Thursday, January 31, 2013

Food For Today

I am often asked, "What do you eat for breakfast/lunch?" or "What do you snack on during the day?".  Well, like most days, today I packed a variety of foods to keep my energy levels high and food cravings calmed down throughout the day.  I filled multiple small containers with healthy snacks that I can grab in between exams or on my commute.   For breakfast, I brought my 20 ounce morning smoothie (CLICK HERE TO VIEW ONE OF MY MANY SMOOTHIE RECIPES) that I drank while taking my daughter to school.  From her school to work, I drank a 20 ounce cold-brewed green tea.  I used The People's Republic of China Green Tea and sweetened with Stevia.  Throughout the day, I snacked on 1.5 cups of cherry tomatoes (yellow and red) and flavorino tomatoes, 1 peeled orange, 2 stalks of celery, 1 cup of raw almonds, 2 cups of raw spinach, 2 cups frozen, then thawed, broccoli, 2 cups red cabbage and carrot salad leftovers from the prior evening meal and then another 20 ounce cold-brewed green tea for the ride home.  Throughout the work day, I will consume hot green tea or hot/cold brewed hibiscus tea. 
When I arrived home for supper, we had a small bowl of bow-tie pasta with garlic and other mixed vegetables(leftovers from previous meal), roasted asparagus and a small banana/peanut butter/spinach/almond milk/flax seed smoothie for dessert.

Berry Smoothie Dessert

*Casie Here*
The other night after dinner, daddy made this healthy 'dessert' for all of us. 
He blended frozen mixed organic berries, raw spinach leaves, bananas, vanilla flavored almond milk and dates (to sweeten).  Chopped cashews were then added on top. 
Minimal almond milk was used to keep the dessert thick and not too liquidy.
For a smoothie, just add more almond milk.
This a great healthy alternative to ice cream or other desserts. 

 As you can see the kids LOVED it!

 Sophie being silly putting the dessert on her lips because her brother had it on his face.
Baby loved it, too!

Roasted Baby Brussel Sprouts

*Casie Here*
The other night we had some roasted brussel sprouts. I prefer the tiny baby ones. We got this bag from Costco.
 I chopped the little end off and then cut each in half. Tossed with a little olive oil, little balsamic vinegar and salt. I then turned all of them face down.
Put in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. At 15 minutes take out of the oven and add some sliced (or I had chopped) almonds. Put back in the oven for 5 more minutes.
They were so good. The kids all ate an entire bowl each of them!


*Casie Here*
 Take a look at this beautiful, yummy, fresh brushetta. Melt in your MOUTH brushetta!!!
I know I have posted this before, but it's worth re-visiting. Same recipe, more delicious pictures!
 Two kinds of tomatoes, roasted garlic clove, some kalamata olives, basil, salt, cumin, olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Mix together put some on each piece of french bread slice. Put in oven on broil for like 10 mins. Watch it close, don't let it burn, just heat through.

Converting a MEAT-Eater

*Casie Here*
Since becoming a vegetarian/vegan I have had several conversations with mostly woman that have said, "I could definitely give up meat. That would be easy for me, but there is no way my husband ever would." or something similar to that. 
First of all, it's an excuse. I usually want to say: THEN DO IT!!! (as far as them giving up meat)
But I really totally get it. It's hard enough let alone when both parties aren't on board. It's usually not practical that two separate meals will be made for every meal. That would get exhausting super fast. So, I have come up with some practical tips you can try to convert your significant other over to being MEAT free. 

Here are my top tips in trying to convert someone to become a vegetarian:

1. Let the research speak for itself:. You can't argue with science. Watch videos together on why meat is not good for you and vegetables are really good, read books and articles. Find lots of information that support going meat-free. *We have recommended so many on this blog* Gather all the FACTS. It's not you nagging and harping at them, it's a neutral person  stating the facts. Talk to each other about why you both want to become healthier and how you can support each other. Never think of it as a diet. Diets are restrictive. This is a life long lifestyle. You are adding all these wonderful healthy foods that MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER!!! Again, hard to argue with that.
*This is how we converted. You can't hear that information and then pretend you didn't. It just makes sense. If you have a big enough motivation as to why you want to make the change, you will stick with it. Do you want to live longer for your kids? Do you want to be healthier, so you can do more things with your family? Do you just want to feel better and be happier? 

2. This is kind of a crazy one. Try associating meat in your head (or in your husbands head) with something disgusting. Pretend the meat fell into the garbage and has all kinds of gunk stuck to it like dog hair and dirt swept up from the floor, snotty tissues and poopy diapers smeared on it. Doesn't sound very appetizing now does it? Actually, I think this is part of the reason it was easy for me to not eat meat anymore. I kept getting grossed out by eating blood of another animal. 

3. Try substituting at first. DON'T tell them until they finish the meal that you substituted the ground beef with soy crumbles, seitan (wheat protein), tempeh, tofu or just use mushrooms or beans in replace of the 'meat'. They look exactly the same and in most meals you make with ground hamburger you will NOT be able to tell any difference. Try tacos, spaghetti or sheppards pie. They might realize they actually LIKE it. I will caution about having too much soy, though. We really try to limit it in our household. 

4. Negotiate. Start small (were talking baby steps here). See if they will agree to let you cook 2 vegetarian meals a week (Meatless Mondays and Meat-Free Fridays). Maybe after a while increase the days slowly until BAM, your household is completely meat free! 

5. You could save meat for only 'special occasions' (when you go out to eat, holidays, bbq's, parties, etc...). And at home not buy or cook any meat. Although, honestly I would definitely start trying vegetarian meals when you go out. For one it can give you more ideas on things to make at home and you can find things you really love. AND I have always said this. Restaurants know that some of their patrons are vegetarian and most places have limited options anyway. They are going to make sure that the few entrees they do offer that are vegetarian are delicious or they know they won't get those vegetarians through their doors again. 

6. You could start by youself for now and become a good role model for them. When they start noticing the positive effects you are exhibiting, that could be enough of a motivator for them to try it too and if you are already doing it, it should be easy to just make more of what you are already eating.

7. Have your husband sign up to follow this blog on his e-mail. When we post new things, it will get sent to his in-box and maybe he will start reading them and something might 'click' with him. We use practical, real-life suggestions that are easily incorporated into your life. Plus, look at all the yummy recipes he will want to try! It's worth a shot!

That is about all the ideas I have for now. I really think the BEST one is #1. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some of my thoughts for parents....and children

When and how often have you told your children that you love them? Do you tell them this at least daily? Do you inform them that you will always be there for them?  ....that there is nothing that they can do that will ever affect how much you love them? 
Do you say things to your children that negatively affect their self-confidence or do you mention things that boost their self-esteem?
Do you tell them how much you look forward to spending time with them?  Do you spend one-on-one time with them? Do you go out on "dates" with your children? Do you maximize the quality of time with your children even if the quantity of time isn't available?  Do you have actual conversations with them without any distractions? 
Do you play cards with your children, go on walks with your children or have at least one meal per a table...eating a healthy meal....talking with each other about quality topics?
Do you share your life experiences with your children in a manner that is educational and beneficial to them? 
Do you add stress to your child's life or do you reduce their overall stress by not only reducing the negative impact on their life but also by assisting them cope with all of life's other stresses?
Do you praise them when they put forth effort yet a lack-luster performance occurred?  Do you give them encouragement about the positive aspects of their performance or do you identify and labor on the few negative aspects of the event?
Do you choose time with your children instead of time with social media or television?
Do you blame your children or yourself for their behavior patterns?
Do you teach your children to look forward to the future or dwell on the past? 
Do your children come home from school to learn more from you about life or do you just leave that burden for the school system?

Do you teach your children what it means to "Pay It Forward"?
Do you allow your children be children or are you forcing them into premature adulthood? 
Do you allow your children to make mistakes?
Do you teach them how to cook?  Eat healthy and exercise?  Manage, save and donate money/time? 
Do you teach your children empathy?
Do you teach them how appreciate the things in life that money can't buy?
Do you practice what you preach?  Do you tell your children not to use profanity/alcohol/smoke/junk food yet use it yourself?  ...and if you do, do you use these things in their presence?

Do you experience volunteerism with them?
Do your children know that you can always be there to talk about anything despite the topic of conversation?
Do you engage conversation with your children or do you assume that they just want to be off by themselves?
Do you teach your children how to solve problems or do you just take care of the issue yourself...leaving them without any knowledge of how to address that problem should it present itself again?
What does investing in your children and their future mean to you?
Do you teach your children patience?
When is the last time you praised your child for their positive behavior? ....the last time you praised another parent on their well-behaved, well-mannered children? 
When is the last time you gave your children a hug?
Do your children see you have a positive or negative self image about yourself?
Do you admit wrongdoing in front of your children?  Do you say you are sorry to your children/in front of your children?
Have your children seen you care for a stranger in need even if/especially if that stranger can never repay you?
Do you educate your children how money and happiness are not related? 
Have you taught your children all of your skills that you have attained from experiencing life/work/childhood?
Do you allow your children to have fun?
Have you taught your sons to respect women?  Your daughters to respect themselves?
Are you fair with your children?  Do your children face consequences for their behavior or do you over/under discipline them?
What can you do to become a better parent?  What lengths would you travel to improve your parenting skills?
How do I know about these things?  Of course, my parents did most of the above things for me.  These things just make sense to me.   
You don't have to be the perfect parent.  If you told me you were, I would not be convinced.  Your imperfections are beneficial for your children to see.  How you respond to those imperfections are what matter the most.
Thank you to my parents for all that you have taught me and have done for me through the years.  I am who I am and have the above philosophies because of your influence on me through the years.  I was provided so many life skills and problem solving skills repeatedly, daily, by you. 

Never did they make me feel like I disappointed them.  Even if we didn't win a game or I didn't score high on a test, my parents never ever dwelled on the negative, rather, only the positive.  Those challenging times in my life were life lessons to prepare myself for the future per my parent's perspective. Tests were just tests and games were just games.  Life, as taught to me, was about much more than just those individual things.  My parents never argued around me.   They were positive role models for my siblings and me.  My parent's life revolved around us and they made every effort to attend every event I participated in and I was involved in numerous sports and co curricular activities growing up. My parents have always supported me in my decisions and have always been there when I needed them.  My parents instilled self confidence while maintaining being humble.  My parents taught me to cheer for the underdog.  I learned respect and commitment from the actions of my parents towards each other and other people.  My parents taught me to be empathetic.  My parents sacrificed throughout their life so that us children could experience superior education.  My parents taught me self-sufficiency, discipline and a strong work ethic.  My parents taught me about love by loving each other and me unconditionally.  My parents were not perfect and I am happy that they weren't otherwise I would feel like I paled in comparison to them as a parent myself.  I learned that it is OK to be imperfect and to have flaws and that it is fine to make mistakes.  I know how to care for others because of how my parents cared for me.   Every person that reads this blog, every patient of mine, all my friends and my children benefit from all the tools that you have given me and I am able to pass on to them.   I know how to love, care and serve due to your influence.  My high quality of life is directly correlated with all that you have done for me. 
Again, I thank you for all of the above, your support and for all that I failed to mention.  As always, thank you for being you and for being there for me!
Now, I just need to make sure to pass on to my children all that you have taught me. 
 You see, this wasn't all about our children.

When is the last time you thanked your parents, even if they aren't around anymore?  Today seems just as good of a day as any other to tell them.  Take a moment to call, visit or think/reflect about them.  I'm sure they will appreciate knowing that you realize all that they have done for you.   

Monday, January 28, 2013

Buckwheat Berry Pancakes

*Casie Here*
We had breakfast for dinner! Isn't it call Brinner or something like that?!?! ; ) The kids LOVED it.
This box is what I started with. I found this at Hy-Vee in their health food section.
I followed the main directions on the box but, of course added some extra stuff! The box called for eggs, but I used my Chia Seed substitute (1 TBS Chia Seed & 3 TBS water = 1 egg) mix and let sit for 5 minutes. You can use any milk you have: Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Almond Milk, Soy Milk or even regular Cow milk if that's what you have. I followed the directions on the box, but ended up adding more to make the final batter thinner. I added some frozen mixed berries, flax seed, vanilla, I added some walnuts after I made a few for Sophie to take to school. 

They were very tasty and fluffy. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Leading Causes of Blindness

 Do you ever wonder why I emphasize on this blog and in the exam room about eating healthy, eating more vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables) and fruits, stopping smoking, losing weight, exercising and committing to annual physicals?
 Let's look at the leading causes of blindness in the United States and then relate what causes the conditions that cause the blindness.
What are the leading causes of blindness in the United States?
Answer:  Cataracts, Glaucoma, Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy
(CLICK HERE to learn more about what cataracts are)
(CLICK HERE to learn more about what glaucoma is)
(CLICK HERE to learn more about age-related macular degeneration)
(CLICK HERE to learn more about diabetic retinopathy)
Causes of Cataracts:  Increasing age, DIABETES, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, excessive exposure to sunlight, exposure to ionizing radiation, family history of cataracts, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, OBESITY, previous eye injury, inflammation or surgery, prolonged use of corticosteroid therapy, SMOKING.  -Source: Mayo Clinic
Causes of Glaucoma:  elevated internal eye pressure, age, ethnic background, family history of glaucoma, DIABETES, HEART DISEASE, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, long-term corticosteroid therapy, other eye conditions -Source: Mayo Clinic
Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy:  DIABETES (especially those who have the highest average blood sugar, those whose blood sugar fluctuates and those who have had diabetes for longer periods of time)   -Source: Mayo Clinic
Causes of Age-Related Macular Degeneration:  age, family history of macular degeneration, race, SMOKING, OBESITY, DIET (too few fruits and vegetables), HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, INFLAMMATION, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE   -Source: Mayo Clinic
See any trends?  Can you imagine how much you would decrease your risk for the leading causes of blindness if you are a smoker and you quit smoking?  What if you ate so healthy and exercised so regularly that you reduced/eliminated your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease?  Not only would you cut your risk for these conditions but you would reduce your risk for acquiring the conditions that are most likely to cause blindness. 
Here is a simple thought:  Did you know that you can't get diabetic retinopathy without having diabetes.  Soooooooo, would you do whatever it took to reduce your risk for diabetes?  What have you done to today to reduce your risk?  What have you done to increase your risk?
I would assume you don't want to go blind.  I don't either.  What above risk factors for these conditions do I have control over?

In previous posts, I have provided you with multiple clinical reports that show that a plant based diet, especially veganism, can reduce diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and obesity.
Let's just allow that to soak in for a few moments, shall we?

Here are some more videos from one of my favorite websites,

Preventing Macular Degeneration with Diet | (VIDEO)

Preventing Cataracts with Diet | (VIDEO)

Prevent Glaucoma and See 27 Miles Farther | (VIDEO)

How to Treat Diabetes | (VIDEO)

Are you convinced that you need to adopt a plant based diet yet?

Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition

Here is another great article about frequently asked questions about nutrition.  

The link: PCRM | Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition will take you to the complete 19 FAQ's.

Here are the first 3 of 17 FAQ's from the above site:

1. Do you recommend a vegetarian or a vegan diet?
Vegetarian diets, which contain no meat (beef, pork, poultry, or fish and shellfish), are naturally low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and full of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds. A multitude of scientific studies have shown that vegetarian diets have remarkable health benefits and can help prevent certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. We encourage vegetarian diets as a way of improving general health and preventing diet-related illnesses.
Vegan diets, which contain no animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, or other animal products), are even healthier than vegetarian diets. Vegan diets contain no cholesterol and even less fat, saturated fat, and calories than vegetarian diets because they exclude dairy and eggs. Scientific research shows that health benefits increase as the amount of food from animal sources in the diet decreases, making vegan diets the healthiest overall.
Learn more about the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.
2. I want to try a vegan diet. How should I start?
If a plant-based diet is new to you, you’ll be pleased to discover a wonderful additional benefit to vegan nutrition: It’s a fun way to explore delicious new foods. Start by checking out our Vegetarian Starter Kit, which explains the New Four Food Groups and offers useful tips, the “whys” and “hows” of a healthier diet, and easy-to-make recipes. To order a Vegetarian Starter Kit, please visit PCRM's literature store. Want more recipes? Go to Three times a year, PCRM hosts a free, online program that walks you through how to adopt a vegan diet for three weeks. We provide menus, celebrity tips, nutrition information, and so much more. Register for the next program at
3. Is it healthy for children to be on a vegan diet?
A well-balanced vegan diet is safe and healthy for any stage of life, including infancy, childhood, adolescence, and during pregnancy. Plant-based diets can easily provide all essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that growing children and mothers-to-be need. Simply have a variety of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits, and be sure to include a daily source of vitamin B12, such as any common multiple vitamin. Plant-based diets have many important health advantages: Vegans enjoy a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Since eating habits are established in early childhood, choosing a vegan diet can give your child the opportunity to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods—and to carry those healthy eating habits into adulthood. Learn more about vegan nutrition for children. Learn more about building strong bones in children. Read more about our book Healthy Eating for Life for Children.

Vegetarian Diets: Advantages for Children

Click the link below to view the Physicians Commitee for Responsible Medicine's article about
Vegetarian Diets for Children

Vegetarian Starter Kit

What type of diet is best for disease prevention and to maintain a healthy weight? The best diet is one that you can stick with for life. A healthy diet is a lifestyle, not a fad that is dangerous or difficult to maintain.
Abundant evidence suggests that the most healthful diets set aside animal products and also reduce fats in general, while including large amounts of vegetables and fruits. Eliminating meat and dairy products from your diet is a powerful step in disease prevention.   - From Physicians Commitee for Responsible Medicine website
CLICK HERE to view the Vegetarian Starter Kit provided by PCRM (Physicians Commitee for Responsible Medicine)

Calculate Your Healthy Eating Score.

Very interesting video from :

So, what do you appoximate your score to be?

Struggling to be thankful for something?

Aren't you happy you live in a day and age where glasses and contact lenses have been invented? Think about what your life would have been like 500 or 1000 years ago without the use of glasses or contacts. I know I would not have been a good hunter or gatherer. I would have been stuck at the camp site removing slivers, carving out tools and weaving baskets.

If you can't find anything else to be thankful for today, then let it be for contact lenses and eyeglasses.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Crossing paths.

For all the people that I have randomly met and invited to this blog....
We don't meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason.

This high school drop-out made $182,382.00
in 90 days............
Using the same three things revealed in this FREE video that Anyone Can Do :-)
Greg & Donnita :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Broccoli Snob? Yes, that would be me.

Broccoli is one of the vegetables I attempt to consume most days of the week.  Not only does broccoli provide numerous nutritional benefits (CLICK HERE to view an article about the health benefits of broccoli) but it is a very easy food item to prepare for my lunch that I will eat at work or on the drive home.   Broccoli is generally more accepted by children and young adults compared to other vegetables and so it is a great option to use in your family's plant-strong menu.
To prepare for my work lunch, I place 2-3 cups of frozen organic broccoli into a leak proof container in the morning before I leave for work and by the late afternoon the broccoli has thawed and is ready for consumption. 
One problem with eating broccoli so often is that I have realized I have become a broccoli snob. Who knew such a person could exist?  Once I began trying different brands of broccoli, I found that there were subtle differences in taste between the various brands.  I did not find organic broccoli at Walmart or Sam's Club, but the conventional broccoli didn't have as clean of a taste.  The frozen organic broccoli at Costco had a bit of a dirty/earthy taste that made me feel like I was forcing myself to consume the entire portion.  My favorite of the frozen organic broccoli is the 365 Brand by Whole Foods.  One bag was $1.99 the last time I was at Whole Foods and I calculate 2 bags to cover 3 lunches.
When people tell me that they don't have time to prepare healthy snacks or that eating healthy is too expensive, I direct them to broccoli.  This is a very easy and cost effective meal to consume on a regular basis.   
Below is a video that discusses how preparation methods affect broccoli's nutritional absorption.


I posted in the past a photo that talked about the benefits of chia seeds, but this is an article touting the health benefits of this amazing seed.  We use chia seeds daily in our family's smoothies and recipes to acquire our omega 3 fatty acids. 
CLICK HERE to view the article. 

Jane Says: Believe the Hype About Chia Seeds

- Photo copied from referenced site above.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

So far....

 Picture of us (above) just prior to converting to our plant-based dietary lifestyle.  At that time, I was about 358 lbs., wore a 3XLT shirt and size 48 waist pants.  My wedding ring could be worn on my ring finger and my watch was tight fitting.

Below is another not-so flattering picture of me from that time.  Had I known I was going to have my picture taken, I would have at least tried to suck in my gut a bit.  : )

So, where are we now?  I am down to 295lbs, size XLT shirt and my size 42 waist pants are fitting loose.  My wedding ring no longer stays on the ring finger, rather, I have to wear it on my middle finger.  I had to go in to the jeweler today to have links taken out of my watch because my wrists have lost weight, too.

So, what are my realistic goals?  240lbs and size 38 waist.  By then, I will need some more links out of my watch and I will be wearing my wedding ring on my thumb.  : )

How am I going to accomplish my goals?  By continuing to work out regularly/daily, drinking water/green tea, maintaining proper hours of sleep, taking time out for myself and maintaining a vegan lifestyle. 

This is just too easy.   Eating good, feeling great and being healthy all while losing weight.  Do I miss my old menu items.  NOPE.  I eat a greater diversity of nutritious foods with more intense flavors now than I did ever before.

Below is picture of Casie and I from last week when we went to see "The Life of Pi":

If we can do it, so can you.   Start your plant-strong lifestyle TODAY!!!

"Forks Over Knives"...again

Many of you have heard me talk about the documentary, "Forks Over Knives" that can be ordered at online retailers like or can be viewed on Netflix. I have a link for the trailer under the Recommendations list found above.  Below is a clip from the documentary with commentary from the filmmakers.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Intentions and Goals for Viewers of this Blog

For the record, I am not out to convert the world to veganism or vegetarianism.  Although this lifestyle is a perfect fit for our family I understand that it may not be for you or your family.  If I have invited you to this blog it is not to covert you but because I care about your health and well-being and I want to share with you information about how you can improve your health and your quality of life.  I don't mind that you eat meat and dairy and there are ways to compromise between veganism and the typical American diet.
So......if you are going to eat meat, choose leaner cuts of meat and avoid processed meat.  The Cancer Institute for Cancer Research defines processed meat as “meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives.” Ham, bacon, pastrami, sausages, hot dogs and luncheon meats are all considered processed meat.
If you are going to consume eggs or cheese, limit your amount and frequency of these products.  If you are going to drink milk, choose skim over the higher fat milks.  Try almond milk and consider substituting this for milk in some recipes.
I ask that you understand and read food labels.  Know how much sodium, fat and sugar is in the food you are consuming and look for foods that have lower levels of these components.   Make more of your own meals instead of having a fast food worker prepare it for you.  Avoid foods that have high-fructose corn syrup. 
Eat more raw spinach.  Try kale in one of your recipes.  Order a vegetarian pizza with no cheese....better yet, make yourself one at home.   Eat more broccoli and cauliflower.  Find a way to incorporate chia seeds or flax seeds into your daily recipes.  Make baked sweet potato fries at home instead of fries from the drive thru.   Blend a green smoothie for your family.  Drink more water.  Say no to soda, both diet and regular.  Try one vegetarian/vegan recipe that we post on the blog. Better yet, try them all.  Consider drinking green tea everyday.  Commit to getting 1-2 more hours of sleep than you normally allow yourself.
Watch the documentary, "Forks Over Knives" or  read "The China Study".  Go for a walk instead of watching television.  Get a gym membership and go frequently.  If you haven't gone in for an annual physical or eye exam, schedule one now.
See, you don't have to convert to veganism to impress me, rather, if you consider doing at least one of the above things.......that would make. me. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!

Very true!

Where do you get your protein?

One of the first questions I get asked when I mention we are vegetarian/vegan is, "Where do you get your protein from?".   It makes sense that this might be a concern for vegetarians and especially vegans because we have been taught that we get protein from meat and dairy sources.   Although meat is a great source of protein, all living things have protein in them and as such, plants have protein, too.  When you eat as many vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seitan (wheat protein) as we do it is very easy to accumulate the necessary protein intake to meet our body's daily requirements.   If there are days we don't think we have taken in adequate amounts of protein, we always the option of adding plant based protein powder to our daily smoothies.  

CLICK HERE to view an interesting article about protein in the vegan diet.

So, what is the true missing component in the vegan diet?   Answer:  B-12.    B-12 is mostly acquired from animal sources.   We have the kids eat cereals that are healthy and contain high levels of B-12, we choose children's multivitamins that have the highest B-12 levels and use nutritional yeast for B-12 supplementation.  Casie and I take sublingual (under the tongue) B-12 lozenges Vegetarians are less susceptible to the B-12 deficiency as they consume dairy products and eggs. 

CLICK HERE to view an informative article about B-12.

So, the next time you strike up a conversation with a vegan, don't bother asking where they get their protein.  Ask them where they get their Vitamin B-12.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Veggie Lasagna

*Casie Here*
This was a HUGE hit with the entire family. HUGE!!! The kids devoured this, Vernon craved it all day the next day. I will definitely be making this again and soon if Vernon has anything to do with it!!! I have not made Lasagna since we have gone vegetarian/vegan (so going on over a year and a half). No wonder everyone loved it.

First of all I found this little gem at Hy-Vee in their health food section in the cold case. I was sold. I have been wanting to make veggie lasagna, but didn't know how to get around the ricotta part. Welp, this was the ticket!!! It is made from Tofu if you couldn't guess and it does taste VERY similar to the real thing and has the exact same texture. It did cost almost $6 though, but it fed the whole family for two dinners and one lunch, so that's not too bad. 

 I already had some really old Lasagna noodles (like a year and a half old lasagna noodles). They worked just fine though.
I made the 'white' mixture with the Tofutti Ricotta, one of those frozen spinach blocks (thawed and wrung out, chopped up a little more), and for my 'egg' I used chia seed goop. How do you make Chia seed goop? Take 1 TBS. Chia Seeds and mix with 3 TBS water (this substitutes one 'egg'). Let it sit for about 10 mins and it turns into goop, like an egg. It helps bind things just like an egg. If you need more than one 'egg' just double it or triple it (I have used it in cookies that call for eggs and it works perfectly). I added some salt, pepper and garlic powder here too.

For my 'meat' mixture I used 1 whole onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 2 carrots, little bit of yellow pepper, 1 can mushrooms and I had 4 fresh ones too, and this product below (that I have had in my freezer for way too long). Chopped up everything, sauteed and mixed everything together with spaghetti sauce. 

Do all the regular layers like a regular lasagna (the kids helped)!
 I used these Veggie Shreds for some 'cheese' in between the layers (this product melts really well and tastes really good too, much better than the Diaya brand I think). 
 We had some french bread and green beans with it the first night and a lettuce salad the second night. Mmmmmm
 We had a lovely family meal. Isn't that what it's all about?
So, so good. A little time consuming, but not too bad considering how many meals it made. AND it would have gone farther if Vernon didn't over-indulge! Just sayin'....

I made this again and changed up a few things. First of all I the Hy-Vee I got the Tofuitti Ricotta was out and I called almost every single one in town and no one had it, so I just used regular Tofu crumbled it and added everything else above and it worked perfectly. It tasted just the same. So, now I'm not going to spend $6 and get that when I can just use regular tofu.
I also didn't use the Quorn crumbles. I used Seitan instead as the 'meat'.

Here is what Seitan looks like up close. I always chop or food process mine really tiny.
I didn't have any frozen spinach so I just food processed some fresh leaves really fine and mixed them in with the Tofu cheese mixture. Everything else was the same. It was so freaking delicious.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Burrito Lunch

*Casie Here*
 This was my yummy lunch the other day. It was quick and I had everything ready to go from dinner the night before, so it came together super fast.

Black re fried beans mixed with sauteed onions, corn, taco seasoning, and cooked rice. Topped with tomatoes, veggie cheese, salsa & green lettuce. All it was missing was my black olives (I was out) I did use a few Kalamada olives I had, but it wasn't the same. It was so good and refreshing!