Fee, fi, pho, yum!

Food & Drink, Healthy Recipes

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Last summer, I took my very first internship at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., through a copy editing program called the Dow Jones News Fund. Not only was it my very first internship, but it was also my very first time living outside of Ohio without anyone I knew close by in a city unknown to me (at the time).

I ended up becoming best friends with my roommate, Bethany, because we shared just about everything in common. (Not an exaggeration; it was actually quite creepy how similar we were.) One of the things that we bonded over most, though, was food. We both loved cooking and baking, and we are both into being as sustainable and healthy as possible with our meals.

When we didn’t want to cook, we’d usually go out to one of the city’s many (fantastic) little eateries. It was by doing this that Bethany helped me discover Pho 79, a Vietnamese restaurant situated on 21st Street in Norfolk. I’ve always been weary of Vietnamese for reasons unbeknownst to me, but those days are long gone. Why?

Because this restaurant helped me develop my love affair with pho.

And to this day, Pho 79’s vegan pho goes unmatched. I’ve looked for places in Ohio that serve anything close to what I’ve had in Virginia; but, alas, they’re seemingly nonexistent.

So, I’ve tried to recreate it. (And here’s the recipe I use!)

Vegan Pho (recipe adapted from Girl Makes Food)

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Ingredients:
• 8 cups Vegetable Broth
• 1-inch piece Ginger, peeled
• 1 Cinnamon Stick
• 7 oz. Rice Noodles (or half a package)
• 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
 2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
• 3 ribs Bok Choy, sliced
• 1 small or medium White Onion, sliced
• 1 package Bean Sprouts
• 1 package Oyster Mushrooms
• Juice of 1/2 Lime
• 1 Chili Pepper, sliced (optional)
• 1 cup Green Onion, to garnish
• Handful of Cilantro and Basil, to garnish
• Sambal Oeleck, for taste (optional)
Instructions:
1. In a large pot, add the broth, ginger, cinnamon stick, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil
2. Bring the broth to a boil
3. Add the rice noodles, cook for 10 minutes
4. Add onion and bok choy, boil for 4 more minutes
5. Add mushrooms, lime juice, chilies (if using)
6. Fish out the ginger and cinnamon stick
7. Garnish with bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, basil and Sambal Oelek (if using)
8. Serve and enjoy!
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Bethany and I also made another extremely delicious pho recipe that we found on Buzzfeed, of all places. Check it out!

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Removing the staples: Taking a crack at eggless cooking

Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Healthy Recipes

Note: This is the first installment of a three-part series on alternative uses for common kitchen staples

Being a vegetarian for the last two years, the number of times I have been asked if I only eat salad is, quite frankly, unbelievable. (More unbelievable is that my mother continues to ask me that question to this day.) There are myriad ways to take a carnivorous meal and turn it into veg-friendly fare — fall-off-the-bone ribs being the only exception, unfortunately — and I’ve had quite a time figuring it all out.

This tofu-driven journey was amplified when I opted into going vegan for three months, thus eliminating my most-coveted protein: eggs.

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Brown eggs are great by themselves, but adding salt, pepper and fresh dill makes them even better.

Why was I bound under a personal oath to give up eggs? Because, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, “do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.”

I think I speak for everyone when I say the term “literally” is thrown around all too loosely these days, but when I say I literally eat eggs with nearly every meal, I mean it. So giving them up for three months was quite a task, especially when it came to baking.

Thankfully, by this point in my vegetarianism, I knew how to experiment with different foods and spices in order to mimic that of non-plant-based dishes, so figuring out how to get around eggs while cooking and baking wasn’t necessarily the most difficult thing in the world. In fact, it was quite interesting.

Below are four different ways I’ve learned how to substitute eggs for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in desserts. And though it’s been a while since I’ve kicked veganism, I continue to resort to these tricks even when I do have eggs in the refrigerator, because they’re that good.

1. Applesauce: This is easily my most favorite egg replacement, because not only does it give whatever you’re making the most delicious hint of apple, but it also doubles as an oil substitute when baking. I highly suggest using applesauce only for baking breads, cookies or cakes, or making pancakes and waffles, unless you’re into your savory dishes marrying with an unfamiliar taste. (¼ cup applesauce = 1 egg)

2. Flaxseeds: The most interesting of them all, flaxseeds never seize to amaze me in the way they cook. The texture from beginning to end changes tenfold, with the seeds turning into that of an egg white after simmering for a little less than five minutes. Flaxseed eggs are recommended for any eggless baking, but pizza crusts are where I’ve used them most often. (1 tbsp. ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp. water = 1 egg)

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Flaxseed meal, left, in its pure form. After cooking it in water for five minutes, it turns into a paste, shown on the right.

3. Tofu: Who says you have to be a vegan to replace tofu for eggs in your breakfast scramble? I personally love doing so, and adding dashes of cumin, paprika, garlic salt, sea salt and ground pepper, and fresh dill makes it even better. Not only can tofu be used as a physical egg, but it also can be pureed and used in the same way as flaxseed eggs and applesauce. (¼ cup soft or silken tofu = 1 egg)

4. Bananas: Another one of my favorites, bananas are shockingly resilient when it comes to unconventional cooking and baking. Not only can they be used as an egg replacement in desserts and baked goods, but they can also be used to make vegan ice cream, smoothies, yogurt and sorbet. Just make sure, of course, that whatever you’re substituting bananas in pairs well with the other ingredients being used. (1 ripe banana = 1 egg)

Underrated superheroes: Green Tea and Lemon

Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Healthy Recipes


My favorite tea brand? Yogi Tea. Its inspirational quotes only add to the reasons why I drink tea every morning. Photo by me.

One of my favorite times of the day is the morning — not waking up, but everything after the fact. Breakfast arguably plays host to the best cuisine out of all meals of the day (and you can get away with lathering it all in syrup, which is also awesome); you get to plan what you’re going to do with your day, whether it be getting errands done, working out or relaxing (something I’ve done a lot of since graduating from college a few weeks ago); and you feel more accomplished, even if you don’t end up getting anything done. You woke up with the sun, and that’s a feat in itself anymore. At least for me.

To get myself ready for the day, though, one of my favorite morning routines is preparing a cup of hot green tea with lemon. I love tea anytime during the day, but drinking tea in the morning helps me relax, reflect and focus — all of which I value greatly when I want to begin (and continue) my day on a good note. Not to mention green tea, in particular, is chock full of antioxidants and a number of health benefits, including a notable decrease in pancreatic and stomach cancer rates, heart disease and total cholesterol, as well as the prevention of dental cavities, stress and chronic fatigue.

The lemon helps the reduction of said ailments even further. According to Lifehacker.com, catechins, the main health compound in green tea that helps reduce cancer, heart attack and other diseases, isn’t absorbed in the intestines very well, with about 20 percent making it through after digestion. Studies showed that adding lemon to green tea helped the body absorb up to 80 percent of the catechins, or 13 times more than usual, following digestion.

Who knew something so underrated could be so powerful? Next time you’re reaching for the coffee pot, try a cup of green tea with lemon instead! You’ll feel better in the long run, you’ll be more refreshed and you’ll still get your caffeine!