Friday, May 4, 2012

Fruity summer pasta salad

This recipe was inspired by a pinterest pin.  Bowtie pasta (whole wheat), chopped strawberries, oranges and fresh spinach.  I blended a homemade vinaigrette using red wine vinegar, canola oil, a tiny bit of sugar and poppy seeds.  It would be good with chopped nuts on it for some added crunch.


I heard someone once say she liked to bake a bunch of sweet potatoes at one time, then keep them in the refrigerator as snacks throughout the week.  So I tried it and had several on hand.  Mathis eats a peanut butter sandwich every day - sometimes with jelly, sometimes with honey, sometimes with banana - so I had the idea of mashing a cold sweet potato on the peanut butter, then drizzled it with some agave syrup and served it to him.  He loved it.  Still sweet, but this way he gets added fiber and beta carotene.  Simple and plant strong. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Update May 1

It has been a while since I posted anything.  It is not because we fell off the wagon, but rather I just felt like it was taking a lot of time to document what I was eating all the time, photograph and write about it and time is precious to me these days.  I also felt like there are so many other wonderful vegetarian/food blogs with really amazing food photographs and mine looks so sad and amateur by comparison.  However, I have had a few people ask me in recent weeks how it is going and if I have abandoned the blog, so I wanted to post an update for those who are still watching and listening. 

Since our initial 28-day challenge in January, we have maintained probably about 90 percent plant-based/vegan diet.  I have thought so much about it all and have been researching and listening to experts on all sides of this issue.  There are so many good reasons to follow a vegetarian diet.  HEALTH: zero dietary cholesterol, low in calories, high in fiber - which can prevent, cure and reverse diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and cancers. MONEY: beans, rice and nondairy milks cost a fraction of meat and dairy, not to mention the healthcare savings in the longrun.  ENVIRONMENT/HUMANITY:  It is said that if the world went vegetarian we would almost eliminate world hunger.  One acre of land can produce either 20,000 pounds of potatoes or 165 pounds of meat. ANIMALS:  Increased awareness of the cruelty and horrific treatment of animals in the food industry, factory farms, battery cage chickens -it is appalling and makes me want to avoid it at all costs.

On the other hand, there are plenty who will say that eating meat/dairy is fine, especially in moderation.  "Clean eating," versions of vegetarianism, grass-fed beef, cage-free poultry, etc.  There are those who emphasize whole foods and avoidance of processed foods, but when it comes to choosing real grass fed butter (2 ingredients: cream, salt) versus vegan spreads like Earth Balance or Smart Balance (8+ ingredients, mostly extracted oils) I lean towards the least processed, even though it is an animal product.  It seems purer and more traditional.

Then there's the enormous controversy over soy.  Vegetarians typically consume a lot of soy (soy milk, soy yogurt, textured vegetable protein, tofu, tempeh, Gardenburgers, soy cheese), but due to the controversy and my growing children I am reluctant to make it a large part of our diet.  I always return to the "whole food" stance and try to incorporate as many simple grains, beans, fruits and vegetables as I can. 

So where are we with all of it?  We drink almond milk (rice milk for Rachel).  We use So Delicious coconut milk creamer in our coffee.  I buy cheese occasionally but use it sparingly and try to only buy imported cheese (the ingredients are fewer and the EU has stricter standards about factory farming practices).  When we eat out, I look for a vegetarian option, but there isn't always a good one so I eat whatever is convenient and try to just be sensible.  Once in a while we splurge, but I feel that as long as it is a splurge and not a regular way of life it is okay.  It is easy to let healthy living/eating become an idol, but that is another post for another day...

I heard something just today on the radio.  A neuroscientist was discussing the brain and how it makes changes.  She said that if you begin something and take baby, incremental steps, your brain is more likely to accept the change, whereas if you make a drastic change your brain is going to rebel and you will not have the willpower to stick with it.  It reminded me of eliminating sugar in my diet several years ago.  It wasn't even a conscious goal of mine, I just started lessening the amount of sugar I put in my coffee every morning and eventually went to no sugar at all.  I also switched to unsweet tea around the same time and have never looked back.  (I do have other addictions - caffeine!, salt) - but sugar is not one of them).  So my encouragement to anyone trying to make a change in any area of your life is to start small.  If you want to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet - start with something realistic and take baby steps.  Meatless Mondays are a popular to try one vegetarian meal a week and work up to whatever you feel is reasonable.