A Day At Gozzer Ranch

Today I had the pleasure of being a wellness speaker at Gozzer Ranch. I demonstrated my vegan cooking “skills”. The ladies (and Bob) were awesome! Though not vegan, they were very open to my recipes and seemed to enjoy them.

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I am terrible at originating recipes. On this blog I just make recipes vegan by swapping out the meat, dairy or eggs. I found great recipes from fellow vegan bloggers that worked for this show. I’ll share them below. They were really good and the crowd seemed to really enjoy them.

I tried to find recipes that don’t involve the stove or oven, are easy to make and can be made the night before. These recipes are great for the boat, beach day, by the pool, or for a dinner with friends. Perfect for summer time!

Appetizer:

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I found this great recipe for a watermelon mint salsa from Gimme Some Oven. I was a tad apprehensive since I don’t like savory things being made sweet. But the watermelon compliments this so well. It is a delight! So refreshing on a hot summer day.

YIELD: 6-8 SERVINGS
WATERMELON SALSA
This fresh watermelon salsa recipe is quick and easy to make, and tastes so refreshing!

PREP TIME: 10 MINS COOK TIME: 0 MINS TOTAL TIME: 10 MINS
INGREDIENTS:

4 cups diced seedless watermelon
1 cup diced red onion (about half a medium red onion)
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1-2 jalapeno(s), seeded and finely diced (add more/less to taste)
zest and juice of 1 lime

DIRECTIONS:

Toss all ingredients together until combined. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/watermelon-salsa-recipe/

 

Salad:

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This salad is a different take on a traditional salad. I loved how zesty it is, while still subtle. It was really easy to make and may be one of my new favorite snacks. I got the recipe from The Garden Grazer.

Ingredients
2 large English cucumbers
1/2 onion
2-3 tomatoes

{For the dressing}
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. salt

Directions:
Make the dressing: add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Slice the cucumbers and onion. Dice tomatoes, removing excess juice. Place in a bowl.
Add the dressing and toss to coat. Salt/pepper to taste if needed.
Best if refrigerated for at least an hour to let the flavors combine.

http://www.thegardengrazer.com/2013/12/cucumber-salad.html?m=1

 

Main Dish:

Cranberry Orange Bread (Vegan)

Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich

This is one of my all time favorite recipes. It’s so easy to make and so delicious. Not to mention so very healthy! This gem comes from Vanilla and Bean. You can thank me and them later.

INGREDIENTS
For the Salad:
1 Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed (aka Garbanzo) (425g)
1/4 C + 1/2 Tbs Dill Pickles, finely chopped (54g )
1/4 C Purple Onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 an onion) (36g)
2 Tbs Just Mayo or Vegenaise (28g)
2 1/2 tsp Stone Ground Mustard (15g)
1 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (6g)
1/4 + 1/8 tsp Sea Salt (2g)
2 tsp Dill Weed, fresh-chopped
1/8 tsp Turmeric (optional for color and health!)
8-10 grinds of fresh Black Pepper
For the Sandwich (options):
Multigrain Bread or Optional Gluten Free Bread
Sprouts
Kale
Shredded Carrots
Lettuce
Tomatoes
METHOD:
Using a potato masher, rough-mash the chickpeas until most is smashed but there are still some whole chickpeas left. Add the pickles, onion, Vegenaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, dill, optional turmeric and black pepper. Mix well. Taste for seasoning adjustment.
Store in an covered container for up to two days. Delicious alone or piled high on multigrain with accompanying veggies.

http://vanillaandbean.com/smashed-chickpea-salad-sandwich/

Dessert:

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Chocolate Protein Balls, I’m so proud that I actually said that without giggling. These were well loved by the ladies. I promise they’ll be a hit!

Ingredients

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (224 grams) salted natural peanut butter (the kind with just salt and nuts)
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) maple syrup
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (66 grams) almond flour
3 tablespoons (22 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
6 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (use dairy-free / vegan chocolate chips, if necessary)
a pinch of salt if your peanut butter is unsalted

Directions

Mix everything together and roll into balls by squeezing together tablespoon-sized balls of dough. The dough should be a little crumbly, but not so crumbly that you can’t form balls easily. If it’s too dry to squeeze into balls, add a little extra water.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week. These also freeze well.

http://www.texanerin.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-protein-balls/

 

Happy eating everyone! Let me know how you liked the recipes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antioxidant Rich Fruit Salad 

  
My fruit salads are usually pretty lackluster. I try to grab whatever fruit is going to go bad soon, cut it up and squeeze a lemon over the top to prevent browning and serve. When Dr. David Zulberg contacted me about creating a fruit salad for his new book, I struggled a bit. It sounded so easy but it took me several tries to not only make a dressing recipe that’s tasty, but also very healthy. Some were too thick, others were too sweet, but I think I found the perfect combination! 

As a mother, I try to avoid sugar and preservatives. My mother in law always calls fruit “nature’s candy”. So I wanted to make something that adds to the fruit and brings out natural flavors. My main goal was to add nutrients since we live a plant based lifestyle, I try to sneak omega 3’s in everywhere I can. Naturally, flaxseed oil and chia seeds were my first choice. I encourage you to buy fruit that is in season and use organic fruit if possible. This dish is great for a side dish to bring to a picnic or even as a no guilt dessert. I hope this fruit salad dazzles your tastebuds and nourishes your body. 

Ingredients

1/2 lemon 

2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

2 teaspoons flaxseed oil 

1/2 tablespoon chia seeds

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1/4 cup plain or vanilla coconut milk yogurt 

3/4 cup organic fruit juice–I used organic white pear 

10 mandarin oranges peeled and separated

7 cups fresh fruit of your choice (I used strawberries, pears, nectarines and green grapes)

Directions

  1. Pour the organic fruit juice into a liquid measuring cup. You need about 3/4 cup fruit juice. 
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the fruit juice, arrowroot powder, and agave nectar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened. 
  3. Pour the mixture into a bowl to cool (you can let it cool in the pan but it will take longer). Once cooled to room temperature, stir in the coconut milk yogurt until smooth. Refrigerate until cool. It will thicken a bit more while cooling.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the fresh fruit, flaxseed oil and chia seeds
  5. Pour the dressing over the top and stir to combine. 
  6. Squeeze the lemon over the top to prevent browning 
  7. Enjoy!

  

Skip Stein

In life there are people you meet that have a story so powerful that after hearing it you are forever changed. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of knowing those types of people who have had an extraordinary journey that have led them to a huge lifestyle shift. In this new section on my blog, I hope to share their stories with my readers and have you feel just as inspired as I have.

I would like to start with the story of Skip Stein and his lovely wife, Nancy. Originally, I was going to interview Skip for my blog to feature one of his many businesses. I love his ideas and I had hoped everyone else would be interested in them as well. However, as we started talking and I learned more and more about him and his wife, I knew I needed to share their story. While rough at times, it truly is beautiful and an inspiration.

    
Here is the story of Skip and Nancy….

Awhile back, Nancy’s mom was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She was living with Skip and Nancy at the time. Nancy was very close to her mother as they’ve been through a lot together, and this news was absolutely devastating. Her mother did radiation/therapy and unfortunately lost the battle to cancer and passed away in 1995. Skip and Nancy describe this time as very traumatic. As anyone knows, losing a loved one is never easy but watching her suffer until she died took a huge toll on Nancy and her daughter whose grandmother was like her 2nd mother. After reeling from the death of their treasured matriarch, Skip found out his father had prostate cancer and didn’t have long to live. His father went through chemo as well and the effects of the chemo were taxing on his system. Later, he succumbed to cancer in 2006 and their family was shaken. Skip was beyond devastated and the thing that bothered him most was that his father couldn’t enjoy the last bit of his life because he was so sick from the chemotherapy.

Nancy and Skip quickly came to the realization that both of their parents died of cancer and they may get cancer as well. They made a pact vowing that if they ever got cancer they wouldn’t do chemotherapy or other allopathic treatment but would enjoy what time they had left on earth.

Later in 2010, Skip was diagnosed with prostate cancer and given 5 years or less to live. Even with this new information, he still held true to the pact and decided to live his life without surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. One night, while watching the Veria channel, they saw a special featuring Doctors T. Colin Campbell and John McDougall talking about how a whole foods plant based diet can cure cancer and a multitude of diseases. After that Nancy and Skip started seeking out alternative therapies to beat cancer without depleting the body. One thing they began noticing from all of the successful doctors who have cured cancer is that it was done through a diet limiting processed foods and focused on plant based nutrition.

After that Nancy went through the house and got rid of anything with meat, fish, eggs or dairy. They used the Hallelujah Diet Program Guide as a base line to start. First thing Skip needed to do was bring his body from acidic to alkaline. He started by juicing, they bought a Vitamix and a Breville Juicer and from there Nancy made Skip a juice drink every hour. He was going through 25+ lbs of carrots per week and in 6 weeks time he had lost 40 lbs. Nancy went from having absolutely no cooking skills to being a plant based chef in order to save her husband’s life. Now she makes plant-based artisan cheeses, and a variety of plant-based meat substitutes and prepares all of their meals.

Skip is has been a holistic plant based cancer survivor for over 5 years now. With their new found energy they went from being couch potatoes to enjoying the great outdoors. Nancy used to suffer from Fibromyalgia and an arterial blockage, all of her symptoms disappeared and she believes her arterial blockage is corrected through a plant based diet. They feel so energized and healthy, like they did when they were 40. Skip says, “I could never go back to my old way of living. This truly is a lifestyle and you have to do something with your life and your energy. We have taken our energy and put it into our new businesses. In an act of desperation I made this change and my hope is that people won’t wait until their back is to the wall before making the change.”

Skip has been studying holistic healing and is now Reiki Level 2. He loves walking, yoga and swimming. He has lost 65 lbs, shocked his doctor of over 20 years with his recent blood work. Is HDL and LDL is the lowest his doctor has ever seen and his other blood work came back great.

Skip and Nancy offer cooking classes to people in Central Florida who want to learn how to cook a whole foods plant based meal plan. If you’re not in the area they offer phone consultation and invite anyone to call them if you have a question. Visit WholeFoods4HealthyLiving.com for more information. They also love to travel together and share how they incorporate their lifestyle even while on the road. They focus on road trips and family oriented travels but much would be the same for business travelers as well. Check out their site plantbasedroadtrip.com

Skip has put his supplement log online, listing out what he takes and what he did since 2010 (when he started this journey). This is a huge service for anyone suffering from cancer! I hope you will go to his site or forward it on to others it’s prostatecancerfight.org

“The main thing I want to add is that Nancy and I are a TEAM. She has saved my life in more ways than I care to discuss, she’s always been my best friend and partner in life. We do almost everything together. We do this because we strongly believe a healthy lifestyle will naturally help everyone. From reduction in medical costs (prevention) to helping preserve our environment a plant-based lifestyle benefits us all.” – Skip Stein

Beauty Benefits of a Vegan Diet + A Shameless Plug

We all know being vegan has a bazillion (no, I didn’t fact that check that) health benefits, but how does it help you be more aesthetically pleasing? Keep reading, my friend for some vegan beauty tips!

1. It Helps Clear Acne

Milk contains an abundance of the hormone IGF-1 which is great if you’re a baby cow. However, in humans it leads to inflammation which can cause redness and swelling. It also makes us produce more oil, which leads to more clogged pores, more acne, and a breeding ground for P. acnes bacteria, which feed on your sebum and spew out inflammatory by-products. The milk and acne effect is well documented in the literature. In the last decade or so, a number of studies have found a strong link between the consumption of milk and increased occurrence of acne. For example, one such study found that teenage boys who drank milk broke out more often, and more severely, than those who didn’t drink milk. (source)

2. It Makes Your Skin Glow

“You look as good as you eat. Researchers at the University of Nottingham revealed in a recent study that eating vegetables makes you appear better looking to others. Despite the many advantages to eating fruits and vegetables, including living longer, being smarter, avoiding chemical exposure (with organic foods), and reducing the carbon footprintvegetarianism is not a food plan for everyone. Now there may be another compelling reason to give up animal protein. Results from the university’s study claim that eating carrots, tomatoes and mangoes improves your skin and makes your face glow naturally. Dr. Ian Stephen who examines the perception of skin color, conducted the research at the school’s Malaysian campus where participants ate five extra portions of fruits and vegetables daily for two months.

Students then examined photos of participants, comparing various pigmentation and chose which were more attractive. Those with increased vegetable and fruit intake won the beauty contest. The diet raised carotenoid levels which provides appealing gold tones to the skin. Packed with antioxidants, the anti-inflammatory properties are healthier.” (source)

3. It Can Help You Lose Weight

I’m not saying you have to be skinny to be beautiful, everyone’s body is different and comes in lots of gorgeous shapes and sizes. However, I think we can all agree that being fit is beautiful. That means eating healthy foods that makes our skin glow, easily toning our lovely bodies and feeling strong with extra energy. That sounds sexy!

“There has been an incredible amount of science coming out as of late in support of a plant-based diet, and how it helps you to lose weight and turn your health around. It is becoming all the more evident that a nutrient-dense, high-fiber diet can not only tame obesity, but it can prevent and reverse the killer diseases of our time: heart diseaseType 2 diabetes and even some kinds of cancer.” (source)

4. It Helps You Smell Pretty

When you walk into your favorite department store (*cough*Nordstrom*cough*) and you go into their extensive makeup/beauty section, what else is there? Fragrances, of course! It’s essential to beauty. Scent is tied into so many emotions and hormones on a deep subconscious and sometimes conscious level. So, smelling great is just part of the pretty girl package aka “Smelling pretty”.

“Meat and dairy consumption has been directly linked to a higher amount of acidity in the body and the amount of stinky breath and body odor. As someone who eats tons of plant foods, I can tell you I personally haven’t worn deodorant in almost 8 years and I do not suffer from body odor, even while sweating. On a normal basis, I don’t have bad breath, unless I eat garlic, which I avoid because it really makes me smell terrible! It’s all about that acidity factor in meats and dairy. They are the most acidic foods available to us, and when we eat them, our bodies literally process their acids directly as waste, which our bodies try to eliminate through sweating, odor and the breath. An alkaline body doesn’t produce nearly the amount of toxins and thus there are less to eliminate through the pores. Garlic and onions are simply odor-producing foods for the breath due to their healthy antioxidant sulfur, which is actually a detoxifying agent to the liver” (source)

5. Inner Beauty is Sexy

As a parent, I always instill values in my boys and one of those is that inner beauty is a better attribute than physical beauty. Physical beauty has it’s ebbs and flows from awkward teenage brace face years to aging and saggy boobs. I think we can all agree there is some beauty in each of those stages, but one thing everyone notices– one that is truly timeless is inner beauty. One of the best things about vegans is their compassion for all life, one life is not better than the other. For me, the ant has just as much as value in this world as I do. This beautiful compassion extends to all of nature and humans alike. I love helping others, encouraging others and respecting all people and animals. Now what is more beautiful than that? Vegans and their compassion has an inner beauty that benefits the entire eco system, and that my friends, is hot!

Now onto my shameless plug…

I was speaking with PETA about possible photo shoot campaigns to work with them on and they told me that in the meantime I should join their “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” contest. I was hesitant since I HATE voting campaigns but when I saw that Humane Trip was offering a free trip to Hawaii for the lucky winner, I quickly changed my mind. Please vote for me! You can vote one time per email address, so if you have multiple email addresses and some time, I would appreciate any and all votes. Also, share this PLEASE, the more votes the better! Thank you for your support, everyone. You all mean the world to me! 

VOTE FOR ME

10 Reasons Why Bob Barker is My Hero (And Why He Should Be Yours)

If you were a ’70’s, ’80’s or early ’90’s baby, I’m sure one of your favorite things about missing school or being on summer vacation was that you got to watch the Price is Right. It’s a fun game to play at home, the cars are always amazing and the people are priceless. Most people love how charismatic Bob Barker is, he’s so charming and how on earth does he look so amazing? Well a vegetarian diet of course! Bob Barker is a pop icon and a game show legend, but who exactly is this man? 

I remember being home schooled in Kindergarten and watching the Price is Right. I knew from the age of 4 that I wanted to move to Hollywood, CA and be a Barker’s Beauty. As I got older, I wondered who he was and I started reading up on him. That year I became vegan, the next year I moved to Hollywood (right off of Sunset Blvd) and I sent my photo in numerous times to be a Barker’s Beauty. I have a past pageant history and many things that connected me to Bob Barker, but my ultimate goal was to meet him. By the time an open casting call happened, it was for the new host of The Price is Right and I knew without Bob being on the show I wanted no part of it. Even now I forget it’s still an ongoing show because without Bob it’s not the same. When people ask me who my hero is I say “Bob Barker” and it always gets me the weirdest looks. When I explain why they’re blown away by the awesome person that he is, but few really know life details about him. Fun fact about me: I paid over $200 for a ticket to go to the Daytime Emmy’s simply because they were honoring Bob Barker’s career after he retired from the show. I still have the book and photos I took from the event. It was an honor to be there to see the legend that I love, honored for his work.

Top 10 Reasons Why Bob Barker is my hero, and why he should be yours:

10. He refused to emcee the Miss America & Miss USA Pageants if They Didn’t Stop Using Fur Coats

Bob Barker’s late wife, Dorothy Jo quit wearing the fur jackets that Bob had been giving her. She educated him on the abuse that goes into fur. He then told the Miss America pageants that if they didn’t stop using fur coats in the pageants, then he would quit hosting. They stopped for awhile, but in 1988 they started giving fur coats out as prizes and he quit hosting. He definitely stands up for what he believes in, that’s a true man! 

9. “Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered” 

This iconic statement is known by most, this is how he ended each episode of the Price Is Right from the ’80’s and on. Bob Barker established the DJ&T Foundation, named after his late wife, Dorothy Jo and his mother Matilda “Tilly”, to financially support low cost spay and neuter clinics. 

8. He is Vegetarian

With his wife’s help he went vegetarian in 1979.  “I gave up red meat and fowl, and gradually fish and dairy products as well. I did it out of concern for animals, but I have certainly learned why so many people are becoming vegetarians out of concern for health reasons. I can control my weight better than before, I feel better, I have more energy, and I think that it is certainly a healthful way of life.” -Bob Barker. If you’ve seen how amazing he looks in his 90’s, you’ll believe in the power of a plant based diet!

7. He Rescues Zoo Animals 

Bob Barker spent approximately $1 million to get three African elephants from the Toronto Zoo to an animal sanctuary in California. The Toronto City Council allowed for their removal in 2011 after activists such as Barker voiced their concerns about having large animals held within zoos. With the addition of Toka, Iringa and Thika, the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 compound has a total of 11 elephants.

6. He Helps Stop Whaling in Japan

In 2010, Barker donated $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to fight whaling off of the Japan coast. In 2014, Japan didn’t kill 1 whale!! 

7. He Supports the Teaching of Animal Ethics and Law

Bob Barker has donated $2 million to his alma mater, Drury University, to establish the Dorothy Jo Barker Endowed Professorship of Animal Rights to create and Animal Ethics course at Drury. Bob Barker has also made several million dollar donations to schools such as University of Virginia, Columbia Law School and Stanford Law School to establish animal law programs. 

6. He Helped Ban Circus Elephants from Circuses

Elephants have been shown to be as smart as humans and while I think keeping an animal in a circus is an act of abuse, it especially is for elephants. The bill, HR2929, calls for the banning of the use of elephants in circuses. “Elephants have suffered terribly ever since they have been used in circuses, and many, if not most of the people who go to circuses have no idea how miserably the elephants live and how terribly they are treated in order to make them perform,” Bob explains. “I am doing all I can to help expose this cruelty. I am also hopeful that as people become more aware of the terrible suffering of animals in circuses that they will refuse to attend them. And that animals in circuses will become a thing of the past.”

5. He’s An Advocate for Using Shelters, Not Breeders

Bob Barker has adopted all of his animals from shelters or in the case of his dog, Winston a friend couldn’t find a home for him and generously took him in. His animals are his family,  “I can’t exaggerate how important they are to my life. I don’t know what my life would have been without animals. When I come home, they’re there to greet me, and they’re the last things I see when I leave for the studio. I absolutely adore them and love them, and I think it would be a very lonely life without them. I recommend them for any old, gray-haired man living alone.”

4. He’s a Bad Ass

He has a black belt in Karate and trained under Chuck Norris. 

3. He Always Made Sure Prizes on The Price is Right Were Animal Friendly

Bob Barker was not asked to appear on the 40th Anniversary of the Price is Right show. He said, “Because I have been critical of them for giving away prizes that I consider inappropriate.” He complained to producers for awarding tickets to Sea World and the Calgary Stampede as prizes. Both organizations “are notorious for animal abuse,” Barker said. When he was host of the long running show, Bob had said, “We stopped giving away fur coats many years ago. In addition we don’t give away anything leather, no hunting safaris, and if it is a trip to Spain, the last thing you’ll see is a bullfight.” He adds that “Once a week we’ll have an animal on the show in some sort of setting that came from a shelter. I will mention that if you don’t live out here, just go to the shelter near your home and you’ll find a fine friend.” I, personally have quit watching the show since Bob left because I support his policies and I feel that they don’t honor his wishes anymore.

2. Barker Leads Animal Rights Protests Against Walmart

If you know anything about me, you know that I hate Walmart as much as I hate animal abusers. So, of course, my hero would lead a protest against Walmart. He’s my knight in shining armor after all. He warned people of the pork sold at Walmart stores. They were treated very inhumanely at Christiansen Family Farms for being in confinement crates before being sent to slaughter. 

1. He Puts His Money Behind Words

One of my favorite things about Bob, is he stands up for what he believes in. If you’re an animal rights activist you will know that it’s never easy to stand up for what you believe in. It’s very controversial and people think you’re talking crazy. But Bob does it in the face of adversity and stands up to huge companies for his personal beliefs. He’s a true gentleman and friend to all animals. He’s inspired me to create my blogs to spread my message about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and to show people how to do it so they understand it is pretty easy. He taught me to stand up for what’s right regardless what people think. He has also spent milions and miliions of dollars as you can see, to further animal rights and activism. He should be anyone’s hero because he makes this world a better place and raises awareness for animal injustice. 

Thank you Bob, you’re a legend!

Dairy Alternatives

When anyone is looking to go vegan they wonder what to do about dairy. It’s pretty much in everything and how do you substitute it? I’ll give you some tips on my favorite dairy alternatives and how to use them. Looking for egg substitutes? Check out my past blog post here

Milk

This one is always tricky because it depends on what you’re looking for. I tend to use almond milk for almost every milk substitute. It’s great over cereal, in oatmeal, in baking recipes, etc. If you’re going to make a creamy pasta dish or use it in a sauce that you don’t want it to be sweet, then I wouldn’t use it. A good alternative for a cream sauce would be plain rice milk since almond milk tends to be pretty sweet even if it not sweetened with vanilla and can ruin the overall flavor of the dish. Other alternatives if you have any type of nut allergy would be hemp milk, coconut, or soy milk.

Cheese

This is another tough one. Really I think the only way to go here is Daiya cheese. It melts in sandwich makers, the oven, microwave, etc. Tofurky even makes frozen pizzas with Daiya that can you bake at home. I have made homemade pizzas with Daiya and they turn out pretty well. Follow Your Heart makes ok cheeses, not my favorite and it takes forever to melt. Looking for the perfect grilled cheese? Use Tofutti American cheese slices, they look like Kraft American cheese slices but are dairy free. Recently, Field Roast released gourmet cheeses that are a mind blowing experience on crackers or with their vegan sausages.

Ice Cream

I love So Delicious Purely Decadent! They have lots of great flavors and are in a bunch of grocery store. If you’re new to the whole dairy free ice cream trend then stay away from vanilla flavors as they taste a bit “off” when you’re getting used to dairy free. Also avoid ones made from rice milk as they are extremely bland.

Butter

I love Earth Balance, it is mostly made from olive oil so it doesn’t taste weird, melts really well and I love to use it in baking. It holds up just as well as butter and you can even buy it in a stick form or in a tub. It’s a relatively healthy version of butter alternatives and you’ll really think that you can’t believe it’s not butter.

Coffee Creamer

I never recommend almond milk as a creamer because it curdles and looks very unappetizing. So Delicious, Silk and a few other companies make non-dairy creamers. If you’re looking to avoid soy, Silk makes a coconut milk coffee creamer.

Cream Cheese

My favorite brand of non-dairy cream cheese is Tofutti brand, I’ve made cheesecakes with it and I love it! However, check Pinterest and other sites because it’s also really easy to make your own version of cream cheese.

Sour Cream

Again, I recommend Tofutti brand, but it’s also easy to make your own version at home. So check online for recipes. I always prefer to make what I can homemade so I avoid processed foods.

Is it Healthy to Use These Instead of Milk?

A lot of times I have people tell me that they’d rather use milk since it’s natural and they don’t know what these products are and don’t feel they’re healthy. To that I say, milk is high in fat and cholesterol. It contains animal growth hormones, GMOs, natural hormones to bond a baby cow to the mother creating an opiate effect on humans and can contribute to a slew of thyroid issues. On top of that milk extracts calcium from your bones, quite a bit more than it actually puts in. That’s why countries who don’t consume animal milk don’t have osteoporosis, it literally doesn’t exist there. It also is the leading cause of breast cancer. Thanks to inhumane machines that milk cows several times a day blood and pus is in milk, but don’t worry it’s pasteurized so it’s safe. However, through pasteurizing it strips the milk of all digestive enzymes so we can’t digest milk and 70% of people are actually allergic to milk. Those that are show it through either asthma (yes most cases of asthma can be cured from avoiding dairy altogether), hives, skin conditions, acne, breathing problems, gas, bloating, digestive issues and constipation. Milk alternatives aren’t sounding so bad! I still encourage you to check for “Non-GMO” on the labels, a lot of soy milks and dairy alternatives will put it on their packaging. Happy dairy free eating!

Are they any I missed? Feel free to comment and ask specific questions as to what you’re trying to substitute and I will try my best to help.

How to Avoid Processed Foods

As most of you know, I’m a mom of boys and that keeps me pretty busy. In addition to that, I write for this blog and I am a contributor to the Vegan Housewives blog, which is such an honor. As a mother, it is hard to make time to cook healthy meals and especially snacks. Even if you’re not a mom and you work full time, you probably have the same problem. We live in a culture where everything is “go, go go” we barely have time to run our errands, much less to stop, sit and just be.

I go back and forth between giving my kids convenience foods for snacks and going overboard on making them not eat anything processed. My conscience beats me up every time they’re eating something processed. I decided there has to be a balance. I found that there definitely is. I decided to share my tips and tricks to avoiding processed foods and on the occasion that you can’t avoid it–some ideas for healthier options.

One thing I noticed, is that when I’m making lunch for everyone I usually want to cut corners. I don’t want to sit there and chop up fruits and veggies. Lunch was definitely the one meal a day that I noticed my kids were getting mostly processed foods. I found that if I had already chopped up fruits and veggies in my refrigerator I was more likely to give that to them than crackers or chips. After I do a grocery store run or a Farmer’s Market run, I chop up my fruits and veggies and put them in air tight containers (BPA-free plastic or glass ones of course!)

Here I am chopping up my onions. A fun cooking tip: By breathing through your mouth and wearing big glasses you can stop yourself from crying while cutting onions. I cut up 3 large onions I got from my sister’s garden and I didn’t even shed a tear.

To recap, storing veggies and fruit chopped up means you’re more likely to use them in a hurry.

I also like to make my own snack foods. I make muffins in large batches as well as my mother-in-law’s infamous “Protein Balls” (really they should have a better name). I find by keeping a large amount on hand, the kids can grab them if they’re hungry. I control the ingredients that go into them so I know they’re organic, vegan and preservative free.

Protein Ball recipe:

1 cup oats

1/2 cup raisins or dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 tsp pure vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and then roll them into a small ball (like cookie dough before you bake them) then put them in an air tight container and let them set in the fridge. After an hour or so they’re set. They remind me of the filling inside a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. I usually triple the recipe and make a huge batch because my kids go through these like crazy.

Usually 2 nights a week I dedicate to my baking night, my sweet husband will stand with me in the kitchen and we spend quality time together while baking, cutting up veggies and fruit, talking and sometimes we read books together while cooking. I actually look forward to those nights. If he has an event he has to be at one night, I’ll make that my baking night and turn on some music and bake the night away.

We all have those weeks where we are exhausted! The kids have a bunch of events, we have a full schedule and baking nights did not happen that week. Been there! We have to pick something up at the store real quick, so what do we do? READ LABELS, “natural” doesn’t mean anything, it could be filled with chemicals and considered “natural” by FDA “standards”. Look for organic labels, read the ingredients to see if you can pronounce the ingredients, if you can’t, don’t buy it! Some of my favorite snacks I get for the kids are Clif Z Bars (vegan, organic and totally delicious, plus you can buy them in bulk at Costco) and Clif Z Ropes (fruit ropes that are 100% fruit). Look for whole grains, organic labels and foods with few ingredients. While these are not processed I think we over look some things like whole fruits that are easy to eat without being peeled or cut up such as apples and grapes. Organic baby carrots, raisins, peanuts (for kids over the age of 3).

What are some of your tips to avoid processed foods for your family?

How To Eat Vegan On the Go

I didn’t abandon all of my wonderful followers, I promise. We went on a 3 week vacation, returned home and had 2 weeks until we moved to a new state. Consequently, I feel like July didn’t even happen! I have a ton of posts I’m ready to write. The Notes app on my iPhone is full of blogging posts. One post that I really wanted to write, is this one. I think a lot of people can handle doing vegan at home, but when out of their element they go back to old ways. A frequent question I receive is, “Where can I eat?”. I think we all assume most restaurants aren’t vegan friendly and if you look at most menus, I’d agree. 

However, I’ve been a picky eater my whole life. I’m used to asking for about 2-3 items removed from whichever dish I order. I actually pick the thing on the menu that has the least amount of items I want removed, so I don’t annoy the server and the chef. I’m anything but pretentious, I just like what I like. I remember the first time my husband and I watched “When Harry Met Sally” and he said, “Wow, it’s you!” I’d like to think I’m less obnoxious about it, but I am very particular. All of that to bring us to my first tip: 

Don’t be shy to ask for a dish you want without the meat or cheese

I think a lot of times, people glance at the menu and see something with meat in it or cheese on it and automatically assume it is off limits. That is not the case. As long as it isn’t something as simple as a “chicken breast” or if it doesn’t have meat in the sauce, then you can easily get it without the meat. Most restaurants are very sweet and will let you substitute it for spinach or some other protein. I tend to order a lot of pasta dishes without the meat and cheese, because most marinara sauces are just a tomato or olive oil base. Then add a little spinach and you have yourself a nice dinner. Asian salads are also great because they usually have peanuts or almonds. Asking for no chicken and extra nuts is pretty easy. I think the biggest trick is being polite about it. If the dish never had meat in it and I’m just getting it without cheese, I order it without cheese and apologize and explain I’m allergic. If I’m doing no meat and cheese, then I usually come up with some witty comment about how I’m not high maintenance, I’m just a picky eater. Being different is hard, but with the right attitude you can make it work for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Go rogue

Ok, so you’re at a really upscale restaurant and you’re having a great time but those 10 menu items are all meat and cheese and there isn’t anything to work with. I’ve been there before! There are a few options, if you see anything that has some sort of pasta you can always ask if they have plain marina or could do olive oil and seasoning. Usually, they can pull this together. There have been times when even that is not an option. I have pieced together dinners with handmade mashed potatoes with absolutely no butter that were very gritty and a side of plain toast or a meal of bruschetta and a salad with balsamic. It’s not enjoyable, but sometimes it has to be done. Usually, if you use my last rule and are very polite they are happy to pull something together to make you a decent meal. Then your faith in humanity can be restored! It makes your makeshift meal a bit more enjoyable. 

Fast Food

I think we all assume vegans can’t do fast food and really who wants to? It’s unhealthy, filled with fat, sodium and chemicals that look and smell like food. I just did a road trip so I know the necessity of grabbing something quick and easy. Many fast food places are carrying salads, asking for some without meat is an option but not very filling. You can always ask if their fries are made with vegetable oil or animal fats. Some fast food joints are doing smoothies as well. You could do a smoothie and a salad if need be. Taco Bell doesn’t use lard in their refried beans so a bean burrito or tostada without cheese is an option there. Subway has an amazing honey oat bread, a veggie sandwich with some spinach is a fair amount of protein. Chipotle is the best option, now they have a sofrita tofu mix plus black beans and their food is fantastic! They’re on the right track and I love the direction the company is going with their support of sustainable farming. 

Restaurants that have the most vegan options

If you’re going to out to eat and your friends suggest a few restaurants for you to pick from, try to stick with these type of places for the most vegan options. Thai restaurants (lots of tofu, curry dishes, rices, etc.), Indian food (really there is nothing better than channa masala over basmati rice), Italian (pasta dishes, breads, salads, need I say more?), Mexican food (tons of bean options make sure their refried beans don’t contain lard, if they do there’s always black beans) and Japanese (udon, miso, etc.). I recommend trying to avoid American food joints or diners, we didn’t earn the “Fattest country” title eating rice and beans. Some American restaurants have veggie burgers but even those sometimes contain egg. Chinese food is another tough one, I find if they don’t have meat in the dish they have egg, sometimes you can get them to take out the egg but usually it’s pre-made. 

Happy eating! 

XOXO

Summer Thai Chopped “Chickn” Salad

I’ve been so busy my poor blog has been neglected. I haven’t forgotten about you guys. As a stay at home mom with boys, a husband that works 24/7 and a new dog, life gets busy and I don’t have time to make new recipes. I stick to my tried and true recipes in an effort to save time. 


I finally had time to do this one for you guys. It’s a wonderful Thai Chopped Chicken Salad, cruelty free and still absolutely amazing!


INGREDIENTS

Salad

  • 2 chikn scallopini Gardein pieces cooked or you can marinate tofu first using this recipe
  • 1 small head green or white cabbage (2 cups shredded)
  • 1 large carrot (1½ cups shredded)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup green onions
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 tsp. avocado oil

Dressing

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 bird’s eye chili peppers (sub ½ teaspoon minced hot pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat up a tsp of avocado oil on a non-stick (I prefer cast iron) pan on medium heat. Add the chikn and flip it often until fully cooked. Or cook tofu according to instructions. 
  2. Chop the cabbage into very thin pieces, like it would be for coleslaw. I did this by rolling up several leaves together and making thin vertical slices across the roll and then chopping them once horizontally. Peel and grate the carrots. Roughly chop the cilantro and green onions. Toss the chikn/tofu and vegetables in a large bowl and keep chilled.
  3. Mince the garlic and chili peppers. Place garlic and peppers in a small mixing bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice, oil. Whisk until smooth. Add the peanut butter and water and whisk again until smooth and creamy.
  4. Toss the salad with the dressing. Add the crushed peanuts. Serve chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one day. For best results, keep the leftover salad and dressing separate until ready to serve.

NOTES

Nutrition information is for 6 servings.

Factory Farming Facts

*Information courtesy of Organic Consumers Association*
 
Random Factory Farm Facts
  • Globally, about 65 billion animals are slaughtered for food every year.
  • In the U.S., nearly 10.2 billion land animals were raised and killed for food in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Of those, 9,210 million (91%) were chickens raised for meat, 464 million (4.5%) were chickens raised for eggs, 276 million (2.5%) were turkeys, and the remaining 202 million (2%) were cows, pigs, other mammals, and ducks and geese. In addition to the 9,278 million animals who were slaughtered, the total figure includes the 875 million animals, or 8.6%, who died lingering deaths from disease, injury, starvation, suffocation, maceration, or other atrocities of animal farming and transport.
  • About 95 percent of all poultry and the majority of beef and pork come from factory farms, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
  • Every year factory farms dump 220 billion gallons of animal waste onto farmland and into our waterways, posing a major threat to public health.
  • The raw liquefied sewage produced by CAFOs is 25- 100 times more concentrated than human sewage, plus has milk house waste, blood, dead animals, sanitizing and other chemicals mixed in, all of it stored in an open pit that holds millions of gallons…often…contaminating drinking water intakes, threatening recreational users and harming fish and other wildlife.
  • Most factory farms store animal waste in open lagoons as large as several football fields. Lagoons routinely burst, sending millions of gallons of manure into waterways and spreading microbes that can cause gastroenteritis, fevers, kidney failure, and death.
  • CAFO manure has contaminated drinking water in many rural areas, caused fish kills, and contributed to oxygen-depleted “dead zones” (areas devoid of valuable marine life) in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, and elsewhere.
  • Four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to completely healthy farm animals.
  • Force-feeding animals antibiotics helps breed antibiotic-resistant superbugs (bacteria that antibiotics can’t kill). And every year over 70,000 Americans die because of bacterial resistance. 
  • The USDA estimates that more than 335 million tons of “dry matter” waste (the portion of waste remaining after water is removed) is produced annually on farms in the United States, representing almost a third of the total municipal and industrial waste produce. Animal feeding operations annually produce about 100 times more manure than the amount of human sewage sludge processed in U.S. municipal wastewater plants. Unlike human waste, the law does not require that livestock waste be treated.
  • Twenty-six billion pounds of beef from 34 million cattle is produced annually in the U.S., more than in any other country.
  • Hog manure has ten to 100 times more concentrated pathogens than human waste. We treat human sewage, but we don’t treat animal waste.
  • The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2, according to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
  • Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than cars, according to a United Nations report.
  • CAFOs release over 400 separate gases, mostly due to the large amounts of manure they produce. The principal gases released are hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide.
  • Twenty-three million pounds of antibiotics are added to animal feed every year, to make the animals grow faster.
  • The U.S. is the only country that feeds slaughterhouse waste, blood and manure to livestock.
  • Manure can contain pathogens, antibiotics, drug-resistant bacteria, hormones, heavy metals and other compounds.
  • Agricultural Waste is the number-one form of well-water contaminants in the U.S., where at least 4.5 million people are exposed to dangerously high nitrate levels in their drinking water.
  • Japan inspects 100 percent of its beef for mad cow disease; the European Union inspects 25 percent; the U.S. inspects less than one percent.
Sources and Resource