Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's not Thanksgiving but...

So, the universe is an amazing thing. When you are open to what it has to give, you receive the most incredible opportunities and meet the most amazing people. That's what has kept me away from blogging since the end of classes. It's actually been scary how perfectly different pieces of my life has been fitting together recently. Things that made no sense have all of sudden coincided perfectly, people I never thought existed have suddenly manifested themselves in my life. Today's shout out goes to the Universe: Thank you for remembering me!

Anyway, I figured it was time I went back to good ol' me and posted a recipe. This creation was actually inspired by a talk on the All You Can Eat podcast hosted by Don Genova. Ever since I decided to catch up with the 21st Century and figure out what Podcasts actually are, I've been addicted! And as a result I now have over 500 food podcasts on my Ipod. All You Can Eat is really audio foodie heaven! One of Don Genova's older episodes featured what to do with Thanksgiving left-overs (sorry I can't remember which one, I've been backlogging this entry for a while now) made me jones for cranberries and cornbread and well, tofurky... so it inspired me to try out this recipe, bringing all the yumminess of Thanksgiving into one very Fall tasting vegan sammie.

What is it? It's a cranberry sauce, tofurky, arugula sandwich on really easy to make and totally yummy vegan cornbread. How much more Thanksgiving-y can you get then that? Here's the breakdown:

Sweet Vegan Cornbread
1 C flour (I've used whole wheat or spelt in the past and they both work great)
1 C cornmeal (I love the texture of Bob's Red Mill Cornmeal for its graininess)
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg replacer (I've done both apple sauce and the ground flax and water)
slightly less than 1 C soymilk
1/4 C veggie oil

Makes 1 loaf.

1. Preheat oven to 400, and oil a bread pan
2. Combine dry ingredients and blend well.
3. Mix in the wet ingredients.
4. Cook for 20-25 minutes (when knife comes out clean)

Spontaneous Cranberry Sauce
I totally made this up spur of the moment, so forgive me if the amounts are complete approximations.

6oz cranberries (I used frozen ones)
juice and zest of 1/2 orange
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 C sugar
(optional 1 tbsp honey)

1. Simmer everything in a pot over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until it breaks down and thickens into a jam-ish type sauce.

Putting it all Together:
Like I said, cut a couple slices of cornbread and spread cranberry sauce on one half.
Add arugula (for its bite) or just use a nice spring salad mix or lettuce.
Add a couple slices of tofurky (I love the peppered kind!) or a slice of leftover tofurky roast
And there's your Thanksgiving feast for any season!

Just as a warning, though I've always been very confident about my cornbread, it's really moist (ie. it kind of crumbles if you try to use it as sandwich bread) and I haven't figured out my way around that. But you can still either try to manage by cutting it into smaller pieces, or just use a knife and fork I guess... or eat messy! That's always much more fun.

It also does seem somewhat strange to be posting this considering that I've gone raw for over two weeks not, but like I said earlier there are always plenty of others to cook for and one of the primary ways I make people happy is through food :) So enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Low income pregnant women can't buy organic?!

(repost of my article for the Organic Consumers Association website)

Am I the only one who finds it frightening that low-income pregnant women can't buy organic produce with their WIC allowances? It's one thing to have to be on welfare, and quite another to have people make your food choices for you. I was fuming when I found this out:

The Truth Behind WIC: Organic is NOT an Option!

By Chantal Clement

In February 2009, Washington State decided to remove organic milk from its list of ‘approved foods’ reimbursable by the Women, Infant and Children Program (WIC). Though this decision led to serious backlash from organic consumers and supporters nationwide, what may be a little known fact to many is that slashing organic produce from WIC approved food lists for ‘reasons related to cost’ is currently being practiced in almost every single state. Forbidding organic products from WIC is frighteningly nothing out of the ordinary!

The WIC program, run by the Food and Nutrition Services of the USDA, provides Federal aid to more than 8 million low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, as well as infants and children under the age of five who are deemed to be at nutritional risk. In seeking to help these women and children, WIC claims that they do not limit women’s choices or their individual dietary preferences in any way. WIC also states that it “safeguards the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information”. How then, is it acceptable for states to limit if not completely forbid WIC recipients from choosing the healthiest food options available? Organic produce has been proven time and time again to provide individuals with healthier options and higher nutrition levels than their conventional counterparts; why are women being prohibited from their very right of freedom of choice?

Currently, our government allows states to amend WIC approved foods based on their own discretion (a decision they claim is almost always influenced by cost). WIC State agencies are ultimately responsible for determining the brands and types of foods authorized on State WIC food lists. If WIC truly supports optimal nutrition and if aid programs are really seeking to best help those in need, the federal government should disallow states from barring organics from their WIC approved food lists.

By disallowing the purchase of certain foods, WIC is taking away women’s right to choose the healthiest possible option: organic food. So long as WIC recipients are not going over their monthly allowances, it should not matter whether they are choosing to buy organic or not. If anything, the purchase of organic goods should be encouraged! Buying organic products always benefits not only an individual’s health but also the environment’s; it also supports one of our economy’s fastest growing sectors and the responsible corporations and farmers who promote it!

Without the option to purchase organic products, women and their children are being forced to comply to a list of products laden with pesticides, unknown growth hormones, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and genetically modified ingredients.
gIn light of these current WIC laws, please stay tuned for an Action Alert related to laws dealing with organic produce in WIC. Given, the upcoming revision of Child Nutrition Act in September, let’s tell Congress to stop limiting women’s options for organic foods and allowing states to ban organic products from WIC!

Check out my actual article (scroll down to the bottom) for an actual listing of all state WIC regulations... see for yourself that they don't allow organic first hand!

Friday, May 8, 2009

How Raw Food Can Change Your Life

So I haven’t blogged in a while largely due to the fact that I’m the midst of final papers and my life seems to have spiraled into insanity. How does one year of grad school go by so fast? Another reason for my lack of blogging is that I’ve currently been tweaking my diet, largely because like when I listened to my body’s sudden call to veganism, it’s been asking me to change again. Though there's absolutely nothing wrong with my health, I feel as though I've been plateauing, and it's not a feeling I like. Plus, when my body talks, I always listen to what it has to say.
Here’s the deal: Though I’ve been strictly vegan for a little under a year (and vegetarian on and off forever), I’ve been flirting with the idea of going raw for quite some time. But here are the questions and concerns that have always steered me away from making that change, and my preliminary answers:
Q: Where will I get my protein? (aside from nuts and seeds, which are a little high in fat for my liking and that I’m not suppose to have too often anyway)
A: After listening to two interviews with Nature Love, on a Podcast by We Like it Raw, and a bunch of other sources, I realize that the whole protein thing may be totally overrated. (and I just REALLY love tofu, seitan, and tempeh)
Q: Can I live off of just fruits and veggies? (I always knew that if I went raw, I want to focus on them and not have to rely on dehydrated products, sprouted grains, etc.)
A: Well, I've been doing it for almost two weeks now and the answers is a resounding yes! You have to deal with craving issues, but they surprisingly slowly go away over time.
Q: But how about baking and cooking???
A: I can always bake and cook for others (which is what I have been doing). The problem is though I’m sure all those raw desserts are great after having been raw for a while, I’ve got to say that all the ones I have tried all taste more or less the same to me because of an over reliance on dates—which give me sugar headaches, and nuts—which go back to the high fat concern)
Despite all that and because of the inspiration of Rebecca’s 30 day raw challenge and a bunch of emails I've exchanged to her current mentor Meredith Frantz, I became really psyched to try going raw. In response to my body’s new demands and going with the momentum of my emails to Meredith, I went raw every other day last week and even making that small a change has made significant differences to my health and energy levels (obviously all in a positive direction!). I’ve never felt better and I feel even amazing and alive after my workouts! This has also led me to go raw for about 95% of the things I eat for the past 5 days (like I said, I'm still cooking and baking for others, so I still do taste and what not). I think this is definitely going to become a bigger if not major part of my life over the next little while. It's been incredibly mentally and physically rewarding and I'm not even doing this full-time!
But no worries! I still have plenty of friends, families and loved ones to cook for, and the recipes are going to keep on coming, but for now it’s time for more veggies!