Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top From Seed to Stomach Recipes of 2011

As the end of 2011 draws near, I thought I'd take a few minutes to reflect on From Seed to Stomach. Things have really taken off in the last six months and a few of my recipes have gotten a lot of hits, so in case you missed them, here are the most popular From Seed to Stomach recipes of 2011:

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini 

(this is a better recipe for summer months, so try my Delicata Stuffed Squash now that zucchini isn't in season!) 

Here are MY favorite recipes of 2011, in case you missed them:

PS: Don't forget to enter my Sunsational Sunflower Seed Nondairy Milk GIVEAWAY 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vegan Split Pea Soup

Ever since that snowman cookie jar reentered my life a little over a week ago, it hasn't been easy to avoid excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and flour. So I've been trying extra hard to make sure the meals I prepare are super healthy.
Last night, I paged through a few of my favorite cookbooks and pursued some of my go-to websites for vegetarian split pea soup recipes. I took stock of what we had on hand and got to work.
1/2 gallon Veggie Broth
4 c Water
1/2 a large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 c split peas, rinsed and strained
3 kale leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp dill
2 tsp chipotle pepper
2 tsp paprika
freshly ground black pepper
0 cookies

Pour stock into a large pot. Turn heat to high and add carrots, celery, onions, kale, and split peas. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add spices, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until split peas are tender. Add the parsley, taste, and add more herbs and spices to taste.

Using an immersion blender, blend to your desired consistency. You can also work in batches in a standard blender, but be careful to cover the lid with a towel and hold it on tight as hot liquids can erupt from blenders!

The soup was very easy, but it does take a while for the peas to soften, so this recipe is better for when you're cooking in advance or for when you have an afternoon home. I made a bowl for James for dinner and put the rest in pint-sized ball jars for lunches and dinners to come. I think the soup will be better after it sits in the fridge for a day or two and am already looking forward to bringing it for lunch on Monday.

I've never seen kale as an ingredient in split pea soup. Feel free to leave it out. I had some in the fridge that needed to be used and like sneaking kale into recipes wherever I can because it's so good for you.
If you're going to blend this soup in a high-powered blender, you don't even have to chop the ingredients before cooking! I wasn't sure if I would blend it or not, so I chopped everything into bite-size pieces.
Green stuff is good for you :-)

Other variations: If you need the salt, add it at the end to taste. Leave out the kale if you don't have/like it. Add a potato or a sweet potato if you want. If you want to saute the onion, (and carrots and celery) before adding the broth, go for it, but I don't think it adds enough flavor to warrant the additional calories. As for the spices, paprika and chipotle powder add some of the smokey spicy flavor. I also added a dash of cayenne for some kick. For fresh herbs, I would stick to thyme and dill. The parsley was a bit of a stretch for the flavors of this soup, but I love parsley and had a bunch so I used it! You could garnish with a dollop of greek yogurt or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Are there any other soups that typically contain meat that you would like a vegetarian/vegan recipe for? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sunsational Sunflower Seed Nondairy Milk GIVEAWAY and Interview with Founder

I'm so excited that my first giveaway is for a new vegan product that has more antioxidants than a cup of green tea. Sunsational is a nondairy milk alternative made from sunflower seeds grown in the US (many of our sunflower and pumpkin seeds come from China!). Read my interview with the founder of Sunsational and enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below the post. :-)
My Box of Sunsational Posing with a Fact Sheet
In my post about the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, I mentioned a new Sunflower Seed nondairy milk that just entered the nondairy milk market. Sunsational's founder was sampling it at the festival and although I had already bought a box, I hadn't tried it yet. The Sunflower Seed milk tasted really good! You can definitely taste the sunflower seeds and it's strangely refreshing for a "milk."  I liked both the original and vanilla flavors and so did the other people who I saw sample it. I don't personally drink a lot of nondairy milk, but I like to have a box or two in the house and usually rotate between almond, rice, and hemp milk. Sometimes I use it in smoothies and sometimes in bread or other baking recipes. Now that the cold weather is here, my nondairy milk also makes it's way into hot chocolate! James uses it in our Vegan Whole Wheat Pancakes. I usually try to pick organic products with short lists of ingredients that I recognize and also try to opt for the ones with low sugar (Sunsational has 6g/serving), but every time I'm in the alterna-milk aisle at Trader Joes or Whole Foods, the decision process always takes a LONG time! So when I saw the new Sunflower Seed Milk on the shelf and noticed that it was considerably lower in sugar than most nondairy milks, I went for it!

Steve Verde, the founder of Sunsational let me pick his brain a little at the festival and was kind enough to let me interview him via email. He answered my burning questions AND gave me a few cases to GIVEAWAY to you (details after the interview)! Our Q&A is a great story about how a seed (literally, a Sunflower seed) made its way from the farm to my tummy.

How did you conceive the idea to produce nondairy milk from Sunflower Seeds? When did the idea come to you? How long did it take you to get from idea to shelves?
My doctor told me I needed to cut out dairy right about the time I was looking to launch my own small product line.  I just started looking at the non dairy category and asking myself what else could I do that wasn’t currently on the market.  My first attempt was actually a sunflower, pumpkin and flax seed milk but I ended up after processing with a healthy cup of fat.  I quickly decided I needed to go with one seed and that seed was sunflower, because of availability, processing, nutritionals and taste.   I figured if you could make milk from an almond or hemp seed, I could make a milk from sunflower seed.  It was almost 4 years from concept to shelf.

As soon as I saw it on the shelf at my local Whole Foods, it went straight into my cart. It's hard to imagine that it's just now hitting shelves! Do you know if you were the first to market with this idea? Why didn't anyone think of it before? 
Yes, I was first to market with this concept.  I really don’t know why someone else hadn’t thought of this before?

Where do you source your sunflower kernels? 
Most of my sunflower seeds come from farms in South Dakota and Kansas.    I really wanted to do an organic product, but was told most of the organic supply is from China which I did not want to do. 

I know it's a short list, but can you tell us more about the other ingredients in your Sunsational? Where do they come from and what purpose do they serve in the milk? 
Ingredients: purified water, sunflower kernels, organic evaporated cane juice, potassium citrate,  sunflower lecithin, carrageenan, natural flavor, sea salt, xanthan gum
I'm especially curious about the 'natural flavor' listed in the ingredients! What is it exactly? 
I get asked a lot about the natural flavor which is ground up tree root, it has a very bland neutral taste which helps reduce bitterness and makes the product essentially taste more like a milk product.  The organic evaporated cane juice is a sweetener and helps bring out the flavor in the product.   Potassium Citrate is an element which helps stabilize the PH levels in the product for shelf life.  The sunflower lecithin helps keep all the ingredients evenly dispersed throughout the product while the xanthan gum holds everything together and both work together to help the first sip of the product taste like the last sip of the product.   Carrageenan also helps hold ingredients together and gives the product a nice mouth feel.

Can you tell us about the production process? Are the sunflower kernels raw or toasted? Do you soak them? What happens from there? 
We actually roast the sunflower seeds then grind them into a thin type of sunflower butter then blend that with water and the rest of our ingredients.

Do you plan to expand into other Sunflower Seed milk products? Can you foresee a day when we can find Sunsational "Ice Cream," coffee creamer, yogurt, etc? What's the future of Sunsational look like? 
Yes, I have a bunch of other products in the works some of which would be the ice creams, creamers, etc….and I have a couple totally new innovative products in the works that are as innovative and creative as the sunflower non dairy beverage itself.

While I don't love the natural flavor, lecithin (has health benefits and is not derived from soy, which is nice), carrageenan (a seaweed extract), xanthan gum, or potassium citrate listed on the ingredient label, I'm glad to know that the sunflower seeds come from North America (though it's sad that Steve couldn't find a good supply of organic Sunflower seeds in the US, isn't it?!). There are pros and cons for EVERY packaged food product, which is why I try to stick with whole foods I can recognize as things I could either grow myself or at least visualize being grown, but inevitably, my pantry is known to contain some packaged foods. Nondairy milk is one of them and until I figure out how to perfect some recipes in the Vita-mix, I'll probably keep buying it. Sunsational has officially made its way into my rotation. I actually LOVE drinking it straight and in coffee. I don't feel that way about soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk. 1 8 oz serving also packs 4g of fiber and 2g of protein as well as considerable amounts of Vitamin A (20% RDA), Calcium (8%), Folate (15%), and Iron (4%). When I spoke to Steve yesterday at Whole Foods where I picked up the product for today's Giveaway, he did tell me that he's already formulated an unsweetened version of the milk and is trying to get it to market soon. 

So what do you think? Will you pick up a box and try Sunsational? Are there any follow up questions you'd like me to ask Steve?
Now for the GIVEAWAY details!!
I'm giving away 2 6-packs of Sunsational. Each will include 3 vanilla and 3 original. 
There are lots of ways to enter, so read the full list and enter more than once. Just make sure that for each entry, you leave a separate comment! 

  • Sign up for From Seed to Stomach's RSS feed. In the right sidebar, just click on the button that says "Posts" where it says "SUBSCRIBE TO FROM SEED TO STOMACH"
  • Sign up for From Seed to Stomach's email. Toward the top of the right sidebar, just enter your email address where it says "SUBSCRIBE! GET AN EMAIL ALERT FOR EACH NEW POST!"
  • Follow @FrSeed2Stomach on Twitter and tweet a link to this post.
  • Follow @Sunsationalbev on Twitter.
  • Like From Seed to Stomach on Facebook and share this post.
  • Like Sunsational on Facebook.
  • If you’re a blogger, post a link to this giveaway (include link in your comment).
  • Email 5 friends a link to this giveaway.
  • Stumble this post.
  • Join this site.
Again, for each entry, you have to leave a separate comment below!!

Drawing Details:
Giveaway ends in on Thursday, 12/29/11 at 11:59 pm Eastern. 2 winners will be chosen randomly and announced on Friday, 12/30/11. GOOD LUCK!! 
By the way, Sunsational is currently on the shelves at Whole Foods throughout New England and New York. Florida Whole Foods just started carrying it as well. It available from the largest natural foods distributor nationally, so if you can't find it at your favorite store, ASK for it. You can also order it online. 
Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are my honest thoughts. I'm happy to do product reviews and giveaways and can be contacted at FromSeedToStomach@gmail.com regarding such opportunities.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Detox Update

I started my Easy Detox Week at dinner on Sunday, so here's a quick recap of my meals (and a few moments of weakness) so far.

Maybe titling it an "Easy" Detox Week was a poor choice of words. I meant simple, as in, there wouldn't be any crazy ingredients to go out and buy or a lot of money to spend on silly juices. I set 8 basic rules for myself based on my lifestyle and what I wanted to change and the foods I needed to take a break from.

What prompted this? Over Thanksgiving weekend, I ate pizza, Butternut Squash Lasagna, Vegetable Wellington, string bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffed clams, raviolis, apple pie, ice cream, sorbet, corn bread, cookies, etc etc etc! I also drank a few cups of coffee and even let a hot chocolate and a piece of coffee cake get the best of me on the ferry ride home. When I woke up Sunday morning, I made myself  eggs with quinoa, black beans, and cheddar. Then I started to think, I better make a conscious effort to turn things around this week or my pants aren't going to fit much longer! So I hit up a a 90 minute vinyasa class and spent the afternoon studying at our local coffee shop, where I had a latte and an amazing salad for lunch.

Then I decided to try this detox thing and I'm glad I did. I do well with rules, so I'm following them, for the most part. Here's a run-down of my meals and snacks since Sunday evening.

Lentil Soup with carrots, onions, celery, parsnip, pepper, rutabagas, and fresh herbs (no oil or salt)

Oatmeal and Apple Smoothie (not the best choice)
Red Lentil, Turnip, and Parsley Soup
Pistachio butter (roughly 2 tb)
Venti unsweetened green iced tea
Cucumbers with hummus
(skipped routine vodka after class)

20 oz Green Smoothie with apple, carrot, celery, cucumber, kale, flax, chia, date, ginger
Lentil Soup
raw unsalted cashews (probably around 1/3 c over course of afternoon)
apple with sunflower seed butter
Venti unsweetened green iced tea
hummus with carrots, celery, and pretzels (I cracked!)
a bite of leftover wellington (it would be a shame if it went bad, right?)

20 oz Green Smoothie  with apple, carrot, celery, cucumber, kale, flax, chia, date, ginger
Lentil Soup
raw unsalted cashews (probably around 1/3 c)
apple with sunflower seed butter
coconut water
shot of aloe juice
(ran 1 mile and did a body pump class)

20 oz fruit smoothie with apple, blueberries, raspberries, coconut water, aloe juice, flax, chia
raw cashews
butternut squash soup
raw almonds

So what have I learned so far?

  • That anyone can take a step back from their normal routine and make some simple changes to get back on track 
  • That variety is important (we ran out of salad greens and haven't had time to make it to the store this week, so I've been eating more soup than I had planned on for lunch. A salad would be nice, but I don't want to put oil on it, so I need to make some dressing with some nut butter or something)
  • That when I don't eat bread and cheese, I turn to nuts and fruit. 
  • That real, straight up aloe juice doesn't taste good.
  • That foods that aren't whole are really hard to avoid if you're on the run and don't prepare! 
  • That my body responds well when I treat it right. The 2 lbs I put on over the weekend are already gone. My pants fit. And I feel good. :-)
Are you getting back on track with your health and wellness goals after indulging this past holiday weekend? What works for you?