Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Lunch Bag is Full!

Getting ready for bed, about to have a "hell day" tomorrow consisting of school and work back to back.  I thought I'd quickly post what I'm packing in my lunch bag tomorrow...

Morning smoothie with chia seeds, frozen berries, vitamineral green powder, and a base of gynostemma tea.  Lunch, snacks, and dinner include leftover pad thai my roommate and I had for dinner tonight, dulse chips, romaine and broccoli caesar salad, ants on a log with dried cherries, baby carrots, an orange, homemade "aura bars" (my take on the lara bar), and homemade raw healthy chocolate I just whipped up made with lucuma, mesquite, raw cacao powder, and raw cacao butter from ultimate superfoods and herbs from hyperion herbs.

I hope everyone has an amazing rest of the week.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Books and Cookbooks

I spend some of my online time on livejournal where there are some awesome vegan communities.  Often people will ask what books are good sources for their specific needs.  So here is a working list of books that I've found particularly inspiring or just plain amazing.

Skinny Bitch- I hesitated putting this book at the top of my list, but as far as not eating animals goes- this is the most entertaining yet fact based book there is about the crazy crap the meat and dairy industries are doing.  Rory and Kim take a weight-loss angle to veganism.   To some their writing could be seen as offensive, but if you'd like to know more about why people go vegan, this is the quickest, funniest, and cheapest book out there.

Eating for Beauty-  This is my favorite raw foods book out there.  David Wolfe makes the connection that consuming living foods will beautify you from the inside out.

Green for Life-  My hope is that one day green smoothies will be as abundant as Coca Cola.  Check this book out to find out the research behind green smoothie consumption.

The Body Ecology Diet- This is not a raw or even vegan book, but a lifestyle diet that advocates for fermented foods, seaweed, a low sugar diet, and grains like quinoa and millet.

The China Study-  Want solid facts to beef up your arguements when coworkers, friends, or family question your decision to not include animals in your diet?  This scientific study is full of reasons to go meatless!

The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved-  This is not a vegan or raw foods book either, but a book advocating local and wild foods.  It touches on most issues that were included in Food Inc.

The books above have a few recipes included, but are more informational.
I will make a recipe book post later, but here are my top three recipe books at the moment...

Babycakes- The vegan, gluten-free NYC bakery has its own cookbook!

I Am Grateful- Raw recipes from San Francisco's Cafe Gratitude.

The Voluptuous Vegan- Hearty recipes that taste good!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Raw Raspberry Chezcake Bites

Valentines Day is this Sunday and I don't have a special Valentine lined up.  Most single girls can get pretty bummed about Valentines Day, but not me.  Valentines Day just gives me an opportunity to make goodies for people I care about.  No romance for me, just lots of sweet treats.  
Tonight I took a break from studying and made Raw Raspberry Chezcake Bites.  These red and white bites are super festive and tasty.  The crust is so good it could be eaten by itself, and actually its a similar recipe to my raw pecan snickerdoodles.  The filling was whipped together in my blender- just young coconut meat, soaked raw cashews, lemon, and vanilla.  Together the chezcake filling and the cookie-like crust would be enough to put a smile on anyone's face, but since its mid February I jazzed up these gems with a raspberry sauce- just raspberries and agave blended together.  You could make this into a full size chezcake, or if you have a mini muffin pan, use that!  I put the chezcake filling into a sandwich bag and cut a hole in one end and piped it into the mini crusts, and used the baggie trick for the raspberry topping too.  

Raw Raspberry Chezcake Bites

1 cup almonds
.5 cup pecans
2 dates pitted
pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbs of coconut oil

Process in food processor until sticky, press into pan or muffin tin.

1 cup soaked raw cashews
meat from 1 young thai coconut
zest from a full lemon
juice from half the lemon
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs honey (or 6 dates or .3 cup agave)

Blend until smooth, scrape into pan or sandwich bag to pipe into mini muffin tin.

Raspberry Topping:
.5 cup of frozen raspberries
agave to taste

Swirl with chezcake filling.  Freeze chezcake bites or full chezcake until firm and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Poor Man's Paella

I hadn't used the saffron that I purchased at the Indian market yet, so I figured I'd try to make some paella.  It's winter and my pantry was kind of bare, but I figured I could make a poor man's paella with an onion, some frozen peas, baby carrots, and canned diced tomatoes.  Paella is a spanish rice dish, not mexican, and it is traditionally made with seafood and veggies  To me paella is more like a risotto than rice found in a mexican restaurant.  Looking up traditional paella recipes, I wasn't too far from the bullseye with what I had on hand.  I simmered the onion then added the carrots and shortly 1 cup of brown basmati rice.  About 30 minutes after the rice the tomatoes and peas were added.  Although I prefer to use fresh veggies, sometimes canned or frozen is the best way to get organic veggies out of season.  I like to have different varieties of canned tomatoes in the pantry just in case.  Muir Glen is a great brand.  And frozen peas are a surprise comfort food for me- growing up my mom had a canned vegetable with every meal she attempted to cook- and while I was all smiles when it was french cut green bean night, I refused to eat more than a fork full of canned peas.  At a friends house years later I discovered how delicious frozen peas were and I went through a couple of weeks where I ate nothing but frozen peas for dinner.  Weird, I know.  Anyway, enjoy this paella base recipe with whatever veggies you have around.  (And, I know calling it poor man's paella is kind of contradictory when the saffron could cost more than anything else in the dish- so sub 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp tumeric if you don't have saffron hanging around.)

Poor Man's Paella

1 onion sliced
3/4 cup carrots chopped
4 strands saffron
2 cloves garlic
1 cup long grain rice (I used brown basmati)
3 cups water/veggie broth
1 can of diced tomatoes (Muir Glen no salt added)
1.5 cups of organic frozen peas
cayenne and salt to taste

Saute onion in a little olive oil on medium high heat, after 3 minutes, add carrots.  Chop, press, or mince garlic and in a mortar and pestle combine with saffron threads.  Add to carrots and onions.  Add the rice and for about 2 minutes before adding the liquid*, toss with veggies to toast the rice.  Add the liquid and stir and reduce heat to medium.  Stir every few minutes and after 30 minutes from when the liquid was added, add the rest of the veggies.  Stir often for 10 more minutes and serve!  
* You may need to add more liquid if the rice is looking dry or the veggies start to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add liquid in half cup increments if needed.  

Why soy free and gluten free?

I get asked a lot why I'm vegan and why I eat the way I do. Usually I keep the conversation light when it comes to not eating animals-I don't like to talk politics. But, I do get excited when I get to tell people why I don't eat dairy, and why I choose to avoid wheat and soy.
My mom just got a test back that says she's intolerant to soy and gluten. Since she eats a few meals with me a week already, this wasn't particularly scary for her. My mom isn't vegan, but I'm proud of the way she's trying to incorporate whole, organic foods into her diet. So, partly this entry is for her. Did I mention that my mom is the best mom ever?

Gluten Free- Some people are gluten intolerant, or have been diagnosed with celiac disease. This means that their bodies are unable to digest wheat and some of its friends like rye or barley. People who are gluten intolerant may have frequent diarrhea, trouble absorbing nutrients- and are at risk for developing other problems. Other people eat a gluten free diet because it is very mucus forming (me!). There is also research that when gluten (and casein, a protein found in milk) is eliminated from an autistic child's diet, symptoms improve.

Soy Free- When creating and naming my blog, I hesitated on whether or not to put the word "vegan" in the title. The word vegan for so many people conjures up images of soy hot dogs and soy hamburgers and other meat/dairy analogues. Although great transition products for omnivores going herbivores, fake meats give in to the mainstream idea that our dinner plates should be planned around the protein. And soy does offer a great source of protein, but it's not the miracle health food some would like you to believe. If you really want a fake chicken nugget because you like the taste, go for it! You're not killing a chicken and you're satisfying a craving. But, if you're eating a faux-meat product because "its good for you", you're not doing yourself any favors. Soy, like wheat, is mucus forming. Soy is one of the top dietary allergens causing problems like acne, asthma, ezcema, and vomiting. Personally, my body doesn't digest it well, though I will include some organic fermented soy products in my diet like miso or tempeh. But, if you're going to eat soy keep these two things in mind- make sure you're choosing organic soy, and realize that soy is very estrogenic. To be granted with an organic label, the crops can not be genetically modified. At least 90% of the soybeans produced in the US are genetically modified. Companies like Silk have moved away from an organic label. Read your labels! Lastly, soy contains isoflavones and phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen in the body. This could be great for a 50-year old menopausal woman, but for a 5 year old boy bringing a carton of Silk in his lunch box everyday, the possible effects are not known.

Dairy Free- Growing up I would get horrible ear infections, to the point that the doctors recommended tubes in my ears. I battled seasonal allergies that turned into constant colds that turned into asthma and soon I was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. At the age of 21 I was taking 2 inhalers daily, plus an emergency one that I used several times a week, and 5 other allergy and asthma pills daily. To weigh down my purse even more I carried this little bottle of Lactaid to help me digest dairy products. I was constantly sick and my digestion was usually uncomfortable. Being vegetarian, I would see the word "vegan" a lot and write it off, but eventually I began gravitating to eating dairy free and with the help of my new found naturopath, I was able to get myself off every single allergy and asthma pill and inhaler! If the mucus forming elements aren't enough to get you thinking about saying goodbye to milk- keep in mind the amount of hormones and pus there is in commercially produced milk. Even cow's that their milk is labeled organic are still pumped with hormones that are getting in your body. If you gotta have some milk- check out rice milk or almond milk.

Here is my mom holding my new niece Harper. This is her first grandbaby and I know she'll be just as awesome as a Grammy as she is a Mom :)