Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Why I'm not Vegan" by Food Renegade

There is a very well-written article from Food Renegade that covers why I have transitioned from veganism to conscious omnivorous practices. I've had a lot of these thoughts while creating our own garden, but hadn't put it all into a coherent form that I could vocalize.

Here's a clip:

You see, soil is — first and foremost — alive. It is not just dirt or dust. It is teeming with thousands upon thousands of tiny creatures. Indeed, one tablespoon of soil contains millions of tiny organisms hailing from thousands of different species of animal. And that living soil feeds on death. It takes death and from it feeds the fruits and vegetables in your garden, the grasses that feed your cow, the bugs that feed your laying hens. It takes death and makes life. It is the Resurrection written into the tiniest, yet arguably most essential, detail of our daily existence.

Lierre Keith confronted this when, as a vegetarian, she’d started her own garden. She shares the story in her compassionate and poignant book, The Vegetarian Myth:

“Feed the soil, not the plant,” was the first commandment of organic growing. I had to feed the soil because it was alive.

Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium — NPK — is the Triple Goddess of gardeners, the Troika of elements that rule plant growth. What did soil and plants eat and where would I get those substances? I hadn’t learned the phrase “closed-loop system,” but that was what I was after. Nitrogen was the big one. There are plants that fix nitrogen. Wasn’t that enough for my garden? Couldn’t it be? I begged. But I was begging a million living creatures who had organized themselves into mutual dependence millions of years ago. They had no use for my ethical anguish. No nitrogen-fixing plant could make up for all the nutrients I was taking out. The soil wanted manure. Worse, it wanted the inconceivable: blood and bones.

There were other sources of nitrogen I could have applied. Right now, fossil fuel provides the nitrogen to grow crops the world over. Synthetic fertilizer is what created the green revolution, with its 250 percent increase in crops. Besides the fact that nothing made from fossil fuels is sustainable—we can’t grow fossil fuel and it doesn’t reproduce itself—synthetic fertilizers eventually destroy the soil.

So synthetic nitrogen was out. And that left me facing animal products. Of course, the irony is that either source of nitrogen, synthetic or organic, comes from animals. Oil and gas are what’s left of the dinosaurs. So my choices—our choices, actually—were nitrogen from dead reptiles or from living ruminants.

My garden wanted to eat animals, even if I didn’t.

She then goes on to share how she compromised, using goat manure as her source of nitrogen and justifying it to herself as a way to “not waste” all that manure that was just piled up and not going to be used otherwise. But with phosphorous and potassium, she reached a turning point. These aren’t as easy to come by. Bone meal, blood, and ash are the most sustainable, natural ways to acquire these nutrients for the soil. By then, she’d almost given up hope that her garden, the place where she was supposed to be nurturing life, would be a place of freely-given fruits & vegetables that “did no harm” and cost no life.

To read the full article: Why I'm Not a Vegan | Food Renegade

Got something to say? You can check out the discussion on my Facebook Page or my Green Options forum discussion. (Green Options is a Green Living forum that Jeremy and I manage.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chilled Papaya Bisque

I'm baaaack! :)

Finally, after days of cloudy, windy, rainy weather, we have some sun! WOO! So, I decided to grill for dinner. We had a giant papaya and pineapple laying in the fruit bowl, so I threw together this wonderful chilled fruit soup to go with the grilled entree. And, since we ended up with a ton of alcohol after the wedding, I thought I'd add some rum into the mix to give it a little kick. Cuz I'm like that. ;) By substituting cashew cream for dairy, this soup gives you all the creamy goodness while avoiding the unhealthy fats.

This recipe was so fun to throw together. I had friends over for dinner and they were amazed at how quickly it turned into yummy goodness! I love entertaining. :D

Chilled Papaya Bisque

4 cups papaya, blended
1/4 cup papaya, diced small
2 Tbsp. papaya seeds
4 cups pineapple, blended
1/2 cup cashew cream (see recipe below)
1/2 cup Orange-Mango juice
2 shots dark rum (optional)

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl and serve garnished with a swirl of cashew cream.

How to make cashew cream:
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup water
Blend until smooth!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mango-Pear Sushi with Pomegranate-Blueberry Wasabi

I have ALWAYS wanted to make fruit sushi. Why haven't I until now? Well.. I have no idea! *laughs* But you know, it was well worth the wait. Definitely something I'm going to make again. I made this wonderful fruit sushi for a dinner party, and OH BOY did it go over well! A friend of mine said she had never eaten so much in one sitting. ;)

This is sort of considered a dessert, because of the fruit, but the rice isn't sweet at all. If you like, feel free to add some sugar to the mix. I ended up having some rice left over (because I always make extra rice) so I made some fruit onigiri with banana, mango, and apple, and I can honestly say that I would never get tired of it! I really do love just about any sort of Japanese food, even if it's fusion vegan-geekery! :D

Mango-Pear Sushi with Pomegranate-Blueberry Wasabi

2 cups prepared sushi rice (I added some shredded coconut into the rice pre-cooking)
1 mango, sliced into thin strips
1 pear, sliced into thin strips
1 banana, mashed
1 apple, shredded
2 peeled cucumbers

Using a vegetable peeler or cheese slicer, shave long, flat strips of cucumber, and discard the seedy insides.
Lay out the cucumber strips vertically on a bamboo mat, overlapping them to make a continuous sheet (this will replace for the usual sushi nori). Pat dry.
Press about 1/2 cup of sushi rice onto the bottom half of the cucumber sheet, making sure to press the rice all the way out to the ends. Smear out a spoon of mashed banana onto the rice, then add a few slices of pear, mango, and some of the shredded apple.
Using the bamboo mat, roll up your sushi. Try to keep all of the fillings in the center of the rice. Get it as tight as you can, then using a very sharp knife, cut into 1" to 1 1/2" rounds.
Garnish with pickled ginger and Pomegranate Blueberry wasabi dipping sauce (see below).

Pomegranate Blueberry Wasabi
1 tbsp. Wasabi powder (available at most Asian markets)
1/4 cup Pomegranate Blueberry juice
1 tsp. Tamari

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together with a fork until well incorporated. If you can only find wasabi paste, just double the amount of wasabi, and you're good to go! :) (I didn't show the wasabi in the picture because the color didn't photograph well. Tastes great though!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Key Lime Pie - Sugar-Free, Raw!

Do you ever look at key lime pie and think "Oh, if only it didn't have gluten/dairy/eggs/sugar/etc., I would totally eat this?" Yeah, I know how you feel. I think I'd had key lime pie maybe twice in my life, and loved its tangy goodness, but I honestly can't remember the last time I ate it. It was always this mysterious green (or yellow) temptation that I avoided because I just couldn't be sure of what the ingredients were.

Well, no more!

I am SO proud of this pie. I took it to Thanksgiving at a omnivorous friend's house, and everyone gobbled it up!

I think of that all the raw "baking" I've done, this takes the cake. Or rather, pie! It was rich, thick, and delicate all at the same time. Once it was chilled, it stood up to being cut just like a traditional pie! I'm super pleased with the crust, too, because the coconut flour mimics crushed graham crackers so well in terms of texture and consistency. I could seriously eat this whole pie in a sitting - with a tall glass of hemp or almond milk, of course! ;) All in all, I'd say my best raw vegan recipe yet!

Raw Key Lime Pie

5 small avocadoes
7 Tbsp. coconut oil, room temperature (scant 1/2 cup)
Two limes, juice and zest
1/3 cup xylitol
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (I used alcohol-free)
Pinch of Himalayan salt

1 1/2 cups coconut flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
5 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. almond butter
2 Tbsp. xylitol
1/4 tsp. Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In your food processor, add all crust ingredients and pulse until it's of uniform consistency. It should be crumbly. Transfer your crust to a pie pan, and press it firmly and evenly to line the pan. Set aside.

Wipe out the food processor. Next, add and blend all filling ingredients until smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides if there are lumps. Then, with a spatula, pour the filling mixture onto the crust and spread it evenly throughout the pan.

Garnish with about 1/4 tsp. of lime zest, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut, and serve! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Low-Carb Mushroom Stuffing (No Bread!)

The holiday season is a time of joy, abundance and community. Memories of crackling fires, fresh evergreens, and rich, spicy aromas that emanate from what seems like every corner of the house! It's a time when we show gratitude, love, and acceptance the most of all the seasons.

What is your favorite part about the holiday season? Please comment to let me know!

For people with allergies or intolerances, it can also mean working harder to maintain physical wellbeing. Since becoming gluten (and lactose) intolerant, this is the hardest (but also most rewarding) cooking time of year for me. I strive to research more, get more creative, and find foods that are nutritionally appealing to me yet still entice the tastebuds of my friends and family.

This recipe, I am proud to say that my husband Jeremy cooked while I was making pie. We'd been toying with the idea of a stuffing with almond meal instead of breads, and bouncing ingredients back and forth while doing other things earlier in the day. So I was SO happy when he created this! I was so preoccupied with making a raw key lime pie that he finished it completely behind me without me even poking my head over to try to help. :)

What makes it so amazing is that when we took it to a friend's house for dinner, and asked after the meal what people thought of it, they said they didn't even realize it was a bread-free stuffing! The consistency of the stuffing was so spot on that it wasn't noticeably low-carb, which makes me very happy.

This recipe is also candida-friendly, is sugar free, yeast-free, and has super healthy coconut oil to hold the crumble together. YUM!

Low-Carb Mushroom Stuffing

3 cups mushrooms, chopped (we used crimini and shiitake)
1 small zucchini, cubed (about 1 cup)
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 sweet red pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 ribs celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sage, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Sage sprigs

1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 coconut oil
zest of 1/2 lemon
4 sage leaves
pinch of salt

Brown the onion and celery in pan; set aside. Brown mushrooms; when liquid becomes substantial push the mushrooms to the side of the pan and add the sundried tomatoes to the center of the pan, allow them to cook in the liquid and soak it up. Set aside. Brown the zucchini, then add the red pepper and allow to cook until just tender. In a large bowl, mix up the cooked ingredients along with the sage, almond meal, salt and pepper. Pour into baking dish.

Mix topping ingredients in food processor. Crumble across the top. Garnish with sprigs of sage.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Low-Carb Cauliflower Mashed un-Potatoes

So, I've been getting some requests to hear about how my candida cleanse is going. I've been on the diet aspect for about a month and a half now, and have tried two candida cleanse kits from the health food store so far.

The first one, Zand Candida Quick Cleanse, was something I grabbed on the fly. I mainly wanted to start with something non-invasive to see how my body would react to an herbal cleanse of this kind, and I sure got what I wanted! Non-invasive, for sure. I felt no different, really. It helped initially with the yeast infection (brought on by antibiotics earlier in the year), but it came back as soon as the cleanse was done. I did get a little light-headed a few times during the cleanse, but that was the only noticeable effect it had on my body. Oh, and they smelled and tasted like death. Thumbs down.

The next one I started taking about a week after the first product ended. Solaray Yeast Cleanse - it was a little more expensive, and a brand I've used before. Less Ingredients, which was fine because I was taking a couple other immune system and probiotic supplements along with it. I was a little happier with this one. I still didn't feel any different in terms of brain fog, fatigue, etc. but it helped a lot more with the yeast. I just finished this cleanse a couple days ago, and it hasn't come back yet.

I'm beginning to think that either candida isn't my issue (highly unlikely, given the symptoms) or I need something FAR more hardcore than over the counter supplements. I understand this will be a long process, but is it too much to ask to see SOME kind of abated symptoms? I feel like if I fudge and even have a little bit of carbs or sugar while not taking any herbal supplements that the candida will just RAGE in my system again. This makes me so unhappy, considering the time of year I'm doing this. I want to make pumpkin pie and have mashed potatoes with roasted carrots and pickled beets and SUSHI! But.. not all in one meal. That might be pushing it. ;) (I'd probably still eat it though, if given that dinner option!)

Speaking of potatoes, for Thanksgiving I wanted to make a mashed potato substitute that I could have with gravy, and I believe I may have found it in a cauliflower.

You heard me: Cauliflower Mash! With roasted garlic, I might add.

I've been using cauliflower a lot these days, and what better thing to use for a mash than cauliflower? It doesn't have the creamy, starchy consistency that potatoes have, but it's an awesome side dish - especially with gravy. ;)

Low-Carb Cauliflower Mashed un-Potatoes

1 1/2 heads of cauliflower
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil-based Earth Balance
2 Tbsp. roasted garlic (I had some on-hand)
1 Tbsp. brown rice miso paste
salt and pepper to taste
splash of Bragg's liquid aminos
saffron to garnish

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Once the cauliflower has been washed thoroughly, cut it into uniform florets, and add to the boiling water. When they're tender, take them out and drain.

In a large bowl or food processor, mash the cauliflower until it's a mostly-smooth consistency. Add remaining ingredients, and mash to combine. Mash, mash, mash! (Can you tell I did this by hand?)

Garnish with saffron and serve!

Do you have any favorite mashed potato alternatives? How do you like to dress up your mashed potatoes?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Asian Salad with Cranberry Dressing

Ever wonder what to do with leftover cranberry sauce? Try this! It's tangy, refreshing, and breaks you out of the standard holiday mode.

Asian Salad

3 cups fresh green beans
2 cups savoy cabbage, chopped
7 radishes, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced into thick matchsticks
1 green onion, sliced

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boil. Add in green beans and turn heat off. Let the green beans sit until the color brightens, then transfer them to either an ice bath or a colander in the sink with cold running water to stop the cooking process.

Once cooled, add green beans to a large bowl, along with the other veggies. Set aside.

Cranberry Dressing

1/2 cup Ginger-Lime Cranberry Sauce
4 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. cold pressed olive oil
2 Tbsp. cold pressed flax oil
1 tsp. desiccated coconut
1 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. xylitol
Juice of one lime
pinch salt

In a medium-sized bowl, add all ingredients and whisk until emulsified. Pour into your salad bowl, and toss until coated. Serve! :)