Wondering How I Became Vegan?

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When I was in high school, I thought about becoming vegetarian or vegan, and once proclaimed that I was going on an all salad diet. However, when our family sat down for dinner together every night, It was usually chicken & 2 veggies. So I put what I knew about animal farming into the back of my mind & carried on. Its the American way, right?

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Fast forward 25 years… I come back after a weekend away & my husband has stumbled across some horrible factory farming videos. He wants to show me right away. So, we watch these videos, nothing new… they are  the same ones I saw as a teen, the images that I pushed to the back of my brain. Nothing has really changed in factory farming, it has been horrifying for the animals we put on our plates for a very long time. This time after watching though, we had a conversation about our contribution to the system, and whether or not we wanted to participate in the cruelty that occurs everyday. The terrible conditions, the sickness, the complete disregard for the lives of these beautiful creatures. We decided we did not, and we became vegan together.

I am not a picky eater, and I’d like to think I am a pretty good cook. So, for me going into the kitchen to grab something to eat is extremely simple. For my husband on the other hand, we have had to get a little more creative. He craves variety. Also, while he says that he wants to eat fresh delicious whole foods, unprocessed fruits & veggies, he, like many, was raised on fast food. Sometimes when presented with a plate of stir-fry he’s just not in the mood. We have found some dishes that satisfy all, and I also have some quick and easy stand-bys for when I don’t have a lot of time: TVP Tacos, TVP Spaghetti, Chili…

It doesn’t hurt living near LA, where the vegan restaurants are plentiful! Although technically, I live in the Beach Cities, so the main place we have is the Veggie Grill (which is great, I just don’t want to go there everyday.)

All in all, I find it very easy being vegan. I don’t see ever changing for any reason. If I don’t need to eat animals to survive… to thrive, why would I?

Spicy Spaghetti with TVP

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I have started tracking my meals & activity on MyFitnessPal.com & with my FitBit Tracker. One of the things I need to do to track my meals is to create recipes that reflect the correct calories, protein, sodium, etc. You just input the ingredients on My Fitness Pal & tell it how many servings, the site figures out the rest.

Last night I made my super easy Spicy Spaghetti with TVP. It is my go to meal when I don’t have a lot of time (or am feeling lazy. I’m entering the recipe on MFP anyway, so I thought why not share it here as well!

INGREDIENTS
1 Can Diced Tomatos (15 oz, I use Basil, Garlic & Oregano)
2 Cans Tomato Sauce (15 oz)
1 Cup Dry TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein)
1 Tbsp Garlic powder
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Box Thin Spaghetti (Made With 100% Semolina)

DIRECTIONS
Put Diced Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, TVP, Garlic Powder & Cayenne Pepper in a skillet, stir together & cover. Cook at medium heat while preparing pasta.

Cook pasta as directed.

Serve… YUM!

Just tried some of the new Kite Hill Cheeses

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Kite Hill Cheese

Two new non-dairy cheeses, available in the Whole Foods Artisanal Cheese Case

I’ve been hearing a buzz about a new brand of nut-based cheeses, Kite Hill. It is a collaboration of Tal Ronnen, Monte Casino, Jean Prevot, and Dr. Pat Brown. I was excited to try it, as it is difficult for companies to emulate the flavors & textures of cheese, and that is the excuse that I hear most often for why people cannot give up animal products. There are 4 flavors available currently: Casuccio (Soft Fresh and Truffle, Dill & Chive), Costanoa, and White Alder. Unlike any other vegan cheese brand, Kite Hill is being sold from the artisanal cheese case in Whole Foods… not the vegan cheese case. This is both good and bad, I think, as it shows that these nut-based cheeses are of the same quality as the other artisanal cheeses that Whole Foods carries. It will also possibly result in dairy cheese lovers buying the product, however if someone is specifically looking for vegan cheeses, they could miss it.

After reading the descriptions on the website, I was really hoping to try the Costanoa. The Whole Foods I live near is a small one though, and they only have the Soft Fresh Casuccio and White Alder right now, so I bought both of them. They were each about $13.99. More than I would normally spend for a wheel of cheese, but I had to try them out. I bought some Milton’s crackers to go with them, and set off for home.

My opinion on these new cheeses, honestly, is that they are fairly bland. Maybe that is how they are supposed to be. The Casuccio has the consistency of a block of tofu with a texture on top, and a hint of some kind of potentially (ever so light) cheesy flavor. It’s not awful, but I think I would get just as far smearing lightly marinated tofu on a cracker (which would be cheaper.) The White Alder on the other hand, was a more worthwhile pick. It is a Brie clone, down to the wooden wheel/box that it comes in. I was never a Brie connoisseur, so I can’t speak to the subtleties of the flavor, but I think I remember it being a bit more pungent and flavorful. It does have a nice spreadable consistency though, and I think with a milder cracker or maybe some fruit it would be better able to show its strengths. I am going to try it in a recipe tonight, and I may put the remaining Casuccio on a salad, as the Kite Hill website suggests.

I will continue to be on the lookout for the Costanoa, and will update this once I find it. Happy Cheesing!

Coachella is here!

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Coachella is nearly here & I can hardly contain my excitement. Beginning last year (& for the rest of my life), I will be camping at Coachella, which means no hotel with a kitchen so I need to locate all of the vegan friendly trucks, stands and carts that I will be dining at throughout the weekend. I also bring some of my own food, but sometimes a PB&J sandwich or vacuum packed Indian food just doesn’t cut it (or I don’t feel like walking all the way to the campsite.)

I just downloaded the Coachella Official app & it’s got a great listing of all of the food vendors that will be at the fest this year.  You can sort them by Name (A-Z) or type of vendor & the app gives a description of where in the festival or campground the vendor is located. I’m bummed that Coolhaus is in the VIP area.

VEGAN:
118 Degrees: Vegan & Raw (Between Outdoor/Gobi & VIP White Peaks)
Strictly Vegan: Vegan Jamaican (Terrace West) <– I will be here
Tantes: Strips, Fries, Knish, Shwarma (Between Outdoor/Gobi & Terrace South)

VEGETARIAN:
Cali-Pop Culture: Kettle Corn & Shaved Ice (Terrace North)
Certified Farmers Market: Local produce, juices, baked goods, coffee & snacks, 7am to 2pm (Lot 8 Near Clubhouse)
Junior Corn: Corn on the Cob (Terrace South)
West Coast Island Noodles: Eats (Between Man/Outdoor)

FOOD TRUCKS:
(I tweeted each of these with the hashtag #Veganchella)
Wicked Kitchen @WickedKitchn – “No vegan, we do have a vegetarian option… ‘I Pity the Tofu’
Lime Truck @thelimetruck – (I had bok choy from here last year, yum!  They also said they can make other vegan dishes if you ask.)
Kogi @kogibbq – ” Just ask at the window!
Joe’s Pizza @JoesPizzaTruck
Mangler’s Meltdown @PedleyMangler
Green Truck @GreenTruck – (The Classic Mother Trucker Vegan Burger is really good, I had that last year.)
Cravon @CravOnFries – “We’re cooked in olive oil & lightly dusted w/sea salt. 50% less fat. 100% great potato taste.
Border Grill @BorderGrill – “We can make vegan burritos and tacos if you ask for them.

Last year I created the Vegans Unite! group on the Coachella Message Boards.  Join me there, and follow @becahveg on Twitter.  I will be live tweeting (pending phone battery life) during weekend 2 using the hashtag #Veganchella.

Back to the Santa Monica Main Street Lot (After the Juice Fast)

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I’ve decided to head back to the Santa Monica Main Street Food Truck Lot on the Tuesday after my juice fast ends. At this point… I can’t wait! I have contacted the attendees listed on LotMom, and will keep you updated as I hear back from them.

Hang 10 Tacos “Yes, we do have a vegan potato taco. We just had a conflict in our schedule so I’m Not sure if we will make it to Main Street. Please check back with us as we approach the date.”
Jogasaki Sushi Burrito “We have veggie burrito and it’s vegan :)”
BABYS BADASS BURGERS The tweet I got back said “The best veggie dliderd ever!” I think they meant “veggie sliders”, because I don’t know what a dliderd is… hmmm?!! Fries are cooked in oil too.
India Jones “Yes our green coco curry, and Dahl”
Belly BombZ “Sorry nothing vegan!! I would say our fries but we fry all our chicken in it… :( we can offer salad with a tangy sesame dressing” Soooo… I guess… salad?
White Rabbit Truck “Only vegetarian..”
Holy Aioli

It looks like I will definitely be trying the veggie sushi burrito from Jogasaki (yum!) I may also go for the veggie sliders from Baby’s or Dahl from India Jones… we’ll see.

Change of plans.  I will not be in Santa Monica this Tuesday, so no food trucks, but I will be sure to catch up with the trucks next Tuesday & if you go, let me know what you had & how it was!

The weekly Santa Monica Food Trucks Lot is held on Tuesday nights from 5-10pm at the corner of Main St and Ocean Park (2612 Main St 90405).

2 Week Juice Fast

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So, the husband heard about a little movie called Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and decided he wants to do a 2 week juice fast.  Being the supportive partner that I am, I sat down to watch the movie with him, and found it to be truly inspiring.  Joe Cross started out at 310 lbs, and he was taking multiple prescription medications.  During the filming of the movie, which followed him on his 60 day juice fast, he lost 80-85lbs!  Along the way he met a truck driver named Phil Staples.  I remember reading an article about the truck driver that juiced his way to health a couple of years ago. Phil enlisted Joe’s help, and was able to drop from 429 lbs to 225 lbs.  Amazing!  Just by juicing.

Watching the movie got me thinking… I like juice (we already have a juicer, but only use it every once in awhile), I could stand to lose a couple pounds, I’m vegan… but not the healthy kind, and everything is better if you do it together.  So I decided to join my husband on his 2 week juice fast.  I don’t know why they call it a fast, since anyone who as ever juiced a pile of yummy fresh veggies knows that it is very filling, but I am ready to see where this takes me.

JuiceDAY 1

We started this morning by taking weights & measurements, and with a 16 oz glass of Mean Green. This is actually very close to my go to “throw it all in the blender” juice.  The only difference being, I usually throw in a couple of carrots & I’ve never used ginger. I love using ginger, because it adds a bit of a spicy kick & has many health benefits.

Mid-Day I decided to take it easy & let someone else do all the work.  I stopped by a local juice place called Apfel, and had the Green Diet ($5.75 for cucumber, parsley, spinach, celery, apple, kale & ginger.)  So Delish!

Dinnertime consists of another Mean Green.  Still yummy… what will tomorrow bring?

DAY 2

Off to a great start!  I lost 2.8 lbs in the first day.  I’m finding that my life seems to revolve around food.  I am always thinking of the next meal & now my schedule seems thrown off because I am not needing to sit down for meals.  I should have all of this extra time, but right now I am not sure what to do with it.

For Day 2, I had to be out (but in a place with a fridge), so I made three servings of juice in the morning.  It worked out well.  I did find myself getting hungry before it was time to have the next juice… but maybe I’m not drinking enough?  Currently I am having 4 16 oz glasses of juice per day (at least that is the plan, I only had three on the first day.) I’m going to do some research & see if I can gain a little more insight into what the right balance is. I tried logging the Mean Green on MyFitnessPal, but there are multiple entries for it & the calories are all over the place, so I need to calculate it myself to get the correct numbers.

We did the Mean Green for the first 3 today & paid a visit to Robeks in the evening where I got a Crazy Carrot & the husband got an Evergreen. ($6.99 for a medium, which I think is 20 oz.)

DAY 3

I lost another 1.5 lbs.  Progress!  Today started with an Apple/Beet/Carrot Juice, which I thought was really yummy, but the husband said tasted “too beety.”

I went back to the Mean Green for the second juice of the day, but added some onions and brussel sprouts (because I have them).  Later on I tried this recipe for Pizza Juice!  It was pretty good (a little pulpy), the husband loved it. I’m going to try to fit in 5 juices (16 oz) throughout the day, to keep myself feeling satisfied.

DAY4

Another .8 lbs down today.   I don’t know how to buy enough veggies for this. It seems we are at the grocery store every day for one thing or another.  Mostly sticking to the Mean Green, because it’s easier to keep just those veggies (and apples) on hand. We went to the movies tonight, saw “Warm Bodies.”  Cute, I would recommend it.  We stopped at Robeks on the way there to get a large Evergreen, which I smuggled into the theater in my bag.  It’s a great way to stave off the habit of eating greasy movie theater popcorn.  I also discovered on this trip to Robeks that they have at least three flavors of vegan cookies… good to know!

DAY 5

Down another 1.4 lbs… yay!

DAY 6

Trying a new recipe today.  I got some pears and will be making the Celery, Cucumber, & Pear Green Juice. I’ve got to be away from the juicer again, so I’m batch juicing this morning.  We also bought some “Emergency Juices” at Whole Foods.  SO we can just grab & go.  We chose juices from Evolution & Columbia Gorge.

I actually got all 5 juices in today.  The girl I was working with asked, “where do you keep getting all of those green juices from? … lol.  Somehow, I ended up feeling hungrier than any other day, except maybe day 2.  I don’t know if it was the new recipe?  Maybe there is something in the Mean Green that makes me feel fuller: Apples, Lemon, Ginger?  At night, I grabbed the Evolution Essential Greens Juice because I didn’t feel like cleaning the juicer yet again.  It was good, but I like the fresh juices better. One thing that I have noticed through this entire week though is the energy I have.  I haven’t been lethargic, or started dragging in the afternoons at all.

DAY 7

I lost another .4 lbs, and my body fat % has gone from 29.8% to 27.0%. I decided to use the rest of my brussel sprouts AND garlic AND onion in the juice I made for me to enjoy throughout the day. BIG mistake.  It was the stinkiest, strongest, spiciest juice ever.  Don’t try this at home!  It actually filled me up though, either that or I was turned off to juice, because I didn’t feel at all hungry in the evening.

DAY 8

Down .8 more lbs!  I had to dash this morning so I grabbed the Evolution Sweet Greens from the fridge.  It was great!  So much tastier than the Essential Greens I tried on day 6.  On my way home I stopped at the grocery store to pick up peaches, sweet potatoes & golden delicious apples to make the Peach Pie Juice which is delicious! (I may just like the addition of cinnamon, but it was really yum!) At night, it was another trip to Apfel for the Green Diet.

DAY 9

Made some really great juice today, but whoever said that it gets easier after the 3rd day is a liar.  I am pretty good at “fake it until you make it,” but I’m ready for solid foods in 6 days (but who’s counting?)  I think if I decide to do this in the future it will be for 7 days at a time.  I am going to continue this until the end though, because that’s the deal I made with me.

DAY 10

Today I am going to try Blush Juice, because I’ve been wanting to put a grapefruit in something.  I expect it will be fresh & delicious.  We started the day with the Peach Pie (still yummy), and then I realized that I was out of a lot of produce, so I mad an Apple/Pear/Cucumber juice (2 Apples, 1 Pear, 1 Cucumber), which was pretty refreshing.  Time for (yet another) trip to the grocery store!  Beware… the Blush Juice is potent!  I did put in the max of 1 grapefruit that the recipe called for, but that was a lot & the husband said it made his tummy hurt (I actually kind of liked it, grapefruit has a super positive effect on me.)

DAY 11

Happy Valentines Day, and bye-bye .8 more lbs! Sticking to the “safe” Mean Green Juice this Morning.   I was going to wait until after the juice fast to get back on the exercise bandwagon, but I think I need a bump, so I may pull out Dance Central on the XBox 360 Kinect today.

DAY 12

My scale broke.  :(  I bought a new one, but it has a different reading.  I don’t know if this one is wrong or the other one, but I don’t think I gained 1.5 lbs for no reason.  When I put on my clothes this morning, I could actually tell a difference.  I look better!  So something is going right.  It’s so gorgeous out today!  I want to go to the beach, but I have to work. Oh well, next time.

DAY 13

Two amazingly fabulous days in a row… Gotta love SoCal!  I am ready to eat food again.  I am starting to plan out my meals for next week.  I’m also making a list of foods to eat more of, and foods to eat less of that I will hang in the kitchen.  I’m no dummy, I know what these foods are, but a visual reminder certainly helps give a little kick in the pants when I reach for a box of pasta with processed cheese-like substance & fatty garlic bread rather than whole grains w/ fresh veggies. This doesn’t mean that I am not going to make my famous BEST Gardein burger sometime this week.

DAY 14

The Final Day… Finally!!!  I think that I would do this again, but like I said before, only for one week.  I see some benefits.  I feel more energy, I look better in clothes, I think I can make better choices in food.  I still have some work to do, and that will start this week with healthy eating & exercise.  I heard recently that you should find something that you like to do and play, rather than exercise.  I like to dance & I like yoga. I don’t like to run,  but I love the ocean, so I will run on the beach.  I am looking forward to the next couple of months… then it’s summer!

There are a whole bunch of recipes on the Reboot With Joe Website.  I look forward to trying them all!  There is also a great resource for finding juice bars in or near your zip code.  Also, if you are wondering which produce MUST be purchased organic, check out this list.

I will keep this updated throughout the next two weeks, and let you know what happens!  To follow along with my daily weights & measurements, visit My Fitness Pal.

Happy New Year!

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champagne_glassesLooking to ring in the new year in a compassionate way? Here is the latest list of vegan & non-vegan champagne/sparkling wine for your celebrating pleasure (from http://www.barnivore.com)…

Search results for SPARKLING WINE
Vegan Friendly
Domaine Carneros Sparkling Wines
El Grifo Sparkling Wines
RSVP Sparkling Wine
Schmitt Sohne Sparkling Wines

Not Vegan Friendly
Blue Mountain Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine 2007
Blue Mountain Brut Sparkling Wine NV
Campari sparkling wines
Four Cousins Sparkling Wine
Freixenet Sparkling Wines
Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wine
Wycliff Sparkling Wines

Search results for CHAMPAGNE
Vegan Friendly
Champagne Fleury
Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Blancs
Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut
Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry
Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe
Harmony Wynelands Champagne
Korbel Natural Champagne
Merridale Champagne Style Somerset
Perrier-Jouët Champagne
Piper Heidsieck Champagne
Veuve Clicquot Champagne
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne
Wilsons Creek Almond Champagne

Not Vegan Friendly

Bollinger Champagnes
Cook’s Champagne
Freixenet Sparkling Wines
Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wine
Harmony Wynelands Wedding Champagne
Korbel Brut
Korbel Extra Dry
Louis Roederer Champagne
Moet Champagne
Pink Champagne

Enjoy & celebrate safely!