Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a salad you will crave

Salads. Im either in salad mode or out of salad mode. I either want them every day OR I refuse to order them or eat them at all. Lately I have been CRAVING and EATING a ton of salads. The one I made today was especially amazing! Its arugula, mandarine oranges and walnuts with my newest fav salad dressing- Asian Ginger Plum by Wild Tree. Over the top I stacked strips of soy chicken which is just a soy breaded chicken patty that I cut up. Heres the thing with soy 'meat' products- If it tastes the same (or at least similar), does not harm any animals or support factory farming ie the abuse of animals, and is less fat, colesteral,etc then real meat WHY WOULD YOU NOT EAT IT INSTEAD!? :)

Its a SIMPLE easy change that you can make that will not only make you healthier but will also be a kind decision for the animals. If you are not veg/vegan yet this is a great way to transition into it OR even just to say "hey on mondays (or whatever day) im not going to eat meat. I'll replace all my meats with soy meat products." Even one day a week can make such a huge difference. The average american eats 98 animals per year. Every day you take away from that takes away from the number of animals and from the dollars that support factory farming. Remember, 99 percent of all of our animal food now comes from factory farms. When we buy/consume this food we are supporting their mission. Thats why I say even a day, even ONE MEAL, makes a difference. For some people going all veg/vegan is not something they want to do but giving it up for one meal/day/couple days a week is something I think everyone could do :) THink about :) :)

OHHH && HERE ARE SOME PIGLETS :) They almost look like little pink puppies all toppled onto eachother. They were at the state fair and were sooo cute.. unfortunetly we can all pretty much guess where they will be headed :( They will most likely have about 4 months of life.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mock Tuna Sandwich

I used to love tuna salad sandwiches but now that I am vegan I have given up all fish. One thing I remember about tuna though was that its taste varied from sandwich to sandwich sometimes tasting fishy enough that I couldnt eat it. With this sandwich you can get that same tuna flavor but in what is an even more DELICIOUS way b/c this sandwich is crunchy! The mock tuna mix I got from Whole Foods in Milwaukee. Its main ingredient is chopped almonds followed by celery, onions, dill, kelp granules (to give it a more seafood flavor but I didnt taste it much), and other seasonings. I added a little veganaise to the mixture and made an open face sandwich with it using a slice of whole wheat bread, topped with arugula leaves, and then the mixture. SO GOOD and the crunch is amazing! :)

taking the blah out of oatmeal

So for the past month I have been in a bit of a rut. I really try to eat a variety of food but lately everyone morning its been a peice of ezeikiel toast (or 2) with earth balance butter. Sometimes I switch it up by using peanut butter but usually Im craving the earth balance b/c its just so freakin good! I never ate much butter before becomming a vegan b/c I knew it was just fat and badness but with earth balance butter its a soy blend so its diary free and its also made of healthy oils instead of unhealthy fats. And so the obession began.

Yesterday I ran out of my ezeikiel bread and forced myself this morning to get creative. This is what I came up with :

I used whole grain oats and added water and a pinch of salt to make the oatmeal. Once its cooked through and while still super hot I added 1 tbs of vegan chocolate chips (or a small peice of dark chocolate works too). Then I cut up a half of a banana and added that with some sliced almonds. Topping it all off is a drizzle of agave nector! Yum!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

veggie fest v.s the wisconsin state fair

Yesterday my fiance, 2 friends, and I made the journey to Napperville IL for their vegitarian festival. I didnt even know something like this existed! It reminded me of being at my favorite vegan resteraunt where I can partake in anything and everything and not feel weird for the day! :P

It took us about 2 hours to get there including our stop at starbucks for a soy chai latte (my newest addiction). Once we got inside there were a tonnn of information tents. All 3 of my guests are not vegitarian so I felt for their bordom instantly. But once I grabbed some info and we made our way toward the back of the festival they had FOOD and that was something we could all agree upon! I wanted to try everythinggg!

My friend and I stopped at the Veggie Grill to enjoy a little peice of summer- something I havent had ALL summer yet- a buger! Welll a veggie burger! :)

There were a lot of people there but besides a line in the beginning to get a reusable tote the lines moved pretty quickly and you could easily access the booths. There were great deals on books, lots of free information and magazines, and of coarse the yummy food.

My fiance tried the falafal pita which he really liked and another thing that was fried plaintains with soy meat crumbles all on a bananna leaf! THAT was really good! He also tried a tamale which was okay. We also got a coconut to try... I have never tried coconut juice but to me it tastes like the butter flavor popcorn jelly belly! I couldnt get past it! Its interesting b/c the WIld Tree food product line that I sell has a butter flavored grapeseed oil that is diary free- its flavored that way with coconut oil! When I put that all together I didnt feel so crazy! Also after I mentioned to everyone that I thought it tasted like the butter flavor popcorn jelly belly they all agreed that it did! Once we finished the juice they cut the top off for us so we could eat the inside. I was suprised how much more flavor coconut has when its toasted. Raw it just doesnt taste like much to me.

Next up the smoothie booth! They had 4 different flavors and 1 vegan flavor. My friend got the very berry (non vegan) and I got the tropical fruit (vegan). They were perfect for this HOTTT day!

After the smoothies we headed back to Milwaukee and the suggestion of going to the WIsconsin State Fair that night came up. We all kind of laughed about it bc we knew that it was going to be the polar opposite of what we had just experienced at Veggie Fest. I did want to see some animals though so we decided we would go later once it cooled off a bit.

Of coarse is regular state fair fashion (or any non-veg festival for the most part) pretty much the only thing I can eat thats vegan is french fries. I DID however find sweet potato fries (on a stick- of coarse) that were dusted with cinammon and sugar. They were pretty yummy. The line for - and this is not a joke- the krispy kreme burger with chocolate covered bacon was so long it would take hours in line to get your hands on one. (it is just as it sounds; a burger utalizing kripsy kreme donuts as buns instead of the standard flour bun and topped with chocolate covered bacon v.s. the traditional regular bacon) There was the long standing corn on the cob booth- which could be healthy if they didnt dip the corn in a huge container of butter... I couldnt help but think how hard would it be to also have a non-dairy butter (say Earth Balance) available too? not just for vegans but people who want to eat a healthier fat (healthy oils instead of lard) or for people that are lactose intolerant? They could even charge more for it if necessary. But I think we are a long way away from that. Maybe somedayyyy...

After we all found some food we headed to the animal barns. Its so weird b/c I never cared to see the animals before. I was like cows? big deal. Pigs? why do I want to see those? BUT NOW, that I have stopped eating them its like I want to see them. I want to face them and look them in the eye and be able to say "I dont eat you anymore!" Its SO WEIRD, but I have heard of other vegans and vegitarians having this same experience. We went the the cow barn first and I pet my first cow. He was so calm. I wasnt sure if I was allowed to pet him. I didnt know how he would react. But he just kind of looked up sweetly and continued eating his hay. He was so sweet!

As I moved down the line of cows there was one that seemed to be extremely dressed. She was laying down and chomping up and down like she was eating but there was nothing in her mouth. He eyes looked glazed over. I approached her and wanted to sit next to her to comfort her but I was worried I might irritate her more. Above me I heard a guys voice "can I answer any questions for you?". I looked up. He was about my age- maybe younger. I asked him if he worked on the farm and he said he did. I asked him if it was his familys farm and he said his whole family worked on it. He seemed like a really nice guy and so I thought why not keep asking questions! I didnt ask them in a pushy way or mention once that I didnt eat meat. I just asked any other normal person might ask.

I said "she is breathing really heavy. Is she going to be alright?
"Yeah she is just over heated. It gets really hot in here thats why we have the big fans"
Then he pointed to one above my head although she seemed to be under it enough that she wasnt getting hit by the breeze.
"Are all these milking cows? or beef cows?"
He told me that she was the only milking cow.

I have read that milking cows have a worse life in many ways then beef cows. They spend there whole miserable lives producing 10X more milk then they naturally would and they are always made to be pregnant so that they keep lactating. I thought in my head no wonder she looks so much worse then the others.

"How long does a milking cow live?"
He told me that depends on so many factors. That he has heard of milking cows living 17 years but it could be more like 2 years sometimes. This cow was 2 years old.
"Sometimes their udders just blow out, then we have to shoot them or send them off. Sometimes they just drop or get infections." Again reiterating "it depends on so many factors".

This guy was really nice. I didnt feel anything bad towards him at all. This is his living- the way his family makes money- and I get that. I really do. In no way did I get the vibe from him that he was a bad person.

"Do you ever get attached? dont want to send them off?"
He looked confused. "attached?".. his confusion grew. "You mean to the cows?"
It was as if the thought had never even crossed his mind. Understandable I suppose considering his line of work. "Its sad sometimes. I've brought cows to show (at the fair) and had to shoot them (the next day). Its unfortunate but for me its a form of income".

I get that. I really do. I really liked this guy! He was answering my serious questions I had. He wasnt getting defensive or making me feel stupid. and I was doing the same for him. We were having a two way, honest, non judgemental conversation.

"Do the cows get to graze or are they pretty much kept in barns or..?"
I asked this because I have been up north enough to see cows out grazing in fields! I want to beleive that maybe when books, videos, etc talk about cows being shackled up that is not the norm! It couldnt possibly be the norm on a wisconsin family farm could it?
"No, we dont let them out at all. They are pretty much on concrete their whole lives. Inside"

Our conversation wrapped up and I thanked him for answering my questions. I genuinely meant it. I wanted to ask him if I could come to the farm but I dont think I would be allowed to. Who knows..

Next we moved on to the pig barns when I saw baby pigs in a incubator with their mother. They were all toppled on top of eachother. They looked like little pink puppies.

When I was at veggie fest they had a brochure at one of the info tables that said "why eat one but not another?" with a picture of a dog and a pig on it. I couldnt help feeling this way at the State Fair later that day.

I feel like I learned so much yesterday. At BOTH fairs which I wasnt expecting. Im def. going to attend veggie fest next year and Im looking into possibly even having a booth there. I feel like there are a few things I could add to their line up. We will see! :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Updates!! :)

Its been awhile since I have posted last but I have been busy busy leading my fabulous vegan life and eating fab vegan food! :) I forget a LOT of the time to document all the amazing stuff I try or learn about etc! I'm super excited to blog next week after I attend Veggie Fest in Illinois this Saturday!

UNTIL THENNN :) Here are some random updates!!!

Not only are these becoming more popular but they are better for you then traditional fries bc they are lower on the glycemic index MEANING that it doesn't effect your blood sugar (and your weight!) like white starchy fries do. That's good news for everyone not just vegans. I actually prefer to make sweet potato fries myself by buying a sweet potato, cutting into strips, drizzling some olive oil and roasting in the over at 400 or more degrees for a half hour. I have heard- but haven't tried yet- that if you roast them for 10-15 minutes DRY and THEN add the olive oil that you will get a crispier fry. Def. worth a shot bc it IS hard to get these guys crispy. In a pinch the other day I made THESE out of a bag:

The brand that I used was "Alexia Natural Gourmet". I have found her products at Whole Food and Outpost so far. I use her other frozen mixes too- will talk about in a minute! The fries wereeee crispy BUT a little too spicy for me. She use chipolte seasonings and it was hot!

Well were are on the topic of Alexia products I made 2 other packages tonight. This is the roasted red potato and mushroom mix. It also have green beans BONUS! :) I havent tried it yet just made it to have on hand. I haveee however tried the next one I made:
This one is sooo good and its great bc it has beans in it so I am getting some protein! Sometimes I just cant stomach another burrito. This is a fun twist on getting your beans. How these products work is that you have the frozen veggie mix and then you get a packet of oil mix. For the mushroom/potato/green bean one the mix is a thyme infused olive oil. For the bean and potato one (which also have spinach, onion, and other amazingness!) you get a pesto basil olive oil! They are really simple to make: You put the oil packet in warm water to 'melt' it and then after a couple minutes you cut it open and add it to the frozen mix in a skillet. Heat through on medium heat til everything gets browned, fragrant, and ready to eat! :) Thats the mushroom and green bean mixed all cooked up and ready to go. Here is the bean mix:
My camera phone does not do any of the food Im posting about justice but it at least gives you an idea and seeing the bags of food sometimes makes it easier to find it in the store :)

I find that I need to have things ready to eat. Like everyone else you get home from work, school, whatever.. are famished and just want something quick and easy. So I pick a day and I just prepare. I get everything ready for salads - washed greens, cut up nuts, dried fruits, etc. so that I can throw it together quickly. I prepare things like above ahead of time bc even if they only take 10 minutes sometimes I dont even want to wait that long! I often keep cooked whole wheat pasta or brown rice in the refrig ready to go as well. Eating healthy is 90% about preparation for me. Once I make a bunch of stuff I have to make sure I dont FORGET ABOUT IT! I like to have my options laid out so that when I open up the refrig I can clearly see my options- soooo... I label! :)
Sometimes I even make a list and put it somewhere in the kitchen so when its time to make a meal I can look at it and see my options that I sometimes forget. I often get into a rut where eat the same thing for days on end. By having a list and having options I have more variety in my diet, feel better, and have more energy.

Eating healthy requires more preparation but it doesn't necessarily require a hugeee time commitment. Today I whipped up this vegan 'snack wrap'.. Looks like a mcdonalds snack wrap to me except sooo much better and sooo much healthier. For my revised snack wrap I used a whole wheat tortilla that is high in fiber and only 50 calories. This is a mini tortilla and creates the same size snack wrap that mcdonalds has. For the inside I cut up a vegetarian chicken patty (Mine is boca brand). I also through in some spinach leaves but you could use any green. (Remember the darker the better!) Then I wanted to add some healthy fat so although you could use veganise, salad dressing, or whatever else you want I whipped up some guacamole and used a couple tablespoons. (I use Wild Tree Guac mix which requires only 2 TBS of seasoning and an avocado. so easy!) The result was a yummy, quick snack... protein, fiber, and healthy fat. And no chickens were harmed in the process :) *and side note, no humans either ;) This snack wrap is totally heart healthy!!*

Last but not least I want to talk about going OUT to eat. Im not going to lie- going out to eat and trying to eat 100 percent vegan isn't easy. There are several GREAT resteraunts- more so on the east side of milwaukee and downtown milwaukee- that offer vegan options but a LOT of times your options may be limited to a 'garden salad' (0 nutrient iceburg lettuce with 2 slices of tomato and a few stale croutons) with vinaigrette dressing (Which i hateeee!). Sometimes though you just have to ASK!! If might be embarrassing at first but you will be surprised how cooks can get creative in the kitchen and whip you up something thats not on the menu or MODIFY something for you. Two great examples- Last week I went to a pizza buffet place with friend. I knew they had a salad bar so I figured I could at least have that. I actually pretty impressed with some of the salad toppings they offered but I am MORE impressed when they offered to make me a cheese-less pizza with sauce and veggies on WHOLE WHEAT CRUST! They didnt even blink an eye. In less then 10 minutes a whole wheat vegan pizza was sitting on the pizza line. Sure it wasnt the most amazinggg pizza ever (like the vegan pizza Milwaukee's Olive Pit offers!) but it did the trick and it was nice to be accomodated :) Heres a pic:

Another example was this past weekend when some friends and I went to Molly Cools in Milwaukee. They used to have a veggie burger which I was planning on ordering but upon getting there and reviewing the menu the veggie burger was no where to be found! :( I asked the waiter about it and he said they took it off awhile back and asked me if I had any dietary requirements that would lead me to order it. I laughed nervously and made a joke of my veganism, planning on ordering the 'garden salad'. Instead he offered to pop back in the kitchen and see what the chefs could whip together. He came out with the most amazingggg pasta marinara with roasted broccoli, asparagus, and other assorted veggies. It was soooo unbeleiveably good. He joked (or maybe not?) that he 'knew what he was ordering after his shift"! AWESOME :) So lesson here; take control. Prepare foods at home, ask for the foods you want when you go out, and dont ever feel like you are limited or dont have great stuff to eat on a vegan diet.

The world is your... er.. soy patty.