Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 30: Blueberry Pancakes

     This morning I decided to try the blueberry pancake recipe from the Vegetarian Starter Kit that I talked about on Day 16 of my challenge along with some minor adjustments.


    These pancakes were delicious and I hardly had to add any syrup at all for the blue berries were just so sweet. I must say this is the best pancakes I have ever made from scratch. 

Blueberry Pancakes


2 cups of white flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of vanilla soy milk
3 tablespoons of canola oil
3/4 cup frozen blue berries

    Step 1: Combine all the ingredients excluding the blueberries in a bowl and mix thoroughly until smooth

    Step 2: Microwave the frozen blueberries for about a minute until they have defrosted

    Step 3: Ladle the batter onto a hot greased pan and add the blueberries where desired while it is cooking. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve with the remaining blueberries drizzled on top.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 29: Pepperoni, Mushroom, and Olive Pizza

     After experiencing different types of vegan pizza on my vacation and at the pizza cookery, I was determined to make one just as good at home. I decided that my first attempt would be the classic pepperoni, mushroom, and olive pizza I grew up with. Armed with my new pizza pan and vegan cheese I was ready to attempt to make one massive vegan pizza.


    While my pizza wasn’t as good as the pizza I ate at the Pizza Cookery it was pretty damn close. The cheese melted and the smell of pepperoni filled the air. To say the least I was quiet pleased with myself. My boyfriend and I devoured it in no time. 

Pepperoni, Mushroom, and Olive Pizza

Pizza dough
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2/3 cups of water
1/4 cup of olive oil

Corn Meal
Tomato Sauce
Garlic powder
Basil
Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese
Sliced mushrooms
Vegan pepperoni
Sliced black olives

     Step 1: Spread a thin layer of corn meal on the baking dish before laying out the pizza dough. Once the pizza dough is spread on the baking sheet lightly coat the dough in olive oil.

     Step 2: Evenly spread the tomato sauce across the top of the pizza and sprinkle garlic powder and basil on top. Top the pizza with mozzarella cheese, sliced black olives, pepperoni, and sliced mushrooms.

    Step 3: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and then bake the pizza between 13 to 17 minutes until the edges of the crust are golden brown. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 28: Vegan Snickerdoodles

     For my birthday my roommate got me this wonderful vegan dessert cook book called “The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur” by Kelly Peloza. This cookbook includes over 140 vegan cookie recipes that are absolutely scrumptious.


    When I came home from my vacation in Florida, my roommate surprised me with a warm batch of vegan snickerdoodles. I was delighted to try a new vegan version of one of my favorite types of cookies. They were so good that I had to restrain myself from eating the whole platter. Try them out your self and let me know what you think.


Snickerdoodles

¾ cup margarine
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup soy milk
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

     Step 1: Mix together the margarine and salt until fluffy. Then mix in the vanilla, soy milk, and cornstarch.

     Step 2: Sift in flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. (If the dough is too dry add a hint of soymilk without making the dough too sticky)

    Step 3: Mix the sugar and tablespoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Form the dough you made previously into 1 ½ inch balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

    Step 4: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for about 11 to 13 minutes until golden brown around the edges.

Makes about 2 dozen

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 27: Restaurants and Fast Food

     Today I faced the challenge of eating vegan airport food, but since my vacation I have learned so much when it comes to surviving non veg-friendly restaurants that it was no sweat.


     Here is a little bit of what I learned on my vacation in Orlando Florida:

1)  When going out to a non veg-friendly restaurant with your friends or family it is always a good idea to call ahead to get a general idea of what they offer.

2) If they do not offer any vegan options you can always ask if they are willing to swap out an ingredient or two in order to make your own vegan option.

3) If the waiter or waitress is unsure, ask if you can speak with the chief and they will normally be willing to make some thing that caters to your dietary needs. (I have found that often the more high end the restaurants are the more likely they will be accommodating)

4) If all else fails, and they are really not being very helpful you can always say you have certain "dietary restrictions" or food allergies. That way they are more likely to take you seriously for they think that if they mess up they could make you sick. I actually told one of the managers at a restaurant that I was vegan and he specifically told the chief I had food allergies which I thought was very interesting.

    While eating out at non veg-friendly restaurants can be a hassle it can also be a lot of fun for you often get the meet the chief and some times even get custom made dishes specially for you.


     Often we are also faced with the challenge of having to go to a fast food restaurant because of various reasons and they are definitely not going to change anything for you. I found this site called Vegan Eating Out which does a good job of listing different fast food restaurants and their vegan options. It definitively shows you that there are plenty of options out there it is just up to you to make the effort to look for them.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 26: Trattoria del Porto

     Today was our last full day in Orlando Florida, and tonight my family was craving pizza. We ended up heading to the Italian restaurant Trattoria del Porto at the Portofino Bay Hotel. While we found there was no vegan options on the menu what so ever, they were on the other hand one of the most accommodating restaurants I have been to on this vacation.


   Once informed that I had certain "dietary restrictions" they had the chief come sit with me at my table in order to figure out a dish that would work for me. The chief basically told me he could make me what ever I would like within reason, and I ended up getting a vegetarian pizza with out cheese (they had no vegetarian pizza options on their menu).


     My vegetarian pizza was loaded with tasty vegetables and was absolutely delicious. I was so glad that I wasn't forced to eat a small salad while my whole family ate pizza next to me. Instead I got one specially made just for me! I must say while this wasn't necessarily what one would typically call a veg-friendly restaurant it did have the best service out of all the restaurants I went to on my vacation.

    For more information on Trattoria de Porto check out the Universal Orlando Site or their Menu

Vegan Dishes:

None - but the chief will make you something special if informed

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 25: Margarita Ville

    Tonight we were going to try the one Italian restaurant on city walk but it was so bad that we decided to head somewhere else. It was set up as a buffet style and our hostess was really rude. Overall it was more of a fast food set up, with no ambiance what so ever.


    My mother took the opportunity to persuade the family to go to Margarita Ville instead, even though there was a 25 minute wait. I must say I was excited when I saw that they had a vegan burger option on the menu as well as marked all their vegetarian dishes so it would be easy to have other dishes altered. I ended up having the vegan Boca Burger.


    While there was a great sea shore ambiance in this restaurant, the food was not so impressive. My boca burger was less appealing than the ones I make myself at home, but I was nice not having to work so hard to find a vegan option here. The restaurant overall was pretty mediocre, but it still is a great place if you are just looking for a great margarita for it is margarita ville. 

    For more information on Margarita Ville entries check out their Menu

Vegan Dishes:

Boca Burger

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 24: Mythos Restaurant at Island's Adventure

     Tonight it was my brothers turn to pick out where we were going to eat for dinner, but he wanted to make sure I would be able to eat something substantial so he called ahead and checked for me. He ended up choosing Mythos, which is supposedly voted the best theme park restaurant. This restaurant had a cool cave like ambiance and actually had vegan as well as gluten free entries marked on the menu!


    While they only had one vegan entree and appetizer option on the menu, the one I picked was wonderful. I had the vegan version of the Pad Thai dish which tastes like the inside of a traditional Chinese egg roll with the sweet and sour sauce. For those who know me know that use to be one of my favorite Chinese food dishes, so I was quite happy to say the least.


   For more information about this restaurant check it out at the Universal Orlando Website

Vegan Dishes:

Pad Thai (ask for the vegan option)
Wild Mushroom Flat Bread (ask for the vegan option)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 23: Jake's American Bar at the Royal Pacific

    After my great vegan dinner last night Bob Marley's I was overall optimistic that armed with my dads list of vegan dishes I should have no problem form here on out. Unfortunately when we got to "Jake's American Bar" at the Royal Pacific Hotel they had changed there menu I could only find one thing on their menu that was vegan which was the Fresh Garden Greens Salad that consisted of local organic greens with cherry tomatoes, julienne carrots, and cucumbers. I was about to order that before my mother spoke with the manger who had the chief come out and talk to me!

     After informing him that I was vegan he said he could make me the Truffle Penne Pasta without the truffle cream sauce. I agreed and he made me the custom dish with out truffle sauce and added a few other vegetables as well. The dish normally consisted of arugula, cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, but he also added peppers, asparagus, and steamed broccoli as the garnish. I was so thrilled that they would go out of there way to do that for me.


For more information about the restaurant check out the City Walk Site and their Menu.

Vegans Dishes:

Fresh Garden Greens Salad
Truffle Penne Pasta (ask for it without the truffle sauce)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 22: Bob Marley's Restaurant at City Walk

     Today I am feeling a little bit better since I started avoiding the highly processed sugary snacks and sticked with oatmeal, pretzels, and a PB&J sandwich for breakfast and lunch.


     For dinner we went to Bob Marley - A Tribute to Freedom which was awesome for they actually had a vegan dish on their menu! I had the "Ital Eats Stuffed Peppers" which were amazing and consisted of oven roasted bell peppers stuffed with rice, bean, fresh vegetables, and tomato sauce. I felt so refreshed after eating this meal, after all the junk I have been eating on my vacation so far. I had more energy, and my headache started to subside. I was so grateful for this hearty meal I wanted to hug my dad.



    Here are the other vegetarian and vegan things on their menu:

Natty Dread Jamaican Vegetable Patties Jamaican vegetable patties filled with carrots, onions, red beans and sweet potatoes, cooked in a coconut milk. Accompanied by our own smokey ketchup and yucca fries 
Yucca fries
Ital Eats Stuffed PeppersOven-roasted sweet peppers stuffed with fresh vegetables, Jamaican rice
and zesty tomato sauce. Served with island greens and grilled vegetables 
No Woman, No Cry SaladA mix of baby lettuce, Island hearts of palm, fried angel hair onions, 
juicy orange supremes and citrus vinaigrette dressing
Jammin Chips - Caribbean chips served with a cool, refreshing tomato black bean roasted corn 
salsa
Coco Bread - A warm, authentic coconut flavored bread (common with Jamaican meals)

    For more information check out their menu or their restaurant information at City Walk.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 21: Vegan Food at City Walk

    Today I definitely felt the effects of the non-vegan food I ate yesterday as well as the highly processed sugary snacks we have been eating. I have low energy, a massive headache, and feel slightly nauseous. I felt deprived of fruits and vegetables and by dinner time I was determined to change that.


     Tonight we decided to try the Latin Quarter restaurant for my brother was craving Mexican food. I opted for the Latin Quarter Ensalada which had mixed greens with tomatoes, black beans, corn, and red onions. It was topped with cilantro lime dressing which sounded to be like some sort of vinaigrette, but it turned out to be a creamy dressing meaning it was most likely not vegan.

     Luckily my dad found this great artical online for tomorrow that lists the vegetarian and vegan choices at the various restaurants on the city walk. If any one is planning on taking a trip to Orlando Florida you should check it out this great artical.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 20: Traveling on a Vegan Diet

  I am off today to spend vacation in Florida with my family. While I am super excited I am also slightly worried that it will be impossible to find vegan things to eat. Being vegan when you are in the comfort of your own home is one thing, but when you are on vacation it can become a little bit more challenging as your options are a lot narrower. This will definitely be a test to say the least.


    Luckily I found this website Happy Cow which is an online community that is geared toward finding listings of vegan, vegetarian, or even veg-friendly restaurants in your immediate area. I also found out that they have an app for the iphone as well so you can find restaurants while on the go. This in not only a great site to look up restaurants and reviews, but is also great for links to vegan blogs, recipes, and so much more.    

     Today I tackled the challenge of finding vegan airport food….which was interesting. My parents and I decided to go to Chili’s for dinner where I had no idea what I was going to be able to eat. All their soups where made with chicken broth and they only had one house salad option, let just say my choices were limited. Little did I know they actually had a vegetarian black bean patty hamburger option. I ended up going with that and it was delicious. It was actually way more satisfying than the brand of tofu vegeburger I had in the past. So far so good.


    After this great experience at Chili's I decided to do some research and found that they had quiet a few options on their menu that I did not know about. Unfortunately I found it was a vegetarian option not vegan. If you are vegan you are pretty much out of luck at Chili's. Here are some of the stuff on their menu which is vegan:

Corn Tortillas are vegan
Salad without cheeses, meats, fried tortilla strips or croutons are vegan
Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing is vegan
Low-fat Vinaigrette Salad Dressing is vegan
Pico de Gallo is vegan
Salsa Picante is vegan
Rice is vegan
Guacamole is vegan
Black Beans are vegan
Steamed Veggies – Corn on the Cob, Broccoli, and Fresh Veggies are vegan ordered without oil or butter

    The only main dish that is vegan would be there classic fajitas without meat. You can check out their "Secret Menu" for further details on what vegetarian options are available when going to Chili's.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 19: Food Matters


   Just the other day I finished the book “Food Matters”, by Mark Bittman, that my boss had recommended to me after hearing about my 101 day vegan challenge. I was shocked to find out that the average American eats almost twice the amount of meat than the world average as well as ten times as much as people in developing countries. Because of this the United States is actually second to last in longevity among other industrial nations. We even eat too much protein compared to our own government’s standards, and for those of you that have watched “Food Inc.” our government standards aren’t that great.


     This book is great for people who want to make a change in their diet, but might not want to make the drastic change of becoming vegan or even vegetarian for that matter. In this book the author talks about how he changed his lifestyle so that he was pretty much vegan before dinner, and then went back to his normal lifestyle in the evening. It seems to have worked for him, but everyone has their own methods. Even just cutting down your meat consumption to one meal per day makes a big difference.

    The book also went into great depth talking about the hazards of eating too much fructose corn syrup. Fructose corn syrup will dramatically make you gain weight if you’re not careful. One of the things that stuck out to me the most was the fact that if you eat too much fructose corn syrup your liver will become better at making fat in your body. Also the more fructose corn syrup you eat the hungrier you feel. Along with making you fat too much fructose corn syrup and glucose in the diet may disable the body’s ability to regulate testosterone and estrogen levels resulting in increased acne, infertility, ovarian cysts, cardiovascular disease, and uterine cancer.

     Our whole nation is heavily reliant on meat, dairy and sugar to get them through the day which is why we are ranked the second lowest in longevity among other industrial countries. As a whole we get a whole 7% of our calorie intake from soda alone. It is sad how far technologically we have come, and yet we have somehow devolved when it comes to our food. Yes, there are more scientifically engineered food, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Make sure to look at the labels of what you are buying. If it has more than 5 or 6 ingredients ask yourself if this is something you really need to be putting into your body.
   


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 18: Meet Your Meat

     Most of you have seen the film “Food Inc” and heard a bunch of stories about how poorly all the farm animals are treated before we eat them. Like you, I too have watched the documentary and no matter how many times people tell me horror stories about what they do to these poor creatures it didn’t ever really hit home to me until I saw it with my own eyes.

    I recently watched the short video “Meet Your Meat” after Patti B. co-author of “How to Eat Like a Vegetarian, Even if You Never Want to Be One” recommended it to me. Up until I watched this video I was being vegan primarily for health reasons, and didn’t pay a great deal of attention to the animal’s involved in the process. As horrendous as that sounds it is the truth. After I saw this movie I knew this had to be stopped. I now feel very strongly against consuming animal products not only for the health reasons, but also to stop supporting the meat industry and their inhuman practices.

   This is a very graphic film that is heartbreaking to watch. If you have the stomach for it I included it below. I actually was unable to finish it for I found it to be too disturbing.



     For those who were unable to watch this short clip here are the highlights of the film

Chickens and Turkeys

·         Chickens and turkeys are now grown so rapidly with hormones that there heart and lungs are not developed enough to support the remainder of their body and as a result they often die before the slaughtering process.
·         A lot of chickens also are unable to walk for their small legs are not capable of supporting their abnormally heavy bodies.
·         Chickens are forced into their molting cycles to lay eggs by starving them for up to 12 days in order to stress their bodies enough to force them into another laying cycle.
·         Dead hens are also often left to decompose in cages with other live hens which are still producing eggs for human consumption.

Pigs

·         Baby pigs are castrated, have their teeth clipped, ears mutilated, and tails cut off without any anesthesia in order to conserve space as well as for identification purposes.
·         Many of the pigs that are too sick to be slaughtered are often shot in the head with captive bolt guns.
·         Did you know that pigs are actually smarter than most dogs or a human three year old?

Cows
·         In order to keep cows producing milk they are constantly impregnated. These baby cows go directly to the veal industry, so by drinking milk you are in fact supporting the veal industry.
·         Cows are forced to stand in their own waste all day and fed a diet that makes them sick.
·         Many sick and injured cows are unable to walk.
·         Veal cows are chained by their necks in tiny crates and fed an anemic-inducing diet.

Power of One – Did you know that the average vegetarian spares the lives of over 50 animals every year?  Think about that, if you were to switch to being a vegetarian right now how any animals would you save?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 17: The Original Pizza Cookery

     One of the major things that has changed since I have started this challenge is the variety of what I eat for breakfast. Before I attempted this challenge my breakfasts mainly consisted of plain cheerios or some bland oatmeal. Now I have banana bread, cheerios with fresh strawberries, oatmeal with walnuts and bananas, blueberry smoothies and much more. This morning I finished off the rest of my banana bread with a side of fresh raspberries.


    In the evening my roommate and I decided to check out the original Pizza Cookery in Woodland Hills, which just released their new vegan menu. I wasn’t too keen about going there at first, for while the vegan pizza I had in the past was good it was nothing compared to normal pizza. Truth be told I was also afraid I would be tempted by the delicious aroma of the other customers pizza around me. All the meals came with complimentary garlic rolls which conveniently had a vegan and non-vegan option.


    For my main dish I ordered the mini pizza with a wheat crust, follow your heart cheese, tomato sauce, mushrooms, olives, and vegan pepperoni. I was pleasantly surprised after tasting my order. Not only did it look like pizza, but it tasted almost exactly the same as a normal mushroom, olive, and pepperoni pizza. I was in heaven. This place is definitely the best place to go if you are looking to find vegan pizza, and is perfect when going out with non-vegan friends who don’t necessarily want to have to switch to your eating habits.


     Also besides the food the ambiance was great, and is a perfect place to take a date. The inside of the restaurant has an almost rustic feel to it with wooden tables and booths. They also have multi colored Christmas lights strung up along the ceiling, giving it that extra touch. I must say that this has been by far the best vegan friendly restaurant I have gone to yet.
     
For more information check out their reviews on Yelp or visit their web site at http://www.pizzacookery.com/

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 16: Vegetarian Starter Kit

     For any of you that are new to being vegan, or even just want some more information, you should check out this Free vegetarian starter kit from Mercy for Animals. This little booklet includes a lot of valuable information on how the animals in our farms are actually being treated, and how this in turn effects our planet. It even goes on to describe how just one person can make a big difference by changing their diet.


     This is also a great resource for basic nutritional information, for it includes a vegetarian version of the food pyramid which I found to be quite helpful. They also have a whole section devoted to making the switch easier with a list of various substitutes for things you might not be to keen to give up; such as dairy free ice cream brands, soy milk instead of cow’s milk, veggie burger instead of  hamburgers, fake ground beef, and so on. This booklet includes some amazing vegan recipes as well as has a picture along with each recipe, which I find to be a major plus.



    A lot of people have a tendency to think these booklets are biased and are not creditable, but in the back of this guide they have included a long list of their resources which you could always look up if your are feeling skeptical. Not only do they give all the basics on the treatment of the animals, environmental issues, and nutrition, but they also leave you with a list of highly recommended movie and books to watch in order to educate yourself and form your own opinion.

Some of the videos they recommended:

Fowl Play – fowlplaymovie.com
Peaceable Kingdom – tribeofheart.org
Meet Your Meat – Meetyourmeat.com
45 Days: The Life and Death of a Broiler Chicken – cok.net
Latest on Clinical Nutrition – drgreger.com
Vegetarian Cooking – compassionatecooks.com
Earthlings – earthlings.com

Some of the print recommended:

 “Quick-Fix Vegetarian” by Robin Robertson
“Short-cut Vegan” by Lorna Sass
 “The Conscious Cook” by Tal
“The Ultimate Vegan Guide” by Erik Marcus
“Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina
“VegNews” (Magazine) – VegNews.com

     Today I had a simple lunch that consisted of a baked potato with salt, pepper, and some "butter" with a side of steamed green beans. Not bad for a meal that took less than 10 minutes to make!





Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 15: Banana Bread

   I just finished reading this great book “Help! My Child Stopped Eating Meat!” by Carol J. Adams. I am so thankful that Patti B., co author of “How to Eat like a Vegetarian, Even if You Never Want to Be One”, recommended this book to me, for it is such a great resource.


    This book comes in handy when you, or someone you know, doesn’t agree with the idea of their child, friend, or family member becoming vegan. This book includes many tools to helping you understand your loved ones and is just a great reference to have period. It goes in depth about the emotional as well as practice issues a family member might have in this situation and helps give solutions to those concerns. She also talks about the nutritional facts and what you need to look for in a vegan diet, before going on to list a bunch of recipes that are not only tasty but nutritional.

     The more I read about being vegan, the more I realize that it is not only a diet, but a life style. Many vegans will not buy anything that has animal products in it, or has harmed animals in the process of making it. This means they obviously do not wear leather or fur, but also that they avoid using candles, soap, and other products that often have animal products in them.

    This morning I baked classic banana bread with a twist…it has tofu in it! This is from the same book (“The Giant book of Tofu Cooking” by K. Lee Evans and Chris Rankin) as some of the other recipes I’ve been making. I have always been a fan of banana bread, but never before have I made it without dairy or eggs.


Banana Bread

12 ounces of silken tofu
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (best if you wait until the banana is completely brown)
¾ cup walnut pieces

    Step 1: In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl beat the sugar, oil, vanilla, and bananas.

   Step 2: Beat everything in one bowl together, and then fold the walnuts into the mixture.

   Step 3: Pour the mixture into an oiled bread pan, and bake at 350 for 1 hour.





Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 14: Banana Walnut Oatmeal and Chocolate "Milk" Shake

  Our society eats way too much white sugar and processed foods consistently everyday. White sugar is almost like crack, in the sense that it lifts you up and then smacks you down just leaving you wanting more. It is also quite harmful to your health for it suppresses your immune system as well as leaches your vitamins and minerals from your blood and bones. White sugar is now also associated with cancer as well as contributes to insulin resistance and diabetes.

     On the other hand we all like the taste of sugar every once and a while. A lot of vegans tend to use natural maple syrup as a sweetener (without high fructose corn syrup) when they have that sweet tooth craving, instead of white sugar. Don’t be fooled by brown sugar either. It is not healthier, like brown rice is to white rice. Brown sugar just has molasses added to it give it its coloration and slightly different taste.

   Today I had a little bit of time on my hands this morning so I threw together a dish of cinnamon banana walnut oatmeal. I must say oatmeal has never tasted better!


Banana Walnut Oatmeal

½ cup of Oats
1 cup of water
1 small banana, sliced
3 table spoons of chopped walnuts
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon spoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of maple syrup

    Step 1: Bring the water to boil in a small pot then stir in the sliced banana, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, and maple syrup.

    Step 2: Stir and let it cook for one minute before turning off the heat and placing the lid on to let it steam for about 2 minutes.

    Step 3: Fold in the walnuts and serve immediately

(Serves: 1)


    Later that evening after I hit the gym I tried a new recipe that used tofu as the main substance in a protein smoothie. I wasn’t too sure at first about using tofu in a smoothie, but the tofu ended up having the same consistency as yogurt when blended. Not too bad, for a tofu smoothie.



Chocolate Banana “Milk” Shake

3 ounces silken tofu
half a banana
¼ cup of water
2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup (make sure there is not high fructose corn syrup or milk in it)
1 table spoon of maple syrup

Step 1: Blend all ingredients until smooth

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 13: Black Cherry Soy Ice Cream

     The first thing that went through my mind when I was told by my doctor, a few months ago, that I was not allowed to have any lactose for a month was; you’ve gotta be kidding me. “How am I going to survive without dairy?” I lived for eating cheese, pizza, and ice cream. I found it was really hard to give up dairy until I completely changed my diet and found a whole new world full of substitute products.



    Tonight I had Black Cherry Soy Ice Cream from Trader Joe’s, which was absolutely to die for. I was thrilled that I found something so similar to traditional ice cream, without the dairy. While the soy ice cream was just as satisfying as any normal scoop of ice cream, I felt a lot better after eating it than I do after consuming a scoop of traditional ice cream. I didn’t feel gross after eating it, unlike the icky coated throat feeling you get after you ate too much ice cream, but instead I felt light and satisfied. The great part is, while there still is a lot of sugar in the soy ice cream, like any dessert, there is no cholesterol and has less overall fat and sugar than normal traditional ice cream.




     It is sad what we put into our bodies without even knowing it. Jamie Oliver did a whole section in his show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” season 2 episode 3 on what is actually in the artificial products we usually have on our ice cream. He goes as far as to create his own sundae using the hidden ingredients that really go into the artificial toppings, that we aren't aware of. Some of the ingredients he brought out were live lac bugs, that make the shellac used in sprinkles and hard candy, as well as human hair with duck feathers that is used in cookie dough ice cream to keep it soft. He then goes on to take out a long list of the ingredients used to make what appears to be a simple sundae. His words of wisdom are if you look at the back of a nutrition label and see ingredients with long words you don't understand just don't eat it. It is important to know what you are actually eating and putting into your body. Here is a clip from the episode. You can also watch it for free on  Hulu or on the site http://www.watchjamieoliver.com/.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 12: Tofu Pumpkin Pancakes

     Today I woke up feeling lazy. We all have those days where all you want to do is curl up in bed and just read a good book. So today I totally committed myself to being lazy. I slept in and just got out of bed to make myself some tofu pumpkin pancakes.


     I am not sure if I really liked the recipe I used all that much, for the tofu pumpkin pancakes had a weird consistency, so I chose no to include the recipe in this post.Well at least I tried something new. Next time I am going to attempt the vegan blueberry pancakes recipe I found in the vegetarian starter kit I got in the mail from www.vegkit.org which looks absolutely delicious.

     The rest of my morning I was completely content with doing nothing. Besides a little bit of yoga and a hot bath, I did not really do much. While my morning, as well as the rest of my day, was seemingly unproductive it still was important for a lot of us forget to simply stop and take care of ourselves. It is essential to stop and give ourselves a break every once and a while. By the end of the day you end up feeling refreshed and some times a little bit antsy to get back to your normal productive life style.



     One of the books I really like, that I have held onto since I was little is “Soul Searching; A Girls Guide to Finding Herself” by Sarah Stillman. I love this book for it includes “how to” instructions for so many simply joys that we often don’t make time to do anymore in our daily lives such as meditation, yoga, massage, self-spa treatments, and journal writing.  While this book was written by a 16 year old and is geared towards a younger audience, it still is a worthwhile read. I am still amazed that a girl of only 16 was able to write such an enlightened book.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 11: Veggie Burger and Sweet Potato Chips

    I had an early morning today, and didn't have that much time before heading off to my internship. Because of this time constraint I quickly whipped together the usually bowl of cereal with soy milk, as well as added fresh sliced strawberries on top for extra flavor.



    Later that evening when I returned home from a day of work I decided to try out something new for dinner. 

    Veggie burgers are pretty main stream now, but I have never had a chance to taste one until now. It was definitely an interesting experience to say the least. Truth be told I don’t really know how I feel about them for the actual paddy was minuscule compared to the amount of toppings I had on my hamburger. Along with the tiny tofu paddy I had large amount of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, as well as the usual ketchup and mustard. If I learned anything from this experience is that if you want to truly taste the paddy, as you would a normal size hamburger, you would have to double the paddies up.


     Along with a veggie burger, I had a side of sweet potato chips marinated in "butter" and olive, with a little salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato Chips

1 small to medium yam
"butter" (earth balance)
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

    Step 1: Thinly slice the yam into 1/4 inch round slices. Then throw them into a plastic bag and add the melted "butter", olive oil, and salt and pepper mixture. Shake the bag making sure to evenly coat each slice. Then let sit to marinate for a few minutes

     Step 2: Preheat the oven from 350 to 400 degrees. Lay out all the slices without overlapping them on a baking sheet. Cook the slices for about 5 to 7 minutes before taking them out and flipping them. Put them in the oven again for about 5 to 7 minutes until they start to get crispy. (I like to cook them until they are almost burn to get them really crispy) 

     On another note, when debating between having a beef hamburger or some substitute such as a veggie burger know the actual impact of your choice. Did you know that every time you pass up a beef hamburger you will be saving as much water as you save by taking 40 showers with a low-flow nozzle? Or the fact that eating a vegan diet prevents more CO2 admissions than switching from a large sedan to a Toyota Prius? Raising animals such as cows for food actually causes more global warming than all the cars and trucks in the world combined! Now that is something to think about before you take a bite into your next hamburger. That, and the previous clip from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revelotion.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 10: Greek Salad with Tofu (Instead of Feta)

     Today I ventured out once again to the grocery store to get my week’s worth of groceries. The biggest change since starting this challenge is that I have to buy smaller amounts of food, as well as more often, when I go grocery shopping. This way I always have fresh fruits and vegetables while keeping them from going bad. This hasn’t been so hard for I have realized my boyfriend and I recently have made the habit of going to the grocery store every day. I think we even went twice in one day a couple times! What can I say we love our food.


    When I went out today I brought my trusty t-shirt grocery bags I made last week. I got so many complements at Trader Joe’s for something as simple as a cut up t-shirt that I have decided to share how easy it is to make one. So if you have a bunch of old t-shirts just lying around the house, instead of throwing them away, try making them into reusable grocery bags. Check out this great video from you tube for step by step instructions.


     After coming back from the grocery store I decided to make a Greek salad with a side of black beans and rice for dinner. I got this great recipe from the cookbook the "Giant book of Tofu Cooking" by K. Lee Evans and Chris Rankin. I thought it was ingenious how they expanded on the Greek salad idea and used tofu instead of feta cheese.  This was definitely a different type of salad than I am use to but was a nice change. I normally think of a salad as something that mainly consists of lettuce, but this new recipe included almost everything but lettuce. Try it yourself and let me know what you think.



Greek Salad with Tofu

Salad:
16 ounces of firm tofu, cubed
1 cup of canned garbanzo beans
½ cup of sliced or chopped black olives
½ cup of parsley sprigs (I just used dried parsley)
½ medium red onion
2 large tomatoes, dices
1 small cucumber

Dressing:
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of honey (some people believe honey isn’t vegan but mine is from a beekeeper I personally    
                                            know who treats them well : )
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper

(Serves 6)




   

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 9: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

     I decided to check out the popular TV show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” after someone told me, that after they watched the first episode of the season, they could never look at a hamburger the same way again. I must say I was intrigued by their change in heart and decided to check it out for myself.


     
     The second season of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” first aired in April and is set in, surprisingly enough, Los Angeles. Jamie Oliver is here in LA trying to get the public school board to let him into their school so he can properly evaluate the junk food we have letting the school district feed the children of Los Angeles. In his first episode of the season he took a group of parents from the LA school district and showed them what was in their children’s hamburgers; and most of our hamburgers for that matter. If you ever want to eat a hamburger without total disgust I would suggest you stop reading now.
     
    Jamie Oliver brought out a live cow and showed the audience what parts of the cow you often buy at the store and how much it costs by spray painting the sections as well as price points on the cow (don’t worry the cow was not harmed in any way). He also brought out each hunk of meat and put it on the table until all that was left was the cows internal organs, fat, and other left over tissues. He then went on to explain that while this by product use to be only used in dog food or fed to the other cows and pigs on our farms, 15% of it is now being used in our hamburgers.


      
     It gets worse. Jamie Oliver then went on to describe the process companies go through to rid the left over scraps from the bacteria that coats the inner organs such as E. coli, and salmonella. These companies put the scraps in a machine almost like a drying machine which spins the meat and separates the fat from the leftover meat. They then kill the bacteria by adding ammonia. Ammonia! Our government knowingly allowing companies to feed us food with poison in it! This is our minced meat…..which almost reminds me of Sweeny Todd and the meat pies for you never know what your going to get. If you take anything away from this it would be; be careful of what you eat if you haven’t seen it made yourself.



   
The first three episodes are currently still available for free on Hulu. So check it out.

     On a happier note here is the quick delicious vegan meal I had for dinner tonight....with no ammonia. My dinner tonight consisted of butternut squash soup with a variety of roasted vegetables on the side. 


     This meal took only about ten to fifteen minutes to throw together. All I did was roast various lightly oiled vegetables in the oven at 350 for about ten minutes, reheat the butternut soup I got from Trader Joe's and voila a well balanced delicious vegan meal!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 8: Reuse Old Jars to Store Dried Snacks, Beans, and Grains

     It has been one full week since I have started this 101 day challenge and I am already starting to feel different. I have more energy, I don’t feel guilty about the food I eat, and all my digestive problems have almost disappeared. Now all I have to do is keep it up for 93 more days!

     Today I opened my cabinets and to my dismay there were half opened bags of beans, rice and other dried food, which had accumulated from my first week, everywhere. Those who know me know that I am something of a neat freak, and I couldn’t stand have this clutter, so I came up with a solution. I decided to be environmentally friendly and revamp all the old empty tea bag containers I had from Starbucks to help organize my mess. 



      I think they turned out lovely, what do you think? If you are in need of something to organize your clutter just reuse your glass marinara or salsa jars once you are done with them. This is a perfect way to store your food for most of these jars are air tight. Just make sure to throughly wash them as well as scrape off all the labels before using them.

      For dinner I quickly put together pasta with tomato sauce, a side of garden salad (from day 3), and a couple slices of rosemary bread. I think I am getting the hang of this. 



Tomato and Olive Pasta Sauce

1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce
Basil
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoons of olive oil
half a can (5 oz) of chopped olives

   Step 1: Heat the oil in a small frying pan and saute the garlic.

   Step 2: Once the oil is hot add the tomato sauce, basil, and chopped olives. Cook on medium heat until sauce reaches the desired temperature. Serve over whole grain pasta.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 7: Blueberry Smoothie with Soy Protein Powder

    In the past week since I started this vegan challenge I have gotten a lot of positive responses, as well as negative. Many of my family and friends are concerned, that by eating a vegan diet, I will not be able to get the protein and nutrients that I would from meat or dairy products. The go on and on about how meat is a “complete protein” with all nine amino acids. What they don’t know is that there are so many other delicious things they can eat which are considered a “complete protein”. You also do not need to get all eight amino acid from one food source. I recently found out that hummus with whole grain pita bread together create a “complete protein” (while is great since I have a tendency to consume it in mass quantities on a daily basis).



     
    You don’t really need to worry about getting enough protein for as long as you are eating a variety of unrefined grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables throughout the day you will more than exceed your daily protein requirement. For more information about how to find protein in a vegan or vegetarian diet check out the article "Protein in a Vegan Diet" by Reed Mangles, Ph.D., R.D. Too much protein can also be harmful rather than just help you gain more muscle after a day at the gym. Yes, you should have some protein 30 minutes after you exercise, but don’t overdo it for it will cause stress on your body which will result in excessive calcium loss, increased risk of dehydration, and possible kidney or liver damage.

    
    Today after hitting the gym I had a blueberry smoothie with soy protein powder. I picked up this protein powder at Trader Joe’s for not only does it have 25g of protein but a long list of other vitamins such as B12, Iron, Calcium, and many other vitamins. If you look at the nutrition label on the back it will look similar to that of your daily multivitamin with a long list of he vitamins it contains.On days that I use the soy protein powder I treat it as a multivitamin for that is really what it is, a multivitamin with protein.



                           Blueberry Smoothie with Soy Protein Powder

                           1 cup of frozen blueberries
                           1 cup of soy milk
                           1/2 to 1 scoop of soy protein powder

                           Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth, and serve.