Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cake and Ice Cream- For Breakfast!!!

Today is my birthday so I wanted to come up with a special breakfast in honor of a healthy me!! I combined my favorite elements of a few recipes and this is what I came up with:


                                            Mmmmm... Cake and Ice Cream!!

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour


1 cup whole wheat flour +2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 ¼ cups milk substitute (I use almond milk)

2 Tablespoons Agave Nectar

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl wisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix together your wet ingredients.. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined. Heat a well oiled griddle or non-stick pan and pour ¼ cup pancake batter into the pan. Cook over medium heat until bubbles break through the top side and the pancake is just firm enough on the bottom to flip (about 1- 1 ½ minutes) Flip the pancake over and cook for an additional minute. Makes about 8- 3 inch pancakes. Each pancake has 81 calories and less than 1 gram of fat each!!! Plus if you place them in a Ziplock bag between layers of wax paper you can have them ready in one minute of defrost in the microwave!

Banana ‘Ice Cream’ Vegan style!!-

1 Chopped banana, frozen overnight

¼ teaspoon vanilla

Walnuts (optional)

Food processor

Chop fruit of your choice, I use banana, place in a Ziplock bag and freeze overnight. In the morning after the pancakes are done, place the fruit and vanilla in the food processor. Pulse until the fruit is creamy and takes on the look of ice cream! Add walnuts and pulse until the nuts are chopped. Without the nuts the ‘ice cream is only 120 calories, with about 8 walnut halves it is around 220.

*Suggestion pairing the fruit of your choice, like strawberries, blueberries or mango with banana leads to a more creamy texture for an authentic ice cream taste.

To serve place pancakes on a plate, top with a scoop of ‘ice cream’, drizzle with agave nectar and enjoy!!

2 Pancakes topped with ½ the ice cream without walnuts, drizzled with 1 tablespoon Agave nectar has only 282 calories!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Soy Overload

The purpose of this article is meant only to provide those interested, not just vegetarians and vegans, information that can aide them in developing their own plan for a healthy diet. I am not meaning to scare you away from products containing soy completely however I would like to help educate you on the dangers of eating too much soy.

Many Vegans and Vegetarians rely significantly on soy and its products such as tofu and tempah as their source of protein. However many are unaware of the dangers that can come from too much soy. It is true that people such as the Chinese incorporate soy into their diets without causing major health issues, but the average American’s exposure to large amounts of soy is much different. Soy is used in many different processed foods so that Americans are essentially getting an overdose of soy- especially those who use soy as their main source of protein.
The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food
Soy contains different elements that become hazardous to the body when consumed on a regular daily basis. A few examples are Trypsin inhibitors, haemagglutinin, Phytic acid and phyto-estrogens. Trypsin inhibitors found in soy can cause a variety of health problems from digestive issues to cancer. Trypsin inhibitors along with haemagglutinin both act as growth depressants affecting the healthy growth of the human body, especially in young children. Despite the fact that fermentation weakens this effect it does not completely remove this risk from products like tofu. Phytic acid has been found as a cause of mineral deficiencies (calcium, iron and zinc for example) because of its effect upon digestion in the intestines. Soy foods also contain phyto-estrogens that are suspected as a cause of the early onset of puberty in American girls and are suspected as a cause of breast cancer.

One of the most surprising facts that I uncovered in my research is the fact that, “99%...of soy is genetically modified and it also has one of the highest percentage contamination by pesticides of any of our foods.” So this protein filled super-food that many have been supplementing their diet with, including myself until just recently, started to sound like it was not as great as it has been made out to be. In fact, using it on a regular daily basis seems to be extremely hazardous to your health.

The largest part of the problem for vegans and vegetarians comes from the daily intake of soy they see combined with the soy protein that they are unaware they are even consuming. “These days it can be hard to find foods that don't contain soy flour, soy oil, lecithin (extracted from soy oil and used as an emulsifier in high-fat products), soy protein isolates and concentrates, textured vegetable protein (TVP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (usually made from soy) or unidentified vegetable oils.” Soy is used in a wide array of products not just products that are dairy free, such as may breads and breakfast cereals. You may be surprised at the amount of soy hiding in your diet if you just take the time to read the list of ingredients.

All of the information here is a mere portion of the information I found online and in books. If you have concerns or doubts regarding this information feel free to search out you own information. With knowledge comes the power to take your health into your own hands!!

The purpose of this article is meant only to help give vegetarians, vegans and anyone else information that can aide them in developing their own idea of a healthy diet. I am not meaning to scare you away from soy products completely however I would like to help educate you on the dangers of eating too much soy. I was drinking soy milk every day as well as using it in my cooking, to me this seems like it may have been too much. If you would like more information on the dangers of soy there are many website and books that can provide with the information you need to make your own decisions regarding the sole of soy in your diet. Below are a couple of links that I found useful.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vegan Bread Pudding

Last night I made Vegan Bread Pudding and I love it! It doesn’t come out exactly like the bread pudding I fell in love with before my vegan days but my daughter and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Traditionally bread pudding is served hot but this bread pudding is far better after it has been refrigerated overnight!

Vegan Bread Pudding

My two-year old was helping me cook and  couldn't wait to eat. :)

- 6 or 7 slices of Ezekiel 4:9 bread, torn into about 1 inch pieces

- About 3 cups of soy or almond milk

- 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon

- 1 teaspoon vanilla, you can forgo this ingredient if you are using vanilla soy milk

- 2 handfuls of nuts, chopped, I use walnuts or almonds.

Preheat the oven to 350 and tear the bread placing the torn pieces into an oven proof baking dish. Whisk together the milk, vanilla and cinnamon, then pour this mixture over the torn pieces of bread. Mix so that all of the bread is moist. Allow to sit for five minutes so that is absorbs the soy milk. Fold in the chopped nut. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. You can eat it now or better yet refrigerate overnight for a cool summer treat!! I personally think that it tastes much better when it is served cold with sliced bananas!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cooking for a Nutritionally Blended Family

I am a vegan but my fiancé loves his meat. My 2 year-old eats meat as well because my fiancé views my vegan diet as insanely unhealthy and he fears that a vegan diet would be detrimental to our daughter’s health. Breakfast and lunch is usually easy during the week because he is at work while I am home with my daughter all day, however once dinner time comes around It can sometimes be difficult to please everyone. Weekends can present an even bigger challenge because we are all together for most meals. I have had to put a little bit of creativity into my meal plans but it seems to be becoming easier with practice. So, for anyone who may be dealing with the same situation here are a few vegan and omnivore friendly meal ideas:

Spaghetti is very simple, just split the sauce and add ground beef, turkey or meatballs to one. You could also serve over spaghetti squash instead of noodles.

Grilling is always the simplest because everyone can have what they want, steak for him, vegetable kabobs for me.

Fajitas are a great idea as well. You may have to split it into two pans but he can have steak or chicken in his and I can have mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and zucchini!

Setting up a sandwich bar is also very simple because you can set out all the ingredients and let each individual choose what he/she wants to pile on.

Individual pot pies are also a great meal, I plan to have that recipe up sometime next week.

As I come across meal ideas for the nutritionally blended family I will post them and I would love to hear and recipe ideas from anyone who cares to share them with me.

P.S. I know there are many vegans who would hate to read recipes like this that can be made to allow for meat because it would relate to animal cruelty, however my fiance and I have been together for a long time and we have a daughter together. I fell in love with him just the way he is. Just because I change doesn't mean he has to. I have a role as a 'wife' :) and a mother which includes cooking his meals even if we don't agree on what a person should avoid eating. I do however try to buy completely organic meat, although I know that not all companies who are labeled organic are humane, I do my best. I am only human and that is all I can do.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Caution: Arsenic in Eureka Park!

I am now on summer vacation and what better way to spend your summer vacation as a mom than to take your 2 year-old daughter to play at the local public park? We run, slide, swing, twirl, climb, hang on the monkey bars and finally, we have a snack followed by a walk along the pond before deciding we’ve had enough. Just as we are leaving I notice a sign that had failed to catch my attention on our way in, probably because it was posted behind the trach cans, which stated that this playground, Eureka Park in Denton, Texas, is built from wood that has been preserved with chromate copper arsenate (CCA), which contains arsenic! Whose idea was this?!?! Now I not only have to worry about things they add to our food and everything else but now that concern extends to the playground equipment that the city provided for our enjoyment!?! Well after that I was curious as to what the dangers of this CCA are. Apparently, CCA has been linked to things like cancer, birth defects, kidney and liver damage, and death!

The city seems to be following all of the EPA’s guidelines so technically, they are not at fault. They do seal it twice a year which is supposed to ‘lessen’ the amount of arsenic that leaches in to the soil and the hands of our children (and faces, apparently, if you see the picture of my daughter with her face against the railing.)There have been many groups who have complained to the EPA about the use of CCA and the war continues on today. So now it seems all I can do is help alert local parents who may have missed the sign just as I did. Then what, petition? I am obviously not the first parent to make a complaint. My daughter and I will definitely not be playing at Eureka Park any more. Luckily there are many other play areas to choose from and now I know to keep my eyes open for caution signs in the future.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vegan Fuel

One of the main theories held by meat eating advocates is that becoming vegetarian/vegan cannot possibly be healthy. It is a common belief that humans need an extreme amount of animal protein in order to be considered healthy and strong. I invite all of those meat eating fanatics to take a look at this sports article in the New York Times about Ultra-marathon runner, Scott Jurek, who runs 25 miles on a light day and has set many marathon records, fueled by his completely vegan diet which he labels, “real food, eating the way people have been eating for thousands of years.” In the past many people lived on mainly plant based foods and it is time that we return to that lifestyle for the sake of our health. I myself do pretty intense workouts 6 days a week and chase a 2 year-old around the rest of the time. I have been more energetic since cutting out animal products than I have ever been. If you are interested in reading that article here is the link:

What's wrong with meat?

     After posting my introductory blog entry, my fiancé read it and of course he gave that look like I am a complete nutcase and I swear I saw his hand reach for his cell phone ready to send out the call to start my intervention. She’s gone insane! How can she live without meat?!?! Well, there ensued a long conversation and the usual barrage of questions but the main questions were: What’s wrong with meat? What’s wrong with eggs and milk?

     Well, let’s start with what the animals are fed. My fiancé, the advocate of dead pig for breakfast and dead cow for dinner, swears up and down that the only thing cows are fed is grass and the only time they are given antibiotics is when they are sick. Really. Then why is there such a big market for ‘grass fed beef’? Why would that type of specification even be needed if all the cattle used to supply our beef were in fact ‘grass fed’? Cattle are first fed grass but upon reaching a certain weight they are then moved into a feedlot where they are fed a specialized diet that includes ‘animal bi-products’. Yummy.

     If that isn’t enough to make you sick to your stomach then what about the antibiotics that are given to the livestock? According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine animals are not only medicated when they are sick but often, “in the absence of disease, for sub-therapeutic purposes with the goals of growth promotion and enhanced feed efficiency” (1) The article goes on to mention that in a study, “20 percent of samples of ground meat obtained in supermarkets were contaminated with salmonella and that 84 percent of the isolates were resistant to at least one antimicrobial” So not only are animals feed drugs when they have no medical need for them, the results of this ‘therapeutic’ use of medicine is causing bacteria to become resistant to these medicines, many of which are also given to humans. Great, so now you can get an extra dose of your antibiotics and drug resistant bacteria with you hamburger and french fries!

     Steroids too are given to cattle according to a study posted on the USDA’s website, “Anabolic steroids are widely used growth promotants for feedlot cattle”. There are six steroid hormones that are currently approved by the FDA for use in feedlot cattle. Also the bovine growth hormone (BGH) is used on dairy cows to increase the amount of milk they produce.(3) The effects of these steroid hormones on human’s has yet to be studied though many of them are suspected in issues such as earlier puberty in girls and a higher risk of cancer. The BGH hormone given to dairy cows is related to breast cancer and has caused a rise in the amount of antibiotics given to the cattle because the increased irritation suffered by over milked udders causes increased infections. Just the fact that they are using things whose effects haven’t been studied in is enough to keep me from eating it.

     I told my fiancé most of this last night and he said now I am avoiding the crap in meat but now I am getting pesticides from my beloved fruits and veggies. Pesticides are also found in concentrated amounts in our meat products. According to the “Skinny Bitch” book that I recommended yesterday, “Meat contains 14 times more pesticides than plant foods and dairy has 5 times more pesticides that plant foods.” Besides, if you are eating mostly organic fruits and veggies you can avoid these pesticides.

     So there you have it. What is really so bad about meat, dairy and eggs? Well, (without going into the protein over-load or the high content of saturated fat among other things) antibiotics, steroid hormones and pesticides.

(1) Sherwood L. Gorbach, M.D. “The New England Journal of Medicine” 2001:16:1202-1203
(3) Renu Ghandi, ‘Consumer Concerns about hormones in food’ Cornell University