Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back from vacation!

I'm still alive!  We are back from our vacation and I have so much to post!  We ended up staying on vacation a day longer, then we came home to broken sprinklers, our water heater was leaking and a heat wave.  Doing laundry was slow going do to the heat, it was too hot to run the dryer during the day, luckily the heat has passed.  Then Keaton and I drove to get our Cleo dog, from my in-laws down south, so we stayed the night down there.  Then it has been stocking up on food and getting Keaton prepared for school starting this Monday.  Whew! 

Anyways, I have so much to post that I'm going to have to do it in parts.  I don't have time to start today but I will tell you it was so beautiful up in the Giant Redwoods and there is so much vegan food up in Northern California I don't know why it's not like that everywhere else.

                                                  Rhododenron Trail in Redwoods State Park
Until I post about the wonderful food and scenery from our vacation here is a meal I made from Viva Vegan.
Potato-Chickpea Enchiladas with
Green Tomatillo Sauce
and Pine Nut Crema
served with
Cilantro Rice

(This was a hit with us and I added some kale to it)

Alfajores with Dulce De Leche Filling
(I also smothered some chocolate along with the Dulce De Leche on some of them and
I used arrowroot because I didn't have cornstarch and they still turned out although they had a underlying taste because of it. Next time I will use cornstarch)   
Enjoy your Saturday!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Good Morning to you all!  Just wanted to let everyone know that we're leaving today on a 5 day getaway, the 3 of us.  Heading up to Northern California where the Giant Redwoods are. Looking forward to good vegan food and beautiful scenery, oh and time with my family of course. hee hee.
 Have a great week!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Buying Local Organic Veggies and kids snacks!

Happy friday!  I'm bummed we couldn't watch the meteor shower in the early hours of the morning, darn marine layer!  At least it's sunny now and the heat is going to start cranking up in these next few days. Bring it on, I'm ready. 

Below is a cute little fellow that I found  in our kitchen, no tail of course the cat,  a couple of days ago when we got home from a day of shopping.  These little lizards are everywhere right now.  So cute!
 At the end of my last post I showed this photo below, of these beautiful organic vegetables and asked how much you thought they cost. There are 6 cucumbers, 8 large zucchinis, 2 large heads of lettuce, 5 beets, 1 large sweet onion, 2 lemons, head of garlic, 1 small silverline melon and 1 bunch of parsley.

 The answer: $11.25!  We are pretty lucky to have so many farms near us.  These vegetables are from a cute Organic Farm Stand that is based on an honor system.  It's about 7 min.or so from our place.  You can walk across the road and pick your own strawberries if you wish.  Every item has a price written down above or below it.  They use a wine barrel with a slot on top to slide your money in and a small carafe to put your change in.  The cucumbers and zucchinis were 6  & 8 for a dollar.  They were sitting in a basket in the sun so they want them to be bought first.  They were all fresh, no mushy ones at all.  The heads of lettuce are huge and sell for $1.50 each.  It's the silverline melon that cost me the $2 but it smelled so good I had to try it.

I know people are always saying how organic is more money but there are costs from not buying organic or pesticide free.  The cost is your health.  Eating pesticides is not good for you.  Are you going to spray chemicals on your fruit and eat it or let your kids eat it? No.  Then what's the difference if someone else has for you?  They have done many studies to show that pesticides can't just be washed off and goes deeper into the food. There is a list you have probably seen regarding the the dirty dozen(most sprayed foods) and the clean 15(least sprayed with pesticides. If you can't buy all of your food organic at least buy those that are on the list below.  (you'll notice that alot of the conventional ones on the list that are safe to eat have skins that we peel off before we eat anyways.)
Buy Organic: Peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, grapes(imported), spinach/kale/collard greens, lettuce, potatoes.
Okay to buy conventional: onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, canteloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes and sweet onions.

Why does organic cost more money in the first place? Here is a great paragraph I found at describes it in detail for you.
"The cost of organic food is higher than that of conventional food because the organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food: substituting labor and intensive management for chemicals, the health and environmental costs of which are borne by society. These costs include cleanup of polluted water and remediation of pesticide contamination. Prices for organic foods include costs of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. In the case of processed foods, processing and packaging costs are also included. Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all these steps than conventional foods. The intensive management and labor used in organic production are frequently (though not always) more expensive than the chemicals routinely used on conventional farms. There is mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food production were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same, or, more likely, be cheaper than conventional food. Cost, however, is very dependent upon market venue and consumer product choice. It is possible to consume a moderately priced diet of organic foods by purchasing directly from farmers at venues such as farmers markets, and by choosing unprocessed organically grown foods at the grocery store."

Ways to buy organic/pesticide at a less costly price to you.
 1)One way to cut costs on your fruit and vegetables is to eat in season.  You will notice that they are always less money in season.  Have you tried buying bell peppers these past months?  They are quite expensive and most are from Mexico.  They are not in season but will be very soon.  Then you'll see the prices drop.ket.

2)Check out your local farm/Farmers Market.  There is no middle man when you buy your fruits and veggies this way.  It's from the farm to you! Some farms you can pick your own, which is even less money.  Also go to the Farmers Market when they are about to close.  They will make some great deals with you because they would rather not have to take as much back with them.  These tomatoes below I buy at our Farmers Market. 

These girls sell tomatoes and basil.  At the end of their stand is a $1 bin , for soft tomatoes,that they keep adding to it during the market.  I actually don't find very many soft tomatoes, but I don't tell them that. lol! The softer ones I use for my pasta sauce.   This bunch was only $2!  A great way to use tomatoes is to make lovely tomato bruschetta, which I did and the recipe is at end of blog. 

So if you want to buy local and eat pesticide free produce you can find the deals.  Also like the paragraph above said.  The more we buy organic the more the prices will come down.  Let's support our local farms!!!!!!
We also found a Strawberry/Rhubarb Pie(no dairy) at our Farmers Market. 
Down the street from us is Buttonwood Winery,their whites and pinks are vegan, during the summer they sale peaches.  These are some of the best peaches and they don't use pesticides.  Did you know that there are different varieties of peaches?  Not just white and yellow I mean varieties like apples?  I just found that out this year too.  Oh, can you smell them?  Yum.  

If you bring back the box that the peaches are in you will get 50cents off your next purchase.  My last purchase was for my in-laws and us and the cute little older man that works there gave me the mom discount.  I think he likes me. hee hee.  Hey whatever works right? 

Regarding some healthy kids snacks.  I usually have some cut up veggies and fruit sitting out on the kitchen counter for Keaton to grab.  Perks of summer, an abundance of fruit and cucumbers! (We love cucumbers). When his friends are over I'll put out a spread like this so they have a variety.  Sometimes I'll put out a hummus dip or something as well.  It's amazing how much growing boys can eat!  I find if you have good food out like this they will eat it.  If you let them into the pantry they will find that bag of chips or crackers, we rarely have chips, and they will eat that.  
Tomato bruschetta is so easy to make and cheap. The only thing I had to buy was the baguette.  If I had yeast on hand I would've made my own and it would have been even cheaper to make.  An appetizer like this at an Italian restaurant for 6 pieces try $8.  We got about 10 pieces costing about $2.20.  We still have left over baguette. 

Tomato Bruschetta
You can adjust according to taste and how many people you are going to serve this to.  

1 lb. fresh tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
2  garlic cloves, finely chopped
1T. Olive oil
5 basil leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 baguette or less
olive oil
1 garlic clove

Finely chop tomatoes and put in a small bowl.  Add the garlic, basil and olive oil.  Add Salt to taste and a bit of fresh ground pepper.  Let sit so flavors can develop. 

When ready to use.  Heat oven to 400 or broil on low.
Slice bagutte into 1/2 inch or less, diagonal slices. Brush one side with olive oil and place the oiled slices down on baking sheet.  Put into oven until a light golden color.  If you are broiling  pay attention because they can burn quickly!  Once you take out of oven, rub a garlic clove over the oiled side of the baguette slice and top with tomato mixture.  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

POM Wonderful Review

Good morning to you!  Hey I just realized this will be my second post within a weeks time. That must mean I'm getting back into the swing of things.  Slowly.....

My last post I wrote about my vegan journey and I loved reading all of your comments.  I think sharing our stories of how we have gotten to this point in our life really helps strengthen our decision to be vegan. It also help others to see that it is reachable.  I hope to continue reading your stories and many more who decide to make the change to a vegan lifestyle.

Below is my review of POM Wonderful juice.
I was more than happy to have the opportunity to try a case of  POM Wonderful.  
Growing up, my grandparents had a huge pomegranate tree in their backyard.  My mom would have us open the fruit up outside and eat them outside so there would be no mess in the house.  Yum!  So anyways, Keaton, Dave and I tried the juice out and we really liked it! Each bottle went a long way because we used it in our tea, added it to sparkling water, lemonade, or just added more water , since it's from %100 percent pomegranate juice concentrate. It has a full deep pomegranate taste, so adding extra water to it didn't dilute the taste too much. 
You can also reduce the juice down  and make a lovely syrup to pour over pancakes, non-dairy ice cream or even tofu! 

Pomegranates are LOADED with antioxidants!  The antioxidants in Pomegranates are higher than even red wine!  It's a superpower of antioxidants.

So with that being said here are some other great facts about POM Wonderful:
They are a California company up in the San Joaquin Valley
Wonderful is actually the name of the type of pomegranate they used(who knew there were different varieties?)
They use up every part of the fruit in some way
They manufacture their bottles right next to their filling plant=less transportation waste
They grow, harvest, process and ship their own pomegranates
They use a drip irrigation system=less water usage 

There you have it!  For those of us that live in California we have a local company that we can support.  For all of us that love pomegranates and want to have some available to us year round this is a great choice!

Next blog:
Do organic veggies really cost more?
How much do you think all of this cost?  There are 6 cucumbers, 8 large zucchinis, 2 large heads of lettuce, 5 beets, 1 large sweet onion, 2 lemons, head of garlic, 1 small silverline melon and 1 bunch of parsley.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another year of being vegan and that much more happy!

Hello to everyone!  Woke up early this morning, so while Dave and Keaton were still sleeping,  I put on some coffee, turned on the t.v. and to my pleasant surprise, a good old classic movie was on to watch.  So there I lay cuddled in a blanket, overcast outside and the rest of the family lay in bed asleep.  I just felt good.

Now before I get a move on for the rest of the day, making a list, grocery shopping, etc., I want to celebrate with you another year of being vegan.  It's been 4 years now for me and 3 years for my 12 year old son.  We both couldn't be happier for this wonderful decision that we've made. 

(Lillies in August, aren't they pretty!)

You may just want to grab yourself a cup of tea or lemonade and relax a bit while you read my journey to becoming vegan.

My journey-When I was about 15 I started having really bad stomach problems so my mom took me to a friend who practiced iridology.  It was pretty amazing what he saw and with this he put me on a two week herbal cleanse.  For a 15 year old it was brutal!  Vegetables with nothing on them, salads with no dressing except for lemon and these huge herbal pills that I had to take 3 times a day.  That's when I learned to swallow pills.  Hee hee!  My stomach problems did decrease and I decided to eliminate chicken and cows from my diet.  You see my dads sister had triple by-pass surgery,was diagnosed with diabetes and she continued to eat unhealthy no matter what the doctor said and she passed years later but in her early 60's.  My dads parents died at a young age, I never got to meet them.  Then one time when I was in Australia  I get a call that my dad just had a heart attack "but don't worry he is doing fine and he doesn't want you to rush home, there is nothing you can do", my mom said.  My dad was in his 50's!  Previously  he was diagnosed with diabetes.  I was scared!  I didn't want these things to happen to me.  Moving on...I continued to eat dairy and sea creatures and was still having stomach problems here and there, so I went to a doctor of Oriental Medicine who helped me.  It wasn't until I cut out the dairy about 7 years ago, except the occasional goat cheese or pizza, that really made a big difference on the way I felt, not to be gross or anything but I began to actually use the toilet everyday!

 It was  4 years ago, when I read the China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, on the way home from my brother's house in Arizona that I made the decision to stop eating all animals and animal by-products.  My husband's friend lent me the book, he was in his early 30's at the time with serious kidney problems and the doctor told him to cut down on his protein intake, it's too hard on the kidneys, yet he still eats alot of animal protein. (See one more scary health issue regarding eating animals). This book gives an amazing look at the medical field and how we eat truly plays a huge part on our physical well being/health.  (Just so you know T. Colin Campbell grew up on a Dairy Farm).  I also read some of the book to my husband on the drive home so when I told him I wasn't even going to cook animals at home, he wasn't too surprised.  He understood why and is very supportive of my decision. I wasn't going to be on medication for the rest of my life, to me that isn't lving a long and healthy life!

My next book I read was Diet for a New America by John Robbins, (son of Robbins, of Baskin-Robbins Ice cream),this showed not only about how food affects our health but about how the animals are treated and the affects all of this has on our earth.  Some parts were hard to read because of the descriptions of the treatments of animals, which I really never thought or knew about before, I cried many times throughout.  Truly I never knew how the animals being raised for food are treated and I felt so awful that all along I was playing a part in this because I was purchasing and eating these animals.  I was just as guilty as those who mistreat these animals. My dollars were going towards not only the cruelty, but the destroying and polluting of our earth!  A wonderful story I'd like to share that I read on John Robbins site is called "The Pig Farmer" and it's a very moving and touching story of a real pig farmer who changed his ways. 

 My next  move....what was I going to cook?  I was the one who did all of the cooking and since I was no longer going to cook up any animals I had to have a plan!  I started looking on the internet and I came across a wonderful website called Compassionate Cooks by an awesome woman, Colleen-Patrick Goudreau, and she had these podcasts that you could listen to and recipes listed you could purchase.  The podcasts were so helpful, she answered so many questions like, "The Protein Myth and Vegetarianism", "Where do I get my calcium?", and so much more!  I listened to them so quickly and all the while playing them for my son too.  I highly recommend her podcasts.

Regarding my son.  He became so angry and broke down when he found out how the animals are being treated for food.  He said  " I don't understand why they would do this to them".  Just thinking back on his reaction to all of this makes me want to cry. He was just so so angry!  I know some people think we shouldn't tell our kids about these things and that they should just eat the chicken and drink the cows milk because that's what we all do.  Or even if we become vegan some parents say that we can't make the choice for them to become vegan as well.  Well we've already made the choice, we feed them milk and serve them up chickens and cows.  Why not make a healthier and more kinder choice for them, and teach them that the
food they are eating comes from the ground, has no hurtfull chemicals in it and no animals are ever harmed. Doesn't that sound good?

So that is how I became vegan!  I now eat so much better and try so many more foods than I ever had.  I love kale!  My son finally has a liking for it as well.  So when people ask what I eat,  I can't reply so quickly because there is so much that I eat!  My husband isn't vegan, only at home.  He says, and I've probably quoted him before "if it tastes good I'll eat it".  There isn't too many things he hasn't liked that I've made.  He even eats our cheeseless pizza we buy or make.  He even walked with my son and I for the Farm Sanctuary.  I hope someday he decides to go vegan.  I know it would be so much healthier for him and I want him to be around for a long time.   It would also be nice to have that much more in common then we would be a complete family of vegans!  I like the sounds of that.

If you think you couldn't give up cheese or something like that well, my belief is...if you truly want to do something and set your mind to it, you can do it.  It seems like there is dairy in almost every food out there.  When you decide to go vegan your palate eventually changes and there is so much to truly taste! There are vegan cookbooks galore now and so many recipes here on the internet and so many wonderful blogs. 
I was so excited and still am when I make cookies or even a cake and I don't have to use eggs or butter. 
I never knew before that this was possible! 

If you haven't made the move yet to being vegan and have any questions don't hesitate to send me an e-mail or I'm sure any of the people out there who have these amazing vegan blogs would surely be happy to answer any questions.

Until next post.  Have a wonderful weekend and reflect.