Friday, September 18, 2009

Nuggets without the gross stuff

My toddler LOVES faux nuggets. I HATE the price tag for vegan nuggets. I just can't justify spending $5 for a measly 12 nuggets. Plus, have you seen the ingredient list for vegan nuggets? It's all preservative this and nitrates that and well, you get the picture. So I had to think of a quick, easy way to get the nuggets my kid so likes.

About a month or so ago I made some homemade seitan, A LOT OF IT. I ended up putting most of it in freezer bags in the freezer until I could come up with something to do with it. We try to stay away from faux meat products for the most part but sometimes it just hits the spot. As I was contemplating my nugget delima it dawned on me that I could probably use my seitan to make nuggets.

I thawed the seitan out overnight, drained it from it's water and cut it into small chunks. I dipped it in soy milk flavored with some spicy mustard and then dredged it in a breadcrumb mixture and baked it for 30 minutes on 350 degrees. Perfection! The toddler was happy to have nuggets and I was happy to use my seitan.

I intend on making a large batch of seitan nuggets and storing them in the freezer for later use. I'll be able to save a few dollars and feed my kid something that has ingredients that I can actually pronounce and that weren't grown in a lab. I call that success!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eating out tips and tricks

I don't eat out on a regular basis because 1.) I'd rather eat at home and know what's in my food 2.) it's cheaper to not eat out and 3.) I love cooking so it doesn't bother me to make a meal or three in a day. That's not to say that I don't eat out ever. I go out with friends often enough and some of my family members eat out almost everyday of the week. Just because I stay away from animal products doesn't mean that I can't go out and enjoy time with my friends and family over a meal. Over the last year I've become more and more adept at making it work for me and my son when we do go out.

One great resource I have that I'd love to share is my iPhone's app called VeganXpress. It has TONS of restaurants listed and what vegan options there are. Also included are snacks (junk food) and beer. Not that I drink often, but now I can pick a beer or snack that's cruelty free. I'm aware that not all people have iPhone's which clearly means you MUST get one. Ha!

Another super simple resource is to just google whatever the restaurant is and something along the lines of "vegan options". Many times you'll get the research someone else has already done. Obviously you'd need to double check the accuracy of the information to make sure it's not outdated, but I've had lots of success doing google searches.

Lastly, picking up the phone and speaking to a manager or owner often is a great way to get right to the heart of the matter. I've had several managers go into the kitchen and look at packages for me which I find to be extremely excellent customer service.

Certain type of restaurants are also excellent choices for someone who's eliminated animal products. Sushi restaurants are a great place. People are often surprised when I say that but it's so easy! I order veggie sushi either with cucumber or avocado, a bowl of miso soup (I always ask if it's miso based broth, just in case), a simple seaweed salad and sometimes veggie fried rice with no egg. Not all at once, though, those are just my many options.

Many "home style" restaurants are a good place to eat also. I request steamed veggies and a bowl of fruit and maybe a side salad. Some buffet places can accommodate you as well but most of their veggies are swimming in butter so I usually stick with a salad and rice if it's vegan.

Sandwich shops and pizza places are a good places also. Subway and Quizno's make a mean veggie sandwich. Just make sure to ask if the bread contains and eggs or milk. I've had good success at some local pizza places also. Often times the thin crust contains no "offending" ingredients" so I order a thin crust, extra sauce, extra veggie, no cheese pizza. Once you take all the cholesterol-laden cheese away you're left with a tasty, healthy meal option.

Mexican places can be a great place to eat vegan. Chips, salsa and guacamole (usually) are all A OK. I always ask the server if there's lard in the beans or chicken stock in the rice and if there is then I get corn tortillas, fajita veggies, salsa and pico and go to town. I eat like a queen at Mexican places. Italian, too! Some bread are safe and many of the pastas are. Nothing is better than a tasty bread with some olive oil, vinegar and pepper. Zomg.

There are some places, AHEM T.G.I Friday's I'm talking to you!, that have nothing but a wimpy salad and an order of french fries for us vegans. In that case I eat the wimpy salad and ask for extra tomatoes and other veggie toppings, a light dressing and fries and just work out a tad harder at the gym that day. When I come across a place that could easily add a few menu items for someone like me I always ask the server to pass along my request.

Most places are willing to accommodate a request if you ask nicely and be very specific about your request. A little flirting never hurt, either.

Happy eating out, vegan style!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Recipe - Blueberry Muffins

I needed something quick that I could grab on my way out the door in the mornings that would hold me over until my mid morning snack or lunch (if work was that busy that particular day). So what better than some homemade blueberry muffins? Nothing!

Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

Servings: 12 muffins

Time (approx): 45 minutes (start to finish, including cook time)

- two mixing bowls
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- 12-muffin muffin tin (not the mini muffin tin)
- muffin/cupcake paper cups (optional)

- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- egg replacer, enough for one egg
- 4 tablespoons corn oil
- 1 1/4 cups soy yogurt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil muffin tins (or insert paper cups).

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a second bowl, combine the egg replacer, corn oil, and yogurt. Whisk in the sugar until creamed, about two minutes.

4. Add the blueberries to the dry ingredients and mix to disperse evenly.

5. Add the wet mixture and stir only until just combined.

6. Scoop 3-4 tablespoons of batter into each muffin cup. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the top edges of the muffins just begin to brown.

7. Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool five minutes before removing them from the tin. The muffins keep several days stored in an airtight container.

Some side notes and suggestions from me:
- I made a half-batch because I wasn't sure if I could eat twelve muffins in a week. So six it is. And what's nice about using the egg replacer is that you can make a recipe that calls for half an egg. Woohoo!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vegan kids ROCK

How excited was I to be asked to be interviewed about kids who are vegan or vegetarian. I couldn't pass up the chance!

Jackson and I have been vegan for a little more than a year and not only is he surviving, he's thriving. Some people weren't super supportive of our diet change but I think that since time has passed they are maybe a little more willing to agree that he's a healthy, happy little kid.

It only made sense that when I changed my diet that I change his. He's more likely to live a healthier life, obviously save a few animals and make an impact on the environment all by just eating things that didn't used to have, or be a mother.

I'm quite proud of this article.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A shopping technique worth sharing

I have a new grocery shopping technique that I am trying out for a few weeks. When I go to the grocery store, I always bring my reusable bags so I don't contribute to landfills, etc., with the plastic bags. And before I would shop until I think I got everything I needed with no particular meals in mind. Of course, that's without saying the obvious combinations of ingredients - spaghetti needs marinara, chips need salsa and beans, etc. So I would buy all sorts of random foods that were yummy and have plans for those items for some meal later on in the week. And there's my downfall. Later in the week, even just one day after going grocery shopping, I stand there staring into my pantry and refrigerator thinking out loud that I have nothing to make for dinner. Sadly, a lot of the fresh produce goes to waste if I don't eat it within two days. (Maybe something with the internal environment of my house? Too warm? Too much AC circulated air instead of fresh air?)

So my new approach - take only two of my reusable shopping bags with me and at least three meals written out on paper. Now, before I leave the house, I have the entire items list put together and I go through what I already have on hand and cross-through those items so I don't purchase more of them. Will I really consume two large containers of arugula within a few days? No. I acknowledge that fact, therefore I shouldn't waste money on food, or just waste the food period. Lose-lose for all. When I get to the grocery store, I get only those things on my list (unless I'm a dummy and totally forgot to add some staple, like rice milk or something). I always start in the produce section, then grains and canned goods, and lastly the frozen section. The two concepts that stick in my mind as I go through the aisles are: 1) Is on my list (or did I forget to put it on the list and I really REALLY need it)? and 2) Does everything I need fit into my two bags? If it doesn't, and it's not on my list, back to the shelf it goes. So to state my new technique simply - save money, save food.

What techniques work for you? Are you working off of a meal plan or a budget, or both even? What great finds have you found? What things didn't work for you so that we may all learn? We'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My list of pantry must haves.

I admit I hoard groceries. But I swear I rotate through them and I USE my stash. I just really like having a bunch of my MVP's on hand at all times. Let's face it we all plan a menu for the week and never stick to you. Okay, not all of us, just me. I find by having a well stocked pantry I can whip up a meal and I'm less likely to eat out too!

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I love these guys. They are super versatile. You can make chicken salad sandwiches with them (my newest passion), throw them on a salad for a little crunch, puree them to make hummus (again eat it all. the. time). I could go on and on. Instead I'll just tell you I keep no less than 8 cans in my pantry at all times!

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Bush's Black Beans. Again these are versatile. Hippie loaf, veggie burgers, taco salads. These too are a must for a well stocked pantry! Like the garbanzo beans I keep no less than 8 in my pantry!

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Minute Brown Rice. I'm mom to 3 (the husband counts as a kid 90% of the time) along with working full time outside the home. My kids are starving as soon as we walk in the door after work. I need fast! Rice can be used in a number of dishes from breaskfast to dinner which I love.

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Gnocchi (pronounced neo key). My favorite way to eat this is with sauteed squash, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and LOTS of garlic. mmmm. I buy it at my local grocery store. It's made with whole wheat flour vs. white flour the picture shows. I've tried to make it myself, TWICE, and we end up throwing it away so I just buy it.

The of course other basics such as steel cut oats, whole wheat flour, linguini noodles, spaghetti noodles, raw sugar, agave nectar, lots of fresh veggies, fresh ground peanut butter, and lastly fresh fruit.

One great tip about fresh veggies. I only buy enough to last a few days at the most (and from a local farmers market) then come home and immediately wash and cut, slice, dice, julienne them and put them in the fridge. It makes meal prep that much faster...and if I am super hungry and have cut veggies I'm more likely to grab them than the oreos!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Being a vegan is fun and exciting, I swear

I think when most people think of vegans they think we eat vegetables, fruits and that's about it. They probably assume that our diets are monotonous and bland. The thought that crosses most people minds when they hear the word 'vegan' is boring. Well, I'm here to tell you that the opposite it true.

I truly enjoy going to the grocery store and filling my cart with brightly colored, fresh, mostly organic foods. I've caught people looking into my cart on many an occasion and I often wonder what they think. If nothing else they must be admiring the bright colors and the mostly lacking presence of plastic packaging and boxes.

On a regular basis (once a month or more) I try and buy a new fruit, vegetable, grain or legume to try out. Some with success (leeks! A new staple for me) and some without much success (stupid beets). But it's always fun to find something new and make a new dish with it. Just last week I bought a few rambutan for Derick and I to try. It's this strange little fruit that looks similar to a sea urchin but obviously doesn't taste like one. Not that I've eaten sea urchin, but I imagine it doesn't taste at all sweet. Chances are I won't buy rambutan again for a long, long time (it's definitely not a local fruit) but now I know what it tastes like so if I'm ever in Thailand (someday I hope!) and see them I can buy them with confidence. There are just so many foods out there that I've discovered now that I'm so far removed from my former staple of meat as a main dish. Some of the other new foods I've tried:


Christmas Lima Beans (technically we haven't tried them, but they are waiting in my pantry)


Oat Groats

Apricot (I have no idea why I hadn't had these before. They are excellent.)

Quinoa (I'd never even heard of this before I became a vegan. It's a staple for us now!)

Horned Melon

In my former, pre-vegan life I probably would have tried the fruits but I would passed right by the other items. Oat Groats? Sounds so odd to me. It's an adventure to see what items I can make for a tasty lunch or dinner with fresh ingredients.

My pantry and fridge are a wealth of varied foods that are (mostly) healthy, nutritionally rich and yummy. I never get bored eating the foods I eat, never. Even if I had a salad every day for a week it would never be the same. I vary the greens, other toppings and make a different dressing almost every time.

We also eat "regular" things too. We still order pizza (no cheese, extra veggies and sauce), eat at Taco Bell (bean burritos, hold the cheese please!) and can chow down at lots of Italian places (pasta with tomato sauce). I've made some mean veggie fajitas at many Mexican places and I can usually find several options at most places.

If doubt that being a vegan will ever become a chore. It's my learning experience and a way to educate others as well and I find it satisfying and exciting. Knowledge is power and I have learned so much in this last year and I hope the fun continues for a long, long time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Summery Dessert

I found a perfect dessert that's healthy, filling and sweet! This recipe is really just a guideline because you can mix and match, add or subtract to your tastes.

Soy Topped Fruit Dessert:

1 6-8 ounce vanilla dairy-free yogurt (I have used the Silk brand but any would be fine I'm sure)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple syrup

This is the soy topping for whatever fruit you desire. Mix all the above ingredients until smooth and top on your fruit. Here's where the recipe can be your own. You can use a flavored yogurt, yesterday I used cherry flavor or keep to the vanilla. If you don't have maple syrup (because of the awful price tag that goes along with it) you can use agave nectar or other sweetener. Don't like vanilla or cinnamon? Leave them out or if you love them, add more to taste!

The fruit I used yesterday was one banana, one nectarine and a bunch of grapes. A few days ago I used raspberries, an apple and a white peach. Both were equally yummy.

Try this easy, delicious dessert, I promise you'll love me for it.

Also, I haven't done this yet, but this could a breakfast parfait like at McDonald's (minus the cholesterol) if you add some granola. Yum!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recipe - Lentil and Brown Rice "Stoup"

"Stoup" is my way of saying chunky soup - not quite a stew, not quite a soup - right in the middle. Quick and dirty, but great results. Pictures coming soon, seeing as I'm hoping to make this tomorrow night's dinner.

Recipe: Lentil and Brown Rice "Stoup"

Servings: 4-6 (depends on how much you want)

Time (approx): 45-50 minutes

- large stock pot - the double-handled kind is the best kind
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons

- 12 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup dried brown or green lentils
- 1 cup short-grain brown rice
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup minced fresh parsley
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon whole celery seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Bring the water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add the lentils, rice, onion, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme, pepper, celery seeds, and cinnamon. Lower the heat, cover loosely, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are tender.

2. Season with the salt to taste.

3. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, leftovers will keep for up to three days.

Some side notes and suggestions from me:
- I add in chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms, peppers, and zucchini. Or whatever else I feel like throwing in.
- Instead of 12 cups water or 12 cups vegetable broth, I mix it 50/50. I use a few of the vegan vegetable bouillon cubes - enough to make 6 cups of broth. Then add 6 cups water. A good mix so the end product isn't too watery, nor to brothy.
- So good in the end that my husband will asks for thirds! (And he's not vegan!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A new diet book

There are TONS of diet books out there. Go google 'diet book' and you'll get hundreds of thousand of hits. I've read the South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers and a few others. The first two were before I became a vegan, also know as before I got smarter. But I think I've found the best diet book out there.

The Engine 2 Diet

In a nutshell, this is all about living a plant-based diet. I wouldn't call it explicitly a vegan diet because the book does refer to eating honey but in reality it's a vegan diet for most. It's a great diet for those who are ready to kick the junk food, fast food, animal food way they've been living.

People who follow this plant-based way of eating are going to have many benefits which include, but aren't limited to: losing weight, reducing the bad cholesterol levels and regular bowel movements.

It's such a simple diet to follow. No calorie counting, no points or figuring out net carbs. If you're hungry you eat something, it's as simple as that. The hard part is staying away from those fatty, buttery laden sweets, the white flour breads and pastas and all those pesky animal products. Once you get over that stuff, it's easy.

I'm following my own recommendation and I'm going to do this diet, full on, for one month. No added sugars, no added fats and no processed foods that contain stuff my body doesn't need. I can't very well advocate a diet book if I don't follow it, right?

If you've got this book, please tell me what you think.


Also, it helps that author of this book is in Austin, TX. Represent for the Texans! We aren't a bunch of steak eating people!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

When time gets tough, or at least short

Words of encouragement from a some what new vegan....

When things get tough, meaning time is short and you are so busy you can't remember what day it is, the first thing for me to go whacky is my eating habits. I get super lazy. I don't want to cook - not even a spaghetti, rice, a PBJ, or even a a bowl of cereal. Pathetic, I know. I want something quick, yummy or just kind of eh I don't care, but something that doesn't require the time to clean the dishes. So I eat out. Definitely not easy to do when vegan - hence Taco Bell and Chipotle a few days in a row. Oi. But, I do surprise myself in times like this. The thought never crossed my mind to eat meat or dairy and eggs on purpose. I didn't crave chicken or cheese just because I was tired and frustrated and worn out. So I give myself props for that. And it's not an easy thing to do. Although I must mention that Taco Bell and Chipotle does not consitute the image of health that I wish to portray. :-)

So this week I start with a much better stocked refrigerator and pantry with a gameplan for meals - some quick and some that require a little more time but are definitely worth it. The meals I am looking forward to this week include "meat"ball subs (one of my favorites, so quick and yummy), stuffed bell peppers, Indian something or other (I like to buy weird things that sound delicious and try them with rice or couscous), and last but not least my lentil and brown rice stoup. Yes, stoup. No, not a spelling error. I call it stoup because it's a mix between a soup (nice and brothy) and a stew (lovely and chunky). Definitely looking forward to that one. So is my husband, seeing he likes to ask for seconds and thirds when I make it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's my one year Veganversary

One year and a few weeks ago I watched an episode of 30 Days that forever changed the way I eat, the way I view food and the way I live my life. That episode was the catapult to my choice of becoming a vegan for my health, the planet and for the animals. It's been a whirlwind year full of researching this lifestyle and I feel now, more than ever, that I made the right choice.

I've managed to convert two people to veganism and that just makes me so proud. I also think I have helped to reduce some people's dependency on animal products which I am equally proud of. I've had the opportunity to talk openly about my choice with, mostly, supportive people who may not understand my choice but are open to listening to why I live the way I do.

There have been a few bumps along the road but it's been a fun journey and those bumps have taught me something about myself. I anticipate that more bumps will cross my path and I anticipate that they will just be another way to learn a lesson and improve. That's what life's all about, right?

Today I celebrate one year of a more compassionate, conscious, environmentally friendly way of living. I feel good about where I am and I hope that, when people are ready, that they will open up to a less invasive way of living.

If you'd like more information about veganism or just feel like lightening your dependency, please explore these links:

The Post Punk Kitchen
I use the forum on this site. It's a great place to ask questions and learn things. Also, the food porn is fun to look at.

Vegan Yum Yum
Need a vegan cooking blog? Here's a great one. There's even a free iPhone app for this site.

Newport News
I've found some super cute shoes here. I am avid about not buying animal leather (who wants to wear another creature on their body?) and the selection, although not entirely non-leather, has a good selection at awesome prices.

All sorts of information. When I buy things at the grocery store I always get excited when I see it's been "certified vegan".

Type in vegan in the search field and you'll get thousands of hits.

The link is the the "I can't believe it's vegan" list. There are a TON of foods out there that are "accidentally" vegan which makes my life just that much easier. Oreo cookies, anyone?

Recipe Zaar
1,515 recipes is what I get when I type the word vegan in the search box. That'll keep you busy for a while and I bet you won't even miss the stuff that's not in the recipe.

Meatless Monday
You can save animals, water and fossil fuels. Not to mention you can lower your cholesterol, maybe lose a few pounds and feel good about a cruelty free meal.


Cross posted at Momma K

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vegan learning curve

I'm not going to lie. This post was supposed to be about the places I love to eat some vegan food at. Until I, being the good blogger that I am called to verify ingredients before I told the internet about them, found out I was WRONG.

First up is Fuddrucker's. They have a great veggie burger. I even asked before hand about eggs (FYI their buns do contain eggs) there veggie burgers don't. So I've had a few in the last 6 weeks. Only today to find out they don't contain eggs but they do contain mozzarella cheese. Why?!?! Last I checked Mozzarella is NOT a veggie so why does it need to be in a veggie burger. So cross this joint off the list.

Moving on to Sugarbaker's Cafe. This is a cute locally owned bakery. And they have fantastic fresh fruit plates. A cup of fruit is under 2 bucks. A bowl is 8 bucks. And by bowl they mean a bucket. It fed myself and the kiddos with leftovers. Included yummy stuff like fresh strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, pineapple etc. Also comes with their famous Strawberry Dressing. I LOVED this dressing. It was like a smoothie dressing for your fruit. The kids didn't like it which was great. More for me. Today I find out one of the ingredients is sour cream. Again what? Why? Scratch that off the list.

So lesson learned. Always ask specific questions. Don't think that the only bad thing in a veggie burger (which I ASSumed meant vegtable burger) is egg and ask if it just includes egg. Ask if it includes ANY dairy. Don't assume that a strawberry dressing is just strawberries and worst case senario some corn syrup. Who would have thought it was 1 cup strawberries and 1 cup sour cream. Shouldn't it be called Strawberry CREAM dressing since it includes equal amounts of strawberries to sour cream?

At least I still have Pei Wei and their awesome Tofu! I've seriously considered working there just to find out how they get their tofu so chewy!
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Monday, July 6, 2009


I've always been a reader, an avid one. I enjoy curling up in my big comfy bed and reading till my eyelids cannot stay open any more. When I began the research process of my diet and lifestyle change I inhaled lots of books. It was comforting to read all the proven scientific research, tips, recipes and other information that made me feel like I'd made the right choice.

Here's a list of books that I recommend. Some are cookbooks, some are for information, I may even add a documentary or two. I hope that even one person reads one of these and makes a positive change for themselves, it will make the time I spend on this that much more worth it.

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins

I read this book when I was experimenting with being a vegetarian. I attended a cooking class at a local vegan restaurant and the instructor recommended this book. It hadn't occurred to me that John Robbins also wrote Diet For A New America until after I got home with my new book. It was strange because I distinctly remember reading Diet For A New America (the book preceeding this one) several years ago and I remember reading about pigs at slaughter and I just couldn't stomach reading anymore and I never did finish that book. I just wasn't ready to face the truth, yet. The Food Revolution changed my life because as I was reading it I made the choice to become a vegan. I highly recommend EVERYONE read this book. When you are ready, it will change your life. The majority of people think of their food as just that, their food. They don't think of the suffering, the filth and the toll it takes.

Raising Vegetarian Children : A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony by Joanne Stepaniak

Since I had made the choice to become a vegan I knew that I wanted my youngest son, Jackson, to be one also. (I'd like my oldest son to make a change also, but he's 14 so I think he can make his own choices.) It just made sense to alter Jackson's diet at the same time. When Jackson gets older and can make his own, informed, choices then I will allow him to make his own decisions. Until then I knew I needed to research this diet choice for kids and do it properly. I talked with his pediatrician and then bought this book. It's my favorite book for easy, tasty recipes and excellent knowledge about kids and a balanced vegan diet. It's touted as a vegetarian book but it's really geared more toward vegans which was perfect for me. We've like all the recipes and I often refer to this book when I want to boost a certain vitamin or mineral for Jackson. If you have children or are planning on having them or just have a few nieces and nephews, I recommend this book. 4 stars, seriously.

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell

One of my good friends, Jennie, works for the publishing company that publishes this book. She was so kind to get me a copy for my birthday last year and WHOA BUDDY, this book is crazy. It's chock full of scientific information that will blow your mind. Honestly, it was a bit like reading a medical dictionary but I found it simply fascinating and kept wondering WHY ARE PEOPLE STILL EATING ANIMAL PRODUCTS?!?!?!?!?!? This book is known, well known, in the vegan community as it should be. If you are interested in hard, scientific facts you'll enjoy this book.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

This really isn't an inherently vegan or vegetarian book, but it's fascinating. I used to be part of the fast food patrons. I ate at a Chick Fil A sometimes three and four times a week. I still get an order of fries and a salad on occasion, but my consumption of fast food has dropped by probably 98%. I was so intrigued by the relationship of crime and fast food and how our food has been taken over by big corporations to feed people "Happy" meals. Those meals are the antithesis of happy. When you are over your fast food addiction, please read this book.

Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins

I thoroughly enjoyed the other John Robbins book so much that I picked this one up also. Basically it's a combination of all the previous books rolled into one package. It's a fairly long book that basically says if you want to live to be 100 and in good health, quite eating crap. Our bodies deserve better and if we treat them well we likely won't have the diseases of affluence that we in the US think are normal. Dementia? Diabetes? Heart disease? High cholesterol? Cancer? All diseases of affluence, for most people. It's SO EASY TO LIVE LONGER AND LIVE IN GOOD HEALTH. That's the message I took from this book. If you need a boost to stop eating bad, read this book, it might help you see that taking care of our bodies is the most important thing we do. It's not just about food either, this book delves into personal relationships as a way to be healthy too, which I think is just as important as what we eat.

The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food by Jeffrey Masson

I haven't had seafood in over a year and I know now that I never will again. There is a section in this book about sea life and it opened my eyes. I don't know if sea creatures like shrimp and eel have feelings or can feel pain but it doesn't matter to me. The way they are raised and killed are just appalling and disgraceful and such a shock to mother nature. It's a miracle that our planet puts up with how we treat the sea life. I found this book a little wonky to read, there's not a very good flow to it, but it was so interesting. When we stop thinking of burgers as food and start remembering that those patties are an animal that used to breathe and had a family then I think we will make real changes. You are what you eat, as they say, and I don't want to be anything other than a plant-eating compassionate vegan.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

On to more lighthearted things! This cookbook is awesome. Every cupcake I've made from it got smashing reviews for vegans and non vegans alike. Just yesterday I made a sort of German chocolate cupcake except I used a vanilla batter. There were 12 and now there are zero. They were a total hit. One of my non vegan friends borrowed this cookbooks and I think she may have cried a tear or two when I asked for it back. Get this book if you love cupcakes.

V Cuisine: The Art of New Vegan Cooking by Angeline Linardis

The cover of this book deceived me, I thought it was going to be a super fancy, "uppity" kind of cookbook but it's really not. There are some really great, family friendly recipes that my family really enjoys. I've made the Coleslaw Divine many times and my toddler inhales RAW CABBAGE. This fact alone makes this cookbook a winner in my book. I have approximately 80% of the pages dog-earred to make all the different, delicious sounding recipes.

The Future Of Food

This is a documentary all about our food and it's riveting, to say the least. The food we buy isn't as pure as we think it is. It's altered and sprayed and so far from it's original state that I'm amazed that our country allows this to take place on such a basic thing we consume on a daily basis. This video is the reason I buy non-GMO (genetically modified) and organic foods more often than I used to. Please watch this video if you eat food. That means you!

VegNews Magazine

I enjoy this magazine and all the useful information it brings me in my mailbox every other month. I can find tons of food recommendations, a few recipes and stories about people, like me, who are just trying to be healthier and more aware of what they do and how it affects our planet. It's a great little magazine that I adore. I hope that as more and more people subscribe and there's more interest that the magazine will grow and have more and more content. Also, the website is pretty awesome too, check it out. Plus, who doesn't love a picture of a cute, innocent baby cow?

If you have any recommendations for books, magazine, cookbooks or anything you think is interesting, I'd love to hear about. I inhale this stuff as if it's the air I need to breathe and the water I need to drink.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Where to shop

I'm not one to promote a particular brand or store as being the best, but I have to say that Kroger has yet to let me down in the variety of vegan options they have. Here are the things that bring me to this store every week when I go grocery shopping.
  • Fresh produce - never moldy like Walmart, never crazy expensive like Albertsons (at least around here). Even a decent selection of organics (which I'm leaning more towards).
  • A large selection of vegetarian friendly options.They have the largest variety of any of the "regular" grocery stores around. Specialty stores like Sprouts and Central Market (and of course Whole Foods) have a greater selection, but Kroger's selection is about 10 feet long of shelving from floor to about 6 foot high - however tall the refrigerated section is in the produce area of the store.
  • Lots of ethnic foods - an entire half of an aisle to be exact. Everything from Thai to Mexican to European (British to German) to kosher foods (which is where I find the tahini).
  • Their store brand and their upscale store brand (Private Selection) products are inexpensive and often are better quality ingredients than the name brands. For example, Kroger Whole Wheat Whole Salad Rotini has exactly what the title says - the ingredients list says "100% durum whole wheat flour". Awesome.
  • Organic store brand. Sweet! For example - The words on the can of black beans that I just bought read "Private Selection Organic All Natural Organic Beans Black - Organic Black Beans packed in water - Net wt 15 oz (425 g)". And that's it. Simple. Straight to the point. And organic.
  • The packages that they use for packing the organic baby spinach (and other salad mixes) are made from 100% plant products - no petroleum plastic products. Cool.
  • And, last but not least, Kroger just mailed out a small booklet of coupons called "My Magazine" focused entirely on "budget-friendly vegetarian possibilities". Yeah, 'nuff said.
What stores do you like shopping at for groceries? For cooking supplies? For utensils?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cheers and Jeers

  • To places like Thai Tina's, Chipotle, and Taco Bell for having vegan friendly options that you don't have to ask for off the menu without cheese, eggs, etc.
  • To people like the guys who run Perotti's Pizza near my work - I got the odd eyebrow raise when I asked for a personal veggie pizza without the cheese, but they made it with an extra heap of veggies just for me. How sweet.
  • To the City of San Francisco for being very forward in promoting (and even mandating by fines) recycling and composting programs citywide. Check it out here in this article.
  • To the last day of the worldwide vegan bake sale week to help animals. Check out some details here and here.
  • To all the cute flats and flip flops that I keep seeing that are made from leather. :-( Poor animals.
  • To people ragging on Michael Jackson for being vegan in his lifestyle or not. I believe he was compassionate enough in more aspects than most other people are today. Geez, give the dead pop star some respect! He's a legend!
  • To the fact that PETA has stooped as low as Vegan Vixens to get people's attention, to no avail for the real goal of saving animal lives.
  • To all the vegetarian/vegan restaurants that pop up on Urban Spoon being on the other side of Dallas, whereas I live in northwest Fort Worth. Argh.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Four weeks today!

I officially became vegan on June 1st 2009. But really I started a few days before my goal day which would be four weeks. I've noticed some great things in these four weeks.*

  1. I have more energy. I used to go to bed around 10 pm and have to drag myself out of bed at 7:30 am and didnt' feel like I slept well. Now I'm going to bed around 11:30 getting up about 6. I almost always wake up before the alarm, or four year old, wakes me up!
  2. My skin looks better. The texture, so to speak, looks smoother.
  3. Did I mention I have more energy?
  4. I have a healthier relationship with food!
I haven't lost any fact I've gained a little bit. I think this is because I not only changed my diet I also gave up diet coke! Or it could be my body is getting all this great nutritious food and is holding on to every single piece of it because it's worried I will quit eating so well?

I'm having lots of fun trying new and different things. Like Quinoa. I'd heard Kristie talk about it a bit. It's awesome! My favorite recipe is this one. And eating lots of different veggies I haven't tried. Grey squash anyone? It's awesome. Pattypan squash? Again yummy! And lets talk steel cut oatmeal. Made with some diced apples and apple juice (unsweetened of course), it's a perfect breakfast for my entire family!

I'm also having a blast making my food art. I try each meal to pack as many colors and textures into what I'm eating as possible!

Salad pitas
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The other night Kristie informed us all that oreo's are vegan so of course I sped to the store and picked some up. And instead of dunking (yes I'm a dunker) them in milk I poured myself a glass of soy milk and when I finished my snack, 2.3 seconds after starting, I realized how odd it was that I just drank a glass of soy milk. You see before I was vegan (or had kids) I HATED soy milk. I thought it was gross. I don't know if it's because my taste buds have changed or, if it's because I'm determined to make this work?

My two year old daughter has had a runny nose for MONTHS. She was lactose intolerant so while nursing I took all dairy out of my diet. She finally transitioned to milk about 18 months. About that time is when the problems started. When researching to become vegan I saw that it could be milk causing her problems. I took her off milk and literally just hours later her nose was better. The next day no runny nose. The husband didn't think it was the milk so after three weeks were were at breakfast. They didn't have soy milk and the juice bottles were huge so I grabbed two organic milk containers. Guess what? Within HOURS her nose was runny. By the end of the day it was better and the next day it was fine. The husband became a believer after that!

What's the thing you either want to change by becoming vegan or the first thing you noticed was different by being vegan?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Applesauce Muffins

I was interested in finding something that would take a short amount of time and produce a good quantity that I could devour for breakfast or snacks. So what better than some muffins? Especially those made from applesauce. Quoting the cookbook I got the recipe from: "These delicious, low-fat muffins ... don't use eggs or butter, which eliminates a great deal of unhealthful fat and all of the cholesterol" (The Cancer Survivor's Guide). Also, these bad boys have 4.8 g protein and 4.5 g fiber to get you going.

Recipe: Applesauce Muffins

Servings: 10

Time (approx): 25-30 minutes

- muffin pan (12 holes)
- muffin paper cups (optional)
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons

- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup fortified soymilk or other nondairy milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon light molasses
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup raisins


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly mist 10 muffin cups with vegetable oil spray.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.

3. Combine the applesauce, soymilk, oil, molasses, and vinegar in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the raisins.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

5. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, Applesauce Muffins will keep for up to three days. If longer storage is needed, freeze the cooled muffins in heavy-duty zipper-lock bags for up to one month. Defrost at room temperature or in a microwave.

Now, when I made this I changed up the recipe a little bit. Instead of soy milk I used vanilla rice milk, maple syrup instead of the molasses, and opted to use half the amount of raisins because I only put them in half of the muffins I made so I can try one with and one without the raisins. Also, the way that I divided my batter made me 11 muffins. (And, I'll just put this out there, I was short on the muffin cups, so six have the little paper cups and five were just baked straight in the pan that I sprayed with a little cooking spray.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Things I can't live without.

When I transitioned to being a vegan I wish I would have had a list of things that were vegan in one place. A reference book of sorts. As time has gone on I've learned from trial and error. I've learned to always read labels and then read them again to double check.

Once I bought plain breadcrumbs (Walmart store brand) and was shocked to see, after I'd used half the container, that my plain breadcrumbs contained a list of ingredients a mile long and that they contained milk. I was floored. Plain apparently isn't plain to all people.

Here's a short list of products that I know to be vegan and that my family and I use on a regular basis.

Breadcrumbs (see I got smart!) When I use breadcrumbs (if I don't make them myself), I turn to these. Whole Wheat and a nice rough texture. I've found these in my regular, well stocked, grocery store.

Butter There are more expensive brands out there that some prefer over this brand but I find those brands less available to me and I just can't stomach paying almost $5 for a small thing of butter. By the way, it's not really butter, obviously, but I think I call it butter because I've always called it that. It's like calling a tissue a Kleenex even if it's not.

Peanut Chews I try to not eat junk food or candy very often but sometimes a craving is just a craving and it needs to be satisfied. Once in a while, in my pre-vegan days, I'd eat one of those fun size Snickers bars that my Dad always seems to have and I sort of miss having one every once in a while. That was until I found these. They don't taste exactly like a Snickers but they are pretty darn close. I plan on buying these in bulk around Halloween for the kids that come to my house. I might sneak a few for myself also.

Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers We love our crackers in my little family and I was so pleased to see that these fit the vegan bill. They do contain, further down the ingredient list, HFCS, which annoys me but we don't eat these so often that I worry about it much. It's not like it's the second ingredient like it was in the jelly I bought once.

Betty Crocker Bac-O's I eat usually one giant salad a day and sometimes I like a little crunch and a different flavor. I wouldn't dare use real bacon bits but I'll use these with wild abandon and I often do. I live life on the edge, I know.

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls It's an ongoing joke in my family that we need to buy a TON of these tubes for family get togethers because one of my brother's eats them like crazy. Who doesn't? It was a pleasant surprise to hear they are vegan. *Throws fist in the air and pumps it* I could make these plain, add some Smart Balance butter, use veggies dogs to make pigs in a blanket or even add some jelly for a dessert. The options are limitless.

Oreo Cookies So, I have to be honest here and say that when I found out these were accidentally vegan I practically ate 7 containers worth. Then I remembered that I was vegan for health reasons also, so I needed to cut back on the super junk food. But it's sure nice to know that if there's a bowl of them around at a party somewhere that I can feel at least partially good about reaching for one of these delicious cookies.

Bisquick Baking Mix Usually I make my own pancakes from whole wheat flour and other ingredients but I always keep a box of this on hand for those spur of the moment pancake attacks. Sometimes a girl needs to just throw a few things in a bowl, stir them up and be done with it. And sometimes she's got a two-year-old tugging at her pants telling her to hurry it up already, sheesh lady.

Last but never least...

Swedish Fish These little guys saved my movie going career. It also gave me a great option of candy to disperse to the little kids last Halloween. I didn't think they'd appreciate me giving them apples or kale. I love these little things so much. The Swedish fish, that it.

I should point out that none of these things, except maybe the breadcrumbs and the Bisquick, are healthy. But I would assume that I don't need to tell anyone that broccoli, whole wheat bread with the least amount of ingredients and soy milk are vegan. It's all about making healthy choices that you can live with. But at the same time it's OK to live a little and eat an artificially colored gummy fish now and again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hi-Pro-Tatoes (High-Protein Mashed Potatoes)

I wanted to make a summery side dish to go along with my veggie burger and green beans, so what better than some mashed potatoes? I found this recipe in 101 Things to Do with Tofu. Great little book by the way - easy short recipes, although not all are vegan but are easily adaptable. And what's even better is that it's spiral bound with thick plastic covers so you can open it up and lay it flat, and wipe off all of the splatters that get on it while cooking.

Anyways... here's the recipe. I like to break things out in little chunks, so please excuse my format below.

Recipe: Hi-Pro-Tatoes

Servings: 4

Time (approx): 50 minutes

- large pot to boil potatoes
- small saute pan
- food processor
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons

- 2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered.

- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
- coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)


Boil potatoes until they give no resistance when poked with a knife, about 40 minutes. While boiling, heat oil and garlic in a small saute pan over low heat. Stir frequently until garlic is soft and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Place tofu in a food processor, add garlic and oil and then puree together until smooth; set aside.

When potatoes are done, drain water and return potatoes to their pot. Mash with a ricer or fork to desired consistency, then add tofu-garlic mixture. Season with salt an pepper, and garnish with fresh chives if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Now, I would like to mention that it never takes me 40 minutes to boil potatoes, but it does take about 5-10 minutes to get the water boiling. Also, I like to use new red potatoes for mashed potatoes and leave the skins on. Yummy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday Mornings

Our families ritual on Saturday morning has always been pancakes! It started with me while I still lived at home. I would wake up and make pancakes for my parents while they got to sleep a little longer. Then they would get up and we would sit around the breakfast table and eat pancakes and enjoy being with each other! That's why I continue the tradition with my kids. There's no rush and bustle of evening dinners with them. It's laid back, relaxed and fun!

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They are also versatile! There's many different ways to top a pancake. The four year old likes them with syrup while the 2 year old likes them with cherry berry topping! I like them any way I can get them!

When I decided to be vegan I just knew I couldn't give up the pancakes! It was part of who I am so, I set out to make some ultimate pancakes!

Ultimate Vegan Pancakes.

  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (depending on how thick you want your pancakes)
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I used butavan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
1. Preheat griddle.

2. Mix water oil and vanilla. I use a salad dressing shaker and mix like crazy. Set aside.

3. Thoroughly mix flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the oil mixture. Mix until just moistened.

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I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Cancer Project

This past weekend my sister-in-law (Jenni, she posts here also) and I participated in a class put on by The Cancer Project. I heard about this class through a local vegan restaurant and was intrigued. Eating related to cancer? I wanted to know more.

Initially I didn't have high expectations because I assumed they would tell us to eat healthier, with no specific direction on how to achieve that. Boy, was I wrong. From the moment the class started till the very end I was fascinated that people were talking my language. They had similar information to what I had been reading and researching and it was presented by extremely knowledgeable people that weren't throw away doctors.

You see, I've read book after book after book about diet and health in relation to not eating animal products and it's always the same end. Don't eat animal products and you will likely live a longer, healthier life because of it. End of story. But in this class there was talk of actual proof of this fact. It amazes me that 1.) I never related how I eat and what I eat to my health, not really at least and 2.) that people don't talk about this, especially our doctors. We are so quick to put people on medications and be done with it.

I was diagnosed with high cholesterol about two years ago and the only thing my doctor said was to watch my diet and get some exercise. That's it. No mention that if I cut out the cholesterol clogging foods (PRESENT IN ALL ANIMAL PRODUCTS) that my cholesterol would likely go down on it's own. When I left that doctors appointment I'm ashamed to say that I did nothing to change my eating habits or exercising habits (non existent at that point).

High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and other ailments. Why on earth are our doctors not telling us these things? I wondered if it was just my doctor but it turns out it's not. Many doctors don't believe that food and health are related for the most part. It was refreshing to attend a class where they talked about just that.

After I changed my diet and started to exercise my total cholesterol went down 73 points from increased risk of heart disease to normal. I bet if I got it tested again it would be lower. My doctor was shocked when the test results came back. She just was incredulous that a diet change like the one I had done would lower my cholesterol so much. I hope that I taught her something that day, something she might research and pass along to other patients.

This class put on by The Cancer Project is a free class that's available to anyone who wants to better understand how diet can affect your well being, how you can make big changes that don't require big sacrifices and why it's important to make those changes. I highly recommend everyone to attend. Do it for your health, please.

Here are a few recipes that are on the site, ones that they actually made during the class:

Easy Bean Salad (perfect for a potluck and SO SIMPLE to make it's almost criminal)

The simplicity and widespread enjoyment of this salad has made it a Cancer Project classic. Plus, it has tons of fiber to help move carcinogens, excess cholesterol, and hormones out of your body to improve overall health.

Makes about 10 1-cup servings

1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free Italian salad dressing
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked peas
1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans (preferably fordhook lima beans), thawed completely,
1 1/2 cups cooked lima beans, or 1 1/2 cups cooked green soybeans (shelled edamame)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed completely, or cooked fresh corn, chilled
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Toss all ingredients together. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Place leftover bean salad in a covered dish and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Nutrition Information
Per serving (1/10 of recipe): 183 Calories 3 g Fat 0.5 g Saturated Fat 14.6% Calories From Fat 0 mg Cholesterol 9.9 g Protein 31 g Carbohydrate 2.9 g Sugar 8 g Fiber 539 mg Sodium 43 mg Calcium 2.7 mg Iron 36.7 mg Vitamin C 311 mgc Beta-Carotene 0.8 mg Vitamin E


Penne with Kale, Tomatoes and Olives (Simple and tasty)

The kale in this flavorful combination provides highly absorbable calcium and isothiocyanates, which have strong anti-cancer effects.

Makes 4 servings

1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 bunch kale, cut or torn into approximately 1” pieces (about 5 cups chopped)
2 14.5-ounce cans chopped, preferably fire-roasted, tomatoes, undrained, or 3 cups of freshly chopped tomatoes plus 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
8 ounces dry whole-wheat penne pasta
1/4 cup dairy-free (vegan) parmesan cheese substitute or nutritional yeast (optional)

Sauté onion with vegetable broth or water over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add kale and tomatoes and their liquid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add olives and parsley. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Add kale mixture and toss gently. Serve immediately. Sprinkle vegan Parmesan substitute or nutritional yeast over top, if using.

Nutrition Information
Per serving (1/4 of recipe): 281 calories 3.3 g fat 0.5 g saturated fat 10.5% calories from fat 0 mg cholesterol 12 g protein 57.6 g carbohydrate 8.3 g sugar 8.7 g fiber 497 mg sodium 166 mg calcium 5 mg iron 53.9 mg vitamin C 6796 mcg beta-carotene 2.9 mg vitamin E

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jenni's Introduction

Well hello! Welcome to this vegan blog. I'm Jenni - a friend, a wife, a mother. Intelligent, thoughtful, reliable, opinionated (in a good way). Whatever else you want to say about me. First off, I would like to apologize in advance because I know that there will be times that I may not post for days on end, and then have a ton come out all at once. Life gets busy. But I will always take pictures of my food and make mental notes to type later into posts for your reading pleasure (and drooling pleasure over the pictures.)

Here's my story on "this vegan thing" - All through college I would just eat whatever was convenient, cheap, and sounded good enough to not really pay attention to it as I stuffed it in my pie-hole. I wouldn't mind that I had eaten fast food for ten meals straight, or that I had a week full of dinners that consisted of mac-n-cheese with chicken nuggets, a frozen pizza, minute rice and fajita strips, etc. I didn't think much of what I ate, nor how I ate it, nor what was in the "food" I was putting into my body.

Around January 2007, I decided that I was fed up with myself of being lackadaisical about my eating and overall health. I was always tired, mopey, touchy, irritable, and stressed. Something that the quality of food I was eating wasn't helping. I decided to get a personal trainer at the local gym and start writing down what I ate and tracking calories and fat grams, etc. Great idea - until I plateaued and went back to eating junk. Getting pregnant later that fall didn't help the fact that I was "allowed" to eat junk because I was going to get huge anyway with the baby.

Well... putting all of that aside, come April 2009, I'm still eating junk. Maybe not as much, but still not the best. I was making sure I wasn't eating a side of fries with every meal that I ate out. I made sure I was having healthier meals, like lean grilled chicken or pork, brown rice or whole wheat noodles (yes, I say noodles not pasta), and a helping of frozen veggies on the side from those cool steam bags that you throw in the microwave. Ok - so maybe not the most inventive meal, but better than the spicy chicken sandwich with fries and soda. It hit me one day that "hey - Kristie looks great and feels great all the time" (or at least whenever I see her). Something must be working with this vegan lifestyle she's been on for nearly a year now. So I thought to myself, how hard could it be? I can learn to cook (maybe) and make better meals and really think about the food that I am eating and the impact that I have on the world around me.

Fast forward to now, seven weeks later. Yes, nearly two months. A small amount of time in the view of a whole life span, but not just a chump change amount of time. Since starting a vegan lifestyle, I have learned and experienced and eaten so many new things. Who knew I would really like guacamole? I know that it's sad that at my age, I had never really had guac but once until now. No, I don't live under a rock, just in a world surrounded by fast food crap. Who knew I could make some mean sloppy joes with just barbecue sauce and tempeh? (I'll post that recipe later - so quick and easy to make - delicious outcome.) I feel lighter, happier, more energetic, healthier. People have noticed a glow about me and ask what have I be doing different. And so I tell them about this vegan thing.

I would like to mention that I love food porn. Yes, food porn. Go to Flickr and search for food. All sorts of pictures of yummy goodness pop up. And I love my camera at home. So this past week it has been in the kitchen with me nearly every night. I don't know about you but I am a picture learner - Fannie Mae cookbooks can kiss my butt. I need pictures. I like to see what my food should resemble (even if not closely). I like to see what my food will turn out like if I cook it following the directions that they suggest. Yes, suggest. I have found the recipes and cooking are not strict guidelines, not rules. I never measured anything to the exact amount. If I think something looks to dry, I'll add more water or rice milk or whatever liquid is called for (with the exception of oil, always opt for water when adding additional liquid). If you don't have this spice or that spice, don't worry. Make it without it and see how it goes. When you get some of that spice, try the recipe again. Nothing is ever perfect. So Top Chef, Iron Chef, Rachel Ray - you better watch out! My picture book recipes are coming to a blog near you! (Actually, this blog, specifically, but you the idea.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Raspberry Bread

I love fruit. I love bread. I love fruit bread!! I get tired of banana bread and I dislike blueberries ( I know!) but raspberry's and I get along beautifully! This used to be a non vegan recipe that I changed around a lot. I tried it on my very very omni husband, without telling him it was vegan, and his only question was why wasn't it sweeter. I personally thought it was fine but, you might keep that in mind !

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Raspberry Bread

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg replacer (if using EnerG mix together first before combining)
1 2/3 cup soymilk (or your preferred milk)
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla ( I used butavan)
1 tsp lemon zest
1.5 cups raspberries (or blueberries if you like them!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 and oil loaf pan.
2. Mix all dry ingredients make a well in the center.
3. In separate bowl mix all wet ingredients. Pour into dry ingredients and mix until just moist. Batter will be lumpy!
4. Gently fold in Raspberries and lemon zest. Pour into prepared pan.
(totally had to take a picture of the raspberries!)
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5. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center of loaf comes out clean!

Let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then impatiently slice it, spread some earth balance on it and eat some! It's so good!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Melissa's Intro

I live in a town that doesn't have a whole lot of options when it comes to being vegan. I don't do everything organic because my grocery stores don't have that large of a selection. Sure I could order online but organic is expensive enough without having to pay overnight shipping so the produce won't spoil! I also am not a fan of some of the out there stuff. I won't be making chick pea faux "tuna" sandwiches but I will be taking every day recipes and turning them into their better vegan counter parts! Have a favorite recipe you love but are nervous to convert it? Send it to me! I love challenges!

My road to veganism is also different. I've always been curious about it. Before my transition I could go through a gallon of milk a day. I have never liked red meat but chicken was my favorite. Flash forward to 2005 when I got pregnant with my son. Chicken made me sicker than a dog and literally repulsed me! So I stopped eating it. Then with my daughter pork and milk made me sick. So I stopped ingesting those things. Left my diet pretty bland. I tried to go back to drinking milk after I had my daughter and couldn't.

I was vegetarian 90% of the time. I ate eggs and used butter and milk in cooking for the last year plus. I did have milk occasionally but not like I used to! I sat back one day and evaluated my diet. I wasn't eating very many animal products but the food I was ingesting wasn't great at all. I needed to start eating healthier. So I went to Kristie! The woman eats some amazing stuff, has GREAT recipes and eats really really healthy! I may not have cool cooking classes, grocery stores, or other options she does but she does a GREAT job of helping me out and I also started researching and finding my own (semi) normal recipes. It's like putting on night vision goggles and seeing at night. I'm eating some amazing stuff that not only tastes great, it's not loaded down with artery clogging fats, oils, and man made "things". It's truly great food that tastes great! Who knew!

I've been vegan (officially) since June 1, 2009. I'll blog about grocery shopping as a new vegan, recipes, along with my trial and tribulations. I'll post about questions I have, reviews on recipes (and the failures!), new products etc. I'll ask the other posters their thoughts on issues I'm having, like how to enjoy tofu, or changes I notice with my body.


Sunday, June 7, 2009


If you are reading this post then congratulations, you've stumbled on the first post ever for this blog. My name is Kristie and along with a few other people we are going to hopefully inspire you to completely change your diet habits, or maybe even just make a few small changes to help you lead a healthy, happy, brightly colored future without the dependence on animal products. For those of you who have already made the switch the we hope to help you to find new and exciting things to add to your vegan arsenal.

We'll post recipes with pictures, links to things we find interesting, books, vegan accessories and more. Being a vegan is more than just eating a certain way, it's a positive life altering choice and one we hope to inspire you to make also.

We are always up for constructive criticism so please feel free to let us know if we can improve something to make this blog more interesting, fun, helpful or all three.

As for me, here's my story to veganism. In June of 2008 I happened across an episode of 30 Days by Morgan Spurlock (see the entire episode if you click on that link). It was an episode where a meat lovin', gun totin' man went to live with a vegan family for 30 days. As I settled in on my sofa that night I thought to myself "Well, this is gonna be a good episode!" but it never occurred to me that it would catapult my entire way of eating and living. Right after the episode aired I made my way to my computer and went to PETA's website to Pledge To Be Veg for 30 days. I sent out a mass e-mail to my friends and family and challenged them to join in (not one person took me up on it) and thus began my 30 days of being a vegetarian.

During my 30 days I inhaled book after book, attended several vegan cooking classes and learned more than my meat loving brain could handle. By about the third week of being a vegetarian I knew I couldn't keep eating other animal products and wearing them on my body. I had learned so much and couldn't believe that this information wasn't widely shared.

This past year has been a HUGE learning process of how to change not only my eating and living habits but that of my two-year-old also. I've been met with intrigue, concern, eye rolling, support and love and it's been a fantastic journey that I am so proud to be taking. I know I'm doing the best thing I can for my family in so many ways. This change in eating has made me a better, more knowledgeable person on so many levels, not just the way I eat.

My hope for this blog is to inspire others to make changes, big and small, to better their life and the lives of their loved ones.