Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The Best Way to Start the Morning, Part Two!


Breakfast is commonly considered the most important meal of the day. Having a morning routine is something many people do, and breakfast isn't always part of it. However, breaking your fast from the night before is incredibly important, not just for your health, but for your beauty as well. Being incredibly hydrated all day long helps to improve your skin so much. Keeping water by your bedside will help you to stay hydrated in the morning. Packing a reusable water bottle and putting it in the fridge to keep it cold, and then grabbing it before you head to work or school will also remind you to drink water all day long! Here are some easy recipes to start off you day!

Monday: Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are commonly considered one of the easiest things to make in the morning. Here is a winter inspired overnight oats recipe:

Ingredients: 
  1. 1/2 cup nondairy milk
  2. 1/2 cup oats
  3. glass container with a lid, like a mason jar
  4. reusable bag
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon sugar or a sugar substitute (not honey)
  7. nuts (I used pecans)
  8. apple (I used Ambrosia) 
Steps:
  1. Combine oats, cinnamon, sugar in the glass container
  2. Chop the apple and nuts, keep in the reusable bag
  3. Pour in the nondairy milk, combine with the dry ingredients
  4. Put the glass container in the fridge to let it sit overnight
  5. When ready to eat, add in the chopped apple and nuts
  6. Enjoy!

Tuesday: Fruit Parfait

Fruit Parfaits are some of the easiest ways to grab and go in the morning! Here is an easy one to make to make!

Ingredients: 
  1. glass container
  2. reusable bag
  3. granola
  4. nondairy yoghurt
  5. fresh fruit
Steps:
  1. Choose how much yoghurt you would like to have in the morning, and place that in the glass container. I usually have about 1/2 cup to a cup
  2. Combine the granola of choice with the fresh fruit, and place those in your reusable bag
  3. Store the yoghurt in the fridge for overnight 
  4. When ready to enjoy, combine the granola and fruit with the yoghur

Wednesday: Toast or Bagel Sandwich


The trick to making something easy in the morning is definitely life hacks. Did you know you can cook an egg in the microwave? You can! Whisk your egg in a microwave safe bowl or cup, and cook it on high for about a minute. You will have instant scrambled eggs! 

Ingredients: 
  1. microwave safe bowl or cup
  2. eggs
  3. whisk
  4.  cheese
  5. Bread of choice (bagel, toast, english muffin, etc.)
  6. toaster
Steps:
  1. Put the desired bread of choice into the toaster and toast for your desired darkness
  2. Whisk together your egg in your microwave safe bowl or cup
  3. cook the egg in the microwave for about 1 minute on high
  4. Take the bread out of the toaster, and while it is still hot, put the cheese on the bread. 
  5. Place the egg on the warm bread. The heat will melt the cheese and it will be delicious. 
  6. Enjoy!

Thursday: Fruit Salad

One of my favorite breakfast is something sweet. I'm a sucker for anything light and fresh in the morning. Fruit salad is probably my favorite food of all time. 

Ingredients: 
  1. Fruit that is in season
  2. It is winter, so: lemons, oranges, persimmons, tangerines, apples, pomegranates, quinces, etc.
Steps:
  1. chop fruit
  2. combine together 
  3. store in fridge
  4. Enjoy!

Friday: Nut Butter and Jelly Waffles or Toast

On my way to school in the mornings I would always be running late, so having a sandwich to eat in the car was incredibly common.  Nut butter and jelly waffles were a common thing in my life, and I have fond memories of them. 

Ingredients: 
  1. nut butter of your choice
  2. jelly of your choice
  3. waffles or toast
  4. toaster
Steps: 
  1. Put your desired bread into the toaster and toast to your desired level of darkness
  2. Put desired spread onto the bread
  3. Enjoy!

Bonus Meal or Snack: Nut Butter and Bananas

One of my favorite meals or snacks is nut butter and bananas. Here is how I make these little mini sandwiches. 

Ingredients: 
  1. nut butter of choice
  2. cinnamon
  3. ripe bananas
  4. cutting board
  5. knife
Steps:
  1. Peel the bananas and cut into pretty thick slices
  2. Pair the banana pieces together
  3.  Cover one half of the bananas in your nut butter
  4. Make little banana sandwiches 
  5. Sprinkle on the cinnamon
  6. Enjoy!
Until next time,

HannahGrace

Chocolate and Cupcakes, Oh my!


Well, I did it. My first Christmas as a vegan. The most difficult part? The chocolate orange my mother gets for all of us every year since time began has “milk ingredients” in it even though it's dark chocolate (which is often “safe”). So I had a very sad moment when I read that on the box. My partner, however, gave me lots of vegan chocolate in my stocking, so all is not lost.

It's interesting how the mindset towards veganism takes place. Some of my family members had steak for Christmas dinner (none of them are turkey fans). Eons ago I loved a nice, rare steak – it was one of my favourite meals; even after many years of being a vegetarian, steak still looked soooo good, and I would sometimes have a small bite of someone else's (so I wasn't a very good vegetarian!).

When I first went vegan, I felt like I was really missing out. No more bites of steak – ever. No more cheese (this one was particularly difficult). I had to give up yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese; so many things. Funny thing though, the transition was pretty short. Now, not only do I not want those things, but some of them turn my stomach a little. Sitting at a dinner table watching three people eat steak was kind of icky. Not only did I not want any, but I was kind of grossed out even having it on the table; I just kept thinking about cows and how mind boggling (and sad) it is that eating them is still a thing.


My own plate consisted of a Gardein brand stuffed “turkey” roll thingie, some roasted mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, and some vegan stuffing – all covered in vegan gravy. I also had some vegan cupcakes I purchased. The meal was fantastic and I did not for one second feel that I was giving anything up at that table; in fact, I felt much more that I had gained something. So I missed out on a little bit of orange flavoured chocolate; first world problems, as they say.

I have absorbed a huge amount of knowledge and perspective during this first (almost) year of veganism. There was so much about farming, land use, global warming etc., that I knew nothing about. I have read books, and studies, and watched documentaries during this past year and I know a whole lot more than I did when I started. That knowledge is much of the reason that cheese no longer looks even slightly appetizing, and steak is just plain gross. Knowledge is power; I have changed my life based on what I know now, and my body and my mind are happier for it.

My Christmas was a good one – one of the best I've had for awhile. I still managed to stuff my face at dinner, eat ridiculous amounts of fudge and chocolate all day long, and do the annual moaning about eating too much. I did this while knowing that I was holding true to my convictions, and lessening the effects of at least one person on the environment. One person isn't much, but when you add us all up – well, change is upon us and it feels good.

Happy Holidays

Gwen

Plant Based Holiday Dinner



Over the holidays, people struggle with many things. One of them being staying healthy with so much buffet style food at gatherings. Other people may deal with challenges as well. For myself, I sometimes take for granted having such a supportive family when others do not. I want to extend my love and positivity to those who need that, especially over the time of the holidays. A lot of people in my family know that the choices I am making are helping and have reversed what I was dealing with health wise. I feel amazing now and the other people in my life notice how much better they feel when they try my cooking. I do not mind sharing because I am so open to showing people anything if they have any questions and I love helping others. I also love hearing about how much better people feel when they tell me they try a recipe or food that I have recommended. A lot of people in my family are open to trying these dishes even if they do not plan on making a transition to a vegan, vegetarian, or plant based lifestyle. For others, they have seen how delicious everything still can be from seeing my posts or talking to me. They over time realize that you do not have to cut out anything by going vegan and everything I have eaten before can be made vegan. These dishes can also taste so similar and sometimes even exactly the same as the traditional version. 





(photos by Danielle)

I have enjoyed everything I have had so far and have taken notice of recipes my family has had in the past and for the holidays, we have been making the vegan version. Chao cheese is delicious and very popular already. It tastes exactly the same as cheese and since most of my family gets stomach problems from dairy, this being put on the table was well appreciated. It was wonderful to see that Chao cheese was eaten all up and the dairy cheese was still left over. For lunch, we also had crackers, bread, and both red and green grapes.

We usually do as soup as well...so this year my grandma gave me a wonderful recipe that I will be making on the regular. The recipe for this soup is tomato soup that is pureed with some tomato chunks. The soup also has delicious ingredients including olive oil, parsley, garlic, onion powder, turmeric, brown rice, and broccoli. 






For the meal during dinner, we had a Tofurky ham with a beer glaze as an alternative. This got eaten up very quickly and it was delicious. I would definitely purchase this again! For sides, we had black olives, pickles, cranberry, applesauce, corn, green bean casserole, potato puff, and yams. I also made a linguine with marinara sauce mixed with cashew cream. I really like this because if all of the cashews do not fully blend up, there is a parmesan-like texture. I also made some of the meatless meatballs from Trader Joes and crushed them up as well to have a meaty texture in the pasta as well. You can add some garlic and nutritional yeast to recipes like this as well for extra flavor. 



(photos by Danielle)

For desert, my grandma made an apple and cherry pie. We also had ice cream from So Delicious. We tried their vanilla soy milk flavor and it was wonderful. Trying this made me want to try more of their flavors, but also it made me want to make some of my own from whole food ingredients. I hope that some of you check some of these recipes out if you have any upcoming gatherings. 



(photos by Danielle)

Stay positive and happy Friday!
-Danielle

Be Like a Boy Scout And Be Prepared!



I've been vegan for almost a year now, but this time last year I was still a vegetarian which left me lots of options for meals and, in particular, all the chocolate and baking that's floating around this time of year. I'm finding it to be quite a challenge, and I have to admit to taking a bite or two of my mother's baking and justifying it by telling myself it doesn't matter because she was baking it anyway!

So. I've figured out that the best thing to do is have lots of stuff on hand. I'm not above eating a handful of semi-sweet (and therefore usually vegan) chocolate chips when I'm in the middle of a sugar craving. I'm not all that interested in cooking or baking. I used to bake a lot, but the older I get the more effort it seems to take. So I've gone to my local grocery store and purchased a few pre-made things – vegan cupcakes for Christmas day, and some vegan cookies just because.

The other day my daughter asked for fudge. It's a really easy recipe from a Strawberry Shortcake cookbook we've had since she was little (shes' sixteen now). I kid you not, this is THE best cookbook I've ever owned. I use it regularly and have done so for years! Anyway, I made the fudge which calls for condensed milk and milk chocolate chips. When I was finished, I found myself scraping the sides of the pot like some kind of fudge starved addict trying to get a fix. Honestly, chocolate and sugar have a pretty tight hold on my life.


The following morning I went to the grocery store and bought a can of condensed coconut milk. Yes, that is a thing. That is a very, very good and tasty thing. So here is the easiest fudge recipe EVER:

one can condensed coconut milk
one and a half cups semi-sweet (vegan) chocolate chips
one and a half teaspoons of vanilla
Put the condensed coconut milk and chocolate chips in a pot and heat on low, stirring constantly, until melted. Add the vanilla and stir. Pour into parchment lined pan, and stick in the fridge for a couple of hours. Bam!!! It was freaking amazing. Try it. Stupid easy and sooooo good.

My point here is that, as with most things, I'm finding it best to be prepared. Take something with you if you're going to a party or to someone's house and you know there won't be anything to eat – take that fudge – they won't even know it's vegan! Have stuff at home that you can munch on too. If you're lazy like me there are lots of good options in most grocery stores these days. I've purchased a Gardein brand stuffed faux turkey roll thingie for Christmas dinner, and will be making some easy side dishes with it, roasted mushrooms, some sweet potato etc. I used to think I had to make everything from scratch. I'm over it. :)

Have a great holiday!

Gwen


Delicious Vegan Recipes for Winter

With the holidays coming up, the semester that recently ended, and my job being on holiday break, I have had more time to make delicious and healthy recipes. I have been enjoying such a wide range of meals and have been also discovering some new foods and meals that I love. I have really enjoyed cooking and finding new foods or recipes to prepare. These could also be good for holiday parties as well. 

The first recipe I have loved making recently is a sandwich and I usually have a side with this. I have been switching up what I have as my side. I usually have quinoa, couscous, fries, tater tots, roasted veggies, or riced veggies on the side when I eat this and I usually switch it up for variety. 

(photos by Danielle)


For this picture, I have a ciabatta roll by the brand Schar, which is gluten free. I do not personally eat a gluten free diet, but I have been seeing these in the stores and wanted to check them out. I enjoy these with Gardein chicken scallopini (which is gluten free, vegan, and of course delicious-tastes like chicken), which I put on the roll. I also have onion, pickles, and bell pepper on my sandwich along with some Just Mustard by Hampton Creek. If you want a different flavor, there are also many other dressings or sauces that could be put on as well. For my side, I have sweet potato fries which I dip in the Hampton Creek sauce. It is one of my favorite meals to make and I hope some of you make it and enjoy it as well. 

(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)


(photos by Danielle)

I have also loved making a lot of fall and winter meals. The next few images are good for holiday meals, like if you are having company over the next few weeks. I have Gardein turkey cutlet, which is vegan and comes with an amazing gravy. I was very pleased with this and loved making this recipe with some quash and grains with veggies. 

(photos by Danielle)

I have a pilaf blend that has rice, quinoa, cranberry, red bell pepper, spinach, and a red wine vinaigrette. This has been one of my favorite meals to make and it is highly nutritious and filling. 

(photos by Danielle)

I also love that this product comes with a gravy because it shows that even if you choose a vegetarian, vegan, or plant based lifestyle, you can still eat things like this and they do not taste any different. I also love that this gravy has amazing ingredients and it is a much healthier alternative. The breading is also a great touch as well! I would also recommend a dish like this for Thanksgiving as well that can be cooked with some other sides. If you need ideas for that, I have also posted some cruelty free recipes worth checking out!

(photos by Danielle)

Check out my posts about Thanksgiving for inspiration for your Christmas Dinner or any other upcoming holiday meal!

Compassionate and Delicious Thanksgiving

I hope you all have a wonderful time with your family and spend time with positive, uplifting people. 

-Danielle 

Where To Get The Best Vegan Deep Dish Pizza!

This week, I’m going to talk about something very important in my life.

Deep. Dish. Pizza.

*inhales*

*exhales*

“What is that?” the unenlightened ask.

That, my friend, is the wrong question. Deep dish pizza is so much more than a what. It is a where, a why, a how.

While pizza has its roots in Italy, deep dish pizza comes straight from the ovens of Chicago. Contrived by descendants of Italian immigrants in the heart of the Windy City, deep dish might be described as a “pizza layer cake,” with all of the fixings a thin-crust love could dream of – tomatoes, cheese, vegetables, meat, olive oil, and a buttery, flaky crust that leaves little to be desired.
The depressing part of all of this is that your classic deep dish pizza consists of an eggy or milky crust, half a pig’s worth of pepperoni and sausage, and enough hot, bubbly cow goop to clog a wall pipe.



And I ain’t about that, fam. If something’s going to kill me, it’s not going to be the fragmented goop-ghost of an herbivorous animal haunting the chambers of my heart; I prefer to go down via an arterial accumulation of heavily-processed, GMO-ridden cheesish mass that tastes like our poststructuralist, neoliberal society and the upheaval of traditional consumption patterns. In other words, it tastes freakin’ delicious.

And hey, it’s vegan!

Thankfully, there are a few places on the map that give vegabonds like me some respite. While some admittedly need to perfect their craft (ironically, the vegan deep dish I’ve tried in Chicago has not been very good), there are many that you should definitely fit on your bucket list of restaurants to visit:

First, there’s Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis. Hands down one of the best pizzas I’ve had. While crust is sometimes a downfall of vegan pizza due to the absence of butter, this one was perfectly flaky and crispy, and even though Daiya is definitely not my favorite dairy-free cheese, the sauce was so sweet and rich that there was little to be desired. The restaurant is also committed to local ingredient sourcing, so the fresh vegetables baked into the cheese were another huge plus.


 My mom and I about to enjoy a pie from Pi.


Second, WB Pizza in Indianapolis serves up one heavenly pie, complete with vegan meat, fresh veggies, and TEESE vegan cheese. Now for those of you who haven’t tried Teese, you’re missing out. Teese is a product of Chicago Vegan Foods, and it’s not available for retail. While Daiya is primarily made with water, tapioca flour, canola and/or safflower oil, and a relatively small amount of coconut oil, Teese places coconut oil nearer to the top of its ingredient list, giving it a soft, melt-in-your-mouth (and pizza!) consistency. It’s also guaranteed to be free of peanuts and gluten, so there’s another plus. Another charm of WB Pizza is that it has history – from the get-go (~30 years ago), the manager uncompromisingly prioritized quality over quantity, and sold vegan pizza before it was cool.



 Look at the melty Teese.



One thing that I appreciate about both of these vegan deep-dish pizza places (actually, Midwestern vegan pizza joints in general) is that they are marketed to the folksy supper-club type. In other words, my poor parents don’t feel the need to dress up in scarves, skinny jeans, and self-righteousness to blend in with the crowd (yes, it happens sometimes.) They also tend to feature a plethora of non-vegan options for those friends of yours who are too frightened to step into a restaurant where they cannot feast on the flesh of a creature they killed with their own coins, so everyone can be happy!

I kid the non-veggies (kind of). But seriously, it’s an interesting phenomenon. In a vegetarian world where the hottest restaurants are clean, whitewashed, urban hipster establishments run by savvy 20-40-year-olds, vegan pizzas are finding their market in the restaurants frequented by those who would pride themselves on being easygoing meat-and-potatoes folk. I’m curious as to whether the market is expanding, or if these places have been idling under the radar for some time.


But such is the topic for a different post! For now, pack your bags – vegan deep dish awaits you!

Tips for Vegans on the Go




Hi Everyone! Happy Holiday Season to all of you, no matter what you celebrate. If you don't celebrate anything, Happy Winter Solstice!

I have a friend who is trying to go vegan, but he travels often for his work. In the interest of helping him, I'm writing this post. I know a lot of people travel a lot for work these days, so hopefully some others may find my suggestions useful as well. Even if you're not traveling for work, you could use some of these tips for vacations.

Thankfully many hotels these days have mini kitchens in the rooms. You can do more with a microwave, coffee pot, and mini-fridge than you might think! 

Depending on if you're traveling via car, plane, train; you may be able to bring a lot with you, or you may need to shop a bit once you arrive at your destination. If you're going by car, you could bring cold items in a cooler; or via train/plane, you can bring some non-perishables in your luggage. Just figure out what works best for you, and your individual needs and circumstances.



I suggest researching your trip/destination ahead of time. Determine what stores are available locally, and along the way; and what you're be able to obtain there, or you will need to bring along. Also, any restaurants that are an option for you in town. The Internet is seriously so handy for these situations. Happy Cow is a great resource for finding great local vegan restaurants; also just hopping on your search engine and looking for "vegan restaurants," or "local vegan restaurants."

You would probably be surprised at how many of the below options are available at even convenience stores and gas stations like 7-Eleven!

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful for you all. Veganism really can be done anywhere, and is so much more doable than is the common opinion. It might take some planning (most of life requires some planning and forethought, anyways), but is so worth it in the end. Let me know what you think! Peace, love, and veggies--Dawn.

Foods that travel well:

Breakfast/snacks: Clif, Luna, Lara bars-- there are so many delicious choices for these. They can be bought in singles, or multi-packs. Oatmeal, grits, and cream of wheat packets; or you can purchase the bowls that you just microwave or put hot water in.

Fruit: fresh fruit like bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, whatever you like and enjoy. 

Vegetables: carrot and celery sticks; baby carrots; bagged, pre-washed veggies such as greens, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Again, you can find lots of options at convenience stores.

Proteins: Such as any sort of vegan cold cuts like Tofurkey and Lightlife brand have so many products! Gardein is an all vegan brand, and everything I've had has been absolutely amazing! These foods have even impressed my omnivore family. Give them a try! Boca and MorningStar brand also have a lot of good choices. 

You can explore the products to see what and where you can buy; there are literally tons of great products, and we would be here all day if I were to list them. A lot of these options can be popped right into the microwave, and put into a bun or tortilla, and put with whatever condiments or toppings you like,and your meal is ready to go! 

There are so many vegan protein powders/shakes on the market today. These are great mixed in with juice or plant milk, I have even mixed them into my oatmeal/cream of wheat to amp up the nutrition. Tons of flavors are available, and you can do so much with them to make your meals pack a powerful nutrient punch. These are great, because they travel well, they are dry so they won't spill in your luggage, etc. You could even pre-portion individual servings into Ziplocs, or other portable, sealed containers so they are ready to go. 



Condiments and drinks: Just Mayo packets are available online, or possibly at some retailers, any other condiments you like; vegan sugar, stevia, agave, or any sweetener you prefer; and salad dressing.  You may wish to even put each condiment in it's own container/baggie, and place all condiments in a large Ziploc so there is no chance of any spillage (this would help you keep super organized).

Now, most drinks are probably obtainable at your destination, or in the hotel; but you may want to brink some along if there are specific things you love, and that may not be available where you'll be. Things like soy or other plant milk, tea bags or coffee. You can even obtain plant milks in individual servings, in shelf-stable packages.

Lunch/Dinner foods: ramen noodle cups; soup packets such as miso soup; veggie noodle soup like Lipton brand; a bunch of variety in various cuisines like Indian, Mexican. I just went to Amazon and searched for "shelf stable vegetarian meals" and had 52 results. Even if you don't buy online, this should give you a good idea of what to look for in the store. Usually you can find these types of foods in the ethnic, soup, and prepared foods aisles. Tons are available that can be microwaved, or just need hot water added.

Ethical Gift Ideas for the Last Minute Gift Exchange


Some of the best gifts I have ever given or been gifted are from some amazing ethical stores in the world. Some of the best things you can give a loved one come from the heart. This year for the holidays I wanted to leave less of an impact on the planet. I was inspired by the YouTuber Ellen Fisher. She has an amazing youtube channel and is just an amazing inspiration in general! Some of the things she suggested are as follows: second hand items, homemade gifts, nature found treasures, and experiences. However, if you do not have the time to make a gift, some of the stores she recommends are: 31 Bits, Earthling Beauty, In the Soul Shine, The Small Folk, and Goose Grease (an etsy shop)!

However, here are some gift ideas that are easy to make and give!

Knitted Elephant with Herbs:
One of the gifts one of my friends is going to make for a mutual friend of ours is a knitted elephant. She found a pattern for free online and already has the materials just around the house. She already owns the knitting needles and has the yarn. But, she wanted to make this gift special for our mutual friend. Our mutual friend, Kyra has insomnia. So, my friend Madeline is going to put some herbs that help promote sleep inside the elephant. She is planning on putting lavender and chamomile in the elephant. This is a simple gift idea that also can be personalized for anyone. It doesn't have to be an elephant. There are plenty of free patterns online that you can pick and choose from to make for a friend.

Baking:
Some of the easiest way to show how much you admire someone is to simply give them food. It is something that literally everyone loves. Food is a gift that shows how much you adore someone, and can be shared with others. Some of the best gifts I have given have simply been a loaf of fresh bread or a few cookies. There are plenty of food recipes on this website for a great holiday!



Donating in the Name of Someone:
Give the gift of giving back! If you have a friend who is incredibly passionate about giving back or a certain cause, giving money in the name of that friend will more than likely put a smile on that special someone's face.

Giving an Experience: 
Groupon is an amazing way to give someone something that they will remember forever. Giving someone an experience, like ice skating, or a voucher for a free vegan meal will be something that they will more than likely never forget. Plus, the gift could be something that the two of you could do together. Giving the gift of an experience is a gift that will be remembered for a lifetime.

Treasures from the Past:
One of the most amazing gifts I have ever seen being gifted was a second hand item. My friend Jahnae gave our mutual friend Madeline a second hand flannel jacket. I know, doesn't seem amazing at all right? Wrong! The flannel jacket was a gift she was given by her grandfather who had passed away recently. Jahnae had a matching flannel jacket. Now, Madeline and Jahnae have matching flannel jackets and Madeline cried when she was given the gift because she knew how much Jahnae loved her grandfather who had recently passed on. Giving a gift as personal as that is a gift that will be treasured for a lifetime.

May you all have an amazing holiday!

Until next time,

HannahGrace

Ask And You Shall Receive!



A few days ago I had to go to a neighboring (larger) city for a medical appointment. While I was there I stopped at Whole Foods. I always do this as we don't have one in my small city. I spent about an hour wandering the aisles in amazement, looking at all the vegan food, and all the gluten-free food (my daughter is a celiac). I'm like a kid in a candy store when I go there. There should be angelic music playing and white light while I stare up at all the shelves. I have to speak sternly to myself and make a concerted effort not to spend every penny that I have. I finished this particular excursion with a piece of vegan kale/artichoke pizza and a chocolate chip vegan scone – they are seriously to die for. I've daydreamed about moving just so I can have them regularly.

In the car on the way home, I was feeling sorry for myself. Why doesn't my city have Whole Foods? How come I have to drive almost two hours to get a piece of freaking kale pizza? Oh, the injustice. Life is hard. First world problems. All that stuff. The further away I got from Whole Foods, the sadder I became. In reality, my little city has a fair bit of good vegan fare. We have a wonderful little restaurant that makes phenomenal muffins and a fantastic grain/veggie Buddha bowl thingie. We have a really good health food store, a couple actually, and most of our grocery stores are starting to stock more and more items. Which brings me to my point. Every time my favorite grocery store doesn't stock something that I want, I complain. At home. To my partner. Oh, woe is me. I can't find my food. Blah blah blah. Said partner said to me the other day “why don't you ask the store if they'll stock some of that stuff?”


Lightbulb!

I'm as guilty as the next guy who does nothing. If you (I) want to change, then ask for it. Go out there and see what you can do about it. They can only say no, and chances are they'll say yes. Or at least maybe. I'm so excited when I see gluten-free, vegan food and I cannot possibly be the only one. In fact, I know for a fact (two facts in one sentence, or is it three?) that I'm NOT the only one. That's the thing I'm going to do now. I'm going to ask in my local stores if this or that product or something similar can be brought in; my guess is that's how the products we do have get there. More assertive people have asked for them. A store is going to stock what people want right? That's the whole point.

So. From now on, I've decided to actually be a part of my community and get involved. What's the point in whining and complaining? If we all sit around doing that, then who is actually out there making change happen? Be the change, as they say (I can't remember who they are). But I get it. I live in a cool little city, full of great people and wonderful stores and it's growing every day. There's a strong vegan community, and we're gathering more “members” all the time. In the eleven years I've lived here I've seen enormous, positive change. I'd rather be involved in that growth, and be a part of my community than sit at home wishing that I lived in the city next door. So get out there and if you don't like something, change it!

Gwen

Plant Based Nacho Recipes

I have always been such a huge fan of incredibly spicy food and my love for it has grown since I have started cooking. I love making nachos and other meals that are foods similar to that. Since I have been off between college semesters, I have had some extra time in my day to cook before or after work. Another thing that a lot of people have commented on in the past is that that cannot handle spicy food, so if you want something milder, you can use a less spicy version of the ingredients. For example, if you get a can of chili, you can get mild instead of medium or spicy.

This first picture I have tortilla chips topped with the beefless ground from Gardein. I have had ground walnut with spices as well at a restaurant and that is wonderful as well if you want a healthier spin on the meal. I have some veggies I have on there as well. Usually, I top my nachos with tomato salsa, bell peppers of any color, and onions. If you want beans for extra nutrients, you can also add those. For the image below, I have also topped the nachos with ranch and chipotle sauce.


(photos by Danielle)


If you want to make walnut meat, you can ground up walnut, water, and spices as needed to make a healthier recipe for tacos or nachos. I want to make a full post about healthier versions of these recipes, so keep posted if you are interested in finding a clean ingredient recipe that is spicy and delicious.


(photos by Danielle)

For this picture, I made the recipe the same way but instead of either walnut meat of beefless ground, I have used chili. You can either use a homemade chili or a canned one from the store. If you are getting a store bought canned chili, I recommend Amys Chili. I love adding jalapenos for an extra kick as well!


(photos by Danielle)



(photos by Danielle)

To have a healthier alternative to cheese, you can make a sauce with other ingredients. If you make this right, it wastes exactly the same. One recipe for making a cheesy sauce is to boil water and cook onion, garlic, carrot, and potato. Then you can add nutritional yeast and blend those ingredients. Another way you can make a cheesy sauce is to blend and then heat cannellini beans, garlic, nutritional yeast, paprika, and onion with some water to make another queso sauce. If you want either of those sauces to be on the spicier side, you can also add some jalapenos.


(photos by Danielle)


Making nachos can be a good food to prepare, especially when friends come over. It is one of those foods that I use for showing people delicious varieties of vegan food. I have enjoyed making these recipes and also tried different varieties of these foods as well. Any sort of other ingredients can be added or taken away as needed when making these recipes.

I hope you try some of these meals out and enjoy your weekend. Happy Friday!

Easy Vegan Brownies

If there is one thing I truly love, it is a gooey brownie. I absolutely love brownies and I’ve been on the hunt to find the perfect vegan brownie recipe. When I couldn’t find one I loved I decided to create my own.

Brownies are one of my favorite desserts to enjoy. I like to top it with powdered sugar or vegan ice cream and whipped topping. I am not really a fan of hard or crunchy brownies. No, I love a nice and soft brownie. One that, when warm, almost melts into the ice cream. Great, now I’m hungry.



Brownies are actually quite easy to make and to veganize. A lot of vegan bloggers, YouTubers and recipe websites have them. This recipe was adapted from one I found in an old recipe book my mother gave me. It’s simple to make, takes ingredients you probably have in your pantry and is sure to please everyone.



Vegan Brownies
2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Oil (I use coconut oil, melted)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix your dry ingrediants together in a bowl. Once combined add the water, oil and extract. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool then cut!


You can leave out the cinnamon but I find the cinnamon to add something special and unexpected to the brownies. It really gives it a heat and sets these brownies apart. You can also sub in pumpkin pie spice and it is good too!

The great thing about this recipe is that the more you bake it, the crunchier it gets. Watch it though because it can and will burn quickly. If you like them crunchy I would suggest a bigger pan. That way the brownies are thinner. Like a cake brownie? Use a slightly smaller pan and bake longer. I find that the 9x13 pan for 30-35 minutes is the perfect amount of time for me.

These brownies are perfect to bring to the office for a party, to give to friends when they are feeling sad or to sit in bed watching your favorite show on a weekend. You live your life however you want!


Now that the weather is getting colder a nice warm brownie is the perfect way to spend your days indoors. If you top this brownie with ice cream I would suggest the So Delicious Cashew Milk Frozen Dessert in Snickerdoodle. That ice cream is the best and the cinnamon in the ice cream really works well with the cinnamon in the brownies! Now I’m off to make a pan of these brownies because writing this post made me super hungry for them! What is your favorite topping for brownies? Is it whipped topping, strawberries or do you like them au natural? Let us know in the comments below.

On Being Vegan and Evangelical Christian, Part 2




In Part 1 of this post, I discussed my experience as a vegan in an evangelical* Christian community.

               In this next part, I will discuss the alternate: being evangelical Christian in vegan/vegetarian communities.

               To start out, I am going to throw out a disclaimer: I do not speak for all evangelical Christian vegans; this is a reflection based off my own observations of the vegetarian/vegan movement, encompassing it’s literature, films, and events, and conversations with other evangelical Christians vegetarians/vegans.

               Nor is this meant to list the ways I feel evangelical Christians are in any way “marginalized” within vegan movements - at least, not in the U.S.

Nonetheless, I think that it is important to initiate conversations focusing on the intersectionality of vegetarianism with other identities if the movement is ever to escape from its confining stereotype as mostly white, wealthy, liberal, and bound to New Age spiritualism (with all due respect, of course, to individuals who identify as such). It is only through such dialogue that we are able to break down the barriers between “in” and “out,” “us” and “them,” “self” and “other.”

And while I emphasize that they are rarely intentionally treated poorly, mocked, or castigated, evangelical Christians are certainly “Other” within the vegan movement.

How does this come about?

Something interesting to note is that “vegetarian” and “vegan” in the United States denote a consumption choice, and really nothing more than that. Thus, an individual may go vegetarian or vegan for a myriad of reasons – animal ethics, physical/prenatal health, environmental sustainability, ahimsa, asceticism, taste, social justice, and many more. An individual need not be of a specific race, ethnicity, income level, spirituality, or political affiliation to alter their lifestyle in such a way.


Nonetheless, it is easier to be grafted into particular branches of the vegetarian/vegan community if one speaks, looks, acts, and thinks a certain way.

Oftentimes, it seems to me that evangelical Christians feel a bit “out of place” at vegan and vegetarian events which draw significant crowds. This is because, as mentioned in the footnote below, evangelicals subscribe to a relatively conservative spiritual way, and thus find it difficult to embrace the New Age-ish spiritual “openness” that so permeates vegetarian and vegan movements.

An analysis of the philosophical conflict between spiritual openness and evangelical impermeability is beyond the scope of this blog post, but what I’m getting at is that vegan and vegetarian movements, despite ultimately pointing toward a consumption choice, tend to subtly adhere to certain spiritual ideologies – particularly Buddhism, Hinduism, and New Age eclecticism - at the exclusion of others.

This is not mean to criticize, but point out a reality. After all, some historical and contemporary sects of Buddhism and Hinduism consider vegetarianism/veganism a fundamental aspect of spirituality, and New Age movements draw upon these as well as Native American reverence for the Earth as inspiration for vegetarianism, whereas Christianity, in general, has rarely associated with such a lifestyle due to a lack of acknowledgment for its practice within sacred Scripture. It thus makes sense that these religious/spiritual groups would find more of a home within vegetarian movements than those not historically affiliated with such a lifestyle.



However, this has contributed to feelings of nervousness, wariness, and self-consciousness in evangelical Christians in veg circles. The bottom line is that evangelical Christians are uncharacteristically quiet about their Christianity within vegetarian circles.

When I say “uncharacteristically,” I do not mean that they have a knee-jerk desire to preach to or convert every person in the room (at least, not all of them.) But many committed evangelical Christians consider their spirituality a core aspect of their identity – something they hold dearly close to their hearts. In other environments, it is perhaps one of the first things they reveal about themselves, secular or Christian.

In veg circles, this is rarely the case. Most evangelical Christians I’ve spoken with at veg events or read from in veg literature fear being labeled “backward,” “hateful,” “ignorant,” or “narrow-minded” because of their spiritual beliefs (newsflash: they’re not, you just have to trust me on this). Furthermore, due to the (again, understandable) lack of presence of Christians at the vegetarian pulpit, so to speak, at any given veg event they are likely to come across speakers with whom they disagree in a religious sense and practices they opt out of for spiritual reasons. This plays back into the fear of being labeled intolerant, and reinforces the overall “Otherness” that evangelical Christians may experience in veg circles.

               As a tentative solution, I think that both structure and agent could stand to adjust a bit in this case. Perhaps if society admitted and fought against its tendency to judge evangelical Christians – and groups in general – by its extreme outliers, the environment would change for the better, in effect becoming more open for the exchange of ideas. On the other hand, if evangelical Christians came to recognize that not everyone is out to get them and that their beliefs (providing they are not overly-zealous) would be welcomed 90% of the time in veg circles, they would grow in confidence to express the intersection of their identities.

               Either way, I pray that in the future, both veg movements and evangelical Christian movements become more open to different kinds of people, greeting them with outstretched arms and proceeding together with them toward a better future.


*I noted this in my last post as well, but the term “evangelical” is not to be confused with “evangelist.” While the latter tends to actively seek people out and convert them to a particular religion, “evangelical” denotes a person or group subscribing to a core set of Christian beliefs, namely the bodily sacrifice of Jesus Christ on behalf of humankind, salvation for the individual, adherence to Biblical principles, and the necessity of social action.

5 Stress Snacks for Final Exams Week!

I will be the first to admit that I am the world’s worst stress eater. When it comes to exam week, I have to have food around me at all times. I constantly need snacks to focus while I am writing essays, creating PowerPoints, and studying for tests. Not all study snacks are created equal; they must be easy to eat while studying, not too messy so they won’t ruin your notes, and they need to help keep your brain powered up! Since I consider myself a professional stress eater, I want to share my knowledge with you all so we can get through finals week together.




1)    Walnuts: New research from the David Geffen School of Medicine at The University of California, Los Angeles found that people who ate more walnuts had improved cognitive function. They may help boost concentration, memory, and the speed at which your brain processes information. Perhaps this is due to the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium that walnuts contain, which are great for brain health.
2)    Dry-roasted Edamame: I love these because they are roasted without oil, to keep the fat content low, but they have a bit of added sea salt to make your taste buds happy! These are great when I want something crunchy with a kick. Moreover, they contain 14 grams of protein per quarter cup, this snack is sure to keep your belly and brain satiated.


3)    Grapes: Grapes are super easy to snack on while still working on your projects. They are anti-oxidant rich which will help your body fight off any germs that could make you sick before your exams. Not only that, but they are low in calories so you can eat as many as you want without feeling too guilty (not that you should ever feel guilty about eating!!). If you want to get fancy, try freezing your grapes before eating them. They taste like candy, no lie.
4)    Roasted Chickpeas: Toss some chickpeas with some spices (and optional olive oil) and throw them in the oven at 450 degrees farenheit (230 degrees Celsius) for about 30-40 minutes. There are a ton of recipes online so you can create them to your liking. This will give you a healthy and crunchy snack customized for your tastebuds! High in vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, and healthy fats, chickpeas are a great way to nourish your body during this stressful time.


5)    Blueberries: No list could be complete without them. Blueberries are a powerhouse when it comes to brain and body function. Research shows that blueberries can actually protect our brain from oxidative stress and degeneration. This means that they can improve our cognitive and motor function as well as improve memory and reduce inflammation. If that is not reason enough to go grab some then I don’t know what is!


So those are my top five study snacks! Let me know what you like to snack on during stressful times in the comments. I love to hear from you guys J