Friday, October 25, 2013

Foodie Friday!
Summer (or anytime!) Pistou

Pistou is a French version of pesto but without pine nuts.  The pine nuts make traditional pesto somewhat expensive to prepare but this delicious recipe uses almonds which are far more affordable. 

Dr. D. made for me late in the summer when he harvested the yellow squash from his garden but the ingredients can be found any time of year to enjoy this amazing stew.  This recipe comes from one of our favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.

An actual picture of the actual stew!  So pretty!

Summer (or anytime!) Pistou

For the stew:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper (omitted)
2 cups green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
4 cups chopped yellow summer squash
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 ounce) cans red or white beans, undrained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the almond-herb pesto:

1 cup toasted almonds
1 cup packed fresh basil
2 cups packed fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoon water, optional

Make the stew:

In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and bell peppers, and cook for about 3 minutes. And the green beans and broth (or water) and simmer until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Add the yellow squash, tomatoes, and beans. Return to a simmer and cook until all of the vegetables are tender.

Make the Pesto:

Combine the almonds, basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth. Add water if you would like a thinner consistency (Dr. D. did this).

Serve the stew topped with a generous dollop of the pesto.

6 to 8 servings

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blog of the Week - Happy Herbivore

Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore
Lindsay Nixon is an ambitious young woman.  She left a career as a lawyer and now is an author of four fabulous cookbooks.  All her recipes are plant-based, use no oil (translation: low-fat) and are easy to make.  

On top of those accomplishments, she also has meal plans to get you started toward a healthier way of living.  She creates the weekly menu and gives you the recipes and a shopping list!  Cool, right?

Her blog is really amazing.  Happy Herbivore blog features a Herbie of the Week (readers who have lost weight on a plant-based diet), tips for living vegan in the real world and now she's even developed an Exit Strategy program for those looking to quit their full-time job and live their dreams.  I honestly don't know when she has time to sleep.  

Oh, did I tell you she's a Pug Mama?  What's not to love!

Lindsay's puggy, Quaid

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Field Trip - A Visit to the Nutritionist Part II

I had my second appointment with the nutritionist on Thursday afternoon. The goal of this appointment was to discuss the findings from last week's visit.  We sat down in his consultation room and he presented me with the report.

My Symptom Survey Score was a 979 with 1000 being a perfect score.  My Health Score equates me to a cellular age of 50.  I will be 50 in April.  So far, so good.  My Body Fat Analysis is right where it should be and my Visceral Fat Score is normal.

I'm in great health yet he still wanted to put me on supplements to help my liver become more efficient.

I do need to tell you the supplements I would give you contain animal products.  Do you have a problem with that?

Yes, I do.  I won't use anything containing animal products, not even gelatin used for capsules.  You might call me a militant vegan.

Then I'm afraid I won't be able to help you.

That's when he had me sign a waiver stating I'm declining his services.  Services which I obviously don't need according to his tests.

He did give me some advice on how to use foods to help my liver function better.  Nuts, avocados, beets (blech!) and fermented foods.  
I wonder if fermented grapes count.  



Friday, October 18, 2013

Foodie Friday - Cream of Squash Soup

This soup comes from The Great Life Cookbook and is perfect for those fall potlucks or make a batch and freeze some for later.  Only four ingredients and deliciousness beyond belief!

I will admit it took some time to peel and chop the squash but I think it was worth it.  I did see some pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash in the produce section this week which would greatly help the next time I make this.

Just look at that creamy deliciousness!

Cream of Squash Soup

2 large butternut squashes (~14 cups)*
4 medium onions, chopped coarsely (~6 cups)
Water to almost cover squash (~2 quarts)
1 Tbs. sea salt
4-6 Tbs. brown rice syrup (optional but I used 1 Tbs and it was plenty)
1/2 bunch of parsley (optional)

  1. Peel squash, cut in half, remove seeds and chop into large 2-3" cubes.
  2. Water saute onions in an 8-quart pot for 4-5 minutes; add squash, water and salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer; cover and cook until squash is soft, about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Carefully puree hot squash in a blender using just enough liquid to blend, possibly not using all the liquid (I used none of the liquid).  A slightly thick creamy texture is preferred.
  5. Add brown rice syrup, if needed.
  6. Garnish with parsley.

*I used one large and one medium and still needed to use half of another medium squash.  Mother Nature is never very consistent in how she allows vegetables to grow.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thoughts on
Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals

A big fan of the Skinny Bitch books by Rory Freedman, I was excited to read her latest book.  I wasn't disappointed.   Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals brings the author's social, health and diet agendas to new levels.

Beg is a short book.  So short that I actually gasped when it ended.  (That's the problem with the Kindle app; you don't pay attention to how many pages are left.)  If you're anything like me, you will fly through it and wish it was longer. 

In her latest book, Freedman allows us to go with her on her journey from omnivore to vegetarian to vegan and shares the reasons which led her toward a completely plant-based diet.

She covers topics such as adopting shelter animals, factory farming, animal testing, and wearing wool, fur, and leather including the environmental and health impacts of the leather business. Want to know what's so awful about wearing wool and using down to keep warm?   That's in there too and her argument for finding alternatives is strong and fact-based. 

Freedman makes the reader think about what's involved when animals are kept in zoos, aquariums and circuses and used in movies.  I honestly had not considered many of these things before reading this book.  It opened my eyes to the many forms in which animal mistreatment rears its ugly head.

I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this book came at its end when Freedman writes about her sudden desire to stop using profanity.  Those of you who read Skinny Bitch know of her love for shocking through obscenity.

"Because we're having so much fun, let's bash the shit out of Splenda, one of the newer sweeteners." ~ from Skinny Bitch

Yeah, Rory had a potty mouth.  She gave up using bad language after the book was finished and according to a recent interview with VegNews magazine, actually called her literary agent when Beg was in its final stages to ask them to remove all the colorful language. For those of you who enjoyed her style of writing and worry it will lose its edge without it, never fear.  This book is beautiful and entertaining on its own. 

Freedman has evolved.

She writes:

So I'm speaking to you honestly and earnestly and trying to address the highest common denominator - the divine seed in your heart.  The part of you that maybe lies dormant, but is stirred by truth and beauty and the chance for elevated spirit.  The part of you that might not have known existed but is quickening now with an ancient remembrance.  The true you.  

She's come a long way from "bashing the shit out of Splenda".

I can relate to Rory Freedman's evolution as it's been similar to my own.  A move toward a kinder, more compassionate way of living.  Less violence, less harshness, less allowing our culture and others to dictate who I am.  Becoming the person I am meant to be and the person I wrote about becoming in my Life at the Lake blog post here.

Becoming someone unafraid to let her freak flag fly proudly.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Don't be that guy

I saw this clever video and had to share.  Please, don't be "that guy".

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blog of the Week: The Dirty Hippie and the Bohemian Girl

Totally gratuitous picture of me with
my Willow taken by "The Dirty Hippie"

Today's blog belongs to two friends of mine.  We were brought together by a mutual love of greyhounds and wine.  I met Nathaniel Corn in 2011 during the Grapehound Wine Tour where he took some amazing photographs of me with my Willow.  Check out his awesome work at his website, Balance Photography!  

It wasn't until after I got to know him and his beautiful wife, Rissa Miller that I realized they're both vegans (and bloggers).  How cool is that!

Their The Dirty Hippie and the Bohemian Girl blog described as "an eco-aware, flower power, neo-hippie vegan blog" gives you an idea of the beautiful energy and enthusiasm these two have for their vegan lifestyle and life in general. 

Check it out!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Field Trip - Gluten Free Vegan Potluck

My brother, Eric a.k.a. The Meaty Vegan and his beautiful wife invited us to a potluck at their home in Ithaca last night.  All the dishes had to be gluten free and vegan so I made Cream of Squash Soup from The Great Life Cookbook which will be our Foodie Friday Recipe later this week. There were about 20 people there including the kids who had their own room to hang out in and do crafts.

I took Dr. D. and my 13-year-old Miss M. with me.  Since the BMW has leather seats, Dr. D. designated his other vehicle to be the one we take to vegan dinners.

He's a funny guy!

The assortment of food was amazing!  Tempeh, pasta Alfredo, buffalo chicken strips, guacamole, bok choy salad, macaroni and cheese, savory pie and three different kinds of pizza.  All gluten free.  All vegan.  And if that weren't enough, the guests and conversations were just as varied and enjoyable as the food. 

I wanted to take a picture before the food was gone but it went too quickly!
A testament to how delicious it all was!

Dr. D. and I had a great time and it's always a good thing when I can show him how amazing a vegan lifestyle can be.

One thing I did learn last night was to never allow Miss M. to bring her gelatin filled gummy worms to a vegan dinner again.  She got all the details on where gelatin comes from.

Thanks for a fun night, Eric and Jen!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Field Trip - A Visit with the Nutritionist Part 1

Originally, I was going to use a link and identify the nutritionist I'm seeing but I changed my mind for the reasons I will explain below.  

My partner, Dr. D. arranged for me to see this nutritionist.  He's been seeing him for the past 4 months and has had amazing results.  He has lost 20 pounds and is in the best health of his life.  Since we discuss food, health and nutrition often, Dr. D. thought it would be interesting to compare notes.  I agreed for a couple of reasons:
  • We both feel we're on a "food journey" together even if we're on different paths (he's still an omnivore).
  • I need help navigating through my new vegan way of living and need tips on balancing my busy lifestyle with good nutrition.
  • I want to be able to keep up with Dr. D.

Back to the reason I'm not identifying the nutritionist.  The jury is still out on whether or not he's going to understand and support my diet.  My first visit went something like this:

I see you're vegan.


So do you eat eggs or dairy?



No.  No animal products.

What I wanted to say to him was, "what part of 'I'm vegan' do you not understand?!"  But I behaved myself remembering Dr. D. told me to go easy on him.

He did a complete applied kinesiology analysis or what he referred to as "nutritional response testing".  This involved me lying down and having him test my response to the resistance of my outstretched arm against his hand while his other hand was placed on various organs.  This may sound nutty but I've had very good luck with electronic acupuncture in the past which is very similar and I never discount something simply because I don't understand it.

His analysis revealed my liver is not functioning at its full potential.  Big surprise there!  I half expected it to be waving a white flag at him.  We'll discuss ways to help it function better at my next appointment which may be my last if he tells me I have to give up my beloved wine.

I'm required to keep a food journal and have my second appointment next week.  Stay tuned.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Foodie Friday - Sausage 'n' Kraut Skillet

Sausage for a vegan, you ask?  Why, of course!  It's Original Field Roast Grain Meat Company Sausage!  This stuff is good.  For real.  Trust me.  It's so good, in fact that when I brought leftovers of this dish in to work, my co-worker, Sprout proposed to me!  Twice!  And we're both straight!  Magical stuff, this is.

I bought the Smoked Apple Sage Sausage and used it in this recipe.  I was able to find it at my local health food store and rumor has it you can also find it at Wegmans.  You should be able to find it as well or look at their website using the link above to find a store near you.  Here's the recipe; perfect for those autumn apples!

Sausage 'n' Kraut Skillet

2 Tbl. shortening (I used olive oil)
1/4 C. diced onion
1/4 C. diced pepper (I omitted this as I cannot eat cooked green peppers)
3 C. sauerkraut
1 C. diced apples
1 pkg of four Original Field Roast Grain Meat Company Smoked Apple Sage Sausage, sliced into rounds

Melt shortening in a large heavy saucepan.  Add onion and green pepper and saute for 5 minutes.  Add sauerkraut and diced apples.  Cover and cook over low heat until the apples are almost soft (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, put a little olive oil in a pan and saute sausage until browned.  Top hot sauerkraut mixture with sausage and serve.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Blog of the Week: Meaty Vegan

My brother.  Isn't he cute?

First, a confession:  Meaty Vegan is my brother's blog.  That is the confession, now for two warnings.

#1:  Eric is very strong in his vegan views after making the lifestyle change over 18 months ago with his wife. 

#2: You will laugh your @$$ off at some of his posts.  My brother has a wicked (and sometimes twisted) sense of humor.

Eric used to dream of gravy and ate more chicken wings than anyone I knew.  That was until he and his wife decided to try a vegan lifestyle...just for 30 days.  Those 30 days have turned into close to two years of both of them being committed to this lifestyle.  On top of that, they both follow a gluten free diet.  I consider that whenever I start to think staying vegan is hard. Eric is in the best health of his life and has lost a ton of weight  Hats off to you and Jen, little brother!

Check him out!  He's lettin' his freak flag fly!  Go (Meaty) Vegan!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Living authentically

I figured the best way to share my story is by sharing a blog post from my other blog Life at the Lake in which I talk about what brought me to change my lifestyle and become vegan. I hope it tells you a little bit about the beginning of my journey.  Enjoy!

Living authentically

If you look back on my New Year's Resolution post of earlier this year, you'll see I resolved to adapt to an entirely plant-based diet by the end of 2013.  I had been a vegetarian since early 2011 after watching the movie Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives.  To be more concise, I was a ovo-lacto-pescetarian consuming eggs, dairy and fish.

By the middle of 2013, I assumed my resolution to become a vegan would go by the wayside as so many resolutions do (see the one I made about writing in this blog more often) and I was okay with that.  After all, I was still sticking to not eating meat and it seemed to be working for me.

But was it working?  In March of 2013, my cholesterol was 274 and my doctor was being patient with me.  He gave me another six months to get it under control threatening to put me on medication if it didn't happen.  The thought of having a stroke lingered in the back of my mind but it wasn't enough of a threat to give up the eggplant parm pizza I adored or the cream cheese on a bagel I'd treat myself to now and then.  I resigned myself to having to add another pill to my pill sorter and was assured by many friends who had also resigned themselves to the medication that it really wasn't that bad.  One simple pill a day and you could eat whatever you wanted.

Then I got sick.  Really sick.

I'm never sick.  In almost 9 years of employment at my current job, I had only taken two sick days.  The company would hand over a big check every year to pay me back for the personal/sick time I hadn't used.  With this illness, I depleted my sick time from 33 hours to only 30 minutes.

I had a fever, body aches and extreme fatigue.  I went to the doctor but the strep and flu tests both came back negative.  On top of this, I developed thrush which resulted in painful mouth blisters that made it almost impossible to eat or drink.  I couldn't even brush my teeth.  I stayed in bed for five days.

During this time, I thought about how I had been neglecting my health and I thought about my relationship with food.  I came to the conclusion I had been heading down a bad path of overeating and worse yet, overeating unhealthy foods.  I knew going to a completely plant-based diet was how I wanted to live but I just didn't make the commitment to do it.  I also knew that the dairy and egg industries were just as cruel to animals as those that slaughter them for their meat.  Yet, I didn't make the change.  My beliefs and my actions didn't match up.  

I wasn't living authentically and I believe my body knew this.  It was time to put my money where my mouth was and live what I believed.

When I was finally feeling well enough to eat, I made the decision to go completely vegan.  My brother and sister-in-law had been vegan for over a year and I knew I'd have their support and advice.  I had every Happy Herbivore cookbook Lindsay Shay Nixon had written but I hadn't made an effort to actually incorporate any of the recipes in them but now I took them off the shelf and pored over them for meal ideas.

My brother started a blog this summer which has been very useful to me.  Meaty Vegan is his story of going from a gravy lovin', chicken wing eatin' omnivore to a committed gluten-free vegan.  His blog led me to a book I cannot recommend highly enough.  Victoria Moran's Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World not only tells you why you should be plant-based but how to do it easily!  It even includes recipes which make it so simple to made this huge lifestyle change.

After only three weeks of being vegan, my cholesterol went from 274 to 169!  My HDL (the good cholesterol) went up and my LDL (the bad cholesterol) went down.  My pants fit better and my overall health has improved.  Most importantly, I feel like I'm finally living authentically.  My belief in cruelty-free eating is in line with what I choose to put in my mouth.  I did it for the environment, the animals, for myself as well as for those I love.

It's not always easy.  Eating in restaurants is a challenge.  No more stopping for a Filet O' Fish at McDonald's when I'm in a hurry.  Now I'll stop at Moe's and get a vegan burrito or better yet saute greens in olive oil and throw in a can of black-eyed peas.  Vegan fast food, baby!  And even though he's an omnivore, my boyfriend has been an amazing supporter of my decision and loves to create delicious vegan meals which he enjoys as well.

The unexpected bonus to all this is that I feel my life is finally in balance.  I'm living what I believe and it feels good.

169 feels real good too.

Welcome to The Born Again Vegan Blog

Welcome to the Born Again Vegan Blog.  I decided to start this blog when I realized I needed a place to share the important things I'm learning about veganism, animal welfare and flying my vegan freak flag.

Why "born again vegan"?  Well, this term came from a discussion I had with my partner, Dr. D.  I asked him if he was okay with my vegan lifestyle as it also affects him because it affects where and what we eat and many of the conversations we have. Also, I can be a bit....enthusiastic at times.  This was his response:

"I completely support you as long as you don't become like a religious zealot."

"Like a 'born again vegan'?"

We both laughed but the name stuck in my head.  Born again vegan.  Why does that resonate with me?  Here's what Merriam-Webster has to say:


 adjective \-ə-ˈgen, -ˈgin, -ˈgān\
: having a new or stronger belief in the Christian religion
: newly interested in and enthusiastic about something and eager to make other people think the way you do

Naturally, I'm "eager to make other people thing the way I do" but I realize there are effective and ineffective ways of doing that.  You won't find me going door to door with leaflets but you will find this blog used as a gentle and interesting way to share my new found love of a plant-based diet.  

Stay with me, dear reader and see what I have in store.

Because I believe laughter is the best way to increase good energy for our planet, I will share a funny cartoon on Mirthful Mondays.  It's not good to be too serious about things.

Funny, right?

On Tuesdays, I will share one of my favorite blogs.  Most of them will be vegan related but some are just so cool I that I just have to show them to you.

Every Foodie Friday I will share a great recipe I've made just in time for the upcoming weekend.  Because it's tried and true, you know it'll be full of tips and variations I've used that will help you create a fabulous dish.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew made for me by my personal chef, Dr. D.

3 Bean Salad, anyone?

From time to time, I will do a book review of a book I've read.  These will be animal rights or plant-based diet related and I promise to give my honest opinion of them. 

Like this....

Or this!

Also, from time to time, we'll take a field trip just you and I.  We'll visit vegan restaurants, bed and breakfasts, animal sanctuaries and other places of interest.

That's my plan for now but I expect this blog to evolve in the same way I'm evolving and I look forward to having you all along for the ride.  I'll even let you ride shotgun.  Please feel free to use the comments section or send me a private message at any time.

And don't be afraid to let your own freak flag fly.