Tag Archives for " Vegetarian "

January 27, 2012

Labels: Do They Help Us or Hurt Us?

I have been a vegan for quite a while now and I am also a vegan chef, so being vegan is part of my livelihood and I believe in it. For most of my life I have gone back and forth between the labels of vegetarianism and veganism. For a long time, these labels fed my ego and helped me to feel “powerful” in a sense. I felt better and “smarter” than others, because I was doing the “right’ thing. I was making healthy choices and saving animals at the same time. I would even go to the extent of preaching to others how they should be vegetarian and I judged them if they weren’t or if they ate unhealthy.

But, what I am finding now, as I live a healthier life and work closely with others to assist them in finding a healthy lifestyle that works for them, is that these labels do not matter and in a way, I am discovering that they can actually hold us back. When we label ourselves, we set ourselves up for minimal growth and also scrutiny from others.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been scrutinized by people when I eat out or when I make a decision to eat an egg, and listen to my body vs. following my label of vegan.  And, how many times I have looked over my shoulder to make sure no one sees me eating an egg or a bite of goat cheese! Our ego needs to give almost everything we do a name, and most of the time that doesn’t serve us. Think of any kind of label, even designer labels. Some people will spend thousands of dollars more on a designer label so that they can get attention or feel good. I personally know people who are addicted to designer labels and feel unworthy if they are not donning some expensive purse or piece of clothing. I am not saying this is a bad thing, yet it’s definitely an ego-based decision and doesn’t seem to allow for much internal growth.

When we live in a world of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, I can understand labeling, but if we want to grow as a society and in our own personal lives, labeling leaves much to be desired.  Labeling can pigeonhole us into ONE way of being and thinking. Even political labels can do this. Yes, we all have our beliefs and there is nothing wrong with that, or, in fact, even right with that, they are just beliefs. And as human beings we get to make new choices and have new beliefs any time we want and that is the beauty of free will.  I have found that labeling myself a vegan has, at times, brought me much discomfort in the eyes of others. I understand that this discomfort is my own, and I also understand that I get to call myself whatever I want without buying into the judgments of others.

To me what matters most is that I am healthy, energetic and I am eating whole, plant-based, unprocessed foods and listening to my body by giving it what it needs. Also, that I am being of service to the world no matter what my label. For me veganism was a choice for many different reasons, which started with health reasons. As a kid I suffered from allergies, digestive issues and the like, yet it was also a natural progression that happened as I started to care more and more about what I put in my body and how I wanted to feel. The cleaner I ate and the more I cut out the processed foods, the better I felt. But I could’ve just cut out processed foods and continued eating meat, yet for me, my body really didn’t like it. Honestly, it grossed me out and I just didn’t want it anymore. So I decided to become first, a vegetarian and eventually a vegan.

What I realize now is that I don’t want to label myself as a vegan anymore. I know how much it means to me, but if I am following the “vegan guidelines” of how to be a “proper” vegan, I fall way short. Why? Well, because I still eat honey (something vegans frown upon), I still wear leather (and I am mindful not to buy new leather products), I will on occasion eat an egg if my body wants it, or even have a bite of creamy burratta mozzarella when I am in Naples, Italy where Buratta originates…When in Rome. I don’t want to be under the scrutiny of the vegan label anymore, and that doesn’t

mean that I won’t still claim I eat vegan, cause I do, but what I am leaning toward now is that I am a person who loves vegan food. I am a person who loves to eat plant-based, whole foods and I am a person who cooks vegan food for others and teaches others how to have more plant-based foods in their life.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Flexitarian, Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian, Pescetarian, these are all just labels that we use to describe the way we eat. One thing to know is that these descriptions of eating lifestyles don’t necessarily mean that we are healthy! And they definitely don’t always mean that we know what our bodies need or want. The key is to listen to what you really want and what resonates with you in your heart, not what others do. It’s about your own wellbeing and no one else’s.

I have learned that the way to teach is to lead by example and not from a place of preaching and self-righteousness, but from a place of my own authentic experience and how it has changed me for the better.

And on another note, I love, love, love animals and don’t think that they should be mass produced as they are and killed for food. I love the Earth and I know how the meat and dairy industry negatively affects the earth.  I became a vegan chef so that I could do my part and teach people how to eat healthier, while helping to save the planet as well and I am also aware that preachy vegans or people who judge others for their choices are not helping themselves or others. Everyone has to find their own path in their own time and we get to give them the dignity of that!

Glorious Kale Chips

Green, delicious, really good for you! Kale is a super food and ranks 1000 on the ANDI (Aggregated Nutrient Density Index), which is the highest a food can be rated!!! SO eat it, and lots of it! Here’s a way to make it taste delightful for those of you that think of kale as a garnish of old…

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of dino or lacinto kale, stripped of stems, washed and torn into large pieces
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tblespoons almond butter, creamy
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Blend or whisk ingredients together until smooth and pour over kale. Toss with hands to coat each leaf.

Place kale onto greased cookies sheets in a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until edges are crispy. Be careful not to burn. Also, keep in mind that the kale will only get crispy around the edges not crispy all the way through!

Let cool and enjoy! Great to take on the road if you are taking a road trip!

Tony Horton’s Famous Vegan Burritos

Most of you know that I cook for that crazy guy, Tony Horton, creator of the phenomenal workout system P90X and some of you may be wondering, who the heck is this Tony Horton guy? Well, if you don’t know, you are missing out. And if you want to find out, click here to learn more about Tony.

Is this guy really 52?? No way!! Yes, that’s right, the guy is 52 and in better shape than anyone I know. The reason: consistent exercise 6 days a week and a CONSISTENT CLEAN DIET, which is mostly plant-based! Horton calls himself a “Flexitarian”, which means that he eats mostly a plant-based diet 90% of the time but will have the occasional fish, eggs or free-range, organic chicken if he is out and about and there are no other options. Otherwise, he keeps it clean; very little sugar (only in the form of agave, honey or brown rice syrup), no gluten, no dairy, very minimal processed foods and tons of WHOLE, FRESH food! This is how you get and STAY healthy! You can exercise your butt off, but if you aren’t putting the proper nutrients into your body, your efforts are worthless.

Did you know eating certain foods can help to ward off cancer and disease?? Yes, you heard me. So why not eat healthy? Why take a risk just to have some “fun”. And why is it that we equate bad food to having fun? I have plenty of fun eating my Organic Nectars Raw & Vegan Gelato, or even my Kale with Tahini over Quinoa..delicious!

Anyway, back to why I am here…the famous Vegan Burritos I created for Tony, that are his staple food and loaded with nutrients & flavor. And, guess what? They are simple to make too!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, de-seeded & sliced into thin strips
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper, de-seeded & sliced into thin strips
  • 1 Red onion, thinly sliced into 1/2 moons
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 -15oz can organic black beans, or 1-1/2 cups cooked
  • 1-15oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 pkg. gluten free brown rice tortillas (Food for Life Brand), or sprouted grain tortillas (Ezekial Brand)
  • Extras (optional) Avocado, Tempeh Bacon, Karma Chow Chipotle Cashew Cheese.

Heat 1 TBL of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add peppers & onions and sauté until soft – about 3-5 minutes. Add zucchini, cumin, chili powder and sea salt and continue cooking for 2 more minutes, stirring to incorporate all the spices with the peppers & onions. Add tomatoes and stir to mix. Lower heat and cover, cooking for about 5 minutes until peppers are really soft. Remove from heat. Add beans to pan and stir to incorporate.

Softening a Rice Tortilla on an open flame (ignore smudge on stove)Peppers, Zucchini & Onions Oh My!Ready to Rock and ROLL!!!

Heat tortilla shell over low open flame on stove to soften. Place the tortilla on a flat surface. Spread a very small amount cashew cheese, or cheese of your choice on tortilla. Add 1 scoop of pepper, onion & bean mixture to bottom 1/3 of tortilla. Top with 1 scoop of quinoa or rice. Add avocado (optional) or tempeh bacon and roll it up!  (If you are using the Gluten-Free tortillas, it’s best to roll each burrito made to order.)

If you are looking for more amazing, vegan Mexican dishes, check out these additional recipes from Simply Be.

Vegan + Gluten Free Tomato Glazed “Meat”loaf

This Vegan Meatloaf will be a favorite at the dinner table during the cooler months or on your holiday table. It’s loaded with fiber, protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Pair it up with a leafy green salad, and a side of veggies for a well-rounded meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups cooked French lentils
  • 3/4 c. Tomato Paste
  • 3 tablespoons Tamari, divided
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup diced onion, divided in half
  • 1 cup diced Portobello mushrooms
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Arrowroot powder
  • ¾ c. gluten free/wheat free breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil, or line with parchment paper and set aside.

Cook lentils and brown rice per package directions. Set aside to cool (these can be prepared the day before and stored in the refrigerator overnight)

In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, 2 tablespoons tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke & 1 tablespoon of garlic. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ cup onions. Saute for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are soft and have released their liquid. Transfer onions and mushrooms to a small bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to skillet and sauté the celery, carrots & salt and pepper over low heat. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, until veggies are tender.

In a food processor, pulse the rice and lentils 10 times. Transfer to a large bowl. In the food processor, pulse cooked carrots & celery, Worcestershire sauce, remaining tablespoon of tamari, mustard, arrowroot and 1/4 cup of tomato mixture 10 times. Add to rice & lentil mixture. Fold in reserved sautéed mushrooms & onions, breadcrumbs and ½ cup raw chopped onion.

Press mixture into the prepared loaf pan and cover with tomato topping, spreading evenly.  Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes until top is brown. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Karma Chow Veggie Burgers

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 3/4 c. cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded & cut into chunks
  • 1 c. spinach
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, cut in chunks
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 to 2 c. gluten free bread crumbs
  • 2 TBS Tomato paste or unsweetened ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Using a food processor, blend pepper, onion, spinach & cilantro until all mixed together and somewhat liquidy. Pour into a medium bowl.

In food processor, separately pulse brown rice & chick peas together then add to bowl containing veggie mixture.

Add chili powder, tomato paste & sea salt and stir together to mix well. Add bread crumbs and combine until burgers stick together. If the burgers feel too wet, add more bread crumbs.

Form into patties and cook on a skillet with coconut oil on the bottom of the pan over medium heat until browned on both sides.

Serve on an Ezekial Sprouted grain roll with Avocado, Agave Ketchup, Lettuce, Onion & Tomato!