Archive for the ‘Vegan Nutrition’ Category

What is Hing (Asafoetida)?

Posted on: June 9th, 2013 by veggiebeauty 4 Comments


When I first started looking into Indian cooking techniques and recipes, I kept coming across this elusive ingredient known by many different names: asafoetida, asafetida, and most commonly known as hing. I looked up a picture of the plant and realized that my grandmother used it to make homemade pickles! Hing is used in many recipes that I wanted to try, so I decided to order some online from My Spice Sage (they have the most elusive ingredients, so if you can’t locally source something, check this site first). It an ingredient that has no substitution, so its worth the hunt if you enjoy authentic Indian cuisine.

The most intimidating thing I discovered about working with hing is its strong, pungent smell. Some would describe it as foot odor, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. It definitely is an evasive smell, so its best to keep hing in an air tight container or double bag, or your spice cabinet may take on its odor. This smell goes away when hing is added to cooking oil, and develops a similar flavor profile similar to a combination of leeks, onions, and garlic. It is a great flavor substitute if you are sensitive to any of those particular ingredients.

I have been using it lately with a cooking technique known as a chaunk. A chaunk, also known as a tarka or tadka, is a common technique used to impart flavor from whole spices. I heat about 2 TB of vegetable oil (a replacement for ghee, which is clarified butter) and heat on medium heat. I usually add cumin seeds to my chaunk, so I add one seed into the pan to see if the oil is hot enough. If it pops and sizzles, the oil is ready for the cumin seeds. I add hing towards the end of the cooking of my chaunk, which never takes more than 30 seconds or the spices will start to burn. You then pour the chaunk into your gravy or dal (lentils), you can even add it to basmati rice! It imparts such a depth of flavor that is essential to Indian cooking.

Indian food is all about spice blends and balancing strong flavors so that not one element overpowers another, which is not as easy as it seems. Enter in the mysterious ingredient that melds flavors and aids in digestion, hing. If you have trouble digesting legumes, try adding a pinch of hing to your recipe! It is my secret ingredient in making authentic, restaurant quality Indian food at home. I also don’t mind the smell of raw asafoetida anymore, although I still don’t risk leaving it out too long uncovered.

How to Stay Vegan When You are Broke

Posted on: September 6th, 2012 by veggiebeauty No Comments

Let’s face it, we all have had difficult times in our lives financially. Maybe you are strapped for cash because you are paying back student loans, maybe your spouse lost their job and you are struggling to make ends meet. Maybe groceries and the cost of living have become a huge burden on your budget. Those last 3 scenarios describe my current situation. Its tough not to get depressed or down about these situations, and it does take a different way of approaching your day to day life. These tips should help you maintain a healthy vegan diet as well as provide you with practical tips to get you through tough times.

Make a Budget: 
The first thing to do is sit down and make a family budget. Now I’m not saying this has to be an exact accounting of every dollar you spend, but you need to have a rough idea of how much your bills cost versus how much money you bring in per week. I do not recommend cutting your grocery budget drastically, for many reasons. Produce is expensive, but so are doctor’s bills and you can’t put a price tag on your health. You will be more productive in bettering your current situation if you feel healthy and are taking care of yourself.

What You Need Vs. What You Want:
You can easily cut back expenses by figuring out what you need to survive versus what you want. Yes, those new shoes are cute, but are they more important than paying your electric bill? Also, don’t go out to eat, stay in and cook for yourself. That’s an easy way to cut down expenses. Often times I enjoy the food I make for myself more, this seems to be especially true with vegan food (at least where I live). Cut back to using one car instead of two if you can. Also, and I stress this emphatically, do not rely on credit cards, they will only get you in more trouble in the long run. They are not long term solutions, just short term and will haunt you in the months and years ahead.

Affordable Food:
Don’t be afraid to check flyers for sales and if you have affordable grocery stores like ALDI, check them out! They are my savoir when times are tough, especially for nuts and canned goods. You also may find great deals on produce at local farmers markets. Also, if you have a place to plant a garden, growing your own veggies can be a very practical and cheap solution!

Have a Meal Plan:
Don’t waste your groceries! So much food gets thrown out and wasted because it was bought without a clear purpose in mind. Make a list of meals you are planning for the week and see if you can use up items in your fridge or freezer to help cut back your bill. If you think your veggies might go bad soon, cut them up and freeze them if you can. Not all veggies freeze well, like tomatoes and celery which have a high water content) but root veggies keep well in the freezer. You often can get deals buying produce in bulk, just clean and chop them up and freeze what you don’t need for the week. Also, meals with potatoes, rice, and beans are quite filling and healthy, and best of all cheap! You can throw in various vegetable combos to change things up and spices-herbs can really make things interesting on a budget.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know its hard to admit that things aren’t working out as you hoped, but don’t be ashamed to get government assistance if you need to, like EBT cards. There is nothing to be ashamed about. Also look into food banks if you qualify. If things turn around for you later on, you can always donate back to food banks and help those in need by donating to charities. If you have a supportive family, tell them about your situation…even if they can’t help out very much financially, maybe ask if you can do your laundry there every other week if they live close by?

Get Creative:
Instead of buying expensive gifts for your friends and families, make them something. Write them a poem, song, a painting, drawing. You could agree to help work on their car if you are gifted at mechanics. Being creative also applies to keeping yourself busy and entertained when you are poor. Maybe check out a few good books from the library instead of going to the movies? Go for a walk instead of hanging out in the mall with friends. Work on a DIY project, like painting your old shoes with an interesting pattern or making a homemade face mask made of avocado and oatmeal. Keeping busy and finding activities that fulfill you will help you prioritize and realize that money can’t buy you happiness. That comes from yourself and your attitude.

Week 2: Grocery List & Budget Shopping

Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by veggiebeauty 4 Comments

This week we ended up spending more money than we’d like at the grocery store, even with a trip to ALDI. I realize that we got food for more meals than our normal 6 meal limit, so I’m taking that into account. Also, the pantry was low on a quite a few items, so those grocery trips do tend to cost a bit more. I think I need to take account of my pantry a bit more and space out our staples so we don’t have to purchase them all in one week.

We scored on a few items on our list….ALDI is now carrying 100% Grade A Maple syrup for only $3.99!!!! Its from Canada too…I tasted a little bit and absolutely nothing is wrong with the quality. I hate that people stick their nose up about shopping at ALDI…that store is the reason we are able to eat such a wide variety of interesting meals and still be able to afford a few luxury items from time to time. I also found pine nuts there last week for super cheap, score!

ALDI doesn’t always carry almond milk, but when they do I enjoy getting some as it is my favorite non-dairy milk. Their almond milk tastes wonderful, I highly recommend it. Their soy milk is quite reasonable as well and is organic which is important to me regarding soybeans as many soybeans are gmo.

Also, while jams and jellies aren’t super healthy, we enjoy eating a PB & J sometimes. ALDI’s Strawberry preserves and Corcord Grape jelly do not have processed cane sugar in them. Yes they have corn syrup instead, but at least we know that is a vegan sweetener whether its healthy or not.

Onto the meal plan, to give you guys some ideas of what the heck we eat. Once you have a meal plan down, it makes life much easier and you also know that your food won’t go to waste in your fridge because you have a specific plan for each item.

This week, I decided to crack open a new cookbook (well, at least open up my Nook lol) called Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I have her book, The Vegan Table, but I enjoy the organization and theme of this book a bit more. I adore how the recipes are split up into different colors with information about why foods of a certain color are good for you and what they can provide for your body. There are many gluten-free and oil free options in the book for those looking to eat a bit healthier.

I ended up picking 3 recipes from this book this week:
Stuff Shells with Marinara: features a beautiful and healthy tofu ricotta recipe…a genius mix of soft and extra firm tofu with pine-nuts..mmmmm.

Beet Burgers: This sound very colorful and interesting…I was quite intrigued by the inclusion of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds as well. The picture was what really inspired me to make this and it sounds healthy and tasty. We splurged and got the new block version of Daiya, the Jack style one? I’ve heard that it tastes better than the shredded version!

Nori Wraps with Orange Cashew Cream: These look so colorful and tasty..a nice alternative to a tortilla wrap. Love the addition of avocado, makes them more like a California roll. We ended up using rice wraps instead of nori though, as the only Nori sheets we saw seemed too small to make a wrap. I think I’ll just add some dulse flakes to the Cashew Cream to give it the seafood flavor. Should work nicely. The rice wraps were gluten free, made of just rice and tapoica flour.

The rest of the recipes are just family favorites that we’ve made a million times before…but there is nothing wrong with that. I notice we do tend to eat more Mexican dishes when were are budgeting because it easy to pack in flavor with spicey ingredients like jalapenos and chili sauce. Also, while the dishes may seem humble, we are always satisfied by their comforting taste and delicious flavor. Simple can be wonderful if you use the right spices and flavor profiles.

Chili: We just take a large can of tomato juice, add in some onion, garlic, green pepper, frozen corn, 2 cans kidney beans, 1 can black beans, and a small can of tomato paste to help the food stretch a bit further and to thicken the soup. I also love adding in a lot of lime juice and chili powder…we also have some fresh jalapeños to use up from last week. May throw in some TVP if I think about it.

Garbanzo Tacos: This is the meal my husband is making this week. Its a very quick and simple meal to make and he feels comfortable with it, so that makes it easier to get him in the kitchen:) We are going to save part of the Daiya block of cheese and shred it up for the tacos to give them a bit more interest. He uses a can of diced tomato, onion, garlic, and basic taco seasonings (onion powder, chili powder, oregano, salt-pepper). The key to making garbanzos sit in taco shells is to smash them up a bit with a fork.

3-Pepper Fajitas: ALDI has super cheap tri-color peppers right now that look beautiful. We got a whole 3 pack for a $1.69! We are going to saute those with some mushrooms, spinach, onions, gralic and add some black beans, spices, and lots of ground pepper. And of course we will douse it with Tapatio hot sauce, but that’s a given:)

Spaghetti w/ Maranara: Cheap, cheap, cheap and easy…this a a recipe we make constantly. We are using organic pasta sauce and using up left-over green peppers, mushrooms, maybe a bit of textured vegetable protein to make it a bit heartier. I may even make some parmesan with walnuts and nutritional yeast that I have on hand, but we shall see.

Tofu with Stir-Fry Veggies w/ Jasmine Rice:  Jasmine rice  is a pantry staple of ours, its so fragrant and flavorful. We love this recipe as a way to use up veggies in our fridge and as a budget stretcher. I always make my own homemade sauces with cornstarch, soy sauce, turbinado sugar, and whatever spice blend I want that week or fruit (like pineapple) if I’m making a sweet and sour sauce.

Veggie Beauty’s Guide: Becoming a Vegan

Posted on: September 12th, 2011 by veggiebeauty No Comments

So You Wanna Go Vegan?             

First off, congratulations for making the best decision you could ever possibly make for your health, the planet, and the animals we share our earth with. You will feel better, lose weight, and have a more positive outlook on life. No guilty conscience from contributing to the death and torture of innocent creatures. If you want to learn more about animal cruelty in all areas (slaughterhouses, circuses, fishing, etc…), I highly recommend watching the documentary Earthlings. It is available in its entirety on youtube.com. Everyone needs to watch that film and be aware of what is actually happening to thousands of innocent animals daily that we can prevent by going vegan.

While the vegan lifestyle is not difficult to maintain, it does take a bit of planning and research to do it the right way.

Vegan Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Books:

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Veganist by Kathy Freston

Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda David and Vessanto Melina

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell

What is the wrong way to eat a vegan diet?

The wrong way to eat as a vegan is to rely solely on frozen soy faux meat replacements, junk food, sugars, etc…You can be a vegan and still be unhealthy. Soda is vegan, but that doesn’t make it a healthy choice. To fully embrace and enjoy eating as a vegan, you need to learn about what foods fuel your body and make it run its best. Not simply what is convenient or easy because convenience foods can still lead to obesity, illness, and fatigue. These are the symptoms that many new vegans attribute to their new diet, and not to the overly processed diet they are eating.

What can I eat?

If you going to be a healthy vegan, you will need to cook your own foods. You do not need to be intimidated by the kitchen or think that vegan food is “weird” or simply consists of salads. You can eat all of the foods you love: burgers, pasta, chili, smoothies, trail mix, burritos, etc… Just veganize it! Most of the food we already eat is vegan. The trick is to find easy and tasty vegan recipes. Something fun I like to do is take an old favorite and veganize it. It usually ends up tasting better than the original because as a vegan, you become more sensitive to spices and seasonings. Your palette expands as you begin to explore vegan recipes from cultures all around the world. If anything, as a vegan you will eat a more exciting and varied diet than ever before.

For free vegan recipes to get you started right away, check out vegweb.com! Here are a few of my personal favorite from that site:

Tandoori Seitan: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=14249.0

Spicy Carrot and Coconut Milk Soup: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=28908.0

Easy West African Peanut Soup: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=10092.0

Eggplant Lasagna: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=6093.0

Spinach and Basic Tofu “Ricotta” Shells: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=13949.0

 

Vegan Cookbook Suggestions:

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra and Terry Hope Romero

Vegan With a  Vengeance by Isa Chandra and Terry Hope Romero

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra and Terry Hope Romero

The 30 Minute Vegan by Mark Rennfield and Jennifer Murray

Get It Ripe: A Fresh Take on Vegan Cooking and Living by Jae Steele

Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies That Save You Time and Money by Robin Robertson

Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein

The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

Vegan baking is also simple. You don’t need eggs, butter, or dairy of any kind to make tasty cakes, brownies cookies, breads, or pizza dough. Many different kinds of bread can be found in your local bakery if you take the time to look through the labels!

What are some essentials in a basic “vegan pantry”?

Grains-100% Wheat Semolina Pasta (no eggs), white rice, brown rice, quinoa, bulgar wheat, quick oats, wild rice, jasmine rice, sticky rice

Spices and Herbs- Rosemary, Oregano, Ground Pepper, Sea Salt, Cumin, Paprika, Curry Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, All Spice, Chili Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Cinnamon, Basil, caraway seeds, ground thyme, sesame seeds, Chinese 5 Spice, Ground Ginger

Oils- Canola Oil, Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Sesame Oil, Hot Oil

Bagged/Canned Good- diced tomatoes, olives, chipotle peppers, chiles, coconut milk, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, red beans, lentils, sunflower seeds, cashews, panko bread crumbs (vegan), tortillas and taco shells (no lard), peanut butter

Baking- Energ-Egg Replacer, Flaxseeds, whole wheat flour, unbleached all purpose flour, walnuts, pecans, coconut flakes, agave nectar, organic cane sugar, organic brown sugar, molasses, sunspire vegan chocolate chips, Canola Oil, vegetable shortening

Condiments- vegan BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard (yellow & brown), hot sauce, Annie’s Green Goddess Dressing, vinegrette (vegan), balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, pickles, jalapenos, strawberry preserve

Once you have a vegan pantry, just stock up on fresh fruits ,veggies, non-dairy milk, and other refrigerated items and you’ll be set to go! Buy what’s in season and locally if you can…you’ll save money and help the planet.

Read your Labels!

Here are some common animal by-products to avoid while shopping at the supermarket (source: http://www.cyberparent.com/eat/hiddenanimalsinfood.htm):

The basic bad boys to avoid: eggs, casein, dairy, meat (of any kind!), rennet, lecithin (can be soy or animal derived), l-cysteine (can be made from human hair or duck feathers), red #4 (carmine, crushed beetle shells), natural flavors (could be anything), gelatin (substance taken from animal hooves), Lactic Acid, Lanolin (sheep wool wax), Oleic acid, Rennet (obtained from a baby calve’s stomach and used to make cheese),

The best way to avoid eating these kinds of foods is to read ingredient labels and limit the amount of processed food you are eating. Make your own food with whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains and you can feel comfortable about you meals being vegan and healthy.

 

What about Vitamin B12?

You are going to get into a debate with several people over this issue when you decide to go vegan. B12 is not necessarily an animal derived vitamin. It comes from micro-organisms in the soil. When the animal eats plants from the soil, they ingest these micro-organisms, so it is a 2nd hand source of B12. We used to be able to get all of the B12 we needed from our veggies because they weren’t as carefully washed as they are today. Unless you grow your own organic foods in your backyard, it is wise to wash your food because of pesticides. You can easily get your B12 by eating fortified cereals and non-dairy milks. Also, Deeva Daily vitamins are a great supplement to the vegan diet and contain the required B12. Nutritional yeast also contains B12.

What vegan and cruelty-free products should I use?

I have a handy, dandy cruelty-free products list (this also includes household cleaning products as well):

http://veggiebeauty.com/my-cruelty-free-list

I also list some vegan products on my website and I also sell my own line of vegan cosmetics called Pumpkin & Poppy Cosmetics. You can buy my products through my artfire store: http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/pumpkinandpoppy

The website, leapingbunny.org is another great resource and they have a free iphone app to help you while shopping. Remember to watch out for brands that are involved in 3rd party testing or are owned by a company that tests on animals (The Body Shop is owned by L’oreal, thereby making they non-cruelty-free.)

My favorite vegan hygiene staples:

Kiss my Face Triple Whitening Toothpaste

Kiss My Face Shaving Lotion

Crazy Rumours Lip balm

Eco Lips Bee-Free Lip balm

Nubian Heritage African Black Soap

Out of Africa Vanilla Shea Butter Soap (Walgreens carries this brand)

Dickenson’s Witch Hazel Toner (Walgreens)

Beauty Without Cruetly Rosemary Mint Clarifying Shampoo

Dr. Bronner’s 18 in 1 Castille liquid soaps

Desert Essence- Organics Conditioner for Dry Hair (Coconut)

Alba Leave in Conditioner, Hair Spray

Alba Very Emollient Body Lotion (Fragrance-Free)

Alba Green Tea SPF 45 Natural Sunblock

Crystal Essence Mineral Deoderant Body Spray (Lavender & White Tea)

Jojoba Oil (eye makeup remover)

What can I wear?

Ideally, all of your clothes would be made of organic, non-animal derived sources and made in a sweatshop free envioronment, but this isn’t realistic for most of us. If you are on a tight budget, your best bet is to learn to love thrifting. While it is never okay to buy new leather or wool, if you buy it second hand you are recycling and giving your money to a charitable cause. The animal was already killed and it is wasteful to throw things away. Reusing an item is much better for the earth, and the animals (and our pocket books). Use the money you save from thrifting to to buy other items from ethical and eco-conscious brands if you can. Etsy and Artfire have many artisans that craft lovely vegan items and clothing.

Vegan Glasses, Belts, Purses, & Shoes:

http://www.mooshoes.com/category.cfm/brand/VEGETARIAN%20SHOES

http://www.alternativeoutfitters.com/

http://www.veganstore.com/

http://www.amysacks.com/

http://www.ecomall.com/

Good luck with your vegan journey and make sure to get involved with the activism side as well! There are so many wonderful vegan and animal rights organizations to support, I’m sure you’ll find one you will donate your time and/or money to.

American Anti-Vivesection Society

Farm Sanctuary

Mercy For Animals

Become an ASPCA Guradian

Humane Society International

Speak: The Voice for the Rights of Animals

Is Soy Bad For You?

Posted on: May 16th, 2011 by veggiebeauty 2 Comments

This video is based on the information in this article, Soy and the Thyroid by Mary Shoman: thyroid.about.com This article best sums up the overall arguments on the benefits and detriments of soy in the diet. I am not a nutritionist or a scientist, I have just personally done a lot of research in this area for my own info. I recommend researching yourself and forming your own opinions based on scientific facts and studies from reputable sources.

Review: Beaver Wasabi Powder

Posted on: May 11th, 2011 by veggiebeauty No Comments

Wasabi is a delicious and addictive Japanese sushi condiment; its also very expensive and virtually impossible to get fresh anywhere but Japan. What is a spicy Japanese condiment lover to do? Pick up some wasabi powder and mix your own paste whenever you want!

Check out the Asian section at your grocery store, or check health food stores. Beaver Wasabi powder is a bit pricey (about $3.95) for 2 oz., but it ends up making a good quantity of wasabi. It isn’t 100% pure wasabi, as it contains: mustard flour, spinach powder, and silicon dioxide (which prevents caking). The most important thing is that wasabi is listed as the main ingredient, so you want to look for that when you purchase your wasabi powder.

To get the most our of your wasabi, here is the best way to prepare it:

1. Use equal amounts powder and water to form a thick paste. It should not be a runny consistancy.

2. Flip your bowl containing the wasabi upside down on top of a small plate for about 10-15 minutes; this helps the wasabi to become more concentrated and locks in its flavor and intensity.

You can use the paste straight as a condiment (be careful because a little bit goes a long way). It is traditionally mixed with soy sauce or tamari, but there are many ways to utilize wasabi’s potent flavor. It can be added to vegan mayo, and it is a unique way to spice up hummus.

Health Benefits of Wasabi (source: genuineaid.com)
- Improves wound healing
- Prevents cells from damages
- Improves gums health
- Improves teeth health
- Improves Immune System
- Protects from free radicals
- Reduces Aging
- Lowers Risks of some Cancers
- Improves Iron absorption
- Improves Lung health
- Prevents from frequent colds
- Protects from frequent infections
- Normalizes Blood Sugar Levels
- Normalizes Cholesterol Levels
- Helps prevent constipation
- Helps prevent hemorrhoids
- Supports Weight Loss

Of course, the heath benefits are strongest if you are using fresh wasabi, but this root truly has some astounding health properties. It also tastes delicious and is great for dieters as spicy foods are well known to suppress the appetite. Powdered wasabi is a great way to enjoy wasabi without the high price attached to fresh wasabi. Just be careful to eat slowly, or you will feel the burn!

Maintaining a Vegan Diet on a Budget

Posted on: April 28th, 2011 by veggiebeauty No Comments

It can seem overwhelming to stick to your budget while grocery shopping, especially if you are new to veganism. You may be tempted to stick to convenience foods, and this is the first mistake that new vegans make. They start eating prepackaged foods and then equate veganism with being far too expensive for their lifestyles. Stick with this guide and you can be a healthy vegan without going broke.

Eating healthy is slightly more expensive
The government subsidizes corn and soybeans, hence the reason they are in EVERY prepackaged food in one form or another. The government does not subsidize organic produce, or produce in general for that matter and that’s why it costs more at the grocery store. In an ideal world, eating healthy would be more affordable, but that’s not the current state of our society. Remember, there are hidden costs to eating unhealthy foods. Health problems may not be immediate, but if you eat prepackaged, sodium heavy, chemical laden, preservative full, and nutrient devoid foods it will catch up to you eventually.

Symptoms of eating this kind of a diet: diabetes, fatigue, mood swings, depression, hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and of course obesity.

Eating healthy is the most affordable health insurance policy
Eating a healthy vegan diet saves you money if you look at the big picture. Many of us can’t afford to buy health insurance in this economy. We must rely on our own knowledge and the foods we eat to sustain our health, which should be of higher importance to more people regardless of their financial situation. The best health insurance policy you can have is to switch your diet to a healthy, plant based diet. One of the most respected scientists in the field of nutrition, T. Colin Campbell, wrote The China Study; it is a compelling book extolling the virtues of a plant based diet and how modern medicine and our government keep the real truth from us as far as meat and dairy are concerned. Far too much money is tied up in dairy and factory farms; this is why they don’t want us to think about their ill effects on our health. I guarantee The China Study you will change the way you think about nutrition and food.

This article from nursingdegree.net also shares 57 different health benefits of switching to a plant based, vegan diet.

Avoid the Dirty Dozen
Its not realistic for most of us to buy organic produce, as it is more expensive. If you have a farmer’s market, buy produce locally if you can. Ask the sellers if they farm organically or if they use pesticides. Also, keep in mind that not all foods have equal contamination from pesticides and chemicals.

According to Organic.org, there are the “dirty dozen” to avoid if you can, and they also list 12 of the least contaminated foods. So if buying organic produce is important to you, only buy organic from the most contaminated list.

12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

12 Least Contaminated

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

If you don’t have access or money to buy organic, eating nutrient dense food is still a healthier option than a nutrient devoid diet. Do the best you can and don’t stress out about being perfect.

Buy Bagged or Bulk Beans and Grains
Canned and boxed foods are convenient, but they aren’t always the most affordable option. Keep around a few cans of beans for those nights when you are very busy. Try to buy bagged beans and rice for the majority of your meals and you’ll save a lot of money. You can cook up a bag of beans for about $1.00; this equals about 3 cans of beans, which can cost you at least double, to triple this amount. The same principle applies to rice; instant rice has already been precooked so you don’t get nearly as much as a bag of uncooked rice. It takes a bit more time and planning to cook dried beans and non-instant rice, but its worth it when you are on a tight budget. Also, it creates less packaging waste which is great for the environment.

Limit Vegan Specialty Items
It is important to have some speciality items in your pantry, such as nutritional yeast and vegan vitamins to help supplement B12 in your diet. For the most part, you should stick to very basic whole foods: vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, beans, and fruits. Tofu is alright in moderation, but don’t make it the main source of protein in your diet as it is still a processed food and can inhibit the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium. A lot of speciality items like vegan cheeses, veggie burgers, and dairy substitutes contain soy, so keep that in mind when you are shopping. If you want to use fake meats, consider making your own seitan using vital wheat gluten. That way, you can control what you put into your food and it is much more affordable.

Shop Around
Often times, we only shop at one grocery store because we want to save time. It pays to know your prices and to shop around and find out which stores carry certain items at the cheapest prices. ALDI has incredibly low prices on canned goods and produce. They aren’t organic, but stores like ALDI are a lifesaver if you are on a tight budget. Also, if a canned or bagged item you use regularly is on sale, stock up on it! Food Co-ops are another great, money saving option if you have one available.

Cut Out the Crap
You’d be surprised how much money you save if you stop buying non-essentials and items that don’t contribute to your heathy lifestyle. Things to avoid or use moderation: soda, snacks, processed sugars, candy, cookies, etc…Also, when you go vegan, you won’t be spending money on high priced items like meat and cheese. Use the money you’d spend on those items to buy an organic item or to stock up your pantry with more expensive items like quinoa, flaxseeds, nutritional yeast, and nuts.

Get Cooking!
Eating out is the quickest way to put a strain on your budget. Learning how to cook is the best skill you can acquire if you want to become healthy and stick to a budget while eating a vegan diet. Make sure to invest in some vegan cookbooks andvegweb.com is a free vegan recipe resource as well. You can find a lot of cookware at thrift stores, which is another great way to save money and recycle.

Everyone can eat a healthy vegan diet, especially if you follow these money saving tips. It takes awhile to adjust to shopping as a vegan, but you will find a pattern that works for you and your family with time.

Ignorance Kills Child, Not Veganism

Posted on: April 10th, 2011 by veggiebeauty No Comments
In the news, a recent featured topic regarding the vegan lifestyle has been the child abuse case of a vegan couple from France. Sergine and Joel Le Moaligou fed their 11th month old baby daughter, Louise, only breast milk. The couple decided to go vegan after viewing a television program on factory farming. Their heart may have been in the right place, but being a vegan is the same as any other major dietary change and should be treated as such.

The main cause of Louise’s death was the ignorance of her mother regarding her own dietary health. Mothers need to be careful to eat a healthy balanced diet, regardless of their beliefs. This can be easily achieved with some basic research into the vegan diet. It is not generally recommended to jump into any diet without all of the facts and information. An issue many educated vegans are aware of is the necessity to monitor B12 levels in their diet. B12 naturally occurs in the soil, which is ingested by livestock, which omnivores in turn ingest by eating the animal. It is not solely located in meat, but happens to exist in meat because of the soil. Vegans usually get their B12 from nutritional yeast, fortified cereals, non-dairy milks, and dietary supplements. Sergine was compromising her health by being an uneducated vegan, and this tragically is what killed her daughter, not the diet itself.

Another key factor in Louise’s death was the negligence of her parents. They believed in alternative medicine, and refused to have their daughter treated for bronchitis and ignored medical advice about the child’s extremely low body weight. This was brought to their attention during Louise’s 9 month check up, and they refused to do anything to help their daughter. It is child abuse, neglect, and ignorance that killed Louise Moaligou, not the vegan diet.
This case will obviously call the vegan diet into question, and its really unfortunate since vegans are already such a small minority in the overall population (In 2009, only 1% of Americans claimed to be on a vegan diet). Not only is veganism a very healthy diet, recommended by many doctors and nutritionists, its also very easy to get all of the vitamins and nutrients necessary for a healthy life. Let’s dispel some myths about the vegan diet lacking key nutrients (source: www.vrg.org):
  • Vitamin D- Some mushrooms treated with UVB rays can contain Vitamin D. The most reliable vegan source of Vitamin D is absorbed by the body through direct sunlight.  According to Vegan Outreach, light skinned individuals can absorb their daily vitamin D through 15-30 minutes of direct sunlight. It takes twice as long for dark skinned people to absorb the same amount, so supplements are usually suggested.
  • Calcium- Many studies have suggested that plant based calcium is actually more readily absorbed in the bones than dairy. Dark, leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, bok choy, and spinach have high amounts of calcium. Other vegan calcium sources: fortified cereals and non-dairy milk.
  • Iodine- Iodized salt is a the way most vegans get their daily iodine intake. Just make sure the salt you are using is fortified with iodine and you’ll be just fine.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids- Flax seeds, Walnuts, tofu, and canola oil.
  • Iron- Black Strap Molasses is taken by many vegans as an iron supplement. Iron can also be found in lentils, spinach, quinoa, and in many dried legumes.
In conclusion, the vegan diet is only as healthy or unhealthy as you make it; it is up to each individual to make smart meal plans and make sure they and their children are being wise with their dietary choices. This case is a clear case of criminal negligence on the part of the parents, and should be treated as such. Many vegan mothers are able to raise and feed their children and themselves on vegan diets without any complications. We should not let one couple’s tragic mistake change the fact that veganism is a healthy and natural dietary choice.

 

Tips for Healthy Vegan Grocery Shopping

Posted on: February 10th, 2011 by admin No Comments


I cannot emphasize how important it is to make a meal plan before you go out grocery shopping, especially as a new vegan or vegetarian. Its easy to be swayed by all the bright, shiny packaging and new items that grocery stores try to tempt us with. If you want to avoid unhealthy, processed foods, dairy, and meat…make a grocery list and stick to it. I’m not saying that if you see a sale on some fresh produce that you should skip out on it because its not on your list, but it is a good policy to stay pretty close to the items you’ve written down.

My husband and I eat pretty much all of our meals at home, which makes our grocery bill seem a bit higher than most. But think about it…you go out to eat, get a couple of drinks and dessert, you can easily spend around $40 in just one night. Our average for 7 days (including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, cat food/ litter, household items, cleaning supplies and alcohol) ends up being around $100 per week. Do the math…3 meals a day, plus snacks for 2 people, that’s not too shabby. And the majority of our diet is produce, which can seem a bit pricy…but remember, you aren’t paying for dairy and meat which can be very expensive too.

I honestly don’t mind spending a bit more money buying produce and whole foods because I look at it as a health insurance policy. We save hundreds of dollars in health care bills because we simply don’t get sick. I’m being totally serious. Besides my dental issues, I haven’t gotten sick in over 2 years…not one cold, fever, nada. People underestimate how important fruits and veggies in your diet are when it comes to boasting your immunity to illness. You don’t need to take vitamin supplements if you are making smart meal plans and eating the right foods.

I recommend getting a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks. There are a lot of free vegan recipes online if you can’t afford to buy cookbooks. I look for recipes that are low in saturated fats and have a grain, protein, and a mixture of vegetables. I try to eat a wide variety of vegetables every week to make sure I get all of the different vitamins and nutrients I need to keep me healthy. So don’t just eat broccoli all week long; keep a good healthy variety of produce in the mix.

Fat-free is not something I’d recommend in your diet. You need “good fats” to be healthy, just make sure its in moderation. Avocados are an excellent source of healthy oils (I adore guacamole!) Extra virgin olive oil is an absolute staple in my household, I use it for sauteing, salad dressings, and yes, skincare! Canola oil is a good replacement for butter/shortening when you are baking because it has a neutral taste and is one of the healthier oils.

Try to stick to “brown” grains when you are shopping, especially if budget isn’t an issue. White rice as been processed and stripped of some of its nutrients. I do keep some on hand though because it is very cheap and is still good for you. My favorite grains to cook with: quinoa (its a complete protein!), couscous, basmati brown rice, barley, and oats. I also get whole wheat bread as well for the same reasons. I’m not a huge fan of whole wheat pasta, but I don’t eat pasta that often anyway. I make sure the pasta I do eat is 100% semolina with no eggs though.

I also try to keep a good variety of nuts on hand. You do want to make sure to not gorge yourself as nuts as they are high in saturated fats, but in moderation they are power house foods. For example: walnuts are not only a good source of protein, they are also high in B vitamins (something you need to monitor on a vegan diet) and high in omega 3′s which are essential for brain health and function. They’ve also been shown to reduce the risk of coronary disease when eaten in moderation! My favorite nuts: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. You should also keep seeds on hand for salads and snacks, I personally love sunflower seeds on salads and in homemade trail mixes.

Protein is something that many people worry about when they switch to a vegan diet. You don’t need to worry, vegetable sources of protein are very easy to incorperate into a vegan diet.

Here’s a great article about vegetable protein sources

A lot of new vegans buy Bocca Burgers and overly processed faux meats to get their protein. Not only is this unhealthy, its also very expensive. I recommend using beans as the main source of your protein. My favorites: black beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans. Lentils are also an amazing and versatile protein source. I love using them in soaps and Indian dishes. Red lentils don’t need to be soaked like other bagged beans and they cook up in about 40 minutes! Quinoa, which I’ve mentioned before, is also a complete protein source that is low in calories and perfect for those on a diet! Its not a grain (its a seed), although its used just like a grain in many recipes. Tofu is another good protein source, but I would eat it in moderation (and only organic, no GMO tofu). If you eat too much soy, it can cause an increase in estrogen among other issues, but this is only if you are eating it in huge quantities everyday. Seitan (wheat meat) is a delicious source of protein made out of vital wheat gluten. It has the chewy, stringy texture of meat and I use homemade seitan in place of many faux meats you find in the grocery store.

As far as vegetables go, the sky is the limit! Eat a wide variety of colors and you will be getting well balanced nutrition and vitamins. Dark leafy greens will keep you a high source of plant based calcium which is actually absorbed by the bones much easier than dairy based calcium. Carrots and other orange/yellow vegetables and fruits contain high sources of Vitamin A&C.

Read this article to learn more about healthy fruits and veggies (other than the part about seafood):

http://www.bellybytes.com/articles/29foods.shtml

Staple fruits/veggies in my household: spinach, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, grape tomatoes, roma tomatoes, mixed greens, celery, zucchini, onions, garlic, eggplant (for special occasions), assorted bell peppers, jalapenos, grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, raisins, cabbage, the list goes on and on.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Have a wide variety of condiments, salad dressings, spices, and herbs. Having a variety of flavor enhancers will help make your food more exciting and fun. Mustard is a favorite as its extremely low in calories and tastes delicious on sandwiches and in salad dressings.
  • Grapeseed Vegenaise makes a great replacement for mayo, and is much healthier and cholesterol free because it contains no dairy or eggs.
  • Look out for worcestershire sauce when you are looking for BBQ sauce and other sauces as it contains anchovies in it. Also avoid honey in condiments, cereals, etc…
  • Soy milk is the most widely available non-dairy milk, but make sure to try out other varieties to see what you like: almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, rice milk etc…
  • I use rice/soy ‘cheese” on occasion, but I try not to make any processed foods a main part of my diet
  • Bone char is used to bleach processed sugars, so beware. I use organic sugar; it will have a light brown coloration to it. Other vegan sweeteners to try: agave nectar, 100% pure maple syrup, stevia, and turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw).
  • Avoid milk chocolates or chocolate with milk-fats in the them. Cocoa powder is vegan, and you can make your own hot chocolate with it. Try using dark chocolate, the higher percentage of cocoa, the more likely it is vegan. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and it is also a mood enhancer. When eating moderation, its actually a healthy part of your diet!
  • Check out barnivore.com to see if your favorite beers and wines are vegan. Some beers and wines may contain: isinglass (from fish bladders), gelatin, egg whites, and sea shells. Also, vegan beers don’t contain any honey.

Here is an example of my grocery list for this week to give you an idea of what we shop for (keep in mind I already have a lot of staples like rice, pasta, flour, nuts, beans etc…on hand in my pantry):

Produce:
Mixed Greens, 2 bags fresh spinach, grape tomatoes, roma tomatoes, asparagus, assorted bell peppers, granny smith apples, dried mixed berries, kale, cilantro, lemon, lime

Canned Goods/Dried Goods: 1 can diced tomatoes, olives, chopped walnuts, low-fat italian dressing, vital wheat gluten, tortillas, 2 cans black beans

Other: Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheddar “Cheese”, soy creamer, soy milk (regular), 100% whole wheat bread, hoagie buns, brown dinner rolls

A vegan pantry and fridge may take a while to build up, but its very easy to transition. You need to make eating vegan fun and exciting by trying out lots of different recipes and nationalities of cooking. Don’t try to and amass everything at once, over time you will eventually have a wide range of spices, beans, flours, dried good at your disposal.

Remember, shopping vegan is an adventure, not a chore. You will eat a much wider variety of foods than you ever did as an ominvore. Not only will the animals and the planet appreciate your decision shop vegan at the grocery store, your body will thank you for making the healthy, ethical choice.

Home Remedies to Relieve a Tooth Abscess

Posted on: January 27th, 2011 by admin 1 Comment

Before I get into this blog post, must put up this disclaimer. ALWAYS go see your dentist if you have any tooth problems, as an abscess infection can spread to your facial bones and eat away at them. You can even die if the infection gets to your blood and makes its way to your heart. Its not a pretty picture. You need to get anti-biotics and possibly a root canal as soon as possible.

That said, I totally understand how painful and awful tooth abscess and aches can be. I don’t have health insurance right now, and can’t afford to get an $800 surgery that I need to get my root canal fixed. Gotta love the U.S. health care system. I went to the free clinic and they said I needed a specialist to get my tooth fixed, so there’s nothing they can do except extract my tooth. If the situation gets really bad, I may have to do this, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep my tooth.

So the main thing I’m doing now is trying to prevent infection from occurring. This means I need to use great oral hygiene, but sometimes that’s not enough to stop an infection from coming back. I just got tooth pains again after drinking 2 cans of soda after abstaining for about a month…I will never drink soda again:( It rots your teeth, the acids combined with exorbitant amounts of sugars eat away at tooth enamel. No wonder our nation has so many cavities! Damn addictive refined sugars and caffeine!

I was lucky that I had a refill on my amoxicillian that my dentist prescribed from before. I’ve been taking that 3 times a day to help get rid of my infection internally. This does nothing to deal with the intense pain that comes with an abscess. Also, if you want speed the healing process, you need to help the abscess to drain. Here are some affordable home remedies that I recommend to help relieve the pain and speed the healing process.

 

  • Drink a cup of black tea. Use the tea bag and place it on the abscess for an hour. This will ease the swelling and help to draw out the infection from the tooth.
  • Cloves are a great pain reliever. I only had ground cloves on hand, so I made a mixture of olive oil and clove and applied it to the gum on the infected tooth.
  • Make sure to keep the area clean and bacteria free by rinsing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Slice a thin amount of raw potato (make sure its clean) and place it on the abscess to draw out infection.
  • Apply some hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball and place it on the infected area.
  • Eat a few cloves of raw garlic. Garlic is a great antibiotic, but only works if its raw.
  • Eat healthy…try a blueberry smoothie. Not only will it cool your inflammation, the antioxidants will help boost your immune system.
  • Drink lots of fluids, as always.