Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Rolls Royce Of The Vegan Cheese World - Tree Nut Cheeses Will Make You Want To Quit Dairy

I know it is so hard to imagine life without the softness and stinkiness of a good piece of aged cheese. Since goat cheese suppose to be "medicinal" I used to find the perfect excuse to live on cheese; I ate cheese for breakfast, lunch, dinner and indulged on it instead of dessert. I guess where I come from, serving and eating insanely expensive stinky cheese equals sophistication, luxury and class; combined that with the nutritional aspect I was surviving on cheese while slowly getting chubby in between my monthly nasty chronic sinus infections.

Giving up cheese and dairy due to my health issues changed/saved my life and became the first step toward veganism. I had major withdrawals for months and years while I moved on to the gummy textured artificial tasting soy based cheeses. Most of these brands (except Sunergia Soyfoods and Sheese) are hard to digest, nasty, don't melt and simply taste horrible. Processed soy is loaded with trypsin inhibitors that prevent proper protein digestion; goitrogen which inhibits thyroid function; phytic acid, a fiber that impairs absorption of minerals; and phytoestrogens which dangerously increase the estrogen hormone.

As a former gourmet cheese lover/expert my life turned around again with Dr Cow entering the market, making the art of making vegan cheese more delicious, flavory and savory. Nut cheeses are pretty easy to make at home, but Dr Cow uses the same process that is used to make traditional dairy-based cheese: they prepare a nut curd using some of their own home-made acidophilus (friendly bacteria) and pink Himalayan salt. The Brooklyn based company only uses 100% raw, organic nuts; their products are dairy free, gluten, casein, soy and lactose free, 100% organic and vegan. Their hemp/cashew hard cheeses and cashew cream cheeses are unimitable and to dye for.

It’s been only a few days that I discovered the second up and coming raw nut milk cheese manufacturer, guaranteed future big dog, Punk Rawk Labs. They literally just shipped their first shipment of gourmet tree nut cheeses to Live Live in NYC a few weeks ago. The goat cheese textured raw vegan macadamia and cashew nut cheeses come in a cool playful tin jar and they are simply delicious, decadent and addictive. The organic cheeses are fermented, handmade and come in 3 different flavors.

Nut milk cheeses are not just the Hermes, Rolls Royce, Dom Perignon White Gold and the Rolex of the vegan world, these gourmet creations are rich in protein, vitamin E, calcium and friendly bacteria.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chia Seed Pudding - Toss your cereal and oatmeal; have dessert for breakfast!

My adorable new age health nut dad used to say when something tastes good, it is most likely bad for you; just accept that healthy stuff suppose to taste and look bland and cardboard like. Well, that was the 70's... 
Still till this day, when I taste something vegan, healthy, delicious and satisfying, I automatically assume the chef is cheating, maybe they secretly mixed something very artificial in, possibly there are hard drugs involved or I'm going to wake up the next day 5 pounds heavier. The whole concept of the delicious and addictive chia seed pudding (even when I'm preparing it), just seams too good to be true.

Chia seeds have been used as a power and endurance food for thousands of years in Mexico and South America. The word “chia” is the Mayan word for strength. Chia seeds were first consumed by the Aztec warriors who were running out of food supplies during war times, apparently just one spoonful of chia seeds kept the warriors satiated and energetic for an entire day. This might be the motivation behind the concept of using chia seeds for weight loss.

Chia seeds help to control blood sugar, reduce sugar cravings and promote hydration. Chia seeds are an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, & copper. In fact, they contain 6 times more calcium, 11 times more phosphorus, and 4.6 times more potassium per 100g of edible portion than milk and have 6 times more iron per 100g of edible portion than spinach, 1.8 times more iron than lentils; to this, add a high protein composition (19-23%). Chia has an amazing ability to absorb water; in under 10 minutes they will absorb 9-12 times their weight in water. Eating these soaked seeds can help you prolong hydration and retain electrolytes, especially during exertion. When the whole seeds are added to water or other liquids they become gelatinous, forming a delightful natural pudding consistency. 

Preparation method of the chia seed pudding is extremely easy. All that you need to do is to combine 4-5 tbsp chia seeds, 2 cups almond or cashew milk, and agave syrup to taste. You can also add more flavor to your pudding by using cinnamon, cacao powder, cardamom or vanilla and sprinkle nuts on it. Let the mixture sit uncovered at room temperature for about 50 minutes, at which point it should be thick, creamy and delicious.  
If you are too lazy to make it yourself, in NYC the Juice Press, in LA Juliano's Planet Raw sells the best, most insane tasting and addictive chia seed pudding.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Best Organic/Vegan Hair Conditioner Under 10 Bucks

I’m the best guinea pig when it comes to hair products; bleached, dyed, highlighted, low lighted, running around in the California dry heat and NYC’s humidity. I like to have the "million dollar" hair, without spending the time blow drying it and going nuts every day. I have triple processed long hair, I'm surprised it's still in one piece after the years of abuse and hopes of trying to create the illusion of looking like a WASP Barbie out of California without looking like an X-rated strarlet out of the Valley... It's not easy to be a blond; if something works for my damaged locks, it will do wonders for you. 

I strongly believe great quality beauty products don't have to be insanely expensive. I don't believe in the hype; I refuse to pay for the packaging, the manufacturer's rent and the owner's luxury car. I love to share my best kept beauty secrets, the Earth Science Olive Avocado Deep Conditioning Masque is one of my staples and definitely the most inexpensive one... I discovered the brand at Whole Foods a few years ago; I think I picked up the travel size for $2 and I never looked back. This inexpensive conditioner ($9) volumizes, moisturizes, detangles and enhances fullness. It's all natural, organic, vegan and simply amazing. Just apply generously to freshly shampooed hair, squeezing out as much water as possible before application. Leave on for 5 minutes or more, then rinse and style.

Earth Science delivers a remarkable line of skin and hair care products formulated to nourish, protect and rejuvenate while preventing the damaging effects of sun, environment and time. Infused with the highest quality ingredients including patented micellized vitamins, kukui nut, avocado oil, triple distilled peppermint, sea kelp, gingko biloba, green tea, bamboo oil, ginseng, papaya enzymes, and a myriad of herbal extracts.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nature's Best Superfood - Hemp Seeds Will Make You Happy And Your Pet Shiny

I love how some of my friends walk into my kitchen(ette) and give me the laugh, the wink or the dirty look... At first I wasn't sure what was the attitude about; I thought I had a long forgotten mummificated animal product stocked on my shelves or some old risque photos on my fridge... until one of them pointed at a big bag of hemp seeds in the corner. 
Until I got accused being a closet  stoner, I didn't realize even the most educated people don't know about the difference between marijuana and hemp seeds. Hemp does come from the same plant as marijuana, so many people associate it with getting stoned, this is just another common misconception. Products made from hemp (the marijuana plant or Cannabis sativa) hit counterculture markets and health food stores nearly a decade ago to a controversial welcome.

Hemp seed is a highly nutritious source of protein, better tasting and more digestible than the soybean.
Hemp has 3 unique nutritional factors. It has an ideal balance of Omega 3 and 6 for sustainable human health, it has a full amino acid spectrum meaning it provides complete protein, and it has a massive trace mineral content - truly one of nature's superfoods. Consumption of hemp oil and hemp seed is ideal for people with low essential fatty acid intake, and also perfect for athletes. It is of course particularly valuable to the vegetarian/vegan population who are always looking for complete protein sources. Other benefits of hemp seed oil include its effect on the skin and the hair, nourishing both on a cellular level.
Hemp seed is an adequate source of calcium and iron. Whole, toasted hemp seeds are also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. Hemp contains no gluten and therefore would not trigger symptoms of celiac disease. 

I tried all the different brands on the market; the absolute best quality, tasty and moist hemp seeds are by a vegan organic company called HAPPY HEMP. I love the packaging, I love the website and the company specifically promotes their product edible for pets and their owners. When you see the two doggie "co-owners" Oliver and Moka on their website... you'll know you're getting your hemp from the right place.