Monthly Archives: May 2011

RAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES

Springtime calls for lighter fare.  For Christmas my parents gave me a Spirooli Vegetable Spiralizer and Slicer by Paderno of Italy (They are available on Amazon).  I love it!  I actually prefer these zucchini noodles I have been eating rather than conventional pasta.  There is a trick to these noodles though.  When I first began making them I would spiralize them and then immediately top them with sauce.  The dish quickly becomes watery when prepared this way.

In my opinion the best method I have found for making the zucchini noodles is to spiralize them, put them in a colander over a bowl, toss them with a little Himalayan or Celtic salt and then allow them to sweat out some liquid.  I leave them for approximately 30 minutes and then rinse the salt off, put them in the salad spinner and they are set to eat.

You will be surprised by how good these noodles are…and the spiralizer can be purchased for less than $40!  It is a great addition to the kitchen.

While I took all of the preparation pictures, the image at the top of this post is courtesy of a blog I love, Girl on Raw.  Her picture is so mouth-watering.  To learn more about Girl on Raw click here.

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Filed under Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

COOKBOOK REVIEW – Sweet Vegan by Emily Mainquist

A few weeks ago I came home to a package on my doorstep.  I thought it was a book from my mother, but when my son opened it (don’t all kid’s love to open packages?) he started jumping up and down with excitement.  While the book my mom was sending me sounded good, I knew it wouldn’t elicit this reaction from my son.  It turns the publisher of Sweet Vegan sent me a copy of this beautiful cookbook written by Emily Mainquist to review.

Sweet Vegan is an absolute feast for the eyes.  My son, a lover of cookbooks, asked me if he could read it for his reading that day and I was happy to oblige.  That night after putting the kids to bed I sat down with the book.  The photography is amazing and the recipes feel do-able by all.  The dessert on the cover shows an edible chocolate bowl that on first glance one would assume to be very complicated, however upon reading the instructions one is very motivated to make the recipe for themselves because it is written in a fool-proof manner.

I like that Sweet Vegan also contains some gluten-free recipes as well as a few raw dessert recipes.  The other day when my daughter got out of school early we had some bonding time in the kitchen (I love cooking with the kids) and made the Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chip Zucchini Bread Squares.  While she initially balked at the idea of zucchini in her chocolate bread, I explained that she would not taste it and that it’s purpose was to create a moist cake.  She LOVED the end result as did my son and husband.  This was a home-run recipe.

While the recipes are not Super-Hero, this is a cookbook that I will continue to refer back to as it is much healthier than standard SAD (Standard American Diet) dessert cookbooks out there.  For example, I can see myself making the monkey bread or cinnamon rolls for breakfast during the holidays or the Chocolate Ganache Cake for my own birthday.

I recommend this well-rounded vegan dessert cookbook and am very happy that it landed on my doorstep.

For more information about the Emily Mainquist, click here.

To buy the cookbook, click here.

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Filed under Books, Product Reviews, Vegan, Vegetarian

FLUFFY PEANUT BUTTER DIP

I think by now you can tell that I have a real love affair with peanut butter.  The only problem is that peanut butter is a bit high in fat (as are all nut butters).  We can totally enjoy nut butters, but we need to show some restraint and not eat them with abandon.  In an attempt to up my intake volume of PB without upping my fat intake, I made this dip.  I LOVE peanut butter with apples and for years have been cutting my apples in half and filling the hole with PB, but only 2 Tbs or so total.  With this dip I can make myself a nice little bowl of it, slice my apples, and dip to my heart’s content.

INGREDIENTS – Makes 4-6 servings

½ cup organic peanut butter

½ cup So Delicious Vanilla coconut milk yogurt

1-2 packets stevia

~

Mix the peanut butter and yogurt together until smooth.  Add the stevia (one packet at a time, so you can sweeten to taste) and mix.

*Also tastes great with bananas!

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Filed under Dessert, Dip, Gluten Free, Recipes, Snacks

GUEST BLOG – Alkaline Lifestyles by Julie of The Alkaline Sisters

I am a firm believer in eating an alkaline diet.  Fortunately eating a plant-based whole foods diet tends to be an alkalizing diet.  I know that this is a new concept for a lot of people, so I contacted my favorite alkaline blogging expert for a better explanation.  I am thrilled to introduce today’s Guest Blogger, Julie of the The Alkaline Sisters website.  Julie stumbled upon this way of life in an attempt to fix a back injury that despite her best efforts (chiro, physio, acupuncture, aqua therapy, osteopath, surgery, cortisone shots, on-line exercise programs and some serious medications for pain) would not get better.  Through the recommendation of a friend she went to a local alkaline lifestyle facilitator and her life was forever changed.  

I really enjoy all of the posts I receive from the Alkaline Sisters.  The posts are always packed with valuable information and Julie’s photography and styling is amazing!

I hope you take the time to read today’s post thoroughly…your body will thank you.

For more information please visit The Alkaline Sisters by clicking here.  

~Gretchen


You may wonder “what the hey” is an alkaline lifestyle? Maybe you ARE familiar with it but don’t know the specifics.  I call it a lifestyle cuz it’s NOT a diet, it’s a way of life.  Alkaline living is getting a lot of press lately and a Google search yields pages and pages of results.  But thinking back just a year or two, no one even knew “what the hey” I was talking about.  Now there’s alkaline water in grocery stores-amazing!  So it’s high time we spread the word about how to live this lifestyle and how to enjoy delicious food while you’re at it.

It’s pretty simple, really.  Essentially the goal is to bring your body’s pH –acid versus alkaline– into balance by consuming a higher volume of alkaline foods and fluids.  Ideally 70% to 80% of each daily meal should be alkaline foods combined with 2-4 liters of alkalizing water thru the day.  Super hydrating daily with water and adding powdered greens is very energizing and flushes unwanted toxins and is a super way to flush fat cells too.  The 70-80% portion for alkaline foods is basically vegetables, mostly raw-some warmed, either whole or juiced and low sugar fruits.  The 20%-30% acidic balance can be made up of cool or cooked foods such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, proteins-plant or animal-preferably organic turkey or chicken and the sweeter fruits in moderation. Some Alkavorians do consume a little tiny bit of dairy and eggs, many do not. The least processed food possible is key.  In a nut shell, one could easily transition to this lifestyle diet just by increasing their raw greens or gently warmed veggies to 70-80% on your plate at lunch and dinner and fresh veggie juice in the morning.

An Alkaline balanced body is healthy, vibrant, and energetic, free of sickness and disease. An Acidic body is one that is degenerating, breaking down, showing a myriad of symptoms of ill health from the simplest form being a cold or a rash all the way to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  We all know 1-5 people or more that are ill or dying of these or many other terrible diseases that can be solved with a change in their lifestyle and diet.  High levels of stress, negative thoughts, lack of exercise and poor shallow breathing (which most of us do all day long) all play a key role in this lifestyle and are acid forming.  Changing your diet will improve your pH and reduce your symptoms to a certain degree, but you must also manage and balance these other pieces of the puzzle to reach optimal health.  The most amazing thing about this alkaline lifestyle is that it is measurable because it IS a science.  If you have a live blood analysis done by a trained microscopist (where you can see your blood cells actively moving on screen) before you begin this lifestyle change, after as little as 30 days, you will see a change in your blood cells and the fluid that they live in.  It is utterly astonishing to see the yeast, parasites, (we all have them to some degree if you eat meat), stress indicators, pre-cancerous crystals, and many other unhealthy organisms floating around in your blood and how they change or disappear with only a diet adjustment and further more, with a healthy lifestyle.

I see the trend toward alkalizing growing in leaps and bounds because there is such a great awareness of how SAD the typical North American diet is.  Made up largely of meat, dairy, sugars, alcohol, saturated fats, highly processed foods and caffeine, we have become a very sick nation looking for quick cures from pills.  With the ever increasing rate of grim diagnosis’s of disease that we are surrounded by, I believe many of us are at a cross road.  Change your Diet …..or Die.The number of books being published on healthy eating is at an all time high and many of them are slamming the typical diets that many of us thought were “healthy”!  Instead of maintaining what we thought was a healthy body we have created a hostile acidic environment within our body that now needs correcting before we develop disease or before we die from one we’ve just been diagnosed with.  The beauty is that you CAN reverse the negative effects of an unhealthy diet if you sincerely have the will to do so.

There’s no doubt about it, change what you eat and the way you live to more alkaline choices and your symptoms will diminish and slowly disappear.  I am living proof and so are many others who have even reversed cancer and are living a vibrant life, well into their late nineties with very little degeneration.  It’s really been more than a 100 years that this model of healthy living has been buried due to the mainstream medical model that has been blind to it but finally….. the awareness of how to live a life of health and well being, free of disease, is surfacing.  I challenge you to try it for 30 days and see how much you like the gain of energy and the positive changes that happen.  A food chart to help guide you, showing the value of alkalinity or acidity, is right here.

Where to Start and What to Avoid
Identifying WHY you want to alkalize is a good place to begin.  What’s your motivation?  Is there a pain strong enough to make you stick with it?  How badly do you want to be healthy?  Are you choosing this or is someone else?  Are you craving energy and vibrancy?  Aren’t we all?  Then give it a go for 30 days and see how you feel, see if you are addicted to the feeling?  You might be pleasantly surprised and change your life forever!  I did!  Forever, no lie!

So a good way to begin is to decide- would I choose cold turkey or a slow go?  Cold turkey if you are not chronically ill can do wonders and work out the toxins fast which means you may feel lousy until they flush thru and then you’ll be ready to change the world.  A slow go means less pain but slower gain.  Either way, you will be WAY better off than not doing anything different at all.

I recommend reading a few books before or while you begin because knowledge is POWER.  It will inspire you to keep on trucking and you will develop a lifestyle habit that you will become addicted to.  For further reading I recommend picking up a soft cover copy for under $10 of the pH Miracle by Dr. Robert O. Young.  As a scientist with over 40 years of research, exploring and uncovering he shares the steps to gain control of your health again.  Another recently published book that I am devouring is Crazy, Sexy, Diet by Kris Carr who is a cancer survivor who alkalized to heal and has brought together a wealth of knowledge thru her own experience and that of many health experts that will inspire you to take the plunge.

The following is a list of things to begin eliminating or dump right off the bat.  After skimming the list it may seem to you like there’s nothing good left to bother eating but you’d be surprised.  If you haven’t looked at my recipe page then check it out cuz there’s some incredibly mouth watering ways to nourish your body that will leave you craving more and feeling more energetic after a meal than you ever have before.

Foods that Acidify:

  • Sugar
  • Dairy Products
  • Meat (aside from occasional coldwater fish)
  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco
  • Wheat (aside from sprouts or wheatgrass)
  • Fruit (apart from those mentioned above)
  • Bad fats (saturated, transfatty acids, hydrogenated)
  • Junk/ Processed foods
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Peanuts and Cashews
  • Pasta and White Rice
  • Condiments
  • Fermented Foods

If you really want to kick it up a notch the best way to kick the acid is a juice feast where you nourish and flush the body at the same time in order to alkalize and regenerate healthy new cells.  It’s possible to put you one year ahead in the healing process by beginning with a juice feast cleanse.  For the full details and recipes on a great way to jump start your alkaline journey see this post here.

All living things exist because of a balanced pH level.  In nature some “plant varieties” thrive in an alkaline soil where as others prefer a slightly acidic soil.  When these conditions are not ideal symptoms begin to occur.  Most inexperienced gardeners would head to the garden center and purchase a product recommended to cure the ailing plant and spray it on the leaves and the plant would perk up but shortly there after it needs another application.  However a well seasoned gardener knows that an adjustment to the soil in which the plant grows is what will improve the health of the plant.

The Alkaline Sisters

Our bodies that are all identically designed to function as the “human variety” require the same pH balance and treatment.  The terrain in which our cells exist is the environment that must be pH balanced just as the roots of the plant growing in soil.  Our inner terrain is everything.  When it is out of kilter we are out of kilter.

If we can clean up our systems, pair it with a healthy outlook on life, manage our stress levels, and incorporate daily fitness we can experience optimal health and a life of longevity and vibrancy.  THIS is how we were meant to exist on this planet and we should settle for nothing less.

If you require an alkaline coach to make this shift possible, I get it.  If you are seriously ill it’s the best way back to health and I highly recommend you reach out for support and guidance on this journey.  It’s a life changing path and having a coach will bring greater success and a confidence that will drive you to become the healthy You that you deserve to be.

Please contact me (click here) for further info and references for Alkaline Coaching so I can guide you based on your needs and your geographic location. If you desire live blood analysis Google it for your area or contact me in case I can help you locate a qualified professional.

If you’ve made it to the bottom of my long winded message for alkalizing I congratulate your earnest desire to make a difference in your health!

A BIG Green Smoothie Cheer to YOU!

Julie

Images courtesy of AlkalineSisters.com

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Filed under Alkaline, Education, Guest Blog, pH, Vegan, Vegetarian

GLUTEN FREE BREADCRUMBS – Homemade

Homemade is almost always better and in the case of gluten-free breadcrumbs, homemade is LIGHT YEARS above any store-bought breadcrumbs I have ever tried.  Breadcrumbs are a cinch to make too.  My go-to gluten-free bread is Udi’s Whole Grain Bread Loaf (for a $1 coupon click here).  I use this bread for my daughter’s lunches and it make great breadcrumbs. 

To make the breadcrumbs, toast 9 slices of bread until they are very crunchy, but not burnt.

Once cooled, crumble the toast into your food processor (I use my Cuisinart 11-cup processor).  Process until the consistency below.

If you plan on flavoring your breadcrumbs, add the flavoring now.  Oftentimes I will make Italian Breadcrumbs.  To do so, add 2 tsp Italian Seasoning (I used Morton & Bassett) and 1 tsp Himalayan or Celtic Salt.

Process until well incorporated and the appropriate texture.  If you are NOT flavoring the breadcrumbs, simply process until the appropriate texture.

Pour the breadcrumbs onto a tray and bake for 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees to crisp.  Watch them VERY carefully so they do not burn.

Allow the breadcrumbs to cool and store them in an airtight container.  I usually make them right before using them, so I have yet to discover how long they will last in the pantry!

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Filed under Breads / Crackers / Muffins, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

NEW SMOOTHIE TRICK – Add Fiber!

Every once in a while I stumble upon something that ends up really working for me.  Recently I have been reducing the amount of fat in my diet (in an attempt to get more swimsuit ready) and I have been missing the thickness that avocado gives to my smoothies.  I have found a suitable replacement texture-wise and that is to add clear fiber to my smoothies.

Fiber is always a good thing when it comes to health as it provides for:

 Better weight management
Healthier blood sugar levels
Enhanced energy
Increased regularity
Lower cholesterol
And a general feeling of well being

While the fiber does not provide the creaminess that the avocado does, it helps thicken my green smoothies and the fiber helps keep me full.

I was sent the Organic Clear Fiber by Renew Life to test a while ago and that is what I have been using lately.  Other popular brands of clear fiber that are widely available are Metamucil and Benefiber.  After doing some research I am very impressed with the Organic Clear Fiber by Renew Life because it is truly gluten-free and organic.  Benefiber claims to be gluten-free, however on the label it states “Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm gluten).”  Many people with gluten allergies can’t tolerate ANY gluten, so this is something to watch for.

Lately my green smoothie consists of:

1 cup So Delicious coconut milk

1/2 cucumber or 1 zucchini

1-2 cups spinach or romaine

2 scoops vegan protein powder (Plant Fusion, Sun Warrior, or Vega…I often mix them)

3 packets Sweetleaf Stevia (My favorite brand because it does not turn bitter)

3 tsp Organic Clear Fiber

1 tsp each spirulina and chlorella

1/2 frozen banana

2-3 handfuls of ice

~

Place everything in the blender (with the exception of the banana and ice).  I usually layer my smoothies in the container like this…liquid, some of the veggies, all the powders, the rest of the veggies.  Blend until COMPLETELY smooth.  Now add the banana (break into chunks first) and blend to incorporate, then add the ice and blend until smooth.

You will be surprised by how filling this is.  Oftentimes I can’t finish it in one sitting and end up saving some in the fridge for my afternoon snack.

To learn more about Renew Life click HERE.

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Filed under Drinks, Gluten Free, Product Reviews, Quick, Recipes, Smoothie, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Recommended Reading

My latest Chic Vegan ASK GRETTIE column

I was wondering if you have read The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder?  I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the main principles throughout the book – Such as Food Pairing, eating Light to Heavy, and some of the Ongoing Cleansing methods: Probiotic & Enzyme Salad (raw sauerkraut), Probiotic, Enzyme and Magnesium – Oxygen supplements.  I personally loved the book but I can see how it can be overwhelming for some. I have been vegetarian for 3 years and am starting to incorporate some of Kimberly’s diet principles (slowly) to improve my health further.

Thanks,
Lauren


Hi Lauren!

I haven’t had a chance to read Kimberly’s book yet, but I am very familiar with her and have been following her via her blog for a long time.  I like what Kimberly has to say in general, so I am fairly sure that I will agree with her general message.  I know Kimberly has studied at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico multiple times and is very knowledgeable.  I am really excited for her that her book is enjoying such success and I am looking forward to reading it myself.

While we are on the subject of books, I would like to share with you some books that I highly recommend and that are permanent fixtures on my bookshelf. 


The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell is so heavily supported by science.  Many times I have seen people read this book and make the switch to a vegan diet.  The science in this book makes people GET it and understand the physical damage that meat does to the human body.


Thrive by Brendan Brazier is such an inspirational book for vegan athletes.  Brendan is a world class vegan triathlete and the founder of Vega.  I am personally very into fitness and really like how this book walks the reader through the mechanics of using a vegan diet to fuel their fitness pursuits.  Brendan spells out what types of food to eat pre and post workout as well as throughout the day.  It is nice that we are able to benefit from Brendan’s years of trial and error and not have to go through that ourselves. 

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr is so reader and user friendly.  This book covers so many subjects from pH to juicing to bathroom issues!  Crazy Sexy Diet has guest appearances throughout the book from experts in the field who  are really good at explaining the subject matter in an easy to understand and concise manner.

 


Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B Esselstyn is a must read for everyone, especially anyone with a history of heart disease in their family or experiencing it now.  During my training we had a guest lecture by Dr. Esselstyn that blew my mind.  I seriously did not want this lecture to end because it was so fascinating and eye-opening.  During the lecture I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t everyone know this?  Why don’t they teach this information to our children?”  Heart disease is so avoidable.  This book takes that lecture and expands on it.

These four books are staples for me.  As I said, these books are permanent fixtures in my home.  I own two copies of most of them because I am constantly loaning them out to people in an effort to spread their messages. I constantly refer back to these books and recommend them to others, each for their own special reasons.

Knowledge is power!

- Grettie

Images courtesy of ChicVegan.com

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Filed under Books, Chic Vegan Column, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Ezogelin Corbasi by Natalie of Cook Eat Live Vegetarian

I am in love with Spain.  Two summers ago my family and I spent a month in Southern Spain.  It was such an adventure.  I fell in love with the people, the food, and the general way of life.  When I came across the food blog “Cook Eat Live Vegetarian” I was so excited…great vegetarian food based in Andalucía Spain!  Every time a new post arrives in my inbox I turn into a giddy school girl because I know the food will be amazing and I know I will get to see pictures of my beloved Spain. 

Cook Eat Live Vegetarian is the brainchild of Natalie Ward. Natalie lives in Andalucía with her partner Allen (The Washer Up).  They used to own and run a restaurant there called Santiago del Calvario which they sold last year to their good friends.

When they ran the restaurant Allen was in the kitchen and Natalie was front of house. They designed the menus together and have always been slightly obsessed with food. Now that they sold the restaurant, Natalie is in their kitchen cooking every day and Allen does the washing up!

They started their blog to share their enthusiasm for fantastic food with a world flavor. Using seasonal produce, grown locally where possible, they aim to excite with global vegetarian cuisine. Their inspiration comes from the fruits & vegetables they see growing while walking the dog in the “campo” in the morning  and they hope to share some of the beauty of Andalucía in the process.  Although Natalie is vegetarian, The Washer Up isn’t, so occasionally she shares some recipes that can be adapted to include meat and fish but the majority of the recipes are for fabulous meat-free dishes from around the world that have even the most stubborn carnivores drooling and singing your praises.

 I know you will enjoy this soup…it is so tasty.  I was drawn to all of the flavors in this soup, but especially the sumac.  During my last trip to Northern California to see my parents we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Dish Dash, and they use a lot of sumac.  This inspired me to buy some sumac from Penzey Spices, however I had yet to use it until I made this soup.  My family enjoyed the soup so much that my five year old declared, “This dinner is awesome!”  This recipe can be a bit spicy for little ones, so I add extra broth (see notes within the recipe below).

I had to make this soup when I read the story behind it. It sounds like an ancient myth but is actually from the 20th century. I love a tragic love story that includes a recipe don’t you?……

Ezo-gelin translates as Ezo The Bride. The origin of this soup is attributed to an exceptionally beautiful woman named Ezo, who lived in the village of Dokuzyol near Gaziantep in the early 20th century. Legend has it that Ezo, with her rosy cheeks and black hair, was admired by travellers along the caravan route who stopped to rest in her village. Many men longed for her hand in marriage and Ezo’s family hoped to secure a worthy match for their daughter.

Unfortunately, Ezo the bride, didn’t have much luck when it came to finding marital bliss. Her first husband was in love with another woman and she divorced him on grounds of maltreatment. Her second marriage took her to Syria where she became homesick for her village and had to deal with a difficult mother-in-law who couldn’t be pleased. It is for her, the story goes, that Ezo created this soup. After bearing 9 children, poor Ezo died of tuberculosis in the 1950s and has since become a Turkish legend, depicted in popular films and lamented in folksongs. Her name lives on in this popular soup, which is now traditionally fed to brides to sustain them for the uncertain future that lies ahead.

It kind of reminds me of Princess Diana’s story with the husband in love with another woman and the very difficult mother-in-law. Maybe they should have fed it to Kate before her wedding to William!!

I love the idea of a tradition where the modern brides in Turkey are fed a soup with a story to prepare them for their married life ahead. It’s in stark contrast to the custom in the UK where the bride dresses up as a tart in a veil with  L plates stuck to her drinking as many shots of Tequila as possible while watching a slimy male stripper with a can of squirty cream. Give me the soup any day…..

The original soup contains bulgur wheat which I have replaced with quinoa to keep it gluten-free. Sumac is a crushed dried berry used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is sold in powdered flakes and has a smokey, spicy, lemony flavour. See picture below. If you don’t have any leave it out, just make sure you have the lemon wedges to squeeze over and fresh mint for the top.

EZOGELIN CORBASI- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint & Sumac

INGREDIENTS – serves 4-6, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp tomate frito (tomato paste)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1  tbsp dried mint
  • 150 gr (1 cup) dried lentils, red lentils if possible
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) wholegrain rice
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) quinoa or bulgur wheat
  • about 1 1/2 quarts veg stock (or a mix of water & stock) – GRETCHEN USED 2 1/2 quarts
  • 1 tbsp sumac (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  •  fresh mint leaves, chopped for garnish
  • sumac for garnish (optional)
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots & celery with a pinch of salt for 4 or 5 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Then add the garlic, cumin seeds, paprika, chilli flakes, cayenne, tomato & tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes

Add in the lentils, rice & quinoa (or bulgur wheat) and stir to coat in the tomatoey spices. Add the veg stock/water, season well with salt & black pepper, add the dried mint and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes everything is tender.  AT THIS POINT GRETCHEN TURNED OFF THE HEAT AND ALLOWED THE SOUP TO SIT COVERED FOR AN HOUR.  IT THICKENED-UP A LOT.  SHE THEN ADDED THE EXTRA QUART OF STOCK TO TEMPER THE SPICINESS AND ALLOWED IT TO COME BACK TO A BOIL.

If you like you can remove a ladleful of the soup and blend it until smooth, then add it back into the soup. This gives it a smoother thicker consistency. Add the sumac, taste for seasoning, add more salt or mint if necessary. Bring back to the boil.

Serve in warm bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh mint leaves, a little sumac and some lemon wedges to squeeze over.

I would think this soup could be a good hangover cure for the bride recovering from a few too may tequilas as well.  Just remember poor Ezo….

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Main Dish, Recipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Vegan Protein by Giacomo Marchese

 

Today’s Guest Blog is by Giacomo Marchese of VeganProteins.com.  Giacomo has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 17 years.  He competed and placed in both 2002 and 2008 with the INBF (International Natural Bodybuilding Federation).  Other activities he enjoys include cycling, running, snowboarding, tennis, racquetball and most other racquet sports. 

Shortly after his first competition, Giacomo transitioned to a vegan diet for health and wellness reasons.  Through this period of time he was able to increase his strength and size while training on a plant based diet.  He also tried a raw diet for three years and competed raw in 2008.

After embracing the ethical side of eating responsibly for his body, he has dedicated time and effort towards showing others what is possible on a cruelty free diet. 

Jimi Sitko, Robert Cheeke, Giacomo Marchese

Currently, Giacomo is working on a documentary, Vegan Brothers in Iron, which dispells the myths of veganism and muscle building (to be released in the coming year or sooner).  He is also currently blogging a P90x training journal (workout, nutrition, transformation pictures) where the recommended meal plans have been modified to be suitable for a vegan lifestyle:  Vegan P90x blog

You can support him by checking out the plant based supplements they carry at www.veganproteins.com.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?

by Giacomo Marchese

Really, you’re a vegan? Wow! But where do you get your protein from? And a bodybuilder on top of that… that’s really amazing – I can’t believe it…

Is the idea really that far fetched that a vegan can partake in bodybuilding just as efficiently as a typical bodybuilder who eats exorbitant amounts of protein from meat and dairy products? Hardly! We’re living proof! And an in-depth documentary which shows just how it’s done is in the works as we continue to prepare for a competition in April, 2009.

Consider that the most powerful animals on the planet: the bull, elephant, giraffe, rhino, hippo, etc., are all herbivores. Also consider that the biggest dinosaurs, the ones who outlived the others, were herbivores.

Have you ever heard of a person who is ‘protein’ deficient, other than in third world countries where they do not have access to nutrient rich foods – or food in general – on a daily basis? No. Vegans are in no way threatened by protein deficiency. If we ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily take in more than enough protein.

Nutritional facts from the USDA National Nutritional Database:

(Amount of calories from protein.)

  • Watercress 84%, Mushrooms 56%, Spinach 50%, Sprouts 35+%
  • Kidney Beans 58%, Navy Beans 37%, Soybeans 35%
  • Wheat Germ 26%, Rye 18%, Oatmeal 17%, Peanuts 18%
  • Pumpkin Seeds 18%, Sunflower Seeds 16%, Cantaloupes 10%, Peaches 9%, Oranges 8%

WOW – that’s just from straight up WHOLE FOODS! Could mother nature actually have satisfied our needs for survival without having to instill suffering on our furry, feathered, and finned friends? Can’t be.

Now that that’s settled, let’s take this one step further: What if one were to feel compelled to take in a presumably much larger than required amount of protein for a healthy functioning body and did not care to consume it in a supplementary fashion? The average Joe, for example, who just wants to go to his local grocer and pick up something, perhaps processed, to enjoy and whip up right quick?

There’s soy and gluten products. You can easily purchase these as viable substitutes for any animal product out there. Faux meat, wheat meat, or grain meat is easily found at many regular grocery stores and health food stores around the country.

Wheat Gluten, Tofu, and other soy or grain products can pack a mean punch when it comes to protein content. Tempeh (fermented brown rice) isn’t even processed, it’s cultured!

(Amount of calories from protein.)

  • Hi Protein Tofu (Wildwood / Trader Joes, etc): 28%
  • Tofurky Italian ‘sausage’: 41%
  • Seitan (wheat gluten): 41%
  • Tempeh: 38.5%

From the point of view of an amateur bodybuilder, I’m trying my best to get my protein in convenient form, without carrying around full meals. I’m talking about supplementation with protein powders. With the mass appeal of ‘whey’ and ‘casein’ powders, which are derived from dairy, you’d think that they are the only true sources of high protein shakes. People are amazed to learn that so many other options exist. That’s because Vegan Protein Powders are simply overshadowed by the insurmountable figures spent on blanketing the entire market with advertising, marketing, research, and promotion of whey and casein based protein powders.

As a matter of fact, whey, casein, and egg protein powders are the only three options if you choose to stick with animal protein powders exclusively, and all three pale in comparison, on a micronutrient level, to the majority of the Vegan protein powders listed below:

(Amount of calories from protein.)

Animal Based Protein Powders:

  • Whey, Casein, Egg: 95 – 100%

Vegan Protein Powders:

  • Soy Protein: 95%
  • Pea Protein: 93%
  • Bio Fermented Brown Rice Protein: 92%
  • Brown Rice Protein: 80%
  • Chlorella: 80%
  • Buckwheat Protein: 80%
  • *Spirulina: 54%
  • Hemp Protein: 45%

And there’s more, but you get the picture.

*In additon to being vegan, these protein based powders are raw and unprocessed

Whether you are a Vegan or a Raw Foodist, you can see, you will get your fill of protein. If you’re a bodybuilder and you indulge in the theory of excessively high protein intake and caloric deficit, you can do it. It’s actually far more efficient, and healthier as vegan foods have zero cholesterol, for you to use vegan protein powdders because many of these vegan sources are micronutrient powerhouses. Spirulina and Chlorella, for example, are superfoods. One serving of either equates to 35 servings of vegetables in regards to vitamin and mineral content. Even small amounts will benefit you immensely!

Where do I get most of my protein from? Sprouts, nuts and seeds. Protein supplementation? Spirulina and Sun Warrior (bio fermented brown rice) both of which I offer to you on this site. In the future, VeganProteins.com will offer many of these other supplementary options as well, but for now why not take advantage of my two favorite sources? It’s not so bad being a raw food vegan, now is it?

As for the marketing hype out there and the 8 essential amino acid discussion — don’t fall for it. The Vegan supplement sources and Vegan food sources contain all 10 of the 20 essential amino acids that your body cannot produce itself. And for the ones that don’t, it’s not like you need to have all 10 at every meal. Do you really think that you need everything all at once every meal or your diet will be unbalanced? The human body is amazingly efficient, it takes up everything you’ve eaten daily, or even over the course of a couple of days, and knows what to do. That theory of “complete” protein or food combinations by the otherwise groundbreaking book in the 70s “Diet for a Small Planet” was a theory. Even the author herself, Francis Lappe wrote in her revised edition that current science indicates that you don’t have to combine foods, like beans and rice, to get a complete protein. The body will do the work for you.

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Filed under Althletics, Education, General Vegan, Guest Blog, Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – All About Probiotics

This is my most recent Ask Grettie Column for Chic Vegan…

I have been hearing so much about probiotics lately.  I understand their value, but am wanting some more information.  How do I choose a good probiotic?  So many of them have soy in them and I generally try to avoid soy.  Your thoughts?

~ Sirica

Hi Sirica!

Probiotics are very beneficial.  I personally take them multiple times a day and give them to my family as well.  Our gut is a large part of our immune system and according to Brenda Watson, “[T]he gut is the root and core of our total general well being.  It’s the place where food is broken down into the building blocks of our cells.  It’s the first line of defense against invading pathogens and infectious diseases.” Our bodies are filled with bacteria…some good, some bad.  With probiotics we can tip the scales in our favor by introducing large amount of GOOD bacteria that will overrun the bad.

There are many different ways to ingest probiotics:

1.  Fermented foods

The existence of fermented foods predates recorded history.  So many cultures utilize fermented foods in their diets such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and yogurt (I favor the coconut milk variety).  Eating fermented foods is a great way to obtain beneficial bacteria.

2.  Probiotic drinks

Good Belly and KeVitaare two companies that have burst onto the probiotic scene.  My one criticism of Good Belly is that they add sugar to their drinks.  KeVita on the other hand does not since it’s drinks are sweetened with organic stevia.

3.  Probiotic capsules or powders

I recently attended the Natural Products Expo West and was able to talk to many probiotic manufacturers.  I learned so much from them.  Many of the brands that have soy in their products actually were able to win me over by explaining that their probiotics are “grown” on fermented soy and do not use.  I am a person who tries to limit the soy in my diet, but I do see the benefits of including fermented soy in one’s diet and I do so about once a week.

Here is what New Chapter has to say about the soy issue:

Although true soy allergies are very rare, many people have difficulty digesting unfermented soy. Whole, unprocessed soy contains nutrient blocking factors, such as phytate, which interfere with its potential benefits. Fermented soy, on the other hand, agrees with almost everyone, even people with soy sensitivities. Probiosis of soy also changes isoflavones from inert forms into their activated aglycone genestein, dadzein, and glycitein forms.

Yes. New Chapter’s Probiotics deliver non-GMO organic soy in its fermented whole-food form, similar to miso, tempeh and natto. Unlike unfermented soy or isolated soy components, these traditional soy foods have been consumed for thousands of years and are associated with the health and longevity of traditional Asian cultures.  Many research studies suggest that regular consumption of fermented soy is associated with numerous health benefits, including the maintenance of normal cell growth in breast tissue.*

Yes. A recent peer-reviewed scientific review of fourteen clinical trials examining the effects of soy on the thyroid concluded that in the absence of an iodine deficiency, there is little evidence that soy foods or soy isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function and that “hypothyroid individuals need not avoid soy foods.” In fact, some studies suggest that soy may actually promote normal thyroid cell growth. To help ensure healthy thyroid function, our Probiotic Nutrients™ contain a whole-food form of iodine.

I have had a lot of exposure to probiotic capsules and powders and recommend the following (each of which I have tried):

Renew Life Ultimate Flora, New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora, Ortho Molecular Ortho Biotic, ThreeLac (great for candida issues), and probiotics by Klaire Labs.

Your body may go through an adjustment period when beginning probiotics which can range anywhere from a little gas to more frequent bowel movements.  If you have a lot of symptoms, scale back and take less until your body adjusts.  I recommend starting slowly and building-up from there.  For example, if a bottle states that the dose is 2 capsules, use 1 capsule for a few weeks and then add in the second capsule.

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, Gut Health, Published Work, Vegan, Vegetarian