Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ms. Julie's Kitchen - The Place To Be In Akron, Ohio

I finally made it to Ms. Julie's Kitchen!  This place has been on my must visit list for quite some time.  I don't get to the Akron area much and when I do, it's to stock my pantry at the Mustard Seed Market.  Since they just happen to have one of the best, no-oil, vegan menus around, I naturally always dine there.

Let me tell you, I wish I would have gone to Ms. Julie's Kitchen sooner.

This place is eccentric to say the least - with its mix and match hand-me-down furniture and screen door reminiscent of Kramer's small town break from reality - "Serenity Now!!!"

But, the staff is wicked awesome friendly and the food is phenomenal.  I don't know how they managed it, but in the dead of winter, the tomatoes were fresh and the peppers were crisp!  Did I mention the open style kitchen, where they make everything to order the minute you sit down?  No, heat lamps, no microwaves here my friends.

Let me give you the lay of the land, so as a newbie, you don't stand around looking lost, like I did.  This is a no frills place, all the attention goes to the food.  That means, step up to the counter and place your order.  Specials are on the chalkboard, menu is on the flyer.  Grab your utensils and napkin and pick a seat.  When you're done, go back to the counter to pay.  That's it, you're now a pro.

I thoroughly enjoyed their Falafel Sandwich - two generous falafels stuffed into a whole wheat pita, smothered in tahini & topped with a giant tomato slice.  The addition of pickle relish sent this sandwich to a whole new level!

My boyfriend had their Spicy Black Bean Burger, which upon the first bite exclaimed, 'This is the freshest sandwich I have ever had!!!"  What the hell does that say for my cooking?  (I'll deal with him later.)

I could not resist the special of the day - Sloppy Joe Mac & Cheese (gluten-free)!  By far the best vegan Mac & Cheese I have ever experienced. A Snoopy happy dance ensued.

Now, I couldn't leave empty handed.  For Christmas breakfast, I raided their freezer (it's help yourself, I wasn't trespassing - come on people), for their ready-made assortment of waffles - apple cinnamon, pumpkin, cranberry orange, gingerbread...  I also scored the Christmas special, Sauerkraut Balls to entertain my holiday guests (confession - my bf & I ate them all and we are not ashamed).

Their menu changes seasonally, because Ms. Julie gets her produce from her very own farm as well as from other local Ohio farmers.  She also stocks an array of locally produced teas, jams, preserves, honey, maple syrup, nuts and bakery.

Still don't think Ms. Julie is the bomb?  She holds cooking classes so you too can do what she does.  "Julie will teach you how to use your kitchen to stay out of the hospital!" - Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Oh, I forgot to mention the greatest gift of all - Julie's Kitchen is 100% vegan!!!  Like a kid in a candy store, I will be back for more...

Ms. Julie's Kitchen
1809 S. Main St. Akron, OH 44301
M-F 8am - 7pm
Sat 9am - 5pm

Check it out!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

High Fiber Foods

Fiber is a key nutrient for a healthy body. It keeps things moving, so to speak. Fiber can naturally lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and help avoid hemorrhoids. Since it adds bulk to the diet, it can help you achieve fullness faster, thus aiding in controlling weight & cravings.

On average, people get about 15 grams of fiber a day. In reality, you want to get your intake up to about 35-40 grams a day. But take it slow, the body needs time to adjust – if you experience bloating or gas, take it down a notch for a few days, then ease back into things.

Check out this handy online calculator to determine how much fiber you’re getting each day.

It’s best to consume fiber-rich whole foods. Get your fiber naturally from fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains. And always opt for whole wheat… over white… every time.

Avoid processed foods with claims of high fiber on the front of the box. Think about it. You can’t force an apple to have more fiber than it does naturally, but if you add fiber to it, you can. Unfortunately, this “added fiber” is actually wood pulp – while edible, not really natural for humans. After all, we don’t have the teeth of a beaver.

Never rely on a fiber supplement, which are just purified cellulose (wood pulp).

Strive to incorporate a combination of these high fiber foods into your daily diet to kick your fiber intake into high gear.

High Fiber Foods

Keep It Healthy!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hoff's Black Bean, Sweet Potato Bowl

Hoff's Black Bean, Sweet Potato Bowl
Serves: 2
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free, gluten-free

  • 2 cups Brown Rice (prepared)
  • 1 16 oz. can Sweet Potatoes in Pineapple Juice
  • 1 15.5 oz. can Black Beans (rinsed & drained)
  • 1/4 cup Cashews (chopped)
  • 1 Lime 
  • Splash of Liquid Smoke (optional)
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

  1. Warm Rice, Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans together
  2. Add Liquid Smoke, Sea Salt, Cumin and juice from Lime
  3. Divide mixture into two bowls
  4. Sprinkle Cashews on top of each

Hoff Thoughts: Add seasonings at the end of cooking, so their flavor is greater and less seasoning is needed.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hoff's Bulk Pancake Mix II

Hoff's Bulk Pancake Mix II
dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free

  • 28 oz. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 5 tbsp. Baking Powder (aluminum free)
  • 1 tbsp. Salt
Store in air-tight container.

  • 1 Cup Mix
  • 3/4 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Chocolate Chips/Blueberries (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. Chia Seeds (optional)

Batter Makes: 8-10 pancakes

Don't forget the homemade syrup!

Hoff Thoughts:  This recipe has been modified to accommodate a 28 oz. package of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.  Less measuring, more dumping.  And, you're welcome.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hoff's Creamy Tomato Soup II

Hoff's Creamy Tomato Soup II
Serves: 2
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free

  • 1 15 oz. can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced Tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can diced Potatoes (rinsed & drained)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder

  1. Place all ingredients in a Vitamix & blend on high for 6 minutes
  2. Enjoy!

Hoff Thoughts:  Play this up by making 1/2 cup of Rice to add in after the fact.  Once the soup is heated through, add Rice to Vitamix and blend on the lowest setting, just to mix it in.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grocery Stores Are So Last Season...Blue Sky Green Fields is HOT!

How cool would it be to order your groceries online and have them delivered?

Let me tell you, it's beyond cool, it's AWESOME!!!

Recently, my employer teamed up with Blue Sky Green Fields to provide just that.  I know it's hard to believe that I'm not jet setting around the world on my blogger fame, but I keep it real by maintaining a 9-5...


Blue Sky Green Fields is a Cleveland-based company.  They offer farmer market quality food, local when they can, organic & conventional.  Prices are comparable if not lower than grocery store chains.  They even have specialty items from places like Ohio City Pasta (pizza dough is the bomb) and the Olive Tap.

Delivery is FREE!  Membership is FREE!  Prices are LOW!  Quality is HIGH! 100% Quality Guarantee!

To get on board this gravy train, you just need to have a minimum of 20 people ordering per week.  That's it!  There is no obligation, no contracts.  So this means, if you don't have a cool employer, you can still get the hook up at your kid's school, a church, even a housing development.  Anywhere you can have a centralized drop-off.

Got a hungry group?  Get started, now!

Check it out!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hoff's Mushroom Garbanzo Pasta

Hoff's Mushroom Garbanzo Pasta
Yields: 6-8 cups
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free

  • 12 oz. box Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 2 cups Veggie Broth
  • 1 15 oz. can Garbanzo Beans (rinsed & drained)
  • 1 10 oz. box Frozen Spinach (defrosted & drained)
  • 1 carton sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 2.25 oz. can sliced Black Olives (rinsed & drained)
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion (chopped)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt

  1. Prepare Pasta to al dente according to box directions
  2. Meanwhile in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, sautee Onions & Mushrooms, adding Garlic at the end
  3. Pour in Broth and simmer for about 4 minutes or until 1/2 of liquid is reduced
  4. Add Garbanzo Beans, Spinach, Black Olives & Pasta
  5. Stir in Nutritional Yeast, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder & Salt
  6. Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pasta Veggie Alfredo

Last night was a clean out the fridge kind of night.  I had veggies about to turn, that needed to see their life's purpose fulfilled.  I started with The Best Vegan Pasta Alfredo, sauteed up some sliced Onions, Mushrooms & chopped Spinach and threw it all together.  Not too shabby for an unplanned meal.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What is Himalayan Salt?

You may have noticed that almost all my recipes of late include, Sea Salt, more specifically; I have switched to using Himalayan Pink Sea Salt exclusively.

“Himalayan Salt is far superior to traditional salt. Himalayan Salt is millions of years old and pure, untouched by many of the toxins and pollutants that pervade other forms of ocean salt.”

Himalayan Salt is a pure, hand-mined salt that is derived from ancient sea salt deposits, and it is believed to be the purest form of salt available.

Is it healthy?

Himalayan Salt has a purer and higher in mineral content than that of regular table salt. “This form of salt has also been maturing over the past 250 million years under intense tectonic pressure, creating an environment of zero exposure to toxins and impurities.”

“Himalayan Salt has a rich mineral content that includes over 84 minerals and trace elements such as: calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron.”

“Regular consumption of Himalayan Salt provides essential minerals, trace elements, balances electrolytes, supports proper nutrient absorption, eliminates toxins, balances the body’s pH, normalizes blood pressure, and increases circulation and conductivity. It can also assist with relief from arthritis, skin rashes, psoriasis, herpes, and flu and fever symptoms.”

Traditional table salt has been stripped of iodine and other nutrients via “chemical cleaning.” What’s left is sodium chloride or an unnatural chemical form of salt that the body doesn’t recognize.

As table salt is not naturally white, it has also been bleached. You’ll notice that Himalayan Salt ranges in color from sheer white, varying shades of pink, to deep reds, the result of high mineral and iron content.
Himalayan Salt is typically hand-mind, hand-washed, hand-crushed and sun dried. Table salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits. Table salt is more heavily processed to eliminate minerals and usually contains an additive to prevent clumping.

What to do with it…

Use Himalayan Salt just as you would normal salt as it dissolves in the same way. This enables you to cook and bake with it. This salt goes well with soups, salads, pasta, vegetables, grains, baked goods, pancakes and anywhere else you desire are little saltiness.

Himalayan Salt can also be used topically for therapeutic reasons, such as: to stimulate circulation, relax the body, soothe sore muscles and remove toxins from the body. Use Himalayan Salt in bath salt recipes, body scrubs, aromatherapy and for all types of spa applications.

Where to get it…

I keep my pantry stocked with FunFresh Foods Himalayan Pink Sea Salt from or Amazon. Although due to its gaining popularity you may find it in regular grocery stores and most definitely gourmet shops.

How to Store it…

This type of salt has as self-life about 4-5 years when stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

Keep It Healthy!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Why Omega-3's?

Omega-3s are referred to as essential, because our body cannot create them, we must ingest them.  However, fish and supplements (DHA/EPA) are not the answer.  Instead, to receive optimal benefits, it is best to consume omega-3s via plant-based foods, such as ground Flax Seeds.
But let’s, back up, why are Omega-3s so great?
For starters they are highly anti-inflammatory and protect against heart attacks, stroke and dementia, while limiting the severity of arthritis, depression and even dry wrinkly skin and dry scalp.  They are absolutely necessary for brain and retinol development in a growing fetus.  Omega-3s also keep our hair, skin, and nails healthy and they also maintain/improve our sight and intelligence.  As well as help the body assimilate insulin and help prevent cancer cell growth.

Keep It Healthy!

Source: Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran

Friday, December 6, 2013

What Are Brazil Nuts?

Brazil Nuts are a medium sized nut that grow in the Amazon Rainforest.  The trees in which they grow can live over 500 to 1,000 years.  They come roasted or salted, but raw is best.  Brazil Nuts are 18% protein, 13% carbohydrates, and 69% fat by weight. 91% of their calories come from fat. The fat breakdown is roughly 25% saturated, 41% monounsaturated, and 34% polyunsaturated.  "Despite their high calorie content, eating nuts and seeds regularly is actually associated with lower body weight, possibly due to appetite-suppression from healthy fats."

These nuts are a good source of Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B-6, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc and Selenium.

“Selenium is a trace mineral that has an essential role in ensuring good brain health, particularly as an anti-oxidant. Studies have found that depleted levels of selenium result in poor memory, bad moods, and decreased cognitive function, while increasing selenium improves mood, clarity of thinking, and energy levels.  

Selenium plays an important role in:

  • Thyroid Function
  • Anti-oxidant Activity
  • Heavy Metal Detoxification
  • Infection-fighting
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Mental Health
  • Preserving Cognitive Function
  • Proper Immune System Function 

Selenium is available in grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and animals.  Fruits and vegetables, however, on't seem to have that much.  However, Brazil Nuts are the richest food-based source of Selenium. 

Daily Recommended Allowance (RDA)
One ounce of Brazil Nuts (6-8 nuts) contains 544 micrograms of Selenium or 777% of the recommended daily allowance, making Brazil Nuts the richest source of food-based Selenium.  To get the RDA of 55 mcg, strive to consume 2-3 Brazil Nuts every day. 

More Is Not Better
Do not over consume Brazil Nuts (400 mcg a day) as this can lead to toxicity issues.  “Early indicators of excess intake are a garlic odor in the breath and a metallic taste in the mouth. The most common clinical signs of chronically high selenium intakes, or selenosis, are hair and nail loss or brittleness. Other symptoms include lesions of the skin and nervous system, nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, mottled teeth, fatigue, irritability, and nervous system abnormalities.”   “Acute selenium toxicity can cause severe gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms, acute respiratory distress syndrome, myocardial infarction, hair loss, muscle tenderness, tremors, lightheadedness, facial flushing, kidney failure, cardiac failure, and, in rare cases, death.”  “Selenium toxicity caused by a supplement can actually contribute to nerve damage, according to Texas Tech University.”

The high polyunsaturated fat content, primarily omega-6 fatty acids, in shelled Brazil nuts causes these nuts to become rancid quickly, so it's best to store in the fridge.

Keep It Healthy!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chestnuts Roasting On A...

If you're like me, you grew up listening to that song and can finish that lyric.

Yet, while a fond Christmas memory, I have never actually eaten chestnuts, let alone roasted chestnuts.  So, I did some digging and figured out how to do it, sans the open fire.  Bonus, it's quite simple!

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Using a sharp paring knife, press a large "X" into the flat side of the nut, make sure to cut through the shell, so it can split open
  3. Place nuts on a shallow baking pan
  4. Roast for 25-40 minutes, shaking the pan periodically
  5. Remove pan from oven to cool
  6. Once cool enough to handle, peel (cold nuts are hard to peel)
  7. Be sure to remove the outer papery skin
  8. Consume immediately

Helpful Tips:
  1. Don't hold the chestnut in your hand while scoring.  Hold against a cutting board instead.  Ove' Glove?!?!
  2. Cooking times vary depending on the age and size of the chestnut - older and larger will require more time
  3. Shaking the pan ensures even roasting
  4. Peel by squeezing the nut between your thumb & index finger
  5. If you can find frozen, pre-cut chestnuts, go for it!
  6. Fresh chestnuts are firm to the touch and heavy in the hand, with no space between the shell and the meat of the nut inside
  7. Uncut nuts will explode (trust me)
  8. Chestnut season runs from early October through late December

If you really get into this, check out the Chestnutter!

Now for you purest, you can eat chestnuts raw, unless you have the following conditions: severe intestinal problems, kidney problems, liver disease and those who are pregnant (sorry, you'll just have to wait).

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hoff's Unstuffed Cabbage II

Hoff's Unstuffed Cabbage II
Yields: 6-8 servings
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free

  • 1 cup prepared Jasmine Rice
  • 1 14 oz. package Gimme Lean® Sausage
  • 16 oz. shredded Cabbage
  • 1 cup Sauerkraut
  • 1 15 oz. can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 11.5 oz. can V8 Juice
  • 1 medium Onion (chopped)
  • 2 -3 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 2 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. White Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • Sea Salt to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of Water to boil, add Cabbage & cook for 15 minutes or until soft & drain
  2. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, sautée Onions, adding Garlic just as the Onions start to brown, add a pinch of Salt
  3. Break-up Sausage in skillet until crumbled pieces are achieved
  4. Place Cabbage back in large pot with a pinch of Salt, stir
  5. Add Sausage, Onions & Garlic with a pinch of Salt, stir
  6. Add Kraut with a pinch of Salt, stir
  7. Add Tomato Sauce, V8 Juice, Seasonings & thoroughly combine
  8. Heat through and enjoy!

Hoff Thoughts:  I developed this recipe, because I love stuffed cabbage but lack the desire & patience to bother with the actual wrapping of it.  Plus, I wanted to get all those vital nutrients from the Cabbage, after all, it is a Green.  While I do know how to chop cabbage, I chose a shortcut for this recipe instead and bought a bag of Cole Slaw mix or Shredded Cabbage if you will.  Serve over Mashed Potatoes!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hoff's Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

Hoff's Biscuits & Sausage Gravy
Yields: 4 servings
meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free

  • 4 vegan English Muffins
  • 1 14 oz. package Gimme Lean® Sausage
  • 2 cups plain Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Toast English Muffins
  2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet or medium stock pot over medium-high heat, "brown" Sausage until a crumbled consistency is achieved (use spatula to break into pieces)
  3. Mix in Flour until Sausage is coated & Flour is dissolved
  4. Slowly stir in Milk, cook Gravy until thick & bubbly, stirring constantly
  5. Season
  6. Ladle Sausage Gravy over top split English Muffins

Hoff Thoughts: Yes, this meal is typically served with biscuits.  Frankly, I have never liked biscuits very much and well, I'm not going to stand in my kitchen all morning baking and make gravy from scratch.  My minor cheat made this recipe much more practical for my lifestyle.  To make vegan meat crumbles into sausage, mix in 1 tbsp. Coconut Sugar,1 tsp. Sea Salt, 1 tsp. paprika, tsp.  garlic powder tsp. Cumin and 1 tsp. ground black pepper.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Just Became A Farm Sanctuary Member!


I just took a big step toward helping abused & neglected farm animals by becoming a member of Farm Sanctuary and you can too!

For as little as $20, you can help make a difference in the lives of these innocent & helpless animals.

Your generous support will be put to work right away helping to tell the truth about the treatment of animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses…rescue farm animals from horrific situations of neglect and abuse…educate people across the country about how they can help…and harness grassroots energy to win the protections farm animals deserve, so that we can put a stop to the cruelty they now endure.

By joining Farm Sanctuary, you’ll enjoy all of the benefits of membership, including:

  • Quarterly Sanctuary magazine
  • Discounted Bed & Breakfast and Country Cabin rates
  • Ability to visit our shelters year-round

But most importantly, you’ll help do even more to stop the ghastly cruelty and neglect millions of farm animals endure each day.

Please join Farm Sanctuary today to help protect farm animals from pain and misery.

Keep it humane!

P.S. Donations are tax deductible!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Give A Lucky Turkey A Happy Thanksgiving!

The President isn't the only person who can pardon a turkey!

Adopt a turkey or 2 today!!!
Sponsored by Farm Sanctuary

Check out what the Farm Sanctuary is all about!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

To Juice Or To Blend, That Is The Question

This is the question I faced when I decided I had to get more fruits and vegetables into my diet.  Drinking a combination of them seemed like an ideal solution, but what method would provide the best results?

Juicing by definition is the extraction of juice from a fruit or vegetable.  While the soluble fiber will remain in the juice, the insoluble fiber is removed along with the pulp.  This makes the nutrients more readily available to the body in much larger quantities than if you were to eat the fruits and vegetables whole.  Can be an instant shot of energy as you will absorb the nutrients within 30 minutes. 

While you can get more produce into a juice than you can a smoothie, you need to use more produce in order to get a reasonable amount of juice. 

Juicers take more time to clean, with lots of different parts.  You may need to cut up larger produce in order to fit in the shoot. Juicers can be loud!

Blending utilizes the entire fruit or vegetable, thereby including the
fiber.  Therefore, you will fill up faster and remain fuller longer.

This is the method used to create smoothies, a thicker version of juice.  Typically ice or frozen fruit is added for consistency and to keep the friction of the blender from "cooking" the food.

You may need to cut up larger produce in order for the blades to catch and blend correctly.  Best to add a little liquid as well to ease in the blending process.

A blender is very easy to clean.  Blenders can be loud!

Each method requires a different type of appliance.

Juicing: A Breville Juicer as seen in Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (Documentary focused on healing through juicing) 
Quality machine is at least $150 & up.

Blending: A high powered blender, such as a Vitamix
Vitamix starts around $349 & goes up.

Benefits of Both

Both methods help alkalize the body.  Both methods can help greens become more palatable.  Both provide a way to get more fresh veggies and fruits into your diet.  Both can be an excellent way to use up "leftover" produce at the end of the week.  Both can make you feel better, more alive, more energized!

My Personal Experience

After watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, I caught the juicing bug.  At first I craved pure, sweet, apple juice, so I went to the store and bought a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer.  Eagerly, I got my new toy home, opened the box and closed it right back up.  There was no way in hell I was going to clean that thing on a regular basis.  I diverted my attentions toward the Vitamix to make smoothies instead, because of its super easy cleaning.  My love affair with the Vitamix held my interest for a few years.  But then, I got the juicing bug again.  I wanted to check out what all the health experts were clamoring about.  This time, I took a page from Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and got a Breville Juicer.  Now, I juice sometimes and blend at other times.  I like them equally as well and at the end of the day, I'm getting my fruits & veggies in!

Sources to get you going:

Vitamix Lady
Hoff's Bulk Green Smoothie

Reboot Your Life 
Sherbert Lemonade Juice

There really is no wrong way to go, simply go with whichever method you will enjoy and stick with and there's nothing wrong with doing both!

Keep it Healthy!