The Vegan Post

Fitness/Health, Food

Let me start by stating that I am not vegan. I feel compelled to write this post because of a documentary my family watched which caused my parents to go cold-turkey on all animal-based foods.

Before we watched the film, my parents loved fish, chicken, cheese, milk, ice cream… you get the idea. Now? They are doing their best to eat a “whole foods, plant-based diet” and trying to convince everyone they know to do the same. (As for me, I’m choosing vegan and vegetarian options more often, but I can’t bring myself to give up cheese or milk in my coffee quite yet.)

The movie is called Forks Over Knives and it’s currently available on Netflix. “Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.” (read more here)

Basically, these two doctors spent their careers experimenting (independently… they didn’t meet each other until later in life) and each came to the conclusion that people who eat a plant-based diet with no animal-based products have a significantly lower chance of getting cancer. The film even features some patients who were able to survive their cancer death sentences by changing their diet. And it’s not only about cancer. The film also interviews patients who got rid of diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health problems by switching to a vegan diet.

You’d think this would be all over the news, because we are always searching for a magical cure to cancer, right? Well, here’s the thing about this possibly magical cure. It’s easy, and it’s cheap. No one is getting rich off this breakthrough. There’s no fancy pharmaceutical drug that a company can charge millions for. It’s just a lifestyle change that anyone can make, with or without the help of a doctor. Frankly, it’s cheaper to eat a plant-based diet than an animal-based one.

“It is time to let food be our medicine.”

What do you think? Are you familiar with this film or with the claims it makes about a plant-based diet? Have you made the switch to veganism?

-L

Soup to cure the winter blues

Curated, Food, Recipes

We are smack dab in the middle of winter, and it makes me want to fly a few thousand miles south to somewhere warm, or at least spend all day in a fluffy blanket drinking all the coffee in my kitchen.

But since I have a job to go to and don’t have quite enough miles for a last minute vacation, I have to find other ways to cure my winter blues.

That brings us to soup.

Soup is comfort in a pot. The act of cooking something warm and nourishing automatically makes you feel better. It forces you to slow down, and makes you feel good just knowing you are taking care of yourself.

Here is some soup inspiration for you. I can’t wait to get home and get one of these recipes cooking.

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Potsticker soup. Toss your favorite frozen potstickers and veggies in a flavorful broth. Yum. (Recipe here)

Potsticker soup
(via)

Pea and lettuce soup. Easy, healthy, delicious. The recipe suggests serving with a ham and cheese tartine (ham and cheese melted onto a roll of crusty bread) and I couldn’t agree more (although I might make mine with turkey and cheese). (Recipe)

Pea and lettuce soup

Chicken and rice soup. Classic comfort food. I want some now. (Recipe)

Chicken and rice soup

Quick spicy sriracha ramen noodle soup. A homemade take on instant ramen. And it’s spicy. Yes, please. (Recipe)

Spicy ramen

Miso soup with mushrooms and soba noodles. A little more complicated, but it’s vegan, healthy, and oh-so flavorful. Plus, mushrooms. I die for yummy, brothy, mushroomy soups. (Recipe)

Miso soup

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Let me know if you try any of these recipes! Do you have any favorite soup recipes? How else do you stay warm in the winter?

Get cooking! -L

Foolproof Smoothie Recipes

Fitness/Health, Food, Recipes

Whether your New Year’s resolution was to eat healthier, you got a blender for Christmas, or you just love smoothies, check out our favorite smoothie recipes.

These are super simple and foolproof because they only contain a few, easy-to-find ingredients, and don’t require exact measurements.

(image source)

My Berry Green Smoothie
spinach + berries + banana + Greek yogurt

  1. Blend up a couple handfuls of spinach with a little water.
  2. Add a couple handfuls of berries and blend. I usually use strawberries and blueberries (frozen or fresh depending on the season).
  3. Add a whole banana and a big dollop of plain, whole fat Greek yogurt for delicious creaminess, and enjoy!
    4. Extras: In the summer, add fresh pineapple, kiwi, or any other fruit you have on hand. You can also add some avocado for extra green color and creaminess. Add a scoop of protein powder if using as a meal replacement or after a workout.

My Strawberry Banana Smoothie
milk + strawberries + banana + oats + peanut butter

1. Blend about 1 cup of milk, a handful of strawberries (fresh are best), one whole banana, a sprinkle of dry oatmeal, and a scoop of peanut butter.
2. That’s it! This is such a quick, delicious, and comforting breakfast smoothie.
3. Extras: Feel free to swap out an alternate milk or nut butter. You could also add protein powder if desired.

My Tropical Smoothie
almond milk + spinach + frozen pineapple and mango + protein powder

1. Blend a couple handfuls of spinach with about a cup of almond milk, plus a scoop of protein powder if desired.
2. Toss in some frozen pineapple and mango and blend.
3. Extras: Add some coconut, papaya, or banana.

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Yum! Enjoy!

What are your go-to smoothie recipes?

-L

Last-Minute Homemade Gifts

Food, Holidays, Quick Read, Recipes

If you’re anything like me, you either:

(a) tend to do things last minute, or
(b) are cheap. I mean… money-conscious?
or
(c) both of the above.

So for those of us who fit that description, or who simply still have some gifts left to get and who enjoy a homemade touch, read on for some of my favorite homemade gift ideas. These are super simple and inexpensive, and can probably be made with things you already have on hand.

Quick and easy homemade gifts

1. Flavored coffee syrups

Guys, you would not believe how easy coffee syrups are to make. I make myself a batch of vanilla syrup for my coffee every few weeks, and it literally takes five minutes of effort.

Here’s what you do:

  • Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in saucepan
  • Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and stir until sugar dissolves
  • Stir in 1 teaspoon of any flavoring you like (i.e. vanilla extract, peppermint extract, almond extract)
  • Let cool and then store in an airtight glass container

I purchased these glass bottles at my neighborhood kitchen supply store, filled them with flavored syrups, and stuck some pretty labels on them. Definitely a popular gift with coffee drinkers.

Store the syrup in the fridge and it should stay good for several weeks.

(image source & peppermint syrup recipe)

2. Handmade jewelry

Depending on your level of craftiness, you could do a lot in this department. Personally, I have less crafty talent than Martha Stewart has in her pinky finger, but I still managed to make the bracelet pictured above.

Search around on Pinterest, find some pretty DIYs, and hit up your local craft or bead store. Handmade jewelry doesn’t have to mean plastic beads spelling out “best friend” like we made in summer camp. With a little thought and effort, you can make something similar to what you’d see in a store selling for thirty bucks.

Seriously, if I made that bracelet above, anyone can do it. Find the instructions here.

3. Personalized mugs

I don’t know about you, but I love mugs. If a friend took the time to create a mug just for me, I’d be thrilled.

This is another DIY where Pinterest is your friend. I think Sharpie mugs are the easiest, but there are tons of other ideas for people of varying levels of craftiness. This gift is pretty, functional, personal, and cheap. All it costs is a few bucks for the mug, and maybe a few more for markers or glitter or whatever.

(image source with instructions for Sharpie mugs)

4. Hot fudge

This is another one that I make for myself quite often.

Since it’s the holidays, you could make peppermint hot fudge and put it in a festive jar, like the photo above.

Or you could go for good old fashioned bittersweet hot fudge. Like with the coffee syrups, a glass jar and a pretty label go a long way in making this a thoughtful gift.

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Happy gifting! What are your favorite homemade gifts?

-L

Hardworking Lunches

Food, Recipes, Workplace

I have always struggled with lunch.

Breakfast? Savory, sweet, whatever you’re serving, I’m in. Dinner? You can be sure I’m having seconds. But lunch has always been my least favorite meal. I think it’s because once I hit a stride — a long day of classes or cubicle-sitting — I don’t like to interrupt it. It may also be that my typical diet of carbs and cheese tends to make me crash if I eat that way in the middle of the day. This means that your typical sandwich for lunch doesn’t cut it for me.

Over the years I’ve struggled with spending too much money at lunchtime, and eating too much and ruining my afternoon productivity. Now I can finally say that I have some lunch staples that are cheap, healthy, and don’t sap my energy level. Below you’ll find some examples, plus some good sides to add on to any lunch.

You might notice that my examples are all vegetarian and mostly vegan — this is just because I gravitate toward lighter fare for lunch. I love cheese and I do eat meat, but when I’m cooking for myself I end up eating a lot of vegan meals purely because they are easy and make me feel good.

Lazy and cheap:

Bagel and cream cheese. Hold up! I thought you said carbs and cheese were bad? Well… yeah. This is not a shining example of a healthy lunch, but I do not want to give the impression that I bring a healthy, homemade lunch to work every day, because that is just not true. Personally, I’m happy with myself if I bring a lunch at all. Even if it’s not the healthiest, I’m happy to save money and to have my life together enough that I can do some advanced planning the night before. So, if I am feeling really lazy and cheap, I will bring a lunch that requires no cooking at all, just a little foresight at the grocery store.

Cheap and simple:

Beans and rice. This meal is full of protein and has endless possibilities. Here is an easy example that I might make on any given night. But you could easily spice it up with avocado, pico de gallo, a little lime juice, whatever you want. Simple, filling, and definitely cheap.

Healthy and flavorful:

Quinoa tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad typically made with bulgar or couscous, parsley, mint, tomatoes, onions, and lemon juice. I like to use quinoa instead of bulgar or couscous because of the added protein. I am also not crazy about mint so I usually skip that. The tomatoes, onions, and lemon make this dish really flavorful. I also love to add diced cucumbers, green onions, and cilantro. Here is a great recipe.

Hearty and healthy:

Quinoa with asparagus and mushrooms. Really, this could be called quinoa and veggies, because you could easily throw together quinoa and whatever veggies you have on hand. For example, you might add kale, spinach, onions, or peppers. I love quinoa with asparagus and mushrooms because it’s filling, easy to prepare, and because asparagus and mushrooms are two of my favorites. This dish is very versatile and hardly requires a recipe at all, but here is a nice one to get you started.

On the side:

Fruit – berries, banana, plum, pear, satsuma orange, grapes
Baby carrots
Sliced cucumbers
Cherry tomatoes
Cookie
Pretzels
Pita chips
Hummus (to go with the veggies or chips)

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That’s it! I’m not a lunch expert yet, but I’m doing my best. What are your lunchtime staples?

Thanks for reading!
-L