Welcome to Nature Maven's Healthy Eating Healthy Planet Blog

Welcome! If you're a vegan, you'll find support and suggestions you may be able to use here. If you're a vegetarian as I was when I started this blog in June 2008, reading my archived posts may be of interest to you. If you haven't gotten here already, I hope you'll consider trying the vegan way of life, too.

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, June 18, 2011

Hitting the Big Six-Oh: Is Gray the New Black?

I just celebrated a milestone birthday, that dreaded big Six-Oh, and the day, and hopefully the year to come, was beautiful in every way. I took the subway an extra stop to 23rd Street so I could pick up my lunch at Terri, an amazing all-vegan cafe, take out and catering place just off 6th Avenue. I selected an amazing wrap they describe as:
Hummus & Avocado - hummus, avocado, smoked tofu, pepperoncinis, lettuce, tomato.
Avocado & Hummus Wrap, from Terri on 23rd, NYC
Here's how this delicious creation looked:

I cannot recall enjoying eating anything more than this wrap. The smoked tofu was so tasty and the tomato was gorgeously ripe and flavorful, surely a farmer's market find.
But I digress. I bought this great lunch before work, and treated myself to a baked (not fried) Apple Cider vegan donut which I ate at my mid-morning break with a fresh-brewed cup of Magie Noir coffee. I didn't eat the wrap until lunch time.
I walked to Broadway and stopped to take in the eponymous Flat Iron Building, having to bend over almost backwards to get it in the frame. I walked down Broadway savoring the interesting shops and stores along the way.

Flatiron Building, 23rd Street
between Broadway and Fifth Avenue
 There are some really cool places in this stretch between 23rd and Union Square where I work. There's Design Within Reach, ABC Carpet and Home, and Fishs Eddy, to name a few. I recently had occasion to buy a new office chair and ottoman, and since I sit in a chair almost all day most of the week, how I sit and where matter. Being vegan, I choose not to replace my current leather set up with another, although if I could have gotten an Eames lounge chair and ottoman in faux leather, I might have done that, but truly, it is too large for the space. This is Manhattan, and my rent is bad enough for the modest space I have. So I let that one pass and searched for something better.
I finally decided on a Risom chair from Design Within Reach, a great store featuring mid-century modern furniture. The Risom lounge chair is birchwood with canvas webbing, and it's a replica of an original we had in the 1950s in California when I was a child living in the house my architect dad had designed, and I have vivid memories of lying on the floor underneath it playing some sort of game. So as I walked down Broadway, I passed Design Within Reach, and there was my chair (on order from the factory and not expected for a month or so) in the window. iPhone in hand, I snapped its photo.
Risom Chair at Design Within Reach
Broadway, NYC
I look forward to many hours in this chair in the months and years to come. And in a few years when I retire, and hang up my therapist's boxing gloves (or whatever therapists hang up), I'll take it to my warm weather residence, when I have one.
I continued south to Union Square where the Farmer's Market was its usual hive of activity, but having no time to stop and linger at the many vendors, I snapped a few photos for this blog as I hustled to meet my first client of the day.

Flower Vendor
Union Square Farmer's Market

Veggies in all their glory
Union Square Farmer's Market
I hurried down and saw this lovely water fountain, and with this I leave you.

Oh, and the rest of the day was as lovely as the beginning. My husband surprised me with a high-powered blender and food processor so I can make the Green Smoothies with which I start most days. Then we met a dear friend in a favorite Italian restaurant where we had great food and wonderful conversation, and I was feted with flowers and gifts. I hadn't seen this friend since letting my hair go gray, and it was gratifying that she told me how well I looked. Gray is the new black, now that we Baby Boomers are hitting our senior years. I rejected the expensive dual-process colorings, gray roots, and the knowledge that I wasn't hiding anything. And I'm letting a wonderful hairdresser make it look its best. What else would one do in New York?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vegan Baking Bliss

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (foreground and top rack)
Oatmeal Raisin & Oatmeal Raisin-Chocolate Chip (lower rack)
A RAINY DAY is a perfect time for baking, so I pulled out my Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) and whipped up a batch of amazing chocolate chip cookies and a batch of oatmeal raisin that I divvied up and added vegan chocolate chips to half. They turned out hugely well.
Departures: I used hemp milk because the opened carton of soymilk had spoiled. I used it for the first time, and the hemp milk was a fine replacement. It has a nutty flavor, and I look forward to putting on my cereal tomorrow. Isa and Terry called for quick-cooking oats for the oatmeal raisin, but all I had on hand was extra-thick whole rolled oats, and they worked just fine in the cookies. The chocolate chips were my idea for enhancing the oatmeal raisin dough after making the first batch according to the recipe. I learned that they are nearly impossible to mix in. I had to grab walnut-sized gobs of dough and stuff the chips in, then push them back in on the cookie sheet when they fell out. But, once baked and cooled, they stayed put and are a great addition. For the chocolate chip cookies, I used mini vegan chocolate chips rather than the regular sized ones, mainly because I had more of them after using the bigger ones in the oatmeal raisin chocolate chip batch.
The egg replacers for these recipes are different. The oatmeal-raisin batch was held together with flaxseed meal in the dough. The chocolate chip batch was bound with the addition of a small amount of tapioca flour.
In Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Isa Chandra and Terry Hope (learn more and order via The Post Punk Kitchen, Isa's site)have done all the hard work of converting these classic recipes to egg-free, dairy-free deliciousness! I use the book all the time and have made some amazing treats that others marvel are vegan. I also love the earlier vegan books these amazing cooks have published.
After baking and cooling, I arranged the cookies on some of my vintage Fiesta plates and styled them for photos, and I left them thus on the counter until my husband returned from tennis so he could see, savor and enjoy them. After this I put some in a glass cookie jar, others in a plastic container, and at day's end after we'd had a few more, stuck the rest in a freezer container that already contained frozen vegan brownies (from the same cookbook). Because our weather was rainy, foggy and humid all day, they got pretty soft, but I think I could pop them in a warm oven for a few minutes to recrisp them if we want to try it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Green Smoothie Weather!

Hot enough for you? The national weather map shows this huge red blob of heat wave forecast for the midsection and up and down the east coast of the United States. Staying cool will be important for a whole bunch of us right now.

I love green smoothies, and they are really refreshing! A good friend who just finished her first triathlon (go Patricia!) knew about my smoothie habit and my new iPhone and sent me this link: Raw Family iPhone App

After visiting the site and scoping out the recipes and articles, I bought the iPhone app. Today I used it for the first time. You can search by ingredient, so I started with "limes."

I didn't use a particular recipe I found but mixed and matched from their suggestions. Here's what I put in:

2 cups raw spinach
1 cup papaya
3/4 fresh lime (whole fruit, minus skin)
1 Granny Smith apple
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 TBS flaxseed (my idea, not theirs)
1 cup cold water
1 cup ice

It was delicious and refreshing. If you're hot, try a smoothie!