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This is an article from Vegetarian Times that I thought I would share. It’s always good to make whatever you do a little bit greener, and since we blog about cooking often, it only makes sense 🙂

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http://www.vegetariantimes.com/features/823

If “eco-friendly cooking” makes you think solar ovens or a costly kitchen overhaul, then it’s time to revamp the way you think about your cooking routine. Physics, chemistry, and common sense are the main ingredients in good green cuisine. We’ve put together a list of 10 little changes that can go a long way toward saving energy—and money—in the kitchen, plus a handful of recipes that let you test and taste for yourself just how easy Earth-friendly cooking can be.

1. Choose energy-efficient cookware Fast, even heat conduction saves energy and yields tastier results. Cast iron, stainless steel, and copper pans are the best stove-top options, along with time-saving stainless steel pressure cookers. And switch to glass, ceramic, or silicone baking pans and molds, which allow you to reduce oven temperatures by 25°F to 30°F.

2. Downsize to a smaller appliance Got a 9-inch square pan of brownies or just a couple of potatoes to bake? Turn to your toaster oven, which uses up to half as much energy as a conventional oven. A slow cooker is another option that can cut energy use.

3. Multitask in the oven Based on average utility rates, running an electric oven at 350°F costs about 24 cents per hour; natural gas ovens at that temperature run about 9 cents an hour. Make the most of the energy by using both oven racks at the same time to bake, roast,and/or warm foods.

4. Use the right burner A 6-inch pot over an 8-inch burner will waste over 40 percent of the heat generated. “Large burners should be used only for pots big enough to cover the burner, otherwise you’re wasting all the heat that rises up around the pot,” explains Birney Summers, an energy conservation engineer who blogs at energyboomer.typepad.com If you have a late-model oven, read the manual to find out which burner is designed for high heat and which one is for simmering.

5. Spread things out What cook hasn’t tried to warm soup in a small saucepan, only to have soup that’s scorched around the sides and cold in the center? “When you spread food in a thin layer, it heats up faster and more evenly,” advises Summers. This “spread-thin” technique works for baking too: banana bread can take 40 to 50 minutes to bake, but the same batter poured into 12 muffin cups requires only 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Resist the urge to open the oven door Every time you open that door, oven heat drops by 25°F, which forces the appliance to work harder and can affect recipe results. Turn on the light, look through the window, and leave the door shut until you’re ready to remove the food.

7. Take it outside As the weather warms up, you want to keep your kitchen cool so that air-conditioning and ventilation units don’t have to do extra work. In addition to planning meals on the grill, Summers plugs in his slow cooker on the porch, and recommends cooling foods in a protected outdoor area. “It’s the same idea as putting pies on a windowsill to cool—it keeps heat and humidity out of the house,” he says.

8. Finish with residual heat The next time you fix scrambled eggs or tofu, turn off the burner just before your scramble is set. The residual heat of the burner and the pan will finish the cooking, and you’ll save a few minutes of energy use. Michael Leviton, a Boston-area chef, uses residual heat in the oven as well—to finish root vegetables, potatoes, biscuits, and pound cakes.

9. Make more leftovers Double a recipe and save half for a future meal. The larger batch lets you capitalize on heat you’re already using, and reheating the second time around requires just a fraction of the energy needed to start from scratch.

10. Go raw Magdiale Wolmark of Dragonfly neo-v, a vegan restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, suggests raw cuisine techniques that “cook” ingredients to make them more palatable. Marinate mushrooms to soften and season them, and soak sun-dried tomatoes and seaweed to rehydrate them for dishes that have a taste and texture similar to cooked recipes.

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Hello Everyone! I hope that all of you are having a wonderful day with your friends and families. Although we weren’t able to travel this year and no one was able to travel to us, Scott and I are still making the most of it. I made us a nice breakfast of scrambled tofu, facon, and toast and jam this morning, and then Scott and I began the process of cooking our feast! Also Scott ran to Hannaford for Aluminum Foil because I totally forgot it yesterday!

I decided to go ahead and make our pie last night so that, 1) I could ensure it tasted ok (not that I don’t trust you, Alicia Silverstone. I just like to try things for myself before I serve them to anyone else) and 2) it’s one fewer thing I had to do today. I found the recipe on Alicia Silverstone’s website . Here it is!

Tofu Pumpkin Pie
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=6174.0

SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS
1 can (16 ounces) pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup maple syrup OR 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch to firm up the pie filling
1 package (10-12 ounces) silken/soft tofu
1 9-in unbaked vegan pie shell

STEPS
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Blend the pumpkin and maple syrup or sugar.
Add salt, spices, cornstarch and tofu, mix thoroughly.
Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 F and bake for another 60 minutes.
Chill and serve.
NOTE: Don’t use the low fat tofu, then the pie tastes like it was made with tofu.

My very first pumpkin pie ever!

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I also made a Vegan Green Bean Casserole. I haven’t made one of these in a long time, and I definitely haven’t made a vegan version. This isn’t your mom and pop canned mushroom soup variety, either. This recipe was found at the FatFree Vegan Kitchen . Enjoy & Thanks SusanV for such a great recipe!

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/11/best-vegan-green-bean-casserole.html
Beans
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon table salt (Alanna says it’s essential)
1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

Bring the water to boil in a large pot. While it’s heating, cut up the beans. Add the salt and beans to the boiling water. Cover and cook for 6 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, and then spray for a minute with cold water to stop the cooking. Let them drain in the colander, shaking every now and then to get off all the water.

Sauce

10 ounces mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
generous pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt to taste
Fresh pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3/4 cup soy creamer (or try full-fat unsweetened soymilk)

Trim and discard the mushroom stems and chop the mushrooms into pieces. Spray a non-stick pan with canola oil and heat it. Add the mushrooms, garlic, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are very soft and exude their juices. Whisk the flour into the vegetable broth and add to the mushrooms along with the sherry. Simmer, stirring, until mixture thickens. Add the soy creamer and simmer until thick, about 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and stir in the beans.

Topping

1 1/2 slices whole grain bread
1 tablespoon Earth Balance margarine (the best tasting margarine in the world and no trans-fat)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 3-ounce can of French fried onions ( I used a different, zip package type because the store didn’t have the canned version)

Put the bread, margarine, salt, and pepper into a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Pour into a bowl and add the onions. Stir to combine.

To assemble:

Put the green beans into an oiled casserole dish and top with the onion mixture. Bake at 425 F for about 15 minutes. If you are not serving this right away, refrigerate the topping separately; bring to room temperature before sprinkling the topping on the casserole and baking for about 20 minutes or until hot throughout.

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

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And of course it wouldn’t be Thanksliving in my house without a sweet potato casserole…but I don’t have a recipe for it…I just put it together and season it to taste. I can tell you what’s in it though, lol. This year, Scott helped me make it.

First, peel and cut up several sweet potatoes and boil them until tender. Drain by pouring into a colander.

Next, mash sweet potatoes with potato masher (or I just use my kitchen aid mixer) adding vegan butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to taste (Obviously it depends on how many sweet potatoes you cooked as to how much of these things you need to add. Add a little at a time so that you don’t overdo it. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away after it’s mixed in.)

Spread this mixture into a casserole dish and top it with this delicious topping (I hate marshmallows unless they are the burnt kind you put on smores and I can’t eat them anyway because they are made with gelatin):

Mix about a cup of brown sugar…maybe an eighth of a cup or so of flour, about a 1/2 Tbsp of baking powder, and 3-4 tablespoons of melted vegan butter until you have a nice crumbly mix. Adjust accordingly until you get there. Sprinkle this evenly on your sweet potato mixture and add some chopped pecans and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top (if you like nuts).

Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until the topping looks nice and raised and crispy good. Check on it often, you don’t want your nuts to burn!

Sweet potato casserole

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And of course there is stuffing/dressing. Since it’s just me and Scott this year, I didn’t make it from scratch. I just bought a handy box of Stovetop Cornbread stuffing! Woot!

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And for the big new thing this year, I made seitan turkey loaf!  I got this recipe from this Bryanna Clark Grogan’s website and it is was absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to make a sandwich with it tomorrow!

I’m not going to post the recipe here because it is VERY long, but you can go to the link above and see for yourself 🙂

Seitan "turkey" loaf with mushroom gravy

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So that was our Thanksliving meal! Or at least our non-turkey vegan feasting and drinking day meal! I hope all of you had a wonderful day filled with food and family and friends!

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People are drawn to vegetarianism by all sorts of motives. Some of us want to live longer, healthier lives or do our part to reduce pollution. Others have made the switch because we want to preserve Earth’s natural resources or because we’ve always loved animals and are ethically opposed to eating them.

Thanks to an abundance of scientific research that demonstrates the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, even the federal government recommends that we consume most of our calories from grain products, vegetables and fruits. And no wonder: An estimated 70 percent of all diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.

Why go veg? Chew on these reasons:

You’ll ward off disease. Vegetarian diets are more healthful than the average American diet, particularly in preventing, treating or reversing heart disease and reducing the risk of cancer. A low-fat vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to stop the progression of coronary artery disease or prevent it entirely. Cardiovascular disease kills 1 million Americans annually and is the leading cause of death in the United States. But the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease is lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, says Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. A vegetarian diet is inherently healthful because vegetarians consume no animal fat and less cholesterol and instead consume more fiber and more antioxidant-rich produce—another great reason to listen to Mom and eat your veggies!

You’ll keep your weight down. The standard American diet—high in saturated fats and processed foods and low in plant-based foods and complex carbohydrates—is making us fat and killing us slowly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, 64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A study conducted from 1986 to 1992 by Dean Ornish, MD, president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, found that overweight people who followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet lost an average of 24 pounds in the first year and kept off that weight 5 years later. They lost the weight without counting calories or carbs and without measuring portions or feeling hungry.

You’ll live longer. If you switch from the standard American diet to a vegetarian diet, you can add about 13 healthy years to your life, says Michael F. Roizen, MD, author of The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat. “People who consume saturated, four-legged fat have a shorter life span and more disability at the end of their lives. Animal products clog your arteries, zap your energy and slow down your immune system. Meat eaters also experience accelerated cognitive and sexual dysfunction at a younger age.”

Want more proof of longevity? Residents of Okinawa, Japan, have the longest life expectancy of any Japanese and likely the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world, according to a 30-year study of more than 600 Okinawan centenarians. Their secret: a low-calorie diet of unrefined complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and soy.

You’ll build strong bones. When there isn’t enough calcium in the bloodstream, our bodies will leach it from existing bone. The metabolic result is that our skeletons will become porous and lose strength over time. Most health care practitioners recommend that we increase our intake of calcium the way nature intended— through foods. Foods also supply other nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D that are necessary for the body to absorb and use calcium.

People who are mildly lactose-intolerant can often enjoy small amounts of dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and lactose-free milk. But if you avoid dairy altogether, you can still get a healthful dose of calcium from dry beans, tofu, soymilk and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards and turnip greens.

You’ll reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses. The CDC reports that food-borne illnesses of all kinds account for 76 million illnesses a year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods rich in protein such as meat, poultry, fish and seafood are frequently involved in food-borne illness outbreaks.

You’ll ease the symptoms of menopause. Many foods contain nutrients beneficial to perimenopausal and menopausal women. Certain foods are rich in phytoestrogens, the plant-based chemical compounds that mimic the behavior of estrogen. Since phytoestrogens can increase and decrease estrogen and progesterone levels, maintaining a balance of them in your diet helps ensure a more comfortable passage through menopause. Soy is by far the most abundant natural source of phytoestrogens, but these compounds also can be found in hundreds

of other foods such as apples, beets, cherries, dates, garlic, olives, plums, raspberries, squash and yams. Because menopause is also associated with weight gain and a slowed metabolism, a low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian diet can help ward off extra pounds.

You’ll have more energy. Good nutrition generates more usable energy—energy to keep pace with the kids, tackle that home improvement project or have better sex more often, Michael F. Roizen, MD, says in The RealAge Diet. Too much fat in your bloodstream means that arteries won’t open properly and that your muscles won’t get enough oxygen. The result? You feel zapped. Balanced vegetarian diets are naturally free of cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal products that physically slow us down and keep us hitting the snooze button morning after morning. And because whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are so high in complex carbohydrates, they supply the body with plenty of energizing fuel.

You’ll be more “regular.” Eating a lot of vegetables necessarily means consuming more fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber. People who eat lower on the food chain tend to have fewer instances of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.

You’ll help reduce pollution. Some people become vegetarians after realizing the devastation that the meat industry is having on the environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chemical and animal waste runoff from factory farms is responsible for more than 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams. Runoff from farmlands is one of the greatest threats to water quality today. Agricultural activities that cause pollution include confined animal facilities, plowing, pesticide spraying, irrigation, fertilizing and harvesting.

You’ll avoid toxic chemicals. The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of the pesticide residue in the typical American diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium) that can’t be removed through cooking or freezing. Meat and dairy products can also be laced with steroids and hormones, so be sure to read the labels on the dairy products you purchase.

You’ll help reduce famine. About 70 percent of all grain produced in the United States is fed to animals raised for slaughter. The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the American population. “If all the grain currently fed to livestock were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” says David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell University. If the grain were exported, it would boost the US trade balance by $80 billion a year.

You’ll spare animals. Many vegetarians give up meat because of their concern for animals. Ten billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption each year. And, unlike the farms of yesteryear where animals roamed freely, today most animals are factory farmed—crammed into cages where they can barely move and fed a diet tainted with pesticides and antibiotics. These animals spend their entire lives in crates or stalls so small that they can’t even turn around. Farmed animals are not protected from cruelty under the law—in fact, the majority of state anticruelty laws specifically exempt farm animals from basic humane protection.

You’ll save money. Meat accounts for 10 percent of Americans’ food spending. Eating vegetables, grains and fruits in place of the 200 pounds of beef, chicken and fish each nonvegetarian eats annually would cut individual food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.

Your dinner plate will be full of color. Disease-fighting phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their rich, varied hues. They come in two main classes: carotenoids and anthocyanins. All rich yellow and orange fruits and vegetables—carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, corn—­owe their color to carotenoids. Leafy green vegetables also are rich in carotenoids but get their green color from chlorophyll. Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables—plums, cherries, red bell peppers—contain anthocyanins. Cooking by color is a good way to ensure you’re eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.

It’s a breeze. It’s almost effortless these days to find great-tasting and good-for-you vegetarian foods, whether you’re strolling the aisles of your local supermarket or walking down the street at lunchtime. If you need inspiration in the kitchen, look no further than the Internet, your favorite bookseller or your local vegetarian society’s newsletter for culinary tips and great recipes. And if you’re eating out, almost any ethnic restaurant will offer vegetarian selections. In a hurry? Most fast food and fast casual restaurants now include healthful and inventive salads, sandwiches and entrées on their menus. So rather than asking yourself why go vegetarian, the real question is: Why haven’t you gone vegetarian?

Find more great articles, recipes, and product information by visiting Vegetariantimes.com

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Why Be Vegan?

I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Why in the world would you ever want to be vegan?!” I actually wondered that myself a few years ago when we were just starting out as vegetarians. Cheese has been my favorite food since like…forever? How on earth was I supposed to stop eating it? Answer? I went to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary here in New York. I learned more about what happens to dairy cattle than I ever wanted to know. Before I went, I thought it was ok if I used organic dairy products, but all that means in the dairy world is that the cows aren’t treated with antibiotics and growth hormones. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the animals are treated while they’re alive. Same for organic free range eggs. Chickens beaks are still clipped, and how “free range” are the chickens really? Does that mean they get moved from one cage to another in  the course of the day? Or does it mean that they get to run around and be normal chickens? It’s not regulated so it’s hard to say unless you’re at the farm everyday so you can see how they’re treated. Not to mention, you can only have so many roosters per females on a farm…what do you think happens to all of those male chicks? Guess.

Another person who has really inspired me to even start this journey is Jane Goodall. If you ever have the opportunity to meet this woman, please please take it. She is my hero and one of the most inspirational people in the universe. She has written several books about her life working with the chimpanzees in Gombe in Africa. She’s also written books about human interaction and responsibility for animals as well as environmental responsibility. The two that have really inspired me are Harvest of Hope and The Ten Trusts (which was cowritten by Marc Beckoff) I urge those of you who are interested in being more green, more compassionate, and more environmentally responsible to read these books.

There are so many recipes and blogs in the great wide world of the internet that have helped me out as well. I’m so glad to have it as a source and I’m not really sure what I would do without it honestly. Being an ovo-lacto vegetarian is easy. Being vegan is a lot harder. So those of you fellow vegan bloggers, thank you sooo much for your help and guidance. I hope that this blog develops into something that can help others as well. Speaking of the internet, here is a great website to help you get started on the veg path if you’re interested! http://www.chooseveg.com/ It’s got reasons why (some are graphic, so be prepared) and how you can change your eating habits. (I think this site may be sponsored by peta. I just want it to be known that I don’t condone peta’s actions. I think they start out with good intentions and then take it to the extreme. Boo. However, the site has useful information. Take from it what you can). So, please check that out and remember to stop by our blog. We’re sure to be posting new recipes and discoveries as we find them. Love & Light, everyone! Goodnight!

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