Monday, November 5, 2012

Sad News

I have to shut this blog down for an undetermined amount of time. I know it's small but I simply cannot afford to live the vegan lifestyle right now. Honestly, I can't afford to live ANY sort of nice lifestyle. I know this is terrible and awful but I have to survive.

Someday I intend on being vegan and healthy. I'll leave what recipes I have up here. I hope to begin again soon. Please don't hate me, those of you who read this blog. This is a difficult choice I had to make. Until I am back on my feet and have the funds, I will do this again.

The one downside to being vegan: you do need to have more than $40 dollars in your bank account.

:( Bye for now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Roasted Garlic

So, how about this hurricane?

Here in Charlotte we pretty much just got a massive temperature drop and a lot of wind. I spent some time in the northern tip of Illinois and grew up in Connecticut, so the cold isn't new to me. But, I hate sudden weather changes. Oh I am spoiled, aren't I?

Today I copied a recipe from one of my favorite vegan blogs, Oh She Glows. As I perused Angela's mouth watering recipes, I came upon one that looked totally feasible on my budget: Roasted Garlic. Roasting the garlic takes away the eye-watering sting that comes from eating it raw and leaves you with a creamy, mild, warm and savory taste. I followed her recipe completely and do not regret it one bit. I'll repeat the steps here.

Roasted Garlic

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the outside skin of the garlic off. Take a knife and slice off the tops of the cloves. If you miss a few, it's okay. Just use the tip of your knife or a small knife to get the stragglers.

See? Just like that :)

Now, place the garlic on tin foil and drizzle with olive oil; enough to cover the whole top.

Place in the oven on or in any oven safe pan (I used a cookie sheet) and let bake for about 45 minutes. During this time, take your dog out for a stroll in the wind. Eat a cookie. Have some warm apple cider. Go get the mail. The options are endless. 

Pull the pan out when the timer goes off and let stand for fifteen minutes. After, when opened, they should then look like this:


I opted for using them as a spread on some toast but you can do anything with them. Angela says to put them in soup, pesto, potatoes, or just eat them straight!

I will absolutely make this again. Perhaps I'll try my own pesto or jazz up my potatoes with it. But it was SO GOOD! Warm, garlicky and savory...mmm and buttery without any butter. Sure it will make your breath smell like garlic but who cares? Good food is worth the breath. Also it smells awesome in my apartment.

I really hope everyone is safe. This hurricane sounds like a doozy and I hope all my friends, readers, and everyone up north is staying safe and warm! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Portobello Burgers

I love a good mushroom. That sounds a bit odd, I know. But really, I love any kind of mushroom as long as it is cooked right. When it comes to portobellos, I believe grilling is the most amazing way.

Unfortunately, I live in an apartment complex, and I don't trust the community grills. So I opted for baking them, which has never failed me in the past. I rank it as the best second option for cooking portobellos.

It was actually Justin's idea. We were sweeping through the grocery store and wondering what to eat. As we passed the mushroom section, he simply stated, "How about portobello burgers?" It made me happy to hear him opt for a vegan meal without me persuading him.

So we got home and I got started!

I prepared a marinade of olive oil, soy sauce, and pepper. Feel free to add cayenne as well.

Put the mushrooms in the marinade. Make sure they get covered in it if you accidentally used a bowl that was too small. Cover with aluminum foil (plastic wrap is okay too) and let it marinade for a while. I let it go for about 45 minutes but it would probably be best to leave it for about two hours.

Now, while those are marinating, go ahead and pull the seeds out of that pomegranate you got and talk to your sister on the phone because she may have a job opportunity for you!

Yum. Yum yum yum yum yum.

Okay so now you have pomegranate seeds to snack on, and you've talked to your sister about a possible job opportunity. Pull out your marinating mushrooms!

Line a pan with parchment paper and place the mushroom caps on it, bottom side up. Drizzle with the marinade.

Since I forgot to take a before photo, I took one while they were in the oven. Because I am brave like that. Okay! So, now chop some onion and garlic. Snack on 'em raw if you want. Or not. I'm not weird and love the taste of raw garlic/onion or anything. Nope...Not me...

Sautee them up. Leave them on low until the mushrooms are done.

I love how the second one held the marinade like soup.

So we ended up having to cut one in half because we only had really tiny slices of bread, but it was pretty damn filling. We topped it with the onions and garlic, and some spinach. Delicious. Filling. Hearty. Awesome for this time of year. The cons are that they are a bit difficult to eat but honestly, it's so good it doesn't even matter.

Bon appetite! And stay tuned for...something else in the future!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mock Tuna

I miss tuna. It took me forever to like it. I used to hate it as a child, and then one day in college, ALL I wanted was a tuna sandwich. I mean, it was a terrible craving. It hurt. So I got one of my friends to come with me between classes and we got tuna sandwiches from Panera. I felt complete.

So, I miss tuna. I came across this recipe  and got super excited. The main ingredients are things I keep in my kitchen all the time. I didn't use every single ingredient listed (I don't even know where to get kelp around here) but I'm really happy with the result.


1 can Garbanzo beans
Green onion, sliced
One celery stalk, sliced
1/2 cup vegan mayo

Slice the green onion and celery stalk as shown. If you're making more than this recipe makes, use more as necessary.

Try to slice the celery pretty thin, or dice it.

Mash up the garbanzo beans with a fork. It's not that easy. It will take some elbow grease! 
After they are mashed, mix in the other ingredients.

I know it doesn't look too appetizing, but the tast is very very much like tuna. Obviously it's beans and not fish so it doesn't taste exact, but the end result left me satisfied. 

I served it on toasted whole wheat bread with some spinach. If I weren't super full I'd probably go make another one. 

So, if you're craving tuna, I advise you to try this recipe! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

I love making black bean burgers. They're super easy and you can add any spice you want for flavor.
I made them last night, after tearing myself away from my third time watching Lost.

Pretty much, all you need to make really good black bean burgers is:

A can of black beans
Cayenne (optional)
Green onions
Turmeric (optional)
Lettuce or spinach (I use spinach)

Open the can of black beans, drain and rinse. Chop your green onions.

Eat a few raw, if you'd like. Yummm. Now smash 'em. You can use your hands, a spoon, a potato long as it works. I use my hands. As you're mashing, add flour. Add enough to make the consistency like a strong cookie dough. Add in salt, pepper, onion, and other desired spices.

Take a skillet with olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Form your black beans into little patties and fry on each side.

They should start looking like this:

I usually wait until they look a bit darker than that. Then, once they're ready,  I take some vegan cheese (galaxy brand is my favorite, or daiya), place the bean burger on it, top with spinach and vegenaise.

Yum. Yum Yum Yum. So good, and pretty darn healthy. Even Justin ate three, and he thinks vegans are ridiculous. So, there you have it. Good enough to make a meat eating Southern boy eat three!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reflections on a common issue

I am going to start this post by saying this is strictly about the health of vegans and vegetarians. I am not commenting on vegans and vegetarians with serious underlying health issues. Obviously you should consult your doctor before making a lifestyle switch.

The most common argument among vegans/vegetarians and omnivores (aside from religious debate) is "Where do you get all your vitamins, minerals, protein, etc?" argument.

It's a legitimate question. In today's western society, meat and animal products are held in high regard. The Atkins diet, "lean" meats, turkey based products (I will NOT get into that right now. I will in another post.) and "low fat" products have us all brainwashed. Maybe 'brainwashed' is a strong word...however, the fact of it all is that it's simply not true.

When I was in high school, a friend of mine adopted veganism. Within two months, she grew incredibly anemic. When certain metals touched her skin, they left brown streaks. Then she had to go to the hospital with a blood disorder. When I asked her what she was eating, she told me mainly lima beans, lettuce, and carrots. Oh, and bread. Well, no wonder she got sick! There is enough nutritional value in those foods to keep her alive for maybe a month. She did it wrong.

Unfortunately, it only adds to the bad reputation of a plant-based diet when people get sick. And to those people, I have to say it bluntly, "You're doing it wrong,"

We have evolved into a culture that demands product. We have found a way to mass produce animals for meat, milk, and other products and by-products. The ways we do this are inhumane and unsafe. Now, I'm going to state right here that if I lived in a time where people raised their own cattle and poultry for survival and sustenance, I would have no problem eating meat. It grew on my land. I fed it. I did not inject it with pesticides and hormones so I could satisfy an increasingly unhealthy society. I would have been working all day on my farm. This is survival. I don't think this makes me a bad vegan.  I don't have the ability to work a farm myself, so I choose not to indulge in mass produced animal products that are disease ridden and cruel. Fortunately, there are options out there.

But now we have slaughterhouses because man generally doesn't work on a farm anymore. They sit at desks all day and when they come home, a sizzling steak or fried chicken is a luxury given to us by the demand we have created.

I'm digressing a bit from the subject at hand. Yes, animal products have the vitamins and minerals we need. No, it is not healthy. The way these consumables are given to us are NOT safe. Slaughterhouses are ridden with disease and contaminants. The meat we buy at the supermarket can be months old, filled with chemicals and harsh substances to preserve them. Can cooking rid them of these? Maybe, but not enough to make them safe again. Plus, who really wants to eat something that suffered a cruel, painful, disgusting death just to make sure you were able to eat some of it's muscle?

What about the "good fats"? Go eat an avocado. Not only are they full of the good fat needed for brain function, but they are amazing for cervix and reproductive health. Other foods are full of the good fat as well, including nuts, seeds, and types of oils.

The vitamins and minerals one needs to live a healthy, plant based lifestyle are everywhere. Protein can be found in beans, legumes, lentils, nuts, oatmeal, brown rice, soy, and bulgur, to name a few. For Calcium, try some broccoli, leafy greens (also amazing for iron), beans, almonds, and flax.

For a very good list on where to find important vitamins, please visit Gentleworld's awesome list.

Now, B 12 is the kicker, since it is only found in animal products, and it is very important. Guess what? A B 12 supplement will be just fine, and you can even find them made without gelatin or bone meal.

You can get ridiculously sick from a vegan/vegetarian diet, if you do it wrong. You cannot live off of just salad. You cannot live off of just beans and nuts. If you're going to do this, do it right. This is not just a diet, this is a lifestyle. It can be a beautiful lifestyle. It takes work, research, and dedication. Make sure to consult your doctor, get regular checkups, and that you are intaking enough vitamins, minerals, and good fats.

Use your head. Do it right. Be smart.

For further reading, please consult this list:

Slaughterhouse, by Gail A. Eisnitz
Being Vegan, by Stanley Sapon
Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnoin
The Vegan Sourcebook, Joanne Stepaniak
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

And feel more than free to do research on your own.

Pumpkin Seeds

Fall is my favorite time of year. I don't know anyone who doesn't love the colors, spices, smells, and slight chill in the air. However, here in Charlotte,  you can wake up and it's 40 degrees outside, and by mid day, you get a sunburn while working a table at the flea market. That's absolutely not what happened to me and Justin yesterday. Nope.

Anyways, we bought a pumpkin a bit ago, and it just sat on our counter. Finally, last night, sunburned and tired, we decided to carve it. When I was young my dad would always pull the seeds and roast them. I decided to do the same.

After cutting the top off, we scooped out all the pulp and seeds, placing them in a large bowl to soak in cold water, and then moving them to a colander. 

We got it scraped pretty good. Not one seed was lost. 

It's going to be impossible to get ALL the pulp, but as long as there isn't tons it's all right. Make sure they're washed well. They'll be super slippery too. Resist the urge to dry them too much. 

Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet that has been well olive oiled. I drizzled a little more olive oil on top, then salt and pepper. I mixed 'em around, spread them out again, washed my oily hand, and added more salt and pepper. 

Place them in the oven at 325 for 25 minutes. Once the timer hits about seven minutes left, it's okay to carefully reach in and snag one or two or three or four. 

Unfortunately, my camera died (it's very old...looking to get a new one soon!) and I don't have a photo of the finished product. :( But, imagine roasted, salted, and peppered pumpkin seeds that are delicious.

Health benefits of pumpkin seeds are:

Improved bladder function
Depression treatment
Prevention of Osteoporosis
Cholesterol fighter
Cancer fighter

So...we carved the pumpkin! We read on Homesteading Self Sufficiency Survival  that you can use a cookie cutter and a hammer if pumpkin carving isn't your forte. Deciding to give our pumpkin stars for eyes, it worked. Our star cookie cutter was sacrificed, and it even peeled the inside of the pumpkin even more! Observe:

But, the final result...

:) Happy October!