Friday, May 31, 2013

Amount of Sugar.....Really?

It is amazing to see how much sugar is in food.  This really reminds me how much we need to all be label reading experts. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Unhappy Meals

Before you feed you child fast food, consider this information from the Take Part website.
CLICK HERE to find out the unhappy truth about children's menus at fast food restaurants.
What is the alternative?  Eat at home or prepare food at home to bring with you.
Research what you and others are feeding them.  Think about what you feed them and what is best for them.
Your children are worth it. Their future health depends on it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Asian Quinoa Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing

*Casie Here*
I made this salad the other night for dinner and man my kids loved it. They each had two full bowls. It is similar to my other Asian Salad HERE, but a little different. I got my inspiration from Pinterest. A lot of times I just search 'Vegan Meals' or just 'Vegan' or 'Vegetarian'. I have a lot of yummy ones saved to my 'Vegetarian/Vegan Dishes' board.
  HERE is the original recipe I went off of and I will tell you what all I did different (which isn't too much).

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing {vegan, gluten-free} 
Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 15 mins
Total time 25 mins

Recipe type: Healthy, Salad, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free
Cuisine: Asian, Thai

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1-2 cups shredded red cabbage, depending on how much crunch you like
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • ½ cup cashew halves or peanuts (honey-roasted is good)
  • Optional: 1 cup edamame or chickpeas
  • Fresh lime, for a bit of tang
  • For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup all natural peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten-free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use agave if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Water to thin, if necessary
  1. To cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. You should have a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
  2. To make dressing: Add peanut butter and honey or agave to a medium microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and both sesame and olive oil and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy. If you want a thinner dressing, simply stir in a teaspoon or two of water or olive oil.
  3. Add as much or as little dressing as you’d like to the quinoa. I always start out with a little bit of dressing and usually add more to suit my taste preferences. Alternatively you can save the dressing for later and add when you are ready to eat; however the flavors of the dressing usually soak into the salad so I love adding it to the quinoa first.
  4. Next fold in red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, and cilantro into the quinoa. Garnish with cashews and green onions. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lime wedges if desired.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6th of recipe Calories: 260 Fat: 13.5g Carbohydrates: 27.7g Sugar: 7g Fiber: 4.3g Protein: 8.6g

My Version and changes:

So, I cooked 1 cup of plain Quinoa (instead of 3/4 cup)  that I had rinsed really good and added to 1 cup of boiling water (not 1 1/2 cups). It has a lot of dust and debris on it, so make sure to rinse it in a mesh strainer before you put it in the boiling water. 
I chopped up 1/2 a head of purple cabbage. It was a small head. Not sure how much it made when I chopped it all up, but it was a good amount. I prefer pieces smaller.
1 used 1/4 of a red, yellow and orange pepper, diced small.
I diced one small yellow onion.
I shredded 2 medium carrots with the handheld box grader cause I didn't want to pull out the food processor. Either would be fine. Just shred into however small or big you want your carrot pieces. 
I ripped a handful of cilantro off the bunch. Probably came out more to 3/4 cup of chopped cilantro. 
And I chopped about 5 stalks of green onions (was more like 1/2 cup).
*TIP* At Sams I buy the big container of  Cashews and go home and put them in the food processor and chop them all up and put them back in the container with a measuring cup in the bucket and put it in the freezer. When I need Cashews for a recipe or to throw into anything, I just grab it from the freezer and scoop out however much I need and throw it back in. It is so easy and fast. 
I probably would have put in Edamame and Chic peas if we would have had some, but we were out of both.
The dressing I pretty much kept the same except I used RICE wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.
And we have a container of Ginger-Garlic Paste in the fridge that I use for Asian dressings and such. I used about a tablespoon of that in it instead of the grated ginger.
I did add about 2-3 Tablespoons of HEMP SEEDS to the salad for more protein, but that is the only thing extra I threw in (this time ; ).
 When I served it, the salad was a little warm from the warm Quinoa and the Peanut Dressing was warm from being microwaved. It was so freaking delicious, the kids were CHOWIN' down. I think I prefer this version better than my other Asian salad. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This is water

Here is David Foster Wallace's commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College.
I think we could all benefit from acquiring a different perspective on our daily routine.
Thank you to P.S. for bringing this to video to my attention.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Now, they keep on comparing the calories to the hamburger so I wish they would have measured that to see how accurate that information was, too.
I can see why the food industry doesn't want the nutritional information displayed as I believe that it does impact many individuals on how much and what they end up ordering. 
I came across this interesting video about the inaccuracies of calorie reporting:

Gratitude Video

Beautiful images.  Inspiring messages. 
Please watch:

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies *UPDATED*

Here is a revised version of the breakfast/dessert smoothie we make often at home:
Ingredients:  Bananas, PB2, almond milk, ground flax seed, spinach or kale, dates and cocoa nibs(optional)
This fun drink is what we will fix for a special treat.
 The secret is that you have to pre-freeze your bananas! When you have a bunch of extra bananas, freeze them without the peel in a plastic bag BEFORE they get over-ripe. As long as you have some frozen bananas in your freezer, you can make this anytime!
Put some frozen bananas in the blender. I used 6 here, but you can tailor this to however much you want to make.
We used to use peanut butter for this recipe but thanks to a friend of mine(Thanks, M.O.H. for introducing us to peanut powder!)  informing us about peanut powder, have now switched to using PB2 instead of Peanut Butter. What is BP2? Well, it's the peanut flavor in a powder form with 85% less fat and calories. It tastes EXACTLY like peanut butter we previously used in the smoothie. NO ONE would be able to tell the difference. It's that good, people. We use about 1 tsp. per 4 cups of smoothie. 

We have found it at Walmart, Hy-Vee, Whole Foods and Bambi's Green Acres Natural Foods Market in Council Bluffs. It's probably at most health and natural food stores and it's around $5 to $6 per container. 
An added plus of using the PB2 is that the peanut butter made cleaning the blender much more time consuming. 
 Add some Vanilla Almond Milk.

We throw in about 1 tsp. per person of  Bobs Red Mill Organic Flax Seed Meal for the omega 3 fatty acid benefits.

I always add a big hand full of fresh organic spinach or kale.   I prefer frozen kale as it has a less bitter taste as it has already been steamed and this process takes some of the bitterness out. The spinach or kale is the most important ingredient to this smoothie so don't leave it out!
For a bit of sweetness, you can add 1-2 dates, pit removed.
For added antioxidant benefits, I add a 1/2 tsp of cocoa nibs.  Cocoa nibs have been found to have more antioxidant benefits than blueberries.  CLICK HERE to find out more about the benefits of cocoa nibs.
 Blend it all up and pour it into cups with straws!
Now go freeze some bananas so you can have this tonight!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World

Am I the only one that thinks this is cool?   I would love to look through and taste each of the items from around the world.   What is with all that soda, Mexico?  What is with all the processed food, USA? What is with all the bread, Turkey? 
I am a bit biased because I love Indian food, but I would love to spend a week at the Indian family's house and enjoy their culinary delights.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

*Casie Here*
 This is our daily breakfast. I make it just about every morning. We have leftovers a lot of times and that is also great to heat up the next day and add some almond milk to loosen it up a bit. 
Problem is I don't measure anything. I just eyeball it and go with consistency.
I start with about 1 to 2 cups of Almond Breeze Almond Milk in a sauce pan (probably closer to 2). I heat that on medium on the stove. While it's heating I core, peel and chop 1-2 apples. I get those in right away so they can soften up. Once it's been heating for a while and it pretty warmed. I start dumping the rest of the stuff in. I put in about 1 1/2 cups of Quaker Old Fashion Oats. You can adjust more or less to get the ratio you like of liquid to oats. I like about 3/4 oats, 1/4 liquid. 
I put in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup ground flax seed. We use Bobs Red Mill brand flax.
I add a pinch of sea salt and some cinnamon (however much you like) and a splash of vanilla. 
 I add 1/4 cup pure Maple Syrup and a handful of Golden raisins. I have also added frozen or fresh blueberries. 
Stir it up for a couple mins till the oats thicken up a little and you are done!
 It's so good and I think it tastes like Oatmeal cookies!!!  The apples are optional. I LOVE them in there though. I usually top mine off with some slices of banana. 
It seems like a lot of work, but probably the total amount of time it takes is probably 15 minutes. And like I said, make a big batch and refrigerate the leftovers for the next few days. My kids LOVE this and always eat it when I fix it! 

Almond Milk ~Vanilla flavor
Flax seed

Monday, May 6, 2013

Vegan Labelled Items at Walmart

CLICK HERE to view a listing of the Vegan labelled items at Walmart (items may not be available at all locations). This list was compiled by a volunteer of The Vegetarian Resource Group.  
Don't forget that the produce aisle is vegan, too.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Old Photo - Juicing

After we watched the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" in 2011, we began juicing.  We juiced for awhile until we realized there was much waste (mulch) that we could find enough ways to utilize.  We converted to blending after about 6 months of juicing.  We prefer the blending of smoothies over the juicing because less food is necessary and the clean up is much easier with the Vitamix blender.  There were so many parts with the juicer that needed to get cleaned that made it very time consuming.  The Vitamix is so much more efficient to create the drinks and clean up is simple. 
At times, though, I wish we still had our juicer.  We sold it and used the money to apply for the purchase of our Vitamix.  Our juice consisted of what you see below: lemons, limes, carrots, apples, celery, bok choy, cabbage, parsley, elephant kale, curly kale, cucumbers and ginger root.
This was a great jump start to our plant-based journey.  Much has evolved over a short period of time.  There were recipes that were almost unable to be consumed.  There were juices that I added cilantro when I meant to put in parsley and we drank it because we didn't want the juice to go to waste.  Most days the juice tasted great, but there were others I couldn't explain why there was a difference from one day to the next.  The key was the lemons and limes as they cut out the taste of the vegetables.   

For teachers and parents


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Please Watch This Video!

EVERYONE is struggling with something so try to be more compassionate towards have no idea what they might be going through right now.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I grew up in a small Nebraska town and I recall how easy it was to get out and enjoy nature when I was growing up.  Living in cities now for 22 years, I find myself constantly surrounded by buildings and the deafening sound of noise.  There is something to be said about getting away from bricks and mortar and other human-made structures.  Sometimes we forget that many of our children grow up in the city and they don't get many opportunities to get out of this environment.  Yes, there are neighborhood parks and your backyard... they are nice but they are usually small and you can still hear traffic and other noises in the background.  So, I suggest that you find a place to get away to experience nature...even if it means driving 30-45 minutes to find a place where the kids can get away from all the hustle and bustle and noise of the city.  Find a place where there are no buildings and that there are no sounds of traffic, rather, just the sounds of nature can be heard.  Take your children to these places, turn off your cell phones and don't have a schedule or an agenda.  Consider packing a healthy lunch and go to one of the many state parks in the area.  Find a walking trail and let the kids listen and look at the amazing world around them.  It will be amazing to watch your children explore these surroundings and to hear the questions they ask about what they are seeing and hearing.   Expose yourself and your children to nature and the wonderful worlds outside of the city.  It will be relaxing and you will get quite a bit of exercise, too.   When your children grow up and think back to events that occurred during their childhood they will recall how amazing the nature experiences you share with them were.
CLICK HERE to view information regarding Nebraska's State Parks.
CLICK HERE to veiw information regarding Iowa's State Parks.