Tag Archives: vegan

Blueberry Vegan Protein Smoothies–With No Protein Powder!

If you’re pumping iron and want to bulk up on your protein for mega muscles, this protein smoothie is both delicious and nutritious! The best part about it? It’s free of any protein powder!

As any healthy vegan knows, the Where do you get your protein? question is mind-numbingly exhaustive. The myth that meat is the only source of protein can make us want to pull our hair out.

My sassy vegan friend, who stopped eating animals when she was 8, pointed out that she should have been dead from protein malnutrition two decades ago based on the protein myth. But alas, she is an energetic vagabond much like myself. People don’t really know how to respond when she points all that out. (I recommend you try it out; the reactions are priceless.)

Beans, leafy greens, nuts, soy, and more can get you your daily recommended value (DRV) of protein, which is roughly 45g for women and 55g for men.

If you drink two 16-oz servings of this smoothie a day, you’re getting over 65g of protein. SAY WHAAAA!?! One 16-oz smoothie will bring you more than halfway to your DRV. Again, SAY WHAAAA!?!

Also, for reference, an empty jar of peanut or almond butter is usually 16 oz. Mmmmm, almond butter.

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Ingredients:

1 block extra firm (not silken) tofu (45g protein)

4 Tbsp almond butter (13+g)

1/2 c dry oats (5+g)

1/4 c almond milk (<1g)

1 c fresh blueberries (1+g)

1 large banana (1+g)

Makes: 32 oz

Directions:

1. Mix all that protein-rich goodness in a blender.

2. Drink up! Have one with breakfast and another for a snack! Store in fridge or freezer.

Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes with Kiwi & Clementines

Last night, I had a craving for vegan waffles. I don’t have a waffle-maker, but I could whip up some pancakes! However, I was lacking blueberries for my signature vegan blueberry pancakes. So I thought I’d add in some cinnamon.

Then I saw my bag of clementines and thought, why not? Below the clementines was a can of pumpkin I’d been meaning to use to make my popular vegan pumpkin bite cookies. Pumpkin and clementine sounded like a pretty good combo to me.

I added the kiwi in last minute because kiwi and clementine go very well together. The result was sinfully delicious, and my taste buds were so pleased that I thought outside the box!

I also used generic gluten-free flour for this recipe, which replaces regular flour 1:1.

vegan pancakes

Ingredients:

1 c flour, 3 tsp baking soda, 3 tsp cinnamon, 3 Tbsp applesauce, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 can pumpkin, 1/3 c maple syrup (or sugar/sweetener alternative), 2 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil), 1/2 c water (or as needed for pancake batter consistency), 3 peeled clementines, 1 peeled kiwi, dash each of: nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger

Makes:

6 medium pancakes (I ate them all)

Directions:

1. Whip everything except the fruit together. Add additional flour or water as needed to get the pancake batter consistency.

2. Coat a griddle in coconut oil. Plop the batter blobs on there once the coconut oil is melted.

3. Cook each pancake on low-medium heat. You may have to press down on them with the flipper to make sure they cook all the way through.

4. Arrange the clementine slices and cut up kiwi on the pancake stack. I recommend squeezing some of the fruit juice over top of the pancakes, too!

5. Top with maple syrup, coconut whip and/or almond butter.

6. Serve, eat, enjoy!

11 Things Vegans Are Bored of Hearing

If you’re an omnivore, you probably have, like, a million questions for a vegan. Despite “green” diets becoming increasingly more mainstream, veganism is still a widely unaccepted concept. Vegans stick out among meat-eaters like the sober dude at the bar.

Though herbivores do appreciate a good debate with a meat-eater every now and then, it’s exhaustingly repetitive. Not only that, but one or both parties usually ends up being a little self-righteous causing off-color jokes about consuming carcasses to be routinely tossed around which then makes vegans like me get teary-eyed because we just love animals so damn much.

Thankfully, it’s relatively easy for an omnivore to educate his or herself on some common vegan diet misconceptions. You might find that vegans are just as misunderstood as the boy who wears pink or the girl who prefers skateboards to Barbie dolls. If you’re a vegan reading this, you best just print out handouts for your next potluck. You know you’ll need them.

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 1. So, like, do you eat eggs and milk?

Do eggs and milk come from animals? Then no, vegans don’t eat them. The vegan diet abstains from any animal products or byproducts, whole or partial. This means no red meat, poultry or seafood, no dairy and no eggs. True vegans avoid honey, too, because it comes from bees. To be even more precise, vegans don’t consume marshmallows, JELL-O, many brands of gum or most capsulated pills as they often contain gelatin, a stringy substance made from the collagen found in crushed tissues, bones and skin. Yes, you read that correctly—ground-up animal parts. Historically, glue was also made from gelatin. Stop gagging. What did you think hot dogs were really made of anyway?

Let’s clear the air here with some further distinctions. Vegetarians don’t eat things that had a face, meaning meat or seafood. Chicken egg yolks have not developed faces yet (and are usually unfertilized), so vegetarians can still eat the unborn like their omnivorous human friends. They eat dairy, too.

And lastly, stop calling yourself a vegetarian if you eat seafood but not meat. It’s super awesome that you don’t eat meat. But you’re not a vegetarian. You’re a pescatarian, and you’re just making it confusing for the rest of us.

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 2. Where do you get your protein?

No one asks plant-based dieters Dumbo and Mighty Joe Young where they get their protein, so why do vegans get asked? The first mistake here is thinking meat and dairy are the only means of obtaining protein. The second mistake is assuming the average individual requires a large intake of daily protein. In fact, according to the U.S. FDA, the average American has a daily recommended value (DRV) of only 50 grams of protein, a few grams less for women and a few grams more for men. To put that in perspective, the DRV for fat is 65 grams. That’s right, it is actually suggested that a normal, healthy diet contain more fat than protein. On average, females eat about 1.5 times the suggested amount of protein while men rake in double. The reasoning is clear: American diets revolve around animals.

Now it’s time to debunk the meat myth. Animals are not the only source of protein. Most foods—even vegetables—contain trace amounts of protein. For vegans looking to bulk up, nuts and beans are chock full of muscle-building amino acids. One cup of lentils, for example, contains 30 percent of your protein DRV. In my vegan diet, I still get twice the protein DRV.

 3. Do you ever miss real food?

Real food? I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that the casserole I just bit into was for display only. Next question.

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We are vegans! Such silliness!

 4. Veganism is so unhealthy.

Actually, being lactose intolerant is normal. Modern society has developed a dependence on dairy that has genetically altered some humans to be tolerant of lactose. Cultures that don’t depend on dairy in their meals see a reduced number of individuals with this genetic variation; in East Asia, roughly 90 percent of the population is lactose intolerant. Humans are the only species on the planet that continue to drink milk after being weaned off the breast. And, we are the only species that regularly drinks a milk not from our own kind, all thanks to the many Bessie-filled barns around the globe.

Furthermore, meat has been linked to illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Red meat also causes joint pain due to acid crystallization that situates itself in joint pockets. Switching to a vegan diet has time and again been shown to shrink cancer cells—in just two weeks—because the body is no longer harboring animal proteins that promote cancer growth hormones. Most people just love bacon and cheese so much they’re willing to risk their lives for it.

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 5. We have canine teeth for a reason.

Our hunter-gatherer Neanderthal forefathers did not rely on meat in the capacity that developed countries do today. They labored for hours in the bushes of the Serengeti in pursuit of prey, often returning home empty-handed. And when they did make a kill, many tribes held a sort of ritual sacrifice. They also butchered and cleaned it themselves, then made use of every single part of the animal. We cringe when sheep tongue is a national delicacy, but at least no part of the animal is wasted.

What separates us from other animals is that we have a conscience. We can make informed, ethical decisions about our own well-being and that of animals and the planet at large.

I’ll also close this point with a fun fact. The land mammal with the largest canine tooth is the lovable, grass-eating giant, the hippo. Perhaps this suggests the presence of canine teeth does not presuppose a carnivorous diet, but rather acts as a form of defense. Something to ruminate on.

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 6. What do you eat?

Contrary to misconception, vegans don’t sit around chewing dandelions and gnawing on toothpicks. Quinoa, tempeh and hummus are filling vegan foods in addition to classic soups and heavy salads. Branching out from the basic hamburger and spaghetti recipes allows herbivores to get more creative in the kitchen. Vegans might not be able to order everything off a menu at a restaurant, but their diet is often jam-packed with variation.

 7. You’re not going to change the world by being a vegan.

Whoa now. Not all vegans are trying to change the world. Each decision is fueled by different reasons. Some people don’t eat animals based on moral or religious rationales. For others, good health causes them to choose veganism. There are also vegans who are trying to be eco-conscious and environmentally friendly. And even if they don’t change the world, they’re educating people, creating beneficial conversation and debate and reducing their own carbon footprint by being self-aware.

As for the “hippie” vegans who are just jumping on the band wagon, so what? They didn’t judge you for mullets and parachute pants in the 1980’s, so don’t judge them for being vegan in the new millennium.

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 8. I could never do that.

If Steve Jobs had said this, he and Steve Wozniak never would have founded Apple in his parents’ garage. Veganism is a commitment just like anything else in life— job, family, exercise, New Year’s resolutions, AA meetings. When you believe in something enough not to give up on it, it’s pretty amazing the things you can accomplish.

 9. You’re too skinny. You need to put some meat on those bones.

Some fat people are vegans. Some skinny people are omnivores. Diet isn’t the only thing that accounts for body type. Exercise, mental health and genetics play an important role, too.

Fun fact: I eat roughly 2,000 calories a day. Much more when I’m about to enter the hibernation phase of my menses. I can also bench press a Labrador retriever. Just saying.

Oh and while you’re sitting there calling me “too skinny,” run a quick data check. More than one-third of Americans are obese while less than two percent are underweight. Roughly five percent of the U.S. population was characterized by non-meaters in 2014, half of which were vegans. This is double the numbers from 2009 and only expected to rise. On top of that, 33 percent of Americans say they eat multiple meat and dairy-free meals in a week.

In summary, veganism is not synonymous with “too skinny.” And also, if you’re healthy and happy, then ignore the haters and love your body no matter its shape.

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 10. But meat gives you energy!

So does a bag of Pixy Stix. So does an apple. If a vegan diet does not support energy, then, pray tell, how do you explain the plethora of websites dedicated to professional vegan athletes? From boxers to cyclists to runners and yes, even body builders, vegans do extreme sports, too.

The act of eating requires energy, from chewing to the energy-intensive digestion process. Some foods require more energy to digest than others. Protein-packed meals like meat use up 30 percent of the food’s caloric count just for digestion whereas only 12 percent is used in fatty foods and 7 percent in carbohydrates. If you consume the same amount of calories whether on a vegan or omnivorous diet, the meat-eating option leaves less energy for you to climb a mountain, bounce on a hippity-hop or do whatever activity it is that you do.

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 11. You must fart a lot.

Thank you for your concern, but I actually fart a healthy amount. According to Purna Kashyap, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, farting up to 18 times a day is a sign of good microbial gut action—and is considered the healthy norm. Count your farts. If you’re not up to par, maybe it’s time you reconsidered what you’re putting into your mouth.

Even smelly broccoli farts are healthy. If you’re passing gas and it’s a clear-the-room egg smell, remind your victims that you’re just minimizing your cancer risk by gorging on sulfurous veggies.

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What’s the take-home message here? The perks of veganism far outweigh the cons. Vegans lead healthy, adventurous, ethical and tasty lives. So please stop with the rabbit and bacon jokes. They weren’t funny eight years ago and now you’re just making yourself appear uneducated.

**Please note, this list is not all-inclusive. Dear vegans, please leave your list of grievances in the comments below.

Why I Stopped Eating Animals

The first eighteen years of my life, I was not a rebellious child. I had no curfew because I couldn’t stay up past 9:30 PM. I was allowed to be unsupervised with friends because my father had witnessed the tween drama that ensued when I accidentally sipped Mike’s Hard Lemonade and subsequently thought I was dying. I was permitted to hang out one-on-one with males because my best friend growing up was a boy and, when I had my first kiss as a senior in high school, I told my parents about it.

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Here I am in the height of my rebellion as a child.

I was the spitting image of a good Catholic school girl, except that I went to public school in my later years and also made far worse fashion choices.

But I rebelled when I went to college. I cut loose from the throngs of societal propaganda. I started making my own decisions. I still went to church. I didn’t drink or do drugs. I never pulled an all-nighter.

I rebelled in a weird and unorthodox way: I stopped eating meat.

Growing up, I gravitated toward animals, forever knowing that my career path would revolve around them. I pet stray cats and lured lost dogs onto our doorstep so we could find the owner. I threw back any fish I caught in the summer, smiling as it swam away. I saved earthworms from the sidewalk on rainy days while I waited at the bus stop. I cried when we boiled crabs on family vacation because I thought the bubbling was them screaming.

kid and pony
Though these photos suggest I was an accomplished cowgirl from a young age… they lie.

But like most children, it took me all of my childhood to understand the association between the meat on my plate and my barnyard friends.

It was my dad who inadvertently gave me an inkling that hamburgers were once a living being. He always checked to make sure his burger wasn’t pink or bloody. He wanted it well done.

Blood? I thought. Why would a hamburger be bloody?

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I wouldn’t leave Scotland until I tracked down Highland cows.

When I first began connecting the dots and voicing my disgust at the meat casserole on the dinner table, I was informed that I needed protein, and that my only option was to make my own non-meat protein-filled dinner.

I was a busy child, spending my evenings and weekends in sports, after-school clubs or piano lessons. I grew up when the Internet was coming into its own, before Google was the go-to encyclopedia. I didn’t have time to make my own meal (still not sure how Mom managed it in her schedule). I didn’t yet understand that every opinion should be warranted, educated and informed.

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This is Dash. I nursed him from a baby and watched him learn to walk and then run and head butt. He made me fall in love with goats.

While I have since debunked the meat industry myth that a big fat steak is required for proper nourishment, I probably would have stuck to tater tots and ice cream if I had to make my own dinner growing up. So instead I hid pieces of hamburger pie in my napkin and naively continued eating chicken without batting an eyelash because birds are not mammals so surely there is something different going on there. Surely.

Red meat was easy to cut out because I related it so easily to animals. I became nauseous when bacon fumes wafted under my nose as I couldn’t help picturing a pig’s face. (Pigs are some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet.) Soon I began to recognize that chickens have feelings, too.

Then I read Temple Grandin’s Animal Behavior by candlelight lying in a monkey-poo-stained hammock in a bamboo hut while saving animals in the Amazon. And I knew I had to do this commitment thing for real.

amazon bird
I spent a summer living and working in primitive conditions at a wildlife rescue center in Ecuador.

Initially, I was a pescatarian, informed only about the inhumane treatment of the meat industry. I committed to eating meat only if I killed the animal myself. I couldn’t. I can’t. So I don’t.

When I took a marine biology class and learned that overfishing is the number one problem plaguing the oceans, I stopped consuming commercial seafood cold turkey. I said I would only eat marine life if I sustainably caught and cleaned the fish myself.

And then I couldn’t do it anymore. I just couldn’t look a fish in the eye and say, “I need to eat you. I need you to survive.”

deer fawns
I also spent 6 months in the Texas Hill Country working in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, aka being a deer mommy and revisiting the wannabe-cowgirl phase of my youth.

I do realize that, yes, it is a privilege to be able to choose not to eat animals. And I do realize that, yes, some animals are overpopulated or invasive, and hunting them is considered a part of population control.

But until I am put in a situation in which my survival depends upon eating another living, breathing being, I am dedicated to this decision, my conscientious choice, to not eat animals.

So when you poke fun at me for not eating meat, when you wave a burger in my face and say it tastes sooo goooood, please know that I’m crying inside and secretly thanking that cow without a name who died for the pleasure of your taste buds.

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Later, I cut dairy out of my diet originally to lessen the pain of post-Lyme disease that manifests itself as arthritis in my joints. Now, that decision also roots itself in morality and environmental reasonings. To read more about how changing my diet has helped me fight my battle with Lyme disease, click here.

Follow my blog to catch tomorrow’s sassy post on veganism that is sure to elicit oodles of controversy. Yay.

Vegan Gluten-Free Iron Boost Recipe With Quinoa and Pesto

The World Health Organization declared iron deficiency/anemia the number one medical condition relating to nutrients worldwide.

While omnivorous humans tend to equate meat to iron, a plant-based diet is rich in the mineral.

Variances of the following vegan and gluten-free foods are jam-packed with iron:

  • Beans
  • Soy
  • Leafy greens
  • Seeds
  • Nuts

Good news–they’re all included in this recipe! For any newbs out there, World’s Healthiest Foods offers a more comprehensive list of vegan options that are loaded with iron.

If you’re simply looking for an incredibly delicious and filling meal, this recipe will still be great for you. If you’re a woman with Satan for a uterus constantly battling Old Faithful once a month, then this recipe is an excellent addition to combat period-induced anemia.

A healthy vegan diet shouldn’t be low in iron. In a normal day without iron-packing, I receive three times the daily recommended value (DRV). But with anemia, especially in menstruating women, you have to consume crazy mineral amounts to get back to a normal level. Talk to your doctor for an individualized DRV. Cronometer is a great (and free!) way to help track, but keep in mind that it’s not 100% accurate.

The best part about this recipe is that it can be made to your specifications. Swap out the spinach for kale, the chickpeas for navy beans, the tofu with tempeh, or the homemade cilantro-walnut pesto with basil-almond pesto. You can even substitute the quinoa with rice or gluten-free pasta!

INGREDIENTS:

quinoa, tofu, homemade vegan pesto, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), spinach, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, Bragg’s liquid amino acids*

*optional

DIRECTIONS:

1. TOFU: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a baking sheet; I use coconut oil. Slice tofu block in 1/4″ thick rectangles and slice those pieces in half. They should look about the size of a domino. Baste the tofu with olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly brown, turning at halfway mark. Can be lightly flavored with Bragg’s, too!

2. QUINOA: Cook it. You know how.

3. PESTO: Make it your way.

4. CHICKPEAS: Warm up a can or cook soaked beans as you like.

5. SPINACH: Recommended raw, but can also be sauteed.

6. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and season as needed with additional salt and pepper and garlic.

7. Serve, eat, enjoy!

Recipes like this are great to make in bulk! Store in the fridge and eat cold or reheated.

Tips for Snacking: Beyond Allergies and Diet Restrictions

Snacking, baking, and cooking can be tricky when allergies and dietary restrictions are involved. But there’s a community of individuals in the same situation with tips, tricks, and recipes to keep things tasting good and healthy.

My gluten-free and vegan recipes arise from a hodgepodge of experimentation and inspiration.

Here are some tips for making food when you have allergies or diets to adhere to:

 1. Buy in bulk

Packaged and processed foods get costly when you have to buy something with a sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, all-natural or organic label. Though most of my food is fresh, I do rely on some shelf products for easier cooking.

My mornings used to start with cereal before I had to start reading labels. Now, I eat oatmeal with fruit every morning. I buy oatmeal and frozen blueberries in bulk from Amazon or Costco. In the long run, it saves me money and a lot of trips to the store.

 2. Cook in bulk

In addition to buying in bulk, cooking in bulk helps me eat healthy. Because I rely on home-cooked meals instead of packaged or restaurant dinners and lunches, I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen without preparing in bulk. Pulling 60-hour work weeks makes me not want to cook every night, so I dedicate one night to preparing lunch and dinner for most of the week.

Most of my leftovers are good for a week in the fridge and can be eaten cold and on-the-go if necessary. Quinoa medleys and squash are a favorite of mine because they’re jam-packed with nutrition while being extremely filling. And, I don’t have to stand over the stove top constantly stirring. The hands-on prep time is minimal.

 3. Make extra to share

When you have dietary restrictions, it’s often difficult for people to conceive what you put into your mouth on a daily basis. You’re probably tired of hearing people say, “What do you eat?”

If you’re packing some delicious allergy-free cookies to snack on at work, chances are, your co-workers will want some. But they have preconceived notions that the cookies can’t taste good without butter, eggs, wheat flour or sugar. Prove them wrong! Bring along a few extra goodies to share. It helps educate and open their minds. And who knows? They just might whip up an allergy-free recipe to share with you down the road!

 4. Experiment in the kitchen

If you stick to following recipes on the Internet, you will be running to the store a lot to pick up items you only use once. If a recipe calls for flax seed but you’ve got applesauce on-hand, try using that as an egg replacer. If it calls for almond flour but you’ve got rice flour, try that.

Better yet, open the cupboards and fridge, see what you’ve got, and toss some things in a pan. Most of my favorite recipes resulted from experimentation.

**This post was inspired by SkinnyPop, a healthy, gluten-free option for popcorn snacking.

Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookie Bites

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FALL IS HERE! THE MOST MAGICAL AND BEAUTIFUL WEATHER IS ON ITS WAY! And with it comes all things pumpkin. That means I’ll be on my annual pumpkin kick, so look for PUMPKIN EVERYTHING coming at you over the next few months.

Disclaimer: I rode my bike all around the city in search of canned pumpkin. Apparently, everyone and their mom is already onto the pumpkin craze. But, alas, I finally found an expensive “nutritious” brand not even the store staff knew about, so my fall-themed camping trip can be complete!

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Ingredients:

3 c gluten-free flour, 1 can pumpkin (1.5 oz), 1/2 c applesauce, 1 c pure cane brown sugar, 1 tsp solid coconut oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp cloves

Makes: 48 bite-sized cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add in the sugar and mix evenly.
  4. Add the applesauce, pumpkin, vanilla extract and coconut oil. Mix until silky smooth. You may need to employ a blender or your hands!
  5. Cover a baking sheet with no-stick spray.
  6. Plop bite-sized dough shapes on the pan. I recommend 6×4 rows, so expect to make 2 sheets worth.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Don’t let the bottoms burn! They should be soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. When they cool, the whole cookie will be soft like bread!
  8. Allow to cool on wire racks.
  9. Serve, eat, enjoy!

This recipe was modified from Food.com.