Guest Blogger: Vegans Eat Plants – How to be Vegan on a Budget

24 Feb

We all change at our own pace. One such vegan has changed blogs. You may know her as a contributing author on Mojo Central, but Cat McDonald has moved to Vegans Eat Plants.

A little about Cat, Cat McDonald is a content strategist and tree hugger seeking clarity, community, and organic produce. Below is her article on how to be vegan on a budget, who can’t use this info? Please feel free to share this article and follow Cat on her adventure through her blog, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Welcome back Cat!

How to Be Vegan on a Budget

You need to figure out how to be vegan on a budget. Because if you can’t afford it, you won’t keep it up.

When you first go vegan, you’ll probably go wild exploring new foods, but then you might look at your wallet and feel oh so sad. Take a deep breath, because here’s what I know: Being vegan does not have to break the bank.

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Make a list

Plan your meals in advance and make a list of what you’ll get in which stores. And remember to bring your list with you when you shop! Use the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to help you decide which produce you plan to buy organic. Decide in advance the maximum total amount you’ll spend.

Compare prices on staples and shop around.
In the course of a week, I’ll usually make the rounds to different grocery stores, trying my best to stick to buying only the things that are priced best in that store.

In my area, Trader Joe’s has great prices on oils, coffee, tea, mushrooms, frozen fruit, and nuts. Whole Foods has the best organic produce (particularly in the winter months when the farmers markets are inactive) and fairly good prices and on quality staples like olive oil, canned coconut milk, and non-dairy milks. And my local food co-op has the best prices on bulk items like nutritional yeast, spices, flours, pulses, beans, and grains.

Visit international markets for select “specialty” items.
I get my seaweed, umeboshi plums, Thai basil, sesame seeds, rice noodles, and more at local Asian markets. I get some frozen fruits, spices, and other staples at Latin supermarkets.

Buy farm market produce in season.
First, do a quick walk-through to see what looks good and which stands offer the best value. Bring cash. Stick to your list, but flex if you can swap out an item out if you find a better deal.

Buy only as much as you’ll eat.
You might have to shop more often. If, like many Americans, you’re used to shopping once every week or two, this will be an adjustment. Tubers such as sweet potatoes last a week, maybe two, but you’ll want to eat fresh fruits and green produce within two to four days of purchasing them. Over time, you’ll get better at judging how much you’ll really need.

If you’re working a lot or if you have a baby in the house, try using a delivery service like Safeway’s Peapod.

Brown bag it.
You’ll have more control over your menu and your spending when you commit to making your own lunches.

Invest in a nice (lead-free) lunch box and a few lock-tight glass containers to make your lunch spill-proof. You really don’t want your lunch spilling all over your morning newspaper!

Make your own.
Although it’s easy enough, it does take time and forethought to cook beans. So I keep canned beans on hand for when I’m pressed for time. But when I do have time, I soak beans overnight, cook them in the slow cooker, and freeze any extra for future use.

It’s also economical to make your own vegetable stock. During the week, collect your carrot ends, kale trimmings, teeny garlic cloves and other trimmings in good condition in a container in the fridge. And then on the weekend, throw them on the stove with chopped up onion and celery, cover with fresh cool water. Simmer for a couple hours.

Make extra and freeze for later.
Make plenty of vegetable stock, cooked beans, spaghetti sauce, and the like. These come in handy when you’re pressed for time. Be sure to label and data it before you put it in the freezer!

Do you have other tips on how to eat vegan on a budget? Leave a comment below!

Guest Blogger: Chickpea and Dumpling Soup, A.K.A. Guaranteed Food Coma – The Vegan Hostess

22 Jan

Always exciting to meet more vegan bloggers. Jocelyn from The Vegan Hostess is new to the VBU! family and we welcome her with open arms. Here she is in her own words, “I’m Jocelyn and I’ve been vegan for about six years, but I was a vegetarian for the decade prior. That means I haven’t had meat in well over half my life. I recently started my blog, The Vegan Hostess. I’m a lawyer/ non-profit professional by day, and cat snuggle/ vegan blogger by night. I’m hoping that I can inspire others to find joy in vegan cooking, as well as, learn some awesome recipes to use for potlucks to win over the omnivores among us!”

Love that attitude and I’m sure we’ll see many inspirational posts from Jocelyn. Please connect with her on Twitter and Instagram. Welcome Jocelyn!

I recently bought a new cookbook called “Thug Kitchen” at the recommendation of my friend Alicia (check out her blog). Now at first glance I thought – alright it’s supposed to be a funny cookbook that might have a few good recipes…let’s give it a try. I was wrong! This book is FULL of amazing recipes!

One of the first things I attempted to make was certainly not the easiest recipe, nor the one with the shortest prep/cook time. No, certainly not. However, it was an amazing, hearty dish that will serve as my work lunch this entire week. Since I haven’t had meat in as many years as it takes to be able to drive a car, I can’t say I’ve ever eaten chicken and dumplings. But I can say that I think this chickpea and dumpling soup hits all of the highlights – and it might even be better. Make it and see for yourself!

The first thing you need is to take a hearty shopping trip. This recipe uses the ‘trinity’ – onions, carrots, and celery. It also requires some basic vegan household staples like almond milk, flour, kale, and chickpeas. You can see my cluttered table of ingredients below.

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The first thing you do is make the dough which honestly was kind of fun, although time consuming. This involves the basics – flour, baking powder, spices, and enough almond milk to get the right dough-like texture. Oh, and lots and LOTS of chives!

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I spent the next hour or so chopping and cooking veggies and getting the ‘soup’ going. This recipe certainly isn’t for those who already don’t like to cook. I enjoyed this because I love prep work, and I love an excuse to use my big soup pot! The recipe calls for the cook to make a ‘roux’ though it doesn’t call it that. A roux is a soup base which is a staple for many southern dishes. It’s a simple mixture of extra virgin olive oil and flour, stirring on low heat, while slowly adding in some other liquids – white wine, vegetable broth, etc. The great thing about making roux the soup base is that it will give your soup a thick, creamy feel without dairy or butter! All of that stirring and simmering is worth it! Trust me!

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Eventually, the soup began to look like a soup and I have to admit – I was shocked at how fast the homemade noodles cooked and how great they tasted! (Can you believe I had never made dumplings before…or even my own pasta – and I’m Italian!)

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This soup is so good, I had to get seconds! It was like a warm blanket for my stomach. It has some kick due to using cayenne, but the flavors were all very well-balanced. This is certainly the perfect meal for a cold January evening.

Overall, I give this recipe, and the end result, an A+. It’s time consuming, but it turns out an excellent product. I’m going to be very sad when my leftovers runout.

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So do you have a favorite ‘comfort food’ recipe? Please share!

Guest Blogger: VeGAL – Meatus Interruptus!

22 Dec

Please say hello to our newest guest vegan blogger Andrea. Andrea is the author of VeGal. Here she is in her own words, ” I’m a long-time plant-based endurance athlete, raising 3 sons on my own, completed 39 marathons/ultras, and a runner for Oiselle Volee team.”

You can find Andrea blogging at: VeGAL. Connect with her through social channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Greetings VeGALs and plant fans!  If you are a mainstream vegan like me, then chances are you deal with the issue
of animal byproducts being randomly placed in your plant foods on an ongoing basis when dining out. Chefs/cooks/food preps simply cannot help themselves when it comes to adulterating the foods from nature that we love so much.  In their eyes, they feel they are enhancing the flavor whereas we can all agree it only detracts from
the true essence that plant-based cuisine has to offer.  On many vegetarian/vegetable menu items, no where does it even indicate that there will be animal-based foods added to the dish, which is surprising nowadays with so many food allergy concerns.  For instance, it is often the case where I order a garden salad that is listed as having only lettuce, cukes, carrots, tomatoes (and other “safe” ingredients) and when it arrives, it is laden with shaved/sprinkled parmesan cheese.  I have learned to ask for salads now with no cheese, egg or bacon even if it is NOT listed on the menu. Sadly enough, there are still some naive food servers/preps out there that still have no idea what the term “vegan” actually
refers to so often times I choose the old “food allergy” excuse to drive home a point, especially when at an unfamiliar place. Don’t get me wrong…I wear my vegan identity with pride but when it comes to ordering my meal, I go to great lengths to get the order right and even then, I have to send it back due to error half the time!!!

A while back, I had written an article for VegginOutAndAbout.com, where I’m a staff writer/contributor that discusses hidden animal products in our foods, if you would like to refer to that, like chicken broth, fish stock, beef stock, milk, whey, egg yolks, egg wash, oyster sauce, anchovies, parmesan cheese, butter, casein, gelatin, etc. Many restaurants, especially chains, have an allergy menu available either on location or online which can be very helpful in providing insight into non-vegan foods we assume to be safe. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes next to impossible to find a vegan/vegan-friendly joint and the majority of our family/friends are typically omnivours so we must settle on mainstream, trying to make the best of it without drawing too much attention to ourselves.

Just this past weekend, my running partner and I were in Cocoa Beach, FL to run the Space Coast Marathon (as pacers) for our third year in a row.  A few days before the race, we looked over the dinner menu online for Fat Kahunas, a small bar/restaurant we’ve had our eye on for a few years.  The menu seemed very welcoming and the location, ideal to watch a nearby Friday night street party, so we were excited to check it out.  As soon as we were seated, we were served fresh home made hummus with olives and warm tortilla chips.  I would’ve been perfectly content eating that all night, washed down by a draft beer, of course.  But I chose to order the grilled vegetable tacos, minus the red and green peppers (I always lie and say I’m allergic since I just plain don’t like ’em), add avocado instead as my entree.  As an experiment of sorts, I refrained from mentioning the word “vegan”  while I made sure that there was NO cheese or sour cream also due to “allergies” and the waitress said NO problem.  The menu said it comes with a
teriyaki glaze which sounded safe enough for me.  So….as she sets my beautiful plate down before me, veggie soft tacos accompanied by coconut rice, black beans and fresh salsa, I noticed a red/orange sauce strewn across the entire dish, along with the teriyaki glaze.  I was immediately suspicious of a mayonnaise presence as the server explained that the chef uses his own “secret sauce” for an added touch. I only wish I would’ve snapped a photo of it! My fear was
confirmed…the sauce was mayo-based, probably mixed with sriracha…something I do with my vegan “Just Mayo” all the time. Our server apologized and offered to prepare another plate that was “vegan.”  Yes, she actually used the word after all that lol.  In the end, the food was scrumptious, especially the coconut rice, and the restaurant was very accommodating.  I schooled the server about Just Mayo being egg-free and “safe” for all patrons without compromising taste.  She said she would relay that to the chef!

As our post race meal, we headed back south to Delray Beach, FL, along famous Atlantic Avenue, to a preferred hang
out of ours, Budda Sky Bar, a departure from our usual post race beer/french fries reward. We were famished and in desperate need of fried food so we ordered vegetable spring rolls in addition to their divine mushroom dumplings and stir fried string beans.  However, much to our chagrin, when spring rolls arrived, they were nothing more than veggie egg rolls, which of course are made out of egg wonton wraps.  I proceeded to taste the inside and was unsure of the
filling.  I have encountered the  “inadvertent meat eat” with dumplings in the past so I grew weary of the contents, which looked an awful lot like ground chicken or pork.  It’s hard to distinguish ground meat!  The chef actually came out and insisted there were only vegetables, no meat inside but when we remarked how they were egg rolls, not spring rolls, there was no changing his mind about that.  He brought us a fresh batch of the same to be sure and said it’s definitely tofu inside and that he said he tries to season it so well so that it tastes like chicken, which makes it taste
better…yes, those were his words. Needless to say, I stayed away from the egg rolls altogether and embraced all the wonderful veggie options this Japanese restaurant has to offer.  Essentially, the chef’s opinion is much like so many others…everything tastes better with animal products in them.  We know better!!!

Try as we might, we will always face challenges when it comes to plant-based, cruelty-free meals but as more and more
foodies turn to plants, more and more folks in the food industry will catch on. It’s a trend that’s here to stay.  We must remain positive as well as patient in our endeavors and not get discouraged every time we have to send a meal back. Each time that we do, it actually sends a message to both chefs and servers to think outside the box, be creative, go beyond the animal byproducts,  Even if a server seems to be aware of the term “vegan,” they may not have a
clear understanding of what that actually means.  We have to simply be specific when ordering and ask questions for clarification. And just maybe, we’ll make a few of them go plant-based all the way!

Cheers!

 

Guest Blogger: The Glowing Fridge – Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge

16 Dec

I noticed Shannon’s recipe online and HAD to ask her for it. Shannon is the author of The Glowing Fridge and has written an amazing recipe for Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge. Who can resist such a beautiful recipe! I had to find out more about the creator of such a treat.

Please meet Shannon in her own words, “Shannon is a nutrition junkie and health enthusiast specializing in the plant based lifestyle. She graduated from Purdue University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Fitness and is now a recipe creator and blogger at The Glowing Fridge, where she shares colorful, nourishing kitchen creations and offers nutrition tips plus helpful information along the way. Shannon’s passion for promoting the plant based lifestyle has blossomed since her transition to going vegan, as she was able to heal her acne, amongst other things, and finally develop healthy glowing skin. Her journey led her to create ‘The Glow Effect’, an ebook about every aspect of living plant based including why it’s optimal for your goddess glow and digestion, how to transition, what to expect, what to eat and more. She lives to inspire, motivate, create and flourish from this abundant plant fueled life!”

Please follow Shannon on her blog and other social channels: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin. Welcome Shannon!

Vegan and Gluten Free Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge - Creamy, Decadent, Festive and so Simple to create!

It’s Friday.

Let’s celebrate.

Why not start with dessert?

I’m pretty sure I always start out the new season with a festive dessert :) I can’t help it. I’m really good at craving it.

We love sweets in this house. Marty is a candy fiend. Anyone who is close with Marty will know he can eat an entire bag of Skittles in a few minutes – I’m talking the large bag, not the small pack. This is the same with Sweet Tarts, Jolly Ranchers, and Gobstoppers but usually Skittles win him over. I’m not sure how he does this and he usually feels sick afterward (I’m laughing as I type this because it’s quite the scene), then he says “no more candy for a while…” haha. Whenever we decide to watch a movie he looks at me and says, “Want to go to CVS and pick out candy?” Of course I say yes but usually I can’t eat anything from CVS (unless it’s full of garbage ingredients) so I always like to have an option on hand at home – just in case. I’m a fiend for anything sweet, but not the kind of artificial candy he eats… I just can’t :/

My one exception will be candy canes – they are not plant-based (I know!) but I’m allowing it, at least this year. Balance. Crushed candy canes add that sweet minty crunch to this freezer fudge, making it the most amazing and festive holiday treat! I found vegan marshmallows at Whole Foods (yes!) so I added a few chopped marshmallows for more texture – so YUM. Who knew vegan + gluten free marshmallows existed?!

Vegan and Gluten Free Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge - Creamy, Decadent, Festive and so Simple to create!

I love this Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge because it’s a change from my usual chocolate fudge that I can’t seem to part with; plus it’s very holiday-ish! Think creamy, buttery (but no butter in the recipe), sweet, minty and light. How do you get that minty green color? From whole foods – oh yesss. I used E3Live and spinach; total added bonus with the greens. You will not taste the green components. PROMISE. You could use spirulina powder and spinach or any green powder really. Just add it in small amounts (teaspoons) until you achieve your desired minty green color.

Step one: Crush candy canes. I added 7 candy canes to a ziplock bag and pounded them with a large kitchen spoon. Anything works, really. Line a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper and spray coconut oil (or your spray oil of choice). Add in half of the crushed candy canes and save the rest for the topping.

Vegan and Gluten Free Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge - Creamy, Decadent, Festive and so Simple to create!

Step two: Blend all ingredients for the fudge until smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into the square pan. Top with the remaining crushed candy canes and chopped marshmallows (optional).

Vegan and Gluten Free Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge - Creamy, Decadent, Festive and so Simple to create!

Step three: Place in freezer for about 4 hours or until firm. Cut into squares and go for it.

Vegan and Gluten Free Candy Cane and Marshmallow Peppermint Fudge - Creamy, Decadent, Festive and so Simple to create!

It’s super easy to make with simple clean-up and keeps well in the freezer. What’s not to love?

[yumprint-recipe id=’73’]

 Happy holidays :)

Guest Blogger: Bunny Kitchen – Gluten Free, Vegan, Quick and Easy Christmas Pudding

15 Dec

The last time Poppy was featured on VBU!, her blog was called Poppy’s Patisserie. Her smoked tofu carbonara pasta was rather delectable!

Let’s revisit Poppy in her own words, “I have always had a deep connection with animals as far back as I can remember. It probably comes as no surprise, therefore, that I became a strict vegetarian at the age of 6 and became vegan in my late teens. I work as a wildlife hospital supervisor, treating and rehabilitating all kinds of wild animals and I will graduate in 2015 with a degree in Animal Management. I am currently carrying out research into a natural treatment of a disease affecting many wild birds which causes great suffering, yet is much unstudied. I spent much of my teenage years in West Africa working for and with street children and am now a charity trustee for the cause. I write Bunny Kitchen to share vegan recipes, DIY tips, inspirational animal stories and general health resources with a hope of inspiring vegans and non-vegans everywhere and perhaps provoking some curiosity in some to give veganism or even vegetarianism a chance. I love getting creative in the kitchen and giving a home to animals in need. Most of all, I love spending time with my 24 wonderful pets!”

I’m sure you’ll want to dive into Poppy’s amazing recipe! Check out Poppy on all her channels:  www.bunnykitchen.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Welcome back Poppy!

 

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Christmas pudding is one of those classic’s that people either love or hate, I love it. I also love keeping tradition going and for me my Christmas table is incomplete without the rich fruit pudding, even if I am the only one to eat it! Continue reading

Guest Blogger: As Raw As You Wanna Be – Chewy Chocolate Orange Cookies

8 Dec

Who doesn’t love a good cookie? I know I certainly do. Please meet our newest contributor is Chef Chris Jolly, the author of his blog As Raw As You Wanna Be. Today he’s sharing his first recipe with us and hopefully many more.

Chef Chris Jolly is a vegan chef specializing in raw foods. Chef Chris serves oversees the raw food production at North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest, one of the largest vegetarian conferences in the world. He has written for Natural Awakening Magazine, written for and been featured in the Asbury Park Press, and his recipes and products have appeared on Glamour.com and OneGreenPlanet.Org among others. Chef Chris lives in San Diego where you can catch him relaxing on the beach, hiking a mountain and generally keeping it classy in America’s finest city.

Check out Chris on his social media channels: Facebook, Instagram. Welcome Chris!

I love cookies! Come on…who doesn’t like cookies? They are sweet, delicious, chewy, crumbly and handheld. This is another super duper easy to make raw food recipe that requires little time and can be recreated in moments with no advanced technique required–and it is delicious. I do use agave in this recipe, but if there another liquid sweetener that you prefer such as coconut nectar, yacon or maple syrup, feel free to substitute instead. Another great swap is to use a 1/2 cup of pitted and soaked dates in place of a liquid sweetener. There is a little coconut sugar in these cookies additionally. Feel free to omit if you like, but these are cookies, so a little decadence is essential.

Chewy Chocolate Orange Cookies

Makes 1 dozen large or 2 dozen medium cookies
2 cups cashews
3/4 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut
 1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut sugar crystals
2 T orange juice
1/2 T vanilla (powder, bean, extract)
2 t pink Himalayan salt
2 pinches orange zest

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process for about a minute until you have a uniform mixture. Use a cookie scoop or your hands to form into cookies and place on a lined dehydrator tray. Dehydrate for 2 hours at 115 degrees. For a different twist on this treat form into small balls, transfer to freezer to set and then dunk in your favorite ganache/chocolate sauce.

And remember–if you’re supposed to be taking photos to share with people, make sure you remember before eating half the cookies…I told you they were delicious!

Guest Blogger: Vegantia – Nurturing Nature

5 Dec

Please welcome our newest Vegan Bloggers Unite! guest blogger, Jen! Jen, is the author of Vegantia, and is passionate about the vegan lifestyle.

Here she is in her own words, “I am Jen, I have recently started writing because It is a way for me to express all I feel about life. I am a Vegan Mother, Wife, Friend and Befriender to people who are living with Young Onset Dementia. These are the roles that define and complete me, they are not separate roles. If someone asked me to describe myself in one word, that word would be…”Vegan” of course. Vegan is Compassion for All life. Compassion is not limited. The Animal Rights Movement is part of, not opposed to the Human Rights movement and I am a Vegan Animal Activist, In my spare time, and privileged to be a human rights activists for those living with a debilitating and misunderstood condition in my paid time. This blog is my attempt to raise awareness, educate and inform about the benefits of a Vegan Lifestyle and the humbling experience that is spending time with people for whom is just one great big challenge. The Compassion I feel means that I spend a lot of time feeling hurt and emotional pain. Writing about this helps me to process these feelings and find a way through so I can be a voice for the voiceless, Non-Human and Human.”

Welcome Jen! Please enjoy her fantastic post below.

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS (by Wendell Berry)

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

This poem is very pertinent to me. As may become obvious over time, like a wheel, I go through cycles of highs and lows. This poem helps to energise, inspire and focus me and helps me to feel more optimistic and determined.
As Autumn, the season of enchantment with its magical panorama of oranges, reds and yellows gives way to the bare, still beauty of winter, and nature prepares to hibernate, it is never more obvious to me that we are inextricably linked to our natural world. As the darkness of winter envelopes my part of Mother Earth, I feel my own personal darkness descend as the pain in the World threatens to engulf me.
We are microcosms of the planet. The body is made up of water and matter as is the planet. As we breathe, so does the planet and we are responsible for the breath of the planet. We are energy as is the planet. Our energetic frequencies reverberate into the planet as the planet’s energetic frequencies reverberate into us. With so much pain in the world, I can’t help feeling that the energy we transmit into the universe is negative yet she only imparts positive energy back to us, her guardians.

The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fibre and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.

John Muir, Naturalist (1838 – 1914)
The poem reminds me that nature and all its beauty is a part of me/us and I/we am a part of it. The same life force that animates me/us, animates the natural world in which we live, love and thrive. I am reminded that in every moment we can appreciate the gifts that nature provides. That is the true value of nature and the true value of living in the moment.
Birds singing passionately in the early hours when I am out with my Doggy Companions can lift me away from the treadmill of my negative thoughts. I find it an extravagantly exuberant sound which lifts my spirits and warms my soul and helps me to feel more hopeful and reminds me to just enjoy what I have, what I’m doing, and who I am right now. Just as the bird song edges its’ way out of the darkness, I feel myself leaving my own darkness and depression behind, at least in that moment in the early hours!
Not everything has to have any more a purpose than that I enjoy it and that it can give me a break from the overwhelming sadness I feel at times and remind me that the most joyful things in life cost nothing! This time of the day is when I am peace and reassured; when I truly feel an integral part of the Natural World, joined to a harmonious whole rather than a separate entity. I have always found my solace out in Nature. Growing up, to escape my unhappiness, I would take my dog and walk up a hill where there was an old disused barn where we’d sit and view the world go by and experience silence and tranquillity.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

John Muir, Naturalist (1838 -1914)
I believe all beings on the planet are structures and are sustained by an influx of matter and energy that starts at the sun and is channelled through plants to us. We are inextricably linked. We all share this space on the planet which helps us to feel connected to each other and the world. Unfortunately Humanity has not been respectful of our place in the natural order and believes it is entitled to subjugate the environment around it. We must reconnect with Mother Earth.
Every human has value, every molecule has value. Nature recognises this and recycles everything and finds a use for it. Humanity can help our relationship with the natural world or completely hinder it by plundering, destroying, killing, hurting and ravaging the our planet. We have guardianship of Our Planet, NOT ownership.
Our connection to Nature is inherent. We need to strive to protect Mother Earth, learn to love her and feel the rewards! By Living as naturally as possible on a plant based diet, I feel so much more at sync with the universe. I have a higher level of awareness and spirituality and I feel total connection to Mother Nature as I try to live in a way so as to preserve the many wonders the world gives us.
By being Vegan we can not only have a more positive effect on our health, but on the health of the world. Being Vegan can nourish us physically, practically and spiritually and, in turn, we can nourish our planet in so many ways as we live in the least invasive way, humbly within all creation, with respect for all beings and leading a way of life which uses the least of Mother Earth’s resources. It offers us a moral baseline for how we conduct ourselves in the world.
Veganism is a complete philosophical view point that is practical in outlook, simple to understand and aspires to the highest environmental and spiritual values. I am sure it holds the key to a future lifestyle for a humane planetary guardianship.

I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for it’s own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance for survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of sceptically and dictatorially.

EB White (Author ) (1899 – 1995)
I believe that being Vegan enables me to have a higher state of consciousness because universal life flows through everything and I am not consuming the life force, physical and emotional of other beings. Those elements are being absorbed when we eat other beings, and, I believe, must reflect in our bodies; the stress, fear and terror of the slaughterhouse is the last thing these non-human animals know and that must be transmitted through their blood which must, in turn transmit negative energy when we consume the flesh and blood of that being.
Eating a plant based only diet deepens that deep sense of awe, admiration and respect I have towards Mother Earth and all the non-human beings that make her their home. We are one small part of the puzzle that is our world, and to fit in to the rest of the puzzle, we must respect our planet and ALL her inhabitants. We must open our eyes to the beauty that surrounds us and to realise how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. We have an interconnection and we break the connection every time we hurt, kill and consume another living being.
We ought to celebrate Nature and its ability to co-exist with us Human beings. Unfortunately, it is our intolerance that prevents us from living in harmony with the Natural World. When interests clash with ours, we seek to manage or exterminate. We just can’t help ourselves in our desire, curiosity and greed to seek dominion over every part of our miraculous world of nature.

Take Nothing but Pictures, Leave nothing but Footprints, Kill nothing but time.

We must recognise that we have a disproportionate influence on the natural world around us. We need to understand how important it is that we expend energy in a positive way, trying to understand nature and wildlife, rather than separating ourselves from it. If we do, we may find that we heal not only ourselves, but the planet too.
The natural world is a source of, pleasure, delight, beauty and reassurance. If we get out of kilter with it, we are heading for catastrophe and the associated emotional, spiritual and physical loss would be a disaster. If we all live in a way that seeks to minimise the harm to the naural environment, we will find our true nature in harmony with our environment. By giving ourselves the chance to form a relationship with the natural world, we can learn to recognise that our landscape has its own life and its own spirit. If we respect the natural world we can live in harmony with it and we can live off it.
Our ancestors lived off the land and by the seasons, and each season presented them with new challenges, but they listened to the land and the land gave them what they needed because they were in tune with nature, they were part of it.
Going back to basics means reconnecting with nature, growing our own food and protecting mother earth for us and our children. It means becoming self-sustainable and self-sufficient. We can’t do any of that if we don’t feel part of our natural environment.
We must instill a sense of empathy and responsibility in our children, towards the natural world and all living beings. It is them who will ultimately be left with our legacy of plunder and destruction. Respecting their environment is one of the most important messages we can pass on to future generations. We must encourage them to engage with wildlife, our extraordinary neighbours and be inspired by nature. Our next generation will only protect their planet if they feel part of it and not separate from it. We need to teach them to embrace their circle of compassion to embrace of beings and the whole of nature and its beauty.

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

E B White, Author, Charlotte’s Web
I used to volunteer at an amazing gardening project which supports individuals living with a mental health illness. Projects like these, which are sadly few and far between, are incredibly valuable. Life is stripped back to basics and people can discover a sense of respect and wonder for nature, and experience something different from their normal lives which can be lonely, frustrating and challenging. Gardening allows us to truly reconnect with nature and these projects offer valuable opportunities to learn, grow and increase knowledge, understanding and experience of the natural environment; An environment that gives us a world that has a past and present reality and provides opportunities to exercise and socialise.

Apathy can be starved by a single sunset

This project enables people, who may not generally have these opportunities, to be a part of something wonderful which only serves to build self- worth, a sense of purpose and the realisation that we are part of something much bigger. Being outdoors improves our psychological and physical health whether we are active or passive in our pursuit of enjoying the natural world. Garden colours and scents stimulate the brain. This project allows people to relax and enjoy the outdoors while giving them the chance to work on the land, get back to nature and find out how food is produced. There is something wonderful about going out in the morning, doing a hard day’s work and then actually seeing the results of your labour. That’s a real reward that money can’t buy and extremely confidence boosting. It can help to put problems into perspective

Keep close to Nature’s heart…wash your spirit clean

John Muir, Naturalist
Not so long ago, my husband and I chose to become eternally joined to one another! We were “joined” in a pagan hand fasting ceremony under an apple tree among all the splendour that Mother Earth had to offer! It was amazing! As we exchanged rings, we chose this speech to remind us and our friends and family of our inherent connection to Our Earth.

These rings, a token of your love for one another, will serve as a reminder that all in life is a cycle, all comes to pass and passes away and comes to pass again. May the elements bless these rings; Air for hopes and dreams; Fire for the spark of love; Water for harmony and healing; and Earth for strength.
The circle is the symbol of the sun, the earth and the universe. It is a symbol of wholeness and peace. In the form of a ring, may it stand for you as a symbol of your love for each other, looking inwards and outwards, an embrace that binds without imprisoning, a support that reassures without restricting.
By the exchange of these tokens of your love for one another, so are your lives interlaced. What one experiences, so shall the other; as honesty and love build, so will your bond strenghen and grow.
The circle is a perfect figure, without beginning, without end, with no area of weakness. It is a symbol of the Circle of Life, of death and rebirth. This shall serve as a physical reminder of your vow, and that all things begin and end and begin again. These rings shall serve to remind you that life goes on, that these moments passs. When you are engulfed in anger or in sadness, look to your hand and remember that the wheel turns forever onward, and it is love that turns the wheel.

The symbolism of the circular rings was explained by the great native American leader, Black Elk, who said:

“Everything the power of the worlds does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are the stars. The wind in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nests in circles…………..The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always coming back again to where they were. The life of a man or woman is a circle from childhood to adulthood, and so is everything where power moves.”

These words sum up our connection with Mother Earth. We are part of her, part of nature, part of the ever changing cycle of life. WE MUST STOP DAMAGING HER, STOP PLUNDERING HER RESOURCES AND HURTING HER INHABITANTS. WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR WORLD, GIVE HER TIME TO HEAL AND THEN NURTURE HER SO SHE AND US CAN LIVE AND WORK IN HARMONY. MOTHER EARTH IS OUR LIFE FORCE, WITHOUT HER AND ALL HER GIFTS TO US, WE WILL PERISH.

The forests are the flags of Nature. They appeal to all and awaken inspiring universal feelings. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten. It may be that some immortal pine will be the flag of a united peaceful world.

Enos A Mills, Naturalist, 1870 -1922
This weekend, Go out, be creative, FEEL GROUNDED, explore, plant, pick, taste, observe, listen, take photos and indulge in the wonder that surrounds us, the wonder that is OUR world! Tomorrow , I will be out campaigning for a Compassionate Christmas, and I believe we are going to be blessed with winter sunshine! On Sunday, I will be out in my garden pulling up my last crops of the year; Celeriac, and perhaps I can share a recipe for Celeriac soup over the next posts!
John Muir, talking about the natural environment, once observed

“Every time I bend down to pick something up, I find it is connected to something else.” There is an equivalent “ecology” to our behavior. Everything we do connects to something else; every action touches on the world around us, either close at hand and noticeable, or far away and unperceived, immediate in its effect or distant in time.”

Earths Blessings All x

Guest Blogger: Create Mindfully – Tofu Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

26 Nov

Put your hands together for our newest Vegan Bloggers Unite! member – Willow Moon. Willow is the author of Create Mindfully. I enjoy the variety she blogs about from vegan recipes (sometimes gluten free too!), to DIY projects, and thoughts on the vegan lifestyle as a whole.

Here she is in her own words, “Hi my name is Willow Moon. I am glad to be a part of a community of like minded people! I started my website about three weeks ago. Create Mindfully is a blog about living naturally, healing and thriving. I share posts about creating abundance, losing weight naturally, and releasing blockages and pain with tapping. I write reviews on natural beauty and food products, as well as books on healing and self development. I share vegan, gluten free and some raw recipes that are simple and easy to make. I also sell original artwork on apparel, phone and tablet cases, mugs, canvases, posters and more.”

Follow Willow on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Welcome Willow!

Have you ever gone to a Thai restaurant and ordered their delicious spring roll appetizers with peanut or sweet chili dipping sauce?

They are one of my favorites things to start a meal with. The spring rolls you get at a restaurant usually have carrots, cabbage, tofu (if you’re lucky) and transparent rice noodles. The transparent rice noodles are made from starch, and so is the rice wrapper. With the rice wrapper and the rice noodles, that’s a lot of carbs! If they come with the sweet chili sauce, and you like a lot of sauce, like me, that’s a bunch of sugar! Even though I love them, I don’t love the carbs and the sugar. When I’m at home I will eat the spring rolls as a meal, but I like to change it up, adding more protein and less carbs. I use brown rice spring roll wrappers instead of white. Here is my healthier version of Thai restaurant spring rolls.

cropped spring roll Serves 2-4
Peanut Dipping Sauce
Ingredients (organic when available)
You may want to double this if you like a lot of sauce like me!

  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon Thai Kitchen red curry paste (or your favorite curry paste)
  • ½ cup Lite coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium tamari (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients with a whisk or fork until blended.

 
Spring Rolls
Ingredients (organic when available)

  • 4 brown rice paper wraps
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 4 tablespoons mint
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro
  • 14 oz sprouted tofu (4-6 tablespoons per spring roll)
  • coconut spray oil
  • 2 cups of water to soak the wrappers

Instructions

  1. Remove water from tofu and slice into squares. I like to turn the tofu so that it is standing up, then I slice it into thirds. Then I lay it flat and slice into fourths. This way you have 12 tofu squares, which is easier to flip on the frying pan.
  2. Spray frying pan with coconut spray oil and fry tofu until golden brown. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 cups of water in microwave.
  4. After water is heated, put the water in a large enough container to hold the brown rice paper wraps.
  5. Dip one of the wraps in the water, turning until it is pliable.
  6. Put the wrap flat on a plate and fill with ¼ each of the above amounts of the cilantro, mint, spinach, and tofu.
  7. Roll like you would a burrito.
  8. Repeat with each wrapper.
  9. Serve Peanut Dipping Sauce.

IMG_3787IMG_3788
 
IMG_3790

Guest Blogger: Vegiterra – Lime Basil Seed Pudding

20 Nov

So glad to welcome back Kristofir and Christopher who are the brains behind Vegiterra. Their last post was a tasty recipe for Crunchy Sweet Potato Gnocchi.

What is their blog about? Here they are in their own words.

Vegiterra is a vegan recipe blog and a pop-up vegan restaurant that offers creative worldly vegan flavours at events in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas. It was started just this year by Kristofir (the culinary mastermind) and Christopher (the operations guru), with wonderful support from family and friends.”

Check out Vegiterra on their blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Welcome Kristofir and Christopher!

On a routine trip to the Asian market I stopped in my tracks as I read a label  “Sweet Basic Seed.”  Basic seeds? I had to buy this!  Not knowing what it was, I brought it home and looked all over the internet to help identify these mysterious black dots. 
 
It turns out that these were in fact basil seeds, and the person writing the label switched the “l” for a “c.”  We all do it – it’s fine.  I was excited and eagerly searched for information.  Basil seeds act very similarly to chia seeds, and are also full of nutrients such as potassium, maganese, calcium, copper, magnesium, folates, and vitamin C.  In addition to minerals, the seeds aid in digestion and provide relief for upset stomach and cramps;  help treat colds; are a stress reliever (as is basil essential oil when used in aroma therapy, so eat a lot of pesto when you are stressed out); aid in skin infections when crushed and applied to cuts. They are considered to be super foods by some and delicious by others. 
 
They are sometimes called Falooda and appear in Arabic influenced drinks and desserts from the Middle East, through the subcontinent and into southeast Asia.  This is where I first tried the seeds, and I was massively impressed by their texture which is reminiscent of bubble tea when in a drink. 
 
Basil seeds can be used as a replacement in any chia seed recipe.  The seeds plump up in minutes, whereas chia seeds can take hours, so it is a good option if you are in a rush.  They also take on the flavour of whatever you soak them in.  In this recipe, they are soaked in a mixture of coconut milk and lime zest, giving them a fresh, tropical taste. 
 
For 4 x 8 oz servings 
  • 3 tablespoons basil seeds 
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Zest of one lime 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or any sweetener) 
  • Fruit coulis, of your choice (mango is easy to find and is very tasty)
 
Method:
  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat the coconut milk, vanilla, lime zest, and syrup for 3 minutes on a gentle simmer. 
  2. In glass jar, or mixing bowl, add the basil seeds, and pour the coconut milk mixture overtop.  
  3. Stir for a few seconds and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir again.  
  4. At this point the seeds will have grown and you should have a pudding texture.
  5. Chill, or eat warm as is with layers of fruit coulis. 

 

Guest Blogger: Glue and Glitter – Mini No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecakes

19 Nov

I know most people love a good cheesecake, Becky, of  Glue and Glitter fame has taken it one step further with mini NO bake cheesecakes. Becky has contributed before with her Easy Peasy Kale Salad Recipe,  Almost Raw Vegan Truffles and Orange Ginger Dream Green Smoothie and Mexican Hot Chocolate Milkshake for Cinco de Mayo.

Here she is in her own words, “My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone! My new cookbook, Bowls, is a collection of easy, mix-and-match vegan comfort food recipes.” Welcome back Becky!

Mini No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecakes

Instead of one large cheesecake, this recipe makes 12 single-serving mini cheesecakes. What can I say? I love a miniature version of things!

These mini cheesecakes are a spin on my all-time favorite dessert recipe: Teaslies.

This is a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. It comes together quickly, and these suckers transport well in a shallow container with a lid. Just stack them in a single layer and make sure they’re chilled before you head out.

Mini No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecakes

mini chocolate cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds or walnuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates, soaked overnight in enough water to cover, then drained
  • 3 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in enough water to cover, then drained
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted (measure, then melt)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • mixed fruits of your choice

Directions

  1. Puree the almonds or walnuts until you have a coarse meal and set aside. Puree 1/3 cup of the dates, then mix the dates and almond meal to create a sticky dough. Divide the dough between 12 lined muffin tins, pressing it down into the bottom. The dough will fill the cups about 1/4 of the way.
  2. Combine all of the remaining ingredients except for the berries in your blender or food processor. Puree until totally smooth. If the mixture seems grainy, give your blender a break, then puree some more. Keep pureeing and taking breaks until you have a creamy mixture. Divide this between the cups.
  3. Top with your berries, and chill for 1 hour or until you’re ready to serve.
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