Vegan/Vegetarianism


Let the games begin! The nation and world have been captivated by the Olympic spirit for the past few weeks. Like most, we have been glued to our devices trying to catch all the games, especially soccer. While watching, we started to wonder, are there any Olympic athletes who stick to a plant-based diet? Turns out there are plenty!  Some might balk at a vegetarian athlete and feel they wouldn’t be able to keep up due to lack of protein and such, but many have proven that wrong, becoming elite athletes and Olympic winners.  In case you aren’t sure who to root for or just want to copy their awesome healthy diet, we thought we’d discuss some of the best of the best.

Since the Olympics are being hosted by the Brits, we thought we’d start there. Early in the games you may have heard the name Lizzie Armistead, as she won Britain’s first medal of the games in women’s cycling. She was the apple of Britain’s eye for bringing in their very first medal of the London games, but her diet was also being highly publicized. The 23-year-old athlete has been living a vegetarian lifestyle since the age of 10, when she decided to hold the meat.

But it isn’t just our friends across the pond who are going plant-based. A month or so before the games began, veteran Olympic swimmer, Natalie Coughlin discussed her mostly plant-based diet in an interview with Fitness magazine. She said she needs to be in tip-top shape while competing and for her that means following a vegetarian diet. Coughlin talks of how she grows her own veggies, sticks to a lot of greens, and loves to make smoothies with “coconut water, kale, spinach and romaine lettuce mixed with apples, celery, or pineapple.” She finished the London games by winning a Bronze along with her US swimming teammates.

Our neighbors to the North also have a plant-based athlete to boast of.  Dylan Wykes, a champion marathon runner who will be competing in the London Olympics this weekend, first went vegetarian based on personal ethics. Preparing for the 2012 Olympics, his diet garnered some press. He discussed how protein intake is highly important for distance runners, but he eats protein rich foods such as quinoa, beans, and leafy greens while training. Wykes is one of the best runners hailing from Canada in decades and veggie fueled performance is highly anticipated.

London will not only be hosting vegetarian athletes on the field, but off as well. Former US soccer Olympian Kara Lang, whose career was cut short due to a knee injury, is a women’s soccer analyst this summer. She went vegan while she was still playing soccer and received plenty of flack for it. Her coaches and trainers were worried it would affect her performance, but she pushed on and proved them wrong. She eats mostly whole foods and limits her intake of faux meats. Of her experience with the vegan diet, she stated My body was just more efficient…If you become a vegan and you do it properly, you’re not eating processed food anymore. Instead of spending all this energy clearing out toxins and metabolizing food we’re not meant to eat, your body can focus on recovery.”

It is definitely inspiring to see these top of the line Olympians thriving on a plant-based diet and receiving publicity for it. It’s not only current athletes, there are plenty of famous historic veggie Olympians including Carl Lewis, Murray “Seaweed Streak” Rose, and Charlene Wong to name a few. Check out Ecorazzi’s great article on the Top 10 Historic Vegetarian and Vegan Olympians for more information. We salute all the awesome veg top athletes competing in the London Olympics!

With the heat waves rolling in and the summer solstice behind us, it is officially BBQ season! And there couldn’t be a more BBQ friendly holiday than the 4th of July, because there is no better way to celebrate America’s birthday than with smoked food. As well as BBQs, summer calls for strawberries and lot’s of them! So how can you honor the US of A, summer strawberries, and BBQ season? A one of a kind dessert by the name of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. So celebrate the country and the season with this traditional summer treat.

Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Prep Time: 30 Minutes    Bake Time: 45 Minutes

Pie Crust (x 2)

  • 2 Cups Organic Unbleached Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2/3 Cup, plus 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/4 Cup Ice Water (more may be needed)
 Filling:
  • 1 1/4 lbs Organic Rhubarb
  • 1/3 lbs Organic Strawberries
  • 3/4 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice
  • 1/3 Cup Organic Unbleached Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. You will need to double to recipe for the pie crust to make crusts, one for the top. Prepare the pie crust by combining the flour and salt. Blend in 2/3 cup soy margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Add in the water until mixture starts to hold together (you may not need all the water or you may need more-play it by ear!). Next roll out the crust with a rolling pin (or in times of need a washed wine bottle can substitute). Place the first crust in a 9 inch pan and use your fingers to make even patterns in the dough. Repeat the above instructions and after the dough is rolled out, set aside.

To prepare the filling, cut the rhubarb into one inch pieces and cut the greens off the strawberries and slice them. In a large mixing bowl combine the rhubarb, strawberries, evaporated cane juice, salt, and flour until mixed. Pour the filling inside the first crust. Depending on how you want the pie to look, either put the other crust over the filling and cut vents in, or cut the second crust in strips and make a checkered pattern across the pie. For a special 4th of July treat, you could cut stars or stripes into the pie!

Get your grills fired up because this weekend is the start of cookout season! Memorial Day often marks the start of backyard BBQs and with the first official one coming up, it’s time to bust out the BBQ recipes. We have a ton of favorite BBQ recipes ranging from tofu shish kabobs to veggie burgers and our personal favorite: sides! We seriously love us some potato salad, spinach dip, fruit salad and our personal favorite pasta salad! It is a simple and delicious side dish for any BBQ and can be made a number of ways. For this recipe we are making a Lemony-Dill Pasta Salad. Happy Memorial Day!

Organic Vegan Lemony-Dill Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 25 Minutes   Serves: 6 

  • 1 lb Organic Corkscrew Pasta
  • 1 Pint Organic Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Organic Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 Can Organic Kidney Beans
  • 1 Cup Organic Black Olives
  • 1/2 Cups Organic Green Bell Pepper Chopped
  • 1 Organic Clove of Garlic
  • 1 Organic Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Chopped Dill
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Dijon Mustard
  • Black Pepper and Salt to Taste

In a large pot, boil water. Once boiling add in the pasta. Cook until soft or about 15 minutes. While the pasta is cooking mince the garlic, chop the bell pepper, and wash the tomatoes, garbanzo, and kidney beans. In a mixing bowl squeeze the juice from the lemon and whisk it with the olive oil, mustard, garlic, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the pasta is down boiling, strain and run cold water over it. Let the pasta cool for about 10 minutes. Add the pasta, bell pepper, olives, garbanzos, tomatoes, and kidney beans to the sauce mixture and toss with salad tongs until everything is coated in the mixture. Cool in the fridge and serve.

Easter is celebrated throughout the world for religious reasons, however, many people in the secular world use the holiday to usher in Spring. The main non-religious symbols of this celebration are the rabbit and the egg. Both are meant to represent fertility, as the season of Spring generally does. They symbolize the new beginnings and new life that is about to come.  We’ve always loved this idea as it dates back thousands and thousands of years, however being vegan, we weren’t such a fan of using actual eggs. And as environmentalists, we didn’t want to use chemical dyes or plastic eggs.

However, we have fond memories of Easter Egg hunts as children and remember the exhilaration of finding them hidden in your garden. So when we think of what traditions we will pass to our own children and how we want to represent fertility without hurting the Earth or animals, it gets complicated. We want to teach them to celebrate life and the season of Spring in a positive manner, yet still involve the childhood fun and amazement of a good old fashioned egg hunt.

What we decided upon was to keep the symbol of the egg, but vegan and naturalize it!  In craft stores, they sell wooden eggs which can be painted or dyed.  Even better if we could locate FSC certified sustainable wooden eggs, as the White House did this year.  Choosing plastic eggs is another possibility, however, they are generally made from petroleum and can’t easily be decorated. But on the plus side, they can be re-used the following year and can hide fun little gifts.

Once we decided to go the route of the wooden egg, we also want to avoid the typical chemical dyes and petroleum based paints and opted for a natural take. There are a variety of natural paints on the market to use, we love Unearthed, all vegan and natural.  We also found this uber helpful site which explained how to make dyes at home. Here is a run down of what to use for which color, click on the full article for exact instructions.

Gold: Handful of yellow onion skins
Yellow: 2 tablespoons turmeric or a handful of carrot tops
Green: Handful of coltsfoot
Blue: 2 cups chopped red cabbage (for best results, add cabbage to water while hard-boiling eggs)
Pink: 2 cups chopped beets
Purple: 1 cup frozen blueberries
Brown: 2 tablespoons coffee grounds or 4 black tea bags

After the wooden eggs are finished and naturally adorned, the next step was to teach the children how to respect the eggs as new life and not a food source. Traditionally, the eggs would now be hidden all over the yard or house, the children would find them, and proceed to eat them. Using a basket to collect them seemed to continue this idea. Building a nest within the basket or just by itself is a wonderful solution to this issue. The nest will symbolize the new life (eggs) how they would appear in nature, just waiting to hatch rather than be eaten by humans. For an even better effect, add  toy or wooden birds. Now when  the kids collect all their eggs, they will be returning them to Momma and Papa bird.

So there it is. It is possible to celebrate Spring, Easter, and new life, cruelty free and naturally. You can still use the idea of what eggs represent and have a fun, interactive way to teach children about the preciousness of life. Plus, now us vegans and environmentalists can still have our Easter egg or rather eggless hunt for generations! Happy Easter 🙂

Passover begins a little early this year on April 6th. The seminal piece of the holiday being the sedar, where dishes are fixed to represent aspects of the Israelites enslavement in ancient Egypt. One key dish at any Passover sedar is the traditional Charoset. The Charoset is a paste made of fruit, usually apples, and nuts that is designed to symbolize  the mortar used to build bricks in Egypt. Unfortunately for most vegans out there, Charoset is usually made with honey and standard sugar. However, our vegan recipe of the week is a vegan version of the traditional Charoset. Happy Passover!

Vegan Passover Charoset  

  • 3 Medium Organic Apples (Macintosh work well)
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Unshelled Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Kosher Vegan Sweet Red Wine
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Evaporated Cane Juice or Agave
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon

Chop apples in small cubes and set aside. In a food processor or blender add all ingredients and pulse until pasty but not too much. The consistency should leave some crunchiness of apples and walnuts. Sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top and serve.

This weekend is St Patrick’s Day and on top of all the partying and drinking, many people love to cook Irish recipes. In my own household, my Mother would make Irish food for the holidays even though she was born in Hawaii and comes from an Asian background. The point is, everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s Day or at least pretend they are. The bad news is most of the recipes are laden with meat and dairy. But the good news is they can easily be converted to a vegan diet. Just check out our previous recipes for Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread, and Shepherd’s Pie for easy conversion ideas. However, if you want to get really ambitious, try out the following recipe for Mock Corn Beef & Cabbage or as some might call Boiled Dinner. As you become Irish for the day this weekend, make sure your meals are just as Irish and vegan alternatives.

Mock Corn Beef & Cabbage 

  • 1 Package or about 6-8oz of Vegetarian Beef or Seitan
  • 4 Cups Organic Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Head Chopped Organic Cabbage
  • 2 Organic Potatoes
  • 2 Medium Organic Onions
  • 4 Organic Carrots
  • 2-3 Organic Celery Stalks
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Gloves of Organic Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Horseradish
  • 1 Tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Sage

Chop up all vegetables in large chunks and finely chop the garlic. In a large pot add in the olive oil. Sautee the onions and garlic until a little brown but not over done. Add in the vegetable broth, water, all the veggies, and all the remaining seasonings. Leave on medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes. Add in the vegan beef to the mixture and cover again. We suggest using Gardein Beefless Tips or seasoned seitan or even tempeh. Cook for another 10-15 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove all the veggies and keep warm on a serving dish or tray. Keep the broth on medium heat and stir in the flour. Add water if needed, but mixture should make a thicker gravy. Pour gravy over veggies and beef substitute and serve.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and maybe you forgot to pick up a box of chocolates or perhaps you just want to make your sweetie or friends something delicious to celebrate. We have the perfect recipe for you: vegan truffles! These tasty treats will make a great and unique Valentine’s as well as just because. We have put together a basic recipe for the truffles, but adding different flavorings and toppings will really personalize these romantic chocolates.

Vegan Romantic Truffles

  • 1 8oz Container of Vegan Cream Cheese (we recommend Follow Your Heart)
  • 2 Cups Organic Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Cups Vegan Chocolate Chips
Flavor Ideas
  • Vanilla Bean Extract
  • Hazelnut Extract
  • Raspberry Flavoring
  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Flavoring
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Peppermint

Possible Toppings

  • Coconut Shavings
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Crushed nuts (almonds, peanuts etc)
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed Mint Candy

In a mixing bowl, whip the vegan cream cheese and powdered sugar and set aside. In a double boiler, stovetop or microwave melt the chocolate chips until smooth. Add the chocolate chips to the cream cheese mixture and blend until smooth. You may want to add more chocolate depending on your preference. If you are making a multitude of flavors, you should set aside different amounts in smaller bowls. Add in the desired flavor such as raspberry, peanut butter, or cayenne pepper. Mix the flavoring in and refrigerate for one hour. If you are making basic chocolate truffles, refrigerate for one hour right after mixing in the melted chocolate.

Once refrigerated, roll into small balls. For simple truffles roll in either cocoa powder or powdered sugar and set aside. For more exciting toppings, such as crushed nuts, candies, salt, or cinnamon also roll and set aside. We think this recipe works best with a number of different flavors or toppings. That way you can make your own unique box of vegan chocolates!

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