Monday, December 29, 2014

5 Questions for a Vegan- Elvis



"Let food be thy medicine"  This is what Elvis lives by.  His example and knowledge that he shares with not only his many social media followers, but a lifestyle that he shared with the most important woman to him; His mother.  His story of how he was able to transform her from a life filled with pills and medical issues to one that is vibrant, fun and full of life.  Please enjoy my five questions for Elvis.
1) How and when did you become vegan?
 Ooh! Long winded answer! LOL! It's been such a journey! Got a minute? I cannot speak on it without mentioning my relationship with vegetarianism. 

First intro to vegetarianism was from my lovely cousin who was about 15 years my senior, visiting for the summer when I was 10 in the summer of 1976! I was mesmerized by the way she seemed to dance in the kitchen, how she handled her food preparation, and her style as she cooked it. She would educate me with spiritual philosophy on how and what we were instructed by God to eat and why. Other than saying grace no one had ever shown me how to attach spiritual meaning to food before this and at age 10 it made sense! The feeling was natural and it felt the right thing to do! 

I took to it immediately and for a year was vegetarian. Managed through school too! I was already comfortable cooking in the kitchen. Her teaching was a great addition to what I knew! I  had a knack for spices thanks to following my greatest teacher of all time around in the kitchen, my mom! My cousin however, who followed Rasta Way at that time, enlightened me to spices and methods, and veggie ideas I had never known! My mom's background was southern influenced so there was no veggie paradise there! But kitchen ethics and seasonings, how to use appliances and hand held gadgets such as sifters, hand beaters, the electric mix master bowls, baking, frying, mom was my go to guru! Mad props to her today! My mom was as supportive as she could be and would buy me what I needed to fix but siblings lent no support at home and living in a house full of meat eaters, 3 older brothers, I didn't last. But the seed was planted forever! Fast forward.


There is no denying the power of plant healing! In fact, 1 year ago today (when I answered these interview questions on Dec 15th) I brought my mother from a facility to live with me and I did reinvent her! She has Alzheimer's Disease. Through detoxing her, placing her on a plant based diet, and unbeknownst to her pulling her away from anything lending to animal exploitation or harm to earth, she is transformed! All 8 meds she came home on a year ago are no more! In 11 days I weened her off everything! She's stable and the disease is not progressing! She's amazing! She's continually improving! From rehab in 2012 telling me, "She'll never walk again" and "Your mother is in the last stages of Alzheimer's" to her walking, dancing, and happy to be alive! One vegan meal at a time! Prior to her eating plant based, while in rehab I went in and defied her prognosis. I got her out of that wheelchair and made her walk! Once I brought her home I had full control of her diet and vegan she went!
Now, about me. In the mid latter 80's I was introduced to the concept of Vegan by a teen! Yes! You never know where your calling will be delivered from and by whom! He taught me about the Brazilian Rain forest destruction and why it was happening for the profit of cattle breeding and in one day I went vegan! Gave up all my animal clothes, products and as much as I knew them to be tainted, my hygiene products based on the information I had at that time. Looking back, my reasoning at that young age was out of anger. Although justified I think now in retrospect it may have been fueled by "I'll show you!" when it could have been "Let me show you?" I suppose there was a bit of both.  
I was exceptionally gifted in that I loved preparing my food which was a plus, and I was good at spices and herbs, understanding how to combine food to get complete proteins etc. There would be a whole world of knowledge I had yet to learn! 

Fast forward, I was in the microcosm of veganism. Couldn't quite see the forest for the trees. Back then there was little on factory farming as far as visuals inside these places, and global warming evidence, measures of ocean pollution, etc., the bigger macrocosm. Factory farming also wasn't nearly as gross and tragic as it has become. 


After 13 years of vegetarianism not including childhood, with 8+ of those years having been vegan, ironically I went backwards from vegan to lacto-ovo, vegetarian, then altogether dropped out. I digressed and spiraled into the abyss! 


I don't have the space here to go into the gray areas of details although I will say mental health issues, substance abuse issues, depression, and lack of self worth, and other deeper, personal woes not dealt with from childhood all wore hats in my dark directional curve. They caught up to me. When you cannot love or accept yourself as a result of having been abused as a child, never having worked any of that out and just blindly stumbling through life still hurting and pretending to be on top of the world, there is almost no way you can genuinely and on a healthy manner have compassion and love the world around you! I had a lot of work to do on myself and had no idea at the time how it was all interconnected and very relevant. 


So about the start of 1997 I began eating anything and everything and my weight, mental health, spiritual health all went bonkers! When vegans say they cannot understand how someone could go back to eating meat I can. I would like to hear from those who have gone back and forth to learn and to enlighten those who this happens to on a regular basis rather than ostracize and condemn them as I see so much of. Everybody's got a story and if we shut up and listen we might learn something from it to have for ourselves and share with others. This dark spell of trying to ignore what Was the truth would last almost 15 years! Smoking, drinking, harder substances, more depression, anxiety, and confusion. I must also add here that I allowed some of the hardcore extremist acquaintances and friends I had  get into my head enough with their self created dogmas. Add to that the pressures of how vegan was my veganism didn't help matters in my choice to remain true to veganism. Pure self destruction and a product of destruction of the outer self surrounding me. The planet.
This is why I am so empathetic to new vegans, vegetarians, and non vegs transitioning!. People become such passionate warriors that they forget to be compassionate. All I kept hearing from people I had met and allowed myself to be influenced or intimidated by even after all the years I had under my belt as vegan was things like, "You know those beans you're eating are dead food! You need to eat this way live this way and protesteth always!" Sort of a lot of the things I hear said today in pseudo hierarchy levels which there seems to be today instead of people accepting other people's processes without the puritan finger pointing, verbal thrashings, and prejudices from one category group in the human communal herbivore world to the next. So when I hear people with their own enforced ideology become angered at someone like myself without listening or caring to listen to the person's story when they say,  "I "was" vegan when.. and became vegan again" I sigh and accept that they are entitled to their opinion understanding it is just that, their opinion. I often read or see someone and it's usually the zealous vegan still in the 6 month to 3 year stretch so full of determination, vigor, and fire say, "You were never vegan if you went back to eating animals and wearing them!" There is a huge spectrum of gray within  individuals' situations. It isn't that black and white and a truly seasoned, mature, higher consciousness, less lower self, well balanced individual will not have the same view or conviction as that. And what really does it matter for anyway other than fanning egos of expectations?


Phew! Now, to answer your question, I am back with love, approaching 3 years vegan! With decades of knowledge and wisdom from my history.  Make no mistake. I did keep up with certain aspects of naturopathy in the plant world. And I did try like hell to climb back through that window in all that time. My hard won lesson let me know how much discipline I once had to have had because I just could not stay on the horse. I could get on but I'd fall off with all  the distractions in my world. 


Still discovering and getting rid of things that don't serve me well, one leather good at a time, one feather pillow at a time, sometimes two at a time. Ridding myself, my home free of  environment household products one  at a time as I learn better and when spirit moves me to take another beautiful step. It is a process! A journey, a way of evolving! It's a pace not a race and not a contest or competition for me to be the better vegan than the next person. That often can be the atmosphere and I am not interested in that. I am older, very much wiser, worked through many issues, triumphed over many demons, I have years clean and sober, worked out many things and I love myself today! I see the big picture now and I'm here to stay! No more hurting myself or merely existing in a selfish way with little or no regard for the life in the world around me! We are all in this sphere together!
All the wisdom I have collected on my tumultuous yet enlightening set of roads I've walked are serving me very well now which in fact, made my transition back to veganism an easy one once my spirit, heart and mind was finally in position to realign! I get the macrocosm now because I am it. We are it!
My intuition and healing gifts that were always with me, as a child are fully operable as a matured spirit! I have always been aware that I have something that may or may not be in everyone. So I pay it forward. Awakening people and inspiring and motivating them to seek out their higher self. I have never felt so free!  I have never felt so free! 

2) What is your favorite "go to" meal?
Ha! I can only pick one? Avocado with good curry seasoning, turmeric, onion powder, raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a diced tomato, and a splash of something salty be it Bragg's Aminos, Ume Vinegar, or pinch of a good salt, blended into brown rice, or in a wrap!

3) What product can you not live without? 

4) What was hard to give up to become vegan?
My ego. Non vegan foods weren't. 

5) What's your favorite vegan restaurant?
My kitchen or yours!

Follow Elvis on Facebook 



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Who doesn't Love a Sandwich?

One night while sitting with the family my daughter decided to ask us a list of 50 questions.  These questions ranged from "What's your favorite color?" to "What is your favorite TV show?"  But the question that got us talking the longest was, "What's your favorite food?"  For me this answer can be different daily or even minute to minute but my husband's answer was a very surprising one to me, his answer, A sandwich. 

I have been married to this man for almost 20 years, I've cooked him some bad meals, some OK ones, some complicated ones and some super easy ones,  some he thought were awful and some he called "homeruns" so to hear him say a sandwich I was so surprised.

His explanation was very logical.  "Sandwiches are so versatile.  You can change the bread, do different spreads and you can put so many different things in them and best of all, they are filling."

Of course the husband is right again, sandwiches are amazing! Some of our favorites are the
 ATL ( Avocado, lettuce and tomato)

 My daughter likes to make Apple sandwiches by coring the apple and slicing it to be the bread then spreading peanut butter on the two pieces of apple"bread"  then sprinkling it with a little granola.
 

and a Banh'Mi' which is a Vietnamese street sandwich, the name means bread which refers to the baguette the sandwich is made on.  The original sandwich calls for pressed and marinated tofu and cilantro but if you know me you know, I always put my own spin on things so here is my version of a Banh'Mi'.

Vegan Banh'Mi'.
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon Vegan sugar
1 1/4 cup matchstick cut carrots
1 1/4 cup matchstick cut daikon radish
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup Vegan mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
French baguette (or similar type bread)
4 Oz. baked Organic tofu ( I use Fresh Tofu Inc. brand)
One sliced jalapeno pepper ( remove seeds for less spice)

Cut tofu lengthwise into 6 equal slices.  Meanwhile, combine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, sugar, carrots and radish and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance.  Add chopped basil.  In a small dish combine mayonnaise, Sriracha and sesame oil.  Whisk until smooth.  Spread mayonnaise over both sides of a cut baguette and layer tofu, Jalapeno,cucumber and carrot mixture in between.  Cut in half and enjoy.

Sandwiches are practical, easy to make and can be an expression of artist talents.  So everyone show us your favorite sandwich!  Send pictures to Brownveggiemom@yahoo.com


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 Questions for a Vegan- Brown Vegan


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What can I say about Monique aka Brown Vegan?  I found her on Instagram and love her approach to transitioning her family to a plant based lifestyle.  She isn't pushy or preachy but just makes great foods that her family chooses over meat based meals.  So when she asked to interview me about being Vegan for her podcast I was excited and flattered.  During this 45 minute discussion, she helped me to realize that I had a voice in helping people transitioning to plant based eating and this blog was started as part of that conversation. Here are my 5 Questions for a Vegan- Brown Vegan.

1) How and when did you become Vegan?  "I became Vegan in 2010 after reading the book, Sistah Vegan by Breeze Harper"

2) What is your favorite "go to" meal?  "My favorite go-to meal is stir fry with rice.  I love that there are endless combinations of vegetables that I can saut√© for a fast and delicious meal.  I usually throw together bell peppers, onions, garlic and vegan sausage for a quick lunch."

3) What product can you not live without?  "Canned beans!  They save so much time and I can use them in anything from tacos to soups."  Here's a recipe from her website for Rice and Beans

4) What was hard to give up to become vegan?  "Crab cakes!  Actually Seafood overall was a challenge for me". Monique's recipe for vegan crab cakes are so good you won't miss the crab meat.

5) What's your favorite Vegan restaurant?  "Great Sage in Clarksville, Maryland."

Thank you Monique for inspiring others to go Vegan and me to stop talking and start doing. 

Like what you read here? Share it!  Want more ideas on vegan meals or to see what I'm eating follow me on Instagram and like my page on Facebook.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Whatcha Eat Today-What Happened to my Healthy Habits?


"By writing down what I ate this week, I can really see how bad my diet is, there was a time not too long ago where I wasn't eating any of this mess. I want and need to get back to that."
This is a quote from our next Whatcha' Eat Today journal keeper.  This busy wife and mother is in a cycle that many of us get stuck in - trying to eat healthy and falling back into bad habits.

Day 1
Breakfast -  Chocolate Cheerios w/ 1% milk.
Lunch - Nothing
Dinner - Mashed potatoes, gravy, Turkey Meatloaf, Sweet Potatoes, String Beans. Pepsi

Day 2
Breakfast - Chocolate Cheerios w/ 1% milk
Lunch - Nothing
Dinner - Leftovers from Sunday - Ginger ale

Day 3
Breakfast - French Toast - Water
Lunch - Taco bowl with chicken, beef, grilled veggies, rice, sour cream - Water
Dinner - French Toast , Chamomile Tea

Day 4
Breakfast - Cinnamon Raisin Bagel, Peppermint Tea
Lunch - Hot Dog, Fries, Iced tea
Dinner - Burger, onion rings, ginger ale

Day 5
Breakfast - Cereal
Lunch - Half cheesesteak, Water
Dinner - Shrimp n Broccoli
Wine - Water

First let's get rid of the sodas.  I'm sure you know how unhealthy they are so I won't beat you over the head with it so instead, check here for a previous post for suggestions on what to drink instead of soda. Next bulk up your breakfast with fruit, try adding berries or bananas to your cereal for more fiber and some nutrients that will make you feel fuller longer.  Now let's move on to the skipping meals and making healthier choices.  You have a tough crowd to please, living in a house with two growing sons and a husband can make it a challenge to eat healthy foods and have everyone feeling satisfied    So what's the solution?  Soup.  It's sounds simple enough but a big hearty pot of soup will do two things for you.  1) provide you with food for days and 2) by adding beans and greens to the soup will get healthy stuff back into your diet.   Try my Escarole and White Bean Soup recipe or this Minestrone soup that will have you guys walking away from the table full and happy.


Vegetable Minestrone
4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of water
1 Yellow Onion chopped

1 stalk of Celery chopped

2 Carrots, chopped

2 cloves of fresh Garlic minced

1 29oz. can of Diced Tomatoes with Basil
1 15oz. can of no salt added Kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup of frozen green beans
1/2 cup of frozen spinach
1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
2 Dried Bay leaves
1/3 cup of Whole Wheat macaroni noodles, uncooked
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large sauce pan over Medium high heat.  Add the celery, onion, carrots and garlic and 2 tablespoons of the water.  Saute the vegetables until tender ( about 5 minutes) adding more  tablespoons of water if needed.  Add the green beans, tomatoes, spinach and vegetable broth and the rest of the water.  Bring to a hard boil and add the Italian seasoning, bay leaves and the macaroni noodles, stir and let boil for 7-9 minutes or until the noodles are cooked.  Reduce the heat,and add salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve Hot.

I hope that these two small changes will make a big difference in getting back to your healthy eating and keep checking the blog for more healthy tips.

Like what you are learning here? Don't forget to share it with a friend or two.  Also if you make any of the recipes or would like to featured please email me at Brownveggiemom@yahoo.com.  
Now I'm off to a big bowl of soup! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

So Many Ways to Use Cauliflower



I was never really wowed by Cauliflower. Growing up I always had it as part of a medley along with Broccoli ( one of my favorites as a kid) and Carrots.  My mother would boil the medley and season it with butter, salt and pepper.  I ate the Cauliflower first because it had the least flavor, then I would savor the carrots and broccoli.  But this past summer something wonderful happened, I lead a group of 20 people on what I called a "Summer Bounty" challenge.  This challenge consisted of all fruits and vegetables that are available in the summer. This is where my love of Cauliflower came to me.  In the 21 days without Pasta, Rice and Potatoes, Cauliflower became all of those things to me.

Taking Cauliflower buds and adding them to a high powered blender until a grain like consistency and roasting in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes on a sheet pan became our Rice.


Making a mixture of Chickpea flour and water and coating the cauliflower and baking it on a greased sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and pouring a Paleo hot sauce over it made it into Buffalo wings.

Since the summer you are sure to see Cauliflower in my shopping cart both fresh and frozen.  Cauliflower is available at our house so often that my 10 year old roasts it herself with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic and eats it like popcorn.  Then a couple of weeks ago when walking through the Produce department I saw this guy.

This is Romanesco, this beautiful fractal caught my eye and I knew I had to have it.  Native of Italy and  widely available in the Spring and early Summer, Romanesco can be found all year long in some specialty markets.  The flavor is that of Broccoli and Cauliflower having a baby.  It's firm texture makes it great for oven roasting and spicy seasoning like my Roasted Curried Vegetables recipe.

Roasted Curried Vegetables

1 head of Romanesco ( cut the head in half, cut florets off of middle stalk)
1 head of Cauliflower ( cut head in half, cut florets off of middle stalk)
1 cup of unsweetened Almond milk
3 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour
1 cup of warm water
4-5 tablespoons of Curry powder( more if you can take the heat)
 1 yellow onion diced
1 clove of garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of Safflower oil

Preheat oven to 400. Coat the Cauliflower and Romaneso with 1 Tablespoon of Safflower oil and place on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast the vegetables 15-20 or until browning. Remove and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the garlic and onion and the remaining Tablespoon of oil and saut√© until the onions are opaque.  Add the Roasted vegetables to the pan and mix well. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix until all vegetables are covered.  Add the milk, water and the Curry Powder and stir and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer until the liquid is reduced about 3-5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve hot with Brown rice.


These are just some of the ways I love to use Cauliflower, What are yours?


Love what you're reading here?  Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the left hand link to follow and get updates.  Still love it?  Share with your friends and anyone who needs help transitioning to plants.  Thanks Everyone!  I'm off to eat some veggies!