What to Expect from Sister Vegetarian Recipes...

Sister Vegetarian knows the importance of nutrition without breaking the bank. In lieu of this, I keep the meals to a cost that anyone can create and still stick to a budget. I also include raw vegan meals. Sister has acquired a Raw Vegan Chef Certfication through The Raw Food Network-Ekaya Institute of Living Food Education. I love to cook meals from Africa, India, the Middle East, Greece, Italy, and the list goes on. When I cook, I call it traveling the world without leaving my home. I see cooking as a way to experiment and learn about other cultures, as I also learn more about my roots.

Enjoy the meals. Enjoy the travel. No Passport Required. Just an appetite for delicious and healthy meals.

Peace & Love, Sister Vegetarian.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sister's Original Vegan Southern Grits and Sauteed Smoky Mushrooms

My family's roots are based in the South with my California raised mother born in Alabama, and my dad's family from Georgia and the islands of South Carolina, still living on almost half the island that was given to my family after they were freed during the Civil War and which they lived on as slaves. We have our own family cemetery taking to the 1800s.

I may have grown up in New Jersey, but grits was a part of my family's lifestyle from breakfast of plain grits or grits with eggs and/or cheese to dinners with grits and fish/meat. Being a vegan, I was happy to find out that grits is something that I do not need to give up. Grits (using cornmeal than hominy grits are high in iron and fiber). There are many traditional ways to make grits from the addition of only water - to milk - to a combination of water and milk. As a vegan, I make my grits from water and sometimes an addition of Almond milk. I do not use the well known hominy grits or fast cooking grits which are overly processed; but, I use organic cornmeal to make my grits.

In a nutshell, grits are basically white cornmeal or hominy whereas others may know this southern delicacy as polenta (a meal indigenous to tables in Italy) where yellow cornmeal is used. I tend to use organic yellow cornmeal for my grits; consequently, depending on the region you are from, you may call my version polenta or still grits. Grits and Polenta are close cousins of each other, with many vegans using organic cornmeal to make grits rather than use the store brought hominy grits which goes through too much of processing.

Read more information on the difference between grits and polenta: click here

You say Polenta...I say Grits...let's just meet in the middle and enjoy this Southern-World Meal.

Vegan Southern Grits and Sauteed Smoky Mushrooms

Grits Ingredients:

4 cups water

1 cup organic cornmeal

1 tsp sea salt

3/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast

Sauteed Mushroom Ingredients:

1 cap Portobello Mushroom (click here to learn more about portobellos)

3 -4 medium sundried tomatoes, chopped roughly

1/2 cup onions, sliced in 1/ inch to 1 inch strips

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

2 leaves of collard greens, rolled tight, and sliced into 1/2 inch to 1 inch thin strips

2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive oil

2 tsp vegan liquid smoke

1 TBSP water

Grits Directions:

1.Place water in a pot and boil

2. Remove pot from stove and gradually add cornmeal to prevent from clumping. If cornmeal clumps, a trick is to use a potato masher to move out the clumps then stir with your wooden spoon. The clumps will turn smooth.

3. Lower heat to simmer. Return pot to the heat.

4. Add nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, and stir with wooden spoon

5. Simmer for 25 to 35 minutes until grits become smooth and thick, but spoon still able to move around pot. Stir grits every few minutes as it simmers to keep it smooth and not chunky. Thickness of grits depends on your desired thickness.

6. Remove from heat and serve with sauteed mushrooms below

Sauteed Mushrooms Directions:

1. While grits are cooking, put olive oil in a pan and heat

2. Add mushrooms, onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes, and liquid smoke. Saute until the mushrooms start to become pliable.

3. Add 1 TBSP water and collards. Saute Collards with sauteed vegetables for 3 to 5 mins. Collards should not be overcooked, but just cooked.

4. remove from heat and serve on top of grits.

~ Sister Vegetarian. Copyright 2011.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cookbook Challenge: Vegan Raw Sunflower Seed Cheese

picture: Sister's version of The East TN Vegetarian Society Raw Sunflower Seed Cheese recipe

These two recipes are not from a cookbook,but they come from the websites of The Vegetarian Society of East Tennessee (Vegan Sunflower Seed Cheese) and Rockin Vegan's blog (Sunflower Seed & Herb Cheese). I love to share with my readers awesome and outstanding recipes that I find, and I have tried at home. These two sunflower seed cheese recipes are seriously rockin' old school Lenny Kravitz-style and AC-DC style, bluesy BB King-style, and jazzy-classical violinist Regina Carter style! What do I mean? They are deliciously talented and you'll never tire of these recipes. If there was a Grammy Award for rockin' Vegan Cheese recipes, these two recipes would be part of the nominations! Click on both website links for East TN Vegetarian Society and The Rockin Vegan versions.

The Challenge: How I found the recipes?

I found both recipes quick and easy to prepare in 15 minutes or less. Both are raw versions, so no cooking is required. The amount of nutrition you receive from these recipes are off the chart! Sunflower seeds are known for their anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, cholesterol reduction detoxification,and cancer prevention properties. Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E and Folate. Click here for WHFoods.com nutrition information on sunflower seeds: WHFoods.com

I never purchase vegan cheese, and tend to experiment with many versions of making vegan cheese at home - especially, with whole foods as one or more main ingredients.

The Vegetarian Society of East Tennessee Raw Sunflower Seed Cheese: I used this recipe as a sandwich spread for various sandwiches made from roasted vegetables (examples: eggplant, mushrooms, beets...and more). I also used it on crusty Italian bread with fresh basil and tomatoes, served with a glass of Savingnon Blanc Wine.

The Rockin Vegan Sunflower Seed & Herb Cheese : a lot more firmer than the above recipe. I used it as a raw stuffing for a vegan raw sushi version where the sunflower seed cheese took the place of the rice. I also used it as the cheese for a home-made vegan pizza. This sunflower seed cheese recipe is also good as a sandwich spread; served on crusty Italian bread with fresh basil, and cheese; warmed and tossed with pasta; breakfast spread with a fig preserve on home-made bread and a Cup of Joe.

Although I gave a few ideas of how I used both sunflower seed cheese spreads, the options are limitless. Be creative! I never will purchase store vegan cheese again. This cheese is not processed, and the nutrients found in both raw versions is what I want out of any meal or snack that I prepare. What's on your plate right now? Give either or both of these raw vegan sunflower seed cheese recipes a try!

My kudoos to East TN Vegetarian Society and The Rockin' Vegan for great recipes that we can easily make at home!

~ Sister Vegetarian

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In celebration of Mother's Day: A soup mom will make

Happy Mother's Day!

May your day be filled with beautiful happenings and joy.

In honor of Mother's Day, today's cookbook challenge comes from the cookbook Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The recipe with a Garlic and Greens Soup that is filled with so many antioxidants that Ms. Goudreau even references preparing this soup if she feels a cold coming, or has a cold. I suffered from the usual pollen allergies recently, and made this soup to provide a relief from my allergies. Ms. Goudreau added yellow potatoes to her soup, but I decided to use purple potatoes for extra antioxidants.

I also made this soup a second time and added diced jalapeno peppers which provided a great remedy for my stuffy nose associated with the thick pollen allergic reaction during this time of season. This is a soup that I remember my mom and great-grandma preparing when I was a child; but, at that time it was called by it's southern name, "potlikker."

Ms. Goudreau does not give the actual recipe in her book for this Garlic and Greens soup; but, she does reference her website Compassionate Cooks for the video of the recipe and preparation details within the Greens section of her book.

~ Sister Vegetarian

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sister's Original Vegan Sushi, Pickled Ginger, and Raw Marinated Seaweed Salad (ok-shredded collards was used in it's place)

I always loved sushi, and I am pleased that I can still enjoy this meal as a vegan by using the many colorful vegetables abundantly available to us at farmers' markets, whole foods establishments, and mainstream grocery stores.

Until recently, although you know Sister loves to cook, I still purchased my vegan sushi rolls rather than make my own. One day as I ate my sushi and joyfully licked my lips... and fanned my mouth from the wasabi...okay...and, drank lots of water from the wasabi, I realized that I was throwing too much of my hard earned money on something where I could challenge myself and make at home.

I found out that a package of 10 roasted seaweed which is the wrap for sushi starts at $1.69. I made sure that my ingredients said only seaweed. I also purchased a vegan wasabi. Thank goodness that I always read the contents of everything unless otherwise stated as vegan because one package of wasabi that I picked up had milk as an ingredient. I put that down fast. I found a squeeze tube of wasabi paste that was vegan. Always, check your wasabi ingredients.

I was always aware that I had sushi recipes in two of my vegan cookbooks, but I shyed away from reading the recipes because I thought that making sushi would be painstakingly difficult. NOT! Well...let Sister keep paying for something that she knows sooner and would bite her wallet, and it did! I said I can do this. Sister...I said to myself...fear not! You will make this sushi beg for your mercy and say..."you are the woman!" It did! Or, at least that's what I think it said after I made my first sushi this past weekend. Making my own sushi was so easy and quick, that you can even make it after work. Even better, have some cooked rice on hand stored in your refrigerator and you can always have the main components of sushi that takes the longest (only 30 minutes top if using Japanese sushi rice) at hand for a quick sushi meal. Normally I would do a cookbook challenge since I did rely on recipes from 2 cookbooks as a premise on what to do; but, I made this sushi and raw marinated seaweed salad (okay actually shredded collards was used in its place to simulate fresh seaweed) my own recipe by deciding to just be creative and use what I had on hand rather than what the recipe stated as well as adding my own creative changes, twists, and turns. . The marinated seaweed (shredded collards) was from memory of remembering a restaurant version of marinated seaweed that I had a few months ago. I also upped the ante and made my own pickled ginger since no sushi is without picked ginger. Sure you can purchase pickled ginger but again it's expensive, and sometimes it looks as though it has been sitting for months on the grocery store shelf. Sushi without pickled ginger is like having a car without tires! Just take my word...make the pickled ginger. It's awesome!

Without further yada...yada...yada from Sister, I present to you Sister's Original Vegan Sushi, Pickled Ginger, and Marinated Seaweed Salad (okay again...please stop reminding me...I used shredded Collards to simulate fresh seeweed)

Sister's Original Sushi RecipeIngredients:2 sheets of roasted seaweed (also called nori)
Sushi rice (extra fancy short grain rice) or any rice (even brown rice)
2 1-inch thick round slices of raw beets-cut into thin 1/4 inch strips
1/2 avocado cut in 1 inch strips
1 raw rhubarb cut in 4- long 1/2 inch strips then cut strips in half
picked ginger (Sister's original recipe below)
shredded collards (about 1 cup per 2 nori sheets)
1 TBSP rice vinegar

Sushi Condiments:
Wasabi * optional (note: Wasabi is HOT. Use discretion if using. If you are not familiar with
wasabi-this is a warning of its hotness)
Braggs Liquid Amino in place of soy sauce
Water in a dish (to keep hands wet in adding rice and rolling sushi)

Bamboo sushi bamboo roller or wax paper (I did not have a sushi bamboo roller, so I rolled my sushi tight using wax paper and firm hands. The sushi roller is not necessary. People have rolled sushi in their homes using paper towels! Rolling is all in the hands!)

Directions:1. First cook rice according to package instructions
2. When rice is done, transfer to a bowl. Add 1 TBSP rice vinegar. Toss with rice. Place rice aside and cover with a cloth to cool down for 15 minutes
3. Cut up your vegetables if you have not done so already
4. Place a sheet of nori on the wax paper.
5. Dip hands in water dish to moisture so rice and nori will not stick to hands.Add about 1 cup of rice, and spread on nori with a spoon or hands. Do not spread all the way to one end (leave at least 1 inch of no rice on an end of the nori.
6. Add shredded collard, slices of vegetables, avocado, and pickled ginger
7. start starting with the side where the ingredients go all the way to the end. Using using a bamboo sushi roller, roll according to the instructions for the roller. If using wax paper as I did, I rolled the sushi until the first roll folder over and touched the next layer of stuffing. I then held the rolled sushi tight in both hands, and pressed firmly to form a perfect secure roll before rolling again. Lift up the wax paper to make sure you do not roll it into the sushi ingredients, and roll again to touch the next layer of stuffing. Roll to the end of the 1 inch of nori where no stuffing was added.
8. Place sushi aside to sit for at least 5 minutes to set and firm up a little before cutting. During this time, make another roll-repeat steps 4 to 8.
9. Now, place sushi on a cutting board starting with the sushi you rolled first and slice into 6 to 8 pieces.
10. Plate on dish. Serve with a small side dish of Braggs Liquid Amino (I used this in stead of regular soy sauce) and a stream of wasabi on plate with sushi (if using wasabi because wasabi is HOTTTTTT !!!!!!!-Sister can bear it...LOVE MY WASABI)
Serve as an appetizer or a regular meal with a side dish of marinated seaweed (okay...okay...Sister's marinated shredded collards)

Sister's Original Pickled Ginger Recipe
1 ginger root, peeled. Cut in 2 to 3 inch pieces
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP raw vegan sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Use a mandolin slicer to slice ginger in thin strips
2. place ginger in a glass jar ( I love being eco-conscious,so I reuse old glass jars such as my tahini or pasta glass jars)
2. Add water until about 1 inch of water is above the ginger
3. Add sugar, vinegar, and salt.
4. Cover jar and shake.
5. Refrigerate 1 hour.
6. Ready to serve with sushi, salads, or other meals.

Sister's Original Raw Marinated Seaweed Salad (aka shredded collards) Recipe: The Nori used in combination with the collards give this salad a sea type taste if you do not have fresh seaweed available. The sauce is a Japanese marinade similar to the marinade used on seaweed salads in restaurants.

note: If fresh seaweed is hard to find as it was for me, I used collard leaves that I shredded. I have tasted Japanese style marinated seaweed in restaurants, so in my opinion, this original version comes very close. If you prefer the texture of seaweed, just cook the shredded collards in a little water for 10 minutes )more or less) until they become more bendable like seaweed. This make 1 serving, but you can increase the ingredients to make more.

3 -4 collard leaves 
1 sheet of roasted seawood (nori)
1/4 cup cashews
seaweed marinade (recipe below)

1. Take 3-4 collard leaves and roll tight like a cigar on a cutting board. Slice thinly. Once unraveled, they will look like the size of maybe spaghetti
2. Place collards in a one serving bowl
3. Add cashews and crumbled nori (1 roasted sheet of nori). Toss all in bowl with hands.
4. Make seaweed marinade (makes 1 serving, so increase ingredients of you need more):
1-1/2 TBSP Braggs Liquid Aminos
1-1/2 TBSP raw vegan sugar
1 TBSP water
Place in a dressing bottle (I recipe my bottles again here) and shake.
5. Pour all of seaweed dressing on collards, and toss with hands.

Serving Sushi:
Serve the sushi with the bowl of marinated seaweed salad (..I know..I know..it's shredded collards), and a serving of more pickled ginger.

Don't forget your sushi condiments of Braggs Liquid Amino (in lieu of soy sauce) and wasabi (*caution: wasabi is very HOT. Use only if you can take the HEAT!)

And...the last thing to make this meal seem as though you have traveled to Japan for the day - Sake! Sake is a rice wine traditionally served with sushi. I purchased a bottle of Sake from a California Vineyard for $7.99 at Total Wine. A very good Sake for the price! I served my Sake in the traditional Japenese style - warm. I left the bottle at room temperature to keep it warm. I warmed up a Japanese style mug and poured in the Sake. Tradition served up in Sister's kitchen without leaving the U.S.

~ Copyright 2011 Sister Vegetarians Original Sushi, Pickled Ginger, and Raw Marinated Shredded Collards