Happy Chinese New Year!

 

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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 Yana 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

Mandarins: wealth

Tangerines: luck

Oranges: wealth, good fortune, gold

Melons: family unity

Coconuts: togetherness

Dried Apricots: wealth, gold

Noodles: long life

Egg rolls: money, wealth, gold

Wontons: togetherness

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.

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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!

 

Potstickers

Prep time: 1 1/2 – 2 hours

Makes about 20 potstickers

Diet: V, GF, DF, SF

 

Ingredients

Filling:

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

 

Wrapper:

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

 

Dipping Sauce:

2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

1 Tbsp rice vinegar (or coconut vinegar)

1 Tsp minced ginger

sriracha, to taste

 

Directions

Filling:

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.

 

Wrapper:

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.

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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.

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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.

Assemble:

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.

 

Cook:

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.

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Dipping Sauce:

Mix all ingredients together and serve on the side.

 

Freeze:

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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Chocolate-dipped Strawberries (and other fruit)

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.  

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Chocolate-dipped Strawberries (and other fruit)

Ingredients

2 cups strawberries, rinsed and dried (mandarin orange segments, pineapple, kiwi)

Optional Toppings:

Nutiva hemp seeds

pumpkin seeds, chopped

walnuts, chopped

pistachios, chopped

goji berries, chopped

Chocolate:

4 Tbsp Nutiva Coconut oil, melted

4 Tbsp cacao powder

1 Tbsp coconut nectar (or maple syrup)

1 tsp vanilla extract

4-5 drops stevia liquid

Directions

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.

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Raw Superfood Truffles demo at LA Cookie Con with Melissa’s Produce

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On Sunday, January 25th, Los Angeles debuted its very first LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show.  When I was invited to give a live “cooking” demo at the West Coast’s biggest baking and pastry party, I could not turn down the opportunity.  As many of you know, it is my mission to prove to all that vegan and gluten-free food can be absolutely delicious while still being nutritious.  I had two demos—one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so I was happy to have broadcast my message twice!  I was also thrilled that vegans and non-vegans alike loved my Superfood Truffles and came back for seconds and thirds!

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Many thanks to Nancy Tei, the organizer of the event, for inviting me to demonstrate how to make a raw vegan and gluten-free dessert to the public, and a big thanks to my friends at Melissa’s Produce for providing all of the delicious and nourishing ingredients to make my Superfood Truffles.  Additionally, I want to thank all those who stopped by to watch my cooking demos and asked great questions about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and eating raw until 4 o’clock.

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Melissa’s Produce made this such a positive experience for me.  The Friday before the event, I met up with Nancy Eisman and Sara De Leeuw at the Melissa’s Produce test kitchen to prepare samples and prizes to give away at the convention.  Nancy works on various projects at Melissa’s Produce and writes for the Melissa’s Produce blog, Plantbased411 blog as well as her own blog, Adventures with Nancy Rose.  Sara is a Master Preserver, instructor, and the creator of the My Imperfect Kitchen blog.  One thing I miss about working in a professional kitchen is having coworkers and getting to know one another as we complete our tasks.  I had so much fun rolling my hundreds of truffles while getting to know these lovely ladies at the test kitchen.  I felt that we clicked right from the start, so that was a great feeling.  On the day of the convention, Nancy and Sara were some of my biggest cheerleaders–I cannot thank them enough for their support!

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Sara also demo’d at the convention.  She made the most amazing Chocolate Chile Bark with Pepitas and Blood Orange Zest.  It is the Best chocolate bark I have ever tasted!  The recipe can be found on her blog or in the Melissa’s Produce The Great Pepper Cookbook.

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Meanwhile, Nancy distributed Melissa’s Produce Clean Snax to the public.  They come in four flavors: almond, coconut, cranberry, and pumpkin.  They are bee-gan (which means they contain honey).  My husband, who considers himself plant-based, enjoys this snack.  He usually picks up the snack at the Staples Center when we attend Clippers games, and he enjoys the pumpkin flavor most.

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Now, let me tell you about my Superfood Truffles.  The recipe is actually a collaboration.  When Nancy Eisman and I discussed ingredients I needed in order to make my Goji-, Cranberry, Coconut Truffles recipe, Nancy suggested I add some cacao nibs to make it a little chocolatey.  At first I was not keen on the idea, but Nancy really believed that it was a great idea since so many people who love cookies and pastries also love chocolate.  We gave it a try—added it into the recipe and, oh my, they turned out even better than the original.  So delicious.  The cacao nibs add a nice crunch factor and deep chocolate flavor to the truffles.  That is how the Superfood Truffle was born!  I’m so glad I met Nancy.  Not only is she down-to-earth and fun, without her I wouldn’t have my Superfood Truffles recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as a snack or dessert!

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Melissa’s Produce and goods can be found in the US, in major grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Vons, Ralphs, and the list goes on.

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Superfood Truffles

Servings:  15

Time:  20 minutes

Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, R

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, plus 1/2 cup for rolling

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup dried goji berries

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 tsp vanilla extract

a pinch fine sea salt

1/4 cup cacao nibs

Directions

1.  Add all of the ingredients EXCEPT for the cacao nibs to a food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine until you reach a texture of your liking.  More texture is better than being over-processed.  You still want to see chunks of the dried fruit.

2.  Pour the mixture into a medium bowl.  Add the cacao nibs and stir to combine, using clean hands or a silicone spatula.  Make sure the cacao nibs are evenly distributed!

3.  Line a quarter-sheet pan or tupperware with parchment paper.  Scoop out 1.5 Tbsp-sized truffles, round them out with your hands, then roll into coconut flakes and place them onto the lined sheet tray or plate.  You should make about 15-18 truffles.  Refrigerate immediately until hardened, about 15-20 minutes.

Note: These truffles are best eaten cold, right out of the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

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Clean Eating Magazine Feature

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I am honored to have been recognized by Clean Eating Magazine as a chef who is dominating the web!  Your support, positive feedback, and moments like this make what I do so worthwhile.  Thank you to my readers and a big thank you to Clean Eating Magazine for the feature and interview.

Click here to read my full interview and to get the recipe for one of my favorite desserts, the decadent Chocolate Truffle Cake!  Yes, it is vegan and free of gluten, soy, and refined sugar!  If you haven’t tried it, I recommend you soak raw cashew now!

Pick up a Clean Eating Magazine at a Whole Foods Market near you!

 

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What’s Up? Magazine Feature – Morning Tonic Recipe & App of the Week

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I am delighted to have my Morning Tonic recipe featured in What’s Up Magazine’s Food Newsletter Column by Rhea Torreon, and named Drink of the Week!   This special hot beverage is something I enjoy almost every morning.  It’s my version of warm lemon water, but cranked up a notch with the addition of turmeric and cayenne pepper.  There are so many benefits to drinking warm lemon water.  In doing so, it initiates the production of digestive juices and gives my digestive process a nice kick start for the day.  Learn about the many benefits one can receive from my special concoction in her article, and get the recipe too!  Click here for the article.

Another exciting tidbit.  With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I failed to notice that the My Eclectic Kitchen App was also featured as the App of the Week in December by What’s Up? Magazine!  I was very pleased about the write up. See why the My Eclectic Kitchen App was named App of the Week in the article, here!

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Photos by Rhea Torreon.  To subscribe to Rhea Torreon’s Food column, go to www.whatsupmag.com, click on the subscribe link at the top, then click on the E-Newsletter link, and finally enter your email and check the box for What’s Up Food.

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Ka’Chava Giveaway

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Happy Monday!  

I have another Instagram Giveaway for you, and good news, no re-posting necessary!

I teamed up with my friends at Ka’Chava to give away a 30.95 oz. container of Ka’Chava valued at $69.95!

When I’m short on time or am out and about, Ka’Chava is a real timesaver. What I love about Ka’Chava is that it’s all-in-one nutrition and it tastes great.  It contains a protein blend, fiber blend, omega 3 efa, antioxidants, probiotics, super-greens, adaptogens, and essential vitamins and minerals.  It is also vegan, gluten-, soy-free, and free of artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and preservatives.  I’ve enjoyed Ka’Chava in a delicious chocolate, peanut butter, and banana shake twice for lunch, and it was so good.  Not only did it taste like a decadent chocolate malted milkshake, it sustained my energy levels, I wasn’t hungry until dinner, and I experienced great mental focus.  I posted my creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ka’Chava Shake recipe on my blog last week, if you’d like to try.  I know you’ll love it.  Finally, here’s how to win.

In Instagram:

1) Like my giveaway post and follow @kachavatribe & @yvonne_deliciously_vegan
2) Tag 3 friends
3) Tell us why you’d like to win!

You may enter once a day! The contest is open for one week, until Wednesday, January 14, 11pm PST.

Good luck!!!

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Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Ka’Chava Shake

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As a blogger, I receive many requests from companies to sample products.  Believe me, I have been sent many a protein and shake powder.  The honest truth is, I never enjoyed a powdered protein or shake until I tried Ka’Chava – The Whole Body Meal chocolate shake powder.  It truly is delicious!

With my busy schedule, I sometimes don’t have time to make lunch.  Although I do prefer eating whole foods, sometimes I don’t have time to hit the market, prepare a meal, chew on a ton of fruits and vegetables, especially when I’m on the go!  What I love about Ka’Chava is that it’s all-in-one nutrition and it tastes great.  It includes a protein blend, fiber blend, omega 3 efa, antioxidants, probiotics, super-greens, adaptogens, and essential vitamins and minerals.  It is also vegan, gluten-, soy-free, and free of artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and preservatives.  I’ve enjoyed Ka’Chava in a delicious chocolate, peanut butter, and banana shake twice for lunch, and it was so good.  Not only did it taste like a decadent chocolate malt milkshake, it sustained my energy levels, I wasn’t hungry until dinner, and I experienced great mental focus.

All you need to do is mix 2 scoops of the powder with non-dairy milk or filtered water and it makes a great meal.  The times I made a Ka’Chava shake, I had enough time to throw ingredients into a blender.  I decided to add more ingredients to the mix because I had this after an hour-long workout and wanted to add a wee bit more protein, plus I enjoy the peanut butter chocolate combo and the texture of frozen banana.  Boy, was it a perfect post-workout treat/lunch!

Ka’Chava was designed for athletes and health purists and is loaded with plant-based proteins and powerful superfoods.  If you find yourself on the go a lot, but want to still maintain good health, I hope you give Ka’Chava and my shake recipe a try.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy the taste and health benefits!

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Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Ka’Chava Shake

Servings: 1

Time: 5 minutes

 

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk

1 cup filtered water

2 scoops chocolate Ka’Chava

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1 1/2 frozen bananas

1/2 cup ice

 

Garnish (optional)

1 Tbsp dried mulberries

1 Tbsp cacao nibs

1 Tbsp dried coconut shreds

1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses

 

Directions:

Combine all of the smoothie ingredients and blend until smooth.  Top with garnishes if you desire.

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Happy Holidays with an App Update!

 

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Seasons Greetings!!!

I have wonderful news for My Eclectic Kitchen App users!  An update was made last week!  As a gift from me to you, I added 17 new recipes, and they are all perfect for the holiday season!  This means you now have 158 delicious vegan, gluten-, soy-free recipes to choose from!  All of the new recipes are perfect for the holiday season, and still can be enjoyed throughout the year!

Since this is the season for making sweet treats, I’m featuring some of my new and old favorites for you to see.  All of these recipes can be found in the app, in the sweets section.  Do not fret, I have a quite a lot of new savory recipes for you to enjoy as well!

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Still not finished with your holiday shopping?!  Have you not downloaded the My Eclectic Kitchen App yet?  Pick up an iTunes or GooglePlay giftcard for your friends and family so they can download the My Eclectic Kitchen App and eat nutritiously yet still deliciously in the new year!  Or just download it yourself!

 

Photo credit: @anja_fit on Instagram

Photo credit: @anja_fit on Instagram

Believe me when I say this app is one of the best deals for a vegan cookbook, especially because it updates with new recipes regularly!  It costs less than a regular chai tea latte, a green smoothie, and is comparable in cost to a bunch of organic lacinato kale.  It really is a deal!  I hope you download it and see the value yourself!

I hope you and yours have the happiest of holidays and a blessed new year!

Much Love,

Yvonne

 

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Green Smoothies and a Holiday Giveaway with JUNIEblake

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I love the holidays and I am loving my new Laura dress by JUNIEblake, a clothing line designed and manufactured in Arizona!

This dress is perfect for holiday parties, where I plan to sip on green smoothies or vegan no-egg nog.  I also plan on devouring lots of vegan sweets and savories, of course.  I can’t wait!

This is my favorite time of year because it’s the one time of year that my huge family of 5 older sisters, our husbands, their 16 kids, my mom, and our extended family get together.  I love my family and how we carry on our holiday traditions, so it’s something I look forward to every year.  Can you imagine how busy I am this time of year?  With recipe development, buying holiday gifts, and attending party after party, I barely have time to brush my hair!  Luckily, green smoothies are a cinch to make–you’ll see when I share my recipe, below.

When JUNIEblake sent me the Laura dress, I was so ecstatic because I haven’t had time to shop for myself.  It was such a wonderful gift–just what I needed!

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I partnered up with my friends at JUNIEblake to give a special gift to one of you.  If you’d also like to own this dress or any of their other modest holiday dresses or clothes, enter our giveaway to win a $30 gift card in time for the holidays!  You can even give the $30 gift card to someone special as a holiday present!  Here are all of the details.

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This is mainly an Instagram contest, but you can also enter on Facebook and Twitter.  The contest is open worldwide and ends on December 20 at 11pm PST.  The winner will be chosen randomly via the #MEKGiveaway hashtag!  Get posting and good luck!

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More on the Laura dress.  What I love about it is the fabric.  The gold shimmers and shines, making it very festive.  I also like the pleats in the front and back of the dress.  If you happen to overeat at a party, like I will sometimes do, the pleats can hide any sign of belly bulge.  Speaking of bulge, when I’m away from home, I will sometimes accidentally  consume gluten, which makes me severely bloated (I can look 5 months pregnant), so the pleats can help hide a bloated belly, too!  As you can see, this dress is a win all around–it’s a comfy, warm fabric, it’s stylish, and it just screams holiday party!  If you prefer more color, search JUNIEblake‘s website for more styles!

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Now, here is my green smoothie recipe.  My husband and I have 16 ounces of it every morning for breakfast, at least 30 minutes after we enjoy our warm lemon water.

There are so many health benefits that we can reap from these green smoothies.  Just to name a few– beautiful skin, less puffiness around the eyes, calcium, iron from the dark leafy greens; parsley and cilantro pulls heavy metals out of fat cells; fiber and electrolytes from the celery; and lemon is packed with vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the iron in the greens and  helps support the liver, our main fat-burning organ

My green smoothies will keep you full in the morning or afternoon and will give you all the nutrients you need.  Just a note, I also have another 16 ounces as an afternoon snack on some days.  It is like fuel, so energizing!

This recipe is my adaptation of Kimberly Snyder’s glowing green smoothie that Peyman likes best.  I hope you try it and love it as much as we do!

Cheers!

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Green Smoothie

Servings: 4

Time: 7 minutes

Diet: V, GF, DF, SF, SRF, NF, CF, R

 

Ingredients (all organic). 

2 cups of filtered water

1 handful of cilantro

1 head of romaine lettuce, base cut off

2-3 big handfuls of spinach or kale

4 stalks of celery

1 gala apple

1 ripe pear

1 ripe banana (spotted)

juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp of turmeric, optional

1 tsp spirulina, optional

Directions

In a blender, add 2 cups of water, cilantro, romaine and spinach.  Cover and blend from medium to high just until it is completely blended.  Add more spinach and water if it looks too thick.  Blend from medium to high speed.  Add the celery, apple (seeds removed), pear (seeds removed), banana, turmeric, spirulina and lemon juice.  Blend from medium to high speed until smooth.  Enjoy!

I hope you’ll try this recipe and get inspired to start your days with my green smoothies!

 

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Photo Credit: Riva Takahashi

 

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Cooking with Friends: Sweet Eclectic Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching and my lovely friend, Jasmine Briones, and I want to make your Thanksgiving one to remember!  We created a bountiful feast for our readers to enjoy, which consists of 13 deliciously tantalizing recipes that will make everybody’s taste buds scream in delight.  We’re referring to this collection of recipes as our Sweet Eclectic Thanksgiving celebration!

Since we are both obsessed with delicious and nutritious food, we thought it would be a great idea to collaborate on a holiday feast.  What better time to combine our vegan talents and get inspired than in the Fall—just in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays!

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Thanksgiving is a special holiday that I hold dear to my heart.  Every household carries on their own unique family traditions.

Jasmine grew up in an Ecuadorian/Filipino household, where it has been a long-standing tradition for her Ecuadorian grandmother to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. Her grandmother uses a Cuban marinade for the turkey (Jasmine being vegan does not partake, of course) and the rest of the meal consists of Equadorean dishes.  It was not until Jasmine and I joined forces in the kitchen that she had her first taste of cranberry sauce and candied yams. She loved the cranberry so much that she ate it by the spoonful!  I was surprised because I only have about 2 tablespoons at most during my holiday meals!

I grew up in a Filipino-American household.  My Grandpa Floyd, who was born and bred in the Midwest (Missouri), started my family’s tradition of enjoying the standard American Thanksgiving feast.  For as long as I can remember, we always had elaborate feasts.  It was always my mom and me who prepared the family’s Thanksgiving meal, consisting of a savory, flavorful protein, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, green beans (and/or corn), and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  We sometimes have the same meal for Christmas because it’s so good!  Meals like these are so comforting for the soul. Seriously, eating my Thanksgiving meal is like eating a hug.  It brings back so many good memories growing up.  These days it brings my loved ones together, where we sit around the table, share what we are grateful for, reminisce, and discuss our game plans for Black Friday.

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This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my good health, family and friends, and for the amazingly supportive readers and followers on my blog and social media.  Being able to do what I love for a living is a wonderful thing.  I feel so blessed and am incredibly grateful.

Vegan, gluten-, and soy-free food has a bad rap for tasting like cardboard. With my recipes, I hope to transform the general public’s view of these foods. I want people to keep using my recipes, I want that food to be shared (with vegans and non-vegans alike), I want to shock and amaze people, and let them know that vegan, gluten-, and soy-free food can be absolutely delicious, not to mention nourishing, can promote longevity, is harmless to animals, and is good for the environment and our planet.  Through this blog and through the My Eclectic Kitchen app, I think I’ve been able to do that more and more each day.

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Also, by partnering up with friends, like Jasmine, I am able to spread this message (my mission) even further.  I want to thank Jasmine for doing her part with her blog and with her own recipe development. 

Thanksgiving does not have to be the same every year.  Although I like to carry on my family’s traditions, I add my own little nuances to everything every year.  A vegan and gluten-free Thanksgiving is definitely a huge nuance.  Even so, I hear no complaints.  Although my family is predominantly omnivorous, my vegan holiday food and sweets are foods they actually request I make.  It warms my heart to see them enjoy my food and especially when they get seconds and thirds.

Hopefully you and your family will be as enthusiastic about our recipes.  We hope to see some of our recipes on your holiday table!

 Here are the 13 Vegan and Gluten-, and Soy-free Thanksgiving recipes!  

_MG_2421Cranberry Glaze

Sweet, tangy, perfectly spreadable for Holiday “Meat”loaf, and fantastic to serve as a side!  Made with fresh cranberries, dates, a little coconut sugar, a touch of orange and holiday spices, this Cranberry Glaze is so delicious, you might even want to eat it by the spoonful, like Jasmine did! Ha!

_MG_2360Garlicky Cauliflower Puree

A client-favorite, this is a healthy vegan alternative to garlic mashed potatoes.  Garlicky Cauliflower Puree with Mushroom Gravy is a wonderful, oil-free, low-fat, and delicious side dish.  It is so easy to make and can be enjoyed year-round!

IMG_7788Mushroom Gravy

This easy and flavorful mushroom gravy goes perfectly with Garlicky Cauliflower Puree and Holiday “Meat”loaf.  The caramelized mushrooms and port give this gravy a nice richness, the herbs bring it to life, and the arrowroot thickens the gravy while giving it a glossy sheen.

_MG_2321Candied Yams (or Sweet Potatoes)

These candied yams are so simple to make and yet they are so delicious!  Spiced with vanilla and cinnamon and sweetened only with dates and oranges, these are my all-time favorite candied yams, not to be mistaken with the recipe in my app.  These are new and improved!  A must-try!

IMG_7688Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon

Every table needs a pop of green!  Ours was these crisp green beans with garlic and lemon.  The little kick of spice chile and hint of citrus make these a perfect side dish for the holidays!

_MG_2241Creamy Mushroom Rice

Infused brown rice with an assortment of herbs and vegetables, meaty mushrooms, and a decadent cream sauce make this a hearty side dish.

_MG_2207Quinoa Stuffing

A clean and high protein alternative to traditional stuffing.

_MG_2344Raw Stuffing

This tastes just like Stove Stop Stuffing, except this is raw and is actually beneficial to your health.  I know you’ll LOVE it!

_MG_2359Holiday “Meat”loaf

This high-protein “meat”loaf looks and tastes like the real thing, only it’s better for you, is cruelty-free, and great for the environment.  I fool my non-vegan family and friends every time!  Top this holiday loaf with our Cranberry Glaze or with traditional “meat”loaf glaze.

_MG_2379Savory Pumpkin Pie

We wanted to include pumpkin in our Thanksgiving menu, and since we already have pumpkin pie recipes in our respective recipe arsenals, we decided to make a savory pumpkin pie.  The best way to describe this savory pie is to say it is basically a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free quiche with pumpkin!

_MG_2236Cranberry Pomegranate Cider

This ruby red (my favorite color) beverage tastes like a lovely tea and can be made bubbly and sparkling with a sparkling kombucha or champagne.

_MG_2323Raw Pumpkin-Spiced Mamey “Cheese”cake

Oh, I love this dessert!  Find out what Mamey is the recipe post.  If you can’t find mamey, substitute with pumpkin or sweet potato!  The combination of vanilla bean “cheese”cake, pumpkin-spiced mamey, and a fig/date/ nut crust is just heavenly.

_MG_2272Chocolate Mousse Pecan Tart

This easy-to-make chocolate (sweet potato) mousse pecan tart is really easy to make and is just so pretty to look at!

Our collaboration required a lot of hard work, but it was so worth being able to spend time together, getting to know one another better, with the intention of sharing the fruits of our labor with our readers!  To add to the list of things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, I am so thankful that Instagram, veganism, the desire to eat delicious yet nutritious food and to share it with others brought me to meet so many amazing people, like Jasmine!  It’s been fun learning from and about one another, and I look forward to many years of friendship!

 

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Make sure to check out more details on our fun-filled day in the kitchen by reading my previous post!  We also thought it would be fun to interview each other so you can learn a little more about us.  My interview is on Jasmine’s blog, and Jasmine’s interview is here.  

 

Please make sure to tag us on Instagram: @yvonne_deliciously_vegan  @sweetsimplevegan  Twitter: @yvonnemrod  @sweetsimpleveg and hashtag #SweetEclecticThanksgiving and #MyEclecticKitchen if you recreate any of our recipes!  We would love to see your photos and Thanksgiving feasts!

 

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May you and your loved ones enjoy a

 

 

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 With Love,

Yvonne and Jasmine <3

Photo Credit: Many of the photos in this post were photographed by Jasmine Briones.

 

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