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Thanksgiving – Don’t Join Them, Beat Them!

22 Nov

Isn’t Thanksgiving one of THE best days of the year?!  The sound of football and family talking, the smell of herbs roasting, and the sensation of binging on your favorite once-a-year recipes.  I adore this holiday because it brings together my family and friends over an amazingly delicious and unique meal.  Most of the dishes we serve on Thanksgiving are only served on this holiday, which makes it that much more special.  AND I love left-overs!  What holiday has left-overs like Thanksgiving?  Not one.

turkeys
I have been celebrating Thanksgiving as a vegetarian since 1997. For me it is easy and it always has been.  However, some of you fledglings out there are daunted by the prospect of sitting down with your family and not eating turkey flesh.  If your main worry is the heckling you will receive, my best advice is to beat them. I don’t mean pound them with your fists, although tempting after you hear those boring vegetarian jokes for the hundredth time.  I refer to making a better meal for yourself (and your fellow diners if they choose to pull their heads out of their…) than they have made for themselves.  Make them jealous of your fantastic concoctions!

There is not one traditional Thanksgiving recipe you can’t alter to make vegetarian.  You can even make a turkey flesh alternative with seitan if you so choose.  I have been wowing meat eaters on Thanksgiving with recipes like Walnut Apple Stuffing, Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes, Tofurky Roast in a homemade Savory Sauce and Roasted Root Vegetables, Vegetable Pot Pie, etc.  Every year I am surprised by the reactions from my meat eating co-diners when they taste a well executed vegetarian dish.  I am not surprised that they think it’s great, I am surprised by their amazement.  You would think in the year 2013 people would KNOW our food is fantastic.  *shrugs*

Below is a Thanksgiving recipe for your taste buds to discover.  Remember, don’t join them, beat them this Thanksgiving!

VEGETARIAN POT PIE

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1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or substitute vegan margarine)

2 small heads fennel, finely chopped (about 3 cups)

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)

12 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms, sliced (about 5 cups)

2-3 red potatoes, diced small (about 2 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup low-sodium mushroom broth

1 cup whole milk (or substitute plain soy)

1 cup frozen baby green peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives

1/4 cup parsley

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 large egg yolk (remove from recipe if vegan)

7 ounces store-bought puff pastry or pie dough, defrosted if frozen (vegan and gluten-free options available in most health food stores)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Melt butter over medium heat in a 3 to 4 quart heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add fennel, onions, and carrots, and cook until just soft and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and potato, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms have let off water and are shrunken, about 6 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir to coat, and cook until raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add broth and milk, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, add peas, herbs, and vinegar, and stir to coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

Whisk egg together with 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.

Cut dough to fit over the baking dish. Place dough over filling and tuck into the edges of the dish. Brush dough with egg wash and cut slits in the top to vent. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

Starbucks Crushed Beetles – Just the Tip of the Iceberg

4 Apr

I heard today that the CEO of Starbucks has announced they will most likely stop using crushed beetles as a dye for their Strawberry beverages – due to the huge uproar they received.  My immediate (inner monologue) reaction was, “Who cares about little crushed beetles when people are eating beaver anal gland secretions in their ice cream, beef fat in their twinkies, and ammonia in their cheeseburgers?”  Now, I’m not saying beetles deserve to be raised just to be crushed for dye. That’s not cool at all. What I am saying is it’s a lesser evil when considering all the other repulsive additives in our food.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Castoreum, otherwise known as anal secretions mixed with urine from a BEAVER, is a common FDA approved food additive found commonly in vanilla & raspberry flavored candies, drinks, and desserts such as puddings…as well as perfume.

  1. Lanolin, otherwise known as ‘sheep secretions,’ is used in order to soften chewing gum mix.

  1. Ammonia in meat and cheese.  Yes, the same ammonia used to clean ovens and floors.  A hot topic recently with the uproar over what the meat industry calls “finely textured beef” and what a formerU.S. government scientist first called “pink slime”.

  1. Gelatin, which is used to make jello, marshmallows, cream cheese, etc. – is derived from pig & cow skin and bones.

  1. Beef Fat in your hostess treats! That creamy center in your twinkie is made of animal shortening that contains beef

  1. Rennet, which is the fourth stomach of a young cow, is an ingredient in many cheeses.  The production of rennet is disturbing to me: Natural calf rennet is extracted from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach chamber (the abomasum) of slaughtered young, unweaned calves. These stomachs are a by-product of veal production.  Dried and cleaned stomachs of young calves are sliced into small pieces and then put into saltwater or whey, together with some vinegar or wine to lower the pH of the solution.  GROSS! In theUK, all cheeses are labeled as either suitable or not suitable for vegetarians. In theUnited States and most other countries, people are left to guess about the stomach-content of their cheese.

  1. L-Cysteine is an amino acid used to soften the dough of mass-produced bread. Where does it come from? Human hair. Sometimes duck feathers. About 80% of the L-cysteine on the market comes from human hair (although McDonald’s uses the duck-based variety for its baked goods). Is this technically cannibalism, or just gross?

 

ALL Red Meat is Bad For You

13 Mar

It is sad but true, ALL red meat is bad for you.  Too long has the American public been brainwashed into believing their bodies need beef to be healthy, when in fact it is quite the opposite.  Consuming any amount of red meat whether it is beef, pork, or lamb, will hasten mortality.

This LA Times article released yesterday is late, but late is better than never.  This is a huge step towards re-educating Americans about what is really healthy.

By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times

March 12, 2012, 4:28 p.m.

Eating red meat — any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years.For instance, adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.Even worse, adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20% higher risk of death during the study.

“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study, published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Crunching data from thousands of questionnaires that asked people how frequently they ate a variety of foods, the researchers also discovered that replacing red meat with other foods seemed to reduce mortality risk for study participants.

Eating a serving of nuts instead of beef or pork was associated with a 19% lower risk of dying during the study. The team said choosing poultry or whole grains as a substitute was linked with a 14% reduction in mortality risk; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10%; and fish, 7%.

Previous studies had associated red meat consumption with diabetesheart disease and cancer, all of which can be fatal. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what makes red meat so dangerous, but the suspects include the iron and saturated fat in beef, pork and lamb, the nitrates used to preserve them, and the chemicals created by high-temperature cooking.

The Harvard researchers hypothesized that eating red meat would also be linked to an overall risk of death from any cause, Pan said. And the results suggest they were right: Among the 37,698 men and 83,644 women who were tracked, as meat consumption increased, so did mortality risk.

In separate analyses of processed and unprocessed meats, the group found that both types appear to hasten death. Pan said that at the outset, he and his colleagues had thought it likely that only processed meat posed a health danger.

Carol Koprowski, a professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the research, cautioned that it can be hard to draw specific conclusions from a study like this because there can be a lot of error in the way diet information is recorded in food frequency questionnaires, which ask subjects to remember past meals in sometimes grueling detail.

But Pan said the bottom line was that there was no amount of red meat that’s good for you.

“If you want to eat red meat, eat the unprocessed products, and reduce it to two or three servings a week,” he said. “That would have a huge impact on public health.”

A majority of people in the study reported that they ate an average of at least one serving of meat per day.

Pan said that he eats one or two servings of red meat per week, and that he doesn’t eat bacon or other processed meats.

Cancer researcher Lawrence H. Kushi of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland said that groups putting together dietary guidelines were likely to pay attention to the findings in the study.

“There’s a pretty strong supposition that eating red meat is important — that it should be part of a healthful diet,” said Kushi, who was not involved in the study. “These data basically demonstrate that the less you eat, the better.”

UC San Francisco researcher and vegetarian diet advocate Dr. Dean Ornish said he gleaned a hopeful message from the study.

“Something as simple as a meatless Monday can help,” he said. “Even small changes can make a difference.”

Additionally, Ornish said, “What’s good for you is also good for the planet.”

In an editorial that accompanied the study, Ornish wrote that a plant-based diet could help cut annual healthcare costs from chronic diseases in the U.S., which exceed $1 trillion. Shrinking the livestock industry could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt the destruction of forests to create pastures, he wrote.

Stickers

27 Jan

Last night I was looking through boxes in my closet and I happened upon a few of my old PETA stickers from the 90’s.  I was a militant vegan back then – forgive me I was a moody teenager – and I loved to slap those stickers all over everything.  Some of them are down right cute, and others….well they are sad.  I want to share some stickers with you, some old and some new.

I challenge Paula Deen to go VEGAN!

18 Jan

Paula Deen needs to take responsibility for her health.  We love to criticize athletes and famous actors for not being good role models, but what about our Food Network stars?  Paula Deen’s food is amazingly delicious, unhealthy, fattening, and has contributed to her diabetes 100%.  If she were to eat a plant-based whole-food diet, she could rid herself of this nasty disease, but….she has chosen – for the time being – to give up and blame it on the scapegoats: lifestyle, genetics, stress.  It’s FOOD, Paula!  She knows it, and so do we.

I challenge Paula to go VEGAN for 6 months and see what her results are!   A whole-food, plant-based diet can oftentimes reverse Type-2 Diabetes, and a person can usually become free of his or her diabetes medications.  She can cure herself by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.

Funny that I had posted my healthy version of her Shepherd’s Pie only a week before I heard she had Type-2 Diabetes.  Maybe I should email her, send her the recipe, along with other alternatives.  Gosh, it’s inspiring to think of what she could come up with if she were to decide to start making healthy southern food.  She is an awesome chef.  Oh please Paula, conjure your magic and create 5 star vegan meals for us!

I hope she steps out from behind her denial, for her sake as well as many others.  She has a wonderful opportunity to help people (26 million Americans diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and 79 million Americans who have “Pre-diabates”) by taking the lead, setting the right example.  I’m crossing my fingers.

Watch Paula’s explanation of her Type 2 Diabetes in the video linked below.  She is being a coward. 😦

Paula Deen and Al Roker Talk Type-2 Diabetes

Cure Yourself

17 Jan

An amazing movie (documentary) claims the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.  Quit the meat, quit the dairy, and you can cure yourself?  Watch Forks Over Knives.

I am a believer, and I have been since 1997 when I went Vegan.  My sources back then were not as well prepared and entertaining as Forks Over Knives.   This movie is so easy to watch; it flies by.

Myths, old-wives tales, and greed driven propaganda are dispelled so absolutely it will blow your mind.  Degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented, and in many cases reversed, by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.   But do you want to believe it?  I bet you don’t, because it’s just too hard….to give up your meat.

(Forks Over Knives is currently showing on HBO, as well as free-streaming on Netflix.)

Wishing you happy enlightenment my friends.  Be good to yourselves.

Where’s the Meat?

12 Jan

Do you want to strengthen your immune system?  Then load up on your antioxidants!  It is a known fact that adding more fruit and veggies to your diet will improve your health,  but some foods are higher in antioxidants than others.  The 3 major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.  You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed (blanch); don’t overcook or boil.

So, why shouldn’t you over-steam or boil your veggies?  The enzymes and nutrients in your vegetables are destroyed when they reach 100 degrees, so you are not getting the most out of your veggies. Steaming can release just as many nutrients as boiling, the water will still absorb just as many vitamins and minerals. Have you ever steamed a green vegetable only to find that your water is green?

Blanching your vegetables is a good way to ensure you keep your vegetables crisp, bright in color, and full of nutrients. Blanching is very different than boiling. Your vegetables are placed in simmering salted water for about a minute. This is a method of flash cooking that barely cooks your vegetables.

Below is a nifty table with photos of some of the major antioxidant food sources.  Where is the meat on this chart?  When discussing how to improve health, I don’t ever hear that we need to incorporate more beef.  As I mentioned earlier, we all know more fruits and vegetables are what we need to be healthier.

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