Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Flavors Abound!

I can't say this enough.  I love, love, love Fall!  It's really my favorite season for produce and for cooking and baking.  In the summer I never want to be in the kitchen, especially when it's 90 degrees and I have a sad air conditioner that sucks up energy.  But now that Fall is here, there's a crisp coolness in the air and delicious vegetables to be had, which just says to me, "time to cook!"  Since the weather has taken a turn, I have definitely been slacking in my running and outdoor activities, and I have taken refuge in my kitchen.  (That should make my marathon next weekend rather interesting...)  Anyway, I went a little nuts last weekend with the cooking.  Now that I'm actually in town on the weekends, I have time to cook my meals for the week again!  As always, I left the Farmer's Market with far too many vegetables.  Everything just looks so good!  I can't help myself!  My friends and boyfriend definitely aren't complaining by any means.  :-)  I may be going a little overboard with the Butternut Squash, but I plan on making some fun things with that in the near future, so keep a lookout.  Although, just plain roasted squash is still my absolute favorite!

Soups up!  So my go-to Fall meals are always soups.  I love them!  They're savory, deliciously warming, and absolutely easy to make.  Win, win and win!  The broccoli and potatoes are so beautiful right now, so you must make this soup: Broccoli Potato Soup with Fresh Herbs.  Simple flavors team up to provide a light, but filling soup.  If you like your soups chunky (I do) then you can just blend half of it, or make a soup more reminiscent of cream of broccoli by blending the whole thing.  Whatever toots your horn!  I think this soup will always be one of my favorites, because it was the first soup I ever made.  Not only the first soup as a vegan, but the first soup EVER!  (I'm not counting the soups, that you get from a can or a box...come on now!)  I was so proud of myself when I pulled it off.  The only thing is the the original recipe calls for fresh mint, and I say OMIT!  Yuck!  I hated the mint in there.  Just the dill is perfect.  This recipe is taken from Veganomicon by Isa and Terry.

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (I usually use 1T)
1 medium-size onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 cloves garlic (double it!)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups vegetable stock, or 4 cups veggie stock plus 2 cups water
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (I don't peel mine, you're prerogative)
4 cups chopped broccoli, including the stalks: chop them into thin slices, and the tops into small florets
1/4 cup fresh dill

Heat a soup pot over medium heat.  Saute the onion in the live oil for 5-7 minutes, until softened.  Add the garlic, tarragon, black pepper, and salt, and cook for 1 more minute.  Pour in the vegetable stock and add the potatoes.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the broccoli and cook for 15 more minutes.

Use an immersion blender to blend about one-third of the soup.  Transfer back to the soup.  Add the fresh dill and let the soup sit for about 10 minutes to let the flavors meld.  Serve!

I paired this soup with some Pumpkin Cheddar Biscuits, which are to die for!!  I knew the recipe sounded good when I opened up my VegNews this last month, but they are even better!  They are a perfect pairing for sopping up soups or gravies.  I will definitely be making these for any future holiday events, or just for whatever!  They were a hit at the Packer party I went to yesterday, for sure!

Makes 8 large or 16 small biscuits

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup soy milk
1 cup flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons vegan margarine
3/4 canned pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar and soy milk.  Set aside and allow the mixture to curdle.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, pastry flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in cheese, coating shreds with flour so that they don't clump together.  Add margarine, and use a pastry cutter to break up the margarine and cheese shreds until course crumbs form.

To soy milk mixture, add pumpkin and whisk until well combined.  Pour mixture into dry ingredients.  Use a spoon to mix until a dough forms, and then continue mixing with clean hands until just combined.  Do not overmix,

On a liberally floured surface, pat dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Using a biscuit cutter (about 3 inches in diameter) (or just the top of a juice glass, which is what I use), lightly press into the dough to cut out a circle, and then gently lift the cutter back up, without twisting.  Continue until all the dough has been cut into biscuits.

Carefully place the cut biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Warm Blanket.

Ah Autumn.  It kind of took me by surprise, but now I'm settling into it's crisp air and welcoming all its harvest with open...mouth!  I don't know about you, but Autumn happens to be my favorite season.  Not just for the beautiful foliage, crisp air and holidays all about food, but because of it's gorgeous harvest!  Nothing quite beats a crisp Sweet Tango or Honeycrisp apple, a juicy Bartlett Pear, a sweet and savory roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato, delightful pumpkin spiced treats, or hot apple cider...the list goes on and on.  I know it's Fall when I walk away from the Farmer's Market with several Butternut Squashes in tow.  This is hands down my favorite fall vegetable.  I'm not picky either.  I don't like to mess with a good thing, so I just cube it, add salt and pepper and a little olive oil, and roast it.  Done!  So simple and so delicious.  Some people will use this as a side...psssh.  Side?  Try a meal.  I will sit down and eat an entire squash for dinner.  No joke.  And at 60 calories for a cup uncooked squash?  Mow down guilt free!  
Isa was not kidding when she wrote that roasted Butternut Squash is like a warm blanket on a wet Autumn day.  Seeing as Sunday was just that, I felt it necessary to roast some up.  You might want to write down these complicated instructions...

Purchase beautiful Butternut Squash.  Look for ones without blemishes.  Preheat oven to 375.  Cut up your squash into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes.  How do you cut it up?  Cut the neck from the bulbous portion.  Peel.  Cut horizontally along the neck.  Same to the bulb.  Scoop out seeds.  Cube.  Spray a cookie sheet. Spread squash evenly so that the cubes aren't touching, otherwise it won't carmelize.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper.  Pop in the oven for 45 minutes, flipping the squash every 15 minutes.  Serve hot!  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sweet Tango!

Perhaps you're one of the few who haven't made the journey up to Door County.  Yes, it's touristy, but it's so beautiful and there's an abundance of delicious spots that it's definitely worth the trip.  I was lucky enough to make a trip up there with my mother this past weekend.  It had been ages since I spent some time alone with my mom, so I was really looking forward to this.  We were originally supposed to go to Chicago (oh Chicago Diner, how I miss  you!), but Door County was a nice substitute.  We went to Egg Harbor, Fish Creek and Bailey's Harbor.  There was a really cute natural foods store called Greens and Grains in Egg Harbor.  I had actually been to this store last year to buy my food for camping at Peninsula State Park.  They have a good variety of vegan grocery items, and they also have a little juice bar and various to-go items like hummus, wraps and sandwiches.  I was disappointed that their tortillas actually have honey in them and the woman didn't know if their ciabatta bread was vegan.  She didn't have any package for them either.  After I explained what vegan was she assured me, "I'm sure there's nothing like that in this bread.  We special order it."  Well, I didn't really like the sound of it, but since most ciabatta bread that I've come across has been vegan, I just went ahead and ordered it.  Okay, okay.  I know a lot of vegans would chastise me for this, but I think we need to look at what is most important here.  Their sandwich, (w/o cheese) has a vegan burger patty, organic greens and Vegenaise.  They are supporting veganism with their various grocery items and their raw juices and smoothies.  Personally, I think it's more important to support a business like this that is making veganism more accessible than to stress over a microscopic animal ingredient in the bread that may or may not be there.  The important thing is that we do the best we can to minimize the suffering in the world.  This is something that I've just come to terms with recently, actually.  I don't typically do this, nor am I making it a habit, but in this one instance I did.  In all of Door County, this was the only store that used local, organic, and natural ingredients with vegan options.  At least, this was the only place that came up on the Happy Cow website.  I let the woman know I was vegan and what it meant, so perhaps they'll be more mindful of that in the future.  I do still feel guilty about it, but I know that it was a good decision to support this business.

Okay, done with the rant.  Attached to Greens and Grain is an eco-friendly clothing store and salon.  There's some really cool handmade jewelry in there as well as organic cotton shirts, tops, pants, and accessories.  I ended up walking away with a handmade necklace made up of two flowers pressed in glass.

Just down the road from the main row of shops in downtown Egg Harbor, you'll come across Wood Orchard Market.  This is a family owned fruit farm.  It might not be organic, but at least it's small and local.  This farm is known for their Honeycrisp apples, but I was ecstatic to find that they had Sweet Tangos!!  If you haven't had a Sweet Tango yet, then go out and find one immediately!  I only have 5 left, and I'll take you out if you try to take one!  :-P  The Sweet Tango is a new variety that was developed last year at the University of Minnesota.  It's a cross between Honeycrisp (mom) and a Zestar (dad), and it's absolute heaven!  Sweet Tangos are a little earlier to mature than the Honeycrisp, so they are in this September!  Look out, though, because they are in limited supply, with very few locations!  I have NOT been able to find any in the Madison area.  Door County and Minneapolis have been the only locations I've found them so far.  We bought a huge bag when we were up there, but I'm getting my mother to pick me up another bag when she returns this weekend!  But wait!  There's more!!  Wood Orchard also has delicious jams, fruit butters, and salsas!  My favorites are the Cherry Butter, Pumpkin Butter, and the Raspberry Salsa and Cherry Salsa.  I was skeptical when I first heard of a fruit salsa, but it is scrumptious!

Head further down the road and you'll come across Peninsula State Park.  This area is so beautiful!  There's lots of biking and hiking trails, and in the winter: cross country trails.  I had a nice 2 hour hike with my mom by the water and through the woods.  I definitely want to go back when the leaves change!  Nothing like spending quality time with a loved one while enjoying delicious vegan finds!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I'll Stop the World and Melt for You

Sometimes we all feel like a little chocolatey goodness in our lives.  After a nice round of disc golf this evening, I just wanted some velvety chocolate pudding.  Recently I read through a recipe in the September issue of Vegetarian Times for just that.  I looked through my cupboards and improvised a little to come up with a delicious concoction.  What's fabulous about this recipe is that it's incredibly simple and takes less than 15 minutes to make.  I think this pudding would go perfectly with graham crackers (I dipped my Grateful Grahams in it), or a topping for a cake or muffin.  Use your imagination!

Velvet-Smooth Dark Chocolate Pudding
Serves 6

3/4 cup packed light or brown sugar (I used sucanat)
3 Tbs cornstarch
2 1/4 cup unsweetened hazelnut or almond milk (I used 1 can of light coconut milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz vegan semisweet chocolate chips

Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Cook 1 minute, or until mixture thickens.  Stir in vanilla, and remove from heat.  Add chocolate chips, and let stand 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To the Land of Flying Pigs

And so I return!  It has been an incredibly busy summer, and I have definitely fallen out of blogging because of it.  With one sprint triathlon and half marathon under my belt, I'm readying myself for my October 2nd Twin Cities Marathon!  I'm probably not as well prepared as I should be, but, hell, I'm going to give it a shot all the same!  My goal is to just finish!  Well, this has kept me pretty busy, among other things like traveling almost every other weekend, venturing to the Saturday Farmer's Market on the square whenever I get the chance, and spending quality time with friends and family.  As summer is winding itself down, I'll be making a more concerted effort to keep up with blogging.  AND, it just so happens that Fall is my absolute favorite time of year for vegetables.  Sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, and my favorite: Squash!!  Mmmm, nothing like roasted butternut squash to warm you up on a cool Fall day.

In the spirit of my recent travels, I will be doing a special blogging series to boast of all my favorite dishes in the various cities I've visited this summer.  My most recent destination spot was my hometown of Cincinnati, OH.  Every time we go back to visit we end up at the same spots that are favorites of my family: Big Boy, Graeters, Buskins and Sky Line Chili.  Since my sister and I went vegan, my family has been extremely supportive.  They try to accomodate for my dietary needs and even step out of their comfort zone by trying new vegan food with me.  This trip was no exception.  While they did get to Buskins and Sky Line, our first stop happened to be The Loving Hut.  Ever since I heard about this restaurant in VegNews, I've been wanting to check it out.  The cult aspect intrigued me.  Let's just say it did not disappoint!  The food just happened to be delicious!  It was very reasonably priced and left me full and satisfied.  I had the raw pizza, which was on a sun dried tomato focaccia.  I had never had anything like this before, and I was pleasantly surprised by it's texture and how flavorful it was.  I wrapped it up with an almond cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream frosting.  Yum!  They also happened to have Grateful Grahams for sale at this location, so I grabbed up a bag.  Grateful Grahams are made locally in Cincinnati, and were recently feature in VegNews.  This cookies are delicious and perfect for s'mores, topped with turbanado sugar and cinnamon!  You can buy them here on veganessentials in chocolate or original flavors.  The website is:  Okay, so back to Loving Hut itself.  While they have great food, this place in undoubtedly creepy as hell!  The people were just a  There were also several large flat screen TVs showing Supreme Master Ching Hai talking on various topics with subtitles in 20+ languages flashing up on the screen.  I think it's great that she's done such a good job in creating a successful chain of vegan restaurants, but personally I think she gives veganism a bad name.  It makes us look like a bunch of lunatics!  I just hope that people understand that that is merely her cult of followers and not the vegan community.  You can be the judge, of course, but my family and I all agreed that it was just creepy.  
Another restaurant worth mentioning in Cincinnati is Melt.  I was very pleased with this place.  We had the chance to go there for their Sunday Brunch and it was one of the best vegan brunches I've had (second only to Chicago Diner).  I had the biscuits and gravy, and an maple almond muffin.  Both were delicious!  The biscuits were a good size and nice and fluffy, smother in a savory herb gravy and vegan sausage, with a side of perfectly ripened fruit.  While the place itself is a little loud, difficult to find seating and located in an up and coming hip neighborhood, I'd say it was damn well worth the trip!  It reminded me of Wicker Park in Chicago.  

So if you happen to be in Cincinnati, do not miss out on this restaurants!  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Stinks? Crappy Natural Deodorants!

Well, helllllloooooo!  Yes, I am ashamed to say that I've been hiding under a rock and I haven't blogged in AGES!  Sorry all!  This is what happens when Vegan Fest, summer, work, yoga, and training for a marathon and triathlon will do to you.  With Mad City Vegan Fest quickly approaching, though, I can say all of us organizers will have much more free time!  Phew!

I know I haven't done food in a while, but I swear I'll get some things up here.  I recently took a trip to Portland, OR, so I have a special Portland edition that I am working on.  Look forward to that!  I took a few souveniers home with me, including a bunny, "herbivore" tattoo from Scapegoat Tattoos in the vegan mini-mall.  Oh, Portland, how I love thee!

I'm going to make this edition short and sweet, because it's late and I have raffle stuff to work on.  Before I go, though, I want to share with you a glorious product that I just recently purchased.  The heat is on!  For summer, that is.  If you sweat profusely like I do, you don't mess around with your deodorants.  I'm an extremely active person, especially in the summer months, so all the natural products that I've used up until now have been horrid.  Egh hem...Tom's Naturals.  I thought I had just about had it with all the natural stuff, until Courtney Mayhew (cue angel chimes), told me about Natural Grooming deodorant. Okay, okay, it's a men's deodorant, but you know what?...I don't freaking care!  I love this stuff!  I got the Forest scent, because it didn't smell as manly and I don't like heavily perfumed products.  I knew I had hit the jackpot when I went for a 6 mile run, biked over 15 miles and went to yoga and my underarms smelled like daisies.  Well, not quite, but at least I didn't smell like the inside of a gym bag.  This stuff is glorious!  If nothing is working for you, you must try this stuff!  You can find it here or you can just go to your co-op or Whole Foods, if you must.  I'm telling you, you won't regret it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vegan GroupOn?!

I just discovered this site Vegan Cuts the other day, and talk about perfect!  It's essentially a vegan GroupOn.  They have featured items that you get for a steal and it's a fantastic way to get introduced to more vegan products!  I'm so excited for this!!  Sign up to become a member and you get weekly emails with featured deals on vegan products, plus if you refer friends you get a chance to win prizes from companies like Coconut Bliss, Nacho Mom's Vegan Queso and Susan Nichole!!  (Say I referred you, please!)  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Delightful Finds!

I don't know why it took me so long, but I finally went to Lazy Jane's Cafe for breakfast this weekend with Patrick.  Our usual Chai Lattes and Gotham Bagels with tofu cream cheese weekend breakfast was getting a little old, so we decided to mix it up.  I had heard through the grape vine that Lazy Jane's carries a few vegan muffins and scones, and that they had one breakfast option that can be veganized, the Seitan Hash.  I called ahead and spoke with the cook, and he informed me of this and that they also had some vegan specials for breakfast that day.  So off we went!  Boy, was I pleasantly surprised!  Not only did they have lemon scones, which I got of course, but they also had 2 vegan specials of a tofu scrambler and banana walnut pancakes.  I went with the pancakes, and they were delicious!  The scone was also delectable!  It was more like a muffin top, but I like the softer ones anyway.  The atmosphere was quite charming.  Lazy Jane's is a two story house that offers a homey feel for a great price!  Our meals together only cost $12!  They yell out your name when your food is ready and you bus your own tables.  I loved it!

I really do hope that they continue to have vegan specials and I plan to talk to the cook and ask to have more vegan options added to their regular menu, like a tofu scrambler and/or vegan pancakes/waffles.  It would be quite simple, and I think this would be beneficial to their business.  There are practically no places in town that have a good vegan breakfast.  Monty's does an okay job with their Almond French Toast, but their other options are lackluster and greasy.  Sunroom Cafe also has a tofu scrambler, but it isn't very good either.  If you can get a scramble down right, you will see the vegans running!  The only place that's gotten it right is the Chicago Diner.  Oh how I wish it were here in Madison!

So hear that Lazy Jane's?  We're waiting for you to fill that void!

I would also like to give a shout out to Kelly Peloza, The Vegan Cookie Connosieur herself!  You can check out her blog here:  She will be doing a food demo at Mad City Vegan Fest and she has also blogged about us!  This is shaping up to be a wonderful festival, so be sure to come to the event June 19, 10am-5pm!

And yet one more thing.  One of our vendors for MCVF is Chocolate Inspirations.  They have a wide variety of vegan and gluten free chocolates and desserts.  Their caramels look amazing!  I can't look at this site too long or I start to drool!

Monday, April 18, 2011

VegNews Apologizes

VegNews has come out with an actual apology, from the publishers and editors.  Not only that, but they have promised to never use non-vegan photos again and they are building a vegan photo bank as well.  I'm relieved.  I do think that VegNews is a valuable resource for many vegans and I really do enjoy reading it.  Sure it has some fluff, but it's nice to see what's going on in the vegan community.  I will definitely be renewing my subscription and continuing my support of this magazine.  I'm very disappointed by what they did, but I think they are doing a great job to rectify the situation.  Considering the backlash, I have no doubt in my mind that they will keep their word, otherwise they will lose a vast majority of their readership.  I forgive you VegNews.  I'm all about second chances.  Just don't disappoint us again!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Complete Disappointment, So Long VegNews

I was very disturbed to discover an article yesterday about VegNews using photos containing animal products in their magazine and online while passing them as vegan.  I'm am outraged!  I feel like one of my best friends stabbed me in the back.  Like many vegans who subscribe to this magazine, I eagerly await my copy and I quickly flip through and drool over the photos of supposedly vegan food.  Apparently I've been drooling over photos of food laden with animal flesh and secretions.  Disgusting!  What's worse is that they knowingly deceived us.  Here is an excerpt of their response:

"Yes, from time to time, after exhausting all options, we have resorted to using stock
photography that may or may not be vegan. In an ideal world we would use custom-shot
photography for every spread, but it is simply not financially feasible for VegNews at this time. In those rare times that we use an image that isn’t vegan, our entire (vegan) staff weighs in on whether or not it’s appropriate. It is industry standard to use stock photography in magazines—and, sadly, there are very few specifically vegan images offered by stock companies. In addition, it’s exceedingly challenging to find non-stock imagery that meets the standard necessary for publication. We would love nothing more than to use only vegan photography shot by vegan photographers, and we hope to be there soon."

You can find the full response here.  I think this is a sorry excuse.  I understand that magazines don't have a lot of money, but they release 6 issues a year.  Only 6.  They say from "time to time" they use non-vegan photos, but I find this incredibly hard to swallow.  Just judging by what QuarryGirl showed us here, it would appear that they use these photos more often than not.  There's nothing wrong with using stockpile photos when it's the best option available, but in a vegan publication there is something seriously wrong with using non-vegan food photographs to pass off as vegan.  Linda Holmes from NPR wrote an article that says:

"Unfortunately, when you use pictures of non-vegan food in a vegan publication, you're playing a whole different kettle of...well, not fish, obviously...It can seem like you're disrespecting vegan food in a magazine for vegans.  It's tought to thnk of a better way to anger your reader, other than including a ham hock with every issue."

I couldn't agree more.

The main issue here is that they were not transparent about this.  We had no clue!  I can guarantee that vegans do NOT want to stare at pictures laden with animal products and we would rather take a low quality picture of vegan food than a high quality picture of a burger of cow flesh dripping with fat.  No thank-you!

Often these stockpile photos are also accompanied by a recipe.  So when you make a recipe for a "Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Vanilla Cheesecake" like I did, you'll find that the result doesn't look like the photograph.  I can't wrap my head around this one.  These recipes are provided by some great cook-book authors or food bloggers, who often take pictures of their creations.  Wouldn't it make more sense for them to send in a picture of their food, of the actual recipe when they submit their recipes for print?  Who care if it's a lower quality, at least it's a picture of the food you'll be making!

What's more, is that when a concerned reader recognized one of the photographs as being a non-vegan food from the stockpile site, he commented on their site and sent them a friendly letter trying to help them realize this mistake.  Well, shortly after he posted his comment, it was deleted.  So he left another comment.  That one was deleted as well.  Then, he receives a response saying:

"Thank you for your interest in VegNews.  However, your inappropriate and mean-spirited commenting has violated the policy of VegNews, and we have and will continue to remove any future comments.  Please know that we welcome constructive criticism from all viewpoints, and rarely unpublish comments from readers...Should you have any constructive feedback, feel free to email me directly.  I'd love to hear from you."

Say what?  Isn't that exactly what this reader provided...constructive feedback?  I would certainly say so.  QuarryGirl investigated the policy from a link on the VegNews home page, here.  There is no reference to comments calling out meat pictures, so QuarryGirl left a comment: "just want to let you know that this burger is not vegan.  It's a stock photo of a real beef burger."  Twenty minutes later their comment was deleted.  This is incredibly disturbing.  As QuarryGirl rightly points out, we can only conclude that their is something serious integrity issues at VegNews and they can no longer be trusted. 

Grant Butler of the Oregonian also has a great article on the subject here.  He gives some examples of the counter-arguments, which have been represented by blogger Babe in Soyland and also Ecorazzi.  Again it comes down to a cost issue in both cases.  I don't buy it.  As Grant Butler points out there were more than 250 people who commented on the letter that VegNews released, a number of which were vegan photographers.  "[They] noted that there are many stock images of vegan hamburgers available that could have been used in place of the meat version that VegNews used.  And other comments notes that many vegan bloggers shoot beautiful digital images of the food they write about, so how hard could it be for VegNews to do the same when it tests its recipes."  

My favorite comment: "You're calling it vegan.  Selling it to vegans.  It better be vegan, or you're a cheat and a liar.  Period."  

Case and point.

I have already drafted up my letter to the editor expressing my concern about this.  I want an apology.  Not a poor response like they've dished out, but an actual apology.  I want a promise that they will not use stockpile photos of non-vegan food in the future, or that they will at least disclose this if they do.  AND I want this to come from the actual editor and not the "VegNews Team."  They better fix this fast or they certainly have a shitstorm to deal with.  If they don't do these things I am discontinuing my subscription, which is set to relapse in 2 months.  If you are angry about this, write them up!  Magazine are supposed to listen to their readers, so let your voice be heard.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vegan Escapes!

Wow, it's been a long time!  Sorry folks!  These past few weeks have been mighty crazy.  As some of you may know, it was my birthday a week ago as well as my boyfriend's, so I was a little busy.  It was also my father's birthday the week before, so I've been jetsetting about the past couple of weekends.  Appleton to spend time with my family, so I brought Pineapple Right-Side-Up Cupcakes for my father.  His favorite cake is Pineapple Upside-Down, so I thought I'd try these bad boys out.  They were delicious!  I would have an adorably cute picture to post up here, but due to an unfortunate mishap I have lost and/or had my camera nabbed while in Chicago.  Yikes!  So incredibly sad.  Brand new camera that was a gift at Christmas from my wonderful parents.  I couldn't help feel like I disappointed the by losing it.  Oh well.  No sense on holding onto disappointments and regrets when you can't do anything to change them.  Observe and let go, I say!  Especially when my oh so wonderful boyfriend bought me a replacement camera as a belated birthday gift.  So sweet, this one!  He fully deserved his Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Vanilla Cheesecake that I made him for his birthday, as well as the Coconut Heaven Cupcakes that I just made him as a thank-you this evening.  (I'll post all these recipes, BTW, don't you worry!)

Okay, so today's post is dedicated to my trip to Chicago!  Losing my camera aside, this trip was amazing!  I went with three of the most amazing women I know and we ate and shopped til we dropped...or rolled.  We only ate at two restaurants, The Chicago Diner and Karyn's Cooked.  When we first got into town, we checked in at the Wynham Hotel and then we went to The Chicago Diner for lunch.  Yum!  I've been to this restaurant only once before, and I barely ate anything, so I didn't miss the opportunity this time!  It was my birthday weekend after least that was my excuse.  ;-)  I had the Mozzarella Sticks made with Teese Cheese.  They were pretty good, especially for the first vegan mozzarella stick I've ever had, but I prefer Daiya to Teese.  Daiya stretches better.  (Hear that Daiya?  Time to make mozz sticks!)  For the main dish I had a Barbecue Bacon Cheezeburger with Daiya and Sweet Potato Fries.  Absolutely delicious!  Oh, and I also had the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Shake.  Phenomenal!  If you go to this restaurant, you have to get this shake!!!  Hands down, best milkshake I've ever had.

After this meal, we were all fit to burst, so we went to work off some of those calories (a very small fraction) by shopping downtown Chicago!  I haven't gone shopping in quite some time, so I went a little was my birthday after all...right?!  :-O  Anyway, after shopping for about 5 hours and putting quite a dent in my bank account, we were ready for Karyn's Cooked.  We walked on down to 738 N Wells St and only had to wait about 20 minutes for a table.  (They don't take reservations.)  We had the opportunity to stand in front of the dessert case, salivating until we got our table.  As an appetizer we had the Buffalo Wings, which came with three different dipping sauces.  My favorite was the extra hot sauce!  I wasn't a fan of the ranch, but their barbecue is also very good.  For my entree I had the Green Enchiladas.  These are corn tortillas stuffed with garlic mashed potatoes, smothered in a green tomatillo sauce and sprinkled with soy cheese, served with spanish brown rice and refried black beans.  Holy YUM!  I'm already a sucker for Mexican food and garlic mashed potatoes, combine the two and I'm in heaven!  Then to round it all out I had a slice of Carrot Cake for dessert.  Two desserts in one day?  You bet your ass!  It was my birthday after all...right?  (See a running theme, here?  You can justify anything naughty for the sake of your birthday!)  Oh, and I also had a Mango Martini with my meal.  Almost forgot that one.  Very delicious drink!

So after we were gorged and probably 10 pounds heavier, or at least I felt like it, we somehow found the energy to go out.  We got all snazzed up and went to the John Hancock building to have drinks in their lounge at the top of the building.  This is so high up that I got dizzy just from being up there.  There were spectacular views of the city from up there, especially from the women's bathroom.  Kind of funny that the best view out of the whole place was in the bathroom!  We all had ridiculously strong cocktails and then mosied along to another bar a short cab drive away called Maude's Liquor Bar.  I ended up ordering a drink before I looked at what they serve on their menu:  foie gras, bone meal and other equally disgustingly cruel meaty meals.  I was horrified to be a patron at such an establishment!  Next time I'll be wiser and look at what they serve on their menu.  Foie Gras?  Really?!  Diseased liver anyone?  Ugh!  We wrapped up our evening here, then headed back to our hotel to rest up.

The next morning we were somehow hungry again, even after gorging ourselves silly the previous day.  I ended up having a the Egg-Biscuit Sammy that was a chive biscuit with a tofu omelette, seitan sausage,  Daiya cheese and cajunnaise sauce, and herbed potatoes.  One of the best breakfasts I've ever had!  Seriously delicious!  I got one of their vegan cinnamon rolls as well, but I would say you can pass on this.  I wasn't impressed.  It was a bit dry and "meh."  I can do a better job.  The only reason I tried it is because I haven't had a cinnamon roll since I went vegan 3 years ago.

So that concludes my fabulous trip to Chicago!  As you can tell, we pretty much spent the whole time eating.  ;-)  I paid for it many days afterward and I think my ass is still paying for it a bit, but Spring is upon us and I'll work it off!  It was worth it!  Quite the birthday celebration!  Oh, and I almost forgot, it was also my 3-year anniversary of being vegan on my birthday as well!!  Best 3 years of my life!  Happy eating and traveling folks.  You better prepare yourself when I go to Portland next month.  I plan to eat my way across town!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thank the Monkey...and Karen Dawn!

One of the first books I read once I became vegan was Karen Dawn's "Thanking the Monkey."  I love this book!  It perfectly balances the heaviness and sad nature of the material with upbeat, funny quotations and comics.  And guess who we got to speak at Mad City Vegan Fest?!?!  KAREN DAWN!!  Hell yeah!  So that's right folks, we have Terry Hope Romero, co-author of Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and author of Viva Vegan; Jasmin Singer, founder of Our Hen House; Kenny Torello from Mercy For Animals and now Karen Dawn!  This is shaping up to be a wonderful first year!  In addition to great speakers, we'll have food demos, tons of samples, vendors, kids activities, yoga, and some amazing raffle items!  Oh yeah, and did I mention I'm throwing a kick ass after party at the High Noon Saloon?  ;-)  Mark June 19th on your calendars kiddies!  Oh, and contact me or go to to sign up as a volunteer, be a sponsor/vendor, or contribute a raffle item.  Thanks everyone!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Raving Bunnies!

Yay Herbivores!  Way to go Mad City Vegan Fest volunteers!  We had an amazingly productive meeting last night and the festival is moving along.  This is going to be a great first year for us!  Our confirmed speakers are Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House, Kenny Torello of Mercy For Animals, and cookbook author Terry Hope Romero.  Not too shabby!  I just so happen to be the leader of the After Party Committee, and I will be throwing a kick ass show following the festival June 19, 2011.  So far we have booked the Chicago band The Exponential.  So far so good! 

Special thanks to our sponsors Alliance for Animals, and  If you'd be interested in being a sponsor/exhibitor please visit our site:, or you may contact me.  We are also looking for raffle items, so if you have something to contribute contact me as well.  I'm also on the raffle committee.  :-)  

Okay, now going with my theme of food, I have a product rave!  It is well known in the vegan community that Daiya cheese is the coolest thing since sliced bread.  It's the best vegan cheese out there and they just came out with a new flavor: Pepper Jack!!  Um, yes please!  I just tried it today, and it's amazing!!  I love spice, and this stuff gives me the kick I need.  Daiya, thank your for filling that cheesey void in my life!  We love you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back on the Wagon

First off, I would like to give a shout out to Laura Hooper Beck, editor at large for VegNews, founding editor of Vegansaurus, community manager of VegWeb, and just all around spectacularly admirable vegan badass!  She is witty, charming and really lays in to the issues that need to be addressed.  Recently some ex-vegan with a new thesaurus decided to post her Conscious Case Against Veganism.  This just further solidifies my belief that you can never trust an ex-vegan.  Laura wrote an outstanding rebuttal to this nonsensical "argument,"  aka. her justification for eating animal products.  Whatever helps you sleep at night honey. 

Well, now that I'm trying to hop back on the wagon it's time to give you some healthy recipes!  (I cheated and had some dried pineapple rings sweetened with sugar...I know, I know.)  For the past month I've been living off of salads for lunch.  As you know, salads can threaten to bore you to death if you don't get creative with your assembly.  I was eating just a simple kale and spinach salad with microgreens, sprouts and my favorite processed dressing (Organicville Miso Ginger and Annie's Goddess dressings).  Bah!  Snooze fest!  I've started seeking out great salad and dressing recipes, and I've been thrilled by my creations!  I love making my own dressing.  It's quick, easy, healthy, and delicious!  Again Ani Phyo steps up to the plate with some great recipes from Ani's Raw.  Since I had never used fennel before I decided to try the Shaved Fennel with Blood Oranges, Poppy Seeds, and Micro Greens.  I was a little intimidated by the fennel, but it ended up being a delicious salad!  With the strong taste of fennel and the oranges, you only need to toss with a bit of oil.  I used flaxseed oil instead of olive oil to get a dose of my Omega 3. 

Shaved Fennel with Blood Oranges, Poppy Seeds, and Micro Greens
Makes 4 servings

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
2 medium oranges, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or flax)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
2 cups micro greens

Shave the fennel bulb into thin slice with a knife or mandoline.  Cut oranges into slice, cutting across the segments, and remove seeds.

Place oranges and fennel in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Let salad marinate for five to ten minutes to allow the flavors to blend. 

Top with poppy seeds and micro greens and serve at room temperature.

Tossed salad will keep for one day in the fridge.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Post Cleanse Freak Out

Alright, so the cleanse made me freak out a bit...okay, a lot a bit.  I followed the cleanse for 3 weeks, not always sticking to the 60/40 ratio, but trying all the same.  Well, after it was over, I kind of went on a free for all.  I think I ate a total of 3 vegan chocolate chip scones from Whole Foods (it's the only thing I bought from there besides strawberries, I swear!).  I also ate a vegan Sheba Bar from the Willy St Co-op, a bagel from Gothem with scallion tofu cream cheese, a pint of Coconut Bliss, and 2 chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream frosting.  Yes, I went nuts!  (This was not in one day, mind you.)  It makes me glad that I started running again and do yoga everyday on top of it, so I can keep up with my eating habits.  :-P  Well, after going on my uber sugar binge last week, I've decided ENOUGH!  I'm not going to let me crazy binge eating and sweet tooth control me anymore.  I'm back on the cleanse, allowing myself up to 5 cheats a week.  This can include something very simple like a sprouted whole wheat bagel, or something naughty like a cookie.  Overall,  I'm trying to keep the number of cheats way down.  After starting back up on wheat I've noticed that I have an intolerance.  I don't think it's too severe, but my system works much better with wheat out of the equation. Symptoms of an intolerance can be gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain, depression, low blood iron levels, and more.  It is estimated that 1 in 7 people are Gluten Intolerant.  If you think you may have an intolerance to gluten, just cut it out of your diet for 3 weeks and see how you feel.  I felt great when I was on my cleanse, and now I feel crappy.  I noticed my system immediately freak out from the introduction to wheat back into my diet.  The most obvious being abdominal bloating. 

To find out more you can go to this website:

So I have another mylk to introduce to you.  One great thing about a raw diet is that it doesn't include wheat.  As I had blogged before, I'm completely addicted to Ani Phyo's raw mylks.  Well, I tried another: Cashew Banana Mylk.  Delicious!  I think I like it better than the Banana Buttermylk.  It's smooth and creamy with just enough sweetness.  Now, you can make this in any old blender, but you should really consider investing in a Vitamix.  You'll thank me later.  If you don't have a high speed bleder like this, you'll want to cut open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds.  If you are cool enough to own a Vitamix, though, just throw the whole bean in there. 

Cashew Banana Mylk
Makes 4 servings

2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 vanilla bean (I used a whole one, bc I love vanilla!)
Pinch sea salt
5 cups water

Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth!  Will keep for two days in the fridge. 

So easy, delicious and nutritious!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Danger Zone!

You know those treats that you discover that are so danerously good that they should be kept out of reach?  Well, I have yet another to share with you.  I know, I'm evil.  If you have been living under a rock, you may not have heard of the wonderfully delightful brand Coconut Bliss.  The founders Luna and Larry and amazing individuals.  They have somehow developed a dangerously delicious vegan ice cream made from coconut and agave syrup.  That's right, it's sugar free!  Wha?  This is actually something that I just discovered last night while reading the side of the carton as I ate from the pint Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge in my kitchen.  The first thing that came into my head was "You've got to be kidding me...I could have been eating this the whole time I was on my cleanse?!  Damnit!" 

I know in an earlier posting I kind of condemned Coconut oil, with it's 85% saturated fat content.  It ends up there is a lot of controversy in the nutrition world when it comes to coconut.  Raw foodists swear by it, and so do a lot of nutrtitionists.  The fat found in coconut does not need to be broken down in our body and are immediately read to be used as energy.  Coconut fat stimulates your metabolism!  It has oodles of health benefits including aiding in digestion and absorption of nutrients, boosting energy and endurance (coconut water anyone?), reduces inflammation, supports tissue healing and repair, improves cholesterol ratio, supports thyroid function, is used by the body to produce energy rather than being stored as fat...this is only a small fraction of the health benefits.  In other words, there are so many health benefits from eating coconut that it should be a part of your balanced diet.  So why not include a serving of Coconut Bliss?! 

You can learn more about Coconut Bliss here.  You can also learn more about coconut at 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lay Off the Drugs!

You ever think that you can't possibly give up milk, cheese or some other dairy product?  Have you ever wondered why you are so addicted to this food?  Maybe you think it's just too delicious, and that's the reason.  Well, guess what?!  There is a physiological reason for your addiction to dairy products.  I'm sure there are oodles of physcological reasons as well, seeing as food is so intertwined in our social habits and family traditions, but our addictions go even deeper than that. 

Have you heard of the protein casein?  Well, this is a protein found in dairy products.  In Dr. T Colin Campbell's book "The China Study, he links animal proteins, like casein, to cancer development.  In fact, he found that casein promoted cancer in all stages of its development.  This connection is so profound, that they found they could turn cancer off and on in laboratory animals just by altering the amount of casein in their diets.  He also found that plant proteins have no such effect on cancer growth. 

When casein is broken down in digestion it forms a protein fragment called casomorphin.  Just as its name suggests (-morphin) it has an opioid effect!  That's right, you're getting high on dairy!  Just like other opioids it is incredibly addicting.  Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says

"If you examined a casein molecule under a powerful microscope, it would look like a long chain of beads (the "beads" are amino acids-simple building blocks that combine to make up all the proteins in your body). When you drink a glass of milk or eat a slice of cheese, stomach acid and intestinal bacteria snip the casein molecular chains into casomorphins of various lengths. One of them, a short string made up of just five amino acids, has about one-tenth the pain-killing potency of morphine."

There you have it.  Now kick the habit!  There is absolutely no reason you need to be drinking or eating the secretions from another animal.  That milk is for calves, not humans.  We are the only species that drinks and eats the secretions from the mammary glands of another animal.  We are the only species that drinks these secretions after infancy.  Don't you think there is something wrong with this picture?  In an age where obesity and chronic diseases are killing us and draining our health care system, we need to be mindful of what we're putting in our bodies.  Do you want to enhance our life and health or do we want to slowly kill ourselves with unhealthy habits?  Consuming animal products is just a habit once you break it down.  So just cut the habit.  Plain and simple.  Sure it will be hard, but it is so worth it.

Treat yourself with mylks that are good for you.  Ones that are plant based and raw!  My favorite mylk recipes from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.  These are simple, quick, and delicious.  I love seeing only 5 ingredients and knowing that this drink is healthful and free of artificial sweeteners and other additives that popular processed mylk drinks have.  Making your own raw mylks provides the maximum amount of nutrients and flavor!  I just put mine in mason jars.  (These are a great investment and save on packaging, so I suggest you buy some of your own.)  So far I have made Vanilla Mylk, Chocolate Mylk, and Cinnamon Banana Buttermylk.  The last is most certainly my favorite!  Give me cinnamon banana anything and I'm there, but especially this creamy, satisfying beverage.  It has the consitency similar to a shake.  I especially love this drink after a hard work out, because it's packed with potassium, calcium, protein and vitamin E.  Ani says this mylk "helps increase circulation and blood flow to stressed muscles, while building lean muscle tissue."  Did I mention it's incredibly easy to make?  Win win and win!

Vanilla Mylk
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 vanilla bean
Pinch sea salt
5 cups water

Put the almonds, dates, vanilla bean, salt and water in the blender and blend until smooth. *Note: I sliced my vanilla bean open and scraped out the inside into the blender, as opposed to throwing the whole bean in there.

Will keep for four days in the fridge.

Chocolate Mylk
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pitted dates
3 tablespoons cocoa powder or cacao nibs
Pinch sea salt
5 cups water

Put the almonds, dates, cocoa powder, salt, and water in the blender and blend until smooth.

Will keep for four days in the fridge.

Per serving: calories: 141, protein: 5g, carbohydrates: 15g, fat: 8g, potassium: 7%, calcium: 6%, iron: 7%, vitamin E: 21%, riboflavin: 9%, phosphorus: 10%, magnesium: 17%, zinc: 5%, copper: 16%, manganese: 23%, dietary fiber: 16%

Cinnamon Banana Buttermylk
Makes 4 servings

3 ripe bananas
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cashew butter or almond butter
Pinch sea salt
4 cups water

Put the bananas, cinnamon, cashew butter/almond butter, salt and water in the blender and blend until smooth.

Will keep for two days in the fridge.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It's over!  My cleanse is finally over!!  Don't get me wrong, I loved the cleanse.  I definitely felt better, when I wasn't overeating, that is.  Everyone in my family seems to have a problem with this.  I'll just have those days where I'll say f* it and then I'll have a free for all on as much food as I can consume.  Definitely an issue to iron out, but just all you overeaters out there, know that you're not alone.  We all have those days.  I think that I was having trouble esepcially here at the end, because I wanted bread and sweets so badly.  I went into the cleanse strong, but by the time week 2 rolled around, I had about had it.  I still did about 60/40 towards the end, but I was gorging myself on wayyyy too many nuts and nut butters.  This is why I think I may have actually gained weight, rather than lost it.  Oh well!  Time to put on the sneakers and hit the pavement in addition to the daily yoga practice. 

I'm definitely planning on continuing my daily juicing, but I'll probably cut back to one jar of juice a day instead of two.  I'm also continuing to eat a huge salad everyday.  Pretty much sticking to mostly raw foods, but I'm not going to be so strict to where I cut out sugar and wheat completely again.  I just realize from these past three weeks that limiting myself in such a way makes me act out in a destructive manner (overeating).  I've learned some good habits from this cleanse, like taking my daily probiotics and supplements, eating mostly raw, organic vegetables, dry brushing and meditation.  While I still have a long way to go, I think I have made some great strides.  I'm pretty much hooked on this raw lifestyle.  I'm going to cook occasionally still, but I'm enjoying my raw meals immensely.  I think I enjoy it so much, because it involves a great amount of creativity.  I look forward to the day when I can get an Excalibur Dehydrator! 

I do recommend trying a cleanse.  It's challenging and incredibly rewarding.  You'll pick up some good habits, and while you probably won't stick with it 100%, you'll be better for completing it.  Again, this was the cleanse from Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet.

Anyway, the way I'm going to enjoy my first day of being off my cleanse is by having a delicious sprouted wheat bagel from Alvarado Street Bakery here with my homemade peanut butter!  (All organic, of course.)  Yum!  This was the only thing I bought on my trip to the co-op today that breaks my cleanse rules.  I pretty much bought all produce, with some groats and sunflower seeds thrown in there.  Allowing myself to have my bagel keeps me sane! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Big Fat Liars!

As I said in my last entry, I'm on a cleanse.  It just so happens that raw foods are acceptable and encouraged on this diet.  It's no wonder.  Eating raw foods allows you to get the most nutrients and your body digests these foods with ease.  (With some exceptions.  There are certain foods that you must cook in order to release certain enzymes.)  Well, the point is to stay away from processed foods.  The shorter the list of ingredients, the better!  If you can't pronounce something on a label, throw it down and run for your life!  Just kidding.  Just set it down and steer yourself to the produce and bulk aisles!  I pretty much live in these aisles.  Did you know you can even make desserts from these aisles?  Oh yes!  Who needs refined sugar, flour and vegetable oils to make things taste great?!  Yes, we all love our vegan cupcakes, but raw desserts are delicious and good for you!  Finally, you can have your cake and eat it too AND not feel guilty!  Hooray!!

Now, don't let raw diets scare you.  There are quite a few things that have lots of fat in them from seeds and nuts.  But,  let's talk fats for a minute here.  If you are like everyone else (especially women!  Yes, I'm talking to you!), you have probably been brought up fearing fats.  "What?  17 grams of fat?  AHHHHHH!  Get it away!!"  Yes, I have been there.  I used to eat a whole tray of low fat cookies thinking, "well, they're low fat, they must be fine for me to eat,"  and then I wondered why I was chubby.  Know this.  Not all fats are created equal.  Think about that.  Let it sink in.  So the fats that you're getting from say, a cake with vegan margarine and oils, sugar, flour and other sins is not the same as the fat you're getting from seeds, nuts and avocados.  Believe me, I do not want to live in a world where eating avocados and almond butter is a bad thing!  So what's the difference?

The following information has been pulled from "Becoming Vegan" by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina.  This book is great if you want to know why a vegan diet is the healthiest diet out there.  It is a great resource and was one of the first books I read when I became vegan.  It answers all those annoying questions like "Where do you get your protein, calcium, iron, etc."  Vegetables!  Vegetables and more Vegetables!  Jeez.

Saturated fats!  These are molecules that are "saturated" with hydrogen.  So what's the big deal?  Well, these fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.  Lucky for vegans, the highest concentration of these fats are in animal products.  The higher saturated fat foods for vegans run about 5-20%, while fish have 20-30%, chickens have 33%, other meat has 50% and dairy has 66%!!  And you thought being a lacto-ovo vegetarian was a good thing!  Not for your cells!  Or for those animals!  It's important to note here that tropical oils are the exception: coconut fat is over 85% saturated, palm kernel oil is 80% and palm oil is about 50%!  Yikes!  While coconut is great for frying at high temperatures, please use this stuff sparingly.

Trans Fatty Acids:  these are the undesirable monounsaturated fatty acids that have had the hydrogen atoms rearranged during food processing.  Liquid oils are hydrogenated to form hard, stable fats, creating trans fats.  This improves shelf life for foods while doing a number on your health!  "Gram for gram, trans fatty acids apear to be 2 to 4 times damaging as saturated fatty acids."  Yikes!  These trans fats are mostly found in margarine, shotening, crackers, cookies, granola bars, chips, snack foods, and deep-fried foods.  Since most of these foods contain dairy or eggs, they are not part of a vegan diet.  However, there are some sneaky vegan processed foods that weasle them in there, so don't be fooled!  Just eat mostly whole foods and cook with non-hydrogenated oils and you'll be okay. 

Monounsaturated Fats!  These are fatty acids with one spot in the carbon chain where hydrogen is missing (mono-).  That is, one point of unsaturation.  These fats are beneficial to your health and help protect you against chronic diseases, especially heart disease!  There's even evidence that it helps slightly raise your HDL cholesterol levels.  (That's the good kind, in case you were wondering.)  These fats have also shown improvements in blood sugar control in people with diabetes without increases in triglyceride levels!  Monounsaturated fats reduce blood pressure, enhance blood flow, and may even decrease cancer risk.  Boom!  You can find all these beautiful fats in olives, olive oil, canola oil, avocados (yay!), most nuts (except for walnuts and butternuts), high-oleic sunflower oil, and high-oleic safflower oil.  Eat up!
 Polyunsaturated Fats!  These are fat molecules that have more than one spot in the carbon chain where hydrogen is missing (poly-).  That is, multiple points of unsaturation.  There is a lot of inconsistent research findings when it comes to the polyunsaturated fats.  Some show that they lower cholesterol when they replace saturated and trans fatty acids, and others show that they actually increase cancer risk.  This confusion stems from the fact that there are two families of polyunsaturated fats.  You can get these fats from vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, and other plant foods.
        Essential Fatty Acids (EFA): these are the two polyunsaturated fatty acids required in the diet.  Linoleic acid, the parent in omega-6 fatty acids, and alpha-linolenic acid, the parent in omega-3 fatty acids.  These are considered the "good fats" that are necessary to our health.  The problem is that you need to have these acids in the correct omega-6 to omega-3 ratio: somewhere between 5:1 & 10:1.  It is estimated that the Standard America Diet (SAD) has ratios between 14:1 & 20:1.  This is unhealthy!!  There are serious health implications for this high of a ratio including chronic diseases and heart disease.  Why does the SAD have such a high amount of omega-6?  Well, omega-3 is very vulnerable to oxidation and rancidity, so it is removed in processing.  Also, omega-6 fatty acids have increased with the replacement of saturated fats and trans fats with vegetable oils that are rich in omega-6.
       Long-chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids:  these are acids that aren't considered essential because they can be created from the parent fatty acids, but they are still very important for our health.  These originate from two places.  We can create long-chain fatty acids from the parent fatty acids in our body, or we can consume these long-chain fatty acids directly from food.  For the omega-6 family we can either convert linoleic acid to arachidonic acid (AA) or AA can be consumed from animals products like meat and dairy (with all the other lovely saturated fats that go along with it).  For the omega-3 family, we can convert alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or we can consume these directly from fish or microalgae, the single-celled organisms that provide EPA and DHA to fish.

I hope that clears up a few questions you may have had about fats.  This doesn't get you a free pass to OD on nuts, seeds and avocados, but it does mean you can eat all these good fats in moderation and not feel bad about it.  And with that I bring you Kris Carr's Green Guru Smoothie from Crazy Sexy Diet.  I have fallen in love with juicing and blending and this smoothie is delicious.  While it's definitely not my favorite (I'm in love the Make Juice, Not War Green Juice), it is extremely satisfying and filling!  Get creative and add some stuff you think you might like.  In this recipe she suggests to use 2 ounces of E3Live probiotic powder, but just find any vegan probiotic powder you like.  I got some from my co-op in the health and beauty section.  Community Pharmacy also carries similar products.  Probiotics help healthy bacteria grow in your tummy, which aids in digestion.

Green Guru Smoothie
Serves 2

1 avocado
5-8 romaine leaves (I used spinach or kale)
1 cucumber
2 ounces E3Live (or 1 teaspoon probiotic powder, per package directions)
1 cup cocunut water (or purified water)
1 banana or 1-2 pears
Stevia to taste or 1 teaspoon agave

Place all the ingrediencts into a blender and blend until smooth.

Me enjoying my smoothie after giving away muffins to protesters at the Capitol.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Cleaning!

It's that time of year again!  Spring is on it's way!  Thank goodness!  It may not seem like it, because of all the snow, but we're almost there.  Daylight savings is coming up and soon the snow will melt and everything will be green and full of life again.  Why not prepare for this beautiful time of year by doing a little cleansing yourself!  Recently I have read Kris Carr's "Crazy Sexy Diet."  For those of you who don't know Kris Carr, I'll give you a little bio.  Kris is a former actress and photographer who was diagnosed with a rare type of sarcoma called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) at the age of 31!  That's cancer of the connective tissues that effects her liver and lungs.  This type of cancer is completely inoperable and there is no cure.  It's one of those "wait and see" type of cancers.  So Kris decided to ditch the "wait and see" method and take control to live life to the fullest.  She did a ton of research and even went back to school to study nutrition, and she began to heal herself with food!  That's right people.  Hippocrates said it best: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."  Since Kris has taken on a vegan diet and switched to mostly alkaline foods, she has managed to keep her cancer in check.  It's been 7 years since she was diagnosed, and her cancer is dormant.  Kris Carr follows the rule of 80/20 or 60/40 ratio of vegan foods with 80-60 being alkaline and 20-40 being acidic.  The big no no's are: caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, gluten, and drugs.  Cancer thrives in acidic environments and these things also cause inflamation.  When you eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and a moderate amount of grains, you are promoting an oxygen-rich environment.  Not only that, but you are cleaning out your system.  It's truly amazing how this diet detoxifies your body and how amazing you end up feeling.

Her cleanse is 21 days, and she has helpful day-by-day advice, affirmations, prayers, areas of focus, suggested meal plans, and recipes!  Since I've begun this cleanse I have been on a rollercoaster!  Leading up to my cleanse I sort of went on a free-for-all binge.  I thought "well, I'm cleansing soon, so I can eat all the crap I want!  Well, eat crap and you feel like crap, and I certainly did!  It took a few days into the cleanse for me to actually start feeling good, because my detox symptoms were intense at first.  I would get headaches, my body ached, I felt dizzy/nauseous, and I was running to the bathroom about every half hour.  Now that I'm on week two, I feel light, energetic, powerful, and happy!  I even did the green juice fast that she suggested all yesterday, breaking it with an avocado for dinner (alkaline).  I was definitely craving protein today, so I made sure to eat raw foods/nut butters and I had a yummy pad thai made with an almond butter base.  (Roasted peanuts are actually acidic, but almonds are alkaline.)  I begin every day with a green juice and I have another green juice around 3/4pm.  I rid myself of coffee 2 months ago, but I'm happy I replaced it with this juice!  I don't need caffeine when I have pure, raw, healthy energy packed into my green juice.  Your body is a machine, and you should be feeding it clean, efficient fuel.  I have to admit I was skeptical when it came to this cleanse, but I love the way I feel so much that I can safely say I will be following this diet the majority of the time from now on!  I will never give up my juice, that's for sure!  The following recipe, is Kris' own.  I make the full recipe in the morning and split the juice between two mason jars to cart with me. 

Make Juice, Not War Green Juice
 Serves 2

2 large cucumbers (peeled if not organic)
4-5 stalks kale
4-5 romaine leaves
4 stalks celery
1-2 big broccoli stems
1-2 pears
1" piece gingerroot

Juice all ingredients, alternating among them.

My breakfast and afternoon pick-me-up!

 My beautiful juicer!



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Something's amiss!

Goodness gracious me!  I have been MIA all this week!  I apologize to my followers...all 11 of you.  :-)  I've been extremely busy with all the crazyness that is happening in Madison right now with the solidarity movement.  How amazing is this, though?!  It feels so good to be apart of something this big!  Well, as I had blogged last weekend, I went down there with some friends to give away muffins in the name of "Vegans for Unions."  It was a huge success!  Everyone was extremely appreciative, and they were gone in a snap!  We even met some fellow vegans down there.  It was so great, that we've decided to do it again tomorrow!  I made some delicious muffins from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: blueberry giner spelt, triple berry bakery style, and lemon poppyseed.  Yum!

Unfortantely for me, I'm on a cleanse currently, so no sugar or gluten for me!  (more on this tomorrow) Rats!  I have been told on good authority that they are quite delicious, though. :-)

So for all of you that support unions and veganism, go ahead and make a batch and give it away to your local protesters today!  There are protests sprouting up all across the nation, and it all began here!!!  Yay for my little liberal hub in Madison.  I love this city and this state.  What's disgusting?  Union busting!  Make Walker quit his Koch habit!
My favorite sign yet, though "Walker, your Koch dealer is on line 2."  He refuses to talk to the people, but he'll talk to you if you pay up!

Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins
Makes 12

2 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
1 cup almond milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/4 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375.  Lightly grease a muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.  Make a well in the center and add the yogurt, milk, canola oil, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  Fold in the ginger and the blueberries.  *If using frozen, just keep them in the freezer until you're ready to fold them in so they don't bleed into the batter.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin; it should almost fill the entire tin.  Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife inserted through the center of the muffin comes out clean.  Let cool for a few minutes in the tin before transferring the muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375.  Lightly grease a muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds, and salt.  Make a well in the center and add milk, lemon juice, oil, zest, and vanilla.  Mix just until all wet ingredients are moistened.

Fill the muffin tin three-quarters full and bake for 23 to 27 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean.  When cool enough to handle, transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Bakery-Style Berry Muffins
Makes 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy yogurt
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries

Preheat the oven to 375.  Lightly grease a muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the center and add the yogurt, milk, canola oil, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  Fold in the berries.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin; it should almost fill the entire tin.  Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife inserted through the center of the muffin comes out clean.  Let cool for a few minutes in the tin, then transfer muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vegans for Unions!

That's right!  Tomorrow morning I am getting up with some fellow vegans and we are going to bake as much food as we can for the protesters that have been camping out and getting up at the crack of dawn to show their support.  If you are interested, just contact me!  We are going to be making: pancakes, muffins, scones, and hopefully mini-donuts.  I'll try to think up some more treats.  This is what democracy is all about.  Get off your butts and DO SOMETHING!!!  I went down there today with "Yogis for Unions" and did 108 Sun Salutations in the middle of the Capitol rotunda.  We began and ended with 3 collective Ohms with the whole crowd.  It was an experience of a lifetime.  The energy there is absolutely amazing.  I was exhilarated to share my energy with all the people there!  So share your energy in any way you know how!  Mine is through yoga and veganism.  What's yours?

Everybody knows you can't begin your day of protesting (or practicing yoga) without something good to eat.  I began my day with some raw goodness: Banana Raisin Oatmeal from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.  This stuff tastes just like oatmeal (just not warm) and is packed with wholesome goodness.  It takes minor advance prep, because you have to soak the groats overnight.  It's simple to make and absolutely delicious.  Since it's raw, you get more nutrients and tons of fiber from the groats!  The recipe doesn't call for it, but I added a tablespoon of ground cinnamon to the mix.  Delicious!
Ani's Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes

Banana Raisin Oatmeal
Makes 4 servings

2 cups groats, soaked overnight, and rinsed well
3 bananas, chopped
2 tablespoons water, as desired
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)

Put soaked oats, bananas, and water in the food processor and process until mixed well.  For a thinner consistency, add another 1/4 cup of water and process.  Add raisins last and pusle to mix them in.

Enjoy as is, or serve really thick with a side of nut mylk.

Will keep for one day in the fridge.

Optional: Drizzle 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar on top of each bowl of oatmeal. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stand up for Your Rights...and Waffles!

Way to go Madison!  I am so honored to live in this city with so many amazing activists!  In case you've been living under a rock, Governor Scott Walker has proposed a Budget Bill that sneaks in a provision that limits union bargaining rights.  The plan is also to make teachers pay more for health insurance and pensions.  Considering how much they make, this is preposterous!  What is this clown thinking?  This isn't about paying more, though, it's about stripping workers of their collective bargaining rights.  I would like to say how much I respect and admire all the teachers and other protesters that are participating in this fight.  And way to go State Democrats for fleeing the state so the bill couldn't be voted on!  At least they show solidarity with their constituents!  What's great is that one Democrat, Lena Taylor posted her status on Facebook as "brb."  Fantastic!  Unfortunately, I have been at work all week, and I haven't had the opportunity to make it down to the protest.  Tomorrow I will be there from 9-12 with my fellow yogis doing yoga up on the capitol to show my support for the unions!  I'm bringing an extra mat, so come on down and join the fun! 

Oh, and what better way to start out a day of protesting then with some Blueberry Waffles?!  Nothing, I say!  This recipe is simply delicious!  It calls for lemon icing, but I like them simply with agave nectar or maple syrup.  I have become especially fond of agave nectar, and I think it's great on these!  This recipe is from Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm.
Vegan Yum Yum: Decadent (But Doable) Animal-Free Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday

Make 10

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 container blueberry soy yogurt (scant 2/3 cup)
1 1/3 cup soy milk
5 tablespoons water
1/3 cup oil
1 cup fresh blueberries* (see note about using frozen)
Cooking oil spray for the waffle iron

*If using frozen blueberries, keep them in the freezer until the last second.  Reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons of the dry misture.  When you're ready to add the blueberries, take them out of the freezer, measure them, and mix them with the reserved dry mixture.  Then fold them into your mixed batter in no more than three folds.  This will prevent your batter from turning a gray-purple color.

Preheat your waffle iron. 
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, soy milk, water, and oil.
Combine the wet ingredients with teh dry ingredients, then gently fold in the blueberries.
Spray your waffle iron with a little bit of cooking oil spray and make a test waffle.  Follow the instructions or your preferred directions for your waffle maker.  (This recipe makes 10 waffles if each waffle uses 1/2 cup of batter.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes)