Category Archives: Lifestyle

Napa Love

Vegan MoFo

Visiting Napa never gets old. Going to the farmer’s market, the Oxbox Public Market, and my favorite wineries is always amazing. Oxbox Market is owned by the same company that owns the Ferry Building in San Francisco, both markets feature interesting cuisine and specialized culinary shops. There are several vegan options at Oxbow: C Casa has tacos with white bean filling, roasted potatoes or avocado, Gotts Roadside has veggie burgers and sweet potato fries and Three Twins has sherbet.

 

Trefethen

Barrel Tasting

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Spencer’s Smoothie

Vegan MoFo

SpencerMy dear canine companion, Spencer, has passed away. He lived a good, long 12 years and while he lived with my great aunt and was not technically mine, he holds a place deep in my heart. I lived with my great aunt for 9 months after I graduated college and I totally and completely fell in love with Spencer. A wily and beguiling cockapoo with a penchant for cuddling and being the center of attention, he quickly became the best part of my day. When I would come home from work he’d be waiting for me with hugs and kisses. He also loved the breakfast smoothies I would make. I would always pour some in his bowl for him. And in honor of him I’d like to post a smoothie recipe which I will always remember him by.

Green smoothie

Tropical Green Smoothie

 

Spencer’s Smoothie

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

1/3 cup frozen mangoes

1/3 cup frozen peaches

1/2 a banana

1 cup kale

1 tablespoon flax meal

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 cup almond milk

Directions:

Add the banana and kale into blender first, so there’s something soft for the blades to work on. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

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Sunday Fun Day Doughnuts

Vegan MoFo

I’m going to preface this post by admitting that I not big on watching sports. Not because I’m a woman, that cliché is misinformed, I know plenty of women who are fans of particular teams and sports. I, on the other hand, am not a huge spots fan because I was not raised watching sports; my parents thought cable would destroy our time as a family. So I developed other passions and ways of filling my time, like tap dancing, community theatre, singing, watching classic movies, and reading. While I’m not really involved with community theatre now and my tap dancing is relegated to my kitchen, I am still involved with most of my same interests as well as new ones, like wine, food, health, travel, and Doctor Who. Though I don’t know much about sports, I do understand it is an interest that a lot of people share and it is one way for people to unwind and share in a larger community, which is the basis for several of my interests as well. Part of the fun of watching Doctor Who is being entranced by the story and part of it is debating plot points with other fans, feeling connected with a larger group of people.

Now that I’ve explained my undeveloped interest in sports I can tell you that my friends and I planned this Sunday Fun Day where a big part is watching football and drinking mimosas. I did join in on the mimosas and a few minutes of football, but then I headed to the kitchen to do some baking. One of my friends joined me to bake some Pillsbury rolls, which, according to PETA’s website, are actually vegan. I set about whipping up some vegan doughnuts using the plain cake doughnut recipe from Babycakes’ cookbook, Babycakes Covers the Classics. I love both of my Babycakes cookbooks as well the bakery itself. All of the baked goods are phenomenal and their recipes are foolproof. Most of their recipes are gluten-free but I usually just use all-purpose flour instead of the gluten-free flours.

Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable posting Babycakes’ recipe here since I didn’t make any unique modifications, but you can click the linked cookbook title above and buy their book or Barnes and Noble usually carries it. I highly suggest doing so, they have so many fantastic recipes and I’ve never had a bad batch yet. You could soon be devouring fluffy snickerdoodles that taste a bit like heaven, or thin mints, or even a 6 layer chocolate cake with raspberry preserves. The good news is that I did come up with my own glaze recipe that I will share with you!

Chocolate Glaze

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Directions:

If the coconut oil isn’t already melted add it and the chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl. You can use a double boiler but I just use the microwave in 30-second increments until both are melted. Once both the coconut oil and chocolate are melted, add the maple syrup and stir everything together. Dip doughnuts, or whatever baked good you like into the glaze and let sit.

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Cafe Brasil

Vegan MoFo

You know those select few restaurants where you fall head over heels for one dish? The food is amazing, so you feel an obligation to order something new every time you visit; however, you just can’t bring yourself to order anything other than your favorite dish. It makes me feel so boring, ordering the same exact thing every time, but it is so darn good I can’t help myself. That is how I feel about Cafe Brasil, an aptly named Brazilian eatery in Santa Cruz. It’s been about a year since I’ve eaten there and I still day-dream about their food.

I try to visit this place every time I’m in Santa Cruz and on the occasions where I don’t I leave with a longing. The dish that has captured my heart is the portobello breakfast. A marinated and grilled portobello with sautéed spinach and garlic with creamy polenta, tomato slices and bread. Back when I was first introduced to Cafe Brasil, I was not vegan and I would order this with a poached egg, but now for a dollar more I get savory sautéed tofu and veggies. Everything on the plate works in tandem to bring out every flavor you ever hope for in your breakfast. The meatiness of the portobello is met by the sharp tang of the spinach with a wave of buttery, herb-flavored polenta.

Polenta Breakfast

I am very big on textures in my food. I like to roll it around with my tongue to get a feel of the food before I eat it. For that reason I love to eat smoothies, high pulp orange juice, chocolate mousse, chia pudding, stew, curry, and, of course, polenta. Polenta is high on the list of textures I love and Cafe Brasil does not disappoint. They also have a fresh juice and smoothie bar, which does give me the opportunity to vary my order up a little bit. Using ingredients like guava, açai, acerola, coconut pulp, avocado, papaya, watermelon, passion fruit, pineapple, mango, and my personal favorite, cashew fruit they make a wide array of tropical juices and smoothies that will blow your mind. I didn’t know until I ate at Cafe Brasil that cashews grow on fruit that looks similar to an apple. Their fruit tastes light, faintly sweet, with a richness similar to that of the cashew itself. With no end to the drink variations I always feel satisfied in ordering something new each time so my order doesn’t seem so predictable.

Cashew Juice!

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Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria: Why eating farmed meat could help lead to a pandemic

Vegan MoFoI was reading an article in the New York Times today talking about a new report filed by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) about the rising risk for antibiotic resistant infections and how devastating a problem it could be become if not addressed. The article touches briefly on several points, the main being that hospital contracted bacteria is a big problem. I pricked up my ears at the paragraph about industrial farming and its liberal use of antibiotics. I read Michael Pollan’s 2006 book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, earlier this year and he talks about the same issues.

While there are only a few sentences mentioning this in the article, the author does cite the CDC’s report. So I went digging through the actual report to find this gem, “The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world .” This one sentence prefaces every argument that I could possibly make. Because even though liberal use of antibiotics in humans and animals alike increases the chances of breeding bacteria immune to our antibiotics, which could potentially kill us, there does not seem to be an end in sight.

According to the CDC, 50% of all antibiotics prescribed to people are unnecessary. From my point of view, almost 100% of antibiotics given to animals destined for American plates are unnecessary. Most animals raised for their meat in the U.S. are raised on factory farms or more commonly known in the meat industry as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). Rather than having fewer cattle graze small plots of land, which is what used to be the norm, the huge demand for meat means that CAFOs pack in as many cattle as possible, feeding them on a mixture of surplus corn and liquefied fat and antibiotics. Taking away the cows’, or pigs or chickens for that matter, space and diet is a recipe for illness, and therefore the answer is universally distributed antibiotics which American consumers are now ingesting with their meal.

The CDC, notes that this large scale farming practice is done to, “prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote the growth of food-producing animals.” The CDC report does advise against using antibiotics to promote growth in farmed animals, and later on in the report hints at phasing out their use to prevent disease as well, calling the practice “unnecessary, [it] makes everyone less safe.” However, that would mean scaling down CAFOs so that animals have healthy living conditions.

Image from: Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, Centers for Disease Control, 2013, page 14

Image from: Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, Centers for Disease Control, 2013, page 14

Reading through the CDC report was actually quite engaging. They have interactive and informative graphics like the one above and it was written so that non-scientists could comprehend it. There were more declarative sentences and less data than I would have liked but it was understandable and user friendly, which is the main thing. The report also stated that more antibiotics are sold for use with food-producing animals than they are for people. However, the real key to all this information is that widespread use of antibiotics in food-producing animals creates an enormous potential for antibiotic resistant bacteria because “these animals serve as carriers,” spreading resistance to the people who eat them. The bird flu, and swine flu of the past are perfect examples of how humans can contract resistant bacteria.

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“You eat fish, right?”

Vegan MoFoThe problem with vegetarianism is that the definition has become blurred; eating fish or animal-based foods has somehow found its place under the vegetarian umbrella. People who don’t think about the exact ingredients that go into their foods sometimes have a problem discerning what is and isn’t appropriate for a vegetarian or vegan dish. Fish is easy to avoid, even if someone tries to serve it to you, because it is easy to identify on your plate. Where the issue gets muddled is when you get into animal-based flavorings or condiments; they aren’t visually apparent. Are you still a vegetarian if you consume chicken broth? I think the real difficulty is that people perceive vegetarians as simply not eating meat; so as long as there isn’t a hunk of meat on their plate it should be fine, right? But chicken broth isn’t a byproduct of an animal like milk or cheese, which vegans exclude and vegetarians don’t, it is made with chicken meat, therefore it is a meat-based food even if you can’t see it on the plate.

Soups are the worst offender. The cafe at my work has such a hard time defining for me what foods are vegetarian or vegan. They label everything on the menu with a V for vegetarian and a V² for vegan but each week the exact same dishes fluctuate in their labeling. Soups with chicken broth are labeled as vegetarian; I used to love this Thai rice noodle and tofu dish but some weeks the menu would label it as vegetarian and some weeks as vegan. I finally asked the server about it and it turns out the dish used fish broth so it was neither vegetarian or vegan.

I am not saying that people shouldn’t have control of their own diet. Every vegetarian, every person in fact, has to define for her or himself just what she or he is willing to eat and why. But when it comes to public food service in grocery stores, prepared foods, and restaurants the rules for vegetarian and vegan ingredients need to be clearly defined. And when it comes to friends who misguidedly ask if I can have cheese ravioli, I think the biggest impact vegetarians and vegans alike can have on their friends is to change their perception one at a time. A simple and kind-worded explanation is all it takes to clear the air. I try to lead by example and show my friends that what I eat is healthy, filling, tasty, and fun.

It might be time to move past the word vegan and onto a word that more aptly and clearly defines my diet. The term ‘plant-based’ is where I think we should be heading; the explanation is in the title. I only eat foods derived from plants and ‘plant-based’ says it all in two little words.

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The Privilege and Power of Choice

Vegan MoFoI just read Vegansaurus’ new editorial responding to jibes that being vegan is a privilege and one that we shouldn’t flaunt of encourage because some people aren’t in a situation to put ethics in their purchases. I loved Vegansuarus’ response; it made me think about all the times someone has challenged me with singular logic. As humans we are gifted with conscience and self awareness, our choices are a right, how we feel about them is our own prerogative.

If you are fighting for survival, struggling in poverty, or stranded on a desert island your choices are severely limited and your diet will have to bend to include what you are able to get ahold of and what you are physically capable of digesting. However, when people start throwing around “vegan is a privilege” accusations it opens up a whole new can of worms. If I or other like-minded bloggers/advocates are lauding the health benefits, economics, animal rights, etc. of a vegan diet we are mainly addressing those people who A) have the resources to access the internet, and B) have the time to spend perusing it. If you are capable of those two things then you most likely have the time and resources to make your own choices about what you want to eat and why. Vegansaurus said it best, “We understand the difference between poverty and college-educated living-on-a-tight-budget.”

Yes, making choices about food is a privilege, but so is fighting for causes you believe in. Exercising your privileges to spread knowledge and promote a cause  you care for is the exact opposite of entitlement, it is only from a source of inclusion and compassion that a person could reach out and fight for his or her convictions.

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Homemade Adventures: Almond Milk

Vegan MoFo

I’ve been making my own almond milk for quite awhile now and I like to tweak with it now and then. Since it has no preservatives it only lasts 4-5 days, but it’s well worth the effort because the flavor is unbeat by store bought varieties. A few weeks ago I thought I was short on almonds so I substituted some cashews instead and the result was amazing. The sweet nuttiness of the cashews mixed with the subtle refined flavors of the almonds was something I hadn’t expected. This is by fat my favorite almond milk combination yet.

I was astonished to find that cashews produce very little pulp so straining them was a breeze. Almonds on the other hand produce a lot more pulp so straining them is necessary. I highly recommend buying a nut milk bag if you want to make homemade almond milk; it’s much easier than using cheesecloth and not straining the milk at all results in a very clumpy milk that’s not satisfying at all.

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