Vegan Ranch Cashew Butter

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Dry Roasted Cashews
  • 2 tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 1 handful of Fresh Dill
  • 1 handful of Fresh Parsley
  • 1 handful of Chives
  • 2 tbsp of Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp of Lemon Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup of Nutritional Yeast
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

*Makes 8 servings

*Dried herbs can work in substitution of fresh herbs if necessary

Directions:

  1. Blend cashews in high speed blender or food processor until a powdery consistency.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until a smooth consistency is reached.

*Make sure your blender or food processor can handle nuts.

 

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Peanut Butter Dates

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This recipe is a great option if you are looking for something decadent but minimally processed. It also is a good option when you are on a hike, long bike ride or on-the-go. You can also use this as an easy-to-prepare snack for work or packing in school lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medjool Dates
  • 1 tbsp of Peanut Butter

*Makes 1 serving

Directions:

  1. Cut a slit in the dates and remove the pit.
  2. Stuff each date with half a tablespoon of peanut butter.
  3. Enjoy ūüôā

Quick and Easy Vegan Parmesan

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One of the great uses of cheese is how easily you can make it a topping for almost any savory dish and it almost always will make it more delicious. This is part of what makes giving up cheese one of the hardest parts about going vegan. While this recipe isn’t made to¬†taste like parmesan, it works as a healthy and tasty alternative that has a similar use and effect.

Sprinkle it on top of pasta, a salad or anything else you can think of.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of Roasted, Unsalted Cashews
  • 1/3 cup of Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 tbsp of Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp of Lemon Pepper
  • 1 tbsp of dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp of dried Parsley
  • Add salt and pepper as preferred.

*Makes 6 servings

Directions:

  1. Add cashews into high speed blender (e.g. Vitamix) or food processor until it forms a powdery texture. Stop once a powdery texture is reached, otherwise it will turn into a nut butter.
  2. Mix nutritional yeast and seasonings with cashew powder in a bowl.
  3. Sprinkle onto pasta, salad or any other recipe to your liking.

 

 

Chickpeas Are the New Chicken Breast: Why I Love Pulses

PULSES

Since I started eating a plant based diet, pulses have become one of my main staples. I usually have at least 3 servings a day (~ 1 can of beans). When it comes to making new recipes, I often use chickpeas where I would have previously used chicken breast. I use them so often because they are nutritious, satisfying, versatile and one of the cheapest foods in the grocery store.

2016 was declared the International Year of the Pulse by at the 68th UN General Assembly. The reason they decided to promote this food group is because they are healthy, sustainable and affordable.

So what are pulses?

Pulses are a part of the legume family. Legumes are any plant whose fruit is enclosed in a pod (Pulse Canada). Examples are soybeans, peanuts, chickpeas, lentils and green beans. A pulse is a type of legume that includes the dried seed. Dried beans, chickpeas and lentils are just a few examples. Pulses are high in protein, high in fiber and low in fat.

The health benefits of pulses:

  • Low glycemic index – They provide you with the carbs you need to stay energized, but don’t provide the blood sugar spike that white pasta or white rice would. They help stabilize blood sugar and keep you fuller longer.
  • High in protein¬†– Pulses range from containing about 20-27% of calories from protein. This makes them a good option for people following plant based diets or people who are reducing their¬†meat consumption for various reasons.
  • High in fiber – ¬†Fiber helps keep you fuller longer. It helps stabilize blood sugar. Fiber also helps¬†lower LDL cholesterol, one of the key contributors to heart disease.
  • High in iron – Pulses are high in iron. Iron is needed to create hemoglobin, a substance in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Not getting enough iron will result in anemia, characterized by not producing enough red blood cells.

 

The Environmental Benefits of Pulses:

  • Water efficiency – 1 kg of lentils requires 50 liters of water, compared to 13,000 liters for 1 kg of beef. 1 kg of 85% lean ground beef contains about 2500 calories, 1 kg of dried lentils contains about 3500 calories. This means beef requires about 502 L/ 100 kcal, whereas lentils require about 1.42 L/ 100 kcal. (This was based on an infographic by the FAO. *They didn’t specify if that was the water used for 1kg dried or cooked lentils.).
  • Soil nitrogen ¬†– Pulses can fix their own nitrogen in their soil. This results in them needing less fertilizer than other crops.
  • Great replacement for meat – Animal agriculture¬†is one of the leading, if not the leading contributor to climate change. It has been cited as contributing anywhere from 18%51% of greenhouse gas emissions.¬†In addition, it is also a major contributor to deforestation,¬†overexploitation of marine life¬†and pollution.
  • Lower on the food chain – One of the reasons plant based foods are better for the environment¬†is because they are lower on the food chain. More plants go into feeding the animals for your food than just eating the plants directly.

Affordability:

Pulses have many health and environment benefits, but they are also one of the cheapest foods in the grocery store. 1 lb. of dried beans costs about $1.50, compared to about $4 for 1 lb. of beef (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). 85% lean ground beef contains about 1137 kcal/lb., whereas 1 lb. of dried lentils contains about  1584 kcal/lb. This comes out to $3.50/1000 kcal of beef and $0.95/1000 kcal of lentils.

Their high protein and micronutrient content combined with their low cost makes pulses a great food to promote to fight food insecurity in developing nations.

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Recipes that Include Pulses:

Chickpeas and Corn Salad

Pesto Hummus

Chickpeas with Mustard and Capers Sauce

Tempeh and Black Beans Fajitas

Buffalo Chickpeas

Chickpeas and sweet Potato with Basil and Garlic Tahini Sauce

Chickpeas Avocado Salad

Chickpea Tomato Curry

Southwestern Stir Fry

Black Bean Salad

 

 

Learn More:

What is a Pulse? – Pulse Canada

Nutritional Benefits of Pulses – FAO

Health Benefits of Pulses – FAO

Recipe for health: cheap, nutritious beans – Harvard Health Blog

Pulses and Climate Change – FAO

Pulses Contribute to Food Security – FAO

International Year of the Pulse

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

My 1 Year Veganniversary: My Experience So Far

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On March 16,2015,  I made the leap to go vegan. I went vegan mostly for ethical and environmental reasons. Although, I had been eating a predominantly plant-based diet for health reasons beforehand.

The Transition:

My transition to going vegan was surprisingly easy. I just made the decision to not eat animal products and didn’t look back. I think part of the reason transitioning was so easy for me was because I ate a predominantly plant based diet, so I already had a base of recipes to work with.

I still wear some leather shoes and use some leather hand bags. I had them before I went vegan, so I am just going to wear them out. I have stopped buying new leather products though. I also have started using beauty and hygiene products that have not been tested on animals.

How Veganism Has Affected My Health:

I was already very healthy to begin with, so going vegan hasn’t made a huge impact on my health. I have lost a few pounds and my skin has cleared up a bit, but nothing dramatic happened. I recently got a blood test for the first time and my total cholesterol was 125 mg/dL.

Social Settings and Holidays:

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The most difficult part of veganism has been the social aspect. It is nearly impossible to avoid making your veganism known. If everyone else is having cake or other treats that you always turn down, eventually you have to give an explanation. There also is navigating the balance between not being over-the-top and preachy, but also being open and talking about why you are vegan.

On holidays it can also been difficult, especially the first time around. Nearly every dish I had during the holidays¬†is something I hadn’t¬†cooked before and had no idea of how it would turn out. Then there is the issue of adding additional dishes to the menu and¬†trying to not be in the way of everyone else.

When it comes to eating out, there are plenty of restaurants with vegan options (this may vary based on where you live). Happy Cow is a great resource for finding places to eat out almost anywhere. A lot of ethnic restaurants are also vegan friendly, since they have a lot more dishes that are vegetable/legume based.

For all these challenges, thinking ahead is the method that has worked best for me. Plan out your quick explanation for why you are vegan. Check out menus ahead of time, and eat before you go out if you have to. When it comes to holidays, check out recipes and try to find dishes that everyone can enjoy.

My Experience Overall:

Overall, I think going vegan is one of the best lifestyle choices I have made. It is a lifestyle that not only is healthy, but reduces your ecological footprint and the amount of suffering you cause to non-human animals. It is a lifestyle I plan on maintaining long term. All the challenges of being vegan in a non-vegan society are very minor when compared to the benefits.

Read More:

I’m Going Vegan! (and Why)

Sundried Tomato and Basil Cashew Spread

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of Roasted Unsalted Cashews
  • 0.25 cups of Unsalted Pine Nuts
  • 2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic
  • 0.25 cups of Basil
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 0.5 cups of Sun-dried Tomato
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Add a small amount of water into blender/ food processor if needed to make it blend.

*Makes 8 servings

Directions:

  1. Add ingredients into high-speed blender or food processor.
  2. Blend.
  3. Move ingredients around if the blender/food processor gets stuck.
  4. Add in a small amount of water if needed to keep things blending.

*Check the capabilities of your blender/food processor before making this recipe.

Brussel Sprouts with Tahini

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This is one of my favorite recipes to use when I want a quick, easy and delicious way to add more veggies into my day. I use this same recipe with spinach, broccoli or really any other veggie I’m in the mood for.

Ingredients:

  • ¬†3 cups of Frozen Brussel Sprouts (1 package)
  • 3 tbsp of Tahini
  • 2 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tbsp of Lemon Juice
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Salt

*Makes 2 servings

Directions:

  1. Cook Brussel sprouts as directed on package.
  2. Mix with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Eat and enjoy!