Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wild Tree Tasting

Today I hosted my first wild tree tasting! It was so much fun! I made a lottt of samples bc I wanted to try some new stuff and I wanted everyone to still try my 'favorites' :)

One of the biggest hits was something I eat all the time. Whole Wheat Pasta (any kind) with Wild Tree Grapeseed Oil and Wild Tree Garlic Herb Blend topped with a little sea salt. SO YUMMY! Grapeseed oil is actually much better for you then Olive Oil and Wild Tree carries many different infused flavors of grapeseed oil...they even have a butter flavored one! Everything is ALL NATURAL. So the butter flavor actually comes from coconuts! *that means vegans can eat it! yay! butterryyyy goodnesss!* Grapeseed oil has less saturated fat then olive oil and more of the GOOD fats. Olive oil has 14% saturated fat and grapeseed oil has 8%. As far as the good fats go- poly unsaturated- olive oil has 9% and grapseed oil has 76%!!!! I was so surprised to learn this!! It can be used for ANY kind of cooking- even FRYING- bc it has one of the highest flash points of all oils. It can be heated up to 419 degrees without burning! They have an unflavored kind that can be used in baking, etc. I love using the Tuscan infused oil on asparagus with the garlic herb blend and roasting it in the oven! Heavenly!!!

I'll post a pic of all the food I made soon! Until then here's some other things I made and the reviews they got :)

Strawberry Cheesecake Dip- I used vegan cream cheese (tofutti better then cream cheese) and the mix. (this stuff is so simple to make- anyone can do it!) Everyone loved this dip with fresh fruit. Comments were "This is vegan cream cheese? I never would have known" followed by "Now that you mention it, I like the taste of this better with the vegan cream cheese" THAT PRETTY MUCH MADE MY NIGHT :) Overall consensus "really good!"

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse- This was non vegan. Heavy Cream+ the mix+ electric beater. Everyone really liked this with strawberries. Almost like a chocolate covered strawberry. I had this one time BEFORE I went vegan. I made it for my fiance during a weekend getaway! Its a romantic dessert and it was sooo yummy. Suggestion: Surprise your significant other with this dessert! I may have found a way to make vegan whipped cream which would enable me to have this dessert again! Stay tuned :)

Pound Cake- Non Vegan, Did not try. When I cut into it it was superrrr moist and everyone seemed to like it. The rep that was helping me today (bc it was my first party) brought this one but it could possibly be made vegan with substitutions, will have to see if there is egg/milk in the mix itself. She did say she used the grapseed oil butter flavor in place of real butter which I thought was pretty cool- and much healthier :)

Pumpkin Bread- Great fall item! (hey, its headed out way in a couple months!) The rep that signed me up said her kids LOVE this and she cant keep enough of it in the house!

Beer Bread-Vegan. My fiance loved this!! It has a little sweetness to it. The best part is ALL you need is 1 beer and the mix. That's it! Super easy to make and impossible to screw up :) Its also available in whole wheat and flax seed!

Garlic Curry Dip- non vegan. Add mix to plain yogurt and sour cream. You could make this fat free or vegan but I couldn't find vegan sour cream at sendiks so this was regular. My fiance is a hugeee curry fan but he felt like this one wasn't strong enough. I would add more then recommended if you really like curry but for those who find it strong tasting the recommended dose is preferred. Goes great with pretzels!

Garlic Red Pepper Dip- vegan. I used vegan cream cheese but you could use regular if you prefer non vegan. No one noticed again until I mentioned it. Everyone loveeeed this! HUGE HIT! Great on crackers. My fiance likes the beer bread dipped in it!

Guac- MYYY FAV :) This is what hooked me on wild tree. Add 1 tbs of the mix to a mashed up avocado. DONE! How easyyy is that!??! I use it for sandwiches, on chips, fajitas, anything and everything! A total staple. I'm super picky when it comes to guac and this is hands down awesome! Plus the smallest container makes like 15 dips and is only $7.50!

Asian Ginger Plum Dressing- Used in my newest appetizer (see previous blog). I made a salad using mixed greens, Mandarin organes and pecans and this dressing. HUGEEEE hit! People went back for SECONDS on this- a salad!! Out of all the goodies people wanted more SALAD! This stuff is amazingly good. It can also be used for spring rolls! :)

Oooey gooey brownies- non vegan. Chewy brownies are the best Brownies and I could tell just by cutting these that they were. I'm sure they can be made vegan but the rep that was helping me brought them so I'm pretty sure they were regular.

Pizza Dough- Vegan. I didn't sample this out but I have made the whole wheat pizza dough a few times myself before this. All you add is WATER! Then whatever pizza toppings you want. They have regular and whole wheat.

Tuscany Bread Dipper- vegan. This is a dry mix that you can add to oil for dipping (we did! huge hit!) or on top of pastas, veggies, etc. very versatile.

Pesto Basil Blend- vegan. Another dry mix- can be used on pretty much anything but I added it to the roasted garlic grapeseed oil for dipping bread.

SO YEAH- WE SAMPLED A LOTTT :) Anyone else try wild tree? have any favs or have tried any of the ones I sampled today??

Monday, July 26, 2010

bite sized

Just a quick post today...

created this cute appetizer for a cocktail party.

Its a bite sized oriental salad and its super easy to make and amazingly yummy. A tooth pick or fun party pick holds it together. The base is a peice of a vegan chicken patty. Just buy your regular round pattys and cut out a square or triangle. On top of that is arugula and on top of that is a mandarine orange slice. The sauce could be spooned on top but on my plate its swirled on the side of guests to run their appetizer through it- making it a bit more fun. The dressing I use is Wild Tree's Asian Ginger Plum. Its awesome with this appetizer.

I am now selling wild tree and have been playing around with the products a lot. Many of them are vegan or can be made vegan. For example, if the dip mix is vegan it may say 'add to 8 ounces cream cheese' making it NOT vegan but by switching regular cream cheese for a vegan cream cheese (like tofutti's better then cream cheese) you can make it vegan again :)

Heres more info on the wild tree food: www.wildtree.com

I dont have a website up yet but will soon! Until then im just taking orders via phone/email :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grilled Cheese WHO?

So in the summer I craveee a good grilled cheese sandwich. This is my grown up version of a grilled cheese and of coarse its VEGAN! :) There are A LOT of flavors goin on but its the perfect summer sandwich. I definitely prefer this fresh flavorful version over the rubbery traditional.

Lay 2 slices of whole wheat bread (or egg-less, milk-less bread of choice) out on a plate. Spread non-dairy cream cheese on both sides. I use 'better then cream cheese' by tofutti in the 'chive and herb' flavor. Place 3 or more slices of tomato (organic if possible, tomatoes are sprayed heavily) on one of the pieces of bread. Place a couple slices of red onion over the tomato. Place swiss chard (or other dark leafy green) leaves over that. On the other piece of bread (that just has the 'cream cheese') sprinkle cut up chives and a garlic herb blend (I use wild tree 'garlic herb blend') Smoosh sandwich together and lightly butter the outside with Earth Balance butter.) Over medium heat cook your sandwich like you would a grilled cheese.

Sooooo good! And a great way to sneak your greens in!:) Swiss chard tends to be a bit bitter but this sandwich covers it nicely. The greens get wilty and are so yummy in this. Its also a pretty quick assembly and only takes a few minutes on the stove.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cafe Manna!

Went to cafe manna today and brought some of my family with me. I was excited that they wanted to try this place b/c it is sooo great! We sat outside which I recommend if its nice out! They have relaxing music playing and its just so nice. I ordered their limeade which has kale, swiss chard, lime juice, agave nectar and other yummy stuff. Its full of vitamins and minerals and is so yummy. We ordered the grilled artichoke as an appetizer bc I have never had one! The dip was so amazing- It was a mix of veganaise, lime, orange juice, and seasonings. so good!! For my entree I ordered what I order every time I go there- The manna burger! It is made with lentils and had nutmeg and other sweet spices in it for a really unique taste. I need to try something else next time I go there but the burger is sooooo good! I think now that I have had it 3 times Im ready to branch out though :) I can also recommend the savory sandwich b/c my fiance got it once and I tried some. Today I skipped dessert (in part from being full and in part from enjoying cupcakes from comet lately!) but the last time I was there I had the vegan double chocolate brownie- pictured below.

Its oooey gooey goodness and its made with healthy stuff like fruit puree and applesauce! Who would have thought?!

I love going to manna whenever I can and if you are looking to try some vegetarian food THIS is the place to go. As my grandma said it was a "great introduction". The staff is super friendly and helpful, the atmosphere is perfect, and did I mention the incredibly delicious food!?!?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A yummy life!

One common misconception is that all I eat is veggies. Or that all a vegan eats in general are veggies.

While I have eaten more veggies post vegan it is def. not all I eat! I dont eat as much desserts as I used to eat b/c they are a harder to get then regular desserts or I have to spend the time to make them. This works out in my waistlines favor but it def. doesnt mean that desserts are off limits!!

Today was especially yummy. My fiance and I hit up a local fav spot: comet cafe. You may have seen it featured on Food Networks "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives". I love this place bc they have lots of vegan options as well as non-vegan so my fiance and I can both find something we like there. In some cases we can actually order the exact same thing- like a Reuben sandwich- and his will be real meat and mine will be fake meat. or soy meat or whatever you wanna call it! Both will taste great and we both get what we want. Its a win/win for both of us!

Their desserts change daily but today they had a menu of like 10 different cupcakes and almost all of them were vegan!! woohoo!! We split (they are BIG cupcakes!) the banana split cupcake. SO YUMMY! The cake was a banana flavor and it had cherries and chocolate chips (vegan of coarse) The frosting (made with earth balance or other soy butter) was vanilla and has multi colored sprinkles and another cherry on top! I had to take a couple to go so pictures here is red velvet and vanilla buttercream..

My only complaint about comet would be that although there are vegan options they arent all necessarily the healthiest (Even vegan butter, oils,spreads etc.) have calories/fat. Its a good place if you are craving some good ol' diner food but if you are looking for a lighter and more natural/healthy option cafe manna is probably the way to go.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Whole Foods Love

I went to whole foods last night and found some great stuff!!!!!!!!

I got spinach with roasted garlic and it was so yummy. When garlic is roasted it loses its strong taste and turns into a nutty sweet taste. I paired it with my zucchini cake and it was total yum!

I also got a vegan chocolate mousse. It was made with tofu and unsweetened chocolate and it has strawberries in it and nuts. It was a really great dessert. I don't eat as many desserts as I used to b/c now that I am vegan it requires a little more effort (ie: making it myself, finding a specialty shop, etc.) This ends up being a good thing tho :)

They had fresh figs! I was super excited about this b/.c I have been wanting to make a fig and arugula salad for awhile now. I might have that for dinner tonight :)

I also got some mango's. sooo good thing time of year when its hot out. I tried a 'champagne mango' from sendiks this week and it was amazinggg! They didn't have that kind at whole foods but the kind I got was almostttt as good :) Just a little more tangy then the champagne variety which is very sweet.

I also picked up a cheese-less pizza. It has roasted veggies on it and the crust is made of rice. It the Amy Organic brand. I'll let you know how it is :)

The zucchini cakes AND mushroom poppers I had made (see previous blogs) are both REALLY good reheated. I actually like the mushrooms BETTER reheated then I did when I ate them right out of the oven. Something to keep in mind :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Perfect Summer Breakfast

Sometimes in the morning I need something quick. Filled with antioxidants and whole grain goodness these muffins are just the thing. (I couldn't find my muffin tin so I ended up baking mine in a bread pan instead.)

In a bowl combine the following dry ingredients...
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour, but any kind will work)
3/4 cup sugar (I use maple sugar. but white would work as well)
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
zest from 2 lemons

In a separate bowl combine the following wet ingredients:
1 TBS vinegar (this is used as an egg replacement! crazy huh?)
1/3 cup of oil (I used safflower. You could also use canola)
1 TBS lemon extract (I used the juice from one of the lemons instead b/c I didn't have lemon extract. Then I added a bit more flour to keep the consistency right.)
1 cup of non dairy milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and fold in 1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The cool thing about vegan baking is that you can make the same great tasting stuff without the use of eggs and dairy. Its all in the substitutions. In this recipe white vinegar does the job the egg would do. Almond milk is substituted for cow milk. Its a KIND dessert that tastes JUST as amazing. Isn't a great feeling to know that no animals were harmed in the making of your breakfast? :)

** A note about maple sugar: Maple Sugar is made from all natural maple syrup. When you go to the grocery store you may notice there is quite a price range for maple syrups- the kind filled with extra sugar and high fructose corn syrup is the cheap stuff ($3 maybe?) and the 100% pure maple syrup or organic maple syrup can be up to $14! Eating healthy doesn't have to be more expensive but when it comes to desserts some ingredients are worth splurging on. You CAN use plain white sugar in this recipe but I use maple sugar b/c it is completely natural and unprocessed. It also doenst effect your blood sugar the same way white sugar does so you wont get that horrible CRASH after enjoying your bakery. A cylinder of maple sugar at whole foods is about $15 but it has lasted me through lots of recipes and I don't get the sugary jitters or crash after which makes it worth it. Its also delicious! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Flip It Over!

After flipping over the bread I have been eating for years- it was as bad as I feared.

For years all I looked at was nutrition information... How many calories.. carbs... grams of fat. It wasnt until recently that I started reading the ingredients list.

The loaf of bread my mom would buy every week for me and my brother growing up was wonder bread. Over the years she would sometimes toss a different kind into the cart. As my brother and I got older we started asking for wheat bread thinking we were making a more health conscience choice. Flipping over the package of wheat bread 6 months ago I found ingredients Im pretty sure are not neccesary for making bread. The package boasts words like "natural" and phrases such as "whole grain goodness" and "smart eating". The ingredient list however tells a different story. The 3rd ingredient is high frutose corn syrup followed by 'dough conditioners' (what the hell is that??) , calcium propionate, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, ... and the list goes on of words I cant even pronounce or care to type out. I was on a search to find a better bread- something more natural.

Ezeikiel bread was what I found. Although my traditional bread didnt contain eggs or milk and was therefore vegan (*check your labels b/c many breads do contain these things) it still didnt seem natural to me. Part of the reason I adopted a vegan way of eating was to be heathier- what was the point in doing that if I was then to turn around and consume dough conditioners? Ezekiel bread is literally as natural as it gets. The names comes from the book of the Bible in which chapter 4 gives the recipe for making bread. "Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it..." Ez 4:9

Here's what the website has to say:
We discovered when these six grains and legumes are sprouted and combined, an amazing thing happens. A complete protein is created that closely parallels the protein found in milk and eggs. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. There are 18 amino acids present in this unique bread – from all vegetable sources – naturally balanced in nature.

I've tried their regular bread but lately I have been enjoying the cinamon raisin version. Heres the ingredient list: (everything is organic but to keep it short I will refrain from using 'organic' infront of every ingredient) First ingredient is sprouted wheat followed by filtered water, raisins, sprouted barley, sprouted millet, malted barley, sprouted lentils, sprouted soy beans, sprouted spelt, fresh yeast, wheat gluten, sea salt, and cinnamon.

I like to eat my cinnamon raisin toast with Earth Balance Butter.

It tastes SO good! JUST like butter. (make sure you get the 'soy garden' version pictures above.) The only difference it is made from healthy oils instead of dairy. Seriously my brother (who is veggie, not vegan) tried it and was like "this stuff it really convincing! it tastes just like butter!" and POOF! He was converted :) Even if you arent doing vegan it a super easy way to make a difference and still enjoy the yummy taste of butter. How much easier could it be??

I should also mention that the Ezekiel bread you will find in the FREEZER section. Once you take it home you want to keep it REFRIDGERATED. Its natural- no preservatives remember! :)

Now go flip over your bread!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Out on the Vegan Town!

Tonight my fiance and I met up with our newly married friends for a nice outdoor dinner. I suggested Trocadero, a favorite Milwaukee restaurant of mine. It also has several vegetarian options- many of them vegan. Here's what I ordered:

Usually I'm not one to order alcoholic drinks. I'm just not really a fan. BUT I had my new sun dress on, we are sitting outside, and I know summer will be over before I know it sooo I splurged:) My first drink was a blood orange mojito however pictured here is my 2nd drink- a blackberry currant mojito! Both were SO good and not so overly strong that they were hard to drink. They were just delicious!

Next up was my entree... A strawberry summer salad! SOOO GOOD! I forgot to take a pic before I ate half of it... oops. Pictured here you still see the walnuts and apples BUT there were also strawberries too :P I ordered mine without the feta otherwise that would have come on top of the salad. The dressing was a champagne vinaigrette. So yummy!

Whenever I order a salad (especially now that I don't get them with cheese) I always feel so good about my decision that I feel justified in ordering sides like this.......

Sweet potatoes fries!
(the pictured beer is the fiances)

Like I said, their menu had lots of options unfortunately no vegan desserts! Guess I'll have to stick to cafe manna for those! :)

Vegan "Crab" Cakes

Unfortunately I cant say they taste like traditional crab cakes b/c I have never had one before! The reason for me deciding to make this recipe was because its made mostly out of zucchini and I'm trying to get more veggies in. HOWEVER, you do use seasonings that are found on traditional crab cakes and the author of the recipe says it tastes just like them. Either way- I found them yummy!

Side Note: I think I inhaled seasoning somehow because my nose is burning inside and all I smell is spice. Try not to inhale your ingredients ;p

Onto the recipe!......

Begin by grating 2 and 1/2 cups of peeled zucchini
Next lay out on a kitchen towel and roll up like a jelly roll- ring out moisture.
(You may need to do this twice)

In a large bowl combine zucchini with 2 tbs of earth balance butter (non dairy) and one cup of bread crumbs. ( I like the whole foods brand b/c it lists simply bread on its ingredients list. You may be surprised what other crap is added in other brands. Also panko bread crumbs usually have eggs so be sure to check the label.) Add 1/4 cup of minced onion to the mix.

Season the mix by adding 1 tbs of old bay seasoning or if you don't have that on hand (I didn't!) add in a little bit of each of the following: celery salt, mustard seed, bay leaf, black and red pepper, cinnamon and ginger)

Form mixture into 8 patties (mine only made 6 for some reason- too big maybe)
Coat frying ban with safflower oil (or canola if you don't have safflower) Coat patty in a little bit of white flower (a 1/4 cup or less should be enough for all 8) Fry patties until they are golden brown on both sides.


Pretty simple minus the wringing out of the zucchini shreds. These can be reheated in a toaster oven or skillet. They are also only about 100 calories each and 3 grams of protein! :)

Fresh Start Smoothie

Whenever I go to my refrigerator and I'm feeling kinda crappy there is my bolthouse green goodness smoothie staring me in the face. The packaging even says "feel good". Its like its calling out to me! Weather I ate too much the day before or have been surviving more on fries and cereal then fruit and veggies it becomes the perfect way to start a new day. It contains no added sugars- just fruit and veggies. Its also a thicker smoothie like consistently so it fills you up and can be used as a meal replacement.

It looks gross. But I can get over that. When clients walk in and I have a half full glass they look at me strange. But I can get over that too. It may seem like I am being really brave drinking this gross science experiment-esque beverage all in the name of nutrition but in actuality... Its tastes like pineapples! Its soooo good!

They have other flavors too but I like the green goodness one b/c it has the veggies in there- which I've already admitted I have a problem with getting enough of! Also it has 30% of my daily b12! Here's the website to learn more: http://www.bolthouse.com/html/ca_green_juice_n.html

I've gotten mine at whole foods, sendiks, and even pick n save so pretty much everyone is carrying them now. I usually find them in the produce section :) Any other green smoothie drinkers out there???

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mushroom Poppers!

This afternoon I made mushroom poppers- so good! You wont even miss the breading! Plus the recipe is super easy and would be great to take to a party!

Preheat oven to 350

clean 15-20 mushrooms and remove the stem

Cook 12 strips of veggie bacon and chop it up

Mix the chopped veggie bacon with 1 container of non dairy cream cheese (I love tofutti!)
Add in 3 minced garlic cloves and a half bunch of chives finely chopped
Add a little salt and pepper to taste

Stuff mushrooms with mixture but no more then 1/2 inch above the mushroom
Bake for 15 minutes until cheese gets golden


Barnes and Noble Splurge

Today I took the afternoon off after a crazy busy week at work. All I wanted to do was read and cook and relax so I decided to hit up Barnes and noble and get some new material. I ended up spending $75! Books are expensive. I browsed at half prices books the other day but the vegan books they had were quite old. Now that veganism is becoming more popular so many great books have come out. I'm always willing to lend out my books if anyone is interested. The Kind Diet is taken right now but I have many others and now today I got 3 more! 2 cooking and one non fiction.

I started reading Eating Animals today after watching a lecture on it last night on you tube. It seemed really informative and covered more the ethical and environmental aspects of vegetarianism whereas the other books I read covered a little bit on that but more on the health aspects. I'm only a few chapters in but I learned some new information that I thought was super interesting and wanted to share.

The animals we eat today are not that same animals that our parents and grandparents ate. I already knew this from other books but this book touched on it a little bit more. You can also learn a LOT about this in the documentary Food Inc. which is a great movie even for non-vegetarians. (My fiance really enjoyed it. He still eats meat but he is more picky about where he gets it from after watching this movie.) Animals now are factory farmed at a rate of 99%. That means when you go into a grocery store and buy your meat you can almost guarantee it came from a factory farm. On factory farms the animals are genetically modified and treated horribly. For example chickens are modified to have larger breasts because consumers prefer chicken breasts over other parts of the chicken. Their breasts grow so big so fast that they literally begin to topple over. They can take a few steps and then they fall. Up again and then they fall. Their daily growth rate has increased 400%. This combined with hundreds upon hundreds of them in an enclosed barn with little to no sunlight gives you a pretty accurate picture of daily life for an animal on a factory farm.

There used to be one kind of chicken. Now science has made it possible for 2 kinds of chickens. One that is designed to lay eggs (layers) and one that is designed for flesh (broilers). The problem with this is that when the layers lay eggs 50% of them are going to be male. The males cant lay eggs obviously and b/c of the modifications they cant be broilers either so they are killed. That means 250 million chicks a year are killed b/c they now serve no purpose. I couldn't believe this. Its probably safe to assume at this point that you know they aren't killed in kind way either. They are put through macerators- similar to a wood chipper or stuffed away in bins where they essentially suffocate. This is what factory farming is about. The animals are a product and the law allows the farms to treat them as such.

One more fact to share from the book for now and if you are further interested you can pick up (or borrow!) the book yourself. There is a place called The Farm Sanctuary. Its a place that houses 'downers' or animals that are close to death on these factory farms that the farm sanctuary have rescued. He mentions in this section that they rescued a pig from one of the factory farms. The pigs are usually killed on these farms as 250 pounds but remember they are growing at an abnormal rate because of the genetic modifications. They are essentially pig mutants. On the sanctuary farms these pigs are allowed to live out there lives past the point they would have been killed at. That means these mutations get up to 850pounds. WHAT ARE WE EATING????

To the meat eater readers: go to your local farmers market. Find a farmer there. Ask him to let you come to his farm. If he says yes and lets you then he is proud of what he is doing there- he is not factory farming! These farmers and farms DO exist but they are NOT supplying your local grocer. Lets stop supporting these factory farms and demand REAL food. The ideas in our heads of what farms look like, who the farmers are, how the animals are being treated are all lies. They are easy to believe. They are wonderful to believe. But they are so far from what is really going on.

-End Rant-

I'm going to be diving into my recipe books later today and making some yummy stuff and will post pics and info soon!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quick Veggie Dinner

I've been slacking on the veggies lately so I went grocery shopping and stocked up on some stables to make some serious recipes this weekend. One thing I have learned about myself is that if I dont have stuff pre-made in the refrig ready to I resort to some not so healthy vegan fare. So tonight I made fajitas b/c they are super easy to re-heat and eat again! In less then a half hour I probably made what will last me 4 meals. Just keep the veggie mix in the refrigerator and keep tortillas on hand. I used guacamole on mine which I highly recommend. Unfortunetly that gets yucky brown when its not fresh but I have a great dry mix that combined with 1 avacado makes super FAST and yummy guac so making it right before I eat is no biggie.

Heres the recipe!

In a large bowl still together juice from 2 limes, 1/4 cup olive oil, and fajita seasoning (or make your own by combining oregano, cumin, chilli powder, and cilantro) Also toss in some salt and pepper to taste.

Cut up 3 bell peppers into strips (I used one red, one green, and one yellow for some color!)
Cut 1 red onion into wedges
Halve 2 yellow or zucchini squash and cut into strips
Cut 4 garlic cloves in half length wise

Combine veggies with oil mixture

At this point you can either grill or roast. I didnt have access to a grill so I roasted mine in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes. Tortillas can be grilled or wrapped in paper towel and microwaved for 20 seconds.

Fajitas are a great meal to serve b/c if you have non vegans present they can add chicken, steak, etc. to theirs while you keep your just veggie. You could also add vegan sour cream, salsa, or guac like I did :) The possibilites are endless.

Getting you up to speed!

Where to begin!?

I've decided to start up a blog to keep track of all my fun on my vegan journey but ALSO because since I have become vegan I get asked so many questions and figured a blog would be a great forum to answer all of them!! From the cashier at the grocery store, to clients, to friends, to FAMILY, I get asked a lot of questions relating to this!!

My journey into veganism began not too long ago- about 6 months. At the time I was was hearing a lot about a booked called "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone. Now my friends and I were hugeeee "Clueless" fans (a 90's movie in which Alicia appeared).. so big in fact that in the 5th grade I clearly remember deciding in my group of friends who would be Ty, D, and Cher. We also did the best we could to dress like them and talk like them and YEAH>> we were pretty much obsessed. Today I still own the movie (On VHS! ha!) and am still a big fan of Alicia's. I heard about the book, then saw her on Oprah, and little by little my curiosity grew. The final push came when I kept hearing from clients that the book was sold out at Barnes and Noble and Boarders. Now, I live in WISCONSIN so for a health book- specifically a NO MEAT NO CHEESE book- to be sold out made me think there was something special about it. As soon as it came back into stock I was an owner and I read it in about 3 days.

The book outlines 3 transitional phases into veganism. 1: The Flirt 2: Vegan and 3. Superhero (which is a vegan who also cuts out most sugar and processed foods). I planned to do phase 1 and 'flirt' with vegan foods and recipes without making the full on commitment to become vegan. I want to add here that even if you substitute a couple vegan meals a week for your traditional meat and potatoes dinner- it makes a big difference. In the book it also talks about this... as much as Alicia would suggest going 100 percent vegan she aknowledges that for some people that is just not an option for them but they can still reduce the amount of meat/cheese/milk etc they consume and that not only saves some animals but it also can make you healthier person. SO ANYWAYS, I decided to just flirt. I had a fridge full of yogurt at the time and some perfectly good icecream. After a few days of trying new recipes from the book and becomming more concious of what was in some of the unhealthy foods I was eating I gave my yogurt supply to my brother and had my last spoonful of icecream. I wasnt sure how long I would give this all up for but at the time I just didnt want any of it anymore.

That was 6 months ago. So much for flirting! It didnt take long for my cravings to completely go away either. It was really strange! I wasnt ever much of a meat eater- it always kind of grossed me out if I thought to hard about it. I would have the occasional steak at a nice restaraunt or chicken in my pasta but for me DAIRY was what I thought I was going to miss the most! I was addicted to diary. I would have 2 yogurts a day, fruit with cottage cheese, milk/creamer in my coffee, string cheese, PIZZA, and icecream almost every night. Now I would always do the low fat or fat free versions of these foods which kept me from gaining weight but by eating all these foods I was missing out on so many other great- better for me foods! One of the things Alicia talks about in her book is how she beleives we are not really meant to be eating/drinking milk. I was so confused when I read this!! What do you mean Im not suppose to drink milk and eat dairy!? How will I get strong bones? how will I get my calcium? What about vitamin D?? These are things you are told growing up- from little kid on. "Drink your milk"! But as I read further the light bulb went off. Babies drink milk. Human babies drink their mothers milk until they can wean off and consume other forms of nutrition. Cow babies drink their mothers milk in the same way. So why, as adults, are we drinking milk? And even further why are we drinking a COWS milk? We are the only speices that consumes another speices milk. If you really think about it.. Its weird and some what unnatural. She expands further on this and on other topics and for that I would encourage anyone to read the book. Its very interesting and half of it is recipes which is way cool!

Sometimes eating out- Especially in Wisconsin it is really hard to eat 100 percent vegan. For that reason, and to make my fiance less annoyed with me (hehe) I would say that I am 90% vegan and 100% vegitarian. When I am at home and have access to the best- good for me- food I follow my vegan plan. Going out to eat I maybe end of ordering my salad with ranch or get a suprise cream based sauce in my pasta dish. Sometimes to remain sane a little bit of dairy or an egg gets slipped in. Being vegan isnt about being perfect its about making choices that will make you feel better and will be better for the planet and the animals.

Why did you decide to go vegan?
Some of the reasons are listed above but mostly it was curiosity. Would I feel better? Would I lose weight? Would I have more energy? Would my mood improve. The Answers are YES YES YES AND YES :) That is why I have stuck with it. If it didnt work for me I wouldnt have! What I've gained from this has been sooo much more then I have given up. I feel good knowing my choices are saving animals from what is a horrible life and death in most cases. I used to think that the cows were allowed to graze grassy pastures and were 'happy cows that made happy milk' but once the curtain was pulled back and I learned the truth I could no longer support that industry. (I highly recommend the documentary 'food inc' to learn more about whats really going on in our food industry! I rented mine from blockbuster)

Wait, the cows are happy?
Maybe happier on organic farms (my brother eats stony field organic yogurt for this reason) but on conventional farms the cows arent even eating grass! They are being fed corn to get them fatter faster and there are so many of them that they are often knee deep in their own manauer. Its really sad. I love animals- I dont want to know Im supporting an industry that isnt treating them like the living breathing things they are.

Besides the treatment of the animals- are their other reasons you dont eat dairy?
For me and many others dairy makes me feel sluggish. Although I dont get stomach aches from dairy a lot of people do. Also casein found in milk products some research shows have links to different kinds of cancers including breast cancers. In countries where they consume little to no dairy the breast cancer risk is a 1/3 of ours.

What About Fish?
Fish is ify. A lot of vegitarians still eat fish and people who follow a macrobiotic diet (pretty much 'super hero') also eat fish. My problem with fish is that our waters have become so poluted (and this was before oil started spilling into it!) and the smog from the city etc gets into the water. Many fish have have mercury content due to the pollution. Its bad enough I have to breath it everyday so I choose not to eat it :)

How do you get your calcium??
People are always suprised when I tell them how much calcium seasame seeds have. Spinach also has a lot. And Almond Milk (Which I love! And my non vegan fiance likes too!!) has almost the same amount of calcium as milk. When you look around and read labels you can find calcium around every corner.

What about protein?
Protein I get from many sources. I love hummus with cucumber slices. Im also a peanut butter ADDICT :) Almonds are a great source. Quinoa and whole wheat pasta have a ton! I try not to eat tooo much immatation meat b/c it is more processed but they have a lot of protein as well.

Is there anything vitamin/nutrient wise you find hard to get?
Yes. Vitamin b-12 is NOT found in any food except for animals and smaller amounts in shell fish and eggs. It use to be found in the soil and therefore in a plant based diet however we have unfortunetly depleted the nutrients in our soil with pesticides etc. Therefore a suppliment is necesary unless it has already been added to a food for example the cereal I eat (with my almond milk!) contains 100% of my daily b-12.

Have you lost weight?
Yes. and I FEEL much lighter b/c plant based and whole foods pass through you quicker instead of sitting in your body. For example, meat takes 72 hours to pass. Thats like leaving a steak out in the 98.6 degrees of summer for 3 days :/

Whats the hardest part about being vegan?
People thinking your weird maybe?! :) Most people though are just curious. Curious just like I was! They want to know why. They want to know how Im feeling. They want to know what I DO eat! (its not just veggies as you will see in this blog!) A lot of people are interested bc a lot of people arent feeling well and they are looking for something to make them feel better!! I dont force my veganism onto other people. I always say that this is my decision and I dont even want people to feel like my ideas are pushed onto them! I love talking about my lifestyle change but I try to limit it to when I am asked and I always try to make people feel hopeful about changes instead of feeling bad or guilty for what they are eating now. I spent 23 years eating diary, meat, and eggs! I am by no means judging anyone else! I just didnt know any different. No one talked to me about and I never thought twice about it. I just want everyone around me to be healthy and happy and hopefully by using this blog I can answer questions and share great food and recipes.

Well enough with all that! Lets get to the fun stuff :) I look forward to blogging my journey with you ! :)