YUM! butternut squash

photo credit: sindha agha

A quick, delicious, and healthy recipe. I first tried the lovely butternut squash and rosemary combo at a catered event. However, that squash had fresh rosemary, which can get expensive, so I’ve recreated the dish using dried rosemary.

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, baked at 425 for 45 minutes or until soft all the way through

¼ cup of maple syrup

1/8 cup of water

2 Tablespoons dried rosemary

Directions:

Place maple syrup and water in a small saucepan. Add the dried rosemary. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until big, strange bubbles start to rise up (when you see them, you’ll know what I mean.)

You can either scoop the squash out, slice and drizzle the rosemary infused maple syrup over, or just leave the meat in the shells and drizzle the syrup over that. Or you can scoop out the squash and smash it (as seen in the picture above).

For extra richness, pour about a tablespoon of melted vegan butter over the squash while the syrup is simmering, then pour the syrup over that.

Enjoy!

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dispelling a couple of myths

Lately I’ve been doing some reading on the health benefits of the vegan diet. I personally switched over to the vegan diet for reasons not directly related to my health (although at first I worried about negative impacts on my health from the switch), but I’ve since realized that lots of people make the switch at least partially due to the potential benefits. I thought I would share a brief summary of what I’ve been reading about so far. It’s very interesting and very surprising, especially for those who have grown up hearing that meat and milk is vital for growing because of protein, calcium, etc.

A typical question a non-vegan will ask about the vegan diet is “but wherever will you get your protein?” The answer is: in any way I’d like that doesn’t come from an animal source. There are many different kinds of protein and the vegan diet offers many different ways to go about ensuring one has the necessary amount. It is also worth noting that while many non-vegans fret about the lack of protein in the vegan diet, 1 ¼ cups of tofu contains 50 grams of protein, exactly meeting the daily need. One egg, on the other hand, contains 5.5 grams of protein. This means that a person would need to consume 9 eggs to get the recommended amount for the day.

The best proteins are the ones that are “completed” with amino acids. All of the amino acids that are found in animal protein were derived from the plants that the animal consumed. Humans are just as capable as obtaining amino acids directly from plants as well, therefore ensuring that complete proteins are available within a vegan diet. Both complete and incomplete proteins are essential to the health and wellbeing of every human, and vegans can find protein in many non-animal sources such as: broccoli, quinoa, tofu, tempeh and other “meat substitutes”, soymilk, beans, and even certain mushrooms! This is in no a way a complete list of possible sources of proteins.

Another concern non-vegans commonly have is related to calcium. For generations Americans have been raised on the myth that consuming cow milk is the absolute best method of obtaining calcium. This is simply not true, and it is actually quite illogical to assume so. Humans are the only animals that continue to drink animal milk after infancy and we’re also the only animals that drink another’s milk. Cow milk is intended for calves and it’s meant to be quick nutrition for speedy growth. Therefore, cow milk is very fatty and high in calories. There is also evidence that suggests calcium from cow milk is very difficult or even impossible for our body to fully absorb.

Of course, this is difficult to argue because many people have formed an intense emotional bond with drinking milk—it’s depicted in our culture as necessary and beneficial in numerous ways and it’s hard to expel notions that one has grown up being taught as fact. At any rate, it is more constructive to discuss the benefits of calcium and how it can be obtained from non-animal sources (and be even better for you because of it!). Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases, can reduce risk of heart disease as well as certain cancers, and also plays a role in the health of our teeth.  Calcium can be found in kale and other leafy vegetables, soy milk, nuts, oranges, raisins, hummus, carrots, apricots, and lentils. These sources have the added benefit of containing no cholesterol or saturated fat.

This is in no way a comprehensive list of all of the health benefits of a vegan diet. While various studies have shown the benefits of a vegan diet, unfortunately there exists very little funding to truly understand the sheer magnitude of all possible benefits. If veganism were practiced on a very large scale, it is likely that there would be many improvements in the general health of a population. Unfortunately, there is such a vast amount of misinformation relating to the “dangers of the vegan diet.” Calcium myths still abound, for example, and even general practitioners believe that cow milk is the best way to make children grow healthy and strong. I’ve remained at the respectable height of 5’2” for 4-5 years now (coming for a long line of short ancestors) and have had my doctor anxiously ask me every annual exam if I’m drinking at least 1 glass of milk a day. Hopefully, as a society we will move towards more open thinking, but in the meantime I will sit here and enjoy my soy milk and kale chips.

If you are interested in doing more reading, I highly recommend the following books:

Davis, Brenda, R.D., and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D. Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet. Summertown: Book Publishing Company, 2000. Print.

Saunders, Kerrie K. The Vegan Diet As Chronic Disease Prevention: Evidence Supporting the New Four Food Groups. N.p.: Lantern Books, 2003. Print.

Comments (3)

the best breakfast

I love sweet potatoes! I also love maple syrup, peanut butter, nuts, coconuts, and dried fruit.

There is nothing better than combining everything you like and finding out they all go perfectly together.

The yummiest fall breakfast:

sweet potato mash! yum! photo credit: shara esbenshade

sweet potato mash! yum! photo credit: shara esbenshade

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes, baked for 30 minutes or until soft all the way through

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons peanut butter (you can increase this if you really really like peanut butter)

6 tablespoons chopped walnuts (or really any other nut you may prefer)

4 tablespoons shredded dry coconut (optional)

1 tablespoon of your favorite sweet spice (I usually use half nutmeg and half cinnamon)

raisins to your preference (optional)

Directions:

1) scrape out insides of baked sweet potatoes and place into a bowl

2) mix in syrup and peanut butter, then taste and adjust depending on if you prefer richness or sweetness (or both!)

3) mix in rest of ingredients chopped nuts

4) garnish with nuts and enjoy

This goes awesome with coffee in the morning!

from

to

to

yum!

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zucchini veggie toast

I will be the first to admit the recipe’s name is lacking. Maybe zucchini-tomato-onion on toast? I’m pretty terrible at coming up with appetizing and creative names for recipes, BUT I assure you that this is so much more than zucchini-tomato-onion on toast.

photo credit: shara esbenshade

photo credit: shara esbenshade

Ingredients:

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil (or any other vegetable oil)

1 medium ripe tomato, roughly chopped

1/4 onion, diced

1/4 tsp oregano

2 slices of bread (whole wheat or multigrain works best)

salt and pepper to taste (usually just a pinch is enough)

Directions:

Lightly saute sliced zucchini, until browned.

Spread bread with tomato, onion, oregano, and salt and pepper.

Lay slices of zucchini on top.  Toast if you have a toaster oven for about 10 mins. If not, bake at 300F for about 5 mins.

That’s it! Serves 1, or 2 as an appetizer.

plus

equals

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a quick update

I know it’s been a while since the first update, but I have a lovely treat to make up for it!

the banana soy-shake!

photo credit: shara esbenshade

This shake is incredibly yummy and also very easy to make. If you have never tried replacing ice with frozen bananas, you will probably be surprised by just how creamy and wonderful this shake is!

ingredients:

1-2 bananas, frozen overnight

1 1/2 cup soymilk

2 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

blend all the ingredients and garnish with nutmeg! enjoy immediately

next week: look forward to a wonderfully simple and nutritious dinner for when your refrigerator’s looking sad and empty.

Comments (1)

Hello world!

Hi! First blog entry:

My name is Alexx E. I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years and a vegan for 2. Throughout that time I’ve benefited in so many ways from this lifestyle change. I’ve become noticeably healthier and happier. I’ve discovered the joys of cooking delicious food (and watching the expressions of shock from omnivores after they’ve tasted my vegan creations!). However, I’ve also discovered some less than pleasant aspects of the animal rights movements, which is something that I’d like to address in more detail later.

For a long time, I was a bit shy about my vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. I was afraid of being viewed as the stereotype of a rabidly militant animal rights activist. Therefore, I rarely discussed the reasoning behind my dietary choice and even offered excuses like “well I’ve just never liked the taste of meat all the much…or eggs or milk or honey or the gelatin in marshmallows.”

Then I realized, what good is this really doing? How can I even pretend to myself that I’m involved in the vegan movement, if I can’t even tell my friends why I eat the way I do?

And “the revolution. simplified” began. This blog will serve as a place for me to share my recipes and record my own experiences as a vegan. I hope my recipes will help make the diet more accessible (I personally am tired of vegan cookbooks that seem written only for those who can afford thirty different extracts, and every meat substitute the overpriced Whole Foods has ever carried).  I also hope my own experiences with veganism, in particular, advocating the lifestyle in my own community, will inspire others do the same.

It’s getting quite late in my area, but expect another post very soon!

–alexx e.

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