4.13.14 Vegetative State

Rice salad 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
I know a true vegetative state is no joke, but I couldn't resist this as the title for my current vegan existence. On day 12 of the Spring Detox/Cleanse, I am more than halfway through and I can officially say that this has not been about feeling limited or deprived. If anything, I have noticed how comparatively little food I need to feel nourished and full, and that is without consciously trying to reduce my intake. Although the cleanse calls for three meals a day—with the last one being a simple bowl of soup—G and I have mostly been satisfied with just two. I think this is because we eat our biggest meal of the day somewhere between 3pm and 5pm, something I doubt we'll sustain as it's just not that practical given our work schedule and our desire to socialize with others. Come Friday, I tend to like a cocktail, but have been content with my latest obsession of coconut vinegar with seltzer. Cinnamon tea and the occasional medjool date have been enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. As for some of the vegan dishes I've been enjoying (already previewed on Instagram @LauraSilverman), please read on...
Hijiki 790 xxx
seafood diet
Doing the cleanse with my health coach has meant a lot of built-in support, not only from Sara but from the dozen or so people also participating in this group event. We have our own Facebook page where we kvetch and offer each other compassion, tips and recipes. It's been interesting to see how many of us have been experiencing similar side-effects and emotions. With all the buffering booze, sugar, cheese, French fries and steak out of the way, there's plenty to contend with. Of course I've channeled some of my pathologically perfectionist tendencies right into making "the best" vegan meals, but it's also been a positive opportunity for experimentation, curiosity and creativity. Plenty of what I've learned will be staying with me long after this cleanse is over.

Cooking with seaweed has been on my list for a long time, in no small part because of its nutritional value (high in calcium, potassium, iodine and antioxidants; read more here) but also for its varied flavors. Kombu, the giant kelp that imparts umami flavor, is always in my pantry, and I love ordering hijiki at Japanese restaurants. I had a small bag of this dried seaweed in my cupboard from the last time I went to Mitsuwa and from that to the finished dish were just a few simple steps—barely any cooking involved. You just rehydrate the hijiki in a little warm water and mix it with some carrot slivers tenderized in warm sesame oil. The resulting salad can be eaten warm or cold, tasting of the sea and the earth.
Raw chip 790 xxx
dust in the wind
I got a new mandoline, which I am still trying to figure out how to use (must they make these things so complicated?!), but I did manage to shave thin slivers of parsnip which I tossed with freshly grated horseradish, nutritional yeast, olive oil and salt before baking in a hot oven.
Parnsip chips 790 xxx
when the chips are down
They were actually a bit too thin, as you can see by their darkened edges, and they did not retain their crunch for very long, but they were still pretty delicious. I look forward to experimenting more with vegetables chips and I have no fear of frying. Stay tuned.
Onion soup 790 xxx
cuppa soup
There was this delicious soup, made by caramelizing a whole mess of onions, shallots, leeks and garlic. I added vegetable stock, which I have been keeping in steady rotation (celery, carrots, onion, parsley and whatever bits and bobs are around), simmered it with a few spices (caraway, coriander, pepper), and then pureed it into a rich, creamy consistency. I served it garnished with microgreens and croutons, made with oven-dried leftover cubes of this steamed bread.
Congee 790 xxx
rice, rice, baby
Breakfast has been smoothies for the most part, but cold mornings can call for something a bit more soothing. Congee made with wild rice, basmati rice and dried shiitake mushrooms hits the spot, especially with a garnish of scallions and toasted sesame oil. Never had congee? It's a thick, comforting porridge made by cooking rice until it falls apart and lets you have your way with it.
Avocado mayo 790 xxx
green goddess
Another revelation has been this vivid green "mayo"—a quick puree of ripe avocado, fresh lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and a little rice milk (this gives it the right movement and texture). As much as I love mayonnaise, Kewpie may have a new rival. Not familiar with nutritional yeast, the vegetarian's friend? You'll love its savory, faintly cheesy flavor. Read more about it here.
Patty 790 xxx
it's what's for dinner
I've been trying out vegetarian patties—not exactly "burgers" because we don't eat buns—with some success. They taste good, but the texture tends to be quite soft. I refrigerate them for a couple of hours before cooking and that allows them to hold their shape in the skillet, but they're not quite as dense and chewy as I might like. I made one version with quinoa, curried squash and sweet potato; the one above is made with Bhutanese red rice and mushrooms. (The same rice that's pictured in the very top photo, eaten cold as a salad with radishes and greens.) Served with avocado mayo, parsnip chips and a salad of radicchio and fresh grapefruit, no one left the table hungry. And no one was carted away in a food coma either.

Hijiki (Seaweed Salad)

serves 2-4
  • — 1/2 cup dried hijiki seaweed
  • — 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
  • — 1/2 cup julienned carrot
  • — 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • — 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • — 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse hijiki thoroughly, then drain and place in a bowl with 1/2 cup warm water. Soak for 15-30 minutes.

In a small skillet, heat sesame oil over medium-low heat, then sauté carrots until tender, about 10 minutes. Add hijiki, rice vinegar, salt and pepper to the carrots and heat through.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and add another drizzle of sesame oil. Serve warm or at room temp.

Download recipe  Download Recipe

Avocado Mayo (vegan)

makes a generous cup
  • — 1 ripe avocado
  • — 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • — 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • — 2 teaspoons almond, rice or hemp milk
  • — 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • — 1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Peel, pit and dice avocado. Combine with remaining ingredients in a food processor and purée until silky smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


do you make house calls?????
marilee on April 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm —
I love all the photos of this journey.
Sara on April 17, 2014 at 7:47 pm —
Ah, a voice from the wilderness! Thank you, thank you...
laura on April 17, 2014 at 8:05 pm —
I have just been making fake bacon with lettuce and tomato and avocado smear lately and just love it....I might have to try your mayo since you have already turned me on to nutritional yeast!
Diane on April 30, 2014 at 10:28 am —
That mayo looks delicious. I can't wait to try it! And who would've thought to use rice milk? Genius. www.sarahjaihelee.com
Sarah on May 22, 2014 at 1:27 am —