Category Archives: Etc.

Jose Beans: The Ultimate Comfort Food

The best thing about dating my boyfriend, is getting to spend a lot of quality time with his awesome roommate! I can’t believe I spent 24 years of my life sans the wonderful Jose. Rarely do we call him Jose however. Instead we know him as Jose B (pronounced hose bee). The nickname stems from the most hilarious joke: “What did Jose’s mother name his brother? hose b! (get it?! you know like jos A and jos B! oh man it tickles me every time.) Jose B is a delightful ball of wit and sarcasm and he just generally brings a little bit of sunshine to my life. On top of all this, he is a really good cook and one of his go-to family recipes has quickly shot to the very top of my comfort food list. It’s a soupy bean concoction that has come to be known as Jose Beans (say “hose” beans.) The recipe comes from Jose B’s Puerto Rican family. I bug Jose B to make them for me so often that finally he insisted I start making them for myself. He dictated the recipe to me and now I automatically fill up on pinto beans at Nature Mart in preparation for my weekly fix.

This is not a crazy, outrageous new way to make beans. It just happens to be a perfect storm of delicious ingredients. They’re kind of like the mac ‘n’ cheese of Puerto Rico. The cilantro is key. If you don’t have fresh cilantro, just don’t even bother making these. I usually serve these beans over brown rice but half the time I just end up eating it like a soup.

Jose Beans (hose beans)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 good handful of fresh cilantro
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 eight oz. can of tomato sauce
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
2 cans of pinto beans, or about 1 cup dried pinto beans soaked overnight
a couple shakes of garlic powder
sliced jalapeno pepper, for garnish

Put the garlic, bell pepper, cilantro, and onion in a food processor and blend until you’ve got an even mixture of minced veggies. This is called Puerto Rican sofrito. Add sofrito, tomato sauce, cumin, and coriander to a sauce pan and saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Shake some garlic powder into the pot. Add pinto beans and one or two tomato-sauce-cans-full of water to the pot, depending on how soupy or thick you want your beans. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer for 25 minutes or so. Plate and garnish with slices of jalapeno pepper.


Super Simple Mexican Black Bean Soup

I am soup crazy. At work, I often skip the cereal and smoothies and have soup for breakfast. Black bean soup is one of my all time faves, mostly because you just can’t beat the creaminess that results from blending the beans, and it’s very healthy to boot! Black beans are a crazy good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber among other nutritious properties.

This recipe is basic but delicious and only has a tiny iota of fat. I used canned beans here (only because I had them after “borrowing” them from work) but you should used dried beans if you can because they are way cheaper and it’s far better for the environment due to the lack of processing and packaging. If you do use dried beans, be sure to soak them overnight beforehand. I do always, however, make use of canned enchilada sauce. The enchilada sauce is used as an easy alternative to using all the tomatoes, spices, etc. that makes other recipes for black bean soup more time intensive. Just make sure to get a brand that doesn’t use weird chemical coloring or HFCS. I usually use Las Palmas brand which can be found in the Mexican section of any regular grocery store. For extra texture you can add corn kernals but personally I think this is the best recipe for the ultimate velvety mouthfeel.

Super Simple Mexican Black Bean Soup
1 yellow onion, roughly diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly diced
2 tsp. cumin
2 cans organic black beans
1 ten ounce can enchilada sauce
2 cubes vegetable bouillon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Line a large sauce pan with a thin layer of water. Add onion, garlic, and cumin to pot and saute over medium heat, until onions soften, about 4-6 minutes. Add black beans and one can full of water. Add enchilada sauce, bouillon, and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Use a stick blender to puree soup to the texture you desire. If you don’t own a stick blender of course you can pour the soup into your regular blender but that is a major pain in the ass, just invest in a twenty dollar stick blender already! It is a required tool in the arsenal of any avid soup maker.

Humphrey Yogart in Sherman Oaks

Summer may almost be over but that doesn’t mean my seasonal hankering for milkshakes has subsided. Like clockwork, when May dwindles down and June is approaching, I start craving milkshakes like a tween craves a romantic evening with a Jonas brother. This yen isn’t really a problem when I’m at home and can make a quick trip to Scoops to sate me but it’s a different story when I’m at my boyfriend’s place in the Valley.

The only options I was aware of for a cold, creamy, dairy-free treat west of La Brea are Ice Pan and Millions of Milkshakes, both of which are too far from the bf’s. I contemplated making my own milkshakes with coconut milk ice cream and rice milk from the Studio City Whole Foods, but having an entire carton of ice cream in the freezer is far too dangerous for me–I have been known to tell myself that I should just polish off the whole carton in order to avoid eating it the rest of the week–does that make sense? No, it does not at all, but my ice-cream-obsessed brain is far from logical.

After doing some hardcore research, I came across Humphrey Yogart (sic–get it? because what they do with yogurt is like art?!) in Sherman Oaks and off I went. You will not find a plethora of vegan options at Humphrey like you might at Millions of Milkshakes or Ice Pan, but what you will find is a vegan, soy-based milkshake base and many vegan mix-ins. These mix-ins range from various types of fruits to espresso syrup and carob chips.

So far, I haven’t been able to venture far from my usual combo: the soy base with Oreos. Occasionally I have chocolate syrup added as well (I have been assured multiple times by different employees that the syrup is vegan.) The result is a super-creamy, tasty and refreshing vegan milkshake! My only complaint is that I like my milkshakes to have some chunks in them but I am told they can’t control this so they just sprinkle some cookie bits on the top for me. I really don’t get it–can’t they just stop the blender a little sooner to preserve some intact Oreos??? They always insist they can’t, so it’s smooth milkshakes for me. But no worries, I will still continue to suck these bad babies down.

Humphrey also stocks all sorts of weird health foods including a lot of vegan cookies, cereals, and granola bars. One of my fave finds is Nutlettes cereal. I’ve never tried them but I dare you to find a cereal with a more hilarious moniker.

Humphrey Yogart is in fact art to those of use whose milkshake habit is impeded by the lack of vegan milkshakeries in L.A. Get your tush over there pronto!

EDIT: Foodeater at To Live and Eat in L.A. told me that when she went to Humphrey a while ago the soy base contained whey, making it not vegan. I went back and read the ingredients and there was no whey or any other dairy product. Nay to Humphrey for originally serving non-vegan food to vegans, but yay for remedying the problem.

Humphrey Yogart

4574 Van Nuys Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Hello loyal readers,

I have been completely M.I.A. for a while and I apologize! I basically have no excuse other than being busy at work and having the social calendar of a turn-of-the-century debutante (read: I am just extremely popular, what can I say?) I am typing this hurriedly because I am off to catch a flight to Boston where I will be wreaking havoc for the next week, but I promise that as soon as I come back I will be uber-blogging and even trying to sneak in a little redesign!

Adios for now!!!

Now Tweeting

I’ve finally taken the plunge and joined the twitterverse.  There’s nothing exciting there yet–I still don’t exactly get how it works.  But be my twitter friend.  Is that even what it’s called?!  

The Biggest Loser loses.

The Biggest Loser is really getting on my last nerve.  The product placement and questionable nutrition advice is getting completely out of control.

The BL has always been one giant commercial for various processed foods and 24 hour fitness but each season the segues from actual content into advertising has become increasingly ridiculous.  Last week I was horrified when trainer Bob excited his team with an advanced copy of the Marley and Me DVD.  He then used that little mention as an excuse to talk about how to not eat popcorn when you go to the movies.  It was just the most nonsensical, blatant product placement in the history of television. At least the other product placement is somewhat related to health.  It doesn’t help that this season, the show has expanded to a two hour format.  When you spend 2 of your 4 precious hours between getting from from work and going to bed watching a show, it would be nice if 40% of it wasn’t hidden advertisements.

The show has always been a big fan of totally processed, chemically enhanced food but I am increasingly finding it too much to take when every episode contestants are opting to chew Extra sugar-free (and chemical-full) gum instead of having say, an apple, for a snack.  I also cringe at the point in every episode when the contestants are heading to Subway, having challenges in a Subway, or (my personal favorite from last night’s episode), gathering up their Subway packaging for the trash as they head to the gym.  Hope you enjoyed that 300 calorie sandwich and its antibiotic-filled processed meat!

It’s a good thing I watched last night’s episode alone because there was one segment that made me want to get up and punch someone in the face.  In this particularly irritating bit, trainer Jillian extols the benefits of drinking milk to contestant Helen.  She then recommends drinking at least 3 glasses of milk a day.  I cannot imagine any educated nutritionist recommending anyone drink three glasses of milk a day–especially someone who is trying to lose wait.  Ok wait a minute, I take that back.  This is the good ole U.S. of A where we are indoctrinated with milk propaganda from birth, so there are definitely a number of health professionals who choose to ignore the massive amount of scientific evidence pointing to milk’s many adverse health effects.  But it just seems like such a huge disservice, if not an injustice, to have the dairy lobby buying air time to sneak crazy unproven “factoids” about milk to The Biggest Loser’s 10.2 million viewers.

But here’s the kicker.  Having started my career in reality t.v., I know a number of people that currently work on or have worked on The Biggest Loser and it just so happens that Jillian Michaels is vegan.  Now Jillian is a big animal lover so maybe she couldn’t care less about the nutritional aspects of veganism and is only in it for anti-cruelty reasons, but it still sent me into a blind rage seeing her sitting there talking about milk like its the Mother Teresa of beverages when she won’t go near the stuff herself.  As if her carnie based diet books weren’t hypocritical enough.

Sigh.  I am already completely immersed in the plot twists and turns of Season 7 (I know I wasn’t the only one sobbing hysterically when Mikey’s brother broke down after seeing his newly fit family!) so I would be lying if I said I was going to start boycotting the show.  But I might not start watching the next season.  The Biggest Loser might help inspire people to lose weight but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are helping them be healthy and it’s getting too damn frustrating to watch.

How vegans can enjoy Girl Scout cookie season

Ok, I know it’s only January, but I am fairly positive that I have already found my favorite recipe of 2009. Drum roll please. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumclang! It’s this homemade version of the Thin Mint a.k.a. the best cookie in the world.

That’s right folks, girl scout cookie season is upon us and here are are some reasons why you should make your own instead of shelling out $4.50 per box:

1) Girl scout cookies infamously use a ton of packaging. No need to destroy the Earth anymore than is necessary!

2) Like 99% of mass produced foodstuffs, girl scout cookies contain all sorts of weird ingredients such as TBHQ which has been shown to cause tumors in lab rats (although to be fair, what hasn’t been proven to cause cancer in those little furry buggers???). Not to mention milk which may be a problem for you if you are a vegan, which if you are reading this blog, you may very well be.

3) The girl scouts actually only get 50 cents per box sold. So why not just donate 5 bucks to your favorite troop instead. For that matter, why not donate 5 bucks to a worthier cause. Girl scouts don’t really need your money to go on fancy vacations–which is what my troop always did with our funds.

Now you may be reading this post and remembering that I am on a detox which means I really have no business making chocolate cookies dipped in even more chocolate. Ahhh yes, it’s true. I did take a little break from the detox to make these, but only because I HAD to. You see, Kirby Von Scrumptious and her boy toy Joe were awesome enough to watch my beloved doggie while I hit the slopes in Mammoth earlier this month, and I absolutely had to give her a little token of my appreciation. You see? Making these cookies was an absolute necessity . Of course, half way through the baking process I remembered that Kirby was also doing the detox. Doh! Luckily, as any girl scout knows, thin mints are best enjoyed straight out of the freezer, so these babies will last a long time, as in they will be there for when the detox ends. The Von Scrumpster, knowing my love of toy cameras, also got me this awesome fisheye camera for Christmas which I used to record my Mammoth trip. Don’t you wish Kirby was your BFF too???

Back to les cookies: to veganize the recipe I simply used Earth Balance in place of butter and soy milk in place of dairy. When I first tasted the dough I thought the peppermint was too overpowering, however, after baking and then being dipped in chocolate, I think next time I will actually pump the peppermint extract up from 3/4 tsp. to a whole teaspoon. I also tried using less butter in the chocolate dip portion of the recipe as, although the coating is completely delish, it does taste a bit buttery. However, you really need the butter to make the chocolate be the right consistency. These cookies at bottom are ones where I didn’t thin the chocolate enough and you can see they are pretty gloppy and unpretty. Next time I will experiment thinning with soy milk instead of Earth Balance for a subtler taste.

101 Cookbooks also has a recipe for thin mints that would be easily veganizable. I might try this recipe next time (although that won’t be for many months as these cookies ended up SERIOUSLY comprising my diet) however Heidi has the peppermint oil in the coating and not in the cookie which is just plain inaccurate so I will have to remedy that 🙂

I highly recommend you making these, unless of course you aren’t willing to pack on a few pounds in the name of sheer tasty pleasure.