Thursday, October 1, 2009

Carrot Ginger Soup


Carrot Ginger Soup

Ingredients
  • 3/4 lbs potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
  • 3 TBLS Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1-2 TBLS minced fresh gingerroot
  • 2 1/4 lbs carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (6 cups)
  • 2 TBLS vegetarian chicken flavored powder
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt (I omitted)
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half (optional and I omitted)
  • Cracked pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Immerse potatoes in cold water and set aside. Heat buttery spread in soup pot, add onion, gingerroot and carrots. Saute 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat.
  2. Prepare broth by dissolving vegetarian chicken-flavored powder in boiling water. Drain potatoes and add vegetarian broth and potatoes to vegetable mixture. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 15-20 minutes or until veggies are tender.
  3. Place veggies in a blender and puree until smooth. Return to saucepan, add 4-5 cups of water (to desired consistency). Gently reheat over medium heat, add nutmeg, cardamom, peppers and half-and-half (if desired). Adjust seasonings to taste.
Top with anything you wish! Has a brilliant autumn color and texture. Feel free to add butternut squash or sweet potatoes instead of carrots for a new variety of it. I topped with toasted pumpkin seeds for texture! Add julienned carrots or peeled orange for a more interesting flavor! Stands great by itself too!

Review... Chautara Restaurant

Unanimously everyone's favorite dish.

A very close second for deliciousness. The veggies were cooked to perfection!

Third place winner, but still very yummy. Cabbage, nicely spiced but not too hot!

Chautara Restaurant
334 State St
Madison, WI 53703-2021
(608) 251-3626


Drooling. Still drooling. Everything was pure deliciousness. It didn't help that I was starving upon our arrival to Chautara. No pictures of our appetizers were taken due to my over-eagerness to devour everything in site. The pictures go in order of my preference for the dishes (top being my favorite, and unfortunately wasn't my meal, but Veg Vixens are great at sharing). The spice was perfection. The only slightly downside, is I could have done with slightly less oil on the veggies.

There is something about dining outdoors in nice weather, people watching and being in lovely company on State Street that will always make me long for Madison.

I cannot rave enough about our dishes. The grilled tofu was perfection! The sauce is so delicious, it's the kind of thing you want to lick every last drop out of the ramekin. Order it, love it, enjoy it as much as we did!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Sandwich




When I need a quick and easy sandwich for myself, this is a nice flavorful mouth party! I like it sauteed for a little bit so that it's nice and warm. It's so simple and you can add any extra veggies you wish. Make it cheese-less and you can have a great vegan sandwich. I have made it with eggplant before as well and it's been just as delightful.

Ingredients:
  • 2-4 artichoke hearts (canned and ready)
  • 2-4 roasted red peppers
  • a few slices of red onion
  • Soft bread
  • Provolone cheese (optional)
  • Pesto Aioli (equal portions of Veganaise and basil pesto mixed together)
Directions:
  1. In a small pan, put a tiny bit of olive oil. Over medium heat, add artichokes, roasted red pepper and red onions. Let it saute for 4-6 minutes.
  2. Toast your soft bread. Put veggies on bread add your cheese and Pesto Aioli.
  3. Eat and enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cucumber Salad

1 English cucumber
1/2 medium red onion
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
(or vegan mayo)
1 T reduced-fat sour cream
(or vegan sour cream)
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Halve cucumber lengthwise. Using a teaspoon, scrape out seeds; slice cucumbers very thinly on the diagonal. In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers with onion, sliced thinly (and vertically). In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, cider vinegar, honey poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Add to cucumber mixture; toss and serve immediately.

This salad is GREAT alone or topping a veggie burger!!

Texas Caviar




Salad Ingredients:

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black-eye peas, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white shoepeg corn, drained
1 cup chopped bell pepper, any color
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion (red preferred)
2+ jalapenos, finely diced
1 small jar chopped pimiento - optional

Combine beans and veggies in a large bowl.

Dressing Ingredients:

1 cup salad oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine above dressing ingredients in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Let cool. When cool, add to beans and veggies and stir. Let marinate a few hours to overnight. Drain well before serving.

Serve with Fritos Scoops or your favorite tortilla chips!




Friday, May 29, 2009

Black Bean Avocado Dip



Need a great fun summer dip that isn't just your regular guacamole? Try this dip for your next gathering, picnic, appetizer and you will not be disappointed! Quick and easy and equally scrumptious!

Dip:
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Directions:
  1. Chop up tomatoes, red onion and cilantro.
  2. Put beans, corn, red onion, tomatoes and cilantro in a bowl.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients and pour into bowl.
  4. Add avocado just before you're ready to serve dip and enjoy with your favorite chips!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chain Champ: Flat Top Grill

538 N. Midvale Blvd.
Madison, WI 53705
Phone: 608-236-0500

and

2751 N. Mayfair Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53222
Phone: 414-258-7676

I should preface this review by saying, Flat Top is not a national chain (yet?). It is located in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana currently. I was introduced to Flat Top Grill for the first time in Chicago with two girlfriends over two years ago. Then, I was thrilled to find out that Madison opened the restaurant in Hilldale and now I found out Wauwatosa has a location in Mayfair, which is exciting since I'll be moving to Milwaukee in less than a month!

Flat Top has always been a flavor explosion when I go. It's fun to try new sauce combinations, and I've never had the same meal twice (even when I've tried). I love the Roti Prata bread that you get with the blue stick and add a brown stick, and you get deliciously browned tofu. Yum! The greatest thing about Flat Top, is the fact that my carnivore boyfriend is happy and so am I. I love the great selection of fresh veggies, brown and white rice, noodles, tofu and the sauce choices. My bowl is usually heaping and a struggle to finish. My second time there, it was a struggle because I made it so damn spicy I thought I was going to die. (The waiter helped me fix that before I sweated out the joint).

What I don't love about Flat Top, the price for dinner... A bowl, while extremely satisfying and filling, is $13.00 for dinner (unless you have a student ID, in which case, you get a $2 discount). I love the lunch price, which is under $10.00. Despite the fact you get up and fill your own bowl, then sit and are served your bowl once it's cooked stir-fry style, you still need to tip (and I hope you are all nice tippers). So, if you get a drink, it can get a little pricey for rice and veggies. You can also pay a buck or two more to get the endless bowls (which I cannot imagine finishing more than one) but you have to pay extra to take your leftovers. I enjoy having all those choices so much, that it's worth the price once and awhile.

The best part about Flat Top is that you can have an incredible vegan meal without giving the waiter the third degree about ingredients and explaining that yes, even butter is an animal product. Overall, a place I will continue to go and dine. Plus, it's a restaurant that can please just about anybody.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chain Champ: Chili's


Even though I try to avoid chain restaurants for the most part, sometimes it's the only thing that seems to please the whole party and it's unavoidable. So, the Veg Vixens will also be reviewing the chains and letting you know the good, the bad and the ugly.

When I have gone to Chili's, I have really enjoyed their Guiltless Black Bean Burger. It's nicely seasoned and has whole black beans in the patty. In my few experiences here, they are also willing to accommodate vegetarians, since the options aren't plentiful. I've modified the fajitas to be just veggie and that's been satisfying for the most part as well. The downside is the very very limited choices, especially if you are vegan. The upside is, the choices that are there, I think are pretty delicious, though I am huge black bean burger lover, so I might be easier to please than most.

I'd love to see more chain restaurants offering meat substitutes (like marinated portobellos, tofu, seitan) though I think that might be wishful thinking for now. Overall, if you're in the mood for a black bean burger or veggie fajitas, go for it, if not, good luck and plan on filling yourself with a garden salad or sides. Vegans beware!

Brasserie V- Madison, WI


Brasserie V
1923 Monroe Street
Madison, WI 53711
(608)255-8500

This has become my most favorite restaurant in Madison. I have never had something on the menu that I did not LOVE and I mean LOVE. It is a casual, but seemingly upscale restaurant with an incredible selection of beer. The first experience there, I had my most intense foodgasm with the Apple & Provolone Sandwich. I have since recreated this sandwich from home many times with equal satisfaction. It is tucked away on Monroe Street, and prior to hearing about the restaurant, I had walked by it several times without knowing what it was.

I was turned onto this restaurant by Picky Pepper, who raved about the Cucumber & Cream Cheese Sandwich. So the three of veg vixens made it a lunch date back in January, and since then, I have been back there once a month. It's very difficult for me not to order the same thing that I know I love so dearly, but I have always been pleased when I try something new. However, I have only been to Brasserie V for lunch, never dinner yet. I love the lunch menu, even with just a few choices, it's often very difficult for me to choose what to eat. I love the Baby Spinach Salad, Grilled Portobello, the Muffaletta (without meat of course), and of course, being the salt lover that I am, I also love the Frites. The sides have never been disappointing and in my visits have ranged from a fresh cucumber salad, to a carrot curry soup, a potato and leek soup and a delicious quiona spring salad. Each time extremely full of flavor and very satisfying.

I'm anxious to go there for dinner to try two salads, the Pear & Brie and the Tarragon & Radish salads. The one downside to dinner, is that the vegetarian options for dinner are more limited than at lunch.

All in all, the staff is extremely friendly and knowledgable, plus the service in my five visits has always been excellent. They use local ingredients when available and take good food very seriously. The beer selection is impressive, if not overwhelming, even for a beer drinking Wisconsin girl. I cannot recommend this place strongly or highly enough. I'm a huge fan.

Hubbard Street Diner - Middleton, WI


Hubbard Street Diner
7445 Hubbard Ave

Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 831-6800

As a nice Memorial Weekend brunch on Sunday, my parents, my boyfriend and I headed to downtown Middleton and had a very lovely brunch. Here's what was ordered:
  • My mom had the Spicy Szechuan Salad with marinated portobello mushrooms in place of grilled chicken.
  • My dad ordered the Daily Double, two eggs (over-hard), two buckwheat pancakes and two sausage patties :(
  • Ryan had the Breakfast Quesadilla which was spicy black beans, scrambled eggs, salsa, cheddar cheese all folded in a flour tortilla with hash browns.
  • Since I'm not big on breakfast foods, I ordered the Mid-town Portobello Sandwich, which was a marinated portobello, peppers, onions and Monterey Jack cheese on focaccia bread with pesto aioli (a new favorite sandwich spread of mine).
Out of everything that was ordered, my mom's salad was my favorite. Full of flavor, spice and deliciousness. My dad's pancakes were fantastic and very hearty. Ryan's quesadilla was good, but not enough flavor and spice for me, plus it's something you could very easily make at home. My sandwich was delicious, very flavorful and scrumptious. My only compliant on my sandwich was that the portobello mushroom was so marinated that it was almost too much (pretty salty and very juicy) and somewhat of a drippy mess. However, it was still fantastic flavor. This diner is famous for pie, which we didn't even consider because we were left so full from our brunch. Plus, I'm not big on sweets, more a salty girl, so it didn't appeal to me that much. Though, the carmel apple walnut pie did look enticing, along with the carrot cake. So, perhaps, this will become our next dessert stop when the meal isn't filling enough. Overall, everyone seemed very happy with their food and I'd definitely go back again, since there were plenty of veggie choices and prices are fairly reasonable. If you are a dessert lover, this is probably a place for you to be!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hi-Fi Cafe Milwaukee, WI

Hi-Fi Cafe
2640 S Kinnickinnic Ave

Milwaukee, WI 53207
(414) 486-0504

This place was our usual meet up spot with our Realtor while we were house hunting but we never got anything to eat, because of being so anxious to get going to look at houses. However, now, I'm killing some time before going to our home inspection and I got a little hungry, so I ordered myself lunch.


YUM! There are lots of veggie options including, Avo Sandwich, Falafil Sandwich, Gardenburger, Jean Genie, Veggie Baguette Sandwich, Hot Hi-Di-Ho, pasta, soup, snacks and pizza also. Today, I was pretty set on a sandwich and I went witht he Veggie D (Lux Interior) and deluxe is right! It is spinach, provolone toasted on a pita with avocado, sprouts, red onion, tomato, dijon and mayo. I cannot say it enough, YUM! I choose to get the pasta salad as my side and again YUM! It's nice and toasty warm today, and this was delightful. Light, delicious and a taste explosion. The dijon and mayo are not just normal dijon and mayo, there is something so tasty in it that is divine. The pasta salad was filled with peppers, tomato and onions along with penne pasta in a light tangy and slightly spicy dressing with tons of fresh black pepper.

Overall, a perfect light lunch in a hip and decked out cafe. The only drawback for me, is the smoking (and there's quite a bit of it around me right now). Though, if you can stand that, the food is definitely worth it and resonably priced. Most sandwiches run $5-$8 and they have beer, tea (cold and hot), smoothies and lots of coffee. I'll definitely be back when I'm in the mood for a pizza, because I just saw someone order it and it looks scrumptious!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Apple, Provolone, Pesto Aioli Sandwich


I have not been good about taking pictures at all. I made this sandwich twice last week. Once for some lovely fellow teachers (all of whom oohed and ahhhed over it) and then again for my mother on Mother's Day. But both times I was so preoccupied with devouring the sandwich, that I completely forgot to take pictures, so I promise as soon as I make it again, I will post a picture.

This has become my staple sandwich. It is mimicked from Brasserie V's menu in Madison, WI. I LOVE this sandwich with my whole heart. I have definitely always been a sandwich lover, and this one is deliciously filling and satisfying. Plus, it's quick and easy! Again, I'm big into the semi-homemade, so I buy a jar of pesto and combine it with Organic Veganaise, but there are some great recipes out there for your own homemade recipe, especially if you grow your own basil!

Apple, Provolone, Pesto Aioli Sandwich

What you need:
  • Red apple
  • Provolone cheese (can be omitted if you wish to make it vegan)
  • Basil Pesto
  • Veganaise
  • Delicious soft bread of your choice (buns or rolls work best)
  • Spinach
  • Red Onion
Directions:
  1. Prepare the Pesto Aioli (can be made and kept for up to 2 weeks). I combine half cup of veganaise with half cup of basil pesto. You can make as much or as little as you wish!
  2. Cut red apple into very thin slices, wash spinach, cut red onion thinly.
  3. Cut and lightly toast the soft bread of your choice (I have been loving Woodman's Split Top Wheat Rolls, they are very soft and nice and large. I also enjoy Madison Sourdough or Breadsmith Rolls).
  4. First layer the apple slices onto the bread, add provolone cheese, then spinach and red onion. Spread a nice layer of pesto aioli on the top bread. Then smoosh it together, cut and enjoy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How do you Dine?


Recently while out to lunch with my boyfriend, my sister, two of my cousins and a boyfriend of my cousin, we all started to pass around the food and sample everyone's food. This is how I grew up, everyone passing, sharing, sampling and often just grabbing off of someone else's plate without asking. So, this seemed to be very normal behavior to my sister and my cousins and me. However, to the two boyfriends, this seemed ridiculous and even somewhat annoying. The boys claimed that no other families do what we do. That when they go out to eat, everyone keeps their food to themselves and that's that. Getting into a little debate about what was better or more normal, I decided that I'd try to post something about this and get feedback from innocent strangers.

Personally, I'm biased as I love to try as many things on a menu as possible, since there is such a wide variety of foods I love. However, my boyfriend claims he knows what he wants and that's why he orders what he wants and he likes to keep it to himself. I've been out to eat with teachers and friends and generally, we all pass around things to share and enjoy several things at once. I have given up this habit with my boyfriend since he's a meat eater and I no longer am. (I think it pleases him greatly that I no longer wish to try his meal).

So, the question to all of you, are you a sharer or keep-to-yourself diner? Let me know, as I'm really hoping to settle this debate once and for awhile and prove that there are more people out there like my family and me. Perhaps, though, I am crazy and it isn't normal dining behavior...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spinach Strawberry and Spiced Pecan Salad


I'm big into the semi-homemade idea. This is my go-to spring and summer salad. It's quick, easy, nutritious and delicious! Adapt it to make it your own, I know my recipe always changes based on what fruit I have in the house.

Salad:
  • Pre-washed organic spinach (of Farmer's Market when possible)!
  • Washed and cut strawberries
  • I often also add blueberries, mandarin oranges, blackberries or raspberries if I'm feeling really fruity
  • Feta cheese (optional)
Dressing:
Or if you prefer homemade, I like this:
  • 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Toasted Pecans:
  • 1 /4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (use a little less if you don't want them as spicy)
  • 1 (10 or 12-ounce) package of whole pecans or pecan halves
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Combine butter, cumin, ground red pepper, sugar and salt in a large skillet over medium heat. Once butter begins to melt, add pecans. Stir up pecans and butter and keep stirring until pecans begin to brown slightly. Spread over paper towel to cool then add to salad for a delicious spicy crunch!

Fantastic Fruit Pizza



My favorite "weather is getting warmer" dessert is by far this recipe for fantastic Fruit Pizza. This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember. I'm not much of a dessert person, but this dessert I could eat for my meal and then again for dessert. Plus, I find something very calming and exciting in arranging the fruit into fun patterns (strange, I know). This recipe could easily be made vegan with butter and cream cheese substitutes. Here's the recipe:

Crust:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground nuts (I usually use almonds or walnuts)
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Pat onto a lightly greased pizza sized circle pan or small cookie sheet. Put into the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (or until edges turn a very light brown).

While the crust is cooling, begin to mix the filling. Wait to spread filling until crust has completely cooled.

Filling:
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese block
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until soft and smooth. Spread the filling across the crust from end to end so that it is nice and even.

Fruit Topping:
  • Cut up your favorite fruit and add on top of filling.
  • The only fruit I would stay away from is bananas and apples since they tend to go brown once cut.
Glaze Topping (optional, but highly recommended):
  • 1 cup fruit juice (in my experience apple and orange taste the best and work the best)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
Make sure your fruit is ready before you start the glaze, since it needs to be poured over the top of the fruit while still warm so it doesn't set in the pan! In a medium sized saucepan pour in 1 cup fruit juice. Turn burner onto a medium heat, slowly stir in the sugar and cornstarch. Keep stirring until it gets a syrupy texture and turns somewhat clear. Then while it is still warm, pour glaze and smooth over fruit.

Let your pizza set in the fridge for at least a half hour, then cut, serve and enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Quick Breakfast Recommendation


Really enjoyed this breakfast burrito yesterday. I bought it because it was on sale and wanted to try it. This is a vegan burrito with black beans, tomatoes, potatoes, tofu and salsa. It may have been because I was hungry, but it was delicious. I did add more of my own salsa to the burrito. It has 250 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein.

My normal breakfast consists of just fruit or sometimes a peanut butter toast, or on a real hungry morning, lots of oatmeal. I ran a long distance, came home and was hungry, had this burrito and a banana and I was not hungry again all morning. As a result of this burrito, I may have to try to make my own Mexican tofu breakfast scramblers when I have more time. So, this is a burrito, that I highly recommend!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dieting from a "Diet"



Let me start by letting you know that I'm a pretty petite girl at 5'3''. So any weight fluctuations are pretty noticeable, since there's not a lot of room for the weight to be stretched out on. This site isn't necessarily to provide you with diet information, it is just to encourage you to stop eating meat or at the very least, to eat less meat. In the process of quitting meat, I have found a happy extra incentive and that is, I have lost a little bit of weight since going meatless in September 2008.

Diet. I remember exactly where I was when I first found out the word and truly realized what it was. I was in 7th grade and I heard that several girls were on a 'diet' of Saltine crackers, water and carrots. I remember thinking how insane and ridiculous that was, especially since these girls on the 'diet' were already in possession of gorgeous, physically fit bodies.

I also remember later that year finding out what calories were and starting to look once and great while at nutritional facts to figure out how many calories there were, though I had no idea how many I was supposed to be eating or if it even mattered. At this time, my parents were going through a lot of shit and I came to find out that my father was an alcoholic. Shortly there after, I started to hoard food in my room and so began my occasional binge that would put into a food coma. I found a great comfort and soothing ability of chips, candy and other junk food. I would take boxes of crackers, bags of chips, or other things I could find, and hide them under my bed to save for a time that I felt I 'needed' it. Luckily, I've always been a very physically active person and I never gained a huge amount of weight during that time. My parents were both fairly healthy eaters and made sure my siblings and I had a balanced meal each night. Amazingly, they were excellent at getting us to sit down and eat together as a family, despite all the problems going on in their own lives.

I didn't really gain much weight until my junior year of high school. At that time I started to work at a movie theater in my hometown, where I ate bag after bag of buttered popcorn between show times because I was bored. Employees also got to eat anything that was going to get thrown out at the end of the night (think: old pizza in a heater, pretzel bites that were hard as rocks and greasy hot dogs on a roller). I cringe now just thinking about all that poison I mindlessly ate out of pure boredom and not wanting anything to just go to waste.

Once I quit the movie theater, the little weight I had gained fell right off due to playing three sports teams I took on throughout high school. Though I certainly did ride the wave of crazy diets, including the grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, no fat, no sugar, etc. Though, it was more experimental and not necessarily with an outcome goal.

But, then came college. The typical "Freshman 15" found me and attacked me with a vengeance. I had a magical card that I could scan at the dorm cafeteria to get whatever I wanted! I could make my own food choices. Needless to say, there was a lot of pizza, deep fried meats and starches, and very little salad bars put on my plate. I was generally aware of what good and bad choices were, but I rarely cared. I also started to have a fond taste for beer several nights a week. I was no longer required to practice with a team, and didn't have anyone telling me when or how hard to work out, so I rarely did unless it was to run to class because I was late.

I gained even more weight during my junior year as a result of more emotional eating, binging and working at a deep dish Pizzeria where I could buy my extremely unhealthy dinner (probably portioned for 2-3 people) at a huge discount. So, I generally ate my lunch and dinner at Uno's 3-5 days a week. I remember getting really tired of the weight and wanting to lose it and so I began the South Beach diet. My roommate had found great success on it, so I did too. Though, something about eating turkey bacon, ground sirloin, steaks and cheese in place of fruit, just seemed a little backwards. If it was backwards to a pizza devouring, beer chugging, full-fledged Wisconsin girl, it had to be all sorts of wrong.

That 20+ pounds stuck with me until my final year of college. I had gone through a mild case of depression due to a break-up with a semi-long term college boyfriend. I began running almost daily and I lived with 4 Med and Pharmacy students that almost always made healthy choices. So, with their great influence and my desire to finally lose the few pounds, I found myself down about 10 pounds and feeling much better.

However, with the start of a career in teaching, I found myself enjoying plenty of birthday treats and lounge snacks with a side of stress eating and I was right back up to the excess 20 pounds. I'm not trying to sound like a whiner or complainer, but carrying around just that extra 20 is not any fun, especially when you now have a section of 'skinnier me' pants hanging in your closet that you don't touch. So, I signed myself up for my first marathon. It was beautiful! I could eat what I wanted and not gain a pound. I definitely didn't lose any weight during the training because I was eating such an enormous quantity of food, but it was beautiful to be able to eat so much and not gain a thing. Certainly, it did not help me with portion control though...

Now, bringing you up to my current condition. I'm still about 10-15 pounds from what I'd consider my ideal weight. However, I have never felt better in terms of energy and enthusiasm for food. I'm rarely binge eating and I'm truly enjoying the taste of food more. I still eat portions that are larger than a petite woman should be helping herself to, but it's healthier food. Without meat, my body feels better. I'm back to running and training for my third marathon, but I don't feel the need to attack 2-3 plate fulls of food. I feel in control. I'm still working on cutting way back on dairy but sometimes a girl just needs her pizza! Though now, my pizza is chock full of veggies and I generally ask for light cheese.

This is a rollercoaster ride for sure, but I'm now enjoying food more and not obsessing about a number on the scale. My clothes are fitting fairly well and I'll be sure to let you know once I'm back in my favorite pair of jeans (which are on the skinny side of the closet still). I'm choosing my indulgences more wisely and my goal is to be down 5-10 pounds by summer. Again, if I don't get that magic number, I will not freak out, I will not binge, I will simply keep working at it.

Made Me Laugh

Since I'm still in a battle against the diet canned liquid satan, I came across this and had to giggle a bit. Though I'm happy to report that I'm still sticking to "My Rules" (almost all the time) and definitely limit my indulgence to no more than once a week if that. Damn marketing, always making you feel alright about what you know is wrong!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Time to Cut out the Crap?




I go through good and bad weeks as far as healthy food is concerned. There are days when I feel like ingesting crap is the only thing I want to do. Then, weeks (such as this present week) all I want is healthy, light delicious salads, fruits and more natural healthy food. I think this correlates closely with the weather for me. Recently, we've had some sun and much warmer temperatures in Wisconsin. We are slowly coming out of a deep freeze as I witnessed today running around Lake Monona. Needless to say, I'm outside getting more fresh air than I have in the last 4 months, which might help to curb my generally insatiable appetite.

How are you continuing to cut out the crap in diets? It's something I'm definitely striving for and thinking much more consciously about. Sure, I've cut meat and really started to cut back on cheese and dairy, but I'm still eating foods that I know are not good, natural or containing health benefits (think french fries, chips, skittles, peanut butter cups). Certainly I have days that more successful than others... Lately, I've been asking myself, could I make this at home from scratch? If the answer is no, I try not to buy it. However, there are certainly several exceptions that I make in this process. But, my point is, I'm looking much more closely at ingredient lists. If I couldn't make it from home with ingredients I can purchase at a grocery store, it's not worth putting in my body. Though if I'm dying after a long run, my brain and stomach have two very different opinions. Again, a work in process. I also heard someone recommend that if it's a food your great grandmother would not recognize as food, then it's best to steer clear of it.

So, my usual driving forces at the grocery store and restaurants: Is it possible to make this at home based on the ingredient list and would my great grandmother think this is food?

On a side note, can I also add how happy I am that Farmer's Markets are up and running outdoors? This will certainly be helping my healthy cravings I'm experiencing with the warm weather. Nothing like seasonal, local, organic ingredients to make you reconnect with delicious food!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating
by Erik Marcus

Forward by Howard Lyman, author of Mad Cowboy, former dairy farmer and cattle rancher

There are three main reasons that most people adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle: Health, Ethics, Environment. It may be predominantly one reason or a combination of two or even all three. I didn't know it when I first picked up Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating at Barnes and Noble and decided to buy it, but this book addresses those three reasons in that order. The book is actually divided into three sections: 1) To Your Health, 2) The Truth About Food Animals, and 3) Beyond the Dinner Table.

Each of the five chapters in the first section, "To Your Health," starts with a real-life anecdote of a person struggling with extreme health, nutrition and/or weight issues including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and even mad cow disease. These anecdotes are followed up by ground-breaking information by internationally respected experts, namely heart specialist Dean Ornish, MD, nutrition scientist and author of The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, weight loss expert Terry Shintani, MD, registered dietician Suzanne Havala, and fourth generation dairy farmer and cattle rancher, Howard Lyman. These are truly the heavyweights in the vegetarian movement, and it is note-worthy that they all come from a dietary background heavy in animal products.

In the second section, "The Truth About Food Animals," Marcus takes you into the modern factory farming world and exposes the hellish plight of hundreds of millions of food animals. Most of us have heard stories of the treatment of these animals, but few of us know what is truly going on. Do you know what becomes of the 200 million newly-hatched male chicks each year? They are either thrown away, left to suffocate under the weight of the other chicks, or they are thrown alive into grinders to be turned into fertilizer. The females have their beaks seared off and are started on their diets of antibiotics and hormones. Five layer hens share each cage with a floor space the size of two sheets of typing paper. They live their entire lives like this and when they are no longer profitable they become part of the lowest quality processed foods such as 39-cent pot pies. The broilers, bred for meat, are behemoths. They grow twice as fast and twice as large as traditional birds. Today's eight-week old chickens carry seven times more breast muscle than nine-week old birds of twenty-five years ago. The growth is literally crippling these chickens. They are slaughtered at six or seven weeks because after that, mortality surges. And this is just the chickens. There are similar stories for pigs and for dairy and beef cattle. This section ends with the risks to the humans who work in this industry and their growing numbers of injuries and disease.

In the final third of the book, "Beyond the Dinner Table," the truth about world hunger and the American rangeland are exposed. From chapter 11: "Animal products use staggering amounts of resources - resources that could easily be used to feed people. . . . vegans consume around 2500 calories of crop production each day, whereas people who eat 30 percent of their food as animal products require crop production of over 9,000 calories. . . . the world's poor cannot compete with the cattle and chickens of the world's wealthy people . . . they are economically invisible. . . . Right now, only 4 billion of the world's 5.6 billion people are adequately nourished . . . but if the entire world switched to a vegan diet, our current food produciton could properly nourish 7 billion people." Chapter 12 has information about the western rangeland and the ravages of cattle grazing. The extent of government involvement and the impact on wildlife is astounding.

Vegan is layman-friendly and extremely readable. It compellingly presents the myriad of reasons to adopt a plant-based diet. It shows why a change in what you eat can be simple yet profound - for your health, for hundreds of millions of animals, and for the planet. There is something to learn for everyone who reads this book. If you're eating animal products before you read this book, I'm pretty sure you'll make some changes when you're done.

For more information about Vegan, visit Erik Marcus' website: http://www.vegan.com/

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Are you REALLY an animal-lover?


Would you say that you love animals? I've always called myself an animal lover. I even loved eating them. I especially loved cold, thick-cut roast beef, seasoned simply with salt. Juicy burgers, spicy pepperoni, salty ham salad . . . yum! Sure, if I took a minute to consider what I was consuming, I felt bad ... for a minute ... and then ate them anyway. I would justify this by telling myself that "chickens are stupid" (seriously!) and that I needed the complete protein that beef provides. Well, guess what the most complete protein for us humans is? According to T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study it's human flesh. Yep, you read it right - HUMAN FLESH. Its protein has just the right amount of the amino acids that we need. Since most of us aren't cannibalistic, we get the next "best" protein by eating other animals. (More on the differences between animal and plant proteins coming soon to a blog read by YOU.)

I had heard that animals are treated badly at slaughter, but I didn't know the details and really did not want to know. That all changed in August of 2008. I decided that it was time to take responsibility for what I was eating and looked into it. I started with Skinny Bitch. (See Skinny Bitch, Why yes, thank you! posted on 2/24 by Vegetarian Vixen) Wham! Those skinny bitches tell it like it is! I laughed out loud and sobbed like an over-tired toddler while reading that book. Don't read the chapter titled You Are What You Eat before bed unless you want to cry yourself to sleep. Do read the chapter titled Pooping if you need a laugh. Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin are great about giving all sorts of resources for further learning. They list numerous books, magazines, cookbooks, restaurant guides, informational websites, merchandise websites and food websites. They also list their favorite vegan products. Their writing style and language are not for everyone, but still, their book was my launching pad.

My next step was to follow the bitches' advice and order the vegetarian starter kit at http://www.goveg.com/. It's nothing more than a publication with vegetarian information such as recipes, testimonials from famous vegetarians, and the story of a downed cow, abused and destined slaughter, but it was convincing and inspiring. I began getting emails from PETA and forced myself to watch their videos of horrific, sadistic treatment of pigs, rabbits, and turkeys. The images that those videos painfully seared into my mind are enough to make me never eat flesh again. I also checked out some of the websites, especially the recipe-focused ones! I read one of their recommended books, Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating (great book, review also coming soon). I'm currently reading The China Study, THE most comprehesive scientific study ever done on the correlation between diet and disease. I truly believe that every single health professional has an obligation to read this book and that everybody else should, too. But wait, this is supposed to be about the animals, right? Well, I'm also reading Mad Cowboy, written by Howard Lyman, fourth generation dairy farmer and cattle rancher turned vegan. Finally, I try to get a few pages in each week of Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin, Ph.D, an animal scientist and autistic woman who sees the world the way animals see it and has designed one third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She focuses on more humane handling of these animals, making the path to their inevitible gruesome end less stressful and horrifying for them.

I still call myself an animal lover, but I also know that I am a hypocrite. Although I have severely cut the amount of dairy that I consume, I still eat some vegetarian cheese (see Diver or Incher), and some organic cream, cream cheese, and sour cream, but they are less and less appealing all the time. I never EVER thought I'd say that. I also eat eggs, but I buy them fresh, from one of my students, and the chickens are happy, relatively free and are never killed for food or any other reason. I don't know what happens to the cows who (yes "who", not "that") supply the milk for the cheese and cream that eat, but it can't end well for them, and for that I have much guilt. Some day . . .


If you think you're an animal lover, you owe it to the animals that you're eating to find out what they endure while being turned into your food. There is no shortage of information. If you have an hour and a half, you could start with the documentarty Earthlings linked on this site or read any of our "Rave Reads" or other books listed in this post. Seriously, what's stopping you?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ahisma - noun, Sanskrit
~a Buddhist and Hindu doctrine expressing belief in the sacredness of all living creatures and urging the avoidance of all types of harm and violence
~Roughly translated, ahisma is the principle of noninjury to living beings. It can be interpreted as "dynamic harmlessness." The practice of ahisma includes avoiding specific foods and products, being considerate of the lives of humans and animals and actively participating in beneficial action.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Seitan...in MY kitchen?







Seitan: (n) A chewy, protein-rich food made from wheat gluten and used as a meat substitute. Although it is made from wheat, seitan has little in common with flour or bread. Also called “wheat meat”, “wheat gluten” or simply “gluten”, seitan becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked, making it a popular meat substitute. Seitan is also high in protein, making it a popular protein source for vegetarians. Asian restaurants often use seitan as a vegetarian mock meat, and seitan is also the base for several commercially available products such as Tofurky deli slices. Prepared seitan can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores.

Chopped up into bits and lightly heated, it can be coated with your favorite BBQ sauce or even "Manwich" for a mock sloppy joe. It can be used in spaghetti sauce, with taco seasoning for tacos or burritos or pressed together for seitan burgers. The texture may take some getting used to, but it does an amazing job of taking on the flavors of some favorite "meat" based meals!

BBQ...Seitan Style
1 package of seitan
BBQ sauce (use as much as you like)
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup of shredded carrot
1 tblsp olive oil
2 cloves of diced garlic
Buns

Heat the olive oil in a pan; add onions and carrots and garlic, saute until soft. Add seitan and saute until hot. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and heat until the sauce is hot, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve on buns. Savor with a side of creamy coleslaw and pickles. Yumm.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fat...Part 2


Good fat??

The first thing to understand about fats is that the essential fatty acids they contain are truly essential. They are the "active ingredient" in every bodily process you can name, including:

*brain cell function and nervous system activity
*hormones and intra-cellular messengers
*glandular function and immune system operation
*hemoglobin oxygen-transport system
*cell wall function:
*passing oxygen into the cell
*passing nutrients into the cell
*keeping foreign bodies out of the cell
*digestive-tract operation
*assimilating nutrients
*blocking out allergens

In short, the essential fatty acids (contained mostly in polyunsaturated oils) are the most important nutrients there are -- more important than vitamins, minerals, or even proteins. Because, without them, there is no life. They are the substance and foundation of life energy. Partially hydrogenated oils will not only kill you in the long term by producing diseases like multiple sclerosis and allergies that lead to arthritis, but in the meantime they will make you fat!

Partially-Hydrogenated=Totally Nasty

What's Wrong with Hydrogenation?

Unlike butter or virgin coconut oil, hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats. A trans fat is an otherwise normal fatty acid that has been "transmogrified", by high-heat processing of a free oil. The fatty acids can be double-linked, cross-linked, bond-shifted, twisted, or messed up in a variety of other ways. In short, trans fats are poisons, just like arsenic or cyanide. They interfere with the metabolic processes of life by taking the place of a natural substance that performs a critical function. And that is the definition of a poison. Your body has no defense against them, because they never even existed in our two billion years of evolution -- so we've never had the need or the opportunity to evolve a defense against them.

But the worst part is that in the last stages of oil processing (or "refining"), the oil is literally steam distilled to remove its odor. So it doesn't smell. But a hydrogenated oil is much worse than rancid butter. So if it did smell, it would smell worse than the most rancid butter you've ever seen. So the next time you see "partially hydrogenated oil" on a label, think "rancid butter". Partially hydrogenated oils make you gain weight the same way that saturated fats do - by making you consume even more fat to get the the essential fatty acids you need. But partially hydrogenated fats are even worse. Not only do they produce disease over they long term, but they interfere with the body's ability to ingest and utilize the good fats!

Walking down supermarket aisles in America, you find product after product with partially hydrogenated oil--often in products you would never expect. But why not? After all, it's cheaper than butter. And it's not illegal. Yet. When you eat out, restaurant breads and fried foods are loaded with stuff. If you are consuming lots of saturated fats, you really have no choice but to become fat, because saturated fats contain only small quantities of the polyunsaturated fats that contain the essential fatty acids you need. The key to being thin, then, is to consume foods containing large amounts of polyunsaturated oils. (Those foods include fish, olives, nuts, and egg yolks.) Over the long term, those foods remove your sense of hunger.

Avoiding Hydrogenation

When you start reading food labels, it is astonishing how many products you will find that contain partially hydrogenated oils. The more labels you read, the more astonished you will be at the variety and number of places that this insidious little killer shows up. Do read the labels. Do recoil in disgust, and do throw the product back on the shelf -- or throw it on the floor, where it belongs. Even better, you could fry with coconut oil -- which consists of medium chain fatty acids that contain 2/3's the calories of long-chain saturated fats. They're also metabolized differently, so they're burned for energy instead of being stored as fat. And if that's not enough, 50% of coconut oil consists of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that's anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungus, and anti-yeast.

What You Can Do

For starters, read food labels and avoid anything that contains the words "hydrogenated". That means partially hydrogenated oils, hydrogenated oils, or anything of that kind (and mono-diglycerides, as well). A new FDA regulation took effect in 2006 that requires manufacturers to list the amount of trans fats on their product labels. Much as I would like to tell you that you can simply look for "0% trans fats" on the label, it would be useless for you to do so. The FDA wanted to put the words, "Warning: Trans fats may be dangerous to your health" on the labels--the same warning that first appeared on cigarettes--but the industry wouldn't let them. And the way the labeling law works, the product can contain a significant percentage of trans fat, and still claim "0%". Simply put, the labeling law is nearly useless.

When you see a food that contains partially hydrogenated oils (especially if it claims to be healthy), put it back on the shelf upside down and backwards. Sometimes it's impossible to put things back upside down, so at least put them on the shelf backwards. If you are saying to yourself, "hmmm, I've been wondering about trans fats... good, that's a start. In this world of pollution, Genetically Modified Food, and stress, do yourself a favor and start reading labels and find out exactly what you're putting in your body! Here's to your good health!

For more information on trans fats check out these informational websites:




Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Get the Lowdown on that Naughty Word...FAT!


So much is written about fat. Being fat, feeling fat, full of fat, fat ass...What is it about fat that consumes our every thought? Besides the fact that we want to look our best, we need to be concerned about the types of fat that are going in to our bodies so that we also feel our best. Do we need fat to survive? Here's a closer look at this most hated word!

The Good...

* Fats are vital to your health. They transport oxygen to every cell in your body, and they are the basis for every hormone, brain, and nervous system function. *Sources of good fats come from nuts, seeds, egg yolks, fish, olives and unrefined oils. *Fats are the chemically active part of your cell membranes. Without them, nothing works. *All fats are a mixture. The good fats contain small amounts of bad fat, and the bad fats contain small amounts of good fat.
The Bad...

*With the wrong fats, you eat up to 6 times more in order to get the right fats. *The issue is not how much fat you consume, it's how much of the good fat you consume, and how much of the bad. *The right fats protect you from cancer. The wrong fats allow it, in part because they compromise the integrity of the cell membrane.
The Ugly...

*The bad fats result from high-heat commercial processing. They include trans fats, cross-linked fatty acids, double-bond shifted fatty acids, and dozens of other compounds that do not occur in nature. *Sources of bad fats include refined oils, partially hydrogenated oils, shortening, and commercially deep-fried foods. *Because vegetable oil is chemically active, it is harmed the most by heat.

How to get the good fats in...Dip bread in unrefined oil. Use with vinegar for a salad dressing. Add to soup just before serving. You don't want to cook with unrefined oils because they smoke really quickly. For cooking, use butter, coconut oil, and other naturally saturated oils that aren't harmed by heat. Butter, in particular, is a short-chain saturated fat that your body burns easily. Here's to your "good" fat self.

To find more enlightening information on fat, where it comes from and what they do to it before it's put into our food, please visit www.treelight.com/health

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Review... Comet Cafe in Milwaukee


Comet Cafe
1947 N Farwell Ave

Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 273-7677

This was a solo test drive that I undertook this weekend. My boyfriend is in charge of dog/house-sitting in Bay View, so I finally got to dine at Comet Cafe which I've been itching to try for the last 3 months. My anticipation and excitement to eat there was certainly justified. It was late by the time we finally made it so my hunger was intense.


First Impression:
The very first thought that crossed my mind when entering was that this place was hopping! It was a pleasant, busy commotion, and was filled with people of all ages and walks of life. The second thing that came to my mind was that Madison should be filled with places like this, but it doesn't have anything that even comes close. I wish that State Street was filled with independently owned sandwich/bar/coffee shops. However, it's filled with Starbucks, KFC, Taco Bell, Chin's and many other chains in addition to the few independent restaurants. Comet Cafe has a unique, no fuss, no muss atmosphere. There are many choices of micro brews as well as wines, with lots of local ingredients and brews to the Wisconsin area. It is a member of OUR MILWAUKEE, a local business alliance whose goal is keep Milwaukee unique. They succeed very well in doing just that!

Food:
After barely perusing the menu, I decided on the Vegan Gyro for $8. Since giving up meat, a gyro is the one thing I have been consistently craving. (I just always had to envision the poor little lamb being killed for my selfish taste buds to put that desire at bay.) However, I was so pleasantly surprised by the amazingly spiced seitan slices, cucumber dip, lettuce, onion and tomato on flat bread. My boyfriend even seemed surprised at how good it tasted (he's a meat-eater). I ordered the seasoned fries as my side, and while they were pretty good, they were way too seasoned for me. I love my salt, but it was a bit much for my tastes. I think because we were kind of late diners, I might have gotten what was left on the bottom. I'll definitely give them another try some other day.

Ryan ordered the Mac 'n Cheese with Chili for $10, which as a very pleasant surprise, was vegetarian. The chili was meatless. Though I've been trying to cut back on my cheese consumption, my sampling of it made me think, delicious and wonderful comfort food of gooey goodness. The chili definitely helped perk up the taste and give it some zip.

We shared a bottle of New Glarus Raspberry Tart beer and that was our after dinner dessert. I cannot wait to revisit and try more from their menu. The salads, sandwiches and comfort food dishes looked so enticing! I was so happy to see many of the things I often crave as vegetarian or vegan options such as: Vegan Ribs, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Meatless Meatloaf, Vegan Salisbury Steak, BLT and many more! Though I didn't order dessert, they have a wide selection of vegan pies and cakes available for all you sweet-toothed diners out there.

Atmosphere:
~ a happy, upbeat, community restaurant. Its motto of "Slow Food," is very refreshing in the fast food world we live in. It could be described as very chic but with a homey spin. Lots of intimate booths and tables, both bar side and restaurant side, fill the space. It's also filled with unique art and photography, and the lighting and friendliness from everyone definitely makes you want to stay for drinks at the bar. Since I'll soon be moving to Milwaukee, I have to say, I'm very excited at the prospect of numerous Vegetarian and Vegan restaurant options that are unique to the city. Madison should take note! Great prices, great homemade comfort food with local ingredients and products when possible can't be beat. Highly recommended, it is a place I will definitely visit again and again!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Meat...It's what's NOT for dinner!

Here are a few reasons for you to reconsider what or who you are putting on your dinner table...

A vegetarian diet promotes healthier, longer life. Medical studies demonstrating the health advantages of a meatless diet are numerous and convincing. People who eat mostly plant-based foods cut their risk for just about every disease imaginable, from cancer to constipation.

Going animal-free helps maintain a healthy weight.
The fact remains: vegetarians on the whole are thinner than those around them. In fact, vegans (who eat no animal products) are an average of 20 pounds lighter than meat eaters who consume the same number of calories! That's because vegan diets are generally low in fat and high in fiber.

Vegetarianism is good for the environment.
For anyone concerned about disappearing rain forests, dwindling fossil fuels, or vanishing wildlife species, vegetarianism is a logical choice. Producing plant foods strains the earth's resources far less than producing animal products.

A vegetarian lifestyle is more humane.
More than 4 billion farm animals are slaughtered for food every year in the United States. That's a lot of needless killing. And without going into gory details, it's fair to say that the lives and deaths of most animals raised for meat, milk, and egg production are anything but pleasant.

Is there a down side?

By now you may be wondering, "Does vegetarianism have any drawbacks?" After several decades on a meatless diet, playwright George Bernard Shaw claimed (tongue in cheek) to have found one. "I am on the verge of 85 and still work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough, and I am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it. A single beefsteak would finish me, but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. This is the only disadvantage to vegetarianism."

Gather information, read books, magazines, talk to other people about these issues and make choices that make you feel good not only for you and your health, but for all of the animals that are sacrificed every day for your meals. Just think about it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hot-Diggity Dog!


If you wouldn't sit down to dinner and eat this furry little friend, then why, oh why, would you sit down at to a lovely sports game and scarf 2-4 non-puppy hot dogs? Please, don't eat dogs. Also, do not eat pigs, turkeys, cows or chickens either! Do you have any idea what you are actually eating when you put that rolled up meat stick into your mouth? I'm not judging or blaming (too much anyway) since I used to be there with you. I used to love my juicy hot dog at a Brewer's game smothered in deliciously spicy stadium sauce, onions, ketchup and mustard. However, I have changed my ways and seen the light!

Standard ingredients in your hot nasty meat stick:
  • Turkey, beef, pork, chicken or a combo of all - animal hater!
  • Egg products - most definitely not from cage free chickens!
  • Semi-solid products from raw skeletal muscle from livestock or poultry - oh yum!
  • No more than 15% of byproducts such as hearts, kidneys, livers - 1% would be a lot, but 15%! Now that's just NASTY!
  • Most likely bones, crushed, mashed and pulverized - for what? a little crunch?
  • Cereal fillers - just to help keep it all together and give it texture?
  • Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) - mmmm... sounds so natural!
  • Array of seasonings - does this include fecal matter for spice?
I haven't even mentioned the amount of fat (mostly saturated) you are digesting as you down dog after dog. You are consuming anywhere from 10-20 grams of pure fat per fat link! That's more than 20% of your daily value. I have to say, at any given Wisconsin sports game, I don't notice many people who stop after one hot dog. Stop hating your arteries and all internal organs! They want to work for you! Not against you! Though the hot dog may appear appetizing and lovely in a nicely rolled link covered in casing which is then removed for your dining satisfaction, think about what it would look like if it weren't processed over and over and over again! Imagine the hearts, kidneys and livers, of god knows what, sitting there in a bun. Think about the poor little piggy who became your lunch! If you truly cannot resist the temptation of a link on a bun, please try to fool your children, boyfriends, girlfriends, family and friends and serve Smart Dogs. Add your favorite hot dog toppings and you will be doing your heart a huge favor! You may end up enjoying it more than your regular meat stick! Plus, this way you don't have to worry about ingesting the leftover parts of slaughtered animals.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World


Oh my! These vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are surprisingly delicious! They are moist, chewy, and good for you!!! The recipe came to me via the February, 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. Make them, and eat without guilt! I guarantee that you will not miss the eggs, butter, white flour or white sugar. One main ingredient is walnuts. The walnuts (which are ground into a walnut butter) are packed with more omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut. They lower triglycerides and reduce plaque formation. They also support brain function on a number of levels including boosting mood. There are compelling studies linking the consumption of omega-3's to low rates of depression! Walnuts may also be a great tool for weight management. A palm-full eaten before meals help alleviate hunger. They are full of fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese (an important trace mineral that's essential for growth, reproduction, wound-healing, peak brain function, and the proper metabolism of sugars, insulin, and cholesterol).

The "Doctrine of Signatures" is a concept in herbalism that's been around for centuries and is based on the idea that God marked everything He created with a sign (signature). The signature is an indication of the item's purpose. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, since the walnut looks just like a human brain, its purpose is to support that organ! (From The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S) The cookies are also made with oats and oat flower. Don't get me started! You all know oats are good for you!! Okay, just a short list of the benefits of oats: Immune health, cholesterol reduction, anti-inflammatory properties, they're heart healthy and high in protein and fiber . . .


The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (or 10 1/2 ounces vegan bittersweet chocolate, chopped)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.
  2. Blend walnuts in food processor 30 seconds, or until ground into a fine meal. Add canola oil in a stream with the food processor running, and blend for 2 - 3 minutes more, or until mixture has the consistency of natural peanut butter, scraping down the sides of the food processor occasionally. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Whisk together brown sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan, and bring mixture to a boil. (Watch this, as when it starts to boil it can quickly boil over.) Pour brown sugar mixture over the ground walnut butter, add vanilla extract, and stir until no lumps remain.
  4. Whisk together oat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Stir oat flour mixture into walnut mixture. Cool 10 minutes. Fold in oats, then chocolate chips.
  5. Shape cookie dough into 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls (I used a spring-type ice cream scoop, and I used 2 different sizes, varying the baking time), and place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Now the original recipe calls for flattening the cookies with a glass dipped in water. I forgot with the first batch that went into the oven, and they turned out just fine with a lovely cracked top to the cookie. They did take a little longer than the recipe called for when I made them this way.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown and tops look dry. Cool three minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  7. Enjoy with a tall glass of rice or soy milk!

Diver or Incher?

Are you the type to dive right in or do you prefer to get into the water one inch at a time? I'm definitely an incher in life, when it comes to swimming and everything else. I need time, sometimes lots of it, to get used to new ideas. Sometimes I take so long that the ideas aren't even new anymore by the time I am immersed. It took me seven years to get engaged, another two to get married, and four after that to have a kid. I've even had this very blog entry in the works for several weeks. Come on already!!!

I became "vegetarian" for the first time in the early 1980's because I loved animals. Being a vegetarian simply means not eating meat, right? That's what I thought. That first foray into vegetarianism lasted a few weeks. A few years later, I did exactly the same thing. The third try didn't last much longer, but I was sure proud to order my egg McMuffin sans Canadian bacon. Woo hoo! This is my fourth and, without a shadow of a doubt, final time. This time I know vegetarianism is so much more than not eating meat. I know that it means giving up candy corn, rice krispie treats (though Sara's Sweets makes a great vegan marshmallow), and conversation hearts. They all have gelatin. Who would have thought? It bothers me to no end that I need to decode ingredients like gelatin and rennet . . . an innocuous-sounding ingredient in cheese. I now read all ingredient lists. Cheese, most of it, is not vegetarian (see It's Not Me, It's You, posted by Tomato Tartlet). Though my ultimate goal is to give up all dairy, for the time being I am only eating animal rennet-free cheese, and not much of it, either. If you have trouble finding vegetarian cheese in your grocery store, check out Artisan Pantry. I just ordered vegetarian Parmesan today (some of which will be used to make Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagna), but they have several other varieties from cheddars to mozzarella to Mascarpone. Even though I'm eating vegetarian cheese, my guilt still overwhelms me at times, because although little calves don't lose their lives for this cheese, their mothers ultimately will, and years before their time! A cow can live up to twenty years, but a dairy cow's average life span is four years. FOUR YEARS. She is worked to exhaustion and an early death, and ends up in fast food burgers.

I digress. That's another thing I do, in addition to inching along. However you choose to tread the path to a healthier, more environmentally friendly and more compassionate way of eating is your choice. Inch along, making slow and steady changes, or plunge right in! Just do it.

"Natural" Flavoring


Natural flavoring,
it must be good for me, right?




It's natural for goodness sake... Take a gander at the labels of some of your favorite snack foods. You might see the innocent sounding ingredient "natural flavoring" nestled in between the seemingly endless number of components in one food item. Let's take McDonald's french fries for example. If you have the displeasure of having to go to this restaurant for some reason, you may choose to order the french fries...harmless right? McDonald's followed the lead of many other fast food franchises a few years ago and started frying their potato sticks in pure vegetable oil. Well, there may also be a "natural flavor" in the french fries that you didn't know about. The McDonald's Corporation will not reveal the exact origin of the natural flavor added to its fries. In response to inquiries from Vegetarian Journal, however, McDonald's did acknowledge that its fries derive some of their characteristic flavor from "an animal source." Beef is the probable source, although other meats cannot be ruled out. In France, for example, fries are sometimes cooked in duck fat or horse tallow.

The Vegetarian Legal Action Network recently petitioned the FDA to issue new labeling requirements for foods that contain natural flavors. The group wants food processors to list the basic origins of flavors on their labels. At the moment, vegetarians often have no way of knowing whether a flavor additive contains beef, pork, poultry, shellfish, or some other animal source. One of the most widely used color additives -- whose presence is often hidden by the phrase "color added" -- violates a number of religious dietary restrictions, may cause allergic reactions in susceptible people, and comes from an unusual source. Cochineal extract (also known as carmine or carminic acid) is made from the desiccated bodies of female Dactylopius Coccus Costa, a small insect harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands. The bug feeds on red cactus berries, and color from the berries accumulates in the females and their unhatched larvae. The insects are collected, dried, and ground into a pigment. It takes about 70,000 of them to produce a pound of carmine, which is used to make processed foods look pink, red, or purple. Dannon strawberry yogurt gets its color from carmine, and so do many frozen fruit bars, candies, and fruit fillings, and Ocean Spray pink-grapefruit juice drink.

YUCK.