I have a SCOBY and you should too

This past Wednesday night I went to a class at Leaf Restaurant called "Fun with Fermentation" where I learned a lot about some wonderful bacterial cultures that make delicious fermented foods possible. It was an excellent class, and what's more, I took home a SCOBY to make my own kombucha and some kefir grains to make my own kefir and yogurt from coconut and nut milks.

YUM for my mouth and GREAT for my tummy-- the benefits and unique flavors of fermented foods simply can't be beat!

Chef Rod Rotondi, owner of Leaf Cuisine, led the fermentation class and I truly admire his simple approach to raw & vegan food. I'm seriously considering taking his next class in a couple of days, and I know I'll be buying his book one of these days. It's just too good to pass up!

Hannah taught us all about kombucha at the beginning of the class, and I can say that I'm much more confident about making my own delicious brew now. She's a great resource for those looking to learn about this ancient elixir, sells SCOBY's and kits to make the process as easy as can be for beginners, while also offering lifetime email support :)

So, not only was the fermented food awesome but the hosts were incredibly charming as well. I hope you look into their websites and youtube channel to discover more about these bacterial companions and ways to incorporate healthy food into your everyday. It's not hard! Do it!


Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

So we have all been working on reducing our animal product consumption for various reasons. Some do it for compassion towards animals, some do it for the environmental concerns, and some do it for the health benefits. So lets say that for health sake, you become vegan or "Virtually Vegan". You're feeling good about not ingesting hormones and chemicals, yet you come home and clean your place with Pine Sol, 409, Comet, and Clorox. I can't help but see the irony in that equation. You're trying to become healthier, yet you are filling your home with toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Our very own Eco Vegan sister puts together these wonderful healthy home cleaning kits. The basis of the kit are laminated recipe cards.

At first committing to using all homemade, natural cleaning products may sound a bit daunting. But I can assure you (from someone who leads a busy life and wouldn't normally take the time to do something like this) you DEFINITELY save time and money. Here are the basic ingredients that you need to start your kit:

1. White vinegar
2. Baking soda
3. Borax powder
4. Washing soda
5. Liquid soap (Dr Bronners Sal Suds and/or Castille Soap)
6. Essential oils (some good basics include: lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, pine, and rosemary)

One of my favorite recipes is below:

Scouring Powder
2/3 cup baking soda
1/3 cup borax
10-20 drops of essential oils of choice
1/4 cup finely ground herbs of choice (optional)

Combine all ingredients well. Use sieve to break up clumps. Pour in a shaker container and use as needed. Close container and use as needed. Use the scrub and leave on to soak the dirty area. For increased cleaning, after scrubbing spray with vinegar and let stand. Rinse well.

Eco Vegan sells her non-toxic cleaning recipe cards on Etsy. They can be found by clicking on the link below:



Go Meatless Monday!!

The food service provider Sodexo has officially unveiled it's Meatless Monday option in it's dining halls. The Meatless Monday Initiative with Sodexo was launched in more than 900 hospital cafeterias. Check out this reprint of Sodexo’s press release:



Get Vegucated!

This week I learned about a new independent documentary which follows three meat-and-cheese lovers on a 6 week vegan challenge--they get VEGUCATED, you could say, and it seems like quite a remarkable journey on film.
Here is the trailer for the film via Youtube.com;

Hopefully you'll be seeing it in local theatres sometime this year. In the meantime, share the light and vegucate a few friends of your own! :)

Learn more about the project here: http://www.getvegucated.com/ and follow them on twitter here: http://twitter.com/#!/vegucated

And, about the comment at the end of the trailer comparing vegans at dinner parties to "nuns at an orgy," I can relate, but I would compare it more to an enlightened monk at an orgy where everyone has STDs... No spank you!!!

Have a totally compassionate weekend--and keep enlightening the rest of the herd!


SPF Controversy Heats Up.....

Interesting and "must read" short article that came my way...found at wholelifetimesmagazine.com....

Some studies show that people who wear sunscreen are more likely to develop skin cancer than those who don't. The reasons aren't certain....it could be that SPF simply doesn't help much, but people stay in the sun longer thinking it does; or even scarier, chemicals in some sunscreens may actually interact with the sun in a way that does more damage than sun alone. A new report from EWG reports that a a form of vitmin A found in 41% sunscreens, may be transformed into a potent carcinogen by the sun's rays. they also know that in the presence of sunlight, vitamin A can form free radicals that damage DNA.....The EWG released its 2010 sunscreen report card. Of 1400 SPF products, only 39 get their highest safety and effectiveness rating. Check out the report online at www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen
The key is to find mineral sunscreens that use titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as their main ingredients, and don't contain oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (retinol) or artificial fragrance.

....In my case I try to wear a hat whenever possible, outside of the house of course although sometimes I do forget and end up wearing it inside too. I sunscreen I use is called Solar Body Block spf 30 from Devita, it's paraben free and 100% vegan, meaning it was not tested on any of our animal buds!! Bummer is I checked the ingredients and many are good including zinc, aloe vera gel, green tea, coconut oil etc...but somewhere down the list it reads "retinol"....better luck next time!


New Mexico Love!

During the holiday vacation, my partner and I traveled to New Mexico...along the way, we passed by small towns....we met this friendly goat right outside of a mountain town called Cloudcroft....unfortunately he was in a petting zoo (which I needed to cross through in order to use a restroom at the stop)....he immediately came up to me and started rubbing his head on mine....one of the sweetest goats I have met so far....

The picture below was taken in City of Rocks, also in New Mexico....along the trail we found a heart shaped rock and around the same area we found 2 deceased crickets... I then decided to stage a little love connection and placed them looking at each other in front of the heart....who knows what the next hiker will think of when she or he finds this love scene....though the display probably blew away not long after....it was so windy in the desert!



This was meant for Wednesday.....but I did not have Internet access that day!

One thing I have come to realize about myself (and for that matter about others) is that when you try to do something to an extreme, problems can arise. An extreme in the vegan conversation we are having can mean a "strict" 100% vegan in every single aspect of their life (i.e. they eat vegan, dress vegan, and only use vegan products). The other extreme is someone who eats a typical what I call "Middle American" diet of LOTS of protein (i.e. red meat), lots of carbs/starches (i.e. potatoes, rice, pasta, etc), and fast food regularly. I, personally, have no desire to live with a Middle American diet....it does not suit me, is not in line with my beliefs, and in fact disgusts me when you look at the health of people who consume this diet. The 100% vegan extreme actually appeals to me, except that I don't feel that I have the strength and conviction to lead that path. For me it seems like a difficult name to live up to.

I do see others who live that life who do so with grace and dignity. Colleen Patrick Goodreau comes to mind, who is a vegan cookbook author from the Bay Area who touts "Compassionate Cuisine". Also, Crafty Vegan Sister, is pretty darn vegan herself. She has found herself being able to, for the most part, live that life. Alicia Silverstone (my personal hero.....just kidding......sort of) lives by the Kind Diet and is a tireless advocate for veganism and for animal rights. These people I identify myself with, but I don't put myself in their category.

I sometimes find myself with a blue cheese crumble in my mouth, or with a spoonful of vanilla bean ice cream in my mouth, or wearing a pair of leather shoes that have been in my closet for years.

I am finding more and more that moderation works best for me. I still have my beliefs about veganism.....I believe it is a healthier diet than a diet with animal protein in it....I still believe deeply in animal rights and that we as humans should have compassion for animals....I just don't find myself comfortable calling myself a 100% vegan.

And I feel like I am not alone. I frequently meet people who are at different levels of calling themselves vegetarian, flexatarian, pescatarian, vegan, etc.

Can't we all just get along?

I'll be back next Wednesday with my review of Eataly, Mario Batali's new Italian marketplace in NYC!


Aldana Mica featured on Solshock!!

Fashionably Rocking Upcycled Art

Meet Micaela Aldana, owner and creator of Aldana Mica: handmade finger-crocheted clothing, accessories, and upcycled art. Made from reused materials and a favorite among eco-friendly fashionistas,Aldana Mica pieces are one-of-a-kind. From aprons and scarves, to frames and yoga mat bags, she creates beautiful designs that we love. Also known as Micky, this ”crafty vegan” from Argentina frequents grassroots events as a vendor and often lends her recycled art crafting expertise to children within her community. Learn more about Michaela. View her latest and SHOP!



listen and talk, but mostly listen

I hope 2011 has started off well for all of you on the other side of the screen.
For me, the last 3 weeks have provided an opportunity to take some perspective on my life (my business, routines, goals, the here & now) which continues to unravel during this first week of the almanac...

Yesterday and today, in conversations and in reading, the subject of attentive and respectful conversation has come up. Although not inherently related to this, the topic of veganism tends to really try people's patience on both ends of the dialogue and I think it's always good to remind ourselves of the importance of equality in conversations (equality related to talking, listening, meaningfulness of the subject matter, respect, etc). Everyone should have a fair chance at saying their peace and should likewise listen to other's views with the same attention and reflection we all deserve.

Here is a link to an article recently published on the Veg Blog in case you'd like to read more about this subject relative to Animal Rights and Mormon Advocacy. It's sure to inspire you to have a talk with someone with radical views and share information in a safe and inviting manner.

wishing everyone light in this new revolution around our closest star; make it mean something!