed to start a snack company that uses only whole food ingredients, and thus The Naked Edge was born.

At $1.50 per package for the .35 oz. Veggie-Go's, they aren't cheap, but good wholesome food usually isn't. And, really,  it is only $1.50 so I picked up a few to try them out. These are definitely not your typical fruit snacks!  All of the ingredients are organic and natural. For example, the Sweet Potato Pie is made of organic sweet potatoes, apples, pears, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. These fruit snacks are super thin and melt in your mouth. Holy flavorful dried fruit! The Sweet Potato Pie was delicious!

Compare that to the General Mills Fruit Roll-Ups that we all remember eating as a kid, which contain pears from concentrate, corn syrup (of course), dried corn syrup (why?), sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil...wait, there's more! Plus 2% or less of citric acid, sodium citrate, acetylated monoglycerides, fruit pectin, dextrose, malic acid, vitamin C, natural flavor, and color. Yuck!  Veggie-Go's shouldn't even be compared to these, but I thought I'd throw this in here just so you could see how different they are. And to think I was even allowed to eat those as a child!

Back to the good stuff -- the Cinnamon Spiced Beet was chewier than I would have expected and had the cinnamon spiced beets along with crunchy flax seeds. 

I also tried the Mulled Wine, which I loved, as well as the Mountain Berry Spinach. 

I love that you can have your fruit and eat it too...without the preservatives or artificial ingredients! They are a great source of vitamins A and C too.  I really like supporting companies that create good, wholesome food.  If you are interested in trying them, you can order them directly from The Naked Edge by clicking hereThey sell them in packs of 12 or 24. Then you can try the wholesomely exposed goodness for yourself!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Millennium Cooking Class with Eric Tucker

Millennium in San Francisco is one of the top vegan restaurants in the world and has been headed by Executive Chef, Eric Tucker, for the past 17 years. When I found out that Eric was conducting monthly cooking classes at his restaurant, I knew I had to attend at least one. The opportunity to work with a great vegan chef is a rare one and an experience that could help shape my cuisine going forward.

Included in the price of the class is an opportunity to tour the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco with Eric the day before the class to help choose the items to use in the class. I, naturally, took the opportunity to do so. I won't spend a lot of time writing about the farmer's market here because I reviewed it separately in another post, but this tour was a great opportunity to learn about the farmers Eric most respects and why he likes their produce/products.  I chose some squash blossoms because I'd never cooked with them and wanted to learn how.  I was excited to see how Eric would incorporate them into the menu the next day!

On Sunday, we met in the private dining room at the Millennium at 10 a.m. sharp. Zach and I were greeted by Ann Wheat, one of the owners of the restaurant.  She told us to find our nametag at the table and to help ourselves to a beverage. She said that Eric was busy preparing breakfast. Soon, others arrived and we all found our seats. Aprons, chef coats, and recipes were positioned at each seat.

For breakfast, Eric had prepared vegan Beignets, which are French for "fritters." These fried cinnamon-spiced dough pastries were yummy and were a special treat as I'd never had a Beignet before! While we were eating, Eric ran down the schedule for the day and what to expect. Then, he took us on a tour of the kitchen.

We were divided into two groups of six people each. I was glad that Zach and I were on the same team.  Each team was assigned a certain area of the kitchen while we'd all have access to the oven, stoves, and grill.  We were each given a menu that consisted of 6 items for the day that was really more than 10 recipes when you broke them down! We were wondering if we'd be able to make all of these in the six hours we had for the class.  Each team was to cook each item with some variations, then we'd taste the items from each team to see how they'd compare. Each team was also assigned an instructor to assist. 

And with that we were off!  Our instructor gave us direction as to which recipes to start on first then we divided the tasks amongst ourselves. This is the way it works in a restaurant kitchen so we were getting a true restaurant cooking experience. Zach and a few others decided to tackle the grilled peach and spelt zucchini rum cake while I worked with others to prepare the panisse with almond garlic sauce.  My task in this dish was to prepare the almond garlic sauce. I started by boiling untoasted almonds along with garlic cloves for 15 minutes. Then, I made cumin oil by putting cumin in oil and cooking on the stovetop. Next, I took the almond mix and water and added the oil and salt and pepper. Lastly, I pureed this mixture together until I got a fluffy texture.

Zach appeared to be doing well with his peach dish so I switched to work on the squash blossoms. This recipe was not included on the recipe pages so I asked Eric to assist. He constructed a recipe for stuffed squash blossoms from the top of his head, which sounded amazing! I was basically going to stuff the squash blossoms with a tofu-corn mixture, then deep fry them!  We'd be topping them with a pesto and serving them with a salad. I spent most of the rest of my time carefully peeling open the blossoms and stuffing them with the mixture, then deep frying them. The whole team helped out as well!  Zach made the cilantro pesto sauce while we deep fried the blossoms.

My stuffed squash blossoms
Throughout the morning, Eric would call us together to show us a cooking method or explain the variation he had instructed the other team to make on a recipe. So, we were running around trying to get the recipes to come together while getting instruction as well.

Before we knew it, it was about 1 p.m. and we needed to start plating everything for lunch. Time just flew by!  Eric showed us the best way to plate certain items for a nice presentation, restaurant-style.  We finally got everything out on the tables and began to eat. For lunch, we prepared:
  • Panisse with Almond Garlic Sauce and Eggplant and Tomato Agrodocle (2 variations)
  • Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Cilantro Pesto and Salad (2 variations -- deep fried and cooked under flame)

It was so interesting to try the variations on the squash blossoms and panisse as they were so different. I liked both for different reasons!

Just as we were starting to digest our food, it was time to go again!  For the second half, Zach and I focused on the grilled abalone and enoki mushroom dish that was to be paired with a risotto. I started by preparing a vanilla glaze, which I coated the mushrooms with and grilled them on an open flame. This was so fun! Everyone was working on something different.  After several hours, it was time to eat again!  For dinner, we prepared:
  • Romano Beans with green olives (see recipe and picture below)
  • Vanilla Glazed Grilled Abalone and Enoki Mushrooms with a Potato Corn Risotto
  • Seared Snap Peas with Yuba and Custard Tofu

  • Grilled Peaches with a Spelt Zucchini Rum Cake and Rose Geranium or Lemon Verbena Olive Oil Sorbet

So much food, so little time!  We were also served our choice of several wonderful wines with dinner. It all turned out so wonderfully!

Here is Eric's recipe for "The Best Romano Beans":
  • 1 lemon sliced very thin
  • Sliced green olives
  • Slivers of garlic
  • Sprig of marjoram
  • EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions are simple: braise the beans in a covered dish tossed with the mixture in an oven at 400-degrees for 60 minutes.

So in the end, the class was a lot of fun, the food was good, and I enjoyed the chance to work with Eric in his kitchen. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to the way this class was conducted though. The disadvantages are that you don't get to see how everything is made and you don't get to try to make each dish yourself. The advantages are that you get a real restaurant experience and you learn to work in a kitchen with others. I really enjoyed this experience and hope to do it again sometime soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, San Francisco

As a part of my cooking class with Eric Tucker of the Millennium, the premier vegan upscale restaurant in San Francisco, I got to take a tour of the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market with him and my class. This farmer's market was a mix of restaurants serving prepared foods, farmers with fresh produce, manufacturers with food products, and artists selling their work.  It was pretty large and very crowded!

We were there on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m. The market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but from what I hear, and as you would expect, it is most crowded on Saturdays.  There were so many wonderful vendors, I couldn't possibly cover all of them, so I'll just mention a select few.

Zach and I started by walking through the artists section before we met up with our class. There were some great artists there showcasing jewelry, paintings, photography and more. I came across this photographer named, "Sheile Taylor," or at least I think that is how her name is spelled. She had these wonderful pictures of parakeets. I asked where she had taken them and she told me they live in downtown SF!  Who would've thought that?!  They live in the city and they are so beautiful. She sold pictures and cards. I bought three cards for just $10 knowing that I'll never send them to anyone. They are getting framed and going up in my office!

Next, we met up with Eric and the group to get the official tour. We first visited many of the farmers who sold produce. Wow - what an amazing selection. There were so many fresh vegetables and even some unusual things such as geranium rose and lemon verbena leaves.

We went to a mushroom shop inside the Ferry Plaza, which had the best selection of mushrooms I had ever seen. I was so jealous! Bring this to DC!  Anyway, we chose to purchase some abalone and enoki mushrooms, but they also sold fresh truffles, chanterelle, lions mane, lobster, and blue foot! The truffles were $28 per ounce! Wow.

We also stopped by the Hodo Soy booth, which is perhaps the best tofu I have ever had. They sold many marinated tofus, yuba, and more. Unfortunately, they do not ship their products so you can only find them in local grocery stores or farmer's markets in and around San Francisco. Bummer.

We also stopped by a vendor who sold many different kinds of dips -- most of them were vegan. One in particular was an eggplant-based dip that was amazing. We picked one up to take home.

Then, we came across this amazing cold-pressed olive oil vendor called, "Nick Sciabica & Sons." They make these amazing olive oils in many flavors. I picked up a 4-pack of garlic, habanero pepper, rosemary, and basil oils. Yum!

Lastly, we stopped by Pepple's, the amazing vegan donut stand. This stand deserved its own story, which you can read here.

Other stuff we saw on the way out were sprouted veggie burgers along with fresh raw vegan food from Alive!

I only wish we had had time to stay longer!  This is one great farmer's market. Be sure to check it out the next time you go to San Francisco. I know I'll be back!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Living Intentions - Sprouted Trail Mix

The last time I was at the Whole Foods in Oakland, CA, I picked up a raw food item made by Living Intentions (see review here).  It tasted so good that it made me want to try their other products as well. So, I placed an order online for a few items.

Living Intentions is a small company based in San Francisco that makes all raw, vegan products. They state that they believe that making healthy food choices should be simple and effortless without sacrificing the experiences you love. I agree!

The first product I tried is their raw sprouted trail mix in the Mango Goji Fire flavor. Now, I eat trail mix every day...yep, every day, so I wasn't expecting anything special. Boy, was I surprised. This raw trail mix is amazing!  From the sprouted almonds to the organic raw cashews, every nut was coated in this delectable spice mix of Himalayan crystal salt and organic habanero. Oh, yeah...this is really spicy!  The mix of nuts along with mango, wild goji berries, Himalayan gold raisins, sultanas, and sprouted pumpkin seeds is an incredible flavor combination.

The other raw sprouted trail mix that I tried is the Thai Chili Pineapple. Again, it was super spicy, hence the chili flavor! This mix is made with green raisins, chili lime pineapple, raw cashews, sprouted pumpkin seeds, sprouted sunflower seeds, sultanas, Amazonian raw jungle peanuts, apple, chilies, Himalayan crystal salt, lemon oil, and lime oil. The lime-flavored apple is delicious and the Amazonian raw jungle peanuts are really good. It is lemon and lime plus chili with all good stuff. I loved this one as well.

Thai Chili Pineapple

These mixes are just so much different than any other trail mixes I've ever tasted. They are incredibly flavorful and unique. The best part about them is that they are sprouted so they contain live enzymes, low phytates and extra nutrition. This aids digestion and strengthens the body's natural healing process, increasing vital energy and wellness.

I highly recommend these trail mixes! You can order them at Amazon today by clicking here: Trail Mix. I know I'll definitely be getting more!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kikkoman Kara-Áge Seasoned Gardein with Ponzu Sauce

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was given the opportunity to use Kikkoman's Kara-Age Soy-Ginger Seasoned Coating Mix in a recipe. I was delightfully surprised to have been chosen for this as the instructions were that Tastemaker's should use it in a chicken dish. Now, I have the opportunity to do it vegan chicken style -- and what better vegan chicken to use than Gardein!

Kara-Age is Japan's popular fried chicken dish -- a standard appetizer, which can also serve as the main course for lunch or dinner.  The Kikkoman mix is the coating for the [vegan] chicken.

Kara-Age Seasoned Gardein
Serves 4-8
  • 1-2 packages of mostly defrosted Gardein Chick'n Scallopini (a delicious soy- and wheat-based chicken substitute)
  • 1 box Kikkoman Kara-Age Coating Mix
  • Canola oil
Vegan Ponzu Sauce (from The Tofu Princess) (usually made with dried, fermented tuna so I made my own)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1T rice vinegar
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1T chopped green onion
Sauteed Greens

  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • Garlic powder (to taste)
  • Ginger powder (to taste)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Put enough canola oil in a fry or saute pan so that it is about 1/4 high in the pan and heat on medium heat.  While the pan is heating, put the Kara-Age seasoning in a plastic bag, then place a chick'n scallopini in the bag and shake it until it is coated. Repeat for the rest of the the chick'n scallopinis. Once warm enough, place them in the pan and fry for 2-4 minutes on each side.

Heat olive oil at medium heat in another frying pan. Chop 1 bunch of swiss chard into strips. Once the pan is hot enough, place the swiss chard in the pan along with garlic powder, salt, and ginger powder to taste. Let it cook until wilted, tossing frequently.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients and stir them to mix.

To serve, place the sauteed greens on the plate first, top with a Gardein chick'n scallopini and put a small bowl of vegan ponzu sauce on the side for dippping. Voila - Kara-Age vegan style!

Disclosure: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received Kikkoman Kara-Age Seasoning Mix.