So that's this weeks wrap-up, and I am still living the vegan way.
Welcome to Nature Maven's Healthy Eating Healthy Planet Blog
As I try new recipes, learn to eat in restaurants, entertain non-veg friends and make the changes necessary to bring my life into greater harmony with the planet, I share what I learn. And little joys and other thoughts get thrown into the mix here, too.
In March 2009 after starting to read The Engine 2 Diet by vegan firefighter Rip Esselstyn, I became fully vegan, to the best of my knowledge and ability, and I post entries here as I live and learn in this lifestyle. It's definitely a process of experience and discovery.
Please check out the Vegan News Headlines supplied by Google News Reader down on the right, and see my Blogroll for just a few of the choice blogs and websites I've found useful.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
So that's this weeks wrap-up, and I am still living the vegan way.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Welcome to Day 6 of Vegetarian Awareness Week!
Would you believe that today, just a day after posting on the wily machinations of the high fructose corn syrup producers and their promoters, a good friend sent me an email with this link: What Doctors Don't Want You to Know
Here's a taste for you:
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener that has revolutionized the processed food and drink industry - but a new study has found that it may be a
bigger source of mercury than fish. There's been a quiet revolution taking place in the food-manufacturing industry since the 1980s, and it's one that could be damaging our health and making us overweight. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that it may even be responsible for the learning and behavioural problems so often seen in our children nowadays. . . .
. . . Even so, there's no such thing as 'safe mercury' in any form, and high doses can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. Furthermore, this unsuspected additional mercury load from snacks and soft drinks might also be a contributory factor to the alarming rise we've seen in recent years of cases of attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism and behavioural problems among our youngsters.
Yeow! Now that's food for thought, isn't it? If you read the rest of the article, you'll learn that corn syrup is naturally high in glucose and contains absolutely no fructose. That's right, no fructose occurs in corn syrup naturally. The fructose gets there via a chemical process that in many cases involves substances we should not ingest or inhale such as chlorine or mercury. Check it out!
Natural is better.
Monday, October 5, 2009
"People have been spoon-fed misinformation about high fructose corn syrup," said Center for Consumer Freedom Executive Director Rick Berman. "We thought it was time someone explained, in no uncertain terms, that high fructose corn syrup has the exact same number of calories as table sugar and is handled the same way by the body. Any non-agenda driven nutrition expert will tell you the same."
Judge for yourself. This health-conscious consumer is diligently working to make sure what goes in my body is good for me. Knowledge is power.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The way veganism is presented to a potential vegan is of major importance. The attractive idea behind being a “vegan” is reducing one’s contribution to animal exploitation. Buying meat, eggs, and/or dairy creates animal suffering – animals will be raised and slaughtered specifically for these products. But if the by-products are not sold, they will be thrown out or given away. As more people stop eating animals, the by-products will naturally fade, so there is no real reason to force other people to worry about them in order to call themselves “vegan" . . . We want a vegan world, not a vegan club.
It is imperative for us to realize that if our veganism is a statement for animal liberation, veganism cannot be an exclusive, ego-boosting club. Rather, we must become the mainstream. Fostering the impression that “it’s so hard to be vegan – animal products are in everything,” and emphasizing animal products where the connection to animal suffering is tenuous, works against this by allowing most to ignore us and causing others to give up the whole process out of frustration.
We need to be clear what we hope to accomplish. I want better personal health, but being vegan isn't necessarily the best or only way to accomplish that. If I use that argument in explaining my rationale for eschewing all animal products and byproducts, others will find holes in the logic easily. I feel that I, as a vegan, am perceived as a fanatic by some who enthusiastically eat meat, cheese, eggs, and all the rest. Fair enough, given my parade of evolving food strictures over my adult life thus far, not that different from my evolving spiritual values that have gone from mainstream to nonexistent to oddball to their present state. I guess I have been a seeker for a long time.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
My cousin is on her way for an overnight visit this weekend. I'm the only vegan in the family, so I've been thinking about how to handle the food. I've decided on a pasta dinner tonight, making two versions of easy sauce. I'll put turkey sausage in their sauce and veggie sausage in mine. We'll have a big salad and a crusty artisanal bread, and we ought to be fine. For dessert, I have ice cream for them and sorbet and vegan ice cream for me. I have my eye on a 3-crock crock-pot buffet server that would let me make each simultaneously and be nice and hot whenever we want it.
I have a tentative plan for the day, but we might easily do something completely different!
My plan: Lunch at Sweet Cream's Cafe in Stroudsburg where I can get a vegan PBJ that also had dark chocolate chips in it. Mmmm. The others can get yummy sandwiches with whatever they want, nicely served and freshly built to order.
If we follow my plan we'll dovetail lunch with a trip through the Old Engine Works antique mall. It's always fun to browse. The boys turn 5 in 2 weeks and are coming here for the weekend to celebrate their birthday and maybe we'll find interesting gifts. If not, there's still plenty of time for shopping at Target.
Olde Engine Works
And it's not all about food and shopping, right? The fall foliage here in the Pocono Mountains is awesome right now, thanks to the heavy rains this past summer. The colors are great, and pumpkins and mums are available at roadside stands and nurseries. The sky is a gorgeous blue and the leaves outside my window as I write are orange and golden brown, just spectacular!
Yes indeed . . .
Life is good!
Friday, October 2, 2009
So, here's the low-down: since going vegetarian in June 2008 and vegan in March 2009 I've become much healthier and much more eco-conscious. That means...
- Method and Mrs. Meyer's intead of toxic cleaning products
- CFL lightbulbs (until the LEDs are readily available), instead of incandescents
- 2 Toyota Prius cars in our garage
- Leather-free Rocket Dogs and Madden Girls on my feet
- Leather purses on the shelf awaiting donation
- Suede fringe jacket from Denver donated to Salvation Army
- Low-carb cookbooks given away and Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Soul Kitchen, etc. in their place
- PETA t-shirts on my body
- In my fridge: MimicCreme, Earth Balance, Tofutti cream cheese, Follow Your Heart Vegenaise and vegan sour cream, Galaxy vegan grated Parmesan cheese, flaxseed meal , Bolthouse Farms Soy Vanilla Chai, vegan protein powders and soy milk.
- Delicious homemade vegan Fettucine Alfredo (right) and vegan Chicken Fried Steak (from my homemade seitan) chubby cutlets on my dinner table.
- In my pantry: Nutritional yeast, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, Ener-G Egg Replacer, Uncle Sam cereal, Marmite, Road's End Mac 'N Chreese, Florida Crystals (instead of bone-char-whitened sugar), lots of different Bob's Red Mill bags, and much more great stuff.
See anything here you wonder about? Post a comment!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
- Now that I've been living the meatless life for well over a year and have been fully vegan (to the best of my knowledge and ability) for almost 6 months, I realize how much valuable information I've garnered along the way. Now, I'm still learning, and almost every day I learn a new fact about whole foods or learn about vegan-friendly foods and other resources, but now seems a good time to pass along some information.
- First of all, check out the Vegan News items down the right side of this blog page. They change every day, so check here often, and you'll get up on a lot of the sorts of things I'm going to share here as I do.
- Next, consider getting a subscription to VegNews or pick up a current issue at Borders or other comprehensive newstands. It comes out every other month, and I savor each issue for the articles and even the advertising. Here I have learned about new foods (such as Daiya vegan cheese, Sequel's Vega Smoothie Infusion, Earth Balance new soy-free buttery spread, and so much more. The magazine is a great source of vegan websites, restaurants, brick-and-mortar stores and e-stores and all sorts of other cool info. I love the recipes, and everything is vegan! That's right, everything!
- Consult the Vegetarian Resource Group for their awesome information on vegan protein rquirements and so much else.
- Check out the Vegan Product or Not site to check on foods you like for their "vegan-ness". There's a similar index for restaurant chains at Abolitionist Vegans that I have found helpful.
- Check out The Vegan Dietitian, an awesome and informative blog on living the healthy vegan life from a vegan and registered dietitian who has helped vegans the world over better understand and address their protein requirements.
- There's a fund of important information on cruelty-free products at Veg Family.
- Visit VeganHealth.org for all sorts of references and resources for the conscientious vegan.
- Happy Cow offers links to many handy vegan-friendly sites.
- The China Study, by Collin Campbell, MD
- Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, MD
- The Engine 2 Diet, by Rip Esselstyn
- Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
- Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero
- Vegan Soul Kitchen, by chef Bryant Terry
Sunday, August 16, 2009
- Planned ahead: called the hotel (which offers free breakfast) and learned they have vegan granola. I dragged a cooler out of the closet and filled it with soy milk, Bolthouse Farms Soy Vanilla Chai, cut up fruit, raisins, flaxseed meal, Nugo Dark Chocolate Pomegranate bars, juice and Vega Smoothie Infusion. The freezy packs had thawed by the time I got here, but nothing spoiled.
- Made the smartest choices I could: I knew Burger King offers a BK Veggie Burger that is vegan, so at lunchtime I swung through the drive-through and got one without mayo or cheese, and removed the half of the bun that was loaded with catsup. I treated myself to a small order of fries. I had a bottle of water. I ate a Nugo bar for a snack. Dinner with family was easy. They had a spinach salad with cranberries and walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette, corn on the cob with margarine, sourdough bread, and blueberry pie. They also made a pork tenderloin but as a vegan I didn't even feel tempted. Because I'd had my protein bar, I wasn't worried about getting enough protein. I was just in range when I finally logged my food into my online nutrition tracker.
What I've Learned:
- When unable to log in, do my best by estimating.
- Don't beat myself up if my estimating misses the mark.
- Next time pack a healthy lunch for the road, save that protein bar for later, and skip the pie if I feel I might be over the top with calories (plus I was unsure about the crust being vegan and chose not to ask).
- Fries are yummy but not needed. They may be vegan, but they're not very healthy.
- Every interaction can be a teaching moment. I spoke to the hotel desk clerk about being vegan which allowed me to explain what that is and why I'm doing it. I stopped and saw my son and the grandkids along the way and we had an interesting discussion about the perils of factory farming. He buys his eggs from a friend who has a little farm and lets the chickens run around outside. He wanted my approval, I think, and I told him this was a definite improvement and very good for the animals, but I said that I don't choose to have that either. Then over dinner I explained being vegan to my cousins. The 15 year-old was full of questions and opinions about PETA and people who go overboard, etc. It's all good.
- I'm trying to remember that 12-Step suggestion to"resign from the debating society." I just reiterated how it's better for the animals, the environment, and my health. Everyone can relate to at least one of those things.
I'm so glad to be on vacation in the most beautiful place on earth. I've been coming here since I was 8 years old. My mother was born and died here, and I'm visiting her grave today, going to the beach to look for rocks and shells, walking around this picturesque town, and enjoying feeling good. Tomorrow we're taking a boat trip to Monhegan Island where Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent and the Wyeths, among other great artists, sought inspiration. Today is mine!
"Clear Morning," by Winslow Homer, painted on Monhegan Island, Maine
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
When I heard about Stogo, the new vegan ice cream store in the East Village started by actor Rob Sedgwick and friends, I wanted to go there. Thursday I made it there with another pilgrim to the vegan shrine of rich, yummy ice cream. It's a hike from my usual hangout just south of Union Square, and this is a very good thing! They have less fat and calories than regular gourmet ice cream, but the 160 calories for a scoop of the mango flavor quickly climbs if you have two scoops and opt for flavors with nuts, caramel or fudge mixed in. Vegan hot fudge and caramel are available for just $1.00 if you want. I'd love nothing more but I'm also trying to shed a few pounds, so no can do.
Great News: free tastes are offered so you can choose among the colorful batches of awesome flavors displayed behind the glass. My friend and I each had two scoops. I had
Pomegranate Chocolate Chip and Salted Caramel Pecan, both amazing and delicious, although the pieces of chocolate in the Pomegranate Chocolate Chip were a bit hard and sort of waxy until they had a chance to melt, not easy if you tend to scarf down your ice cream. My friend had Peanut Butter Fudge, and Chocolate made with coconut milk, both delicious, too. The other three flavors I mentioned here were made with soy milk. They also offer a few hemp milk flavors. In addition to their excellent ice creams, Stogo also carries some Babycakes vegan cupcakes and other pastries, and vegan truffles and other chocolates, available by the gourmet piece.
Click HERE to view NBC New York's "Serious Eats" video on Stogo. And for more info on flavors, nutrition and other good stuff plus "testimonials" go HERE. I highly recommend Stogo to all ice-cream-loving vegans. Our time has come. By the way, I've learned that Lulu's Sweet Apothocary in Alphabet City in Manhattan is another wonderful shrine of vegan treats for us vegan dessert pilgrims.
I'm now going to prepare vegan potato salad using Follow Your Heart's Vegenaise, which I personally think tastes more like old-fashioned homemade mayo than Hellman's or Kraft ever did. Then I'll whip up some vegan carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. We're heading to the country home of dear friends for a Memorial Day barbecue and I'm bringing these goodies plus some Tofurkey Italian Sausages and Yves The Good Dog vegan franks. I'm gonna really enjoy this.
To prepare myself for the holiday fun, I had a healthy shake this morning made with light vanilla soy milk, Crystal Light raspberry ice tea, fresh strawberries, and Living Harvest Hemp Chocolate-Chili protein. Yummy, freed up about 250 calories over my usual bowl of cereal, fruit, nuts, flaxseed meal and raisins.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Most overweight people should lose weight gradually. For safe and healthy weight loss, try not to exceed a rate of two pounds per week. Sometimes, people with serious health problems associated with obesity may have legitimate reasons for losing weight rapidly. If so, a physician's supervision is required.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
I've been trying vegan meal replacement powders to keep lunch quick, easy, nutritious and low-calorie. I started with four different one-serving packs of Vega. It seems to be a great product but is expensive, hence the trial packets. Sadly, I found that the stevia gave it an unpleasant aftertaste, and the green color was a little off-putting, so I kept searching. On a trip to my local GNC, the clerk who helped me knew of no vegan products in their store. A passing customer suggested Gary Null's powder, so I thanked him and went to the Vitamin Shoppe. The very helpful guy took me to a section that was "all vegan" according to him, and the Gary Null powder was about $25, so I asked if they carried single-serving packets. No, they didn't but they did have Spiru-tein in a 7-packet assortment with a mixing shaker. I looked over the package quickly and saw that there was no dairy, so I took it.
SPIRU-TEIN®, an incredibly delicious, all-natural energy formula, is power-packed with 14 grams on high quality protein from soy, fermented soy, rice, pea and spirulina- nature's premier sources of vegetarian protein.
In addition to 100% of the daily value for all vitamins, and a broad profile of essential minerals, each nutritious and satisfying sip supplies bee pollen, bromelain papaya, lecithin, bio-flavonoids, oat bran, cellulose, apple pectin and chlorophyll.
Other Ingredients: Nature's plus SPIRU-TEIN POWDER features a unique blend of ingredients, including 100% daily value of all vitamins, Broad profile of essential minerals, Energy nutrients: high quality complete protein and bee pollen, Diet aids: lecithin, spirulina, choline and inositol, Enzymes: bromelain and papaya, Cleansing: chlorophyll, FIBER: Bran, cellulose and apple pectin.
Directions: Add contents of packet to 8 fl. oz. of skim milk, whole milk, or juice, and mix (or shake) until smooth. For best results, milk or juice should be very cold.
Warnings: Not to be used as the sole source of dietary calories.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The kinds of debris and foreign matter that can be found in pollen is remarkable. A partial listing includes: (1) lost bee parts; (2) bits of plants like leaves and straw; (3) pollinia or stamens from certain plants that stick to bees and pollen; (4) hair-like threads; (5) various insects, some invisible to the human eye and (6) mummies and scales from bee diseases.The Vegan Society has a detailed treatise on why vegans must avoid all bee products.
So I am clear now that I will be returning the Spiru-Tein to the store and exchanging it for something truly vegan. What I choose remains to be seen. By the way, as I did my search of information, I came across something on a Gary Null site touting the praises of bee pollen as a "perfect food". Apparently a number of years ago Null did an infomercial for bee pollen and was excoriated for lending credibility to claims the FDA later debunked. You can learn more about that here. So, I plan to get my money back, go to Whole Foods, and read everything over carefully before choosing my next meal replacement. The moral of the story may be that eating a healthy meal is better than trying to replace it.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Tonight I am having Road's End Mac & Chreese for the first time. I added half a tablespoon of Earth Balance margarine and a drained can of mushrooms. I'm fixing Mr. Maven turkey meatballs and marinara over Dreamfield's linguine, and we'll share a nice salad and some mixed veggies.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Good Pesach to all who celebrate with us here and around the world. We are having our seder tomorrow night with charoset sweetened with agave nectar, matzoh balls made with Ener-G Egg Replacer in a vegetable broth, whole wheat matzohs, horseradish, and Blue Plate Specials from Whole Foods. Why the latter, you ask? Because I am vegan and my partner remains an omnivore. So he'll have chicken, a veggie side and kugel, and I'll have their Candle Cafe Tofu Balls rolled in Sesame Seeds, vegan cherry kugel, and a veggie side.
I feel a lot of gratitude for our many blessings at this special season. More secular than religious, I have chosen to mark the holiday with a few mitzvahs instead of strict adherence to ritual. Somehow it feels that Hashem would find this more worthy of blessing than my stumbling through the Haggadah trying to do all the right things in the right order and telling the story right without losing all the people around the table in my ineptitude.
This is the first year I feel in harmony with the planet and with the values I knew I ought to honor but couldn't seem to reach.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
God bless you, Mom. You taught me so much about compassion for all living things, and your years as a vegetarian inspired me. Life is okay now without you here, especially with your cares and health issues gone. I miss you terribly nearly every day. But l feel closer to you now in many ways, just a thought, an action, a word or a prayer away. I love you and I always will.
It's day 12 today for me as a real vegan, and I've been managing better than I thought I would. I even lost about a pound this past week. Last night we went to Red Robin and I had Red's Rice Bowl, sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, snowpeas and mushrooms with a little teriyaki sauce atop rice with some Chinese noodles, and a side salad.
Breakfast today was my now-usual Big Bowl of high fiber cereals, with a sliced kiwi, cup of mixed fresh berries, some dried currants, sliced almonds and some pumpkin seeds, tablespoon of flax seed meal, and soy milk. For lunch out we went to our local pizza joint and my husband had a couple of plain slices while I had a veggie hero, no cheese, no mayo, and sprinkled with oil and vinegar. I added a small package of pistachios for protein, and it was a good meal.
Dinner tonight will be either a pasta with marinara and no cheese, or something else vegan from the Olive Garden that just opened near us this week. Their minestrone is vegan as far as I can tell, too. Tomorrow night I will make my first Vegan Alfredo Sauce, and I have all the stuff I need, (except vegan parmesan cheese, and not every recipe requires it): Mori-Nu silken tofu, nutritional yeast, soymilk and the appropriate herbs and spices. With some penne, that ought to be good.
And so, my vegan adventure continues, and I am finding it very do-able. More later.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
First, my last physical showed my cholesterol was 263. I went off Lipitor back in 2007 when I was losing a lot of weight on a low-carb diet, and I was sure that because I had been abstaining from all meat, fish and poultry my number would be low now. Wrong! My doc wrote:
Well, I thought I'd just reduce the cheese, eggs and other dairy easily to correct this, but I haven't been able to do so. Then on the Today Show I saw Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet (E-2) which I mentioned a few weeks back, and I got excited about his plan. However, I'd recently placed a couple of other on-line orders and felt I should wait to send for it, and gradually the idea faded. Then I saw a reference to an interesting cookbook, Terry Bryant's Vegan Soul Food Kitchen.
Your cholesterol was 263 and your LDL 167, so being a vegetarian doesn't help your lipid profile. You are going to need medication.
So I ordered both books, and I told myself I could eat cheese, eggs and other dairy until they came. That day was Tuesday, March 17, 2009, St. Patrick's Day. I opened the box eagerly. I scanned both books briefly, being at work at the time, and brought them home. The E-2 diet seemed daunting, with no added fats or cheese substitutes and no refined carbs. I didn't think I could do it. Bryant Terry's recipes looked awesome and easy to follow. So I told myself I could simply be honestly vegan, no exceptions, and see how it went. Every day I made vegan choices.
We ate in on Tuesday and Thursday, and on Wednesday we brought in Middle Eastern takeout, and I had Koshary, a delicious mix of chopped vegetables, lentils, garbanzos, rice, and rotini pasta, with some marinara sauce and fried onions on top. Last night we went out for Indian food and I asked the waiter which items didn't have any dairy, and it was easy because there were only two (everything else called "vegetarian" had cream or butter in it), so I enjoyed a spicy lentil dish with rice. Yummy, but in the middle of the night I felt I'd overdone the salt.
Yesterday before dinner I shopped at a local health food store and stocked up on many items Rip recommends. That included a loaf of Ezekiel bread, non-dairy yogurt, nutritional yeast, Smart Fiber cereal and some other stuff. Today I went to my local Mr. Z's market and found an even better selection of some items: Mori-Nu silken tofu used in many vegan recipes, organic frozen and fresh fruits, and ingredients for tomorrow's slow-cooker chili.
Today I had an E-2 breakfast ("Rip's Big Bowl") with lots of high fiber cereal, dried fruit, nuts flax seed meal, and soy milk. It was delicious. For lunch we went to a little place my husband loves. "Sweet Creams" features lunch and ice cream. I had a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side and a PBR sandwich--peanut butter, raisins, dark chocolate chips and cinnamon on a dense whole grain bread. It was all good. Later this afternoon, I made Vegan Brownies that are amazing. So, it can be done.
Gist of my experience: it's easier to abstain completely from cheese (Rip calls it addictive and explains why) than to have a little. Kind of like alcoholism. It's easier to stop our drinking altogether than to try to moderate it.
The AA Big Book (on page xxx in "The Doctor's Opinion) says,
The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.
And so I am abstaining entirely, and one day at a time, it's working. I'll keep checking in. Here's a great pyramid to guide my path. Maybe yours, too.