Category Archives: Tips

Simple guidelines to enhance your Vegan lifestyle

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

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.

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.

How to De-Seed a Pomegranate

Pomegranates are fruits native to Mediterranean territories but also found in some parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

They are large and round in shape and are often red on the outside.  When cracked open,  they have multiple red seeds which are surrounded by a white membrane.  The seeds have the appearance of red kernels of corn and are the edible part of the fruit.

Pomegranate seeds are a wonderful addition to salads as they add a pleasant tang and crunch.

De-seeding a Pomegranate is a lot easier than thought.  Pomegranates can be scored and then broken open or have the tops cut out (as you would the stem of a strawberry) and then broken open.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Taking a knife, carefully core out the top (as you would the stem of a strawberry)

Step 2: Taking your hands, gently pull the pomegranate apart

breaking open the Pommegranate
breaking open the Pomegranate

Continue until you have broken the pomegranate into about three pieces (this makes it easier to get the seeds out)

 

 

 

Pomegranate - broken apart
Pomegranate broken open

Step 3:  Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the seeds into a bowl or measuring cup

 

 

 

spooning out the Pomegranate seeds
spooning out Pomegranate seeds

Step 4:  Using your fingers, carefully remove any bits of the white membrane.

 

Step 5:  Use your fresh Pomegranate seeds anyway you’d like in your favorite recipe

Quinoa – The Complete Protein

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a small grain food that was originally popular in South America.  It was commonly referred to as “the mother grain” among the Incas.

What does it look like?

Quinoa has the appearance of little round, flat discs.

Quinoa - uncooked
Uncooked Quinoa

When cooked, it appears translucent and the germ ring can be seen around the edges.

Quinoa - cooked
Cooked Quinoa

 Why should I eat it?

This superfood is a “complete protein”, containing all of the essential amino acids, making it a must-have in Vegan and Vegetarian diets.

It is also a great source of dietary fiber, providing as much as 13% of your recommended daily dietary fiber intake in one serving.

How can I use it?

This grain can be used in the same way you would use oats and rice and can also be included in veggie burgers, breakfast cereals, soups and more.

Check out my Oat Quinoa Peanut butter Breakfast Cereal recipe.

Where can I buy Quinoa?

Quinoa is produced by a number of different brands.  The brand featured in my photo below can be purchased at both Hi-Lo Foodstores and Tru-Valu supermarkets, specifically the Westmoorings and Diamond Vale branches respectively.

where to buy
O.A Quinoa Brand – can be bought at Tru Valu and Hi-Lo Foodstores

Low-Sugar Chewy Granola Bars for Kids

Chewy granola bars are a popular snack with the kids.

Most store-bought bars promise to provide heart healthy nuts and whole grains in a snack-form that kids will love.  These come, however, with very high sugar content.  When reading labels, normally the first three ingredients are the major components.  Most of these store-bought bars have sugar in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place.  Then, further down the ingredient list, sugar appears at least one more time.

In the wake of an upsurge in the incidences of Juvenile Diabetes, some of the popular cereal brands promised to have less sugar.  Even the popular Quaker Oats chewy granola bars at one point promised that it contained “25% less sugar” than before.  I bought those a while back and still found them to be too sweet.

A short while afterward I found that I could no longer purchase the store-bought chewy granola bars at all.  Not only were they too sweet, they also contained whey and other milk-derived ingredients.

So, I decided to make my own chewy granola bars at home.

After a couple experiments, and prayer, I came up with this Chewy Peanut Butter granola bar recipe.  I used peanut butter as I found it to be a great binder that kept the bars together as opposed to using large amounts of syrups and sweeteners.  This enabled me to keep the sugar content low.

I also used sunflower seeds, walnuts and cranberries which are great sources of dietary fibre.

Try this easy, heart-healthy snack.

Click here for recipe.

How to Make Vegan Ice-cream Without an Ice-cream Maker or Food Processor

Gradually, I gave up all dairy and ultimately had to give up on ice-cream as well, or so I thought.  I decided to try making ice-cream with soy milk, almond milk, etc and along with much prayer I found much success.

As time progressed, I discovered an easier way to make ice-cream without using a food processor or ice-cream maker or blender.

So, just how to make ice-cream without a food processor or ice-cream maker?

Take your pick of

Super Rich Chocolate Ice-cream 

vegan ice-cream - Chocolate

OR

Rich Creamy Peanut Butter and Ginger Ice-cream

and discover how.

And yes, they are all Vegan!!!

Enjoy!

Comparison Shopping – Where to Buy?

Generally, one may think of comparison shopping as going from store to store to see which items are cheaper and then making a purchase.  Proper comparison shopping, however, goes way deeper than that.  It serves to inform the consumer where to go to get the most out of their money by taking into consideration several factors.

Here are some comparison shopping tips to help you get the most out of your shopping experience and your wallet!

1. Affordability – after all, you wouldn’t want to have to break the bank in order to shop at that store.  Ask yourself “Can I really afford this”, “Would I be breaking my budget”

2.  Location – if the money you think you’re saving is heading straight into the gas tank then you will probably have to reconsider if that supermarket, grocery store or shopper’s club is right for you.  Let’s say you live in Diego Martin but heard about this really cheap store in San Fernando, would this really be cost effective on a regular basis?  I don’t think so.

3.  Convenience – “is it close to work”, “Can I get to this store on the way to pick up the kids from school”,  “Can I get there easily if I don’t have access to a vehicle”.  Let’s say I live in Diego Martin but work in San Fernando and that really cheap store my friend was telling me about is a short distance away from work.  I can stop at that store after work before heading home.  Now that’s convenient!  Also, if you’ve made a purchase and discover you have a faulty product then it will be nice to know that they’re about 20 minutes away from where you live or a place you frequent and not one hour and a half.  If the store is not a convenient place to shop then it will most likely discourage you from going back to get an exchange or refund.

4.  Varietyhow many of your shopping items can you find in that store?  Even if you only have a few items on your list, if you wish to try something new can that store offer you that variety?  

5.  Membership or Shopper’s card – this helps you to save money in the long run.  Hi-Lo Foodstores, for example, is famous for their Smart Shopper’s Card where a consumer can rack up points (double points on Wednesdays) and be rewarded in the end.  However, while TruValu does not have a direct shopper’s card (anymore), having a MAGNA rewards card also allows you to rack up points at participating grocery stores including TruValu.  And get this, because TruValu is more affordable than Hi-Lo, when you use your MAGNA rewards card you can get even more savings.  

6.  Overall Shopping Experience – Do you feel welcome at that particular store?  Are the staff members friendly or polite?  If there is a problem, is it easy to contact the floor manager, etc.?  Is the store generally clean?  Do they make attempts to enhance the shopping experience for the customer?

Shopping – even for groceries – ought to be a pleasurable experience, not a headache.

So the next time you’re out shopping, take these tips into consideration to ensure you have the best shopping experience possible.

3 Essential Tips – How to Make Your Vegetables Flavorful

Tired of bland, boring, mushy vegetables?

Discover these 3 Essential Tips on how to make your vegetables flavorful.

1. Seasonings – like you would your meat

I’m serious.  You wouldn’t just throw a slab of steak on the grill and cook it without seasoning it, right?  Exactly!  You don’t want to cook your vegetables without at least adding some type of seasoning to it.

What type of herbs to use?

The great thing about vegetables is that it works well with almost any type of seasoning whether fresh or dried.

Here in the Caribbean, we have an abundance of rich spices and fresh herbs to choose from.

2. Variety – the more the merrier

Bell Peppers, Carrots, Broccoli, Celery, Eggplant all have distinct flavours.  When combined, it’s a mouthful of flavours.

3. Light cooking – it’s no rump roast

No one likes soggy or mushy vegetables, unless you’re a baby.

When cooking, roasting or grilling your vegetables, one thing to remember is that while you can season it like you would your meats, you don’t have to cook it like meats.  Meats tend to take a longer time on the grill, in the pan or in the oven because of the muscle fibres that have to be broken down and fully cooked.  Unlike meats, vegetables are best when cooked just long enough to enrich the colour and have a nice ‘soft’ crunch.

Tip: Variety Makes the Meal

Let’s face it; a Vegan can’t survive on broccoli and carrots alone.

The benefit of a Vegan diet, when properly followed, is that the nutrient-rich foods provide the body with what it needs to function.

However, if the fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains that you consume are very limited then you could just be doing yourself in.

Always remember the secret to a balanced vegan meal is Variety!

Eat what’s in season!  God has blessed us with a variety of fruits and vegetables that are ready to eat each season.  Some foods can even be found all year round.  Try to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables into your salads, Smoothies, main course or appetizer.