Monthly Archives: May 2012

SPICED CARROT CAKE with CARAMEL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Today marks the beginning of the last week of the So Delicious So Much to Love Recipe Contest.  This week’s focus is on dessert…yay!

Of all of the recipes I submitted to the contest, this is the recipe I am most proud of and the recipe that began my desire to “healthify” your family recipes.  This recipe began as a family favorite that I then veganized and made much healthier than the original.  My husband’s family has raved for years about his Aunt’s carrot cake recipe, so I decided to tackle the re-making of this recipe and it was a HUGE success in that my family loved it and did not notice that it had been altered, which thrilled me to no end!

I would REALLY love to win this category and would greatly appreciate your vote.

Click HERE to vote for this recipe…remember you have to “LIKE” So Delicious before you can vote.

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Filed under Cake, Contests, Dessert, Favorite Family Recipes - Healthified, Frosting, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

CHIC VEGAN INTERVIEW SERIES

When I became the Editor of Chic Vegan I decided to start an Interview Series on the site and it has quickly become one of my favorite projects to work on.  I really enjoy interviewing notable vegans and vegans who are making a difference, whether they are famous or your neighbor down the street.  There are so many wonderful vegans out there!!!

So far I have interviewed -

Click HERE to go to the Chic Vegan interview links.

I have some really great interviews in the wings…I can’t wait to share them!

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Interview, Vegan, Vegetarian

LENTIL SALAD IN A BELL PEPPER BOWL

I couldn’t for the life of me come-up with an interesting name for this meal, but that doesn’t mean that this meal doesn’t rock…because it does.  This salad in a pepper bowl covers all the bases; protein, complex carbs, and vitamins galore not to mention the fact that you eat the bowl…no dishes!!!

A few weeks ago I was talking to my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher after school about food and recipes…an almost daily occurance between the two of us (my daughter knows to keep playing when we get on the subject of food, because we are GUARANTEED to be there for a long while) and she mentioned that the last time she was at Trader Joe’s they made a yummy salad by mixing together pre-cooked lentils and bruschetta.  Um, yum!

I think I might be single-handedly responsible for purchasing all of Trader Joe’s bruschetta.  While I can make my own, this product has saved me so much time and the flavor is amazing.  What is NOT amazing is the amount of olive oil they add to it.  Rest-assured, I have a solution for this problem.  When I buy the bruschetta I put it in the coldest part of my fridge for a day and all of the olive oil floats to the top and solidifies a bit making it quite easy to skim-off and throw in the trash can (better the trash can than my arteries!).

I have been eating this like crazy and it is now a staple in my fridge.  I took the liberty of adding some rice to the salad and really enjoy the results.

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INGREDIENTS

1 container Trader Joe’s Bruschetta (oil skimmed off)
1 box Melissa’s Steamed Lentils
1 bag Trader Joe’s Frozen Rice Medley* OR Frozen Organic Brown Rice

*Trader Joe’s Frozen Rice Medley contains barley which is not gluten free

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Cook the frozen rice by placing it in a glass bowl (NOT in the plastic as the directions suggest) and microwaving for 2-3 minutes.

Mix together the rice, lentils, and bruschetta (including all of the juice).

Cut the top off of a bell pepper and remove the seeds.  Spoon the lentil salad into the prepared bell pepper and enjoy!

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For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Gluten Free, Grains, Main Dish, Product Reviews, Quick, Quick Tips, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

A VERY VEGAN VIRUS

I can’t remember the last time I had a cold, but I know it was before I started eating a whole-foods plant-based diet…Until this week.

I caught a cold.

I shared food with my daughter who didn’t share with me the fact that she had a sore throat.

But you know what?  This cold never even came close to stopping me.  I still completed my usual workouts, ran a bit, and didn’t even stop to take a nap.  To top it off, the bothersome symptoms, aka sniffles and sneezes, only lasted a total of 3 DAYS.  I can live with that.

When I would catch a cold prior to eating this way I would usually have symptoms that interrupted my sleep and daily life for weeks. Colds seemed to linger for me back then and were always accompanied by horrible “keep you awake” kind of coughing at night. I don’t miss that at all.

When I felt the cold coming on I did use my far-infared sauna twice and made sure I ate a lot of produce and no processed food, which I am sure helped.

The main lesson I am taking away from this is that eating a whole-foods plant-based diet supercharges your immune system.  Secondary lesson – do not eat your kiddos leftovers…even if that smoothie they didn’t finish was super delish!

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P.S.  My daughter took the picture above on day 2 of the cold…I clearly wasn’t feeling too bad.

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Filed under Education, Immune System, Vegan, Vegetarian

THYROID UPDATE – I’M WINNING THE BATTLE

Just a quick update to let you know that the thyroid protocol I recently posted about is working (Click HERE to read)!!!  I have enjoyed reading all of the wonderful comments you left on the post.

I went to the doctor to get my blood test results and my levels look much better…we are not there yet, but we are making definite progress!!!  My doctor wants me to keep doing what I have been doing and I couldn’t agree more.  I will retest in 4 months to see how everything is progressing.

I am so happy that the nutritional protocol is helping vs. having to increase my thyroid medication more.

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Filed under Uncategorized

SO MUCH TO LOVE CONTEST – VEGAN GF POT PIE & ORANGE JULIUS RECIPE

Another Monday, another week of the So Delicious So Much to Love recipe contest.  This week the contest focuses on lunch and dinner entrees and my Rosemary Veggie Pot Pie has been thrown into the mix.  I’d appreciate you vote.  Remember to vote every day if possible (don’t worry…I will remind you via my pesky Facebook reminders).

A wonderful bonus of voting is that you will be entered to win lots of great prizes just for voting.

Click HERE to vote (NOTE – you need to “like” So Delicious before you can vote).

VEGAN ORANGE JULIUS RECIPE

To download my Vegan Orange Julius recipe entry in last week’s contest, click HERE.

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Filed under Contests, Dessert, Recipes, Smoothie, Vegan, Vegetarian

CARRIE UNDERWOOD ON OPRAH’S NEXT CHAPTER TOMORROW

Carrie Underwood (who is now vegan) is being featured on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” which will be airing this Sunday, May 20 on (9-10 p.m. ET/PT) on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.  During the interview Carrie discusses her choice to be vegan and how she handles cooking with her husband, etc.

Click HERE for a quick little preview of Carrie discussing her vegan lifestyle.

I am looking forward to watching!

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Image of Oprah Winfrey with Carrie Underwood and husband Mike Fisher in Nashville, Tennessee.  © 2012 Harpo Inc./George Burns

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Filed under Vegan, Vegetarian, Video

STRAWBERRY FRUIT ROLL-UPS

When I go grocery shopping and walk past the snack aisle I am always shocked by how many different fruit roll-ups there are, not to mention the fruit snacks.  Trust me, I understand how good they taste…like candy, but that us essentially what they are.  Have you ever looked at how much sugar they add?  My guess is that the manufacturers feel they have to add so much sugar because they are probably using fruit that isn’t truly ripe as the basis of their product.

I am so thankful that I have an Excalibur dehydrator.  They are pricey, but I eased some of the hurt by buying a Factory Refurbished model ($199 vs. $299) which still has a 10 year warranty!  I use my dehydrator a lot and have been using it a ton lately because there are such wonderful organic strawberries at my local farmer’s market.

Making fruit roll-ups couldn’t be easier.  Simply wash the berries, remove the stems, place them in your Vitamix high speed blender (I squeezed in an orange for extra flavor, however doing so is not necessary), blend until smooth, sweeten if necessary (you can use dates, maple syrup, stevia, honey),  and blend again to incorporate the sweetener.

Pour the mixture in batches on to your dehydrator trays lined with non-stick drying sheets, spread with an offset spatula (This tool is such a help…I first learned about this trick from Kristen Suzanne’s blog) as thin as you’d like making sure that it is evenly spread and there are no holes, and dehydrate at 125 until firm to the touch.  I spread my roll-ups to about 1/8″ and they dehydrate within 3-4 hours.  If you would like to keep the roll-ups “raw,” dehydrate at 115 degrees (it will take longer).  You can also make the roll-ups thicker, it will just take longer to dehydrate.

Once you remove the roll-ups from the dehydrator, allow them to come to room temperature and carefully peel them from the non-stick sheet.  Line the back of the roll-ups with parchment paper, cut them to size, and roll them up!  I store my roll-ups in glass jars.

Recently I have used this method to make a ton of different flavors; mango, pineapple, apple cinnamon, and white peach.  I was so pleasantly surprised by the pineapple fruit roll-ups…they were AMAZING!!!  I can’t wait to make my next batch and have been dreaming-up all sorts of flavor combinations.

*TIP – try to keep the roll-up “batter” as thick as possible and do not add extra liquid if possible.  You will find that certain fruits are less watery than others i.e. mangoes produce a thicker batter than apples do (the result is much more watery).  Dehydrating time will change depending upon which fruit / fruit combo you use.

If you do not have a dehydrator, you can make the roll-ups in the oven by following Catherine McCord’s method on her blog, Weelicious (Click HERE).

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Please note that I am a Vitamix affiliate…and I wholeheartedly endorse the use of their wonderful product.


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Filed under Cooked Fruit, Dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Raw, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

ME & MY THYROID – We’ve Been Battling

DISCLAIMER – I am not a doctor and do not pretend to be.  The post below discusses MY personal health and the course of action decided by my doctors and I.  Please seek consultation with a trusted medical professional regarding any health issues you may be experiencing.  

I thought I would get a little personal today.  I have been on thyroid medication since I was 20 years old which means that I am going on 17 years now.  My hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) was discovered at the same time my endometriosis was.  For years my thyroid had been functioning properly on medication and then as the years went on my medication was slowly and steadily increased as my regular (every 3-6 months) blood tests indicated that I needed more.

For the last three years my thyroid has been indicating that it is absorbing less and less of the medication.  We (my doctor and I) finally reached a point where we did not want to increase my medication any further (thyroid medication can increase bone loss).

It was time to investigate every possible reason why my thyroid might be reacting poorly.  We needed to figure out what we could do to help my all important thyroid function as well as possible.  I have now been following this protocol for the last 3 months and just had my blood re-tested May 7th, so I am very curious to see the results.

The list below is one I compiled from both of my doctor’s recommendations concerning what to AVOID if you are experiencing hypothyroidism.

AVOID

  1. Refined Sugars & Grains – Replace with whole grains and whole foods.
  2. Limit Alcohol - If you must drink (no more than 1 50z. glass per day), red wine is preferred.
  3. Gluten / Dairy – For those with unexplained or auto-immune related thyroid disease, eliminating gluten and dairy is oftentimes met with good results.  According to my doc, “A variety of food antigens could induce antibodies that cross-react with thyroid hormone, particularly during times of stress.”
  4. Millet - UPDATE…I JUST LEARNED ABOUT THIS FROM A COMMENT ON CRAZY SEXY LIFE.  The comment read…  “In listening to a recent podcast with Chris Kresser & Chris Masterjohn, millet was discussed – “the most goitrogenic food in the world is millet, and this could be a problem if people are getting rid of gluten and they start eating a lot of gluten-free bread that’s made from millet, for example. And millet basically inhibits every step of thyroid metabolism, and high iodine intakes cannot overcome the effect of millet.”
  5. Estrogen Containing Medications – i.e. the pill.  These decrease your body’s intake of T-3.  Antihistamines and Sulfa drugs aggravate the problem.
  6. Table Salt  – Use unrefined salt i.e. Centic Salt that has naturally occurring minerals.  Dulse and kelp powder can be used in place of salt (they are rich in iodine which is good for the thyroid).
  7. City Tap Water – Most contains fluoride and chlorine which may reduce thyroid function by competing with iodine and blocking iodine receptor sites in the thyroid gland.  If possible switch to spring water for cooking and drinking.
  8. Iron – If you take thyroid medication, AVOID consuming iron 1 hour before and after taking your medication.
  9. RAW Foods That Prevent the Utilization of Iodine – i.e. turnips, cabbage, mustard, soybean, peanuts, pine nuts, and millet (when cooked these foods are inactivated)
  10. RAW Goitrogenic Foods* –    i.e. soybeans, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), spinach, kale, peaches, and pears.  THESE FOODS MUST BE COOKED to deactivate the goitrogens.  *Goitrogenic Foods are naturally occurring substances in some foods that inhibit the fundtioning of the thyroid gland.  

Fortunately 1, 2, the dairy portion of 3, 4, and 5 are recommendations I was already following.  However, I have been guilty of occasionally cooking with tap water (due to impatience…it takes FOREVER for the reverse osmosis faucet to fill a big pot) and for the last few years I have been consuming a lot of of RAW spinach, kale, and pears as well as lesser amounts of the other goitrogenic foods…they were in regular rotation too.  I also have to wonder how much my food allergy to oats and occasional consumption of gluten containing foods contributed to my thyroid not absorbing my medication as it should have???

I have read so many conflicting positions with regards to thyroid health and soy.  Some experts say that consumption of soy is fine in any form when you have hypothyroidism and others say that it is fine only when cooked. I have opted to remove soy from my diet for the time being.  I am a person that will do all I can to try and assist my body in it’s effort to heal and this seems like the safer choice for the time being.  Do I think soy is a “bad” food?  No.  If I wasn’t experiencing a problem with my thyroid gland I would be consuming soy.

Now onto the positive list…what you can do / add to your diet to assist your body in its quest to heal your thyroid (These recommendations are for HYPOthyroid).

DO – 

  1. Exercise - It stimulates the thyroid.
  2. Supplement with Tyrosine (500-1,000 mg/day) – Tyrosine stimulates the thyroid gland by facilitating the production of Norepinephrine.  Tyrosine can also alleviate dry skin and hair loss when caused by hypothyroidism.  To be taken on an empty stomach.
  3. Eat Iodine & Tyrosine Rich Foods –  Avocados (not too much, they are high fat), sesame seeds, almonds, apricots, molasses, oats (I’m allergic), sea vegetables, and cranberries.
  4. Foods Rich in Vitamin E, Zinc & B12 – Vegan Vitamin E foods – whole grains, nuts and seeds, turnip greens, tomatoes, pine nuts, peanut butter, wheat germ (I’m avoiding gluten), avocado.  Vegan foods high in zinc – toasted wheat germ, sesame seeds & tahini, roasted pumpkin & squash seeds, dried watermelon seeds, dark chocolate & cocoa powder, & peanuts (must be cooked…see above AVOID section).  B12 supplementation needed when vegan.
  5. Eat Carotenoid Rich Foods – Winter squash, carrots, mangoes, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.
  6. Eat Vitamin-A Rich Foods & Adequate Omega-3s – Vitamin-A foods are paprika, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy vegetables, butternut squash, dried herbs, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe.  There are vegan Omega-3 supplements available.
  7. Eat Olives – Olives have shown an enhancing effect on the thyroid.  Eat 5-10 olives a day.  I have been eating 5/day.
  8. Eat Organically Grown Unprocessed Fresh Food – Enough said.
  9. Supplement with Selenium – Conversion of T4 to T3 is dependent upon many nutritional agents, most notably selenium, as well as an overall balanced endocrine system.  Vegan Food Sources – Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, bran (wheat, rice & oat)

This is the protocol I have been following.  I am very curious to see how my body has reacted and what my blood tests reveal.  I have always felt strongly that it is our responsibility to take care of the body we were gifted with.

While doctors can give us advice, they can’t make the changes for us.  I feel very fortunate to have forward thinking doctors that involve me in my health care.  I so appreciate that my doctor did not just UP my thyroid medication.  She realizes that there are possible changes that can be made and that we should make those changes and follow-up to see the results.  She also knows that I am a patient that WILL do EVERYTHING in her power to help my body heal.

Fingers crossed xxxxx

Click HERE to view the post where I updated my progress.

Image courtesy of Flickr‘s The Commons

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Filed under Education, Vegan, Vegetarian

MY AWARD-WINNING VEGAN GLUTEN FREE CREPE RECIPE

A BIG, MASSIVE, GINORMOUS THANK YOU!!!!  

Thank you to all who voted for my crepe recipe in the So Delicious So Much to Love Recipe Contest.  I am beyond thrilled to report that my recipe won!  This is my very first recipe contest win and I am beyond excited.

For those of you who do not have Facebook, as promised, HERE is the recipe.

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Filed under Breakfast, Contests, Dessert, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian