Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tabouleh

     I have been having an obsession with Greek food for a while now and thought I would share with you a pretty straight forward easy recipe for tabouleh. It goes great as a side dish or mixed with hummus, and you can also eat it with falafels of course.



Tabouleh
1 cup of fine cracked wheat (bulgur)
1/2 minced green onions
1 cup of fresh parsely
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
4 medium coarsely chopped tomatoes
2 lemon's fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil

    Step 1: Soak the cracked wheat in enough water to cover and let soak for 1 to 2 hours. Drain well and squeeze it as dry as possible.

    Step 2: Place the cracked wheat in a bowl and add the green onions, parsely, mint, and tomatoes. Toss and then stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil and let sit for about 30 to 45 minutes. Ready to serve.

  Note: The longer you wait the more of the flavor with be absorbed by the cracked wheat which makes this an awesome leftover dish as well. I often will make the full recipe and eat this dish all week as a side dish to my main meal or as a snack with hummus and pita bread.

Serves: 8

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi


    It comes that time of year where we all tend to want to splurge on various comfort foods, but this winter try being kinder to your body while still enjoying the abundance of food this season has to offer with a few vegan recipes. This vegan sweet potato gnocchi was altered from an amazing recipe I found on Instructables.com which has step by step instructions with pictures on how to make it. Enjoy!




Sweet Potato Gnocchi
     This wonderful recipe is traditionally made with mashed potatoes, but this fall try spicing it up by making sweet potato gnocchi. You can also make it using pumpkin or butternut squash instead.

Ingredients

Gnocchi:                                                  Sauce:
3 medium sweet potatoes                        1 can of diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups of flour                                     2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of salt                                              A handful of pitted black olives
½ tsp of nutmeg                                       One small celery stalk
                                                                 One small onion, diced                  
                                                                 3 basil leaves, roughly torn
                                                                 2 tablespoons of olive oil
                                                                 1 teaspoon of oregano
    
     Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 and bake the sweet potatoes whole for 45 to 55 minutes or until very tender (they should start to ooze a little out of the skin). After they have slightly cooled cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon into a mixing bowl. Put in the freeze to cool for about 30 minutes.

    Step 2: Once the sweet potatoes have cooled mix in the flour, salt, and nutmeg. Turn the dough onto a flour covered surface and continue to knead the dough. Separate the dough into 1 inch tubes and segment them into half inch pillow shapes. Put to the side.

    Step 3: Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and olives until tender. Add the diced tomatoes and spices. Simmer until it is a saucy consistency and most of the tomatoes chunks have been broken down which should be about ten minutes.

     Step 4: When the sauce is almost done boil a large pot of lightly salted water. Once it is boiling add the gnocchi (make sure they don’t stick together). Continue to boil the gnocchi for 2 to 4 minutes. Once they are done the gnocchi will float to the top. Drain the gnocchi in a colander and return them to the pot. Add the finished sauce and they are ready to be served.

(Serves 4)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The 101 Day Challenge Celebration

      The other night I celebrated the completion of my 101 day Vegan Challenge by inviting a bunch of my friends over for a vegan potluck and karaoke party. I thought that it would be the perfect way to celebrate for I would be surrounded by tons of great vegan food and challenge others to bring a vegan dish of their own. People came with a variety of different foods such as; veggie platters, fruit, soup, cookies, cupcakes, and chips. I must say my favorite dish was the ingenious dessert my roommate came up with. Not only did she make delicious vegan cupcakes, but they were shaped like microphones!



    Here is the recipe for those of you that would like to try and make these amazing cupcakes.

Microphone Cup Cakes
1 cup soymilk
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 box (24 pack) of ice cream cones
Vanilla frosting
A few drops of black food coloring
Silver Sprinkles
Mini muffin paper liners
Mini muffin pan


    Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350F and line with the mini muffin pan with paper liners.
    Step 2: Mix the soy milk and vinegar together and let sit for a few minutes. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and into the bowl and mix.
     Step 3: In a separate large bowl use a handheld mixer to cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy (but don't beat past two minutes). Beat in the vanilla and soy milk mixture.
    Step 4: Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way and bake for 15 minutes.
    Step 5: Mix a few drops of black food coloring with the vanilla frosting until gray. Use the back of a spoon to spread the frosting around the inner sides of the cones to affix the cupcakes.
     Step 6: Once the cupcakes have cooled remove them from their wrappers. Stick one cupcake right side up into the cone and frost its top. Then stick a second cupcake on top of the first and frost its top.
     Step 7: Pour the silver sprinkles in a bowl and coat the top cupcake with sprinkles.


(Makes 4 dozen mini cupcakes - 2 dozen full microphone cupcakes)



Enjoy!








Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I Have Learned


     I never thought before starting this challenge that I would ever become vegan, let alone stick with it after this 101 Day Challenge. At that time I had initially started this challenge I had just been diagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome and high cholesterol, as well as decided to pursue a career in public relations, and needed to come up with a topic to blog about that I could show to potential employers. While I was searching for the perfect topic that I could write a blog about I was seeing a lot of doctors about my various health problems. My doctor told me to stay away from dairy products, which can be hard to digest, for a while to see if that was the cause of my frequent stomach problems, and was sequentially informed that I had high cholesterol. I normally hardly ate any meat and by cutting dairy product out of my diet I realized I would already be eating pretty much a vegan diet. That’s was when the light bulb went off and I had my blog topic; “The 101 Day Vegan Challenge”.


     I went into the challenge believing that I would only do it for 101 days until my stomach recovered, and my blog was complete.  I now know there is so much more to offer from the vegan diet and way of lifethan I had originally thought. I have seen so many improvements both in my overall physical and mental health, as well as in my daily life since starting this challenge. I have noticed little changes like the fact that I use to have really weak nails that always broke which are stronger and seem to grow twice as fast, or that my taste buds and appetite has changed so that I actually crave fresh fruits and veggies! There were also the great benefits of my new found ability to better control my irritable bowl syndrome, my zero intake of "bad" cholesterol found (only in animal products), and a leaner stomach. Not only were there tons of health benefits, but also by partaking in this challenge it has opened me up to a whole 'nother world of enviromentally conscious caring people and businesses alike. I have started pay more attention to how my actions effect my environment and those around me. Even though during this challenge my eyes were opened to many horrible things that are happening in our world, like the abuse and neglect of animals, I am finding I that have started to look at things in a more positive light then ever before. 

    I have to say that completing this personal challenge has changed my life for the better and I can't ever see myself going back, now that I have seen all the positive effects that this diet and way of life can have on a person. I encourage all of you to try it for your self and see what a difference it makes on your own life. Although this challenge is over and I will not longer be writing daily posts I will probably update this blog every so often with new recipes and things I am learning as I continue to submerge myself in the vegan way of life.

Day 101: Food Shelf Life

     As many of you well know yesterday was my last official day of my vegan challenge, and unfortunately I wasn't able to write my post until this morning due to my hectic schedule with school just coming back into session. I was determined though to stick it through and write a great conclusion in two posts for the completion of this journey.

     For my last day I decided it would be appropriate to talk about the shelf life of the food that we buy at our various grocery stores, and farmers markets. This information is important for two reasons; health and reducing waste. On one end of the spectrum is the general health concern of expired food. We all have had those moments when we look at our leftovers in the refrigerator that we made last week and wonder if it is still safe to consume without getting sick. On the other hand Americans waste roughly 14% of their food purchases, and 15% of that includes food that were still within their expiration date.


    This information is especially important for vegans who often consume a lot of fresh produce which tends to spoil relatively quickly in relation to other processed foods. In order to better plan your grocery lists so your food doesn't go bad, before you get a chance to getting around to cooking it, I would recommend checking out ShelfLifeAdvise which gives you all the information you need to know about the shelf life or your food, how to better store it so it lasts longer, as well as informs you about up to date food recall information.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the expiration dates on a lot of the products you might pick up at the grocery store do not mean that's the exact date you can no longer safely consume that product. Expiration dates on products is about quality. By giving you a date on the product there reassuring you that by that date you will still have the best quality, but that is by no means the actual shelf life of the product. Many Food Banks and other public dining facilities for those that are less fortunate often take the food that has slightly passed that expiration date and make wonderful healthy meals for those who cannot afford it. I helped out at a food kitchen once, and they had the absolute best produce for it is always the ripest right before it is about to go bad. These public institutions by no means feeds there clientele "bad food" but is taking a step to make due with the waste that the misconceptions on what expiration dates mean produces on a daily basis.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 100: No-Bake Almond Oatmeal Cookies

       If you haven't realized by now I have a thing for oatmeal cookies. Tonight I had a sweet tooth craving, but low and behold I didn't have much in my kitchen for baking once again, so i decided to get creative. I cracked open my trusty cookie book "The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur" by Kelly Peloza which I talked about on day 28 to find some recipe that I could alter. I found an interesting No-Bake Cashew Oatmeal Cookie recipe, but didn't have any cashew butter or soymilk, so instead I substituted cashew butter for almond butter and almond milk for soymilk making my version of the recipe which I call the No-Bake Almond Oatmeal Cookies.

      Another thing I found to be intriguing was that initially when I read the "No-Bake" in the recipe title I immediately assumed it was raw, but interestingly enough it uses the stove top to melt the ingredients together rather than in the oven.


     While the cookies in the picture might not seem all that aesthetically pleasing don't be fooled for these are actually one of the best vegan cookie recipes I have yet to make. These cookies use are held together by the caramelized sugar in the recipe, giving it a rice crispy like texture. The best part though was the total cook and prep time time was under ten minutes!

No-Bake Almond Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of almond milk
1 1/2 cup of raw sugar (regular sugar is fine too)
6 tablespoons of vegan margarine
1/2 cup of almond butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups of rolled oats

    Step 1: in a medium sauce pan dissolve the flour in the almond milk at low heat. Add the sugar and margarine then bring to boil at medium to low heat. Boil for about one minute stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add almond butter, vanilla, and oats; stirring until thick.

    Step 2: Drop the mixture in large spoonfuls onto parchment paper and let cool. For faster results you can also stick them in the refrigerator for a bit.

.Makes 3 Dozen (can can always halve the recipe as well, which I always do since I have no self control when it comes to vegan goodies)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

99: Cat and Dog Fur Sold in China

    The other day when I opened my mail I realized I had received one of those we need your money letters, that we are all so accustom to, from PETA. I was about to throw it away, since I already have a few designated charities I donate to, when this headline caught my eye "Cruelty to Cats and Dogs". A lot of people will not blink and eye when you tell them what is done to livestock before it hits there plate, but when you start telling them what is done to cats and dogs, animals you normally keep as pets, it hits them hard. This article talks about the abuse of cats in dogs in China where these animals are killed mercilessly for there fur. But it doesn't stop there, puppies and kittens in addition to adult domestic animals are killed as well for there soft pelts.


    These animals are crammed into tiny cages with one on top of another. Some investigators found cages that contained as much as twenty cats in one small cage. Often in these cages there would be dead dogs and cats among the rest that weren't able to take the strain of the transportation before slaughter. Not only are the small cages brutal, but often when unloading the trucks the cages would be tossed 10 feet from the top of trucks to the ground with no regard for the animals in side them. This would result in the animals having shattered bones from the impact alone. Not even the death of these animals are humane as they used methods such as anal electrocution, bludgeoning, kicking, strangling with wire nooses, drowning by forcing water down animals mouths with a hose, and even live skinning. The worse part is cats and dogs can actually continue to breath and blink for up to five minutes after they have been skinned alive!


      Often these animals are domestic animals that were stolen from their families and still have there collars up until they are slaughtered. Frequently fur from these animals are mislabeled and sold in the US and Europe. So if you buy fur know that you could very well be unknowingly buying the fur of someone else's beloved pet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 98: Halloween


       I have found that a lot of people on various forums are already talking about what they are going to give out this year to trick-or-treaters for Halloween. The dilemma is that a lot of the traditional candy is not vegan, and the certified vegan candy is too expensive for most people to give out to a big group of kids. I have heard some people talking about possibly handing out healthy snacks which most kids tend to hate, or making homemade goodies which parents will throw out of their children’s stash any ways. So what is someone who is vegan, and doesn’t want to give out tainted candy do?


     I found this great article on VegNews website “The Official Guide to Halloween Candy” which list tons of acceptable inexpensive candy without any animal products such as Skittles, Dum-Dums, Swedish fish, Sour Patch Kids, and a lot more. Some other treats that are not listed in that article but are in fact vegan are Twizlers, Oreos, and Nutter Butters. You could also go the healthier route and hand out small bags of pretzels, microwavable popcorn (vegan of course), chips, …ect. When handing out healthier candy try and keep in mind what a kid might actually want. If it is too healthy they might just end up throwing it away. Another option is to fill their bags with other in expensive non food items like pencils, paying cards, stickers, and party favors. One really good idea someone posted on a forum was to fill little party bags with vegan candy (make sure they are wrapped), vegan stickers, and small kid friendly began pamphlets. Having a sticker on the bag is a good idea for it lets other vegan families know that the candy is most likely vegan and gets there children asking questions. On the other hand having pamphlets in the baggies could upset the children’s parents, so think about what you are putting in there. I hoped this post helped those of you who were unsure of what to hand out this Halloween.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 97: Recycling Box

     I told every one I was going to talk about my free nifty recycling box I got, and If you are saying to your self "how does this even relate to being vegan?" check out day 95.

     I went to one of my friends house a while back and noticed she had an awesome recycling box. Thinking of my own recycling mess at home with tons of paper bags lines up with various cans and bottles, I couldn't help myself but to find out where she obtained this awesome storage device.


     She informed me that she got it off the site Cal Recycle which offers this services to different companies in order to help promote recycling. Not only does this company offer a great recycling boxes, but they also offer free posters and stickers for companies to help promote recycling as well as all the information you need to know about recycling. So if you have the same problem like I did with piles of recycling in just a bunch of paper bags, which is a major fire hazard I may add, then you should check out this site and order your free snazzy recycling box today. 
   
   

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 96:Yard House

     Yesterday I went out for a late lunch at Yard House with my boyfriend's family for his mother birthday. I was a little bit worried that there would be nothing for me to eat, and wasn't looking forward to trying to negotiate with the waiter or waitress what they could take off certain dishes to make it vegan in front of his family. But to my relief I found they had a whole vegetarian section on their menu.


     I would have never guessed that this pub like restaurant would have a large vegetarian based section on their menu. The section was labeled Gardein which was what they called their chicken or beef substitute made from soy, wheat, pea proteins, vegetables, and grains. All of there regular burgers had the option of be switched to a Gardein burger, as well as included the choice of a regular or wheat bun. My boyfriend and I both decided on the Pepper Crusted Gorgonzola burger with a Gardein burger, whole wheat bun, and no cheese. The Pepper Crusted Gorgonzola Burger consisted of sauteed crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach along with a side of garlic fries. My boyfriend took one look at his burger and said "this is the fanciest burger I have ever seen served" for it was presented elegantly on a white platter with the fries on the side in a metal cup. Not only was our meal elegantly presented, but I must say it was the best vegan burger I have ever tasted as of yet.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 95: Environment

       So by now if you have been reading my blog you know about a little bit of nutrition, a few vegan recipes, some great books and restaurants, as well as about the miss treatment of animals in our society, but the one thing I haven't touched on too much was how being vegan helps the environment. The other night I told my boyfriend how I was going to write my blog on this great free product to help people recycle in there homes and workplaces and he said "how does that relate to being vegan?". So instead of writing about my nifty recycling box I just got (which I will probably write about tomorrow any ways for it is really cool), I am going to write about the connection between being vegan and being environmentally conscious. Most vegans are environmentally conscious for they are aware of the negative effects that the meat and dairy industry has on our environment, as well as many of the other things people do about their daily lives. Here is a little bit, for those of you who might not already know, about the immense negative affects the meat and dairy industries have on our world.

The negative affects of meat and dairy production on out environment:



* Climate Change - Livestock from meat and dairy industries are the major source to blame for this epidemic for they are responsible for 18% percent of green house gas emissions alone, as well as 64% of anthropogenic ammonia emissions which contribute to acid rain and acidification of eco systems.

* Water - Livestock uses 8% of the world's water supply and is also one of the largest sources for water pollution from animal waste (a single cow can produce 120 pounds of wet manure a day which is the same amount of waste as 20 to 40 people produce in one day) , the antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures. These all contribute to the "dead zones" in coastal areas, and degradation of coral reefs. Here is a fun fact, the U.S Environmental Agency estimated that 40% of america's rivers and 46% of american lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, and aquatic life.

* Land Degradation - Expansion of livestock production is one of the key factors of deforestation. In Latin America 70% of previous forested land is now occupied by pastures.

* Biodiversity - Since livestock production is one of the leading sources of deforestation, land degradation, climate change, pollution, and over fishing it has been speculated that it could also be one of the major sources of the loss of biodiversity.

     This is just a glimpse of what the meat and dairy industry are doing to our world. Also note that the term "livestock" refers to all farm animals including pigs, birds raised for meat, egg-laying hens, and dairy cows. If you are interested in more information you can see where I got most of my information at Vegan Outreach or get more in depth information at The Vegan Society from their article "Environment: How Your Diet Could Change the World".

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 94: Sex

      A few days ago I came across this great clip from the new movie "Forks Over Knives" which discusses how vegan is the new Viagra. In this clip there are many different specialists talking about how when you eat a lot of meat and dairy you will start to clog you arteries. The first one to go is normally that which goes to your penis or clitoris causing erectile dysfunctions and low libido. On the other hand if you choose to eat a healthier plant based diet there will be an increased blood flow to the sexual organs. But don't take my word for it, see for your self.


      There are many different types of foods to look for to help you improve your sex life, which makes grocery shopping for healthier foods a lot more interesting. Here are some super sex foods I believe everyone should know about:

Spinach and other Green Veggies - spinach is a major source of magnesium which helps dilate the blood vessels which means there will be better blood flow to the genital area which in turn creates a greater arousal for both men and women.

Peaches and other Fruit - Men who consume 200 milligrams of vitamin C a day improve their sperm count. Watermelon is also a great super sex food for it contains citrulline which is converted to the amino acid arginine which has the same basic effect on the body as Viagra.

Oatmeal and other whole grains - eating oatmeal is one of the few natural ways to boost testosterone in the blood stream. I know, who knew? Testosterone plays a major role in sex drive as well as the intensity of orgasms in both men and women.



      Not only does eating a healthier plant based diet improve your sex drive and erections but it changes the taste of your bodily fluids. Various people have reported that vegan semen is significantly sweeter than that of a meat eaters. ( Note: I am not condoning people to have unprotected oral sex for you should always take precautions when it comes to your health) While the digestion of meat and dairy products negatively effect the taste of sperm on the other hand so does garlic, onions, brussels sprouts, and various veggie curries. You can actual purposely sweeten your semen by ingesting more fruits such as pineapple, and bananas.

       Swallowing semen is actual pretty healthy for it contains protein, zinc, sugar, and various vitamins. The only thing you have to watch out for is sexually transmitted diseases. You should always have both you and your partner tested before engaging in any sexual activities anyways so you should be pretty safe if you’re monogamous. I do not know how they tested to see what foods change the taste of semen, but my boyfriend who is currently studying to become a doctor informed me that in a lab substances can be tested to be sweet or sour by testing the ph balance. The more acidic (such as meat and dairy) the more sour the taste. The more alkaline (such as various fruits and vegetables) the more sweet the taste.  Therefore you do not need to physically taste the semen to know what foods have changed the taste. If you are interested to see the ph balance of the food you are eating, and experiment for yourself check out The Alkaline Food Chart.

Day 93: Meetup

      As I am coming to the end of my 101 day challenge I thought would be a good idea to start surrounding myself with people who have the same values so that when this challenge is over I will have the support from those around me to continue.


         Most of you already know of the greet social networking site Meetup which helps you connect with people that have your same interests. I absolutely love this site for it makes me feel like I am going to meet the clubs day, and have all these options in front of me. Recently I have been browsing through some vegan groups in my area such as Greater LA Vegan Hikers, Vegan Foodies, and Vegan Ladies of LA. I so far have gone to two events using Meetup. The first was the Animal Rights National Conference on day day 53 that was posted on the Vegan Foodies group, and the second I attended last night through the Vegan Ladies of LA group.


     Last night I went to the well known group Compassion over Killing's labor day weekend BBQ. This event was no only a get together for labor day weekend, but also a promoting event were you would get in for free if you brought a non-vegan along with you. At this event they had vegan versions of hamburgers, hot dogs, cookies, cheesecake and a lot more. I was very interested in trying these various brands of food since I have been having a hard time finding vegan hot dogs and hamburgers that I like. I tried both their hamburgers and hot dogs which were both great and was also presently suprise by the amazing vegan cheesecake they served. I have never been a fan of normal cheesecake, but I learned today that I absolutely love vegan cheesecake! The two vegan cheesecakes I was able to try were blueberry, and carrot cheesecake. My boyfriend and I got different ones so we could try both, and I must say the carrot cheesecake was my favorite for it had a very rich almost chocolaty taste to it. All in all the event was great and I got to meet a lot of interesting people that were at the height of their career and clearly loving it.

     If you are looking to get some support from people with the same values and interests I highly recommend you try and get involved through meetup or in some other way so you will feel integrated into the vegan community and get the support you need to make a difference.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 92: Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

     The other day I had a major sweet craving, so I decided to pull out my handy dandy cook book "The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur" by Kelly Peloza, that I originally talked about on day 28, and make her Crispy Chewy Oatmeal Cookies.

       
       The recipe came out perfect with the sugar caramelizing around the edges. I left out the raisins in mine for I was too lazy to go to the store. I also inevitably ended up halving the recipe as well since I have no self control and would eat them all if I didn't, but am listing the full original recipe below. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Cookies
2/3 cup of canola oil
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup of soymilk
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 2/3 cups of oats
1 1/3 cups raisins

    Step 1: In a large mixing bowl stir in all the ingredients, except the oats and raisins, and beat with an electric beater. Stir in the oats and raisins. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add an additional amount of soymilk until it reaches it desired consistency.

    Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take about two tablespoons worth of dough, place lightly on a greased baking sheet, and flatten. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown around the edges.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 91: Poop

       The more and more I learn about nutrition, the more I heard about the fact that if you are eating right it will show up in your poop. Yes I said it Poop! now lets get over it and move on.


       There are three things your are looking for in your poop; shape, consistency, and color. Dr. Oz, whom many of you might remember from the Oprah show, has a short video called ""Poop Primer" which goes into detail of what your poop should look like with a scale of clay poop models ordered from 1 to 7, one being diarrhea and 7 being constipated.You should have a 4, and have a sort of S-shaped poop.

      If you are on the lower end with diahirra then it could be because of irrtable bowl syndrome, allergies, or some other problem going on. If you are on the higher end of the spectrum and are constipated that means your poop does not have enough water in it. To help cure this problem you should have more water, and eat more fiber which you can find in a lot of leafy green vegetables.

    Another thing you should look for is color. If it is brown or a little green that's ok, but if you poop is black that means there is blood in your stool. Also if its red it could be hemorrhoids or lower intestinal bleeding. Certain foods can also change the color as well. If you have some bizarre poop colors its always a good idea to get checked out by your doctor.


     Ok, so now what does this have to do with being vegan you may ask. Everything! When you become vegan you will notice a major difference in your poop. When you first transition you might have a little bit of diarrhea at first from cutting out cheese and other dairy products, which work as natural binding agents. But once your body has gotten rid of that toxins from you previous diet you will enjoy plenty of those easy S-shaped healthy poops Dr. Oz talked about, and you will find that you will use the bathroom more frequently from the loads of fiber in your diet.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 90: Whitewash

     I just recently finished the book "Whitwash; the disturbing truth about cow's milk and your health" by Joseph Keon. Since I have started this challenge 90 days ago, I have read some pretty awful stuff about milk products but nothing compares to the in depth description of the harmful effects of dairy products on the human body as well as the environment that Joseph Keon goes into in this great new book. If there is one book ever person should read, this would be it.


     Joesph Keon leaves no stone unturned as he goes on about the nutritional pitfall of dairy products, their harmful side effects, and how our consumption of dairy products is hurting us as a nation with the rising rate of obesity and osteoporosis. There were a few things I read in this book that I truthfully didn't believe when I first read it for it seemed to outrageous, like the fact that there is actually rocket fuel in milk, but once I went to the back of the book and went through his 50 or so pages of his references I was convinced. Plus I found three other well known books that said the exact same thing! So yes there is traces of rocket fuel in our milk.

     If dairy products came with a list of there side effects, like most of our medications do, you might think twice before consuming them. Here is a list of some of the side effects dairy products have on the human body and a ton of serious diseases it can lead to.

Side Effects - the consumption of dairy products may cause....
Acne
Addiction (to dairy products, especially cheese)
Allergy (lactose intolerance,or actual allergy to milk)
Headache
Backpain
Arthritis and Joint Pain
Cataracts
Heart Disease
Obesity
Crohn's Disease
Cancer- Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Prostate Cancer
Multiple Sclerosis
Parkinson's Disease
Infertility
Menstrual Cramps
Mad Cow Disease
Tuberculosis

     If you are curious about how dairy products could possible cause such diseases, each one of these side effects is explained in depth in Joseph Keon's book "Whitewash".

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 89: Orange and Spice Mashed Sweet Potatoes

       Recently I picked up a free recipe at Ralph's for Orange and Spice Mashed Sweet Potatoes. So the other day for lunch I decided to try out this new recipe, for I have a seemingly profound love for well baked sweet potatoes.


Orange and Spice Mashed Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon of vegan margarine
1 tablespoon of molasses

    Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 and bake the sweet potatoes whole for 45 to 55 minutes or until very tender (they should start to ooze a little out of the skin). After they have slightly cooled cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon into a mixing bowl. Add the orange juice, nutmeg, allspice, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Beat with an electric beater until fluffy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Step 2: Lightly coat a 1-quart baking dish with vegan butter or oil before spooning the potato mixture into the dish. Drizzle molasses over the potatoes and dot with the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter.

    Step 3: Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Serves 3 to 4

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 88: Food Corps

      The other night I took my boyfriend to The Original Pizza Cookery for dinner, for I absolutely love that place, and we had the vegan Gourmet Garden Pizza with vegan mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, fresh garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh cilantro on a whole grain crust. It was wonderful, but I must say that crust wise the mini pizzas are better they are more thick and fluffy than the crispy thin crust of our large pizza, but then again that is just a personal preference.


      Lately I have been hitting up whole foods a lot. I even will go just to browse through the store, since it is too expensive for me to buy anything there on a consistent basis,  where I will get ideas on what vegan products are available out there. They other day I picked up a flier about Whole Food's Whole Kids Foundation which is now partnering with Food Corps to help kids learn healthy eating habits and teach them how it effects their bodies. I thought this was a fascinating project and went to do more research on what Food Corps is all about.


    Like government agencies such as the peace corps, food corps is a full year commitment of paid public service. People who choose to serve in this organization teach children about food and nutrition, grow healthy food with kids and communities in school gardens, and help change what these children are eating for lunch by connecting farms and schools.

     Also like Peace Corps you will be offered a living allowance which is $15,000 for Food Corps, as well as health insurance, student loan forbearance, childcare if needed, and a $5,550 education award for those of you that want to continue your education. All you need to be eligible for such a position is to be over the age of 18, have a high school degree, and be a legal resident of the United States. I have always thought about joining the peace corp, but this is way more up my alley. Who knows maybe someday I will join the team and work to make a difference in the health of children of today.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 87: Corn and Garbanzo Bean Salad

   I must say that as I have been getting further into my challenge I find that I love salads that are more a mixture of various beans and veggies with a little bit of simple salad dressing, rather than the more traditional lettuce based salads.

      My boyfriend's mom makes the best salads, and a while ago she made this amazing salad which mainly consisted for corn and garbanzo beans with a little bit of lime juice. Today I tried to recreate it for it is a easy dish to make in just a few minutes.



Corn and Garbanzo Bean Salad
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can or corn
1 small cucumber
4 to 5 baby sweet peppers
cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice

     Step 1: Cut the cucumber and sweet peppers into small slices, chop the cilantro, and add them into a large bowl along with the corn and garbanzo beans. Mix in the 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and toss before serving.

Serves 3 to 4 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 86: Skinny Bitch


       I just recently finished listening to the book on tape “Skinny Bitch; a no-nonsense tough-love guide for savy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin with my boyfriend when we made our trip down to San Diego two weeks ago.


     This has to have been one of the best overall health and nutrition books I have read. It is absolutely hilarious with chapters named “sugar is the devil”, “Dead, Rotting, Decomposing Flesh”, “Don’t be a Pussy” and so one. These authors really tell you like it is with eye catching verbiage and language you normally won’t see in most health books. My favorite quote from this book was when she referred to soda as “liquid Satan”, I mean who says that!

     While I was laughing throughout this whole book, I also was learning some important information such as the fact that diet soda is ten times worse than normal soda for the chemicals in diet soda actually help preserve your fat cells!

   One of the most eye opening chapters for me personally was Chapter 11 “Let’s Eat” for it listed all those ingredients on the back of packages that most of us don’t know what they are and why we shouldn’t be eating them. Here are some of the most disgusting / scary ones that some of us eat without even realizing it.



Bad or Potentially Bad Ingredients

Ambergris – From whale intestines (used to flavor foods and beverages)
Artificial, FD & C food coloring – Derived from coal-tar and can contain trace amounts of lead and arsenic.
Butylated Hhydroxanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – a preservative that can cause cancer, birth defects, and infertility
Carmine, cochineal, carminic acid – red pigment from crushed female cochineal insect and often it takes 70,000 beetles to produce one pound of this die.
Cystine – an amino acid found in horse hair and urine
Duodenum substances – come from the digestive tracts of cows and pigs
Gelatin, gel – protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments and/or bones with water from cows and pigs.
Isinglass – a form of gelatin prepared from internal membranes of fish bladders
Lipase – enzyme from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, baby goats, and lambs
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – flavor enhancer which is blamed for reproductive, nervous system and brain disorders
Nitrates – potentially deadly carcinogenic preservatives found in processed food and meats
Pepsin – in hog’s stomachs, that works as a clotting agent
Potassium Bromate – Can cause cancer, nervous system disorders, and kidney failure (banned worldwide expect for Japan and the US)
Urea, uric acid, carbamide – excreted from urine and other bodily fluids

     After reading this sample from book of the long list of ingredients you really shouldn’t be eating you might be over whelmed. I know I was, but it all comes back to the point that you should only buy food with ingredients that you know what they are. I always feel a sense of relief when I find peanut butter that has only one ingredient; peanuts. So if you see a long list of confusing ingredients just don’t buy it. You really don’t want to be putting all that junk in your body any way.

Day 85: Tofu Scramble

     This morning I had almost absolutely nothing in the fridge or cabinets that I could use for breakfast. There was no cereal, milk, flour, oatmeal, fruit, or nuts but I did have a big block of tofu and two pieces of bread. So I decided to try tofu scramble for the first time, with only a few veggies I found at the back of my refrigerator.


     I really wasn't expected much from this dish, but since I have seen it in numerous recipe books I assumed it had to be at least remotely appealing. I was pleasantly suprised how simply wonderful it tasted. On one of the days where I was expecting to have my worst breakfast of the week (since there was literally nothing to eat in my apartment) I had one of the best. I felt wonderful after eating this simple dish, and had a ton of energy to start my day. If you haven't tried a tofu scramble dish, you should for it is absolutely delightful.

Tofu Scramble
1 (14 ounce) package of firm tofu
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
pepper and salt to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast
Olive Oil
2 cloves of minced garlic
Green onions
One red bell pepper

Different optional veggies and other ingredients you can mix and match:
Tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, various bell peppers, and vegan sausage substitute

    Step 1: Pour a little bit of olive oil into a large frying pan and saute the various veggies or other nontofu ingredients until soft (except for green onions, put them in a few minutes before the dish is ready to serve)

    Step 3: Break up the tofu with a fork and add it to your cooked veggies. Pour in the spice mixture, and thoroughly mix while cooking the tofu.

Serves 2 to 3

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 84: Mushroom Pasta

      The other night I decided to try and veganize a great mushroom pasta recipe I found in an old addition of Yoga Journal. I tore out the recipe from the magazine to save for later and unfortunately ended up losing it. I was still determined to have a mushroom pasta dish so I made it up as I went along.


      I used very few ingredients, and it came out great. Along with my mushroom pasta for dinner I also had a simple side of a thinly sliced cucumber salad.

Mushroom Pasta
Whole wheat pasta
Olive Oil
Thinly sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of minced garlic
Pinch of salt
Vegan parmesan cheese (optional)

     Step 1: Bring water to boil in a large pot with a little bit of salt. Cook the pasta for about 10 to 15 minutes or until al dente.

    Step 2: With a generous amount of olive oil saute the garlic and mushrooms with a pinch of salt in a small sauce pan.

    Step 3: Drain the pasta and place back in the pot, mixing in the sauce you just made.Serve immediately, adding a tiny bit of shredded parmesan cheese on top.

    Note: I think next time instead of sauteing the garlic and mushrooms with olive oil I will do it with vegan margarine, and then add a tiny bit of olive oil later to get a better consistency and flavor.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 83: Seasonal Eating

     We are constantly hearing that we should be eating local organic food, but often people leave out that food that is in season, which isn't shipped half way across the world, just simply tastes better. If you haven't already noticed the growing trend of going to farmers markets it is time to get on the bandwagon and start shopping at local farmers markets, or just being aware of in what season you should be buying your produce. Here are some examples of produce you see every day sorted by season.



Spring: This season focuses on tender leafy greens vegetables.
* Artichokes            * Lettuce
* Asparagus             * Basil
* Cherries                * Parsley
* Spinach

Summer: The season is abundant with fresh ripe fruit, and cooling foods
* Various berries        * Tomatoes        
* Eggplant                  * Peaches        
* Avocado                 * Apricots
* Figs                         * Plums
* Corn                       * Strawberries
* Green beans            * Peppers

Fall: Autumn harvest foods
* Garlic                          * Pumpkin          
* Kale                            * Carrots          
* Apples                        * Ginger
* Brussels Sprouts          * Broccoli
* Pears                           * Cauliflower


Winter: A lot of roots, nuts are plentiful during this season.
* Potato              * Nuts
* Oranges           * Garlic
* Pomegranate    * Onions

    While researching this topic I also stumbled across the Healthy Times Blog which listed a few great tools to keep track of the food that is in season before you head off the the grocery store. There is a great iphone app called seasons which gives you seasonal information about fruits, vegetables and more; which is very helpful for those weird fruits you have no idea were they came from. (available for purchase at $1.99)


      There is an abundance of great resources out their on this topic such as the UK based campaign through the site Eat Seasonably (if you click on this link it will take you to their awesome, easy to read, monthly calendar so you may see what currently is in season). So with all these available resources there is no reason not to try and eat by season. If your only excuse is that there are no farmers markets around you and you have no access to locally grow seasonal food, think again. The site Smarter Living provides an interactive map of all the farmers markets in your specific area.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 82: Pasta Pizza

     This morning I woke up early to have breakfast with my parents before they headed back to northern California. I decided to make them one of my favorite vegan dishes, as of yet, blueberry pancakes. I have probably used that recipe 5 or 6 times already since I made them initially on day 30. So if you haven't tried this recipe out already it is definitely worth checking out.

     This evening, to top off the end of my weekend, my boyfriend and I took the ingredients left over from the vegan pizza we made my parents the other night and decided to make our own creation, pasta pizza with a side of steamed broccoli. It was super easy and a great way to get rid of left over ingredients.



Pasta Pizza
whole wheat pasta
sliced mushrooms
sliced black olives
Minced garlic
Olive Oil
Tomato Puree
Diced Tomatoes
Salt
Oregano
Parsley
Follow Your Heart soy based mozzarella (optional)

    Step 1: Bring water to boil in a large pot and cook pasta for about ten to 15 minutes until al dente.

    Step 2: In a medium frying pan heat up the olive oil and saute the garlic for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms and olives. Once the mushrooms have softened, on low heat add both the tomato puree and diced tomatoes. Stir in the oregano, a little bit of salt, and parsley.

    Step 3: Drain the pasta and place back in the pot mixing in the sauce you just made. Serve immediately adding a tiny bit of shredded follow your heart mozzarella soy based cheese.


Day 81: The Fig Tree Cafe and Grill

     Today I took my parents to Venice beach to see the canals and walk the boardwalk. Before we left I looked up a couple places near by to go for lunch on www.happycow.net. I didn't want to get stuck near lunch time with out a plan of where we were going to eat, since my dad always needs to eat right away or he gets a little cranky. We ended up eating at the Fig Tree Cafe and Grill right on the boardwalk.


     The Fig Tree Cafe and Grill has been around since 1978 and was voted the best restaurant on Venice beach boardwalk.The great thing about this restaurant is they not only have cool indoor seating for those who want to get out of the sun, but also have an abundance of outdoor seating where you can clearly see the boardwalk. My mother absolutely loved this for she enjoys to people watch, and those of you that have been to Venice beach know that this is one of the best places to people watch with all the street performers and various characters.


     While this restaurant isn't vegan or vegetarian for the most part, the staff is very open and willing to meet your accommodations by informing you of the ingredients of their various dishes as well as offering to specialize their dishes to meet your dietary needs. Both my parents and my boyfriend all chose the LA Burrito with black bean chili, grilled veggies, brown rice, cotija cheese, guacamole, red chili sauce, sour creme, and side of salsa served with organic greens. My boyfriend opted to have the burrito without cheese or sour creme, so I got a chance to try it and I must say it was scrumptious.


    I decided to be a little bit different then the rest of the gang and ordered the Middle East Salad with Pita, that consisted of hummus, tabbouleh, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta. I specifically asked for no feta and made sure the cucumbers weren't in the traditional middle eastern yogurt sauce. All and all I really enjoyed eating there, but if I had to go back I would probably have to get that LA Burrito. Yoiu know what they always say, great minds think alike.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 80: Dinner with the Parents

     Tonight was an exciting night for my parents came to visit me for the weekend, and this evening they met my boyfriend's parents for the first time. My boyfriend decided that it would be easier to have dinner at his parents place rather than eating out, because of my new dietary restrictions, and put together a wonderful vegan friendly meal.


    He attempted to make homemade falafel pita sandwiches with pita bread, tabule, and falafel balls all from scratch! Pretty challenging endeavor, but I must say I was impressed. To top off the meal I contributed the Greek salad I made on day 10, and cherry chip soy ice cream from Trader Joe's for dessert. All and all the night was a success. Both our parents loved the food until we pointed out at dessert that the ice cream had no dairy products in it, and that it was in fact soy based. Note to self, never tell a meat eater that they are actually eating an entirely vegan meal or they will no longer feel comfortable eating it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 79: McDonalds

     These past couples years McDonalds has gotten a bad rap from contributing to obesity in children and adults alike. Today I was browsing fast food sites to see if any of them unintentionally carried vegan friendly food, and was surprised to find that McDonalds not only offered an easily accessible list of the ingredients and nutritional information for all their food on their site, but they also had a couple vegan friendly dishes as well.


Vegan Friendly Foods at McDonalds


Sides: 
     * Side Salad - mixed greens tossed with grape tomatoes and shaved carrots
                 Salad add-ins: Chili Lime Tortilla strips, Diced Apples, Grape Tomatoes, Leaf Lettuce, Lime
                                         Wedge, Salas Mix
                 Dressings: Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette, Cilantro Lime Glaze
      * Low fat granola (has honey)

Breakfast:
      * Potato Vegetable Blend
      * Bagel
      * Oatmeal (request without cream)
      * Oatmeal with brown sugar (request without cream)

Condiments: Sweet 'N Sour Sauce, Barbecue Sauce, Chipolte Barbecue Sauce (has honey), Honey, Ketchup, Mustard, Grape Jam, Liquid Margarine, McRib Sauce, and Strawberry Preservatives.

Dessert:
     * Baked Apple Pie - spiced with cinnamon, and baked with flaky pastry
     * McDonalds Cookies - Children's cookies with the faced of various McDonald characters on them


Drinks:
         Sodas: Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Diet Coke
         Juice: Orange Juice, and Minute Maid Apple Juice Box
         Coffee: Premium Roast Coffee, and Espresso
         Other: Ice Tea, Sweet Tea, Powerade Mountain Blast, Hi-C Orange Lavaburst, and Dasini Water


    McDonalds employees are trained to accommodate customer requests to custom-ordered items without meat. So you can always ask for a salad without meat or cheese, and ask for it to be topped with Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette. For made to order here is a list of other vegan items on the menu that you can mix and match to your pleasing.

Made to Order:


       * Big Mac Bun
       * Crinkle Cut Pickle Slices
       * English Muffin
       * Four Tortilla
       * Honey Wheat Roll (has honey)
       * Lettuce
       * McRib Bun
       * Onions
       * Premium Bun
       * Red Onions
       * Regular Bun
       * Salsa Roja
       * Sauteed Mushrooms
       * Sesame Seed Bun
       * Shredded Lettuce
       * Slivered Onions
       * Southwest Vegetable Blend
       * Tomato Slices

     It would be interesting to see what would happen if I went in to McDonalds and demanded a hamburger without the meat or cheese, and just asked them to add a bunch of other things in it like sauteed mushrooms, sliced onion, lettuce, and tomato.One of these days I will have to find out.

    While McDonalds does not have veggie burgers on its national menu, I was informed after emailing them that a few locations are trying this option out on their menu.

Day 78: Fresh and Easy

    Today I went to the relatively new grocery store, Fresh and Easy, that opened up down the street. I was expecting it to be over priced like whole foods, but to my surprise their food was relatively inexpensive. While this store does not carry a large sum of vegan substitute products it has a great gluten free section, for those of you that have a gluten intolerance, and all there products contained no artificial colors or flavors, no high-fructose corn syrup, and no added trans fats.


     Not only does this store offer fresh affordable products, but they strive to be environmentally friendly by making all their stores "green buildings" and adding solar panel at their distribution centers. They also are known to donate large sums of money to the various communities they reside in.

    Along with being enviromnetally friendly, and having great fresh products, their store also has a few other perks such as big wide uncluttered isles and a cute little eating area in the front where you can get eating utensils, coffee, and warm up your food you just bought if you so desire.

   The thing that I did find a little bit strange though was that there were not cashiers! All the check out stands were do it your self, with just one cashier standing by to help if needed. I must say I did mess it up a few times and had to call the cashier over to help me. But overall this is a pretty cool new store and I will definitely be going back.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 77: PMU in Premarin

     My roommate, and best friend, is borderline obsessed with horses. Just the other day when were having a conversation about my vegan blog, and different animal products in our medicine, she somehow was able to relate it right back to horses. She informed me that a drug called Premarin, that is used as a female hormone replacer for menopausal women, is actually pregnant mare's urine! Premarin (also including Prempro, Premphase, Prempac, and Premelle) is a drug that is made up of conjugated estrogen from the urine of pregnant mares that is prescribed to menopausal women to reduce symptoms, as well as prescribed by doctors to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Yuck! Not only is that just nasty but it is bad for you, and the horses that they get the urine from.


      If you are taking Premarin stop, and ask for synthetic or non PMU organic estrogen-replacement drugs instead! There has been a decline in the production of this hormone due to the fact that it has been known to cause cancer in women. Over 300 PMU ranches have closed since this was discovered, but there is over 70 in operation, and Premarin is still on the market. Even on Premarin's manufacturer's site it states that these "Estrogens increase the chance of getting cancer of the uterus". When researching this further I found on http://premarin.org/ that Premarin was once the most prescribed drug in america between (1975 to 1999) and in 2002 it was still the fourth most commonly prescribed drug. Besides the fact that it is bad for your health, the production of Premarin is harmful to the animals producing it as well.


     Mares are kept pregnant in order to collect this precious urine. Those of the mares that do not become impregnated with in a short period of time are sent back to auction or simply sent off to a slaughter house, and sold for meat in Europe. These mares are often kept tied up indoors for at least six months out of the year, without any exercise or fresh air. Also the foals these horses have are considered a by product of this business and need to be adopted or other wise are sent to a slaughter house as well.

    My roommate also supplied me with the sad story of one of the horses named Trinity that the owner of the ranch she worked at had. Trinity was a Premarin rescued foal that was donated to the director, Nora Klein Fischbach, of Strides Therapeutic Riding Center. When they first got Trinity she was taken to the vet who believed she was malnourished. They then started to train trinity at the age of three until she was five years old and flipped over backwards after being shod. A few months later Trinity went down in her stall and couldn't get back up. The vet once again said it was from the malnutrition she underwent from her original breeder, and they had to make the agonizing decision to put her to sleep.

    So it you are currently taking Premarin stop! It is bad for your health as well as the health of these beautiful creatures. For more detailed information check out http://premarin.org/.