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....
Addiction (to dairy products, especially cheese)
Allergy (lactose intolerance,or actual allergy to milk)
Arthritis and Joint Pain
Heart Disease
Crohn's Disease
Cancer- Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Prostate Cancer
Multiple Sclerosis
Parkinson's Disease
Menstrual Cramps
Mad Cow Disease

     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
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
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 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

     * 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)

      * 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.

     * 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

         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 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

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 76: Project Lean and Green Kids

     Today I started to once again going through my stash of pamphlets, movies, and newsletters I accumulated at the Animal Rights Conference that I attended on day 53. After sorting through the huge pile I picked out a flyer titled "Project Lean and Green Kids".

     This organization focuses on working towards better nutrition education, healthier school meals, and green food policies in many schools across the country. Those of you who have children know that you want them to grow up healthy an accumulate good eating habits, but often our public schools are feeding your children loads of junk food and teaching them unhealthy eating habits which will impact their adult life. If any of you watched last season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution you got a chance to see first hand what the Los Angeles public school district was feeding their children and how it affected them.

     The Project Lean and Green Kids provide teachers with lesson plan material for various types of classes that can be easily put in the curriculum. For those of you that are not teachers there are many other things you can do to help.

How you can help:

1) Call or write the Nutrition Director and Superintendent of your child's school district, and ask them to incorporate more plant based vegetarian meals into the school lunch menu.
         - If you live in California, Hawaii, New York, or Florida make sure to check out the state's veg lunch legislation in those states.

2) Work with your school district wellness committee to amend the district's "Wellness Policy" (all schools are required to have one) to integrate more organic, locally grown, and plant-based vegetarian school entrees.

3) Submit progressive health articles for the school newsletter.

4) Volunteer to teach the award winning, multi-cultural, and plant centered nutrition curriculum in your child's class or after school program.

5) Volunteer to read veg-themed children's story books in your young child's class, such as Victor the Vegetarian and Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, which you can find at your local library.

6) Start a Lean and Green Kids campaign in your school district.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 75: Visiting Grandma

     This weekend I was lucky enough to be able to go down to San Diego to visit my grandparents. I knew this would be an interesting trip for my grandparents are excellent cooks, who take pride in making me their well renown dishes, and now that I am on a vegan diet I wasn't sure how they would take it. While my grandma was seemingly supportive of my new diet on the phone, informing of all the new things she learned after reading my blog, I was still wary of how she would react to the change when she was faced with the challenge of feeding me a vegan dinner.

      After reading my blog my grandma decided to use my vegan pesto recipe from day 51 along with my grandpa's famous bean salad. Every one else had the regular pesto with meatballs, but I was touched that my grandma went out of her way to make me my own pesto sauce and even went as far as to find me some vegan parmesan cheese.

      And to top it all off, my grandma even picked up some vegan vanilla soy ice cream at Trader Joe's. I must say they make a mean vegan meal.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 74: Native Foods

     Today my boyfriend and I where on our way to visit my grandparents in San Diego. For lunch we decided to take a pit stop at the well known vegan restaurant Native Foods, in Irvine. This little restaurant is hidden in an center of small community of environmentally conscious retail stores. The restaurant it self it a large tent like structure with a casual dinning ambiance. At one point a portrait of an elephant caught my attention. After reading the small inscription I found that it actually inspired the vegan owner, for elephants are the largest of the animal kingdom which survive on a strictly vegan diet. I was also pleased to find a large variety of vegan dishes from savory seitan burgers to chocolate pie.

     After looking over the menu a few times I decided on the portobello and seitan sausage burger. This massive burger was absolutely delicious and came with a side or coconut and lemon grass soup.

     My boyfriend tried the Greek Gyro, which to his surprise was not encased in bread like tradition gyros but rather it was tossed like a salad. The gyros consisted of thinly sliced native peppered seitan sauteed with shallots on quinoa, steamed veggies, and kale with lemon garlic sauce and hummus. He commented that he found the peppered seitan to be more appetizing than the traditional pork or beef in gyros.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 73: Volunteering

    Yesterday I was inspired by one of the posts on my favorite blog Zen Habits, for he had written about his goal to try and volunteer with his family at least once a month. I use to volunteer religiously at St. Vincent de Paul Society, which was a homeless soup kitchen in Northern California, before I moved to Southern California, and found it to be extremely rewarding.

     There are many great places you can volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering I would use the site Volunteer Match to find places to volunteer in your area, and to tailor a volunteer experience to your personal interests. There are also a bunch of vegan friendly organizations that could use your help as well.

    One of the fliers I picked up from the Animal Rights Conference on day 53 was Food Not Bombs. This grassroots organization puts together fee standing booths in over 1,000 different locations around the world, where they serve vegetarian/vegan meals to the hungry, and work for peace, human rights, and a healthy environment. This organization works for positive change throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
     Along with Food Not Bombs there are many other organizations that could use your help. For those of you that are animal lovers you could also choose to consider volunteering at an animal sanctuary or another great organization is Animal Rescue Corps. This is a volunteer based organization that is dedicated to ending animal suffering through rescue and relocation of abused animals. The opportunities are endless and not only would you be making a difference, but you will feel great in the process of helping others.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 72: Lotus Yogurt Bar

     Today I went to meet with the owner of Lotus, a new yogurt bar that opened in Northridge near my school, to talk about advertising. After my meeting he was nice enough to offer me a complimentary frozen yogurt, which I had to turn down since I do not eat any dairy products. After informing him of my dietary restrictions he jumped to tell me that they actually always offer two non-dairy flavors. I was so excited that they had a dairy alternative option, that I was set on trying both flavors. Right now the two flavors they have are pink lemonade and raspberry pomegranate sorbet. Both flavors were absolutely wonderful, and not to mention fat free! The pink lemonade flavor was slightly softer than traditional frozen yogurt with a more icy texture to it which fit the flavor well, and the raspberry pomegranate sorbet was thick and rich with the more traditional texture. They will also be rotating the flavors Kiwi Strawberry, Mango, Sublime Lime, Watermelon, Mango Passion, Hawaiian Delight, and Green Tea.

    This location offers a 15% discount to csun students. I also found out that the owner is planning to knock down one of their walls and combine the Vietnamese restaurant Bun Me next store with the Lotus yogurt bar. He hopes to expand the menu, and who knows maybe they will include some vegan things to eat there as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 71: Vegan Sugar

     Today I met with the owner of the Original Pizza Cookery in Woodland Hills to talk about advertising their new vegan menu. While talking to the owner about my own vegan challenge he informed me that he himself was also vegan, and we went on to discuss the various things we have learned since making this dietary change. It was very refreshing to be able to have a conversation with someone about what I have been learning and what they have learned in turn, without having to worry that they will be sick of hearing about it. He went on to tell me that like some alcohol, many brands of refined sugar is also processed using animal products.

   Animal products are not actually in the product, but it is still processed with animal bone char. So in an ingredient-based definition of vegan it is still technically considered vegan, since there are no animal products included in the ingredients. The process of using animal bone char uses the charcoal to filter out the color, impurities, and minerals from the sugar. So on the other hand by a process-based definition of vegan, refined sugars would not be considered vegan. But if you follow the processed based definition of vegan there would be a ton of other products you couldn't buy such as steel, some types of rubber, certain types of filter water, and the list goes on. By following the process based definition you have opened Pandora's box, and it would be really hard to find products that would be considered truly vegan under that definition. So here is where you ask yourself, where do you draw the line?

      If you choose to go the route of avoiding refined sugar that uses animal bone char here are some labels to look for indicating that it is in fact vegan friendly sugar: vegan, raw, unrefined cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, beet sugar, raw sugar
       Some vegan sugar brands:
        * Wholesome Foods
        * Florida Crystals
        * Hain Organic Powdered Sugar
        * Jack Frost
        * Country Cane
        * Supreme
        * Southern Bell
        * 365 (the Whole Foods house brand)

    If you do choose to avoid refined sugar altogether, here are a few alternatives:
turbinado,  succanat, date sugar, fructose, barley malt, agave, nectar, stevia, maple syrup, molasses, rice syrup, fruit juice, corn syrup

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 70: Why Organic?

     Many of us know that buying organic products is better for us, for they are free of the many pesticides that often contaminate our produce today. Often we still choose to not to purchase these products because of numerous reasons such as; it is too expensive, the organic produce looks too scrawny, it is inconvenient, and the list goes on. There are numerous reason why we should go organic, but the most pressing issue is our health. If you knew the serious health issues that arise from the intake of various pesticides that are on our food maybe we will think twice about buying pesticide ridden produce.

     In the book "Whitwash" by John Robbins we are informed that many pesticides have been linked to infertility, birth defects, weakening of the immune system, hormone disruption, and childhood and adult cancers. The article "Ranking Possible Carcinogenic Hazards" by Ames, B.  goes on to say that the average American today consumes almost 156 micrograms of pesticides everyday through their diet alone!

     Various research has also shown a link between some pesticides and Parkinson's disease. Another eye opening find is that some pesticides can actually mimic the natural hormones produced by our bodies, which are critical in the process of how an embryo develops genitalia, ovaries, and other sexual traits. One of the chemicals Robbins highlights in his book "Whitewashed" is the chemical vinclozolin which is commonly used on fruit and vegetables. This chemical is known to interfere with male hormones, and there was a study done that showed if male mice are exposed to this chemical during their development their male offspring where born without penises or with a sever deformity of the penis. And it doesn't stop there.

     Many experts are also saying that pesticides are playing a role in development of learning, developmental, and behavior disorders. It was found that children living in pesticide-exposed areas were found to have less stamina, poor gross motor skills, poor fine eye-hand coordination, poor memory, and the inability to draw a simple stick figure of a human being. While a big source of pesticides are in our produce, the reality is the biggest threat is the pesticide contamination in our milk. John Robbins included an in depth chart in his book "Whitewash" that showed and enormous list of pesticides and other industrial chemicals present in dairy products.

      To minimize your exposer there a couple things Robbins inform us to do:

1) Buy organic produce when ever possible
2) Avoid consuming dairy products
3) Try to avoid using pesticides in the home and garden
4) Filter your tap water

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 69: Orange-Apricot Oatmeal

      This morning I tried to perfect the orange-apricot oatmeal I made last Sunday morning. The original recipe that I tried came out ok, but it was a little too fruity for my personal taste. My boyfriend on the other hand had liked the strong taste of the dried apricots and orange juice for he found it helped him wake up in the morning.  I found the original recipe in the book “The Vegan Source Book” by Joanne Stephaniak.

      For the new recipe I reduced the sheer amount of orange juice and switched out the maple syrup for my favorite sweetener, brown sugar. Hope you like it.

Orange-Apricot Oatmeal
1 cup of rolled oats
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped dried apricots
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional)

    Step 1: Pour the water and orange juice in a medium pan and place on low heat until it is just about to boil.
    Step 2: Add all the other ingredients and stir frequently for about 2 minutes or until the oatmeal starts to thicken. Remove from heat and cover for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

(Serves 2)


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 68: Grandma's Brownies

     I absolutely love my grandma's brownies, and I always looked forward to going to her house and having freshly homemade brownies. After she gave me the recipe I have made these brownies a couple times for friends who couldn't get enough of them. Unfortunalty the original recipe called for three eggs, so I thought I could not longer make them. Today I decided to try to make them anyway, substituting the 3 eggs for 3 oz of silken tofu.

     They ended turning out pretty great! It tasted almost exactly the same, except the consistency was a tiny bit denser than the original version. While they are still very high in sugar, they are a tiny bit healthier for without the eggs they are cholesterol free!

Grandma's Brownies
4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup of vegan margarine
2 cups of sugar
3 ounces of silken tofu
1 cup flower
3 tablespoons soymilk

    Step 1: Microwave the chocolate and the margarine for 2 minutes, or until melted. (If you don't have a microwave you can also do this on top of the stove with a small frying pan). Add the melted mixture to a medium size mixing bowl along with the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
    Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a pan with aluminium foil and lightly grease. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and pulled out without any brownie sticking to it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 67: Animal Cruelty in Circuses

      Today I once again started to go through my stash of pamphlets, movies, and newsletters I accumulated at the Animal Rights Conference I attended on day 53. After rifling through the pile I picked out the movie "Stop Circus Suffering" put together by Animal Defenders International.

      I never realized until recently the impact circuses have on these exotic animals. When I was younger I didn't think twice about attending a circus. Like most people I was under the impression that these animals were trained with positive reinforcement, and not the abusive techniques that I witnessed in this video. In this film animals are brutally beaten, kept in cages that are barely larger then them selves, and often have diseases that are left untreated. Often these animals end up having mental disorders from their stress induced environments, which is shown in this film by the repetitive thoughtless motions these animals exhibit.

     These gentle beasts were meant to be in the wild, not prodded with medal hooks and beaten into submission. I also watched the segment from the movie "Earthlings" on circuses which showed an elephant that went crazy from the abuse and had to be put down. Many other countries have banned the use of animals in circuses such as Peru, parts of Australia, Bolivia, Greece, Austria, Singapore, and a few others. The United States is sadly lagging behind in this movement to end animal cruelty. For more detailed information feel free to watch the full video below.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 66: Carrot Muffins

    This week I am going to be eating a lot of dishes with carrots, for when I went to Trader Joe's this afternoon I found that a whole 1lb packet of carrots were only 79 cents! Of course I rationalized that I had to get two packets of carrots, and now I have 2 pounds of carrots in my fridge. So today after buying 2 pounds of carrots I decided to make carrot muffins using the recipe from the recipe booklet "Easy Vegan Recipes" put together by the organization Compassion over Killing.

    They turned out once again like the other first batch of muffins I made last week. The were a little bland, and it felt like it was missing something. So once again I revamped the recipe for you guys.

Carrot Muffins
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all purpose white flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup grated carrots (about 2 to 3 whole medium carrots)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup soymilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

    Step 1: In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients and the grated carrots, then add all the wet ingredients and mix well with an electric beater.

    Step 2: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the batter into a lightly oiled muffin pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

(Makes 1 dozen muffins)

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 65: Vegetarian Politicians

       I did not know until recently that Bill Clinton had become vegetarian last year in an effort to lose weight, and battle his heart problems. He also recently said that he was in fact vegan, on a interview with Wolf Blizter. He went on to say "I did all this research, and I saw that 82 percent of the people since 1986 who have gone on a plant-base, no dairy, no meat of any kind, no chicken, no turkey—I eat very little fish, once in a while I'll have a little fish—If you can do it, 82 percent of people have begun to heal themselves.". After hearing this quote I was unsure if he actually new the definition of vegan, for vegans do not eat fish. He supposedly started to adopt this diet in early May last year. I included the clip from the interview below.

      After seeing this clip I decided to do some more research and found another interesting clip with Barack Obama around the time of elections. In this clip a girl from a vegan outreach organization asked a question about Obama's take on the way our country produces meat and how it effects the environment as well as our health. While Obama admits to enjoying meat now and them he does state that we do need to change our eating habits as a nation, for too many of us are obese and have serious health problems. I also included the clip below.

      Along with Bill Clinton there have been quiet a few vegetarian politicians and activists. Such as  Benjamin Franklin, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Jared Polis, and the list goes on.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 64: Vegan Groupon

      For those of you that are a fan of websites like Groupon, Living Social, and Daily Gourmet, I have recently found a purely vegan version called Vegan Cuts; which recently launched in April. This website, like Groupon, offers you great weekly deals on vegan products.

     This site is run by a vegan couple John and Jill who wanted to make people more aware of new vegan businesses, and to promote shopping vegan. They originally were the creators of the well know blog Vegan Backpacker, that documented their backpacking adventure around the world and what they ate, before they came up with the idea for the new site Vegan Clips. Not only does this site have great deals, but they also have a blog that features contests, deals, events, and recipes.

        In the process of researching this great new site I also stumbled across another amazing well known site that has great deals on organic, fair trade, sustainable, recycled, cruelty free, natural, and handmade products.

    Pure Citizen is a an amazing site that gives you daily deals on products that are sold by company's that are trying to make better products. All their deals have a set of symbols by them so that you can shop by your ethics whether is be handmade, organic, recycled, vegan, fairly produced, eco-conscious, cruelty free, made in the US, One of a kind, or pure safe. You can also choose to reduce your discount and have the extra money go to a nonprofits. This year they gave over $5,000 to their featured non-profits.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 63: Compassionate Shopping Guide

     Today I decided to look into the "Compassionate Shopping Guide" I picked up at the Animals Rights National Convention that I went to on day 53. After looking in this guide I was pleased to find that a few of the products I already regularly purchase were on the list of companies in this booklet, as well as found a bunch of brands that I recognized but never knew they were in fact cruelty-free. This is a great find for those of you looking for a reliable list of cruelty free products.

    The Leaping Bunny Program put together a great shopping guide of over 300 certified cosmetic, personal care, and household product companies that have cruelty-free standards. These companies are therefore allowed to use the internationally recognized leaping bunny logo, which requires that no new animal testing be used in any phase of the product development of the company after they join. Not only that but these companies also have to get all of their third party manufacturers and suppliers to individually agree to not take part in animal testing as well. How great is that?!

    The Leaping Bunny Program was formed in 1996 and is run by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics and is comprised of many leading animal protection groups such as;

* American Ant-Vivisection Society, Chair
* American Humane Association
* Animal Alliance of Canada
* Beauty without Cruelty, USA
* Doris Day Animal League
* Te Humane Society of Canada
* The Humane Society of the United States
* MSPCA Center for laboratory Animal Welfare
* New England Anti-Vivisection Society
* European Coalition to End Animal Experiments

    You can view the list as well as download the guide for free at Not only that but they also have a free iphone app version of this guide, that is available through itunes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 62: Blueberry Wheat Muffins

     This morning I decided to attempt to make blueberry wheat muffins. I originally tried the recipe from the "Vegetarian Starter Kit" by Mercy for Animals, that I talked about on day 16, but it tasted too bland to me. So instead I completely revamped the recipe and tried it again. This time it was a little bit sweeter, and tasted more like the muffins I was use to.

Blueberry Wheat Muffins
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ cup unbleached white flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ banana (egg replacer)
1 cup vanilla soymilk
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 table spoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons butter

    Step 1: Place all ingredients in a large bowl, except for the blueberries, and beat with an electric beater. Once that is thoroughly mixed, fold in the blue berries.

    Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.