Friday, January 23, 2015

27 Diagrams That Make Cooking So Much Easier

Including easy ingredient substitutions, basic knife skills, meat marinating times, and more. 

1. For making your own vinaigrette

Which you should be doing, instead of buying the bottled stuff. It’s healthier and tastier, and it’s really not hard. Here’s everything you need to know about building a better salad.

2. For making substitutions when you’re missing an ingredient.

Pretty awesome. [via]

3. For cooking red meat exactly how you like it.

If you’re going splurge on a really great piece of meat, you’d better know how to cook it to temperature. If you need more help, here’s how to make the perfect steak.

4. For spicing things up.

Sure, you can just dump a bunch of spices into your stew and it’ll taste good. But, you can take your home cooking to a whole new level if you really know which spices taste best with which foods. [via]

5. For making any soup from scratch.

It’s actually s(o)uper easy to make a healthy, warming winter meal. [via]

6. For Metric conversions.


7. For boiling eggs:

Cooking time varies depending on whether you like your yolks soft or hard. Here’s exactly how to boil an egg.

8. For volumetric conversions.

Why do math when this chart has all the answers?

9. For cooking with and maintaining a cast iron skillet.

Cast iron skillets are great for cooking because they’re good heat conductors, meaning they get super hot, stay super hot, and cook your food evenly. They’re especially great for getting a delicious, crispy crust on meat. Here’s everything you need to know about owning a cast iron skillet.

10. For making sure you’re using the right kitchen appliance.

Good cooks know that sometimes it’s better to leave the hard work to a machine. Just make sure you’re using the right one.

11. For marinating meat to make it tender and delicious.

No more dry chicken. Here’s more about using marinades to make delicious food.

12. For knowing what oil to use.


It’s important to know the smoke point of the oil you’re cooking with so that you don’t set off your smoke alarm and ruin your food. [via]

13. For when you’re too heavy-handed with the chili peppers.

It’s a shame when you spend all evening making a great dish, only to find that it’s intolerably spicy. Here’s how to tone down the heat.

14. For your next trip to the butcher.

Knowing the difference between cuts of meat means you’ll always be able to go into a butcher or grocery store and ask for exactly what you want. Plus, it makes for impressive dinner conversation. Full infographic here.

15. For knife skills.

A sharp knife is a cook’s most important tool. Knowing how to use it means anything in the kitchen is possible. [via]

16. For knowing what kind of onion to use.

You won’t ruin a recipe by using a sweet onion when a red onion would have been better, but different onions have different characteristics—some are milder, some are sweeter, etc.—so it’s good to know the difference. More info here.

17. For vegan baking.

You may have to experiment a little bit to figure out which replacement is best for particular recipes, but here’s a good starter guide on egg substitutions.

18. For hosting a party.

Running out is not an option. Heather from Chickabug has plenty more tips for party planning, cooking and decorating.

19. For cooking your grains perfectly.


20. For making a sourdough starter.

Freshly baked bread forever! This is how to make the perfect sourdough boule.

21. For cooking vegetables.

Well, for boiling or steaming vegetables. [via]

22. For filleting fish.

They’re much cheaper when you buy them whole, and filleting them yourself isn’t that hard. [via]

23. For pasta lovers.

Impress anyone with your extensive noodle knowledge. Get the poster (or see a zoomed-in version) at Chasing Delicious.

24. For perfect chocolate chip cookies.

And by “perfect” I mean, “exactly the way you like them.” Learn more about how to make the chocolate cookie you want.

25. For grilling everything.

Fire it up. [via]

26. For knowing what’s in season.

Sure, you can find blueberries at the supermarket in December. They’re just not going to taste very good. From The Best American Infographics.

27. For knowing exactly how to store your groceries, and for how long.

You can’t be a be a better cook if you’re throwing away rotten food all the time. [via]
[via BuzzFeed]

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

6 Health Benefits of Blueberries

Consuming fruits and vegetables provide copious health benefits. Produce consumption has been shown to lower the risk of developing various chronic conditions and is protective against certain types of cancer. Experts recommend consuming a rainbow of colored produce to provide the various vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintain optimal health. Do your body and taste buds a favor and choose to add blueberries into your diet. Blueberries are packed with nutrients which provide many health benefits.

6 Main Health Benefits of Blueberries

(1) Vitamin C

Get 25% of your daily vitamin C requirements in 1 cup of blueberries. Vitamin C is essential for tissue growth and repair, keeping gums and teeth healthy, and aids in iron absorption. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant which can neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for the aging process on the body and may play a negative role in cancer, heart health, and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

(2) Manganese

One cup of blueberries contains 25% of your daily manganese requirements. Manganese is essential for tendon and skeletal development and may play a role in blood pressure, fertility, reproduction and energy production.

(3) Vitamin K

Obtain about one third of your daily vitamin K requirements by consuming 1 cup of blueberries. Vitamin K is essential in blood clotting. Blood clotting is important to prevent excessive bleeding with an open cut. Studies also suggest that vitamin K may also be involved in calcium metabolism and in maintaining bone health.

(4) Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are compounds that provide blueberries with that rich blue/purple color. Studies suggest that, due to its antioxidant properties, anthocyanins may play a role in decreasing the risk of cancer, cognitive decline and heart disease. The disease-fighting powers of Anthocyanins is one of the many reasons experts, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommend consuming a rainbow of different colored fruits and vegetables.

(5) Fiber

1 cup of blueberries contains 4 grams of fiber. Fiber is essential for bowel health because it promotes bowel regularity and reduces constipation. Fiber not only regulates blood sugar and helps with satiety, but it can also reduce blood cholesterol. Reducing blood cholesterol can help lower the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and diverticulosis.

(6) Low in Calories, Fat, and Cholesterol

One cup of blueberries provides only 85 calories and essentially no fat and cholesterol! Blueberries make a great snack (and treat!) for individuals trying to lose weight due to the low calorie content. Blueberries make a good heart healthy snack because they are low in fat and cholesterol. Consuming excess cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in the arteries which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

For being low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, blueberries are packed with nutrients and antioxidants-making it a great snack to add to your diet. Not only is it a great food for weight-conscious individuals, but blueberries are also great for those whom want to eat a heart and bone healthy, bowel friendly, and antioxidant rich snack.

[via WatchFit]

Friday, January 16, 2015

11 Vegan Cheese Recipes That Will Change Your Life

1. Baked Almond Feta

This recipe is unbelievably good, full of flavor and remarkably like feta. It crumbles like feta but is also creamy enough in the centre to spread onto crusty bread, crackers, toasted bagels - whatever you like. Also, the original recipe drizzled a thyme and rosemary infused oil over top, you can also try dill.

2. Vegan Unprocessed Cheese Slices

Yes, there are vegan "processed cheese" style slices out there but lets face it. They're gross. Try preparing this childhood favorite that’s perfect for sandwiches. Get the recipe here.

3. Muenster Cheese

This mild uncheese complements almost every food. Serve it in slices with crisp fruit such as pears or apples, add diced cubes of your favorite steamed vegetables, or create cold sandwiches or toasty grilled cheese.

4. Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese Ball

You can serve this cheese ball with any of your favorite raw vegetables, or even put sliced honey crisp apples on the tray, the combination of the sweet crisp apples and the piquant cheese will be amazing. Perfect for a potluck or any party, find this yummy recipe here.

5. Cashew-less Vegan Queso

This recipe uses eggplant to make a delicious queso, add in a few Tbsp of slightly drained Rotel (just like real queso dip!) or your favorite chunky salsa. This really sends the texture and flavor over the top to mock the real thing.

6. Green Goddess Gouda

This cheese is a green goddess dressing made into cheese with some of elements of the gouda. Add more agar for a more set cheese that you can grate it. It makes an amazing grilled cheese! Omit the agar and use it to top a salad. 

7. Vegan Swiss Cheese

Agar is used and it requires boiling water to dissolve and to activate its magic. Magic meaning, agar is the key ingredient that gives that cheese texture to this recipe.  The fun part is that you can use any mold to shape it in.  This recipe is guaranteed to please and makes a great gift!

8. Sage and Gouda Vegan Cheese Ball

This vegan cheese ball is so flavorful with its crispy sage, salty pistachios, and the sweet chopped craisins encrusting the outside. It really makes for a delicious appetizer. Get the recipe.

9. Almond Milk Pepper Jack

This vegan cheese has almond milk, starches and agar to thicken and stretch, chickpea flour for taste and texture and voila! You can also make this with coconut milk or cashew milk. The cheese with cashew milk will be whiter on melting. The cheese shreds with a large grater! Use it on a pizza or grilled sammie.

10. Raw Vegan “Goat” Cheese

A non-dairy version of the original, but without the soy. This is the beauty of raw foods–anything can happen with a scoop of cashews. Even cheese. Get the recipe here.

11. Nacho Cheese Slices

These Nut Free Vegan Nacho Cheese Slices, have no nuts, no oil, no agar, no thickener, no seed, no gluten, no grain.  Grilled cheese, anyone?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

7 Ways to Eat More Healthy Fats

For my New Year’s resolution this year, I am focusing on eating more fat. Yes, that’s right. More fat. Because I am vegan and my diet consists mainly of whole grains, beans, legumes, and fresh produce, I sometimes forget to eat enough fat. Our bodies need fat for virtually every bodily function from regulating hormones to building cell walls.

As a vegan, I am particularly concerned about getting enough fat because it is needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins D and vitamin K – both of which are essential for bone health. Osteoporosis is affecting 1/3 of women and 1/5 of men over 60, so it is more than just vegans who should be worried about it. You can stand in the sun all day, but you won’t absorb vitamin D if you don’t have dietary fat to transport it into your body!

Of course I don’t plan on increasing my intake of just any fat. Trans fats, like those found in processed junk food, need to be avoided at all costs. It is the healthy unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) that our bodies need, as well as some types of saturated fat.  Here are some easy ways you can get more healthy fat in your diet.

Avocado Spreads

The reason that avocados taste so good is because they are loaded with fat: 75-80% of the calories in an avocado come from fat. Most of these fats are healthy monounsaturated fats which help heart health. There is saturated fat in avocado, but the benefits of the healthy fats are so much that studies show avocado reduces the risk of heart disease. As an added bonus, if you use avocado spreads in place of spreads like hydrogenated margarine or mayo, you are simultaneously decreasing your intake of unhealthy fats!

Nut Cheeses

Nuts are one of the best sources of healthy fats and Omega 3, as well as other nutrients like protein magnesium, vitamin E and B vitamins. Some are also great sources of calcium and iron. I already add ground nuts to my oatmeal every morning and they help me stay full all day long. This year, I am going to get more serious about healthy fat intake by consuming nut “cheeses.”

It is pretty easy to make a good nut cheese. You just soak some nuts (cashews work best) and then blend them up with some herbs and seasonings, and maybe some nutritional yeast too (which also happens to be a healthy fat).

Veggie Sticks with Fatty Dips and Spreads

Let’s say that you eat some celery sticks as a snack. Celery is rich in the fat soluble vitamins A and K. So, you would logically assume that celery is a good source of these vitamins. However, that is NOT the case because celery doesn’t contain any fat. In order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins from the celery, you need to consume some fat along with it. Luckily, celery tastes awesome slathered in peanut butter or dunked into a homemade vegan tzatziki.

Some ideas for fat-rich healthy snacks include:
Eating celery with peanut butter means you will absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the celery!

Make Your Own Fancy Salad Dressings

Don’t choose no-fat salad dressings! You need some fat in your salad dressings to help you absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the salad veggies. Plus, some fat is going to make the salad taste a heck of a lot better, thus increasing the likelihood that you will actually eat salad more often. Fat also helps you feel full for longer. Yes, a salad can fill you up!

Some of the best sources of healthy fats are specialty oils like hazelnut oil and walnut oil. These oils are too expensive to use regularly for cooking (at least for my budget), but they do make a great base for a salad dressing. Just mix with vinegar and some salt and drizzle on your salads. Or get even fancier by making your own salad dressing with healthy oils, avocado, coconut oil, or tahini as bases.

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds deserve their title as a super food because they have a great Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio and are a great vegan source of calcium, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Still not sure what to do with these seeds aside from grow them into a chia pet? Try soaking 3 tbsp of chia seeds overnight in 1 cup of non-dairy milk (which is also a healthy fat) and add some fruit or chocolate.  The chia seeds will expand and turn into a nice pudding that you can eat for breakfast.

Specialty Flours

Thanks to the paleo and gluten-free craze, there are now tons of options for flours. I personally love gluten and grains so am not advocating to give up wheat completely, but you can really enhance your diet by embracing other types of flours in your cooking. As far as healthy fats go, here are some of my favorites:
  • Almond flour: You can buy it or make your own by blending almonds into a meal
  • Acorn flour: Yes, acorns are edible and super healthy! They are loaded with monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fats, as well as protein, iron, calcium, and B vitamins. If you are in the US, you can buy acorn from this site. Or go gather some acorns and make your own :) 
  • Coconut flour: This one works especially well for baking sweets because of the rich flavor it gives. You can buy bulk organic coconut flour online by Viva Labs for fairly cheap.  It comes out to about $4 per pound.
  • Teff flour: Teff is a grain from Africa and is used in making delicious fermented injera Ethiopian bread. It is gluten free and loaded with protein, iron, calcium, fiber, and healthy fats.

Flax Eggs

Because of its favorable Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio, flax is one of the healthiest fats in the world. If you are vegan, then you are already probably familiar with flax meal as an egg replacer. To make a “flegg” (flax egg), mix 1 tbsp of flax meal with 3 tbsp of warm water.  Use in place of a regular egg when baking.  You avoid the unhealthy fats and cholesterol from the egg while getting a boost of healthy fats plus fiber and nutrients from the flax.

Monday, January 5, 2015

7 Waters That Deliver Innovative Nutrition

Coconut water, the subtly sweet and electrolyte-filled beverage touted as nature’s energy drink, recently exploded in popularity. And it opened the floodgates: On today’s store shelves, you’ll find even more unusual specialty waters that deliver hydrating alternatives to sugary fruit juices and sodas.

In addition to fewer calories, these new “waters” offer perks such as vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, electrolytes, and, notably, sustainable ingredients sourced from North America rather than Southeast Asia, where coconuts are typically harvested before they’re shipped to the United States. Check out these natural quenchers—sometimes enhanced with yummy ingredients—for unique taste and health benefits.

Alkaline Water

What it is: Alkaline water is infused with trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium to elevate its pH to 9.5 (neutral is 7).

Why we love it:
Most American diets contain too many acid-producing animal products and insufficient alkaline-promoting fruits and vegetables. Some believe drinking alkaline water counteracts this imbalance to improve bone and muscle health.

The facts: One study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that older adults who followed an alkaline diet for three years maintained more muscle mass than the control participants.

Try: Essentia Alkaline Water

Almond Water

What it is: Not to be confused with almond milk, which comes from ground almonds, almond water is made with boiled sliced almonds, water, cane sugar, and almond extract.

Why we love it:
It’s delicious! Almond water differs from other plant-based drinks because it doesn’t claim to be uniquely functional. It’s simply a refreshing, slightly sweet sipper to enjoy alone or with meals.

The facts:
The first nationally available almond water uses a traditional French recipe from the founder’s grandmother.

Try: Victoria's Kitchen Almond Water Original

Artichoke Water

What it is: A whole artichoke—including the heart, stem, leaves, and flower—is extracted into a bottle using a proprietary method to retain nutrients.

Why we love it:
Sometimes balanced with lemon and fresh mint and packing just 40 calories per 8 ounces, artichoke water delivers liver-supporting phytonutrients like silymarin.

The facts: Artichokes are typically harvested close to manufacturing facilities in California, so they boast a low carbon footprint.

Try: Arty Artichoke Water

Cactus Water

What it is: Juice and extract from the prickly pear cactus is blended with water and other natural ingredients such as lemon and stevia.

Why we love it:
Popular in Latin America, prickly pear is rich in antioxidants and carotenoids, magnesium, and vitamin C.

The facts:
Southwestern folk medicine uses prickly pear cactus fruit and juice to treat maladies from diabetes to hangovers.

Try: Caliwater Cactus Water

Coconut Water

What it is: Slightly bittersweet coconut water comes from the clear liquid found in young green coconuts.

Why we love it:
Touted as nature’s ultimate hydrator, coconut water contains high levels of electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

The facts:
In remote areas of the world, doctors have successfully used coconut water intravenously to rehydrate patients in emergencies.

Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water Dark Cacao

Maple Water

What it is: Though traditionally processed into maple syrup, maple water is the unrefined tree sap that naturally travels through maple tree trunks in the spring thaw.

Why we love it: Slightly sweet and mild flavored, this refreshing beverage contains dozens of phytonutrients, including some unique to tree waters.

The facts: Drinking maple water conserves American forests by providing landowners a way to monetize their forests without cutting trees down.

Try: Vertical Water 100% Pure Maple Water

Melon Water

What it is: The best melon waters contain one cold-pressed ingredient: watermelon.

Why we love it: This energizing beverage is rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants, potassium, and citrulline, a muscle-supporting amino acid—making it a fantastic sports drink.

The facts:
Some melon waters incorporate the watermelon rind, which contains even higher concentrations of citrulline.

WtrMln Wtr Cold Pressed Juiced Watermelon

Cashew: the next coconut water?

Usually left on the ground to rot, bright-red and yellow cashew apples are the stems left over after cashew nuts are plucked for harvest; they’re tangy, sweet, and packed with vitamin C. Now, a few large companies are putting this previously ignored resource to good use. PepsiCo India recently teamed up with the Clinton Foundation (yes, those Clintons) to collect cashew apples from a local network of small-scale farmers in India, turning the crop into a mixed-fruit drink (sold in India) and replacing more expensive ingredients like apple, pineapple, and banana. The dozen or so growers told The New York Times that this season’s cashew apple sales raised their families’ incomes by as much as 20 percent.