Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A few recipes to share....

Cauliflower, Leek, and Potato Soup

I modified this recipe to:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped
  • Handful of fingerling potatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ~4 cups vegetable broth (more if you want more of a soupy texture- this will make a slightly soupier mashed potato consistency)
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a soup pot and cook for about 20-30 min, then puree.

Chick Pea Masala

A very simple Indian recipe for those of us who have no Indian cooking experience. I added spinach and put it on basmati rice.

Baby Boy Choy with Ume Vinaigrette

This recipe is super easy and AMAZINGlY delicious. I was able to find Ume Plum Vinegar at Whole Foods. I didn't use Gomashio and I mixed in a touch of sesame oil.

"Eggs" (tofu) Benedict

This recipe is just way too long to post of here, but let me tell you how incredibly worth it it is. I'll let you in on a little secret- I really don't like tofu. Except when it's scrambled like eggs and hidden in small quantities in potatoes. Well, this recipe changed my mind. The texture is identical to a real egg sandwich and all the sauces made it just SOO good. I highly recommend.

Mushroom Risotto

For this recipe, I just altered a non vegan recipe with vegan subs. I took this recipe and used Earth balance butter as a replacement, and just didn't use anything for the Parmesan cheese (although you could use nutritional yeast). I also didn't use dried Porcini mushrooms because they were pricey. The risotto was surprisingly easy to make, just sautee the mushrooms, add the rice, add the wine, then keep adding water until cooked. Viola!

Fun fact: mushrooms are the only vegan source of Vitamin D (besides the sun)

Sesame Noodles

For this recipe, I just tossed some cooked fettuccine noodles with olive oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and cooked veggies. A simple, tasty dish!

Lentil Masala

2 cups dry brown lentils
1 bunch rainbow chard, cut into 1" ribbons, stems removed
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained and the tomatoes blended
2 TBSP. oil
3 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. paprika
2 cups almond or coconut milk, divided in half
1-2 tsp flour or corn starch

Rinse and drain lentils, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cover partially with lid. Simmer 20 minutes. Drain.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot, add coriander, garam masala, and paprika. Stir to combine. Add blended tomatoes and chard. Stir to combine to help wilt the chard. Add cooked lentils, cover, and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the "milk" and the flour. Let simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

Penne Pasta
Here was just a simple recipe I threw together with some cooked penne pasta, sliced zucchini, carrots, spinach and chard tossed with olive oil and feta cheese.

*Note: I still eat Feta Cheese as a vegan


I literally just added water to a mix, formed patties and fried them. A box of mix can be found near the cous cous, costs around $3 and makes enough for a dinner and 2-4 lunches. I LOVE falafel, and as I actually only discovered it recently, I'm hooked!

A random fact: Chick peas contain a hefty protein count, more than most common beans.

I have a couple more recipes that I don't have pictures for but are worth mentioning:

Cashew Cream Sauce: combine 1/2 cup cashews, 1-1.5 cups water, 3tbls nutritional yeast, 1tbls flour, and about 2 tsp basil or parsley into a blender and liquefy. Heat on the stove, and add to pasta with some spinach, pesto, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc!

Spaghetti Squash: following this recipe, you basically cook a spaghetti squash and toss with white beans, spinach, garlic, etc.

Edamame tossed with olive oil, soy sauce, sea salt, and finely chopped shallots and garlic- yummm!

Friday, October 15, 2010

“What would happen if everyone stopped eating animals?”

Interesting artical form Give it to me Raw:

"This Meatless Monday, Will Tuttle, Ph.D. discusses his thoughts on a question many vegans (or Meatless Monday warriors!) receive all the time: “What would happen if everyone stopped eating animals?” After reading today’s blog, you’ll have more knowledge to ponder as your develop your own perspective…

Those of us eating a plant-based diet often find our food choices causing more questions and consternation during the Holidays than during the rest of the year. One of the perennial concerns I’ve found people have is that if everyone went vegan, what would happen to all the animals—chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows, and fish? If we stopped eating them, wouldn’t they just take over the Earth, threatening our survival?

For years this question irked me because it seemed patently ridiculous, and worse, would be used to justify the cruelty of eating animal foods. Now, though, whenever I hear this question, I am delighted to respond to it because it’s an opportunity to deliver a brief meditation on how our world can be healed.

Imagining the world gradually going vegan is imagining the most positive possible future for our species, for the Earth, and for all living beings. First of all, as we reduce the number of animals we are eating, that will send a message to agribusiness to forcefully inseminate fewer female pigs, turkeys, cows, and other animals, so fewer animals will be hyper-confined, and there will be less mutilation, killing, violence, terror, and suffering. It also means there will be lower demand for corn, soy, and other feed grains, and thus less deforestation, monocropping, and pollution. As this continues, there will be more food to feed starving people, and also monocropped land can be returned to being critically-needed habitat for wildlife, whose populations are being decimated by the habitat loss caused by grazing livestock and growing feed grains. As the vegan trend continues, streams will come back and run cleaner, more birds, fish, and other animals will be able to thrive, there will be far less toxic pesticides and fertilizers needed, and the oceans will begin to heal. As recent studies have shown, livestock production is the main driving force behind global warming, and this also will decrease. In addition, by eating less animal-based foods, people will be healthier physically as they eliminate the toxic fat, cholesterol, and animal protein that drive obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, and drug use. People will become healthier emotionally and spiritually, also, as they cause and eat less misery, and our culture, as its level of violence decreases, will become healthier also.

As forest, rainforest, and prairie communities come back to life, along with riparian and ocean communities, the devastating mass extinction of species that is going on right now will slow down. To raise and slaughter hundreds of millions animals daily for food on this planet, we are forcing many hundreds of species of animals and plants into extinction every week. Because of our appetites for a few species of birds, mammals, and fish, we are destroying the Earth’s genetic diversity, and it seems absurd to be unconcerned about these tens of thousands of species, but to care only about the few that we’re eating. In any event, the animals we imprison today for food lived freely in nature for millions of years and could do so again. The animals that we most intensely factory-farm, such as turkeys, ducks, geese, chickens, and fish, are all doing just fine in the wild (aside from being hunted and having their habitat destroyed). They would continue to do so, and this is also true for pigs, sheep, and goats, which even today have substantial wild populations. There is no reason to think that the animals we are eating and using wouldn’t be able to return to their natural lives living freely in nature—they already are!

Cows are the only possible question—their progenitors, the aurochs, were forced into extinction in the 1600s, but it is very conceivable that cows could be reintroduced into central Asia and Africa where they lived for millions of years, and with time would return to the ecological niche they inhabited before cruel human enslavement tore them from their ancestral homelands.

So, it’s a refreshing question to ponder—uplifting and heartening—to think of “what will happen to cows, chickens, and pigs if we all stop eating meat, dairy products, and eggs?” I hope we all can discuss this question a few times during the holidays, and by doing so, pull back the curtain to reveal the positive future we can create together. There is no action more powerful that anyone can take to subvert the dominant paradigm of exploitation and inequality than to shift to a plant-based diet for ethical reasons. By going vegan, and spreading the vegan message creatively, we take the most effective action to create a world where peace, abundance, sustainability, freedom, and universal joy are not just possible but natural."

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Major Victory; And A Path Forward

I just received an email from the Earth Island Institute, which sponsers the Save the Dolphins movement, about treaty that's just been signed with the Coloman Islands:

"A Major Victory; And A Path Forward
On this past weekend’s episode of BLOOD DOLPHINS, our Earth Island team successfully negotiated an END to a 450-year tradition of killing dolphins with three of eight tribes in the Solomon Islands! Watch for yourself here:

A tense negotiation:

This is a HUGE victory for the dolphins and will result in thousands of lives saved. The Solomon Islands is right behind Japan in terms of the number of dolphins brutally killed each year. It is so engrained in local customs that the teeth are used for currency. The team went there unsure of what to expect. So we listened, heard local concerns and together came to a reasonable conclusion. As a result, we have agreed to help them develop sustainable long-term solutions to dolphin hunting. And they will stop killing dolphins.

We have a hard commitment from them for 2 years. But we must help them build viable alternatives that will allow them to thrive beyond that point, and serve as an example for other tribes. Can you make a donation to help us in these efforts?

Please also consider signing the petition to stop the trade of live dolphins from the Solomon Islands:

The Solomon Island’s could be a shining beacon of what’s possible for other countries – specifically, Japan and the Faroe Islands. Solomon’s is far more primitive and remote then either of these places. If they can adapt, can’t modern day Japan and Denmark?

We believe they can with your help.

As always, thanks for your support,

Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Earth Island Institute/Save Japan Dolphins "

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Inspiration in Nutrition

I've found that when I talk to most folks who have adopted a cruelty free lifestyle and/or eating habits, they usually arrived at that place in life as a result of an image or a story that really spoke to them. For example, my friend Malena went to a fair with her sister and mother and was touched by the degrading treatment that many immigrant workers receive in slaughterhouses and farms. My husband was first shocked after reading a snippet from The Kind Diet about dairy farms, and additionally shocked at how pigs were killed during Food, Inc. Personally, I become a vegan after seeing The Cove and watching pods of dolphins being tricked and slaughtered for seemingly no reason. I know, dolphins aren't exactly a tasty treat in my house hold, by it affected me nonetheless, and here I am today. Similarly, my friend Gemma became a vegetarian as a child as she watched a documentary about tusks being removed from rhinos in Africa. Choosing a plant based diet based on empathy may be a more common trend in the Pacific Northwest, where there are less people needing to do so based on health reasons, which may be more common in area such as the South and Mid West.

I always thought it would be difficult to eat healthy: no processed foods, no animal products, no sugar.'s not. And it's not more expensive. And it's not boring! My husband and I have been inspired to try new vegetables and spices and more varieties and whole grains. We love shopping at the fancy Whole Foods and looking through all the awesome bulk foods. The best part is, we've cut our grocery bill in half even while shopping at a "expensive" health store and have a costly produce delivery from a local organic farm. The reason is, we stopped buying frozen meals for our lunches and stopped buying animal products. My husband still drinks milk, but otherwise, nada. And his local, organic milk is the same price as "normal" milk once you subtract the refundable bottle deposit.

And the sugar? I once had my husband running out at 9pm every night to fix my sugar addiction. I would go crazy trying to get my chocolate fix; I wouldn't be able to think about anything else until I satisfied my craving to stuff myself full of sugar until I felt like crap. But now....I haven't craved sugar in months. Sure, I still eat it, but I don't crave it. I enjoy some occasional cookies, but I don't have to have them, and frankly, I prefer fruit. I especially feel sick thinking about overly processed candy and get huge headaches after grabbing a couple bite sized bars at work.

My husband told me that he feels more alert at work, doesn't need an energy fix in the afternoons anymore, and feels cleaner. This coming from a boy that would eat steak, chips, and milk for every meal if he could? Now he loves our eating habits and only occasionally has meat, when we go out to eat. I think that we both are happier every day, with an added bonus that we feel like we're helping change the world with our tiny little contribution.

Here are the sources that I've read and/or viewed so far. I encourage everyone to at least read these and give them some though. They were all very informative and interesting, never dull! There are many more I wish to read in the future, so let me know if you have a suggestions!

Food, Inc
Skinny Bitch
Kind Diet

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lynn Canyon, B.C.

Our most recent expedition was a trip to Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver, B.C. - a free alternative to the steep $28 entry free for Capilano Bridge. The park is two and a half hours from Seattle and includes a suspension bridge, numerous hiking trails, and a small lake filled with crystal clear water. The park was absolutely stunning; I would definitely recommend it to visitors.

The park begins with a suspension bridge:

We followed the Twin Falls path that also lead to the lake:

Then we came upon the "twin falls," which were actually rather small falls, more like a short jump down rocks along the river:



It was absolutely stunning! The water was crystal clear, being melted glaciers and all. Everything in the river flowed and ebbed so naturally and gracefully all the way from the falls into the lake.


The scenery near the convergence was similar to the Hawaiian falls I've visited. It's wonderful to have such beauty so close to Seattle.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Big Apple: New York City in a Whirlwind

It's funny how many ideas we gather about a destination before we visit. Maybe you assume Hawaii will be a lush tropical paradise every direction you turn. Perhaps you believe Mexico City lacks the Americanized metropolis it actually has. Whatever preconceived notions you have, the most common stereotypes probably revolve around one of the world’s most famous places, New York City.

My husband and I were able to reexamine a life's worth of misconceptions and realities on a recent weekend in NYC.

The first thing we discovered was that homeless people aren't rampant on every street corner and in every subway station. In fact, I only even noticed one man during the entire weekend. This isn’t to assume that the homeless population in NYC is obsolete, or to make the assumption that I was in any areas that weren’t infested with tourists- but I was expecting more people than I encountered.

And no, not everyone is walking around in Manolo Blahniks. While it may seem like a good idea to buy some fancy new shoes to fit in, you might come to realize that Carrie Bradshaw replicas aren’t actually prancing down every street. Sure, everyone as a whole dressed much more enthusiastically than the black-Northface-and-jeans crowds in Seattle, but maybe I could have saved myself the hours of excruciating pain and worn flats instead.

But oh yes, the buildings are tall! It was just breathtaking to walk around, staring at the sky, and seeing the sunlight dance from floor to floor in the clouds. And low and behold, you can see for miles down every city block!



Central Park is just breathtaking. It may be all man-made, but what these men made indeed! The gorgeous, sunny 75 degree weather may have made the impression just that sweeter. While visiting the Strawberry Fields monument, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people paying their respects to the late John Lennon. If only the famous Gary dos Santos was there to arrange rose petals on the memorial. The monument is a simple Pompeian mosaic gifted from Italy with "Imagine" inscribed in the middle. My husband and I walked through all the cites on the Southern half of the park, including Turtle Pond, the Belvedere Castle, and the Alice and Wonderland statue.



The Sex and the City tour was mediocre. It is always fun to visit sites form your favorite movies and TV shows, but this tour was more of a bus ride than anything else. Stops included The Pleasure Chest, BuddhaKhan, the playground where we got cupcakes, and Scout (Steve and Aiden’s bar), where we had ten minutes to enjoy a discounted cosmo at our will. I would still recommend the tour, as it is a good way to get a lay of that land, but for the money, I would not go back.

The subways were awesome! Dorks that we are, my husband and I always enjoy admiring the public transportation systems in other cities, and NYC takes the gold! Anywhere I wanted to be, I could have blindly found my way at any subway stop, thanks to the beautiful grid style of Manhattan. At one point, my husband decided to jump off a train as the doors were closing (without me), but we were reunited within minutes at another platform! Win: NYC.

Sometimes the greatest part of a trip is soaking in the atmosphere- true of NYC. Both my husband and I agree that our favorite time was dining on the sidewalk as the sun set. We watched the passerbys and ate an Italian feast.


My impression of New York is that it really is fast paced. It's almost impossible to relax or take a breath. It's a good thing that there are some terrific parks to hide away in. But mostly, it was incredible to catch the tiny glimpse of the beautiful architecture and air of importance that the city exemplifies. We were both comfortable with the overwhelming pace since we already live in the city, and maybe I could even see myself living there one day, but for now I prefer the smaller city life of Seattle. I am excited to return and take in a Broadway show!

New York Public Library (Amazing site)

Brooklyn Bridge

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Evergreen State so Aptly Named

Here's my shout out to Washington, the Evergreen state, and my home for 20 years. Today, Washington was named the #1 Green State in the nation by Greenopia.

Each state was graded upon 10 criteria, with Washington take first place in all of the categories: Air Quality, Water Quality, Recycling Rate, Green Businesses, State Legislature, LEED Buildings, Per Capita Emissions, Per Capita Energy Consumption, Per Capita Water Consumption, and Renewable Energy Usage.

Oregon and California, two states that build their reputations on being green, come in at fourth and fifth on the list, respectively.

Read the entire list here.

Image courtesy of Greenopia

Image courtesy of Bon Voyage UK

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Little Si - Mount Si

Little Si Trail
North Bend, WA
Length: 3.5 total miles
Trailhead Elevation: 250 feet
Top Elevation: 1,400 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,150 feet
Skill Level: Moderate

This hike was pretty typical of the North Bend area. The first half of the trail meandered through a cool old growth forest that was lined with an awesome rock climbing spot from the side of the mountain (perhaps we can try that one day!). Then there is a typical woodsy incline until the top. The trail was above par compared to vertical swtichback trails. Once you reach the top you can get about 180 degree views looking towards Snoqualmie Pass, Rattle Snake Ledge, North Bend, and of course Mt. Si.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shave Ice- Oahu

Island Snow- Kailua

YUM! This place really had the "powdery ice" you always hear described. Every flake was fluffy and light and didn't stick together at all. It was easy to scoop, it melted with deliciousness, and the flavor was amazing. I asked the guy to give me whatever was the best and I got lilikoi, pineapple, and mango. (Kailua Beach Ctr, Kailua, HI 96734, 808-263-6339)


Waiola Shave Ice

A close tie for second for me (my husband insists it was #1), this incredibly remote spot had ice the same consistency as cotton candy. I tried their classic rainbow combination with blue vanilla (YUM), banana, and strawberries, with mochi balls. Delicious is just the only way to describe it. They're located on the side of a building in a residential area of Honolulu. (2135 Waiola St., 808-949-2269)



Giovanni's Shrimp Shack

I don't actually remember if this place had a separate name and/or business than Giovanni's Shrimp Shack, but it was located in a trailer next to it. Delicious! Super flake ice, and plenty of syrup. It was the most expensive of all the places, but well worth it. I got the blue Hawaii, pineapple, and strawberry here. (83 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, HI 96731)


International Market Place, Honolulu

Another delicious and flakey icy treat that I devoured on the beach. Blue Hawaii, pineapple, and passion fruit goodness!


Matsumoto Shave Ice

Although this is perhaps the most famous shave ice spot on the island, it has a big thumbs down for me. There was nothing special about it for me. The ice was not fluffy but difficult. Not horrible, but nothing to write home about. This was by far the most crowded of the all the spots, but really nothing special. (66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712)



Aiko Shave Ice

To be fair, the main reason I hated this cone was because of the Adzuki beans I tried- I don't know what the Hawaiians are thinking, these things are disgusting! I threw my cup away immediately. However, the shave ice itself was barely mediocre. The ice froze in clumps and the syrup drained well before I had a few bites. (66-117 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712)



Oahu, Hawaii

Returning from eight days in Oahu to a week of rainy gray drab in Seattle, my husband and I are already missing the laid back lifestyle of the islands, and of course, weather warm enough to enjoy a daily dose of shave ice.
Being the avid LOST fans we are, our first order of business after landing was to immediately check out all the sites where LOST was filmed. If you ever want to feel like a big dork, try acting normal while you pose excitedly in front of a random chicken shack, or acting like you aren't a felon while taking pictures of the lobby of a closed bank. We were pleasantly surprised to find most of the settings still up at Police Beach, the main site of filming for the show. After talking to a few locals over the week, we learned that although there are only a few episodes left, filming is still going! We even managed to get a shot of an upcoming scene...

(Spoilers: in an upcoming epsiode there will be a dingy shack!)





The highlight of our trip would have to be the Morning Wildlife Charter through Wild Side Eco-Adventures. This group was fantastic! The crew members are all marine biologists with a deep understanding of all the creatures we encountered. The boat itself was a mild ride set against the gorgeous island background. We began by snorkeling in a bay that was approximately 20-30 feet deep and clearer than air itself. For those who have a weird phobia of snorkeling like myself, this is a perfect location to get over your fear of tiny fish and cloudy water. In this bay, the fish were decently sized and so visible, it was just a wonder to watch them all. An abundance of bright yellow and blue creatures set up against the coral reef floor created a picturesque scene. We even saw a few green sea turtles swimming around.



Next, we moved up the coast a bit to meet up with a pod of dolphins we saw earlier. This dive was quicker than the snorkel because we all had to jump ship in seconds and travel as fast as our flippers allowed up to keep up with the dolphins. 

For me personally, the coolest aspect of the swim was hearing the dolphins communicating with each other. Their highly phonetic nature is fascinating, and I'm so excited that I was able to experience a glimpse at them in their natural habitat instead of in captivity.



On our way back to the harbor we witnessed two great sites- First, we ran into a Monk Seal in the water enjoying an eel. These seals are a rare site, endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The crew themselves had only seen a monk seal once before, and we were lucky enough to get within a few feet on this guy, as he was preoccupied with his lunch. Lastly, we spotted a whale spouting water as it made its descent underwater.


Another awesome experience on this trip was the shark dive with North Shore Shark Adventures. With the rough waters happening three miles offshore (we learned that the tour company is frowned upon by the state and is fighting to not be shut down, so they conduct their dives in international waters), our dive was canceled once and just barely allowed the last time we tried. The tour is exactly what it sounds like: a few people jump in a cage and observe the sharks swimming around them while trying to keep their limbs behind metal bars- which sounds easier than it really was! The water really was incredibly rough. I stayed in one spot in the cage so I wasn't pounded repetitively against the metal bars, limbs shooting out into the shark's reach.

The cage we dived in.

But honestly, the dive was completely safe and wickedly awesome. There's nothing like being within ten feet of a dozen sharks to get the blood pumping, especially when this fellow kept performing the slow side stalk along our cage:


A lot of companies conducting these tours throw chum over the side of the boat to attract the animals to us, but in our case, they were already present- stealing from nearby fishing boats, but still present.

Other highlights included:

Paradise Found Cafe: a vegetarian/vegan shop shoved in the back of a health food store-! Well, best food on the island that I was able to eat. It was located on the North Shore and crowded with locals, but I still made this place the location of a good four or five meals.

Shrimp Shacks- my husband really enjoyed these two famous shrimp shacks alone the side of the main highway, while I tried not to gag (I hate shrimp, even looking at it).

Beaches- We spent most of our beach time at Waimea Bay Beach, mostly because that is where we kept ending up. It was interesting, the waves were the largest I've ever seen, but they rose and crashed right at the water's edge, which I've also never seen before. I'm used to seeing the Atlantic Ocean with a good couple-of-yards-buffer before the mild waves break. We also did a stint at the incredibly small Waikiki Beach and a day at Hanauma Bay.



Also while at Waimea Bay Beach, we "hiked" down to the Waimea waterfall, which is said to have magical healing powers from the iron oxide flowing into the water from the volcanic rocks in surrounding areas. The Audubon center was absolutely gorgeous:




To hear about my adventures with Oahu's famous shave ice, read here.