Gotta Start Somewhere…

When I started this blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t be embarrassed if there were long stretches without an update. Well here it is 8 months later and I’M BACK. No shame in my game.

I’ve been busy. Working on exciting projects, new jobs, and not doing a whole lot of cooking.

Last weekend, I went back to volunteering at my favorite place, Farm Sanctuary. Luckily I got to spend some quality time with some of my favorite beings on the planet.

One thing I always come back to, no matter how busy I am, is the impact of even the smallest actions.

We’re led to believe that we’re small dots in the universe. That our choices and ideas don’t move the needle of humanity.

Luckily for us, that isn’t true.

Every day we have the ability to transform the world around us. A friend of mine recently was making a huge life decision and said “This feels like a Sliding Doors moment.” But the truth is, every moment is a Sliding Doors moment. We just add significance to some moments because we’re humans looking for meaning. Any weekend spent volunteering makes a measurable impact. Every opportunity to eat plant-based has an impact. Taking a break from cheese for the week does make a difference. Just ask the failing dairy industry.

The point I’m trying to make is: you & your choices matter.

You have the power to make a difference. Every minute of every day.

While I think many people know that intellectually, they don’t want to live that way. It seems naive or optimistic, or maybe it’s just too much responsibility– the weight of which keeps us immobile.

I used to be that way. I used to sit on my couch thinking of all the things I could be doing to make a difference. Then I’d go back to Netflix. But I felt empty. And frustrated. I knew I wasn’t expressing myself in my choices or actions.

All this to say: if what I’m saying feels familiar, I get it. It’s hard to get over feeling insignificant.

You just have to take ONE action. Go vegan for a weekend. Educate yourself by watching Earthlings or Cowspiracy. Volunteer. Call an old friend and clear the air. Get the ball rolling and you’ll be on your way.

I have faith in you. ❤

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Super Post For Super Fans of Kelly Landry!

superkelly

So I think we’re all pretty clear that Kelly Landry is a superhero, right?

For those of you who are confused, this morning Kelly & I did a livestream from her kitchen. Kelly just went vegan a few months ago and has had a lot of questions. I taught her one of my favorite recipes (more on that in a minute) and we ate good food and talked with her very devoted fans! Her fans are some of the coolest people and are so supportive. Kelly is one of the sweetest, most likable people I know…so it’s easy to see why her fans love her!


Here’s what we made:

Tofu Scramble

(adapted from theppk.com)

1/2 white onion

1 red pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 cups spinach 

Spice blend: 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp salt

1 20 oz.  block of extra-firm tofu (I love the vacuum sealed kind from Wildwood, any kind that is not sitting in water is ideal. If the only kind you can find is in water, be sure to press it before use so that it can soak up all the flavor. I’ll make a video teaching you my favorite method!)

2 Tbs of water

1/4 c Nutritional Yeast (optional, but ideal for the most flavor)

  1. Chop up the onion, red pepper, and garlic. Heat up a pan on the stovetop to medium heat, add the onion and let brown 3-4 minutes.
  2. While you’re cooking the veggies, mix up the spice blend in a small bowl.
  3. Add the red pepper, spinach and garlic to the pan and let cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  4. With your hands, crumble the tofu into the pan. Brown for 5 minutes.
  5. Once the tofu & veggies have cooked, create a hole in the center of the veggies (see livestream for demonstration). Add the spice blend to the middle and mix it all in. Once everything is coated in the spice blend, add 2 Tbs of water to help the tofu absorb all the flavor. Cook for 3 more minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from heat and add 1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast for flavor. This stuff is great and an awesome source of B12 (Check it out, Keith Russel! You’re going to love it.)

Rice Paper Bacon

This recipe is from yupitsvegan.com and is so so good!

Spring roll rice paper (like this kind)

Marinade: 

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce if you aren’t gluten free!)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

½ teaspoon liquid smoke

½ tablespoon maple syrup 

1 pinch ground black pepper

A dash of balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats
  3. Fill a large shallow bowl or pan with water. Take 2 spring roll rice paper wrappers and stack them one on top of the other. Dip them quickly in the water to get them to stick together. Use kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter to cut long 1 1/2 inch strips and place them on the baking sheets. The strips shouldn’t be completely soaked, they should have just enough water that they stick together (it feels like you’re doing paper mache!). Repeat until you’ve used 8 rice wrappers in total.
  4. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade in another large shallow bowl (I use a casserole dish) until the nutritional yeast is incorporated well.
  5. Dip the fused pair of rice paper strips into the marinade and coat it fairly generously; place it back onto the baking sheets.
  6. Repeat with additional rice paper/rice paper strips until both sheets are filled. 
  7. You’ll have a few teaspoons of leftover marinade. Add the balsamic vinegar and mix until darker in color. Use a marinade brush to artfully paint the strips to resemble the marbling in meat-based bacon. As far as I can tell, the balsamic is cosmetic and doesn’t add much flavor. 
  8. Bake for about 7 to 9 minutes, or until crisp. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the tray partway through. Be careful because I burned these BADLY by overcooking for one minute. I basically baby sit my oven while my babies are in there! The end result will be crispy, chewy, smoky, and GOOD! 
  9. Once fully cooled, store leftover rice paper bacon in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. But I usually eat all of it in one sitting so I’ve never needed to store it!

Thanks for checking out my blog! It’s in the early days and I’m still learning! If any of you are bloggers, let me know if you have any tips.

I’ll post another entry soon answering many of your questions from the livestream!

Thanks for reading!

Betsy

 

 

 

 

 

Super Post For Super Fans of Kelly Landry!

How Can You Tell If Someone’s Vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you (because they’re desperate to save the planet.)

Many vegans have heard this hilarious joke many times: “How can you tell if someone’s vegan at a party? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” It makes me laugh every time I hear it. People telling that joke or identifying with it, have a legitimate complaint: many vegans talk about being vegan. It’s true! You got me.

Here’s a slightly less funny version of that joke: How can you tell if someone’s passionate about something? They talk about it.

But maybe the sadder reverse of that joke is that people often talk about things they REALLY don’t care about when they’re around people they don’t know. In our culture, that’s encouraged and validated. People talk about the weather. The latest political scandal. All the weddings they have to go to this year. Maybe these things seem relatable, so people feel more comfortable sharing them with people they barely know.

But what if we create a conversation at a party that’s about the bigger stuff?

People also like to talk about their families, their career, their hobbies and I’m not knocking that! In fact, that’s what I’m talking about. Sharing your passions or your pride in your favorite people is a shortcut to really connecting with another person.

But if I want to complain about something or rehash my day, I can do that at home with my husband or my journal. At a party, if someone is interested, of course I’ll talk to them about being vegan. If they don’t care, I get that. Having a passion for something doesn’t mean foisting it on everyone you meet in every situation. You have to have a genuine connection with someone in order for a conversation about your passions to be heard.

Remember the first time you learned about something awful or wrong that was happening in the world or maybe even in your hometown?

You can’t stop thinking about it. Telling people about it. “Have you heard what they’re trying to do to Planned Parenthood?!” or “Oh my god! Did you see Blackfish? SeaWorld is so messed up.” or “Can you believe that the USDA counts ketchup as a vegetable in public school lunches?!” It just comes flying out of your mouth! You want everyone to know.

That’s how I feel about factory farming. And health. And our planet’s resources.

“Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. “

learn more here

If I don’t talk about it, who will? And I know that you don’t really care about the weather either. The weather is a circumstance where talking about it doesn’t make any difference at all. The food that we eat is an area where each person on the planet has the power to make a difference.

What you talk about and the way you talk about it matters. Challenge yourself to raise the bar of conversation next time you’re at a party! People can handle it. In fact, most of the time they prefer it. 

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What do you think? Are you shy talking about the things you care about? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

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10 Easy Vegan Substitutions You Can Make Today!

I get that not everyone wants to go vegan cold-tofurkey over night. For many people it takes time and small incremental changes to their diet to see how truly easy it is to be vegan long-term. I put together this list of 10 easy substitutes for products that you may currently be buying. Making the switch to these vegan versions is fast, easy, delicious, and affordable.

Any shift you can make towards a more plant-based diet makes an impact on your health, the environment, and animals lives! Why not try some of these super easy alternatives today and start making a difference?

1. Switch from Butter or Margarine to Earth Balance.  

This is one of the smallest changes that you can make that will have a tremendous impact on the amount of dairy that you consume. A little butter here and there can add up. While some have avoided Earth Balance in the past for their use of palm oil, they are now leading the industry in sustainable and equitable farming practices. I love rewarding corporate responsibility and happily purchase their products, knowing that they listen to the concerns of their customers!
Source: http://earthbalancenatural.com/product/original-buttery-spread/

photo source: earthbalancenatural.com

 

2. Switch from Mayonnaise to Vegenaise or Just Mayo.

I know mayonnaise is pretty divisive. People take a pretty hard line pro or con for mayo and I get it. It took me many years to get on the mayo bandwagon but it was a quick switch over to Vegenaise. This creamy, delicious spread is light as air and has a fantastic taste. It doesn’t spoil out of the fridge the way traditional mayonnaise can- perfect for picnics or potlucks where you know it’ll be sitting out for a little while.

 

http://followyourheart.com/products/original-3/

photo source: http://followyourheart.com/products/original-3/

 

3. Switch from Cow Milk to Almond or Soy Milk.

Many people don’t know that cows need to be pregnant or nursing to produce milk. If you, like many people, wonder how the dairy industry is harmful to the animals, this website is a great place to start:  http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/dairy/

With all of the incredible options available on the market, why not try an alternative to cow’s milk? Soy, Almond, Cashew, Hemp, Oat, Rice- take turns trying them and see which one is your favorite. I recently have gotten into making my own cashew milk and its deliciousness prompts a sweet dance in my kitchen every morning. Drinking my coffee with homemade cashew milk and cinnamon makes me want to get my day STARTED.

5-Best-Milk-Alternatives

photo source: http://organicpowerfoods.com/health-topics/5-best-milk-alternatives

 

4. Switch from Sandwich Bread to Bakery Bread.

Sliced bread is awesome.  What’s not awesome? All the weird additives and extras that have now become commonplace in commercially available sliced bread. Anyone know what DATEM is? Remember the whole Subway sandwich-gate with the yoga mat bread additive? Bread is one of the simplest foods on the planet: flour + water + yeast. How has it become this frankenfood all of the sudden?!

Check out the fresh bakery section of your grocery store for baguettes, loaves, or big boules of fresh bread. At our local supermarket, we have La Brea Bakery bread. We like to buy those, slice them ourselves and keep them in the freezer. They make our sandwiches fancy, delicious, and cost about the same as all that yoga mat bread!

La-Brea-Bakery-Bread

photo source: http://printablecouponsanddeals.com/Tag/la-brea-bakery-bread-printable-coupon

If we’re talking straight-up sandwich bread, we sometimes buy Trader Joe’s or Dave’s Organic, but by far my favorite is Alvarado St. Bakery. These brands may not be available at every supermarket, so be sure to check the labels of the bread you usually buy and figure out what all those ingredients are!

 

5. Switch from Parmesan Cheese to Nutritional Yeast or GoVeggie.

Adding parmesan to a dish of pasta or a caesar salad always used to make me feel fancy! Now I top my pastas and salads with Nutritional Yeast.

nooch

photo source: http://www.evitamins.com/premium-nutritional-yeast-season-bragg-52209

Nutritional Yeast, lovingly referred to in our house as Nooch, is basically a cheesy vitamin B-12 supplement that you can sprinkle on everything. It’s healthy, delicious and so good for you! Even if you’re not ready to dump your parmesan, adding nooch into your diet is just extra fortified B12 goodness for your digestion and nervous system.

Nooch can also be used in recipes for soup, pesto, salad dressing, or even to make a mind-blowing cheese sauce (see #7!).

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photo source: http://www.goveggiefoods.com/products/grated-topping/vegan/parmesan

Another good option is the GoVeggie Parmesan, which has double the calcium of dairy-based parmesan and 30% of the fat. It tastes exactly like parmesan to me. My non-vegan husband says it smells exactly like parmesan and tastes very similar.

 

6. Switch from Ground Beef to Ground Lentils.

I know you’re wondering, how can lentils be ANYTHING like ground beef? Just trust me on this one. The incredible Angela over at Oh She Glows has created a recipe that will blow your mind. Her recipe for Lentil-Walnut meat is a great way to pack any meal with extra protein and no added cholesterol.

Check out the recipe here! If you’re not that big on lettuce wraps (me either!) go for the gold and use a regular burrito tortilla. I’m giving you permission!

vegantacos-8785

photo source:http://ohsheglows.com/2014/06/17/ultimate-green-taco-wraps-with-lentil-walnut-taco-meat-vegan-gluten-free/

 

7. Switch from Nacho Cheese to Potatoes and Carrots.

Stay with me here. It’s about to get even more magical. Did you know that you can have the most delicious nacho cheese in the world and it will count as your daily requirement of VEGETABLES? I’m speaking the truth here.

These cheese is creamy. It’s dreamy. IT’S MADE OF POTATOES AND CARROTS. And Nutritional Yeast. But you already have that from #5, so you’re good to go!

Check out the recipe here.

vegan-cheese

photo source: http://www.veggieonapenny.com/vegan-cheese/

8. Switch from Chicken or Tuna Salad to Chickpea Salad.

My go-to quick lunch is Chickpea Salad. Drain the chickpeas (keep the liquid- it’s a magical ingredient called Aquafaba…I’ll get to that in a bit), rinse them and put them in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher, mojito muddler, or a fork if you’re old-school. Add a few tablespoons of heaven from that shiny new jar of Vegenaise. Add carrots, celery, pickles, or anything else you’d normally add to a chicken or tuna salad. Sometimes I add minced apples and raisins to get real highbrow. Sprinkle on some celery salt (or regular salt) and pepper and you’ve got yourself a tasty lunch!

I then take the chickpea salad and put it over a bed of lettuce. Or roll it up in a wrap. Or add salsa and hot sauce and chips and Daiya vegan cheese to make a taco salad. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS! THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER MUSHROOM!

9. Switch from Eggs for Breakfast to VeganEgg or Tofu! (Advanced)

Ok. You’ve made it this far! You’re ready for some more advanced options. Many people say to me that they love having eggs for a quick meal and wonder how they would replace that if they went vegan.

I love this question. There comes a point when you have to break out of your mold and find new quick and easy things to eat. Now, I love a good tofu scramble. I find it incredibly delicious and satisfying. My all-time favorite recipe is from the wonderfully talented chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her website ThePPK. This tofu scramble may make you re-evaluate your relationship to tofu. 

But I understand tofu is not everyone’s jam!

VeganEgg to the rescue!

VeganEgg-packaging

photo source: http://sproutedmag.com/follow-your-heart-introduces-revolutionary-vegan-egg-product/

Watch this snazzy video. You have to see it to believe it. We’re living in the future, people!

 

If you’re thinking, “Wait, what’s wrong with eggs? It doesn’t hurt the chicken,” check out this informative page: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/chickens/

 

10. Switch from Baking with Eggs to Baking with SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS!

Baking without eggs prior to going vegan seemed like an impossibility. “Eggs are an essential ingredient!” I would think to myself (That never happened…I’m just saying that for dramatic effect. I never even thought about eggs in any critical way before. I just assumed they were necessary for baking because…that’s part of Western culture!)

Baking without eggs is easier than you ever imagined! You can go the healthy fruit route and add in a mashed banana or some applesauce instead of an egg. You can use extra vegetable oil in some recipes. My usual go-to is ground flaxseed. Take 1 Tbs of ground flax, add 3 Tbs of water and stir. Wait 5 minutes and you will have a thick gelatinous substance that is a great source of Omega 3’s and keeps your cookies together. Easy Peasy.

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photo source: http://www.bobsredmill.com/shop/flours-and-meals/gluten-free-flours/organic-golden-flaxseed-meal.html

The last replacement for baking is using that chickpea (or other light bean) liquid from the can that I mentioned earlier. This stuff is called aquafaba and it is LIQUID GOLD and I’ve been throwing it down the drain for years. If I could turn back time, if I could find a way, I’d take back all that bean liquid I threw out, and you’d have eaten a lot more of my cookies and we’d probably have world peace. Yes, I just loosely quoted Cher and no, I’m not embarrassed because…CHER.

A few days ago I made aquafaba meringue cookies and couldn’t get over it. I called/texted half my phone list. Please feel free to comment if you’d like to be included in the next round of late night baking communication!

The only ingredients to these cookies are: aquafaba from a 15 oz. can, 1/2 c sugar, 1/3 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar. (I added chocolate chips because I like mixing it up.) Start whipping the aquafaba, vanilla and cream of tartar with a handheld or stand mixer, then slowly add sugar. Keep mixing for about 15 minutes. Put them in the oven at 200F for 2.5 hours. Let them dry out over night to keep crisp!

special guest appearance by: louie, the spaniel mix

They came out like little pillows of heaven and don’t have that weird aftertaste that eggy meringues do. They don’t resemble beans in the slightest and I froze a portion of the dough/fluff to eat as ice cream because I like to diversify.

If you’re wondering about other incredible uses for aquafaba, there’s a great group on facebook called Vegan Meringue- Hits and Misses.

 

Okay! That’s all. Congrats on reaching the end of this epic post. Try out some of these great substitutes and let me know what you think!

 

 

10 Easy Vegan Substitutions You Can Make Today!