Thursday, April 30, 2015

Vegan Fish Alternatives?

Vegan Fish?!
Have you ever tried Sophie's Kitchen vegan seafood products? They have quite a few. I've seen fish filets, crab cakes, breaded shrimp, and breaded scallops floating around in Wegman's, and the Co-op. The Co-op had Sophie's products on sale awhile ago, so I picked up a box of the fish filets. I tried Gardein's fish filets awhile ago, and I loved them. They have never returned to the Gardein section, not sure why. I wanted to see how Sophie's measured up to Gardein. The box comes 4 in a pack, and they have a gluten free breading. The breading reminds me almost of a cornmeal breading, and the fish is more like a faux chicken burger. It almost reminds me of a boca patty. The flavor is not overwhelmingly ocean like, although there is a pleasant lemony taste and smell. In the picture above, I made a wrap with a filet, some black beans, lettuce, and salsa. I was going for a fish taco kind of thing. I also placed a plain filet down  so you can see what it looks like.
I'm not going to say anything bad, because this company has many other products to try, and they are a vegan company trying to do some good, but I have to be honest as well. These were not my favorite vegan experience. I much prefer Gardein's Fishless Filet over this. Gardein has more of an airy batter, and the filet itself is a softer, almost flakier texture. It is nothing like a boca patty. That being said, this is a good option for a gluten free, fish missing vegan. I don't think I would serve this to any skeptical non vegans, but again it is certainly not the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth. It's an amazing vegan world where we even have vegan seafood, let alone choices! Believe it or not, Sophie's even makes vegan toona in a can! I did see it on the shelf at the Co-op, but honestly, I've read mixed reviews, and it scares me a little bit. But it's great to know that it is an option!
Have you tried any vegan seafood?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Vegan Dill Pickle Chips!

Have you ever noticed that a lot of dill pickle flavor chips and crackers are not vegan? It's strange. I saw this bag when I was at the Co-op, and after checking and re-checking the ingredients, they are vegan! They remind me of the popped chips a lot of people are making. That is two of the crisps to the right of the bag. They are light and airy, and crispy. The color is a bit strange, not as dark as some black bean chips, more of a blah brown. They are made by Lesser Evil, which is a new to me snack company. They make lots of snacks, including popcorn, and chips made out of kale, and various beans. I was perusing their website, and they do have a good selection of vegan snacks, but they do have a lot with cheese, so as usual read the ingredient list! I noticed on the chips I have, they proudly display their soy free, gluten free etc. status, but they don't have the little v anywhere. It threw me off, which was why I read the ingredient list over and over. The person who was stocking the shelves probably thought I was a little strange! Anyway, onto taste. They taste like pickles! And not in a super salty, greasy fake way. I can taste actual dill, and they have a little bit of a vinegary, zesty kick. I'm really enjoying snacks that aren't dripping with grease, salt and orange #5 or whatever color. I just enjoyed a handful of these chips, and I feel like I cured my snackey craving, but also I feel like I got some energy from these snacks! I know, we live in a world where you can have your vegan snack, and eat it too. These crisps are made from black beans, and chia seeds, so you are getting protein and fiber. They are low in fat, and low in sodium especially for a chip, and a flavorful chip! I'm going to be on the lookout for other vegan snacks from this company!

Hope Springs Eternal

When I opened my Yogi tea this morning, my teabag told me patience pays. It's funny, because patience is something I have been working on for quite some time. It's also funny, because as anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I am beyond unhappy in the town I live in. I have been  in a state of emotional emergency for a very long time. I have had some really dark thoughts, and it just has been real bad. I have felt trapped in a way because of my fur family, and the expense of a move. I've known that I don't belong here, but I haven't known how to get myself and my cats out of here. Well, I couldn't be happier to announce that I am moving back to the west coast! Seattle to be exact. I am moving back to the city I most identify as home! I have recently been communicating with someone from my past who lives in Seattle, and a plan of attack came into action! I will be moving at the end of June, and even though it's so close, it seems soooo far away! I will be moving with my whole fur family, and it will be quite the adventure, I'm sure. Although it's kind of scary, I couldn't be more excited. I've said it a million times, but I truly think moving to this city was one of my biggest mistakes in my life. If anyone watched Lost, you might remember how Jack kept trying to tell people it was a mistake that they left the island, that's exactly how I have felt. For me, I know that it's not so much that I need to be in Seattle, but I need to not be in this city. I really didn't even realize how depressed I was this winter, until springtime came. I feel like a thousand pounds of depression was lifted off of my shoulders. The loneliness and isolation I have felt for over three years has taken a toll on my mental state for sure. I sometimes wonder if I will ever be the same. I don't know how to describe it, but I feel like I've been in solitary confinement for years, and I feel a little damaged. That's why I've known for awhile that I need to make a move. This city is the way it is, and the general population seems very happy with the status quo. Not every place is for everybody. Anyway, I will be talking about all things moving as I get closer to the date. I don't have many details ironed out, but I know that everything will work out. This is the happiest I've been in over three years, so it feels pretty good to have some hope back in my life. It feels good to be taking an active part in pulling myself out of this funk I've been in for far too long. I can't wait to see Seattle through new eyes. Everything is going to be so beautiful and amazing! Things that used to get on my nerves are going to be welcomed with my open arms. All those great songs and quotes about not knowing what you have till it's gone, and taking things for granted are soooooooooooooooo true!! Hipsters, here I come, with hugs to hand out!
I hope everyone is enjoying spring, it's so nice seeing the daffodils and tulips popping up. After such a traumatic winter, it's nice to see signs of life!! Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

So, This Pizza and Salad Walked into a Juice Bar....

Yum and Yum
This is some out of this world tofu salad, made other worldly with a little help from black salt. And also a very delicious, vegan friendly pizza, showing Domino's how it's done. For the pizza, I used a Rustic Crust Flatbread and topped it with some marinara, Chao original creamy, kale, green olives, artichoke hearts, and white beans. So good. It was my first time trying the Rustic Flatbread, and I really liked it. I noticed that the sourdough(the one I used) and the multi-grain, and also whole wheat were vegan, however the Italian Herb had honey in it(?) It's strange sometimes why companies place animal products in certain things. Anyway, the crust is thin, and bakes up nice and crisp, and actually tastes a lot fresher than other pre-made crusts I've had. The bonus is no terrifying, impossible to pronounce ingredients. For the Chao slices, I just cut some slices to resemble shreds, and put the cheese over the sauce, under the toppings. It was rich and melty, so much better than Daiya! Chao doesn't seem to like direct heat in it's face, but prefers to be gently warmed. I've never had an issue with melting Chao when it is somewhat protected from the heat.
For the Tofu "Eggless" salad, I made it up as I went, but I wrote down what I made up!!
  • 1 pkg.tofu (extra firm)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 T. dill relish
  • S&P to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. black salt
  • A little less than 1/4 C. Just Mayo, or your fave vegan mayo
I sliced my tofu(after draining) and placed the slices on a baking sheet with some S&P and a smidge of coconut oil at 350 F. for about ten minutes on each side. I feel like it gives the tofu a bit more of an eggy texture, but this is certainly not necessary, you can just crumble the tofu right out of the package. Anyway, after baking, I crumbled the tofu, diced the celery, and mixed all the ingredients. The black salt is unbelievable. This tasted just like egg salad. I used 1/2 tsp. in my egg salad, but other recipes call for more, so I think like regular salt and pepper, it's kind of up to individual tastes. One thing I noticed is the black salt seems to lose flavor over time. The next day after making it, I needed to add a little more of the black salt, as it had lost some of the eggy taste. I think this tofu salad would still be delicious without the black salt too!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cool Vegans, Bad Pizza

This is another favorite YouTube channel of mine. They give very calm, rational advice, and they have studies, and facts to back up what they say. They also seem to stay out of a lot of the vegan wars that seem to happen on the webz. While they do promote healthy vegan eating, and healthy living in general, they also don't seem to have the same obsession with being lean and thin that other vegan channels, especially channels which focus on a lot of Raw eating do. It feels like a very natural and organic channel, and since discovering it a few weeks ago, I've really come to love it! In my pre- vegan days, I never cared for Dominoes anyway. I always felt a little ill after eating it. I do understand Dominoes saying that they didn't have a consumer demand for vegan cheese. I think of Dominoes as the pizza place that caters to the kind of people who watch Guy Fieri, and wrestling. Even if Dominoes served Daiya, I would never order from them because I just feel like they are the Walmart of the pizza world. That being said, it still is interesting that in 2015 there are still food companies who don't think offering vegetarian/vegan options makes sense. When it comes to offering non-dairy cheese, it makes sense because a lot of people avoid dairy who aren't vegan. Lots of people are paying attention to their lactose intolerance. I see more and more people buying almond, coconut, and other plant milks every day.
Dominoes has it wrong, because I feel like vegans get super excited when they find new vegan offerings, and we show it with our dollar. I alone have paid for someone's Holiday bonus at Field Roast since discovering Chao Slices! I know Chipotle has been successful with their tofu sofritas, as has Subway with their expanded vegan offerings.
I hope you enjoy the video, and I hope you enjoy Happy Healthy Vegan, and pass the word that Dominoes is very vegan unfriendly!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stone Ground Chocolate! Raspberry Lemon Kombucha!!

While perusing the shelves of the Co-op for new and exciting vegan food, I noticed a new to me chocolate, called stone ground chocolate. They had tiny little bars, and also interesting circle chocolates. I kept going, shopped around some more, and just had to come back. I'm not going to lie, it is pricey. I forget how much the circle chocolates were, but the small bars were on sale for $1.36, for .85 oz. Yes, over a dollar for less than an ounce, and that is the "I'm new, try me price!" Since I've never ever heard of stone ground chocolate before, I chose the hazelnut bar, and ignored the price. From what I understand, Stone Ground Chocolate is less processed than I guess European chocolates and less processing is better, right?
The chocolate the Co-op had is made by Taza Chocolate. I tried it last night, and I love the texture! It's crisp, more than creamy. I know that sounds weird for chocolate, but I promise it is anything but weird. It is also so incredibly rich, but not rich in a creamy, or sweet way. It's the rich, cocoa flavor I think. I am certainly not a fancy pants chocolate expert. Truth be told, it took me a looooong time to adjust to dark chocolate. If I weren't  vegan, I would be still eating Hershey's milk chocolate bars! This stone ground chocolate bar was so incredibly satisfying, that one small square just completely filled that chocolate void inside my soul. The bar was also satisfying texture wise. It was crisp, with small crisp pieces of hazelnut, yum. All the bars were dark, I do forget what other flavors, nuts, berries, etc. they had. If you see these chocolates, I really recommend them. Even though they are pricey, they are soooo satisfying. A little bit goes a long way, so a full sized bar will last for awhile.
From what I've read on their website, Taza seems like a good, ethical company, and I feel happy to support them.
I also tried a new to me flavor of Kevita Kombucha, Raspberry Lemon. I love raspberries soooo much, I couldn't resist. I'm sipping on it right now, and boy do I love it. The raspberry taste is strong, and it also has ginger in it, which truth be told I taste more than the lemon, but I'm not complaining. This kombucha will be very refreshing on a warm summer day. Kevita really makes some great drinks. I recently spotted their sparkling probiotic drinks on a super sale somewhere, and tried the tangerine which blew my mind. It had such a spot on tangerine taste, and it was fizzy, and just really great. Now that we are heading into warmer months, I'm loving finding new refreshing beverages! Bring on the warmth!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

YouTube and Yoga

This is one of my favorite YouTube channels for yoga. I discovered this channel about six to eight months ago, and she adds new yoga videos several times a week. She recently had a ninety day yoga challenge that was really amazing. She has several types of yoga flows, including Vinyasa, and Hatha. She has everything from super beginner to very advanced. She explains the poses very well, and does an excellent job of explaining how to align your body correctly. I can't say enough good things about this channel. I did this grounding practice a few days ago, on a day when I really needed some grounding. As always, I felt amazing afterwards. She also has several guided meditations if that is your thang. She always reads something inspirational as your resting in your final resting pose, or savasana. It's eerie how often what she reads is something I need to hear in that exact moment. She is the person who introduced me to the wonderful book The Four Agreements. And she gets extra love from me, because she speaks of showing kindness to ALL beings, not just humans.
I thought I would spread some yoga love to everyone. I feel very strongly that yoga was instrumental in helping me deal with my eating disorder, and helps me keep mu sanity in a very insane world. I also know that I am learning how to be patient through yoga. I feel like yoga and veganism are a match made in peanut butter and jelly heaven!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Come Together

I was reading about Adam Richman, host of the rather appalling Man vs. Food adopting a vegan diet for weight loss reasons. He, like so many celebs before him has fallen off the vegan wagon, and so people are upset. I used to work at a bar where that show was often on, and it is a complete abomination. Vegan or not, it's a lot of what is wrong with America. So, I was shocked the person who hosts this show would even be open to veganism in the first place. A lot of those super Bro like meaty celebrity chefs still make fun of vegans like it's 2003. I read a little about his vegan "diet", and it seems he actually doesn't take low blows at vegans, eats vegan here and there to lose weight, and that's pretty much it. The most important thing to me is that he's not trashing veganism. That's what gets on my nerves when a high profile person gives up on a vegan diet, and feels the need to trash the lifestyle and food. When I hear of anyone, celebrity or not who wants to adopt a vegan diet to lose weight, or anti-age, or spiritually cleanse, or detox, I usually know that we won't be celebrating any veganiversarys any time soon. The vegan diet has been getting tons of positive press for weight loss, and skin glowing. We get mad at these people when they give up the diet, but none of them really ever said they were becoming vegan for life. It is frustrating that it doesn't stick, and it makes you wonder why it doesn't stick, especially for people who have access to super fancy chefs! I don't have the answers, but I do know that meaty chefs who play to a very meaty audience have some influence over that meaty audience. So, when their beloved meaty chef adopts a vegan diet, loses weight, gains some vitality, and says that they enjoyed the food enough to adopt more plant foods into their diet, that opens some minds. Just the fact that one of their own(a fellow meat head) is suggesting that you don't have to eat every meal wrapped in bacon, is progress in my opinion. People who don't care about animals, or the environment will not ever listen to an animal loving vegan. But they just might listen to a man who makes a living out of eating burgers bigger than my head.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I'm Revived!

Even though it is only thirty two degrees with some snowflakes now and then, I did eventually warm up and try the Revive Root Beer kombucha soda from Live and Raw. So far I have tried the Culture Cola, Dr. Pure, and Dreamy Orange. I love them all so much, but I think I have to say Root Beer is definitely the closest to the real thing. It reminds me of Barq's, the one with bite. It's truly amazing how they have made this kombucha that so closely mimics soda. It also shows that all of that excess sugar, and colorings and preservatives aren't necessary to yield a tasty, carbonated beverage. The Target in my area has two other flavors I have yet to try, Living Limon, and Sparkling Ginger. I'm assuming they are the healthier alternative to Sprite, or 7up, and Ginger Ale. This is by far my favorite Kombucha I have tried and I hope someday Culture Cola, Dr. Pure and the rest of the gang muscle their way into the shelves previously reserved for the standard soda's.

Deal of the Month!!

Target Haul!
I had to exchange something at Target, so of course I had to buy more Raw & Organic Live Kombucha Soda! This time I picked up revive rootbeer, and of course Dr. Pure their version of Dr. Pepper! I don't know how these guys do it. Dr.Pepper is a pretty distinct taste. It tastes like less sweet Dr. Pepper. Not like diet, it has no funky fake taste, just like Dr. Pepper if they knocked it down a few notches. I also had to get the Dreamy Orange again. I love this Kombucha so much, I should marry it. The other super awesome thing I found were Sweet Earth veggie burgers! I really like this company. So far, I've had their seitan bacon, and their Curry Tiger burrito and loved both, so I figured how bad could their veggie burgers be? Here's the best part of the whole thing. They were on clearance for $1.98 a package! They come two burgers in a package, so a dollar a burger? Yes please! These burgers are made with seitan, farro, garbanzo beans, and more. Nothing funky or chemical. The ingredient list is clean. I chose the Za' Atar flavor, as I love Za'Atar seasoning. It's really good on a toasted pita. Anyway, it's so exciting to be able to try something new. Veggie burgers weren't in my budget, after choosing my beloved kombucha. Sometimes you can find deals in the most random places, so I've learned to always keep my eyes open. There is a store here called Christmas Tree Shops, and this store is kind of overwhelming because they have a little bit of everything. I don't go there often, but when I do I always come home with vegan goodies for cheap. They often have Peanut Butter & Co. products for ridiculously cheap. And they always have fancy pants crackers that I love for actual affordable prices. I've also read that places like Marshall's, T.J. Max, and even Bed Bath and Beyond sometimes have some specialty foods at great deals. It's a nice way that you can splurge, and not come up short on rent. Now that vegan food is becoming way more mainstream, it's going to start popping up on more and more shelves. It's great too when things are so cheap, because it could be more enticing for a non-vegan to try something, and fall in luuuuuuurve!! Vegan specialty foods can be super expensive, and vegan or not, most of us are on a budget. So, when some veggie burgers are only two dollars, it could be much more worth the "risk". I will of course give a full report on what I think of the burgers, and the booch flavor I have yet to try, Root Beer!! I was going to sip it while writing this, however I drank a smoothie, and now I'm cold and have to drink warm tea. Winter has decided to slap at spring a little bit, yesterday I saw some flakes.(?!?)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Juicing the Earth

I found this picture of a juice I made a few weeks ago, and I wanted to blab about it before it's too late to make it. This is an interesting time of year, when you can still find oranges, and also strawberries are starting to pop up. I had some oranges that were not the sweetest, and I also had found a super deal on some organic strawberries that were good, but not the greatest. So, I made strawberry orange juice! It was so sweet and delicious, and you can't tell in the picture, but it was the most beautiful rose/orange color. And talk about vitamin c! One of my absolute favorite things about making juice is when I achieve that perfect color. It makes me feel better before I even take a sip. It just screams vibrancy, and I love drinking in that vibrancy! Yesterday I made a green juice with kale, cucumber, parsley, ginger, and yellow apple, and it was the perfect emerald green. I meant to take a picture of it's brilliance, but I drank it down too fast! I feel so sad for people who live on beige foods. It's such a boring, bland color. Where is the pizazz, the vitality?
I went to the grocery early yesterday morning, and there was a man behind me in line getting a dozen donuts, three diet sodas(?) and a scarily colored pink milk, or what I assume was milk, otherwise it was a new creamy, neon pink drink. Zoinks. This was at seven a.m. What a horrible way to start your day. I've been there, not with donuts and diet soda, but with cigarettes and coffee. Terrible, no energy, no love way to start your day. And it sets you up to make unhealthy choices for the rest of the day.
Juice is my Earth Day tip. You don't have to own an expensive juicer to make fresh juice. You don't even need a vitamix, or other high speed blender. I have a blender from I think Sears, it's at least three years old, and was no more than thirty dollars. As long as you have a mesh strainer, you can make juice. Start with a little water in the base of your blender, add veg and fruit, and blend. Strain the pulp through your strainer, and voila, fresh pressed juice. It takes some experimenting to figure out how much your blender can handle, and how much water is needed, etc. Just like making a pot of soup with vegetables that need to be used, juice is another use, especially for fruit that needs to get used. As I said earlier, I enjoy making really pretty, vibrant looking juices, it makes me feel better. Juices are a great option in the warmer months, when soup doesn't always sound so good. The juice pulp can be composted, and also reused. I've read of people making raw, dehydrated crackers, and also veggie burgers with the pulp. I once made carrot, orange and ginger juice, and then made muffins with the pulp. I felt very true to my hippie roots that day.
Have an amazing Earth Day, and drink some kale!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mind Blown

I am so excited to say that I got my black salt, or Kala Namak. I found mine on Amazon. It seems very hard to find in traditional grocery stores. I bought some Hawaiian black sea salt, thinking it might be the same, and it was definitely not. It is a nice salt, it just doesn't lend a sulfurous taste. The Kala Namak is pink, and very fine. For some reason I thought it would be a bit larger crystals, but it's more fine than table salt. When I first opened the jar, I was shocked to smell a definite egg-y smell! I wanted to test it right away, so I sliced some extra firm tofu into slices about half an inch thick, and baked in the oven with a little coconut oil, regular salt, and pepper. The jar says this salt is finishing salt, so I take that to mean it shouldn't be cooked too much. I did some checking, and it seems some cook it, some finish with it. Since it was my first time using it, I decided to be cautious. When my tofu was done, I sprinkled a pinch on one slice, popped in my mouth, and I still can't believe it myself, but it tasted just like eggs. I don't mean kind of like eggs, I mean it was exactly like an egg. It made my kitchen smell like eggs which was soooo weird! I always enjoyed the taste of eggs, I just never really felt right about eating them, so for me this is so perfect! I have so many ideas for scrambles, and tofu "egg salads", and maybe even experimenting with a vegan "deviled egg" type of recipe. I bet you could veganize any kind of macaroni salad, or potato salad that has eggs in it with a little dash of this salt, and of course Just Mayo. This stuff is totally amazing, and all I can say is if you were a fan of eggs, look for this miracle salt! I've read it can be found in specialty Indian shops, but if you are like me, and those do not exist where you live, Amazon can be you're friend. I bought DAS foods Kala Namak, for $7.99 for a 6 oz.jar. Although I see on their DAS foods website, it is $5.99, so there you go. Anyway, a little dash will do you with this salt, so I anticipate 6 oz. going a loooooong way.
Chao slices and this Kala Namak are the two products that have BLOWN MY MIND so far in 2015. Although I had high expectations for both, and the cynical part of my brain kind of thought there would be some let down, but  both have far exceeded my high expectations! In fact, yesterday in my mind I concocted a breakfast sandwich with the baked tofu with black salt with a slice of Chao creamy original, and maybe some great vegan breakfast sausage, on an English muffin, given to a non-vegan. I feel very strongly that the non vegan's mind would be blown. Tofu and eggs aren't that different in texture, and Chao is definitely creamy, and melty, and there are some stellar vegan sausages out there, so why eat a McCruel, when you can have a McKind?

Monday, April 20, 2015

I Heart Yoga

I woke up feeling a little down today, so I did some yoga to open my hips(the emotional junk drawer) and shoulders. I feel better, as I usually do after yoga. I have taken yoga classes in the past, but taking classes on the regular hasn't really been in my budget, and also I just feel more comfortable doing any form of exercise in the privacy of my own home. Luckily for myself, and anyone who feels the way I do, YouTube has just about any type of exercise you could ever imagine! I have gotten to experience so many different types of workouts that I never would be brave enough to do in public! Sometimes I'm embarrassed to have a cat watching me.
I discovered Fightmaster Yoga last fall-ish, and it has become one of my go to channels for yoga. Lesley Fightmaster has a calm, soothing yoga voice. She sounds just like you would imagine the perfect yoga instructor would sound. She explains the postures so well, and also gives tips on aligning your body correctly in certain poses that are very helpful. I've much improved my yoga practice since discovering her channel. She has beginners yoga, to more advanced classes including head and shoulder stands. She ends each class by reading a quote, or passage from books, people, poems, etc while in final resting pose(Savasana). It's almost eerie how so many times what she reads is exactly what I needed to hear in that exact moment!
I learned of a wonderful book, or guide called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz from Lesley Fightmaster. I am now a proud owner of my own copy, and I am looking foward to many years of learning from this book. Getting my body and mind stretched, and aligned is really been very beneficial, and soothing.
Do you like the energy of taking yoga classes, or being a gym member, or do you like to workout in the privacy of your own home?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eye of the Tiger

I'm starting to really fall in love with Sweet Earth Natural Foods. I tried their Hickory and sage seitan bacon awhile ago, and suffice it to say I'm a fan. In my opinion it is the best vegan bacon on the market. It is the vegan bacon I would serve to people who are scared of vegan bacon. Well, my friends I stumbled across some Sweet Earth frozen burritos at a grocery, some are vegetarian, some are vegan. One of the flavors that caught my eye was The Curry Tiger. This burrito has seitan, potatoes, and red peppers, along with spices like tumeric, cinnamon, and cardamom. Just like with the bacon, these burritos had no mystery ingredients, so I decided to give this tiger a try. I needed something quick to eat before work yesterday, so I popped one in the oven while I was showering. When I got out of the shower, my kitchen smelled lovely.  I knew I was going to love it just by the smell, and boy did I ever! It is not spicy, it is definitely a mild curry flavor, chock full of perfectly cooked lentils. If you are a spice lover like me, a little dash of some hot sauce makes it perfection. I will be trying all of their vegan offerings for sure. This is a vegetarian company, so make sure you read ingredients, as some of the flavors contain cheese. They have a Greek burrito that sounds perfect if it wasn't for that pesky feta cheese! The burritos were on sale two for something, so I bought two. Well, this is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I ate both in one day! The one I had before work was so delicious, that I took the second burrito to work for dinner!
There are instructions for both oven, and microwave heating. At home I used the oven, and it came out perfect!! At work, there was never a time when the oven wasn't cooking pepperoni pizzas, so I opted for the microwave. After trying both methods, I highly recommend the oven if you have the time. There is something about microwaves that steals the joy from food, which is why I don't own one. It was okay, just had that kind of limp, soggy, I've been microwaved vibe to it.
Sweet Earth is putting out some stellar products, proving that packaged food doesn't have to have a bunch of scary non-foods in them.
If you see Sweet Earth products at your grocery, you should really give them a try. Before we know it there will be beautiful tomatoes popping up, which make vegan B.L.T's soooo much better!
After expressing my frustration yesterday, I am happy to be able to find more and more sweet little companies that are vegetarian/vegan. It restores some of my lost optimism. Life is really about that balance.
Earth month is marching along, and today I wanted to let pass along this great tip for keeping your shower drains clog free. If you have long hair, you know the pain of clogged shower drains. Also sugar/salt scrubs, and even coconut oil can kind of slow things up. This is where vinegar and baking soda are your best friends. Simply sprinkle about a half of a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar,  and let sit for about twenty minutes. Follow up with boiling water, (I just fill up my teapot) down the drain, and your lovely open drain will thank you. This won't work on a drain that is totally backed up, but it will help maintain clear drains. I have been doing this once or twice a week for quite some time now, and it has really worked for me.
I hope everyone is having a great weekend!!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Me Hulk

I am currently a server at a private club/restaurant that is not even on the same planet as vegan food, or for that matter anything healthy. Nothing is homemade(I'm talking instant mashed potatoes) almost everything is deep fried, and the food remains in the shades of brown, and beige, save for the neon colored buffalo wings. It's pretty gross, and I am certainly not proud of serving meat to people, but that's a whole different issue. What I need to vent about today is the wasteful nature of people. America has a serious problem with food waste. I see people order food, and not eat it, not because they didn't like it, but because they really "weren't that hungry to begin with" then some of the people "don't like leftovers" so it just went to waste for no reason. I can't stand that we think it's okay to be so wasteful of everything! And no one bats an eye to the fact that a living creature was treated horribly, then brutally murdered so you can sit and get drunk and play on your smartphone, and whoops, just not be hungry, so just toss this food. Last night I wanted to hulk out sooooooo badly! It's a really terrible problem, that gets talked about in rare cases, but from what I have witnessed is there are a ton of 'Mericans who just don't care. They think of Buffalo wings as some deep fried spicy treat, not that it was a creature that had as much of a right to live and breathe as any of us. I'm sorry for this rant, but I needed to vent. Sometimes it gets hard and depressing to see day in and day out. Apathy is something that drives me nuts! These people that are so lucky to have enough money to not only feed themselves, but be wasteful of food, still complain that they don;t have enough in life. It's pretty gross.
Another horrible thing about the city I live in is that recycling is an option, not a requirement. I have worked in several bars and restaurants, and not a single one recycles. It's pretty damn shocking, especially coming from Seattle. So, my Earth month tip is this, those of us who care have to really care, because there are sooooooo many places where people think recycling is a joke, doesn't  matter, they don't want to recycle, the excuse list goes on and on. I've had many conversations with people about the issue of recycling, and lets just say I get a lot of side-eyes, and hippie jokes. I need to send Jack Johnson to play this song in the town hall or something.
I keep hoping if I eat enough greens, I will be able to channel my inner hulk and smash some things to get people to listen!
Reduce, reuse, recycle! And eat all your food. Ample food is a blessing that too many people don't have.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I'll Say it again, Animals Rule, People Drool!

Dylan has been hogging the spotlight on my blog, so I figured I would introduce two more members of my fur family. The grey one in the back is afro, you can't tell in the picture, but she has an afro! The one in the front is named Etta, or sometimes known as Yetti spaghetti. I shudder to think about how lonely my life would be without my little fam. I know that no matter how many  side-eyes, and eye rolls I get, someone is going to be happy to see me. And my cats think I'm pretty damn entertaining, and quite frankly, I trust their judgment more than most humans. Animals have always played a very important role in my life, and as a child, I remember finding a lot of subjects boring, but I would voraciously read any and all books on every type of animal I could find. As a small child, I would beg my grandparents to read me Black Beauty by Anna Sewell over and over, and it never stopped making me cry. When I meet people who don't like animals, I feel like I have nothing at all to say to them. I don't even mean that in a judgmental way, it's just that I absolutely cannot relate to someone who doesn't like animals.My first memory of being disappointed in the human race was when I first realized that other people didn't care about animals, and we as a human race were not only allowing all of these terrible things to happen, but we were the ones doing it!
Although I certainly never set out to become a "crazy cat lady", I wish I could adopt more. I can't imagine my life without animals, and at this stage of my life, I don't think I could sleep at night without cats in bed with me.It's not sleep if I'm not being pushed out of bed!
Onto a food related topic, I ordered some black salt, or Kala Namak from Amazon, and according to them I should be receiving it on Monday! I couldn't be more excited! I have been wanting to experiment with a tofu egg-less salad, but I want to add a dash of this sulfurous salt to really make it special. I thought at some point the Co-op, or even Wegman's would have carried this, but no such luck. Since I live in a town where there are no specialty shops that might carry this, high five to a life where Amazon exists. The fact that I don't have to take a bus anywhere to get this is pretty effing AWESOME!!
Have you experienced the wonder that is black salt??

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Yesterday I had to make the two bus ride(4 buses both ways) trip to Target. The town I live in has a very strange set-up. It's almost as if they punish people for not having cars. Any way, I'm very leery of big box stores, but I needed something that could not be bought at the Co-op. I've read here and there that since Target has stepped into the grocery game, they've become vegan friendly. I was eager to see for myself, and hoping to find something new to try. I did find something new, a new to me kombucha, called raw & organic Live Kombucha. They are in cute little glass soda looking bottles, and they were on sale two for four dollars! I had worked up a thirst figuring out where I was going in this store, so I knew I had to try these. They have fun soda flavors like culture cola, Dreamy Orange, pure Doctor, and root beer. I see from their website that they have tons of other flavors, these are just what I saw at Target. I chose Dreamy orange, and Culture cola. I opened the Dreamy Orange while waiting for my bus, and I almost cried tears of joy. I don't know how in the world they did it, but it tastes like orange cream soda, minus the fake flavor, color, and who knows what else is in that stuff. This is Kombucha for the soda addict, who is struggling with kicking the habit. This is kombucha for people who think they hate kombucha. In order to really recommend this to anyone, I felt the need to taste my second choice, Culture Cola. Well, this culture club really wanted to hurt me because I am near tears again. It tastes like what I always wanted coke or pepsi to taste like. It's not so sweet, but it totally tastes like cola! These people know what the heck they're doing. If you have a Target close to you, run, do not walk and try this booch. This is so good, I might inquire about buying an eight pack from Target. This is not good, I started brewing my own booch to save, but Kevita, and now raw & organic Live are just making booch that is irresistible to me. I will say if you are a fan of the lets say tangier Kombuchas, you may not like this brand. This is less boochy, as they are clearly going after the soda market, so keep that in mind. But, if you were ever a fan of soda, and sometimes miss it, seriously try this. I am absolutely blown away. I believe the pure Doctor is their take on Dr. Pepper. I have a sentimental attachment to Dr. Pepper, so I really can't wait to try that flavor.
Target wasn't what I would consider overly vegan friendly, but they did have a fair amount of Gardein products, even their own brand of faux meats called Simply Balanced. The Target I was at had a chipotle "chicken" type of thang, and also a miso glazed "turkey". Also great price on Just Mayo. About two dollars cheaper than the Co-op. So, while I wouldn't make a special trip for any vegan fare, the new Kombucha discovery is having me rethink my stance on Target! It wasn't too long ago that a store like Target would not have Kombucha, or Gardein, let alone their own brand of frozen vegan food! It feels good to have veganism becoming so mainstream. It's what we need, it's what the animals need most importantly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Disgustingly Clean, Healthy Hair!

Today's Earth Month tip is in my opinion also a beauty tip. I have been using the No Poo method to wash and condition my hair. The first week I started, my hair was a bit greasy, but after that it's been smooth sailing. My hair is shinier, thicker, and just flat out healthier than it ever has been. I feel like I have a new head of hair. The ingredient list is most shampoos and conditioners is terrifying, and the organic, natural products are beyond expensive. I was a typical lotions and potions kind of girl, and I was used to having my hair smell like whatever fruity/flowery smell was labeled on the bottle. So, to use apple cider vinegar as a conditioner scared me, to say the least. I spent at least five years toying with the idea of going no poo before I became brave. The vinegar smell really does go away. You don't smell like that kind of a summer's eve. Every time I've gotten my hair trimmed since ditching shampoo, I've received  compliments on my hair. I kind of dread when people ask what products I use, because people can react in very interesting ways when you say I use baking soda, and vinegar. Shock is a big reaction, followed by a faint look of disgust.
There are tons of success stories, and there are tons of people who have tried it, and hated it. Just like with our bodies and our food choices, some hair may not like this no poo method. But one thing I definitely know is you don't know till you try something. Like I said, for years I was scared to ditch the shampoo, and especially conditioner. My hair used to be so dry, that I used double the conditioner to shampoo. It got to be expensive. Now, my hair is so soft, I can't believe dry hair was ever an issue!
I make my baking soda poo and keep it in a glass jar, and my "conditioner" is in an old Bragg's squirt bottle. So much better for the earth than using all that packaging!
Every once in awhile, I rub a little bit of coconut oil, or Argan oil on my scalp, and a little on the ends as kind of a deep conditioning treatment.
If you do try this method, please be patient. I've read reports of no adjustment period, to a week, to two weeks, up to a month. You're hair has to adjust to not being coated in gourd knows what kind of chemicals, and fake oils are in traditional shampoos and conditioners. And you get to appreciate the smell of just hair. Not Goji or rosewater scented hair. It's strange, I feel more feminine without all the fake feminine scents that the powers that be push on us all.
To make my "shampoo", I just make a paste with about four to five tablespoons of baking soda, and then enough water to make a paste like consistency. And for my "conditioner", I mix about three to four tablespoons of the apple cider vinegar, and fill the rest of the 16oz. bottle with water. Sorry, I used to have more specific measurements, but I've been making it for so long now, I just mix till it looks right! The apple cider vinegar is what conditions the hair, so if you have drier hair, you might want to add more vinegar to your mixture. Like most things, we all need to adjust for our hair types.
Have you ever tried the no poo method?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Every Little Step

Lots of things to remember!
That is the wall facing my desk. I write down books I need to read, movies I need to see, quotes I need to remember, and things I need to learn more about. It used to drive my ex-boyfriend absolutely crazy, but I like my wall of Post-its! I feel comforted by them in some strange way. I came across a note I wrote that says Let go of the old, to make room for the new. I needed to read that today. I just did some yoga focusing on opening the hips, and it stirred up and loosened some emotions that I was clearly storing in my hips.  It's springtime, and it's finally getting warm enough to open our windows, and let in some fresh air! All this fresh air has put me in a reflective mood, and I see how important it is to let things go. You have to let go of old habits, ways of thinking, sometimes even people in order to make room for new habits, thoughts, and people. Next month it will be a year since I have really been seriously searching for health, and inner happiness. I still have so far to go, but I also have come very far. It's hard to let go of old habits, and ways of thinking. And change can be very scary. In addition to all of that, you have to be really patient with yourself. I'm still working on that one. But feeling good feels so much better than feeling like poo. I seriously don't know how I lived the way I used to. There were days on end where I existed on coffee, cigarettes, and beer, in that order for days. And I thought I was feeling okay. You get used to feeling bad, and bad becomes your normal. I may not be exactly where I want to be, but I'm also not down there anymore either. If you are working on yourself, be patient. It doesn't come overnight, that's for sure, but it does happen, and what i'm learning is if you really pay attention, you learn a lot of little mini-lessons, as extra credit. For example, a side lesson I'm learning is to be more patient with myself. In being more patient with myself, I'm learning patience with other people. And my body may not be as lean as I would like, but as someone who once had a toxic relationship with food, I'm learning how to use food to give my body what it needs, to love it, not use it to abuse myself.  These are just some examples of the wonderful things I'm learning, and it feels amazing.
I thought of this song while typing, hence the title. Dancing definitely produces endorphins!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Very Cultured

I just had the simplest, yet most delicious little breakfast, and I have to share. I had a simple little fruit bowl, with two large sliced bananas, a handful of maple pecan granola from the bulk bins of my local Co-op, (yum, if you see this in a bulk bin near you, I seriously recommend!) and the star of the show, So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk in vanilla flavor! I had all but given up on vegan yogurt, and it was a spontaneous buy for sure. I am so glad I gave this a try. It is much smoother and creamier than, well any other vegan yogurt I've tried. It is thinner than I remember traditional yogurt being, but I was okay with that. It was perfect for a fruit and granola bowl. The vanilla flavor is strong, and it was just the right amount of sweet. I feel like I want to dip fresh strawberries in this yogurt, like it's a dip. I bet it would be great in this recipe! So Delicious is a company that I trust fully. I would never feel scared to try something they make. If you haven't tried this yogurt/cultured coconut milk, you should run to your grocery to try it, it is well So delicious!
I was torn between the yogurt, and a new product I've been very curious about, Hemp Tofu. I've been looking at this tofu for weeks now, and I put it in my basket, then put it back, and so on and so forth. For weeks I've been doing this. I am a dork. I don't know why I'm scared of hemp tofu. It's not so much that I'm scared of the tofu, but it is almost two dollars more than soy tofu, so I'm scared of the extra cost, especially when soy is not an issue for me. Anyway, one of these times I hope I am brave enough to try this mystery product, but for now I am super happy with my big container of vanilla happiness. Have you tried hemp tofu?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Laundry, Chips, Carpets

I've been sitting in front of this computer for awhile now, and all I really want to do is whine about having to go to the laundry, and deal with all the weirdos(not in a good way.) It makes me wish I was rich and wasteful, I would just go buy new clothes. As long as I remember my pepper spray, I should be safe.(?) At least the sun is shining, it's over forty degrees, and it seems like spring might actually be here for real this time! Woot, woot!
Before I brave the streets, I wanted to make a very delicious chip suggestion. The Co-op had a sale on these Flamous Falafel Chips that I had been eyeballing for a while so I picked up a bag, and wowsers these things are great! They are made from corn, and a blend of beans including chickpeas. The rest of the ingredients are super clean, just some organic oil, and organic spices. They are gluten-free, organic, and also nut and soy free. These chips taste amazing with roasted garlic hummus. They have a savory, herby garlic flavor that really does remind me of falafel! The original(green and brown bag) is not spicy, but I see on their website that they do have a spicy falafel chip that is in a red and brown bag. I would love to get my hands on the spicy flavor! This company seems to really care about good tasting healthy snacks, and I feel happy to support them. I think these chips would be a hit at any type of gathering, and I feel like they would please even hard-core junk food junkies. I have heard some chip "experts" say that chips such as Beanfields, which are made entirely of beans have a texture that is too "beany". Not sure what that means, because I love Beanfield's, but it is what I've heard. Since the Flamous Falafel chips are made with corns and beans, they are more like a traditional tortilla chip.
I recommend these chips, and I really recommend trying them with some roasted garlic hummus.
My Earthy tip of the day is baking soda! Baking soda is an amazing deodorizer for your carpets, especially if you have a fur family! Just sprinkle a light coating, and let sit for any amount of time, then vacuum away! I've been doing this for over a year now, and as someone who works out at home, my face is in my carpet often, and my carpets are fresh, and odor free, even with multiple kitties! And baking soda is so much safer for everyone than those horrible carpet deodorizer powders they sell.
Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Burnt Nuggets, Soft Skin

Well, I have good and bad news concerning these new, vegan, organic Garden Veggie Nuggets from MorningStar Farms. By the way, that is Dylan in the corner. He thought these nuggets were really interesting, and just wanted to sniff away! I am not someone who worries about "animal germs". I let my kitties check out what's going on in their kitchen.
The good news is that MorningStar Farms is clearly trying to offer more vegan products, so that is of course wonderful. That's kind of where the good news ends. Right out of the package, they looked burnt. They looked like frozen, burnt nuggets with corn and peas in them. I cooked them in the oven, per instructions on the box. I did take them out about two or three minutes early, because at this point they looked REALLY burnt. They smelled very herby, like they had some Italian seasoning, or something of the sort. Smells can be deceiving, friends. They tasted of nothing but burnt breading. Have you ever burnt something that is coated in breadcrumbs? That is the taste of these nuggets. They also are crumbly, and the peas and corn seem completely out of place in these nuggets. I want to E-mail MorningStar Farms, and ask them if they want to give vegan food a bad name. They make tasty vegetarian burgers and such, so this was a real let down. Because these nuggets are organic, they are about $1.50 more than their other products, which makes these nuggets even more of a disaster. I can't recommend these to anyone, as a matter of fact run like the wind in the opposite direction if you see these. These are maybe the worst prepackaged food I've ever had in my whole life.
A lot of non-veg people trust MorningStar Farms for some reason. My parents, whose fear of vegan food is palpable, almost always have a box of MorningStar Farms vegetarian black bean burgers in their freezer, for when they try to be "healthier". So, if someone like them decided to try something vegan, and grabbed a box of these, well lets just say no one would declare vegan food delicious. They would say, "just as I suspected, dry, bland, and blech. I am going to E-mail them as soon as I type this and express my concerns. This is not what vegan food tastes, or looks like.
As spring is blooming, today's Earth Month tip is a friendly reminder of the blessings of coconut oil. If you want to get your skin looking healthy, and ready to be shown off,  moisturize with unrefined coconut oil. I made it through this harsh, terrible winter with soft, non itchy skin because of coconut oil. It absorbs quickly, and just makes your skin look and feel amazing. Plus, you can find coconut oil for around seven or eight dollars, and it lasts a loooong time, so it's a money saver as well!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Body Beautiful

  This is a new video by one of my favorite YouTube channels, Fit on Raw. This is a channel that I recommend to everyone, and I would certainly recommend it to new vegans, or people who are vegan curious. She's very calm and rational. I always wish I could carry people like that around in my pocket, and pull them out when I am accosted by aggressive, confrontational people. I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but sometimes I forget facts because I get so flustered, and then I think of all of the things I should have said after the fact. Especially when people are just giving you that look like everything you say is already wrong, before you've even said it. Those kind of people rattle me every flipping time. Anyway, this is a wonderful message about fat shaming, and I of course love it because I agree with it all. As an ethical vegan, I want to save animals. Of course I want to feel and look my best, but saving animals is what matters most to me. So, when I hear of people really struggling with various types of shaming/judgment in the vegan community, to the point where people are not comfortable calling themselves vegan, or feel ashamed because they aren't lean, or even people who are veg-curious, losing interest because of the toxic judgment, I have a problem with that. We need all types of people representing this amazing lifestyle. And we need all kinds of people eating all kinds of delicious vegan food to show that no matter what kind of food you like, it can be veganized! And when someone says they've been following Meatless Monday's, instead of side-eying and thinking it isn't good enough, high five them and maybe suggest a recipe, or a new vegan cheese(Chao, Chao, Chao!) or a new veggie burger or snack. I feel like the vegan movement is really on a roll, and I want it to keep rolling, and I want to encourage, not discourage.
Vegan or not, body shaming is never okay.
Earth Month marches on, and today I have a random tip I learned from an eighty year old woman at a laundromat. If you throw two tennis balls in with your clothes in the dryer, it does the work of the softener sheets! It keeps clothes from getting stuck in the corner of sheets and blankets, and prevents static cling. It is the best lesson learned in a laundry ever. I have been using tennis balls for two years, and I have lovely, soft, static free clothes, blankets, and sheets!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Libraries Are Bitchin'

This is a funny picture of Dylan sleeping on one of my library books. He's dreaming of becoming a skinny bitch in the kitch! He has always made odd choices when finding something to sleep on. Years ago, I got a hilarious picture of him using a Becks beer bottle as a pillow, and the funniest thing about the picture was that my yoga mat was nearby, and would have made a much softer pillow. But at the time, we were all about that Becks!
I had to return some overdue library books yesterday, and I decided to check out their veggie friendly cookbook section, and was pleasantly surprised to find some new to me, and to the library choices! I checked out Skinny Bitch Ultimate EveryDay CookBook by Kim Barnouin, and also My Beef With Meatby Rip Esselstyn.  They also had a little display of "new, exciting finds" and there were a bunch of pretty new cookbooks, and five of them were vegetarian, with three of those being vegan! Isn't it really amazing how far we've come?  They're making room for us on the main stage!
I started going through the Skinny Bitch book first. The beginning of the book is kind of for beginners, it covers things like "why buy local, organic, seasonal." And it covers pantry staples, different sweeteners, the dirty dozen, clean fifteen. It also covers meat and dairy substitutes, and what are the worst additives.  Years ago I had a copy of the original Skinny Bitch, and I remember the recipes relied a lot more on fake meats and cheeses. The recipes in this book are a lot more whole foods based, and seem to be a lot lighter.
The recipes are broken down into Breakfast, Soups, Salads, Sauces and Dressings, Sides, Dinners, and Desserts. There are lots of beautiful pictures, which in my opinion is a big plus. The recipes seem to have very accessible ingredients, another big plus. The recipes don't seem to be super basic, but you don't have to be a five star chef either. There is a recipe for curried egg-less tofu salad that is on my must make for this weekend. I love that this book is at the library, and I love that it definitely makes being a vegan seem super easy breezy beautiful vegan girl! As I make recipes from this book, I will report my opinion, and possibly even take some low quality pictures too! My Beef with Meat is more of a read, with an added bonus of what look to be some amazing recipes. I love reading articles online, and finding recipes, but there is just always something about a book that in my heart is very special.
I've been distracted by other things this week, and I realized I've slipped on my earth month suggestions! So, today I'm sticking with the library theme. Libraries are a great place to teat out books, or even magazines. Almost  every cookbook I own was first checked out at the library, to make sure they would be used. And most libraries have book sales every six months or so. I bought an oldie, but goodie Linda McCartney cookbook for one dollar at a library book sale.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kindness is Contagious

This is a picture of a delicious, refreshing smoothie that I had yesterday. I made it with two frozen bananas, one unfrozen banana, some frozen raspberries, and strawberries. I also added some water and a splash of coconut milk. Even though I love citrus fruit, I have to admit that I am loving seeing the citrus being slowly replaced by berries! Even though my pictures are like flip phone quality, I am not using a flip phone, and I am enjoying the practice, and plan to continue to learn and improve.
I had a conversation with a co-worker the other day, and my co-worker was talking about someone she knows who is a vegetarian, but this person still eats chicken, and very rarely seafood. My co-worker was super quick to point out that this person never eats beef, pork, or whatever other meat options are out there. She was a little sheepish when saying this, I felt like she was expecting me to correct, or lecture, or something. If this would have been a few years ago, I would have kindly pointed out that vegetarians do not eat chicken, or seafood, but this time I just didn't feel a need. I feel that given the tone and look that my co-worker understood this, and was simply telling me a story she thought I could relate to.  A few years ago this would have driven me INSANE! I would have only seen the negative side of it, I would have only seen the struggle, how far we still have to go. Now, while I am painfully aware of how far we have to go, I see the positive in this story. I see someone who may not understand the meaning of the word vegetarian, but who cares, because it's someone who is making a choice to cut down the flesh they do eat. More than likely,  this will lead to cutting down on the chicken and fish. I'm seeing a true shift in how some people think about meat consumption. Instead of pointing out what people aren't doing, I want to high five what they are doing. Even though the animal loving vegan in me wants to roll my eyes SO HARD when people talk of only buying cage-free, humanely raised, blah, blah blah, I've come to realize I can't do that. People are slowly realizing that they as consumers can make kinder choices. I hear more and more everyday of corporations choosing more humane farming methods. Is it enough? Of course not, I personally can't be happy until all animals are safe, but things are changing, people are waking up! I want to support, and encourage people to continue to make even more compassionate choices, not judge them for not being where I want them to be. When I quit smoking cigarettes, it was like a five year process, no joke. I'm talking thinking about quitting, quitting, starting up, wash, rinse repeat. It was a PROCESS, and I got all kinds of rude comments, people not believing that I would ever do it, judgment for not "doing it right", or not having enough willpower, and on and on. But I eventually made the compassionate to myself choice. So, not everyone can do everything overnight. More than ever in my life, I'm hearing people talking of meatless days more and more. Vegan food is tasting better, and better,  and minds are being opened! Do you feel like things are changing? Do you high five someone for cutting down on their animal consumption?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Might be Here!

Since yesterday actually felt like spring outside, I decided to make a cold pasta salad full of veggies. I made a cheaters version of Garden Rotini with Inner Goddess dressing from Vegan on the Cheap, by Robin Robertson. I love that cookbook. I found it on sale quite a few years ago, and I use it often! Anyway, in this recipe she tosses noodles, and veg with a homemade version of Annie's Goddess dressing. I have made the homemade version many times and it is amazing, however yesterday I didn't  have some of the ingredients, and I had no nuts soaking. I did have an actual bottle of Annie's Goddess I had found on sale, so it was meant to be. I cooked up about half of a package of whole wheat rotini, added a cup of sliced sweet baby peppers(red, yellow, and orange), three sliced green onions, two cloves of minced garlic, and one cup of shelled edamame that I cooked with the pasta for the last three minutes. I tossed in enough Goddess dressing to coat, added some pepper and the juice of one lemon, and let chill. It tasted amazing with a big Romaine salad for dinner. I totally forgot to measure the dressing, I estimate that I used about one half of a cup, with maybe a few more glugs. I was so excited about adding my first food picture, I forgot to take notes. Could I have it together less?
I know the picture is too bright, and doesn't show exactly how beautiful this dish is, but trust me it is really lovely, and tastes even better. I love dishes like this where you can swap out the veg for what you have on hand. The original recipe calls for tomatoes, radishes, and garbanzo beans. I used peppers, green onion, and edamame. Both versions are delicious!
Now that I somewhat have pictures figured out, I will work on how to get some better lighting. I almost didn't bother with this picture, but I decided to add it anyway. I am a work in progress, as is this blog, and we are slowly getting there. I am learning what I need, and regardless of the bad lighting I am super proud that I am learning things I always thought were way over my head. It really always goes back to progress, not perfection.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Biotic Woman

I love tangy, salty things like pickles, sauerkraut, and olives. I had been eying this Bao Raw Slaw for awhile, and last week I finally decided to splurge and try it. I got the spicy flavor, which has daikon along with cabbage. It also has apple and pear, which for some reason kind of scared me at first. But no fear, the apple and pear go wonderfully with the spicy slaw. It makes me feel like I'm eating the most delicious combination of the best sauerkraut, and the best Kimchi. I've mostly been eating this out of a jar with a fork, but I did have some on a green salad which was amazing, and also I made a cold cheese sandwich with Chao original creamy, and some of this slaw, and man I want another one right now. I'm also thinking of a Bahn-Mi with this as the veg/pickled element. The spicy is definitely spicy, so if you have a low heat tolerance, you might want to stick to one of their other flavors. They have a Greens slaw made with Kale, collards, dandelion greens, and radish leaves(!) I have never eaten a radish leaf! Anyway, I will try that one next. It is a splurge at $ 9.99 foe a 15oz. jar, but it is sooo worth it. Although I can't afford to buy this every week, it will be on my radar for sure. I love that this crunchy, spicy deliciousness is good for my gut!
Even if I'm not buying any veggie burgers, or nuggets etc., I like to look in the meatless frozen food section to see if there are any new developments that slipped past me. I was surprised to see that MorningStar Farms has quietly rolled out a couple of not only vegan, but also organic vegan products. I saw a roasted garlic and quinoa burger which in addition to being vegan, and organic, it has ingredients that are actual foods. I also saw a box of garden veggie nuggets, which are also vegan, and organic. The ingredient list is again full of quinoa, veggies, and real ingredients. I picked up a box of these to try, they were on sale, and I like to support their decision to offer more vegan options, not to mention cleaning up their ingredient list. There is clearly more of a demand for vegan options, which is great news! More vegans, more vegans!! Since I've been all learny and stuff, when I try these I will try to remember to take a picture! The box looks like they have corn, and peas, and carrots. They look pretty good. When I was vegetarian, I enjoyed MorningStar Farms products, even though they had some funky ingredients. I think MorninStar Farms deserves a high five for making more vegan products, what do you think?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

We Are The Champions

I work as a server in a private club. The club serves food that is far from vegan, and also far from fresh, or homemade. The mashed potatoes are instant, and the rest of the food is frozen, canned, or boxed. When people exclaim how delicious the food is, and what a great "chef" we have, I have to just smile, and walk away. I don't even think they notice that the stuff is not fresh. It's kind of strange. I've only had instant mashed potatoes a handful of times in my life, and they do not taste like real mashed potatoes. It's funny to see a private club be so airline food chic. I always have the image of private clubs being a bit more high end. Anyway, I'm saying all of this to say I do not eat food at work. Even if I weren't vegan, I love myself enough that I still wouldn't eat that stuff. I like real food please. I try to eat right before I go to work, because I am also uncomfortable bringing food to work, because the handful of times I've brought food, I get the stares, comments, and I feel like I'm an exhibit or something. The other day, I had some things to do before my shift, and needed to grab something to take to work. With very few options anywhere, I settled for some in store made veggie rolls from a local grocery. I felt like carrot and avocado rolls aren't too weird, I should be safe from ridicule, right? Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. People (members) were just walking up, and staring like it was the weirdest thing ever in the history of ever. I was very, very shocked. I think people who eat at this club favor foods in the shade of beige, so maybe the bright colors were just too scary. It's very hard not to bristle back, and challenge them by showing them the ingredients in some of the food the chef whips up for them. I can't of course, as I am a mere serving wench. I've come far as a person, however. I did not get upset, or embarrassed like I would have in the past. When one lady said in the most sarcastic tone possible, "well, enjoy" I smiled at her and said "I absolutely will". I feel bad for those people, they will never know the joy of a ripe avocado roll. The shame. As I looked into the club that night, and all I saw was a bunch of people drinking, and chain smoking, and eating deep fried everything, I felt so grateful that I wasn't one of those people anymore. There was a time when I drowned the pain of life with alcohol, and nicotine. It's hard to care about putting fresh, healthy food in your body when you're just poisoning it anyway.
I know I'm not the only one out there getting teased because of food, of all things. Or, even getting teased for being a vegan. I've come to learn to consider the source of the teasing. Nine times out of ten, they aren't even people who you respect. The teasing comes from their issues. It took me a very, very long time to realize that. And I still have days where I struggle with not taking it personal. To me, I find if you don't really engage them too much, they move on. People are choosing vegan options more and more, and people are starting to finally wake up to some of the animal cruelty(not just vegans) so the people who want to stare and point can just have their narrow little corner, as far as I'm concerned. It feels so amazing to let that stuff go. I wish I would have been able to accept this years ago. It just isn't worth it to accept their toxic junk. They want you to feel as bad as they do. Misery loves company.
My crunch, earthy tip for this fifth day of Earth month is baking soda and vinegar! It's springtime, and lots of people deep clean their homes. Vinegar cleans windows and mirrors better than any window cleaner I've ever used, and baking soda is a great scrubber for sinks, and tubs. Also, sprinkle some baking soda on your carpet an hour, or longer before you vacuum for a non toxic, fresh as spring carpet.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Feeling Qrunchy!

I was so busy learning stuff yesterday, when it came time for dinner, I needed something quick, and I just happened  to have a new to me veggie burger in my freezer. They're called Qrunch, and they are burgers made out of quinoa, and millet, various veggies, and spices. I'm super impressed with the ingredient list. Not a funky word in the lot!  I had the spicy Italian flavor, and while I wouldn't say they are spicy, I will say they are full of flavor. These are the old school, you know it's a veggie burger kind of burger. I mean that in the best way possible. As a matter of fact, these are in my top five, if not my all time favorite veggie burger of all time. I baked my burger in the oven, and it got crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. I could really taste the fennel. These burgers would taste great in a hoagie roll, with some marinara, and vegan mozzarella, or provolone. I melted a piece of coconut herb Chao on my patty, and they were perfect for each other. I've tasted a lot of the gluten free veggie burgers out there, and this one takes the cake. I think my Wegman's has the original Qrunch burger, along with this spicy Italian. I will try the original for sure. It looks like they have a lot of fun flavors, and after perusing their website, it looks like all of their qrunch burgers are vegan! The guys who started the company wanted to make products that their gluten free, and vegan friends could enjoy. Reading that makes the burgers somehow even more delicious, and makes me want to support them even more! I love finding new little companies who are really making amazing food. If you're a vegan who isn't fond of the super meaty vegan burgers, you will love these.
As part of Earth month celebration, I just wanted to throw out into the universe that caring for yourself, and loving yourself opens the doors for caring more about things other than yourself, such as our beautiful planet earth.When you feel better, you need less, so you use less. What feels like a lifetime ago, I was a typical consumer. Had to drive everywhere, had to lotion and potion up, make-up, malls, BUY! If you would have told me one day I would actually not drive anymore, use coconut oil for moisture, baking soda to clean body, hair, and house, I would have never ever believed you. But, somewhere along the way, I became a minimalist, and my life is so much more satisfying, and peaceful. I became gentle towards the earth when I became more gentle with myself.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Earth, Wind, and Pasta

Although I tolerate gluten just fine, I dabble here and there in the gluten free aisle every now and then. I went gluten free when I followed Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse, or detox. I became kind of obsessed with finding a gluten free pasta that tastes good. I'm not a huge fan of brown rice pasta, organic corn pasta is just okay, and quinoa pasta is okay, but super pricey. I feel bad for people who are gluten free. Pasta's and breads are not only not too tasty, they are out of this world expensive! So, I have been not eating gluten free pasta for awhile, until the other day I noticed a new to me gluten free option at Wegman's. It's made by bionaturae, and this pasta is made out of rice flour, rice starch, Potato starch, and soy flour. I've bought bionaturae's gluten-full pasta before, and I've always enjoyed it. The package promised to "taste like traditional pasta with no need to rinse". Based on the taste of other gluten free pastas I've had, this seemed like a lofty goal. I turned some soaked cashews into a creamy, garlicky Alfredo sauce, and boiled up these noodles. They cook in nine minutes, and the water didn't turn as weird of a color as it does with brown rice pasta. Grey water is kind of a turn off. Anyway, right after draining I noticed that it looks exactly like any standard pasta. Excellent signs so far. Next, I taste a noodle plain. And guess what? It does not taste weird in any way. It tasted like any standard Linguine noodle. Mind blown. I find most gluten free pastas are a much chewier texture than semolina pasta. This mimics semolina pasta in every way. If you, or anyone you know is gluten free, and struggles with pasta, I would tell them about this brand. I've seen it at several stores, so I'm guessing it's somewhat easy to find. It's always so satisfying to find a substitution that they nailed!
It's April, also known as Earth Month!! It's perfect, right now it is sunny, the birds are chirping, and it is almost fifty degrees in the morning! After what feels like the longest winter of my life, I can really smell spring. When I first moved to the city I live in, I lived kind of across the street from the landfill.(very luxurious) It was a mountain of trash. It truly looked like a mountain. If you looked close enough, you could see little trucks driving around and seagulls and such. I joked that I moved from seeing Mt. Rainier every day, to Mt. Garbage, said in a fancy way of course. Not sure why I felt the need to share that story, other than that sight made me feel really depressed, and really aware of how hard us humans are working to muck everything up.
Anyway, happy spring, and Happy Earth Month!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I'm Not Here for the Skinny!

A long time ago, I was working at this total dive bar, the kind of place crime scenes were made for, and at some point I mentioned to one of the regulars that I was a vegan. He looked at me with total shock, and said "I'm surprised you're not thinner if you're a vegan". I felt like he punched me in the face. Especially because at the time this happened, I had been starting to kick up my workouts, and thought I was looking pretty good! I kindly reminded him that just like non vegans come in all shapes and sizes, so do vegans. I cried when I got home, and went through the full range of emotions. I also thought of a million and a half zingy putdowns I could have thrown his way. I don't even think he was trying to hurt my feelings, I think he was genuinely shocked, and just didn't take the time to think about what he was saying. People are sometimes careless  with their words. If he would have said that to me back in the days of my eating disorder, or even my drinking days, it would have been a self destructive explosion!
I've definitely dropped a few pounds since then, and I have cleaned up my diet even more, while also doing some pretty killer workouts. I've even become a pro at doing burpees! But I'm still not the stereotypical super lean vegan. And I not only don't know if I ever will be one, I don't even know if that is what I want. I feel really great right now. I feel healthy, and I feel like I'm getting stronger. I feel like most days I'm eating foods that are satisfying, and giving my body the nutrients it needs.
In addition to how I feel about myself, I didn't become vegan to lose weight, look young forever, or to reverse diabetes. I became vegan because I feel very strongly that causing harm to animals is not something that I ever want to have any part of. That is the one and only reason. I don't look at other vegans with any expectations on how they should look. I look at other vegans as like minded people, and people who also care deeply for animals. I do want to be healthy of course, but I feel I can help animals whether I look like Cinderella, or Shrek. (I don't actually look like Shrek. I'm not green!)
I feel like there is a lot of food shaming, and body shaming going on within the vegan community. We are supposed to support each other, accept each other, and lift each other up, not tearing each other down. There are so many wonderful whole vegan foods, and processed vegan foods, that there is more than enough room for everyone! And the more the merrier. We need vegans of all shapes and sizes to represent this amazing, compassionate lifestyle. You know how they say never trust a skinny chef? Well, we need vegans who look like they really enjoy the food. I've heard many a non-vegan make dumb jokes about vegans being skinny because the food is so bad.
This is how I feel. They're gonna get me!
If I ever see that guy, I would like to tell him, thanks for being so insensitive. It gave me something to really process, and I see how far I've come. I didn't self destruct, and I didn't do anything to punish myself over something insensitive that a total stranger said. I don't know if I will ever be super lean. I don't know if I will ever have a six-pack, or is it a twelve-pack? Anyway, I don't know. I know that I will always work out to stay strong and fit. And I know that I will always be a vegan, always for the animals. And I know that I will always stand for kindness and acceptance. People drool, animals rule!