Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chia Seeds

 Hey everyone! Hope your weekend is going well and you are getting some sun, rest, and relaxation. Or you could be exercising and using these days off work to train hard. I know a friend of mine who is training for the full iron man, so his weekend was packed with training, and another who ran a half marathon this morning in Florida! Good job Mike & Jill! :)

I promised an update on how I feel since drinking wheatgrass. I have been coffee-free for three days now. Last time I stopped drinking coffee cold turkey was in 2008, and I was miserable the entire time. I distinctly remember working at the hospital and hearing someone talk to me but feeling like they were at the end of a tunnel. I turned around slowly, feeling like I was in a fog, my mind was cloudy and my actions were delayed. It was like I wasn't human without my coffee. I only lasted two weeks, the entire time with a killer caffeine-withdrawal headache, and when I couldn't handle my tense mood and irrational behavior anymore, I quickly and easily slipped back into my coffee drinking ways. I used to think it was funny and cute to say "Don't talk to me until I've had my coffee" or "It's too early for this, not enough coffee", now I just think it's a sign of weakness and addiction to have to have a drug in order to feel human. We put down people who are addicted to snorting cocaine or smoking marijuana, but how much better are we than them? You may think "it's different", but is it really? A drug is a drug.

So after three days of no caffeine, and taking 2 oz of wheatgrass each morning, I have to say I feel...amazing. I wasn't planning on actually being able to kick my caffeine addiction, I more-so thought the wheatgrass would benefit me and help me feel better (if anything) in addition to my coffee, and if it helped me cut back on coffee, great. However... I have had absolutely no coffee and could not feel better. Not a single headache. Not a single withdrawal symptom. No crankiness, moodiness, foggy-headed thoughts, irrational behavior, nothing. I feel more alert and awake than I have in perhaps my whole life, yet I'm not on any caffeine. I feel like I could run forever or talk really fast yet I'm not wired or jittery like after drinking caffeine. The best part is there's no coming down feeling like after coffee when you feel like you need a nap or to just lie down.
 I'm not getting paid to sell this stuff, I wasn't even sure it would do anything for me. However, it has done wonders and it feels great. It's natural, it's potent, it's raw and it's real and I am so lucky and blessed to have been able to try it and now I am a living testament that its great!!

 For today's post...I wanted to take the time to tell you about Chia Seeds, and just how great they are for you. I have seen these little seeds around on various blogs, usually put in cereal or shakes, but I only recently bought some of my own and have incorporated them into my daily food intake. I have noticed a difference almost immediately.
 Chia Seeds are a tiny little edible seed from the mint family called Salvia hispanica, but it one of the most nutritious superfoods known to man!
The following are benefits of chia seeds:

  1. Helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent junk food cravings
  2. Helps you concentrate and improve your mood
  3. Fills you up
  4. Lowers your cholesterol
  5. Helps build lean muscle
  6. Builds strong bones
  7. Healthy nails, skin, and hair
  8. Excellent source of Omega-3
  9. Loaded with antioxidants
  10. Loaded with vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, niacin, zinc and boron.
  11. Gluten free
  12. High source of protein
  13. Low glycemic index

Okay, so how does a little chia seed do all this? A dry chia seed looks like a little tiny dried seed, but when put in food or water, it swells to become gel-like and puffy looking. This is the soluble fiber in the chia seed, and in your digestive system, this fiber slows the conversation of carbohydrates to sugar, thus evening your blood sugar and lessening cravings. You don't have high peaks and lows but rather a stable, even blood sugar. This in turn leads to more even energy levels, which can help with stamina and long distance endurance. The Aztecs used to eat a spoonful of chia seeds before they went on a 24 hour run or march and it sustained them the entire time.
 Because chia seeds swell, they fill you up and make you feel more full for a longer time. Once in the small and large intestines, they act as a prebiotic to help feed the good bacteria, and cleanse the intestinal tract.
 Because chia seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids, which are critical for brain function, they provide mental clarity as well as stronger hair, nails, and skin.

 So how can you incorporate chia seeds into your diet? This afternoon, after a long run, I made a smoothie with the following ingredients:

 2 cups almond milk
 1 banana
 handful of frozen strawberries
 1 spoonful of vegan protein powder
 1 teaspoon chia seeds

The word "delicious" doesn't do this milkshake justice. Creamy and rich because of the almond milk, sweet and sublime because of the strawberry-banana mix, and thick due to the chia seeds and protein powder.

This is the vegan protein powder and little baggie of bulk chia seeds I bought at the store

 The vanilla vegan protein powder is pretty tasty. I used to order it online for The Boyfriend when he wanted to bulk up, but I bought this for cheaper at the health food store and it tastes better. I did not buy it because I feel like I am lacking protein. Rather, I bought it for two reasons: one because it will thicken up my shakes while adding calories, and two because I am running so much that my clothes are now literally falling off me.

Regular protein powder has whey in it, which comes from animals. The health food store had about 3 vegan protein powders, though, so there is still variety and choices without having to steal, exploit, or kill an animal. Click here if you want to read how I got started as a vegan and why I choose to not take an animal's life.
 So that's one option of where to put chia seeds: a protein shake

Another one is here : a banana soft serve overnight oat.

I also put it in oatmeal in the morning for a raw breakfast:
1/2 cup raw oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 cup almond milk
Mix together, let the chia seeds become puffy and soak up some of the liquid, and eat. Here's a picture of what I did not take a picture of: delicious

 So there you have it, three easy ways to incorporate chia seeds : shakes, breakfast shakes, and oatmeal.

 So how have I felt since drinking/eating chia seeds?  Well, great. I'm not sure if it's the mixture of wheatgrass and the addition of chia seeds, or just one more-so than the other, but like I said, I've never had more energy despite working night shift, or been full for longer or more clear-headed without coffee, caffeine, or anything for energy.  Let me know if you try chia seeds or wheatgrass and how you feel!   Life is so vast, so fun, and so filled with joy and love, so treat yourself to something healthy and start feeling great today!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wheatgrass What?!

  Hey friends! I have discovered something absolutely amazing and want to share it with the world!

That amazing thing is wheatgrass!  There are a couple diferent ways you can consume wheatgrass:
 You can grow it yourself, juice it, and drink the juice
 You can buy the capsules and take the capsules
 You can buy the juice and drink it
 You can buy the powder and mix it in a drink

 For me, I thought the frozen juice was the best option. I don't have the patience to grow the grass myself, nor do I have the special wheatgrass expeller juicer.  I also didn't want to mix the powder in with 8 oz of water and have to sit there sipping on it. I wanted to take it as a shot and be done with it. 

What is wheatgrass?  Wheatgrass is raw, living, potent food! It is one of the most potent healing agents on the planet! The grass itself comes from the wheat plant when it is young, potent, and full of rich green chlorophyll. When the grass is squeezed, a dark green juice is produced, and this is wheat grass. 

Here are some of the benefits of wheatgrass:

 Frothis website
 It is widely known that wheatgrass is used as alternative cancer therapy as it increases red blood cells, the chief responsible in carrying out oxygen to every cell. The increased oxygenation can help to offset the carbon monoxide and increases the endurance of an individual. It can also produce immunization against dietary carcinogens. Likewise, wheatgrass can also boost the important enzymes we need to rejuvenate the body and metabolize the nutrients properly. These enzymes are also in charge in dissolving the tumors.

 Our bones, glands, kidneys, liver, spleen, muscles, hair, and many of our body parts can also benefit from wheatgrass. Other people even use it to clean their gums, eyes, sinuses and teeth. The chlorophyll serves as an excellent purifier that can refresh breath and treats bad odor.

 Wheatgrass can aid in losing weight as it stimulates metabolism, circulation and suppresses the appetite.  The high fiber content of wheatgrass is crucial in waste elimination and flushes out the accumulated waste products in the body system. 

  From WebMD:
Wheatgrass is also used to treat various disorders of the urinary tract, including infection of the bladder, urethra, and prostate; benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH);kidney stones; and in "irrigation therapy," the use of a mild diuretic along with lots of fluids to increase urine flow.

From this website:
Wheatgrass is an energizer . The vitality obtained from wheatgrass juice is remarkable. Two ounces of fresh juice equals 3 pounds of organic vegetables in vitamins and minerals, or the equivalent of two cups of coffee.
Wheatgrass juice is nutritious . Wheatgrass juice contains most of the vitamins and minerals needed for human maintenance. It is a whole meal and a complete protein with about 30 enzymes and is approximately 70% crude chlorophyll. Wheatgrass is also an excellent source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulphur, cobalt, and zinc

This is what is IN wheatgrass:

 Ok, so what does this mean to me and you? From all these sites plus more, plus all the things I've read in books and seen out in the public, the following facts were my favorite:

  •  wheatgrass contains 70% of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that we need to live. That's HUGE because it's just a tiny shot of green liquid!
  • one shot is equal to three POUNDS of vegetables! I dont' know about you but I'd rather take one shot than chew 3 pounds of veggies!
  • one shot gives you energy equal to two cups of coffee, without the caffeine! This is also great news for me because I have been trying to break my addiction to coffee. 
  • It is a natural, healthy way to boost energy without caffeine, energy pills, etc. This is also great news since I work night shift and am generally feeling tired and drained. 
  • It could help my kidney stone situation. I first experienced kidney stones at the age of 18 and have been lucky enough to only have one more kidney stone attack since then, however;  my Grandma died of kidney cancer at the age of 54 and my Dad has been hospitalized for kidney stone problems. I am proactively working to create a healthy lifestyle so that I can eliminate kidney stones from my life and not die of kidney cancer.

Obviously, after reading these great things about wheatgrass, I couldn't wait any longer. I went to this cute little healthy food market located literally right outside the doors of my hospital, and this is what I found:

Frozen wheatgrass shots.

One serving is two little packets, which is 2 oz. I run them under warm water for a minute or two and down the hatch they go.

 How did it taste? I was expecting to have a sour face, like after a shot of tequila. I was expecting to gag on it, and then have to force myself to keep it down. In reality, none of this happened. It wasn't the best thing I've ever tasted, but it wasn't the worse, by far. It tasted like juiced grass. Knowing all the benefits, it was more than worth it. 

How do I feel? So far, so good. Clear headed and energized, which is huge because I usually need coffee to even wake up, and I haven't felt clear-headed since before I went to night shift. I'm sure my fellow night shift workers can relate. Working night shift you feel as if you are living in a haze, even on your days off.
 I've taken three servings so far because I got the wheatgrass the day before yesterday. Last night at 6 pm I was able to go to the gym and have a productive lifting and cardio workout even after sitting in a boring lecture class from 8 -4. This morning I skipped my morning coffee and had the wheatgrass instead. Baby steps!

How much does it cost?  The powder, pills, and frozen shots are all different prices. My box of frozen shots were 18.99, and there are 20 shots. I think that's completely reasonable. At the smoothie store, one shot is 1.75. I have said this before, and I'll say it again: You cannot put a price on your health. I am trying to be as patient and compassionate as possible with people who pay hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in medication each month yet tell me "it's so expensive to eat healthy". 
 Here's the truth, and it's going to hurt, but I'm going to be blunt:  If you ate healthy, you wouldn't have those hundreds of dollars of medications each month.

  Sad story time:  Each morning, afternoon, and night, when I'm passing meds at the hospital, I see pills for blood pressure, pills for thyroid, pills for cholesterol, pills for blood sugar, antibiotics for everything from kidney infections to skin infections and everything in between. Each pill is easily at least 100 dollars a month. I'm not exaggerating. I used to take a pill for my complexion and it was 540 dollars a month. Some people I take care of are taking 18 pills a day. I'm not good at math, but I know that's a lot of money. These same people hear I'm vegan and say "But that is so expensive, to have to buy fresh produce or organic food!" I'm not Mr Moneybags over here rolling in money. A few of you know what kind of financial situation we've been in the past year. If I can do it, anyone can do it. It's actually more economical and financially sound to live this way. 

 What price do you put on your health? For me, there is no price. Health is life and without your health you have no life. 

I don't believe that you can sustain life off wheatgrass, but I do think it is an essential component in a healthy lifestyle, because it contains so much of what our bodies need. I will keep you updated with how I'm feeling and what great things (if any) wheatgrass is doing in my life!

 It's a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Charlotte without a cloud in the sky, so I'm off for an outdoor run then for some hiking in the state park! Have a wonderful, blessed, beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hump Day

 Happy hump day! 

 Hope your week is going well and you are feeling healthy, happy, and present in each moment. Whether I am doing the dishes, walking the dog, or folding laundry, I try to be present in each moment and observe my thoughts and feelings. It grounds me to the moment and slows my mind down. Memories are good to have, and planning the future is inevitable, but thinking about both of these things takes us away from what is really important: the present moment. Try it, and be amazed!

If you are just now tuning in, you can take a moment and read my story to discover how I got started on my vegan path and what motivates me to live a cruelty-free, compassionate lifestyle. Since the protein question is ever-present, I answered some frequently asked questions with this post, and a part 2 is coming soon! I tried to draw the connection between pets we love and animals we cause suffering to here, and de-bunk the myth that the Bible tells us to eat meat here. If all this animal-love is making you crazy and you just came for some recipes, you can check out my top favorite recipes here. Last but not least, green smoothies are the most amazing drinks ever! In this post I explained why I love them so much, and why you should too!

 Okay! So today I started my morning off with some delicious fuel because I knew I would be sitting in a lecture/class all day again today. Breakfast was a microwave banana oat cake. I got the recipe from here and it turned out great!
I didnt take a picture but the recipe is quick and easy:

 1 banana
 1/2 cup oats
 1/4 cup brown sugar
 1 tsp cinnamon
 splash of water or almond mild (I use almond milk)

 Mash the banana, put the sugar, oats and cinnamon in, and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  If you want it to really set, put it in the microwave for 3 minutes like I did. Slide it onto a plate, and enjoy with a fork or eat it like a cookie. I spread peanut butter on top of mine for some added protein and *healthy fat*.

 After sitting in lecture all day I came home feeling drained and blah. My quads are still sore from my eight mile run, but 9 miles is this weekend so I need to work some of that lactic acid out, so I mixed up a green smoothie: almond milk, banana, frozen strawberries, and romaine lettuce. Truthfully I put almost the entire head of romaine lettuce in there because my body has been craving more vegetables. The finished product:

Delicious. If you can get past the color, (and come on, we're all adults) you should try it. Tastes like a strawberry banana milkshake! (thanks to the strawberries and bananas and vanilla flavored almond milk, I'm guessing). Couldn't think up a tastier shake. My favorite milkshakes were always ones that involved strawberries anyways.

 After a nutritious, energizing shake I was all set for the gym! This is a picture of me right before my first half marathon

and it serves as my inspiration picture to prove that I've done it before and I can do it again! This weekend is 9 miles, so wish me luck!

 After the gym, dinner was "mock tuna salad", or "tempeh dip", whichever you prefer. Some people are turned off by the words "fake", "mock", and "imitation", so we can call it what it is, which is tempeh, or you can call it what my mom calls it, which is mock tuna salad. It's still hands down the tastiest thing I've ever eaten!

The first time my mom ever made it for The Boyfriend and I was this past christmas in California. The whole family plus The Boyfriend were seated/standing around the kitchen table playing an intense game of bananagrams. Mom set the bowl of mock tuna salad down in the middle of the table, turned around to refill something for herself, and when she turned back to us, the food was gone. Vanished in less than 2 minutes. Poor mom! The Boyfriend and I have been making it ever since, so I have to share.

Mock Tuna Salad

 8 oz tempeh
Old Bay seasoning
 1/2 cup of celery, finely chopped
 1/4 cup minced white onion, or a few stalks of green onion
 squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp dill weed
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder

 The ingredients:

 The vegan mayonnaise we buy is called Nayonaise, but there are a few different choices at the grocery store.

 Tempeh is a great source of protein, along with being delicious and nutritious. In our quest to eat more whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and eliminate processed foods, we have switched from mainstream soy products and tofu to tempeh. Read: It is soy, but unlike GMO (genetically modified) processed soy foods (like "fake" meat and cheese) it is the least processed soy product available.
This is the front of the package:

and this is the back:

I don't know if you can read the package info, but it has 22 grams of protein per serving!

Put the tempeh in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Drain the water, put the tempeh on the cutting board, and sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning. Mash up into little pieces:

 Then add your dill, celery, onions, mayo, mustard, etc all the other ingredients. Mix together like so:

I think it's the dill that makes it so delicious. It perhaps its the egg-free mayonnaise. Neither one of us can eat regular mayonnaise anymore, it tastes like rotten eggs :(  And mayonnaise is pretty sketch regardless.... If you want to be scared, read the ingredients.. yikes!

We spread ours on triscuit crackers, but you can use any crackers, or spread on bread for a sandwich.

 Oddly enough, and to be my surprise and delight, my most favorite vegan/author/speaker/role model was on TV on the show The View From The Bay making this recipe (except she used chickpeas instead of tempeh and called it Better Than Tuna Salad)
Check it out here: the best video.  Watch the third video on this page. I tried to find it on YouTube or The View's site, but couldn't. So, scroll to the 3rd video and press play. She is so awesome!

 I love how the TV hosts are so surprised that it tastes good. One even says, "This is better than actual tuna salad"

I was saddened, as I'm sure Colleen was, how one of the hosts mentioned, "I'm not sure I could give up meat because I love it so much. How can I incorporate healthy eating into my diet without feeling deprived?"   I certainly do not feel deprived, and I wish she wouldn't link "feeling deprived" to vegan eating. As everyone can see, I eat in abundance and never even crave foods such as meat or french fries. My body gets what it needs, and as a result I am able to think clearer, move more efficiently, and live healthier.

  I think Colleen is amazing because she is so understanding and compassionate. She has a list of podcasts that you can listen to for free, while you're cleaning or baking or even relaxing, and she talks about everything from"how to talk to hunters", "vegan gifts to give" "How do you get your protein?" and "How "free" is cage free?" and countless other podcasts which are all informative, kind, and easy to listen to. Her main focus, as I would like mine to be, is about compassion. To listen to her podcasts, click here.  I would like to talk more abut this subject as well as how great Colleen's message is, but this post is already long and I will save it for another one.  Good night!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


   Hi everyone!  How are you? Hope your Tuesday is going swimmingly and this week is flying by fast for you!

   I've had a great day so far. This week is "core class" for some of us icu nurses, so I was in class all day with some friends, learning nothing something new about the heart, and brain, etc... It was fun because I got to chat with two of my good buds and meet a handful of other great nurses too! 

 But first, I'll chronical my day in food pictures just so you can see how easy it is to eat yummy and cruelty-free ! My day started off with a tasty green smoothie 
 Like I've mentioned before:

  • green smoothies give you your daily value of dark, leafy green vegetables. Read: dark, leafy green (not iceburg lettuce)
  • They taste like a fruit smoothie!
  • They are packed full of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, iron, fiber, and yes even a little protein.
Yesterday I ran 8 miles outdoors with a friend, most of which was uphill, so my muscles were in need of some replenishment. Throwing a banana into my smoothie took care of my potassium, because if I don't have one each day I will have muscle cramps in my legs.

 For lunch I nibbled on some chickpea salad that my girlfriend and I got at a cafe called Dean & Deluca

This chickpea salad was beyond amazing. It had sundried tomatoes, eggplant, and a light olive oil dressing which blended harmoniously with the parsley. So healthy and filling. Since becoming vegan and trying to eat more natural, raw fruits and vegetables, I'm amazed at how quickly I fill up and how long I stay full. I ate less than a cup full of this chickpea salad and was still full 4 and a half hours later. 

For dinner, The Boyfriend made us pizza. We used to love eating our homemade pizza, but since banning casein from our diet, we haven't had pizza because I thought I would miss the cheese. Casein is a product found in dairy cheese and even "vegan cheese", I was dissapointed and frankly, I felt misled and lied to when I found out my "vegan cheese" had casein in it. Let me explain why.

 In order for milk to curdle and turn into cheese, you must have a curdling agent. Rennet is a curdling agent put into milk in order for it to curdle. It is naturally produced in the stomach of a cow so that the baby cow can break down the mama cow's milk. 

Let's recap: Rennet is found in the fourth stomach of a young cow. It is extracted from the fourth stomach of a young veal cow and put into the dairy milk you drink in order for it to curdle. You are eating the fourth stomach of a young cow when you drink cow's milk. 

In cow's milk, 80% of the protein is in caseins. Casein has been called the "#1 carcinogenic (cancer causing substance) that people come in contact with each day. We are eating, drinking, and digesting this stuff every time we drink milk!" - From T.Colin Campbell's The China Study. 
 You can read more about this here if you would like, because Colleen is my role model, or you can buy your own copy of the china study for dirt cheap and find out for yourself! :) 

So, let me get this straight. I do not consume dairy for a number of reasons (It's stealing from the cow, it's unethical, I don't want to drink the breast milk of a cow, I don't want to consume the stomach of a baby cow, I don't physically need the secretions of a grown cow, etc etc.) but then it's determined that casein is put in veggie cheese too? Unacceptable! The fourth stomach of a dairy cow will not be on my pizza! 

Insert, daiya cheese 

Casein free, dairy free, soy free. No matter your intolerance, it's perfect.
So if you have a soy intolerance, bam. This might be for you.
If you have a dairy intolerance, bam. This might be for you.
If you have an aversion to eating the 4th stomach of baby cow and ingesting casein, bam. This is so for me. 
The Boyfriend couldn't get enough of this cheese. It was melty, gooey, and salty enough to remind him of cheese without any of the guilt or cruelty associated with eating animals

 He also put some mushrooms, banana peppers, onions, and black olives on the pizza. 

 The pizza was sinfully delicious, and we devoured it. 


 Since transitioning to almost completely raw fruits, vegetables and whole grains and legumes, we eat little to no sodium anymore (unless it is naturally in the said food). The pizza sauce, olives, and banana peppers gave us more sodium than we probably eat in a week. Since eating it, we have been extremely thirsty, and I feel bloated and, well, thirsty. We were dissapointed to find out that eating pizza doesn't bring us the joy it used to, but ultimately we were happy to discover that we have become so healthy that our (past) usual intake of sodium creates a noticeable imbalance in us.

My point is: I never thought pizza would make me feel gross, but alas it has. I have become so accustomed to eating real food; food that is Healthy. Tasty. Juicy. Naturally sweet.  Whole foods can be enjoyable. Which brings me to my next point:

I've touched on this before, but will again, because someone said something confusing to me today. During class today, the teacher was talking about a new medicine that her doctor has put her on. Undoubtedly she is on multiple meds for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, the typical cocktail for the average american. She said, and I quote, "The medicine is 400 dollars a month. After insurance, I pay 100 dollars a month. That's insane. That's really expensive! For just ONE of my medications." She concluded by (shouting) "That's ridiculous!"

Again, what is difficult to you? What is ridiculous to you? What is "too expensive"? 
People endlessly accuse veganism for being "too difficult", or "too expensive", yet it's not difficult to suffer through triple bypass, open heart surgery, angioplasty, and transplants? To only then be on medication for the rest of their life, paying hundreds of dollars a month in medications, rather than simply change their diet? 

  You can't put a price on your health.   It is worth the extra three dollars you will spend at the grocery for organic or fresh produce. I promise you this. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I am a witness

 I personally think it is good to look truth square in the eyes every once in a while.

Re-directing my focus. Grounding me to my convictions. Reminding me of reality. Earthlings has always done this for me. It's raw, it's beautiful, it's moving, it's painful, it's huge, it is all encompassing and sometimes hard to watch, it is always emotional, but it is the truth.

It is just a film, but it is a film which makes me responsible for my actions and it makes me a direct eye-witness to the things I have done in the past and the things which my species continue to do every day. I am lucky enough to not have had to experience these things myself, but they happen each and every day in the world around me. It is the raw truth staring me in the face, which is more than most of us can handle. 

 The average person doesn't want to think about what's on his plate, or how it got there, or what role they play in it, and neither did I until a few years ago. Which brings me to my point: that watching something like this is just un-speakable and un-fathomable, yet here it is, just a click away, waiting to be seen, just one click to see the truth. 

 So today I am posting the link. Not to scare you, or bash you, or shame you. I am posting it just so you know it's out there, and when you're ready, when you think you can face reality, when you think you are ready, you will know you can reach up and click "play", and you can become a witness too...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

So What Do You Eat?

  When I created this blog, it wasn't going to be just about food. I wanted to inform people about a vegan lifestyle while showing that it isn't hard to live a peaceful, compassionate lifestyle.
To read about my story and how I became a vegan, read this. On the right side of this blog you will see my recommended websites, including a link to watch the movie Earthlings and a link about the movie The Cove, which is amazing and inspiring without being too terribly sad. To read about how I feel about animals, including my own, click here. If you want my answer to some of the most frequently asked questions including How do you get your protein? click here.

That being said about the meaning of this blog, I think it's also important to show some recipes and pictures of vegan food. That way the food becomes more realistic instead of just a far-off, scary idea. Enjoy, and double enjoy if you try the food! :)

Most of these take less than 15 minutes to throw together. So just when you thought vegan cooking could not get any better, it did! It's not only guilt-free and healthy, now its easy!

Bacon Lettuce Tomato Grilled Sandwich
  Throw some buttered bread, tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayo on some bread and toast it on the pan or in a George Foreman. Goes great with a side salad, baked potato, baked sweet potato, hummus, veggies, chips, anything you like as a side. Quick and easy no brainer sandwich. All ingredients can be bought at the grocery store.

"Beef" and mushroom stroganoff

 Seitan is "wheat meat" and is made from vital wheat gluten. It is a soy free protein option, but obviously not gluten free, so if you have celiac disease, I apologize, this might not be good for you. It has 22 grams of protein per serving. It's about the size of a chicken breast when you buy it, and I cut it up into pieces and warm it up. You can put it in fajitas, skewers, anything you want. I used it for stroganoff, along with dairy-free sour cream, mushrooms, some garlic powder, and mushrooms.  Creamy & delicious!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This is one of our favorites. My Mom introduced this to my family three years ago on christmas and we have been obsessed ever since! Here is her recipe

6 tomatoes (about 2 pounds) seeded and chopped
1 (12-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (3.8 ounce) can sliced ripe black olives, drained
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 (4-ounce) package feta cheese, crumbled into large pieces and divided ( I didnt use this because vegans don't eat cheese but this is my mom's original recipe)
1/3 cup olive oil   (note: I use a half a cup or more of a high quality olive oil)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning* (or other mixed seasoning that you like)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 ounces uncooked penne pasta

Place first 4 ingredients and half of crumbled feta cheese in a large bowl.
Whisk together olive oil and next 7 ingredients.
Pour over tomato mixture, stir to coat, then cover and chill 2 hours.
Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot; then drain (do not rinse).
Return pasta to large pot and pour tomato mixture over hot cooked pasta. 
Toss to combine.

You literally put the ingredients together and toss over pasta. It doesn't get any easier, I promise. In the picture next to the pasta is a mustard greens salad.

Minestrone and Vegetable Soup

I got this recipe from my sister & her boyfriend (Thanks Nikki & Reid) I ate it while visiting them in Colorado and bugged him for the recipe until he forked it over :) It has got to be the easiest soup I have ever made. Chop up the veggies, throw them in with the noodles and broth, and bring to a boil, then eat! So amazingly flavorful and easy! 
Your review has been submitted for approval and will appear shortly.
  1. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
  2. Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.
  3. Add vegetable broth to pot, plus drained tomatoes, beans, carrot, hot water, and spices.
  4. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency.
  6. Makes about eight 1 1/2 cup servings
Sage Stuffing

This recipe actually came from Neal's grandma's cookbook of her own personal recipes. We omitted the two eggs and milk (she admitted there was really no reason to have either one of these ingredients in this recipe, and i've ever cooked stuffing with eggs or milk anyways) and it is a total hit! French bread that I tore into pieces, some vegetable broth, celery, onions, and the secret ingredient: sage. I also added some meat-free sausage crumbles and mushrooms, but you don't have to do this if you don't like either one of them.

 So there you have it.. a few simple and delicious recipes. I have more food folders on iPhoto but this is a sneak peak of my vegan cookbook, considering this blog has been in existence for a few weeks and I hadn't posted any food photos.

There is more to life than food. There is more to life than being vegan and eating vegan food. However, food is necessary to sustain us, so we might as well make it delicious. Please do something wonderful today: take care of yourself. You will be benefitting not only your own body, mind, and soul, but you will be setting an example and leading the way for generations to come.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

  Hello, and thanks for coming back to read! I have been working night shift, so I apologize for the brief hiatus, but I have a few days off so we're back in business!

  I wanted to say thank you for the positive feedback I've been getting about this blog on facebook and through text messages. If there is something you would like me to blog about, be it a question or topic or anything, let me know, I would love to do some research and hammer out a blog for you!
  If you're a new reader, you can get my story about how I got started as a vegan here. Then I answered some frequently asked questions here and even touched on a taboo subject here. I call religion taboo because in my opinion, religion and politics are usually just a recipe for disaster, so I tend to avoid bringing them up. However, I felt it was important to address this issue right away and de-bunk the myth that the Bible instructs us to eat meat. Hopefully, after reading, you came away with the impression that the Bible instructs us to be non-violent, compassionate, loving, and humble beings, instead of a species who tortures, kills, and then eats God's creatures. If you don't follow Christ or read the Bible, hopefully you came away with the motivation to become a more compassionate, non-violent human simply because it could be the single most important thing you contribute to this Earth. The world certainly wouldn't be a worse place because of it.

 Today, I wanted to talk about our pets. For most of us, our day-to-day interaction with animals includes the pets we own. Meet Jake, adopted from an animal rescue in Clover, South Carolina on a hot day in August, 2010

At this particular time in our lives we were experiencing a shortness in money and a shortness in patience with each other, yet we were called to drive all the way to this animal rescue, so we responded.
 Jake was in a hot, stuffy room with 50 other kittens and cats. They were all sneezing, crying, or sleeping. I spotted Jake sitting in the windowsill, and for me, it was love at first sight. We didn't get him right away though, we returned home empty handed to think about it and pray on it for a few days. Two days later we drove down again, and we returned home with Jake. He was very sick, as you can tell, and when we took him to the vet he had a temp of 104 degrees, kitten flu, an upper respiratory infection, worms, and kitty conjunctivitis.

We were patient with him, nursing him back to health slowly and returning to the vet three times for more antibiotics and eye creams. We became very attached to him, and wanted him to be healthy. I remember worrying about him and losing sleep to stay up with him because he was so lethargic and sickly. I knew a baby cat like himself could dehydrate and die within a couple of hours.

  I also remember holding Jakie while he slept and wondering if I had ever loved something so much

 To our delight, Jakie became well and developed a personality like none I have ever seen.
He was curious,

he was affectionate,

he sat up like a person,

and he was so darn sweet and cute I could just eat him up!

 I love Jakie so much that I cannot imagine hurting him. In fact, I might do a lot of things in my power just to protect him and keep him healthy and happy.
You might have a pet you feel similar about, perhaps a beloved family dog or a kitten that gives you butterflies every time you lay eyes on her. You might be thinking of all the time, energy, love and effort you have invested in your animal. I know humans have the capacity to be kind to animals, this is evident in our doggy day-cares, pet spas, and medical procedures like transplants and dialysis that they have for animals now! The disconnect comes into how we can so kind to the animals in our homes and so cruel to animals outside of our home. Let's read a few facts about pigs, because they are the most like domesticated animals.

Piggly-Wiggly Facts:

  1. Pigs are the fourth smartest animal. They can read and play video games.
  2. Pigs do not "sweat like pigs", in fact they have no sweat glands so they do not sweat at all. They cool down in mud or water, but prefer water to mud. One woman made a shower for her pet pig and he would go in, turn the water on, cool down and then turn the water off. 
  3. Pigs can learn to play joystick controlled video games. A study conducted at Yale University showed that "there is a lot more going on cognitively than we have ever given credit for"
  4. When a female pig gives birth, she sings to her piglets, and the babies learn her voice. Then they come running when they are called by their mom. 
  5. Piglets spend hours a day sunbathing, exploring, and playing with each other. 
  6. Pigs snuggle close to each other and sleep nose to nose
  7. According to Professor Donald Broom of Cambridge School of Veterinary Medicine, "Pigs have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated.  Even more so than dogs, and more so than three year old humans."
  8. Pigs are clean animals. Given the opportunity, they will never use the bathroom anywhere near their food or sleeping space.
 These are just easy-to-read fun facts about pigs, but the big picture is that animals are emotional, intelligent, social creatures. Some people own potbelly piglets as pets because they are as affectionate as puppies, and they are smart. I am not suggesting we all go out and buy a pig, but we need to make the connection between the way we treat animals inside our house and the way we treat animals outside our house.

In his book The Outermost House, author Henry Beston wrote,
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals...
We patronize them for their incompleteness,
 for their tragic fate of taking form "so far below ourselves,"
 and therein we err, and greatly err...
 for the animal shall not be measured by man
 in a world older and more complete than ours,
 they move finished and complete,
 gifted with the extensions of the senses we have lost or never obtained
living by voices we shall never hear"

 This quote moves me every time I hear it. I know we believe that animals speak in voices we cannot hear. I know we believe our animals try to communicate with us. I know we can do better than the current way we are treating them.

 You may have come to a point in your life when you are questioning everything you have been told, including assumptions you had about yourself and the way you live your life. The mere fact that you are reading this blog is evidence that you have the courage to embark on a self-reflective journey and become a more compassionate person. It is during these crucial moments of self-reflection and realization that you start to see the truth. You might become angry, or overwhelmed with sadness. It is hard to recognize the pain we have caused others, and it hurts to know we have caused suffering. This knowledge is sometimes met with opposition, and in other cases intense sadness. Be patient, both with yourself and others around you. Acceptance of the truth is bound to come, and the truth is that we are all one, appearing as many, and the way you treat others around you is a direct reflection of yourself.   Each step anyone takes, no matter how small, is important and should be celebrated. The real key is to develop compassion so that it motivates what you do in your life, including what ends up on your plate.  If you can do this, if you can somehow graft compassion into your life and lead by example, you will be giving others a great gift.