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My great grandfather on my paternal side of the family was full Chinese and my great grandmother on my maternal side was Chinese as well. Being a quarter Chinese, you would think Chinese New Year is something I get excited about. Unfortunately, the Chinese culture was lost through the generations and I was raised culturally as a Filipino-American. I grew up seeing Chinese New Year as something pretty foreign–sort of how a Chinese-American would view Cinco de Mayo. Interestingly, being raised in San Diego with my classmates being predominantly Mexican-American, I feel stronger ties to the Mexican culture than I do the Chinese culture. In retrospect, I think that’s kind of sad. As an adult, I want to learn more about my heritage and introduce and practice more Chinese cultural traditions with my family. I think my Chinese ancestors would be proud.
I was fortunate to have attended an event recently at Melissa’s Produce, where I received a quick lesson on Chinese New Year traditions. I was also able to taste and get inspired by some of Martin Yan‘s Chinese cuisine. Martin Yan, a Chinese-born Hong Kong-American chef and food writer, has hosted his award-winning PBS-TV cooking show “Yan Can Cook” since 1982. He is the longest-standing chef on PBS and will be airing a new show on PBS called “Taste of Vietnam” and Melissa’s Produce is sponsoring the show. That means all of the produce on the show is from Melissa’s Produce.
Back on the subject of Chinese New Year– traditionally, Chinese New Year is a time for families to gather for an annual reunion dinner. It’s also a time to cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for good luck. Homes are adorned with red decor, symbolizing good fortune and joy. The new year represents a new start, with best wishes and hopes for continued good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longeivity. There isn’t a specific date that Chinese New Year is celebrated every year; it all depends on the lunar calendar. However, it always happens after Valentine’s Day and around Super Bowl Sunday. This Chinese New Year is the year of the Sheep and starts today, February 19 and ends March 5.
It is believed that those born on the years 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1992, 2004, and 2015 are and will be “artistic, sensitive and king, people born in the Year of the Sheep (often called the year of the Goat or Ram) tend to be generous and just. While often very shy, once Sheep people open up they make devoted companions.” Coincidentally, I was born on the year of the Sheep. However, I am proud to say I am an Earth Sheep–the strongest, most determined, practical, grounded, and stable of all sheep types. I point that out because some very superstitious Chinese don’t want to have a child during the “dreaded Year of the Sheep” as they usually are shy, not ambitious, and are too idealistic. I must say that I defied all those characteristics, but then again I am an Earth Sheep. That said, my husband and I were planning on having a baby this year. After reading more about the sheep, I may want to hold off for 3 more months so my child can be born in the Year of the Monkey. Just kidding. If it happens, it happens! I am not superstitious anyway.
Back to the subject of food. Chinese New Year is China’s most colorful and important holiday. Foods take on symbolic meanings. Round fruits are a symbol of fortune since the round shape mimics the shape of a coin, money. Here a short list of symbolic food.
Symbolic vegetables, fruit, and other foods:
Bananas: success in education and work
Bean Sprouts: positivity
Bok Choy: Prosperity
Seaweed: luck and extreme wealth
Snowpeas: unity (2 peas in a pod)
Kumquats: gold, good fortune
Oranges: wealth, good fortune, gold
Melons: family unity
Dried Apricots: wealth, gold
Noodles: long life
Egg rolls: money, wealth, gold
The list goes on..
This year, we have so many different types of citrus, bananas, dried apricots, actually everything listed above in my household, and tonight I’m making my potstickers and bok choy to celebrate the new year. Thanks to my friends at Melissa’s Produce, I received some ingredients to make my recipe. If you don’t already know, Melissa’s Produce is the largest distributor of Specialty Produce in the US. You can find their produce at major supermarkets, from Ralphs, to Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
Have you noticed that almost every culture has some sort of small, succulent parcel encased in dough that everyone goes gaga for? Living in Los Angeles, which is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country, it is possible to drive down a street and easily pick up a samosa from an Indian spice shop, wontons or potstickers from the many Chinese restaurants, a gyoza from the Japanese ramen shop, and rolled tacos from one of the thousands of taco shops.
I grew up in a Filipino-American household where my mother served her 8-member household a mix of Filipino and “American” dishes. On special occasions, my mom would make lumpia, a Filipino egg roll, from scratch. I’ve loved them since I was a child and now the children (my 15 nieces and nephews) in my family love them too! I don’t know what it is about these little packages of goodness that we can’t get enough of. We just love them! Unfortunately, as I live a gluten-free, vegan lifestyle I don’t have as many options to choose from when it comes to enjoying the little packaged treats. That is, if I don’t make them myself.
I created a delicious potsticker that is appropriate for the holiday, and they are vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. I like potstickers because I feel closer to my Chinese roots when I make them, and I don’t feel as guilty eating them. They are not deep-fried and only a tablespoon of oil is used to brown them. My potstickers can be made even lower in fat. To do so, simply add them to a pot of boiling vegetable stock or water for a few minutes and voila!
To avoid soy (tofu), I use mushrooms and walnuts. This way, I get my protein along with vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, copper, iron, potassium, and a nice, long list of other minerals and health benefits. Other ingredients include ginger, garlic, scallions and cayenne pepper, dijon mustard, and ketchup. If you’re against using ketchup, you can substitute the ketchup with finely chopped unsweetened dried cranberries. Believe you me when I say that all the listed ingredients make a difference in that they add richness and more depth of flavor.
This recipe can take about 1.5 hours from start to finish and maybe even longer depending on how quick you are in the kitchen. If you have a friend to help you out with the rolling while you wrap, that’ll save a lot of time! These would be perfect to make on a weekend when you have a lot of time.
I’m thankful that these potstickers sort of bring me closer to my Chinese heritage. Chinese New Year is a lucky time of year, one thing we can do is create our own luck by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diets. Cheers to a happy new year, plant-based eating, and to longevity!
Prep time: 1 1/2 – 2 hours
Diet: V, GF, DF, SF
1 cup walnuts
1 heaping cup shiitakes (3.5 oz., approximately 13 shiitake mushrooms)
1 cup green cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 Tbsp red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp flax meal
3 Tbsp vegetable stock
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsp sunflower oil or grapeseed oil
3/4 cups filtered water
2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar (or coconut vinegar)
1 Tsp minced ginger
sriracha, to taste
1. Place all the filling ingredients into a food processor and pulse 10 times. Do not over process. You want a chunky texture, not a fine mush.
2. Taste and adjust the heat. If you want more heat, add more cayenne pepper.
3. Place the filling in a bowl and mix well.
1. In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix all of the dry ingredients until completely combined. Add the filtered water slowly while it is mixing, until it forms a ball. You don’t want this to be sticky. If it is too sticky, add a little more tapioca and brown rice flour. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough forms a ball.
2. Divide the dough in half. Roll one half of the dough into a rod on a clean surface until it is about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut 10 pieces equally and set aside in a bowl that’s lined with a damp paper towel (not dripping). Each piece should be approximately 1 tablespoon. To avoid the dough from drying out, cover the pieces with a damp paper towel. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
3. If you have a tortilla press, this will make your job so much easier. Use it to make thin, circular wrappers. Alternatively, if you don’t have a tortilla press, between 2 pieces of parchment paper (not wax paper), place one round piece of dough towards the center and press down with a small saucepan or with the palm of your hand. Flatten further with a rolling pin, making sure to keep it circular by rotating the dough as it’s being rolled.
4. Assemble the potsticker right after rolling out the wrapper.
1. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture onto the center of the wrapper. Fold over, press to seal the edges, and shape as desired. I like to slightly fan the edges. Set on a half sheet pan, lined with parchment and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat this procedure until all of the filling is gone.
Makes about 20 potstickers.
1. Heat a 10-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with 1 tbsp of sunflower or grapeseed oil once hot.
2. Add about 7-8 potstickers at a time to the pan. Brown all 3 sides. May take 1.5-2 minutes to brown on each side.
3. Once all sides are browned, with the cover of the pan in hand to cover immediately, gently and quickly add 1/3 cup water or vegetable stock to the pan and cover. Step back and be careful as there will be a lot of steam (and steam can give you a nasty burn). I hold down the cover so it doesn’t explode off of the pan in the beginning. Turn the heat down to low, and cook for another 2 minutes or until the water has cooked off. (You can also use veggie stock for more flavor)
4. Repeat until all the potstickers are cooked. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped green onion and with dipping sauce on the side.
**Alternatively, you can boil the potstickers in a pot of vegetable stock or filtered water, as you would pasta. Bring the water or stock to a boil and cook them until ready.
Mix all ingredients together and serve on the side.
If you wish to freeze your potstickers to enjoy on another day, place the sheet tray of potstickers in the freezer first. Allow them to freeze for at least 30 minutes, then place them in your freezer storage container of choice (ie. Ziplock or glass tupperware). Placing them in the freezer first will avoid them from sticking to each other.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, follow the cooking directions above. You can cook them frozen. Just don’t move the potsticker once you place them in the pan. Let them sit in the oil for at least 1.5 minutes or until browned. Once they are browned, they will release from the pan with ease. If you move them too quickly, the wrapper can tear.
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About a year ago, I came across an incredibly inspiring account on Instagram. The account is Stephanie Yu’s @happyhealthy96. As I am already committed to eating “Raw Till Four” and following Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Solution principles, I completely relate to her high raw lifestyle. She not only inspires me to eat more fruit and consume less fat, but also reminds me of why I am living a healthy lifestyle. Stephanie is well-informed and communicates effectively in an warm, passionate, and honest way through her YouTube videos, Instagram and blog posts, and eBook. Her eBook entitled, Living a Happy and Healthy Life, is beautifully written and is the ultimate guide for those who are transitioning to or already eating a high carb, low fat (hclf) vegan diet. It is also for those who want to incorporate more raw foods into their existing diet, or for those who eat “Raw Till Four.”
With Living a Happy and Healthy Life, Stephanie covers the basics of why a vegan diet is optimal for our health and why a low-fat, high-raw vegan diet is optimal for good health in a scientific way. Not only is our consumption of certain whole foods essential to living a happy and healthy life, we learn that health is an all-encompassing concept for the wellness of our being, including our physical and mental health. I appreciate the fact that Stephanie draws from her own experiences and through scientific explanations she explains how one can achieve overall wellness. In addition, her photos are beautiful and help us see how we can still and should eat in abundance and deliciously in this lifestyle.
I recommend reading Living a Happy and Healthy Life. It contains essential information needed to embrace and thrive on a high carb, low fat lifestyle. Stephanie is very encouraging for new and existing vegans and for those who want to prepare and cook simple delicious meals. Her recipes are detailed, oil-free, low-fat, delicious, easy to make, and, of course, full of nutrition!
Stephanie is super informative, fun, and friendly in her writing. You will love how genuine and passionate she is about what she shares and be inspired by her experiences to live a more healthful life.
With this said, I’ll close with an excerpt fromLiving a Happy and Healthy Life,
“I came from a past of being underweight so this high carb vegan diet helped bring me to a healthy weight. So whether you’re under or overweight, the beauty of this diet and lifestyle is that it’s healing and optimal for everyone, and it will help restore you to your healthy weight. The reason I refer to this diet also as a lifestyle is because health is not determined simply by what you eat. There are a multitude of other factors that weigh in on someone’s overall health. This truly is a way of life, not a temporary detox diet; please try to keep that in mind. Your decision to eat healthy and live healthy should be a life long decision, and alife long journey.” – Stephanie Yu
Photo Credits: Stephanie Yu
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When you want to do something thoughtful and delightful for your sweetheart or for yourself any time of the year, try this super easy treat. You can use this recipe to dip any fruit that you wish, from strawberries, mandarin oranges, to kiwi, and pineapple!
To add a little more excitement, sprinkle on some hemp seeds, chopped pistachios, walnuts, goji berries, or a combination of them all. You probably already have all of these ingredients in your kitchen, so get up and whip these up in no time!
Have fun with it!! Dip other fruits in chocolate! My chocolate-dipped mandarin oranges were so delicious. By the way, I decided to dip oranges, too, because I found both the strawberries and these delicious mandarin oranges at my local Farmers Market. If I saw a pineapple or kiwi, I would have dipped them in chocolate, too! If you try it, please let me know how they turned out! Hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day!
This recipe was inspired by ingredients that Nutiva brand and Vitacost kindly sent to me. At Vitacost, you can find a variety of Nutiva products, from hemp seeds, chia seeds, to hemp proteins and coconut oil. Click here for a full list of Nutiva brand products at Vitacost. Also, click on the ingredients links to purchase the same ingredients I used to make my Chocolate-dipped fruit.
Chocolate-dipped Strawberries (and other fruit)
2 cups strawberries, rinsed and dried (mandarin orange segments, pineapple, kiwi)
pumpkin seeds, chopped
goji berries, chopped
4 Tbsp Nutiva Coconut oil, melted
4 Tbsp cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 drops stevia liquid
1. Rinse strawberries in water then wipe dry. Alternatively, peel a mandarin orange and peel it so you get segments. Chill in the refrigerator.
2. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. If you choose to coat your chocolate-covered fruit with toppings, prepare your desired toppings, about ¾ cups worth. Mix the toppings and place them onto a plate. Set aside.
4. Prepare the chocolate in a small bowl. Combine all of the ingredients, whisking them together with a fork. Sweeten to taste. Put a large spoon in the bowl and place the plate with the toppings next to the bowl.
5. Retrieve the fruit from the refrigerator. You will need to move swiftly as you coat the fruit and dip or sprinkle them with toppings. Please read the following instructions before coating and dipping the fruit. With one hand, hold the fruit over the bowl of chocolate. Using the spoon, pour the chocolate very quickly over the fruit, turning it to coat completely with chocolate. Before the chocolate freezes, dip the fruit in the topping, rolling it to cover the chocolate with as much topping as you can. As you roll it, use your empty hand to sprinkle more crunchy topping onto the chocolate. Alternatively, just sprinkle the toppings on.
6. Place the finished dipped fruit onto the half sheet pan and place them in the refrigerator immediately until set and ready to eat.Share on Facebook
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, I partnered up with my lovely friend Jen, of My Beauty Bunny, for a Sweet and Healthy Valentine’s Giveaway!!! ❤
MyBeautyBunny is THE number one cruelty-free beauty blog in the world. Jen and her team of writers write about cruelty-free beauty, fashion and lifestyle products and services! I recommend perusing through her site!
Jen and I teamed up to give away some wonderful superfoods and treats as well as 100% natural and vegan beauty products–all valued over $130! Big thanks to all the companies mentioned, below, for making this giveaway happen.
We are giving away the following to one lucky participant:
1) 100 Percent Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream
2) 100 Percent Pure Pink Grapefruit Hydrating Body Wash
3) 100 Percent Pure Pink Grapefruit Body Butter
5) MyEclecticKitchen Organic Cotton Tote Bag
6) Melissas Produce #GojiBerries
7) Melissas Produce #WhiteChiaSeeds
8) Melissas Produce Cacao Nibs
9) Melissas Produce Red Quinoa
10) MelissasProduce Quinoa (regular)
11) 2 One Coconut Guava Coconut Waters
12) Chicza natural chewing gum (petroleum-free!)
13) Natures Bakery Fig Bar
Yes, all these products are vegan and beautifying!
Super easy to enter. Simply in Instagram:
1) Like the giveaway post
2) Follow @mybeautybunny and @yvonne_deliciously_vegan
3) Tell us why you’d like to win
4) Tag 3 friends
You may enter Once a Day here and/or on @mybeautybunny’s giveaway post. Contest is open to US residents only. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. Ends on Tuesday, February 17th, at 11pm.
Good luck! ❤
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One of my favorites on Instagram, Kim, aka @brusselsvegan and @bestofvegan (in Instagram), self-published her first eBook titled The Practical Vegan and wow, it’s brilliant! It is a step-by-step guide to veganism and includes everything you need to know about the lifestyle, how to get started and how to deal with day-to-day situations.
You can tell she poured her heart out into this book. It’s jam-packed with resources for vegans and especially those thinking of making a transition. Just to name a few topics, learn more about: veganism, how to plan your transition, the importance of a vitamin B12 supplement, where to eat, how to deal with social situations, the varying types veganism, where to buy vegan candles, and get prime sources to best educate yourself (lists of best books about veganism, documentaries, cookbooks, blogs, fashion, cleaning products, the list goes on…)
Check out The Practical Vegan’s Table of Contents, below. It is so complete.
1. The “I-could-never-be-a” Vegan
2. The Brand New (and slightly confused) Vegan
3. The Healthy Vegan
4. The Cheesy Vegan
5. The Raw Vegan
6. The Myth of the Skinny Vegan
7. The Broke Vegan
8. The First Day as a Vegan
9. The Traveling Vegan
10. The Vegucated Vegan
11. The Social Vegan
12. The Activist Vegan
13. The Frequently Asked Vegan [It also includes checklists and suggestions for further reading]
I wish I had this as a resource upon transitioning to veganism. Every page is filled with valuable information. I love it and recommend it to all.
To download @brusselsvegan / @bestofvegan’s eBook, Practical Vegan, click here, https://payhip.com/b/9lbU
Congratulations, Kim!!!Share on Facebook
I will be preparing 4 recipes:
1) Green Smoothie
2) Simple Massaged-Kale Salad
3) Vegan “Meat”loaf and Garlicky Cauliflower Puree
4) Triple Chocolate Cake
All attendees will enjoy a full dinner (not just samples) and a My Eclectic Kitchen Goodie Bag!
To reserve your seat for only $5, click here.
This event is a graduation celebration for participants of the 28-day Engine 2 Challenge, based on Rip Esselstyn‘s Engine 2 Diet book, but anyone who enjoys healthy nutritious food is invited to attend! All recipes demonstrated and served will be Engine 2 diet compliant, meaning they will be whole-foods, plant-based, low in sugar and salt, and free of oil and refined ingredients. That said, I promise the menu will be delicious!
Again, don’t forget to reserve your seat before the event fills up! The cost is only $5. What a deal!
Whole Foods Market is one of my favorite places to pick up produce, specialty flours and grains, snacks, plant-based milks, personal care, home cleaning supplies, and ready-made foods.
I took a tour of Whole Foods Market in Torrance recently and learned a great deal, and I compiled a list of things that you might be able to benefit from!
Did you know…
1) If you need only half of a cabbage or watermelon, they will cut half of it for you to purchase.
2) On Wednesdays, at the salad bar and hot bar, get $2 off per pound. Some locations only offer $1 off (like Arroyo, Pasadena)
3) Get 10% off if you purchase one case of produce.
4) Whole Foods Market has a Health Starts Here Program to guide wise nutrition choices. When foods are marked with the Health Starts Here symbol, as pictured below, those items have no added oils, they’re low in salt and fat, and they are made with whole-foods. Unfortunately, not all of them are vegan and gluten-free, so make sure to read the list of ingredients to ensure they are aligned with whichever diet you follow.
5) Engine 2 Diet products, which are plant-strong, low in sugar and salt, and oil-free can be found all over the store, from frozen burger patties (which are delicious), to almond milk, hummus, cereal, and crackers. The list goes on.
6) Almost every Whole Foods location has an on-going or upcoming Engine 2 Diet Challenge. Call your local Whole Foods location for details. Some challenges are online and there are a few that have weekly meet-ups.
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It’s giveaway time! One of my family friends, Amanda Kim, recently opened an organic and gluten-free bakery in Washington state, called Tastes Happy! They sell food you can feel good about, using local, organic, non-gmo ingredients. All of their goods are free of refined ingredients and they have allergy-friendly options, too. An added bonus, they use eco-friendly packaging and labels!
I teamed up with Tastes Happy to give away the following to one lucky participant:
1) Toasted Coconut Granola
2) Chocolate Chia Granola
3) Cinnamon Raisin Granola
4) Pear Cranberry Spread
5) Pear Spread
6) Apple Cranberry Spread
7) My Eclectic Kitchen iPhone App or eBook
8) My Eclectic Kitchen organic cotton tote bag
(Yes, they are vegan!)
The granola is really yummy and perfect to top your nana ice cream, smoothie bowls, banana crunch pops, #cocoyo with! The spreads are perfect for toasts, crackers, to enjoy with vegan cheese, or to add to cocoyo, or #parfaits.
Super easy to enter. Simply:
1) Like this post, http://instagram.com/p/ynSTKXAjhV/?modal=true
2) Follow @tastes_happy and me, @yvonne_deliciously_vegan
3) Tell us something about yourself
4) Tag 3 friends
Contest is open worldwide and ends on February 9, at 11pm.
For those who cannot wait to get their hands on Tastes Happy goodies, visit their website, www.tasteshappy.com to check out their product line, and use coupon code, ECLECTIC for 10% off your order!Share on Facebook