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Friday, January 7, 2011

Excuses Excuses

"I can't get enough _____ as a vegan."  (fill in: protein, calcium, iron, etc.)
"It's too hard."
"It takes too much dedication."
"I live in Wisconsin.  I can't live without cheese."
"I like food too much."

Heard these phrases before?  Do you find yourself saying them?  Believe me, I've heard just about every excuse in the book.  In fact, I use to make up every excuse in the book!  That's right.  Me, the hard tailed, stubborn advocate who lives and breathes veganism.  It took me 3 years to make the transition after I had found out the truth.  I became a lacto/ovo vegetarian at first, because, you guessed it, I loved milk and cheese just too much!  I started out everyday with a large glass of milk, covered everything in cheese, and pretty much centered my diet around pizza and pastas.  Of course, I bought all organic, so as to make myself feel slightly better about my consumption of animal products.  It still took a great deal of forced ignorance, though.  Even though I knew the living conditions these animals are subjected to, I forced it out of my mind so I could enjoy my big slice of cheese pizza.  I know now that I was clearly addicted to animal fat and protein.  The majority of us are.  So how did I quit?  I met a boy.  Yes, it's silly, but I met a vegan boy who inspired me to make the change.  It was easier and fun to do it with someone else.  Every craving or pitfall you have, there's someone there who's got your back.  For those of you who don't have a partner, though, never fear!  That's why you have me!  Send me a post or an email and let it out.  Tell me what your struggling with and I'll help you through it.

Also, practice yoga!  The mind/body connection that you create helps with cravings, deep seeded obstacles, depression, and controlling your emotions...just to name a few.  This will help you find the root of the problem and bring you into the moment to overcome all those obstacles.  It allows you to do what you never thought you could accomplish!  How perfect for the transition to veganism!  Yoga is all about widening your circle of compassion, which is exactly what veganism is.  Bring your circle to include yourself, your friends/family, your perceived enemies, and all living creatures.  We are all in this life struggle together on the same journey.  This should be filled with love, happiness, lightness of being, and compassion.  That's all any living creature wants.

If you find yourself agreeing with me, and you're still making excuses, just stop!  You can and you will do it!  It is very possible and with little effort it can be a reality.  For those of you using the last excuse, "I like food to much." : HA!  Sorry, every time I hear this I just want to burst out laughing.  Anyone that knows me knows that I have a passion for food and I can certainly put it away!  :)  That's what this blog is all about, right?  I have eaten the most varied diet I've ever had and a lot of it!  For someone who grew up on cheese pizza and fish sticks, I feel liberated!  This diet is not restrictive at all.  It's freeing!

My next recipe comes from Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, a personal hero of mine.  You can purchase her book here.  She is one of the most charismatic and inspiring oraters I've ever met.  I was lucky enough to hear her speak at Alliance for Animal's Vegantines last year.  When I met her and had her sign my cookbook, I was incredibly giddy, as you can imagine.  The picture below is proof enough of that.  (Could I smile any bigger?)  You can follow her podcast Compassionate Cooks here.


The recipe that I chose was Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Spread).  I sampled some at my friend Courtney's Rosebowl party and I was blown away.  It's so delicious and so simple.  Perfect for a get together, or spread it on a wrap or tofu sandwich for an added delight!  Careful on the garlic in this one.  I normally double it, but the recipe's suggested amount is perfect.  This is hands down my favorite spread!

First off, if you want to be a rockstar, roast your own bell peppers!  It's incredibly simple and you'll feel like your on a flipping cooking show.  Lights, camera, action!

Roasting your peppers.  Simply preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut your peppers in half lengthwise and remove the core and seeds.  Brush with olive oil or olive oil cooking spray and place on a lightly greased baking sheet with the inside facing down.  Roast for 20-25 mins until the skin is dark brown in spots.  Done!



Muhammara

2 to 3 whole roasted red bell peppers (fresh or from a jar)
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup walnuts, raw or toasted
4 large whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

In a blender or food processor combine all your ingredients.  I would suggest throwing the garlic in there first just to make just it gets minced properly.  Puree to a smooth consistency.  Scrape down the sides of the blender to make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combine.  Season to taste and tweak as necessary.

Makes 1 cup, or 8 (2-tablespoon) servings.

Serve with anything dipping food you like: chips, pita, crackers, vegetables, mushrooms, etc.  Be creative!  For Good Housekeeping picture perfection, serve with some walnut pieces sprinkled on top.

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