Eating Vegan & Plant Based Diet

Day number six. This has not been the kindest week to be eating Vegan. Teaching cooking classes this week, these are some of the items I could not eat. Grilled Pork Tenderloin with blackberry balsamic glaze, Rosemary chocolate brownies, Grilled Flatiron Steak with my new rub, basil gelato and my favorite pizza. I have displayed a great amount of will power.

I have already tossed aside the book I was following. As you might guess, the recipes are far to bland and boring for me. So I have the general idea and well stocked kitchen to do my own creating. Positives : sleeping better, weight loss, energy and clarity. Negatives: I can’t really say there is a negative yet. So here is my creation for lunch today.

I sautéed some chickpeas with fresh rosemary, S & P and a tomato, basil, garlic seasoning.

I topped a Quinoa & Chia Seed Wrap (King Soopers) With salad greens, shredded carrots, cucumber, avocado, chickpeas, Bella’s tomato jam and Bella’s Sweet Basil dressing. Quite a tasty lunch. And I was starving today with a Saturday workout in and only drinking a greens juice this morning. So the lovely lunch wrap was devoured. I feel full and satisfied , ready to get my afternoon going.

16 days to go. I plan on sticking to the challenge and will keep you posted.

Ciao for now,

Chef Shelly

22 Days of a Plant & Vegan Based Diet

I know what you are thinking, heck I am thinking it also. I have been challenged for twenty two days to eat from a menu of nothing but vegan and plant based foods. Here’s the fun part: no wine either! If you know me, you know how difficult this will be. From being a restaurant owner, chef, instructor who loves every form of food and her wine. Hell if Beyonce’ can do it, so can I. Why am I doing this you ask? As I chef I constantly want to be challenged, and I never want to stop learning. I have many clients who are vegan and eat like this 24/7. I feel to become a better chef I should learn a little more about this sort of diet, how to prepare, how it tastes, how it makes a person feel.

I have completed the Whole 30 Program a few times, eliminating caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, sugar and processed foods. Essentially eating animal proteins, fruits and vegetables.I will tell you each time that I have completed the Whole 30, I feel better, I sleep better and I look better. The only thing; sometimes I just get tired of eating that much meat and protein.

So the first thing that I noticed this morning after shopping for my weeks worth of groceries. I purchased 12 bags of organic fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, grains, legumes, nut butters, non dairy milk & gluten free flours. Normally a weeks worth of food on the Whole 30 would cost me $200 or more. All the organic meats and plenty of them. Today my groceries for the week cost me $150.

My breakfast after the gym was oatmeal, flaxseed, almond milk, banana, blueberries & drizzle of pure maple syrup. After my work out, I flat out enjoyed this (and scarfed it down). I am not a huge eggs in the morning type person. Usually I have to force myself to eat eggs more then once or twice a week. So this was a great change for me.

My lunch was steamed quinoa, lentils cooked with carrots, onion, cumin, coriander, S & P, served over fresh spinach & arugula.Garnished with carrot sticks and diced cucumber. A little drizzle of champagne vinegar & extra virgin olive oil. Right now I am plenty full. Strange thing I am not evening thinking about a glass of wines or bubbles. I will post a photo and description of my dinner coming up later tonight. Which will be a little lighter then this lunch.

I will keep a journal of my 22 day adventure, and will be honest with my experience. If any of you think you would enjoy Plant Vegan Based Cooking Classes please let me know.

Chef Shelly

Southern Italy Culinary and Wine Tour – Summer 2016

This was absolutely one of our best trips yet! If you have not yet traveled to southern Italy – specifically Puglia – you should start planning your trip now. We had some of the best travelers from Colorado, Florida, and California. Our days were filled with fresh cheeses, local produce, the best olive oils, fine wines, family dinners, and plenty of laughter. We traveled by planes, trains, boats, and vintage Fiats to some of the most beautiful country. The people of Puglia welcomed us with open arms and beautiful hearts. Definitely a trip of a lifetime that will always bring back some amazing memories!

My Favorite Ingredients for Entertaining

My favorite ingredients for entertaining: FRIENDS, WINE, LAUGHTER, FOOD… In that order, YES. Many times I am asked what are my favorite ingredients to cook with or what my favorite recipe is for a dinner party. It really all depends on how much time you have. If I have all day to prep then I will pull out all the stops and spend hours cooking and creating. Should that be the basis of getting together with friends. Absolutely not!

Lets face it, most of us lead crazy busy lives. When I was putting in 80 hours a week running a restaurant the last thing I wanted to do on my only day off was cook. I literally just got my  a$$ kicked for a full week and did not want to fire one more saute pan. But I missed my friends and needed the social interaction. Many of you lead the same lives. Don’t short yourselves precious time with friends because you do not have time to cook. I have put together a simple Italian picnic.

IMG_2335 (2)A quick trip to WholeFoods you can purchase everything you need. Is it cheap? NO.. Is it quality food yes? Will is give you the ability to entertain and enjoy your guests? YES. The bakery section with all the fresh breads is incredible, the smell alone lured me over. I purchased a Lemon Rosemary Bread, Sourdough Parisienne & French Baguette. They all are delicious in very different ways, flavors & textures. I am a sucker for Castelvetrano Olives must have those ! One of my favorite things to do in Italy is to sit in the piazza in the afternoon and sip prosecco and enjoy the olives as I people watch. Cheese is very important, today I was in a truffle kind of mood. I picked out a Truffled Chèvre (goats milk) and a Caciotta Tartufo (sheeps milk) and a truffled ricotta. All very delicious, the truffled chèvre is soft and delicate a little buttery, the cacicotta is a little firmer in texture with a nice earthy truffle flavor and the ricotta is very fresh and easy to spread. I chose two different salami’s one a picante, but not to spicy and the other a garlic pepper, both very flavorful. And a wonderful bottle of Brunello di Montalcino produced by Piancornello, one of my favorites! Whole Foods also have wonderful Salted Caramel Chocolate bars.

I am sure your friends would not be disappointed to be invited for an al fresco picnic. You will not be disappointed that you got to enjoy glasses of wine and laughter. You do not have to cook, and you will not have much of a clean up either.

Life is short, enjoy every moment with your friends and family!

Healthy Burger

Great for lunch or dinner! Grilled bison burger. Forego the bun and top with fresh burrata cheese. I am a burrata lover and I would give up a hamburger bun any day. The rich creamy cheese on the burger was insane. I served on butter bibb lettuce with vine ripe tomatoes, red onion & avocado. Buon Appetito !

Vintage Vespa & Street Food in Saigon

If I had only one way to experience Saigon, it would be by Vintage Vespa at night! It is amazing to be chauffeured through the city by scooter just like the locals. The cool evening air, the sounds of the busy streets, the smells of food cooking.

The clams with fresh ginger, lemon grass and chile were amazing. The mussels with mint, scallions, minced peanuts and crushed pepper were ridiculously good. The snails with caramelized garlic and morning glory shoots were a pleasant surprise. When I thought I could not eat anymore, I managed to save some room for the rice pancakes with shrimp, garlic, onion and bean sprouts. The rice paper roll with star fruit, green banana, lemon grass beef was delish.

This evening was my Anthony Bourdain moment. Truly memorable.

Don’t be the “Ugly American”

One of the things that irritates me most when traveling abroad is an Ugly American. I am not sure who came up with that term but here is my definition: an American who travels abroad who does not take the time to read and educate themselves on the land and people they are going to visit; an American who is arrogant, ignorant, demanding, offensive and rude.

Yesterday we had a six hour bus ride to catch up with our River cruise. The  water level on the lake was much too low for our boat to operate so we needed to travel to a location where the water level was high. What does the Ugly American do? Complain for a solid six hours. What did I do? I was reading a book: “Surviving The Killing Fields”. I poured a glass of wine and began to educate myself on the people of Cambodia.

The people of Cambodia have suffered so many hardships. A land that has had so much war. Their family and friends murdered in front of their eyes. Never enough food on the tables, never enough fresh clean water. Land mines still exploding taking off their limbs. And yet they are the most friendly and gracious people with the most beautiful smiles.

As I sit here typing this I am in a lounge area with wi fi drinking a mimosa, enjoying my picturesque view. The Ugly American is making an ass of himself yelling at the most pleasant Cambodian because he does not have wi-fi in his room. The Ugly American cannot get off his fat ass to walk to the lounge to use the wi-fi.

If you hear on the news that an Ugly American went overboard on a River cruise in Cambodia you will know who helped toss him overboard. 😃

We all can be so much kinder to people of every race and color. If you are going to travel to a third world country educate yourself first. Don’t demand to be treated like the class level back in America, don’t tell people how much you’re worth. It’s completely irrelevant here in Cambodia.