What we’ve learned is that if you can make the right decision in the supermarket aisle, it’s a heck of a lot easier to make a good decision when you reach in your cupboard when you’re craving a snack at eight o’clock at night.

Tom Rath

VZ 101: Attack of the Vegan Snacks!

Vegetarian Zen Podcast episode 101 - Attack of the Vegan Snacks http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast we’ll be snacking, vegan-style.  We’ll talk about pre-packaged snacks and ones you can easily make at home.  Yum!! Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast! If you find value in our podcast and listen on iTunes, please consider leaving us a […]

Quick Tip Tuesday: How to Juice Like a Pro — Prep Once, Juice All Week

Quick Tip Tuesday: Juice Like a Pro - Prep Once for Juice All Week  http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Juicing is easy.  Pop some healthy fruits and vegetables into your juicer (we use this awesome Omega VRT350) and in less than five minutes you’ll have a nutritious, satisfying drink.  What takes more time is what comes before and after…prepping your produce and cleaning the juicer.

By batch-prepping at the beginning of the week, you can drastically cut your daily juicing time.  All you need is a storage container (or several) to hold all of the produce you’ll be using for the week, and space in your refrigerator to keep it.

Only prep as much produce as you will use in the next 3-4 days.  After this time, you’ll really start to lose freshness and nutritional value.

Basic prep goes like this: wash all produce well and lay out on kitchen towels to dry.  Remove any wilted leaves from greens, and cut out any bad spots on other items.

For some juicing ingredients, there are additional steps you can take:

  • Greens – no additional prep necessary
  • Carrots – cut thick ones in half lengthwise
  • Celery – no additional prep necessary
  • Cucumbers –  cut in half lengthwise
  • Tomatoes – cut larger ones in wedges
  • Ginger, turmeric – no additional prep necessary
  • Citrus (other than lemons) – cut in half or quarters; peel
  • Lemons – cut in half lengthwise
  • Blueberries – no additional prep necessary
  • Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries – keep separate and do not wash until ready to juice
  • Apples, pears – cut in wedges, remove seeds; squeeze lemon juice over them to prevent browning (or cut them fresh each day)
  • Pineapple – cut off rind; cut fruit into spears or chunks (yes, you can juice the core too…just not the rind)

For more info on juicing, check out these related posts and podcast episodes:

VZ 100: 5 Things Vegetarians and Vegans Want People to Know

Vegetarian Zen podcast episode 100 - 5 Things Vegetarians & vegans Want People to Know http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  In this, our 100th episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast, we share 5 things vegetarians and vegans want people to know. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Vegetarian Zen Podcast! If you find value in our podcast and listen on iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review. Please note […]

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.

— Zig Ziglar

And here’s our version:

It was passion that got us off the couch, a vision that sprung us into action, and commitment to that vision that keeps us going.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Freeze Grapes for the Perfect Summer Treat

Popsicles are awesome in the summer, right?  Kids love them, adults love them…heck, even dogs* love them!   But traditional popsicles are loaded with sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives.  Yuck!

Frozen grapes, on the other hand, are loaded with, well…grapes.  Imagine that.

Before I get into the how-to of freezing grapes and the what-to-do-with-them-once-they’re-frosty, a couple of tips.

First, because grapes consistently have a place of honor on the Environmental Working Group‘s Dirty Dozen list of pesticide-laden produce, buy organic grapes.  Organic grapes typically have a shorter “growing season” than traditionally-grown grapes, which makes them perfect candidates for freezing.  This way, you’ll be able to enjoy them long after they’ve disappeared from the market.

Second, buy seedless grapes.  Biting down on a room-temperature seed is annoying; chomp on a frozen seed and you could break a tooth!

*(disclaimer: NEVER give your dogs grapes, frozen or otherwise…they’re extemely poisonous to dogs.  And regular popsicles aren’t great for them either).

Quick Tip Tuesday - Freeze Grapes http://www.vegetarianzen.com

How to freeze grapes in 6 easy steps:

  1. Remove stems
  2. Wash stemmed grapes well in cool water
  3. Shake washed grapes in a colander or use a salad spinner to remove water drops
  4. Spread washed grapes on a clean towel; cover with another towel and dry completely
  5. Place washed and dried grapes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray (with sides, so they don’t end up rolling all over the freezer!) and place the tray in the freezer
  6. When grapes are frozen solid, place them in a freezer bag and return to the freezer until you need a snack

Uses for frozen grapes:

  • Eat them as-is  — they’re bite-sized, grape-flavored popsicle bites!
  • Add to smoothies in place of plain ice
  • Crush partially-thawed grapes to create a slushy-type dessert
  • Thaw and make jam
  • use to chill lemonade, iced tea, or other drinks

I grow my own vegetables and herbs. I like being able to tell people that the lunch I’m serving started out as a seed in my yard.

Chef Curtis Stone

VZ 099: Simple Gardening Tips – Lessons Learned in Our Garden

Vegetarian Zen Podcast Episode 099 - Simple Gardening Tips from Our Garden http://www.vegetarianzen.com

  In this episode of the Vegetarian Zen podcast, we talk about our garden…we’re getting adventurous this year and adding more than just herbs! We discuss our natural growing and pest control methods, plus our successes and some challenges we’ve encountered.  Listen for some simple gardening tips we’ve learned from growing our own herbs and […]

Quick Tip Tuesday: Frozen Edamame Has Your Back!

When it comes to produce, fresh is, of course, best.  However, some frozen veggies certainly have their  merits.  One of the best ones to have hanging out in your freezer is shelled edamame.

What is edamame?

Edamame is (or are…both are technically correct) immature soybeans that have been boiled or steamed in their pods.  They are often served sprinkled with salt as an appetizer or snack.  Edamame should not be limited to snacks and apps, however; there are so many more creative and delicious ways to use them.

Shelled and frozen is the way to go

You can find whole, fresh edamame pods in some specialty markets, but having a bag or two of shelled, ready to use beans in your freezer is easy and convenient.  To cook frozen edamame, simply add the beans to boiling water, return to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 4-6 minutes or until tender.  Alternately, frozen edamame can be added to soups or stews during the last few minutes of cooking time.

frozen edamame  http://www.vegetarianzen.com

But what can I do with all this edamame?

So many things!!  Appetizers, soups, salads, snacks, entrees…check out the suggestions below to get you started:

Appetizers and Snacks

  • Cook frozen edamame and drain well.  Toss with salt and/or your favorite dried herbs and seasonings.
  • Roast them.  See this easy recipe for Roasted Edamame with Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper for basic roasting techniques, then get creative with your own seasonings.
  • Make soybean hummus by replacing chickpeas with cooked edamame.  Check out our awesome hummus recipe and our hummus how-to video.

Soups and Salads

  • Add frozen edamame soups and stews during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
  • Lend body to hearty soups and stews by adding pureed cooked edamame.
  • Add cooked, seasoned edamame to salads.
  • Replace the lima beans in traditional succotash with edamame.

Main Dishes

 

These are just a few ideas…the possibilities are endless!

Question: What are your favorite ways to use frozen edamame? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

11 Tips for a Fruitful Trip to the Farmers Market

How to Get the Most Healthy Bang for Your Buck

11 Tips for a fruitful trip to the farmers market http://www.vegetarianzen.com

Farmers Markets are the bomb.  Yep, I just said that.  Because it’s true.  Of course I buy produce from the grocery store when I need something during the week, but we will jump on any chance we have to stock up at our local farmers markets.   Freshness, variety, atmosphere…farmers markets have it all.  Reaping […]