Tuesday Quickie

October 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

70 degrees and it’s almost November?! I have [almost] no complaints there! Aside from the fact that global warming is becoming increasingly more evident with every passing 365 sun-ups, I LOVE a warm fall. Or Indian Summer. However you prefer to put it.

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This photo was taken on my walk home. Which is a walk I’ve taken a million times over. But the immense beauty of the sun between the trees never ceases to make me pause. Smile. Reflect on the beauty in my life. And remind myself that as many struggles I face everyday, they are completely void in the grand scheme of things. So many people don’t get to see the sunlight everyday because of pollution. Others don’t get the perks of living in upstate New York, where I am pretty much never more than a 10 minute car ride away from shops, food, shows, and people. But where I also have the beauty of nature right in my backyard.

I’m quite lucky. And I just don’t remind myself enough.

I’ve been feeling pretty down on myself lately for not being as motivated as I could to “get in shape.” (Really though, what does that even mean?) But the other night, I was out with friends at a new brewery in town, and after a few incredible craft brews, I excused myself to go to the ladies room. With a happy beer fog goin’ on, I looked at myself in the mirror and made three affirmations. And in that moment all of my self-deprecating feelings faded.

  1. You are a feminist
  2. You are beautiful
  3. You are loved; by so many.

That was it. Three simple statements that made me feel so incredibly good about myself, in that moment. EVEN with a belly full of vegan ice cream, pizza, and beer.

The point of all of this is yes, I have some internal issues to sort out. But are they a big deal? No. I have so much privilege and really need to take the time to remind myself more often of how much beauty my life is filled with.

Probiotic Pickle Making & Tummy Troubles

October 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

So to give you a little bit of background, I live in a place where all four seasons come in full swing. And winters are long and harsh, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong I love the snow but after New Years, I’m about ready to blow it a kiss goodbye till next winter. So with the change in seasons, I’ve been eating a lot more starch than I was over the summer, and honestly I feel great. Switching from primarily fruit based, I find that I am waaaay less bloated throughout the day. And I am not immediately hungry after huge meals anymore. I’m lovin’ it. And the dive that my grocery bill has taken makes me even happier!

But- and this is a big but. My digestion has definitely slowed down. Granted, I’ve only been consuming more starches for about a month, but it’s taken about that long to get my tummy straightened around. I won’t bore/ terrify you with the gruesome details, but let’s just say I was barely visiting the ladies room once a day. Part of this I think was just the difference in hydration levels of the starches. And part of it was because I think my body became accustomed to the quick digesting sugars in fruit, versus the slower digesting sugars that are in starches.

Enough of that babble. So to make sure I am doing everything I can to have my digestive system in tip-top shape, I decided to look into vegan probiotic options. After seeing Mel from Raw Nourishment‘s video about good gut health, I realized it wasn’t going to be as tricky as I thought. Any time I had seen probiotic drinks and such in the supermarket, they had typically been dairy. Gross. But with Mel’s advice, and a little bit of my own research I decided to go the homemade probiotic route.

For vegans, our options are pretty much limited to this list of probiotic foods:

  • Raw Kimchi
  • Sour pickles (made with salt water, not vinegar)
  • Traditional sauerkraut (not pickled, but fermented)
  • KambuCha drinks (which are unfortunately out of my price range)
  • Non-dairy yogurt
  • Homemade probiotic drinks
  • Vegan probiotic supplements
  • Miso
  • Vegan Kefir

Really not bad though, right?!

I decided I wanted to be as thrifty as possible in this endeavor, so homemade sour pickles was my go to. Who doesn’t love a crisp, juicy pickle?! I have a bit of a secret love affair with them actually. So this was going to be an easy addition to my diet! I had pretty much all the ingredients at home other than the cucumber, for this recipe from Pickles & Honey, with a few minor adjustments and a little bit of my own creativity thrown in there!

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I didn’t use actual pickling cucumbers for this, since these english cukes were cheaper, but they did the job just fine! I just sliced the cucumber into 3 sections, then cut those sections in half. So each cucumber yielded six pickle halves.

The first jar I made was pretty much exactly Pickles & Honey’s recipe, with the garlic, fresh dill, and bay leaf. But the second was where I got a little daring. I used fresh dill and a heap of roasted red pepper flakes. NOMS. You’re probably wondering what they taste like though, right? How different do they taste from your typical store bought jar of dills? They actually do taste sour like a normal pickle! But whoa, next time I am definitely cutting back on the salt! I typically eat a very low sodium diet so I am pretty sensitive to salty foods. But even my SAD eating, salt-loving boyfriend was taken back by the extreme saltiness of this batch. Other than that they taste wonderful. I am a pickle fiend so these babies probably won’t last too long in my fridge!

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Why all this fuss though? What good do probiotics actually do for us? I’ll try to put it as simply as possible. THEY DO EVERYTHING.

Probiotics are primarily good for these three things though-> Strengthening immunity,  decreasing allergies, and aiding & improving digestion. Of which, all three have the potential to make you pretty damn miserable if they’re not working up to par. Of course there are indications that increasing the amount of good bacteria in the body can also help prevent cancer, ulcers, colon issues, yeast infections, and candida. So what’ve I got to lose by eating some delish homemade sour pickles? Nothing but a little room in my belly!

 

Sources: http://probiotics.org/

Creamy Pumpkin & Brussels Alfredo

October 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

This time of year is pumpkin everything. Donuts, coffee, bread, cookies, tea, cocktails, pie, the list goes on! And while I love a good slice of vegan pumpkin pie, savory pumpkin dishes are where it’s at.

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I’ve tried a million different vegan Alfredo recipes, but none really have seemed to duplicate that classic, rich, cheesy taste. So instead of trying to duplicate, I am going to reinvent. To be honest, it’s been so long since I’ve had any kind of cheese, I really don’t remember what it tastes like. But this recipe is so creamy, rich, and festive that who needs the the real thing anyway?!

This dish is perfect for a cozy night in with a good flick, served at a Thanksgiving potluck, or shared between you and your bae over some candle light. The best part is that it takes about 15 minutes to prep and cook! Really, how much easier could it get for this level of decadence?

What you’ll need:

  • 1 16oz can unsalted organic pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 3/4 cup non dairy milk (I used coconut, but any kind will do!)
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp powdered sage
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of chipotle powder (optional but highly recommended for an additional smoky flavor!)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 lb fettuccine noodles
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and chopped in half
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives

What you’ll do:

Start a pot of boiling water for the pasta, and set aside.

In a food processor combine the pumpkin, marinara (I use my grandma’s homemade sauce- She makes me a meat free sauce upon request! Bless her little heart), non dairy milk, coconut sugar, spices, and nutritional yeast & process until smooth and creaaamy. You don’t have to use a food processor but it does make the sauce extra silky. Pour mixture into a separate sauce pan and bring to a simmer on low heat.

Combine your chopped brussels sprouts and onion in a pan and dry sauté them. I used about 1 tbsp of water just to steam the brussels sprouts open a bit. But it’s important not to use too much water, as the charing adds a special smokiness to the dish!

Once your water is boiling, add your noodles. I got these from my farmer’s market at home. They’re garlic & chive flavored, completely homemade, and so worth the extra few dollars. But any old flat noodle will do if you don’t have anything fancy.

While your noodles and brussels sprouts are cooking, chop the chives for topping. Once the pasta is done, drain and rinse with cool water, and then add the warm sauce on top, mix in the brussels sprout sauté and top with chives, and additional nutritional yeast if you desire!

[serves two hungry vegans]

My 30 Day Yoga Challenge

October 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this change in season has me all warm and fuzzy on the inside. Fall is my favorite time of year because it’s when my favorite humans are brought together most often for good food, drink, and laughs. It’s also when I tend to do most of my knitting, because let’s be honest- I really will never have enough scarves in my closet to be content. And the cooler weather means I always have an excuse to snuggle with tea and movies.

Buuuuuuut, my body is mad at me. It’s moaning and groaning and aching, increasingly day after day of moderately slim activity. I’ve never really been an exercise enthusiast, and on the spectrum of gym rat let’s just say I’m more of a gym mouse that would rather eat the [vegan] cheese at home. However, I know when I can’t touch my toes without being in complete agony- something is very, very wrong. So I’m back on my mat this week, actually as of last Friday. And even the tiny little changes that I’ve begun noticing are making a world of difference!

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I’ve gone through “yoga trips,” as I like to call them; where I visit for a few weeks or months, and then say goodbye for a while. One of my favorite people continually says to me, “Life, is the biggest four letter word you’ll ever come across.” And it’s absolutely true. Life tends to get in the way of exercise for me, and I really want to make it my mission to change that. So why not start with a practice that for me, never feels like work?

If you want to join me, I’d love all the support I can get! I’m doing Erin Motz’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge. Just go to her website, and sign up for the daily emails! No, I’m in no way being compensated for making mention of her challenge, but I really want to share it with you because it’s so simple, relaxing, and even if you’re as busy as Mr. President, you have no excuse not to make it to the mat for her 10-15 minute daily videos. Yes, they’re pretty short so on the days that I can (and feel like it) I jump from her videos into some other yoga practice, just to get my body moving even more. But on the days that I can’t, I still have no excuse not to give myself ten minutes on the mat.

Exercise shouldn’t always be about losing weight, or making gains, or sweating your bum off- it should be about learning to nurture and appreciate your body, making time to move it, acknowledging the ways it can adapt for you with time and practice, and loving it unconditionally.

 

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