Tag Archives: vegetarian

Extra Extra, Read ALL About It!

Extra Extra, Read ALL About It!

Hello EARTHCANDY readers!


It’s been a while, I know, but I just HAD to share something with you!

This morning I woke up to the release of my interview with Frugivore Magazine, a magazine for men and women looking for a fresh approach to fitness and healthy living.

Take a look and support Frugivore Magazine. Hey; YOU may even have something well worth contributing to their publication!

Ciao! 🙂




Around The World (in one ear)


This morning I got a call from my dear girlfriend who is in ATL for a few weeks. She called wanting to know if I would prepare some raw/live meals for her, since she’s striving to incorporate more of it into her eating regimen. As we planned menus, she segues into the raw and vegan foods she’s experienced around the globe.

Now when I tell you this woman is a globetrotter, she is a GLOBE-TROTTER! I affectionately call her “Carmen Sandiego” (hee-hee).

I revealed my own upcoming travel plans with her, and it was as if I opened up a Pandora’s Box filled with travel information. Nevermind the Travel Channel or Happy Cow Vegetarian Guide of the World, she is my personal resource. I swear, she should publish a book or organize a lecture tour to share her amazing stories.

Jewels of advice were given to me about how to maximize travel plans, what to do in certain countries, how to take the road less travelled, different therapeutic sanctuaries, where to eat, and most importantly, where to SLEEP! Her motto is, “Don’t book; just look.” Meaning, don’t settle for just any restaurant or hotel/bungalow that you’re not comfortable with just because you’re a foreigner and not certain of other options.

Easier said than done, eh?

For instance, she tells a story of being in southern Thailand and looking for room and board on the beach. She goes into one hostel which was less than desirable for anybody’s standards. So she declines, leaves, walks DIRECTLY next door only to discover heaven-on-earth. This second location featured beautiful bungalows with windows for walls over looking the Gulf of Siam, plush white linens for the bed, draped with mosquito netting, as well as necessities: insect repellent, a flashlight, etc. Lovely!

Here’s a pocket-size guide of resources, for the less ‘intuitive’ travelers:

Happy Cow– an amazing resource for globetrotting vegetarians/vegans. (I was kidding earlier in my post).

Matador Travel– worldwide community of passionate travelers

Travel Blogs– stories, advice and the internet’s BEST travel blogs (sadly, my girlfriend’s hasn’t come to fruition…yet).

Couch Surfing– an official guide to staying with a ‘local’ as a guest in their home, sharing hospitality and cultural understanding

As she continued with her amazing travel stories- including one about walking into (literally) being on “India’s Top Chef” in Udaipur, Rajasthan-I began daydreaming about the places I too will visit…

*cue dream sequence*

(just insert my face in place of Janet’s) 🙂



I can bet my bottom dollar that there isn’t ONE person alive who has NOT eaten rice in any form or fashion. With over 7,000 varieties of rice grown around the world, that would be impossible!  From the long grain rice of the Americas to the fragrant Basmati rice from India, rice is a staple found in the cuisine of almost every continent.. In Asia, for example, it provides 50 to 80 percent of people’s daily meals, and you know Asia is chock full o’ people! If you think about it, that’s a lotta rice…

rice paddy in Bali, Indonesia

It’s actually a seed of the monocot plant, with the second-highest worldwide production, after corn. The traditional method for cultivating rice is flooding the fields while, or after, setting the young seedlings. Cultivation is well-suited to countries and regions with low labor costs and high rainfall, as it is labor-intensive to produce and requires ample water. Rice can be grown practically anywhere, even on a steep hill or mountain (rice plantations are called paddies). Although its parent species are native to South Asia and certain parts of Africa, centuries of trade and exportation have made it commonplace worldwide.

Personally, growing up with a mother from Santo Domingo means I ate rice…….every SINGLE day of my childhood life!  West Indians are serious about rice! I was always eating beef and rice, chicken and rice (a.k.a arroz con pollo- my pre-vegan days) peas and rice, RICE and rice…(just kidding). Seriously, if rice WASN’T featured on my dinner plate, it was certainly a “stop-the-press” moment 🙂 At least I enjoyed eating it. Shoot, who am I fooling; I LOOOOVE eating rice! Unfortnately, my children didn’t let me carry on Nana’s tradition by feeding them rice everyday. Oh well; more for me!

*smh* Moving along…

sticky rice w/mango

Rice is also an excellent food to include in a balanced diet. Being low in fat, it is suitable to eat for people watching their

weight. All rice is gluten free too, making it the optimal choice for people who cannot tolerate wheat, barley, rye and oats.

Rice (the grain AND in noodle form) can be dressed up with any seasoning or used as a bed for sauces or cooked vegetables. It’s amazing how spices, nuts, dried fruits and herbs also transform rice into extraordinary meals. Additionally, desserts such as rice pudding and sticky rice with mango can display rice’s ‘sweeter’ side. Rice is even processed into milk for those who are lactose intolerant or simply choose not to partake in animal’s milk.

Here’s a description of a few select grains:

(l to r) long grain, basmati, arborio, wild, jasmine

  • Long Grain Rice – This is a standard rice, usually sold white but available as a whole grain or “brown”. This is one of the most popular forms of rice in the Americas and suitable for serving with dishes such as chilli, paella and pilaf. All in all long grain rice is a pretty plain rice.
  • Basmati Rice – Basmati rice is a great accompaniment for Indian food. The rice is fragrant and has a shorter cooking time than that of long grain rice. It’s starchier than other rices, so it should be rinsed several times until the water runs clear. Use Basmati rice to serve alongside curry, or other South Asian dishes.
  • Arborio Rice – These are small pellet sized rice grains and used to make the famous Mediterranean classic Risotto. Risotto rice is extremely moisture absorbent, a creamy texture is achieved by slowly adding water and constantly stirring, about 25 minutes preparation. Risotto rice can be coloured yellow with the addition of saffron or turmeric.
  • Wild Rice – Not technically a rice, rather the product of an aquatic grass native to the Great Lakes. Wild rice has a fantastic nutty flavour and armour, the rice also adds a great colour to the plate. For best effect, consider mixing wild rice with a long grain rice to add colour. Wild Rice has a long cooking time, typically 35-40 minutes.
  • Jasmine Rice – Another fragrant rice similar to that of Basmati rice but with a milder flavor and is used in South East Asian cuisines such as Thai and Malaysian cookery.
  • (Storage tip: To keep rice indefinitely, store uncooked rice in an airtight container in a cool dry place).


    Here’s my recipe for Vietnamese ‘FRESH-to-LIFE’  Rolls© (from the forthcoming cookbook CULTURE CLASHglobally-inspired recipes by EARTHCANDY GOURMET VEGAN CUISINE):

    (serves 3 as an appetizer, or 2 really, really hefty snackers)

    Vietnamese "FRESH-to-LIFE" Rolls

    *9 rice paper rounds (bánh tráng)-available at Asian markets or check the int’l aisle in your supermarket

    *1 cup of any or all of the following fresh herbs: thai basil, mint, cilantro (I like to use mostly cilantro, with a smidge of mint)

    *2 cups mix baby field greens

    *1 cup carrots, shredded

    *1 cup beets, peeled and shredded

    *1 cup fresh bean sprouts

    *3 stalks scallions, cut into 3″ lengths

    Soak a sheet of rice paper in a large shallow dish of warm water for about 15 seconds, or until pliable, then drain well and set aside on a clean, flat work station. CAUTION: The rice paper rounds are fairly delicate once they’re soaked and softened for use, so be prepared to tear a few in the process of wrapping before you really get the hang of it.

    Place a portion of the fresh herbs among softened rice-paper sheets, arranging in line across lower third of each sheet and leaving 1-inch border on each end. Top with a portion of the greens, carrots, beets, sprouts and scallions. Fold bottom of each rice sheet over filling, then fold in ends and roll into a tight cylinder. Before serving, cut each roll in half diagonally to display the beautiful array of colors within!

    ***Once you’ve figured out exactly how much filling your wrappers can handle, making the rolls is a breeze***

    Try dipping it in my  SOY-GINGER DIPPING SAUCE:

    *1/3 cup rice vinegar         *1/4 cup soy sauce              * 1 Tbsp water                *1 tbsp palm sugar

    *1 tsp each: fresh ginger (peeled & chopped)/ fresh garlic (peeled and chopped)/ scallion (chopped)

    *In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together well, making sure sugar dissolves. Add slices of chili on top for garnish and extra spice!

    (Note: Rolls and sauce can be made 4 hours ahead and chilled. Cover the rolls with damp paper towels and then plastic wrap).


    Rice is not limited to eating. It’s also used in ceremonies. At weddings, rice is thrown at the new bride and groom after the ceremony. (That tradition has since changed to save the birds’ from choking on the grains, but it’s worth the mention). The custom originated with the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of fertility and good wishes for a bountiful life. Many Asian festivals are centered around rice harvest time and whole villages gather to sing, dance and offer prayers. At a housewarming puja (Hindu for ceremony) I attended, uncooked rice grains were placed in each corner of the home, symbolizing and ensuring everlasting wealth and abundance for the homeowner.

    Here’s a list of other vegetarian rice recipes to try, as well as a fun and educational activity for you to play to cure world hunger-one grain at a time!

    Vegan Vittles Anywhere…


    Contrary to popular belief, being vegan does not have to limit your “dining out”-scapades.  You can dine just about anywhere in your city and enjoy a delicious vegan meal. In fact, most restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian friendly choices on their menus. Even if you don’t see any pre-fab options on the menu, you can often VEGANIZE what they do have. Heck, I do it ALLLL the time! No matter where I go, I can browse the menu, and with a little creativity, create my own personal “heaven on a plate”. My family and friends know this and often come to me for dining advice.

    Here, I’ve put together a few tips for ordering “vegan” when dining out.


    vegetable pakoras w-tamarind chutney

    Indian cuisine has extensive veggie offerings. There are even strictly vegetarian Indian restaurants around. Try ordering samosa, pakora and masala dhosa or rice dishes with daal (lentils), potatoes, okra, eggplant and more. Vegans, watch out for the words PANEER (cheese), RAITA (yogurt sauce) and GHEE (a clarified butter made from cow’s milk). Everything else is all good!


    You can pretty much count on Asian restaurants to have vegetable dishes, and you can even find bean curd (tofu) as well. In Atlanta, try GreenSprout‘s completely veggie menu (they’ll even omit eggs upon request).

    veggie sushi

    veggie sushi

    The same goes for Japanese cuisine. I go to RuSans (not as much as my daughter, but that’s a different story.) Order the Inari Maki -a roll filled with tofu, and vegetable tempura maki – a rolled filled with different veggies like asparagus, onion, zucchini and carrot that are deep fried. Don’t forget a side of seaweed salad 🙂

    satay tofu

    satay tofu

    chow fun

    chow fun

    Southeast Asian cuisine (Thailand/Malaysia), in my opinion, is the “southern food” of Asia! I could go on and on about the combinations of flavors and ingredients. In ATL, try PENANG Malaysian restaurant and order the Satay Tofu w-peanut sauce. On menus where they offer CHOW FUN (wide, flat rice noodle) dishes with beef, just ask to replace the meat with tofu or vegetables.



    At Thai restaurants, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s a coconut soup. It’s sometimes offered with chicken; just ask to omit it. However, do check to see if the soup is made with chicken broth (a TOTAL dealbreaker). There will almost always be vegetable spring rolls, fresh rolls – fresh raw veggies swathed in rice paper wrappers- and papaya salad (often prepared with fish sauce and shrimp paste, but again, just ask them to omit it).


    mexican food

    mexican food

    Comida de Mexicana es muy delicioso tambien! Funny, I gauge how good the food is at Mexican restaurants by how much I like their chips & salsa (my guilty addiction).  My top ATL choice is Nuevo Laredo Cantina. They even have a dedicated “vegetariano” section on the menu. Try ordering the BURRITO FRIJOLE sin queso y crema (cheese & sour cream) to “veganize” it. It comes served with the most flavorful rice w-tomato sauce on top. Some Mexican restaurants prepare their beans with lard (pork fat) so be sure to ask!

    ***East Africa/Middle East***

    There are also some unique dining experiences you can have in Ethiopian and Middle Eastern restaurants.

    vegetarian combo from an Ethiopian restaurant

    vegetarian combo from an Ethiopian restaurant

    Ethiopian restaurants always offer a veggie combo which consists of various lentils (wots), stewed greens (alicha), cabbage and potatoes and a salad of jalapeno, lettuce, onion and tomato. This is all served on a plate of injera (traditional Ethiopian flatbread). Take a friend or 4, as dining is communal. You eat from a big plate placed in the middle of the table with your HANDS! Make sure you use the right hand, as the left is deemed for less sanitary purposes :-/. It’s inexpensive, filling, and super-tasty! Don’t hesitate to dig into the injera plate after eating the veggies on top. A personal favorite is California Mart Ethiopian in ATL.

    (clockwise): dolmas, hummus, tabouli, falafel, babaghanoush

    (clockwise): dolmas, hummus, tabouli, falafel, babaghanoush

    Common and popular dishes in Middle Eastern culture—like falafel (chickpea patty), tahini (sesame sauce), tabbouleh (bulgur salad), and hummus are naturally VEGAN! No “tweaking” necessary. Other tasty options that are usually vegan are dolmas (or stuffed grape leaves) and lentil soup. I enjoy Lawrence’s Cafe on Buford Highway.








    Last, but certainly not least is vittles from the Caribbean. Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Spanish, British, French, Indian and Chinese cuisine. Rice and peas (or peas and rice)  is the mainstay across all the islands, with a variety of spices and sauces to accompany it.  From Trinidad’s doubles, Jamaica’s ITAL options like roti (a thin split pea flatbread that encases curry stews) and callaloo(a Jamaican “spinach”, if you will), to Dominican Republic’s platano maduros (sweet plantains), dining at a Caribbean restaurant should be pain-free.  Negril Caribbean Cafe in ATL is veggie/vegan-friendly, and has a mean bbq tofu platter w-rice & peas and veggies of your choice.

    So there you have it. Ok, all this advice has gotten ME hungry 🙂 Gotta go…..Happy Eating!