Monday, November 24, 2014

Ode to Pumpkin

Oh, Pumpkin. I love you so. Pumpkin is overflowing with antioxidants that fight cancer causing free radicals. They not only aid in cancer prevention, but in weight loss, eye health, skin protection, and muscle growth. Not to mention how much they boost your immune system; which is perfect since I still have the plague (to clarify, I don't actually have the plague). Another fun fact is that they are scientifically proven to fight depression and make you happier. Overall, you can't go wrong with pumpkins. They're almost out of season so get them while you still can! By the way, Pumpkin is a fruit! I'm not sure if I'm the only one that didn't know this... but I always thought it was a vegetable. Anyway, here we go.
Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Smoothie:
Yields 2 Smoothies
1 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4 cup Rolled Oats
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
1/2 cup Canned Pumpkin
1/2 Frozen Banana
 • Cinnamon
 • Nutmeg
 • Pumpkin Pie Spice
 • Plant Based or Soy Protein Powder (optional)
1.5-2 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup(optional but highly recommended)
Put it in the blender... ta da.

Pumpkin Bisque:
Ok this one is super simple. Let's get real, I'm no chef. I burn cereal. So simple, in fact, that Damen and I were able to make it in his tiny ass kitchen.
What You Need:
  • 3 cups Pumpkin(I'm lazy so I use the canned stuff)
  • 1 1/4 cup Chopped Onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of Olive Oil/ Coconut Oil
  • 3 or 4 minced Garlic Cloves
  • 1 12 teaspoons of Sugar/Stevia
  • 1 1/2 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Salt&Pepper
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Allspice
  • Crushed Blue Corn Chips

The finished product.
  • In a LARGE pot (we made the mistake of using a small one), cook the onions and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until caramelized.
  • Add in pumpkin, almond milk, and vegetable stock. Mix and cook until it is one solid consistency.
  • Add in spices, get creative, all that jazz. There is no set measurement for this.
  • Pour into bowls and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and crushed blue corn chips.

Mission: SUCCESS. Well... kinda.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holiday Survival Guide

This is my first real holiday as a Vegan and to be honest, I am absolutely terrified. For the past 3 years I have gotten so much shit from my family about being a Vegetarian. At least then I could still eat everything but the turkey... but now I am totally screwed. I don't want to stress anyone else out just because I choose to pet animals, not eat them. It all sounds so innocent, until everyone suddenly becomes a registered Dietician and an expert on protein. I'll keep a tally of how many times someone asks where I get my protein from and I guarantee it will be over 50. This is not an exaggeration.
So I've come up with a game plan just incase things get awkward... which I am almost certain they will.
1)Make Your Own Food
If you can, make at least one dish. This is sort of like a peace offering so they don't maul you to shreds. I guarantee that this will help because at least you made the effort to make things go smoothly. I'm making a dish that's usually eaten at Thanksgiving, but in Vegan form. This can also be an opportunity to show your family that eating Vegan can taste exactly like (ok, not exactly) normal food.
2) Be Polite and Easy
For most people, a simple "No, thank you" will suffice. Not in my family. It'll probably take about 30 "No, thank you"s and a dozen explanations on why I don't eat anything with a face. If all else fails, I'll strap them down and make them watch Food, Inc. Don't make your family members go out of their way to work around your diet. It's your choice, not theirs. If they have salad, which I'm sure they will, shut up and eat that. Your host is probably stressed out enough as it is.
3) Cling to the Supportive Family Member
This is my sister. I'm probably going to hide behind her like a puppy until we get past the eating portion mostly because my grandmother scares me. It's one of those things where she cares so much about my health that she forms it in threatening words?.. Also, thank said supportive family member a million and one times. It's hard to find people that will deal with my bullshit.
4) Inform the Person Making the Food BEFORE the Event
Nothing is more embarrassing than when someone offers you 30 different types of food and you have to reject every single one. And frankly, you look like an asshole. If my family doesn't already know, I'll make a point to clarify that I basically eat like a glorified Koala. ("That spruce tree out back will do just fine.")

The main point in all of this is to take this day as an opportunity to make everyone realize that they don't have to work around your diet. The easier you make it for everyone else, the easier it will be on yourself. Holidays are already stressful enough, don't make it even harder.

Always Remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Let's Get Dirty

Pesticides are not sexy my friends. They are often overlooked but have the potential to be life-threatening. The word "Organic" basically means "Hello, I'm going to add an extra 5 dollars to whatever you are purchasing. Goodbye."  No, obviously not, but sometimes that's exactly what it feels like. For something to be considered "Organic", it must be GMO and Pesticide free. The Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 most highly contaminated fruits and vegetables. If you're on a budget, buying organic is not always possible. Although it is always better to buy Organic, it's not entirely necessary for certain fruits and vegetables. Without further ado, THE DIRTY DOZEN.

Most Contaminated
Sweet Bell Peppers
 ▪ Nectarines
Grapes (Imported)

Least Contaminated
Sweet Corn 
 ▪ Papaya
Sweet Peas 
Kiwi Fruit

So what happens if you eat contaminated produce?... well you die. No I'm totally kidding, but there are some pretty brutal side effects. The Dirty Dozen is said to be connected to Leaky Gut Syndrome. I don't know about you, but I like my guts just the way they are. They have also been linked to Heart Disease, Cancer, Hypertension, Diabetes, Crohn's Disease, Allergies, etc. A solid rule to follow when deciding when to go organic is buying non-organic foods with a peel. This is a natural protective layer but be sure to wash whatever you are consuming prior to peeling. There are times when the pesticide is put directly into the soil. In which case you are totally screwed. So be nice to your body and buy organic. 
Turns out it's bad to be dirty.

Always Remember: 
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dude, I'm Broke

One of the common misconceptions about being a Vegan is that it's unreasonably expensive. While this is sometimes true, it is completely dependent on outside factors. I'm in college. While most kids can survive on Ramen, I have to pay for overpriced grass. So here are some tips to get past those pesky price limitations.
1) College Kids
Dining halls are your friend. As Veganism gets more and more mainstream, almost every school has begun to add some sort of Vegan option to the menu. Our school has a whole station dedicated to it, not to mention the salad bar. You'll be fine. Not everyone has a kitchen in their dorm... or a microwave for that matter. If you do, invest in microwavable Veggie burgers or Vegan pizzas. These are surprisingly very easy to find. Look in your local organic section.
2) Make your own damn food
Where are you shopping? If it's a natural foods store, don't get me wrong I love these, it is probably slightly overpriced. That's usually because their produce is local. Which is great... but I'm broke. I would love to save your economy but first I have to survive. On top of this, pre-prepared Vegan food replacements are generally more expensive than their non-Vegan counterparts. Stop trying to buy foods to replace non-Vegan meals and try something new.
3) Frozen Food 
Vegetables are expensive as hell. I don't have a job, but even if I did there is no way I am spending $5 on a damn carrot stick. I don't care how "Organic" you claim to be. We have a mini freezer in our dorm that is just stockpiled with frozen vegetables. Well it was before I got the plague and got shut in my room for three days.
4) Packaged Food
If you're on a budget, the cheapest way to get food is by making it from scratch. Vegan is not for the lazy. If you cut out pre-prepared meals and make it yourself you would be saving an epic amount of cash. Don't have cooking supplies? Get creative. P.S. You don't need cooking supplies to make a salad.
5) Buy in Season
Buying out of season produce is way more expensive because you're buying imports. They can raise the price because the demand for these foods is higher than the supply. They're less abundant and you have to add in travel costs. The best way to find in-season produce is stopping by your local farmers market.
6) Grow Your Own
Not the easiest solution, but a solution nonetheless. Obviously don't do that now it's fricken cold outside. During the winter, I try to keep a couple of herbs growing like sage, basil, chives, cilantro, etc. I don't exactly have a green thumb though so this is usually a fail.

I'll have a list of cheap packaged foods coming this week so keep a lookout :)

And always remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Look everyone. I can still eat the same foods you do... well kinda. This is your basic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe but with a few minor modifications. Disclaimer: There was no grass used in the making of this recipe.

What you need:
Yields about 13-15 cookies
    • 2 cups Almond/Quinoa/Rice flour. You can use regular flour but the other options are gluten-free.
    • ½ cup coconut oil
    • 1 cup brown sugar (or Stevia if you are looking for something healthier.)
    • ¼ cup sweetened almond milk, soy milk, or hemp milk
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips or cocoa nibs (cacao nibs are just raw cacao pieces)
    • ½ teaspoon salt

    1) Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
    2) Mix together the brown sugar and coconut oil, then add the almond milk and vanilla. There shouldn't be any separation at the end so mix until it is one solid consistency.
    3) In a different bowl mix the baking powder, baking soda, almond/coconut flour and salt.
    4) Combine the wet & dry ingredients. It's going to be all crumbly and stuff but that's fine.
    5) After this, throw in the chocolate chips & any other additions of your choosing (My personal favorite is throwing in a couple tablespoons of peanut butter, almond butter, or PB2).
    6) Roll into 13-15 balls and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Flatten the dough with your hands.
    7) Bake for 7-10 minutes depending on your oven.
    8) Refrain from eating all 15 cookies.

Contrary to popular belief, I don't just eat grass and cardboard :)
Always Remember:
Animals are friends, not food.
Jasmine Millner