Sunday, March 3, 2013

Our vegan journey started with a smoothie!

It all started with a smoothie. I had been doing some studying on health issues and how what we eat correlates to how we feel. So I picked up a little book called Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko at a local bookstore. It was awesome! With over 200 smoothie recipes there had to be something that we liked. I tried to make several recipes in a "normal" blender but the greens just weren't cut down to size. With some persuading for an early anniversary present my husband purchased a Vitamix. I have to say that since this vegan endeavor I have faithfully used that piece of equipment daily, sometimes twice a day. I realize that a Vitamix is a big purchase, believe me we are still making payments on it. However, I have to tell you that it is sooooo worth the investment!

My favorite recipe thus far in this wonderful book is:

Lovely Green Goodness
2 bananas
1 Royal Gala apple
1 Bosc pear
1 cup kale
1/4 cup water

So yummy!

I have been very brave in trying my own smoothie concoctions every morning for the past 40+ days. Yesterday I tried a smoothie without the "greens", it was a very blue/purple surprise!

Smurf-ilicious (Appropriately named by my husband) :)
1-2 cups of vegan milk (organic soy was my choice)
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1 cup of frozen blackberries
1 TBS of agave
1 heaping tsp of spirulina
1 frozen blackberry (for picture taking if needed)

My Vitamix thought this little treat was supposed to be an ice cream or sorbet with all of the cold ingredients. What a nice treat and happy accident! My husband really liked this one. It made two very nice servings, hence the large amount of spirulina (normally it's just 1 tsp daily.)

Enjoy these recipes and I encourage you to read Green Smoothie Revolution. Victoria has a lot of wisdom on how to rotate your greens and so much more healthy insight!

Enjoy! Have a wonderful day creating smoothies. Post your recipes in comments or please email me your smoothie recipes and I will share with everyone.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Curried away with quinoa!

Sorry it's been awhile since my last post. I have been creating and taste testing recipes in the kitchen! I think I have a hit on my hands. I have made this several different times and my family loves it, even the picky eaters. So I thought I would post a pic and the recipe so you can share it with your family and friends.

Curried away with quinoa!
1-2 cups cooked quinoa ( I use red)
1 medium yellow or red onion
2 garlic cloves
2 cups of fresh spinach
1/4 cup of sliced almonds
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1-2 TBS of olive oil
1 TBS of curry powder
1-2 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of pepper
1-2 TBS of Tamari or Braggs liquid aminos

I start off cooking the quinoa according to the box or bag instructions. It's usually 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water. Put both items in a pot and bring to a boil. Then continue cooking on medium heat for 15 min. or until all liquid has evaporated and quinoa is soft and the "germ" ring is visible along the edge of the grains. While this is cooking I begin to dice the onion into small pieces and finely mince the garlic. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and turn on medium heat.  Add chopped onions and garlic when oil is hot, then add the almonds and cranberries. Cook everything until onions are translucent then  add the Tamari or Braggs liquid aminos and the fresh spinach. Your quinoa should be finished cooking by now. Add 1-2 cups of quinoa to the mixture in the skillet with the garlic powder, curry and pepper. Toss everything together until it is mixed well. Serve to your happy family.

***additions*** if you are on an oil restricted diet use vegetable stock in place of olive oil. Also, I have added fresh cubed mushrooms in place of spinach, very yummy. Another variation would be to use finely chopped walnuts or pecans in place of almonds and add a little orange juice to this. Whatever quinoa didn't go into this recipe could be used cold in a salad the next day.

Enjoy!... and remember to "play with your food".  Find out what different veggies and spices you like to cook with quinoa. Make this recipe fit your taste buds!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Traveling for food

Yesterday was a long day spent driving. We headed up to St. Louis to visit the Global Foods Market, Whole Food store, and Trader Joe's. I have to say that shopping for food or anything in St. Louis on a Saturday is out from now on.  Too crowded!

The experience at the Global Foods Market on Lindbergh in Kirkwood was awesome.. as usual. I have never seen such diverse fruits and vegetables under one roof. It was definitely an educational experience. We went down every aisle and had a blast. I found sesame seeds which have been all but impossible to find here. An entire bag, 1 pound, for under $3.00. Tahini, which is actually a sesame seed butter was less than half the price here and the amount is double what is available in my town. Everything was economical and FRESH!

Whole Foods in Brentwood was a zoo. The staff were knowledgable and friendly, but the customers were a little rude. I know it's hard to believe but the world does not revolve around a select few. It was very difficult to navigate down the aisles with two carts side by side but the selection of wheat free, gluten free products was awesome and well labeled throughout the store. We finally found the vegetarian, vegan section of dairy free products and there was CHEESE. Mozzerella, american and pepper jack OH MY! Our son was in heaven. He was beaming with the concept of grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni with ooey gooey golden deliciousness, yeah it's a word.

After having two wonderful experiences I thought Trader Joe's in Brentwood was a slight let down, except for the wonderful employee who copied 5-6 pages of products that are vegan friendly for us. The lines were long and the people were getting restless. All in all, I came home with bags of nutritious items for the family and it wasn't a strain on the pocket book! Thanks St. Louis for having what we needed.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Where have all the organic farmers gone?

I have been doing a lot of research on the benefits of eating organic fruits and vegetables. Many scientific studies say that there isn't a difference between organic and non-organic produce. How can that be when fruits and veggies not labeled as organic are exposed to harmful chemicals and fertilizers during their growing process. No matter how hard or long you wash a non-organic apple most have been exposed to 20 or more chemicals before it ever reaches the grocery store.

So I did a little digging to find out where I could purchase organic fruits and veggies from a local organic farmer or organic coop in my area. According to many Missouri organic farm websites there is not ONE local organic farmer listed in my county or the other 5-7 surrounding counties. I realize that people who reside down here in southeast Missouri run a little behind the times. Something in style during any normal fashion season isn't in style here for quite some time. However, organic produce and eating good nutritious food isn't a new fangled idea that takes getting used to. My great grandparents were one county north of where I am and raised crops 100 years ago without the pesticides and chemicals used on our food now. They weren't considered "organic" farmers, it was what every small farm was doing, they were the norm.

Where have all the old time/organic farmers gone? What happened to the farmer who just wants to put out a good product for his family and local customer. We need to take a stand against big agriculture, GMO foods and pesticides. It's obvious that they are consumed with quantity and not the quality of  food. Our children deserve what our ancestors worked so hard to build in this country. They have a right to high quality food, it shouldn't be unattainable in 2013.

I believe in buying LOCAL and sustainable products if they are available to a person. For now our family will travel to bring the quality of food to our table that we deserve. Organic farmers in every other part of Missouri here we come!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When in doubt "veganize" it!

So I have read several books that discuss gradually taking the steps to "veganize" your home and life. However, I am not the type of person to let something linger on when I just need to take care of it. It bugs me! Having to see the enormous leather sofa I purchased this fall staring me in the face everyday is too much. It is beautiful and a soft butter color, but when I think of what it is made of it turns my stomach. Dead animal skins, gross! I put an ad on the internet and am hopefully in the process of selling it. We've barely used it or I would just give it away, or burn it. Hubby said burning it in the yard is not an option at this point. Well..... it is an option but I really don't want to explain it to the fire department.

Slowly, and I say that with a grin, we are taking the steps to introduce animal friendly products into our home as we replace furniture, clothing, house hold supplies etc. We would go bankrupt trying to do ALL of it today! I can't believe I am going to quote my grandma when she says "slowly but surely" it will get done. Glad she isn't internet savvy to see me quoting her and admitting that she's right!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What is a vegan?

So what the heck is a vegan and what do they eat?
A vegan (VEE-gun) is a person who consumes only plant foods such as vegetables, grains, legumes (beans and peas), fruits, nuts, and seeds. Vegans avoid all animal foods including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, milk, butter, and honey.

Many people adopt a vegan diet or lifestyle for different reasons. Sometimes it is literally a religious practice, people that are Buddhist or Seventh Day Adventist live as vegans for these reasons. I personally have adopted it because eating meat and other animal derived products isn't always healthy for a human body. The practice of obtaining that product that we all think we can't live without is not an option for me anymore either.  Not all vegans are preachy or judgmental of other people who don’t choose their lifestyle. Some groups have given vegans the reputation of being pushy, angry people–this is not me. Do research and then make an educated decision for yourself.  There are several medical doctors and scientific journals linking animal products and dairy consumption to heart disease and cancer. Some people will argue that there are other foods and practices that can be linked to cancer and bad health why should they become vegans. Yes, you are correct there are other bad things in the world, I choose to stay away from those unhealthy alternatives as well. If someone becomes aware of exactly where their food comes from it becomes an individual decision to keep buying those products or choose an exciting new way of living.

My 11 year old son is an animal lover and we discussed the idea of going "vegan" at length before deciding to dive in and actually do it. He asked me some very poignant questions for someone so young. I think the one that hit home for me was "Mom, now that we know how the cows, pigs and chickens are treated (that we eat) how can we go back to buying them at the grocery store and actually eating them?" Well...that's a good question. How can I keep perpetuating the cycle of paying for something that I don't agree with anymore. Doesn't that send a message to the producer of those goods that we want more at "any cost"? The answer was simple for our family, just don't do it anymore. 

Here are some informative websites about health and nutrition. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is it dinner time already?

I have found lately that due to the fact that we are eating a whole foods, plant based diet I am never really "hungry".  It's time to be figuring out what to cook for dinner and I am full from lunch. This is definitely going to take some getting used to. I guess this graph from a recently watched documentary makes a whole lot of sense now.

It really is true! Eating fast food and what my grandma calls "empty calorie foods" was always keeping me hungry and now the veggies are telling my stomach "Hey just eat to live not live to eat"! Give eating more good foods a try it's worth the health benefits!
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