Add to Flipboard Magazine.

No Man Is An Island





It's been a good vegan week.

I was in Vegas for a few days and this year I found a huge variety of kombucha available on the Strip (not necessarily a vegan thing I know, but I love the stuff and couldn't find any last year). Progress!

I went on a bus tour to the Grand Canyon, and a buffet lunch was included in the ticket. This lunch was in Williams, Arizona and I had already resigned myself to the fact that I'd spend the day starving. Instead, there was a good selection of food for me. I happily stuffed myself and wasn't hungry again till well into the evening.

My hotel in Vegas had a Ben and Jerry's with multiple dairy free selections. I think I may have eaten my body weight in ice cream!

A “regular” restaurant in my city introduced a full vegan menu alongside their regular one today. We went there for dinner tonight and the meal was amazing! So often I can only choose one thing off a menu – to have choices was a luxury I rarely find. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. More progress!


Tomorrow two real life vegan friends (boy those are hard to find) and I are going to a nearby town to a paint night to raise money for a local animal sanctuary. The woman who runs it does amazing work, she's been ill recently, and I'm so psyched to be doing this for a good cause. I don't have an artistic bone in my body so this should be all kinds of interesting and most likely embarrassing! I'm excited nonetheless.
All this makes me happy. So often it's like trudging uphill with weights on your shoes. Trying to eat out, always feeling the need to explain yourself, trying not to appear difficult while sticking to your guns, looking for vegan clothing/shoes/accessories is most often a challenge as well. I found two pair of shoes in Vegas this week and I'm over the moon about that. I'm on a roll!

Earlier this week I was in my favourite yoga class. Yoga is an amazing thing for me – that whole mind/body connection. This is a meditative Kundalini class with a woman who I believe may be the best yoga teacher in the universe. Half an hour into the class I became overwhelmed and struggled not to cry. This has happened to me before in this particular class. It's a good thing. I wish it happened more often. It's this feeling that everything with me is as it should be, that I'm heading in the right direction, that all is well (even though my life is horribly stressful right now), it's a feeling of being at peace with myself and everything else. It doesn't happen often, and it's fleeting, but it's such a wonderful thing. Synergy and connection, and the universe and all that crunchy granola stuff! It's hard to describe, I think maybe for just a moment or two I'm in touch with that part of myself that is the real me.


So all in all a stellar week. It's a wonderful thing to see positive change happening, and to be a part of that change; to feel it internally and to see that the effort that so many of us are making is starting to invoke some change in the world, even if it's only little things like restaurant menus – it all adds up and pretty soon that tiny snowball is a huge boulder of snow rolling down that proverbial hill gaining more and more momentum as it gains speed. And that my friends, is good for everyone, the people, the animals, the planet – everything affects everything. In the words of my favourite poet John Donne: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Wise words to remember.....

Gwen

A Healthy, New Spin on your Breakfast Routine!


(photos by Danielle)


I love trying out new breakfast recipes! I have found so many new recipes in the past year and I love making these. They are so delicious and I love making food for my family. It is exciting to wow people with delicious recipes and create new dishes that people will love. 

One of my favorite things to make is pancakes in the morning. I put some syrup on and usually have a sie of fruit with it. For my pancake recipe, I take two packets of oatmeal and blend them in my ninja for a few seconds to make flour. Then I add a quarter cup of non dairy milk. I usually use almond milk or rice milk, but there are so many more you can try. If you want extra flavor you can use a flavor that is either vanilla or chocolate flavored. Then I add one banana and blend the mixture again. If it is not too think, you can let it sit for a few more minutes and when it gets think, put it in the pan and cook it. Then I top it with anything I want for the morning and if you want a chocolate syrup, it can quickly be made as well. I usually blend some cacao powder with maple syrup and water. Keep mixing and adding more of each ingredient until it is either as thick or thin as you like it. When you are done, drizzle it on your pancakes!

(photos by Danielle)


Another recipe I have just recently discovered are chickpea omelettes. I am very new to making these, so I am still playing around with the recipe. I start with one fourth of a cup of chickpea flour, which is sometimes also called garbanzo bean flour. I add just as much water as I do flour. Then you can add other seasonings for extra flavor. I usually add at least a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Then I usually also add paprika, turmeric, and garlic. When I finish making it, I spread some hummus on it and I also put some veggies in. For my veggies this time around, I put in some tomato and some roasted bell pepper. This was absolutely amazing and I recommend trying this!!

I have also put some fresh fruit on my plate. Also, I have added some hash browns by the brand Dr. Pragers. I got the root veggie hash browns. Last time I did a breakfast article I was talking about the four potato hash browns. I enjoyed these so much that I wanted to try another variety. They have two other flavors that I also really want to try if I ever see them in store which are the sweet potato hash browns and the southwest hash browns. I have not yet seen those in store but I would get them in a heartbeat if I ever found them!

On the side you see a pink drink, which is full of flavor of course. What I did to make this is I blended up some strawberries with some vanilla flavored rice milk. This is a tasty drink that is so easy to make.

(photos by Danielle)

-Danielle

What's for Dinner?



Hope everyone had a great week!

Do you get tired of hearing "What's for dinner?" and then getting the response "Not that again!"

 Are these common phrases in your house?

I may have a solution for you!

This week's creation!

Sometimes I feel like I am a contestant on the Food Network Show "Chopped". I used to have random ingredients and struggled to come up with a meal. Over the years I have gotten pretty good at this and at this point enjoy challenging myself to come up with quick, easy and inventive meal that tastes good. I am not one for planning meals in advance so a lot of times I make up things as I go. I often incorporate leftovers into new creations. Todays recipe is simple but made a delicious meal. The idea originated last night when I walking around Chelsea Market in lower Manhattan. Chelsea Market is full of history and was the original home of the National Biscuit Company also known as the Nabisco Factory. It is now an urban food court and shopping mall. Some of the tables at the various restaurants were located in the halls so the various foods that were being served were in plain view as we were strolling by. One thing in particular caught my eye. The server brought a whole roasted cauliflower to one of the tables. It looked and smelled delicious. So this was my inspiration for this week's recipe

Roasted Cauliflower with Diced Sweet Potatoes

Head of Cauliflower (trimmed)
Sweet Potatoes ( I had a bad of ten small potatoes but a few large ones will be fine)
1 Cup of Coconut Milk
1 Tablespoon of buttered flavored Coconut Oil (Coconut oil would work)
Garlic Powder
Parsley flakes
Salt and pepper
Cilantro
Paprika
Red Pepper flakes (optional)

I poured a cup of coconut milk in the dutch oven and placed the whole cauliflower in the center. I peeled and diced the sweet potatoes and put them around the cauliflower. I rubbed the cauliflower with the coconut oil. sprinkled with the garlic, parsley, some chopped cilantro and salt and pepper. I then covered and placed in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Once the cauliflower is tender, you are done. I sprinkled the paprika on before serving and added some of the red pepper flakes to give it a little kick. It was tasty and filling. The coconut milk gave the potatoes a sweetness and the red pepper flakes just gave enough heat to balance the dish.
Ready to be served just need a dash of paprika and cilantro garnish!



Hope some of you will take me up on this challenge!

Another hint for this week, take advantage of the manager specials at your local supermarket. The produce is usually marked down because it needs to be used right away. I picked up two large bags of yellow, red and orange peppers for $2.00 a bag. These peppers can usually sell for $3.99 a pound in my local area on a good day.The peppers were in great condition so I cut a bunch in strips and froze them, roasted a bunch of them, plan on using some of the whole ones for vegan stuffed peppers and cut some into rings for snacking. This is a great way to save money and utilize fruits and vegetables that may be discarded.

Looking forward to coming up with some great recipes for you!

Until next week...

With Gratitude,

Trudy


.


The Long Haul



I just finished an audio book called Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It's an amazing book. He talks about the aging process and how nobody is really prepared for it, nor are they willing to have the important discussions about it, particularly in Western cultures. He also discusses how doctors (he is one) often give patients unreal expectations when they have a terminal illness, and how those patients often spend their last months fighting a battle that they can never win, when they should be spending their final days surrounded by the people they love, preferably at home. The book discusses hospice care, assisted living, complex care facilities and how much these things have veered away from their original course. We treat our elderly like children. We want them to be safe, so we do the equivalent of baby proofing; we take away their right to choose.

It got me to thinking about a lot of things. I've worked in healthcare, both hospital and complex care for a number of years now. I have seen many people die, and, on two occasions, sat and held the hand of a dying person who had nobody else to do it. They took their last breaths with me sitting at their side – somebody they didn't know. Dying in a hospital ain't so great; complex care is only marginally better.


This book got me thinking about a lot of things, one of them being the foods that are served in hospitals as well as the recommendations that are made to cardiac patients, kidney patients, etc about what to eat when they get home. It's mind bogglingly bad. I'm not saying that every person everywhere should be a vegan (OK I am saying that) but if you've got someone who has just had a quadruple bypass why on earth are you feeding them the crap that is more commonly known as hospital food? I have served up a lot of hospital meals to a lot of patients, and while I can say that my hospital it better than many, it still isn't very good.

Further, if we really made an effort to educate people before they needed that bypass, then I wonder how much money would be saved in healthcare costs. Why don't we attempt to fix the problem before there actually is a problem? If the food pyramid, and the educational material that goes with it is revamped, if teachers had a curriculum promoting a more plant based diet, if the dairy and beef industry weren't in our faces everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, then I'm willing to bet that our hospitals and care facilities wouldn't be bursting at the seams the way they currently are.

It's a difficult thing to picture oneself old and/or sick. Working with the elderly was a huge eye opener for me; I can't even describe it. I've seen so much illness that is preventable and it's heartbreaking. And yes, some things cannot be prevented – I know this more than anyone. We all know somebody who died young, who died unexpectedly; but if you're not that person, if you're going to live to old age (and I hope that you are) do you not want it to be as easy as possible? Don't you want to feel reasonably good, and be able to get up and walk and enjoy life as much as you can with as much dignity as possible? Food for thought, folks. It's not that far away, take care of yourselves now, and hopefully you'll reap the benefits of that down the road, and perhaps while you're travelling that road, you'll give some thought to how you want things to be when you get close to the final destination.

Gwen


Healthy Vegan Meal Ideas


(photos by Danielle)



Planning for meals during the week can be a challenge but since the internet has so many recipes, it becomes so easy. I find so many recipes on social media including websites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. I also love following food blogs and getting their monthly list of posts in my email inbox. I always save recipes that I enjoy. I also just recently got a recipe book to write down recipes that have worked out for me or ones that I want to try in the future. 

A lot of my favorite recipes have zucchini in them. The first recipe was inspired by a time when I had a lot of zucchini in the house. I also had leftover sauce from spaghetti night earlier in the week, so I was trying to make something out of leftovers and create a delicious, but still healthy meal. I made some zucchini boats and they were great. 

How do you make these???
Start by cutting the ends off of the zucchini. Then slice the zucchini down the middle like in the picture. Then put it in the oven after adding desired toppings. I added marinara sauce and vegan cheese. I usually use Go Veggie or Daiya, but if you do not like those, good news, there are SO many other options and more are coming out over the years. If you like these items store bought you can add store bought ingredients and if you like a more whole food approach you can make your own from home. When you are done adding toppings, you can bake it until it is cooked enough to your liking. 

(photos by Danielle)


This can be a great appetizer, snack, or dish to put out at a family get together. It can easily be customizable and manny different toppings can be added. My favorite thing about recipes like these are there are only a few ingredients and there is not a lot you have to buy if you want to make this. For this recipe I only used three ingredients, but you are welcome to use more. I also like how quick these are to make because I am a student and I am also working several jobs, so you can imagine that I would need quick recipes that are healthy to stay focused through the course of my day. 

If you want something that is more filling, you can make pizzas with all of the same ingredients. You can get a crust and layer on the same ingredients in the same way you would with the zucchini boats. I like to add some veggies, olives, and spices for extra flavor! These recipes are fun to make and also very delicious. I would recommend trying them out for an exciting twist on your meal preparation routine! 

(photos by Danielle)

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy these healthy, but delicious recipes!
-Danielle

Trudy's Tuesday Thoughts


It is time for Trudy's Tuesday Thoughts...

So many times we hear the terms work-life balance, balanced meal, we don't want to lose our balance if we are riding a bicycle, walking a tight rope or climbing a mountain but how can we maintain our balance on a day to day basis. We all have a bunch of things to do every day but sometimes I wonder how to get them all done without tipping the scale from balanced to insanity. In my mind the meter has three readings which are SERENE, BALANCED, INSANITY and lots of points within those levels. When I looked up the meaning of the word balanced, although there were multiple definitions, the one I related to most was " offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another".

 Let's face it, life can be hard and very overwhelming at times.

 Sometimes we wind up putting too much focus on the things that don't really matter in the long run and not enough on the things that really matter. Of course family is one of the most important things in my life and that always takes priority so I am not even going to bring that into this discussion. If I were to paint a picture of this, I would envision an umbrella of sorts which each of my key areas as spokes on my umbrella.

If you look on the internet there are multiple articles on how to achieve balance in your life and many of the suggestions are valid but may not apply to everyone. I want to share the key areas that I use to help create my stability which are CAREER, FINANCE, ADVENTURE, FRIENDS, ROMANCE and HEALTH and WELLNESS. If any of these areas are not in sync, I start to feel off my balance. These items are in no particular order because they all have equal weight in my balance wheel. I want to talk a little about each of these areas since they are not as straight forward as they look.

CAREER - This does not necessarily refer to a paying job at this point in my life. My career now is primarily focused on taking care of the house, cooking, taking care of my animals and watching Grandchildren. For many years I worked in the corporate world and sacrificed time with my family because I focused more energy on this lever. Looking back I realized that no one ever said on their death bed that they wished they would have worked more. It is always important to give everything you do 100 percent of your efforts but when you go overboard that is when the other areas of your life suffers.

FINANCE - If you are in a relationship, are you and your partner in sync when it comes to money? This can be a huge source of stress if one of you is on one side of the spectrum when it comes to money and your partner is on the polar opposite. When my husband and I got together it was very evident that I was better at handling the money. This has worked out for the most part but I would suggest that one person doesn't assume the full burden of the finances. Although I do pay the bills and manage the accounts, I let him know when we need to cut back and what the financial picture looks like. For a long time, when bills were due I would have sleepless nights worrying about them and he would be sleeping like a baby but this was my fault because I didn't keep him in the loop. Finally, balance your checkbook, it is always less stressful when you are in control of your finances.

ADVENTURE -  This is a real simple one just don't forget that you deserve to have some fun! As a child it was easy to have fun, sometimes as an adult we are too wrapped up in other things but as simple as this may be, it is very important.



FRIENDS -  As you get older, you realize the importance of having good friends. These are the people you laugh with, cry with and they never judge you. I don't know about you but I will tell you that when I was much younger if I had a new boyfriend, I would focus all my time and energy on him and any friends I had would become nonexistent. After the breakup, who is there to pick up the pieces? Your friends! Newsflash, I don't even remember some of those boyfriends names so don't make this very common mistake. Boyfriends may come and go but good friendships last forever so don't neglect your friends.., they are an important part of your overall happiness.

ROMANCE - Again balance is so important in this area, just because you have a relationship doesn't mean you cannot have outside interests. As a matter of fact, although my husband and I enjoy doing things together, we also have different interests. Call me selfish but I don't want him to go somewhere with me if he isn't going to enjoy it and I don't want to go somewhere with him just to make him happy if I don't want to be there. I want to do things with him that we both enjoy doing together. This is what gives me good balance in this area.

HEALTH & WELLNESS - You need to take care of yourself. It is very easy for us to put everyone else first in our life but if you are not feeling or looking your best, it will affect all the other aspects of your life. Don't skip your dentist and doctor appointments, take that relaxing bubble bath or long hot shower. If you want to get your hair or nails done, do it. If you can't afford to get your nails done, invite your girlfriends over and do each others nails, It is a fun girls night and you will have some laughs.

I hope I gave you something to think about and encourage you to look at these areas of your life and see where each of these key areas shows up on your balance wheel. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and encourage you to share how you keep balance in your life.

This week I decided not to do a full recipe but wanted to share what I did what my St. Patrick Day leftovers.




I never cook the corned beef, cabbage and potatoes in the same pot. I have never like this dish even as a child. Since this is a vegetarian blog I will focus on the most important part of the meal, the veggies. On Friday, I cooked onions and carrots in water, brown sugar, salt and pepper until tender, reserved the water and refrigerated overnight.  Saturday, I steamed the shredded cabbage until tender then added the carrots mixture and continued to cook until done while boiling red skin potatoes in another pot. On Sunday, I took the leftovers and added them to fresh mushrooms that I sauteed in some olive oil and made a great stir fry and I had that with some left over boiled potatoes.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed my point of view, please like The Smoothie Vegetarians on Facebook and look for my next update on Tuesday.

As always, I would encourage you to adopt and not shop, Let's try to clear all the cages at all the animal shelters. If you can't adopt, please considering sponsoring an animal or just sharing their photos on social media to increase their chances of getting a home.

With Gratitude,

Trudy



Why Not Wool?



Veganism isn't just about food, which often confounds people first learning about this perspective on life. People who wish to avoid animal products aren't just talking about the stuff they eat, but everything. And though most people understand and get the problem with leather or fur, wool still usually gets weird looks. Why not wool?

Since the sheep aren't hurt by shearing, and generally need to be sheared as their fleece gets bulky, some people automatically see this as being harmless. I'm not sure why since taking a chicken's eggs is just as harmless to the bird, yet its not hard to grasp that chickens are abused and mistreated in the egg industry. The same situation applies to sheep and wool. Maybe it's harder to see because it's not food. I don't know.

Lambs are super-cute and deserve as much concern as any other animals.
Blurry because taking barnyard photos is hard. Sorry.
His name is Puddles.
Sheep are not treated well in the wool industry, from brutally rough treatment and poor living conditions, to sliced up skin during the shearing process. I won't go into detail but you get the picture. It's not pleasant. And so, vegans do not use wool products. 

Second Hand?
This can be a debate among vegans, whether or not its acceptable to buy or wear used items made with wool. Some people say that it is fine because you are not really supporting the wool industry this way and no additional animals are harmed by you buying that used wool sweater. On the other hand, some people feel that it continues the idea that wearing animal products is fine. Or if it just creeps you out that an animal suffered for your clothes, just avoid it altogether.

I personally think it's acceptable to go with second hand since it's not contributing to the industry at all. I don't really see that the average person is going to walk past you and suddenly feel that wool is awesome because of your sweater, providing they can even tell what's its made from at a distance. That said, I don't like wool to begin because of the texture so I don't buy it one way or another.


Alternatives
People are trying to get away from synthetic fibers these days because they are not great for the environment (many shed tiny micro fibers that are becoming an issue in waterways). Cotton, bamboo, linen and hemp are all some great materials for clothing or other products you can try instead. But if you have to use synthetics, at least you're not contributing to a cruel animal-based industry.

It's not just clothing either. Wool is often used in upholstery, footwear and bedding products too. Check on labels before you buy, just to be sure. And its not only sheep's wool that is an issue. Alpaca and cashmere have similar concerns, though technically cashmere is combed out of the coats of rabbits or goats rather than sheared. The same basic problems about animal treatment still apply though.

While it may not be as big a part of your life as your dietary choices, it's part of being vegan that you are aware of the consequences of your decisions, whether they are food or not.

The Lazy Vegan’s Mac & Cheese Recipe

            When my friend Madison cooked me this mac and cheese for the first time, I was shocked at how delicious it tasted. It reminded me of that Velveeta mac and cheese because its so rich and creamy. She made it again for a pot luck we went to and EVERYONE (even the non-vegans) at the event was raving about it and saying it was the best mac and cheese they have had. I wanted to make it for my mom, aka the biggest cheese lover I know, and see if even she would like it. I asked Madison for the recipe, she sent it to me, and I was shocked! It was basically the easiest recipe I have ever seen. I would not even call it a “recipe”, just throwing some things in a pot. Long story short, I made it in like 15 minutes and even my mom loved it. So, I thought I should share it with everyone!
            I know Daiya vegan cheese gets a bad reputation in the vegan community, but give it a chance in this recipe! I usually do not like Daiya but I promise it works in this case. You do not need to add in any vegetables, but on this day, I decided to chop up some broccoli and red pepper to add some extra health and texture. It tastes great either way!


Ingredients
1 Box of pasta (I used shells but penne is another good choice, any kind works)
1 Packet of Daiya Cheddar shreds
1 Packet of Daiya Mozerella shreds
¼ cup of (vegan) bread crumbs
Salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste
Optional: Broccoli, red pepper, or veggies of choice.

Directions
Pour box of pasta into a large pot. Add enough water just to cover the noodles. Bring to a boil. Add veggies if desired. Cook until noodles are soft adding in more water (or unsweetened almond milk) if needed. When noodles are soft, the liquid should be all evaporated. If it is not, just drain it and return to pot. Empty both packets of Daiya cheese into the pasta and stir until it is all combined. Add salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste. Do NOT skimp on the salt! It really brings out the flavor of the cheese. Stir to combine and taste as you add. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Serve warm and enjoy!
            If you want to kick this up a notch, you can pour this into a baking dish and then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and bake it in the oven at 350 for a few minutes. I do this if I am serving it to a large group of people that I want to impress! I made it for my non-vegan family on Christmas day and everyone enjoyed it. It makes it taste restaurant-worthy while still requiring almost no cooking skills. Let me know if you try this out and share it with non-vegans. I love to know how surprised people are at delicious vegan food.


Keto, Carbs and Calories

 

More antics at the office. |Up until recently I've had a job that kept me very physically active. I walked all day long at work, often to the point of exhaustion. Now, due to some health issues, I have an office job (as I've mentioned almost weekly!). With a sedentary position comes a host of issues; sitting all day is a new thing for me and I'm not sure that I like it. I miss flitting around, always being on the go. I work in a hospital and I enjoyed seeing the various people I know and like on the different floors as I went about my day.

Several of the women I work with are trying to lose weight, which is frustrating for them because they, too, are sitting for most of the day. I've only been there for about two and a half months, but I've already heard several of them cycle through their various diets. Currently on the table is the keto diet. Now, I have to admit I've tried this – I was a vegetarian a the time, and I don't need to lose weight, but I was curious. I tend to do that – I get curious about a particular thing, a diet, or an exercise, and then I give it a whirl. I lasted about a week on keto. The carb cravings were overwhelming and after a couple of days, even the thought of more eggs, or cheese was enough to turn my stomach. I just could not do it.

I understand what it is to struggle with weight – I've been there. It's difficult, always thinking about it, and trying to be more healthy – feeling guilty every time you “cheat”. Diets are set up for failure – they're almost impossible to maintain over the long term and this time of year women are thinking about summer, and bathing suits, and shorts and how badly they want to drop a few pounds.


So I'm watching my coworker the other day snacking on pepperoni sticks and cheese and planning a keto dinner – she and another coworker are comparing food and results, and I get it, I really do. Ultimately though, it comes down to healthy eating. While there may be weight loss by limiting or completely cutting out carbs, there is, I believe, a price to pay for that. The body needs a balance of the macro nutrients: fats, carbs and protein. They, all three, are important and they all do their own jobs for the body. Most people on a western diet consume far more protein than their body needs as well as far more sugar (myself included).

I've done a lot of diets in my time, low fat, low carb, low calorie, liquid, intermittent fasting (I still do this periodically; I like giving my guts a break once in awhile), but in the end it really just comes down to a healthy, balanced diet with some exercise thrown in for good measure. It's just as easy to be an unhealthy vegan as it is to be an unhealthy vegetarian, or an unhealthy omnivore. There's garbage food everywhere! My particular downfall is chocolate – cannot get enough.

Along with a healthy diet though, there needs to be acceptance. Bodies vary greatly in size, bone structure, metabolism etc. You can't make yourself into something you're not, and one of the best things we can learn to do is to work with what we have, and to accept and love our body, even if we're fighting to lose those extra pounds, or to eat less sugar, or to exercise more. Instead of the keto, or the paleo, or the warrior or whatever diet is in vogue at the moment, I think we need to look at the whole picture – a balance of diet and exercise, as well as working on things like managing stress through meditation, or deep breathing or whatever works, and every so often telling ourselves that we're human and mistakes aren't the end of the world.

Gwen

Kombucha



Kombucha can be a delicious treat that can be an alternative to a lot of sugary drinks like juices and coffees, but certainly does not skimp on the outstanding taste and flavors!!! A lot of these are delicious and I would recommend it. Some of these can have a vinegar aftertaste so it may take a while to find one you like a lot. I have tried a few flavors from brand and have tried them out that do not have that taste. I do not drink this often at all, but it can be a treat for special occasions. The ones that I have tried so far have been amazing and other people who have tried them with me liked them as well. 

(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

I have tried a few of the flowers from the brand GTS Synergy and they have been good if you do not find the vinegar taste. I have tried Trilogy, Guava Goddess, and Gingerberry. I liked all of them and I would want to try some of the other flavors. They are great and I would recommend trying them. Most stores I normally shop in have them on sale.


(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

My favorite kind is from the brand Revive and it is called Free Ride hibiscus drink. It is absolutely delicious and it has a vanilla and lemon flavor to go along with the hibiscus flavor. This one does not have any sort of aftertaste and it has a nice flavor to it. I have really enjoyed drinking this and it is something I love picking up occasionally if I see it at a store that carries it. 

(photos by Danielle)

I have also tried a flavor from the brand Kevita. I have tried the pineapple peach flavor and I really liked it. This was great and refreshing to have, especially for the summer. 

(photos by Danielle)

Another type I have tried is a drink called Elixir. This is not marketed as a Kombucha but it has the probiotics that are added. The flavor by this brand that I have tried was tangerine. There was some coconut water in it and it had a nice flavor if you like things similar to that. The brand also has a ginger flavor that I have not tried yet. 


(photos by Danielle)

Let me know if you like this beverage and what your experience has been! What kinds have you tried that you have liked?

Have some healthy, delicious food and have a wonderful weekend.

Here are some other similar articles:





Happy Friday!
-Danielle

Spring is Coming



It has been a long winter and I don't know about anyone else but I can't wait for the warm weather. Late Spring, early summer is not only time to shed your winter clothing but the perfect time to explore the many farmer's markets that will start appearing. I know in my area some of them set up at the local train station or in various parking lots on the east end of Long Island on the weekends but you may want to even make some of these markets as part of a road trip. Here are some "must visit" markets.

Union Square Greenmarket, New York

It is absolutely amazing that farm fresh produce can be found in the middle of New York City but it can at the Union Square Greenmarket. This is an outdoor oasis of freshly picked fruits and vegetables. The great thing about this market is that is open during the winter months. If you are travelling to New York City, this is definitely a place that you need to check out.

Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

This market is on my bucket list, In addition to being one of the oldest continually operated public farmers markets, this is where the first Starbucks store was opened. There is dining, a crafts market and shopping available as well.

Copley Square Market, Boston, Massachusetts

If you are going to be in the Boston area, you may want to check out this farmer's market. It is located in the historic and upscale Back Bay area. This is Boston's biggest and busiest farmers markets and offers a vibrant selection of produce from over two dozen Massachusetts farmers. This market is open from mid May through November.




Eastern Market, Washington DC

This farmers market is located in Capitol Hill and is one of the oldest and largest fresh produce markets. You can visit the market all year round with the exception of Mondays when they are closed. Weekends are especially exciting with more than 100 vendors selling fresh produce and arts and crafts that are handmade by local artists.

Sweet Auburn Market, Atlanta, Georgia

This is an indoor market located in the original Municipal Market building in downtown Atlanta. if you are in the area, it is worth stopping by since there are tons of vendors, stands and restaurants.

If you plan on visiting any of these markets, I would suggest you check out their Facebook page to ensure they are open. When we take our boat out east, I can't wait to go to one of my favorite farmers markets in the beautiful town of Westhampton and take you on a photo journey with me.

Although I love everything at the market, one of my favorite things is beets.  Many times at the market, people will ask them to pull off the greens and they will have a stack of them. I usually ask for some of the discarded greens since I enjoy them as much as the beets themselves. So in honor of one of my favorite vegetables today's recipe is...


Warm Beet Green Salad


Ingredients:

1 Bunch of beets with greens
1/2 onion
Olive oil
Cliantro
White balsamic Reduction (or use vinegar and a little sugar)
Salt and pepper

Slice onion and saute in a bit of olive oil, wash and chop beet greens and add to onions once they are translucent and cook until desired tenderness. Immediately plate.

Now it is time to cook the beets, although you can do them in the oven, for this recipe I am going to boil them. Be aware if you have never made fresh beets, they will stain your wooden cutting board so you may want to cut them on something else. I cut the top and bottom off of each beet, and since they were relatively small I decided not to peel them but to scrub the skin with a vegetable brush. I cut them into uniform sizes to ensure they cooked evenly. Once they were tender, I spooned them on top of the greens and onions. I found this amazing white balsamic vinegar reduction that has no preservatives (it is just a reduction of white balsamic vinegar and cane sugar). I drizzled the balsamic over the beets and greens, added some cilantro and salt and pepper. Delicious!! This was a perfect lunch for me. You can use this as a side dish, a salad or even a main course. Just add some romaine. This is also great if you add some sliced apples and celery for some texture and crunch.





Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!






Hope everyone has a fantastic week, I am counting the days to spring.

As always, please adopt and not shop for your next pet, there is a lot of love at shelters wanting to be shared. Since I have quite the menagerie of pets already, I decided to spread the love and sponsor a dog. If you are an animal lover, there are so many ways to help. If you can't help by adopting, or financially sponsor a pet then please share their photos on Facebook to help increase their chances of finding a forever home. Every little bit helps!
Your thoughts, ideas and comments are always welcome. If you haven't already, please like The Smoothie Vegetarians Facebook page to ensure you won't miss any of my future posts.

With Gratitude,

Trudy



The Fine Art of Vegan Chili


Chili is one of those classic meat dishes, right alongside BBQ ribs that becomes a personal form of artwork instead of just a recipe. Everyone has their own way of making it and it never seems to be exactly the same dish twice.

So I made a batch of vegan chili last night and thought I would share my recipe. Except that I didn't really follow a recipe and did a lot of random tossing as the batch simmered on the stove. So, you can follow along and hopefully put together some of your own wonderful meat-free chili.

My free-form chili creation is simmering away happily in all its plant-based glory


I started off with a little oil, and sauteed a clove of minced garlic and about a half cup of diced up white onion. I probably should have gone with a bit more garlic. Oh, and about 1 stalk of celery, diced small too. Once that got going, I added about 3/4 of a package of Gardein's meat-less crumbles (we love them because they are gluten-free!). I'm sure the whole package would have been fine, but this is what was in my freezer.

When the onion was getting soft and the crumbles browned, I added in about a cup of diced green bell pepper. Ours was frozen, the end of last year's harvest but fresh would work just fine.

Next was the diced tomatoes. I guess it was about 3/4 of a can. You could probably just go with a whole can (around 2 cups). See, I told you I was making this up as I went. Along with that was 1 1/2 cups of black beans, all nicely rinsed first. I turned up the heat until it was simmering. Next went in the spices.


I'll be honest, we don't do spicy chili at our house so you might want to add a little more heat in yours. I put in:
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 big squirt of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 small squirt of prepared mustard


My original recipe called for 1 teaspoon of chili powder but it wasn't enough. I added a bit more and then added a bit more and then added a bit more. I don't know how much I ended up with. Maybe a tablespoon? Use your best judgment on this and taste your chili as you add the seasoning. We use a homemade blend anyway, so it's probably different than the usual chili powder.

Once it was all added, everything got stirred together and left to simmer for about half an hour while I made some rice to go with it. I think I added a little water part way though as it was getting thick. Maybe half a cup.


A few minutes before it was ready, I added a few handfuls of frozen corn too and then let it finish heating up until the rice was done. I know that not everyone approves of corn in chili but we like it. Feel free to skip this if you want.

So there you have it. A stream-of-consciousness journey into homemade vegan chili. I think this batch made enough for 3 to 4 people, but I did serve it with rice. If you have just the chili alone, it would be a good meal for 2 with a little leftover. I dunno.

Have Your Cake


Today at work I felt alone in a room full of people. One of my coworkers is having a birthday on Monday. In this particular office, traditionally the birthday person brings in a cake for everyone. This afternoon we were all goofing off waiting for four o'clock and they start asking the birthday girl what kind of cake she's going to bring. Lots of happy female chatter going on around me, but I'm not chiming in. I felt awkward. I felt like I wasn't part of the group. And I wasn't. At one point the birthday person turned to me and said something like “oh, I'm sorry – you won't be able to have any”. I replied that I was just fine with that, not to worry, etc. And I am fine with that, I really am, but the fact remains that I was not part of the conversation, and therefore not really part of the merriment.

It's a sacrifice on many levels – being vegan is not particularly vogue in most circles. I am often made fun of, ridiculed, looked at strangely, encouraged to “cheat”, asked to explain myself and quite frankly it's exhausting. I don't particularly want to get into it with random people. I'm not up for an argument or even a discussion a lot of the time. It makes me tired and frustrated having to explain myself over and over. I shouldn't have to explain myself. I get that I'm different than many people, not the “norm” (although I do think that it's changing rapidly), but I wish people would just let me be. It's hard enough trying to figure out restaurant menus, dinner at someone's house, trips etc., without this constant feeling of having to justify my choices.


I'm taking a holistic nutrition diploma (seven courses) online, and I'm finding it really fascinating – particularly the different ways various cultures eat and celebrate food – how much diet varies from culture to culture. It's an interesting thing – I rather compare veganism to the “normies” the same way. If I was new here, fresh from a different country and culture it would be rather similar. My eating habits would be very different; I'd have to explain what I was eating, how I made it, if it was tasty. People may be turned off by it, or they may think it looked delicious. Most people are curious about anything different and I don't think there's generally any ill intent behind it – but the questions can still be annoying and repetitive. I don't personally think the office is a place to discuss factory farming, global warming and other issues related to the western diet, which I suppose is another reason why I clam up.

So I'm thinking that on Monday I'm going to bring in some yummy vegan cake or cupcakes and invite anyone to try my dessert along with the traditional birthday cake – rather like a cultural day! I think a lot of the questions and arguments regarding veganism come from people who think we spend our time eating salads and tofu – and that ain't so my friends! It's easier to show people rather than tell them – let them see that a vegan cake can be (and is) as tasty as a more traditional one.

There's been a lot of lessons learned on my part since I turned to veganism a little over a year ago. As I've said before it's really a complete lifestyle make over and with that comes a lot of internal changes as well and if I'm in a room full of people feeling alone, then part of that is my fault too – it takes communication on both sides in every aspect of life. So I think the lesson here is you can have your cake and eat it too!

Gwen

Your Personal Health Journey


(photos by Danielle)


Starting your personal health journey can be intimidating for some, but with support, this can become easier. A lot of people sometimes will not even know where to start. It can be good to start this journey with a positive mindset and start shifting your habits to better ones. Some people prefer to do this overnight and some do this as a gradual shift over time. My journey was gradual and I started incorporating better habits into my life. I now feel so much better since I have started this. 

I have felt so much better lately and have had so many more productive days. I have been changing my life by curbing my eating habits and exercising. I feel amazing on days where I do four miles a day because it gets me so energetic and motivated to continue the rest of my day. I got so much more done in the day since switching to a healthier lifestyle and weel as thinking more positive.


One thing that I want to stress is that you do not have to be any specific person to do this...anyone can do this as long as you keep your mind to it. Something that is sad for me to experience is people who say “look at you being so healthy...I wish I could be like that”. Don't envy it, set that as your goal and do it. You can do it! It is sad to see people not believing in themselves and people need to realize that everyone can do this. Just be positive and set your mind to it. 

Exercise
This can be challenging for some people to do, especially if they are busy...so how do I do this if I normally have a 16 hour day to balance between working several jobs and going to grad school full time? Well, I get up and do it. One of my jobs involves a lot of desk time and am sitting, but it is a work from home job so for the most part, I try to get my downtime during then. However, during my other job or my walks to class, I will try to take a long way or if I have a task at work, I will offer to be the one to go there so that I can get extra steps in for the day. I have been trying to do 10,000 steps a day which is about 4 miles and it feels amazing. You can do jogging, yoga, or anything else that you like. 


Eat right
I overheard a girl in the grocery store talking and it was heartbreaking. It can be a shame to hear people who are just restricting themselves and not eating. Some people fear eating instead of just eating the right foods. 

Positivity
Social support can also be important for starting a healthy life. People who are supportive should be within reach and those who are toxic and unsupportive should be kept at a distance. You need people in your life who give unconditional love and who care about your wellbeing. These people would want to see you healthy and flourishing. 

Happy Friday!
-Danielle 

Raise Your Hand If You Meditate!


Raise your hand if you meditate.

First off,  what is mediation and what does this have to do with being a vegetarian?  Actually, these two things complement each other and are very closely related.

Meditation has many different meanings. It can mean thinking or contemplating, it can be part of a religious activity or just as a way of becoming calm and relaxed. It can be practiced in a variety of ways as well. Some people choose to make it part of their morning ritual and have a designated space for it, others practice it at various times throughout the day or when they just need a moment of tranquility. I even know someone who meditates when she is ironing. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Some people repeat mantras or words while meditating, others meditate in silence and focus on their breathing. One of my favorite way to meditate is to cook. I love to chop my vegetables, grind my spices and just put a lot of love into my dishes.



Some say veganism and vegetarianism are central to the path of spirituality.There are many reasons to follow a vegetarian lifestyle We all know that a plant-based diet is healthy and there are many statistics and documentaries that support this fact. Then there are the religious beliefs that support this way of life. There are also climate change. social justice and the environment which supports a plant-based diet. But what does this have to do with meditation you may ask. Some people can just not find tranquility while eating animal flesh. For some, it is something about the suffering of animals that will not allow them to find that inner peace. Both Hinduism and Buddhism strongly believe in developing awareness and mental concentration in the spiritual quest.  Some people may say that praying is talking to God and meditation is listening to God. Therefore in many cases, vegetarianism is a by-product of meditation. Meditation can increase your mindfulness to really look at things in a different light, it can make you realize that it is not necessary to kill a living being for your food, it can open your heart, and increase your awareness. This increased sensitively may make you want to pursue a vegetarian lifestyle.

After learning about different religions and researching this topic, this is my interpretation of what I have learned. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on this topic and would love for you to share them.

To continue with ways to meditate and transition into this week's recipe, I encourage you to use eating as a form of meditation when trying either this dish or your next meal. Be mindful of how the food looks, feel the temperature of the food with your fingers, notice the texture and smell of the ingredients. By taking your time and being present with the food on your plate, you will be able to slow down and enjoy every morsel you put in your mouth, It also is much healthier then rushing through your meal without even savoring the taste.



Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts


Ingredients

Brussel sprouts
Olive Oil
Soy Sauce
Agave (honey or brown sugar would work too)
Salt and Pepper



After cutting the top off each of the brussel sprouts and cutting them in half, I placed them in a a pan and covered them with water until they were fork tender and bright green in color. ( I cooked them until all the water evaporated). I then added 1 tablespoon of olive oil and tossed them. As you can see from the picture on the right, they got a golden color. I added 1 tablespoon of each of the following:
the balsamic glaze, agave and soy sauce and continued to heat until they caramelized.

You can adjust the ingredients by adding a teaspoon at a time to see if you want more savory or would like it sweeter.





This is a great recipe to use as a side for any meal.

Hope you enjoy it!

Happy Meditating!!!

With Gratitude,

Trudy