Sunday, April 11, 2010

a breakthrough?

While lingering at my dad's house tonight, he broached a subject to me that I was surprised to hear him voice.  Strangely, it felt like progress... 

The main course this evening was hamburgers and hot dogs, personally barbecued by Dad himself. Being aware of what would be served and knowing my husband and I would likely be the only vegans present, I brought along some animal-free patties.  I wanted to blend in with the festivities and not compromise my compassion.  (Well, I blended in so well that many family members, including my step-mom, thought I was actually biting into a regular old burger!  Knowing me, she nearly stopped in her tracks when she saw what she thought was on my plate!  Smilingly, I reassured those concerned parties that it was only a veggie burger, and as such, was no cause for alarm.  We all had a good laugh about it.)

But later on, during a conversation, my father randomly piped up,  

"There's something I doesn't understand about vegans--why is it that you eat foods that resemble meat but aren't really meat?  Why not just eat whole foods as they are?  Why do you try to disguise other foods as meat?" 

Well, his question quite surprised me!  But in a good way.  I was honored that he would even feel comfortable to voice his query to me, to trust that I wouldn't go off on some long tangent. We see each other fairly regularly, and this is the first time I can recall that he ever asked me anything about my being vegan in all the years I've lived this lifestyle!  I'm loathe to read too much into this, but it felt like a breakthrough!  Like a vegan dialogue of sorts had begun.  It was like the elephant in the room had finally been acknowledged in some small way.  How liberating!

Feeling caught a bit off guard by the question from my meat-and-potatoes father, after a brief pause I shared the first and foremost explanation I could think of.  It could have been better, it could have been worse, but it was honest.  I replied,  

"When everybody is enjoying a certain traditional meal, it's nice to be able to join in with them, but still hold to one's personal values."...

I said something to that effect.  I could have given any number of good answers but that was the one resonating with me at the moment. 

There's honestly nothing more to the tale, other than Dad mentioned that while he was at Costco the other day, he tried a sample of vegetarian meatballs and thought they tasted horrible, to which the only response I could really give was, "Oh, I'm sorry." But maybe next time he sees me, he'll have a new question to ask me about vegans or vegan food?  That would be cool!  Let's keep this dialogue going, that's what I say!  Dare I even hope?  It may be the tiniest of baby steps, but to my mind, it's a step forward nonetheless.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sprouting Mung Beans

I like to sprout!  

I have had delicious success with Alfalfa seeds.  So I thought it was time to branch out and give another variety of sprouts a try.  Enter organic Mung beans.  So I purchased some and gave it my best.  How did it go??

My Mung beans grew like weeds!  Even when I failed to water them as frequently as I should have, they still turned out amazing--crisp and juicy!  With their mild flavor, I can see why they would make an ideal snack, a lively addition to salads, or a perfect choice in any Asian dish.  Plus, these sprouts were giants compared to the Alfalfa shoots!  But of course, the Mung beans were much larger than the Alfalfa seeds to begin with, so it makes sense.  Most importantly they were refreshing and healthy!  You can order exactly what I purchased at this Handy Pantry Distributors link, as well as read a brief summary of Mung bean nutrition.  It's rather impressive actually! 

 I did miss my "day five" photograph.  Boo.  So if you notice a huge difference between my sprout's growth in a couple of the pics, you'll know why.

I really do hope you give sprouting a try!  If you want lots of how-to details, check out my "I Can Sprout!" blog post, where I chronicle my experience with Alfalfa seeds.  Simply treat the Mung beans with the same kind of care.  The only difference I noticed was that the Mung growing cycle seems to be about 48 hours less than the Alfalfa; I'm not certain to what length these sprouts are supposed to get, but I think I gave my batch a day too many.  Also, be sure not to over fill your jar with beans initially--they need room to grow!  One to two tablespoons will do the trick.

Just remember, sprouting is much easier than it appears to be, so take heart!  I know you can do it!

 Day Two- Mung emergence!

Day Three- Just look at those cute little tails!
Day Four- The Mung sprouts are casting off their hulls!

Day Five (No Photo)
I remember the jar was three-quarters full. They were probably ready to eat on this day, but for what ever reason, I neglected them. How sad.

Day Six- Jam packed! These babies are just begging to be released from captivity!

Now it's your turn to grow a batch of sprouts!  I wish you the very best of luck!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Mauve"lous Miso Soup

I have discovered that I really like miso, especially in soup!  It makes a delicious stock no matter what else I add to the pot.  And since realizing this, I have started playing around more with miso in my cooking.  It certainly doesn't hurt that soup is so easy to ad-lib.  It is forgiving enough a category as to inspire my timid culinary heart.  Besides, it's pretty darn hard to botch a soup, miso or not!  Therefore, this recipe is the result of such open creativity. 

This soup is very simple.  It's not going to win an award or anything.  But it is warm and yummy all the same.  What surprised me and made me smile was that when it was finished simmering, I lifted the lid to give it a final stir and low and behold, my creation had turned pink!  A pink soup!  Even the tofu turned pink!  What an unusual sight, yet still absolutely charming, artistically accented by green peas and flecks of parsley!  I simply fell in love with it, in appearance and in taste.  Funny thing is what else could I expect!  When you see a certain something in the ingredient list below you'll understand why.  :)  

When I shared my miso soup with my mother, she immediately approved and deemed it "mauve"lous.  So that's how it came by it's clever name.  "Thanks Mom!"  I hope you find it "mauve"lous as well.  :)

"Mauve"lous Miso Soup
Makes four large servings

Organic Ingredients:
4 cups water
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red cabbage, chopped
7 oz. (1 cup) extra firm tofu, cubed
4 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos
4 tbsp mellow white miso
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup peas
black pepper, to taste

Heat water to a boil.  Add onion, garlic, cabbage, tofu, and Bragg's.  Stir.  Adjust heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  To the pot, add miso, parsley, peas, and black pepper.  Stir.  Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Simple Carrot-Celery Juice

Last week, I was craving some fresh vegetable juice.  So I got in the cupboard and pulled out the old "Champion".  Even though, technically, this heavy duty juicer belongs to my parents, I'm the only one who ever uses it.  And even I don't use it as often as I should.  But I do love the machine!  After all these years it still appears to work like a champ!  

This recipe is super simple, yet deceptively refreshing!  I like it very much!  I hope you do too!

Oh, and if you have any awesome ideas of what to do with the leftover veggie pulp instead of simply discarding it, I'm all ears!  Mayhaps this generally cast away fiber can find a second life with just a little creative thinking.  Let me know!

Simple Carrot-Celery Juice
Makes approx. 2 cups

Organic Ingredients:
5 large carrots
5 celery ribs
1 lemon, halved

Rinse veggies well and trim away old/wilted ends if needed.  Save aside one attractive celery stalk as well as the lemon halves.  Run the carrots and the rest of the celery through the juicer.  Maximize your quantity of juice by running the damp pulp by-product through the machine at least once.  If you like, strain the top layer of foam off your juice by pouring it through a fine mesh strainer.  Pour into a favorite glass.  Now grab that half a lemon and add a generous squeeze to your juice.  Garnish with the remaining lovely celery rib!  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I recently bought these organic strawberries at the Super Target just down the street from me.  I rinsed them well and then enjoyed them, all on their own, fresh, for breakfast.  Oh rapture!  I have to admit, I had nearly as much fun taking sunny, window-sill pictures of them as I did eating them!  Is that wrong?  I suppose a valid aspect of the joy of fruit is simply their beauty of color, shape, and variety.  They feed the soul, as well as the body! 

Strawberries are packed with nutrition, especially Vitamin C and the mineral manganese.  They're also low in calories and high in water content.  They even supply dietary fiber.  Cool! 

Of course, if you can purchase organic, do so.  Doctor Oz reports that pesticides stick to strawberries more so than to other fruits and veggies, and we certainly don't want any pesticides in our tummies, no sir.  Better to support organic farming operations anyway--better for the field workers, better for Mother Earth, and better for us!  It's good karma!

The only thing that could have possibly enhanced my fruit meal further was if the strawberries were in-season, local, and ripe-from-the-garden!  But Summer will be here soon...  Oh, I can hardly wait! 

Well, what are you waiting for?  Go on!  Go get some organic strawberries and enjoy them!  :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

General Conference Pancakes!

Today is the first half of The 180th L.D.S. World General Conference Broadcast!  Woo-Hoo!  I love Conference weekend... figuratively sitting at the foot of my prophet leaders, listening to their words of wisdom, warning, and counsel.  It is a fond time of great spiritual feasting!  And add to it the Easter holiday tomorrow as well?!  It's almost more joy than I can handle!  It feels good to truly make Christ the center of my celebrations this Saturday and Sunday.

So what do flapjacks have to do with Jesus?  Well, nothing really.  But I always find it a fun tradition to partake of pancakes when Conference comes around.  So I fell back on my favorite breakfast standby in How It All Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer: "Classic Pancakes" on page 44.  My Jordan and I have adapted the recipe slightly to our liking, nicknaming it "Padawan Pancakes".  But mostly, we stay close to the original.  This time I did use a little quinoa flour, also some almond milk instead of soy milk; unusual changes.  But the end result still tasted delicious!  I generously coated them with Earth Balance Spread and Pure Maple Syrup.  Yumm!

Well, I'm off to enjoy me some more televised Conference!  The weekend's talks are broken into four two-hour sessions and the second session is about to start.  Sadly, it feels like the entire program is nearly half over and really, it's only just begun.  But I always have the next broadcast in October to look forward to.  Rest assured, I won't wait until then to feast on another round of pancakes!  :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This amazing piece of literature started it all...

Diet For a New America 
How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth 

by John Robbins, 1987, 1998

It stood out.  Only one title, among hundreds, on those heavily crowded campus library shelves. Still, it caught my eye.  So in late 2002, on one such library visit, I acquired it. I'd been interested in the topic of healthy living for many years, so picking up a book like this was fairly routine.  But the content of this selection was far from routine. In fact, I couldn't put it down! It was beautiful and horrific, all at the same time. I wish I could say that upon reading nearly half the book in one sitting, I immediately took action. But for whatever reason, I didn't feel prepared to make the vegan commitment. I think it all seemed too overwhelming at the time, living away from home, attending Dixie State College. Nevertheless, the book resonated within me to such a degree that I bought my own copy.

Years later, in 2006, I revisited "Diet For a New America" a second time. Again, I quickly devoured it, cover to cover. Yet before I ever finished, in my heart, I was eager to change--there was simply no way I could ignore the ugly truth any longer. I was finally ready! I immediately turned back to page one and read the book through a third time.  But during this round, I read aloud to my consenting husband, Jordan. He, too, was shocked and disturbed and felt compelled to change. He told me that what made his decision clear was discovering the true story about fuzzy little boy-baby chicks, tied up in sacks and wantonly thrown away, alive...

It has now been four years since that definitive April 2006 and we have never regretted our choice to live vegan--not for a moment! And unlike I had previously worried, it isn't a hard lifestyle to live after all! There's support and open arms for animal-concerned individuals at every turn. What a relief!  Except that it makes me sad that I didn't choose compassion all those years earlier.

I know I've gone on a tangent, but "Diet For a New America" is an amazing piece of literature--a wonderful book with the power to change the course of a life.  It certainly played a pivotal role in mine!  Author, John Robbins' concern for the welfare of farm animals, human health, and environmental responsibility is absolutely contagious! This title will always have a special place in my heart for setting me, and my husband, onto a path of greater peace, kindness, wholeness, and enlightenment. I feel so thankful...

"Happy Vegan Anniversary!  Four Great Years and Still Going Strong!"