Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Arrivederci!

No, I'm not leaving this blog (though my absence over the last few months would probably suggest otherwise). BUT, I'm getting ready to go on a trip to Europe next week! WOO! I'm so excited! And, I won't lie, I've been slightly nervous about what to eat over there. For three days I'll be in Rome, and for another three I'll be in Athens. A bunch of native Greeks told me that I'm going to be perfectly fine eating authentic Greek foods in Athens because a LOT of their foods are plant based. Everything from Horta to Fasolakia, Mavromatika, Gemista, Gigantes, Fava, Briam, and SO many other dishes. I'm very excited!

And of course we have Italy, the country that birthed spaghetti and pasta carbonara (a triple whammy dish full of eggs, meat, and cheese). Though the food choices will be a little slimmer because the Italians love their cheese, I'll be able to eat lots of pizza marinara, pasta all'arrabiata (I think that's how it's spelled), and a few other dishes.

In honor of my trip coming up (all of my dishes of which, I'll document and share with you), I decided to make some plant-based lasagna rolls last night. This recipe comes to us from, again, my favorite food guru: Lindsay Nixon, the Happy Herbivore. You can find the recipe in her first recipe book, The Happy Herbivore AND online on her website here. And I'll be honest, I didn't actually follow the recipe. Why? Because I fell in love with another "cheese" sauce. Dreena Burton and her Plant Powered Kitchen makes a wonderful Mac-Oh Geez! recipe:) But the cheese sauce doesn't have the nutritional yeast in it that gives it that overly strong taste (which is perfect for a ricotta stand-in).

When I made this last night, I didn't have the brazil nuts or the mustard powder, or the lemon juice. So, as what's great about cooking . . . I improvised. Instead of the 1/2 cup of Brazil nuts, I just used another 1/2 cup of cashews. Instead of the mustard powder, I used an actual TBS of dijon mustard. And instead of the lemon juice, I used lemon pepper. I also omitted the non-dairy milk (and of course, the oil) because I didn't want it to be liquidy (Yes, liquidy is a word for the sake of this post).

Just mix up in the blender, mix with the spinach, spread on the cooked lasagne, roll up, and cook as directed in the Happy Herbivore recipe! It's SOOO wonderful! I might just have to stop into one of the restaurants in Rome and teach them how to do this.

(ha ha. Just kidding. That would scare the crap out of me.)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cookie Dough Monster

I've never been a huge cookie dough eater.

Until now.

I'm always on the lookout for good dessert substitutes. Most of the time I reach for a piece of fruit... other times I need something a little harder:)

Chocolate Covered Katie
I found the original Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough recipe here on Chocolate Covered Katie's website and blog. First of all, I could get stuck making her desserts all freaking' day long if I didn't have, you know, a job, or a life.

What brought me to this recipe was my co-worker. He approached me and another co-worker one day and told us that he was at a loss as to what to get for his pregnant wife for her birthday. When he added that he wasn't allowed to buy the present, one thing led to another. Homemade dinner, homemade ice cream, and cookie dough. But, with his wife being pregnant, he didn't dare risk the salmonella in raw eggs.

I grinned.

"You can make egg-less healthy cookie dough, you know," I said. He was skeptical, but when I promised him it would taste exactly the same, he asked for me to send him the recipe. The only problem was that...I didn't have a recipe... and I'd never made healthy cookie dough before. But, I was so confident in my diet that I'd made the promise. I immediately got on Pinterest and searched for "healthy cookie dough" and the first result was Katie's cookie dough.

When I sent the recipe to him I told him the same thing I'm gonna tell you... don't be afraid of the ingredients. You eat all of these things all the time, but you've never eaten them this way.

I had to go home immediately after work to make it myself and make sure I hadn't lied.

I hadn't. In fact, I've made it a lot. A lot.

And when I ran out of dark chocolate dairy-free chips...I wondered if there were other healthy cookie dough varieties. I was so in luck:)

I love oats. I love raisins. I love Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough. You can check out the recipe.

If you're wondering what to eat these fabulous cookie dough dips with, here are some suggestions:

  • Uh...you don't need anything else, pick up a spoon and go to town.
  • Apples are fabulous!
  • For you processed food cheaters, graham crackers are a hit.
  • Strawberries!
  • Pretty much any fruit you want.
When I made each of these, I didn't use as much sweetener (I'm a WFPB eater of honey and maple syrup), and when I made the oatmeal dough I didn't use apple sauce, I just added a little almond milk to thin it out.

But either way... these are SO good. You'll thank me!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Back By Popular Request

Let me just put this out there right now...I'm a horrible blogger. In the sense that I'm horrible about being consistent. So, just excuse my last, like...four month hiatus.

I'll let you know right now: I'm still plant-based. And I still love it:)

I had a good friend message me tonight, asking me to discuss a certain topic on this blog. She is part of a home-school group where many of the mothers advocate GMO-free foods, no sugars, and no processed foods. Which, I'll admit, is a great thing. It's always about making BETTER choices--not necessarily being perfect.

But one of the topics this group of mothers has discussed is "brain food." Their belief that children need organic meat, raw milk, and organic eggs in order for their brains to develop properly.

I'll come flat out and say that this is absolutely FALSE. It's a misconception, and lie told by the dairy, meat, and egg industries to sell more of their products.

In fact, did you know that eggs are not allowed to be marketed as a health food? Just their cholesterol content alone makes them more detrimental than helpful. You can see a video clip about the topic here, given by Dr. Michael Greger.

A lot of health professionals and the medical world at large, has, for years, taught and believed the fact that children on a plant-based diet have a retarded growth. In fact, in 1992, after reviewing all available scientific evidence, the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the University of California at San Diego concluded that children on a diet of mostly vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, when consuming adequate calories, not only grow normally, but have actually been shown to attain greater height than meat-eating children.

But what about brain functions? Obviously, our brains need fat, right?

Yes.

However, the risks of consuming animal products far outweigh their benefits. The extra saturated fats, the excessive proteins that feed cancer cells, and other problems are not worth the risk, in my mind (not unless I'm in extreme hunger or in famine--as the WOW directs).

So, what fats should children be consuming that are not in animal products?

The answer is easy: Nuts, Olives, Seeds, Avocados, and Tofu.

The same fats that are necessary for healthy brain development are also contained in plant foods. What's even better is that these foods contain a multitude of other vitamins and nutrients for our health and children's health.

And other people are seeing the benefits of these REAL brain foods. Consider a study from a school for troubled youth in Miami. Dr. Antonia Demas from Cornell University put kids there on a vegan diet, resulting in a The Miami Herald headline, “Brain Food: Student Vegans See Boost in Grades, Energy.” School Principal Mary Louise Cole explained that the students “seem to have a lot more energy—they don’t have the down times.” Gabriel Saintvil, stated that “I used to get tired when I ran laps or lifted weights. Now I get endurance and keep on doing it.”

One of my favorite Plant-Based Diet advocate doctors, Dr. Joel Fuhrman (who was also an Olympic figure skater), talks about the need for children to have healthy brain development:

A nutrient-rich diet is essential for children to develop optimal brain function. A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health followed the dietary patterns of nearly 4,000 children from birth for over eight years. The study found that toddlers who ate a nutrient-rich diet full of fruits and vegetables had higher IQ scores when they reached 8 years of age compared to the toddlers who consumed processed foods full of fat and sugar. The foods that the toddlers ate had a dramatic long term effect on their brain function. 
Nutrition plays an important role in brain development during all stages of childhood. Whereas the brain grows fastest in the first few years of life, it continues to develop throughout adolescence. Thus, it is important that children of all ages consume a high nutrient diet to ensure adequate brain development.    
Children who eat a nutrient-dense diet are providing their brains with supplementary antioxidant support. The brain uses the most oxygen and produces most energy of any part of body, and thus it is highly susceptible to oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress is inflammation caused by uncontrolled free radicals.  Free radicals can propagate throughout the cell, damaging the cell and even lead to cell death. Cells have their own antioxidant defense enzymes to process the free radicals, but they are not 100% efficient and we must use dietary antioxidants to process the rest. The brain’s antioxidant defenses becoming overwhelmed is one of the main mechanisms of brain aging, and this has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 
The foods children consume early in life provide them with the raw materials to construct their brains and ultimately supply their brain power. A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts and seeds is the only way to ensure children get the array of phytochemicals, antioxidants, fatty acids and other micronutrients to adequately supply their growing brains.
Dr. Fuhrman talks about the importance of breastfeeding as well, but that's another subject for someone else's blog:) You can read the article here.

So, the truth of the matter is...the more fruits and veggies your kids eat, the healthier their body will be, the healthier their brain will be, and the better their development!

Monday, March 31, 2014

A New Health Pyramid

For those of you concerned about what should be in your diet each day for a plant-based approach:


Monday, March 17, 2014

Another Win For Quinoa!

Yes, its been quite a while since my last post. Mostly because my dear brother got married this month and life has been absolutely crazy! Exciting, but crazy:)

However, that has not stopped me from making a ton of new recipes (all of which will eventually be featured on this blog, so stay tuned!). One of my favorites over the last little while has been a salad. And I'm not really a salad person. If I'm going to eat my greens, I love them in a hummus wrap! Anyway, this salad comes to us by way of The Gluten Free Goddess. I fell in love with her website back when I had to cut wheat out of my diet (something I'm very glad I don't have to do anymore).

This Pear and Quinoa Salad with maple vinegar dressing is SO great! So when we had a St. Patrick's Day Potluck at work today, I signed up for a salad and hoped this one would be a winner. Boy, was it! I was afraid I brought too much and would have to take a lot home...I didn't even get a chance.

*If you want to make the dressing oil free, do it! I just used red wine vinegar and natural maple syrup. Like I said, it's one of my favorite salads! And I'm not a salad person:)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Healthy Truffle?

chocolate peanut butter "truffles"
Veg Kitchen

The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as a real healthy truffle. Not really. BUT it is possible to make them healthier. True story. I'm not going to lie, but I have a bit of a chocolate sweet tooth. Especially dark chocolate. And when I found this recipe for a peanut butter chocolate protein truffle, I went nuts! Because not only does it have healthful grains, but it also has a healthy fruit... one that you'd never guess when trying one. Raisins.

This Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle recipe comes from the brilliant Nava Atlas and her website Veg Kitchen. Its simple, its easy, and you can probably make it with things you already have in your kitchen. When I made these, I did not have wheat germ, so I used flax seed powder instead. These are loaded with protein, fiber, omega fatty acids (if you use the flax seed) and you wont feel as guilty giving them to your kids (or eating a few extra yourself). I'm not going to lie, I've sometimes been known to sneak more than eight onto my bedroom and eat all of them in one sitting.

Hope you like them!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What Are Animals For?



I'm always up to addressing other people's concerns in my posts and this one just happens to be one of those posts. A friend of our family had been in their ward in a primary class and the children had been learning about the creation, I'm assuming because the teacher asked the kids at one point, "Why did God create animals?" and then immediately answered his/her own question with, "For us to eat."

This friend's mouth, probably if it were capable, hit the floor. Is that what we are teaching our children? That animals are merely there for our indulgence? In fact, I hope I'm not overstepping spiritual bounds when I point out the fact, that in the church, we've learned that animals are to "fulfill the measure of their creation and to have joy." I sure hope you all recognize that line, because if I were to show you pictures of factory farmed animals (the animals that probably 95% of your meat comes from), you'd see that there has not been one moment of joy in their entire lives. And it breaks my heart--to see God's creations being used so flippantly.

So, let me spell out the ways that animals are far beyond the feral use of mankind's stomach:

  • To bring us true joy
    • In my lifetime, our family has been stewards over a rabbit-Bucky; a hamster-Mickey; four dogs-Shady, Peebo, Winnie, and Nilla; three cats-Spook, Oreo, and Sicko; two horses-Wizard, and Gunner, and endless bottles of pill bugs. Not one of them have we ever used to eat. In fact, Peebo, lived to an age of 18 which is quite old for a dog. He stank towards the end, and was covered in tumors, but the memories we'd made with him when we were kids ensured joy in his life as well as ours. When I  visit my parent's home these days I have "sleep overs" with Nilla and Winnie where we have a girl's night, sleeping in my bed. My mom has video of me, as a kid, reading a rabbit book...to Bucky. In other words, these blessed animals have been family. They have made us laugh, they have comforted us when we're sick and sad, they have played games with us, protected us, and more. In short, these animals were made to be our friends. In fact, animals are known to help reduce and eliminate depression.

  • To use FOR food
    • For centuries, mankind has worked by the sweat of his own brow, and animals have been used to work right beside him. The horse and ox have pulled man's plow, hogs used to hunt out truffles, insects and birds used to maintain pests in crop fields, bacteria (yes, an animal) lives in our guts to help digest food, their uninfected manure used to fertilize plants (my parents put their horses' manure in their garden beds), bees and other insects and animals are used to pollenate plants. Goat herds can be used to eat weeds, ladybugs used to eliminate garden worms and other harmful insects, snakes manage rodent populations that threaten crops (although I hate snakes, I see them non-stop in my garden, which makes me happy!),
  • To serve us
    • Not like slaves, but look at canines who are wonderful seeing-eye dogs to serve the blind, look at the animals that are used in hospitals and nursing homes as a means of therapy for the patients. Dogs are also used to sniff out cancer and warn epilepsy patients when a seizure is coming on. Bomb sniffing dogs to detect threats, seals and dolphins are trained by the Navy for security. Elephants, horses, mules, kine (that would be animals like cows and oxen), llamas, dogs, and other animals are used for packing and transportation. Cats help eliminate the overpopulation of pests, wolves control the excessive deer population, and the list goes on and on. Those snakes I mentioned earlier? In cutting down rodent populations, it helps protect us humans from disease. During wars in the past, birds and other animals have been used to transfer messages. Animals have and can warn us of natural disasters. Canaries have been used to warn miners of deadly gas. It's easy to see signs of animals serving us every single day...and this is just scratching the surface.

  • To bring beauty to the eye
    • Peacocks, flamingos, giraffes, horses, elephants, whales, fish, insects...how beautiful are these creatures? How amazing are they to look at? They fill us with wonder, with appreciation, and gratitude. Not everything has a "practical" use. And I have a belief that God wanted to give us things to please the eye and gladden the heart. Like a sunset, a beautiful valley, a majestic mountain range, or deep canyon, there are creations in existence to amaze us. Not for our carnal desires.

  • To clothe us
    • In the coldest climates of the world where man has lived for centuries, the wool of sheep, alpacas, llamas, goats, oxen has been woven and spun into warm clothing and blankets. In extreme climates, yes, the animals are skinned to protect the wearers from frostbite and protect them from the elements.
  • As food
    • As the Word of Wisdom explains, animals are also here as food for us...in times of cold, winter, famine, or extreme hunger. I do not feel it is right to NEVER eat meat. Where would the Martin Willey Handcart company have been without the fatty meat of the buffalo that was brought to them? How would Nephi and his family had survived all their travels to the promised land without access to animal flesh? As Genesis explains, the flesh of animals is meant to save our lives. And I'm so grateful for that.
In the end, the purpose of animals "as food" for us to eat, is miniscule compared to all their other duties on this planet. Are there any other purposes for animals that you can think of?