Dr Bronner is Magical!

The man. The myth. The legend.

image from Dr. Bronner's website

One thing is undeniable: Dr. Bronner made magical soap. Fortunately, his family is still making it in sunny Escondido, CA and selling it all over the country (world?).  The amazing soap is 100% vegan, AND fair trade so that you can feel good about buying it and then putting it all over your body, house, car, baby, pet,... the possibilities are seemingly endless. Moreover, the liquid soap containers are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic which is pretty cool.
The infamous All-One! Gospel packed label

Their website is loaded with useful information about the company's activism, products and history. There's even a documentary about the man that made it all happen and the personal challenges he dealt with on a daily basis. It's an incredibly uplifting story, where just when it seems like you have nothing to offer to the world you can still make a difference by doing your part. Thankfully Dr. Bronner went against the odds and spread his soap and "All One!" gospel far and wide so that now it's a blessing to his consumers as well as to his well-treated staff: Total compensation of executives is capped at five times that of our lowest-paid position. Employees annually receive 15% of salary paid into a retirement/profit-sharing plan, up to 25% of salary as a bonus, and a no-deductible PPO health insurance plan for themselves and their families. How cool is that?!
Did I mention that the soap is vegan? Totally cruelty-free, not tested on animals nor made with animal byproducts.

It's safe enough to use on infants, and effective enough to clean your entire house -- from your dishes to your floor. 
I make "eco" non-toxic home cleaning recipe packs and Dr. Bronner's liquid soap is the only soap I recommend and is an ingredient in most every recipe.


Recipe-Summer Vegetable Curry

I found this recipe in the monthly newsletter for my gym. My CSA box arrived on my doorstep the next day and low and behold between the CSA produce and what was in my fridge, I had all the ingredients! It came out delicious and tasty!! Enjoy!!

1 tbsp EVOO
1 small onion, diced
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
1 medium zucchini, cut into small cubes
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 small bunch swiss chard, woody stems discarded and leaves torn
3/4 lb tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder ( I didn't have curry powder, so I used garam masala and tikka masala seasoning and it came out just fine)
1 tsp cumin, ground
2 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 cup dry lentils
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup lowfat kefir (I used Greek yogurt, also ok to use soy yogurt)
2 pieces of naan

Heat oil in a large high-sided pan over medium-high hat. Add onion, eggplant, zucchini, and carrots and saute for 10 minutes until veggies soften, release some liquid, and begin to shrink a bit. Add chard, tomatoes, and garlic and saute 5 minutes. Add curry powder, cumin, 1 tsp coriander, lentils, and 3 cups of water. Boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt/pepper. Meanwhile whisk kefir with remaining 1 tsp coriander in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Ladle hot veggie curry into bowls, drizzle with kefir, and serve with warm naan.



Useful Websites/Resources List

To explore nutrition's role in preventing and overcoming a variety of illnesses and to discover the benefits of a plant-based diet for children and adults.

For information on approximately 90 common health conditions and help for health care providers and individuals on adopting healthier diets with personalized meal plans, nutrient analyses, recipes and shopping list.

For comprehensive information on diet's role in preventing, treating and surviving cancer and the location of The Cancer Project's free cooking classes in more than 26 states nationwide.

Helping prevent and treat diabetes though nutrition education, how-to guides, online video support, and much more.

For information on our Healthy School Lunch Campaign dedicated to improving the food served to children in schools.

To learn how to build strong bones and why more and more doctors and dietitians recommend avoiding cow's milk.

To view the latest publications from PCRM president Neal Barnard, MD.

For information on weight loss plans.

Visit this site for free, non-commercial nutrition education and continuing education credit.

To order books and other helpful resources through PCRM's Online Marketplace.


Meatless Monday Dessert: Brownies!!


1/2 cup of raw almond butter
4-5 dates (pitted)
2 tsp. of raw cacao powder
Pinch of vanilla powder
pinch of sea or Himalayan salt
You may also add other super foods like Maca, Lucuma, Mesquite Powder


Put all ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly with your hands. Once it's blended completely, form little squares.


Bust out the Cinnamon: It's Autumn!

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere Autumn has officially begun and what better way to bring it into our homes than with food?!

I'm looking forward to various varieties of winter squash, pomegranates, and all things spiced! Up until a few years ago I could only eat cinnamon once a year in the form of a cinnamon roll, but now I love adding it to mexican inspired meals (like the potato and soyrizo tacos from last night) and, of course, HORCHATA! Yum!

Almond Rice Horchata from http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com

This drink is popular in Mexico, but to my surprise it's actually a Spanish creation--from Valencia, specifically. (For those of you that read Spanish: you can find the story here)

You can make it with 4 basic ingredients, or you can get sophisticated and add many other delectable nuts and spices to truly indulge in the flavors of the season.

I soaked 3/4 cup of rinsed white rice in 4 cups of filtered drinking water overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, I just threw the rice and soaking water in a blender with some cinnamon and agave nectar for sweetness and blended until smooth.  There will be some solids in the mix, so I simply strained the drink through a nut milk bag (I'm going to try making cookies or cupcakes with the leftover rice and cinnamon from this step).  Horchata is best when ice cold, so place it in the fridge for a few hours and then enjoy!

Some additions could include: star anise, cloves, almonds, vanilla. Go crazy folks, it's fall!


Guaca Guaca Mole!

Hello all! So today we had a vegan Mexican potluck with all the Virtually Vegan Sisters, Virtually Vegan Stepmom, and Virtually Vegan Boyfriend! There was coleslaw with roasted nuts, potato and soyrizo tacos, rice, beans, no-queso quesadilla, and my guacamole!!

I decided to switch it up a bit and give it a chipotle flavor. Recipe below!

3 extra large Haas avocados
juice of 3 limes
dash of salt
dash of pepper
1/3 cup of cilantro
1 shallot, finely minced
2 chipotle peppers, chopped (the come in a can in adobo sauce)

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust all flavors to taste.......and enjoy!


GMO Salmon? What?!

Please read a portion of the following article that came out on the Washington Post and do some research if you plan on eating salmon from now on.....just be aware...if the FDA approves this fake salmon to be sold and consumed in the market place, they will probably not require any labeling which would let the consumer know it was a GMO fish instead of a real one. If you are looking to satisfy your protein needs, add some legumes, seeds and nuts to your diet and rest assured that those foods, eaten on a regular basis, will provide enough protein.

Washington Post 9/20/10:

FDA hears concerns over approving genetically modified salmon

Environmental organizations, consumer groups and independent researchers assailed the plans of a Massachusetts company to market the first genetically modified animal as food in the United States - an Atlantic salmon - and argued at a public meeting Monday that federal regulators should deny permission.

"Science cannot prove that this new gene-spliced salmon is safe for human consumption over a long period of time," said Darrell Rogers of the Alliance for Natural Health. "This recklessly and needlessly endangers human health."

He made the comments at a meeting of a panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration, which is poised to make a landmark decision that could mark a turning point in the way American food is produced.

AquaBounty, the company seeking permission to market the fish in the United States, wants to incubate genetically modified eggs in Prince Edward Island, Canada, then ship them in plastic coolers to Panama. There they would be raised in land-based tanks and eventually processed before being transported to the United States for sale.

In developing its fish, AquaBounty took an Atlantic salmon and inserted a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon as well as an "antifreeze" gene from the ocean pout, a large, eel-like species. The result is a genetically modified fish that can grow to market size in 18 months instead of three years, according to AquaBounty. That means farmers can speed production and increase yields, the company said.

The advisory panel did not vote on the matter, but individual members offered a range of comments - sometimes conflicting - after two days of testimony from AquaBounty, the FDA and the public.

To continue reading article, please visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/20/AR2010092005967.html


Cozy Meatless Monday: Chocolate!

The weather in Southern California has quickly turned Autumnal (at least before noon...) so the other day I decided to whip up some cookies.  Now, I might have mentioned this before, but I don't have much of a sweet-tooth, but occasionally I'm in the mood for a rich, complex, and 'healthy-feeling' cookie and lucky for me I have just the fix.

Not-Just-Chocolate-Chip Cookies have become my favorite type of cookies to make.  That's not their official name, but I wasn't sure what to call them since they're so much more than choc. chip cookies! I got the idea from a talented local chef who brought similar cookies to a class. Basically, you start with your plain c.c.c. batter and you just throw more things in there.  My staples are shredded coconut, walnuts and sometimes grated orange peel.  The other day I also threw in homemade almond meal.  The result is utterly delicious, and mostly nutritious (you're getting some serving of some important stuff, right? better than a store-bought one anyway!).

I used the recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Godreau, with a touch less of flour in order to get the right consistency due to the added awesomeness. They were soft and crumbly but not chewy, and the flax seed (used instead of eggs or egg replacer) gave it that 'healthy' touch I find really comforting :)

If you're looking for a vegan recipe you needn't look further than your search engine (but you should really get Colleen's book--it's amazing!)

Happy last "Summer" Monday--Autumn is but a day away! :)


Frozen: yay or nay?

The other day I was talking with my friend about frozen fruits and veggies (seriously, I'm 25 and this is what I talk about) and whether we were for or against them.  The core of the issue seemed to revolve around economics--his friend's family looked down on frozen produce as 'affordable' and 'lower class'- a comment at which we both scoffed.  Frozen fruits and vegetables are processed at the peak of ripeness (usually) so that much of the nutritional benefits are preserved.  I'll take frozen organic (emphasis on the organic here) corn kernels over mega-supermarket conventionally grown (aka: GMO, trucked thousands of miles and unable to develop the much appreciated sugar levels we so dream of with summer) corn on the cob ANYDAY.

There are, however, two major exceptions.

1) Frozen Spinach: both taste and texture is just off.  It was one of the protagonists in *the* worst meal of my life in beautiful Cuzco, Peru unfortunately and since then I can taste frozen spinach in whatever dish it's used. Steer clear, friends.

2) Frozen Mango: One of my top five favorite fruits, a fruit of the gods some would say (and I do), but frozen it's simply egh. The buttery texture is foregone and the sweet delicate trance is completely lacking; what's more it's bland and almost sour. I ran out of frozen blueberries last week (gasp) and had no bananas (double gasp) so I decided to make a delicious yet personally unconventional morning smoothie a la mango lassi. What came out of that blender was utter disaster and I blame it on the frozen mango, of course. I should've known better--It wasn't the first time, but it will definitely be the last.

Currently I'm loving frozen artichoke quarters. I saute them with summer squash, capers, and tomatoes with some lemon and white wine buttery (earth balance) sauce and then onto some noodles for a quick Mediterranean summer meal. Yum!

What frozen fruits and veggies do you love and which can you definitely go without?


Vegan shoes?

For me, this sounds crazy. I have (for the most part) only considered my diet to be vegan. I haven't really addressed the other aspects of my life that I can veganize, except for makeup, which I looked into a few months ago.

As I was on my trip to Italy, it occurred to me that I need a new pair of tennis shoes. The ones I currently have were hand me downs from a friend about 3 years ago.....they have made it through numerous gym works outs, runs, climbing Macchu Picchu, and now hiking the Cinque Terre in Italy. On the hike though I realized that the sole is coming apart from the actual shoe. Alas, I need new tennis shoes.

And obviously, tennis shoes are 99.999999% full leather. Soooooo, I am wondering if I am going to be able to find a pair of non-leather tennis shoes that are sturdy, comfortable, and cute. I haven't done any research yet, but I am feeling like this could be difficult to find. The non-leather tennis shoes that I have seen are flimsy looking and look like the most they can make it through is a yoga retreat! Sooo.....I will be reporting as I do my research in finding a pair of great all-purpose tennis shoes that are kind to the animals:)


Toasted Sesame Seeds!!....My new found favorite thing to sprinkle on food!

To make toasted seeds: Rinse the seeds and drain immediately in a fine sieve. Transfer to a hot pan over medium heat (I prefer to use an iron skillet, adds iron!!), and stir constantly as they dry and become golden brown and a little puffed. They may begin to pop, and some popping is okay, but if the seeds begin to pop right out of the pan, reduce the heat. Remove from the pan when done and sprinkle with a few drops of shoyu, stirring to combine (this step is optional, for me they taste really good on their own). Keep small batches (about 1 cup) of toasted seeds in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Toasted seeds make even the simplest meals delicious.

From "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone.


Meatless Monday Recipe: Asian Edamame Salad

1 bag of shelled edamame pods
3-5 thinly very thinly sliced radishes (by hand or by a mandoline)
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 minutes or until light brown)

Cook the edamame pods according to package directions. Then run cold water over them or let them cool down to room temperature. Add in the radishes, cilantro, vinegar, oils, and salt and pepper. Serve and top with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!


Quote from Hippocrates

To all the western medicine doctors out there....

"Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food."



There is an abundance of ripe fruit this time of the year, so what better way to celebrate and consume it all than turning it into juice!  Sure, you don't get all the fruit fibers that you could if you ate it solid but sometimes that's okay and you'll get more fruit servings into your day (just make sure to make up for the missing fiber by eating plenty of vegetables!).

Today I had about 10 oranges, 5-6 small green apples (can't recall the variety), and 3 yellow peaches.

Rather than combine them, I kept all the juices separate to be enjoyed alone, together, with soda water, with wine, made into a sorbet or homemade pops! mmm, so many possibilities to beat the heat!

Juice up your Thursday people!


Back home.........

So a week ago tomorrow I returned from a wonderful 2 week trip to Italy. We visited Rome, Rimini (small beach town on the East coast, South of Venice), Venice, Cinque Terre (5 small towns on the Italian Riviera), Florence, and Chianti (where Chianti is made in Tuscany). The entire trip was remarkable.....Italy is EVERYTHING that you expect it to be. The highlights are definitely the people, the food, and the wine. The people are passionate, friendly, sensual, and just SO Italian. The food is fresh, colorful, flavorful, and also sensual. And the wine is sometimes simple, sometimes complex, yet always flavorful and a perfect companion to the food.

As I mentioned before I came, I was not eating a vegan diet while I was in Italy. I ate a lot of cheese and I found that a lot of things are made with eggs and/or butter. I also did something out of character and had meat a couple times. I ate proscuitto twice and had salami a couple of times as well. In regards to the meat, the flavor was still good to me, yet I can say that I didn't feel "great" about eating it. A lot of my beliefs and ideals were going through my head as I was eating it. I am definitely reflecting on that decision, yet I don't regret it.

The one last thing I will say about Italy is to speak of their reverence of just about anything; mostly food. The passion with which they treat food, talk about food, eat food, etc. is just incredible. And is in STARK contrast to how Americans do the same things. We eat food just to eat it, we eat fast, and we have absolutely no idea what is in our foods. Italians eat food slowly, savor it, eat a lot of it (in regards to a lot of courses), and usually know exactly what is in their food (because the ingredients are so fresh and simple).

So overall I did enjoy Italy and I LOVED the food I got to experience. It is making me rethink my own diet and what I put into my mouth. Italy was the birthing place of the Slow Food Movement......which is an interesting concept of which some I agree with and some I don't agree with. I'll discuss it in depth next week........Happy Wednesday!

The picture with this post is a picture of my boyfriend and I overlooking the Tuscan countryside in Chianti.......just lovely.


Meatless Monday in Washington Post!!

Meatless Monday just got another major article on the front page of the food section of the Washington Post! The article covers 144 column inches and appears on 3 pages of the in print edition. The reporter encourages readers to give this Labor Day a Meatless Monday makeover and use the holiday as a kickoff to go meatless every Monday. He even includes meatless Labor Day recipe suggestions. How awesome is that!! Go Meatless Mondays, Go, Go!!!!



Meatless Monday: Amaranth and Dates Breakfast

I just ate a different kind of breakfast than I am used to. Usually I have a smoothie, but lately I have been thinking that it would be good to have some variety....here it goes....

1/2 cup amaranth
1 1/2 cups water or non-dairy milk, or a mixture of both

Place in pot and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 20-25 mins. Once it's done, mix in chopped dates, plums, raisins or any other dry fruit. Add cinnamon or anise powder, almond meal or honey....basically, add anything that sounds good to you. Eat, eat, eat and feel powered up for a while!


Mark your Calendars: Compassionate Cuisine Event in Long Beach!

On October 1st Long Beach will have the honor of hosting the 5th Annual Compassionate Cuisine event (put together by Animal Acres) which aims to celebrate International Vegetarian Day.

If you live in Southern California I would highly encourage you to attend--tickets are a steal considering the oodles of delicious veg treats that will be available. Plus, Chef Tanya Petrovna is going to be the special guest (yay!)

Have a lovely weekend people--I'm going to go turn a year older and reminisce about the good ol' days. Eek


The Future of Food

Recently I watched "The Future of Food" which is a documentary about, you guessed it, the future of food!  It goes into the topic of industrial agriculture from it's effect on family farmers, the land, the ecosystem and particularly the development of biotechnology and genetically modified food. 

There are many farmer interviews that aptly cover the various lawsuits over GM seeds/crops that have harassed countless farmers in the United States and Canada over the past decade or so. Also in the documentary they explain just how foods are genetically modified--how genes from a butterfly are inserted into a corn cell and so forth (not very precise and often scary considering the use of bacteria and viruses to damage the cell in order to 'infect' it with these alien genes)--which I knew a little about before watching the film, but now I have an entirely new perspective on the multiple and far-reaching effects this change in agriculture can have on our entire ecosystem. 

What if the 'suicide' gene from the GM vegetables we consume mutate to other species? Eek!

All this is to say that it's a film worth watching and to remind us that Nature has a very unpredictable track-record so it's best not to mess with the stuff she's perfected over the years because she could throw a tantrum (or does what she does best and adapt) and then we'll see where we stand!


Quote of the Week from Italy

Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them. ~Samuel Butler, Note-Books, 1912