Category Archives: vegan

Beat-the-Blues Banana Buckwheat

If you are following the news, you’ll know that things are tense here in Ukraine.

It is exactly times like these that make me crave carb and sugar-laden foods like mac & cheese and brownies.   For so long, I thought that was a bad thing.

But a good friend taught me to listen to these cravings; that my body probably does want certain foods, just not these processed foods.  They’re sooo tempting, but eventually leave me feeling more depressed than satisfied.

Whole foods are designed to nourish our bodies with more than just fiber and protein.  They also naturally contain nutrients that can help nourish us emotionally.

The ingredients in this recipe contain nutrients–amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fats, etc.–that have been found to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm.  Don’t we all need that?!

Beat-the-Blues Banana Buckwheat

1/2 cup of buckwheat groats
1 cup of milk or almond milk
1 banana
1/4 cup halved walnuts
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat the buckwheat and 1 cup of water in a shallow pot on low heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a frying pan on low heat (about 10 minutes or so).
Once the groats are extra tender, slice a banana into the pot.
Here comes the part where you work up an appetite and release some pent-up emotions: take a mortar and crush those little groats until they are squished.  This can take up to ten minutes, depending on your mood.  Trust me on this – it creates a really nice texture.
Take the 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon and smell it.
Savor the warm aroma.
My friend also taught me the importance of savoring a meal, even before you eat it.  She is very wise 🙂
Sprinkle the cinnamon into the buckwheat and mix.
Spoon the mixture into two bowls, pour the milk on top, and sprinkle with walnuts.
Enjoy with a friend – because we are not made to endure tough things alone.


Baba’s Borscht

When I was little,  I had a t-shirt which pictured a soup can that read, “Baba’s Borscht”.   The print had the nostalgia of an old Campbell’s soup can and the familiarity of my own heritage: I’m half Ukrainian.

My Baba (pictured above on the left) loved me, and I loved my Baba.  I also loved her perogies and borscht :-p

She died of breast cancer when I was six, and I do miss her.  Especially being here, the country in which she grew up.

I still have that t-shirt.

Baba’s Borscht

1 large beet
1 large Idaho potato
1 large carrot
1/2 Vidalia onion
1/2 small cabbage
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 lemon
1 tbsp. season salt
1 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Skin and dice the beet, potato and carrot.
Slice the onion into thin slices.
Chop the cabbage.
Put the vegetables and whole garlic clove into a pot and cover with 1/2 gallon of water.
Cook on low until vegetables are tender, approximately 30-45 minutes.
Remove from heat and add dill, salt, vinegar, tomato paste and the juice of one lemon.
Add more salt, vinegar or lemon juice to taste (the amount of these ingredients I add have been different every time I make it).
One thing that’s a constant, this soup – like many others – is even better the next day.

Persimmon Salsa

I honestly cannot remember ever trying a persimmon before I got to Ukraine.  Of course they are not native to Eastern Europe, but they can be found at virtually every outdoor produce market in Kyiv.

At perfect ripeness, persimmons are much like tomatoes: firm, but with a bit of give.  One of the great things about persimmons is that they have neither the slimy seeds of tomatoes nor the fibrous pits of mangos.  They are smooth, sweet and so refreshing!

Persimmon Salsa

1 persimmon
4 vine ripened tomatoes
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. chopped red onion
1 tsp. salt
juice from 1/2 lemon
hot sauce to taste

Peel and dice the persimmon (I eat the skin, but don’t particularly like it in the salsa).
Roughly dice the tomatoes.
Finely chop the garlic.
Combine all ingredients and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve plain as a salad, or with your favorite salsa accompaniment (pictured above over hearty brown rice).