Rawtopian Bliss, Rawsome Dining in Columbia, SC!

 

 

by Michael Wilkins

 

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Traveling can be difficult when you are on a vegan diet. Finding places that cater to your needs rather than being an afterthought on a carnivorous menu is a challenge. In order to find some of these great places you need to be diligent in your search. One such opportunity came up as we were traveling to Tega Cay to see my granddaughter. We did a search on Google, Yummly, and Trip Advisor for vegetarian/vegan eateries and found a place called Rawtopian Bliss. We decided to take a chance and experience something new.

 

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The restaurant was easy to find as it was right off I-26. Our decision led us to a fantastic place not only to eat, but to learn about the mission of Chef Saa. We thought we were walking into a vegetarian/vegan eatery, but we found out that it is much more than that. Chef Saa changed her life approximately 20 years ago when she began her spiritual and vegan journey. Both of her parents were suffering from diabetes and she did not want to have the same issues in her life. She made the choice to switch to a vegan lifestyle and began a spiritual journey that eventually led her to founding Supreme Love and Light.

 

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This is a ministry that is dedicated to holistic health. This organization is a nonprofit entity supporting healthy living. Their goal is to support wellness and whole health by encouraging natural healing, healthy food intake, herbal cleansing, stress management and spiritual awareness. They offer education about all of these things through workshops, classes, retreats and instructional demos. All of the money taken in by their ministry goes to support the maintenance and administrative costs for the mission of Supreme Love and Light Natural Path Ministry.

 

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Tempeh Bliss Burger

 

Margie and I sat down at a table and began to peruse the menu. We were very excited about the offerings. All of the items on the menu are whole food plant-based. Most of them are 60 – 90% raw. Margie chose the Tempeh Bliss burger with chips and cheese. I chose the shepherd’s pie with side salad. The Tempeh Bliss burger is 80% raw. The tempeh is marinated, breaded and lightly sautéed. It is served on a flatbread created by Chef Saa and accompanied by grapeseed oil veganaise, lettuce and tomato.

 

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

 

The shepherd’s pie is prepared with the savory sausage created by Chef Saa. It also has a cheese created by her, and the whole thing is wrapped in a tortilla shell and lightly toasted with a sweet and savory sauce. It comes with a side salad.

 

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This was a great experience in a pleasant atmosphere. We had a chance to sit down with the owner and speak with her briefly about her journey. When she made the decision to change her life, she left a corporate job taking a buyout which allowed her to start her ministry. It is her feeling that there is an awakening happening surrounding food and health. Her mission in life is to bring this message to people and help them improve their lives both mentally and physically. She offers culinary classes on a variety of different subjects and you can even do an internship, learning how to be a raw chef. I almost jumped at the chance. This harkens back to her training at a Body Ecology Life-Sciences Attunement Center in Greensboro, where she spent much time learning how to be a raw chef.

 

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There are many ways to tap into wellness while being coached by Chef Saa. They range from a transitional program for raw or vegan lifestyle to detox and rebalancing your body. She also does some free classes to encourage individuals of lesser means to improve their life and health. If you’re driving through Columbia on I-26 then this is a must-stop. We have placed this in our GPS and plan on stopping here a lot since it is on the way to my daughter’s house. It is exceptionally gratifying to run into individuals who are dedicated to causes such as this. Even if you do not have a chance to come to the area and experience Rawtopian Bliss, I encourage everyone to support their cause.

 

Michael Wilkins is a respiratory therapist, an avid scuba diver and an accomplished photographer. He has been living with hepatitis C for more than two decades and is a cancer surviver. Michael has kept liver cancer at bay by employing the healing properties of a plant-based diet.

A year later, after a strict plant-based regimen, his tumor markers are normal and his MRIs are clean! This has made Michael more passionate about staying on a vegan diet. He has met lots of wonderful passionate people with amazing stories while walking down this path. Michael’s area is Northeast Florida, particularly the Jacksonville area. Contact Michael to share your restaurant finds, make comments, or just to say hello!

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Danielle’s Foolproof Quick Injera

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

Well, I’ve finally done it! After three years of experimentation, I’ve come up with a foolproof Ethiopian injera recipe that is quick and easy. Granted, it does not have the complex, sourdough flavor of the long-fermented injera that takes days to prepare. But it is so close to it most people, even those who are Ethiopian aficionados, can not tell the difference. For those of you who are purists, I’ll have the longer, version in my book slated to be published late this summer. In fact, I’ll have several methods of preparing injera with varying degrees of difficulty and varying concentrations of whole grains. I will also have two gluten-free versions, so there is something for everybody. If you are craving Ethiopian food and have some sourdough starter on hand, this is a bread you can create from start to finish in as little as 40 minutes.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup teff flour, 160 grams
1 3/4 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour, 230 grams
1 cup sourdough starter 250g
4 cups water (945g)
1 tbsp baking powder, 12g
1 tbsp organic corn starch, 12g

 

METHOD: 5 minutes to make batter, 1-2 min each for injera (14 minutes for 7) About 20 minutes total

 

Teff, a vital ingredient in good Ethiopian injera, is a very nutritious grain from Africa and is possibly is the tiniest individual grain in the world. Injera is an Ethiopian flatbread with a consistency somewhere between a crepe and a pancake. It is spongy and flexible with a sour flavor which perfectly compliments the savory and spicy Ethiopian stews that are served on it. The injera not only is your plate in an Ethiopian meal but also serves as the eating utensil. You just tear off a piece and fold it over a mound of stew on your plate, pinch off a bite and pop it into your mouth. When you are finished with the stews, you eat the plate which has become saturated with the delicious juices of the stews!

 

I am told by every Ethiopian chef I’ve met that it is virtually impossible to make Injera using 100% teff in the United States. No one seems to know the reason but it is assumed that it has something to do with climate and humidity. This is my version, which is quite comparable to the best of the Injera I’ve eaten in Ethiopian restaurants.

 

In a blender add 4 cups water and 1 cup teff flour. Blend on slow initially just to combine ingredients. Use a rubber spatula if necessary to scrape the dough from the sides of the blender. Test the teff by rubbing a bit of wet dough between your fingers. In the beginning, it feels grainy like a fine, wet sand. Turn blender up gradually until on high speed. Blend for one to two minutes. You can tell when the teff is ready when it is no longer very grainy. It will never be perfectly smooth but will be much less grainy than in the beginning.

 

Add all-purpose flour. Blend on low to combine. Turn off blender and scrape sides. Resume blending on high only long enough to remove lumps, 15 to 30 seconds. Do not over-blend. Add sourdough starter and blend to combine. While the blender is still running, add baking powder and cornstarch. Gradually increase speed to high and blend for 30 seconds.

 

Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

 

Heat a non-stick skillet with a lid on high heat. It is ready when a drop of water on the surface of the skillet sizzles and burns off quickly.

 

Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into the hot pan and tilt the pan on all sides unit the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan. The amount of batter you use depends upon the size of your pan. I use a 12″ flat-bottom skillet with straight sides with a lid.

 

Cook on high heat for 15 seconds or until holes form on the top of the pancakes and the batter begins to firm. Cover and continue cooking until the edges of the pancake begin to lift from the sides of the pan and begin to curl. Depending on the heat of your stove, the entire process should take 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. As moisture accumulates on the inside of the lid, wipe it off with a paper towel so the moisture does not drop onto the injera and cause gummy spots. The pancake should be filled with little holes the Ethiopians call “eyes”. The injera should also easily slide in the pan when shaken.

 

Slide onto a clean cloth on a countertop or table. I like to use flour sack towels. While the injera is cooling begin another in exactly the same manner. When the injera has cooled completely, you may stack them on top of each other. The injera must be completely cooled, not room temperature but rather cool to the touch, before they are stacked. Otherwise they will stick together and become unusable.

 

Note- if for some reason you have accidentally folded and edge of the injera over itself while transferring to the cloth to cool (It happens to the best of us.), allow it to cool slightly before attempting to straighten the injera. If you do it while still hot, you will make a gummy spot on the injera. If you let it cool a little, it will lay flat when you pull on it with little or no harm to the bread.

 

This recipe should make eight to ten 12-inch injeras, depending on how thick you make them. One should be used as a the plate for Ethiopian stews. The rest should be rolled up like cigars and served on the side. These will be used to eat the stews by pinching the stews between pieces of injera. Then just pop it into your mouth! No utensils, no problem!

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to products I use that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 

 

I don’t know how I ever lived without a Vitamix. This is an excellent product and lasts a very long time. It is multi-functional and aside from injera, it makes it possible to make creamy cheeses from nuts and ice creams, which are virtually impossible with a regular blender or a food-processor, as well as sauces, soups and much more. I use my Vitamix every single day and have for the past eight years. It’s still going strong!

 

 

This isn’t the exact sauté pan I use but it is nearly identical. The one I have been using for years is no longer available, so I’ve found one that will work well for you. I like the high sides of this pan. It makes it a little harder to slide the injera out of the pan, but the sloped sides of other pans give you less surface area to work with and you end up with smaller injera. It’s your choice. If you follow the directions in my video, you shouldn’t have any problems using this pan.

 


 

I always use earplugs when working with loud electrical appliances. This is a great, inexpensive, reusable set that has a box to store them in as well as replacements for when you wear yours out. They last a very long time and are washable. Rich and I keep a pair for each of us in the fold-out drawer below our sink so they are always handy.

 

 

I’ve been using this Taylor food scale for years and I have to say I really like it. It reads both in ounces and grams and allows you to reset the scale each time you add an additional ingredient, or want to weigh an item without weighing the bowl.

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Family Convenience Store, Harrisburg, VA, Serves Up Ethiopian Cuisine Family Style!

    

By Danielle Bussone

 

Chef, Tirhas Negassi Woldebabr and Manager, Mehari. T. Ocbamichael, owners of Family Convenient Store

Chef, Tirhas Negassi Woldebabr and Manager, Mehari T. Ocbamichael, owners of Family Convenient Store

 

In one of the most unlikely places, we discovered a gem of an Ethiopian restaurant located in the recesses of a small family owned convenience store, appropriately name Family Convenience Store. The chef, Tirhas Negassi Woldebabr, was once the chef of a favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the same city, called The Blue Nile. We had reviewed The Blue Nile several years ago and were dismayed to learn that it had closed. What I remember best was how delicious the food was, especially the Ethiopian Peanut Soup served with an unforgettable bread, Ambashi, which is the national bread of Ethiopia, according to Tirhas’s husband and partner, Mehari. T. Ocbamichael. With overtones of honey, it was a perfect complement to the to-die-for peanut soup.

 

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Now, the couple has opened up the Family Convenience Store, and Tirhas is back, juggling batches of batter between three grills, efficiently making injera and ambasha breads for her customers. She also prepares a wonderful menu of Ethiopian stews, called Wot (pronounced What), served on the spongy sourdough injera flatbread for which Ethiopia is famous. She offers packages of fresh injera for sale in the store, as well as with the dinners she prepares for eat-in or take-out service. Their daughter, a newly graduated high-school student, helps out in the store when she’s needed.

 

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Mehari manages the Family Convenience Store, which offers all the standard items one can find at an American convenience store, but it also provides a range of Ethiopian goods, such as an assortment of spices, teff flour, and false banana root. I bought some of the false banana, though I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with it. I just couldn’t resist! You may wonder whether there is a demand for Ethiopian products in the area, but it seems there is. Harrisonburg boasts a thriving Ethiopian community of 400 families. It is no wonder a constant stream of native Ethiopians drifted in and out during our visit, picking up bundles of fresh injera for their families or filling the small tables in the back to enjoy a meal.

 

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Tirhas was kind enough to show us how she makes both injera and ambasha, which is almost unbelievable since Ethiopians tend to guard their injera recipes with their lives. Making injera is an art that takes time to master. Some people never get it right; Tirhas certainly does.

 

The quality of injera is measured by the size and number of little holes in the top, called "eyes." This gives injera its spongy texture. This injera is perfect.

The quality of injera is measured by the size and number of little holes in the top, called “eyes.” This gives injera its spongy texture. This injera is perfect.

 

But let’s get to the food. While there isn’t a huge variety of vegan fare, it is certainly enough to give you a filling taste of authentic Ethiopia with a good balance of nutrients. We ordered the Gomen (collard greens), Misir Wot (spicy red lentils), and the Diniche Alicha (potatoes, green beans, and carrots), which included a tasty salad of tomatoes, lettuce, onion and jalapeño peppers with a lemony dressing.  The injera is some of the best we’ve tasted anywhere. It was soft and pillowy, with a slight sourdough flavor.

 

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While we were speaking with Tirhas, we ran into Rick Yoder, who had popped in to let her know that he was bringing in a party of four later that evening. A former economics professor of Eastern Mennonite University, Yoder is now a Health Systems Consultant for low-income countries. Rick had once lived in Ethiopia and tells us that this convenience store/restaurant is a very typical venue there. He says he loves the food and attests to Family Convenience Store’s authentic flavors. What he particularly likes is that it hasn’t been Americanized like a lot of the Ethiopian restaurants he’s tried in this country. Not having visited Ethiopia ourselves, we can’t attest to that, but we can say this food is equal to or better than many of the Ethiopian restaurants we’ve visited and the injera, which is the heart of any Ethiopian meal, is among the best.

 

Former University Professor with

Rick Yoder loves the great Ethiopian cuisine at Family Convenience Store!

 

Do yourself a favor the next time you are tooling down I-81 South and are hankering for some good Ethiopian cuisine. Stop by Family Convenient Store and enjoy the best Ethiopian food within a 100-mile radius!

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to my own products that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 


 

Tirhas swears by the Heritage grill. She has been using one of hers for twelve years and she has bought two more to keep up with her baking demands, making three injera in quick succession. She feels they are the best, especially for the price. You will need the lid, which is purchased separately. I, personally, have a Wass digital grill (mitad). You can get it at half the price listed on Amazon at almost any Ethiopian market, but you will no doubt pay a lot in shipping costs. I’ll add a link to that product below. I am happy with my purchase but have not had it long enough to verify its longevity.

 

  

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people who are making a difference in the plant-based community. She is the author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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Check Out Jacksonville’s 2nd Annual Gastrofest! Good Food – Great Time!

by Michael Wilkins

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The Jacksonville GastroFest is back for second year. This is a culinary inspired festival held annually in the downtown area of Jacksonville. The name GastroFest comes from GastroJax which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Their mission is to promote local cuisine and educate the public about food and beverage sources as well as local restaurants in the North Florida area. They do this through education about the cultural significance of what people eat, food history, healthy eating, and where food comes from. GastroJax was formed in April 2014 through outreach, during festivals like One Spark, EnviroFest, the Green Social and GastroFest. (more…)

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How To Prepare Quinoa

  
Quinoa is a delicious gluten-free substitute for the wheat intolerant. It is also a nice substitute for rice. It cooks quickly by comparison and has a slight crunchy texture.

 

 

Time: 20 minutes
Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, (red, white or mixed)

1 ½ cups Mirepoix Vegetable Stock or water

Preparation and Method:

1.  Rinse quinoa under running water in a fine-meshed strainer. Transfer to a small or medium sauce pan with a lid.

2. Stir in 1 ½ cups vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil (about 2 minutes).

3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You’ll know it is done when the quinoa grows tiny little tails and all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with fork.

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to my own products that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 


 

You can usually find quinoa at your local health food store and often at Asian grocers, if you happen to have a good one in your area. Many grocery chains are now carrying this delicious, nutritious grain. If you can’t find it in your area, many products are available on-line, often with free shipping. You can get much better prices if you buy in bulk quantities. Quinoa comes in black, red, white and mixed. The more colorful, the more antioxidants and, therefore, the more healthy!

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Spicy Szechuan Eggplant with Mushrooms & Almonds

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 large (about 1lb 4 oz) globe eggplant, or 10 small round Indian eggplants, or 3 long Japanese eggplants cut into irregular shapes. (Video on how to cut eggplants)

1 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)

1 large red onion, julienned (Video on how to julienne onions)

1 large (8-9oz) green bell pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips (Video on how to cut bell peppers)

6 (3-4 oz) 1 16 oz 1/2 cup small mulit-colored peppers, quartered (optional)

1 16-oz package portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced (may substitute button mushrooms or baby bellas) (Video on cutting portobello mushrooms)

toasted slivered almonds (or cashews) (Video on toasting almonds)

 

Sauce:

2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup organic tamari (may substitute soy sauce)
Enough water or vegetable stock to make 2 cups along with the previous three ingredients

 

METHOD:

Yield: 7 cups/3 lbs 11 oz

In a large sauté pan, sauté onions until wilted adding water or vegetable stock to prevent scorching. Stir in garlic, mushrooms and peppers. (If using crushed red peppers, reserve for later.)

Add about 1/2 cup liquid, cover and cook on medium heat until veggies are fork tender, stirring frequently. Once the mushrooms have released their liquid (signifying the veggies are nearly done) begin making your sauce.

For the sauce, pour 1/2 cup boiling water into a 2-cup measuring cup. With a whisk, stir in brown sugar until completely dissolved. Add molasses and stir until dissolved. Whisk in tamari and set aside to cool.

Check your vegetables and see if the eggplants are fork tender. This is the one vegetable that you really want to be cooked through. If that is ready, finish making your sauce.

Note: I don’t like adding cornstarch until I’m ready to use it. Note that the sauce mixture doesn’t have to be completely cooled, just not hot. If it is hot, the cornstarch will start to thicken prematurely and may clump. If the sauce is still too hot, add a half-cup cold water or veggie stock.

When the eggplants are ready, stir in the almonds or cashews. If you are using crushed red peppers, add this now.

Finish your sauce by whisking 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch into the sweetened tamari mixture. Add enough liquid to bring the total amount to 2 cups. Stir to make sure the cornstarch is fully incorporated with no lumps.

Stir sauce into vegetable mixture. Cover and allow to come to a soft boil, stirring frequently. You will notice that the cornstarch mixture was rather cloudy when you first added it to the vegetables. In a minute or two, the mixture will become dark and clear. Allow this mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate, the sauce to thicken and become a clear, rich color.

Serve over brown or red rice. (Video on how to cook brown rice)

Note: If you prefer your veggies to have more of a crunchy texture, sauté the mushrooms and eggplants first and after the mushrooms have released their liquid, stir in the peppers, onion and garlic. Then add the nuts, crushed peppers, and sauce.

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to my own products that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 

 

 

Frontier brand organics and Wholesome Organic Molasses are products I like to use and can attest to their quality. Light brown sugar and organic tamari can usually be found at your local markets, Asian markets and health food stores.

 

 

I’ve not personally tried these particular brands of blanched slivered almonds and whole organic cashews. They have good ratings on Amazon and are reasonably good prices, and also offer free shipping. I recommend purchasing the 2-pound bags to begin with to see if you like them. They offer a better value than the 1-pound bags. Freeze or refrigerate what you are not using right away. You may also be able to find these at your local grocers.

 

 

I’m a big fan of Lundberg Organic Rices. They go through rigorous testing processes and have been found to have safer arsenic levels than some other brands. I’ve recently quite fallen in love with short-grain rice. It’s got more body and texture than long-grain rice and it is excellent for making Sushi. Studies have shown that while nutritionally deficient white rice raises blood-sugar levels, brown rice actually reduces them! I also use brown long-grain, brown jasmine, brown basmati, wild and brown rice blends, black, and red rices when I want to mix things up! Remember, the more colorful, the more antioxidants, and the more healthy!

This is a particularly good price for this short-grained brown rice and includes free shipping for prime members. Bulk orders are usually a better buy and this will last you along time. You may also find it at your local grocers and health food stores as well as other brands that may serve you just as well.

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Swiss Chard Rolls Stuffed with Spicy Potatoes Masala

 

 

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

 


Swiss Chard Rolls Stuffed With Spicy Potatoes Masala

 

This recipe has a number of steps but it is really quite simple to make. If you don’t care for spicy food, simply leave out the hot pepper.

To assemble you’ll need:

4 leaves swiss chard
1 recipe Spiced Masala Potatoes
1 cup red quinoa
1 recipe tahini sauce

 

1 – Prepare Quinoa

 

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, (red, white or mixed)

1 ½ cups Mirepoix Vegetable Stock (see Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health!) or water

Preparation and Method:

Rinse quinoa under running water in a fine-meshed strainer. Transfer to a small or medium sauce pan with a lid. Stir in 1 ½ cups vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil (about 2 minutes). Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You’ll know it is done when the quinoa grows tiny little tails and all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with fork.

 

2 – Toast Cashews

 

3 – Prepare Spicy Masala Potatoes


Ingredients:


3 medium (about 1 1/2 lbs) yukon gold potatoes

1 medium to large red or yellow onion, chopped
15 curry leaves or more (1 or 2 stems)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, any color

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
salt to taste

1/2 cup toasted cashews
cilantro for garnish


This is a deliciously flavorful way to eat potatoes. I first tried this dish at a fantastic Indian/Sri Lanken restaurant called, Dosa Garden, in Staten Island, NY. I was so smitten by the flavors, I hounded the owner to share the recipe with me. He gave me the general ingredients and this is the version I cam up with. I think it comes pretty close. While Kandi, from Dosa Garden, uses oil when he prepares this dish, this is an oil-free method. The preparation times of this dish overlap into the cooking time.

Preparation: 5 -7 minutes

 

Method:
Wash and dice potatoes, leaving skin on (5 – 7 minutes). Rinse and transfer to a medium sauce pan with a lid. Put in enough water or vegetable stock to come half-way to the top of the potatoes (1/2-1 inch, depending on the size of your saucepan). Bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and cook at a low boil until fork tender.

While the potatoes are coming to a boil, peel and chop onions.

Heat your sauté pan and add chopped onions. Stir. Add curry leaves, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Add 1/8 cup water, turmeric, black pepper and chili powder.

While the onions and potatoes are cooking, prepare cashews. You can leave them whole or chop them into coarsely chopped pieces. In a small fry pan on medium heat, brown cashews, turning them over with a spatula or flip them in the pan frequently. When they are lightly browned, transfer to a cool dish. Don’t leave them in the pan to cool because they will continue to brown and will possibly burn. Set aside.

When potatoes are fork tender (most of the water should be boiled away), drain, reserving liquid, and add to onion mixture. Toss all ingredients until completely covered with the spicy onion mixture. Mash mixture with a potato masher. If the potatoes feel a little dry, add a little of the reserved potato water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Fold in cashews. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve hot as a side dish as a filling for Utthappam (Indian Potato Pancakes), or as a filling for Swiss Chard Rolls. This is also good served cold as a potato salad .

 

4 – Tahini Sauce

 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Tahini
2 teasp white miso (garbanzo bean or soy miso)
1 teasp Mitoku sweet brown vinegar, or brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup water

Method:

Tahini sauce is delicious over just about any grain dish. It will keep three days in your refrigerator and reheats well. You can make it to the consistency you desire.

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 3/4 cup

Preparation and Directions: 2-3min
In a blender on medium-high speed, blend all ingredients until smooth.
If you have a high-powered blender, like a Vita-mix, you can put it on high and blend until the mixture is thick like heavy cream and warm. Add just enough water to thin to a nice creamy sauce. The only problem with using a Vita-mix for this is that the sauce will tend to be a little frothy, with lots of small bubbles in it. While this doesn’t affect flavor, it can give it a less desirable appearance. I, personally, don’t mind this but if you do, blend this in your regular blender and transfer it to a small saucepan and finish the process on the stove.

If you prefer to heat it on a stovetop add 5 minutes to preparation time.

If you don’t have a Vita-mix, transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and carefully heat on medium-low until thickened, adding water until you achieve a warm sauce with the consistency of heavy cream. (Nut sauces like to burn so stir frequently.

 

5 – Wilting Swiss Chard Leaves To Prepare For Stuffing

 

Pick out the largest swiss chard leaves you can find and those with few or no tears in them.

First, half-fill a large skillet or sauté pan with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Fill a large, wide-rimmed bowl with cold water. If you have ice cubes, add a few to the water to get it as cold as possible. Set aside. (You can leave this in your sink for less mess.) Also, lay a large, clean towel on your countertop for draining water from leaves.)

While the water is heating, wash several chard leaves to get rid of any residual dirt and grit. Choose a large leaf and turn it over onto a chopping board so that the bottom rib of the leaf is exposed. Lay a paring knife on its side and gently shave about half of the stem off, taking care not to cut through the stem entirely nor accidentally puncture the leaf. This will allow the leaf to bend easier while rolling it. Cut off stem at the base of the leaf and save for making vegetable stock, put in compost or discard. We won’t be using it in this recipe.

Remove lid from water and reduce heat to simmer. Gently lay prepared leaf in hot water and submerge for 30 seconds. Remove with a tong and transfer to cold water bath to stop cooking. Once cooled, remove from water bath and spread out on towel to drain. Pat with another clean towel to dry exposed side of the leaf. Repeat process with all the leaves you plan to stuff.

 

6 – Assembling Swiss Chard Rolls

 

To Assemble:

Take wilted leaf and place, shaved stem side up, on a chopping board or large plate. Spoon a generous portion of Spicy Potatoes Masala (see recipe) onto the bottom of the leaf and roll towards the top of the leaf, tucking the potatoes under as you go. When you’ve completed one full turn, fold the sides of the leaf towards the middle. continue to roll until you’ve used the entire leaf. This technique is very similar to rolling a burrito.

 

To serve:

Prepare a bed of Red Quinoa (see recipe, you may substitute any other type quinoa) and spoon some Tahini Sauce (see recipe) over it. Arrange one or two swiss chard rolls on top of the quinoa, then drizzle some more of the Tahini Sauce over the top. Enjoy!

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to products I use that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 

 

I don’t know how I ever lived without a Vitamix. This is an excellent product and lasts a very long time. It is multi-functional and it makes it possible to make creamy cheeses from nuts and ice creams, which are virtually impossible with a regular blender or a food-processor, as well as sauces, soups, breads, and much more. I use my Vitamix every single day and have for the past eight years. It’s still going strong!

 

 

I always use earplugs when working with loud electrical appliances. This is a great, inexpensive, reusable set that has a box to store them in as well as replacements for when you wear yours out. They last a very long time and are washable. Rich and I keep a pair for each of us in the fold-out drawer below our sink so they are always handy.

 

 

 

I’ve not personally tried these particular brands of whole organic cashews. They have good ratings on Amazon and are reasonably good prices, and also offer free shipping. I recommend purchasing the 2-pound bags to begin with to see if you like them. They offer a better value than the 1-pound bags. Freeze or refrigerate what you are not using right away. You may also be able to find these at your local grocers.

 

 

You can usually find quinoa at your local health food store and often at Asian grocers, if you happen to have a good one in your area. Many grocery chains are now carrying this delicious, nutritious grain. If you can’t find it in your area, many products are available on-line, often with free shipping. You can get much better prices if you buy in bulk quantities. Quinoa comes in black, red, white and mixed. The more colorful, the more antioxidants and, therefore, the more healthy!

 

 

I like this brand because it is made entirely with organically grown sesame seeds (no fillers or added oil) and because it comes in a glass jar. With all the health risks associated with plastics, I avoid them if at all possible.

 

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Gosh Ethiopian Restaurant – Healthy Plant-based Dining In Knoxville, Tennessee

by Danielle Busssone

 

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On one of our pilgrimages to Knoxville to visit the Apple Store and the most wonderful Asian market EVER (Sunrise Market on Kingston Pike), we discovered a restaurant we have somehow missed on previous visits to this bustling city. Gosh is one of the few family-owned restaurants in Knoxville where you can find a healthy, plant-based meal without the bother of a litany of questions. Ethiopia has a long history of religious fasting days in which no animal protein is allowed, so whenever you order vegetarian at an Ethiopian restaurant, vegan is what you get. You can count on that!

 

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The menu offers individual stews a la carte from $7.99 to $8.99 each or you can opt for a vegetarian (actually vegan) four dish option from the vegetarian menu, plus a salad for $9.99. Finally, there is the option of six vegetarian dishes plus salad for $11.99.

 

We chose the six veggie combination plate including Kik Alicha (mild pureed yellow split peas seasoned with onions and turmeric), Yemiser Wot (red split lentils cooked in a uniquely Ethiopian spice blend called Berbere), Yemiser Alicha (red split lentils cooked in a mild sauce of onion, garlic and curry), Tikil Gomen (a mild stew of carrots, potato and cabbage), Gomen ( a mild stew of collard greens cooked with onions, garlic and jalapeño peppers), Shurro Wot (ground split peas cooked in Berbere spice blend with onions and fresh garlic), as well as a house salad. This is served with a special flatbread native to Ethiopia called Injera, made from teff, a highly nutritious grain that is fermented to give the bread its unique sourdough flavor. It’s texture is somewhere between a crepe and a pancake and it is used not only as the lining of your plate, upon which the various stews are placed, but will also serve as your utensils. To eat Ethiopian food, unroll a piece of injera and pinch a portion of the stew within the folds of your injera. Then just pop it into your mouth!

 

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Green Erth Bistro – Persian Cuisine In North Florida, And It’s VEGAN!

 

by Michael Wilkins

 

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Having a meal at the Green Erth Bistro is like sitting down at the dinner table with your family in your own home. This restaurant is a little slice of heaven, hearkening back to a time when we sat down at grandma’s table for a homemade meal. All of the dishes are made simply with very fresh ingredients. Mashid goes to the market each day to select garden-fresh produce, which she and her staff prepare just prior to opening. The restaurant is designed so that vegans and carnivores can dine together, and everyone can get what they want.

 
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The owner, Mashid,  is a marvelous lady who came to Jacksonville from New York. I spoke with her about her background and the restaurant. She came to the United States with her family at the age of 18. Originally from Iran, she describes herself as Persian. There is a delightfully comforting feel to this place that strikes you from the moment you walk in the door. A central high chair dining area features decor like you would find in your own kitchen, including an enticing jar of marinated vegetables. This is all by design. There are mirrors and items on the walls that add to the familiar homey ambiance.  Green Erth has maintained a manageable size that allows them to offer excellent service without compromising quality and the intimate atmosphere.

 

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While advertised as vegetarian/vegan Persian food, I learned in my conversation with Mashid that this restaurant is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. After doing a little investigating, I discovered that they guarantee their vegan food is 100% pure. I discovered this place a few months ago and vowed to visit it for lunch, but I never made it.  So, recently, as I was driving through downtown Jacksonville on Hendricks Avenue headed for a Tropical Smoothie Café, I passed this Green Erth Bistro. I turned around and headed back, intent on finding out what they were all about. I’m so glad I did;  I had a wonderful lunch in a very comfortable setting with fresh ingredients that express themselves in unmistakable bursts of flavor. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, isn’t this what we all really want?

 
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I ordered a cup of the vegan soup of the day which turned out to be the Barley Aash. It is a hearty concoction of barley, lentils, navy beans, fresh herbs, garlic & onion and is very tasty.

 
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I also ordered a sandwich which is listed on the menu as a TempehWrap. This delectable wrap includes, organic tempeh marinated in-house dressing, served with diced tomato,onion and organic greens wrapped in lavash (a soft, thin flatbread), served with gluten-free chips. I could only finish half of the wrap as it was a sizable portion.

 

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Inquiring about their dessert, I was happy to find out that they have vegan desserts such as ice cream and the weekly special, which turned out to be the double chocolate cheesecake. The cheesecake is sweetened with agave which was pleasing to me since I avoid refined sugar like the plague. When I inquired about the desert, Mashid told me that she does not make them in her kitchen but orders the vegan desert from Shakthi Life Kitchens, located right here in Jacksonville. Shakthi Life Kitchens is owned by a young lady whose father owns European Street Café, which I posted in an earlier blog.

 
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In addition to the food that I ordered there are many other items on the menu that vegetarian/vegans will find delightful, like falafel, baba ghanoush, a hummus plate, tabouli, various salads, vegan chili, vegan soup, and various vegetarian/vegan sandwiches or wraps. One of the unique items in this restaurant is skewers and kebabs.

 

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I cannot wait to go back and try the organic tofu and vegetable kebob. You can also order sides of tabouli hummus, organic tempeh, vegan bread, vegan cheese, and basmati rice. Have I given you the impression that I could eat here every day? Well I’m glad I did, because it’s true.

 

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Lunch is served here Monday through Saturday 11 AM to 2:30 PM. Dinner isserved Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 PM to 9 PM and they are closed on Sunday. If you are traveling through Jacksonville this is a must stop. It is locatedin the downtown area on Hendricks Avenue. Please say hello to Mashid from Mike the Diver, and enjoy all of the great food choices she has to offer.

 

Michael Wilkins is a respiratory therapist, an avid scuba diver and an accomplished photographer. He has been living with hepatitis C for more than two decades and is a cancer survivor. Michael has kept liver cancer at bay by employing the healing properties of a plant-based diet.

A year later, after a strict plant-based regimen, his tumor markers are normal and his MRIs are clean! This has made Michael more passionate about staying on a vegan diet. He has met lots of wonderful passionate people with amazing stories while walking down this path. Michael’s area is Northeast Florida, particularly the Jacksonville area. Contact Michael to share your restaurant finds, make comments, or just to say hello!

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Danielle’s Meatless BBQ pulled ‘pork’ made from Jackfruit live on WJHL 11

 

Click here to view the video:

Meatless BBQ

 

 

 

Barbecued Jackfruit Pulled Pork

Barbecue Jackfruit Pulled Pork

 

Note from Danielle: In the video I misspoke and said to add 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar. It is actually 1/4 cup! Oops! 🙂 Full recipe attached.

Ingredients:
2 16oz cans Green Jackfruit in brine
¼ cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Southwestern Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder or Chipotle in adobe sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 – 1½ cups Barbecue Sauce (see Time For Change) or any commercial BBQ sauce

Method:
Drain and rinse in cold water. With a fork pull the wedges of jackfruit apart until it resembles pulled pork. (It is much easier if you microwave the jackfruit for 30 seconds or steam it in a tablespoon or two of water first.)
Transfer to a covered skillet or sauté pan.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently.

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