NOTICE

Herbaceous Babe is going to be a little less regular in the days to come as the author gets launched in her professional career. Keep checking back, because there's no telling when a new post will appear!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Chap Che(?) Asian-style noodles and stir-fry anyway....

I don't mean to brag, but this is probably one of the most delicious things I've ever made....


I used to live in this community where once a week, this group of Korean ladies would show up and make dinner for everybody. It was great (who doesn't love a night off?). One of their signature dishes was fried tofu and chap che. Now, that can mean a lot of different things, as many Asian countries have their own version (jap che in Japan), but for them, it meant zucchini, summer squash, and white onion. As I write this, I suddenly can't remember if they served it with rice or noodles. But no matter.

I rarely cook Asian cuisine (or eat it, for that matter), because I don't like rice. Even rice noodles are... meh. But I had some leftover mung bean vermicelli and was feeling nostalgic. But standing in the produce section of the grocery store, instead of grabbing a summer squash, I reached for a red bell pepper. I also don't remember the last time I cooked with white onion - it's usually yellow. To choose the right onion for the job, click here.

Boil water. Chop, chop, chop. Fry in olive oil. Salt and pepper. Loads of garlic. Might have used some chili powder. Give the noodles a little bath (3-5 min), drain well, then add to the skillet. Soy sauce or liquid aminos. Bowl. Chop sticks. Enjoy. 

Seriously y'all, I feel like everything I cook contains zucchini, bell pepper, and/or tomato. But sauces. If you can figure out sauces, that is where it's at. And if someone can unlock the difference between szechuan and teriyaki, I'd be eternally grateful (seriously, I'm useless at this stuff....).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Raw Tarragon Beet Ravioli & Roasted Asparagus

Sure, I've made beet ravioli before. But I hope that in four years I've maybe learned and improved a little bit... yes? Yes.

 This week's ravioli was entirely improvised. And it turned out better than I had dared to hope.


Soak 1 cup raw cashews overnight. 

Massage asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.

Drain cashews, then cover with fresh water. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or probiotic), 1 large garlic clove, 2-3 tbsp tarragon, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Wash and peel beets, then slice thinly. Spoon cashew cream between slices.

Yields 3-4 servings.


First of all, if you have a good kitchen knife (I have the 9-inch Cutco "french chef") and decent dexterity, I recommend hand-slicing the beets. My mandoline slicer cuts unevenly and much too thick for my tastes, even on the lowest setting. But please, do not lose a finger on my account.

The raw garlic in the cashew cream really brightens the overall flavour of the dish, but not in a pungent "garlicky" way. I had actually forgotten the tarragon the first time around, and let me tell you, it balances beautifully with the garlic. Don't be afraid to mess with the lemon juice and nutritional yeast quantities either; it takes a lot to overpower the taste of cashews. Honestly, I wish I had put some fresh lemon, or at least lemon pepper, on the asparagus to tie everything together.

This dish actually passed a peer review - a dear friend who does not mince words and has been a vegan for fifteen years! I did not put this to the "carnivore test" as I had no standard-diet people to feed it to. But I'm pretty confident that if your favourite carnivore doesn't completely abhor vegetables, they might actually enjoy this one. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pasta Primavera

Google "Pasta Primavera" and you're sure to get a million varieties. The good news is it's actually default vegan. Any pasta, any combination of vegetables, sauces and herbs optional. Easy. And so very tasty.

Honestly, I was going to make chap chae (name varies country-to-country), but I had the wrong kind of onion. But I had zuchinni. I had red bell pepper. I had olives. And I had campanelle pasta. Hmm - I'd say this is a win-win. (There's always time for Asian food later.) Toss in a bit of olive oil, and Voila!

Okay, so I may have made a ridiculous amount of food for just one person. But I'm pretty sure this is going to taste just as good cold tomorrow, which is perfect for a summer lunch.



I had wanted a special noodle for date night - spaghetti is too commonplace, and farfalle is a little tacky (ironically, the pasta of choice for my first date ever). But Campanelle (literally, bellflower) was absolutely perfect for the occasion - and surprisingly easy to get just right. I used the conventional pasta, but any old GF pasta could easily suffice. Or you could turn that zucchini into noodles and throw in an extra veggie for good measure.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Orthorexia and Recovery

Let me take a minute and dispel the myth that all eating disorders stem from a desire to be thinner.

Orthorexia nervorsa: an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food.

Exhibit A: When I was in high school, almost everything my family ate was organic. At 19, I became a vegetarian because the taste of meat no longer appealed to me. By 21, I had started exhibiting signs of dairy sensitivity, with flatulence being the primary symptom (much to my roommates' chagrin). In March 2012, my digestive tract underwent a full-system shutdown, making every meal a keel-over-and-die kind of experience. It was easier to list the things I could eat rather than what I couldn't. That was when I became a gluten-free vegan, and with the help of recipes like the ones on this blog and supplements from herbdoc.com, I eventually regained the ability to eat starches and beans and acidic fruits first, then was able to get away with eggs, greek yogurt, and a little chicken or fish on occasion without any major reactions. Then by and by, I was able to return to a "normal" diet.

I was a gluten-free vegan for two and a half years. My diet was my daily prison, and salads became the bane of my existence - I have actually, literally stared at a restaurant menu and wept. There were times that even the "safe" foods would set me off. It has now been just over five years since the initial shut-down, and about two years since a meal has ended with traumatic consequences, but I still feel a bit wary when I eat sometimes.

BUT - things are finally coming full-circle! I have two amazing vegans in my life, and every time we eat together, I think about going back. I don't even like meat or eggs all that much, and dairy is really easy to replace.... Salmon. That's probably the only thing I'd miss. But I'm ready, y'all. And you get to join me once again on that journey. And this time, it's not a prison. It is an adventure in wellness.

And by the way, flexitarian is totally a thing, but a thing that requires personal discipline to maintain. It's really easy to go from "a vegan that occasionally eats animal products" to "a carnivore who sometimes eats fruit." Do what is right for your body, I'm never gonna tell you to eat a certain way just because I do. And also, being a vegan with a social life and a busy schedule is not easy. Give yourself a break sometimes - and don't sweat it.

Consume food; don't let it consume you.