Eating Out- Vegan Style

Living in the Midwest- it’s not very easy to be a vegan.  Or so you would think.  Around us- there are a few places that actually cater to ‘Vegans’, but we are slowly learning that we can usually find something good to eat at many different restaurants.

If we have a choice of where to eat- we do a search to see what vegan friendly restaurants are nearby.  *using www.Urbanspoon.com & www.vegguide.org

If we know which restaurant we are going to- but aren’t really sure what they have on the menu- we check out www.veganeatingout.com – this gives us ideas for what they have.  Plus you can always enquire about foods while you’re there- most servers will go ask the chef what’s in certain things.  And- a lot of places now have Vegetarian options, which are normally good minus any cheese or butter.

We have eaten Italian (Tomato Bruschetta/ Marinara Pasta); Mexican (Veggie Fajita/Veggie Burrito/Chips & Salsa); Fast Food (Chipotle); Awesome Vegan Friendly restaurant in KC- Blue Bird; Mediteranian (Hummus/Grape Leaves/ Etc Platter & Rice Mix); Sushi (Veggie Sushi/ Tofu Platter); Pizza (veggie supreme no cheese); Chinese (Veggie Lo Mein/Eggplant Pasta Dishes); Vietnamese (StirFry/Soup); and way more.

So- for those out there that think it’s hard to be a vegan or that being a vegan means we can only go to “vegan” restaurants- Think Again!  Yes- It’s been different.  Yes- sometime we just have to eat a pb&j because we aren’t in an area that has anything but a burger joint (that doesn’t have a veggie burger).  But, for the most part, our social lives haven’t suffered and we’re still saving the critters!  YAY!

Veggie Stuffed Sweet Potato

Black Bean Burger

Mediteranian Sampler

Margaritas

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Eggplant w/Veggies & Jasmin Rice

Squash Pasta & Zucchini Marinara Sauce at... Ruby Tuesday

Veggie, Tofu, Rice Noodle Soup

Spicy Tofu w/ Veggies & Rice

 

 

I have a friend. His name is Herb.

I love herbs.  All kind of herbs.  Just smelling fresh herbs brings back memories of summers in my mom’s garden and my brother and I sitting on the hot ground, each chewing on a stem of chive that we ‘snuck’.

Back in our healthy meat eating days, we had a lot of chicken, broccoli and cous cous.  We rarely used fresh herbs- and very very rarely got creative with food.  Now, I’m learning how much fun it is to be in the kitchen and am really enjoying the use of fresh herbs.  My folks got us an indoor grow garden a few years ago- and we can buy all kinds of herb kits to put in there- so that’s a blast.  I will also sometimes get the packs of fresh herbs from the produce section of the store.  And, sometimes when I’m home- I’ll stock up on baggie fulls from my mom’s giant herb garden.  I also use dried herbs in some recipes (just make sure to remember that even dried herbs expire- make sure you use them within a year for full freashness).

Now- up until lately- I’ve been a real novice with herbs.  I use only my favorites and only dried or fresh- and then when the fresh start to wither- I’ve tossed them.  What a waste.  Now, thanks to my MOM and Google- I’m learning what to do with them to make them last longer and be able to really get the most out of my indoor garden by being able to grow back to back (reminder to self- I need to order a new grow bulb, vitamins, and some new herb kits: That thing gets used very frequently)- as well as ideas of what each one tastes like or adds to a dish without having to smell it or taste it.

*tip- we use the AeroGarden and love it.  Check it out HERE.  We have learned that they grow best with a new bulb every 6 months or so.  Also- best not to use half of one kit and half of another…  Tomatoes and Herbs don’t do great together.  Once we have our future place with room to grow- I would love to have two or more of these- or even set up my own corner of an indoor grow garden…

 

FREEZING FRESH HERBS:

I like to freeze my herbs.  It’s simple and then when you are making soup or chili or anything really- you can drop the ice cube into the mix and after it melts- you will have fresh herbs in your dish.  They even taste like they were just cut.  All you have to do is cut them up, put them into ice cube trays (my ice cube trays actually have markings to show what herbs go where), add enough water to make an ‘ice cube’ and freeze!

Chopping up Herbs

Into the trays

Cubes in the freezer- next to my sliced cucumber

 

AIR DRYING FRESH HERBS:

Again- very easy.  Have you ever dried flowers by hanging them upside down?  This is what I do to save roses- I still have a rose from my first Valentine’s day with Rick- almost 6 years ago, one from my best friends wedding, one from my grandfather’s funeral, and most of the bouquet from when Rick proposed last August.  I’m off subject :).  But if you ever want to save flowers (roses work best)- it is the same process.

You just cut the herbs at the stem, remove any dry or diseased leaves, and hang them upside down with a string.  Make the not tight- the stem will shrink as it dries.  Check every few days- and take them down when they are dry (can crumble in your hands).  Then store them in an air tight container.  I use magnetic herb/seasoning containers from World Market.  These will last for a year.

 

*tip- Basil, parsley, cilantro and chives loose flavor when air drying- so try to freeze these instead

 

HERBS I LOVE:

Parsley- can be used in just about anything- including decorations

Basil-Great in Mediterranean foods, salads & pasta

Oregano-good in Italian & Mediterranean food, pastas

Rosemary-soup & roasted veggies & breads & deserts (I like on roasted sweet potatoes and in mashed taters :))

Thyme-Very good in breads and sauces

Cilantro- use in small doses, good in latin foods, salsas, & soup (dried and crumbled into a powder- makes corriander)

Turmeric-good in South Asian & Middle Eastern dishes

Tarragon-good for sauces and such- I added it to ketchup once.  YUM.

Sage-Great in Italian dishes, sauces, ‘cheese’

Dill-dips, mashed potatoes, soup, with vegetables- and I really want to try a dill foccacia bread soon.

Chives- baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, soup, spreads

Lavendar-bread, sauces, soup, roasted veggies, deserts (can use instead of Rosemary)

Mint- drinks & tea, deserts (chocolate mint syrup, cookies, etc), salads

 

Keeping a clean kitchen- Vegan Style

As an adult, I am ‘creatively cluttered’ and living in ‘organized disarray’.  As a child, it was more characterized as ‘messy’ and ‘chaotic’.

I remember when I was a ‘tween’ and all I wanted was a dish-washer.  You see we were raised pretty normally – with chores.  One of my many MANY chores (yes, Mom, you were totally into child slave-labor 😉 ) was to wash the dishes.   And I HATED washing dishes.  I still hate washing dishes.

But it is time to get past that.  Unless you have been blessed by the ‘giant kitchen’ god (and we have not), you are never going to have a kitchen big enough to satisfy me.  My biggest two problems are dishes (have I told you that I hate washing dishes?) and storage (rather, lack-there-of).   You can’t exactly experiment and cook all whole foods and chop & store veggies, yada yada yada – without ROOM.   And who wants to cook in a messy kitchen anyways?

I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I do enjoy waking up in the morning to a sparkling sink and a clear counter.  So- how to get there?

I’ve actually STOPPED using my dish-washer.  I know. I know.  Tween Kassie is kicking me in my shins right now.  But, I learned that it was much like my ‘laundry skills’.  I tend to start a load, get distracted, and leave them in there until I remember that I don’t have any clean underwear.  I did the same with dishes.  So, we stopped living out of the cupboards and started living out of the dishwasher.  Which is great – except some days we don’t have enough dishes to run a load and some days we have way too many- it’s just hard to keep up with and the sink or dishwasher is always full of dirty dishes.  So… we did what I haven’t done since I was in my first cheap apartment over 9 years ago…  We bought a drying rack.  Now, we cook and then hand wash our dishes.  Then we fold up the drying rack and put that away.  Voila- no dirty dishes overnight.  No dirty dishes EVAH.  Cabinets are full.  Sinks are clean.  It really makes me want to cook when I get home instead of order-out.

I’ve also gotten into a habit of cleaning out the fridge and mopping the floor every weekend.  We can see what we have, what we need, and you don’t step on that damn piece of rice that fell three days ago and I never found until it manage to stick up into my toe this morning.  Yeah- that happens.

So- in an odd, round-a-bout way: Veganism has made me a cleaner person.  At least, in the Kitchen.  And, I am more motivated to keep cooking when my kitchen is clean.  Ah- the circle of life.

Almost to the INITIAL Finish Line

I have been so busy the past two weeks- that I’ve barely posted.  So, tonight and over the thanksgiving weekend- be prepared.  Posts galore coming.

Anyways- we are almost to our finish line.  Line up the steaks.  Just kidding.  We actually have decided to be mostly vegan.  It’s not nearly as hard as we thought it would be, I’m becoming an awesome cook, we’re eating a lot of new and different foods (vs our normal fallback to chicken breast & broccoli), we feel better, I’m down 10 lbs in a month, we have more energy, AND we get to eat pizza without worrying about all of the extra sodium and grease from butter, cheese, salt, & meat.  Why not keep doing it?? 🙂

Now- we’re not going to be those crazy vegan fanatics that you can no-longer invite to dinner because you have to worry about where we can eat or get an earful about what your steak went through before getting to your plate.  We’re not those types of vegans.  I’m not sure what we can even classify ourselves as…  except- ‘Mostly Vegan’.  We try not to eat animal by-products or animal flesh- but if we don’t have a choice or we’re really craving ____ (enter food here- ex. Eggs, Steak, Burger, Fish, etc)- we will make an exception and go have a bit.  But for the most part- we will continue to avoid.  Why?  Well- it’s not that hard and we see the benefits.  It’s not for everyone- but we’re pretty sure it is for us.

Now bring on Thanksgiving!  Perfect example- I will probably have a bit of turkey, a bit of stuffing, and a bite of a deviled egg- and then the rest of my plate will be filled with Thanksgiving Casserole, Scalloped Corn, Champagne/Mushroom Gravy, Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, Rolls, Sweet Potatoes- all vegan.

Now we haven’t gotten there yet- so who knows how this will all go down…  Stay tuned.

 

Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit. The More You Eat, The More You….

Na- that’s not right 🙂

Beans are my new favorite things.  They are good, cheap and packed full of nutrients.  In our stocked ‘Vegan’ pantry- we keep a few canned beans (for if I forget to soak overnight)- and a TON of dried beans.  The problem was- I had trouble finding how to cook them.  At whole foods- you get them out of a bin.  They don’t come with instructions.  And I have NEVER cooked dried beans before.  Jeez- until recently- we didn’t even know that you’re supposed to drain the canned beans before adding them to the pot.

So- here is a basic explanation of how to cook different kinds of beans.

Storing Dried Beans

Dried beans can be stored in plastic bags or containers in a cool, dry cabinet, drawer or shelf. High humidity and temperatures are BAD for dried beans.

Dried Bean Math (how much dried will make after cooked)

1/3 cup dried beans = 1 cup cooked

1/2 cup dried beans = 1 1/2 cups cooked

2/3 cup dried beans = 2 cups cooked

1 cup dried beans = 3 cups cooked

2 cups dried beans = 6 cups cooked

Soaking Dried Beans

Put beans in a large bowl and fill with cold water… water amount should be three times the amount of beans measured or more.

Soak the beans overnight (or 8 hours)… you’ll see them double in size and most of the water will have been absorbed by morning.

Rinse and drain the beans three or four times till the water runs clear.

Soaking dried beans activates the beans to begin the germination process. Once wet, the beans release enzymes that begin to break down their complex sugars into more simple ones. It is the bean’s complex sugars that give you gas and indigestion after eating beans that haven’t been pre-soaked. The soak method reduces 60% of the complex sugars in most beans.

There is no need to pre-soak dried black-eyed peas, split peas, peas, or any variety of lentils.

Don’t add salt until the beans are tender and cooked completely. Adding salt will prevent the beans from absorbing water. This is because a bean has an opening that is large enough for water molecules to enter it, but salt molecules are larger and will plug the bean opening, preventing the water to enter… thus you have hard beans that never seem to cook right.

Cooking Beans after Soaking (beans are measured at 1 cup):

Black Beans: 50-60 minutes

Black-eyed Peas: 45 minutes (don’t need to soak)

Butter Beans: 60-90 minutes

Cannellini Beans: 1 1/4 hour

Fava Beans: 1 hour

Garbanzo Beans: 1 1/2 hour

Kidney Beans: 1 1/4 hour

Green & Brown Lentils: 25-30 minutes (no pre-soaking)

Red Lentils: 10 minutes (no pre-soaking)

Black Lentils: 20 minutes (no pre-soaking)

Lima Beans: 40-45 minutes

Navy Beans: 50-60 minutes

Split Peas: 50-60 minutes (no pre-soaking)

Whole Peas: 1 1/4 hours (no pre-soaking)

Pinto Beans: 1 hour

Red Beans: 1 hour

Soybeans: 2 1/4 hours

What Is A Vegan

Since we’ve started this journey- we’ve gotten a lot of support.  We’ve also gotten a lot of jeers.    We’ve had people invite themselves to dinner.  We’ve been teased.  We’ve made new friends.  It’s been an interesting a fun ride already.  However- one question that I received (a few times) is: ‘What exactly IS a vegan?’.  I’ve also gotten: ‘Wait!  You can’t have cheese?!?’ and ‘Where do you get your protein?!?’.  The protein question I’ll answer later.  But for now- I’ll answer the question on What Exactly IS A Vegan.  While a lot of people know- lets be serious, not everyone knows.   Even doing the research- every once in a while I run into an article telling me something not to eat- something that I didn’t even think about.  So here it is- in basic terms:

What Is A Vegan:

Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as some refined white sugar and some wines. Most vegans also avoid the use of all products tested on animals, as well as animal-derived non-food products, such as leather, fur and wool.

Vegan refers to either a person who follows this way of eating, or to the diet itself.

What Can’t Vegans Eat:

  • Meat. Topping the list, of course, are all meats — from hamburgers and pork chops to chicken wings and the Thanksgiving turkey.
  • Fish and shellfish. Whether it’s a lowly shrimp, a fried fish stick, or salmon, it’s not part of a vegan diet.
  • Dairy products. Off the vegan menu: everything from milk and yogurt to cheese and butter.
  • Eggs. That means mayonnaise and anything else made with eggs (yes, most brownies and cakes, too!).
  • Most beer. Guinness is filtered using tiny amounts of gelatin derived from fish bladders.  And it’s not alone. While some beers are vegan, others are filtered using egg whites or sea shells, according to barnivore, a vegan beer and wine guide.
  • Some breads. While many simple breads are a-OK, containing just four ingredients (flour, yeast, water, and salt) many breads and baked goods are made with whey (a dairy product) or with butter, eggs, or sugar.
  • Marshmallows. These and other foods, like gummy candies and Frosted Mini Wheats, are made with gelatin — a protein made from boiling skin, bones, and other animal parts.
  • Salad dressing. Salads are great for vegans, but not necessarily the dressing. Scan the ingredient list, and you’ll often find lecithin, which helps keep oil and vinegar from separating, and can be derived from animal tissues or egg yolk (both no-no’s for vegans) or from soy (OK).

Really- We just have to read every label and make a lot of things ourselves.  You’d be surprised, for instance, how many foods contain gelatin or whey or fish sauce

What Vegans Can Eat:

  • Vegetables. Buy a wide variety of vegetables, preferably the deep green and yellow-orange ones. White and sweet potatoes are excellent foods. Avocados are high in oil content; therefore, use them sparingly. Fresh vegetables are the best, frozen would be an acceptable second choice, with canned vegetables your last choice. Be sure to read the labels.
  • Fruit. Buy a variety of fresh, ripe fruits to use at breakfast with your whole grain cereals or at supper time. Apples are one of the best fruits. Citrus fruits are good, too.
  • Grains. Eat many different types of whole grains, such as whole wheat, rye, oats, rolled oats, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, 100% cornmeal, and whole barley. Cook whole by themselves or in a mixture with other grains. For variety, grind them.
  • Pasta. Buy whole grain products, such as spaghetti and macaroni made from whole wheat, corn, spinach, artichokes, or soy flours. Check labels carefully.
  • Legumes. Legumes are dry beans and peas. For economy, buy these in bulk. Use a variety throughout the week or month. Good choices include pinto and red beans, garbanzos (chick peas), lentils, black beans, split peas (green or yellow), great northern, navy or white beans, and lima beans. Soybeans are high in fat and protein; thus, they should be used sparingly.
  • Nuts & Seeds. Use very sparingly. Nuts and seeds are classed as concentrated foods because of their high fat content. Limit nuts to 1/6 to 1/10 of the ingredients in loaves and casseroles. Almonds are the king of nuts for nutritional value.
  • Bread.  Make your own bread if at all possible. Read labels very carefully and choose whole grain breads and bread products as much as possible. Remember that the term “wheat flour” refers to white, refined flour.
  • Crackers.  Some good choices are Norwegian Ideal whole grain flat bread, crispbread wafers, Ryquita crisp, rye bread, Hol-Grain Waferets, Finn Crisp, Rye Krisp. Some stores carry 100 percent whole wheat matzos – look for the variety made without eggs. Also, read labels carefully as some companies make product variations that may not be the best choices for a healthy diet.
  • Herbs.  Sweet herbs often enhance the natural flavor of food. Most sweet herbs are available in supermarkets; however, natural foods stores often carry them in bulk at much lower prices.

Really- we can eat just about anything we want- as long as we make it.  We’ve had cupcakes, cookies, pizza, pasta, soup, chili, oatmeal, Mac & ‘Cheese’, popcorn, hummus, pb&j, zucchini bread, etc- which is a better selection of food than we usually eat.

Pluses For Eating Vegan:

  • Conservation of Fossil fuel. It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein; 35 calories for 1 calorie of pork; 22 calories for 1 of poultry; but just 1 calorie of fossil fuel for 1 calorie of soybeans. B
  • Water Conservation. It takes 3 to 15 times as much water to produce animal protein as it does plant protein.
  • Efficient use of grains. It takes up to 16 pounds of soybeans and grains to produce 1 lb. of beef and 3 to 6 lbs. to produce 1 lb of turkey & egg.
  • Soil conservation. When grains & legumes are used more efficiently, our precious topsoil is automatically made more efficient in its use. We use less agricultural resources to provide for the same number of people.
  • Saving our forests. Tropical forests in Brazil and other tropic regions are destroyed daily, in part, to create more acreage to raise livestock.  Since the forest land “filters” our air supply and contains botanical sources for new medicines, this destruction is irreversable.
  • Asthetics. Decaying animal parts, whether in a freezer case or served in restaurants, can never be as asthetically pleasing to the senses as the same foods made from wholesome vegetable sources. Only habit can allow one not to perceive this: a change in diet makes this self evident.
  • Lower fat plus no cholesterol. Animal foods are higher in fat than most plant foods, particularly saturated fats. Plants do not contain cholesterol.
  • Fewer Agricultural Chemicals. Being higher on the food chain, animal foods contain far higher concentrations of agricultural chemicals than plant foods, including pesticides, herbicides, etc.
  • Lower Exposure to livestock drugs. There are over 20,000 different drugs, including sterols, antibiotics, growth hormones and other veterinary drugs that are given to livestock animals. These drugs are consumed when animal foods are consumed. The dangers herein, in secondary consumption of antibiotics, are well documented.
  • Shelf life differential. Plant foods last longer than animal foods. Try this experiment: Leave out a head of lettuce and a pound of hamburger for 1 day, which will make you sick?
  • Organoleptic Indications of Pathenogens. Plant foods give tell-tale signs of “going bad”. Ever hear of someone getting sick from “bad broccoli”?
  • Lower rate in Obesity. Studies confirm that vegetarians tend to be thinner than meat eaters. Obesity is considered by doctors to be a disease within itself.
  • No excess protein. The average American eats 400% of the RDA for protein. This causes excess nitrogen in the blood that creates a host of long-term health problems.
  • Well Being. I just feel better since “giving up” meat and becoming vegetarian.
  • Food costs. Vegetarian foods tend to cost less than meat based items.
  • Love of animals. I love animals as I love myself. I have no desire to kill them or cause them harm.
  • Stance against Factory Farming.  I cannot make a statement against factory farming if I myself eat their animals.
  • Natural diet. Our hands, teeth, feet, intestinal tract…even our body chemistry is that of an herbivore.
  • Clear conscience. I know what I’m doing is right. When we saw a truck full of little baby pigs the other day, I had a hard time not crying.  Now knowing what lies in store for those sweet little fuzzy pigs- I was almost devastated to see a whole truckload of them- with their little snouts sticking out of the air vent.  At least I knew- that I wouldn’t be backing the killing of those sweethearts and I wouldn’t be un-knowingly eating one of them in the future.
  • Example. To live this way is to protect the underlying values of those around me.
  • Easy substitutes. There are vegetable based substitutes for every meat product imaginable.
  • Fun in the Kitchen! We have made more unique stuff in the past two weeks- than I think we ever have.

Read more about the health benefits of becoming a vegan- HERE

Egg Substitues

For those of you who love baking and can’t see being a vegan- because… well.. most recipes need eggs.  Here are some egg substitutions thanks to www.VegWeb.com.  Eventually I will try all of these until I find the perfect substitutions- I’ll let you know how each one works

A popular egg substitute is Ener-G Ener-G Egg Replacer, which is make from potato starch, tapioca flour,  leavening agents (calcium lactate , calcium carbonate, and citric acid) and a gum derived from cottonseed.  Its primarily intended to replace the leavening/binding characteristics of eggs in baking, but it can be used for – foods and quiches.

Alternative replacements (quantity per egg substituted for) & what you can use them for:

    Baking Powder & Baking Soda:

  • 1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder + 1-1/2 tablespoons warm water + 1-1/2 tablespoons oil (use: leavening)
  • 1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder + 1 tablespoon warm water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (use: leavening)
  • 1 egg = 2 teaspoons baking soda + 2 tablespoons warm water(use: leavening)
  • 1 egg = 2 teaspoons baking soda + 2 tablespoons warm water + 1/2 teaspoon oil(use: leavening) – Tried, wasn’t a huge fan- did work but I think it made my bread a little bitter
  • 1 egg = 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1 teaspoon vinegar(use: leavening)

    Flour:

  • 1 egg = 1 teaspoon soy flour + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding + moisture)
  • 1 egg = 3 tablespoons water + 3 tablespoons flour + 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable shortening, + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (use: leavening)

    Fruit:

  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup applesauce or pureed fruit (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup pumpkin puree or squash puree (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup apricot or prune puree (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 1/2 mashed banana (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 1/2 mashed banana + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (use: leavening)

    Nuts & Seeds:   

  • 1 egg = 3 tablespoons nut butter
  • 1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons hot water (let stand 10 minutes)  (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder + 3 tablespoons water  (let stand 10 minutes; use: leavening)
  • 1 egg – 1 teaspoon psylium seed husk + 1/4 cup water (let stand 5 minutes; use: binding and moisture)

    Soy:

  • 1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons lecithin granules + 1-1/2 tablespoons water + 1 teaspoon baking powder (use: leavening)
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup silken tofu (use: binding and moisture)

    Starch:

  • 1 egg = 2 tablespoons arrowroot + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 2 tablespoons corn starch + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 2 tablespoons potato starch + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding and moisture)
  • 1 egg = 1-1/2 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 tablespoons warm water (whisk to froth; use: leavening)
  • 1 egg = 1-1/2 teaspoon tapioca/corn starch + 1-1/2 teaspoon potato starch + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder + pinch xanthan gum + 3-1/2 tablespoons water + 1 teaspoon oil (whisk to froth; use: leavening)

    Other:

  • 1 egg = 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (use: leavening)
  • 1 egg = 3 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon water (use: moisture and binding)
  • 1 egg = 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (use: moisture and binding)
  • 1 egg = 3 tablespoons mashed beans (use: moisture and binding)
  • 1 egg = 3 tablespoons mashed potatoes (use: moisture and binding)

Egg White Substitutions:

  • 1 egg white = 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum + 1/4 cup water (let stand 5 minutes, then whip; use: leavening)

Egg Yolk Substitutions:

  • 1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons lecithin granules + 2 teaspoons water (use: moisture and binding)

Hot Dog!

I love hot dogs.  I love brats.  As a teenager and young adult- I heard “there’s all types of animal parts in there”.  Never doing the research- I just ignored that little piece in the back of my mind- while enjoying a Sonic dog…

Now- in the process of our 30 day vegan challenge and in wanting to learn as much as I can about what is going in my body– I have done a bit of research on Hot Dogs.  Here is what I have learned (from a completely unbiased standpoint):

  1. Hotdogs are NOT made of dog (I knew that already- I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention)
  2. Most hot dogs are made of a combination of meat (depending what kind of hot dog you get- pork, beef, chicken or turkey), meat fat, cereal filler (bread crumbs, flour, or oatmeal), egg white, and herbs/seasonings.  Then the ingredients are grinded together and stuffed into sausage casings and then pre-cooked.
  3. Casings used to be made out of sheep intestines (and still are in some homemade or small farm recipes)- but now most of the hot dogs sold in stores use a synthetic cellulose casings.
  4. Hot dogs are also called franks, frankfurter, wiener, mini sausages, ball parks and dachshunds.
  5. July is National Hot Dog Month
  6. An average American eats 60 hot dogs a year
  7. In 1893, hot dogs became the standard cuisine for baseball games
  8. Controversial debate surrounds the creation of the hot dog.  Frankfurt, Germany credits itself for the origin of the first frankfurter in 1852- but some argue that Johann Georghehner, a butcher from Coburg, Germany created the first frankfurter in the 1600s.
  9. ‘Variety Meats’ may be used in a hotdog – which includes things like liver, kidneys and hearts – but the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that they be disclosed on the ingredient label as ‘with variety meats’ or ‘with meat by-products’.
  10. Also watch out for statements like ‘made with mechanically separated meats (MSM)’ which is a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue.  Hot dogs can contain no more than 20% of mechanically separated pork, NO sparated beef (due to fear of Mad Cow), but any amount of chicken or turkey.
  11. An unopened, packaged hot dog can have listeriosis bacteria- so it is safer to heat them even though they are pre-cooked.
  12. The worlds longest hot dog created was 197 ft, which rested within a 198 ft bun. The hot dog was prepared by Shizuoka Meat Producers for the All-Japan Bread Association, which baked the bun and coordinated the event, including official measurement for the world record. The hot dog and bun were the center of a media event in celebration of the Association’s 50th anniversary on August 4, 2006, at the Akasaka Prince Hotel, Tokyo, Japan.
  13. The world’s most expensive hot dog was prepared by Joe Calderone for Trudy Tant. Featuring truffle oil, duck foie gras, and truffle butter, the dog sold for $69.

The Human: Carnivore or Herbivore?

I know that when I look at Sydney (my bird) and I’m hungry- I don’t automatically go into licking my lips and imagining what she would taste like.  My cat does.  When I see dead animals on the side of the road, I am not tempted to stop and snack on them.  I do not day-dream about killing and eating raw animals.  I might be a Herbivore…

Humans are not well suited to eating meat. Humans lack both the physical characteristics of carnivores and the instinct that drives them to kill animals and devour their raw carcasses.

  • Intestinal tract length. Carnivorous animals have intestinal tracts that are 3-6x their body length.  This is a tool designed for rapid elimination of food that rots quickly.  Herbivores have intestinal tracts 10-12x their body length. Human beings have the same intestinal tract ratio as herbivores.    This is a tool designed for keeping food in it for long enough periods of time so that all the valuable nutrients and minerals can be extracted from it before it enters the large intestine.  Having longer intestines also make it dangerous for humans to eat meat.  The bacteria in meat has extra time to multiply during the long trip through the digestive system, increasing the risk of food poisoning.  Meat actually begins to rot while it makes its way through human intestines, which increases the risk of colon cancer.
  • Stomach acidity. A carnivore’s stomach secretes powerful digestive enzymes with about 10 times the amount of hydrochloric acid than a human or herbivore. The pH is less than or equal to “1” with food in the stomach, for a carnivore or omnivore. For humans or other herbivores, the pH ranges from 4 to 5 with food in the stomach. Hence, man must prepare his meats with laborious cooking or frying methods. E. Coli bacteria, salmonella, campylobacter, trichina worms [parasites] or other pathogens would not survive in the stomach of a lion. Every year in the United States alone, food poisoning sickens over 75 million people and kills more than 5,000.
  • Saliva. The saliva of carnivores is acidic. The saliva of herbivores is alkaline, which helps pre-digest plant foods. Human saliva is alkaline.
  • Shape of intestines. A carnivore’s or omnivore’s large intestine is relatively short and simple, like a pipe. This passage is also relatively smooth and runs fairly straight so that fatty wastes high in cholesterol can easily slide out before they start to putrefy. Man’s, as well as other herbivore’s large intestines, or colons, are puckered and pouched, an apparatus that runs in three directions (ascending, traversing and descending), designed to hold wastes that originally were foods high in water content. This is so that the fluids can be extracted from these wastes, now that all the useful nutrients and minerals have been extracted and the long journey through the small intestine is over. Substances high in fat and cholesterol that have been putrefying for hours during their long stay in the small intestine tend to get stuck in the pockets that line the large intestine.
  • Fiber. Carnivores don’t require fiber to help move food through their short and smooth digestive tracts. Herbivores require dietary fiber to move food through their long and bumpy digestive tracts, to prevent the bowels from becoming clogged with rotting food. Humans have the same requirement as herbivores.
  • Protein.  Animal flesh, composed of the most highly complex type of protein that exists, requires vast amounts of uric acid to process. Uric acid is released into the system in amounts necessary to break proteins down into amino acids. Uric acid is a toxic substance responsible for the aging process and must be flushed out and dealt with. That is one of the jobs of the liver. In relative terms, a carnivore’s liver is a tool designed with the capacity to eliminate ten times as much uric acid as the liver of man or other plant eater.  We consume twice as much protein as we need when we eat a meat-based diet, and this contributes to osteoporosis and kidney stones. Animal protein raises the acid level in our blood, causing calcium to be excreted from the bones to restore the blood’s natural pH balance. This calcium depletion leads to osteoporosis, and the excreted calcium ends up in the kidneys, where it can form kidney stones or even trigger kidney disease.  Consuming animal protein has also been linked to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas.
  • Teeth. Carnivores have sharp front teeth capable of subduing prey, and no flat molars for chewing.  These are tools that are useful for the task of piercing into flesh. Herbivores don’t have sharp front teeth capable of subduing prey, but they have flat molars for chewing. Humans have the same characteristics as herbivores.   These are useful tools for biting, crushing and grinding.
  • Jaws. A carnivore’s jaws move up and down with minimal sideways motion. The jaw motion of an omnivore is similar. These are tools that are useful for the tasks of shearing, ripping and tearing flesh and swallowing it whole. Omnivores swallow their food whole and/or with simple crushing. Man’s, as well as other herbivore’s jaws cannot shear, but have good side to side and back to front motion. These are tools that are useful for extensive chewing, crushing and grinding of grains and other high fiber foods.
  • Nails. A predator has a gait, large paws and claws, which enable him to hunt, chase and trap his prey.  Man’s gait is designed only for mobility- like herbivores. Examine your hand, fingers and fingernails. Is this an apparatus properly designed for catching, trapping, killing and ripping apart cattle, hogs, chicken and fish? How does this work for picking fruit from trees or harvesting vegetables? The foods your hands were meant to gather are typically, high in water content, high also in fiber to sweep the wastes out of those intestines, and collectively contain every vitamin and mineral necessary to sustain human life.
  • Frame of Mind.  A carnivore’s frame of mind is totally geared for hunting and killing. Man’s frame of mind is compassionate, friendly and reveres life. When the lion spots another furry animal, something might instinctively click in his head that tells him to hurry up and get dinner. When man spots a furry animal, rather than show his children how to take its life and eat it, a more likely instinct is to pull over, get the camera out and take a picture. Put a young baby chick and an apple in a crib with a six-month-old baby. What will he instinctively attempt to eat and play with?

If it’s so unhealthy and unnatural for humans to eat meat, why did our ancestors sometimes turn to flesh for sustenance?

During most of our evolutionary history, we were largely vegetarian. Plant foods like potatoes made up the bulk of our ancestors’ diet. The more frequent addition of modest amounts of meat to the early human diet came with the discovery of fire, which allowed us to lower the risk of being sickened or killed by parasites in meat. This practice did not turn our ancestors into carnivores but rather allowed early humans to survive in periods when plant foods were unavailable.

Health Benefits of Going Vegan

Here are some of the many health benefits of becoming Vegan & ones we are hoping to receive.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
  • Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
  • Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.”
  • Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
  • Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
  • Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
  • Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
  • Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.
  • Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues.
  • Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher.  Tony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energy–while playing football.  And he is sexy 🙂
  • Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.
  • Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.
  • Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.
  • Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.
  • Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.
  • Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger, healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.
  • PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.
  • Migraines. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines.
  • Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.
  • Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of saturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.
  • Fiber. A diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.
  • Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  • Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
  • Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that antioxidants help protect your body against forming some types of cancer.
  • Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.
  • Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.
  • Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.
  • Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet.