Lentil Loaf by The Vegan Stoner – Recipe Review

Great recipe find! How do I know? Because my rather picky 5 year old ate every morsel off his plate last night and deemed me the BEST CHEF EVER… over and over and OVER! I can deal with that.

I am glad I gave this easy recipe a whirl as lentil loaves past, lacked in taste, which made me a little nervous to try again. I’m happy to report that this recipe is worth a try. I also scrolled through The Vegan Stoner blog and it looks like a lot of fun! I am glad that Pinterest led me to it. They have other great looking recipes I want to try. Check it out!

The rundown on lentils

They are filled with Phyto-chemicals… an anti-aging must have in your arsenal! They are packed with protein and very high in fiber. Lentils do not require soaking and cook rather quickly, from 15-20 minutes. Lentils provide the same protein benefits as meat without all the fat, calories and cholesterol. Lentils pack 17 grams of protein per cup!

The review and a couple minor changes

I only made a couple changes, so compare and try the recipe as is or come up with your own twist.

I was waiting to see if I over did it on the onion… using 2/3 of a large onion. But we do like onions around here and luckily it ended up adding a lot of flavor. I would add just as many next time.

I used a LARGE handful of walnuts as opposed to just a handful, and chopped them in my chopper.

My frozen/thawed veggies were Trader Joe’s Organic Foursome with carrots, peas, corn and green beans.

I did not use garlic salt but rather 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder plus 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

I added dried parsley… just a few shakes. I would have added fresh had I not run out.

Let’s talk CRACKERS – Thankfully, my husband helps out a great deal and he does a lot of grocery runs! He likes the 12 grain vegan mini crackers from Trader Joe’s. They are very tasty with buttery flavor, but I do have issues with them. What am I to do? When your husband goes vegan, you just can’t nit pick. I feel very lucky that he is more than on board with this rewarding lifestyle.

… so the crackers

A. Are not organic.

B. They don’t contain whole wheat. Whole is the word you want to look for on the label when it comes to wheat.

C. They contain too many ingredients including sugar and oil. UGH. I didn’t have any other crackers on hand. I wanted to try them because not too many lentil loaf recipes call for them (probably for health reasons. Lol) But I have to say, I think they made this dish taste pretty GREAT!  SOOO if you happen to come across another vegan, buttery, actual healthy cracker. PLEASE let me know, because a flavorful cracker is what made this dish so darn good.

My last note is that when I packed the mixture into the loaf pan, I had a feeling the final product wouldn’t come out sliced firm enough. And indeed, it fell apart, BUT it was mold-able back into shape! Next time I will try my own tip and put some of the mixture into the food processor and add it back, like what I do for my Let’s Stay Together Veggie Burgers. I just want to see the difference, but if it takes the chunky texture away, it might not be as pleasurable to eat.

My sides

I whipped up (literally) some sweet potatoes with a little almond milk, a touch of coconut oil, and a splash of maple syrup. Always a hit – and truly needs very little sweetener if any.

I also cooked up fresh spinach along with minced garlic in veggie broth on the stove top. I sprinkled it with a pasta seasoning blend and gave it a squirt of lemon. Delicious!

I have no pictures. I know. It was gone before I could think to grab my camera. However, it did look a lot like the picture above. It’s always nice when that happens!

So here you have a great vegan meal idea. Keep me posted when you try this and any variations you create. Until next time…

Enjoy the journey,

~The Karmatarian

UPDATE: When we reheated the left overs, the slices were much firmer and held together much more after resting in the refrigerator.  So it would be better to let the loaf settle and cool a bit after you take it from the oven. We were just too hungry.

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Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

There are a million vegan egg salad recipes out there! I have tried a few, and I thought I had it figured out. Then one day, I combined a few different recipes along with a twist of my own and came up with what I think is the perfect vegan egg salad. I really enjoy this and I know you will, too.

I don’t fear a little tofu

If you don’t already know… Organic tofu is alright with me.  Ever since going plant-based and focusing on whole foods versus processed foods, I don’t fear soy. I am in control of how much soy comes into my life. I make my own meals and rarely eat out. If I were still consuming mostly a standard American Diet and still eating soy and tofu along with all of that soy lecithin and soy oil and soy fed animals, etc… I would be worried about it.

Soy is a highly genetically modified food, I believe somewhere around 90% of the crops are GMO. You have to be very careful. Only choose organic tofu from a good responsible brand you recognize or research.

Another reason that I don’t fear tofu or fermented soy is knowing that Dr. T. Colin Campbell can turn his cancer patients around on a plant-based diet that has some tofu and whole food/fermented soy involved. So why be so afraid? It certainly helps add fun to the vegan diet. Btw, I am not talking soy protein isolate here.

I remember a great interview I watched with Dr. Christine Horner talking with Dr. Mercola, and she really explained breast cancer and estrogen and the difference between plant estrogen and the evil estrogen that actually contributes to breast cancer. It is eye opening and nice to relieve the fear. You can watch the video or read the article here.

Here she talks about flax and soy falls into the phytoestrogen category as well:

“I hear from patients, “Oh! My oncologist told me not to take flaxseeds, because they’re estrogenic,”” Dr. Horner says.”They don’t understand how plant estrogens or “phytoestrogens” work.

There are all sorts of different strengths to estrogens. Let’s say estradiol, which is the strongest, most abundant form– if it hooks on to the estrogen receptor, it may cause a thousand cell divisions. But if a plant estrogen hooks on, it may cause one. When you flood your system with these plant estrogens, I’d say it’s kind of like a game of musical chairs. There are only certain numbers of receptors, and whoever gets their first, gets it. They’re blocking the strong estrogens from getting on, so that’s why it has an inhibitory effect.”

~ Dr. Christine Horner

If you read that article – Just for the record – I don’t agree with Dr. Mercola about eating grass fed beef. Grass fed, organic or pampered like a family member before slaughter… Meat has No fiber, No disease fighting phytochemicals and is still too high in calories and fat and lowest in nutrients compared to other foods, so why bother? Not to mention, all cows headed for consumption have to stand in this line.  Why tap into fear and anxiety energy? By consuming it, we become it.

Fiber

It’s one of those things I always thought only old people had to worry about. Little did I know fiber is SO damn important for all of us at any and every age. It helps to rid the body of toxins and excess hormones as well as help with weight management.  I choose not to get excess hormones from dairy. Yes, even organic and raw milk has natural growth hormones. A lot of them!  Being that I have less hormones to remove from my system, I don’t see soy as a big threat.

I have realized that beef and meat Agri-giants have something to do with a lot if not most of the negative studies that come out against soy. They have the money to fund ’em and push the ones that have miniscule findings against their end goal. They make money when you eat more beef, not more soy. If you eat all the soy, what in the world will they feed their cows and chickens? Oh my!

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Let’s get back to the recipe!

A few things to note… I tried fresh lemon juice and zest in this and it’s OK… I don’t like lemony egg salad. If you love lemon and have to add it,  just add a touch to bring out flavor, but I think you will find this is flavorful enough on it’s own.

I also ran out of regular Dijon this last time and used whole grain Dijon. Wow! It really added quite a spicy kick. It was good though!! If you like that sort of thing, great.. if not pay attention to your Dijon and maybe add less to start, even with the regular Dijon. This is where the dash of agave came to play… it cuts the spice and rounds things out. I prefer it in the recipe.

Instead of using vegan mayo to mix things up… my special twist that makes this so creamy and hearty is cashew cream. When I have it on hand, I remember to make this salad. I love cashew cream for topping so many things, from baked sweet potatoes, to burritos, to chili… I used to use Tofutti but I rarely ever do now that I make cashew cream. I even use this as a sandwich/wrap spread from time to time. I love it more than vegan mayo that I usually make, as I can cut back on the soy/ tofu and enjoy it other places… such as in this egg salad!

Black Sea Salt – You have to have this on hand to make “egg” dishes taste egg like. I use The Spice Lab brand.

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 – 12 oz Package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1/2 Cup Carrot, grated
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, diced very small
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, diced very small
  • 2 Tbs Sliced Almonds (2 heaping Tbs)
  • 2 Tbs Chives or Green Onion, chopped small
  • 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Agave
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp or more of Black Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Cup, (plus 1 or 2  if needed) Tbs Cashew Cream (See Below)

Directions

Drain the Tofu while preparing the other ingredients. Line a plate with paper towels, place tofu on top and cover with the paper towels. I like to put a clean kitchen towel on top at this point. Place something heavy on top of everything so that the weight pushes the liquid out of the tofu. I like to use a stack of  large heavy plates. You can also buy a tofu press. I really need to order one!

Place all of the ingredients in to a medium sized bowl and crumble in the drained tofu while squeezing out any excess liquid that remains. Mix and fold all ingredients with a spatula until well blended and evenly colored (turmeric).

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Refrigerate to chill and incorporate the flavors.

Cashew Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp Curry Powder ( I don’t always add this, but lately I have. More flavor!)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt (Pink Salt)
  •  Favorite Non Dairy Milk or Filtered Water

Directions

Soak the Cashews in purified water for 2 hours + or overnight. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them in your high speed blender or Vitamix along with the other ingredients except for the milk or water. Blend until creamy. Use the non dairy milk or filtered water a little at a time to adjust the dressing to your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasonings and it’s ready. Also note that it will thicken a bit when refrigerated.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna – My Review

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna

If you happen to be plant-based savvy… you may have seen this recipe, tried it, or thought about trying it. It’s featured in the “Forks Over Knives” original handbook, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue dvd and on the Engine 2 Diet website and possibly more places.

My post is a little story about our Christmas holiday that goes along with my review of this recipe, which I couldn’t wait until I had a reason to make.

As you may know from my earlier post, our family survived the flu this year, thankfully without antibiotics, and I am grateful for that. I am upset we got it at all. Don’t you think Vegans should be exempt?! All of these super bugs stemming from factory farms which we voluntarily choose to disconnect from! This is why us vegans spread the word! Everyone is affected by factory farms. Back to my story, the bottom line is that we had too much crazy energy happening in the weeks prior to Christmas and I believe it was due to the energetic alignment and 12/21, but it sure had us caught off guard. Luckily, we got over the flu before Christmas and we had energy to clean our house before our friends arrived from out of town. We were pretty excited that good friends of ours were staying with us for Christmas!

I will refer to our friends as T and G… because I have no clue if they want to be named in my blog.

Our friends are so dear to us. We have shared many dinners together, great conversation and a million laughs. We are so grateful to know such good-hearted people like T and G!

My husband and I met our friends when we lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, roughly 6 years ago. We were their first American friends, and what an honor! They had just moved to the U.S. from Croatia and we were happy to welcome them. We made sure that they experienced many of our traditions, including Halloween and an all American Thanksgiving.

Times have changed for us… well… food-wise that is. I still dress up for Halloween!

Our family is now a vegan family and T and G are known to eat similar to their culture in Croatia, where dining might as well be the national sport. And because of this, I was trying to come up with a meal plan (being a holiday with no restaurants open) that  everyone would like. I originally thought that I could make something for them that they would enjoy (meat dish), and something that we would enjoy (vegan dish).

The more that I thought about it, the more I could NOT bring myself to do it. It just affirmed for me how far I have come with this vegan thing. It was by no means out of stubbornness or trying to make a point. I just can’t bring myself to purchase meat and bring it into my home. I really feel it’s a bit of a vibrational/energetic/spiritual thing. I have also conditioned myself to cook the opposite of how I used to. I don’t even really remember how to cook meat. I really don’t want to remember how to cook meat. I prefer my kitchen and my body to be light with energy and my counters free from dangerous bacteria. And then there is the whole plant-based nutritionist thing I have going on… feeding meat to my friends would be criminal in my mind and that’s without even touching upon animal rights.

But what would I make? How can I keep everyone happy? Did I mention that T is almost 7 feet tall and and a good sized guy? He will be the first to tell you, he likes his meat and has to have it.

Racking my brain, I remembered this sweet potato lasagna recipe which has been said to be a winner in the plant-based community according to Rip Esselstyn.  Well, if it’s good enough for firefighters, then it has to be filling and satisfying! I also remember that my Dad made this recipe a while back and he told me it was worth all the work involved. He had so much food left over – this is what I wanted!

I narrowed it down. My menu for the few days our friends were visiting consisted of a beautiful salad, this sweet potato lasagna, a raw pecan pie that I made from the Cafe Gratitude recipe book, Whole Foods brand vegan blueberry and pumpkin pie (hey, it’s the holidays) as well as their 12 grain artisan bread. The next day I added spinach and “cheese” stuffed shells to the menu, using the recipe for the cheese from my Gluten Free – Spinach and “Cheese” Lasagna Bites post, but stuffing jumbo shells instead of making it a lasagna. For breakfast, I baked vegan pumpkin bread two mornings in a row as requested!

The menu, I thought would be filling. I wasn’t thinking at the time that the dinners would be two pasta sauce dishes and I should mix it up a little more, but it turned out that they tasted totally different from one another. I also took a huge leap of faith that this lasagna would be great. For I had no back up plan.

Luck has it and to our surprise, when our friends showed up, they announced that they had given up Dairy products! YESSSS!!!! That was half the battle right there. See? Just another example of how people are surprising me left and right. Smart people are catching on! We had even more to talk about!

The lasagna ended up to be a bit of work, but enjoyable work as I visualized the outcome while preparing it. And Dad was right, totally WORTH IT! I cheated just a smidge. I used a sauce that was not exactly Engine 2 approved. It was a Trader Joe’s Garlic Marinara. I know it to have a lot of flavor and a little bit of oil. I also added a touch of Himalayan sea salt to the veggie mixture because I wanted to be sure this was bursting with flavor. It was perfect and I have to say, it didn’t need the salt. That is how much flavor it brings on it’s own!

My suggestion… When you make this, just pick a sauce that you KNOW has good flavor, oil or not, as the sauce is so important in a dish like this. I also used gluten free lasagna noodles. I feel that they cooked up on the firmer side because I was cutting it close on sauce. Two jars are not exactly enough to cover the noodles. I think 2 jars plus 1/2 would be perfect. I also bought a throw away lasagna tray from the grocery store that was DEEP.  You are going to need that with all these layers. I realize now, that I need to invest in a good lasagna pan!

This lasagna was healthy and satisfying. Full of texture and flavor. It is hard to really explain the end flavors but they go so very well together. T said that he doesn’t usually like sweet potato. Surprise!!! He doesn’t even like lasagna, either! But he just loved this! Phew! Everyone wanted more and we happily ate it for lunch the next day, too!

Not to leave G out, she really enjoyed the meals as well and she got right in my kitchen to help with the dishes. What a doll!

The vegan cheese shells were super filling as well. You really only need to eat a few. Having salad first, bread and then dessert after, we were stuffed.

A million sweet compliments from our friends confirmed that I made a good choice. T said something along the lines of…ya know, I usually have to have meat, but these past few days I really enjoyed everything and haven’t missed meat at all… What a compliment! I hope I influenced them to look at a plant-based diet a little differently and know it can be very satisfying.

We ended up at PF Chang’s on the last night of our visit. I will never forget the nice comment from T. He said, “this food here at this restaurant is good and everything, but it’s nothing like yours, Christa. Look… just the way you cut your carrots vs. theirs…. It’s just different, and so much better”.

When you put love and intention into your home cooked dishes, there is a difference. How many restaurants do that besides some vegan/raw? There is an energy there, and if you are in tune, you can’t deny it. But aside from that, lucky for me, T and G appreciate home cooking, as that is how they were raised. I am not trying to brag here, of course their kind words felt really, really good and it’s always nice to have people appreciate your efforts and support what you do, but much credit goes to Engine 2 Diet for a fantastic recipe!

It meant so much to me to have been able to please our guests and knowing how honest they truly are, I trust that they really enjoyed everything. Food was a small part of the visit of course, we had such a great time catching up and just relaxing. It was so heart warming to hear that this was one of the best Christmases they ever had.

A successful Vegan-Croatian-American-Christmas in the books!

Here are a few pics of the pie. I have made it twice and dream of this one often…

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Magic Miso Noodle Soup

magic miso noodle soup

Well isn’t this fitting… my last post was all about cookies and sugar and this post is all about warm soup to help soothe your body while you fight the flu. Because alllllll that sugar leads to a defenseless immune system! I know better! The funny thing is, I think I only had like 5 or 6 cookies and the rest are in my freezer. I didn’t go crazy, so I know it wasn’t the few cookies alone that invited the flu into our home.

A few weeks back I remember shuffling my deck of Angel cards, asking for whatever message was meant for me that day. I pulled the “body care” card. I was frustrated and I thought, how many more vegetables can one person eat? What do the Angels want me to do? It’s funny how you can see things in hind-sight, because now I see what happened…. a lot of late, late nights studying for a new class I’m taking mixed with Christmas stress and late work nights (on school nights) doing other people’s hair. I’m taking care of everyone else so that they look good for the holidays and I realize now that the last person I was taking care of was myself. This is how it’s been for many years. Maybe this flu will shake some sense into me. I need to revisit the concept of Honor Self.

So for now it’s warm soup, warm tea and a lot of rest!

We have all heard people say that there is just something about chicken noodle soup when you are sick. Well, it certainly has NOTHING to do with the chicken. I can promise you that chicken holds no magic. On the contrary, chicken has very little nutritional value. It’s not the chicken, it’s the sodium via broth that our body craves to put us back in balance and the noodles give us energy to fight those nasty bugs. See? Isn’t it nice to know this? Now we have one less excuse. Being vegan, you can still have magic soup when you are sick, because it’s all about the broth…. veggie broth.

I remembered reading somewhere that miso soup is Alicia Silverstone’s favorite soup when she is sick. Alicia knows a thing or two about good, kind food, being vegan herself; but I couldn’t find a recipe for miso soup on her site. Perhaps it’s in her cookbook? I didn’t look really hard being so sick. I just came up with my own recipe and it turned out really good. I want to share my soup with my fellow sick warriors out there. Consider this a warm healing hug via bowl of soup. It’s fast to prepare so you can be back under the blankets in no time!

You know what they say? There is just something about miso noodle soup…

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 large Shallot, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Minced
  • 1 Cup of Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 Cup Organic Mellow White Miso
  • 7 or 8 oz (1/2 block) of Tofu, cubed
  • Noodles (I had a package of Japanese style ready-to-use noodles on hand)
  • 2 large handfuls of Spinach
  • Organic Soy Sauce to taste

Directions

In a medium pot, heat a little bit of water or vegetable broth and cook the shallots, garlic and mushrooms over medium heat until soft. Keep adding water if necessary.

Add 4 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.

Add miso, noodles and tofu cubes and heat through. Add spinach and let it wilt in. Add soy sauce to taste.

Pour the soup into a serving bowl and enjoy.

*Notes: I never thought I would be so happy to have ready-to-eat noodles in my pantry. I probably would have never used these otherwise. The noodles just needed to be warmed up. If you have regular noodles, cook them in a separate pot and then add the cooked noodles to the soup. Also, I always have miso on hand because quite a few recipes in the “Forks over Knives” handbook and cookbook I like to use, call for it. If you haven’t tried those recipes, you should. Be sure to get organic miso!

The only thing that would makes this soup better is if someone else could make it for you! I just can’t help you out there… I had to make my own soup, too.

Let’s get well soon!

~The Karmatarian

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Vegan White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

vegan white chocolate chip cranberry cookies

It’s not every day that you get to graze a cookie buffet with a clear conscious. A few girls happened to get our sugar buzz on at a vegan Christmas cookie exchange the other night. This is really exciting stuff! A big thanks to my girlfriend Sue for being such a fun hostess providing a chance to meet new people.

I came home with a nice variety of vegan homemade treats for my family. Gratitude feels good! And today I am proud of myself for displaying a ton of will power, because I could easily eat this whole dang tray!

Vegan Christmas Cookies

You may notice a few store bought cookies in the mix, because not everyone who showed up was a vegan baker. It’s just nice to see everyone participate with vegan spirit.

My contribution to the exchange was a cookie that I have been wanting to veganize for a few seasons now. A white chocolate chip cranberry cookie. I think it turned out really good! At least that’s what they tell me.

My cookies are a vegan spin on this recipe I found years ago at www.all recipes.com. It’s really just a spruced up basic chocolate chip cookie. White and red being great colors for the holiday make a nice presentation. The key ingredient is the orange flavored liquor. The original recipe calls for brandy or vanilla. I have even used orange extract in the past, but this time I used Grand Marnier… I had plenty left over from our Thanksgiving feast. This was a good call.

Vegan white chocolate cranberry cookies

I found it a bit tough to find vegan white chocolate chips. I ordered mine online from Amazon.com  If you are looking, I would also check your local health food store, natural food store in your area or Whole Foods.

I had a lot of fun baking this year, mostly due to my friend Melanie who joined me in the kitchen for a comical adventure. We also created some vegan gingerbread men and women. The cookie itself was excellent, the decorating, not so much!

Decorating cookies takes a patient and steady, steady hand. We were in a little bit of a hurry. Of course we only took the best to the party, but now I’m thinking about how funny it would have been to show up with a tray of these hilarious misfits with a straight face.

Vegan gingerbread misfits

 

Vegan gingerbread cookies

If you would like the recipe for the gingerbread cookies, message me or comment here and I’ll be sure to get it to you! The mini vegan versions are so cute, and perfect for dunking in your tea.

… On to theee recipe

vegan white chocolate cranberry cookies

Vegan White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Earth Balance margarine, softened
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Organic White Sugar
  • EnerG Egg Replacer for 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1  + 1/2 Cups Organic all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 tsp Water
  • 3/4 Cups Vegan White Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl cream together margarine, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth.

Beat in the egg replacer and Grand Marnier.

Combine the flour and baking soda (I usually whisk it together) and stir into the sugar/margarine mixture.

At this point I use my hands to really mix the dough because I don’t have a mixer yet. Add the water gradually just until the dough starts coming together nicely. Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. It is best to do this by hand.

Form the dough in to not-so-perfect balls (they can be full of texture) and flatten just a little. Place on prepared sheets and bake anywhere from 8-11 minutes. My magic number is 10 minutes.  Please keep in mind that these cookies will come out of the oven seemingly airy, soft and very much not set, but they do firm up as they cool due to the egg replacer.

*Note 12-18-15 I just baked these again this year! I doubled the recipe which yielded a little over 48 cookies. I added 3 Tbs Grand Marnier this time and 1 tsp Orange extract for the double batch. The orange is a new addition. The orange compliments the Grand Marnier wonderfully and brings it out. So really these cookies should be renamed, White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Orange Essence. Merry Christmas!


Vegan Christmas Cookies

This recipe yields 24 cookies

Enjoy your holidays!

~The Karmatarian

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My Thanksgiving Review

Now that I have had a few weeks to rest after clocking 18 plus hours in the kitchen prepping our vegan holiday meal, I wanted to write a quick review and share a few things that I learned. Of course I want to share my photos too ;) I had more fun “digesting” everything in the days after Thanksgiving, (especially the leftovers) because things are always nuts when you are playing hostess!

Check out some of my photos of our dinner together…

How it all went down~

As far as appetizers go… The artichoke spinach dip was absolutely FABULOUS! It’s my new favorite and I will make it often, definitely for Christmas. We found ourselves all fighting over the last cranberry pesto crostini, so those were a hit as well. The stuffed mushrooms were really great, but not as good as I planned. I made the filling the night before to save time. I learned that red onions turn a funny color and turn the filling a bit purple when left overnight! They still turned out looking good but that freaked me out a bit. Next time, I will make these the day of. I also used panko crumbs, but I will stick to using regular bread crumbs for this. They tell me that these were fabulous too, but the cook is always her worst critic.

The soup recipe for butternut squash apple was the Holiday Soup recipe from of the awesome Vitamix cookbook. It was really delicious, but I felt it was a bit too heavy on the nutmeg and not sweet enough. I just made this again two nights ago and tweaked it with more apple, less nutmeg and less white pepper, and it was perfect!! No complaints on Thanksgiving. As far as food, we could have stopped here after the soup. We were so full at this point!

The sweet potato casserole was perfect. The recipe called for a little orange juice concentrate which I had never added in the past. I really liked the flavor boost.

Stuffing… I am not a huge fan to begin with. I liked the fruit and toasted almond stuffing idea, as it was fancy shmancy, but it was SO MUCH WORK and unexpectedly the day of. Maybe I could have made it the day before and let it soak in the veggie broth.  I took the tinfoil off near the end of baking to give it a crispier outside. I guess I prefer mushy stuffing and this wasn’t the best idea. Thinking about what it is… stuffing, I have no desire to be stuffed – and that is all that these extra carbs do. Stuff ya! I’ll skip this next year.

Let’s talk main dish ~The roast. I had to have this while I was out shopping one day. Just to try it. It looked so good! It cooked up beautifully. It definitely needs gravy. Thankfully, I made the impromptu mushroom gravy for the potatoes and it was amazing. The roast itself was really good, but with a heavy sausage flavor. I can’t complain because that was as described on the package. It was a little too heavy of a dish for my liking. We had all of this other home cooked food to choose from, so to eat the roast just threw the vegan meal off for me. We don’t do to many mock meats anymore AND I was also way too stuffed for such a heavy dish. When you eat plant-based, you are used to eating lighter and your body is used to being lighter. I don’t regret this choice though. I could have done without it that night, BUT it was AWESOME for leftovers with gravy (when we were hungry) the next few days. The Timbales turned out great per usual. I really love making them and they are a yearly tradition for us now.

Dessert! The cheezecake was sooo very rich, we always love this. The pumpkin pie was heaven with rice whip cream topping. I had a little mishap with the crust though. It stuck to the parchment paper and I wasn’t aggressive enough getting it out when I served it. I know! It could have been that much better had I served it with crust! I discovered this the next day and enjoyed eating just the crust. Extra crust all for me… kind of the best part! The baked pears were fun! Also great with rice whip topping. Although, I was in a hurry to get them out of the oven and they could have baked for much longer. They were still quite firm. Maybe that is how they are meant to be? Still delicious as could be.

My only slight complaint about the holiday was that our dessert guests got lured into eating dessert where they had their Thanksgiving dinner earlier, and came over with full stomachs! That was truly disappointing, oh well, what are you going to do? It only left MORE for us to enjoy later!

What else???  I guess everything else is straight forward.

To choose vegan, it just takes conscious effort. It’s EASY, kind, responsible, and it’s very enjoyable! Replace the butter and dairy milk with something like Earth Balance margarine or coconut oil, almond, rice or coconut milk… There are also numerous raw vegan dessert recipes that will totally rock the show and can be found on the internet.

When you can present a special meal that is colorful and delicious with all the flavors of the Thanksgiving holiday such as Thyme, Sage, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Rosemary, etc… why do you need to add the violence? And so what that you don’t have Turkey. You are STUFFED by the time dinner is over and you don’t miss a damn thing. I promise you. The artist in me loves the creative challenge of vegan cooking and it will never grow old. The rebel in me loves the idea of showing the world it can be done a different and kinder way. Screw the traditions that include violence, ill health and destruction. It’s so not necessary. Turkey for protein you say? We had a protein overload without it! But who is really worried about protein intake on Thanksgiving? You are really looking for flavor and that is easily achieved without any animal exploitation. It may not have been the ultimate healthy meal but I sure felt the healthiest eating it, compared to any other  “traditional carnivorous Thanksgiving” that I have ever eaten in the past. Besides, when you do something with intention, it makes it that more enjoyable. Our intention was a vegan dinner that compared to what anyone else was eating, but better. We achieved it in my book. However, next year it’s a vacation or take out from the Chicago Diner. Cooking can be exhausting! I cook almost every night, so I could use to be treated out once in a while. Or better yet, maybe one of you will invite us to your next vegan feast!?

The recipes that I picked to make are certainly acceptable to make again for Christmas dinner and that is right around the corner, so I figured it is not too late to share my reviews in case anyone out there wants to try the recipes. You can find my holiday menu by clicking here or find these and more on my Pinterest page. I am thinking of raise the roof sweet potato lasagna by Engine 2 for Christmas. It’s also in the Forks over Knives handbook.

To sum it up, everything turned out wonderful. We enjoyed counting our blessings and sharing a peaceful evening together with delicious food. Everyone enjoys their own recipes and traditions and your own holidays are special and memorable, but it is my hope that more of us will think outside the box, outside of ourselves, and make the holidays enjoyable, memorable and kind for all beings on this planet. Especially factory farmed animals.

I hope you enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving day! Please share some of your own traditions, recipes and ideas for a cruelty free, healthier holiday with me in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Now it’s off to plan Christmas dinner and I am hosting two this year, but they will be much lower key! At least I hope, but I know me. I am a bit tired just thinking about it, but I am excited to figure out the menu.

For now, we have one of our trees up and are enjoying the ambiance. I just love getting up early in the morning and turning the lights on!

...And our cat, Cosmo checking out the tree? :)

…And our cat, Cosmo checking things out :)

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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New Traditions Part 2: Holiday Side Dishes and Our Thanksgiving Menu

(Photo Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary) Adopt a Turkey this Year and Start a New Tradtion. Visit http://www.FarmSanctuary.org

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?”~ Edgar’s Mission

I’d like to add… and eat awesome food!!! I spent the entire day yesterday pinning more side dishes and desserts up on my Pinterest page! I was also planning our menu for Thanksgiving. I think I have it nailed down. There are just so many amazing vegan dishes to choose from that it took some time! If anyone claims a vegan diet is boring then they don’t know food and they certainly don’t know how to cook. Luckily it’s a learned skill. You can do it! Take a look at my Vegan Holiday Table board. I’m drooling!

I am not going to list all of the side dishes that I found, that will take too much time and I really just want to get a quick post out. So I am going to share my Thanksgiving menu with you. I am so excited!!

Here goes…

Appetizers:

Cranberry Walnut Pesto Crostini- Festive and delicious. The original recipe is on my Pinterest page under Pumpkin Gnocchi with Cranberry Walnut Pesto. It can’t be found right now because the website seems to be down. I have the recipe. If you are interested, let me know in the comments and I will share it with you. I plan to do crostini with this pesto or serve with delicious crackers. Although it would be good with a spoon alone! I made the gnocchi and it was an epic fail. This pesto turned out to be my favorite though and it’s so pretty!

Traditional Stuffed Mushrooms – You know, the smaller mushrooms with the crunchy, buttery flavored bread crumb filling with  flavors of garlic, basil and parsley. Yum!

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip – I love the idea of cashews here.  Looks creamy and delicious. How will we ever make room for dinner?

Soup:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup –  This is the closest recipe I could find to the one I am actually making. This one can be veganized by using margarine and vegan sour cream or using cashew cream for garnish. I am going to make the Vitamix Holiday Squash Soup. No fuss, right in the blender! I have a feeling I am going to run out of stove space so this will be perfect. Soup heats up right in the machine.

Salad:

Apple, Pecan, Cranberry and Avocado Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing – The picture in this link has cheese in it but it does not call for cheese in the recipe. I assure you, I won’t ruin it with cheese. This salad will be perfect, unless I run out of time… in that case, I’ll toss together mixed greens with sliced almonds and dried cranberries and top it with vegan poppy seed dressing! Voila, fast and festive and if I can’t much done ahead of time, this might actually be what happens!

Bread:

Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins – Can’t forget the bread, muffins or vegan crescent rolls. I tried the Trader Joe’s crescent rolls and they were a bit too sweet for my liking. I was thinking pumpkin muffins, but I don’t want to over do the pumpkin as pumpkin pie will be one of the desserts. I might make my corn muffins or just run out and grab an already baked garlic and rosemary Artisan bread. Mmmm.

Main Dishes:

Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales – A favorite! I have made this a few times for Thanksgivings past. Delicious traditional holiday flavors, great presentation!

Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This can be found under the same post as above. I love this gravy!

Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute  – I was shopping at Whole Foods the other day and I had to have this! Maybe I was hungry, but I just figured I would try it along with the tried and true Timbales, just in case… More food for leftovers. Because this girl is taking a break after this!

Sides:

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce – I have made this before. It’s baked, not boiled and I add orange zest. Delicious! Can be made days ahead!

Fruit and Toasted Almond Stuffing – The picture says it all. It sounds like an updated classic and there is nothing wrong with that.

Garlic and Rosemary Mashed PotatoesThis is pretty straight forward. Use vegan margarine like earth balance or the olive oil it calls for and almond milk instead of regular milk. I am imagining lot’s of leftovers. This will be perfect with the Timbales and gravy.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping – I usually make this type of casserole every year, one version or another. Vegan of course. I am thinking to add vegan marshmallows. Why not? I have some here.

Green Beans with Walnuts and Rosemary – Simple ingredients. Modernized tradition. Quick. How could you go wrong?

Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus – I am excited to veganize this with crushed walnuts and lemon zest. Olive oil or margarine instead of butter. It’s a choice between this or the green beans. I already have the phyllo in the freezer… this might be the winner. Or just make both!?

Desserts:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Coconut-Pecan Crust – Mom eats gluten free and since she will be here for dessert I would like to make this!

Or… Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake –  I could always make the crust from the recipe above to make it gluten free.

Raw Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Sauce – This is a recipe from the Cafe Gratitude recipe book (minus the berry sauce). I have made it before and it gave me my confidence back for making vegan cheesecake. Holy Cow is it amazing and the texture is way better than real cheesecake in my opinion.

Baked Pears with a Buttery Baked Crumble Topping –  To veganize, just use Earth Balance (margarine) and Agave instead of honey. Top this with rice whip cream. I broke down and spent the 5 dollars on rice whip a few weeks ago. It is SO GOOD. Perfect for the holidays. It’s by Soyatoo.

Well, there you have it… I think I am in over my head with this menu! But it will be so much fun. I will take a lot of pictures and share on Facebook. Thankfully, a lot of these recipes can be prepared a few days ahead. I guess I better get started. I am off to Whole Foods now…

See these photos and recipes that I have I found, visit my Pinterest page.   Also check out my last post, part 1, with many holiday main dish ideas.

I would really love to hear what vegan dishes you are serving up this year…

Happy menu planning and hoping that your holidays are gentle and kind.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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New Traditions: 24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based-Vegan Main Dishes

“Now is the Thyme to start a new Thanksgiving tradition: Adopt a turkey!”
~Farm Sanctuary

“When a sense of consciousness informs our actions, when our intentions reflect kindness and nonviolence, when our thoughts turn to someone else’s needs rather than our own desires, there is no denying that something profound takes place. In the absence of suffering, there is peace. In the presence of compassion, there is joy.” ~The Vegan Table

Hey everyone, meet Thyme. One very lucky turkey. Notice the heart on Thyme’s neck? He’s my son’s choice for our annual adopt-a-turkey tradition through Farm Sanctuary. I had my eye on a cuter turkey, but when I expressed my opinion, my son quickly scolded me “NO he’s the cutest!”. Ok! And there you have it…

Thanksgiving~  Such a tough holiday for many of us, knowing the grim outlook for 46 million of these gentle spirits. Exactly how did turkeys become the centerpiece for a holiday of thanks and gratitude? We do have so much to be grateful for and a beautiful feast helps us to express that, but there are no rules. Traditions can be altered and improved.

99% of turkeys are factory farmed birds and have absolutely nothing to be thankful for. The conditions are grim. The truth is brutal. Click this link to meet your Butterball turkey and witness your typical store bought bird’s life experience before making it to your plate. Warning: the video is disheartening and will make you angry. You certainly don’t have to watch it, but a good rule of thumb to remember is, if it’s not good enough for your eyes, it should not be good enough for your stomach.

Did you know…

Although the turkey as the centerpiece of of the holiday dinner is deeply entrenched in our society, diners at the original 1621 Pilgrim’s feast made no mention of turkey as part of their meal. In fact, turkey only became popular as a Thanksgiving staple in the mid-twentieth century, after decades of MEDIA PROMOTION and breeding of the white, domesticated turkeys exploited by factory farms today.

~ Farm Sanctuary

…Ok, so we were pushed into this tradition of serving up turkey, so why not opt out? We have plenty of information about the truth of factory farming and the ill affects of meat in our diets. While Thanksgiving might not be the day for optimal healthy eating, it can still be held consciously and kindly.

I have learned one thing throughout the past few years being vegan, which has lead me to actually enjoy this holiday.

HONOR SELF.

GO WHERE YOU ARE CELEBRATED, NOT JUST TOLERATED. And that is a general lesson. Life is too short and just because most of society celebrates one way, figure out a way that makes you happy. Or find a compromise. It’s a tough holiday for an ethically minded vegan. No doubt about it.

I am excited to be hosting Thanksgiving this year for my husband, my son and a dear friend and her daughter (who are new to choosing vegan). We have decided to compromise by enjoying a kind holiday feast and then head separately to our family’s homes for dessert.

Dessert is easy to veganize and bring along quietly, without anyone even suspecting a thing, and dessert makes everyone happy. See? I don’t give family a reason to antagonize me about my Tofurkey, nor do I have to listen to them rave about how juicy their dead bird is this year, compared to last.

Being thankful for the life and abundance we are given is not dependent upon how juicy the turkey is. It’s just not. But sadly it has come to something like this here in the USA.

Actually, I don’t do Tofurkey.  But I appreciate the alternative choice that it represents. Maybe I cooked it wrong? Who knows? It didn’t turn out well for me. I love all the newer options from Gardein and Field Roast.

I put together a list of home cooked meal ideas for you from around the internet. I have found some wonderful main dishes that not only have the traditional flavors of the holiday, but are appealing to the senses.

Meat free main dishes are important and take more effort to plan out. Side dishes and desserts are easy. Many of which are your own family traditional recipes that are surprisingly easy to veganize with some thoughtful substitutions like earth balance in place of butter, egg replacers, and your choice of non dairy milks that are on the market.

A main dish on our plate expressing the idea of something special is what I was looking for, not every day meal kinda stuff. I am also not worrying about perfect “healthy” oil free dishes for the holiday. After all, in general, it is a holiday known for a few more heart attacks. Shame on society. But luckily for us with a vegan menu, nothing in these main dishes would send you to the emergency room. See? Peace of mind… and heart.

Ok, here we go…

24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based/Vegan Main Dishes

1. Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales with Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This is my favorite! I have made this recipe twice. Beautiful presentation, with all the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving.

2. Baked Acorn Squash with Chestnuts, Apples and Leeks – I might be making this one.Looks like a winner!

3. Sweet Potato Lenti Pie – Adorable single serving pies  with good combination of textures.

4. Butternut Squash Ravioli with Garlic and Sage Sauce – A recipe I have wanted to try for a while now

5. Seitan Roulade with Chestnut Stuffing – Unique and sure to impress

6. Flaky Harvest Vegetable Squares – Be sure to brush with olive oil instead of egg

7. Baked Apples with Wild Rice and Quinoa – Make sure the mushroom broth is vegan, sub vegan cream cheese and ditch the optional cheddar. I am sure these will be fabulous.

8. Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna – My Dad made this one recently. It’s a little bit of work but worth it!!!

9. Maple and Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash with Tofu, Raisins and Walnuts – This is one of my personal creations. It will fill your home with the best aromas, very inviting for your guests this holiday

10. Jeni’s Lentil and Mushroom Loaf with Savory Potato Filling – A lot of fun textures and a nice meal centerpiece

11. Nava’s Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie – It’s all in one for a simpler holiday. Very pretty.

12. Millet Loaf – I love millet! I am thinking to add sage and pecans in place of sunflower seeds on this one.

13. Celebration Pot Pie with Pumpkin Biscuit Crust – Wonderful and comforting. I know my son would LOVE this one!

14. The Smoky Tofu Sweet Potato Stacker – Looks impressive with different textures. Reminds me of a Cheescake Factory dish.

15. Harvest Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms Beautiful

16. Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms – Another Portabello recipe. Portabellos are hearty. Use baby or large mushrooms for this.

17. Tofu Stuffed with Brown Rice and Mushroom Dressing – Another hit from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

18. Squashducken – Elegant and sophisticated but remember to substitute Earth Balance for the Butter

19. Black Bean and Pecan Butter Sauce over Grilled Eggplant and Sauteed Spinach – Gorgeous and another “meaty” texture like portabellos.

20. Holiday Ham Recipe from Caribbean Vegan – Festive!

21. Pineapple Glazed “Ham” – I have always wanted to try this recipe. It looks so pretty on the platter.

22. Field Roast Celebration Roast – A store bought vegan roast, but I like this company! Their other products taste great so this is bound to as well. Definitely not gluten free.

23.  Currant-Maple Citrus loaf – Which is just a Celebration Roast (above) with Zest! Looks much prettier than the plain roast.

24. Holiday Roast by gardein – Who doesn’t love gardein? It’s sure to be wonderful for someone who doesn’t want to fuss. They also have single servings for those having a low key celebration.

 …And I bet I could find a million more great recipes out there. One thing a vegan has is an abundance of great food!

I love to see photos of food! You can view the wonderful mouth watering photos of all these links  here on my Pinterest page. Follow me there as well. I will be adding more photos and a part 2 blog post with side dishes and desserts in just a few days, so be sure to check back!

Check out these wonderful short videos, both turkey rescues that will warm your heart and remind you that there are good people out there in the world.

Rescued Turkeys

Turkey Rescue

Here is a heart warming family documentary to watch that will change your views forever about wild turkeys, watch this PBS special “My Life as a Turkey” by Joe Hutto  I felt that it was really touching and well done.

My Life as a Turkey

“The symbolism surrounding the Thanksgiving turkey, much like the modern domestic turkey himself, has been largely manufactured by cynical commercial interests. There is neither compelling historical precedent nor meaningful rationale for associating the butchered carcass of a turkey with our national day of thanksgiving.”

~ Farm Sanctuary


Read more about the history of Thanksgiving here

See all of these recipes in one easy place on Pinterest

Enjoy the journey,

~The Karmatarian

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A Message from Hurricane Sandy

So many good hearted people want to change the world… as long as they don’t have to change themselves. Therefore, not much changes. But it seems that Mother Nature has had enough. To the earth, we humans are like fleas on a dog and she is in dire need of a flea bath. In order to remain as an inhabitants on this big old dog, we are going to have to change our outdated ways and evolve for the benefit of all, not just a few greedy corporations.

Meteorologists claim that hurricane Sandy is the biggest storm in modern US history! Scientists warn that because of global warming, we have set a new trend helping to create monster storms like hurricane Sandy become the new norm.

Think about it… it was the BIGGEST storm to hit the US!! Are we listening now? Hurricane Sandy’s message seems loud and clear. Change needs to happen.

But is Sandy a result of global warming or could this be God’s will to wake us up and make us work together, take heart and help our fellow humans? Could this be related to the numeric energy of 2012 being a 5? Remember my post at the beginning of the year, predicting record breaking weather events?!

If you do not believe in global warming, as it seems controversial, with a little research you will certainly believe in “intelligent” human beings absolutely destroying our planet’s non-renewable resources, producing massive pollution, species extinction, deforestation, land erosion and water contamination and much more.

It’s very real, whether it warms the globe or not.

I don’t disagree with global warming, but I have my suspicion that this storm is spiritual and energetic and perhaps one of the changes predicted that will help to awaken our planet as we move into the golden age of Aquarius. I also believe our individual energy plays into the energy of the whole. Our everyday choices build up and contribute to the consequences.

Global warming or not, it is going to be impossible for us to keep up at our desired standard of living with the rate of our population expansion. And I am no scientist. It’s common sense. Something has to give!

People automatically think that I am vegan for the animals… others understand that I also enjoy the lifestyle for the amazing health benefits and delicious food, but most people don’t have a clue that veganism is the future, I am just ahead of the game, and it’s eventually going to be mandatory for our mere existence on this planet. Veganism has a very small carbon footprint compared to that of meat eater and even surprisingly smaller than Prius owner.

Veganism heals the planet from our destruction.

The United Nations report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems.. All the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships in the world combined. The report also states that factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level, local and global.

Based on this report, senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Dr. Henning Steinfeld stated that “the meat industry is one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems and that urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

How many “Hurricane Sandy’s” will we have to endure before the majority finally make the connection? I am a little scared, aren’t you? This storm along with many other freak weather patterns is most likely the result of systematic consequences related to our everyday choices; diet being our most important choice having the biggest impact on our environment. Period.

When change is eventually thrust upon us all at some point in the near future, I bet many will be wondering if it wouldn’t of been easier had we done it on our own terms…voluntarily? Don’t expect the government to do too much at this point as the food industry is so interwoven in and around greed throughout our politics. Change is up to us as individuals. Unfortunately, we are a reactive culture and change usually results in response to catastrophes. So hold on tight. More is surely heading our way!

I highly recommend education and the internet. The internet is the coolest place with truth being revealed anywhere and everywhere you are willing to see it. Take one month and dedicate it to researching food production and animal exploitation regarding food production and then please let me know when exactly it was that you became vegan as a result. That is if you are courageous enough to be the change. It’s important to be educated about these topics as we certainly don’t learn this stuff in school.

Sometimes we need to be moved with our senses, so don’t just take my word for it. Listen to this passionate 10  minute speech by Phillip Wollen, the former CEO of Citibank. I posted this before, but in case you missed it, here is another chance to catch it. It is powerful, educational and will get you thinking. It is worth every minute.

We have to start somewhere. If it’s not by my inspiration, please let someone inspire you who is helping to make a positive impact on the world. Ask yourself what you can do and then do it. And always know that I am here along with 600 million others who choose vegetarian or vegan, so you are not alone in being part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Eating greener and kinder is an easy, wonderful and fulfilling lifestyle. There is not just one reason to go vegan, there are 101 reasons to go vegan!

Be the change you wish to see.

Many prayers, love, and light go out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the largest storm that in my opinion served a huge purpose. I am listening.

Do you believe in global warming? What is your take on the message that hurricane Sandy delivered this week? Spiritual? Energetic? Cyclical?

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Pumpkins are in season… along with the Flu. I think nature is trying to tell us something. EAT PUMPKIN. Don’t forget the pumpkin seeds! Seeds are full of Zinc that not only heal and clear your skin, it vamps up your immune system. The Vitamin A in pumpkin is a huge immune booster. Now, loading pumpkin with sugar and dairy is going to have the opposite effect. Choose wisely.

I just love Chia pudding, and this recipe is really just a twist on that for this time of year. I would say that this is more for superfood enthusiasts, but my 5 year old seems to really like it. If you are thinking more of a sweet dessert,  you will have to add more dates or other sweetener of your choice. We eat this for breakfast so I don’t prefer it that sweet.

With the recent shortage on Chia Seeds. I am not sure I should be sharing this recipe. Next it will be Cashews and Quinoa… other staples of my vegan diet. I totally saw this coming! I hope farmers take notice and shift their crops. We want more real food! Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Dairy and meat consumption has declined recently and thankfully, but if you still partake of meat and eat dairy, leave my Chia alone!

Oh, I am only kidding….

Or am I?

Now, when you make this pudding, don’t be scared that it looks a little like Dijon mustard. Lol. I probably shouldn’t of told you that. Either way, vitamins and minerals and complete protein are yours! Pumpkin and Chia are two superfoods that you want to consume.

You can top this pudding with raw Pepita (pumpkin seeds) for a higher immune boosting experience, or top with more Chia Seeds, Nutmeg or Cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds
  • 3/4 Cup water
  • 1/3 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Cup Pureed Organic Pumpkin
  • 3 Medjool Dates, soaked and pitted (see directions)
  • 3/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Soak the Chia seeds in water for about 15 minutes. Soak your dates overnight… just kidding. Well, you can, but lets be real. Here is the fast route… I like to heat up water in my tea kettle until very warm, not boiling, and pour over the dates in a Pyrex or other glass bowl. Soak these for 15 minutes while the Chia seeds are soaking. Slice open the drained dates and pit (much easier when soft)

Add all the ingredients to your high speed blender or Vitamix

Blend until creamy and warmed, adjust the sweetener if necessary and sprinkle with topping and serve.

How are you enjoying pumpkin as a superfood this season? Please share your comments and ideas.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

What ever happened to keeping it simple? All this fancy foo foo food out there trying to over-impress and complicate everything. Sometimes my brain goes on gourmet overload, and then I don’t know what to make for dinner. The bar is being raised out there by food bloggers and Pinterest on a daily basis. 

I do enjoy fancy food from time to time. For everyday, I just want something that looks appealing, tastes amazing, fuels my body in a healthy way but it doesn’t have to be all “beetle juice”. Beetle juice is the term I like to use for artsy fartsy. Speaking of insects, I have a bit of a spider sense when people or places that write about or serve food are trying a little too hard to be different. There is a fine line. Sometimes I just don’t have the patience. Yet, I am a little guilty of crossing the beetle juice line once in a while for the fun and art of it. But for the most part. I enjoy real food…. I also enjoy looking at photographs while holding them in my hands. So long are those days.

Most times, I want simple, real and fast for dinner. Not every day goes according to my daily planner and I am squeezed for time. Rushing often leaves little spark for creativity. Even pressed for time, I still want to get something out on the table that is healthy and enjoyable. This dish has quickly become a family favorite. It is only quick if you microwave it. We don’t do that!!! But it’s a simple meal with a few ingredients. Throw a side salad into the mix or finish with dessert and you will be pretty much stuffed. I guarantee it. We enjoyed this last week with no salad and no dessert and we ended up stuffed. Who knew this could be such a filling meal? I couldn’t even finish what I had on my plate. We may have munched on cucumbers and hummus as an appetizer, like we often do, but I can’t recall. I am pretty sure we didn’t. Either way, this will be enough food. Don’t worry.

Sometimes we (or maybe I ) just need to be reminded that dinner can be simple. And it’s ok. It’s great, actually. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the simple dishes that we can make, because we forget about them while thinking about dishes and ingredients we can’t even pronounce.

Cashew cream sauce might seem fancy to you but it is so simple! It is a healthy alternative to sour cream, dairy or vegan. It’s now taking the place of Tofutti brand sour cream here and we are not complaining one bit! It’s versatile and can be used for many other dishes. I used it the next day for an eggless egg salad recipe instead of vegan mayo. In other words, don’t spend money on Tofutti or vegan mayos. Buy cashews instead!

If you have any whole food topping ideas to share, let me hear them. I am looking to change this recipe up a few different ways. But I feel that this one will be in the rotation for a while because these flavors do go well together.

Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

Ingredients

  • Large Sweet Potatoes
  • Black Beans (if I am going for fast, I use canned organic black beans from our local Meijer grocery store. They contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. You can cook and freeze your own beans for later use, too.)
  • Chives, chopped
  • *Optional – Olive Oil

Ingredients for the Cashew Cream

  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt (Pink Salt)
  • *Optional – Favorite Non Dairy Milk or Filtered Water

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the cashews in a bowl and fill to cover with filtered water. Set aside to soak. It is ideal to soak for at least 2 hours – to overnight, but I’m assuming you are throwing dinner together here!

Wash sweet potatoes, air or pat dry and brush the outside skin with olive oil. (This is optional. I have done this each time I make these. I don’t eat the skins, but my husband does. By all means, try it with no oil and let me know how it goes).

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Depending on how large or small the potatoes are, you may want to be flexible on the cooking time. Potatoes are done when easily pierced through with a knife. When potatoes are done, remove and pierce the skin several times to let out the steam. Make a slit in the center of each potato, lengthwise and push in and up from the ends, if you want to be all fancy. Or just slice and place open face onto a plate. Texturize them using a fork, if you prefer, so your toppings won’t slide off!

Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them in your high speed blender or Vitamix along with the other ingredients except for the milk or water. Blend until creamy. Use the non dairy milk or filtered water, if necessary, to adjust the dressing to your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasonings and it’s ready.

Chop your chives.

Get your beans ready to go.

Top your baked sweet potato.

Dinner is served.

Enjoy

~The Karmatarian

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – Oil Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

I just want to try to convince you here, to make your own Hummus. It’s fresher, lighter and you control what goes in it. Not to mention you get more of it, for the money. There’s no “natural flavors”, whatever those could be, and it’s not dripping with oil, because we really don’t neeeeed those empty fat calories.

I am addicted to Hummus! The problem is, trying to find a store bought hummus that is not filled with those things I mentioned above. This recipe won’t be that exciting for many of you and I totally understand, but for my friends who might not have stopped to think about how easy it is to whip up your own fat free hummus, this one is for you!

There are so many possibilities and all different kinds of flavors. Just leave out the roasted peppers and play with it. And depending on what you are going to dip… chips, veggies, pita bread, gluten free pretzels (which we love, along with sliced cucumber) or crackers, you can adjust the seasoning to compliment it best. For instance, you probably don’t want to over salt the Hummus if you are going to eat it with something salted. But you might want to add some extra spice and sea salt if you are going to eat it with plain veggies.

Without the oil, there is a lighter feel to the Hummus, you may have to spice it more to compensate until you get used to it. But did you see my post about the dangers of oils? We certainly don’t need the extra oil. I am now making my own Hummus and it tastes so good! It might take some getting used to if you are only familiar with store brands. Our taste buds can get so manipulated that we have to stop and reset them back to “natural”. It takes a little time.

Although everyone who tries my Hummus, likes it a lot. I am a picky person, a tough critic of my own creations.  I was right up until the other day, looking for that unique ingredient that will really push this dip above and beyond.  I was thinking that it may be I want to try adding another roasted pepper to really go bold? Or add some of my dad’s canned peppers from the garden? But what I stumbled upon was the addition of Vinegar. Yep. Vinegar. It gives it that zesty zing that makes this dip awesome.

When you make your own Hummus, just know that the flavors really come out as it sets, chills and thickens up (in case you added too much liquid) in the fridge. Just have fun and adjust the seasonings to suit you. Try adding different herbs and spices. Add lemon zest and cayenne pepper. Just don’t be afraid to make your own… your way! It’s so much healthier, especially when you soak and cook your own chickpeas. I haven’t gone that far yet. But I imagine I will one of these days. The canned chickpeas I found at my local Meijer store, are organic and contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. Not great, but certainly better than most canned beans out there. These just make the cut off being 110 calories per serving. It is wise to make sure that any packaged products in a healthy diet contain no more sodium than it’s calories. Tough to do! So being in a hurry most days with our schedule, canned chickpeas it ends up to be.

I like the idea of adding roasted red pepper because red peppers have such a good dose of Vitamin C. Higher than an orange… 3 times more, actually. I understand that by lightly roasting the pepper, some Vitamin C may get destroyed. It’s still good. And I’m still gonna roast ’em!!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 large Red Bell Pepper
  • 2  15 oz cans Chickpeas, one drained and one with liquid reserved
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 or 2 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 1/4 or Cup or more Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2  Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Lemon Zest
  • Optional*  Herbs of your choice

Directions

Note* The ingredients above can be adjusted to your liking.  First clean the pepper and remove seeds. Cut in half and place on a baking sheet and roast lightly. Do not brush the pepper with oil. I like to put mine in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes while I do a quick workout in my living room. Why not?

Next place all the ingredients except the spices and about half of the liquid from one can of the chickpeas into your Vitamix blender or high speed blender. If you don’t have a Vitamix, but you think your blender can handle it, go for it. I am pretty sure that this can be made in a food processor as well. Save the other half of the liquid from the chickpeas and use it to thin out the Hummus as you blend only if needed. Blend for 1 minute and use the tamper (with a Vitamix) to press the ingredients into the blades. Blend until creamy consistency.

Season the Hummus with the spices and lemon zest and plenty of sea salt. Place the dip into the refrigerator to chill and set for at least an hour.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Spinach and Tomatoes in a Garlic Wine Sauce

Simple. Light. Perfect for a Summer evening dinner out on the patio. It’s gluten free, vegan and low fat (oil free), but you will need to finish off that bottle of white wine… but who’s complaining?

My summer is picking up and I’ve really been enjoying it. I hope you are enjoying yours. I managed to style 15 updo’s for Cirque du Soleil performers and staff a few weeks ago with the help of a good friend. We got to enjoy the show from very good seats and my little guy LOVED it! It made me so happy. Also happy that no animals were involved. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it was to discover the abuse that goes on toward such majestic elephants and wild animals for the traditional circus. I recommend watching Earthlings if you haven’t yet. And boycott the old circus at all costs! The Dralion or any Cirque show is worth saving up your money and taking your family out for a memorable day.

… Another happy vegan moment. Finding cute cowboy boots – man made material! I have been looking for a pair for a few years and unfortunately it was tough, so I stopped looking. Last week, I ran into a cute little store here called Francesca’s Collections and I spotted them, they actually fit, and off I went to a country concert…. Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney! Brothers of the Sun tour. Who wouldn’t have a fabulous time seeing these two hotties perform?

Next on the agenda, we rented a cute little lake house for some fun in the sun…. I hope to take some time to evaluate life and set some goals for the future in a quiet natural setting.  There’s no chance of getting on the computer as I was told there is no internet access. This might be really interesting to see how addicted I honestly am to technology. I might just go a little crazy, but maybe not? We’ll find out, won’t we?

Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Spinach and Tomatoes in a Garlic Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 – 16 oz Package of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta (gluten free)
  • Vegetable Broth (approximately 2 cups but I just had a carton on hand and freely used it as needed)
  • 8 oz container of Baby Bella, white or Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup chopped Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 package of fresh Spinach leaves (about 2-3 large handfuls)
  • Your choice Tomatoes, either  3 chopped Roma or 1/2 container of sliced Grape Tomatoes (I made it both ways and liked it either way)
  • 1/2 Cup of good White Wine (that you will enjoy drinking with your dinner)
  • 1/4 Cup of Nutritional Yeast
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Heat a large shallow pan over medium to high heat and add a splash of vegetable broth. Once heated, add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes until soft adding vegetable broth as needed. Remove mushrooms to a medium bowl.

Add more broth (just enough to cook) to the pan if necessary, return to heat and add the onion, cook until translucent and stir in garlic and cook 2 minutes more adding broth as it cooks so not to burn or stick to the pan. Remove these to the bowl with the mushrooms.

Return the pan to the heat and add more broth, heat and add spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Bring back the mushrooms, onions and garlic to the pan with the spinach and add the tomatoes. Add more vegetable broth if needed and add the white wine and cook until slightly reduced, add about a cup of vegetable broth (or how much you prefer) and cook for 5 minutes until everything is heated through and tomatoes are softened. Add nutritional yeast and the salt and pepper to taste…. stir and heat through.

Top the pasta with sauce and veggies and enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

A few fun pics….

Fun with the girls at the Brothers of the Sun concert… check out my vegan boots! (I’m on the right) :)

Me and my little guy at the United Center to see Cirque Du Soleil – The Dralion

… and Michael Jordan’s “legs”… lol

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Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

“Thoughts of lack manifest as limitation. Thoughts of abundance manifest as success and happiness. Failure and success are but two ends of the same stick.”

~Ernest Holmes

Happy Friday everyone! No, this quote doesn’t have much to do with chickpeas unless you think about all the creative ways in which chickpeas can be used in a plant-based diet. Plant-based eaters tend to think abundantly! After all, we have so many wonderful foods to choose from, it’s hard not to. I also believe the standard American diet tends to lend a hand in people not thinking about their food at all. Not caring where their food comes from and certainly taking it all for granted. At least this used to be me and it’s what I observe in others. Now I savor everything and appreciate the hell out of it! I appreciate colors, flavors, textures and good ethics that go along with creating it.

So have you ever heard of roasted chickpeas? I recently discovered this idea online and so I made these a few weeks back for the Forks Over Knives movie review and discussion I hosted. I didn’t exactly make them correctly, yet one of the guests couldn’t stop eating them! She even took them to go! So even if you screw them up a bit, like I did. They will still taste good. Practice makes perfect, but I think if you follow the directions you won’t screw up. I was in a bit of a hurry.

The key is to roast them until crispy on the outside. I didn’t quite get them that crispy on the first try because I was afraid of burning them. You just have to keep tossing them while baking. I used my toaster oven the second time around which seemed to help. I could see them a little better. Less distance. Maybe I need more Vitamin A for my eyesight?!

Chickpeas are a staple food in a plant-based diet. Think hummus. I do have a wonderful homemade fat-free roasted red pepper hummus that I will be posting soon. YUM! We go through hummus like water around here!

I like that we can switch things up regarding chickpeas. I actually used a chickpea oil blend in place of eggs for gluten free brownie recipe and it was amazing! They were like brownie protein bars! But in regards to this recipe, think about all the different spice combos to be tried. Many fun possibilities.

Roasted chickpeas, especially the spicy, salty ones, remind me of bar nuts, minus the musty bar smell, neon Miller sign and beer goggles.

Not only fun to eat, here is what you can expect from a cup of chickpeas: 14 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, 45 grams of good carbs. Of course lots of vitamins and minerals… not going to get into details because it’s Friday. Just trust me. It’s all good.

Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained, (patted dry with a paper towel) and laid out to dry on a towel for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 Tablespoon of melted Coconut Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Raw Organic Sugar. I used Coconut Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly mist with oil.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon and dash of sea salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Coat the beans in melted coconut butter and sprinkle evenly with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Spread the beans out evenly onto your baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing every five or ten minutes, all while checking that they are not burning , just getting nice and crispy on the outside.

Let cool and enjoy. Have a great weekend!

~The Karmatarian

Ps. I certainly want to hear your comments, especially if you make these!

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A Powerful Vegan Speech with WOW Factor!

If there is suffering on your plate… there is suffering in your future.

~ Unknown

If this isn’t the best speech I have heard in a long time! Wow Wow and WOW! Feel this man’s passion!!! It gives me chills each and every time I listen to it. Don’t let the title scare you. Hear and learn in ten minutes what I have been learning about for the past 5 years! Really take in what this man is saying with an open mind. I wish this was me up there at that podium! This explains so much about my path and my passion and the passion of so many like minded people.

This is more than a fantastic reminder of why to choose plant based! I hope Phillip Wollen’s speech helps you as much as it did me, to remain STRONG on this path. This couldn’t of come at a better time. This week, there has been a bit of a questioning in my soul as others questioned me and caused me to second guess my choices. I am grateful this happened because it made me ask. I received an answer and it strengthened my character just that much more.

It absolutely never fails… when I quietly ask God, the universe, infinite intelligence or the higher power (or whatever you choose to call it) to show me an answer to my question, and when I let it go and forget about it, I always wake up to the answer within a day or two. It usually hits me SMACK across the face! This video was my answer. It appeared in my experience after I asked WHY? Why did I wake up to the mess we have created here on earth, while so many others are still asleep? It’s not an easy path at times. Why do I have such strong convictions for peace on earth? More importantly, why am I questioned by those who wish and choose to remain in the dark and continue to contribute to the mess? Shouldn’t I be questioning them? How is it that I am extreme? People kill emotional, thinking and feeling beings by the billions per week. Aren’t they really the extremists? What is so wrong with having and showing compassion for those with no voice? Why is it a sign of weakness to the opposed when someone shows mercy for the planet and animals? Why am I holding strong, choosing vegan and feeling the push to educate? Why me… when I could easily remain ignorant too.

“Let’s just call things what they are. When a man’s love of finery clouds his moral judgment, that is vanity. When he lets a demanding palate make his moral choices, that is gluttony. When he ascribes the divine will to his own whims, that is pride. And when he gets angry at being reminded of animal suffering that his own daily choices might help avoid, that is moral cowardice.”

~Matthew Scully

Choosing vegan is not always easy and (unfortunately) it makes you different. People don’t like when someone they know is being or acting different. People naturally want others to be the same. This point has been used against me, too and I get it. But the way I see it… anything on the flip side of choosing vegan and choosing peace, when those choices factually and clearly cause suffering on so many different levels only contribute to the death energy of our culture. How is this good and how can it be defended in any way at all? Except for the fact that we were born into it. But now we have the opportunity to get educated and do what we can to stop contributing to the disaster. It has been confirmed by Cornell and Harvard that the amount of animal foods we need in our diet for good health is precisely ZERO.

Veganism isn’t a religion, it’s based on cold hard facts. I believe that humans are inherently good and this is still true of carnivores, for which I was once one. But this is why vegans educate. We won’t get anywhere in our evolution towards peace by being silent about things that matter. The world needs educators. This world needs vegans. Until all religions practice what they preach, I guess we the vegans are the preachers! So be it.

“If we all understand that animals can use their eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, mouths to eat, legs to walk, feathers to fly, fins to swim, genitalia to procreate, bowels to defecate. I’m always perplexed that most people don’t believe that they can also use their brains to think.

~Gary Yourofsky

My questioning goes further…Why do I feel such opposition to something that is so wanted by so many people… Peace on earth? They say they want it… But how are they going about creating it? Actions speak louder than words.

I do feel that I am on the right path, but why is it so damn frustrating at times? Should I give in and just give up on peace? My answer was clear. NO. “The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones”. We evolve…. we are still evolving and we are heading into the age of Aquarius – the Golden Age – when peace is finally at the forefront. This revolution needs pioneers. I guess I was picked to be one of them. I really hope to see vegans out number the unconscious at some point in my lifetime and I hope it’s before the year 2048 when the oceans run dry and my son and his children have to deal with it. Pass the buck… hasn’t this been the way all along?

This FACT about destroying our waterways and ocean was confirmed by Cornell University’s Oceanography Professor, Bruce Monger, who lectured in my plant based nutrition course. It’s Cornell! Not some unknown, credit-less university. We also had David Pimentel, Professor of Ecology and Agricultural Sciences from Cornell teaching us the facts and how we are destroying the earth with our Western diet choices! So if you have to, forget optimal health, forget animal suffering. This planet is going down, simply due to food production, and that’s enough reason on it’s own to preach a plant based diet! The good news… Over 600 Million vegetarians and counting. It is comforting for me to know that among this group, we all have one thing in common and it’s found within our hearts. Peace.

If you know anything about quantum energy and how it works – by contributing to bloodshed, it just creates more bloodshed. Human bloodshed, animal bloodshed… Blood is blood. There’s nothing peaceful about it. What’s more is that the greed of people on this planet is beyond reasonable. “The Earth can produce enough food for our need but not enough for our Greed”. Perfectly stated. Thank you, Phillip Wollen. Follow his Facebook Page to keep up with this amazing hero! I also found his website. There is something fascinating about a man who exudes confidence and compassion and a has a burning passion in his heart to end suffering and bring peace. A man who is also fearless in spreading the word of peace even though he knows he will be greatly opposed… Uh…kinda reminds me of Jesus, wouldn’t you say?

Too often, I am afraid of speaking my mind on my own damn blog for fear of offending someone. Well I am over it. I should be the one offended by those not taking the free education that I offer and then choosing better. It’s not hard. Where we are heading is going to be a lot harder. I am also a bit fed up with those who choose to debate me but who refuse to educate themselves on the topic. They just all of the sudden become an expert nutritionist or biologist. I actually study this stuff for a living. I wasn’t born vegan. It was an educated choice. It was the smartest choice I saw fit for the best in health for me, my family and everyone around me who benefits from my choices. I should be thanked, honored, and rolled out a red carpet. To be and do different (in the name of peace) in this world takes bravery. Period. If I reflect to those a lack in ability to live up to their fullest potential to be and do their best in this lifetime, instead of perceiving this as a threat of some kind, use this reflection to take a closer look at the ways in which you can do better. For your best health and the world around you.

Let me please share and clarify where I stand. At first, when my eyes were freshly opened to our food production system. I was horrified. I did open my big mouth on Facebook and post a lot of animal rights issues. My friends may have branded me for that. I do not apologize for it by any means BUT I have come to learn that people don’t respond well to animal suffering for whatever reasons that their egos use to protect them. I have however, for my own sanity, switched my main focus back to health because animal suffering is not a fun topic… and what do you know? I’ll say it again… It has been confirmed by Cornell and Harvard that the amount of animal foods we need in our diet for good health is precisely ZERO. So my education in plant based nutrition only solidified that I was on the right path from the start. When we honor ourselves and eat whole plant based foods. Everyone wins. Studying nutrition and becoming certified in plant based nutrition has helped to shift my focus from shock and awe of animal abuse back toward helping people beat and avoid horrific diseases that are coincidentally only caused by animal foods. This is a win win! I still haven’t forgotten the animals and I never will. Why? Because we are all one. We are all connected. Because that animal who suffers is you… and me.

Inevitably, there will be more peace energy on this earth when the majority finally decide to eat the way that God intended. That damn flood had to go and ruin everything! Give people an inch and they take a mile… in this case they are taking down the whole damn planet!

In this weeks conclusion, I settled back onto my path with stronger convictions than ever before and I was reminded of a few amazing quotes –

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”

~Arthur Schopenhauer

And when this day comes, where truth is all of the sudden self evident to those who question and oppose me now, I will have to write another blog post about how pissed off I am that at times it felt like my quest for peace never existed in this equation in the first place… even though I stood here all along beating this BIG ASS DRUM! Lol

The most important thing to remember for those of us who strongly choose to light the way… let it be by way of education and living a great example, even a good debate every now and then but NO judgment…. Even still, your opposition will try to knock you down. Just get back up! Because for every one who can’t see the light, there are ten others who will, and it’s because of the torch we carry.  The good news is, that we are all to start waking up. 2012 is just the beginning. If you are one on this vegan path, I just want to say thank you for adding to the collective energy that will shift this dark planet into the light! I have no doubt this is right where I belong.

So take a few minutes to hear one of the best speeches toward peace on earth and leave me your thoughts in the comments below!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

~Martin Luther King Jr.

Enjoy the journey,

This rant brought to you by…

~The Karmatarian

PS. If you subscribe via Email, you may be missing some of the photos and videos so please visit my site and please join me on Facebook so we can light this world together!

PSS. The recipe didn’t win out this week. Lol… Next week! I try to write this blog organically, what is strong in my experience at the time gets put out there into the universe, as there must be a reason for it’s timing.

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My Visit to the Chicago Health Freedom Expo

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results ~ Albert Einstein

That’s not insanity; it’s bad memory ~  Marilu Henner

I consider learning fun. Guess I’m just a little weird like that. I was able to attend the Health Freedom Expo over the past weekend and it was packed with information on, you guessed it… health and freedom. Lol. I attended with my mom (She’s the beautiful woman on the left… I am so lucky to have a mom like her) and we always have a lot of laughs and a bit of adventure. We made some fun memories. Did you know that memories are almost always connected to adrenaline? Good or bad. If you have adrenaline attached to the experience, there’s a much better chance that you will remember it.

Marilu Henner gave a high energy talk about how to makeover our memories. We can use our past to better shape our future… if we actually remember what happened! I hear more and more people talk about how they just can’t remember anything anymore, including myself. I joked with my mom about the fact that I hear people say all the time – I just don’t want to remember the past because the past is the past. Well guess what? Every day lived, you create more memories which become the past. If you tell yourself you don’t want to remember the past, then you surely aren’t going to remember a damn thing! Our intentions are quite powerful.

Pretty cool that Marilu Henner grew up in Chicago and said that she loves us Chicago folks, as we are the curious ones! and she’s also a fellow vegan, I loved that Marilu Henner threw out the concept of eating healthy in her talk about creating a healthy memory. Our bodies work together with the brain and she said, what is good for the body, is good for the brain. She suggested a plant based diet and if you are not there yet, then at least do meatless Monday. She actually remembers the exact day and time that she gave up dairy because Marilu Henner is one of only 12 documented cases of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory in the world! She can remember the exact day and time of all kinds of events that have taken place in her life and doctors are studying her brain to better help understand such things as Alzheimer’s disease. Marilu told me that she was not going to let her parents die in vain as they both experienced early deaths. She realized why they died so young…. the standard American diet!

There are three parts to a memory according to Marilu Henner and her newest book Total Memory Makeover: Anticipation, Participation and Recollection. Recollecting is the most important part of the memory process and as a child she learned this from her dad who stressed this idea to her. She believes that her amazing ability is part nature and part nurture. She claims that we can do it too! She suggests that every night while brushing our teeth for two minutes, go over every part of our day. This will help to embed those memories into our brains for better recollection.

There are four types of memory retrieval: Horizontal, Vertical, Mushrooming, and Sporadic. These are helpful to know, so that you can use the ones that work best for you. I can’t go into detail here, but these are all in the new book. Marilu also reminded us of our senses and how we each use different senses to recall memories. It was fun to think about how we personally recall memories when she asked what works for us. I am a little of everything…. no wonder I have trouble remembering!

There is also an interesting way in which we recall a memory. It’s either in the first person or the third person. We either relive the memory as us going through it or we watch ourselves doing it from an outsider type perspective… Which way do you recall a memory?

Having a good memory by way of training it, was something that I never really stopped to think about. But I too, want to live an unforgettable life! I love new ideas and concepts and I can’t wait to start reading her newest book. I hope to give you a better review of it when I am finished.

As for my mom and I and the rest of the expo… we visited every booth, talked to really cool people and we also listened to Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. speak on reversing heart disease. I will share bits and pieces of that with you later. It was very insightful. We ended the day with our heads spinning! One thing for certain, throughout the day the words plant based diet was stressed from all different educators. It’s catching on folks! Slowly but surely.

Oh, don’t be afraid of a so called scary memory. The fear of remembering it is far greater than the memory itself. Take that memory and do something positive with it and you will do your future self a big favor!

I had such a fun day at the Expo and it was so wonderful to meet Marilu Henner. She has such a wonderful spirit! I will leave you with a couple quotes from Marilu Henner’s new book. And remember… memories matter!

Memory is the mother of all wisdom ~ Aeschylus

We cannot change our memories, but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us.

~ David Seamands


Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Tips on Avoiding Oil

I have to confess, I really don’t feel like doing aaaaanything, including blogging.  There’s not much inspiration stirring in my kitchen these past few days either. All I want to do is enjoy summer. Even though I don’t feel like doing much, I find that I have been busier these past two months than I have been all year! What’s up with that?! The way I am feeling right now, I hope I am not heading for burn-out. I need to have some fun here.

I have been thinking about fun (and how I could really use some) and I had an unexpected surprise the other day… Someone contacted me regarding hair styling for a Cirque du Soleil event. It’s still work mind you, but it’s a little play too, as tickets to the show are involved. YAY! Now I am visualizing that everything works out effortlessly and comes to pass so I can take my little guy to a circus with class and without the animal cruelty. The way it should be! I find it crazy that I just finished watching the documentary “Earthlings” which was a bit tough to handle, but a must see for everyone and I kept thinking about the traditional Circus vs. Cirque du Soleil. Then what do you know? I attracted Cirque du Soleil into my experience. Coincidence… or the power of the mind?

I’m always in the mood to be entertained and inspired. Have you seen Cirque du Soleil? Where was it? What’s your review?

Photo by Ed Schipul

Avoiding Oil

Come to think of it, avoiding oil can seem like a challenging circus act. To change the subject here, I just want to share with you the ways in which I am trying to avoid oil. Why? Oil is the reason we are fat, according to Dr. Doug Lisle. Oil is concentrated fat calories and they are everywhere in the standard American diet! I posted earlier about oil and it’s harmful effects and I have been a lot more conscious about oil in my day to day diet. When I read labels, specifically being mindful of oil, I find it everywhere! From veggie burgers to granola cereals to crackers and more. You can’t escape the oil. Unless you work at it. Read those labels!

Each time you omit unnecessary fat calories, it adds up, and you end up slimming down without much effort.

Here are some ideas that are quite simple, but just take habit forming effort:

Make homemade salad dressings –  Salads are a part of a healthy diet but not so much when they are smothered in fat. Out of pure laziness, I used to buy pre-made “healthy” salad dressings. After reading the Forks over Knives handbook and trying some of their simple recipes, I was amazed by the difference. There are dressings that you can make in advance to keep on hand and they taste FRESH, light and clean. Or, just squeeze lemon over a salad for something refreshing.  (I will post one of my favorite recipes from the FOK book at the end of this post).

Switch what you dip – I am ashamed to say that for a while, we had a blue corn chip addiction here. I was noticing that chips and hummus were becoming a pre-dinner snack once or twice a week, so we switched to baked chips. Better than that, now I am on to veggies… I know it sounds so simple and obvious but veggies seemed like more work than ripping open a bag of chips and I am busy  like everyone else. How funny. I just had to re-create the habit of having fresh cut veggies ready to go. Somewhere along the line, I fell off that wagon. Since it is summer, I find that I am all about cucumbers which are cold and refreshing. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower never really striked my fancy but once you know how important they are in fighting breast cancer and other hormone related cancers, you’ll be reaching for these, like I am now.

Make your own Hummus – My recipe is coming soon! Hummus has to be a vegan’s favorite staple food item! I whipped up my own roasted red pepper hummus the other day for an event I had here and someone asked my husband if I made it… he said no (because we have been on a bad track of buying store bought). I was so mad because YES, yes I did make it for the party. It was so easy in my Vitamix and oil free! It tasted just as good (much better actually) as anything we ever purchased and from now on, I will always try to make my own. But if ever in a hurry, I’ll be looking for a fat free/oil free hummus at the grocery store because oil is usually always involved in hummus dip.

Ditch the mayo, Veganaise, Nayonaise etc… – Hopefully by now, you have moved on from regular mayo with all that egg cruelty and onto vegan brands such as Veganaise. But Veganaise still has a lot of fat. It is a good idea to omit the extra fat on your sandwich (because it all adds up). Try something natural, lighter or homemade. I am using hummus, mashed avocado or homemade vegan mayo on my sandwiches lately. I made this homemade Tofu-Cashew mayonnaise from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and I really like it. I added a touch of black salt for that egg like flavor. I am now experimenting with different twists on this dressing as Author, Susan Voisin suggests.

Cook your vegetables in vegetable broth or water, not oil – Most of us are so guilty. It’s the way we were brought up. First you grab your pan, heat the oil and add your veggies. If we stop and think about it. It’s so unnecessary! Vegetables cook up just fine using water or vegetable broth. You may need to add more liquid as it cooks off, you just have to watch it a bit closer is all. You can also roast veggies in the oven that are soaked in broth instead of smothered in oil. Save yourself some inflammation!

Replace oil in baked goods- You can use applesauce, banana, tofu or flax just to name some ideas

Use parchment paper for baking food instead of greasing the cookie sheets – This is pretty self explanatory.

If you have to use oil… For example, pancakes – I use a good non-stick pan, but I will still use a bit of coconut oil. I put about a 1/2 teaspoon in the heated pan and then wipe it around the pan with a paper towel. It get’s evenly coated with a light, barely there bit of oil. This helps reduce the fat and oil but helps the cakes from sticking.

Search for a fat free pasta sauce – This was a little tough for me. I like to have a good pasta sauce on hand. As much as I like the idea of Muir Glen organic brand, I found the sauce to be lacking in taste. I also tried Walnut Acres brand… it’s not for me. It also lacks. I should confess… I have a tiny salt addiction, ever since I was pregnant (just for dinner food though.Weird). It’s salt I crave. I try to keep it to my Pink Himalayan sea salt which is healthier in nature but this salt thing is something I should kick. Whether it be salt or flavor… I searched the shelves at Trader Joe’s and discovered their fat free organic spaghetti sauce with mushrooms. It’s my new favorite. It has taste! My dad cans his own tomatoes and I would love to learn this craft. Right now, I am a girl on the go and I use jar sauce. I’m also not very Italian. Just a little tiny bit Italian. Not enough to offend my ancestors by using jarred sauce :)

Don’t butter your bread – We used to slather our toast in earth balance first and then top with jelly. We had to stop that. I am now just topping my son’s toast with natural preserves or nut butters. Possibly a drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkle of Sucanat. We don’t miss the butter. We just had to break the habit. I still have Earth Balance on hand but it is lasting an eternity now that I rarely use it. This is a good thing! Same thing goes for waffles or my favorite organic sprouted Ezekiel bread. No more oils…

Here is one good resource for substitutes and techniques for fat free cooking.

As promised, one of my new favorite salad dressing recipes is Raspberry-Orange Vinaigrette. This is from the Forks Over Knives handbook and Anastasia St. John. It’s very refreshing for summer and so easy.

You’ll need

  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/2 Cup fresh or frozen Raspberries, thawed
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • Freshly ground Pepper

Directions

Puree the orange juice, raspberries and balsamic vinegar in a blender until smooth. Add black pepper to taste

I’ll plan to share a good recipe next week…. for now, it’s Friday and I’m off to the pool! I want to wish a wonderful Father’s day to all the great dad’s out there! Enjoy your weekend. Ps. Follow me on my Facebook Page… I just shared a great beet burger recipe (for your weekend bbq) that I found today!

Do you have any ideas on avoiding oil and fat? Please share your comments

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Understanding the Transition to a Low Fat Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet

One of my favorite presentations during my plant based nutrition certification through the T. Colin Campbell foundation was by Dr. Doug Lisle regarding what is known as The Pleasure Trap. This helped me to understand why people would constantly say to me, “you eat vegan? I could NEVER do that!”. This is also why people start their transition into a whole foods plant based diet and then quit just shy of success.

There is a hidden force that undermines our health and happiness. It is something called the Motivational Triad. This will explain how food cravings can both serve and mislead us.

When you understand how the pleasure trap works, then you will have the power to beat the system and reach success. We can now expect the process and push through until our body adjusts to the healthier food and we truly end up enjoying it!

Why is it, that when we know what the right thing is to do, (the right foods to eat, in this case) it’s so hard to do?

 “If you do the wrong thing it feels right and when you do the right thing (after having been doing the wrong thing) it feels wrong.”

~ Dr. Lisle

Our evolutionary instincts (guidance system) are to EAT – SURVIVE – REPRODUCE

 The Motivational Triad is as follows:

  1. Pleasure (Feels Good!)
  2. Pain (Feels Bad!)
  3. Energy Conservations (Be Efficient!)

We all have the same motivational triad. We are all hard-wired to unconsciously make decisions using this triad. By nature we seek out pleasure, try to avoid pain, and attempt to do both by expending as little energy as possible.

The pleasure trap occurs when you take someone and put them into an environment they were not designed to handle. This explains why FOOD is now the #1 pleasure trap among us.

What are some of the most popular foods? Chocolate, hot dogs, cheese, French fries, chips, burger, pizza and donuts of course!

Sugar, fat, and salt… foods that we were DESIGNED to seek out (but not as they are today) These processed foods have a very high caloric density unlike whole fresh plant foods. These calorie dense foods are much more attractive biologically because they support the Motivational Triad by giving us pleasure, quickly eliminating anxiety that accompanies hunger, and by being so calorie dense they give us the BIGGEST bang for our buck which supports our biological need to conserve energy.

The most important thing to realize is that we quickly become addicted to processed food and when we eat this food it triggers a pleasure response in our brain, however this pleasure response deadens with time and the same exact junk food does not taste as good to us as it originally did. This makes us want/need a little bit more and a little bit more and… Think about a time when your senses were dulled. Perhaps someone walking into your home and smelling something good cooking but you can’t smell it because you are right there in it… and your senses have been dulled.

When we try to eliminate fat, sugar, and salt from our diet, we will most likely go through a painful withdrawal. Whole unrefined foods are not going to taste very good to us initially because our senses have been dulled. Fortunately, we now understand the process

This process takes 8-12 weeks for our bodies to reset what pleasure is. At first there is a reduction in pleasure. Be aware! Then our taste buds adjust to enjoy the new diet. Our bodies are designed to crave this kind of foodwhole plant foods!

FAT

Dr. Lisle believes that the leading cause of weight gain is OIL. For example, Apples are 300 calories a pound. Oil is 4000 calories a pound. Oil is a huge part of a standard American diet!

Here is an interesting statistic – Between the ages of 20 and 40 women gain about one pound per year. NOT by massively overeating, but by systematically eating a LITTLE bit too much at a time.

There are only 3 species on the planet with weight problems; do you know what they are?

1.Dogs

2.Cats

3.Humans

It’s rather troubling that these three species are found within our homes and are fed by us.

Conversely, in NATURE when food is abundant, animals still do not get fat! Animals follow the Law of Satiety which states that Animals eating to full satisfaction (satiety) in their natural habitat will – over time – eat neither too much nor too little for optimum health.

Dr. Lisle believes that weight problems are NOT because of psychological issues, but weight problems can CAUSE psychological issues.

If you are overweight you are eating foods that are too concentrated.  Simple as that.” 

~Dr. Lisle

When there is fiber deficiency and fiber damage the result is over consumption of calories due to artificial concentration in our diet.

Which is more filling: A pint of Ice Cream…. Or a half-gallon of raw salad, three ears of corn, two baked potatoes, and a pound of cherries?

If we are trying to lose weight, the key is not deprivation, but eating plenty of the right kinds of foods so that we eat to satisfaction with a large amount of whole, unprocessed foods. So the key to losing weight doesn’t mean, NOT eating as much as we want!

If we eat an appropriately calorie dense diet of whole unprocessed food our body will take us where we need to be… we do not need to try and consciously eat less.

Trying to deprive ourselves of the proper volume of food will lead us to problems in that our biology will kick in and push us to seek those calorie dense (fat, sugar, salt) foods that we need to avoid. WE MUST NOT GO HUNGRY or we will set ourselves up for failure.

Dr. Lisle suggests that we take these steps when we sit down to eat and make this our new religion:

1.     Eat our salad first

2.     Then eat our veggies

3.     Then eat our concentrated carbohydrates

To successfully escape the pleasure trap and transition into a whole foods plant based diet we can try the following:

1.     Eat a low fat plant based diet for 70-90 days and let nature readjust our taste buds

2.     Fast – do a water fast for a few days and we will be dreaming about carrots!

3.     Juice for a few days, omitting salt, and fat leaving only carbs to reset the taste bud receptors and heighten our taste bud sensitivity

4.     Go to prison… meaning a medically supervised health center where they will be strict, but help us to fast through the addictions (when all else fails)

All of the above methods take our fat, salt, and sugar receptors offline and essentially reset them.

The other important thing we can try is to get ourselves really hungry, go all day without food and then sit down to a healthy meal that we know we liked before and this will really reset those taste buds: Monday morning, don’t eat for a while. Go all the way to Monday night. What will happen is that the sensitivity of our taste receptors will increase, our motivation for eating is going to rise, and then once we have a meal that we know is healthy and that we have liked before, we increase the likelihood that we will actually enjoy that meal. So getting hungry is a quick way to try to move through this trap.

The ideas in this post are all part of Dr. Lisle’s theory. You can read more about Dr. Lisle’s theory in his book, “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that is Undermines Health and Happiness.” Click here to purchase from the Karmatarian store… it helps support this site. Thank you!

Watch Dr. Lisle as he talks about How to lose weight without losing your mind! It’s fascinating information that everyone needs to know, but settle in, it’s a little over an hour in length!

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Oil – Harmful or Helpful?

Photo courtesy of: http://www.heatheronhertravels.com/

It dawned on me that I’ve been bouncing between the ideas of three different diets and nutritional lifestyles. When it comes to the idea of oil, each diet is different. Oil has been a conditioned staple and part of my cooking process FOREVER, so the idea of giving up oil for optimal health has been a bit of a struggle for me. I wasn’t ready to hear or accept why I should. But I finally grasp why it is important to avoid oil and I gathered a bit of information below that helps me to better understand the “WHY” and if it helps me, I hope it will help you, too.

One of the diets I like, the raw food diet, happens to be very high in fat and oil, It seems the raw foodists are turning up their noses at the advice of nutritional scientists and doctors regarding how much fat we actually require. The other diet, the general vegan diet just avoids animal products (for that alone, I am a huge fan) but for many it remains an unhealthy diet filled with sugar, processed food, fat and oil as part of an everyday menu. But the whole foods plant based diet is totally scientific, optimal health focused and does not condone sugar, processed foods or oil at all!  No oil. ZIP. This is the ultimate healthy diet in my opinion and in the opinion of many modern nutritional scientists. This is what I strive for. I love raw foods but I accept that I will never be 100% raw. I love to cook. I find myself eating mostly raw all day long and cooking a vegan/plant based dinner in the evening. This is my happy place right now. Cooking food is just fine and you can reach all of your health goals with cooked foods too, no matter what the raw food community tries to tell you.

The WFPBD is the diet I have studied more prominently and became certified in through the T. Colin Campbell foundation. But, I find that I still try to make my way through the opposing studies, one side saying oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, flax oil and hemp oil etc… have health benefits and the other side saying they have nothing to offer but premature aging, blood vessel damage and added fat onto our thighs to name a few things. I’m trying to figure out if I can still partake with a tiny bit of oil because I have no known health risks or if I should just steer clear.  So here we go….

How oil consumption is harmful

First, I must point out the obvious, oil is 100% FAT. Period. Extremely high in calories and every one of them = pure fat!

Oil has zero fiber which would otherwise help ease this fat into our system. Instead it gets dumped in and it messes with our pancreas. So in other words, extra fat in our diet especially in the form of oil, lends a very big hand to diabetes and offers us a very good chance of some form of a sugar metabolic disorder.

“It’s rather simple but as everyone knows, oil is a lubricant, oil coats things and if there’s more fat in our bloodstream than we’re designed to handle, it not only coats the blood sugar molecule, it also coats the insulin. Well, when the insulin is coated and the sugar is coated, it’s very hard for the insulin to link up with the sugar. They don’t recognize each other. Not only that, but the portal where sugar exits the bloodstream becomes clogged with fat, so it’s hard for sugar to get out again. Well, the blood sugar level continues to rise and eventually, more insulin is produced and the insulin’s job is to find sugar. So, eventually it’s going to, but now there’s twice as much or three times as much insulin in the bloodstream as there is supposed to be and eventually your blood sugar crashes.

~Dr. Doug Graham, Author of The 80-10-10 Raw Foods Diet (Interview with Natural News.com)

The average American, eating roughly 40 percent of his calories from fat when the world authorities are recommending 10 percent as a maximum. And if we keep doing that we will all become diabetics. The raw fooders, I thought, we’re doing far better until I started keeping track, and after interviewing about 5000 raw fooders, I feel pretty comfortable in giving averages, and the average raw fooder consumes 65 to 70 percent of their calories from fat.”

~Dr. Doug Graham, Author of The 80-10-10 Raw Foods Diet (Interview with Natural News.com)

When oil enters into our stomachs, due to it’s condensed nature and lack of fiber, the receptors and regulators, namely the Hypothalamus, are not properly informed. Our stomach’s stretch receptors are not triggered properly and neither are our body’s nutrition receptors (think toxic hunger). Both can cause us to over eat.

Free Radicals

When oil is heated, it becomes denatured, oxidized, and rancid. Oils increase our need for Vitamin E and Antioxidants because of the free radicals they produce and free radical damage such as premature aging, cancer and disease result along with deficient levels of Vitamin E. Free radicals attack our cells and tissues setting the stage for cancer, and initiate the buildup of plaque in our blood vessels by triggering mutations of our cells DNA/RNA strands. Free radicals also set us up for auto-immune diseases like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Cataracts.

“Excess consumption of vegetable oils is especially damaging to the reproductive organs and the lungs—both of which are sites for huge increases in cancer in the US.”- Dr. G, All about Wellness, Blog

“Every mouthful of oils and animal products, including dairy foods, initiates an assault on these [cell] membranes and, therefore, on the cells they protect. These foods produce a cascade of free radicals in our bodies, especially harmful chemical substances that induce metabolic injuries from which there is only a partial recovery. Year after year, the effects accumulate. And eventually, the cumulative cell injury is great enough to become obvious, to express itself as what physicians define as disease. Plants and grains do not induce the deadly cascade of free radicals. Even better, in fact, they carry an antidote. Unlike oils and animal products, they contain antioxidants, which help to neutralize the free radicals and also, recent research suggests, may provide considerable protection against cancers.”

~ Dr. Esselstyn, page 38 of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”

Fat

Polyunsaturated fat although deemed the healthier fat, still has the potential to turn into saturated fat in our bodies.

Fat, no matter the type, in excess, can be stored on our butts, thighs and hips etc. Be careful with supplementation of things like Omega 3.

We require as little as 10% of our total calories to come from fat. Yet the standard American Diet consumes an average of 40% fat and the raw food dieters can consume up to 70%!

Fat stimulates the production of hormones. If we want to avoid hormone related cancers, diabetes and disease etc… it is important to stick to a low fat plant based diet.

The more fat a person consumes, the more competition there is for the enzymes that convert ALA to DHA (Omega 3) therefore causing an Omega 3 deficiency.

A high fat diet consisting of oils (including and especially fish oil supplements) seriously increases Vitamin E deficiency. This is due to the free radical damage promoted by the oil and our body’s requirement of antioxidants and Vitamin E to fix the problem.

I would have to agree with Dr. Doug Lisle who believes that the leading cause of weight gain is oil. Consider apples which are 300 calories a pound.  Oil is 4000 calories a pound. Oil is everywhere in the standard American diet!

As a woman, I particularly agree with this next quote:

“Here is the reality for breast cancer patients. Most breast cancers are estrogen positive, and most women receive treatment for their cancer that an increasing number of doctors are starting to acknowledge is overkill.

Estrogen levels are easily lowered for most women by consuming a low-fat, high-fiber plant based diet, exercising, and by achieving and maintaining optimal weight and body composition. Women should be given this information both as a means of preventing breast cancer, and certainly as a primary means for preventing recurrence. Dietary excellence and optimal habits are considerably more effective than tamoxifen without the negative side effects.” 

~ Pam Popper, ND

Can oil consumption be helpful?

After reading the above information, it’s hard to see what could be helpful about oil at all. It just seems much more beneficial to eat the whole food with fiber and antioxidants intact.

Having attended Dr. Gabriel Cousens’ spiritual nutrition workshop and reading about the health benefits of coconut oil and other oils around the internet, it’s easy to be left confused.

If there are any healthful properties or phyto-nutrients in oil, they are certainly destroyed with cooking. Oil should be consumed raw, cold pressed and never refined if it ever is to be consumed. What took me a while to realize when comparing raw food diets to the other diets and what makes the oil different for each diet is cooking the oil versus not cooking it. However, oil is still pure fat and very high in calories. The only way I see it being beneficial is if you are an extremely high oxidizer and require more energy as fuel. As long as you know you are going to burn it, you may need the extra fat in your diet.

Olive oil supposedly lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and coconut oil has a million healthful properties. Oils such as hemp, and walnut have high vitamin E which are better because the other types of oils rob our bodies of vitamin E. Flax oil is very great for Omega 3 but low in vitamin E which makes for a short shelf life (oil and ground seeds). It still makes more sense to add a scoop of ground flax, the whole food, to your morning breakfast rather than coat a salad in just the fat. I personally prefer Chia seeds for Omega 3 along with their hydrating properties and amino acid content.

So, where am I now in all of this?

I get it! I have cut back drastically on oil and fat. Oil has pro inflammatory properties. I can feel the difference and see a difference in my skin. Yet I still don’t see giving up oil 100% at this time. But as far as cutting drastically back on oil, it’s a conscious transition and an effort. I have no health issues that I know of and I am not trying to lose any weight. I do however want to avoid diabetes which runs in the family and I never want to experience breast cancer. Also, who wants to pre-maturely age? So I am cutting out the excess fat and as much oil as I possibly can. I am reading the labels as I always have and avoiding added oils. If I cook with oil, it’s mostly coconut oil sometimes grape seed but I’m ditching the olive oil, especially for cooking. As you may realize this blog was started a long time ago, before I became certified in WFPBN. There are recipes on this blog of varying kinds including those with oils and processed vegan foods with healthier and healthier recipes to come as I have grown on my journey.

If we try our best to avoid oil, we won’t feel as guilty when we happen to find ourselves enjoying it, in say a raw dessert for example. This is my view anyway. Rip Esselstyn said in his Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue DVD, something along the lines of…  after you avoid oil for a while and experience it again, it just tastes like man made goo. This has not happened to me yet. If you are one to adhere to a strict whole foods plant based diet with zero oil, awesome! It should be the goal for us all. You might have even learned of this diet while being lucky enough to skip over the other diets which taught me and plenty of others bad habits. Your life may depend on avoiding oil, especially if you are overcoming illness, so keep up the amazing health crusade!

People generally don’t know how to moderate very well, that is why I feel oil is not recommended at all whatsoever for a whole foods plant based diet. What is a little oil to one person is a lot to another and vice versa. And it would most likely be cooked which is a bad idea. And don’t forget, we are talking about a lot of seriously ill people that a WFPBD is trying to fix. I like to believe that I have a handle on the oil. Lol… sure, right, don’t we all?  Would I recommend oil to you for your daily diet. Nope. I wouldn’t. But if you partake every now and then like me, I guess we are all just eating at our own risk. So do what you will with this information. I hope it at least convinces you to cut WAY BACK on the oil.

I will be sharing some good ideas to help you cut back on oil in my next blog post. So keep a look out for it. *Update- the post is up, check it out Tips on Avoiding Oil

Thanks for reading and enjoy the journey!

~The Karmatarian

Some great articles and references for this post:

Dr. Doug Graham – The 80-10-10 Raw Foods Diet and How Much Fat to Eat (Part 2)

Patient information – Health Benefits Of Oils

Coconut Oil Benefits: When Fat Is Good For You

Dangers of Vegetable Oils

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Irma’s Vegan Pan-Crepes (with The Vegg)

There’s a fun new product out there called The Vegg. Have you heard of it? It’s Vegan egg yolk!!! I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. The simple ingredients that make up The Vegg are also low-fat-plant-based-diet approved! When I got my hands on the new Vegg I wanted to try to re-create the toughest recipe I could think of. Irma’s pancakes. Or what I like to call Irma’s pan-crepes.

Sweet, sweet Irma. Everyone should be so lucky to have an Irma in their life! Imagine having a high school best friend and always hanging out at their house after school. Your best friend’s mom becomes like your second mom and she is super cute, super sweet, loving, kind and nurturing. But one other thing, she has a strong and adorable Peruvian accent which makes it all a bit more interesting. It’s a small language barrier, because you don’t speak that language! However, as you know, there just happens to be couple of languages that we ALL speak… Love and Food!

The first thing Irma will do is offer you something to eat. Scratch that, she will insist that you sit down eat something and she will go right into that kitchen of hers and cook you up something great! This is her love language. And this, you just have to accept. It’s certainly not hard to do. YUM!

It didn’t matter back then if it was vegan or not. It was filled with the intention of love and generosity and that’s all that mattered.

Because we didn’t know.

Now we do.

Anyway, this is my mom’s story. She grew up spending a lot of time over at her best friend Helen’s house and Helen’s wonderful mom Irma is like her second mom. Naturally, being related in all of this, Irma (Helen too) has known me since I was born! I have experienced first hand what has come to be an adopted tradition in our home. Irma’s pancakes. This is what my mom likes to call them.

Although, they are not pancakes. They are not an omelet either. And they are not really crepes. Think combination. Think eggy pancakes crepes. Think different and delicious!

The original Irma’s pancakes are made using mostly eggs, a tiny bit of flour, water and vanilla, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with love. How in the hell do you veganize that!?! Needless to say, I hadn’t made these in a long long time. I thought these were history… until The Vegg happened.

The Vegg is essential for us vegan breakfast lovers! In my best Justin Timberlake… They’re bringing French toast back! There are so many fun things to make: scrambled eggs, hollandaise sauce, omelets, pancakes, quiche, eggs sunny side up. Yes, you read right. It’s really wild! Potato salad, egg salad, etc, etc… virtually any dish in which eggs were once required but you know better so you haven’t had them in a long time. There are endless creations to be made, and if you follow The Vegg on Facebook, you will be up to date with more fun recipes and great information.

The Vegg did not disappoint. In fact, my list is long of all the recipes I want to try with The Vegg. You will definitely see more of this product used in recipes on my blog. Better stock up!

I just hope Irma will be flattered to know that we love her pancakes so! She probably already does. I just truly hope she won’t mind that I veganized them. I know that it may be difficult for her generation to understand why I would want to and I don’t really expect her to grasp it at this point, but I know that her loving heart would agree that kindness to animals and planet and the absolute best thing for our health is to bring these up to date.

The next update will be a gluten-free version. My mom does much better on a gluten free diet, so you know I will tackle that next. I had to pick one challenge at a time here. This was enough for now. And I am happy to report, I rocked it! Thanks to The Vegg!


Irma’s Vegan Pan-Crepes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup of The Vegg that’s been pre-mixed using Plain Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Organic All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup, plus 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp plus a good pinch Himalayan Black Crystal Salt (Indian Kala Namak, fine ground)
  • Cooking Spray
  • Organic Powdered Sugar
  • Fruit for garnish/side
  • 8 inch non-stick skillet

Directions

Premix The Vegg according to package directions, but use plain almond milk in place of water.

Take the 1/2 Cup of The Vegg mixture and add it to a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients: flour, water, vanilla and black salt. Blend with a whisk until smooth or throw everything into your Vitamix. It works either way.

Pour this mixture into a container with a handle and spout such as a Pyrex measuring cup and refrigerate this mixture for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat an 8 inch non-stick skillet on medium-low heat.

Very lightly, spray the pan with cooking spray and pour a good grapefruit size portion of batter into the center of the pan (photos below). The trick is to get the right thickness. These are thicker than a crepe but not as thick as an omelet. You may have to play with it and you might even screw up the first one. Let’s hope not. After pouring in the batter, pick up the pan and rotate with your wrist to evenly distribute the batter to cover the entire bottom of the pan, just like you would if making a crepe or an omelet.

Then wait…..These take a bit to cook and you will see them start to shrink a bit, the edges will start to lift and the center will bubble a bit, and then you can flip it, BUT use your hands… that’s right, and do it fast, cuz these suckers are hot! I used a toothpick to delicately help me lift the edge a bit more, then I grabbed it with my fingertips using both hands and quickly flipped it over, you will see it bubble again. No need to cook this side long at all, maybe 30 seconds. Then gently fold over one side toward the middle and flip again to finish. Move the finished pan-crepe to a plate and use a lid to keep it warm or a warming drawer etc… while you make your next one.

When all of the pan-crepes are finished being created, you will probably want to reheat them slightly, sprinkle with powder sugar and serve. Don’t forget the side of fruit!

Note* You simply cannot make this recipe without The Vegg and the black salt. This gives it the egg like flavor and color. You may even want to use more black salt than I suggest. It’s all personal preference!

This recipe makes 8.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

PS. I would love to hear about your family traditions! What is a family recipe that you have veganized or would love to try? Maybe it’s one that could really use The Vegg?

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