Monthly Archives: October 2012

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Here is a round-up of some of my favorite pumpkin recipes…my daughter began her day with the oatmeal.  Have a happy and safe Halloween!!!

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PUMPKIN PIE OATMEAL

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PUMPKIN PIE DESSERT HUMMUS

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PUMPKIN RICE PUDDING

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CREAMY PUMPKIN PIE ICE CREAM

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Filed under Appetizers, Beans/Legumes, Breakfast, Dessert, Frozen Treats, Gluten Free, Holiday, Holidays, Ice Cream, Kid Friendly, Pudding / Mousse, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

The Dirty Dozen PLUS

This article was originally published on Healthy Child Healthy World.

by Anh Nguyen, Communications & Programs Coordinator, Healthy Child Healthy World

No one will contest that a healthy diet must be rich in fruits and vegetables, but have you thought about the toxic pesticides you could be consuming with your fresh produce? According to a recent survey by the Environmental Working Group, 68 percent of food samples had detectable pesticide residues. So which crops are safe to eat, and which are best bought organic?

For the eighth year in a row, the Environmental Working Group has released their list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables on the market as part of their 2012 Shoppers Guide. This year, they have expanded their Dirty Dozen list to 14, calling it the Dirty Dozen Plus. The two new crops, green beans and leafy greens (i.e. kale and collard greens) were found to be commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides.

Apples were dubbed the most contaminated produce because 98% of have detectable levels of pesticides. Other significant findings include:

  • Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
  • Seventy-eight different pesticides were found on lettuce samples.
  • Every single nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
  • As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals.
  • Thirteen different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and strawberries.

The EWG does stress that “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” So if you cannot afford to buy organic all the time, just be extra conscious about carefully washing any produce on the Dirty Dozen Plus, or buy more of those that made it to their Clean Fifteen list.

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Photo Credit – Gretchen Tseng

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Filed under Education, Farming, Investigations, Vegan, Vegetarian

FALL CANDLE DISPLAY

Pinterest continues to inspire me to be more creative around the house.  I decided to update the large candle display on my kitchen island for Fall and wanted something that would work for both Halloween and Thanksgiving (BEFORE is the picture on the left, AFTER is to the right).

Originally I was going to use candy corn (better to decorate with than to EAT), but ultimately decided that corn would be the better and more natural choice.

I am happy with my inexpensive display and appreciate that fact that once Christmas rolls around, I can remove the corn, pop it, and make popcorn garland for the tree.

Since taking the picture above I put some Fall fabric under the pumpkins and it looks great.  I am considering adding some of the gorgeous leaves from outside as well.

 

What have you done to decorate for Fall?

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Filed under DIY, Holidays, Home

SO DELICIOUS DAIRY FREE – Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk Beverage

I am a lucky girl.  I was again greeted this year by a shipment at my door courtesy of So Delicious Dairy Free.  Like last year (click HERE for my review), the package contained their Festive Holiday Nog, and Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk beverages…but low and behold, there was another NEW holiday beverage…

PUMPKIN SPICE COCONUT MILK BEVERAGE

You all know about my love affair with pumpkin since I have been going on and on about it already this Fall.  I was impressed with the fact that the beverage is lower in fat (approx. 1/3 the fat) than the other two holiday beverages.

I have to be honest that while the taste was amazing, it is a tad too sweet for me.  Keep in mind that I have been keeping my sweets under control lately and have been satisfying my sweet tooth with dates and stevia, so I am sure that has something to do with it.

My kids didn’t think that the beverage was too sweet at all.

I tried some of the pumpkin beverage in my coffee and it was fantastic.  This just might be my Fall creamer solution.

Kudos to So Delicious for putting out so many allergen free, organic, non-GMO and vegan Holiday Beverage options!

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Filed under Holidays, Product Reviews

What I WISH I’d Known When Becoming Vegan

The other day I was thinking about what I wish I knew when I decided to become vegan and that led to this post.

The number one piece of information I wished I knew at the time is this…

You can NOT eat an unlimited amount of plant-based fat (Even if it is in the form on WHOLE foods)!!!  

I was initially under the assumption that if it was a whole food and plant-based, then it was healthy. I was adding coconut oil to my green smoothies along with peanut butter AND half an avocado…using olive oil liberally in sautées and stir fries, making nut and seed cheeses, etc.

I was also eating nuts by the handful (ok, actually handful”s”).  Toward the beginning of my vegan journey I discovered nut-based raw cheesecakes and became very successful making them for friends and family (aka a ploy to always have some on hand for myself).  A slice of cheesecake became my after dinner ritual…after all, it was plant-based and therefore healthy, right?

Shortly thereafter I took a raw foods dessert class and was amazed by how wonderful everything tasted. Thus my love affair with raw desserts continued.

While I did not gain a significant amount of weight per se, I did notice my body becoming more soft (for lack of a better description) despite a very active training schedule.

Bottom line, you can not expect to eat a large volume of fat and not have your body increase its body fat percentage.

I decided to check my body fat percentage and was shocked to learn that I gained approximately 5% body fat (yowza!). I always pictured people becoming leaner when transitioning to a plant-based diet, not doughier!!!

I was left scratching my head because I was eating WHOLE foods, not a bunch of processed vegan cinnamon rolls.

I assumed that I could up my plant-based fat because I was no longer consuming saturated fat in the form of animal-based meats and cheeses. Boy was I wrong.

Since making the connection I have been consciously eating a limited amount of whole food plant-based fats.

I could have saved myself a lot of time had I known this information from the start, which is why I am sharing it with you.

Since limiting my plant-based fats I am as lean as I used to be.

Lesson learned.

What information have you learned since becoming vegan that you wish you’d known from the beginning?

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Image courtesy of Flickr’s The Commons.

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Filed under Education, Fat, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues

PUMPKIN PIE DESSERT HUMMUS

It is that time again…time for me to go pumpkin crazy.  Let’s see, so far this week I have had a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (someday I’ll get around to writing down my recipe), pumpkin tamales (Thank you Mother’s Market!!!), and I ate my fair share of pumpkin while developing the recipe that follows…one that is sure to become a favorite for me.

I bought 10 cans of organic pumpkin at Trader Joe’s last week (no joke) and set to work in the kitchen to work on an idea I had while trying to fall asleep the night before.  Apparently that is what I do.  While other people have sugarplums dancing in their head, I have pureed pumpkin.

My first dessert hummus (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip) was such a hit with my kiddos that I wanted to come-up with another dessert hummus which would satisfy their sweet tooth and pump them with lots of fiber and protein.  This new dessert hummus recipe is even healthier than my first since it is nut-butter free and thus low-fat.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do…I have been known to eat it by the spoonful.

Rest assured, there is sure to be lots of pumpkin on Veggie Grettie reader’s future.

INGREDIENTS

15 oz. can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can organic pumpkin 
10 Medjool dates, seeds removed
1/2 cup plant-based milk of choice (So Delicious almond or coconut milk works great)
1/4 cup So Delicious creamer (I used vanilla)
1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice (That is NOT a typo, I like LOTS of spice)
2 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla
2 SweetLeaf stevia packets

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Place all of the ingredients into the food processor (a high-speed blender will probably work, but I haven’t tried it) and pulse a few times to incorporate.  Process for 1-2 minutes and stop to scrape down the sides.

Repeat processing until extremely smooth.

Store in the refrigerator.

For a printable version of this recipe click HERE.

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CURRY-SPICED POPCORN

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was assigned the blog, Daily Dish Recipes.  Nicole is a mother of 5 teenagers (my hat’s off to her) who has been a food writer since 2003.

I decided to make Curry Movie Popcorn, which she made for another SRC assignment.  I found lots of wonderful recipes on her blog, but somehow I couldn’t get my mind off of that popcorn!

I took her advice and opted to add the spices to the pan prior to cooking the popcorn vs. pouring the melted oil and spice over the popped corn (which is the method she originally tried and didn’t like)…it worked like a charm!

While I generally stay away from oil, the coconut oil adds such a nice flavor and compliments the curry spice.  I did however eliminate the butter from the recipe because it wasn’t necessary.

This was so easy and quick.  I am already coming-up with other flavor combos…anyone want some spicy chipotle popcorn???

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons butter (I omitted)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (I used 1 tsp Curry Powder & 1 tsp Garam Masala)
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic Salt
  • 1/2 cup (75 g.) popping corn

METHOD

Melt the coconut oil in a pan (make sure it is large enough for the popped corn).  Whisk in the salt, curry powder, and Garam Masala.

Add the popping corn and pop while shaking the pan to avoid burning.

Serve immediately.

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Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

Hall Closet Redo / New Mud Room Area

Sometimes we end-up being grateful for the “uh-ohs” that occur in life.

A few months ago I came home to a garage floor COVERED in water (always an uh-oh).  After turning off the water to the house (Yep, I am self-sufficient like that), I determined that it was leaking from the wall leading to the house.  I called the hubster and we called our insurance company.

Long story short, we had a slab leak and we couldn’t have been more lucky that it was contained to such a small area of the house.  While we did have to give-up using the downstairs toilet throughout most of the construction (a pain when you little one still needs YOU to walk all the way upstairs and “wipe” them), the end results were worth it.

I had been dreaming for a while about making a mud-room in that area of the house anyway and after learning that it would be thousands just to find out if we could relocate the toilet in order to make said mud-room, I went to work re-working my dream.

BEFORE & AFTER

What resulted was the conversion of our downstairs coat closet into a mud-area of sorts; drawers for shoes (a huge deal for me considering it used to look like a shoe store at the bottom of our stairs), hooks for jackets, a fun reading nook / seat for putting on your shoes, baskets for Jiu Jitsu uniforms, hats, umbrellas, etc.

WAY more useful than a closet that used to just collect junk and a few jackets.

My silver lining…

I have to apologize for the awful pictures.  That hallway is a little tight, so it was hard to get the right angle…you get the jest. 

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Filed under Home, Organization

The Sleep-Weight Connection

This is a FANTASTIC article written by Peggy Kotsopoulos for Vega’s Blog.

I have been short-changing myself on sleep lately (OK, actually for a LONG time now) and this is a good reminder that I need to make sleep a priority.

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The Sleep-Weight Connection

Whether you’re tossing and turning all night thinking of everything going on in your life, or just choose to stay up till the wee hours of the night working or playing, you are missing out on one of the most powerful health and weight loss boosters around — SLEEP! Here are 5 good reasons why you need to get a good night of shut-eye.

  1. Lack of sleep promotes weight gain
    Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your metabolism and has negative physiological effects promoting weight gain. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology indicates that sleeping for short durations (less than 7 hours per night) is associated with future weight gain. In fact, the study showed that women who sleep less than 7 hours per night are likely to gain an extra 2.5 lbs.
  2. Sleep promotes more FAT burned when trying to lose weight
    If you are eating clean, exercising and trying to lose weight, lack of sleep can impede your efforts. A study conducted at the University of Chicago suggests that lack of sleep reduces weight loss efforts by 55%. In addition to that, in those who slept less, only 25% of their weight loss came from fat — the rest came from loss of muscles and water (not good). Whereas, those who slept more, lost more actual fat than those didn’t.
  3. Sleep regulates your hunger hormone 
    When you compromise on sleep, your body produces more ghrelin (the hormone that triggers hunger) and less leptin (the hormone that tells you to STOP eating). Adequate levels of sleep (7 to 8 hours/night) regulate your hunger hormones, whereas 5 hours or less can promote a hormonal imbalance1. Think about it: if you’re tired, you tend to reach for food as fuel to boost your sagging energy (and tend to be hungrier thanks to ghrelin). But higher ghrelin levels are also associated with reduced energy expenditure and reduced fat oxidization. That, coupled with the decrease of leptin that tells you to stop eating, is a potential weight gain nightmare.
  4. Lack of sleep depletes your body of vitamins and minerals 
    Vitamin C is such an important vitamin; an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to manage stress, support your immune system, slow down signs of aging caused by free radical damage, boost mood, and aid in weight loss. In fact, studies show that upping the intake of vitamin C before a workout promotes more calories burned. Vitamin C deficiency may also be correlated with weight gain. And, guess what? Sleep deprivation sucks you dry of vitamin C — along with other precious minerals, such as zinc — further compromising your immune system and contributing to weight gain.
  5. Lack of sleep increases risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer 
    Lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease2  3, diabetes4, and cancer.5Studies suggest women who work shift work have higher incidence of breast cancer.6 7 Melatonin, an important hormone produced during sleep, seems to inhibit the estrogen pathway, and its antioxidant activity may specifically combat free radical damage due to estrogen metabolism8. If we’re not sleeping well, melatonin production is reduced, increasing the potential risk of estrogen-related cancers.But the benefits of melatonin are not limited to just the girls. Since melatonin is also an antioxidant, a decrease in production means less juice to give cancer-causing free-radical damage a kick in the butt. 9

    Cheers,

    Peggy K

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Click HERE to see the original article.

Image courtesy of Flickr’s The Commons.

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Filed under Education, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues