Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy plus Emily Valentine, 90210, Puddles Pity Party & Chucky!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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It has been an exciting few weeks.  First of all – I attended Rewind Convention in Chicago for an 80’s-90’s TV & film thingy & lotsa the 90210 folks were there.  It was great seeing them!

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It was as cool as seeing the Child’s Play 2 cast – which I did in September.  Coolest of all was seeing the 90210: The Musical in NYC!   It runs thru Dec. 17 so – if you live near NYC & love 90210 – you MUST go see it.  Here is a little peek:

Is that not BRILLIANT?  I have to say – this homage was as surreal as it was flattering.  Truly – a highlight of my career – to have a character I created recreated by others.  REALLY fun.

Then I got to see & MEET Puddles!!!   If you are unfamiliar – you are really missing out.  He is a 6’8″ sad clown with a truly golden voice!   See him if you ever get the opportunity.

So – it has been an incredible fall for me!

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Oh!  And there is more!   I had a few lines on a new TV show!   See above.  Only a few lines but they were with Topher Grace (swoon!) and Ray Romano – so – that did not suck.  Even the 5am call time was made OK because it was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!  And Topher Grace was VERY generous & confessed to having been a big 90210 fan, back in the day.  It is always comforting when other actors acknowledge being aware of you and your work.  And I am a huge fan of Topher’s so – yeah.  That was fun!

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So – yeah – a fun-filled autumn.

So – I realized this week that I am becoming a hoarder.  A food hoarder.  I have moth issues so I like to keep all my dry goods (beans, rice, sugar, flour, pasta etc) in the fridge or freezer.  Still – they keep putting that Di Martino pasta on sale for .79 cents a pound!  I cannot afford NOT to buy it!  So – as I was shoving my twentieth pound of overflow dry goods into my pantry – I saw my pantry.  Really saw it.

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Those drawers are DEEP.  I have enough food in there to last years and I live ALONE!  I have every condiment from American standards to those needed for Thai or Indian or whatever-the-fuck food.  There are about 20 jars of Rao’s Arrabbiata pasta sauce and at least 20 pounds of dry pasta & every kind of canned bean & oil or vinegar of whatever you can think of.  If you can name it – I probably have more than one container of it and if it comes in varieties – I will have several.  I even have canned tuna & meats for my dogs.  It is a fucking problem.

Another problem is that I recently watched the amazing Food Choices documentary.  Click that to watch the trailer.  I already eat about 90% vegan – with cheese being my final hurdle.  The movie really drove home, for me, the idea that eating cheese is really no better than eating meat.  It requires the same suffering & death (of baby calves) – making cheese consumption on par with veal.  I would NEVER eat veal & even silently judge those I hear order it.  Yet – cheese is still on my plate.

So – I went to the farmers’ market in Hollywood the past crisp & gorgeous Sunday morning hoping to find the Soledad Goat folks & buy vegan cheese from them.  They were not there (but I discovered & purchased their cheezes online HERE this week & bought several) – but, like an asshole, I let myself be drawn to the local REAL cheese guy’s table.  I have been longing to experiment with a poutine recipe but have never seen cheese curds anywhere.  I was not even sure what they were.  But – he had them.  They are:

From Wikipedia:

Cheese curds, in cuisine or cooking, are the solid parts of curdled milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes mostly in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States. They are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese“.

Cheese curds start off with fresh milk. The milk is pasteurized, much like in the process of creating cheese. During this process, rennet is added to clot the milk. After the milk has been pasteurized, the result is a mixture of whey and the early stages of the curd. This mixture is then cooked. Next, it is pressed to release the whey from the curd, thus creating the final product of cheese curd.

Characteristics

Their flavor is mild, but can differ in taste depending on the process in which it was made. It has about the same firmness and density as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”. After 12 hours, even under refrigeration, cheese curds lose much of their “fresh” characteristic, particularly the “squeak”.[4] Keeping them at room temperature can preserve the squeakiness.

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While I debated buying those – he insisted I taste his sage-cheddar.  I did.  It was delicious.  I caved & bought the sage cheese & the curds.  Here are some of his other cheeses & some info on him.

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I also headed to the Korean table because they make the MOST INSANELY DELICIOUS TEMPEH!  I bough two of those.  And a fennel bulb.  Then I became overwhelmed by the choices, the number of vendors peddling produce and, frankly, the prices.  These markets are not cheap.  So – I scuttled home with the tempeh, the guilty cheese & the fennel.

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Several years ago, I realized I had stockpiles of food that were getting out of control.  I did an experiment & tried to ONLY eat what I already had, in an effort to spend ZERO on groceries in one month.  I managed to almost do it but I had to spend a few dollars here and there for non-dairy creamer & stuff.  But – I bought no produce so – after a week or so – I was fresh outta fresh produce & was reduced to eating pastas, rices & breads that I had frozen.  As I state in my novel – and all beige diet has consequences.   I will let you guess what I mean but let’s just say it is very different than, say, an all-BEET diet.  My friends knew I was doing this and began panicking.  Two different people delivered bags of produce to my door.  When I attempted this pantry-emptying plan a second time – again – one of those friends delivered produce to my door.  VERY VERY sweet!  But – I was not on a hunger strike.  I was just challenging myself to stop hoarding & being wasteful of perishables.

So – as I launch into my third effort to spend zero on groceries (wine being an exception – and eating in restaurants doesn’t count, either) – I will still allow myself my regular twice-monthly delivery of produce from Farm Fresh to You.  That way – my friends won’t be wringing their hands, terrified that my bones are crumbling & my skin is falling off or whatever it is they fear.   I will attempt to keep a log of what I eat & what money I spend.  Yesterday – I spent just under $10 at Carneys.  I had a Garden burger & fries.  For dinner – a small salad.

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Today’s breakfast.  That is the best almond milk – in my opinion.  And vegans, beware!  Those Morning Star sausages are only vegetarian – not vegan!  Bear with me – these posts will get more and more creative as I am forcing myself to eat what I have without buying anything – for a month!   We will see how it goes.

OK – on to the POUTINE!  I do not think I have ever had poutine but the idea appeals to me.  You can use fresh cheese curds (as I did) or mozzarella or VEGAN cheese – like this amazing stuff below.

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That little bag costs $8 but is the best & meltiest vegan mozzarella I have found – after my own homemade vegan mozzarella – seen below.

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OK – so – you can make poutine using frozen fries & canned gravy & make this very easily.  I opted to MAKE the fries as I describe HERE.  And – I made a new vegan gravy because my other vegan gravy does not have the rich & dark color I wanted for the poutine.

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So – first up – the

Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

5 TBS vegan butter

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 leek

ten or more sage leaves

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)

2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

Chives – chopped for garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Finely chop the mushrooms & leek.  I pulsed them in my food processor.  If you do not own one – maybe just blend the finished gravy to make it smooth.

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Heat the stock in a soup pan.  Add the soy sauce & kitchen bouquet.  Simmer.

In another pan, melt FOUR of the five tablespoons of the butter & saute the vegetables until soft.  Add the flour & stir to combine.  Add the stock 1/2 to 1 cup at at time – over high heat – until the gravy thickens.  If it is too thin once you add all the stock – just boil it down a bit.

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Melt the remaining TBS of butter & fry the sage leaves a minute or two.  Drain them on a paper towl & crumble.  Add to the gravy.  Add the leftover sage butter to the gravy.  Voila!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

French fries – either THESE homemade, or your recipe or frozen ones

Gravy – either the recipe above or your favorite one

Cheese curds or grated cheese or vegan cheese

Chives or parsley as garnish

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Once the fries are crispy & the gravy is warm – assemble the poutine:  fries, cheese, gravy & some chives or parsley.  Shove’m in your pie hole fast – before they get soggy.  Or – you can just dip fries & cheese in gravy.

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Saint Benoit Creamery French-Style Yogurt

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I don’t hawk products very often – if at all – but this fucking yogurt is so amazing, I just had to give them a shout out.

As a person who eats vegan about 90% of the time (vegetarian always) – I very seldom eat yogurt.  Typically, I am underwhelmed by it anyway & can think of more fun ways to eat those calories.  But – I am a sucker for yogurt in glass packaging.  I spotted this stuff on the shelf at the Hollywood Gelson’s yesterday & both the glass & the red “grass fed” caught my eye.

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So – I bought that big jar of vanilla & a baby jar of the Meyer lemon & took them home.  I opened the vanilla after dinner & was immediately blown away.  First of all – there seemed to be a thicker cream layer on the top – which I mixed in.  The yogurt is pretty thick but insanely creamy.  And the taste!  So subtle!  Almost like eating clotted cream or a very sweet, soft butter.  Unlike any yogurt I have ever had.  Absolutely the height of quality.

Curious – I about the “grass-fed” claim & more detail about the company – I looked up Saint Benoit Creamery.

It seems to be owned by the man below & his family.  Gorgeous photos and – if you can believe what they show you – happy cows in a gorgeous, green & rolling environment. (Photos below from their site.)

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Their philosophy is “terroir.”

“Terroir” is a French word describing food “of a place”, food that reflects the character of the land from which it came. By extension, it defines a lifestyle that emphasizes the benefits of using local products.

Saint Benoît’s ‘terroir’ is Sonoma County. From this coastal land’s unique climate, geography, history, traditions and diverse population comes some of the best wine and food on the West Coast.

In western Sonoma County, we found a family dairy of many generations that produces the richest and healthiest milk we have ever tasted. This exceptional Jersey cows’ milk is the key element to the unique flavor of Saint Benoît yogurts.

We also found fruit orchards and fruit growers who hand make fruit preserves. The preserves we use in our yogurts are made with organic tree-ripened fruit using significantly less sugar than commercial jams.

Last but not least, we make Saint Benoît yogurt in small batches right on the farm. It is indeed food “of a place” – its freshness is exceptional!

Here is their posted story:

“I wanted to make a product I could feel good about giving my children.”
– Benoît

When my brother David and I started our company back in 2004, we were on a mission to: “create healthy, “terroir”, gourmet products from the San Francisco Bay Area in order to satisfy consumers’ curiosity for local artisanal products and for new food experiences.” We created a unique package for our product, the ceramic brown container featured in our logo, and brought our French-style yogurts to Bay Area farmer’s markets. Our small batch approach to yogurt making was well received by our local audience.

Today, here we are ten years later, and our small batch creamery has scaled to provide a low-heat, vat pasteurized, organic, whole milk, as well as an entirely new series of yogurt packaged for national distribution.

We still sell our products at many Farmer’s Markets in Northern California, and we love engaging with our customers and hearing how they are using our products.

While our original ceramic container and ball jar packages are now retired, we remain steadfast in our efforts to keep plastic out of our landfills and have designed new glass containers to support standard recycling programs around the U.S.

In 2008 we began our renovations to build a clean room, sustainably and for future product development. We’re really proud of the green approach we were able to take with our partners.

Doing things right

We have always been located in Sonoma, but initially were unable to produce the yogurt on the farm which meant we had to haul the milk a short distance to make the yogurt. In July of 2008, we began transforming an old milking parlor on the Mattos farm into our new creamery. With a little help from people like Whole Foods and John Mattos (dairy partner) who believed in us, some ingenuity, many months of planning and forethought, our seeds have grown into a thriving and sustainable creamery. Uncle Bill helped bring the project to fruition, making sure the creamery reflected our mission and philosophy of respecting the land and food shed we cherish. He helped us design a system that reuses water from yogurt production for irrigation and reduces energy costs. He repurposed old materials from building sites such as doors and windows that he hand fitted into the existing building. Together we chose a new type of wall covering that is not only state of the art, it also just happens to be made from recycled plastic milk bottles. We kept the old cement walls that conserve the cool air, which will help us save energy when we install our new walk-in cooler. And best yet, the milk is right there… the girls are creating it from those lush organic pastures beneath our very eyes, every day, right outside the new-old windows of our new-old creamery.

There is a very interesting video at the bottom of THIS PAGE talks about the fact that they use environmentally-friendly packaging & process their products as little as they can & keep it within regulations.  Watch the video – it is really interesting.

Here is what they say about the yogurt:

Saint Benoît Creamery is excited to introduce a new line of yogurt featuring glass packaging. The new glass package is recyclable, much lighter than our ceramic jars, which will help us significantly reduce carbon emissions during transportation, and offers a better seal, which will help us deliver our high-quality yogurts nationwide.

Unfortunately, this means an end to our returnable yogurt program. While we are sad to see it go (and say goodbye to our ceramic containers), we’re excited about our new packages and hope you are as well.

Our Yogurt is made solely from Jersey cow’s whole milk and is cultured with Bulgaricus, Thermophilus, Acidophilus and Bifidus, the yogurt making bacteria. We use wholesome pasture-fed organic cow’s milk from John Mattos’ family farm in Two Rock in Sonoma county. Our Yogurt culture comes from France where it has been used for decades to produce sweet, mild and smooth yogurts. Unlike most producers, we add no thickeners, stabilizers or preservatives. Just milk and culture, that’s it!

All of our fruit-spreads are made from whole, locally-grown organic fruit and handcrafted for us by our partner farm Lagier Ranches. We use the whole fruit peel and all, so look for the little bits of zest floating around in the Meyer lemon. The fruit is at the bottom, so just mix—or dig! We do not use imported fruits, frozen purées, or commercial “yogurt jams.” This guarantees the freshest tastiest product with the least amount of waste. It also means that the flavor, texture, and color may vary according to the season. We never change the recipe, but good old Mother Nature has to have her say in how it turns out!

The Four Seasons

The cows’ milk naturally varies according to the season. For example, at some points of the year the cows’ milk contains more carotene and therefore the cream layer is a buttery yellow color. At other times of the year, the cream is whiter. Because the lovely ladies are pasture-fed, this greatly affects their milk. In the hot summer months, the girls get quite thirsty and drink more. This means their milk may also contain more water and make the yogurt slightly thinner. January also brings this about, but it’s because the grass in the fields is so rich, green, and waterlogged that they get more water from the grass itself. The same processes can affect the cream content. Because we do not remove the fat and re-inject it into the yogurt (as most companies do) and do not add milk powder to thicken it, our yogurt has a seasonal quality to it. Two benefits are that you have a product that is closer to the original state of the ingredient, and that delightful new mixtures occur. For example, when the milk contains more water and the bees are buzzing away in heavy-pollen season, all the factors align to give a whole new twist to our honey yogurt. The milk flavor is slightly less prominent, the rich honey comes through even more, and you can even find a slight dusting of pollen on the cream layer!

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Seriously.  This looks to be as close to an old-fashioned & humane farm as a company could hope to be.  Look HERE to see where you can buy it near you.  And if it is available & you eat yogurt – you simply MUST try this stuff at least once!

Vegan Ash Mash (Persian Mung Bean Soup) with Purple Kohlrabi & French Breakfast Radishes – for the Slow Cooker or Stove Top

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I bought mung beans at my local Asian market with no idea what to make with them.  Having had such success this week with my Vegan Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce – for the Slow Cooker or Stove Top (seen just above) – I decided to make another slow cooker soup with them.  This soup has such simple ingredients it is hard to understand why it is so tasty – but it really IS!  I used purple kohlrabi because I could not resist buying these gorgeous things when I saw them at the store.

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They come in green, as well, and have a texture like the stem of broccoli – but also have something in common with radishes.  I saw lots of people suggesting to slice them thin & salt them & eat them raw.  I tried that – and liked it – but I was Hell bent on soup.  Because these reminded me of radishes – I decided to also use the French breakfast radishes you see in the enchilada soup photo.  The nice side benefit of using kohlrabi & radishes is that – once cooked – they seem like potato – but without that heaviness.  If you don’t like the sound of kohlrabi & radishes (which become creamy & mild in this soup) – use turnips – or even potato, instead.

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Lets talk about mung beans.  That bag had two cups of dry beans in it & I got it for $1.49.  That is CHEAP eating!    Here is some info from Dr. Axe on mung beans:

Mung beans — a type of small, green legume in the same plant family as peas and lentils — is a high source of protein, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Although in most parts of the world they’re less popular than other bean varieties, like chickpeas or black beans, mung beans have some huge health benefits to offer!

While mung beans may be new to most people in the U.S, they’ve been a part of traditional Ayurvedic diets in India for thousands of years. Mung beans are considered  “one of the most cherished foods” in the ancient Indian practice that’s been a traditional form of medicine since roughly 1,500 B.C.

These days, mung beans are beginning to pop up in protein powders, canned soups and in restaurant dishes state-side. So here’s what you need to know about mung beans:

  • Mung beans are a high source of nutrients including: manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins.
  • They are also a very filling food, high in protein, resistant starch and dietary fiber.
  • You can find mung beans in dried powder form, as whole uncooked beans, “split-peeled” form (just like you’d find split green peas), as bean noodles, and also assprouted seeds (which are the kind you’d see used on sandwiches or salads).
  • Their dried seeds may be eaten raw, cooked (whole or split), fermented, or milled and ground into flour.
  • Because of their high nutrient density, mung beans are considered useful in defending against several chronic, age-related diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Clinical evidence continues to show that plant-derived foods have various potential health benefits, including lowering inflammation. Health experts recommend that plant-based foods make up a large portion of every person’s diet, and many worldwide health organizations have recommended an increase in the intake of plant-derived foods to improve health status and to prevent chronic diseases. Among plant-based sources of protein and nutrients, mung beans are one of the foods gathering the most attention.

As you’ll come to learn, mung beans are one of the healthiest sources of plant protein there is when you consider how many other nutrients they contain in addition to amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). As the Journal of Chemistry Central puts it, “mung beans have biological activities including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, lipid metabolism accommodation, antihypertensive and antitumor effects.” (1)


Mung Beans Nutrition Facts

One cup of cooked mung beans contains the following (percentages based on the RDAs for the average adult female): (2)

  •  212 calories
  • 14 grams of protein
  • 15 grams of fiber
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 4 grams of sugar
  • 321 micrograms of folate (100%)
  • 97 milligrams of magnesium (36%)
  • 0.33 milligrams of vitamin b1 thiamine (36%)
  • 0.6 milligrams of manganese (33%)
  • 7 milligrams of zinc (24%)
  • 0.8 milligrams of vitamin B5 pantothenic acid (8%)
  • 0.13 milligrams of vitamin B6 (11%)
  • 55 milligrams of calcium (5%)

If you choose to sprout mung beans and eat them raw, each cup will only have about 31 calories and will provide about three grams of protein and two grams of fiber.

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And from GreenMungBeans.com:

Green Mung Bean Nutritional Information
• High in Protein
• High in Fiber
• Low in Fat
• Low in Calories

Nutritional Facts: 1 oz (28 grams) of dried Green Mung Beans:
• 100 Calories
• 0g Fat
• 5g Fiber
• 7g Protein (Protein equivalent to 1 hardboiled egg or 1 oz of chicken, turkey, salmon, etc.)

Green Mung Beans are Nutritional Powerhouses
• Good source of protein
• Good source of dietary fiber (helps to lower cholesterol, prevents constipation and keeps you feeling full)
• Low in sodium
• Low in cholesterol
• Vitamins: A, B Vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid) Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin K.
• Minerals: Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.
• Sprouted Green Mung Beans produce live enzymes
• Mung Beans are low on the glycemic index at 25 and have a low glycemic load of 4 making them a smart food choice for diabetics. Diabetics can safely eat Green Mung Beans. The low glycemic index, fiber and protein help to regulate blood sugar.
• They also contain skin anti-aging properties that stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin, all essential to younger healthier skin.

Eating Green Mung Beans is Ideal for those with Digestive Issues and Sensitive Stomachs

Green Mung Beans Are:
•Easily digestible
•Anti-inflammatory (can reduce inflammation)
•Containing oligosaccharides to prevent gas and bloating, unlike other beans
•Containing high amounts of fiber, thereby preventing constipation
•One of the few tridoshic foods in Ayurvedic diets that can be eaten to balance all three dosha’s (energetic forces) in the body

Green Mung Beans Exhibit Powerful Antioxidant Properties that can Help Fight Disease as well as Protect the Body.

Consuming Green Mung Beans Have Been Studied to Treat the Following Medical Conditions:
•Diabetes
•Heart Disease
•Cancer
•Celiac Disease/Gluten Free Diets
•Anemia
•Osteoporosis
•Digestion
•Inflammation

Green Mung Beans Contain Phytoestrogens Contributing to Anti-Aging Benefits
Benefits of Phytoestrogens:
•Produce Collagen, Elastin, and Hyaluronic acid, All Three of which are Essential to Acquiring Younger and Healthier skin
•Can Regulate Hormones after Menopause, Relieve Hot Flashes, and Prevent Osteoporosis

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So – as you can see – there are lots of reasons to track down & chow down some green mung beans!  When you add all the benefits of turmeric & the fact that the rice makes this soup a complete protein – you are hard-pressed to make a more robustly healthy soup.   If you cannot find mung beans locally (in health or Asian food stores) – try here on AMAZON.    Another great thing about this soup is how economical it is.  Some cheap beans, some rice, a few cheap veggies & some stock.   I bet this vast quantity of soup cost me less than $20.  With some crusty bread, you could feed a very large group of folks.

This recipe makes A LOT of soup but this is a very protein rich vegan soup & great for cold weather and we are nowhere near the end of winter.  I have not yet frozen any but I certainly will be.  I imagine it will freeze well – so make the vat of it & freeze a bunch for lazy days.

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Vegan Ash Mash (Persian Mung Bean Soup) with Purple Kohlrabi & French Breakfast Radishes

Serves a boatload of people as it fills a 7 quart slow cooker.

INGREDIENTS

 1 cup dry green mung beans

1 cup long grain Basmati (or other) rice

2 (15 oz) cans white beans – drained

2 jalapenos – seeded & diced (very optional)

1 onion – diced

1 TBS turmeric

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp pepper

16 cups vegetable stock (try to use a low sodium one)

5 kohlrabi – cubed

10 French breakfast radishes – cubed

GARNISH – vegan sour cream

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DIRECTIONS

for the slow cooker

Heat the olive oil in a pan & saute the onion & jalapenos (if using) until soft.

I boiled the stock before putting it in the slow cooker because I was unfamiliar with the cooking time of the mung beans.  I left the slow cooker on high for 5 hours – and everything was very soft – so – the boiling of the stock might not be necessary but – if you need to serve this at a 5 hour deadline – maybe boil the stock, too.  Otherwise – if time is not an issue – you needn’t.

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Now – just put everything into the slow cooker – on high – for 5 hours.  I imagine low for 8 hours would work, too, but I ain’t tried that.   When it is done – you can choose to garnish with sour cream – but it doesn’t really need it.

for the stove top

Heat the olive oil in a pan that will be large enough to hold the entire recipe & saute the onion & jalapenos (if using) until soft.  Add everything else & bring to a boil.  Simmer until the rice & beans are soft – 30 minutes to an hour.  When it is done – you can choose to garnish with sour cream – but it doesn’t really need it.

And – now your house smells all homey & yummy & you have 30+cups of protein-packed, healing soup!  Invite the villagers in & impress them with your skills & generosity.

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Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK. So I started a new job last week – in post – on Tamar & Vince (click that to see the trailer).  Lemme just say – it is a world I would not typically stumble into – even over-served.  But – it is entertaining & it is NOT breaking rocks in the hot sun so – I go – I do post things –  I giggle.  I get paid.

Then I come home & feel like I deserve shit – after watching rich people HAVE shit for 9 hours.  Of course – I can’t have a McMansion in Calabasas but you know what?  I CAN have French fries in Hollywood & so having French fries in Hollywood is what I did.  TWO DAYS IN A ROW!  Except for a little olive oil – these are really just baked potatoes in miniature form.  Virtually guiltless.  SO yummy!  And so many options for dipping.  I used ketchup & two (non-vegan) aiolis from Stonewall kitchen – mainly because I am drawn to their packaging and I like to pay too much for things that are still affordable even at exorbitant prices.  The Sriracha one is better than the truffle one – in my opinion – and these two things could easily be made at home using vegan mayo.

I read somewhere that adding a tablespoon or two of sugar to the fries aids in crispiness without adding sweetness.  I will try that next time & add an update here.  Meanwhile – this is just potatoes, olive oil and S&P.  Eat two whole potatoes worth?  Maybe 400 calories.  400 calories?  I stress my way through that by lunch time – but – the stress does release cortisol into my system & leaves me just as fat as fries with no stress would – so – I’m not sure I am getting the best deal – BUT – these fries remain in a low calorie category, they are easy & cheap & do a lot to fill gaping holes in your soul that are supposed to be filled with various senses of personal accomplishment and with love (love from OTHERS – not this fickle & unreliable self-love shit).  I say – if you are gonna live a hollow & lonely life filled with missed opportunity, lost affection, inevitable aging, self-loathing & regret – these fries might be all that is left to live for.  Oh – and dogs.  Dogs & fries.  And champagne. And this paddle ball & that chair.

OK – I digress.

I read that soaking the sliced potatoes in ICED WATER helps them release starches & aids in the crisping process.  So – do it for as long as you can – or at least for as long as it takes your oven to heat up.

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Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries

INGREDIENTS

Russet potatoes – peeled (or not) & cut into fries of the thickness you prefer (I went about the size of my pinkies)

Olive oil

S&P

POTENTIAL GARNISH – crushed garlic warmed for about a minute in a frying pan with some olive oil – or chopped herbs or Parmesan or a drizzle of truffle oil.

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DIRECTIONS

Prepare the potatoes & soak them in icy cold water.

Heat the oven to 450-475.

After the potatoes have soaked for at least 15 minutes – dry them off.  I did this by rolling them in paper towels wrapped in a kitchen towel.

Toss with as little olive oil as you can use & still get a thin coat on all the potatoes.  Other oils – like canola or vegetable oil – would work, too.

Toss with S&P and maybe a TBS of sugar?  I tossed them by putting the potato, olive oil and S&P in a Ziplock bag or Tupperware container & shaking the shit outta them.

Spread the fries out on a cooking sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper because it is magical & nothing sticks to it but foil & cooking spray would work, too).  Do not let the fries touch each other or they won’t get crispy.

Bake the fries for between 30 minutes to an hour – depending on the thickness of the fries & the effectiveness of the oven.  Turn them in about 15-20 minute intervals – so at least two sides get browned.  Don’t overcook them & pull out the thinnest ones as the fatter ones still require cooking.  Eat those as a treat to yourself for doing the fucking cooking.

Here are mine at about half way through the process & before I flipped them.  When they are done – eat’m up!  See how easy?

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Vegan Herbed French Lentil Salad with Wilted Spinach & Arugula

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These guys are really easy.  You can prepare the veggies while the lentils cook & then just toss it all together.  It can be served warm or cold.  Healthy, light & delicious!

I used this infused olive oil & French Lentils (above) but regular olive oil works great and any kind of lentils would work, too.  I think French lentils cook faster (22 minutes or so) & hold their shape after cooking a bit better but preparing any lentils on the al dente side should work great.

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Vegan Herbed French Lentil Salad with Wilted Spinach & Arugula

INGREDIENTS

1 cup French (or other) lentils – cooked as directed – erring on the al dente side

1 TBS olive oil

2 cups baby spinach

2 cups arugula

1/4 red onion – diced

1/2 pint (1 cup) grape, heirloom cherry or regular cherry tomatoes – halved

juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)

1/4 cup fresh basil – minced

1/4 cup fresh mint – minced

1/4 cup fresh, flat-leaf parsley – minced

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the lentils & drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan & saute the onion until soft.  Add the spinach & arugula & toss until just wilted.  Removed from heat & toss with the remaining ingredients.  Season with S&P.

MMMM!

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Jameson Whiskey Spicy Vegan Beef Bourguignon with Gluten-Free Pasta & Broccoli

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OK – I am officially obsessed with Trader Joe’s Beef-Less Strips.  The other day I made the easiest & most awesome Spicy Vegan Mongolian Beef.

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Last night I made this vegan variation of beef bourguignon & it was amazing!  Beef bourguignon is, basically, a French beef stew.  Many recipes call for cognac.  I didn’t have cognac so I used Jameson whiskey.  Many beef bourguignon recipes require a good 3-4 hours of cooking the meat in the oven.  This was made stove top in thirty minutes & I believe that would hold true even if you used real meat.  It was so Goddamn delicious – I ate it all – by myself!  I served it atop gluten-free spaghetti.

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You could use any pasta you like or mashed potatoes or polenta – whatever.  I also steamed some broccoli & added it to the plate.  It was really quite something & I sincerely hope you try it.  It is SO EASY & so yummy – I promise – you will make it again.

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Jameson Whiskey Spicy Vegan Beef Bourguignon with Gluten-Free Pasta & Broccoli

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

8 oz package Trader Joe’s Beef-less Strips (or other brand or similar portion of real beef – cubed or strips)

10 pearl onions (fresh or frozen)

3 carrots – chopped

5-10 mushrooms – cut in half (or quartered, if they are large)

1 TBS cornstarch (or flour)

olive oil

1/4 cup Jameson whiskey

1 cup red wine (use a decent one so you can drink the rest of the bottle with the meal)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 TBS tomato paste

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 tsp (or more – to taste) crushed red pepper (optional)

Fresh thyme

S&P to taste

1/2 lb pasta

Broccoli florets (enough to feed two as a side)

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DIRECTIONS

If using fresh pearl onions – put them in boiling water for 3 minutes & then drain under cold water.  Cut the ends off & peel.  Set aside.  If using frozen ones – jump ahead.

Dredge your meat (real or vegan) in the cornstarch.

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Put a thin layer of olive oil in a large saute pan & heat over high.  Add the meat & sear on all sides.  This will likely take longer if you use real meat.  Don’t worry much about under-cooking real meat as it will continue to cook as you add ingredients.

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Deglaze the pan with the Jameson whiskey (simply by adding it & stirring it in – scraping the bottom of the pan) & then add 1 cup red wine, the vegetable stock, tomato paste, bay leaves, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using).  Heat to a boil then reduce to med-low.  Add S&P to taste.  Ad several sprigs of chopped fresh thyme (leaves only – not stems).

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In another pan, add a glug or two of olive oil & over medium heat, saute the pearl onions, mushrooms & carrots.   Saute, stirring frequently, until they begin to sear or brown a bit (5 minutes or so).  Deglaze the pan with either more Jameson whiskey or wine (or water) and then add the lot to the beef stew pan.

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Continue cooking over medium heat until the carrots are tender.  If the stew is too thick, add some water.  If it is too thin – increase heat & cook until you get the desired consistency.  Lower heat & let it simmer while you cook the pasta & steam the broccoli.  I simply added the broccoli florets to the pasta for the final two minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.

Drain the pasta & broccoli & put some on plates.  Top with the beef bouguignon (and maybe extra thyme as garnish?) & serve with wine.  At least one bottle per person.  🙂

Or slop this stuff down with the remaining Jameson, in which case, the one bottle should be enough for two.  😉

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