2017 Lifestyle Goal … Go Vegan

On January 1, 2017 it will be a year since I switched my lifestyle to a vegetarian one.  I will say it has not always been easy, but it has been a little easier than when I first tried it, over 10 years ago. There are so many more options available to people today than before. With the introduction of the internet and the ability to search and find numerous articles, blogs, and nutritional research online, it makes the leap to a plant-based diet so much easier.

I never would have thought about taking a vegetarian cooking class.  You would think, it’s just vegetables how hard can it be.  Well, let me tell you without cooking tips, tricks and tools for this lifestyle a person will find it challenging to be successful in making the switch.  So, if you are still struggling with the transition, I really recommend looking into a local resource at your organic grocery store, health food store, community college, yoga studio or something similar.  I am sure you can find people teaching vegetarian cooking techniques to help you expand your recipe book without little to no cost to you.  They also help you to find and establish a balanced plant-based diet because no one can live on salad alone.

In 2017, I am going to attempt to make the switch to a vegan lifestyle.  I believe most of my cooking leans heavily vegan, although I do still have an occasional egg or two a month and I enjoy my dairy & cheeses.  So, I will need to learn how to prepare more vegan non-dairy alternatives for sour cream, cheese, yogurt and similar products.  Wish me luck as I venture on yet another exciting lifestyle change.

I also plan to pay closer attention to where my non-food products are made and what it is made with. Are the business practices sustainable, are they eco-friendly, do they employ business processes that are not harmful to the environment, people and animals.

I do know that I want to focus on buying consumer products made in places other than China or where labor conditions are unfair to workers, women and children.  I have always been a strong supporter of Fair Trade products, so now I have to look for vegan fair trade goods, from cosmetics to clothing to daily household supplies.  This might be the most challenge part of becoming a vegan, but I am up for the challenge.

I have learned a lot this past year about myself and my commitment to this lifestyle.  I have not once forced my lifestyle choice on anyone. I have been congratulated and praised for making this switch by many.  People ask me more questions about how the change has worked for me. They too are interested in making some diet changes as well.  I tell each and everyone of them that they need to eat for health and not eat to eat. They need to make one or two simple changes a week and see what that does for their body, the energy, their sleep. If it feels good, then keep doing it and gradually make the switch. Don’t wait for a scare in your life to make you change, it will be much harder to be forced than to do it by choice.

I found this online article put out by Forks Over Knives that was interesting.  If you are still deciding about a plant-based diet, then this will MYTH BUST some preconceived notions.  Until next year, have a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the coming new year.  Go Vegan!

Aloha from Hawaii,
Tracy

There are still many myths and misunderstandings surrounding a plant-based diet. We’ve dispelled the most popular myths here.

Source: Top 8 Myths About Eating Vegan, Busted

Thanksgiving Dinner – All Set

There are so many recipe ideas out there for a vegetarian or vegan to make for Thanksgiving.  I have merely scratched the surface of what is available, so I hope you will explore more recipes out there or even create some of your own.  I have narrowed down my meal planning and I am sure there will be various side dishes that require very little preparation.

My mom makes a very good homemade pumpkin pie and apple pie, so I won’t worry much about making these items.  I may even be lazy and visit my favorite bakery and pick up a delicious pie.  I still consider myself a vegetarian so stopping by and purchasing a pumpkin/custard combo pie is definitely an option.  Maybe even a cherry pie with some ice cream may be in my future.

My menu is looking pretty good and I only need to buy a few ingredients a day or two ahead of time. This is great, my refrigerator will not be over stuffed with food like years past.  It’s going to be nice to have a creative meal, all plant based, with an easy clean up and no carcasses in my fridge or trash can.

So, to sum it all up, here’s the menu

  • Chunky Sweet Potato Bisque
  • Lentil & Mushroom Shepard’s Pie
  • Mushroom Gravy
  • Cranberry Slaw
  • Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts
  • A few surprise side dishes that will appear on the table (no meat)
  • Desserts made from pumpkin, apples and maybe cherries

Not bad for my first Thanksgiving as a new vegetarian. I’m so excited.

Aquafaba?

I took a vegetarian cooking class recently and the demonstrator mention aquafaba.  I had no idea what she was talking about so figured, I would Google it later.  Well, I learned something new today, aquafaba is the liquid from a can of beans.

I also learned that if you are vegan or working towards becoming a vegan, you can use this liquid as an egg replacement. For recipes where eggs are needed to bind or add moisture like in cookies and cakes, using 3 tablespoons of aquafaba can replace 1 egg and liquid from chickpeas and white beans usually works best due to its neutral color.

So, just a little tidbit of information for those working their way to becoming a vegan.

 

Cleaning Out the Pantry

Since becoming a vegetarian, I have been stocking up on all kinds of fun stuff in my pantry  Some ingredients I have purchased from the bulk section of the grocery store and other I have purchased pre-packaged.  I am going to share with you some things I have learned, the hard way.

If you are in your beginning stages of becoming a vegetarian or a vegan, I am sure you are experimenting a lot with various recipes.  You have probably bought all kinds of spices, flours, sugars, and seasonings in this experimental phase. I am going to say STOP NOW. Why, because you are probably wasting money by purchasing too much of one thing or another.

For instance, I started going down this curry road of creations.  I went and bought so many variations of curries to find out that some I like, others I do not like.  But now I have this shelf of curry powders that I may never use again.  I have also purchased bags of flour and if you don’t use it quickly enough you will have tenants move into your flours.  If you don’t store them in air tight containers you will have the makings of a science project, for a young boy or girl, who has the desire to become an entomologist when they grow up.

I recently cleaned out my pantry and ended up throwing out pasta galore, baking flour, corn flour, chickpea flour and some sugar.  I invested in some mason jar bottles, of various sizes, and will be storing future dry goods in them.  However, I have just cost myself about $500 in wasted food because 1) I purchased more than I needed and 2) did not store them properly.

So, words of wisdom, from lessons learned …

  • If you are just starting out, go slow on stocking your pantry
  • If you are experimenting with various recipes, buy from the bulk section from your grocery store
  • Just buy what you need for a single recipe
  • Store your dry goods properly, keep those bugs OUT
  • Spices do not last forever, so only buy what you use often in large quantities or in bulk (by weight) – I DO NOT mean COSTCO bulk
  • Onion Salt does not last long at all, especially in humid temperatures, you end up with onion rock
  • Storing rice with a few bay leaves in them help to control the “bug” population from establishing itself

Lessons learned from a new vegetarian …

-Tracy-

Top 10 Pantry Staples for Veg Home Cooks | Vegetarian Times

I’ve been on my vegetarian journey now for just about 9 months and I am still learning a lot about common items I should have in my pantry, from what spices are commonly used, the various grains and their nutritional value and making sure I get enough protein in my diet.

Recently I started training for a marathon, thanks to a dear friend, and have really come to realize the importance of adequate calorie intact from protein, carbohydrates and even sugar for energy.  Since I am not taking in meat protein having the levels needed for energy, muscle recovery and development is even more important from a fitness perspective.

This article is from Vegetarian Times, a magazine that I subscribe to and I hope you will find the information useful.

A well-stocked pantry means a nourishing meal is never more than a cupboard (or freezer!) away. Short on shelf space? We asked cookbook authors and nutrition experts 
to help us narrow down our list of the most versatile ingredients for your kitchen.

Source: Top 10 Pantry Staples for Veg Home Cooks | Vegetarian Times

What is tahini?

A friend of mind, who grew up vegetarian, shared with me how her mom cooked just about everything with tahini.  Tahini just made everything taste so much better.  So, as she is telling me this I am thinking it’s some kind of spice or seasoning that you add to your meal preparations.

The next time I go into the grocery store, I am in the spice section, looking and looking for this thing called tahini.  No luck.  I go to a second store and look for it there, again no luck.  Finally I go to a 3rd store, and again nothing.  So, I just figured it was so popular that it sells out really quick.  So, I dismiss the thought and just figured I would eventually find it and buy it. NO, I did not ask for help from a salesclerk (silly me).

Now a couple of months go by.  I come across a recipe that says I need some tahini.  This time I GOOGLE it and realize that it is  just sesame seeds blended into a creamy kind of paste.  So, being the brilliant mind that I am, I attempt to make it myself. I find a recipe online, get out the Magic Bullet, then the Nutri-Bullet and realize these machines are useless in making tahini or maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I need to buy a real food processor?

Alright, so now that I know what tahini is, I go back to the grocery store.  Only now to find out I was looking in the WRONG places in these grocery stores.  It is in the refrigerated food section NOT the spices.  These are the growing pains of a new vegetarian.  Learning new terminology about foods that I have been eating for years.  It’s all good.  The one thing that I did ultimately learn about tahini is, I’m not going to make it myself.  It takes too much work for the little bit I need for a recipe.

Now, if you want to give it a try yourself, here is Easy Tahini Recipe, but make sure you have a real food processor because I did not find those other designs to work well with my attempt at making homemade tahini.  Have fun with it and I wish you great success with your tahini making adventure.

-Tracy-

Vegetarian Cooking Tips | Vegetarian Times

I mentioned previously that having cooking and informational resources as a new vegetarian was really critical in my ability to stick with this new lifestyle. I found this great article that talks about 3 Plant Based Cooking Tips that I think will prove to be very useful for every NEW vegetarian or vegan.

Check out these plant-based cooking tips from the instructor of our new online course, Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition.

Source: Vegetarian Cooking Tips | Vegetarian Times

Reading Material for Vegetarians & Vegans

Are you’re trying to find different sources to read as a new vegetarian? For me, one of the things I wanted to find, as a new vegetarian, was reading material. I didn’t want to just read cookbooks. I really wanted to find sources for helpful tips, hints, tricks, and recipes that I could use to expand my vegetarian knowledge.

I was so happy to find a few magazine options at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore.  I really enjoy flipping through magazines for a few reasons – the photos are awesome and really grab my attention.  The articles are well written and can be inspiring. The helpful hints and tips really enhance my basic knowledge on a variety of topics from ingredients, cooking tips and healthy meal options. The best part of it all, is a magazine is not so big, bulky, and heavy as a cookbook.  I can easily take it with me traveling and in today’s publications world most magazines come in a digital subscription formats.  BONUS!

So, here is a couple of a vegetarian/vegan magazines I have been reading and you might want to consider picking up the current issue, giving it a look through and maybe get a subscription for yourself.

Vegetarian Times

VegNews

 

Why buy organic?

Organic foods are a healthy choice for your body!

Choosing organic foods ensures that you avoid eating chemicals and pesticides found on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables (read my earlier post about the Dirty Dozen and Clean  Fifteen). In addition, research shows that foods grown organically have a better nutritional profile than those grown non-organically.

Organic Foods are a better choice because:

  • It is better for the environment
  • No bees butterflies, fish, birds and other animals/insects are killed
  • No chemical fertilizers to contaminate ground water sources
  • No deterioration on the health of the soil
  • Organic farming methods help conserve soil fertility and biodiversity naturally by replenishing soils with compost and mulch
  • Organic farming techniques are known to improve the health of the entire ecosystem

I’d also recommend doing some reading about the difference about Organic vs Non-GMO because there is a difference.  Non-GMO does not mean it was grown organically, it just means that no genetically modified seeds were used, but there can still be use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and sprays used in the farming process.  If you are going to eat clean, it should also be clean of any and all farming chemicals.

The Difference between Organic vs Non-GMO

Importance of Potassium

With the combination of starting to exercise regularly again and becoming a vegetarian, I’ve really come to realize the importance of nutrition and adequate calorie intact has been at the front of mind lately.  I’ve started to subscribe to different online resources to get educated on some do’s and don’ts so I can eat right to fuel my daily activities plus a decent workout.

I did some reading about the importance of potassium that I would like to share with you. “Potassium is a major dietary mineral that helps to balance your body’s pH and body fluids. It’s important for normal blood pressure regulation (it works in opposition to sodium). It’s also needed for normal muscle growth, for the nervous system and brain function. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average person should consume about 4,700 milligrams potassium every day.”

That’s a lot of potassium. The average banana is 7 inches long and has 422 mg of potassium.  That means you would need to eat about 11 bananas a day!  I love bananas, but I don’t know if I could eat that many bananas in a day.

Fortunately as  vegetarian or vegan, having a plant based diet of fruits & vegetables we don’t fall short on potassium like the usual Western diet that usually falls short of the 5 servings of fruits & vegetables.  The article states – STAY AWAY from potassium supplements and get your daily intake from the food you eat. It’s the natural way to fuel your body.

sweet potatoA few examples of high potassium foods you might eat regularly:

  • sweet potato (1 medium size) 542 mg
  • avocado (1/2 fruit) 487 mg
  • white beans (1/2 cup) 502 mg
  • plain yogurt (1 cup) 579 mg
  • spinach (1 cup) 839 mg

Here are a few places to read more about potassium

15 Potassium Rich Foods

5 Foods with More Potassium than a Banana