NEW Product Alert! Luna and Larry’s Dairy Free Frozen Desserts. Confirmed: It’s VEGAN!!!

Love this find! The Salted Caramel chocolate bars are my new fave! Modest range of flavours: CHOCOLATE BARS – Salted Caramel in Chocolate, Coconut Almond in Chocolate, Naked Coconut; AND

ICE-CREAMS – Salted Caramel and Chocolate, Vanilla Island, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Naked Coconut, Chocolate Walnut Brownie

Try ’em, you’ll love ’em.

Find them at Tru Valu Long Circular Mall! 

Price: $58.99TT (box of 3 Bars); $65.99TT (per pint of ice-cream) 

A tad on the pricey side.

Tomatoes!

Tomatoes-Beautiful
Beautiful homegrown tomatoes!

Tomatoes are a great addition to salads, sauces, dips, chows and chokas.

They even make a great base for soups and are often boiled, stewed, roasted or eaten raw.

These fruits (yes, fruits) are very versatile and can even be used in desserts.

Tomatoes are excellent sources of Vitamins A and C and also contain a key antioxidant called lycopene.  Studies have shown that lycopene may significantly lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe to enjoy the benefits of tomatoes.

Ingredients

2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon minced chive
sea salt to taste

METHOD:

– Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

– Serve and enjoy!

Simple Trini Vegan Oil Down – Limited ingredients version

Oil Down
simple Trini vegan oil down

As a child, whenever my grandmother would cook Oil down, my mother would end up having to cook something different for me to eat.  At the time I couldn’t understand all the provision being muddled together in a pot as opposed to being separately cooked and being able to pick and choose which ones you wanted on your plate.

It was only as I got older and dared to be adventurous in the food arena that I really appreciated this dish.  I was volunteering at a Health Fair, about four years back, and when lunch time came around Oil down was on the menu (Vegan of course).  So, I decided to try this dish once more.  I was smitten by the flavors: the rich creamy coconut coming through, the hint of local seasonings, and the perfectly cooked ground provision (cassava, dasheen, etc). 

Since then, whenever it was cooked at home, I had no qualms eating it whatsoever.

So it came as no surprise that I had a craving for it yesterday.  Even though I didn’t have all of the main ground provision ingredients, I didn’t let that stop me since I still had cassava, carrots, fresh local seasonings and coconut milk of course!  I also threw in some red beans for my protein.

I started by getting the red beans on to boil.  The red beans I used were the dried version that I soaked overnight and the following day I stored them in the freezer so they really came in handy for this dish.

While the beans were cooking for the first 10-15 minutes, I had the carrots steaming as I really didn’t want them to be too soft in the Oil down.

Afterward, I added some Trini seasonings (local celery, chive, etc), coconut milk and sea salt.  When this came back to a boil I added the cassava and cooked until tender.  Just before I took the pot off I added some more celery, chive, dried ginger, onion powder, and salt.  I tossed in the carrots and the dish was done and ready to be served.

Here’s the recipe which I hope  you will enjoy:

You’ll need:

2 lbs frozen cassava (you can used the frozen logs or the frozen cubes)

2 cups red beans**

3 carrots

14 oz coconut milk

2 1/2 cups of water

4 teaspoons dried ginger

2 stalks local celery, minced

2 stalks chive, minced

3 teaspoons granulated onion powder

6 cloves garlic, smashed

2 pimento peppers, seeded and sliced

Sea Salt to taste

METHOD:

– Steam carrots to desired texture and set aside

– In a pot, bring to boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of red beans**.  Let this cook for about 10-15 minutes*

– Next, add the coconut milk and half of the dried ginger, celery, chive, onion powder, garlic, pimento peppers and a little sea salt.  Bring to boil

– Carefully add frozen cassava logs or cubes and cook until tender

– When desired tenderness is reached add in remainder of seasonings, 1/2 cup of water and carrots

– Take off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes

– Serve and enjoy

** Fresh red beans are not only more flavorful than their tinned/canned companions but they also have a lot less sodium.  If you don’t have access to fresh red beans then purchase a pack of the dried version instead.  Want to know how to prepare dried red beans for easy cooking? Click here

* I like my beans with some texture so  I didn’t use a pressure cooker for them or cook them for too long

TIP: If the mixture is too thick you can add a little extra water until desired consistency is reached

How To Prepare Dried Red Beans For Easy Cooking

We’ve all been there.  A recipe calls for beans and we reach for the can.  Each time we do it, we promise ourselves that the next time we would use a healthier alternative.

It’s no secret that canned beans come with a high sodium content.  Canned beans also tend to have less flavor than their dried or fresh versions.

I bought a pack of dried red beans and tried a mini experiment.

I rinsed them and then soaked them in a pot overnight and by the next day they basically doubled in size.  It yielded the equivalent of about 4 regular cans of red beans.  Talk about savings!

Cooking was done for the day and therefore I didn’t need to use the beans right away.  After rinsing and straining them I decided to place them in a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer.

The next day I had a craving for Trini Oil Down.  I quickly pulled out my beans and tossed about 2 cups worth in the pot.  The result was absolutely delicious.  I like some texture to my beans and don’t like them at all mushy so they were perfectly cooked and had the texture that I wanted.

These steps can be followed for almost all kinds of beans and peas as well.  If you have access to fresh beans and peas, however, then you can wash them, shell them (if needed), place them in a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer.

Here are the simple steps:

1. Rinse and strain your desired about of dried red beans

2. Place in a large bowl or container and cover with water

3. Let these soak overnight.  By the next morning you’ll notice that they would have most likely doubled in size

4. Rinse and strain again

5. Place in large freezer bag or freezable bowl/container.  Seal tightly and place in freezer.

You’ll now have fresh red beans whenever a recipe calls for it

Frozen red beans
frozen Red Beans in freezer bag

Oatmeal – What Else is New?

By now, you have probably heard about all of the great health benefits of Oatmeal: that it may help lower your cholesterol, or that it may lower your risk for heart disease.

You probably also know that it contains B vitamins that are essential to Vegan Nutrition.

But, what you would like to know is what you can do to jazz up that oatmeal!

Here’s some great ideas that will not only add some life into your Oatmeal but even your kids will love!

New Ways to Have Oatmeal:

1. Breakfast Parfaits – layered healthy goodness 

oatmeal breakfast parfait
oatmeal breakfast parfait

Start off with a fruit topping at the bottom, then add a layer oatmeal and pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Keep alternating until you reach the top of your dish.

The great thing about this Oatmeal Breakfast Parfait is that you can start with any fruit you like and use almonds, pecans, etc.

 

 

2. Super simple cereal bowl

Pour the desired amount of oatmeal into a cereal bowl.  Stir in bananas and top off with toasted walnuts for a super simple Banana Walnut crunch.

Or, swap the Banana and Walnut for Cranberry and Almond and you will have yourself a satisfying Cranberry Almond crunch.  If you’re feeling adventurous, toss in some chopped dates.

Yum!

Helpful Tips For Making Your Meatless Mondays Extra Special

roastedvegetables

Meatless Mondays are increasing in popularity across the globe.  Typically, even though it’s the second day of the week, Monday tends to be the day when most persons seek to implement positive changes to their lifestyle.  So, what better Day to start enjoying the benefits of a meat-free diet than on Monday?

But just what can you do on a Meatless Monday to make it fun and to ensure that the positive effects of it are lasting?

Here’s some helpful tips that will make your Meatless Mondays extra special:

1.  Plan ahead – You’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy by doing this.  Set a menu, from Breakfast to Dinner, and start pulling together a list to shop around for the items.

2.  Have a Variety – Don’t confine yourself to just salads.  Vegan recipes are aplenty, from Vegan soups to Veggie Burgers, Veggie Sandwiches, Vegetable Pilafs and more.  And for your Vegan Desserts?  The choices are endless: choose from Vegan Ice-creams, Vegan Cheesecakes and so much more.  Meatless Mondays are not just about abstaining from meat for a day, but, enjoying the wide and delicious variety found in non-meat fare like your fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

3.  Make it a group event – Invite friends and family to bring a Vegan dish and have a Vegan Lime/Vegan Party.  That way you’re not alone and you can enjoy sharing funny stories of your Vegan adventures or misadventures in the kitchen.  You’ll be surprised to find that some of your family and friends are also trying to make healthier decisions when it comes to eating.  When it’s done in a special circle of friends or family you’ll also get the support and encouragement needed to make better lifestyle choices.  And, everyone, including you, will be looking forward to the next Meatless Monday.

4. Give it a theme – “Caribbean Vegan Monday” or “Mediterranean Meatless Monday”.  Take your pick.  Themes help take Meatless Mondays from bland and boring to fun and exciting and help guide your menu choices.  It also helps you to save on your food bill since you can use some of the same ingredients on your themed shopping list to come up with a variety of dishes.

Roasted Vegetable Salad for your Meatless Mondays

Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and beautiful flavor.  Add that to a fresh bed of lettuce or spinach and you have the best of both worlds.  Here’s a great warm, roasted vegetable salad for your Meatless Mondays.  

Warm Roasted Vegetable Salad

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups chopped Broccoli

1 medium sized Eggplant/Melongene/Aubergine, chopped

1 Carrot**, chopped

1 Onion, chopped

7 cloves of Garlic, peeled

2 Pimento Peppers, sliced

1 Large Red Bell Pepper, chopped

2 Medium sized Tomatoes, chopped (Optional – I just love tomatoes, I’ll add it to almost anything)

1 TBSP chopped local celery (Optional)

1 teaspoon dried Herbs De Provence

2 teaspoons Granulated Onion powder (looks like tiny salt granules)

2 TBSP Olive Oil

Sea Salt to taste

Your choice of Lettuce or Spinach or both (washed and drained)

 

METHOD:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

2.  In a large bowl, combine chopped broccoli, eggplant, carrot, onion, garlic, pimento peppers, red bell pepper, tomatoes and local celery.  Mix well.

3. Next, add dried Herbs De Provence, granulated onion powder and olive oil.  Mix well.

4. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  If your pan has a tendency to burn the food you can line it with foil and then spray with non-stick cooking spray.

5. Empty seasoned vegetables onto baking sheet and spread evenly.

Chopped and seasoned mixed vegetables ready for roasting
Chopped and seasoned mixed vegetables ready for roasting

 

 

 

 

 

6. Roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-35mins.

7. When finished roasting, carefully remove from oven and set aside.

mixed vegetables after roasting
mixed vegetables after roasting

 

 

 

 

 

8. On a serving plate add lettuce or spinach or a mixture of both.  Top off with roasted vegetables.

Serve and enjoy.

**TIP: As the carrots are the hardest and take the longest in roasting, chop these smaller.

Meatless Mondays Split Pea and Oat Vegetable Burger

ground split pea and oat vegetable burgers
Ground Split Pea and Oat Vegetable Burgers

Here’s an easy recipe for your next Meatless Monday.  It’s soft and tender on the inside with a gentle crunch on the outside.

For this Meatless Mondays Split Pea Oat Vegetable burger recipe, you’ll need:

Ingredients

7 TBSPs dry quick oats

16 TBSPs or 1 cup of hot water just boiled

1 TBSP local celery, minced

1 ½ TBSPS chive, minced

2 TBSPs carrots or pumpkin, minced

1 TBSP olive oil

5 TBSPs ground split pea powder

3 TBSPs ground flax seed

1 teaspoon granulated onion powder (looks like tiny salt granules)

1 sprig of fresh thyme, de-leafed

Sea salt to taste

 

METHOD:

– In a large mixing bowl, stir together quick oats and just boiled water for 1 minute

– Next, add celery, chive, carrots or pumpkin, fresh thyme and olive oil.  Mix well.

– Now add ground split pea powder, onion powder, ground flax seed and sea salt.  Mix well.

veggie patty wet mixture
veggie patty wet mixture

 

 

 

 

 

– Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray

– Take a little more than a golf ball sized amount with hands and shape into a ball.

veggie patty a little more than a golf ball sized amout
veggie patty a little more than a golf ball sized amout

 

 

 

 

 

– Press gently, but firmly, to flatten into a patty a little more than 1/4 inch in thickness and place on baking sheet.  Repeat until all of your batter is used up.  Makes about 8 – 10 patties.

veggie patties ready for baking
veggie patties ready for baking

 

 

 

 

 

– Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.

– Carefully remove from oven after 25 minutes and flip each patty over. (Caution! Contents will be hot so handle with care)

veggie patty after first bake
veggie patty after first bake

 

 

 

 

 

– Put back in oven and continue to bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

– Carefully, remove from oven.  Patties should like the photo below.

Ground Split Pea and Oat Vegetable patties after final bake
Ground Split Pea and Oat Vegetable patties after final bake

 

 

 

 

– Place on a serving plate, serve and enjoy!

Ground Split Pea and Oat Vegetable Burger patty - Serve and enjoy!
Ground Split Pea and Oat Vegetable Burger patty – Serve and enjoy!

The Salty Truth – Fast Food in Trinidad

The Salty Truth About Fast Food in Trinidad

If you regularly eat at fast food outlets, chances are that you are consuming way too much salt.

If you are frequently consuming too much salt, then you are likely setting yourself up to develop hypertension and chronic kidney disease.

Studies have shown that the recommended daily allowance for sodium in healthy adults should be no more than 2,300mg per day.  However, if you are elderly, hypertensive, diabetic, or have chronic kidney disease that amount is significantly lowered to 1,500mg.

So, just how much sodium is in your fast food?

In recent times, major fast food chains such as Mc Donald’s and KFC have posted the nutritional content of their products online and also have them prominently displayed in their restaurants.

Let’s look at some of their facts.

Mc Donald’s

According to Mc Donald’s nutrition facts, one portion of small French fries has a sodium content of about 160mg.  That doesn’t sound half bad, right?  Only if all you are going to consume is one small portion of French fries.

The average person tends to upsize their portion to Large which yields 350mg.  Throw in a Big Mac (970mg) and together you have a combined total of 1,320mg of sodium in one meal and you haven’t eaten dinner yet!

Burger King

Burger King is not that far behind, if not ahead, of the competition.  A Whopper ® Sandwich, without mayo and cheese, can have as much as 840mg of sodium.  Slap on some mayo and a slice of cheese and you could be consuming a whopping 1,380mg of sodium in one sandwich.

If you like to live dangerously you could throw in a large portion of their French fries (710mg) and you’re looking at 2,090mg of sodium.

KFC

And now, KFC!

Sorry folks, I have to do this.

One individual side of KFC wedges can have as much as 810mg of sodium.  And the meat? One breast piece (Original recipe) alone yields 1,130mg of sodium.  Fly in a whole wing (Original recipe) and you just bought yourself a 2,390mg sodium “Death Pack”.

 

How do I cut back?

1. Try swapping your fries/wedges for a salad, without dressing and without cheese

2. Make your wedges and/or fries at home.  You will not only cut down on the sodium content in your potato snack but you’ll also cut back on fat as well.  Click here for an Easy Crisp Golden Potato Rounds recipe.

3. Avoid fast food meats.  These are often over-processed, over-salted and over-saturated with fats.