Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Organic Living

Who wouldn't say yes?!

I do what I can to buy the best, and often organic foods for my family. It's not nearly as bank breaking as people might think - plus the organic options often last longer and taste better! Here's a run down of some of the organic options in our house.

My gorgeous Full Circle Organic Vegetable and Fruits box rec'd today 5/18. The nectarines are particularly sweet and delicious! Also received was a grapefruit, leek, head of red leaf lettuce, sugar snap peas, green beans, two Hass avocados, and four Cara Cara oranges. All the items shown here are grown in the US - these in particular California.

Two previous week's FC boxes.
From this box - the rainbow chard, zucchini, onions and potatoes all ended up in the vegetable soup that I posted about previously!
 The carrots roasted in the oven tossed with grape seed oil and a bit of salt was amazing.

I've been growing alfalfa sprouts in a BIG Ball Jar! About 5-7 days to fresh, tasty sprouts!

Aaaand ....drum roll .... My very first Petit Vour Box! All vegan and cruelty free beauty products! $15 subscription to US addresses. And BONUS... no shipping to Alaska! 
Also available in Canada for a few bucks more. 
The total value of the items I received is $35, with one full sized item.
So far I've used all the items that came in my Petit Vour box - The fruit pigmented satin eye shadow was more than worth the price. 

I hope you enjoyed this little "tour". How do you buy organic? Leave a comment!


Monday, May 16, 2016

All Veggie Soup

Sometimes I hit the nail on the head when it comes to homemade soup. According to my husband, this was the best broth I'd ever made for one of my soups. I have a habit of throwing recipes together, and then not writing them down but, I'll do the best I can with this one...

All Veggie Soup

Preheat oven 375
This recipe was made in a 5QT crock pot. Turn setting to high and warm up broth while preparing vegetables.
48 oz vegetable broth
2 c water
1 tbsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp celery salt
2 tsp salt
dash black pepper
drizzle olive oil

Prep veggies for oven - 

cut 6-8 red potatoes into chunk size pieces
slice medium/large white onion into large-ish half moon pieces
mince 3 cloves garlic
slice 1 large zucchini into half moons
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
toss with grape seed oil
black pepper 

Roast vegetables for 20-30 minutes. Toss abut halfway thru. When done, add to broth. Let cook for about an hour then turn to warm. Add more salt or pepper as desired. White pepper is pretty strong so, be sure to taste it before going all willy-nilly with it ;)

Late to the party ...

FOLD and CHOP several stalks of rainbow chard. Toss into crock pot a few moments before serving. You'll be happy you did! 

Serve alone or with sourdough. Pouring over al dente pasta is also delicious. Fusilli is my personal favorite.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New things

Some big things have happened since my last blog post. Here's the breakdown ...

We adopted a retired sled dog - His name is Joe. Joe is 8 years old and has been a shelter dog for a while now. It's sad people skip over older dogs but their loss is our gain! We're all adjusting great!

Vegan ramen is amazing! So far I've tried Miso, Tortilla, and "Chicken". About $2 a pop, they are perfect for a quick snack. Adding left over veggies is great to jazz up the Miso and Chicken, and is a nice way to use up stuff that might get tossed out otherwise.

The snow has melted just about everywhere, and spring is bursting from underneath!

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Vegan Chocolate Protein - I like this for the time in-between no longer full from breakfast but I'll be hungry in no time so let's get to the gym sharpish. About 20 minutes after this, I'm ready for my pre-workout, and able to hustle a good workout.

Aaaaaand...I woke up last Saturday to punch 47 in the face. I'm a little older, and a bit more tired than I used to be but, life is good! I'm making better choices for myself and my family, and feel better mentally and physically than I have in probably the last 20 years.
Go vegan! Have more birthdays. Enjoy life more fully. Live genuinely.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Apr 1-13

I want to post more often to my blog but last week knocked me out! Monday thru Saturday I was down with a cold so bad I almost wished I had the flu. I figured if it was the flu I might have slept more ;) Since recovery began I've been catching up - on everything from vacuuming to getting back into the gym. The wheezes are slow to go but mostly I'm back in the land of the living. 

Being regulated to the couch most of the time was pretty boring. It did give me the chance to start the series "Under The Dome" though. Not bad... really weird... everyone is suspect! LOL No spoilers here. Still have a full season to go though - I'm really bad at Netflix bingeing. 

I did manage to take a few pics to remind myself about some of the things I wanted to get down in my blog. 

Tacos are can't prove they aren't ;)
Baked chickpeas and bell peppers in rice vinegar, avocado, olives and 
my favorite Herdez salsa casera on corn tortillas.

Another discovery! This super easy to make and
delicious to eat VEGAN falafel mix! Mix it, cook em up in some grape seed oil, then toss them into pitas with some vegan chipotle mayo, tomatoes, butter lettuce and avocados.

And totally not vegan's just really cool;
Tried out a fancy little Northern Lights app for iPhone
and took some photos - these are from April 12th.

Forward to today ... Today I received my first Full Circle box! If pressed to rate 1-5 stars I'd probably say 3 1/2. The parsnips were bendy (I recd 5 - a good amount)... and the artichokes, though there were 4 (4! I was impressed with how many I received!) the artichokes were more beat up and spotty than I would have chosen had I seen them at market. After my first look I sent a message to customer service asking for input because I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money for so-so produce. They've already sent me a partial refund - and I didn't ask for it, nor was I expecting one. Pulled in by good customer service, I'm gonna stick with it and see how it goes. Nice move, Full Circle, thank you!

Aside from the meh stuff, the lemons and mango were really nice, and the kale and chard were both gorgeous. Also received was a bag of purple potatoes and a large sweet potato. With the exception of the mango from Mexico, everything else was from California or Washington - I wanted to keep things as local as possible.

With the Full Circle boxes produce is standard, and other groceries can be added as a regular item - including cheeses, meats, eggs, chocolates and a variety of produce in addition to the ones usually offered. The box scheduled for next Wednesday lists produce different from what I got today, too - it's nice things get switched up.

Tomorrow I'll be experimenting with rainbow chard ...I'll be sure to update on how it turns out!

Well if you made it this far, you did good! It's nearly Friday! Peace...out.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

for my daughter

Everyone's child asks to go out to fast food now and then. Way before going vegan myself, I cut my daughter off from fast food restaurants to the bare minimum. I would allow for a trip to McDonalds if her friends were going to be there (the Play Place is pretty popular among kiddos) or if she really, reeeaaally, reeeeeaaallly pretty please with cherry on top wanted to go please mom - and it had been a good 3 months since her last time. Sure, I might have said yes.

Those days are gone though. I simply can't justify it, even for a snowy day play date or "reward" for doing so good on a test. She is in my care and in my opinion, feeding a child fast food is not fulfilling that task.

She and I talked about how I feel about fast food places a month or so ago. We debated some - she's a whip smart 8 1/2 year old and you can't try to fool her, lie to her, or give her half truths - she'll figure it out.

"But it's food, mom, and I'm hungry for it sometimes."

"Ladybug, it's not food, it's something you eat"

"What? (insert burst of laughter) It is too food. How is it not food?"

"Because the ingredients in the products are so far removed from their possibly once natural resources, it's now just something you ingest. And the meat...don't get me started."

"But I like the cheeseburgers so much!"

"I know how they get the meat. Nothing about it is good, clean or healthy. It's cruel and gross."

"Ohhh you know because you watched a video, huh?"

"Well...yeah, I've seen videos. But that's not why! It's not's just stuff you can eat food is eatey things."

We both crack up

"Eatey things, mom? You made that up." (still laughing)

(Also laughing) "Yes, I did make it up, but it doesn't make it any less true."

She gets it. She also calls herself a vegetarian who eats turkey from time to time. LOL That kid hasn't eaten turkey or any other meat for at least 4 months - but she knows last time she had one, she liked the taste of turkey lunchmeat. This kid ...

The kid who will eat blocks of tofu uncooked, and gobble up bushels of broccoli like they'll stop growing tomorrow. My kid who refuses to eat her (once) favorite strawberry yogurt because it contains carmine. My girl who's new favorite taco is garbanzo beans, bell pepper and rice. I love this kid.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

You eat grass now?

Uhh no ...

Before going vegan I was already hooked on food and not always in a good way. It seems like I spent a lot of time thinking about my relationship to food and being stressed out about it because I felt like I had very little control over my appetite. I grew up being a secret eater so, it was no wonder. As an adult I could go a week or two feeling good about my choices because most of the time I would go for vegetarian choices - but as I think a lot of people know, even vegans and vegetarians can have unhealthy eating habits. My sweet tooth for chocolate lead me to indulge my craving on a regular basis, undoing any kind of good choices I had been making. And then, once again, guilt and food remorse would put me back on track, however temporarily.

Going vegan has lead me to a whole new way of seeing how food figures in my life. I've thought for a long time that food should be appreciated and not obsessed over. Now, I think I am finally living it.

But, what do vegans eat anyway? The short answer: everything.  Even the question is dang near the first result on google search LOL

There really isn't a damn thing that can't be made vegan in some way. Many companies have meatless chicken strips, burgers, salami, turkey, even fish sticks. There are substitutes for dairy milk, eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, sliced and block cheeses, yogurts, etc. And then of course you've got legumes, countless fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains.

Of course going vegan isn't for everyone, but I don't think anyone should count out the idea completely. Meatless Mondays are becoming more popular than ever. Baby steps are nothing to be ashamed of!

What stands out the most to me since switching to a vegan diet is allllllll the food I can eat, as opposed to the foods I can't eat. Leaving meat behind was the easy part. Dodging the slings and arrows of hidden ingredients is a whole other issue. Milk derivatives alone is a list so long I'll give it it's own post! I read every label for any product I already don't know, and if an ingredient looks suspect I google it right there in the store. Digressing aside, the variety of foods, flavors and colors in a vegan diet are limited only by your imagination. Grab a vegan cookbook or two and dive in. Experiment and enjoy.

Another thing I discovered is leftovers! Leftovers are amazing and I really I don't know how I overlooked them for so long! I've found out fast that they often make for a really good meals the next day.

A few of my latest throw-togethers...

Left over garlic rice, mushrooms and sugar snap peas steamed in a bit of veg broth, with Gardein 7-grain Crispy Tenders

Hash browns, pinto beans and edamame cooked in veg stock, sliced Campari tomatoes & avocado. 


If you've come this far... thank you for reading! 
Have a wonderful weekend <3

- J

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

new take on old favorites

I love cheese. Yeah lots of people say that but I really mean it... like really, really mean it. Like hoard slabs of double cream brie to myself and eat the entire thing on apple slices for lunch, love cheese. Like hover over the gourmet cheese section like Carrie Bradshaw shops for shoes, love cheese. Cheese was the last brick in my wall of animal product foods. Once I was able to break thru the cheese standoff inside my head, it felt like a huge purse of bricks was lifted off my shoulder. I felt like I could really do this.

I don't miss cheese nearly as much as I thought I might.

So far I've found some pretty dang good substitutes for cheese - mostly for on my faux-bologna sandwiches. (confession: I liked bologna more than any grown up should) 

Daiya Medium Cheddar Style Block - Firm faux cheese that's easy to slice to shred
Go Veggie Classic Plain Cream Cheese - This should be called "I can't believe it's vegan and not dairy cream cheese"
Follow Your Heart Garden Herb Slices - If I didn't know better I might say it's dairy.

These are hardly all vegan cheeses and not nearly a complete list of the cheeses offered by the companies listed here - these are just my favorites ... so far. Plus I haven't even started to dive into making my own! That will come later ;)

Back to bologna. I know - GROSS. My husband called me out numerous times when I indulged in my favorite Oscar Meyer beef bologna slices. You couldn't pay him to even try a slice! Me on the other hand, there were times I craved it, and have since childhood. 

Enter faux meats!

I've had several fake turkey slices and think they are all just ok...they get the job done, I suppose. But when I saw bologna it was like a light at the end of the tunnel for the part of me that misses deli sandwiches. So far I've found and tried two of them. 

Winner by a huge margin - Yves. Good color, texture and I swear it even smells like real bologna.

I know, I know these aren't "healthy" vegan foods along the same lines of kale, avocado or lentils, but without choices like these I might fall backward into old comfortable habits. Convenience foods like cheeses and deli slices are fast easy options that can make for a good lunch that's not too filling and doesn't pack on the fat calories like their animal based counterparts. Buuuut add some kale, a few avocado slices and a squirt of yellow mustard on sourdough and call it lunch!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ok, here goes ...

I recently took the dive from vegetarian to vegan, and soon decided after that I'd like to keep a blog about it. This is meant to be a journal or diary of sorts.

After flirting with the idea of drastically changing my diet for about the last two years, I finally realized it's time stop stop effin' around and do the damn thing.

A little background about me -

I'm California grown from the San Francisco Bay Area creeping up on 47. Right now though, I live in Interior Alaska with my husband and our 8yo daughter. My husband's military so we've made a few places around the US our home. Before Alaska we always lived in places where there was never a lack of choices for restaurants with vegan friendly menus, health food stores, or fresh fruits and vegetables.

Now in Alaska, fruits and vegetables aren't fresh unless it's midsummer farmer's market time - except carrots - it seems there's always fresh carrot from Palmer. Thankfully there's one natural grocer co-op store, a health food store, a cafe that has a small vegan menu, and a decent amount of vegan choices at the local Fred Meyer. Natural, produce and alternate food selections are pretty dang pricey up here so it can be really discouraging, but I'm in this for the long haul. It's not even a question for me. I'm done with consuming animal products. In the months leading to going vegan, I started to weed out my health and beauty items that aren't cruelty free. As clothes need to be replaced, the ones that don't make the cut, get replaced with animal free choices.

My journey to becoming vegan happened because of health reasons - the fact that it's also better for animals and the environment is a happy side effect. I've been low thyroid since giving birth to my daughter in 2007, borderline hypertension the last two years and it's having serious affects on my eye sight. And I guess being the ripe age that I am, it seems harder and harder to take weight off and keep it off however hard I kick my own ass in the gym. Good health begins in the kitchen - no matter what you do at the gym, if your diet sucks, you're wasting your time.

Thankfully, I have my husband who was vegan prior to military service. He had gone vegetarian by the time we had met, and in the few months leading up to his basic training he began to eat meat. At that time there wasn't even vegetarian MREs - now at least they have a few choices. Anyway... he loves that I've made the change over and has been a huge help to me as I progress. Also I can tell he really enjoys being the taster for the growing variety of recipes I've been churning out for family dinners. 

So ... if you've read this far, thank you! I hope you like what you read here. I'll be sharing recipes I discover, some reviews as I try new things, cookbooks, podcasts, and what ever else I can think of. 

I hope anyone considering a vegan diet finds support and encouragement here! Please feel free to comment, ask questions or offer advice, too! I appreciate every bit of info I receive.

<3 Jamie