Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Harvest Curry Soup...a fall favorite

Here is it.  Somehow, the recipe got messed up on my site and Im working on it.  In the meantime, enjoy this yummy-ness!  It's what I plan on cooking tonight!

Harvest Curry Soup
makes enough soup for 4, but if you want squash 'bowls', you'll need one for each person. 

2 Sweet Dumpling Squash (choose 2 that will sit nicely upright stem-side down)
1 medium sweet onion, sliced or coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 can light coconut milk
2 Tbsp red curry paste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the top 1/3 off of the squash so that the larger portion will sit as a bowl, stem side
down. Use a spoon to spoon the 'guts' and seeds out into a colander. Place the squash
in a casserole dish, cut-side down in about 1" of water. Bake for 35min. Remove from oven.

In a skillet with a dash of cooking oil, saute onions and garlic until fragrant.

Scoop flesh from squash into blender.  Add onions, garlic, coconut milk and curry paste.  Blend until smooth, Voila!

Top with roasted seeds (optional).



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tofu Hokey Pokey

So each year my husband and I throw a huge blowout party.  We just hosted our 8th annual Kumoniwanalaya Summer Luau complete with a (poor porky) pig roast, a DJ, dancing, pool, bartender, server, live entertainment (acoustic guy and then a fire-eater this year)....the works.  We spend an ungodly amount of money just so that we can entertain almost 100 of our closest friends and have a hell of a time in the comfort of our own home and we love every second of it.




Every year since changing my diet, although we have not abandoned the pig roast part, I use the luau as a venue to showcase my culinary skills and prove to people that dairy-free and mostly meat free food can be delicious.  This years biggest hit?  My not-at-all-vegan but 100% delicious ceviche topped the charts.  I dont have pictures, but I served said ceviche in empty and sanitized scallop shells passed around by our lovely server.


Next came one of my scariest recipes yet.  I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea and when I made it, it smelled great but watching it marinate in my fridge, I got nervous.  I even told my friends who were helping me prepare for my soiree that I had this idea for a Hawaiian favorite, tuna poke (pronounced pokey) but minus tuna, plus tofu.  While I would LOVE to serve tuna poke, lets be honest, at nearly $30 per pound, that is not a feasible option for serving about 100 people.  In addition, I wanted to create a recipe that did not involve fish since most of the food I prepared for hors d'oeuvres was in fact, seafood.  Salmon cakes with dill 'sour creme', shrimp cocktail, ceviche....tuna poke just sounded so divine, so elegant, so perfectly 'luau', I had to try to make it with tofu.

And I did.  Successfully.  And it was effing awesome.  I am not one to toot my own horn, but TOOT freaking TOOT...I surprised myself.  It was elegant, beautiful to look at and full of flavor.  While the tofu didnt fool many people, the color confused people and it was close enough for normally unwilling tofu-eaters to taste, and fall in love with.  I did not use vegan wontons, though I hear they exist.  This was meat and dairy free but the wontons I am sure had egg.

And I present you with....AHI TU-NO TOFU POKE

Ahi Tofu Poke
Makes 25-40 ahi tofu wontons depending on size

1 lb firm tofu (Not silken), drained and pressed at least a few hours
1/2 medium cucumber
3 green onions
1/3 c tamari
1 Tbsp beet juice*
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp sriracha sauce
2 Tbsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp dulse powder
1 large sheet toasted nori seaweed OR 3-4 sheets of the snack size toasted seaweed
1 package won-tons
1-2 avocados, diced
1 lime, for juice
high heat oil, for frying

Garnish
black or white sesame seeds
hoisin sauce (optional)
sriracha sauce (optional)

Dice the tofu into a small dice like the size of tuna poke.  Peel and seed the cucumber and dice that as well.  Chop green onions, white and green parts into 1/4" or smaller pieces.  Toss together in a bowl.

In a seperate bowl, whisk tamari, beet juice, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, sriracha, sesame seeds and dulse powder.

In a blender, food processor or with a mortar and pestle grind the seaweed until it is almost a powder but not quite.  Add that to the tamari mix.  Toss this marinade with your tofu mixture.

Store in an airtight, shallow dish or tupperware for 8 hours or overnight.  Turn over or toss as needed to make sure it is evening marinating.

When tofu is ready, cut wontons on the diagonal.  Sprinkle the juice of the second lime over the diced avocado and set aside. Heat about 1" oil in a skillet to medium heat.  Have tongs ready...these puppies fry up FAST.  It only takes a few seconds each.  Prepare a plate with paper towels next to the stove to drain fried wontons.

When the oil is hot, place a few wontons in the oil.  Fry them only a few seconds on each side.  As soon as they are a medium-light brown color, remove them to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

To serve, Top each crispy wonton with a small heap of the tofu poke and then with a little of the diced avocado.  Likewise, you could serve the tofu poke in a small dish with crispy wontons for dipping.

Optional: sprinkle with sesame seeds, drizzle hoisin or sriracha over it.

*Yes, I actually ran a beet through my juicer as suggested by my friend Deanna when I was running the idea by her.  This gives the tofu a reddish pink color likened to tuna.





Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pho-king Pho-nomenal Vegetarian Pho

Pho, pronounced 'fuh'...like the sound F makes, is a poplar Vietnamese soup that only made its mark in history about a century ago.  It consists of broth, rice noodles, meat and herbs.  My husband is a pho-king Pho pho-natic!  He was first introduced to it by his Vietnamese business partner and has since developed an addiction that lands him in our local Vietnamese joint at least twice a week.  Considering I do not eat a lot of meat, eating food typical of other cultures is more common for me than eating nasty ass greasy cancer causing American food.  So, I quickly jumped on the bandwagon headed straight for taste-bud heaven and began learning more about cooking southeast Asian food.

I recently became good friends with a woman who was born in Cambodia and spent her early years there, in Thailand and in the Philippines.  She is no stranger to the food of that region and came over to give me some tutorials on authentic southeast Asian cuisine.  Using her guidance, I made Pho for the first time for my hubby.  Now, I have no idea what the hell the stuff even tastes like because it is always made with oxtail and other disgusting meats....tripe anyone...ick!  I made it, he raved and I never even so much as licked the spoon.  So, I had to really wing it to attempt to veganize this one.  And, not just veganize a dish popular for its odd meat selections that I have never even tasted but also make it without....DUN DUN DUN....MSG.

Yesterday was the day I finally got to taste Pho for the first time.  The house smelled DIVINE while it was cooking but my heart was in my stomach when my Pho-natical Pho-loving husband took his first bite.  Was it good enough?  He is very critical of my food and if he does not like something, he has no qualms about showing his disgust.  Especially when it comes to a dish he knows well and eats twice a week from both the restaurant and made by his Vietnamese friends who hold tight to their culture (i.e. food).  Needless to say, I was hoping for the best while watching him slurp up his first bite of vegan Pho but expecting a harsh critique and then a lecture about how MSG just belongs in some food (Don't get me started...).

His reaction, "It's good babe! Spot on!"

Whew, I wiped the sweat from my brow and dug in to what would be my first love affair with this delicious soup.  As close to authentic as I could possibly make it, behold: VEGAN PHO.


Vegetarian Pho
serves 8

20 cups water
1/4 c tamari (or shoyu or Braggs liquid aminos)
2-3 cups dried shitake mushrooms
3 Not-Beef bouillon cubes
2 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 large onion
1 3" piece ginger root
2 garlic cloves, still in garlic 'paper'
8 whole star anise
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
1/2 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
rice noodles*

Garnishes
bean sprouts
jalenpeno slices
cilantro
basil (or thai basil)
hoisin sauce
sriracha sauce
chili garlic sauce

Turn oven to Broil.

Put 20 cups of water, tamari, dried mushrooms, bouillon, salt and sugar into a large pot.  Turn heat to high.

While that is heating up, cut onion in half and remove onion paper.  Half the ginger.  Put the onion and ginger halves cut side down onto a cookie sheet with the whole garlic cloves.  Broil about 10-15 minutes until they blacken op top.


While that is broiling, heat up a skillet to medium-high heat and toss in your spices.  Toast until fragrant, about 8 minutes on med-high heat.



When your onions/ginger/garlic are done, remove them from over and toss the onions and ginger into the pot.

When the spices are toasted, toss them into a bag from from cheesecloth along with the broiled garlic.  I was out of cheesecloth and used a nut milk bag for my spices and an S hook to keep it in my pot.


Bring pot to a boil.  If a thick foam appears on top, scoop that part off.  After the broth comes to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer and simmer 4-5 hours until your liquid is reduced by at least 1/3.

When ready to serve, bring another pot of water to a boil and cook rice noodles according to package.

TO SERVE: Place garnishes on tabletop for all to use.  Herbs, jalepenos and bean sprouts on one plate and a dish for each sauce.  Place a heap of noodles into the bottom on each serving bowl and top with broth.  About 1 to 1 1/2 cups of noodles per bowl fill each bowl with broth.

TO EAT: toss in a handful of bean sprouts and whatever herbs you like.  Jalepenos if you like it hot.  Then, put a spoonful (or more) of your favorite sauce if you like.  Hoisin for sweet and the others for spicy.

ENJOY!




*We like the pre-moistened ones from our local Asian store.  They require no cooking.  Just throw them in hot water for 10 seconds and they are done.  If you haven't familiarized yourself with your local Asian store yet, go do it!  And no two are alike!  We have 2 near us.  One owned by Koreans and one owned by Thai.  They carry a very different selection of foods each.  Go check them out!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

FOR PARENTS - How to cope and keep it healthy when your kids are surrounded by CRAP!

I can't even tell you how excited I was when YumEarth contacted me to try out some of their new products. My family depends on the products of this company on a regular basis.  Here's the thing: I have friends who have young children not in school yet who would cringe at the idea of giving their kids sweets at all.  I have others who allow their toddlers to drink Coke (ick!).  The truth is, no matter how healthy you and your family may be, your kid at some point is going to be left out unless you figure out how to 'merge' your healthy eating habits with the standard American diet of pizza and soda.   Sure, when your kids are at home all day or just in preschool some it can be easy, but when they are old enough to realize they are 'different', they can feel confused at times and it can be lonely being the ONLY kid in class who is forced to sit and stare at his classmates when Suzy's mom brings cupcakes into the class for her birthday.

For those of you parents who have not lived through these yet, you will....so learn now!

Lesson 1: It is important to constantly (without nagging!) talk about healthy options and to discuss with your young children why you choose to eat healthy and why others don't.  Having a school age child with friends who eat far differently than us allows us plenty of time to casually discuss the topic.  I have explained to her that although eating 'bad ingredients' will not usually make you sick immediately, that over time it can cause bad diseases and a weakened immune system.  I explain to my 6 year old that an immune system is the system in the body that keeps us well and helps us to not get sick, and helps heal us when we do get sick.  I have pointed out how many of her friends have 'real' food allergies and how many of them get sick far more often than we do and how much they go to the doctor.  She knows that we eat the way we do so that we don't have to go to the doctor all of the time because we heal ourselves when we can.  We have been talking about this since she was 3 and I can almost guarantee she knows more about health than any other 6 year old.  When she told the man who offered her a free sample of beef jerky at the farmers market, "No thank you, I don't eat meat", he asked where she got her protein from (SMH!), she told him exactly where she got it, eggs, tofu, veggies, fish.  The more you talk about it, the more second nature it will become.

Lesson 2: You have to understand that if you are stringent, your child will rebel.  She will drink soda at a friends house.  She will share food in the lunch room.  The trick it to allow sugar in small doses, make it organic and PROVIDE SUBSTITUTES that look like the real thing as much as possible!  

Scenario 1: Your child is invited to a friends birthday party.  There will be cake.  There may be ice cream.  There will likely be loot bags full of high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, red #40 and all sorts of other chemicals that candy companies will try to pass off as edible.



What To Do: I bake my own dairy-free, mostly organic cupcakes and I will bring one with me to the party.  If you feel the need, explain to the parent hosting the party that your child is 'allergic' or 'sensitive' to certain ingredients and you hope its ok but you brought a cupcake for your child to eat during cake time.  I once did this and the party host had purchased princess cupcakes with Disney princess rings on the top of each.  Since she had planned for my daughter to receive one of those anyhow, she allowed me to remove the ring off of one of hers and put it on top of mine.  The trick is to allow your child the same crap....but without the crap.  ;)  If the party is at a friends house who knows our diet, I will bring a pint of dairy-free ice cream.  If it is not, I will explain to my daughter that if ice cream is served, that she I will make sure she gets some as soon as we get home and I thank her for being so good and understanding.  We also privately share how much better our ice cream tastes and that keeps her sane while the other kids dig in and cover their faces with chocolate ice cream.  She would rather have our dairy-free Mint Chip or Cookie Dough anyhow.  I also will bring some YumEarth  lollipops, jelly beans and gummy bears to stash in my purse in case of a pinata or candy-filled loot bag.

Scenario 2: You go to the bank and your child is offered a lollipop by the teller.  OR You are walking your child home from school and your daughters friend who is walking with you has a lollipop and offers one to your child



What To Do: For unexpected occasions like this, I always try to keep a small stash of YumEarth lollipops in my bag.  I swear to you I am not being paid for this, lol.  They are the only brand of organic lollipop I know of that is reasonably priced and easy to find.  So, I buy them by the big bag and keep them in my purse for anytime when a situation may arise.  They also make gummy bears and peppermint candies and other sweets that are perfect to substitute for the junk your kids may be offered.  Another good brand is SurfSweets for jelly beans and sour gummy worms!

Scenario 3: Its Halloween!  Your child is dressed up with pail in hand but do you let them go collect junk?



What To Do:  Yes, I am the person on the block with pretzels, gummy snacks, organic lollipops and toys instead of the 'good' candy bars.  But, when it comes to my kids, I take them out shopping the day before to pick out a toy.  I give them a limit, like $10 and they pick out whatever toy they want.  They are not allowed to open this yet.  Then, I go to the health food store and grab a few organic fair trade chocolate bars, a couple vegan GoMaxGo candy bars (OMG Sooo freaking good!), some SurfSweets sour worms and jelly beans and YumEarth gummy bears and lollipops.  I make a small basket for each child with the toy the chose, some candy and maybe a few other small trinkets.  When they get home from trick-or-treating, they trade me!  They get to open the toy they picked out and I let them stuff their faces with some of the candy.  I throw the junk candy away because I'm a freak like that and don't want to be the person giving it to another child to eat and further contribute to any health issues.

Scenario 4: Suzy's birthday is today and her mom came into your child's classroom with cupcakes for all of the kids.  Well,. except that your kid can't have it.



What To Do: At the beginning of each school year I initiate a conference with the teacher.  I instruct them about our eating habits.  I leave them with a bag of YumEarth lollipops and a ziploc of organic cookies or sweet that my child CAN eat.  I talk to my daughter about birthdays and that this situation will happen at some point and that she can have the sweets I left with the teacher.  She and her teacher both let me know if a birthday did happen and I make sure she gets a special treat after school for being so good and understanding.  She usually picks out ice cream or we make cupcakes.  Needless to say, when my dairy free ice cream is on sale, I LOAD up and keep it stocked in the deep freezer.  I ALWAYS have ice cream and YumEarth lollipops in case of an 'emergency'.  ;)


Scenario 5: Eating Out



What To Do: Restaurants.  I had a friend who was invited for a play date at McDonald's.  Though I myself would have declined such a trashy invite, lol, she took her son.  She ordered a hamburger without the meat.  She brought along a veggie burger and slapped it on the bun before it was wrapped and tossed into a box with fries and a toy.  Her son never knew it.  At my local pizza joint, I bring them Daiya vegan cheese and they gladly make us pizzas with it.  The kids think this is the cats ass and though we don't do it often, a special night for them includes getting pizza!  At the movies, we bring our own popcorn and snacks.  Another great option for special treats is Zevia soda.  It is sweetened with stevia which has no effect on blood sugar and is delicious!

Scenario 6: School



What To Do: SNACK TIME at school.  When Addison was 3 and in preschool a few days a week they provided snack.  Cheese and crackers was the most common.  They also had a fridge/freezer there.  I baked a dozen cupcakes, iced them and froze them.  After frozen, you can wrap them in saran wrap and stuff them into a big zip lock bag.  I brought a bag of a dozen iced and frozen cupcakes to her preschool for the 'birthday scenario'.  I also bought a ton of vegan cheese slices since the other kids were eating slices american cheese, and they would give her the vegan cheese and none of the kids were the wiser.  It looked the same!  The cheese stayed in their fridge and the cupcakes stayed int heir freezer until needed.  It is important to keep an open line of communication with your child's caregiver or teacher and stress the importance of health to them. If they don't take you seriously, tell them your child gets sick if she has anything other than what you give her.  Better yet, find a good doctor that supports your lifestyle and have them write an allergy note.
A similar situation happened recently.  My daughter was invited to go to VBS with a friend.  Not knowing if there would be a snack time,. I sent her with a baggie of Annie's bunny grahams.  When she got back she was still a little upset because apparently there was a 'treasure box' and all the kids got candy too.  Next day, she was prepared with her lollipops and gummy worms.  Most of the kids were jealous of her this time!  Luckily, she is wonderful and shared with her new friends.  
Additionally, when my daughter was in K4 preschool, her class had a treasure box.  So what did I do?  Brought in a giant bag of YumEarth lollipops along with a bunch of small trinkets/favors to fill it with.  That way, there were plenty of great options for my daughter and her classmates.




When you take your health and the heath of your kids as seriously as I do it is hard to go unnoticed.  Teachers, bankers, fellow parents, everyone will start noticing.  A few may make every second together hell but for most, a little spark will be ignited.  They see how happy and healthy you and your children are and soon the recipe requests start coming.  My children lead normal lives and hang out with normal friends.  I keep a stash of healthier junk food options for them.  Can it be a pain in the ass sometimes?  Sure, but having kids is not supposed to be easy.  You are supposed to want better for them.  To keep them healthy.  To make sure they are happy.  When I got knocked up I made the decision to be the best parent I could be.  Serving them Pepsi and McDonalds does not fit that description. They deserve all that I can be and do for them.





Thursday, June 27, 2013

Juice vs. Smoothie

Maybe it's because it just seems like common sense to me or maybe it's because Im a bitch...I have lately found this topic extremely annoying.  When I was on my juice fast, people kept asking if I was using my Vitamix 'juicer'.  It appears that a large percentage of people have no idea what the difference between juice and smoothies is.

If you are one of those people, this post is for you!

Picture yourself buying juice.  At a store.  Any juice.  Got it?  Now, what does it look like?  What is the consitancy?  It is a thin liquid.  Bam!  Done.

OK.  Now picture yourself at a smoothie joint.  Smoothie King?  Something simliar?  What does the smoothie taste like?  Look like?  Feel like?  It is a thick liquid.  Often creamy made with yogurt or milk or ice if it's frozen.  Great!  We're almost done!

Juice is juice.  A smoothie is a smoothie.

A Vitamix is a blender.  A very powerful, awesome blender, but a blender nonetheless.  It does not perform magic and will not turn a pile of solid vegetables into a thin liquid.  Turning fruits and vegetables into a thin liquid, i.e. juice, requires that the solid parts of the vegetables be stripped away so that only their juice remains.

A juicer does just that!  Here is a basic run down of a Vitamix and the 2 types of juicers commonly available.

Vitamix Blender
A Vitamix is an excellent addition to any kitchen if you can afford to have one.  They cost about $400-700 depending on the model.  It has a motor that could probably power a lawnmower.  You use it to make smoothies.  You can also use it for sauces, soups, margaritas and dry ingredients like turning dry grains into flour.  If you can't afford a high end blender, other options are available.  See the image below for a chart of recommended blenders.  Buy a Vitamix HERE.
Centrifugal Juicer
A centrifugal juicer uses centrifugal force to finely grind fruits and vegetables through a mesh screen to yield juice.  The spinning motion forces the juice away from the pulp and the juice is poured into a container.  Meanwhile, the pulp is shot out of the back into another container.
Pros: Generally less expensive, faster, larger shoot to shove vegetable (means less cutting)
Cons: Not efficient with juicing greens; It is widely assumed that the heat from the juicer itself will kill the enzymes in the juice.
Recommended Juicers: Jack Lalannes is a good starter one.  I personally own this one.




Masticating Juicer
The term masticating literally means to 'chew'.  A masticating juicer, also known as a low or slow speed juicer, uses an auger that is in a tube to literally squeeze the juice from the vegetable.  Lower speed means lower heat from the machine so many people believe that a masticating juicer produces a higher quality juice.
Pros: Far more efficient juicing greens, low speed and low heat
Cons: Small shoot to insert veggies means more cutting.  So, it takes longer. Not a great idea for softer fruits like apples, pears, citrus.  The soft pulp will cause the juicer to back up.  Generally, more expensive.
Recommended Juicers: Green Star, Champion & Omega.  Mine also does wheatgrass (which other regular masticating juicers cannot do).  You can buy the one I have here.



So there you have it.  A smoothie comes from a blender.  Juice comes from a juicer.  The end.  =)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Coo Coo Ca-Croutons! (Gluten-Free!)

So I'm walking down the isle at Costco and see a ginormous bag of organic croutons.  Ingredients list proved it was dairy-free and I was smitten.  Then the better part of me took control.  I do not eat gluten-free, but I do limit gluten in most cases.  Since I am sucker for croutons (I used to eat them straight out of the bag when I was a kid), I knew if I purchased this big-enough-for-an-elephant bag of croutons, I would inevitably eat every last one of them.  And I would do it quick.  I put the bag back on the shelf and hurried to my local health food store to grab some GF bread to make my own.

Here's the great thing about GF bread.....it is absolutely perfect for making croutons!  It is dry and dense already so there is no need to use 'day old' bread.  You don't have to wait in limbo while your bread grows gray hair and attracts bugs to make your favorite salad encore!

Gluten-Free Seasoned Croutons
1 loaf GF bread
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp herbs de Provence (or a combination of your favorite herbs)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cube bread and toss into a large bowl.  Drizzle the oil over the bread and toss with the bread.  Sprinkle garlic powder around and throw in your herbs and toss again.  Spread cubed bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Check after 10 to make sure you don't have rocks.  We don't want to break our teeth on them.  Allow to cool and voila!  GF croutons!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bun: Vietnamese Noodle Salad

This is by far one of my favorite lunches.  Eating out can be hard at times.  I eat fish, but I don't eat other meats so American restaurants filled with burgers and bacon are out.  I don't eat dairy, so Italian food, which 99% of is smothered in butter and cheese, is also out.  Ma' & Pop' restaurants which are often Southern food are out.  Breakfast joints serving up biscuits and gravy and everything cooked in bacon grease is out.  BUT...take me to an Asian restaurant and I am bound to find something!  I was introduced to Bun (pronounced 'boon') at my local Vietnamese restaurant and have since been making it about once a week for lunch.  It is made of rice noodles on top of torn lettuce and veggies; Hence the term Noodle Salad.  Today, I forgot to pick up romaine and had to improvise with baby kale, but romaine or green leaf lettuce is definitely ideal since it wilts quickly.   This recipe really is easy but can be confusing if not read through entirely first.  So, get to reading!  ;)



Vietnamese Bun (Noodle Salad)
Serves 2-4 depending on portion size

1 Tbsp peanut oil (or other cooking oil)
1 12oz block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 medium yellow or white onion, sliced
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
8oz rice noodles (8oz dried)
1/4 c shelled peanuts
2 cups torn romaine or green leaf lettuce
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into match sticks
1 carrot, grated
2 green onions, cut on the diagonal (about 1")
bean sprouts
lime wedges
cilantro, mint and basil
sriracha sauce

Sauce
1/2 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c fish sauce (or soy sauce, tamari or Braggs liquid aminos for vegetarians)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha sauce (optional)

Heat oil in skillet to medium-high heat.  Cube tofu.  When oil is hot toss in the tofu and onions.  Oil should be hot enough so that tofu immediately sizzles.  Turn occasionally to cook all sides for 5 minutes.  Drizzle the hoisin sauce over the tofu and onions and continue to cook another 5-8 minutes on medium-high heat, tossing and turning until dark brown or blackish (from sauce...not from burning!) on most sides.  Remove from heat.

Cook rice noodles according to package instructions.  Or bring a pot of water to a boil, toss in dry noodles and turn heat off.

Heat a small dry skillet on medium-high heat.  Add peanuts and roast in skillet, stirring and tossing for about 5 minutes until fragrant and starting to brown.  Crush them with a mortar and pestle or you can cheat and use a small chopper (or put into a brown bag and crush with the back of a large spoon)

To make the sauce, put all sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and heat on medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.

To serve, divide lettuce up among bowls.  Top that with cucumber matchsticks and carrot shreds.  Then add your noodles and then the tofu.onion mixture.  On top of that, toss in green onions and a handful of bean sprouts.  Serve with herbs, lime wedges and sriracha sauce on the side.  Also, serve sauce on the side to pour over noodles.  The heat from the noodles and tofu and the sauce will soften the lettuce and cucumbers underneath.  Enjoy!



Monday, June 17, 2013

Dairy Free Sour Cream & Onion Dip

I am totally guilty of eating processed vegan sour cream.  I used to think it was healthier than sour cream, and maybe it is...but it is full of fat and junk.  Probably GMOs too.  This combined with the fact that prices have skyrocketed on my favorite brands of vegan sour cream led me to ditch the habit and start making my own.

I was making some yesterday when I spotted a bag of veggie chips in my pantry.  Cue my craving for chips and onion dip.  So, I did.  =)

Vegan Sour Cream
1 10.5oz block firm silken tofu (non-GMO)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 drop liquid stevia extract (or 1 tsp agave nectar)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil (canola, olive or flax)

Process tofu in a food processor, stopping to scrape down the sides, until smooth.  Add the lemon juice, vinegar, stevia and salt.  Process until smooth.  Drizzle the oil in at the end and process again until smooth.  Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Quick Onion Dip
1 recipe Vegan Sour Cream (recipe above)
2 green onions, white and green parts diced
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Eat immidiately or for best results, refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Who's Yo' Daddy?

Today is Fathers Day.  Today we celebrate those men in our lives that raised us, provided for us and threatened the lives of any teenage boy who dared to cross our path.  Those same brave men who would, years later, walk their nervous, smiling daughters down the isle to give her away to one of those former teenagers.  My dad is one of those men.



If your dad is anything like mine, he tells terrible jokes that are somehow still funny, he was your hero growing up, he likes his bourbon on the rocks and is IMPOSSIBLE TO SHOP FOR!!!  What the hell is a girl to do for Father's Day when her dad already has all the gadgets he could ever need, still has iTunes gift cards leftover from Christmas and doesn't have time to pursue and hobbies that he might enjoy had he the time?  Hell if I know!  I was stumped.  Growing up I had the same problem.  Christmas's would be the same every year.  Ritz crackers and some 'gourmet' summer sausage roll.  While I am not opposed to meat,. I refuse to buy it shoved into a casing made of stomach lining and assholes.  If a new gadget came out, I would buy that, but how many useless thingamabobbers does one man need?  I couldn't even find a decent idea on Pinterest!

This year I would make his gifts.  Two of his favorite foods: Beef jerky made from a grassfed beef top sirloin steak and No Bake Cookies.  My grandmother used to make No Bakes for my dad for special occasions.  They are his favorite and using the same popular recipe she used, I 'veganized' it to make it dairy-free.  They are delicious and I can't wait to see my dad so I can give them to him today before I eat them all myself!

No Bakes

1 c organic sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 c vegan butter
1/4 cup almond or soy milk
1/2 c organic peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 c quick cooking oats

In a saucepan on medium heat, add sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk.  Bring to a boil.  Allow to boil while stirring gently (watch out!  Sugar is HOT!) for a minute.  Turn off heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla until well incorporated.  Add oats and stir to coat.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (or the waxy side of freezer paper).  Allow them to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours.






The Long and Winding Road...my 4 day cleanse journey

June 3, 2013

Dear Diary,

Day 1 of 3 Juice Fast: Had a total of 4 glasses of juice. All in all, 1 pineapple, about 1lb carrots, 1 bunch kale, 1/2 bunch celery, few romaine leaves, 1 1/2 cucumbers, large broccoli stalk, ginger, cilantro and 1/2 lime.

Workout this morning: 45min of Zumba, followed by 20 min of Body Attack followed by 30 min of weight training. 

Got hungry in early afternoon. Drank more juice. Hunger went away. Still wanted food though...because, well....I freaking love food.

Went to another 4:30 Zumba class to get out of kitchen. Drank more juice. Got busy with feeding kids, bath time, bedtime, etc. Drank one more small glass and now for bed.

I feel fine. I want food, but I'm not hungry. Pad thai would be perfection, lol.

Modified fast: I will do a 3 day (M-W) juice fast. Thursday when I reintroduce food, it will only be 100% raw for that day. Friday I will reward my efforts with pad thai. Probably some juice also....but definitely some freaking pad thai.



My little man drinking his fresh juice. He made me share. 
(5 lg carrots, 1" ginger, 1 stalk broccoli, 1/4 pineapple)

-Don't ream my ass folks....he is NOT on a juice fast too....he just likes fresh juice! 



June 4, 2013

Dear Diary,
Juice Fast Day 2:
Woke up. Juiced kale/cucumber/celery/lemon/pineapple. Went to Zumba. 

Juiced more of the same and went to do my 'room mom' gig. It's the second to the last day of school and they had their end of the year party today. While fasting, I served a classroom full of hyper 5 & 6 year olds ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, pretzels and candy. Because I'm an awesome mom, I took the stupid little Plastic ice cream cup home before the party, emptied it, and filled it with Addison's dairy-free ice cream. This way, it looked just like the other kids so she didn't have to be the 'weird kid' in class. All that food handling and I didn't cheat.

I wanted to.

But I didn't.

I still really want pad thai.

After dropping the little sugar filled princess to dance, I juiced another glass and headed to an afternoon Zumba class. I don't normally go at this time but going in the early evening meant my husband could pick her up and feed the kids dinner so I didn't have temptation staring me in the face.

That backfired and my husband is an idiot. Ok....not so much but today, he was an idiot. For the first time he forgot to pick her up. TWO HOURS later he remembers while I'm in Zumba class. I got home first. They got home late. That meant I, again, had to serve food and get it on the table before they got home so kids could get to bed.

Juiced one more glass and now I'm in bed. Warned my husband who sometimes like to eat a late snack in bed that if I see food in our bedroom I will make him choke on it.

Still have not cheated. Worked my ass off today at the gym. Not feeling hungry but craving yummy healthy food.


I could really go for a huge salad right now. I make a mean dinner size salad and that's what I want at the moment. One more day to go and then I will stuff my face with healthy raw food.

June 5, 2013

Dear Diary,
About to start 'cooking' my raw food for Day 4 of my cleanse. And I won't even be able to lick the spoon. This is going to be torture.


Mushrooms marinating for Portobello Jerky & Kale torn and washed for Cheezy Chipotle Kale Chips. Prepping for Day 4!  Check out my Recipe Archive for the recipes!

Day 3:

Today is the last day of my juice fast! Freaking finally! I did it. I didn't cheat. I loved it and hated it at the same time. 

Results so far: lost 5lbs, extremely fatigued, craving food

Stuck it through BUT: I am a firm believer that 'protein' is a 'myth' in that as Americans, we consume far more protein than we need. The meat and dairy industry have us brainwashed and we only need a minuscule amount of the protein recommended. HOWEVER, athletes and those that do work out consistently and rigorously DO require more protein.

I work out rigorously about 10 hours a week. I never get cramps. Until the past few days. I have maintained my workout schedule for both cardio and weight training. For the first time in a long time, I got cramps and was more easily fatigued....though I roughed it out like a champ. I do not know if I would recommend someone who is very active to do a juice fast. Replacing a couple of meals with juice? Sure. But protein is needed for those of us who like to kick our own asses in the gym and I don't care how much kale I juice....my body is not happy.

I am though. While my weight was well within a normal range, I did slip up a few times (for my confessions, check out my blog in a couple of days)....I had managed to gain 7lbs. On my frame, 7lbs is a big freaking deal. We all gain weight differently and I gain weight on my hips. Love handles. Muffin tops. Ick. I lost 5 so far and I still have over 12 hours to go. Pretty confident I will be back at my normal happy weight by the time In done with this damn fast.

I have 1 more workout tomorrow morning and then I am devouring (raw) food with my good friend who traveled this short but grueling journey with me.


Dear Diary,

It's 2:40am. I've been laying awake for an hour. I can feel my heartbeat in my shallow stomach. I feel nauseous. I finally mustered the energy to get up and get a glass of water. Feeling a little better. I am a little shaky. I know these are supposed to be the hardest days of a fast but dammit I don't feel great right now. Looking forward to an early lunch when I can finally eat some delicious raw food.



June 6, 2013


Breakfast in bed!!!


OMG! I woke up 3x last night to being nauseous with cold sweats, shaking & seeing spots. I am NOT the type of person to act like a woos. I am strong and I always tough shit out. I am far too active to starve my body. I am glad I did this but for me, a fast in the future will consist of juice for breakfast and lunch and a light raw dinner. I just finished my first meal. A banana with a little bit of raw almond butter. I am feeling better already. I couldn't even get out of bed to get it because I was so light headed. My husband had to get it for me. Today is 99% raw. On the menu: kale chips, portobello jerky, spring rolls (the rice paper is the only thing not raw) & raw pad thai. VERY glad to be eating again.



CONCLUSIONS


I’m no idiot when it comes to the information out there. I also know to listen to my body. The juice I drank gave me loads of nutrients which took a bee line for my blood stream. I only did 3 days. Three days is fine for anyone interested in giving it a try. I also understand detoxing and I eat a damn healthy diet. Is it perfect? No. On birthdays I make cakes that have sugar. Sure, its organic sugar but its still sugar. I eat processed foods on rare occasions when in dire need to eat and nothing quick on hand. Those processed foods are still 'healthier' versions of their counterparts. I drink wine and liquor occasionally and to counter balance that I take milk thistle extract and juice a ton of greens. I use almost exclusively organic products on my body with a few exceptions. My diet is superior to any average person's. I know I could not have that much toxicity in me to make me feel that way. I feel like ass today. Like a gnarly hangover. I literally do work out a lot. I like to run and do Zumba and I have been increasing muscle strength and tone extensively over the past few months. My body cannot survive on juice alone.
I honestly went into this with the highest hopes and was mentally prepared for headaches, etc.  I roughed it through with a good attitude.  I bitched along the way, because, well…I like food and I like to bitch…BUT I definitely stuck it through positively.

I could feel my body crashing last night and had my husband do dinner for the kids so I could just lie in bed and not think about food.  I was fine.  Even when I awoke in the middle of the night, I stayed positive and told myself I would be fine…it was all in my head because I was just hungry.  But when I got up to walk to the bathroom I had tunnel vision, and the tunnel was full of spots.  I felt like I could barely walk.   
I have pretty good endurance and do cardio on a regular basis.  I never cramp or lose breath.  After the first day, I started getting bad cramps and had to tone down my workouts.

All in all, I will never do this again.  I do not regret it and I’m proud of myself for sticking it through.  I would recommend a 3-5 day juice fast for anyone who does not have a strenuous workout routine.  For those of us that do, however, more protein is needed.  Hence, the reason I immediately ate a banana with some raw nut butter this morning.  I felt a little better after about 10 minutes.  Still not so hot but feeling better by the minute. 
The ‘fast’ I would recommend to anyone who wanted to try it is juice all day until dinner, then have a protein packed raw meal or shake.  Include nuts and seeds into your fast and you’ll have plenty of protein.  Add coconut water to your smoothie for electrolytes.  A good protein smoothie could be kale, banana, nuts of your choice (I like Brazil), hemp seeds, vanilla, flax oil, stevia extract and coconut water.


My good friend took this journey with me.  She is a Zumba instructor and teaches 2-3 classes a day, each an hour long.  We essentially work out the same length of time each day.  We both had similar results.  Lost 6 lbs each. Started feeling fatigued last night.  I felt worse than she did this morning, but we are both exhausted and ready to eat.  She is currently at the store picking up some fresh ingredients for our feast today!  

New Recipe prepared for today:

Curry Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
3/4 c cashews, soaked and rinsed
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 clove garic
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp tamari or liquid aminos
1 tsp raw honey (or agave for vegan) n
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 c water

Tear the leafy parts of the kale from the stems and save the stems for another use (juicing!).  Toss leafy parts into a large bowl.  Blend all ingredients except for the kale together until smooth.  Massage curry 'paste' into kale chips.  Lay kale out on 2 dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 104 degrees for about 12 hours or until crispy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RESULTS & CONCLUSIONS

I’m no idiot when it comes to the information out there. I also know to listen to my body. The juice I drank gave me loads of nutrients which took a bee line for my blood stream. I only did 3 days. Three days is fine for anyone interested in giving it a try. 

I also understand detoxing and I eat a damn healthy diet. Is it perfect? No. On birthdays I make cakes that have sugar. Sure, its organic sugar but its still sugar. I eat processed foods on rare occasions when in dire need to eat and nothing quick on hand. Those processed foods are still 'healthier' versions of their counterparts. I drink wine and liquor occasionally and to counter balance that I take milk thistle extract and juice a ton of greens. I use almost exclusively organic products on my body with a few exceptions. My diet is superior to any average person's. I know I could not have that much toxicity in me to make me feel that way. I feel like ass today. Like a gnarly hangover. I literally do work out a lot. I like to run and do Zumba and I have been increasing muscle strength and tone extensively over the past few months. My body cannot survive on juice alone.

I honestly went into this with the highest hopes and was mentally prepared for headaches, etc.  I roughed it through with a good attitude.  I bitched along the way, because, well…I like food and I like to bitch…BUT I definitely stuck it through positively.

I could feel my body crashing last night and had my husband do dinner for the kids so I could just lie in bed and not think about food.  I was fine.  Even when I awoke in the middle of the night, I stayed positive and told myself I would be fine…it was all in my head because I was just hungry.  But when I got up to walk to the bathroom I had tunnel vision, and the tunnel was full of spots.  I felt like I could barely walk.   

I have pretty good endurance and do cardio on a regular basis.  I never cramp or lose breath.  After the first day, I started getting bad cramps and had to tone down my workouts.

All in all, I will never do this again while continuing my workout routine.  I do not regret it and I’m proud of myself for sticking it through.  I would recommend a 3-5 day juice fast for anyone who does not have a strenuous workout routine.  For those of us that do, however, more protein and food is needed.  Hence, the reason I immediately ate a banana with some raw nut butter this morning.  I felt a little better after about 10 minutes.  Still not so hot but feeling better by the minute. 

The ‘fast’ I would recommend to anyone who wanted to try it is juice all day until dinner, then have a protein packed raw meal or shake.  Include nuts and seeds into your fast and you’ll have plenty of protein.  Add coconut water to your smoothie for electrolytes.  A good protein smoothie could be kale, banana, nuts of your choice (I like Brazil), hemp seeds, vanilla, flax oil, stevia extract and coconut water.

*Also, I am a firm believer that as Americans, we consume eons more protein than necessary.  I am only preaching protein now for those like me, that work out rigorously.  






Monday, May 27, 2013

How to Recycle a K-Cup

People think I'm crazy but I totally do this.  As I've said before, I drink very little coffee.  I can't say the same for my husband.  He drinks a cup every morning when he wakes up.  I am a freak about throwing things out. Not in the weirdo hoarder sense, but in the sense that I hate the idea that anything I throw into my trash receptacle goes into a giant hole in the ground.  We have limited space on this earth and it bothers the living shit out of me how so many people just throw stuff away without even the smallest attempt to recycle, reuse or re-purpose anything.

Just like when a tenant moves out of one of my rental properties, it is their duty as a renter to leave the property in the same or better condition than it was when they took possession of it; It is our responsibility as decent human beings to leave this earth in the same or better condition for our future generations.

I started breathing this planets air over 31 years ago and unfortunately, I won't be able to leave this earth in better condition.  I can do my part though.  This is one of the dumb things I do so that every stupid K-cup my husband uses.

A K-cup Deconstructed


A K-cup has 4 parts.  Sometimes 5.  

Peel off the foil.  Rinse and Recycle.  
Pour the coffee grounds into a bowl.  Reuse.*
Tear out the paper filter.  Toss it in your Compost.
You are left with the plastic cup.  Recycle.

Use these ideas at Mother Nature Network to reuse your coffee grounds.  I pour the grounds into a tall plastic cup and take it into the shower with me.  I use them to exfoliate.  They are suppose to work magic on cellulite too!  The caffeine in it is known to tighten skin, so I use them daily in the shower!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Copycat Starbucks Frappuccino (Shhhh....it's Sugar-Free!)

Tired of spending five freaking dollars for a damn frozen coffee?  But can't seem to perfect it at home?  I've been there.  The ice dilutes the coffee, the coffee doesn't taste right, the ratios are all wrong....yada yada yada.  I started drinking Starbucks years ago almost daily.  When I changed my diet, I was thrilled when they started making dairy-free frappuccinos.  I would drink the caramel ones until I realized the caramel drizzle (despite what one uninformed barista told me) was dairy based.  So, I started getting the cafe vanilla.  Well, that's made with syrup.  Guess what? That syrup?  Artificial crap.  So, I got a regular.  Then I found out each tall sized frappuccino has freaking 3 TABLESPOONS of SUGAR!!  Holy crap!  Wait....let me say that again....THREE FREAKING TABLESPOONS OF SUGAR!  Humor me....go get your sugar out.  Now measure three tablespoons onto a plate.  Yep...that's what you consume when you drink a single mother-lovin frappuccino.  Ugghh...  Instead, use stevia extract.  I'm not a fan of the powdered crap.  The powdered stevia has a funny taste to me.  Go buy this stuff now if you don't have it.  Either go to your local health food store or buy it here.  It's fricking amazing.  It's not cheap, but a little goes a LONG way.  So, really....that little bottle will last a LONG time!

I limit sugar in my diet and even when I do use it, it's organic sugar.  Starbucks surely isn't using that.  So, how could I make a similar frozen coffee that wasn't loaded with sugar, artificial cancer causing bullshit and didn't get watered down when I blended it?  It took a little while, but after my sister got me my mini espresso maker, I have finally made something that satisfies the occasional craving for a frozen treat.

Go buy yourself one of these high-tech el-cheapo espresso contraptions and make you one!  For a single or double shot, this little thing is amazing.  I always thought I needed some big expensive machine that took up valuable real estate on my kitchen counter to make a stupid shot of espresso.  Not true!  This handy little gadget is easy, quick and awesome.  

If you are not familiar with this thing, let me give you the quick run-through.  This picture is terrible and was taken with my phone, but bear with me.  OK.....so it unscrews into 3 parts.  The part on the far left you fill with water.  Then you put the middle part in and pour in your ground espresso (which is just finely ground coffee.  Go to your local grocer and in the coffee aisle they usually have a coffee grinder that you can set to 'espresso').  Screw on the top part with the handle and sit it on the stove on medium-high heat until you hear it starting to bubble out a little.  Thats it.  Turn off heat and you're done!

The water steams up through the grounds and ends up as espresso in the top of your handy little thingamabob.

Sugar-Free Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino

1/2 c espresso, fresh and then cooled to room temperature
1/2 c non-dairy vanilla creamer (or use another flavor!  Regular?  Hazelnut? Whatever strikes your fancy!)
3/4 c ice
4 drops liquid stevia extract
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)

Blend and you are done!  You can top with a non-dairy whip cream and a caramel drizzle if you want to make it even more unhealthy, lol.  (But sooooo good!!)  See recipe below.



Caramel Drizzle Syrup
The caramel sauce recipe is perfect as a coffee or ice cream topping!  Considering this is far from healthy due to the high sugar content, just use the damn vegan butter too.  Don't eat a lot of this at once!

2 Tbsp vegan butter (optional)
1 c organic brown sugar
1/2 c non-dairy creamer
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Do not scorch.  When butter is melted, add the brown sugar and non-dairy creamer.  Whisk slowly for 5 minutes.  If mixture starts to bubble too much, turn heat to medium-low.  Sugar gets HOT when heated, so don't let it bubble up and splash you!  After 5 minutes, add the vanilla and stir to incorporate.  Remove from heat.  Mixture will thicken as it sits.  Pour into a re-purposed plastic squeeze bottle when cool and keep in the fridge.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What am I? Chopped Liver?

No!  Not chopped liver, a nice healthy liver!  Well, a nice one that takes some minor abuse but a healthy one that bounces back stronger each time!  

A reader asks: "...I was wondering if you had any ideas (or can point me in the right direction) on how to cleanse and detox your liver?"


I drink.  And when I say I drink, I mean a weekend is not a weekend unless margaritas are involved.  ;)  That said, I am VERY careful about what things I put into my body to 'counter-balance' the minor harm a Saturday night may cause.  Is it the healthiest option I could make?  Hell no; but here is a short list of things I do to keep my liver functioning properly.

1.  Juice leafy greens (mixed with fruits to make it palatable).   Kale is among my favorite.  See the recipe below for Liver Detox Juice which consists of fruits and veggies known for being nice to the liver.

2.  Green smoothies.  Instead of juicing, you can throw a bunch of crap in a blender and voila!  Instant healthy goodness!  (see my favorite green smoothie recipe below that incorporates baby kale, an uber-healthy addition that your liver will love!)

2.  Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeine at least mostly.  Alcohol and caffeine are both rough on the liver.  Since I have chosen my poison, I avoid the other...mostly.  I choose organic margaritas and wine, so I drink very little caffeine.  

3.  Take raw garlic.  This is Uh-mazing stuff.  It does wonders for your immune system, your liver and tons of other areas of your body.  To take raw garlic, chop up a raw clove into pill-size pieces.  Swallow like a pill.  Do it several times daily!

4.  Dry Brush.  Dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system which can increase the ability for the liver to cleanse itself.  First, you purchase a dry skin brush and each morning, first thing after rolling out of bed, dry brush.  The rule of thumb is to start at your feet and brush your whole entire body in upward or circular motions towards the heart.  

5.  Milk Thistle.  You can purchase Milk Thistle extract at your local health food store or online.  Follow the recommended dosing instructions on the bottle.  Milk Thistle is a miracle liver formula.  Made from the thistle of a flowering plant in the daisy family, it is not made of dairy like many would assume.  It is a well known liver detoxifier.

6.  Turmeric.  Again, like garlic, another SUPERfood!  Turmeric will benefit you in a million ways and cleansing your liver is just one of them.  Sprinkle is on freshly popped popcorn, put it in hummus, add it to sauces and smoothies, sprinkle it on edamame...just consume it however you must!  Remember: nutrients and such are better when they come straight from the source...not from over produced supplements.  You can also buy turmeric root at an Indian store or a health food store and juice it!



Megan's Favorite Green Smoothie

1 medium organic  banana
2 handfuls organic baby kale
1 Tbsp flax oil
1 Tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 drops stevia extract
dash cinnamon
dash turmeric

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend on high for about 20-30 seconds until smooth.



Liver Detox Juice (use organic ingredients)

1 grapefruit (peel removed)
1 beet
1 carrot
1 apple
1/2 bunch kale
1/4 lemon (peel also)

Juice all ingredients together.  Stir and enjoy.  To boost the liver cleansing abilities of this juice, add in the recommended dose of milk thistle extract.