Guest Blogger: The Cheeky Vegan – Thai-Style Squash and Tofu Curry

22 May

Our newest VBU! contributor is Sian White, from the UK and author of The Cheeky Vegan. She is an animal-loving, seitan-simmering vegan with a passion for good food and a penchant for general geekery. Plays well with others. In her About Me section, she writes, “This blog is a space dedicated to that thing I love: food. I’m beginning to develop my own recipes, and there are a few cookbook ideas floating around my brain. All in good time.I realised that I have a passion for cooking. Going vegan was a pivotal moment for me, because it forced me to address what foods I was eating, and I began to cook everything from scratch. There is an amazing variety of readymade products these days, but the real fun has come from learning what my body needs to survive, alternative sources for these nutrients, and therefore the discovery of ingredients I never knew existed. I’ve always been a foodie, but I’ve never enjoyed food so much as I do now.”

Such a lovely way to say what we all feel. Please find Sian on her blog. Welcome Sian!

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As I mentioned here, my journey to veganism began in Thailand when I spent two weeks travelling with a vegan called Nic. Whilst in Chiang Mai we signed up for a cookery class which, of course, had to allow for Nic’s diet. She found an adorable vegetarian restaurant called Taste of Heaven which did just that. For 950B (£19) we did a morning class where we learned to cook 9 different vegan Thai dishes. I think I can safely speak for both of us when I say that this dish in particular stood out among the rest.

The Pumpkin Curry was absolutely to die for; sweet and soft pumpkin flesh, crispy and chewy tofu, combined with spicy red curry paste perfectly balanced with cooling coconut milk. This dish can be made in so many ways and each will be tastier than the last!

This is an incredibly easy dish to recreate and adapt. I tend to use squash rather than pumpkin, as it’s much more readily available in the UK all year round, and every time I make it I use different vegetables, depending upon what’s in season and what takes my fancy. Red curry paste can be bought almost anywhere, but I would say if you’re not making it from scratch (which I rarely do due to time constraints), get it from an Asian supermarket if you can – just be sure to check the ingredients carefully, as some brands contain shrimp paste and others don’t. As a general rule, use a slightly heaped dessertspoonful per person. This will result in a warming curry with a slight kick, but won’t burn the roof of your mouth. If you can’t take much spice, use about a teaspoonful per person and taste after you’ve incorporated the coconut milk. It should be really mild, so if it’s not warm enough you can add small amounts until it’s right. If it’s still too hot for you at this point, well, I’m surprised you can taste food at all.

Think of this dish as having a skeletal structure: at the very least you’ll need a pumpkin or squash (I use butternut squash), extra firm tofu, red curry paste and coconut milk. Once you’ve got the base ingredients in your hands you can make it any way you like.

A note on the tofu: this recipe works with deep or shallow fried tofu, depending on what facilities you have available to you. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to have access to a deep fat fryer (god bless my boyfriend’s penchant for fried food), chuck it straight in until it’s lovely and crispy, then add to the dish when the recipe calls for it. If not, or if you’re in a healthier habit than I am, be sure to press the hell out of it to remove any excess water from the tofu before frying, otherwise it will disintegrate in the pan.

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Like my Luigi-style getup?

Ingredients

  • ½ a medium sized Butternut Squash, Pumpkin or any other type of squash available (cubed)
  • Extra Firm Tofu, pressed (cubed)
  • Red Curry Paste (roughly 1 level dessert spoon per person, adjust for spice preferences)
  • 1 tin Coconut Milk
  • a couple of Spring Onions (sliced)
  • a couple of Garlic cloves (minced)
  • small nugget of Fresh Root Ginger (peeled & sliced thinly)
  • Large Red Chilli Pepper (sliced into rings)
  • Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves (3 large or 5 small – generally a small palmful)
  • Vegetable or Mushroom Stock
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Plain or Jasmine Rice (to serve)

 

Method:

First things first, fry your cubed tofu until it is crispy on the edges. Set aside, and try not to snack on it while you prepare the rest of the curry.

In a wok (or deep frying pan) over a medium heat, fry spring onion slices in a little vegetable oil until softened, then add a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves and thin slices of fresh root ginger and cook until soft.

Add desired amount of curry paste – if you’re cautious, it’s better to use too little than too much at this point, as it can be rectified later when you add the coconut milk. Fry gently. You’ll know if it’s too hot because it’ll hit the back of your throat and you’ll be coughing and spluttering all over the place.

Add the coconut milk. Just start by adding half the tin and after tasting, continue to add in small amounts until you’re happy with it. Mix, taste, judge for yourself. Once you’ve got the balance right, add a little stock (about a cup) and incorporate into the mixture.

Reintroduce your tofu into the dish, along with the cubed squash and a handful of kaffir lime leaves. Ensure everything is completely submerged in the liquid and simmer for about 30 minutes until the squash is tender and you can no longer resist scoffing the lot.

Serve with boiled or steamed rice.

Variations: I like to play around with adding different vegetables into the mix, and frequently use mushrooms, pak choi, peppers, beansprouts and sweet potato.

Enjoy!

 

Guest Blogger: AfroVeganChick – Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Coconut Ice Cream

21 May

What a great recipe in time for the warmer months!

So glad to have Janyce from Afro Vegan Chick back. Janyce has contributed multiple times: Raw Crustless Beet & Avocado “Cheesecake”Acorn Squash Stuffed With Maple Brown Rice And Green PeasWarm Brussel Sprouts Spinach Chickpea. Follow Janyce on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram,  blog and Twitter. Welcome back Janyce!

 

Despite the rain, summer is still coming and it will get hot and ice cream will become necessary.

There’s nothing like making your own ice cream, especially if living with horrid housemates. The other day discovered that my So Delicious Almond Milk Cookies And Cream Ice Cream had been opened and eaten with greedy relish. An expensive celebratory treat stolen and vandalized. It’s difficult when living with people who want to spoil life’s little victories. However, when crafting my own ice cream no one seems to want any, even if it’s pretty. I’m happy that this latest creation, eaten solely by me, wasn’t compromised in any way. Califia Farms brand vegan milks are on sale this week at Whole Foods 2 for $7. I decided to give the Toasted Coconut Almond Milk a try.

Dress up Nature’s Path Flax Plus Flakes with shredded coconut, diced apples, slivered almonds, cinnamon, and Califia Farms amazingly delicious Toasted Coconut Almond Milk- a real satisfying breakfast treat!

Simple to make ice cream. No powerful kitchen appliances required. Three near blackened bananas provide both fantastic fruity flavor and sweetness (no extra sugar needed) for a chocoholic treat. Mashed to smithereens- chunky bits saved of course, mixed with the incredibly yummy coconut almond blended milk, chocolate goodness, and extra coconut. I covered plain white bowl with a small black bag, making it look utterly unattractive and voila! A few hours later, ice cream readied and untouched, I satisfied craving hitch free! Just a great treat! Sure it’s raining right now, but tomorrow the sun is coming out and so is more ice cream.
Recipe serves two vegan ice cream lovers. Or one ravenous fiend.
Oh and FY: It’s May 16th. Janet Jackson Day. Let’s break out the Rhythm Nation and Control and everything else Damito Jo! Dance everybody! And grab a bowl for the ice cream….

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Coconut Ice Cream Ingredients and Preparation

3 ripened bananas
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond Milk Blend
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Mash bananas together with cocoa powder, coconut almond milk, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips. Cover and freeze for 5-6 hours.
Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out bowl contents and enjoy.
Delicious, simple yum. No ice cream maker or blender needed.

Guest Blogger: Walk The Earth Vegan – The Importance of Vegan Support

20 May

Our newest guest blogger to join the VBU! family is Maggie Farquhar, author of Walk The Earth Vegan. The blog is a vegan lifestyle guide for everything; from the best food & beauty products to interviews with leading activists & business owners, in the veg community. The mission is to provide you with the resources and knowledge to live a healthy, beautiful & conscious lifestyle. Excellent! Find Maggie on social media: blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

When an individual thinks about going vegan, often a first question would be about convenience. “Will I be able to still eat out with my friends?” “Won’t I starve?” “What about my favorite foods?” Of course you can still eat out with your friends, but it may be a bit different now. They’ll probably tell you how bad they feel that you “can’t” eat “normal” food [And that’s okay.] Depending on where you want to eat, and on where they want to eat, you can usually find something in between. Being vegan isn’t all that hard. Also, if happen to call ahead, or look online and have no luck, perhaps you can suggest a vegan friendly restaurant. If not, then bring a smoothie, juice or snacks with you. Hopefully your friends will see how much you care for them, and next time they might be more flexible. Regardless, most of the time, you can find at least something. Even if it’s as simple as french fries or a garden salad. Be patient and try to explain to your friends why veganism is important to you. Don’t give excuses such as “i’m not really hungry” continuously. It’s not healthy for you to go without eating like that all the time. As determined as I may seem, being vegan isn’t about being perfect. It’s about living a life that is as cruelty free as possible. There’s no need to beat yourself up, and while most of us may do it for the animals, we need to take care of ourselves, as well. Even if that may mean not going out to eat as much with omni-friends.

Thus, the importance of having a vegan support group. It could contain merely one person or thousands. I encourage you to join a local meetup or facebook page. I know for me it can be tough to find good vegan support [of the same religion], but luckily with technology, I’m able to connect with people via facebook, with people of similar values. And I believe that it can be very helpful in your vegan lifestyle. Even joining a vegan humor group, and seeing something funny & relatable in your feed can brighten your day, greatly. It reminds you that you’re not alone, and that there are vegans like us out there. I know it has for me.

There are many type of groups that can help you be accountable as a compassionate being such as; a religious group you identify with, humor/comedy groups, local based groups, interest based groups etc.

Don’t hesitate to find group(s) that will support you. Of course you may not be on the same page about every single things, but you’ll have something.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions you have. As I would love to help a fellow vegan (or anyone!) out! maggie@walktheearthvegan.com or at WalkTheEarthVegan.com

Guest Blogger: dfjridesbikes – I love my neighborhood

19 May

Everyone, please welcome David, he is brand new to the VBU! family. Here he is in his own words, “My name is David. I am a 23 year old vegan cyclist who enjoys cooking, coffee, and writing. I currently reside in Los Angeles California and have made the complete vegan lifestyle change at the beginning of the year. I am a nursing major who loves the outdoors and a good story.” You can check out David’s Blog where he talks about his vegan life and his love of bike riding, dfjridesbikes, check him out on Twitter as well. Welcome David!

In trying to make the best of all this free time I now have, and to justify my recent purchase of a new track bike, I find myself referring back to an article I read a few months ago.

I’ve lived in the valley for nearly eight years now. I can say that I know my way around these long streets that connect perfectly to most others running in a perpendicular direction (and some not.) What I’ve been catching myself doing is seeking other cities like the arts district in downtown Los Angeles, or to echo park for the atmosphere it provides. In reading this article I’ve begun to realize I can recreate this same type of environment in my own backyard. Now that I don’t have to get super dressed up to go and ride bikes I can explore & rediscover the cozy nooks and crannies of the valley at one point in time I was more familiar with.

As much as I love taking the Metro red line into the metropolis that is downtown, LA’s suburb has a soft spot in my heart. Being originally from Culver city I catch myself feeling nostalgic when visiting mama and entering that neck of the woods just south-east of Santa Monica. I’ll admit that after living in the valley for so long even I was apprehensive when I started reading these comparisons. I would have never thought to compare Van Nuys with Hollwood. There’s no theaters, no flashy lights, no venues. There are also no tourists in Van Nuys. Since I ride through Van Nuys every day I work to enter North Hollywood (the artsy district of the valley) I am beginning to finally understand what the writers were talking about. I’m not saying these are spot on, but a lot closer than many of us may presume.

I find that day by day I am enjoying my neighborhood more and more. Sure the valley has strong winds, and temperatures that can get to extremes (by LA standards) as opposed to our neighbors over the hill, but there is something about the peace and quiet that comes from a cozy little suburb that can’t be beat. There are city’s all over the valley that one could go for a more urban/ metropolitan experience, as well as another that gets away from it all and oversees most of the city by the mountain tops. The valley has a little bit of everything much like Los Angeles does, except were not as busy and as densely populated as everyone else.

Just today I went to Reseda to pick up lunch, catch the end of a bike race out in Encino, then finished my lunch at a nearby park only to head home after my five to ten mile, pancake flat route with little traffic and the majority of said route was on bike paths.

Some may call it boring, flat, hot, windy, and far away, but it’s home to me. It’s just close enough that if I do decide to take a trip into Downtown, Pasadena, Culver City, Koreatown, Echo Park, or Venice, chances are there is a convenient way to get there that will take under a hour of elapsed time. Not only that but places like boutique coffee shops and craft beer bars are showing up to expand their emerging horizons.

In summary, I like it here. I think I’ll stay for a little while longer.

Guest Blogger: Modern Day Missus – Potato and Pea Cigars

1 May

A brand new vegan bloggers joins the VBU! family. Please meet Robyn B, the author of Modern Day Missus lives in Perth, Australia. Robyn lives with her two naughty cats, an equally naughty husband, a juicer and a blender. She is a herbal tea lover, aspiring health goddess and cookbook addict, who loves all things life and living…. She also has a knack for accidentally burning pine nuts.

Her blog Modern Day Missus is a place of community, laughs, positivity and bundles of vegan recipes. Check out Modern Day Missus and follow her on her social media channels: Blog, Facebook and Instagram. Welcome Robyn!

 

Potato and Pea Cigars

Hey beautiful,

How is your week going? Yay for public holidays – I’ve only been at work for one day, and there are only two to go this week… not that I don’t like my job… but if I won lotto, I think I could definitely rock the lady of leisure gig.

On the weekend just gone, I got cracking in the kitchen and made heaps of recipes (there is one recipe however that still eludes me, but I have a plan… stay tuned!) that I’ve had on my mind. Thinking of recipes is one thing, but having the time to try them out, make sure they’re right and photograph them is not that easy. When I look back, even at recipes from a year ago, I’m so embarrassed at the quality of the photos.

A lot of that is because I was taking them at night once I’d cooked them for dinner. But, if I have learnt one thing about photographing food (or anything really), it’s that you can’t substitute natural light.

Anyhoo, of all the things I made, the vote came out (from my sister) for these, Potato and Pea Cigars. Think light Indian flavour, but wrapped like a spring roll. Spring rolls are easier to eat (you don’t get bits fall out all over the place, and they’re easier to wrap when you’re working with small spring roll wrappers).

These would make an awesome party food, and once you’ve wrapped one or two, you get the knack and can put them together really quickly.

Potato and Pea Cigars | Vegan | Modern Day Missus

 

Potato and Pea Cigars | Vegan | Modern Day Missus

 

Potato and Pea Cigars
Author: Robyn B
Ingredients
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pack spring roll wrappers
  • Dash of olive oil
Instructions
  1. Peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes (think of the size you want to put them into the spring rolls), and then par boil for about 12-15 minutes or until pretty much cooked. Drain and set aside for a few moments.
  2. Preheat the oven to about 200∞C (about 400∞F).
  3. Put a dash of olive oil in a frypan, and fry the spices for about 20 seconds or until they are lovely and aromatic. Add the frozen peas and coat in the spice mix. Then, add the potatoes and do the same. Fry for about 3 minutes all up, or until the peas are not yet frozen (they don’t need to be fully cooked, as they go into the oven after this).
  4. Once your mixture is done, get a sheet of spring roll wrapper and place in front of you on an angle (so a corner is facing you, like a diamond). Then place in some filling, fold up the two side edges, and then wrap. When you come to the last corner (which should be the furthest corner from you), dip your fingers in water and dab on the corner so it all sticks together.
  5. Once you’ve done all your spring rolls, put them in a very lightly greased oven tray and bake for about 15 minutes.
Notes
Makes about 15 spring rolls.[br]You probably won’t use all of the spring roll wrappers with this quantity, but (if you didn’t buy them frozen), you can then freeze the remainder.

The great thing about these spring rolls is that they’re not heavy and greasy because they’ve been oven baked and not deep fried. They don’t have too strong an Indian flavour, but you could increase the spices if you want more.

Have a wonderful day.

Robyn xx

Guest Blogger: New Vegan Age – Why aren’t more Christians vegan? A question for Lent

6 Apr

Please welcome back the ever wonderful Tom from New Vegan Age. Tom has been a guest blogger on VBU! a few times: Vegan CreedHarvey Diamond InterviewVegans are good for your restaurant’s business (Kim Stahler)World Vegan DayA Perfect Time to Stop eating AnimalsSupport vegan business and organizations.

This time Tom is back with an interesting question for vegans of faith.

Please follow on New Vegan Age on FacebookTwitter and of course the blog. Welcome back Tom!

 

If you’re like many Christians around the world, you’re not consuming meat on certain days of Lent this year.

 
But have you ever wondered about Christians who have renounced meat permanently? And not just meat, but confections and other foods made with eggs, milk, cheese, and butter?
 
That’s us: Vegan Christians. We’re a tiny minority, and we don’t mean to make your life difficult. We didn’t want to complicate the Lenten feast you lovingly prepared for a dozen people at your home, or to seem ungrateful when we asked questions about its preparation or ingredients.
 
Just the opposite, in fact. For me, fear of making life difficult for my friends and loved ones made me delay becoming vegan—declining to use or consume anything derived from animals for the sake of beauty, flavor, nourishment, clothing, entertainment, or convenience—until, after many years of relatively easy vegetarianism, I finally followed my conscience and made that leap.
 
Now, four years later and during this Lenten season of reflection, I want more people to understand my decision—and to consider what has brought many other modern Christians to veganism.
 
For most vegans, compassion is central to our relationships with other living beings, and our veganism allows us to best live that fundamental truth. In the Biblical stories that many vegans most closely relate to and are most inspired by, Jesus demonstrates compassion, humility, and kindness.
 
For these reasons, I think vegans are actually more like our non-vegan Christian brothers and sisters than we are different. We also share a deep affiliation with people who’ve made Jesus’ life a model for our own, and we have, in turn, educated our children, grandchildren, and neighbors in the practice of compassion.
 
Unfortunately, however, vegan Christians live outside of the Christian mainstream for a key reason. It’s one that can make us appear to be separatist. Sanctimonious. Even self-righteous.
 
Put most simply, it is often difficult for us to comfortably join gatherings where all life, including that of animals, is not celebrated as a creation of God that must be protected. Since Christian vegans often interpret Biblical “dominion” over animals as stewardship and not as domination—that is, not as ownership or use—the prospect of attending family gatherings, parish suppers, and coffee hours that feature animal-based casseroles and confections made using dairy products can fill us with dread.
 
How can vegans see something as innocuous as a donut as cruel? Well, the products sold in supermarkets—even those labeled “organic” and “free-range”—force animals to live unnecessarily uncomfortable and unnaturally shortened lives. Those smiling cartoon cows and pigs that advertisers employ do the actual cramped, dirty animals found in most factory farms a great disservice; it’s not difficult to find evidence of this on the Internet or in your local bookstore.
 
What’s interesting is that modern vegan Christians may not even be that different than our religious ancestors. Eloquent arguments of the potential vegetarianism (or even veganism) of Jews and Christians in antiquity—including Saint Basil, Saint Jerome, and even Matthew and the other Apostles—include the non-availability of animal-based diets to common folk in the Mediterranean basin and the lack of evidence that Jesus consumed animal flesh, as well as differences in how early Christian writings were translated.
 
Rynn Berry, an author and translator of ancient Greek who died in January, found no mention of fish in the earliest accounts of the multiplication miracle—it was strictly bread—and when he personally translated the passages in the Gospel of John describing the multiplication of loaves and fishes, he found that the original meaning of the word used was “relish.”
 
As for the symbols of fish associated with Jesus’ ministry, said Berry, astrological events at his birth might account for why the persecuted Christian minority in ancient Rome used fish symbols as a code to signal other Christians, and why we still see it in churches and on car bumpers yet today. Could it be that we are called to be fishers of men, and not fishers of fish?
 
Despite these assertions or alternate possibilities, however, for many vegan Christians today, the primary evidence linking our Christianity with the practice of veganism actually resides not in Biblical evidence but in our hearts, and is illuminated after we prayerfully ask ourselves two questions.
 

Could I, alone and by myself, harm, torture, or kill another living being?

Once examined, will my conscience allow me to have other people harm, torture, or kill another living being in my name and for my use?

 
For some people, the answers to the prayerful consideration of these two questions will be yes. For vegan Christians, the answer is no, but that answer doesn’t result in one iota of smugness or superiority. We just happen to see God in the faces of pigs, sheep, geese, turkeys, goats, chickens, and cows as easily as most people do in the faces of their beloved pet cats and companion dogs.
 
Vegan Christians believe that all animals—wild, farmed, and domesticated—feel pain, make decisions, and are inclined to protect themselves and their families from harm. We believe that all human and animal life is a sacred gift from God. We actually think a lot of people—particularly those who are troubled by the sight of factory farm and slaughterhouse footage—agree with us. And so we wonder: Why aren’t more Christians vegan?
 
All we ask is that you think more about it. Read things both critical and in favor of veganism. Quiz people who embrace and denounce it. Most importantly, start trying it out yourself, at any pace and in any way that is comfortable. While doing so, ask yourself and God the two questions above. And listen carefully for the answers.

Guest Blogger: The Veggie Nook – raw almond butter and caramel apple cheesecake

28 Mar

Always happy to host a returning guest blogger. Today we welcome back Gabby from The Veggie Nook.  Gabby makes incredible raw desserts on her blog. Check her out on  Facebook, and Twitter as well.

Gabby’s previous posts have been awesome. Do check them out Peanut Butter & Caramel-Filled Chocolate Eggs, Dry Skin Brushing, Raw Cinnamon Rolls with Hazelnut Pulp and Homemade Raw Vegan Chocolate and Raw Almond Butter Cups. Without further adieu, please enjoy Gabby’s recipe. Welcome back Gabby!

raw almond butter and caramel apple cheesecake

so here we are! the final post that will bring it all together. i thought about spitting it up a little more but that just seemed mean ;). if you missed the first two components, check them out here and here.

before i get into that though i just have a couple things to say. recently davida wrote a post about the things a year of blogging has taught her and it got me thinking about the last two years. i started this blog because i needed an outlet. and what was the biggest thing i gained?

Continue reading

Guest Blogger: The Passion for Compassion – Dark Side of the Vegan Moon

24 Mar

Let’s welcome our newest blogger Fern Demeo, author of The Passion for Compassion, to the VBU! fold.

Here she is in her own words, “I’ve always found it difficult to write about or describe myself to others, after all we are such complex creatures with a vast range of strengths and insecurities! I am (obviously) an animal lover and have been my entire life. I grew up as a single child and my animals were like my siblings, except far more accepting and unconditional! I remember scolding other kids in the play ground for frying ants with magnifying glasses; catching injured birds who had flown into the classroom and trying to rehabilitate (unsuccessfully!) baby mice whose mother had been killed by the neighbour’s cat. The truth is, I found a considerable amount of solace, peace and acceptance with the animal kingdom. I was raised by my Mum taught me strength and gentleness, respect and concern for all life. Always concerned for the underdog, mum taught me to advocate for those who were voiceless and vulnerable.

When I lost my mum in 2007, life as I knew it changed forever. The grief and despair is beyond what words can describe. Part of my ongoing journey towards wholeness after losing mum has been re-aligning with my passion- to be of service to the animal kingdom in whatever way I can. This fills me with a love so deep that it begins to shine some light into the gaping hole that grief left behind.”

Please join Fern on her blog and new Facebook page. Welcome Fern!

 

The other night whilst taking a few moments to enjoy the silence, I looked up and saw a gigantic Godzilla spider (ok it wasn’t that big- maybe a 50 cent piece in diameter- but for a long term arachnophobic, that IS equivalent to Godzilla). Fear filled me, adrenalin pumped through my veins and my fight or flight mechanism went into overdrive. Fleeing was seriously contemplated, though the thought of not knowing where Godzilla was lurking, forced me to confront the fear.

But then another fear came online- If I am wanting to live a truly compassionate life and extend that to all beings… what was I going to do with this fricking spider? I was terrified to get too close to it, unlike the countless creepy crawlies I capture and release outside. And in my own darkness- I ashamedly admit that I was seriously considering spraying it, despite having always hated the thought of spraying another living being (such a prolonged and agonising death). But then a sobering (and slightly unwanted in that moment) epiphany – Why does humanity seek to destroy what it is fearful of or misunderstands?

All of a sudden I was flooded with images from World War Two where nearly six million Jewish people were murdered under the Nazi dictatorship, in Hitler’s racially motivated ideology for a superior “Aryan race”. I was then transported to Cambodia where a close friend and I had walked in absolute horror through the killing fields and Tuol Sleng, a former high school which was used as a place of torture at the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Memories and images which still haunt and sicken me today.

Many other heinous historical moments –towards both mankind and the continual assault on our sentient animal relatives- rushed through me as I stood and stared at this helpless ‘Godzilla’ spider. I was deeply ashamed at my initial instinct to kill what I was afraid of, to eradicate a life which I did not fully understand. As Friedrich Nietzsche so aptly said “Man is the cruelest animal” to walk this earth.

What made me superior to this being, to sentence it to death because I was too fearful to confront my own fears and insecurities? There was only one alternative- capture it so I could set it free and in doing so, acknowledge the dark side of my own humanity.

My methodology for doing this was long, terrifying and quite honestly, ridiculously comical. Thank goodness for empty plastic containers (with opaque walls so I couldn’t see inside), thick cardboard and a dose of courage to make me look at the deeper message of this unwanted visitor. And so as I write this, I am both comforted and unsettled by the Buddha’s wise words: “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways”. Perhaps the world would be a safer place we could all acknowledge our own darkness?

 

 

 

Sorry about all the weird text formatting- am trying to do too many things at once here with my zoo of crazy animals!

Thanks so much for all that you do :)

x

Guest Blogger: ZenFans – Delicious and Nutritious Green Bowl

3 Mar

Ted from ZenFans is back! You may remember Ted from his first post called Kale Almighty. Check out his newest obsession – Green Bowls! Follow ZenFans on social media channels: TwitterFacebookPinterest and Instagram. Welcome back Ted!

greenbowl

Green bowls are my latest obsession, I’ve been making them almost daily now for the past few months. It’s super healthy and super delicious, I know this because even my 3 year old loves it. We’ll often have it for breakfast and even as an after dinner dessert. Salad for breakfast and dessert, who’d a thunk it?

green bowl for the family

I’m not sure where I originally saw this done (sorry for not giving credit where credit is truly due…found it, see below). No, I wasn’t creative enough to come up with this on my own, but I am happy I stumbled upon it and happy to share it with you now.

EDITED: I have seen many green bowl recipes, but I was originally inspired by Mckel Hill at NutritionStripped.com. Her recipe can be found here. I love her blog with so many great, healthy recipes and beautiful photographs to entice you!

So grab these items, (organic of course), start blending and be prepared to be swept off your feet:)

Big handful of kale
Big handful of romaine
Big handful of spinach
2 or 3 stalks of celery
1 big apple
1/2 cucumber
Juice of one lemon
A splash or two of coconut water
Blend on high for a minute or so, then…
Add several ice cubes and one or two frozen bananas
Blend on high until mixture has an ice cream consistency (if too soft, add more ice cubes and/or frozen bananas)

Pour into your bowls
Top with your favorite superfoods, I use:
Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola
Goji Berries
Cacao Nibs
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Chia Seeds

What will you add?

Let me know how you and your family like it. Wishing you well on your journey to awesome health and vitality!

Peace,

Ted

Guest Blogger: It’s Got Vegan In It – A Round-Up of Vegan Cooking Shows! (Updated)

20 Feb

Our newest vegan guest blogger is Melissa from It’s Got Vegan In It. Her post below is an fantastic round up of vegan cooking shows. I wholeheartedly agree with her and I’m glad someone had the smarts to make such a list. Vegan shows are growing in popularity and yay for that. Go vegans!

Melissa went vegan in August of 2011. Through her blog, she hopes to inspire others around her to do the same, as well as educate people on the plight of animals. A long time lover of all things chocolate, Melissa believes delicious vegan chocolate and accessible knowledge about how easy vegan living is is the key to changing the people around her.

Check out Melissa on Twitter and Facebook. Welcome Melissa!

I’m hoping I live to see the day when a vegan cooking show becomes the norm. I know there are vegan cooking shows on tv such as Jason Wrobel’s “How to Live to 100″ on The Cooking Channel, Vegan Mash-up, and The Jazzy Vegetarian. However, these shows are usually on special cable networks or on stations that don’t reach the masses. My hope is that one day you can turn on basic tv channels and tune in to your favorite vegan cooking show. In the meantime, we can enjoy the plethora of vegan cooking shows on YouTube!

I’ve tried to gather up some of the most fun and favorite YouTube vegan cooking show in the vegan world. If I missed one you think deserves a nod, be sure to mention it in the comments below!

(Note, for all of you who chimed in with your suggestions – thank you! I added some of the shows you’ve suggested. Whatever gets veganism front and center is better for the cause!)

Jaime K of “Save the Kales” was one of the first vegan cooking shows I ever discovered. Her meals are made with simple ingredients and directions, they look delicious, and both Jaime and the show are so charming!

Lindsay Nixon of The Happy Herbivore has had a successful plant-based and healthy living blog for some time now and has several plant-based cookbooks out on the market. She recently launched a series of cooking shows for us to enjoy!

If you don’t know The Vegan Zombie, now’s the time to catch up before the zombie apocalypse.

Christy Morgan of The Blissful Chef not only shares her cooking tips and recipes, but her YouTube channel is chock-full of healthy living advice and lots of “ask a vegan chef” FAQ videos.

JL Fields of “JL Goes Vegan” was a huge influence during my early vegan years. I had communicated with her via email, then met her in person at The Seed in NYC, and have followed her vegan food/vegan lifestyle blog for some time now. I am delighted to share that she, too, has several cooking demos on her YouTube page. JL is also queen of the pressure cooker, so check out her Pressure Cooking Community on Google Plus!

Oh, Brian L. Patton…he’ll make you giggle and salivate with his comic flair and easy recipes.

For those of you that are looking to find raw vegan recipes, look no further than FullyRawKristina! She’s so bubbly and sweet; it must be all the fruit she eats ;-)

If you’re like me and you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss Tasha Edwards of The Sweetest Vegan!

Don’t be scared of the Vegan Black Metal Chef! He’s actually pretty cool!

The Vegan Cooking With Love videos are so professionally-done, they’re only eclipsed by how yummy the recipes are!

Thanks to you guys, the readers, I was sure to add this one to the list. See, I’m learning about vegan cooking shows, too! (Thank you!)

I follow The Edgy Veg on Facebook. I love her style – her edge! How appropriate ;-) But don’t fear the cooking; there’s nothing complicated about the recipes. You’ll absolutely love ‘em.

Who doesn’t love Isa Chandra Moskowitz or her cookbooks?! Back in the day, The Post Punk Kitchen creator used to do a regular video series. Recently, Breville has teamed up with the famous vegan cook to create a series of videos, which we will happily watch instead. Long Live Isa!

There are several vegan cooking shows that have picked up syndication in a few areas. You’ll have to check your local tv provider, of course, but if you’re one of the lucky ones that has access to these channels, don’t miss Laura Theodore of The Jazzy Vegetarian (who also has a wonderfully jazzy podcast!), Christina Pirello’s new show “Christina“, and the vegan star-studded Vegan Mashup on Delicious TV!

Hilarious, a tad naughty, and rockin’ the kitchen glam-style, vegan drag queen Honey LaBronx will entertain you and your taste buds!

I’m not sure how anyone can top a vegan drag queen cooking show, so I’m going to leave it at that. Remember, if I missed any shows, share them below so we can all tune in and continue spreading the word that vegan cooking is easy, accessible, and everywhere! :-)

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