Chocolate Raspberry Cake... OMG!

Okay kids... Get ready to amaze your friends and family with this one! They will absolutely be shocked when you tell them it's macrobiotic, after they've devoured their second piece. All my friends were super impressed and asked me to not only make another one but to give out the recipe. My pleasure, my beautiful fans!!

So my little secret is... I am NOT a baker. I will repeat, I am NOT a baker. I ruin cookies like you wouldn't believe (that goes for vegan and macrobiotic! Sigh, one of these days, I'll get it right!). I love cooking immensely, but sometimes the science in baking can really throw off a girl's groove. But it must be in my genes: my mother made wonderful delicious desserts and was a generous contributor to any occasion (my friends know her as the "Apple Coffee Cake" lady, and yes, that is a huge compliment!). She taught me that ladies never come empty handed, and that way, they'll always invite you back. ;) I love you so much Momma Sheena! 

My other secret is, The Peaceful Dessert Book by Yukiko Sato. She saves my life when it comes to baking and desserts alike. She taught me so much when I was at the Kushi Institute, and I remember drooling on command on the scheduled dessert days. Another day in Paradise!

I took her recipe for Double Chocolate Fudge Cake and only made one layer. You can do a double layer cake and put raspberry coulis (heat fresh raspberries, brown rice syrup and some sea salt then purée) in between the two layers. I also switched up a few ingredients.

Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Cake

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 TBS grain coffee ( I used Cafix)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cups palm sugar
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup 
  • 1 cup plain rice milk
  • 1/3 cup safflower oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh raspberries 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" baking pan and set aside. 
First, make the syrup. Take the palm sugar and brown rice syrup with some water and place it in a pot. Heat over a medium high flame until the sugar dissolves and becomes a syrup (get it?). Turn off the flame and set aside to cool down. 
Next comes the fun messy part... sift the four, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and grain coffee in a medium sized bowl. This is your dry mix.
Place the syrup, rice milk, safflower oil, ACV, vanilla, and salt in another bowl and whisk until it's well mixed. This is your wet mix.
Pour the wet into the dry mix and whisk well until it becomes a beautiful dark batter. Grab a rubber spatula and mix it gently. Do NOT over mix! Then RIGHT as you see it finishes coming together, get that batter into the pan and into the oven! Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes. My cake was done exactly at 25 minutes, and when you can pull a toothpick out of the middle totally clean, take it out of the oven to cool. 
Once cooled, lather on generous amounts of frosting and decorate with the raspberries. Frosting is basically made from silken tofu and whatever flavor you desire. Use 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup for your sugar. Yukiko is amazing at decorating cakes, and suggests also to garnish with mint leaves. Cool, huh?

And now you're now immersed into celebrity status with the adoring public. "Hey! That's the girl/guy that made that amazing cake!" "Yeah! And I don't even eat vegan crap, but that cake was GOOD!" Here you have it, guys! Please, save the applause for after you finish your slice of cake ;)

Be well. Xoxo

*heavy breathing*

Best Cranberry Sauce. Ever.

This recipe has been a hit since Thanksgiving, and I'm just sorry that I've been so busy I'm only sharing it now. But here it is, folks! It comes direct from Jane Quincannon Stanchich's Healthy Holiday Cooking Book, available at www.greatlifeglobal.com. Thanks again, Jane! You've turned this girl into a topic of conversation at the dinner table! 

Best Cranberry Sauce

1 pound of fresh cranberries, washed
1 cup of raisins
1 cup of dried cranberries (I added these to give it more texture)
1/2 cup rice syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 1/2 cups apple juice
zest and juice of 1 orange

Place cranberries, raisins, rice syrup, and maple syrup and apple juice in a pot. Have the flame come to a low boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 40 minutes, covered. Next, what I did was uncover the pot and let it continue to cook on low for 2-3 hours so the liquid gets mostly absorbed and the flavors blend perfectly. Stir in the zest and OJ, and add sweetener if you think it needs a little more. Transfer to a serving dish and set aside to cool. You can then garnish with more orange zest to give it color. 

The holidays actually have really grown on me. I've been listening to a Charlie Brown Christmas jazz music for the past two weeks while I'm writing cards and wrapping presents. It's a time of year where people reach out more, make an effort to say happy holidays or smile at passers by. The lights, the ornaments, the festivities, the food… Of course, the food!! It's all so lovely, isn't it? 

Happy Holidays to you! Time to bake cookies and watch Elf! :)

Need a good read?

Here are some great books to check out! Unbelievably delicious recipes, helpful go-to and how-to guides, inspiration, and even a great sense of humor! 

Cookbooks:
Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics - Jessica Porter
The Kind Diet - Alicia Silverstone
Cooking the Whole Foods Way - Christina Pirello
Controlling Crohn's Disease - Virginia Harper
Eat Me Now - Melanie Brown Waxman
Man in the Kitchen - Warren Wepman
The Peaceful Dessert Book - Yukiko Sato
 
Lifestyle:
The Great Life Diet - Denny Waxman
Power Eating Program - Lino Stanchich
Macrobiotics for Dummies - Verne Verona
 
All things Kushi:
The Macrobiotic Way - Michio Kushi
The Book of Macrobiotics
One Peaceful World
Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking - Aveline Kushi
 
These are just a few of my favorite things! There's more to come, so for now... To be continued!

World Vegan Day Celebration!

Party in the parking lot!!! Woo! ;)

I will be at the fabulous Bean Vegan Cuisine this Saturday for their awesome celebration! There will be great stuff, music, kids face painting, a collective Stone Veggie Soup (bring your favorite veggie to add to it!), and lots of cool performances later in the day.

I love being a part of a community of people who want to have fun for a cause. It's a great opportunity to meet people and make new connections and celebrate life!

Hope to see you there!!

Transient

Happy Halloween!

Hey all you gals and ghouls!

I've been having so much fun these days! Costume choices have included a masquerade ball dancer and a peacock! Super scary, I know!
But today I wanted to share a quick and easy recipe for spooky Rice Crispies treats!
In macrobiotics, sugar is a big no-no, even organic sugar. The better choices are foods like brown rice syrup, barley malt, or maple syrup in some cases. Check out a good read on the dangers of sugar and its history in Sugar Blues by William Dufty (this guy really knows  his stuff about the harmful silent killer, sugar!)

So there are ways to substitute (it's all about adaptation and adjustments!). Also, PLEASE  check out my favorite dessert queen Yukiko Sato's book The Peaceful Dessert Book; she is a dessert making GENIUS!! And I don't say that often. Her book is super informative but simply written, with beautiful pictures and DELICIOUS macrobiotic dessert recipes. Whenever I need a great dessert recipe in a flash, I grab her book. It's a must have for any macrobiotic kitchen.

Processed foods like marshmallows are usually full of not so nice ingredients, so to make the rice cereal stick, use nut butters and rice syrup! Here's how it works:

Heat 1 cup of almond butter with 1 cup of brown rice syrup together in a saucepan on low heat until it becomes a nice creamy texture. Pour this over 3 cups of Erewhon crispy brown rice cereal and fold the mix over until the crispies form. Quickly transfer to a glass pan or cookie sheet and spread it out. Then you add the chocolate chips on the top so they melt nicely on it.

You can then cut them into squares and use plastic spiders or other Halloween food decorations to add to the hocus pocus! I brought these to my friends Halloween party the other night and the hobgoblins gobbled them up!!

I promise more recipes to come. Fall is a favorite season of mine- pumpkin pie, stuffed squash, butternut soup, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, pecan pie... Well, you get where I'm going with this! :)

For now, happy Halloween and remember to check out other macro vegan recipes to enjoy your own macro holiday!

Be well,
Janine

Transient

Miso Happy!

Yes, I did just title this blog a cliche phrase! But it applies and it's true! 

I have been so happy lately. A lot of wonderful things are happening and I could not be more grateful. It's moments that come along where I stop for a second and think, wow, I'm so lucky to have this experience or this sunset, or this time with this person, or this meal. To actually self reflect and enjoy life is a valued principle of macrobiotics... and it's probably one of my favorite parts of its philosophy. 

And the food, of course. 

I have been making wonderful miso soups. There's so many benefits to miso, it's cray cray! I think of miso as a laser gun zapping away all my "sludge" as Jessica Porter appropriately calls it. Radiation zapper, acidity zapper, fatigue zapper, cancer prevention and healing including breast cancer zapper, alcohol/drug/tobacco zapper, the list goes on! But it's also a giver, vitamins, probiotics, active digestive enzymes! It's a living food! How cool is that?

"It is great when medical science confirms the medicinal properties of important traditional foods, but researchers are not even close to understanding the importance of miso. Miso is a nourishing, high energy, whole food that helps maintain health and vitality. And because of the magic of lactic acid fermentation, miso is much more than the sum of its parts. During fermentation, the complex proteins, oils, and carbohydrates of grains and soybeans are broken down into more readily digestible amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. This is why miso is considered an excellent food for people with weak digestion and is still used by traditional Japanese women for weaning.

Even today, in some parts of China and Japan, drinking miso soup every day is associated with a long, healthy life. Starting the day with miso soup is said to alkalinize the body and help neutralize the acid condition caused by eating meat and sugar and drinking alcohol. Also, alkaline blood system helps maintain health by making it easier for the immune to fight off disease. For quick relief, miso is like a traditional alka-seltzer. Also, once established in the intestines, the acid-loving bacteria found in abundance in sweet, light, unpasteurized misos promote health and stamina. For smokers, miso is thought to rapidly clear nicotine from the body, and miso broth is still used in Japan to clean tar from smoker's pipes. Research aside, let long tradition be your guide. Miso is the world's most medicinal everyday food, and it tastes good, too!"
 -Natural Import Company

You can add miso to ANY soup! You name it, French Onion, Corn Chowder, Noodle Soups, Creamy Soups like Carrot or Squash or Leek or Mushroom! Or use it in salad dressings, sauces, etc. I use it in my pesto or alfredo sauces! It's amazing.

To make a quick, general miso soup for day to day:

2 cups of spring water
Wakame seaweed (3-inch piece, soaked and sliced)
1 small onion, thin half moon slices
1 carrot, thin slices
1 tsp of miso paste (I love South River Miso, they even have soy and gluten free miso for sensitive tummies!)
Fresh parsley or scallion for garnish
 
Place water, wakame, carrot and onion in a small pot. Bring the water to a boil over medium flame. Turn down the flame, take out a scoop of the hot water and place in a cup. Add the miso to the cup and stir to dissolve the lumps. Add the dissolved miso to the pot, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Turn off your flame and serve with the garnish over the soup. 

**BIG NOTE: DO NOT BOIL THE MISO!! This is huge, because boiling the miso will kill all the happy probiotics and enzymes. That's why it's important to just add the miso at the end of cooking, it cooks off some of the raw salt in the miso, but overcooking it will take away it's power. Again, remember: it's a living food! :)

You can totally change it up with your veggie options though! Don't restrict yourself to just this recipe. There are tons of veggies out there that become sweeter with miso, like daikon radish, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, corn, squash, lotus root, celery, greens like kale or dandelion. Don't worry, be happy, and enjoy the benefits of magical miso! 

Be well, 

Janine

Who loves Sunday Brunch treats?

So I was housesitting for a very dear friend of mine. Her kitchen is open and inviting, so for Sunday, I thought I'd treat myself to a nice brunch. I had kale for a side, I had tempeh bacon for another side. But I was craving something sweet. Blueberry muffins? Polenta squares with sweet vegetable jam? Mochi waffles? Oh, my! There we have it.
I had forgotten I had the freshly baked loaf of raisin cinnamon bread from a bakery my friend worked at. French toast? Bingo! 
French toast was a staple in my house for breakfast. But before macrobiotics of course, it was chock full of the cholesterol raising stuff... Milk, eggs, butter, salt, sugar, cinnamon... Wow, to think about it now is kind of strange. So how to macro-tize this usually decadent recipe? There's actually a few ways, but I'll go over what I did that day, simply because something unplanned happened. My tofu was spoiled when I opened it! YUCK. Well, with no tofu or silken tofu as the base for the batter, what to do instead?

Ingredients

1/2 cup of rice milk
1/2 cup of toasted cashews and toasted pumpkin seeds (I used both, you can also use tahini instead)
1 tblsp of white miso paste

A few thick slices of your choice of bread
Parsley for garnish
 
Syrup Ingredients

Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, any or all of them!) 
1/2 cup of brown rice syrup
A pinch of sea salt
Fresh lemon juice

Blend or use a mortar and pestle to create the batter and place in a bowl to dip the bread in. Let the bread soak in the mix for 2 minutes. Heat the skillet over your flame. You can use earth balance or sesame oil to fry the bread in the skillet. Once the oil is hot enough, add the bread and fry. Turn the slices over periodically until a nice golden color and cooked all the way through. 
In a small saucepan, heat the syrup ingredients together. Stir occasionally. Turn off the flame on the saucepan, and allow to cool on the side.
Place the fried bread on a plate, and turn off the flame. Pour the warm syrup over the bread. Add the parsley for garnish and extra flavor and color. 
Next for the side dishes, simply sautee the tempeh bacon in a pan, blanch the kale in some water and place on a side plate. This completes the meal to having veggies, protein, and sweetness. 

Voila! Wow. Writing this made me crave it all over again. It's a wonderful experience to sit with a plate of home cooked food on a Sunday morning. The sun shining, the earth smiling, the tea and food satisfying... How lucky are we?

King Kale with Avocado and Citrus Dressing

King Kale... What a hero! So good for our liver and hearts and digestion, and overall well being. Dark leafy greens, unlike overused lettuce, has so many necessary nutrients and they make us happy too! 
My issue these days is not with the Royal Highness himself, but with the way it is prepared outside the castle. I'll explain...
My health story began with thyroid issues. Then digestive issues. Once I started looking at my diet, I read about King Kale of course, but never had really eaten it before, so it was something new, an adventure! But then as I studied more about kale and collards, etc. I learned that the nutrients in kale, and even other vegetables, come out by being cooked. Whether steamed, blanched, sauteed, or baked, vegetables when cooked gently, give us the best variety of nutrients available. When we eat kale raw, there is cellulose around the skin that make it harder to digest. If you're eating all raw all the time, I hope you're chewing 100 times each bite to really get those nutrients! :)
But the bigger issue for me, is the kale contains goitrogens, which inhibit the absorption of iodine, and suppresses thyroid hormone production. Cooking kale reduces the goitrogens, and always throw away the cooking water from cooking leafy greens so you're throwing out the goitrogens and keeping the yummy stuff! 
 
Anyway! Enough with the science stuff, let's get to the yummy stuff I just mentioned! So I eat kale at least twice a day. It's super easy, even in a rush. At the Kushi Institute, we literally eat dark leafy greens 3 times a day, that really packs a punch to any nasty toxins. Bye bye illness. Hello, healthy glowing You! Don't you just love King Kale?

Ingredients

A few leaves of kale (any variety)
 Filtered water
1/2 of an avocado
Fresh citrus fruit juice, such as tangerine, lemon, or clementine (play around, but don't use the canned stuff! I'm a believer in freshly squeezed anything!)
1 tblsp of soy sauce (shoyu)
2 tblsp of brown rice syrup
2 tblsp of brown rice vinegar 
1 tblsp of sesame oil
Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds

Bring water to a boil and place chopped kale into the pot, cover with a lid and blanch for a few minutes. Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl. Once the kale is bright in color, use a skimmer or tongs to remove from the pot. Place in a bowl, add the avocado and pour the dressing over your kale salad. Sprinkle sesame seeds over this for even more vitamins like calcium! You can play around with this too. For color changes, you can add blanched red cabbage, red radish, white daikon radish, grated carrots. Make King Kale proud! Serves as a side dish.

Quinoa salad number 2!

Quinoa is like any other grain. It's playful and versatile. It makes you want to experiment and experience what combinations bring out the best in the grain, and then the best part about that, is it then brings out the best in YOU! 

This was definitely an everything AND the kitchen sink recipe. In this recipe, there's hints of surprise sweetness, but also a slight tangy flavor as well. I wanted more subtle but individual flavors to really pop and keep you chewing!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of filtered water
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed and soaked
a pinch of salt
1 tblspn of olive oil
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of green apple, diced small
1/2 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of kalamata olives, pitted
Basil leaves, sliced
Brown rice vinegar

Place the water, quinoa, raisins, olive oil and pinch of salt in the pot and bring to a boil.  While it's boiling, toast the pumpkin seeds in a cast iron skillet for a few until they start to brown slightly. Your nose will smell a nice nutty aroma, but again, don't overdo it. Once they begin to pop slightly and are nice and toasty, turn off the flame, get them out of the pan into a bowl. Set aside.
Next, cut up the green apple diced small cubes, and slice the basil. Set aside. 
Once the quinoa gets boiling, turn the flame down to a simmer for 20 minutes (roughly). We want the grain to be light and fluffy and not clumpy or heavy. Once the water has evaporated and the quinoa is softer, turn off the flame, and transfer to a bowl. Add the olives, basil, a dash of brown rice vinegar, green apple and pumpkin seeds. Gently turn the ingredients over with a wooden spoon. Serves 2-3 modestly.

Eat well and enjoy! 

1005062_10151447173171776_1585707530_n.jpg

Quinoa Salad, anyone?

First off, I LOVE brown rice, don't get me wrong. It's the biggest number one staple in macrobiotic diets, next to miso soup. It's traditional, and completely nutritional, too. 

However, for a change, mostly in the summer time, I like to get more playful with other grains. Don't tell my main squeeze brown rice, I can't have it going around now! 

My favorite quinoa salad recipes usually include everything AND the kitchen sink. This one takes that on quite well.  Anytime there's a potluck, I am usually the one to contribute a grain dish, and this one gets big "wows!" from folks, because of the nice combinations of flavors and the pine nuts crunch to the sweet raisins give it a nice balance. 

Ingredients

2 cups of filtered water
1 cup of quinoa, rinsed and soaked (this helps the grains be more digestible) 
a pinch of sea salt (get your iodine!)
1 Tblsp of olive oil
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
Basil leaves, sliced

Pour the water into a pot, then pour the quinoa into the water. Add the pinch of sea salt. Note: This does not mean a handful of sea salt and call that a pinch. A pinch is literally when you can wet the end of a chopstick, and whatever sticks to that, is the amount that can go in. Over-salting food is not the goal here, but we do need the minerals in the food to come out and make the grain more digestible and flavorful.
Next, add the raisins in. I like to cook the raisins or any dried fruit to make them rehydrated and juicy again. Bring the water to a boil.
If you haven't done so already, now is the time to toast your pine nuts. They should be a more golden color and start to have a wonderful aroma. It's not good to burn nuts so be gentle with them. Once they're done, turn off the burner and get the pine nuts out of the pan.
Once the water has boiled, turn the heat down and cook the quinoa completely for about 20 mins. Once all the water has evaporated, and the grain is fluffy but not clumpy, turn off the flame, add the olive oil, pine nuts, and basil and gently turn over the ingredients. Transfer to a large bowl, then serve warm. Serves 2 modestly.

Eat well and enjoy!