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.

BrownDyedEggs

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)

flax_grind

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)

Before you bail on kale, experiment by going green

Food & Drink

kale

Some call it a nutritional powerhouse; others claim it’s bad in large quantities.

But, all opinions aside, I believe everyone can agree that kale — the once-unfashionable, leafy, green vegetable — has become increasingly more popular in the last couple years.

It wasn’t too long ago that I would go to the grocery store and skirt by America’s new “it” vegetable without thinking twice about turning back. The first time I had it, it was blended in a horrendous green smoothie. The second time, I had it raw. Definitely not two of the finer kale experiences I’ve had.

Now, however, I go to the store specifically to pick it up — and if we’re being honest, I’m at the point where I actually get upset if it’s all been picked through by the time I go to buy some.

Why the change of heart?

Well, first of all: I’m a vegetarian. I’ve already limited myself to a specific subset of foods, so I can’t really be that much morepicky about what I eat. (And, yes, I have tried veganism. Never again will I make that mistake.)

Second: I love eating healthy. Even though studies have shown kale has been linked to hypothyroidism, maintaining a healthy, plant-based diet shoos me away from the drive-through — where I could be getting heart disease — and keeps me inside the kitchen, instead.

Doing this, I have not only been able to reap the health benefits of kale, but I have also been able to explore the many uses of kale. In one recipe, I used a kale leaf as a wrap in place of bread. In another, it acted as the entrée. And, in another — a soup — it played a subtle, yet filling role.

I’m not the only one who has noticed the sudden uptick in the use of kale, either. Jess Miller, a senior journalism student at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, said she, too, has also cooked a lot with kale since its second-coming.

“When I interned in Chautauqua (N.Y.), we cooked with kale all the time,” Miller said, referencing her roommates. “We’d put it in smoothies, in salads — everything.”

But, really — when it boasts high levels of iron, fiber, calcium, and Vitamin A and C, as well as zero fat, who honestly wouldn’t want to put the queen of greens in everything?