Sunday, November 29, 2009

Soul Food Sunday Episode One: Tempeh Chili con Frijoles

"I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants."
- AW Brown

So it begins! The inaugural post of Soul Food Sunday. I want to thank everyone for posting their requests, and I assure you I will post about each and every one of them. Everyone had great stuff and I want to talk about all of it...but alas, I had to choose one. SO, I put each suggestion in a hat and today's recipe will be...drum roll please....CHILI!!

Though the weather was beautiful in San Francisco today, we are definitely staring down the barrel at many cold, wintry days in the near future. Chili has always been a favorite of mine and evokes memories of Sundays at my parents house when my mom would make her spicy chili with cheezy tortilla chips. YUM!

When I became more focused on my heath and decided to go vegan, I knew I would have some trouble finding a chili that lived up to my fond memories of home. I came across many delicious recipes, but I have to say that I recently found one that tops them all! It is a little different than most chili recipes you come across, but I promise you it is about as delicious as they come. I know tempeh may be a little foreign to a lot of you, but I promise you won't find a better or healthier meat substitute. Plus, tell me what's more fun than cooking with beer? Come on!

It may look like a lot of work, but it provides you multiple meals and isn't finicky at all. Enjoy and remember, if you have any questions about any of this, feel free to leave me a comment!

Tempeh Chili con Frijoles by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
prep time: 15 minutes | cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes | makes 6-8

A hearty, luscious and flavorful chili, brimming with the goodness of tempeh and rounded out with the greatness of beer. I like to serve it with a mound of guacamole and thick slices of cornbread. Some finely chopped red onions sprinkled over the top wouldn't hurt either.

Large pot with a lid
Large frying pan

1 package (8 oz) tempeh, diced medium
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
1 green bell pepper, diced medium
1 large carrot, diced small
3 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Couple of generous dashes fresh black pepper
15 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 cup good dark beer
1 8-oz can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water or veg broth
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped (about a cup, lightly packed)

In a large pot, cook onions and green bell pepper over med-high heat, until tender and a little brown (15-20 minutes) stirring occasionally.

At the same time, put tempeh in a large frying pan and fill with water until it is almost covered. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce and let simmer over high heat for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed, stirring occassionally. When water is mostly absorbed, mash tempeh with a fork, so it's crumbly but still chunky. Lower heat to medium and add 2 teaspoons olive oil , saute for 15 more minutes.

At this point, the twenty minutes for your veggies should be up. Add garlic and saute one minute, then add salt and spices (except cilantro, you add that last) and saute a minute more. Add beer and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, beans and water. Your tempeh should be done cooking so add that as well. Lower heat to medium, stir it up and cover for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 30 more minutes stirring occasionally. Add maple syrup, lemon juice and stir it up. Add cilantro. Serve!

Fun Food Facts:

Garlic: Garlic, nicknamed “the stinking rose” because of its pungent aroma, has many health benefits. Garlic has been proven to be extremely good for heart health for a number of reasons. One of these reasons is that eating garlic relaxes the blood vessels because of the production of nitric oxide. In addition, garlic is very anti-inflammatory, which helps prevent severe asthma attacks and can help people with the pain from rheumatoid arthritis. (

Onions: Onions are rich in powerful sulfur-containing compounds that provide many of their health-promoting effects. Onions are very rich in chromium, which helps cells respond to insulin. Studies have shown that regular consumption of onions can lead to lower glucose levels, lower cholesteral and lower blood pressure. (

Tomatoes: One of the most talked about benefits of tomatoes comes from the carotenoid lycopene. Lycopene from tomatoes has been found to be protective against colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Ketchup is a popular product used by Americans to receive lycopene’s cancer fighting qualities. A little know fact is that organic ketchup delivers three times as much of the cancer-fighting carotenoid, lycopene, as non-organic brands. (

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Battle Raps, Treaties, and MJ...oh my!

"The Union of Concerned Scientists says the Bush administration manipulates and suppresses science. The administration points out that the Union of Bought and Paid for Scientists disagrees."

There has been all kinds of hullabaloo in and around the blogosphere about COP15. I have received no less that 5 emails, all from well meaning friends and newsletters trying to let me know what the problem is and what I should do. Not to say that I don't want to be aware...this stuff is totally my bag!!

An integral part of my holistic health is how we fit into the big, networks, technology, government, and the natural environment (The Lower Right Quadrant for all you Wilber-ites out there).

How do we fit into the natural environment? What does that even mean?! Most of us put our cans and paper products into the blue bin, turn off our water whilst brushing our teeth, and do a number of other things to help save mother earth. Personally, anytime I think of saving the earth, I flash back to singing Michael Jackson's "We Are The World" in my grade school gym....complete with hand movements and a hand-holding sing-along at the end...oh yeah...(p.s. what is with Bruce Sprinsteen's face???!!!)

Well, to go back to the big question: What is the problem and what should I do?! COP15 is the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. (No wonder they say COP15...what a moutful!) Basically, it is the annual conference about the treaty signed over a decade ago intended to reduce global warming and combat the effects of climate change. Ever heard of the Kyoto Protocol? (Come on, Social Studies!) We're talking a legally-binding international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As can be expected, there has been some controversy about COP15 including whether or not global warming actually exists (what?!) and how the economies of the big countries will be affected by stricter regulation, among other things.

Now, we should talk about what to're out of luck because I'm not going to give you an answer. Pretty much because I don't HAVE an answer. :) HOWEVER, I can say one thing...inform yourself. This stuff may seem way out there, but it does affect you. Don't worry, I have something for you. Instead of a recipe, I'm leaving you with something you can thank me for later ;)...oh yes, its a battle rap...with Al Gore...WHAT?!?!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Soul-Food Sunday" Needs Suggestions

I have a proposition to make....

I think we should take the idea of what healthy food should look like and throw it out the window. How about this: all of you out there in cyberspace tell me what unhealthy comfort foods are your favorites, and I'll try and health-ify it for you. This Sunday will mark the first of (hopefully) many "Soul-Food Sundays".

Leave me comments and we'll see if we can make this work!


I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something.
- Mitch Hedberg

A typical day in the life of 21 year old Sarah looked like this:

Wake up after 4 or 5 hours of sleep. Drink obscene amounts of coffee to get the day started. Maintain my energy level throughout the day with Red Bull. Go to work, class, random fast food place, class again. Meet friends for drinks until way too late. Sleep and repeat.

What 21 year old Sarah didn't know that 25 year old Sarah is all too aware of is that kind of lifestyle takes its toll. Basically, if I had tried to create the perfect conditions for my body to develop dysglycemia, I couldn't have done a better job. Let me tell you, I never do anything halfway!

GET READY for the science-y paragraph! I know what all of you are DYING to know:
What exactly is dysglycemia? Well, since you asked I guess I'll tell you. Dysglycemia is defined as disturbed blood sugar regulation. Abnormal blood sugar regulation occurs when the blood sugar is raised too quickly and too often. This wears out the regulatory systems to the point that any stimulation can cause too drastic or too little response from the necessary systems. Symptoms are exhaustion, forgetfulness, nervousness, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, sweating and temper tantrums, and irritability to name a few. Sounds like the most fun you've ever had, right? To sum it up, this is what most people refer to as low blood sugar.

The perfect storm of simple carbohydrates (alcohol, bread and fast food) and stimulants (copious amounts of coffee and red bull) creates generation after generation of college-trained, carb-loaded sugar junkies. Basically, generations of people with dysglecmia. Now the kicker...what does untreated dysglycemia lead to? Oh, a little thing call
Type 2 Diabetes. No wonder so many people are developing it. We have pretty much created the best training ground ever in college!

Now for the fun part.
How do you treat dysglycemia? Well, by balancing your blood sugar with delicious food! If only everything in life was solved by eating something delicious...the most important things to remember when figuring out what to eat are:
  • High in Fiber: - Fiber is like a sponge in your gut that soaks up fat and sugar. Since fiber is harder to digest, it slows down how fast sugars are metabolized and how fast they affect your blood sugar levels
  • Low in Sugar: Sorry, sugar-free Red Bull doesn't cut it! Stick with natural sugars like fruits that have a good amount of fiber like apples and raspberries. A great resource to figure this out is
  • Get that Protein: Protein acts a blood stabilizer so eat small servings of high quality proteins throughout the day...McDonlads hamburgers don't count, sorry! Good sources are eggs and almonds.
Don't stress about it!! Just remember that you are what you eat, so choose the best stuff you can. I like to think I'm a plate of seasonal veggies with a side of homemade chocolate almond cookies...but that's just me. :)

Quinoa Broccoli Pilaf with Tamari Almonds by Sarah McKay
Serves 4
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 1/4 cup water 1 medium onion, diced
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3/4 cup almonds
3 Tablespoons tamari
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 cups broccoli
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon ginger juice
1. Heat a large saute pan on medium-low. Add toasted sesame oil and diced onions. Sprinkle with salt and saute until translucent.
2. Meanwhile, toast almonds in a saute pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium high and add tamari. Saute until tamari evaporates. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add garlic to onion and saute until fragrant. Add in mushrooms and saute for 4 minutes.
4. Turn heat up to medium-high and pour in vegetable stock. Add broccoli, cover and steam for 8 minutes or until tender.
5. Take pan off heat and stir in ginger juice, quinoa and nutritional yeast. Mix until combined and serve hot!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Its The Most Recycle-able Time of the Year

"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice."
- Dave Barry

Who needs one more thing...I mean, really? AND who has money to buy one more thing this year? I know I sure don't! This will be my first Christmas EVER that I have been a full-time student and my Christmas gifts will show a good way. My lack of funds has forced me to reevaluate how I celebrate the holidays.

Chew on this for a while: According to Earth911, gift wrap became popular in the U.S. in the 1900s, and it is now a $2.6 billion industry. In addition, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons - it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills ( WHAAAAT?! I knew it was bad, but 1 million tons a WEEK. Wowza...

I thought that with my bank account looking a bit grim and my commitment to being ecofriendly it would be much harder to go all out this year. Boy, was I wrong! With a little imagination and a lot of salt, I will be able to give some gifts that are good for my family AND eco-friendly. Thanks to The Girlie Girl Army blog, I have a fantastic recipe for a DIY salt scrub. The GGA blog suggests going to the thrift store and finding fun bottles to package your salts in. I personally find that any old funky canisters or spice holders make great reusable containers for home made bath salt. Whatever you use, you'll feel good knowing that you are doing right by your family and by mother earth. Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!

½ cup Sea Salt, Sugar, or Coffee (yep, any of the three would work)
4 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
¼ cup Baking Soda
5-6 drops of Essential oil (Organic, of course!)

Mix everything in a bowl and consider yourself done!

No More Sickbed Blues

I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.
- Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, 1903

Fall is here! The crisp air has arrived and it makes me think of the seasons changing in Ohio. I am a mid-western girl born and bred, and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed waking up to the first crisp fall morning. It meant the return of football saturdays, hot apple cider, and cute fall fashions. It has been an adjustment to live in San Francisco, where it could change from fall to summer and back again in the same week!

One thing that seems to be on everyone's mind right now is seasonal illnesses. Tis the season for everything from an annoying head cold to a full-on flu attack, H1N1 style. My boyfriend has already suffered through one pretty raging cold, and I've been getting lots of questions from family/friends about immune-boosting recipes and illness-avoiding tips.

Whenever people ask me the first thing I say is MINERAL BROTH! Drink it for breakfast, put it in soups, or use it to saute veggies...whatever you want to do with this amazing broth will work. Mineral broths are a great way to keep your body hydrated and receiving all of the nutrients it needs to thrive. Broths can be used as a way to avoid getting sick in addition to being a good way to build your system back up during or after illness. Luckily, the wonderful author if The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and One Bite at a Time Rebecca Katz, has come up with a delectable mineral broth recipe that is chock full of nutrients. Enjoy!

Magic Mineral Broth by Rebecca Katz
Cut the following four ingredients into large chunks:
6 unpeeled carrots
2 unpeeled medium yellow onions
1 leek, both white and green parts
1 bunch celery including the heart
4 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
1/2 bunch flat leaf Italian parsley
4 medium red potatoes, quartered with skins on
2 Japanese yam or Hannah’s or 2 sweet potatoes, quartered with skins on
1 Garnet yam, quartered with skin on
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 (six inch by one inch) strip of Kombu
2 bay leaves
12 peppercorns
4 whole allspice or juniper berries

In a 12-quart stockpot, combine all ingredients. Fill the pot to two inches below the rim with water, cover and bring to a boil.
Remove lid, decrease heat to low, and simmer a minimum of two hours. As the stock simmers some water will evaporate; add more if vegetables begin to peek out. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted.
Strain stock using a large-mesh strainer (remember a heat resistant container underneath)
Bring to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Makes 6 to 7 quarts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


"Mama, take this badge off of me
I can't use it anymore.
It's gettin' dark, too dark for me to see
I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door."
- "Knocking on Heaven's Door", Bob Dylan

I am beginning my journey into the world of blogging! After my health bottomed-out, I realized the same old was not working for me. So, after completely changing my lifestyle and moving across these United States, here I am in the Bay Area! 8 months later, with one Natural Chef certification and one quarter of my Masters in Holistic Education under my belt, I am trying to live my life to the fullest in every way.

I am venturing into this online forum to talk about hot issues in holistic health, recipes that taste DELICIOUS in addition to making you feel good, and other musings of the day. I am excited to experiment, make mistakes, and discover things that a truly amazing together.

Let's do this!