Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Vegan Soul Food Guide to Galaxy: Book Review

From the top: this book gets 10 out of 10 Mocha Angels. There's no need for me to hold back on my enthusiasm. Vegan food has the reputation for being tasteless. That has not been my experience, but I know the larger world view is that vegans eat carrots and twigs. I'm not sure where that perception came from, but when I began changing my lifestyle, I easily found wonderful cookbooks. No twigs nor carrot sticks to be found.

And after my recent post "The Courage to be a Raw Vegan," you may wonder why I'm reviewing a cooked vegan book. I'd written in that post about the health of African-Americans. Going vegan, cooked or raw, is a step in the right direction for anyone with a health challenge. For a myriad of reasons, Black folks are hit hard in the health department. Because Afya Ibomu's book offers twists on classic soul food, it offers easy transition for someone used to their mama's soul food kitchen, or anyone who loves hearty, tasty food.

(An FYI: reviews of Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen and Martha & Kamaal Theus' 21st Century Vegetarians are coming soon for the same reasons.)

Tofu Stir-Fry

But this is more than a cookbook full of delicious recipes. It's an all-in-one guide to becoming a vegan.
From the Table of Contents:
-Vegan FAQs
-Meat and Dairy Question
-Let's Go Shopping
-Dining Out Guide
-Recipes and More
-Breads and Desserts

I was impressed that Ibomu packed tons of information into 173 pages. She answers the question, "Where do you get all of your nutrients?" in a few pages, quieting any doubts that a vegan lacks essential vitamins. Everything else is here too: the different types of oils, sweeteners, additives & preservatives, reading labels, sea veggies, meat substitutes, a shopping list, and flours.

But what is also here is heart. Ibomu has taken the time, patience, and skill to guide her readers step-by-step on how to become a vegan. It's like she's holding your hand. She answers every question a person could possibly have.

Plus, the DVD Pimp My Tofu! is included. Ibomu teaches you how to make Scrambled Tofu, Sesame Tofu Salad, and Buffalo Tofu. She explains the different type of tofu (silken, soft, firm, and extra firm), and gives a history lesson on what exactly tofu is.

Buffalo Tofu

But let me talk about the food. With this Buffalo Tofu recipe, my husband declared, "FINALLY! I CAN BECOME A VEGAN!" I'm not kidding. This man has been searching for the perfect buffalo chicken wing substitute for years, and he finally found it.

Scrambled Tofu
The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy features classic soul food recipes like My Mama's Potato Salad (rockin'), Sweet Potato Pie, Satisfy My Soul Grits, and Cornbread. But there's also Caribbean, Indian, and Asian fare here too. In other words, if you've ever said, "I can't give up my meat." This book replies, "Yes, you can. And you won't miss your meat."

Run, don't walk to Afya Ibomu's website:
. Get yourself a copy. Then buy one for someone you love.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Light Eating for Survival Blog Project

"Light Eating for Survival" Blog Project a la the movie Julie & Julia.
1 Year. 481 Recipes. 1 ambitious mama.
Days 8, 9, 10, and 11.

I kept my focus on the simplest recipes in the book this time. They are luscious and delicious.

Banana and Grapes
...enough said!
Garlic Dressing
3 cups olive oil
5 sliced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon kelp
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Blend, and enjoy!

Fruit Muesli
3 cups fresh, cut up, juicy fruit (bananas, apples, strawberries, peaches, etc.)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup currants or raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
This should be juicy. If not add 1 tablespoon water or fruit juice. Allow everything to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
This is fantastic. I'm going to add the raisins next time. It's just so fruity, juicy, and filling. Kid-friendly too!

Hot n' Spicy
6 oz. apple juice or cider
pinch of cinnamon
slice of orange
Heat everything in a small pot until hot to the touch. Enjoy. Warm apple juice and cinnamon on a cold day.... This is like a warm blanket. Very comforting and soothing.
Russian Dressing
1 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon juice
1 chopped green onion
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon tamari (I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
1 tsp. paprika
1 chopped garlic clove
1 tsp. horseradish (opt.)
This kind of taste like French Dressing, with a kick. It's quite good. Try it and let me know what you think.
Coming up next: A review of The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy!


Friday, September 4, 2009

The Courage to Be a Raw Vegan

For people who know in their souls that a raw vegan lifestyle is for them, this is for you all. You may not practice it everyday, but because of your positive experiences with raw, you know, with deep conviction, that raw is the best way to eat, for you.

I've thought about this post for months. In my own struggle, I've realized that going raw is, at its core, about letting go of what no longer serves me. I want to move forward, rather than remain at a standstill.

Going 100% raw means releasing my past. The way my immediate and extended family ate was a classic Black American soul-food diet. Either ham, turkey, ground beef, chicken, deer, rabbit, bacon, barbecue pork, Italian sausage, Polish sausage, or sausage links were the centerpiece of the meal. Surrounding the animal protein were a mix of potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans with bacon, macaroni and cheese, and candied yams. Breakfast was either pancakes and sausage, or cinnamon rolls, eggs, and sausage. Friday was pizza night. I have a vivid memory of eating a breakfast of fried chicken, eggs scrambled in butter, and coffee with my maternal grandmother.

It was all love though. Food is fuel. With human emotion added, it really is love. My family nourished me with their love of food. And if anyone has at least one grandmother, you don't turn down your grandma's food. I didn't know any other way, so I ate everything on my plate.

But eating soul food does not work for me anymore. Soul food has a rich tradition in the United States. But let's be real. It's roots are in slavery. Chitlins...scrapple...pig ears...those are the pig leftovers. According to the Soul Food Advisor, my ancestors "used large amount of fat, sugar, and salt to season their foods because it was cheap and readily available. Salt was also used as a preservative since there were no refrigeration or other methods to keep food cool."

Black folks still use a large amount of fat, sugar, and salt to season their foods. But I don't see any slaves working on plantations. Thanks to my parents, I am well-versed in Black History. I know what slaves endured. Out of their horrific pain came gospel, blues, poetry, soul food, and much more. A major American cuisine was born from the darkest period in our country's history.

I say discard the food our ancestors had to eat. Rather, embrace their spirit of resilience, creativity, and faith to move into a new era of healing. (Two excellent cookbooks which remake soul food are The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy by Afya Ibomu, and Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. They are wonderful.)

Going 100% raw also means releasing past relationships, or current relationships that no longer work. This could be ex-boyfriends, friends, and family. With my ex-boyfriends, I need to accept that I was who I was when I was with them, and that's okay. Rather than be ashamed or embarrassed, I thank them. I now say, "Thank you for having been in my life. I wish you the very best." Cords cut. I've moved on.

I only keep positive friends. Long-time readers of this blog know about my in-laws. Because of their insanity, my new mantra is, "I don't do crazy." Crazy has no space in my house nor in my life.

Going 100% raw means I let go of the need to struggle financially. The past eight years have been rough, but that was my own creation. I always had a fear of being poor, and guess what? I've experienced poverty. It sucked. There was nothing romantic about being broke.

Going 100% raw means letting go of the need to be like everyone else. This was my most recent realization. I'm public about being an Intuitive. (I hate the word "psychic." It sounds so otherworldly. I'm pretty darn grounded.) I've been shunned by people. It hurts, but it's part of the package. I've also experienced blatant hostility and rudeness. That's worse. If I can live with those negative emotions being hurled at me, I can withstand the insane looks and comments that come with saying, "I eat an uncooked plant-based diet." (Insert the WTF looks..LOL!)

In short, embracing a 100% raw vegan lifestyle means embracing the best. The best food. The best life. The best energy. The best the world has to offer me. When I've been raw for at least one consecutive month, I have felt my best. I want to feel my best all of the time. I want to be connected to my Higher Guidance all of the time. I want to be the best wife and mom I can be all of the time. I want be the best daughter, granddaughter, cousin, and niece all of the time. I want to be the best Althea. And that requires a courage I never knew.

I am ready.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Light Eating for Survival Blog Project

"Light Eating for Survival" Blog Project a la the movie Julie & Julia.
1 Year. 481 Recipes. 1 ambitious mama.
Day 7.

Today, I've got three drinks for you. Two are from Light Eating, and one is from Victoria Boutenko.

Spinach Mango Smoothie
1 peeled and chopped mango
1 handful or more spinach
water to taste
I can't remember which book by the Boutenkos I saw this, but this green smoothie is not for beginners, unless you like bitter smoothies. If you want it sweeter, add another mango, or perhaps an orange. But I enjoyed it. Perhaps my palate is getting used to green bitters.

Green Mint
8 oz. orange or carrot juice
1/2 cup fresh comfrey or mint leaves, or 1/2 cup mint tea
I used carrot juice and mint leaves. I am blessed to have mint growing in my backyard. This was a refreshing, easy drink.

Banana Ape
8 oz. orange juice
1 banana
2 apples

I used one apple and added a little bit of water. WOW. This is fantastic. A true party in your mouth. Loved it.

I also made an green smoothie on the fly today. It was 1 apple, 2 bananas, and 3 handfuls of spinach. Add enough water to make it thin. Rom and I split it, and Raymond had mine. He actually liked it, and kept asking me to make him apple juice (to which I add spinach juice). I'm seeing that as long as the smoothie or juice is still sweet to him, he'll drink it.

Until next time!



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Light Eating For Survival Blog Project

"Light Eating for Survival" Blog Project a la the movie Julie & Julia.
1 Year. 481 Recipes. 1 ambitious mama.
Days 4, 5, and 6.

I have overworked myself the past two weeks, so I'm battling off a cold. That's what happens when you work too hard without enough sleep! But I'm in good spirits, so I'll be fine soon. I've been focused on juices that I've taken out of Light Eating for Survival. Here's what I've made:


Waldorf Salad:
2 apples
2 celery ribs

2 apples
1 pear

Delicious Cocktail:
1 apple
4 oz. grape juice

2 apples
1 peach or nectarine (I used a peach)

Grape Delight:
4 oz. grape juice
1 pear

Summers Day:

2 apples
6 strawberries

Orange Apple Soup:

1 orange
1 apple
Blend, and drink!

Hot Carob Milk
1/2 cup ground sesame seeds
3 cups water
1 tablespoon raw carob powder
Heat, and strain in a nut bag. Drink. Tastes like tea :-).

Carob Fudge
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup carob powder
1/2 cup nuts

Cream everything, except nuts, in a blender. Pour into a flat pan. Add the nuts, if using. Stir. I put this in the freezer for a few hours, then cut it in squares.

I have a love/hate relationship with coconut oil. I love it as a moisturizer for my skin and body. I love it ice cream. But I don't like it in chocolate or fudge recipes. It's used all over the place in many books, but I just don't care for it. The marble-looking thing in the fudge? That's coconut oil. I will make this again, with either cashew butter or cacao butter. It had a great fudge consistency.




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