Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vegan Protein-Packed Crockpot Bean Chili

After visiting with my midwife at my six-month checkup, I asked her about the growth of my baby. I had noticed she was slightly below average in size and I had gained a whopping seven pounds since my last checkup. The midwife suggested I upped my protein and bean intake, so the next morning, I set out to grab some ingredients to make a protein-packed bean chili that could satisfy my hunger and also provide some great nutrition for the baby. We tossed together the recipe below and it couldn't have been easier.

Vegan Protein-Packed Bean Chili
Yields 8 servings

1 onion, chopped
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1-1/2 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
1-1/2 cup 365 Everyday Organics rice and lentil medley (sold at Whole Foods)
2 Tbl. chili powder
1 Tbl. cumin
1/2 tsp. cilantro leaves (dried) or 1/2 cup fresh
1 tsp. cinnamon
dash vanilla
dash cayenne
less than 1/4 cup brown sugar

1. Turn crockpot on at low setting.
2. Carmelize onions in pan and add to crockpot with chopped celery and diced tomatoes.
3. Microwave 1 cup water for three minutes.
4. Place TVP into a bowl. Pour microwaved cup of water over stir together until well combined. Add to crockpot.
5. Add rice and lentil medley to crockpot and stir well.
6. Add in spices and remaining water.
7. Cook for 4 hours at low setting.
8. Add the pinto beans and black beans to the pot and stir together.
9. Cook for an additional one hour and then serve with crackers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vegaprocity Interview + Intro to a New Vegan Community

When I first went vegan, I certainly wasn't the most tolerant. I would even say most people weren't tolerant of my choice. That's why I love the idea of Vegaprocity, an online vegan community which offers news, recipes, discussions, and the latest vegan product announcements for vegans and veg-curious readers. This worldwide community offers a place to shed some light on the vegan lifestyle and fosters open-mindedness and the willingness to learn and explore new perspectives. It's a place that will allow an open, nonjudgmental platform to practice Vegaprocity (see definition below).

Check it out and see how the site is aiming to create a healthier, more beautiful, and more compassionate world!

Did I mention they have started a great inventory of vegan recipes for those who are looking for some yummy meals? Keep an eye out for new content as the community grows or join in on a discussion!

veg·a·proc·i·ty [veeg-uh-pros-i-tee] noun

1.   A reciprocal state or relation between health-, environmental-, and/or animal-conscious vegans and/or the vegan-curious.

2.   Vegaprocation: mutual, reciprocal exchange between vegans, eager to work together to create a sustainable, cooperative, and more compassionate world.

3.   The relation or policy in commercial and/or personal dealings between vegans, both from the same and from differing cultures, by which opportunities, information, news, recipes and mutual support are granted by each vegan to other vegans, and/or to the vegan-curious.

2014: English vegan (1940s) + Latin reciprocity (1760s)

Check them out online! | LinkedIn | Google+ | Twitter | Facebook

The Little Red Journal (LRJ): What made you want to create this site?

Vegaprocity (VP): After going to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary and meeting farm animals up close for the first time, I started to do more research on how my lifestyle was impacting animals— both human and nonhuman—and our environment. After watching tons of videos and reading lots of articles, I was truly shocked at how much I didn’t know about the food I was raised on and continued to eat.

After making the decision to become vegan, I wanted to help the movement to bring veganism mainstream. I wasn’t sure exactly how I could do that because my work takes up a lot of time and energy and I had a lot of other responsibilities. I also feel that I am more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person. All of these things made me decide to start a website to educate people in a nonjudgmental environment, as I had witnessed the damage that vegans who harshly criticized others did for the cause. I am not saying criticism isn’t sometimes warranted, but in many cases, it made the situation worse. I can empathize with people who act that way, but I try my best not to because it has been proven in human psychology that this strategy is highly ineffective and repels people even further away from your viewpoint.

LRJ: How long have you been vegan? 

VP: I have been vegan since the beginning of this year (around January–February 2014).

LRJ: What are some of the challenges that the vegan community faces? 

VP: I think the vegan community has a bad stigma because one of the first things people think of is PETA. PETA tends to stand out because of their high publicity and sometimes controversial tactics. I personally think PETA as a whole is a great organization and has arguably been the most impactful in fighting for animal rights.

I also think that there is a lack of information and a lot of misinformation out there. The dairy and meat industry did a very good job of marketing their products to us from a very young age. This holds true for our parents, as well. It can be very hard for people to accept that they have been lied to or have been misinformed their entire lives. With something as intimate as food, I think that multiplies the complexity of the conundrum. 

LRJ: What do you hope to see with the Vegaprocity community? 

VP: I hope to see a community where people can learn about the vegan lifestyle and also learn why people choose to become vegan. I think a lot of people really don’t understand the extensive list of negative impacts their diet creates. I am hopeful that when they do learn the truth, many will start to make positive lifestyle changes, or become fully vegan. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Not Your Average Smoothie: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

It's fall and I'm pregnant. That means I have weird cravings for all things pumpkin. I was recently contacted by Williams-Sonoma with a challenge to create "Not Your Average Smoothie". My response? Challenge accepted.

I wanted to incorporate an unexpected ingredient and thought of the pie crust in a pumpkin pie. A graham cracker is blended into the smoothie and the spices meld together perfectly for a quick ode to my favorite Thanksgiving dessert. Since I am plant-based, I opted for almond milk and vegan cream cheese (yet another unexpected ingredient). The banana gives the smoothie a creamy texture and can hardly be tasted amongst the pumpkin puree.

Fun fact: Since it was so late at night when I wrote this recipe, I didn't want to disturb my roomies. I ended up using an immersion blender instead of my standard blender. It was much quieter and I was surprised at how quickly it blended the bananas into the smoothie!

Try out this recipe the next time you crave this fall favorite. If you have a variation, I'd love to hear it! For now, enjoy this early Thanksgiving treat.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
yields 2 cups

1 frozen banana
3/4 c, pumpkin puree
2/3 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp. vegan cream cheese
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 large graham cracker
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of cloves
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of allspice

1. Cut the banana into smaller pieces and add pumpkin, milk, cream cheese, and agave nectar.
2. Crumble the graham cracker into the smoothie and blend in spices.
3. Serve chilled with topping options below.

Topping Options
Soyatoo soy whip cream
Crumbled graham cracker
Cherry (Because, why not?)

Tried this recipe and realize you have extra pumpkin? Double up on your desserts and make a batch of Pumpkin Spice Oat cookies.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

We're Having A Baby Girl! [Weeks 19-22.5]

I've known now for more than two weeks that we're having a little girl. I won't lie, y'all... I was in complete shock to find out this news! For whatever reason, my husband and I were sure it was a boy. Maybe it was the 70% change the ultrasound tech mentioned at our 12-week (yep, I now know that's way too early to make a call like that!) ultrasound. But alas, it's a baby girl.

I was beyond excited to schedule our 20-week ultrasound, and it just so happens that I hit my 20-week mark just five days before my fourth wedding anniversary. While scheduling the ultrasound, I knew I could either find out two days later (on October 13th) or wait until the day of my anniversary (October 16th). I felt this occasion would be the best way to spend our anniversary, so we booked it for the afternoon and I took a half day off from work!

I had never imagined in my mind that it would be a girl, so up until that point, I was only daydreaming about baseball games and what sort of fun I'd be having with my son. So to hear, "It's a girl!" during the ultrasound was like, "Wait, wut?!" moment for me. After about two minutes of sheer shock (and admittedly a little denial), I looked at my husband and said, "a little girl!".

Since I knew it was a boy from the beginning, I told my husband he could choose the girl name (haha). We're naming our daughter Eleanor Jane. I was so excited once it finally set in. It all became so real. We even saw her yawn during the ultrasound. After the hour and half we spent at the ultrasound, I headed straight for Target to update my registry. I had a sudden urge to add a few hairbows to the list.

I was surprised to see they offered us 3D photos at no extra cost, and I hope you all can handle seeing them! My husband personally finds them a little strange looking, but when it's your own child, you think they are gorgeous. Ha, enjoy or scroll past!

I have a baby shower coming up in the next week and a half, so I purchased some pink gift bags for the ladies who are hosting the shower. It consists of a Hello Kitty bag (what else would be more appropriate or girlie than that?!), a reusable plastic clear cup with none other than pink dots, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and a bottle of pink wild berry shower gel.

I also had some work events to attend recently at NASA Space Center Houston and I snapped a selfie and posed while my coworker captured me standing in front of the "shuttle". Fun times, but I realized how BIG I look from the side! These pictures were both taken at 21.5 weeks.

For Halloween, we decided to dress up as a 50s housewife and the milkman. Get it?!

You can also see my herbie tattoo pretty well through my thin shirt, and I'm happy to report both of my tattoos still look great (fingers cross they will stay that way).

And for the lesson of the day, don't ever, ever, ever trust what they tell you at 12 weeks. Also, it's a good idea to wait until they KNOW FOR SURE what you're having before you do something crazy like write in your baby's book about how you chose their name. Learn from me, people.