Friday, November 30, 2012

Veagn Challenge Update

 I have been doing this challenge for 18 days now!  I can't even believe it is so easy.  I'll admit I had a couple slip ups:
  • mandatory class tastings for nutrition
  • When I was feeling like I wanted to stop the challenge, I had a slice of cheese and some crackers.  Low and behold, I felt very heavy and my stomach ached that night...
It is amazing how my body craves different foods now and how completely turned off I am at the sight or smell of dairy.  Even the thought of consuming animal products just makes my mind fuzzy.

I have been taking a B12 supplement once a week because this crucial vitamin is hard to find in abundant sources in plant-based foods.  I have heard of fortified nutritional yeast containing B12 as well as naturally fermented foods.  Although these foods do contain trace amounts (according to the articles I read, which I will find and post later) of B12, but are not substantial enough.  I have also read that once the body becomes acclimated to no more B12 from the outside, it can take small amounts from the foods we do eat (i.e. fermented, dirt from our veggies, etc.) and hold onto it in our bodies.

There is still much more research that needs to be done on this topic.  I will be looking more in depth and posting articles I find within the net few weeks.  I would love to hear what you have to say about this topic, as well.  So, please feel free to post your thoughts/ideas/articles you have found so we all can learn a bit more.

Enjoy the warm-up this weekend!

Luana ola!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vegan Update: Day 14

Thanksgiving pictures

Challenges through Thanksgiving:
1. Family traditions-
        Like most families in America, my family has a huge "traditional" spread during Thanksgiving and has been that way since before I was born.  This spread includes turkey, ham, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a big salad.  For many years, I had enjoyed this tradition.  Last year, when I was exploring vegetarianism, I had a few complaints from relatives who told me that I should be eating met because it was healthy.  Well, after another year of not eating meat, I am still healthy as ever and got questioned about this vegan challenge.  My aunt, who is a nurse, told me that there are certain amino acids that are only found in meat so I should at least eat a little bit.  Although she is somewhat correct, I have absolutely no desire to eat meat (maybe fish...a  few times a year...?) ever again.  My aunt was super sweet, though, because she made me a three bean salad so I could get some additional protein!

2. Sense of accomplishment-haven't felt it yet...
       After Thanksgiving, I began thinking about stopping the challenge because I had graciously made it through a meat-infested holiday with few troubles.  Just as that idea came into my head, I began to think that this is the time I should keep going on. I found the courage to push through because it is in our toughest trials that we need to keep going in a challenge, I am learning nothing while it is easy, but when it gets hard is when the real learning occurs.  Since I had finally felt a slight challenge, it is important that I keep going to see if I run into anymore tough roads.

Recipes from Thanksgiving:

-Stuffed pumpkin
1 medium pumpkin
1 loaf day old (or older)whole grain bread, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 apples, unpeeled, chopped
1 c raw nuts (walnuts/pecans), chopped
Herb mix, to taste:  sage, thyme, cumin, pepper
1 to 2 c vegetable stock
1/4 c Earth Balance, melted (or other light-flavored oil)
soy sauce or salt to taste
     ~ Cut the top of the pumpkin off to make a lid.  Remove the seeds and scrape out and pulp.  Comine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix.  The stuffing should be moist, but not wet.  Pack it loosely into the pumpkin, replace lid, and bake on a oiled cookie sheet for 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees F.  The pumpkin is done when a fork pushes easily through the flesh.  Any remaining stuffing can be baked in a casserole dish for 1 hour.  You may eat the pumpkin with the stuffing.
Recipe from:  Homecooking
-Raw pumpkin pie
4 c cubed sugar pumpkin
1/2 c agave
1/2 c honey/maple syrup
small handful of dates
cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to taste
pinch of salt
1 c water
1 c each walnuts and pecans
1 c dates, soaked 30 minutes in water
2 T Earth Balance
pinch salt
        ~Process pumpkin into small  chunks, add remaining filling ingredients and process until smooth.  Add liquid.  For the crust, process the nuts into powder, add dates, agave, honey, and Earth Balance.  Process and press into pie pan.  Pour filling over the top and let rest in the fridge for an hour.
Recipe found at:  This Rawsome Vegan Life
-Roasted Brussels sprouts
lots of Brussels sprouts, end cut off, quartered
1-2 T olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
     ~Place all ingredients in a casserole dish and mix with hands.  Cover with a lid and bake at 350 degrees F until just cookd through and lightly golden (about 30 minutes).  Serve warm
-Mashed sweet potatoes
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 c maple syrup
almond milk
pinch salt
cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves to taste
     ~Boil potatoes until fork tender.  Use an electric hand mixer or potato masher to mash potatoes while adding the remaining ingredients until your desired consistency is reached.  For more creamy potatoes, add more almond milk and Earth Balance.  For thicker, leave on the skin, use less milk, and mash with a potato masher.

My dinner plate:
More deserts, including my mom's vegan pumpkin bread!!!
I hope you like my recipes as much as my family and I did.  These dishes would also make great sides/mains for the rest of the holidays as well, so please give them a try and let me know what you think or if you made any changes!

Luana ola!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vegan Challenge: Day 8

It's almost Thanksgiving!!!

I am so excited to make some scrumptious vegan recipes!  Today's challenge was eating out at an Asian restaurant.  I have so many favorites, luckily most of them being accidentally vegan:  garlicky green beans, sauteed mushrooms, and sesame seed balls.  I love the third so much that I have decided to try making some myself!!

Here are the links to the recipes I found that sound authentic and tasty:
Sandra's Easy Cooking
Chinese Food

I am going to take the recipe from Sandra's Easy Cooking, minus the peanut filling and add in a sweet red bean filling from this site.

I won't be making these until Thanksgiving is over, but I will definitely be keeping you posted!

3 more days!!  What are you making this holiday season?

Luana ola!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vegan Challenge: Day 7

Well, I have officially made it one week into my cruelty-free way of eating!It has been much more simple than I had imagined, but I am beginning to see the challenges that lie ahead:

1.  This morning, we went out to breakfast with some friends.  At first, I was really nervous because all I saw on the menu was fruit, toast, or oatmeal. I was even more nervous because I didn't know if their oats were made with milk...luckily, they only had water!  So, low and behold I got a nice nourishing bowl of creamy oats (without the dairy). MMM
2. This afternoon, we went to an Eagle Scout ceremony for one of Andrew's friends.  I didn't know that they would be having food and got nervous when I saw the covered pans before the ceremony. Note: I really need to learn to have more faith in people, because they had a salad and an amazingly good pasta dish with tomato sauce (cheese was optional and on the side!).
3. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and temptation will be everywhere!  Luckily, I am bringing a few scrumptious dishes of my own, but I know my family will question me.  I just have to remain strong and remember why I am doing this challenge...for all of those animals whose lives are either taken or tortured for our enjoyment of the foods they bring us (which is completely unnecessary, by the way).

That being said, here is a cute video of some of the pigs on a farm that was right next to the nature center where we had the eagle ceremony!

Luana ola!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vegan Challenge: Day 6

I had another wonderful morning of yoga training at Thrive/Essencia!  Here is a picture of the studio!
After a bout of conversation and lessons, we had 4 students join us for class.  I learn so much every time I am there and love how refreshed and renewed I feel afterwards.  I have been an athlete my whole life and have always thought that I wasn't getting a good enough workout unless I was sweating hard, heart racing, and competitive.  After beginning to learn more about the depths of yoga (and I have A LOT more to learn), I have come to realize that the body does not need to be put through crazy workouts in order to feel great and be healthy.  I feel more calm, at ease, and free spirited than when I played volleyball or worked-out in a gym.  After being in the gym, I always felt pumped up, adrenaline going, and powerful.  Yoga is already leading me to a new inner strength that I have never felt before; and I love it!  I am getting rid of my gym membership and focusing on yoga for the time being.  Now, when it gets warmer out again, I will definitely be taking up running and biking again, but winter is a time in which Mother Nature winds down, and blankets all of her goodness with a white covering.  This is a time to reflect and learn about who I am, and what I want to be.  Yoga will keep me strong and flexible until nature says she is ready to bring back the light and encourages me to get outside to enjoy her bounty.

As for my vegan challenge, things are still going great!  I ran into a bit of a bump tonight for dinner, though because we decided to go to Mariano's.  For those of you who don't know, Marioano's is a wonderful store that just opened up this past fall by our house.  It is full of great produce and has a big dining area full of soups, sandwiches, and of course a beautiful salad bar.  Since I adore soup, I thought I'd check out what they had to offer.  Well, their vegetarian selection was quite impressive:  chili, minestrone, tomato basil, garden vegetable, and even a butternut squash soup!  Well, as you can imagine, I was super excited...until I read the ingredients...all of them had milk!  What a bummer; but on the bright side, I had a beautiful salad filled with kale, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, olives, beets, and broccoli.  Delicious!  I just wish more places were vegan-friendly...

Well, I am already about a week into this challenge and I feel great.  I truly think that I am getting great support through yoga and my family (and my readers of course!!) So, I leave you with the question of the day:
Do you know any good vegan Thanksgiving recipes for desert?  I am thinking something other than pie/cookies/etc.  A little more non-traditional, if you will?

Luana ola!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vegan Challenge: Days 4 and 5

Day 4:

I had the day off, so I got a lot done, including a nice long walk to get groceries. I picked up a lot of great fruits and veggies along with some bread and Earth Balance (vegan butter) to use in my Thanksgiving recipes. 

I had a wonderful yoga class last night.  It was filled with candle light and the Christmas lights on the trees were shining through the window as we gracefully went through moon salutations and a wonderful routine of deep stretching.

Since I had the yoga training, I packed up a few things and left the house without I got hungry, I looked at the ingredients of the JuicePlus protein bars and saw that they contained whey (a protein only found in milk).  I was very hungry and knew I needed food.  I can not even tell you how many times I wanted to just open the bar and settle my hunger, but I didn't.  Today, I am so proud of myself for holding on to my strength and waiting to have a snack when I got back home later in the evening.  This trial really helped me to think about my food and remember the reason why I wanted to go vegan:

There are so many cruelties surrounding our diets these days.  Beyond health benefits, going vegan is a cruelty-free practice.  One of the sutras of yoga is being loving towards our bodies as well as the world around us.  How can we practice this when factory farms are everywhere...I have not yet worked up the courage to write about some of the videos I have seen or read about. 

I am beginning to find an inner peace with myself through going vegan and delving into yoga.

Day 5:
This morning I had a wonderful bowl of hot oatmeal with almond milk and a pear.  I am really noticing that this transition from vegetarian to vegan is fairly easy, I just have to remember to read labels more closely.  It amazes me as to how many products have milk, eggs, or forms of those products in them!  I am here to tell you that it is much easier to go vegan once you begin eating mainly unrefined foods.  Think about how many natural foods there are that are vegan-friendly:
     fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts, breads (most)
Now, think of the variety that those groups offer!
     Fruits- apples, bananas, kiwi, grapes, melon, mango, pears, quince, fig, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, etc.
     Vegetables- kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green beans, peppers, squash, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, cucumber, etc.
     Grains- oats, wheat, corn, rye, teff, quinoa, barley, millet, etc.
     Beans- garbanzo, kidney, adzuki, pinto, soy, black, cannalini, navy, etc.
     Seeds- pimpkin, sunflower, chia, etc.
     Nuts- almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, sanch inchi, hazel nut, Brazil nut, pecan, etc.
     Breads- whole grain, corn bread, sweet bread, pancakes, muffins, dinner rolls, flat breads, etc.

It amazes me how much we have been blessed with an abundance of produce that we either neglect to nourish ourselves with and/or feed it to livestock.  Why waste the energy and resources to feed something that we then have to kill for nourishment when we could eat those things ourselves and nourish our bodies with natural foods it craves for?

Question of the day:  If you saw the inside of a slaughterhouse, would you become vegetarian? (Click here if you are unsure)

Luana ola!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vegan Challenge: Day 3

Last night, as I was adding the finishing touches to dinner, I asked Andrew if he would like cheese on his baked acorn squash.  He said of course...

I have absolutely no problem with him having cheese or other dairy products (as we are both vegetarian), but it made me think about dairy for the first time in the past 3 days.  I have not even thought about consuming any dairy until I had to shred the cheese to finish off the dinner.  3 days ago, I would have taken a nibble of the cheese before putting it back in the fridge; now I actually had to think about it and remind myself about where it comes from.

I am a mere 3 days into this challenge and I am already coming across the need to think about food more.  Not that it is difficult or making me angry/sad/etc, but it is making me more aware of the foods that I am putting in my body.

On that note, it is a good thing that I read the label for the Juice Plus protein bars because they do have some milk protein (whey) in them. :(  So I can't try them now, but Andrew will be testing one out today so I'll be sure to let you all know what he thinks.

Now I am off to reading and classes!  Yay nutrition!!

Luana ola!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vegan Challenge: Day 2

We had a wonderful vegan dinner last night of Brussels sprouts and mixed veggies in a butternut squash broth.  The squash broth made the whole dish slightly sweet and perfect!  I made the broth by taking all of the leftovers from chopping the butternut squash for soup (the skin, and fibers that hold the seeds) and boiling them with spices.

Now for today:  So far, going vegan has still not been too difficult.  I made pancakes this morning with oats and whole wheat flour and used flax meal/water for the binder.  Simple!  Lunch was leftovers and a snack was some almonds after my first day at yoga teacher training!!!!!

More on that here:
OH MY GOSH!  These women were so much fun and I had a blast.  Since this was my first time ever being in a yoga studio, I wasn't sure what to expect and what their expectations were of me.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous.  Well, let me tell you, the nerves flew right out the window as I walked in to big smiles and hugs!  I felt so at home right away.  We did some talking, went through postures and savasana, and then did some more talking (over 2 hours worth! so great!)  During savasana, we were each covered with a blanket and there was a scent of lavender in the air as our limbs got lightly massaged and loosened; there is no better way to relax.  I felt so rejuvenated afterwards.  I can't wait to go back on Thursday evening! (Check out there website here.

Next, to my surprise, my newest Juice Plus package arrived this afternoon!  JP Complete protein bars!

Can this day get any better?!  Oh wait, it can because I have been given this wonderful body to move in all sorts of ways and an opportunity to share my passions (cooking, health, yoga, etc.)  with other passionate people.  Being that it is nearing Thanksgiving, everyone seems to be in a more thankful mood, but this mood should be there year round.  We should all be thankful for the many gifts that we have and even for those we don't have because if we were perfect at everything, there would be nothing to strive for in life.  

I can't express my gratitude enough.  Be sure to thank someone, especially during this holiday season.

Luana ola!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Product Review Part 2

I had the coconut butter, cashew butter, and cocoa bliss to finish of the wonderful abundance of Artisana nut butters.  I apologize for not having any pictures, so if you forgot what the packages look like, take a look at this post.

Coconut butter/Cacao Bliss:
    The reason that I lumped these two together is because they are both coconut butter; cacao bliss is coconut butter mixed with chocolate!  Now, I have to admit that although I am a total fan of coconut oil, the butter is too much coconut for me.  Coconut butter is ground up coconut flesh and tends to have a bit of a dry texture, even after its been melted.  That being said, cacao bliss tasted just like a Mounds candy bar (but obviously way more healthy!).  So, although I personally did not care for it, my mom (who adores all things coconut) absolutely loved it and even brought some to work with her to share!  So, for you coconut lovers out there, Artisana has some great products!

Cashew butter:
     At first, I was not sure what to expect because the color is very pale and it looks really gooey (like paste, sort of).  But one bite had my mind blown!  Now I know why they use it as a bast for so many other nut butters.  The texture of this stuff is outstanding.  It is velvety smooth with just a hint of cashew-flavor.  The mild flavor of this nut is great for recipes, especially when making "creamed" anything vegan!

So, I must say, keep up the great work Artisana!  You really know what you are doing.  I have only one request/ you think you will ever add seed butters (like pumpkin or sunflower) to your list of products?

Have you tried any of these products?  If so, or if you have a nut/seed butter that you love, I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Luana ola!

Becoming Vegan Day 1

I have had many ups and downs about becoming vegan.  In the past, I would commit to it and then lose the "will power" after only a few days.  I have been a vegetarian for a few years now and have been playing with the idea of veganism for a while.  I have watched a few videos and read a few books, but nothing struck me like these two things:

1. Vegucated
     This documentary really hot home for me.  I watched it last Friday and definitely cried at various parts.  In this film, three New Yorkers decided they would accept the challenge to go vegan for 6 weeks.  These people ate meat 3 times a day and thought they couldn't survive without it!  If they can do it, so can I.
     I really think that everyone should watch this video because it is realistic and shows clips of why people become vegan.  If you know of any films that are like this, please send them my way as I would like to learn all that I can.

     After wiping away the tears from Vegucated, I decided to do a little bit of my own research.  I ran into this site and the  first thing I saw was a 30 day vegan challenge.  I though to myself, "I can do this!  If I can make it through the holidays on a vegan diet, I can do it all the time!"  So low and behold, I am on my first day as a vegan.  So far, it hasn't been too hard, but the hard part is yet to come...
     I plan on doing plenty of research and watching videos/pod casts to keep myself aware of why I am going vegan.  I think that it is very important to remind yourself on a daily/weekly basis of why you do something because it keeps you real and grounded.  The more one falls into the routines of life, the more one is susceptible to not living to one's fullest.  I am doing this challenge to improve my health and take a step in saving our world (more on that tomorrow).

Would you ever consider going vegan or vegetarian?

Luana ola!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Food 101: Potatoes!

In the past, potatoes have gotten a bad rap for thier high starch content and "lack of nutrients".  Now, it's time to put those theories to rest!

First of all, yes potatoes are high in starch.  This starch is a good binder as fiber and helps your digestive system function properly.  No matter what type of potato (white, red, blue, etc.) it is a natural replacement for other refined starches like pasta and bread.  When it comes to filler foods (i.e. things that are more calorie dense than greens and other veggies), I like to go for the most natural.  Breads and pastas are great!  Heck, I'm always happy with a piece of any type of bread!  But, from a nutritional standpoint, I like to lean towards potatoes and plantains for nature's starch.  Think about it, before ovens we didn't bake bread...we ate tubers!

Second, potatoes are FAR from lacking in nutrients.  They are an excellent source of insoluble fiber and have lots of vitamin C and potassium.  Both of these vitamins (and fiber) are seriously lacking in the American diet, if you ask me.  Also, the colorful potatoes, like sweet and blue, have additional vitamins/nutrients that give them those hues; so eat up! One important thing to remember is to keep the skin on when you cook/eat it because the skin holds many nutrients as well.

Here are some of my favorite ways to eat potatoes:
  • baked
  • mashed
  • pureed in soups
  • sliced and baked with garlic and olive oil
  • as a topping for savory pies
  • in salads
  • as pancakes
Because potatoes have such a mild flavor, they can really be added/used in almost any style.

What is your favorite recipe/way to eat potatoes?

Luana ola!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Product Review #1

Good morning everyone!  It is such an exciting day because I have three wonderful products from a nut butter company called Artisana.  As you may have read in my last post, they were kind enough to supply me with tons of samples of their nut butters.  They are "Creating unique, delicious, healthy, gourmet food is a work of passion for us, blending together nuts and seeds like the vibrant colors of an artist's palette. Handmade with care, our organic foods are crafted using a temperature controlled process that preserves the life-essential fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, and enzymes." So far, I have tried 3 of the butters for breakfast.

The first one I tried was the raw pecan butter.  Wow!  It really tasted like pecans.  The only two ingredients are pecans and cashews.  From past experience, I have come to understand why many nuts are mixed with cashews in order to make a smooth consistency.  This is because many nuts just blend into a fine powder and are really chunky; which is not necessarily a bad thing unless you want something smooth.  This is where cashews come in.  Cashews blend up so nicely and become silky smooth when processed.  That reminds me, next post I'll have a great picture of their cashew butter for you!  Anyways, this raw pecan butter was divine and perfect for this time of year and the up coming holidays.  I would use this over peanut butter any day (even topped on my pancakes like in this picture!)
 The next one I tried was the almond butter.  I have tried many different brands of almond butter and they always end up runny and gooey.  To my surprise, this almond butter was creamy, but I actually had to work it out of the pouch!  The sweet taste of almonds in a smooth and luscious butter form is perfect for an on-the-go snack with a pear and cinnamon!
 Finally, this morning I whipped out the raw macadamia butter.  Sadly, I am not a huge fan of macadamia nuts, but this butter won me over!  I had it on toast with banana, but I tried it by itself sand could have eaten the whole pack right there!  Again, it is mixed with cashews to give it a more creamy texture, but this one was a little bit more chunky compared to the other two.  It definitely changed my mind about macadamias though!
I apologize for the bad pictures, it has been really dark when I eat breakfast now and I don't have any special equipment so please bear with me...

As for now, my favorite nut butter is definitely the pecan.  I have 3 more butters to show you, I'll keep you posted.

Luana ola!

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's Here!!!

My first review on this blog will be happening next week!  I just received all of these wonderful, wholesome, organic nut butters in the mail today and I can not wait to try them!!!!!

I'll be posting soon...keep checking in :)

Luana ola!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Part 2

I made Forbidden Rice for dinner!  It is black rice with a bunch of herbs and spices added...perfect for All Hollow's Eve!

Andrew was Clark Kent transforming into Superman and I was a Medieval Wench (wench means "country lass or working girl")

Happy Halloween and Luana ola!