Friday, September 24, 2010

Healthy Hearty Dip

This is incredibly quick and easy to make. It’s also fairly healthy, with a lot of fiber and little saturated fat. If you’re having trouble getting your kids to eat healthily, this makes a tasty substitute for junk food; it’s also an ideal party treat. Make plenty as it’s likely to go quickly, and watch out for double-dippers.


1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts (packed in water)
1 14 oz can of hearts of palm
2 garlic cloves
2 – 3 spoonfuls of tahini

Makes about 25 ounces of dip.


Use artichoke hearts packed in water. Artichoke hearts marinated in oil may be tastier, but they’re also loaded with unnecessary fat and salt.

Hearts of palm can usually be found in the canned vegetables section of your grocery store.

By “spoonfuls,” I don’t mean teaspoons or tablespoons; I mean regular table-setting spoons. If needed, stir the tahini well to emulsify the oil that sometimes separates and rises to the surface.


  1. Drain about half the water from the can of artichoke hearts; put the artichoke hearts and the remaining water into a blender or food processor.
  2. Drain the hearts of palm. If they aren’t “salad cut,” slice them up into little chunks. Place into the blender.
  3. Put the garlic cloves and the tahini into the blender. Don’t overdo the tahini as it can overpower the subtlety of the artichoke hearts and the hearts of palm.Blend on a high setting—with a couple of rest stops to allow the veggies to settle—until evenly mixed.
  4. Scoop with a spatula into a serving bowl along with pita wedges, tortilla chips, or veggies.

Friday, September 17, 2010

2AM Noodles

One night my girlfriend and I were up late watching crappy movies. When the mini-marathon of schlock was over, we decided that were too hungry to sleep. “Screw it,” I said. “I’m making noodles.” 

This dish may seem complicated, but it’s surprisingly quick and easy to make. No, you don’t have to make it at 2 a.m., but it hits the spot when you’re hungry after cheesy horror films.


1 package (3 bundles) of buckwheat soba noodles
1lb of extra firm tofu, drained
1 red bell pepper
1 medium red onion
1 lime
A handful of cilantro (with stems)
A handful of basil (with stems)
3 heaping spoonfuls of brown rice miso paste
2 – 3 garlic cloves

Serves 4.

Note: You’ll need a fine mesh colander for the buckwheat soba noodles. Make sure that you have ice cubes in the freezer and a lot of cold water in the fridge to shock cool the noodles.


  1. Heat up a wok while you dice the tofu. When the wok is hot, toss the tofu in and sear (you don’t need oil). Stir regularly to ensure that the tofu becomes crispy and brown. It may take a few minutes for the cubes to be ready.

  2. Finely dice the onion and red pepper. Set them aside in a bowl.

  3. Start boiling water in a large stock pot for the noodles. When the water is at a rapid boil, toss in the noodles. Leave the lid slightly ajar to prevent the water from boiling over. Cook the noodles until they are al dente.
  4. While the noodles are cooking, heat up 3-4 cups of water in a smaller pot. Toss in the miso paste and stir to dissolve. Add more water for the soup base if needed.
  5. Dice the garlic cloves and toss them into the soup stock.

  6. By this time, the tofu should be ready. Set it aside in a bowl.

  7. Wash the cilantro and the basil. Finely dice the cilantro. Roughly chop the basil. Set these aside in a bowl.

  8. Once the noodles are done, drain them in the colander. You’ll need to shock cool them by submerging them in ice water and draining again. Cooling the noodles should take a few minutes at most.
  9. Toss the veggies into the soup stock and stir. Transfer the soup stock and veggies into the larger pot and add the noodles.

  10. Juice the lime into the soup.
  11. Add the cilantro and basil.

  12. Mix the ingredients and serve up with a deliciously bad movie of your choice. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Couple of Important Distinctions


Three Basic Lessons

I’d like to briefly discuss the difference between vegetarianism and veganism. Vegetarianism means not eating meat. Some people place conditions on their personal definition of “meat,” to justify their consumption of seafood or poultry. To further confuse the issue, others define their perception of vegetarianism as “ovo-lacto,” meaning they include eggs and dairy in their diets. Simply stated, veganism starts with not eating any product coming from an animal.

However, veganism goes well beyond diet. Abiding by the Hindu tenet of ahmisa—causing no cruelty to living beings—it extends to almost every facet of our lives. Most vegans are opposed to animal exploitation in any form and believe they animals have as much of a right to live comfortably as do humans. It is a challenging proposition when you consider how many aspects of modern existence come at the expense of other creatures. Leather, silk, wool, butter, ice cream, lanolin (used in many cosmetics), and even common drugs like Premarin (pregnant mare urine) are all harvested from animals.

Another important distinction is between organic and conventional. Conventional products are more plentiful and less expensive than their organic counterparts, but they come with hidden costs. Organic farming uses no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. To be certified as organic by the US Department of Agriculture, a farm must submit to long-term and random testing and wait sometimes as long as 10 years. The costs incurred by the farmers are passed along to the consumer, but by buying organic, you’re living cleaner and healthier. By not supporting the use of toxic chemicals, you’re helping maintain the health of the watershed and the oceans, and by extension all creatures (including us) who depend on clean water.

As a vegan and an environmentalist I’ve learned three basic lessons:

  1. You can never do enough.
  2. More often than not, the short-term costs are pretty steep.
  3. Any progress towards a kinder, more compassionate world is a good thing.