Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vegan (Gluten Free) Thanksgiving and Holiday Menu Ideas (Week 3)

Yesterday I talked about rest and self-care being a focus of this week's 52 Weeks Til the Best Version of Me lifestyle overhaul I've instituted. I am still feeling fired up. This time of year really lends itself to reflection and going within. It isn't conducive for major physical changes. It's freezing and snowing out... fresh foods seem to be "out of season", but rest assured you can have give your body and brain some "rest" by telling yourself that this holiday season (both Thanksgiving and Christmas) you will focus on plant-based, fresh foods for consumption. At least for part of your holiday meal plans. 

Here I have complied some pretty great looking recipes from around the web to have in one convenient location for you. I let Kennedy choose the holiday menu this year (and every year) so we will be having some different things than usual, but I will be making a few of these items as well.

Vegan Pie Recipes
Vegan Sweet Potato Pie 
Via The Witchy Kitchen
In my family, there are two schools of Thanksgiving pie-eaters: pumpkin pie lovers and die-hard sweet potato devotees. While I’ve always been a pumpkin pie fanatic, this sweet potato pie, served in a pecan and oat crust, could be a gamechanger.
With a sweet crust and tart filling, this recipes gives the best of both worlds. Also, it can easily be made gluten-free by substituting the quick oats with gluten-free oats.
Vegan Cookie Pie 
Via Natural Papa
This pie is basically just a gigantic vegan chocolate chip cookie. Enough said.
Vegan Caramel Apple Pie 
Via Healthy. Happy. Life.
I hate apple pie. And so did the woman who made this apple pie. But then she tasted this apple pie, and now she LOVES apple pie! That’s how good this recipe is. We’re nearing the end of apple season, so go grab some Galas (or go pick your own) and get to cooking!
These vegan (and gluten-free!) pumpkin pie squares are made with a graham-cracker crust and topped off with whipped coconut cream. It’s official: I’m drooling.

Key Tips for a Safe and Delicious

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free 

Holiday Season

If you're new to gluten-free living here's a Gluten-Free Diet Cheat Sheet to print out and keep handy. Because gluten is devious. Label reading is a must.

Marinades, broth, soy sauce, and bouillon may use wheat or barley in flavors and seasonings. Although I urge you to check your turkey for gluten-free status, most I've seen are safe- if you avoid the seasoning or gravy packet.

Bottom line?

Know your bird. Know your source. And know your ingredients, Dollface.

For thickening gravy, whisk in a tablespoon or two of sweet rice flour. Or make an arrowroot starch slurry. {Potato flour is another choice- but be careful you don't add too much and end up with gooey gravy you have to almost slice to serve}

For a non-dairy sub in pumpkin, squash and sweet potato recipes try using coconut milk- it's creamy and delicious (full fat tastes best). If you can't do coconut milk, soy milk or almond milk works beautifully. {Rice milk is rather thin. Hemp milk is an acquired taste and may be too grassy for the uninitiated.}

Another tasty non-dairy vegan choice is orange juice or apple cider. Cook carrots or cubes of winter squash with a splash of orange juice or apple cider for a lovely vegan flavor boost. Drizzle a touch of pure maple syrup.

For creamy mashed potatoes that are dairy-free I use a combo of light and fruity extra virgin olive oil and my favorite gluten-free vegan buttery spread. For creaminess, whip in some warm non-dairy milk- coconut, soy, and nut milks all work. A light gluten-free broth works, too. The trick is don't beat the potatoes to death until they're gluey (what did a potato ever do to you? Be kind).

For a dairy-free vegan butter sub in baking, my new favorite fat is organic coconut oil. I love the texture and subtle coconut flavor.

Hate coconut oil? Try organic expeller pressed canola oil or grape seed oil (both have very neutral flavor). Any of these work well in muffins, quick breads, bread, cookie bars and cakes. When one half to one cup butter is called for in a recipe, these oils will usually work- though I typically start with a little less than the amount of butter called for and see how the batter looks.

For a vegan butter substitute in pastry and gluten-free pie crust recipes I'd choose Earth Balance sticks, Spectrum Organic Shortening or organic coconut oil.

For stuffing, simply follow your favorite recipe and substitute toasted cubes of gluten-free cornbread, corn muffins, or a loaf of store-bought gluten-free white bread. Or try my personal favorite stuffing recipe- Cornbread Stuffing with Curried Apples and Cranberries.

For a crunchy bread crumb topping, try my Crunchy Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs (process toasted gluten-free waffles into perfect golden crumbs- they make a delicious topping that can be quite the conversation starter- waffles? Really?). And no, a (true) waffle is not sweet.

For a gluten-free mac and cheese try my Kicked Up Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe or my dairy-free Baked Mac and Cheese or my totally from scratch Cheesy Uncheese Mac and Cheese (fab for vegan guests).

For a classic cookie crumb pie crust use Midel's Gluten-Free Gingersnaps or Pamela's cookies (Lemon or Ginger or Chocolate, depending upon the filling) processed into crumbs. I use Joy of Cooking's classic cookie/cracker crumb recipe and simply substitute with gluten-free cookies. For a butter replacement, try organic coconut oil, a good tasting vegan spread like Earth Balance.

Raw Pie Recipes
There is no way you could possibly feel guilty about eating a slice (or even two) of this scrumptious fruit and nut-filled pie. It’s pretty much a Lara bar in pie form, so it’s bound to be amazing.
Raw Pumpkin Pie 
Via The Rawtarian
This raw pumpkin pie, made with a mixed-nut crust, is basically a traditional pumpkin pie served frozen rather than baked. Interesting, huh?
Raw Strawberry Pie 
Via Plant Powered Kitchen
This strawberry pie, packed with strawberries, dates, cashews, walnut and pecans, is sure to satisfy even the sweetest sweet tooth.
Cookie dough is my kryptonite. Add in brownie goodness, like this recipe does, and my mind is officially blown. Not only is this recipe raw, it’s also Paleo-friendly, gluten-free and vegan! OMG.
This berry-and-chia-pudding pie is super healthy and it’s insanely simple to make!
I sincerely hope that your meal plans include veg/vegan options for yourself and your family.... the animals and the planet :)

Week 3: Rest and Self-Care (Vegan Fig Pudding Recipe)

As the mom of a child with special needs, it is very easy for me to completely forget about myself. To just wash into the day and fade away. No one would blame me. I have every excuse reason to do so. 

This week of my 52 Weeks Til the Best Version of Me lifestyle overhaul, I am focusing on rest. As Thanksgiving nears and I have a zillion things to do and make, I have to remind myself that those late nite cups of tea, hot bubble baths while reading my Kindle, and meditation sessions are to save my soul from feeling weary and tired. They recharge me.... they rejuvenate me.

If you remember I am incorporating all of these things I am focusing on into my life. This 52 week program is all about me trying to go deep within myself and focus on all of my inner most dreams and goals so that I can live the best life possible.

This week I will focus on self-care (one of my favorite topics)



*Bubble Baths

*Eating delicious fresh raw foods as a diet staple

Speaking of eating delicious foods... I've been making so many smoothies lately. Really, I love them all year round and it's like 22 degrees windchill here in PA! I've craved really thick, creamy ones. This Fig Pudding smoothie was a great creamy dessert in a glass!
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  • 5 fresh figs
  • 5 dates
  • spinach
  • 1 c water
  • 1 apple
  • Blend. Bliss

Friday, November 22, 2013

Envisioning a Life of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (Apple Pie Smoothie Recipe)

I hope that these cold days are finding you with a warm cup of tea and nice and cozy. 
Thinking about what I envision for the highest and best version of my ideal life...leads me to fresh fruit and vegetables that make me feel amazing. Tell the truth, when you are on track with your fitness goals and food choices everything else seems more manageable. It isn't that health and fitness control your life, it's the opposite. You are MORE in control of your life when you are making the best choices for your body. At least it is that way for me. 

It led me to the store where I stocked up on TONS of fruits and veggies. Smoothies, salads, fresh fruit galore. My soul is overflowing just looking at all of this.

I scored:

  • persimmons (I smell a banana/date/persimmon smoothie coming on)
  • huge bag of limes (hot water with lime, juice, salad dressings)
  • mangoes (I know out of season, but yep I'm eating em with cinnamon)
  • pears
  • tomatoes
  • romaine
  • spinach
  • mixed lettuce leaves
  • avocados
I also recently ordered 11 pounds of dates from 7HotDates. They are $100 about, but so worth it. I can eat all those in a few months and I'll be sharing em so they may go by more quickly, but at this time of year I stay away from GF/Vegan premade desserts and stuff because my digestion suffers and I can pack on a few pounds. People don't always share how much butter/fat they add to their desserts so I like to just make stuff myself. Although this season WILL find me making ONE fatty sweet potato pie with pecan maple sugar icing. Yep...I'll post that one!

I had my crazy rant the other day brought on by the influx of commercials that were just driving me crazy. THIS is why I don't watch regular television.  Kennedy has had a doctor's appt and school at home and lots of other stuff... Like....

 Catching Fire. Yes I am a fan fan fan.... I went to the very first showing on last nite's opening nite. I had a blast. It was nice to get out of the house for a minute.

I've been busy envisioning m life  and having lots of great raw and fresh foods. I was just mentioning to someone how funny my body can be. It's like freezing outside and I was craving banana ice cream!! So, I made me a smoothie with bananas, dates, coconut water and ate it all chunked up. It was amazing and hit the craving. Shouldn't I be craving pie at this time of year??? lol.

As Thanksgiving week comes up, I am getting the menu together for my house. I will have a nice sized plate of cooked vegan deliciousness, but I will be doing the 5K Turkey Trot (right in my garage on the treadmill) as a way to start the day and by tonite I will know what I am serving.

Today I had an Apple Pie smoothie:

  • 1 organic apple
  • 2 bananas (frozen)
  • 1 c almond milk
  • 8 dates
  • 4 cups spinach
  • blend. bliss
No exercise today. Just some pretty serious household cleaning and some kettlebell swings for my challenge. 

Are you living your vision for your best life????

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life Vision Rant (Annoyed with Consumption)- Green Smoothie Recipe at the End

Disclaimer: If you don't have any hippie-type tendencies, this blogpost may not be for you. No offense taken if you bail on it now. (Cursing below)

Let the anti-consumer rant begin: ARGGGG!!

Today is totally one of those days when I am so sick of all the companies trying to shove their shit down my throat. Every channel has a zillion commercials on, every magazine has a million ads, and heaven forbid if Kennedy puts on a children's channel...the show can't begin without 12 commercials begging her to ask me for plastic shit she won't care about in 2 weeks.

When you get tuned into your ultimate life vision (if it is in anyway in alignment with mine), it becomes very annoying to constantly be presented with things that you "need" because somehow what you have "isn't enough." OMG...

It can be the same with the raw food movement. Yea I said it. If I knew then what I know now I could have saved $1000's of dollars. Seriously. From the equipment, to the supplements, to the food. It drives me crazy to see how certain marketers play to the desire people have to be healthy and have no ethical problem taking all of their money to sell them shit they don't actually need. I know I know.... if they don't buy it from them, most people will seek it somewhere else. My point is only that WE DON'T NEED MOST OF IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

If you spend your money on organic fruits and veggies, a decent blender, and a good set of knives...you are set.

Kennedy's dad has 100% different life philosophies than I. I like second hand. He likes brand new. I will trade/barter/exchange/give away most of my stuff, he hoards for that "maybe" day. I will make it myself, he prefers to buy everything. Kennedy as a result has slightly typical consumer thoughts, with a hippie edge. She is critical in the sense that she comments on commercials like, "I didn't even think I liked that toy until this commercial told me to." (Seriously..a direct quote), but she still asks for some pretty typical toys.
As a vegan I have taken certain ethical vows to "do no harm." That means (for me) to the animals, to myself, and to the planet. Along with that comes some pretty freegan tendencies. I don't dumpster dive (though I did for years) because in my direct area (thanks to me some same) they have put locks on the dumpsters and no trespassing signs. We even helped to convince one store to do the right thing an not be a chicken shit and donate the food to the local food bank.

I do however feel seriously disconnected from the capitalist market economy that demands I buy a ton of shit. NO I don't have a smart fone anymore. Haven't had one for about 3 years. NO I don't need the latest this or that. I look just as adorable and cute in clothes that are a combination of crazy sale items and second hand store finds. I give a ton of shit away to the VA family fund and freecycle. I coach people to become vegan FOR FREE although I'm currently umemployed (by donation only).

It just boils my blood that we teach people to work tons of hours at jobs they hate to buy a bunch of shit they don't need to impress people they don't like. THEN we get really old and can "enjoy life and retire" and are too burnt out to do either. So we end up in ONE room with all of our most precious stuff. WHY not start out that way??? Start by not having a bunch of shit to begin with. Seriously????

I am not proclaiming to have all the answers. No one showed me the freegan ropes. I had a calling in my soul that started  a LONG time ago and I didn't ignore it. It unfortunately led to some serious arguments with family/friends, a divorce, getting out of my doctorate program and a serious life overhaul. I'm proud to live by my life principle to do no harm. To take and use as little as possible so as to leave some for others. To not contribute to waste. 

Here is an excerpt directly from the website I liked above:

The word freegan is compounded from “free” and “vegan”. Vegans are people who 
avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals in an effort to avoid harming animals. Freegans take this a step further by recognizing that in a complex, industrial, mass-production economy driven by profit, abuses of humans, animals, and the earth abound at all levels of production (from acquisition to raw materials to production to transportation) and in just about every product we buy. Sweatshop labor, rainforest destruction, global warming, displacement of indigenous communities, air and water pollution, eradication of wildlife on farmland as “pests”, the violent overthrow of popularly elected governments to maintain puppet dictators compliant to big business interests, open-pit strip mining, oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, union busting, child slavery, and payoffs to repressive regimes are just some of the many impacts of the seemingly innocuous consumer products we consume every day.

That about sums it up. Love America. Don't get me wrong, but we have a long waysssssssss in shaping some fundamental ideals. 

Off to drink my green smoothie. Phew!

Green Smoothie DuJour:

  • apple
  • spinach
  • 2 bananas
  • juice of 1lime
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • amazing grass (found an old bottle. using it up now)
  • celery stalk
  • blend. bliss.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Week 2: My Vision For My Life

Kennedy has been requiring a bit of my time :), but I ended Week One with a bang. I've been cooking up a storm and having tons of salad so life has been great.

I'm a bit sore from my workouts. Not much. Just about 30-45 minutes a day mainly with strength (of course) every other day.

This week, I will be focusing on my Life Vision. Now that 
Kennedy's new diagnosis has kept me from applying to grad school for next Fall, it's time to focus on all those other things I want to do with my wonderful life. 

That being said I've asked myself a few questions:

  • How will  take care of my mind, body, and soul?
  • Why am I here?
  • When I am the best me I am doing....
  • I need to avoid these in order to be the most AUTHENTIC me...
  • I am the best version of me when I am around...
  • I am my very best self when I can spend my work life doing these things...
  • I will live my BIG DREAMS if I spend my time doing these things...
  • My morning routine is important and I will incorporate these things daily
  • I will take time to nurture my natural talents and share them with others. Those talents are...
Let's face it. As a woman of course I have a few "regrets"...times when I can look back and see how I have sacrificed a bit more than I should have. This kind of "martyring" leaves you with resentment and an empty heart. This year...these 52 weeks are about me dreaming out loud. Working through the layers to uncover my deepest desires an going for it.  Wait...what? ....Isn't it too late? Its NEVER TOO LATE!

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them" 
- Walt Disney

I spent some time yesterday making a lasagna, chili, chickpeas w/ red gravy, and a ton of smoothies. I am geared up for the beginning of this week. (I'll post the recipes later)

I woke up later than I thought and got my Combat 45 done. I felt great and did some of my kettlebell swing challenge (60/ 3xs a week). Kennedy needed her meds so I cut the rest short.

I'm off to have lunch and journal about my life vision!!!


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