Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Vegan Food Swap

Today I wanted to share with you October's Vegan Food Swap.

It is coordinated by Cat, The Verdant Life, and if you would like to sign up yourself just check out the sign up page here.

The only thing is that this was the last swap for the year (due to the holiday season approaching).

I was very lucky to receive my second food swap box from Stacy.

I told her I had a sweet tooth I was trying to curb so she put together this fantastic box that was packed with healthy goodies, but also just enough sweet to satisfy.

The contents of my box of goodness.

The granola was chocolate with a tinge of coffee.  I finished it up in a weeks time (it was DELICIOUS).

I was super excited to see the Trader Joe's sugar, chocolate, coffee bean grinder I have been dying to try this but just haven't picked one up.

To the right is a bag of freeze dried peas...I haven't tried them yet, but they look quite crunchy and tasty.

Stacy unknowlingly packed my favorite snack, Larabar.  The cherry pie is delicious!

And last, but I like to save the best for last, an endangered species chocolate bar (the cranberries and almonds sent this one right over the top).

Stacy I can't thank you enough for the delicious box, it really was a winner.

I have to say I really do enjoy my monthly food swap.  It is like having a mini-Christmas each month.

I am sad I will have to wait until January to do this again, but I know this will be worth the wait.

I hope you all have a fantastic Halloween.  Be sure to have fun, but be safe.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Friday to All

Today's post is a bit of a mish mosh.

Here are some things I have been wanting to share, but on their own they don't really warrant an entire post.

I have been drinking lemon water because I heard it was a good way to start off the day...and I always read Sharon having it when she puts up her WIAW posts.

I opened the Vega newsletter this morning and low and behold they listed out 5 reasons to drink lemon water...sweet (well really tart):

Support immune function: Lemons are high in antioxidant vitamin C, known for its supportive role in healthy immune function.
Alkalize the body: Although the tartness of a lemon may make them seem acidic, lemons are actually one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Lemons contain both citric and ascorbic acid, weak acids easily metabolized from the body allowing the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize the blood.
Aid digestion: Citrus flavonols are believed responsible for lemon’s traditional use as a digestive tonic.
Clear skin: Vitamin C and other antioxidants in lemons combat free radical damage. Free radical damage — especially as caused by UV exposure and environmental toxins — is responsible for many symptoms of aging.
Promote healing: Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), found in abundance in lemons, promotes wound healing, and is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage.

These are some fantastic reasons to start your day off with run out and pick up 1 or 20 and get to drinking.
For the full article click here.

My daughter found a new way to sleep:

She is in a box with two pillows curled up in a semi-fetal position.  I don't know how her legs didn't fall asleep, but she seemed very pleased with her ingenuity when I talked to her about it after the fact.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

You receive the name of three fellow bloggers and send them each a dozen homemade cookies (include the recipe).  In return you receive 3 dozen cookies from other bloggers.

I participated last year and so enjoyed the treats I received (I was given 3 vegan bloggers and in return received vegan cookies).

You can participate outside of the US as long as there are 4 other bloggers from your country to participate.

This year's swap has an added feature in that you make a $4 donation to Cookies for Kids' Cancer as part of your participation.

So not only will you be filling your tummy you will be filling this wonderful charities coffers as well.

I am going to be running my second 5k, Hit the Brixx, this weekend.

Not only have I roped my mom into coming again (she ran the Women's Only 5k with me 2 weeks ago) but my 10 year old, Owen, is going as well.

I am excited to keep up the running fun.  I really can't believe that I enjoy training and running, as I have spent 30 years avoiding it (maybe this is what a mid-life crisis is).

The Packers won, and won big last weekend (WOOHOO), with Aaron Rodgers ALMOST scoring a touchdown (it was brought back when one of his teammates fouled):

To end this on a foodie note here is my absolute favorite find on Pinterest this week:

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend.

Thanks so much for reading my ramblings.

What fun things are you going to do this weekend?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yucky Ingredients

I have been absent for a little while and I apologize for that.

I haven't felt very inspired and I haven't made anything of note (so sorry no new recipe to share).

What I did want to share today was some information I received in a PETA newsletter.

With Halloween just around the corner there will be a vast amount of treats available to children and PETA put out a list (not all inclusive) of some mainstream treats that are I thought I would share them with you:

Airheads taffy
Brach's Cinnamon Hard Candy
Brach's Hi-C Fruit Slices
Brach's Hi-C Orange Slices
Brach's Root Beer Barrels
Brach's Star Brites
Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar
Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar
Cry Babies
Hubba Bubba bubblegum
Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)
Laffy Taffy (some varieties)
Mary Janes (regular and peanut butter kisses)
Mike and Ike
Panda Licorice
Smarties (U.S. Brand)
Sour Patch Kids
Super Bubble
Swedish Fish
Sweet Tarts
Something else contained in the newsletter was a list of ingredients that are commonly found in foods.

As a new vegan I need to familiarize myself with these, but once I read where the ingredients come from I was completely disgusted...see for yourself (PETA was nice enough to provide some alternatives to the animal versions):

Casein—Whey’s cousin, casein is made from curdled milk. Yuck! Alternatives: soy protein, soy milk, and other vegetable milks.

Gelatin—Rhymes with "skeleton." Coincidence? I think not. Gelatin is a protein made by boiling cows’ and pigs’ skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Jell-O? Heck, no! Alternatives: carrageen (carrageenan, Irish moss), seaweeds (algin, agar-agar, kelp—used in jellies, plastics, medicine), pectin from fruits, dextrins, locust bean gum, cotton gum, silica gel.

Honey—Sure, honey tastes sweet, but you’ll get a bad taste in your mouth when you learn how it’s "harvested."

From a former beekeeper: "[T]ypically, beekeepers are gloved and netted to avoid stings (nearly every bee who stings will die due to her entrails being pulled from her body attached to her stinger.) Then the hives are opened as quickly as possible and the bees are ‘smoked.’ Smoke from a smoldering fire carried in a ‘smoker’ is pumped into the hive and the bees are ‘calmed.’ In spite of this, the combs are pulled quickly and many bees are crushed in the process. When a bee is hurt, she releases a chemical message that alerts and activates the hive members who proceed to attack the intruder—giving their lives in the process."
Alternatives: in foods—maple syrup, date sugar, syrups made from grains such as barley malt, turbinado sugar, molasses; in cosmetics—vegetable colors and oils.

Lard—Lard is such a gross word, it almost makes you wonder why they just don’t call it what it is: "Fat from hog abdomens." Alternatives: pure vegetable fats or oils.

Pepsin—If the thought of eating lard turns your stomach, stay away from pepsin, a clotting agent from pigs’ stomachs, used in some cheeses and vitamins.  Alternatives: microbial coagulating agents, bacteria culture, lemon juice, or vegetable rennet.

Rennet—Certain words just make you cringe, like coagulate, congeal, clot—which is what rennet, an enzyme taken from baby calves’ stomachs, is used for in cheese production. Alternatives: microbial coagulating agents, bacteria culture, lemon juice, or vegetable rennet.

Stearic Acid—It may sound less gross than "lard," but stearic acid, which often rears its ugly head in chocolate and vitamins, comes from a fatty substance taken from slaughtered pigs’ stomachs—or from cows, sheep, or dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters. Alternatives: Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, coconut.

Cetyl Palmitate—Check your head if you’re using margarine that contains cetyl palmitate, the fancy term for the waxy oil derived from sperm whales’ heads or from dolphins. Alternatives: synthetic spermaceti, jojoba oil, and other vegetable emollients.

Urea—Urea comes from urine and other "bodily fluids." It’s used to "brown" baked goods, like pretzels. Alternatives: synthetics

I am pretty sure urea made me the most ill but pepsin is right up there for me as well. 

What I really wonder though is who sat around and thought "Urine that is bound to make baked goods have a pleasing brown color."  I guess what I need to research is how the ingredients even came to be acceptable options.

Hopefully I haven't ruined your day with this, but I just felt I wanted to share. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Vegan MoFo #6 Cheese

I had two friends contact me wanting more information on cheese.

Not just any cheese...vegan options for cheese.

I was happy to oblige them with the little bit of knowledge that I have and a sprinkling of personal experience on top.

For me the jump to vegan was always held up by cheese. 

It was a food that I enjoyed, at least I thought I did.

Going vegan has meant experimenting and find new ways to enjoy old favorites.

So please allow me to present you my favorite cheeses on the market today, and these opinions are solely my own (I was not compensated in any way for this).

For starters, and my recommendation to my friends, was that it depends on what type of cheese you want to determine what company I would go with.

For example my favorite Parmesan substitute is:

 It has the consistency and similar flavor to that of regular parm.

Sometimes with a sandwich I like to have a melted slice of cheese, my preference is for (by Galaxy Nutritional Foods, same makers of the parm): 

The cheese melts nicely on a bun.  It has the same consistency of conventional cheese slices (I think you would be hard pressed to know the difference in a taste test).

One of my favorite foods to eat is pizza.  Where as I was not a huge mozzarella fan I think people look at you a little weird if you eat naked pizza...enter Daiya:

When melted it is gooey and stretchy.  If I don't feel like making pizza at home I have found that Brixx and Mellow Mushroom both offer daiya as an alternative (without any extra charge).

Lastly cream cheese.

I have a tie here for favorite:

Tofutti and Follow Your Heart both have a smooth and spreadable product.  Neither has an odd flavor to it, in fact the flavor is more more mild than traditional cream cheese.

In additional to spreading easily on bagels they also perform admirably in baking projects (and have made it possible to still enjoy cheesecake).

This by no means an exhaustive list, as there are products out there that I have seen in my local stores (like Daiya sliced cheese).

Additionally I have done very very minimal experimentation in the making of my own cheeses...although I did make this cheese spread from Dianne over at Veggie Girl.

Do you eat vegan cheeses?  If so which ones?

Have you tried making your own?  If so link up a recipe?

Sharing is caring :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday and I will be mofoing it again tomorrow!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Women's Only (Vegan MoFo #5)

This past Saturday I ran in the Cone Health Women's Only 5k

Me, my mom, and 3600 other women got together and run/walked 3.1 miles.

Just look at the sea of pink:

It was completely exhilirating to be amongst so many women and to be so very encouraged as we ran by the spectators along the route.

The money raised from entrance fees went to mammography scholarships so that those who are under insured or uninsured can get mammograms (over $118,000 was raised).

There was an expo with tons of vendors.  You could pick up t-shirts, free cups, and even massages (Oh Yeah!).  Then there was Jazzercise to warm up.

Here is a brief video of the days events:

Now I messed up a little, this was my first race, and I didn't realize the importance of being in the front of the line (and I didn't keep time on my watch).  I got stuck at the back of the pack and it probably took me 10 minutes to get to the start line...however I wasn' t running for time.

I am completely in love with running now.  Even though I am not very good at it yet, nor very fast, I am going to keep practicing.

Have you run in races before?

Any tips on how to get better?

Or would you like to tell me about what you did this weekend that you enjoyed?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vegan MoFo #4

I am only 4 days into my first MoFo...

But I am loving hopping from blog to blog seeing what everybody is blogging on.

Some people are super organized and have a theme for the month and there are others, like myself, who are flying by the seat of their pants.

I saw this modified food pyramid and had to share.  If only the USDA would take a look!

So today I am in a funny mood and just wanted to share some vegan food jokes.

Tomorrow I have a review of a new to me sauce, Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce + a GIVEAWAY.

Happy MoFo/Thursday to you all!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WIAW Birthday Edition

Another Wednesday

Another What I Ate Wednesday (aka WIAW) post

This Wednesday's post is a little different.

Not only is it WIAW it is also my birthday.

Yeah October 3rd is pretty much the best day of the year and this year I have the distinction of turning 35.

Holy Crap!

It kind of sounds old when I type it...I don't feel it, more like 25 (at least in my mind).

This post will be doing double duty as it will also be another notch in my Vegan MoFo belt (at least 20 posts during the month of October).

Let me say "Thank You" to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting this for the past 89 weeks (yeah I know that is a long time).

However enough babbling let's get to the eats:

I have been severely addicted to Sharon's Raw Chocolate Banana Energy Shake...seriously it is like having dessert for breakfast.

I only made one substitution and that was adding Artisana's raw cacao bliss because I don't have any cacao nibs. 

This added a nice light coconut flavor and just makes the shake that much more decadent.

For lunch it is kind of meager, but in my defense the shake was super filling, I have 3 stalks of celery, 3 carrot sticks, and a tablespoon of peanut butter.  It was delicious and completely what I wanted.

For dinner I had vegan chili cornbread slaw mess. 
It doesn't have a better name because truly it just looks like a mess, but one that was delicious!!!

I did finish the day off with a slice of is my birthday after all.

I hope you all are having a wonderful Wednesday. 

Be sure to head over to Jenn's and see what other fantastic foods my fellow bloggers were having this week.

Recipe for slaw:  here
Recipe for cornbread: here
Recipe for cake: here

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's Big, It's Huge, It's Vegan MoFo

This year I have decided to join up with tons of other bloggers and participate in the Vegan MoFo.

MoFo you ask?

Vegan Month of Food...get your mind out of the gutter I wasn't talking about THAT kind of mofo.

I am very excited and a little nervous as most bloggers will post every day of the month...YIKES!

To make things more complex I am also doing the October Unprocessed 2012 challege (where I eat food that I either make myself or COULD make myself using whole foods NO processed foods).

I know I can do this.

I know I can talk about all things vegan and unprocessed for one month.

So to start things off I have Hershey's chocolate cake veganized.

It had to be a dessert because the chocolate will calm my nerves as I prep for what lies ahead.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Cake

2 C sugar
1 3/4 C all purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 C almond milk (I chose unflavored)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 ener-G egg replacer eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C boiling water

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put all of your dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork.

Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla (beat for about 2 minutes).

Add in your boiling water.  This will make your batter very thin...but trust me the result is AWESOME!

Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes

"Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate frosting

1 stick Earth Balance
2/3 C cocoa
3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt your Earth Balance and then stir in your cocoa. 

Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk.  If you think the frosting is too thick add just  bit more milk.  For mine the 1/3 C milk was perfect.

Add in your vanilla (you should have about 2 cups of frosting) and then spread on your cooled cake.

I added some candles because tomorrow is my birthday.

I encourage you to check out the other bloggers participating in Vegan MoFo maybe it will inspire you to replace some of your conventional foods with vegan friendly options.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vegan Food Swap September

First of all let me apologize for this post being a day late, but I still want to share.

In September I participated in my first Vegan Food Swap, coordinated by Cat over at The Verdant Life.

Similar to other food swaps you send a box of goods (no greater than $20) to your match for the month.

There are swaps also hosted in the UK and if you are a reader in those locations you might want to check these out.

I received a package from, a non-blogger, Brittany.

It was chock full of awesomeness and a seriously cute lunch bag from Whole Foods.

I have never seen so many varieties of Artisana packets (where did you find these Brittany??).

Also included were 2 Allegro Fine tea bags, Raw Revolution bar (I have been dying to try these), Endangered Species dark chocolate mint single, Larabar Uber bar, That's It (apple and cherry).

And last, but not least, 3 single packs of Amazing Grass (berry, orac, and dreamsicle).

I won't lie I went for the chocolate first...I had a need and it was there to fill it :)

I can't wait to dig into my various raw nut butters and of course to assemble my next package for this month.

If you all are interested in joining the swap check out Cat and while you are at it check out the other food swap participants over at her blog hop (here).