Tag Archives: vegan

Quick (Mostly Healthy) Tea Cookie

I was perusing YouTube the other day when I came across a quick and easy tea cookie recipe from Mary Harris on her Sprout and Blossom channel.  I thought, “Ooooo, tea cookie!  That sounds lovely and comforting.  I have to try that this weekend,” So, I did.

Two main ingredients: banana and oats, what could be simpler?  Mary’s recipe is quite healthy, as well as quick and easy, but I wanted to do the cocoa, peppermint variation.  I was concerned that the cocoa might be a little bitter with only a banana as sweetener.  So, I added a little sugar.

Here’s my variation on the Sprout and Blossom Three Ingredient Recipe:

One cup rolled oats (blended into a flour consistency)

Two small to regular mashed bananas

One teaspoon vanilla extract

One level tablespoon of cocoa powder

Two tablespoons of organic cane sugar

About 3 drops of peppermint extract

About a quarter cup of mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix everything together but add the chips last.  Drop teaspoons of the batter on a lined baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes.  (Keep an eye and nose on them, as baking times tend to vary depending on your oven.). I got a dozen cookies out of this mix.

Enjoy!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter. Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Homemade Tahini and My New Favorite Sandwich

I use A LOT of tahini.  I need it for hummus, salad dressing, sauces and as a spread for my new favorite sandwich (that I came up with during a moment of divine inspiration.  Recipe below.)  The problem is, tahini is expensive!  The supermarket brand, which I don’t love, is $7 a can.  Once Again, my favorite brand, is $10 a jar.  Yikes!

Clearly, I needed to learn how to make my own.  The good news is that is EASY, delish and SO MUCH CHEAPER.  I found a recipe on Kimberly Killegrew’s  The Daring Gourmet website.  All you need are sesame seeds, a little oil and a food processor or blender.  I ordered a five pound bag of hulled sesame seeds… (as I mentioned I use A LOT of tahini.)  You toast the seeds until they are golden brown; let ’em cool, toss ’em in the food processor with a little olive oil and that’s it!  One thing I did do differently than Kimberly was toast the sesame seeds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the oven, rather than in a skillet on the stove top.

Now for the sandwich!  I invented this recipe while I was rushing around making lunch one morning,  When you are a strict vegetarian and short on time, you need to get a little creative when it comes to lunch sometimes.  You will need two slices of bread. I prefer rye.  Spread the tahini on both slices.  Drizzle Sriracha sauce over the tahini.  Drizzle honey over the sriracha sauce.  Add a slice of beautiful tomato (preferably from the Farmer’s Market or at least organic.) Enjoy with or without a pickle.  It is so good!  It’s sweet and hot with the yummy nuttiness from the sesame seeds.  Oh my goodness!

Cynthia's Favorite Sandwich

Cynthia’s Favorite Sandwich

 

Do you make your own tahini?  Would you try it now that you know how easy and cheap it is?  Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Naturally Motivated: Keeping the Faith

Did you see Julie and Julia? The movie about a blogger who records her experiences while cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking in one year? There is a scene where Julie has been writing for quite a while and is, momentarily, elated to see she has finally gotten her first comment; only to open it and read something like:

“Julie, this is your mother. It appears I am the only one who is reading your thing. Why are you doing this?”

Luckily, she didn’t get discouraged. She kept true to her vision, kept cooking and kept writing about it. Eventually, Julie’s audience found her. She completed her project on time and wrote a book about it. That book was adapted into the movie. Voila! The rest is history.

Sometimes, it seems like we are doing everything we can to make a difference in the world but no one is freakin’ listening. Worse yet, maybe the people who are listening are critical of us and tell us that we are wasting our time. If you have an idea for something that you believe can help make people’s lives better, brighter or happier in any way, I’d like to encourage YOU to keep going, regardless of what seems to be happening at this moment. Stay true to your vision and just keep doing the work!

It is very easy to constantly look to other people to see if we are on the right track. I suspect it’s because approval from other people helped us out early in life; when we were learning to do things we had never done before like walk and talk. We would have learned those things anyway from modeling other people but it’s certainly a lot more fun when someone is cheering you on at every step! Most of us find that our cheering committee seems to dwindle a bit, as we get older. ‘Attaboys and ‘attagirls are often replaced with comments about fears, worries or warnings to do things a certain way in order to be safe or respectable. While these comments are probably well meant, they certainly aren’t exactly motivating to the creative individual.

After letting this blog molder for several months, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of readership. I’ve noticed something interesting. A lot more people read it than comment on it. When I first launched, I didn’t get stat reports on click-throughs from social media. The only way I knew if people were reading was when they were kind enough to leave me a comment or send me an email. Even though I know now that more people are reading than I had evidence for before; I don’t know what they think about it because they don’t directly engage with me.

Then the other day, I was blessed with an eye-opening email from Jodi:

Hi, loved your last post on veggie scraps. I commented away on that already! lol.

Did I mention I am well on my way to vegetarianism – even dare I say veganism??? Probably since February. And Garry is right there with me, sometimes ahead of me! He feels so good, his glucose numbers are normal (he tests every morning). He’s lost 30 pounds. It’s kind of been a process – but I figure every meal without meat, fish, or dairy saves or helps an animal, the planet & our health. The reason I wanted to mention it to you is because one of your blogs about being a Vegan & the whole thought process of being a snobby Vegan or a militant Vegan really made an impression on me. Also, that it was a process & took you a while to give up cheese. I never forgot that post – so remember that when you write, even if you don’t know it, you are making an impact on some people. I didn’t switch right away but it was stored away in my brain – not word for word but the gist of it! We are probably 98% there.

Wow! I wrote those posts on being a vegetarian, which Jodi so kindly refers to, well over two years ago! Last week, my best friend, who is not a commenter, sent me this text: “You are a really good writer Cindy. Did you ever consider writing a book?” I can’t tell you how moved I was by these wonderful and completely unexpected remarks!

Keep moving toward your dream. Keep doing the work. Keep going even when you feel like nothing you do matters because you may be making an impact on someone right now, who just hasn’t told you… yet!

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have been doing a lot of my own baking these days.  There are a lot of advantages: 1) I use only real ingredients, often organic 2) I save money 3) I LOVE baking!  There is somethig so satisfying about putting a bunch of powders and fluids together, adding heat and tada, a completely new creation appears.

I have been noodling in the kitchen long enough that I can wing it.  I came up with something so tasty yesterday, I thought I’d share it with you.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

half teaspoon baking soda

half teaspoon salt

quarter cup organic unbleached sugar

1 mashed up banana

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

quarter cup oil

1 cup of soy milk

one cup chocolate chips (I like to use big dark chocolate chips)

Big ‘ol dollop of peanut butter (approximately a quarter cup)

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  (Use a bowl you love to mix things in.  Love is an important ingredient.)  Add the wet ingredients until just mixed.  Then gently stir in chips.  Swirl in the peanut butter last.

Spoon into a greased muffin tin.

Bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes.  Your kitchen will smell sooooo good! Allow muffins to cool before handling. Pop them out with a knife and enjoy!

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

Natural Pets: Eat Your Veggies Fido!

I couldn’t figure out why the tomatoes kept disappearing right as they were ready to be picked. No one in my family would admit to taking them. Then one day I was standing at the kitchen sink, looking out the window and I saw Quincy, our faithful mutt, throwing his body against the pots. As he knocked the ripe tomatoes down, he would gobble them up as soon as they hit the ground.

You’re not a carnivore and neither is your dog. There I said it. I can just imagine all the immediate protests that statement might instigate. “Polite: you are mistaken my dog is a carnivore.” Outrage: “Are you out of your $#@%^^& mind, Woman!”

It’s true though. My Dad LOVES read meat. He considers himself a carnivore. I suspect he knows that he is really an omnivore but he won’t admit it. If my mom let him, he would have red meat at every meal. (You should see what the guy orders on pizza! You can’t even see the cheese.) If I had my way he would be an herbivore. Alas, Dad is an omnivore and so is his bichon frise, Lucy.

Lucy loves veggies so much that she will sit on the floor by my feet while I am cutting them and whine for me to throw her a treat. Her favorite is the stems from kale. (My dog Chauncy enjoys these as well.) The best way to get her to eat her whole dinner is to include steamed veggies in the mix. One of their other faves is cut up pieces of the stalk from broccoli.

Why do some many people believe dogs are carnivores then? Some of the obvious reasons would be that dogs have long, sharp teeth that would seem ideal for ripping flesh and hunting. They are also closely associated with wolves, who many would agree are carnivores but there have been arguments made that wolves are omnivorous as well. Although, physically they are built as carnivores, dogs appear to have adapted over thousands of years of hanging with humans and are now suited to a more varied diet. Dogs are capable of metabolizing carbohydrates.

Dogs may have always been a bit instinctually omnivorous anyway. Have you ever noticed your dog eating grass and dandelions in your backyard? They are not being weird. They are smart. Dogs know what humans have forgotten. Many weeds are natural cleansers for the body. Dandelions are especially wonderful because not only do they act as a diuretic, clearing the body of waste, they are also rich in many vitamins and minerals. (More on that in a future post.)

Dogs, like humans, benefit from a varied diet including fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. (There is some debate about whether or not dogs should eat grains. There is also debate over whether humans should either. It’s beyond the scope of this blog but it is worth investigating on your own if you choose.) Some vegans believe that dogs (and cats) can maintain good health and feed their pets meatless meals and supplements. Personally, I am not comfortable omitting meat from my dog’s diet. He seems to thrive on well-balanced diet of meat, raw & steamed veggies and some grains.

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores. Although, they do eat grass to cleanse their systems like dogs do, they are biologically built for meat consumption. They have sharp teeth and nails, short digestive tracks, heavy-duty acids to break down raw meat. A vegetarian or vegan diet contains no taurine, an essential amino acid for cats but one they cannot produce on their own. Although, it is possible to supplement a cat’s diet to include taurine and other essentials that would be absent in a vegan diet, I do not think this would be the NATURAL choice for a cat. I respect nature… thus the name of my blog.

Does your dog eat his or her veggies? Let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!

Love and Blessings to All,

 

Cynthia

 

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

What is The Best Protein Shake? The One You Make Yourself!

I am not generally a fan of processed foods.  There is nothing natural about cookies that have a two year shelf life or a freeze-dried shake with ingredients almost no one can pronounce.  If you want to look good, feel good and perform optimally then I believe a varied, whole foods diet is the way to go.  However, there are times when you might need a little assistance from something comes in a plastic container.

I have been dealing with one of these situations on and off since I fell.  While my jaw was wired shut, I lived on protein shakes and soup.  More recently, I had braces put on which when combined with my flipper (a retainer with a fake tooth on it) makes eating solid food on my lunch hour a bit daunting.  So, I am back on liquids and very soft (i.e. easy to remove foods) during the day.

For a while, I was regularly picking up Nearly Naked Protein Drinks, thinking they were among the better options on the market.  I noticed that I was feeling really bloated and couldn’t understand why.  Then one day, I read the label and was surprised to learn that these shakes had WHEY, as well as, soy protein in them.  Ugh, no wonder why!  Then I went on a quest to find a vegan, organic ready-made protein shake.  There are a few but they are not always that easy to find and I wasn’t convinced ready-made was even the way to go.  When was it made?  How long had it sat on the shelf?…on the truck?… at the factory???

I decided to go back to making my own.  Although, I do use protein powder sometimes for the sake of convenience (other times I will blend down tofu or throw in some vegan yogurt,) I like having control over the freshness of the other ingredients.  Quite frankly, I think they taste a lot better because you can use fresh fruit, real vanilla bean or your favorite dark chocolate.  Also, you can put it in a reusable container.  So, that is kinder to Mama Earth.  And if you use a glass container (I like Ball Jars ’cause they’re neat!) it is kinder to you because you don’t have to worry about plastic contamination.  It is also kinder to your wallet.  I can make something twice the size of the Nearly Naked Shake I was buying for far less than half the price.

Protein shake

My country-inspired protein shake.

So, next time you find yourself reaching for a pricey protein shake, why not reach for your blender instead?  All you need is a banana, a glass of almond milk, a scoop of protein powder (or half a package of tofu,) maybe a lil pure vanilla extract and then just shake shake shake…

What do you like to blend up?  I would love to hear from you.

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

My Plant-based Life: Am I Vegan?

Am I vegan?  Well, it depends on who you ask…  Many people do consider me a vegan because my diet includes nothing that comes from an animal.  The original intention of the Vegan Society, founded by Donald Watson in 1944, was in fact to coordinate non-dairy vegetarians who do not eat eggs.  So, in the classic definition of the word, I am a vegan.

Veganism, however, is a lifestyle that goes beyond just what one puts in her belly.  And this is where it gets confusing for me.  Vegans will go to great lengths to avoid anything that has been tinged by the commodification of animals.  So, vegans avoid leather, silk, wool and other products that may contain lanolin, beeswax or any other animal-derived ingredients.  Naturally, vegans are opposed to animal testing or activities that considered exploitive like the circus, horse-racing and horse-drawn carriages, etc.  (Most vegans also avoid honey but there is a small but vocal minority who believe that honey can be derived without injury to the bees.)

Honestly, I agree with the vegans on just about all ethical grounds.  While, I haven’t completely eliminated leather and wool from my life, I have made strides in that direction.  I also try to purchase personal care products that are free of animal-derived ingredients.  I don’t believe in animal-testing; animals being used for entertainment or burden.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that yoga was part of what inspired my renewed interest in vegetarianism.  The yoga sutras, believed to have been authored by Pantajali, include the eight limbs of yoga.  The first limb, also known as the yamas, consists of five ethical guidelines.  The first guideline is called ahimsa and means “non-violence” toward other.  This practice resonated with me right away.  It is difficult for me personally to be at peace while participating in something that I know has brought harm to another.

And this brings to me to where I do not feel coordinated some other vegans.  There is an approach by some vegans that I do not agree with at all whereby they want to make an impression on people through shame, illegal activities and sex.  Violence and aggression only begets a violent and aggressive reaction from people.  It’s not okay to put people down who have different beliefs than you.  It’s not okay for example to throw paint on people who wear fur.  I honestly believe that there will come a time where we all will understand that more can be accomplished by practicing love and compassion than force.

So, where does that leave me?  Well, usually when asked, I will describe myself as a strict vegetarian.  However, I am inclined to agree with Soren Kierkegaard’s quote:  “Once you label me, you negate me.”  The truth is I am a work in progress.  Like everyone else, I am doing the best I can with the knowledge I have at the moment.  I strive to be the healthiest, most compassionate person that I can be.  When I fail, I am most grateful for forgiveness and the compassion that is shown to me.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/naturallyhealthyhappy

My Plant-based Life: Part Deux (Getting healthier)

I decided to try yoga because my body was way too run down to start jogging.  I had always been pretty flexible; so, it seemed like it might be a good fit.  Also, yoga seemed to be a series of slower movements.  So, I didn’t have to worry about being a spaz… the way I always felt in dance and aerobics classes.  Turns out, I LOVED it!  At first, I did it on my own with tapes and DVDs; then when I was brave enough, I began taking classes.  I highly recommend going to an experienced yoga instructor.  It’s always a good to have someone checking your form and giving you tips to grow your practice.

As I began learning about yoga, I found a lot of information on being a vegetarian.  Not all people who practice yoga are veg, but there seemed to be a lot of vegetarian info. in yoga magazines and books (Teaser: more on why this is this next week!).  And from what I was reading, many people found relief from the digestive orders like I had, by eliminating meat and dairy from their diet.  So, I began to experiment.

First, the red meat went.  Instantly, I started to feel better.  The bouts of diarrhea stopped.  I also stopped drinking milk.  I never liked milk.  When I was a little girl, I struggled to finish my glass of milk with dinner.  Often, I would be the last one at the dinner with Mom wiping the table down around me because it was so hard to get down.  Milk and ice cream would leave my belly so distended but I never made the connection because I thought milk was so good for you. Eventually, I stopped eating all animals, seafood, eggs and most dairy.  I felt better and better with each elimination. (No pun intended but FYI that improved too!)

As I was getting rid of these items, I had to learn to new ways of eating.    Given what some friends have referred to as my Virgo nature, I had to find out how to be a healthy vegetarian, as well as, the answers to any questions detractors might throw at me.  (Virgos don’t like to argue but, apparently, we like losing arguments even less.)  So, I officially became a nutrtion nerd, devouring books, magazines and websites on vegetarian nutrition.

Protein was something I had always heard was lacking in vegetarian diets.  Indeed, to this day, “how do you get your protein?” is the top question I am asked.  I quickly learned that protein deficiency is rarely an issue.  (And if you think about it, many of the animals, omnivores eat for protein, are actually vegetarian.)  I’ve also learned that too much animal protein is a likely contributor to chronic diseases.  I could write a whole post just on this topic alone but a few sources of veggie protein include nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu, fermented soy products and certain grains like buckwheat.

The next biggest question I get is: What do you eat?/Don’t you feel deprived?  The great irony is that I eat MORE and more varied food now that I am veg than I did when I was an omnivore.  I also still eat a lot of the same food I ate before like pasta, pizza, burritos, burgers, fries, salads etc. but of course now they are made without animal products.  I became a better cook and got more adventurous in trying new things like kale, different types of mushrooms and dandelion greens.  I finally learned how to cook beans.  I found that the more colorful my diet became, the better I felt.  A lot of my food before had been beige: chicken breast, potato, pasta, bread and margarine.  In fact, my doctors had told me to eat plain foods to keep my digestive issues at bay. After I went veg, my meals became a dazzling display of healthy lush greens with red, yellow, purple and orange veggies.  The more colorful my diet got, the better my digestion was.

My health bounced back rather rapidly after I started a yoga practice and adopted a vegetarian diet.  I lost 15 of the 20 pounds I had gained.  My energy increased significantly.  I also experienced a greater sense of emotional well-being and I felt more like myself but more on that in next week’s post… Going all the way Veg.

Love and many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/naturallyhealthyhappy

My Plant-based Life: Part One

The most controversial word I have ever encountered is VEGAN.  Holy cow, if you want to see people get whipped up into a frenzy, just utter the word vegan in a mixed crowd and see what happens.  Militant meat-eaters will throw out phrases like “grazers” or make assumptions like, “you only eat rabbit food” or get ethical and say “vegans act like they are better than everyone else because they don’t eat animals.”  Militant vegans have thrown paint on people for wearing fur coats; accuse people of being murderers just for eating the way they have their whole life.   In short, it can get really ugly.

You and me, we’re not militant, right?  So, let’s avoid all that today, shall we?  I am going to tell you my story and what I have learned over the last 10 and a half years of being a vegetarian and living a mostly plant-based lifestyle.

I remember very distinctly the first time I considered becoming a vegetarian at seven years-old.  We were at my grandparents’ house for a barbecue and I suddenly became aware that the cheeseburger I was enjoying used to be a living, breathing animal.  I told my family that I didn’t want to eat animals anymore.  Mom informed me that I would be a vegetarian then.  “Yes, I will be a vegetarian!” I decided.

Grandpa said, “Why draw the line there?  You have to kill plants to be a vegetarian.  Why is it okay to murder plants?”  I said, “Grandpa! Plants don’t get hurt the way animals do!”  He insisted that they did.  He went onto say that whenever he mowed the lawn that he could hear the grass screaming.  Everyone (except me) had a big laugh over this and it was clear that my vegetarian goal was not going to be supported.  So, I released the idea into the summer night and didn’t think about it again for over 20 years.

All through my life, I was plagued by digestive issues ranging from gas, severe bloating, bad bouts of diarrhea, nausea and cramping.  It always seemed like something was going on but no doctor could get to the bottom of it.  Almost always I was told to use antacids or given a script for whatever new drug was out that year and sent on my way.  Complicating my digestive discomfort, I have suffered with bouts of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) on and off since I had a severe case of mononucleosis my freshmen year of college.  I also struggled with nasal allergies and chronic sinus infections.   It seemed like something was always wrong with me and it sucked because none of the traditional treatments ever seemed to work.

When I was 29, I went through the worst bout of CFS I had ever had, and was sick and tired of being sick and tired, all the time.  And for the first time in my life, I had gained a lot of weight from the lethargy induced by my illness.  Nothing I had been given by western medical practitioners had worked.  I knew that if I wanted a different result I would have to find a new way of doing things.  The two areas I had yet to delve into were diet and exercise.

To be continued…

Please check back next week for Part Two of My Plant-based Story…

Love and many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/naturallyhealthyhappy