Friday, April 14, 2017

Holistic Holiday At Sea

I just got back from a 7-day vacation in which I never stressed once about what I was eating!  That in and of itself is a real testimonial, considering all of my vacations start with a mandatory visit to to find vegan or vegan friendly restaurants as well as a trip to the grocery store to stock up on, “just in case” food.  I’m exhausted before I ever start my trip!

Dr. Michael Greger,
But Holistic Holiday At Sea changed all that this year.  HHS is a vegan cruise, to be more specific an oil-free (optional), gluten-free (optional) vacation paradise!  

And it gets better! 

The whole week is jammed pack with speakers, most notably Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neil Barnard and Dr. Michael Greger.  As well as additional speakers covering such topics as animal welfare, laughter as medicine and how to eat vegan.  In addition to the daily talks there are cooking demonstrations by well-known chefs in the plant-based movement like Christina Pirello from Christina Cooks (PBS) and exercise/meditation classes.   No matter where your interests lie, health, animal rights, fitness, cooking or mind, body & soul – there is something for everyone. 

Me in Jamaica!
The cruise still offers ports of call and the speaker schedule does slow down so you can get off the ship without feeling you are missing anything.  Now for the islands, I did hit to do some recon before I left and I’m so happy I did, because once on shore, I found that I had no cell service and the locals weren’t very familiar with the few vegan restaurants that were available.  Another option is to book vegan excursions through HHS, but don’t drag your feet, they book up fast.  However, I did find most of the people in our group stayed aboard and took advantage of the spa, salon, gym and pools while most of the ship debarked.  I think we were all exhausted from learning so much and just wanted to hang out and relax.

Did I mention that I lost 3 pounds!!!  Can’t say that with many vacations, let alone a cruise.  The food was good, I wouldn’t say amazing, but I was able to get oil-free and gluten-free at every meal without any hassle.  And every dish had the ingredients listed in case of  food allergies – many took a photo with their phone of the menus for easy reference.  Surprisingly, I was never hungry, each meal had four-courses, breakfast, lunch and dinner – 4 courses!  I never had to break into my emergency food stash while on board.  Oh, and you still get to have fun, there were pizza and ice cream socials almost every night.

This year there were 1,700 participants, we didn’t quite take over the 4,000 person cruise ship, but if things keep expanded like they are, a 100% cruise could be in our future!  It was so refreshing to meet so many like minded people, I made a ton of new friends.  Every meal I was meeting someone new and learning about their own unique vegan story as well as their life - people from all over the world and of all ages!

For those of you who like to mix business with pleasure, CME/CE credits are available for most classes. 

Next year is going to be a big year for HHS; it’s their 15th anniversary and as such they are extending the cruise to 10 days!  By moving it up to February 15-25, 2018, they are taking advantage of President’s Day, which many get the day off from work.  They already have the speakers lined up and it looks to be another fantastic offering and learning experience.  And check out these ports of call - Martinique; St. Kitts and Nevis; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Freeport, Bahamas!

If you have trouble traveling vegan or as a healthy whole-food, plant-based, oil-free vegan, check out Holistic Holiday At Sea, this cruise will keep you on track and is the opportunity of a lifetime!

Keep it healthy!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hoff's Orange Rice (Instant Pot)

Hoff's Orange Rice (Instant Pot)
Yields: 3-4 Servings
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free, gluten-free

  • 2 cups Orange Juice
  • 2 cups Jasmine Rice
  • 1 15 oz. can Mandarin Oranges in light syrup
  • 3 tbsp. chopped Cashews (optional)
  • Sea Salt
  1. Mix Juice & Rice together in IP
  2. Lock lid in place and make sure pressure release valve is closed
  3. Press "Manual" button & reduce time to 3 minutes
  4. When done, use manual release method
  5. Fluff Rice with fork
  6. Stir in Mandarin Oranges with Juice & Cashew pieces
  7. Season with Sea Salt

Hoff Thoughts: I don't actually chop my Cashews, I just throw them in a sandwich bag and bash them a bit with a heavy object, ah...Zen.  I also don't buy whole Cashews, too pricey!  Instead, I opt for their cheaper, yet still tasty alternative - Cashew pieces.  As I typically blend them to make sauces or break them into tiny pieces for a hit of crunch in dishes such as this, the cost effective pieces work out perfectly!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sushi Bazooka Roller

I’ve been a sushi making fiend since I go my latest toy…the Sushi Bazooka Roller by Sushezi (get it, sush ezi...)!

Super simple to use, you can roll your own sushi in minutes! I got the hang of it the first time I used it. It produces the most perfect sushi roll, your friends will be amazed! I was a little nervous about the cutting, but that too is easy – you just need to let the sushi, wrapped in Nori (seaweed), sit for 15 minutes in the fridge. This allows the wrapper to absorb moisture from the rice and become pliable. Next, use a very sharp knife, I use a ceramic knife, and a glass of warm water – wet the knife before every cut, no need to wipe down. This will ensure perfectly cut sushi! Can you get away with no Nori sheet? Maybe, I’ve been too nervous to try, but the rolls are pretty compact, so they might hold up.

I will say that the #1 complaint on Amazon is about the hinges and it’s true; the hinges suck and can get you really frustrated. But with a little maneuvering you can make it work. The good thing about the crappy hinges - the device comes apart really easy for cleaning.

You will notice that the instructions tell you to oil the inside chamber to allow for easy release – like most things that call for oil, I ignore it and guess what, perfect sushi sans oil!

Now to make awesome sushi, you need awesome ingredients and that starts with the rice! Save yourself the hassle and buy sushi rice right from the start, there is a difference (it’s sticky). I make my rice using the Instant Pot, but you can use a rice cooker or traditional boiling method. I don’t know how either of those methods work, but here’s my recipe for the IP.

Sushi Rice
Yields: 2 cups Rice, enough for 2 Rolls
My Masterpieces

  • 2 cups Water 
  • 1 ½ cups Sushi Rice 
  • 2 tbsp. Rice Vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp. Sugar 
  • ¼ tsp. Sea Salt

  1. Mix together Water & Rice
  2. Close & lock lid
  3. Set Pressure Valve to Sealing
  4. Select Rice setting
  5. Manual release pressure for 10 minutes, then Quick release
  6. Remove the inner pot from IP to help Rice cool quicker
  7. While Rice is still hot, stir in Vinegar, Sugar & Salt
  8. Set aside until cool to handle & prep fillings

Next comes all the ingredient combinations! I LOVE Sweet Potato Sushi, but I hate hassle, so I just get a can of Sweet Potatoes, drain it and stuff away. You can also try Shredded Carrot with Avocado, Asparagus with Avocado, Cucumber with Avocado, Mango with Avocado – sensing a theme here? Also try cooked Shitake Mushrooms, Cucumber with Shredded Carrot or straight up Avocado (mmmm)!

Why bother making your own sushi?

Well, for one it’s pretty freakin’ cool that you can do it so easily with this tool and two it tastes waaaaaay better than store bought. I wouldn’t say homemade sushi is going to put any Asian restaurants out of business, but for a quick snack or meal the Sushi Bazooka Roller is worth adding to your kitchen arsenal.

Keep it healthy!