Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Vegan Thanksgiving: 8 Good Reasons

vegan TGD

This is snapshot of some of the vegan entrees we ate for Thanksgiving which included green chili and cheese tamales, roasted mixed veggies, pumpkin banana pie, and a cranberry wild rice stuffed vegan roast!

On my way to work after the holiday, I noticed there were more bicyclists and runners out on the road. So I made an obvious assumption that it was all due to those excess calories eaten the night before. The notorious post-holiday belly bloat must have finally digested off and now excess proteins from the turkey are supposedly enabling these early birds to get up and move, or else. So after some introspective thought, and after celebrating Thanksgiving FULLY VEGAN for the first time, I concluded to write an article on the BIG benefits of veganizing the holidays. Following are some of the reasons I thought going plant based over the holidays would be one of the best decisions you could make for your health:

Simple Recipes Most plant based recipes are simple to make and they usually don’t require a long list of ingredients or a lot of time to put together. raw pumpkin tartsDepending on what it is your making for Thanksgiving, vegan recipes are actually easier than you think, even if they are new! For a Thanksgiving raw dessert, I made some raw mini pumpkin pie tarts for the first time and was surprised it took less time than I had expected. It can also be fun getting the family involved making new recipes that are healthy. If your not exactly sure on what kind of plant based recipes to make, there are plenty of websites out there that offer plenty of ideas and recipes for free.

⇒Savings$ If your cooking and buying, you’ll save money with vegan entrees. A small 12 pound turkey can cost on average from about $21.00 depending on where you buy the turkey. You’ll certainly pay more if your concerned (and who wouldn’t be!) with how the turkey was raised. We paid $12.00 for Gardein‘s Cranberry and Wild Rice Roast which serves up to 8 people. The options available now for substituting meat have improved and are really great. If I had been blindfolded and tried Gardein unknowingly, I wouldn’t have known the difference! The texture and flavor were perfect. Making things from scratch is typical with a plant based diet so if everything else you serve will be homemade, you’ll be saving money.

⇒You Eat Less  During the holidays everyone tends to eat a little more, especially being around family and friends! How else are we to try what vegan TG plateeveryone else has made without overindulging just a little? We could if the food is healthy. The fact is, traditional holiday recipes call for a lot of sugar, oil, butter, and fat. In fact, committing to a vegan holiday will actually save you on average about 1400 calories, 86 grams of fat, and a whopping 523 grams of cholesterol! You’ll also eat about 31 grams more fiber sticking with a plant based plate. So you will eat less because fiber fills you up and sends signals to your brain telling you to slow down or stop eating.

⇒Healthier and Happier  If you can stick to your guns and eat right even on Thanksgiving, chances are your already healthy. Every meal counts because it can all add up so by filling  your plate up with healthier food during the holidays, you’ll stay healthy and happy. Eating a heavy meal filled with refined sugars, meat, and dairy can cause shifts in your mood. The link between food and mood is a lot more solid than you think and many people go through life depressed  never connecting the dots.  During this time of the year, it can be frustrating having to tell everyone you have preferences but you’ll gain more confidence and become more comfortable with saying NO each time that you do. Avoiding foods with unhealthy ingredients may be hard to do now, but has big rewards in the long haul because you’ll less likely gain weight and be a happier person.

⇒Plant Based Leftovers  If your a plant based person most of the time or rarely eat meat and decided to go with having a turkey for the holiday, let’s get down to the bottom line of your decision. A lot of healthy eaters will sometimes make “adjustments” to their diet for special occasions such as Thanksgiving in order to please others, or to avoid confrontations with relatives and family. After all, its just one day of eating turkey right? But let’s get real with this “once a year” mentality that persuades you into having turkey. It isn’t going to be just one meal. Turkey’s are big and have a lot of meat. Your going to end up with turkey and a lot of other high fat left overs for several days to come.

⇒Less Bloat More Energy  Eating a high fiber plant based meal can help to prevent bloating because you’ll stay regular even after your Thanksgiving meal. No bloating means less discomfort and more energy for you to continue enjoying the holiday with family and friends.

⇒Prevents Binges  Eating processed foods that are high in sugar and fat can trigger certain behaviors in persons who already deal with unhealthy eating patterns. Sugar can act like a drug and can initiate destructive binges lasting for days. Making plant based desserts that are high in fruits, nuts, and whole grains can help prevent out of control binges from starting in the first place.  Using whole food, nutrient dense ingredients full of fiber will help to slow us down. Furthermore, our cravings are better controlled when we’re getting enough nutrients.

⇒Less Illness  Its already been confirmed, 80% of all antibiotic drugs used in the U.S. are given to animals. Almost 90% of all store bought meat had signs of contamination with fecal matter at some point during or after its processing. If we continue to keep buying these meats, the industry will continue to use their antibiotics in raising animals. And it would be just a matter of time that we end up putting our health at risk.

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

sources

¹Are You Eating Superbugs? Resistant Bacteria Found At Alarming Rates On Meat~ Forbes

²Benefits Of A Vegan Thanksgiving~NamelyMarley

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Raw Blueberry Jam

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Forget boiling and slaving over a hot stove to cook fruit with unhealthy sugars, and forget worrying about jarring or sealing correctly! This raw jam recipe saves you time, money, and nutrients. Raw jams are naturally packed with active enzymes because they are not cooked. The bonus with this is they will be packed with more nutrients in every bite than typical jams found at the store. Raw jam tastes just like regular jam, just minus all the wrong sugars. My son loved this jam so kids won’t notice any difference!

raw blue jam

5 Simple Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup soaked chia seeds
  • 10 chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

5 Easy Steps

  1. Add blueberries and lemon juice into a high powered blender.
  2. Add in the soaked chia seeds, honey, and chopped dates.
  3. Blend on high for about 3-5 minutes, stopping periodically to push down rising ingredients from the sides with a spatula.
  4. Pour the mixture into your preferred jam jar and store in the fridge.
  5. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

Coconut Fig Oatmeal Cookies

Coconut Fig Oatmeal

I really love these cookies! They are simple, easy to make, and loaded with heart healthy ingredients and fiber! Most cookies you find at the store are full of sugar which can be addicting. This homemade batch of goodness ended up with the kind of texture that go perfect with a glass of milk, vegan milk that is. My toddler devoured 3 and drank 2 whole glasses of cashew milk along with them! I’ll know better next time to double the recipe for a bigger batch because 10 cookies just wasn’t enough!

Ingredients

  • 2 large bananas
  • 10 dried figs, chopped
  • 1 cup oatmeal, rolled or quick oats style
  • 1/2 cup shredded & dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. First, in a mixing bowl smash the bananas and stir them into a creamy consistency.
  3. Next, add and stir in the vanilla, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and molasses.
  4. Now stir in the flour and oatmeal until completely blended.
  5. Last but not least, stir in 1/4th cup of the shredded coconut and the chopped figs. The shredded coconut gives the batter a texture that holds everything together and prevents it from being runny
  6. Spoon drops of cookie batter onto a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil and with a fork, press down and form the cookies. Use the remaining shredded coconut to sprinkle tops of cookies before baking.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Makes about 10 cookies.

Coconut Fig Oatmeal4

We were out of real vanilla extract so we were stuck using the imitation. By all means, use the pure vanilla extract to avoid any artificial flavorings and chemicals. Besides, twice as much imitation vanilla flavoring is usually required to match the strength of pure vanilla so you get your moneys worth.

Coconut Fig Oatmeal5

I rarely use added sugar in my baking but for a batch of cookies, I’ve started using Madhava’s unrefined coconut sugar. As you can see, I’m very conservative using it, especially with a diabetic in the family. I only used 2 tablespoons in this recipe. Nutrition TIP: If you find yourself needing to add more sugar to satisfy your taste buds, work on gradually reducing it from your diet. Unlike all refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, organic coconut sugar actually contains some nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

Coconut Fig Oatmeal2

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

The Hawaiian Pear Green Juice

the hawaiin pear1

hawaiin pear food1

If you haven’t tried green juices made with pineapple, you don’t know what your missing! Green juices can be so delicious with just the right amount of fruit. This one comes packed with nutrition! Here is a summary of what you get:

Kale is low in calories and has zero fat. It’s full of nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium, important stuff the body needs! Kale has iron too. Actually, for the same amount of calories, kale has more iron than beef but doesn’t hurt your heart with heart clogging cholesterol. Kale is full of vitamin K which is needed for good bone health and healthy blood clotting. Kale is also filled with powerful antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids that can protect our skin and from various cancers.

Spinach is good for our eyes. It has a rich source of beta carotene, lutein and xanthene. AMD, or age related macular degeneration is due to a lack of lutein and xanthene which form a central part of the retina in our eyes so its important to eat foods with these key eye nutrients.

Pineapples are loaded with immunity boosting vitamin C and are also good for the eyes. They are serious inflammation fighters and unlike many other fruits and veggies, pineapples have a significant source of bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein and aids digestion.

Ginger fires up important digestive juices and livens up our appetite! It gives a healthy boost to our metabolism and who couldn’t use that? Its been hailed as nature’s farmaceutical in preventing and treating certain types of cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer. Ginger root also contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These compounds are believed to be the reason why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis feel better and experience less pain with  improvements in their mobility.

me and green juice2

by Lupita Ronquillo, Holistic Nutrition writer

sources

¹The World’s Healthiest Foods– Kale & Ginger

²Organic Facts- Health Benefits of Spinach

³PubMed.org- Carotenoids & Flavonoids Contribute to Nutritional Protection...

Grapes and Ginger Wheatgrass Shots

Trying to find a way to drink down more wheatgrass juice? If your like most people, myself included, you’ll never get used to drinking any  amount of pure wheatgrass! Well, the good news is you don’t have to drink it alone to reap all of its benefits! I’ve been experimenting with different combinations to try and “mask” that extreme bitterness wheatgrass is notoriously known for. But before you go and shrug off any chance of drinking some, I’ve created and am sharing this spicy, sweet, and tangy way to actually enjoy it for anyone willing to try. Who says you can’t enjoy a nice strong “shot” to warm and strengthen you up? So get juicing and bottoms up to great health!

Make sure to use black or purple grapes for this recipe since their sweeter than most others and have a distinct flavor that helps to offset the strength of wheatgrass. The lemon here does an excellent job in tricking our taste buds from the chlorophyll overload. The ginger adds a nice warming and spicy kick and works along with wheatgrass in providing great anti-cancer benefits. Make sure to juice the wheatgrass first so you know how much total will be going into your juice. I recommend starting out with 1/2 an ounce and then build up to a full ounce. Feel free to use up to 2 cups grapes to customize the strength and flavor to your preference.

To get an idea of what drinking wheatgrass juice can do for your health, visit Hippocrates Health Institute, and read The 18 Wonders of Wheatgrass!

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

Vegan Pozole “Mexican Soup”

vegan posole1

There are certain foods that can leave us with a sense of psychological satisfaction. These foods come “embedded” in our genes from our ancestors. Think about it, our grandparents and great grandparents have eaten these foods for so many years so it only makes sense that we would “recognize” their taste even if we’ve never tried them! It may sound a bit crazy but that’s what it feels like when I eat pozole or something Mexican, like I’m savoring my heritage through food! 🙂

Pozole is traditionally made with pork or chicken but you can still get that deeply rooted familial satisfaction using gluten free seitan, jackfruit or even mushrooms and leave out the traditional meat. So if you’ve got a Hispanic background, give this recipe a try to see just what I’m talking about…

Pozole Ingredients

  • 3 pounds white hominy corn, 1/2 of a 6 pound can
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free seitan, cut into bite size peices (gf seitan recipe)
  • 28 ounce can of red chili sauce (homemade is always best if you can!)
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • pinch of cumin

Pozole Garnish

  • 1 handful watercress, minced
  • 1 handful cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 large red onion, minced
  • 1 juiced lime
  • pinch of pink salt

Instructions

  1. Heat oil and saute the white onions, garlic, oregano and seitan to a lightly caramelized state.
  2. Stir in the white hominy and the red chili sauce along with a few cans of water. You want to judge the amount of water to add depending on how thick or thin you prefer your soup.
  3. Bring to a boil for a good 5-10 minutes then remove from heat.

Feel free to add any other vegetables you like. Serve immediately with the pozole garnish and some extra squeezes of lime… Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer