Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Benefits of Raw Honey

Ever since I stopped drinking coffee I’ve been drinking a ton of tea. Normally I drink tea plain without anything in it but once a day I add raw honey. If I feel like I’m getting sick I will use more. Most people associate honey with that cute little bear shaped bottle that you get at the grocery store. That honey is not raw it is commercial which means that it has been pasteurized which means that it was heated at 70 degrees Celsius or more, and followed by rapid cooling. It is then filtered so it looks clear which makes it more appealing to the consumer. However this process destroys the yeast and enzymes in honey that are responsible for activating vitamins and minerals in the body. It is best to go with organic local raw honey whenever possible. Raw honey is an all natural cure to many problems. Raw honey can balance your blood sugar, harmonize the liver, neutralize toxins, relieve pain, clear out toxins, and calm nerves. There are huge benefits to consuming raw honey. It can be anti bacterial. Honey is recommended as a face mask for acne, or to use on cuts and burns for its anti bacterial properties. Honey is also anti allergenic and recommended for people suffering from allergies. Honey is also anti-inflammatory, anti-anemic and fever-reducing. I remember when I would complain of a sore throat my Nana would give me a spoon full of honey. Along with treating sore throats honey is also used to treat chronic bronchitis, diabetes, asthma, cholesterol, sinusitis, and nerve damage. So go buy some raw local organic honey and add to your yogurt, or your cup of tea in place of sugar and reap the benefits. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

21 Day Cleanse Starting March 4th

I have always wanted to do a cleanse for the countless benefits that they offer but I have never found the right one. There are many different types of cleanses and detox programs that you can choose from but I have never found one that would fit my needs. I found this cleanse in Natural Health Magazine and it looks perfect. This cleanse removes dairy, meat, gluten, caffeine, alcohol and sugar from your diet. Removing these foods from your diet gives your digestive system a break. A cleanse is also a great way to remove the chemicals that are stored in your fatty tissues in the body that build up over time. While you are cutting out foods from your diet you also want to make sure you are adding in plenty of plain filtered water or herbal tea, try to aim for at least 64 oz per day. Your diet for these 21 days is going to be composed of whole gluten free grains, low sugar fruit and vegetables, and vegan protein. I am starting this cleanse on Monday March 4th because I wanted time to plan this out and find people to join!!

Facebook Page!- Follow me on Facebook and like my page and join me and others on our cleanse. I will be posting what I eat daily and I invite everyone else doing the cleanse to do the same. Greater success is shown on a cleanse when you are doing it with others. If you don't have a Facebook comment on this blog or email me to let me know you want to participate!

21 Day Cleanse (Follow this link to a more in depth description of the 21 Day cleanse. Also in this link you can find a shopping list so you can make sure to have all the foods available on day one!

Friday, February 17, 2012

My First Massage Therapy Experience

         I’ve always heard about such great benefits that come from message therapy but have never gotten around to making an appointment. Over the past two months I’ve been experiencing everyday back pain. I don’t want to just take a pill and would much rather find ways to fix the problem. When I went to the doctor she suggested physical therapy. Also thru my own research I found that massage therapy is a great way to alleviate back pain. When I got an email about a living social deal for a $32 dollar 60 minute massage I though now is the perfect time to make an appointment. 
My massage was at Innovative Fitness and Wellness in Middletown Connecticut.  The atmosphere of the place was much more gym like than spa like. I think next time I want to try it out in a spa. My message therapist spent thirty minutes on the front of my body and thirty minutes on the back of my body. Let me start off by saying I didn’t even know it was possible to have knots in the places I had them. I had so many knots a ton in my back that the entire hour was spent getting my knots out. As painful as that was it was also really relaxing. My body felt the most relaxed it has in a long time. I left feeling like I had just gone on a week long vacation.I think that I’m going to have to make this a once a month thing. 
There are countless benefits to getting a massage. Some of the benefits include helping low-back pain and improving range of motion. If your pregnant massage can help assist with shorter, easier labor. Massage can ease medication dependence by providing natural pain relief, it enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow, it can help exercise and stretch weak and tight muscles, increase joint flexibility, lessen depression and anxiety, and promote tissue regeneration. Massage can help improve circulation, reduce post surgery swelling, reduce spasms and cramping, relax and soften injured, tired and overused muscles, release endorphins, and relieve migraine pain. 
Massage is a great form of stress relief which was the other main reason I had for wanting it try it out. It is estimated that 90% of disease is stress related and that nothing ages us faster than high stress. I believe that stress is a factor that has to be controlled in order to maintain wellness of the body and mind. I think controlling your stress is just as important as eating a good diet, and exercising. Massage can help you manage stress and can help decrease anxiety, enhance sleep quality, greater energy, improve concentration, increase circulation, and reduce fatigue. Not only does a massage feel good it also allows your mind to rest during that time. 
Some research has show that thru massage therapy arthritis suffers have fewer aches and less stiffness and pain, burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching and anxiety, high blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones, and preterm infants have improved weight gain. Many people in the medical field are beginning to recognize the benefits and many hospitals now have on site massage practitioners for patients. 
People in our society need to start taking care of themselves and instead of taking medications explore the other options available. Scheduling time in your life for a massage is an investment in your health just like paying more at the grocery store to buy healthy food. 

For anyone on Facebook check out Diary of a Vegetarian on Facebook and like the page for the inside scoop!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

I'm writing this post today because I always get so annoyed when individuals say how bad and damaging a vegetarian diet is for you when they have no idea what they are talking about. I have overheard this being said multiple times and it just makes me so mad at how ignorant people are. Not because they are not on a vegetarian diet but because they are saying bad stuff about someone else's diet without having any information to back up their claim. I always want to hand them a paper I wrote on the benefits of a vegetarian diet and let them read it. I wanted to share it with everyone today. 
                  An Omnivore is defined as one who eats all things, but is used to describe those people or communities whose diet is not restricted to either animal or vegetable sources (webster dictionary). This would describe the majority of the population, or those individuals who get their protein from animal flesh sources or animal by products. A vegetarian would be described as a herbivore which is someone who just eats plants. However not all vegetarians are herbivores because some still eat diary, eggs, and even fish. 
The typical American diet is referred to as the SAD diet or the Standard American Diet. The average American does not eat much actual food. They rely too much on processed food products that can’t really be categorized as food at all. This is showing in the current health status of our population. For the first time it is estimated that children will have a shorter life expectancy then there parents. Our country spends more money on health care than any other society in the world but two-thirds of Americans are overweight and more than 15 million Americans have diabetes (Campbell). Half of all Americans are taking prescription drugs for health problems and more than 100 million Americans have high cholesterol (Campbell). One-third of children are obese and adult onset diabetes can no longer be called that because children are developing it at a high rate (Campbell). 
The average American consumes double the amount of protein they need for a healthy diet much coming from red meat the most unhealthy form of protein you can consume. The average American eats over 200 pounds of meat a year ( Food Inc.) .Choosing protein from beans and grains is much healthier for you body (57 health benefits of going vegan). Cow’s milk  is another product that is not necessary to consume to have a healthy diet. The human body is not meant to digest cows milk it is meant to digest humans milk while you are a baby. However, milk is constantly being advertised as being healthy by the diary industry with their got milk campaigns. As many as 75% of people has some form of lactose intolerance which means your body has a hard time digesting milk and milk products (57 health benefits of going vegan). Try eliminating milk from your diet for two weeks and you will have dramatic results and then have a glass of milk and see what the reaction your body has is.  
Sugar is the other downfall of the American diet, high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, cane sugar its all sugar and its hard to avoid. Americans consume way to much sugar. Switching to sweeteners that are not processed or synthetic are the healthiest options. Some options are fruit juice, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, molasses, and 100% real maple syrup (57 health benefits of going vegan). 
There are a wide range of different classifications and levels of  vegetarianism. A vegan, “The strictest vegetarian. They eat only plant foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts. They shun all animal foods: red meat, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, cheese, and eggs” (Castleman 1996).  Vegans also abstain from eating honey. Vegans use nothing from animals, such as leather, wool, and silk. A ovo-lacto vegetarian eats eggs, milk and other dairy products along with all the foods found in a vegan diet.  A Lacto vegetarian will include dairy into their vegetarian diet. A pollo-vegetarian will eat poultry which includes chicken, turkey, and duck. A pescatarian is a vegetarian who eats fish and other seafood. Finally a flexitarian sometimes will eat meat and sometimes will not (Castlemen, 1996). 
In the past twenty years there has been a rise in the number of people who classify themselves has vegetarians. In the survey, 3 percent of U.S. adults indicated they never eat meat, poultry, and fish/seafood (2008 VRG Poll). 1% classify themselves as true vegans. There is a higher incidence of vegetarianism among females than males. Five percent of females 18-34 being vegetarian and 12 percent of females 18-34 not eating meat (2008 VRG Poll). When people were asked if they order a dish without meat, fish, or fowl while eating out, more than 50 percent said sometimes, often, or always (2008 VRG Poll). People choose to become vegetarians or vegans for a variety of different reasons including for health benefits, ethical reasons, the treatment of animals, to become more green, or to stop supporting factory farming. 
It is much easier to be a vegetarian now than it was 10 years ago. You can go into most regular supermarkets and find soy milk and tofu. You can even order a veggie burger at Burger King. Most restaurants you go into now have a vegetarian option. There are even vegetarian food festivals that you can go to. Any food that you can think of has a vegan substitute you can even find vegan chinese food. You can find vegan ice cream, yogurt, macaroni and cheese, cake, and any fake meat substitute you can imagine. There are a countless amount of resources available to individuals who want to explore the idea of being a vegetarian. The cookbook options are endless and almost any recipe can be veganized. 
There are many myths that surround a vegetarian diet. Most people think that when an individual makes the decision to become a vegan or vegetarian that they will develop severe deficiencies. However, this is not true. I know this from experience that the main question everyone asks you when they find out that your a vegetarian is how do you get enough protein? However, most Americans are getting too much protein and when that protein comes from meat it also comes along with unhealthy fat. Plant foods contain plenty of protein. Vegetarians can meet their protein requirements through soy products, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and beans. For example, a cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein and a cup of pasta has 7 grams of protein ( Castleman, 1996). Most of the protein sources that vegetarians can eat are incomplete of all the 9 essential amino acids. However, most are only missing one or two amino acids and can be combine with another protein source to create a complete protein. This can be done for example with wheat bread and peanut butter, or brown rice and beans. Some of the protein sources are complete including soy products and quinoa. 
The next argument is that vegetarians can’t get enough iron. Although meat is high in iron so are many plant based foods. “In the Child Health Project, Dr. Campbell discovered that even Chinese who consume little or no meat have healthy iron levels.” It is of course important to get your iron levels checked by your doctor. Most meat eaters have too much iron which is linked to an increased risk for heart attack. Its also been debated that vegetarians can’t get enough calcium. But vegetarians are better off because according to Dr. Neal Bernard, “Diets high in protein, especially animal protein, increase calcium excretion in the urine.” Plant foods can also be good sources of calcium, 1 cup of mustard greens has 104 mg , 1 cup of tofu has 517 mg, and 1 cup of kale has 170 mg (Castleman, 1996). 
One nutrient that vegetarians who don’t eat dairy and eggs need to supplement is vitamin B12 . This is because B12 is found primarily in meats and animal foods. Taking a multi vitamin will do the trick or sprinkling some nutritional yeast on your food (Castleman, 1996). A vegetarian or vegan diet can be healthy at any life stage including pregnancy and breastfeeding as long as the individual eats a varied plant based diet. Even the food guidelines for Americans support a vegetarian diet. They have soy options as a choice for a substitute for milk products. They also say to include protein food with the options of beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Also, following a vegetarian diet will make it easier to follow the guideline of consuming less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids. 
There are many arguments that promote vegetarianism. Choosing vegetarianism comes with a countless number of benefits not only for you as a person but the plant also. One major one is the world hunger argument. For example, 100 million people could be adequately fed by the land freed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by just 10%. Over 80% of the corn grown in the U.S. is eaten by livestock and only 20% by people. The most profound is that it takes 16 pounds of grain and soybeans to produce only 1 pound of edible flesh from beef (Robbins, 2009). All that food going to feed the animals could be going to feed the hungry.
You can reduce your carbon footprint dramatically by choosing vegetarianism over meat consumption. Three times more fossil fuels are needed to produce a meat centered diet when compared to a vegetarian diet. Also over 260 million acres have been used to produce the feed for animals (Robbins, 2009). Livestock production used more than half of all the water used for all purposes in the United States. It only takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat compared to 5,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of California beef (Robbins, 2009).
Being a vegetarian also lowers your risk for getting cancer. Women who eat meat everyday have a 3.8 times higher risk of breast cancer than women who eat meat less than once per week. There is also an increase risk associated with prostate cancer for men who eat meat and dairy (Robbins, 2009). Every 45 seconds someone in the U.S. dies from a heart attack (Robbins, 2009). There is a 50% risk of death from a heart attack for men who eat meat. This is dramatically reduced to 15% in men who eat no meat and even lower to 4% in men who eat no meat, dairy, or eggs. By eliminating meat, dairy and eggs from you diet you can reduce your risk for heart attack by 90% (Robbins, 2009). This is because the saturated fats and cholesterol from meat and dairy are to blame for the increased risk when following the traditional American diet (Dworkin). Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants that protect the heart and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol and vegetarians are more likely than meat and dairy eaters to consume a high number of fruits and vegetables (Dworkin). 
Vegetarians also live longer. On average vegetarians live about 7 years longer and vegans who do not include any animal products in their diet live about 15 years longer than meat eaters (Dworkin). Not only will you live longer by being on a vegetarian diet you will also save money on your grocery bill. When you replace meat, chicken and fish with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains you are estimated to cut your food bills by an average of $4,000 every year (Dworkin). To see this compare the price of a pound of beans to a pound of steak. You will also naturally detox your body when you give up meat. Meat is full of pesticides, environmental pollutants, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics so when you stop eating meat those things leave your body. When in your system they can cause illness. When you first decide to make the transition to a vegetarian diet it is important to replace meat and dairy with fruit, vegetables, and juices because they contain phytochemical s that help to detox the body (Dworkin). 
Another benefit to being vegetarian and especially one who avoids dairy and eggs is that your body will naturally lose weight until it reaches the perfect weight. The average vegetarians are slimmer than meat eaters. When your replacing meat and dairy with low fat vegetable proteins, whole grains and fruits and vegetables the weight just falls off without putting much effort into it. You can eat much more food because whole grains, fruits and vegetables are low in calories so you can eat a lot and feel full without consuming a ton of calories (Dworkin). People who avoid meat have lower body mass index’s which is an indicator of healthy weight and a low body fat percentage ( 57 benefits of going vegan). Also when an individual follows a vegan diet generally a healthy weight loss will occur. When you follow a vegan diet you are typically eliminating most of the foods that cause weight gain issues (57 benefits of going vegan). 
An increase in energy can also results from this diet change. You will feel lighter and less heaviness because the meat that sits in your intestine will no longer be there. If you have a problem with acne going vegan may be the answer to the problem. A lot of people when switching to a vegan diet notice a large reduction in blemishes. Many notice that their skin starts to glow after a few weeks on a vegan diet. The nuts and vitamins A and E that are found in vegetables make your skin very healthy ( 57 benefits of going vegan). Going vegan can also mean healthier hair and nails. Your hair will become stronger, have more body, and look much healthier. Your nails will also be stronger and healthier which is a good indication of how your overall health is (57 benefits of going vegan). 
Some common ailments that many people experience frequently can also be reduced by following a vegan diet. PMS symptoms because less severe or can stop completely. Dairy is what has to be eliminated in the case of PMS. Individuals who follow a vegan diet also notice a decline in the number of migraines they experience. When you reduce your dairy, meat and egg intake you can also reduce your allergies. When you stop consuming dairy you will also notice a reduction in runny noses and congestion because dairy produces mucous (57 benefits of going vegan).  
Some of the most common and harmful food poisoning agents are most common in meat and eggs. When you avoid consuming these foods you lower your risk of developing a foodborn disease. E.coli for example is caused by consuming red meat and can cause bloody diarrhea. Young children and the elderly are at increased risk for dying from complications from E.coli (57 benefits of a vegan diet). E.coli didn’t not become such a problem until the development of factory farming and feeding cows with corn. “Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn. They’re designed by evolution to eat grass. And the only reason we feed them corn is because corn is really cheap and corn makes them fat quickly ... The industrial food system is always looking for greater efficiency. But each new step in efficiency leads to problems. If you take feedlot cattle off their corn diet, give them grass for five days, they will shed eighty percent of the E. coli in their gut. (Food Inc.)” Salmonella is also common in chicken and eggs. Mad cow disease has gotten a lot of attention because of the severity of the human form Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which is incurable. This can be avoided by not eating red meat (57 benefits of a vegan diet). 
By choosing a vegan diet you will also avoid all the hormones and antibiotics that are pumped into animals and found in both meat and dairy. Hormones are given to all non organic animals to speed up their growth. In 1935 it would take 17 weeks to raise a bird and it would take 5 pounds of food to produce one pound of meat. Then in 1960 it only took nine weeks to raise a bird and 2.5 pounds of food to produce one pound of meat (Class lecture 4/27/2011). This is because of the growth hormones they are being fed. The breasts on the chickens are so huge because of all the growth hormones that chickens are barley able to walk without falling over from the weight. These hormones then go into your body and disrupt the natural balance of hormones that are in your body some have even been shown to cause tumor growth in humans (57 benefits of a vegan diet). Antibiotics are fed daily to animals to prevent them from getting sick. However this leads to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics that go into the animals are the same ones that are used to treat human infections (57 benefits of a vegan diet). 
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said, “ 70 percent of all Americans are dying from diseases that are directly tied to their eating habits. Stacks of studies confirm that a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and soy is your best bet for living a longer, healthier, and more enjoyable life” (Dworkin). Two Dr’s are widely known and admired in the Vegetarian world for showing the link between a vegan diet and health benefits and they are Dr. Esselstyns and Dr. Colin Campbell. Dr. Esselstyn is famous for showing that a vegetarian diet can help to prevent and reverse heart disease. His plant based diet has helped his patients avoid major heart surgery. There were 17 individuals who were in the research study that adhered and were compliant to the diet. After five years of being on a plant based diet the average total cholesterol level from Dr. Esselstyn’s diet dropped from 246 to 137. Before beginning a plant based diet the 17 patients combine had 49 cardiac events. Several had multiple bypass operations. No more cardiac events occurred after the plant based diet began for 12 years. “Angiograms taken of the participants in the study show a widening of the coronary arteries, and thus a reversal of the heart disease” (Esselstyn). It is possible to reverse heart disease on a plant based diet. 
The China study written by Dr. Colin Campbell takes a similar approach and looks at the relationship between eating animal products and different illnesses including cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, and osteoporosis (Campbell). The study takes place in China and took place over a twenty year period. This study looked at the relationship between mortality rates and dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors. In the end the study showed that individuals who eat a whole foods plant based diet can minimize or reverse chronic disease development (Campbell). The China study shows that a low protein diet can turn off cancer growth in rats. But this is only with the protein in milk known as casein and does not have to same results with soy protein or gluten which is wheat protein (Campbell). 
Most studies besides the China study cannot show the long term benefits of a vegetarian diet because it is hard to follow people over a long period of time and track their dietary patterns. However, there is one group of individuals known as Seventh-day Adventists who avoid eating meat for religious reasons. So there health outcomes are studied as a way to determine the true benefits of not eating meat. They have followed a vegetarian diet for more than 130 years because of their belief in the holistic nature of humankind. “They believe that whatever is done in eating or drinking should honor and glorify God and preserve the health of the body, mind and spirit”(Seventh-Day Adventist Dietetic Association). “The vegetarian diet recommended by Seventh-day Adventists includes the generous use of whole grain breads, cereals and pastas, a liberal use of fresh vegetables and fruits, a moderate use of legumes, nuts, seeds. It can also include low fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheeses and eggs.  It is best to avoid high saturated fat and cholesterol foods such as: beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish and seafood. Coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages provide few nutrients and may interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients” (Seventh-Day Adventist Dietetic Association).
The results of following this diet show that Seventh-day Adventists in general, have 50% less risk of heart disease, certain types of cancers, strokes, and diabetes. The data has also shown that vegetarian men under 40 can expect to live more than eight years longer and women more than seven years longer then the general population. Seventh-day Adventist vegetarian men live more than three years longer than Seventh-Day Adventist men who eat meat (Seventh-Day Adventist Dietetic Association).
With all the information about the benefits and amazing results of a plant based diet there is no denying that it is a healthier diet then the traditional American diet that many individuals are currently following that is centered around processed and fast food. Obesity is at epidemic proportions and our diets are to blame. There are is no physical need in your body to consume either meat or dairy products and there are healthier plant based options available for all the major nutrients your body needs. 

Does anyone else have experiences similar to mine with ignorant people? Do you ignore it or do you say something?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Green Lotus Salon and Wellness

Good morning everyone and Happy Valentines Day!! I was in desperate need of a hair cut so this morning I had an appointment at Green Lotus Salon and Wellness. Over the past year I have been working hard to switch over to a mainly organic diet, to change all the products that I use on my body to organic more eco friendly versions, and I stopped taking all medications. So I figured that the next step I could take would be to change to more eco friendly green salons where I get my hair done, and occasionally nails done. So I searched google and I found this salon that wasn't too far from home. This salon offers hair cuts, color, highlights all done with organic dyes, message, and facials.

It was so relaxing the moment you walk into the salon. The first thing that I noticed when I walked in was that there is no over powering chemical smell that salon's have. The staff was extremely friendly and offered tea, or coffee. They use all environmentally friendly organic products. The best part is that they give you a 5 minute scalp message while they are washing your hair. So relaxing I almost fell a sleep. All the the styling products are organic and make from ingredients that I know. They use essential oils on your hair that smell amazing. One of the holding products they used had honey in it. My hair still smells super good. Overall it was such a great experience I love the way my hair looks and I look forward to going back for another trim in 8 weeks.

Hair Cut!!
Has anyone else tried a green hair or nail salon? My next goal is to find a green nail salon to go get a pedicure!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Looking Back on New Years Goals

I can't believe that its already Valentine's Day tomorrow. This year is already flying by. Today I wanted to blog about how I was doing on my new years goals. This year instead of just making one resolution that most people don't stick to for longer than two weeks I decided to write down a bunch of goals for myself for the new year. I always like to find ways that I can improve my health and I think even the most healthy people can improve their diet in some way. Some of my new years goals were:
Relax more
Do more yoga (check!)
Drink more water
Quit caffeine
Start a blog (check!)
make one new recipe from a cookbook each week (check!)
go outside more
buy less stuff ( Have not bought one new piece of clothing in the new year!!)

Those were just some of my new years goal that I made for myself this year. I think I am at least in the process of doing each of those. I'm almost completely off of caffeine right now. I gradually have been decreasing the amount of caffeinated coffee I drink and replacing it with decaf this way I avoid the major headache that comes from quitting caffeine. I should be completely off of it by this weekend. Caffeine always gets mixed reviews in the nutrition world. But my main reason for stopping is that I don't want any substance going into my body that is addicting like that. If I'm that tired without caffeine that means that I need to be getting more sleep and exercise and not just drinking another cup of coffee.

For some reason drinking the recommended 64 ounces of water has always been a problem for me. I think its because I never got in the habit of drinking plain water. Before I became a health nut I was addicted to diet soda. But I know how important drinking water is so thats why I made it one of my goals. While I'm in the process of trying to make it a habit I'm keeping track of how much water I drink and making sure to get the 64 ounces a day. Now right when I wake up I make sure to drink 1 or 2 cups. 
So overall I think I'm doing well on my New Year's goals! Did anyone else make any goals or resolutions? How are they going for you?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tofu Scramble

One of my favorite breakfast foods since going vegetarian is tofu scramble. This breakfast is full of protein and keeps you full until lunch. To be honest I'm not a fan of tofu at all. This is one of the only ways that I will eat it. Tofu is such a blank canvas and will pretty much take on whatever flavor that you add to it. There are many types of tofu. For this tofu scramble you are going to want to use firm or extra firm tofu. Also its so so important to buy organic tofu. Anytime you are buying a product with soy choose the organic varieties. Soy is one of the most common crops that is genetically engineered and buying organic ensures that its not genetically modified. Also if you live in Connecticut you can even find local tofu at whole food thats made right in Middletown Connecticut!! I always try to choose local when possible.
1 lb firm tofu
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 cup fresh salsa
1 avocado
3 tablespoons prepared pesto ( I had some that was in the freezer that I made during the summer with the huge amount of basil we had) 

Directions: Serves 2
1- Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray and put on medium heat
2- Break up tofu and put in pan
3- Use a potato masher to mash the tofu until it looks like this. It looks a lot like scrambled eggs

4- Cook the tofu until it releases some of its water
5- Add all the remaining ingredients except the avocado
6- Cook until heated through
7- Serve and top each plate with 1/2 avocado chopped up
Final product!! Eat by itself or put into a wrap and enjoy as a breakfast burrito

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday Night Dinner

I had a stressful start to my week so tonight I had a little extra time so I decided to cook a nice dinner. Usually if I cook something the rest of my family will try it. I'm surprised by the amount of healthy vegan/vegetarian food that I get them to try and even more surprised by how much they love it. I'm still shocked that my sisters love kale chips!! Tonights meal was entirely vegan and so healthy!
For the main meal I made vegan stuffing, Happy Herbivore tempeh meatloaf, and my dad made his salad. And for dessert I made Happy Herbivore chocolate chip cookies!!

Vegan Stuffing
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion
3 stalks of celery
2 cup vegetable stock
1 bag of vegan stuffing mix
1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then start buy chopping up the garlic, onion, and celery. Put the olive oil in a pot and heat. Add the veggies and saute until they become translucent.
2- Add the vegetable stock
3- Bring the stock to a boil 
4- Turn off heat and add stuffing and mix until stuffing is moist
5- Put stuffing into a greased baking dish and cook until crispy
Veggies Cooking

Finished Stuffing

Happy Herbivore Tempeh Meatloaf
I though this recipe turned out really well and my dad and sister even liked it. The only problem that I had was that when I went to cut it it fell apart because since its vegan no eggs were used. But if you don't mind a crumbly meatloaf the flavor was really good.
This is the tempeh mixture before you mash it down into a bread pan

Finished Tempeh Meatloaf

This is my Dad's famous salad. Its the simplest thing but everyone loves it. Multiple family members have requested it at their weddings!! 
Cookie Dough

Dessert: Happy Herbivore Chocolate Chip cookies
These cookies were the most amazing cookie that I have ever had. They are super healthy whole wheat, no added fat vegan cookies made with applesauce but they taste like the real deal. If your thinking about buying the Happy Herbivore cookbook I would buy it even if its just for this one recipe. They are that good!!! I hope everyone has a great night!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Relaxing Sunday Morning

To me Sundays are a day of relaxation and rest to prepare for the week ahead. Nothing is more relaxing to me then being in the kitchen cooking up some yummy food. 
So to start I made apple brown rice pancakes. I had some left over brown rice flour that I had to use up so this was perfect. If your avoiding gluten you can use all brown rice flour and omit the whole wheat flour. I made a big batch because I like to freeze the leftovers for a quick breakfast on busy mornings. 
Apple Brown Rice pancakes
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp maple sugar (raw sugar works fine too) 
1 1/2 cups diced apples
1- Heat skillet and spray with non stick cooking spray
2- combine dry ingredients
3- combine milk, maple syrup, sugar and apples in separate bowl
4- slowly add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients
5- pour 1/4- 1/2 cup batter onto skillet depending on the size you want your pancakes
6- Cook on one side then flip to the next
7- Enjoy with some warm maple syrup

Vegan Bean and Veggie Stew
This recipe is for my best friend who asked me to find her a vegetarian alternative to beef stew. I love stew during the winter. Sundays are the perfect day to make this because it takes some time and the longer you let it sit on the stove the better the flavor is going to be. This recipe makes a huge batch but I like to portion it into individual containers so I can eat it for dinners later on in the week when I don't have time to cook. 
2 cups of dried bean and barley soup mix ( The one I used was trader joes 17 bean and barley soup mix but any kind will work fine) 
12 cups vegetable stock
1 packet vegetarian brown gravy mix
3 celery stalks
5 cloves garlic (i love garlic but you can always use less)
1/2 large onion
3 large carrots
1 pound of potatoes
1 cup corn
1 cup peas
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh sage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1- The first thing your are going to want to do is put the bean mix in a separate pot and fill 3/4ths of the way full of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook the beans until they become soft. This should take about 1 hour. When they are cooked your going to want to drain the cooking water.
2- While the beans are cooking dice all your vegetables into bite sized pieces
3- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat
4- Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and cook for 3 minutes being sure not to burn the garlic
5- add the onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes and saute mixture until veggies become tender they will not be fully cooked at this point
6- add the 12 cups of vegetable stock
7- bring the stock to a boil and reduce to simmer
8- cook until veggies are tender, check potatoes and see if they are fork tender
9- Remove one cup of the liquid and stir with gravy packet to make sure their are no lumps
10- Return gravy to stew and mix 
11- Add the drained beans, corn, and peas
12- Heat thru and put on the lowest temperature and let sit on the stove for as long as you want
Enjoy this soup with a crusty piece of bread and some grated parmesan sprinkled on top. This soup is full of protein, fiber, and vegetables. 

17 Bean and Barley Soup Mix

Lots of Veggies

I hope everyone has a restful, relaxing Superbowl Sunday!!!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Lunch

Like I said before being in the kitchen cooking is like therapy for me. I wanted to share what I made for lunch today. It was kind of a random lunch but I needed to use up some stuff that I had on hand. I first made another recipe from Happy Herbivore cookbook. I made pumpkin oatmeal raisin cookies!!! Totally yum. I always love that with baking vegan you can eat the batter and not worry about getting food poisoning. There are lots of ways that you can go with this cookie recipe but I wanted to go with the pumpkin because I had some leftover from my muffins this morning. This cook book is really a must buy. Most of the time I get my cook books from the library and only try one or two recipes from it but not this cookbook I cant wait to make them all. 

Here is the link to the recipe for anyone who wants to try them!!

I also made gardein buffalo wings. I bought these a wile back and they have been sitting in the freezer. When me and my two sisters decided to go vegetarian we didn’t eat very much meat to begin with. However, we all miss buffalo chicken. So I bought these for my sisters and finally cooked them up today. First of all they smell totally like the real deal but i tried one and I’m not that good with the texture. They are not breaded and I think that’s why I don’t like them. The boca chicken patties are much better. Also they give you this huge packet of sauce which is super hot. You need like 1 tbs of it to get the point. My sisters will have to be the judge on these but its definatley not something I would buy again.

Lastly I made my own oven roasted potatoes. I think potatoes get a bad rep but thats because most people eat them in the unhealthy form of french fries and potato chips. However, when the skins are left on potatoes are a low calorie starchy vegetable that can be used in a variety of ways. They are full of potassium, vitamin C and a good source of fiber. Oven roasted is one of my favorite ways to eat them. I added rosemary that we had in the freezer from our garden. Rosemary with potatoes is one of the best combinations. 
2 large organic potatoes
handful of rosemary
garlic powder
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350
Cut potatoes into bite sized cubes leaving the skin on (thats where all the nutrients are)
mix with remaining ingredients
bake until crispy

Happy Herbivore: Maple Kissed Pumpkin Muffins

Let me just start off by saying these muffins smelled amazing while they were cooking in the oven. I’ve been on a baking kick these past few days so I decided to make some muffins for breakfast. Once again I turned to a simple muffin recipe from Happy Herbivore. I think every page in my new cookbook is book marked as something I want to make! This muffin recipe was certainly a good choice. I love the smell and taste of maple syrup and pumpkin so when they are combined into one recipe its heaven. These muffins would work very well in the fall time but can certainly be made anytime when the weather is cold. You can either make them with canned pumpkin or sweet potato. I went with the pumpkin but I’m sure they would taste good either way. I loved mashed sweet potato’s with a little maple syrup. I choose pumpkin because I have a ton of cans of organic pumpkin that I need to use up. To make them taste even more like maple I substituted maple sugar for brown sugar. Maple sugar is very expensive but I got a pretty good deal on amazon for a good size container of it and I though it would add to the flavor of the muffins perfectly. Maple sugar is also a much healthier alternative to processed sugar because all it is, is dehydrated maple syrup. It retains all the minerals you find in maple syrup. This recipe also calls for maple syrup and its extremely important to use 100% pure maple syrup which isn’t maple flavor with high fructose corn syrup. Also whenever possible choose to use organic ingredients. Lastly the recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour. This is an important ingredient as opposed to regular whole wheat flour because it gives the muffins a lighter texture as opposed to the dense chewy texture that happens with whole wheat flour. 
Here is a link to Lindsey's blog where the recipe is provided. Happy Baking!!!!


Finished Muffins minus the one I had for breakfast =) 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Documentary "Fresh"

I saw this documentary last May at a kick off event for my town's farmers market. However, this week they were allowing people to watch it for free on their website and I decided to watch it again last night. It was just as inspiring as it was the first time. It takes a closer look at what people are eating and where your food really comes from. It highlights all the problems that are occurring from how farming is being done today. The documentary explores the rising organic local movement and provides alternatives that are better for our plant and our bodies. The most inspiring part was the story about Will Allen who took a small 3 acre piece of land and grows fruits and vegetables, composts food waste and raises animals all in that small space. It made me want to go out and work in the garden!!!
Go to the site and watch the trailer

Anyone have any good food documentary recommendations?