Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick Indian Cornmeal Pudding...

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been really interested in making a Sioux Indian Cornmeal Pudding. Interestingly I’d never even heard of the dish until I stumbled upon a recipe earlier this month, that I found both strange yet fascinating. Such an odd blend of ingredients, and corn as pudding? I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, not to mention the breakfast angle. As I don’t generally consider corn to be a go-to breakfast food. Still, something inside me was dying to try this odd concoction. It seems to almost be a rule with me, that the stranger something sounds or looks, the more inclined I feel to eat it.

So since Monday was a ‘free-day’ I decided I would make it for breakfast when I got up. Unfortunately when I got up I wasn’t feeling very hungry. So as is typical for me, I went about my day as I normally would sans breakfast. Then at eleven the pangs of hunger hit me like a brick, completely out of the blue. I stopped what I was doing, pulled out my recipe and took it to the kitchen where I discovered that the pudding would take at least five minutes of assembly time, and then a further 30 minutes baking time. I likely wouldn’t be eating for another 40 minutes. I considered it for a second, but my stomach continued to roar furiously. I considered not making it at all, and felt disappointment.

So I did the next best thing. I collected all the ingredients I needed/wanted and made a quickie version on the stove top. It’s not exactly ‘traditional’ but then I’m not sure what ‘traditional’ really is when it comes to this recipe. In all of the recipes I’ve seen, the pudding is to be baked, but the ingredients do seem to vary, aside from milk, cornmeal, and a sweetener which is often Molasses but sometimes Maple Syrup. These recipes also all claim to be 100 years old or more. Yet I’ve also heard it said that true traditional Indian Corn Pudding - made before the Europeans began colonizing North America - was primarily a corn mush mixed with fresh berries. Just ground corn kernels, water, berries and perhaps maple syrup, because Native Americans/First Nations didn’t have milk or molasses. Who knows? Maybe both stories are right and the tradition changed over time with increased access to things like milk and molasses.

Anyway this is my quickie Indian inspired corn pudding. It turned out fantastic, so delicious, sweet and creamy with a thick consistency like oatmeal. Definitely a welcome change from the usual breakfast dishes. Traditionally this pudding is suppose to have currents, however I’m not the biggest fan of them so I decided to use a few different kinds of dried fruit instead. Honestly I think any dried fruit would taste good in here but berries in particular. Fresh fruit might taste good as well so play around with it. I also added seeds for that little extra something. You can add whatever seeds you have handy, or opt out, it’s up to you, but definitely give this pudding a try either for a hearty breakfast or a healthy dessert.

Quick Indian Cornmeal Pudding

1/3 C Corse Cornmeal or Polenta
1 C Vanilla Almond Milk
1 ½ tbsp Maple Syrup
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Cardamom
Pinch of Sea salt
Dried Goji berries
Dried Cranberries
Dried Cherries
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Hemp Seeds

- Place small-medium sized pot on the stove over medium heat. Add milk, cinnamon, and cardamom. Stir to combine and bring to simmer.

- Pour in the Cornmeal and stir vigorously, add the maple syrup and stir to combine. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Stirring frequently so cornmeal doesn’t stick.

- Once boiling reduce heat to simmer on low, add a pinch of salt and continue stirring frequently until pudding is thick, soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. 10-15 minutes.

- Spoon pudding into a serving bowl, top with dried fruits and seeds and enjoy.

*** Note- If the pudding is too thick or too dry for your liking you can add a splash more Vanilla Almond milk into your serving bowl and mix it in as you would add milk to oatmeal. ***

PS: I will definitely be making it the traditional way in the future as I am very curious/excited to see how it turns out. I’m thinking it might be a nice alternative to the usual Thanksgiving day desserts. A nice break from all those heavy, stomach bloating pies, and all those fat and sugar laden treats. We’ll see.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Marinated Stuffed Mushrooms...

For the mushrooms lovers out there I’ve come up with another great stuffed mushroom recipe. It’s funny, considering I spent almost my entire life hating the fungi family I sure can’t seem to get enough of them these days. I’m still finicky over them of course, preferring certain kinds over others, and I’m pretty particular about the methods in which I like them prepared but I’d say all in all I’ve really come around.

I think these mushrooms in particular have a very intricate blend of flavors, the secret of which I’m sure is all in the marinating. It had never really occurred to me to marinate a mushroom unless I was planning on grilling it. That is until about a week and a half ago, when I ate a salad that had about a handful of cold balsamic marinated mushrooms in it. In the past that would have turned me off, popping a whole virtually naked mushroom into my mouth just wasn’t appealing to me. However my burgeoning affection for mushrooms convinced me to give the salad the benefit of the doubt. And who knew a small raw cremini mushroom could taste so good drizzled in a little bit of vinegar? Well, that got me thinking that those marinated mushrooms would probably be even better, stuffed and baked and I was right!

These little guys really are delicious, and they’re versatile too. Serve them as an appetizer a side, or over a plate of salad or greens. I chose to serve them over a bed of kale gently sauteed in a bit of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. It was fantastic!

Marinated Stuffed Mushrooms

16-20 Cremini Mushrooms


2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ tsp crushed Rosemary
1/4 tsp ground Sage
6 Sprigs fresh Oregano minced
4 Cloves Garlic finely minced
A pinch of Sea Salt and Black Pepper


4 Garlic Cloves
½ Large Red Onion
1 Large Carrot peeled chopped into thirds
1 C Soft Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs
½ C Panko Breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Vegetable Broth
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed Rosemary
1/4 tsp ground sage
1-2 tsp dried basil 1/8 tsp white pepper
sea salt to taste.

- Combine all marinade ingredients in sealable container, and add mushrooms. Shake well and place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours, returning once ever hour ro so to give the container a shake.

*** Note- Feel free to use Fresh chopped Rosemary if you have it on hand. I didn’t and so I used crushed but fresh always lends a bolder flavor ***

*** Note- Making your own soft whole wheat breadcrumbs is super easy. All you need to do is put a couple of slices of whole wheat bread into a food processor and process until it’s a fine powder. Super simple and a lot better then buying the pre-packaged kind, though if you wish you could use that instead. Though it won’t be quite the same. ***

- Pre-Heat oven to 400'F/204'C. Add a little water (or olive oil if you desire) to a small pan, and saute garlic and onion over medium heat until onion is soft and translucent and garlic is fragrant. Just use the tiniest amount of liquid for this because you don’t want the stuffing to be ‘wet’

- When the garlic and onions are ready transfer them to a food processor, along with all other ingredients
except Panko Breadcrumbs. Process until mixture is smooth and paste like. Moist but not wet. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Stir in Panko by hand.

- Grease baking sheet with a little non-stick cooking spray. Then begin stuffing your mushrooms with your filling. Gently fill them as full as you desire without bursting them. Then line them up on the baking sheet and put them into the oven.

- Bake roughly 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and the top of the filling is a nice golden brown. Serve over a bed of sauteed greens and enjoy!

*** Note - How big your mushrooms are will determine how many you can fill. My mushrooms were rather big so I only had enough filling for about 16 if your mushrooms are considerably smaller you could get 20-30 out of the filling. I recommend medium sized mushrooms, not to small not to big.***

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Hemp Pancakes...

I love a good pancake, the problem is I’ve made every single pancake and waffle recipe from every cookbook I own, and even a few I don’t. I needed a change, but I’ve never made my own home made pancakes before. Slightly nervous, but completely determined to come up with something delicious I set to work this morning.

Bananas and Hemp are two things I’ve been craving lately, and I figured they would go well together. The rich earthy taste of hemp, with the sweet creamy flavor of banana was an instant winner, and greatly exceeded my expectations. When I taste tested the batter I thought it was so good, I was tempted just to eat it straight out of the bowl with a spoon, forget the process of actually making pancakes! The other thing I wanted to do with these pancakes was make them as fluffy and moist as possible without using any white flour. White flour is something I find included into too many pancake and waffle recipes. Usually I combat this by substituting half the amount of white flour called for by using half wheat. Or three quarters wheat to one quarter white, but this time I wanted the pancakes to be completely whole grain, so I used whole wheat pastry flour hoping it would do the trick, and it did. So keep that in mind, if you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour and want to use just regular wheat flour instead your pancakes are going to be a lot denser, and possibly less moist. Though I do urge you to make these pancakes at least once my way without any substitutions. They really were the most perfect, scrumptious, and most pancakes I’ve had in a long time, and they packed a super banana punch!

Whole Wheat Banana Hemp Pancakes

1 3/4 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 ½ tsp Baking Powder
2 ½ tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Ground Allspice
1 ½ C Hemp Milk
2 Ripe Bananas pureed
2 tbsp Canola Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 ½ tbsp Hemp Seeds

- Combine all dry ingredients in medium sized work bowl. Then make a well in the center, and add all wet ingredients including banana. Mix with wooden spoon until just combined. You don’t want to over mix. A
few lumps are okay.

*** Note - I pureed my bananas in the tiny food processor I have. If you like though you could just mash them really well with a fork, but make sure there aren’t any lumps. ***

- Add in the hemp seeds and stir to combine.

- Heat griddle, or pan to medium heat. Coat with cooking spray if necessary. When pan is hot, drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the pan, using back of cup to spread in an even circle. Cook on medium or medium-low until edges start to crisp and batter on top is bubbly. About 4-5 minutes.

- Flip pancakes over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until nicely golden brown.

- Serve with Maple Syrup, powdered sugar, non-dairy butter, and sliced fruit if desired.

PS: I served my pancakes with maple syrup and sliced banana and strawberry, with just the slightest dusting of powdered sugar, more for photogenic reasons then anything else.

PPS: Just wanted to let everyone know I’ve updated both my Resources Page and Fridge Page. I’ve added a few more books, and films to the page, as well as quite a few more websites mainly dealing with health, diet, nutrition, but there are also some sites that athletes might be interested in. On the Fridge page I’ve updated about some of the great dairy and meat alternatives on the market. So check it out! And don’t be afraid to leave me a comment once in a while, I’d love to connect with you and hear your feedback!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mustard Greens a la Mediterranean...

And so my experimentation with Greens continues, this time Mustard Greens. Before last night I’d never in my life eaten a mustard green, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect from them. I’ve heard them described as being ‘peppery’ which is a word I always associate with Arugula. I’d also heard them described as being bitter, but most greens are somewhat bitter and so that didn’t worry me at all. I see these leafy greens every time I’m in the grocery store but have never thought to try them out. Until yesterday I decided ‘what the heck?" I bought one bunch, and armed with nothing but my own imagination set about preparing them.

I figured they’d be just like any other green, so I could cook them as such. Saute them like the kale and collards I’d been making recently. As for flavor there was an array of possibilities, but I decided I wanted a sort of Italian or Mediterranean style dish. After surveying my pantry I collected the necessary ingredients and went to work. However half way through I came to the very alarming realization that mustard greens taste just like - well mustard, or perhaps more accurately a sort of cross between a strong mustard and horseradish. I had my onions and garlic sauteeing in the pan. My Greens thoroughly massaged and wilted with lemon juice and vinegar and I took one bite and immediately felt that awful, eye watering, nasale scorching burn you get when you put too big a dollop of wasabi on your sushi. It was awful, I had no idea! And it was 8:15pm too late to start dinner over. Dinner would be a disaster if I didn’t figure something out, and so my solution was to add extra tomato, and sugar and surprisingly this worked beautifully. Sugar was not something I’d intended to add into my dinner, but it certainly did the trick. Allowing us to eat the whole dish happily, soaking up all those good vital nutrients.

Mustard Greens a la Mediterranean

1-2 tbsp olive oil
8-10 garlic cloves crushed (or to taste)
1 Medium sized red onion sliced into quarter moons
1 Bunch Mustard Greens torn into bite size pieces
½ C Sun dried tomatoes (re-hydrated in hot water)
3 Medium sized vine ripened tomatoes chopped
1-2 tbsp raw granulated sugar (or to taste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4-1/2C Chopped Kalamata Olives
Small handful Basil torn (Roughly 20 leaves)
5-6 large sprigs fresh oregano leaves removed, stems discarded

- Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, in pan over medium heat, until onions are softened and translucent. 7-10 minutes.

- While onions and garlic saute prepare your greens. Remove the ribs, and tear your mustard greens into bite sized pieces. Place them into a medium sized bowl along with your torn basil and oregano leaves, and then pour over the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Use your hands to massage the lemon juice and vinegar into the greens until they’re slightly wilted and broken down. Set aside.

- Drain sun dried tomatoes, and add to pan along with chopped fresh tomatoes, and sugar. Stir to combine everything evenly making sure tomatoes get coated in oil. Let cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until tomatoes have softened and broken down a bit.

- Add your Mustard Greens to the Pan and stir to coat evenly in the juices that will have accumulated in the pan. Cover and let cook over medium for roughly 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Greens should have softened, and decreased in size, but still retain their green color. If not softened cook slightly longer.

- Turn off the heat, add in the chopped Kalamata olives stir to mix in thoroughly then distribute amongst two plates and enjoy.

*** Note - Mustard Greens are an excellent source of nutrition. Per 1 cup they contain 524% Vitamin K, 84% Vitamin A, 59% Vitamin C 25% Folate 15% Fiber, 10% Calcium and about 8% Iron and Protein. However if you really dislike Mustard Greens you could always substitute another green like Kale or Collards in this recipe. I think Kale would work particularly well.***

PS: I served these greens alongside Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s ‘Mushroom Topped Baked Potato’ From her book Color Me Vegan, but I think it would taste just as good alongside a regular baked potato, a stuffed Portobelo mushroom, or a nice bowl of soup with crusty bread. Get creative!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spinach and Mozzarella Stuffed Mini Vine Ripened Peppers...

A few years ago when I was home visiting my mother she made the most delicious stuffed peppers. She bought the long skinny red bell peppers, and stuffed them full of all kinds of goodies. Primarily spinach, green onion, garlic, mozzarella and feta cheese. From my first bite I was amazed and impressed by this wondrous creation, so much so that I must have asked her to make them at least a half a dozen more times before my visit was over. Sometimes she would add in other ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes or bacon but the heart of the recipe was always the same. Now she doesn’t have a written down recipe for these peppers, it’s all done by taste, feel, and guesswork, but I did pay attention while I was there, and upon returning home I was able to get an approximation of the measurements from her. Since then these peppers have become a favorite summer staple for my husband and I. Everything about them makes the mouth salivate, from their sweet sharp aroma, to their rich, creamy, garlicky filling.

When I went vegan I thought we’d have to say goodbye to these delicious peppers forever, until I decided to make it my mission to successfully veganize them. I had no idea whether or not it could be done, and I was double stressed because not only did I have to recreate the taste and creamy texture of melted feta, I also had to re-create the most important ingredient. The original recipe includes a garlic seasoning blend that is not available in the United States and is not to my knowledge available anywhere else outside of Canada. I of course have access to this seasoning, but I knew that if I were to post the recipe using it many of you would not be able to get it. To make this recipe as easy and as accessible to as many people as possible I needed to be able to re-create this seasoning blend in my own kitchen with easily acquired ingredients. So armed with nothing but determination and a few notes jotted down onto scrap paper I entered my kitchen. What I came out with not only blew my mind but my husbands as well. So without further adieu I give you...

Spinach and Mozzarella Stuffed Mini Vine Ripened Peppers

4 C tightly packed spinach
1/2C Sun dried tomatoes chopped (Not oil packed!)
roughly 24 fresh basil leaves torn
1 heaping cup vegan mozzarella cheese (I prefer daiya)
1/4-1/3 C olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried crushed rosemary
1 heaping cup chopped green onions
½ - 3/4 tsp sea salt (Or to taste)
few pinches of black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
10-15 well minced garlic cloves (Or to taste)
2-3 tsp sweet mesquite seasoning (Or to taste)
1 ½ tbsp capers with brine
26-30 Mini peppers (or 4 medium-large sized regular Red Bell Peppers)

- Combine all ingredients except peppers, in a large work bowl. Mix thoroughly to make sure all spinach is coated in olive oil and seasoning. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Depending on whether you want it more salty, smoky, garlicky etc... or if you want more capers, olive oil, cheese etc...

-Then set aside (Covered or uncovered doesn’t really matter) and let sit for 1-2 hours. You want the olive oil to soften and wilt the spinach. You also want to give it this time to let the flavors mingle and intensify.

- While the filling is resting you can prep your peppers. Remove tops of peppers, then scrape out all seeds and membrane. Since you’re using mini peppers this will be a bit more difficult to do then on a large pepper. If you don’t get out every bit of membrane don’t worry. To get the seeds out of the very bottom of the peppers without breaking them the easiest thing to do is just run them under the kitchen faucet. The water will wash out all the seeds that are stuck inside.

- When peppers are prepped and filling has rested. Set your broiler to medium-high heat and spray broiler pan with non-stick cooking spray.

- Now stuff your peppers with the filling. You could use a spoon if you like but the peppers are so small you’re better off using your hands. They’ll get greasy for sure, but it’s a lot more efficient. Stuff the peppers as full as you can without breaking them then line them up on the greased broiler pan. Depending on the size of your mini peppers you should be able to get 26-30 out of one batch. If you’re using regular bell peppers you can probably get 4.

- Once peppers are all full and assembled place them into your oven and broil on medium-high. Cooking time varies so keep an eye on them. Check the peppers every five minutes. When you see the skin softening and start to get black spots remove the peppers from the oven and turn them over. Continue cooking until skin blackens again and filling looks slightly golden. Cooking shouldn’t take longer then 25 minutes, and you want to make sure that the skins only slightly blacken you don’t want the peppers burnt and crispy.

And that’s all there is to it, simple right? You can serve these as an appetizer, or serve them as a main meal along side a grain and a vegetable dish or salad.

Now as a recovering cheese addict/lover I can be quite harsh on vegan items that boast a cheesy flavor, but in all honesty I would say that taste-wise my vegan version of these peppers mimics the original by 95% My husband generously claimed that they were 98% accurate. Now regardless of which one of us is right I have to say I consider anything over 90% a pretty damn big success, and one I’m most proud of.

*** Note - If you wish to re-hydrate your sun-dried tomatoes before using them you can do so by soaking them in a bowl of warm/hot water for about 5-10 minutes. Which is what I did, but I’ve also since made this dish without soaking the tomatoes first.
Also as far as cheese goes, Daiya is my favorite non-dairy cheese, and I think their version of Mozzarella works really well here, it also comes with the added bonus of beign both gluten and soy-free, but if you have another brand that you prefer by all means give it a try.***

Friday, August 19, 2011

Coconut Lime Curried Greens Over Volcano Rice...

As I mentioned the other day we really should be making leafy greens a significant part of our daily food consumption, so I’ve been experimenting all week with interesting and exciting ways to jazz them up. Personally I don’t mind greens served relatively plain with a bit of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper, but I know most people are looking for a bit more of a kick for the old tastebuds. So this is what I came up with last night for dinner and I think it more then serves the purpose of delivering a creative new way to eat greens. It’s got a wonderful blend of Asian flavor, and is completely oil-free, which you gotta love right?

Coconut Lime Curried Greens Over Volcano Rice


1 Bunch Kale
½ Bunch Collards
1 red pepper medium dice
1 yellow onion medium dice
1 cup frozen peas
8-10 cloves garlic crushed
Vegetable broth to saute
Small handful basil leaves torn
Sea salt and black pepper

Coconut Lime Curry Sauce

1 can coconut milk plus a little water - slightly less then 1/4 cup water
1 tbsp lime juice
1 packet stevia (Optional - to taste)
1-2 heaping tbsp Thai red curry paste (To taste)
½ tbsp kaffir lime leaves minced (Optional)

Volcano Rice

1 ½-3/4 C Volcano Rice (Depending on how hungry you are)
2 - 2 1/4C Vegetable broth or water (Depending on the amount of rice)

- To make Rice add broth and rice to rice cooker and follow manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t own a rice cooker, cook as package directs.

- While rice is cooking, saute onions, red pepper, and garlic in a few tbsp of vegetable broth over medium heat. Until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. About 7-10 minutes.

- Add in your cooked greens and stir to coat with broth, and vegetables. Place lid over pan and cook on medium/medium-low heat stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.

- While greens are cooking make your marinade. Whisk together Coconut milk, lime juice, curry paste, stevia, water and lime leaves. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. If you like a bit more heat add more curry paste. Also you can use either red, green or yellow curry paste. I just prefer red. If you don’t have stevia you can use another sweetener of choice. Agave, brown sugar, granulated cane sugar etc...

- After 10 minutes your greens should have decreased in size and broken down a bit. Add your coconut milk mixture along with your torn basil leaves, sea salt and black pepper. Let boil, the reduce to simmer about 5 minutes. Add in frozen peas and simmer roughly 5 minutes longer.

- Serve coconut greens over rice and enjoy.

*** Note - Volcano rice is a product made by Lotus Foods packed with minerals and antioxidants. It’s delicious, and has a mild flavor but if you can’t find it or don’t want to go searching for it you can just use regular brown rice. Also as for the greens you can use any kind you have on hand. I prefer kale and collards for this dish, but you can do all kale, or all collards or throw in some chard, whatever you want, don’t be afraid to be creative.***

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Momma’s Traditional ‘Beef’ Stew...

For the past two week I’ve had this wicked bad and very strange craving for some kind of a ‘beef’ stew. Now cravings are nothing new to me, especially weird ones. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been struck out of the blue by some intense craving or other. In fact it happens frequently, and is just like pregnancy cravings - so I’m told - minus the pregnancy part. What makes this craving particularly strange is that I was never the kind of person who enjoyed a hearty beef soup or stew. Even as a kid, it was not my favorite dish. Yet here I’ve been craving ‘beef’ stew for nearly two weeks, and so finally yesterday I gave in and tried my hand at pulling together a vegan version.

I was very skeptical as I was making it. For most of the cooking process it just didn’t look right, smelt okay but that I’ve found that aroma isn’t always the best indicator of taste. I’d also never used Gardein Beefless tips before and wasn’t sure how that was going to be. Yet by the time I was done, not only did it smell wonderful, it actually looked like a traditional beef stew, and the flavor! It was out of this world! I’m telling you. I was so amazed, I turned to my husband and said "I think this is the best beef stew I’ve ever made." I’m not kidding when I say this tastes almost exactly like the stew I remember my mom making as a kid. The texture is a little different, meaty of course but not tough, chewy or grisly like actual meat, which I appreciate.

Now I realize a lot of you reading are living in climates in which it is summer, but you never know, if a rainy day swings your way I urge you to make this, and for those of you ‘down under’ this is a perfect fall/winter food. Warm, and comforting on a chilly evening.

Momma’s Traditional ‘Beef’ Stew

1 tbsp olive oil
1 Large yellow onion chopped in medium sized chunks
2 Ribs celery sliced into 1 inch pieces
12 Baby carrots sliced in half lengthwise then halved crosswise
10 Garlic cloves crushed (or to taste)
3 Medium sized potatoes chopped in small cubes
2 C frozen peas
18 oz Gardein Beefless Tips (Two packs)
3 1/2C Water
1/2C Red Wine
½ tsp Ground Thyme
½ tsp Crushed Rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
2 Not-Beef Bullion Cubes (Edward & Sons makes a good one)
3 tbsp flour
1-2 Tbsp Earth Balance

- Heat Oil in medium-large sized pot. Add chopped onion and garlic and saute 3-4 minutes. Add carrots, and celery and saute until onions and carrots have softened slightly. About 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

- Whisk together water, flour, and bullion cubes. Then add to the pot along with potatoes, thyme, rosemary, oregano, pepper and salt.

- Cover and bring to boil. Let boil for 5-10 minutes then add 3/4 of the half cup of red wine and reduce heat and let simmer about 20 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile empty beefless tips into a separate pan on medium-high heat. Pour the remaining wine over top and cook them till they’re nicely seared and brown on all sides.

- By this time the potatoes and carrots should be fork tender. Add the Peas, Earth Balance and beefless tips to the pot, along with any pan juices. If there are crusty bits of beefless tip coating the bottom of your pan, scrape them into the stew pot. It’ll add a great flavor. Simmer another 10 minutes to let flavors mingle, stirring once or twice, then remove pot from heat and let it rest ten minutes before serving.

- Taste for seasonings and add more salt, pepper, or red wine to your liking. Serve in a large wide mouthed bowl, with a couple of pieces of crusty whole grain bread.

This really is a rich and warming stew, and heavenly aromatic. It makes the whole house smell like Thanksgiving or Christmas, and in fact the broth form this stew would be the perfect substitute for a ‘traditional’ turkey or beef gravy.

PS: If you’ve never heard of Gardein and would like to know more about them and the products they offer you can check out their website here -

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sweet Smokey Miso Collards with Pickled Ginger...

Greens are amazing, everyone should know that by now and if you don’t it’s time for you to wake up. Dark leafy green vegetables are one of the most vital, healthful foods we can eat, in fact calorie for calorie they are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! They are absolutely loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, and have been shown to have anti-cancer benefits as well as cholesterol lowering properties. Collards in particular really rock out at the top of the list. 1 cup of cooked collards contains a mere 49 calories! Yet it also packs 880% of your daily vitamin K, 118% of vitamin A, 57% of vitamin C, 53% of manganese, 45% of your Folate, nearly 25% of your Calcium, 20% Fiber, 15% Potassium, nearly 15% Vitamin B6, & B2, 10% Protein, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fatty acids and roughly 8% of your daily Iron. That’s all in just ONE cup! Incredible right? And people wonder where Vegans and Vegetarians get our nutrients from!

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking "But collards are boring, they’re bland etc..." but you couldn’t be more wrong. I truly believe that culturally we have such a negative opinion of greens, because we’ve never really eaten them cooked properly. All to often our parents either undercooked and under seasoned our greens so that they were tough and bland. Or worse, they overcooked our greens, boiled them down until they were a watery slimy mush. Definitely not appetizing. However when greens are cooked properly and seasoned well, they are the most scrumptious thing, and the more you eat them the more you’ll crave them. The other fantastic thing about them is that they’re quick and easy to cook. At most they take about 10 minutes, and who doesn’t like that?

I know the other big problem with greens is trying to find inventive ways to incorporate them into our diets daily. Ideally we should be eating some kind of dark leafy green each day, though I know most of us don’t. I too occasionally slip into a pattern of neglecting my greens, and in all honesty when I don’t eat them regularly I start to feel a bit sluggish. The past month in particular I’ve been neglecting them, but over the past few days I’ve been back on track.

The following recipe I whipped up for lunch today, and man was it good. Seriously the flavors mingled so well, that the dish exceeded all expectations. So give it a try. Introduce your tastebuds to a new way of thinking about greens and I promise you will fall in love.

Sweet Smokey Miso Collards with Pickled Ginger

For the Collards

1 ½ - 2 Bunches Collard Greens chopped into bite size pieces, large ribs removed
1-2 tsp Sesame Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion chopped
8-10 Garlic Cloves minced (or to taste)

For the Sauce

1/2C Water (or more or less to taste)
2 Tbsp Mellow White Miso
1 Tbsp Agave (or to taste)
1-2 tsp Liquid Smoke (or to taste)
Dash of black pepper

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp pickled ginger (or to taste) (Optional but highly recommended)

- Place sesame oil into a large pan and heat to medium.

- Mince garlic, chop onions and add to the heated pan. Saute, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, until onions are soft and translucent. About 7-10 minutes.

- While onions and garlic are sauteeing, chop your collards. I find the easiest way is to run my knife down one side of the rib until I have a huge piece, then do the same along the other side of the rib so that the rib is removed but all the leaf is intact. Then I fold the halves, slice them in half lengthwise once, and then cross-wise into bite sized pieces. When done set your chopped collards aside.

- To make your dressing whisk together the water, white miso, liquid smoke, black pepper, and agave nectar. Taste for flavor and adjust as needed. Though with the liquid smoke I suggest adding it in 1 tsp at a time, and once you’ve reached 2 tsp add it in at a 1/4 - 1/2tsp increments.

- When onions and garlic are ready add the collards to the pan. Mix until evenly coated with oil, garlic and onion then cover and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add in your sauce stirring to evenly coat and cook another 3 minutes. You want your collards to decrease in size slightly and break down a bit. You want them to be soft, with just a hint of firmness to them. You don’t want them to be chewy or mushy. If after a total of 6 minutes your collards still aren’t quite there give them another 2 minutes.

- When collards are cooked, add the 1 tbsp lemon juice and stir to mix. It’ll really make the flavor pop, and brighten up the greens a bit. Then distribute evenly amongst 2 plates. (Or pile one plate super high) and add in the ginger. About 1 tbsp sliced pickled ginger per serving, or more or less to taste. This is entirely optional but super delicious. It gives the collards a little something extra, a nice sweet gingery bite.

Enjoy as part of your main course, a first course, or a side dish.

Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals In Chicago...

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers I have some exciting news to share with you all today!

On September 10th 2011, Me and Matthew will be participating in Farm Sanctuary’s "Walk for Farm Animals" In Chicago. It’s a Charity Fundraising event put on by Farm Sanctuary (A not for profit organization) dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and neglected farm animals. They’re a wonderful organization dedicated to abolishing the cruel, unnecessary factory farm practices that have become common place. They run the largest rescue and refuge network for farmed animals in North America. With a 175 acre shelter in Upstate New York, and a 300 acre shelter in California, Farm Sanctuary provides lifelong care and rehabilitation to the farm animals they rescue.

Many people are unaware that farm animals are excluded from most federal and state anti-cruelty laws, therefore animals used for food production are legally subjected to intolerable suffering and intense cruelty. Laws are enacted and meant to reflect our social values but the laws currently on the books addressing how animals are treated on farms are wildly inconsistent with popular concerns. Farm Sanctuary works tirelessly on campaigns targeted at abolishing inhumane, unconscionable animal cruelty by helping to change policies, laws, and corporate practices that aren’t inline with popular sentiments and the public’s moral values.

The inhumane treatment of animals of all breeds, be they cats, dogs, pigs, cows, seals etc... has become an issue very dear to Matthew and my hearts which is why we have decided to participate in this fundraising event and why we need your help. We are hoping to raise a minimum of $500 for Farm Sanctuary to help them continue the great work that they do. So if there’s a special pet in your life, and you feel strongly about abolishing animal-cruelty then we humbly ask you to support us in our walk, with donations of $5, $10, $15, $20, $25 or however much or little you feel comfortable with. This is the perfect opportunity for us to practice compassion for others, and come together on an important issue in the hopes of making a difference and raising awareness.

You already know of course that we’re vegan/vegetarian, but you don’t have to be. No matter what your dietary or lifestyle choices may be I think we can all agree that the animals on our plates should come to us humanely, and that cruelty should have no place in this world. Supporting this wonderful cause is one step forward in changing that.

Thank you so much for your time and your help. All Donations are very greatly appreciated.
Peace & Love
Kyleigh & Matthew,

To make a donation you can go to ourTeam Page -

For more information about Farm Sanctuary and the great work that they do, check out their website here - -

PS: Remember the walk is September 10th so get your donations in by September 9th!

PPS: Please spread the word, if you have friends, family members, co-workers or acquaintances you think might be interested in contributing to this cause please pass on the information of how and where they can donate. Forward this email, or cross-post it to your facebook and twitter accounts to get the word out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nutty Fruity Banana Yogurt Bowl...

You know there are some mornings when you wake up and you just want to poor some sugary cereal into a bowl and scarf it down. You’re tired, you have a busy day ahead of you and the thought of actually taking some time out to make a breakfast is just too daunting. Well I have the perfect solution. Last week I was going through something of a banana craze, which is odd for me considering I don’t really like bananas - never have - at least not in their whole state. Banana flavored things, or banana in something - such as banana bread - okay, but on their own, No. However last week for whatever reason I was mad for bananas, eating at least 2 a day, and sometimes 3. One night I was craving bananas so bad that my husband and I made a Midnight run to the local 24 hour grocery and spent about $5 on bananas. Do you know how many bananas you can get for $5? Well at 55c per pound I’ll tell you it’s quite a lot! Subsequently around the same time I was craving nuts, walnuts and cashews in particular and so the following morning I assembled this simple yet delicious breakfast using some leftover fruit and vanilla soy yogurt that needed to be gotten rid of.

Nutty Fruity Banana Yogurt Bowl

1 large banana sliced
1/4 C strawberries sliced
1/4 C dark red cherries sliced
1 tsp hemp seeds
1/4 C Walnuts chopped
less then half 1/4 C chopped cashews
1/2C Vanilla Soy Yogurt

- Pour Vanilla Soy Yogurt into a bowl

- Layer in your sliced cherries, strawberries and sliced banana.

= Top with chopped nuts, and hemp seeds and enjoy!

It really is as simple as that. It might take a couple minutes longer then dumping cereal into a bowl but it is a lot more nutritious, and far more satisfying. Another great thing about it is that the fruit and nuts are pretty interchangeable. Use whatever you have on hand, I think Pecans or pistachios would work really well, and to make things even easier use fresh berries instead of slicing up strawberries and cherries. Or just use extra banana. For example 2 bananas instead of the additional sliced fruit.

I do however suggest you try it my way at least once though as it really is amazing. In fact I ended up eating some variation of this bowl for breakfast all week. It’s a great way to start your day, I promise! Even though there’s only one banana in the bowl it packs a heavy banana punch and the other fruits are kind of muted by it, lending to the bowl that hint of sweetness you might be craving in the early or mid morning. I think this bowl Is even tasty and sweet enough to use as a healthful desert, which I may have done more then once.

PS: I’m not really a fan of soy yogurt. Most brands to me taste very soy-like and artificial. However I do highly recommend the Wildwood Brand Vanilla Soygurt, it’s so good you can eat it straight out of the carton. You can also use it for baking. Check it out!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Companies That DO NOT Test On Animals....

As promised here is a list of companies that DO NOT Test their products on animals. It is by no means a complete list but I do think it’s a great jumping off point. Too many companies test their products on innocent animals, however there are many more who are committed to creating cruelty-free and compassionate alternatives. For everything from cosmetics, clothing, pet care products and pet foods, skin care, hair care, sun care, household cleaners, herbal medicine, vitamins etc... Whatever it is you’re looking fore, you can find a compassionate alternative. The only thing you’ll want to watch out for is that while many of these companies are Vegan (Meaning not only do they not test their products on animals but their products also do not contain any animal ingredients) not all of them are. So if that’s a concern for you just double check, and be sure to check out a full list of cruelty-free companies at Also, if you have a product you’re concerned about, that you didn’t see either on the list of companies that do test, or the list of companies that don’t test, don’t be shy about emailing the company and asking them yourself.

With such an extensive list of companies dedicated to creating cruelty-free, holistic, and organic products there is absolutely no reason why we need to continue to support companies that ignorantly engage in the horrible and outdated practice of animal testing. If you care about animal-welfare then speak up for those who have no voice by putting your money where your ethics are, and switch to cruelty-free living. I know a lot of people become very daunted when faced with these kinds of facts but remember that there’s no one saying you have to do it all over night. You can take it slow, work towards this as your goal, set your own pace. Remember that doing something, anything is better then doing nothing, and that just because you can’t do it all right away it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything at all. Every action we take against cruelty is a step forward, and this list is a great place to start.

Companies That DO NOT Test On Animals....

100% Pure
2 Beauty Ex., Inc.
A Different Daisy
A Mano Bath
A Perfume Organic
A Wild Soap Bar
ABBA Pure and Natural Hair Care
Abercrombie & Fitch
Abra Therapeutics
Absolute Miracle
Absolute Soap (Product Body)
Acquarella Polish
Adolfo Dominguez (Puig)
Adorn Mineral Cosmetics
Advantage Wonder Cleaner
Advanced Beauty Tools
Advanced Botanical Research
Aeon Botanica
Affordable Mineral Makeup
After Inked, LLC
Afterglow Cosmetics
AG Hair Cosmetics
Agape & Zoe Naturals
Agape by DK
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (Puig)
Ageless Fantasy
Agua Brava (Puig)
Ainterol Natural Products
Alba Botanica
Alchemilla Pure Skin Care
Alexami Cosmetics
Alima Cosmetics Inc
All Terrain
Aliens Naturally
All-Nutrient (Chuckles Inc)
Ally’s AromaRemedies
Almo Nature
Aloe Up
Aloe Vera of America
Aloette Cosmetics
Alpen Secrets
Alvin Corner
Amal Oils
Amazing Cosmetics Inc
Amazon Premium Products
American Formulating and Manufacturing
American International
American Safety Razor
America’s Finest Products Corporation
Amina Cosmetics
Amore Pet Services Inc
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Ancient Formulas
Andrea International Industries
Animal Food Services
Anise Cosmetics
Anna Marie’s Aromatherapy and Massage
Anthology Organic
Antonio Banderas Fragrances (Puig)
Anya Natural
Apala Hair
Apothecary Blend
Apothecary Shoppe
Aqua Blue Secret
Aqua Dessa
Arbonne International
Ardell International
Arden & Angelina Vintage Skincare
Arganat Inc
Arissa Studios (Beauty 21)
Aroma Bella
Aroma Crystal Therapy
Aroma Naturals
Aroma Vera
Aromacare Victoria
AromaHerbal Healing (Shankara)
Aromatherapy by Whole Spectrum
Artemis Pet Food
Ashi Therapy
Astonish Industries Inc
At Last Naturals
Attitude Eco-Friendly Certified Cleaning Products
Au Natural Botanicals
Aubrey Organics Inc
Augisa & Co.
Aunt Bee’s Skin Care
Aura Cacia
Aurora’s Closet
Aus Bush Flower Essences
Aussie Mineral Makeup
Austen Rose
Avalon Organics
Avocado Dreamin LLC
Awakening Mineral Therapies
Ayana Organics
Ayurveda Holistic Center
B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful
Borlind of Germany Inc
B4 Brands
Baby Bear Shop
Baby Girl Products
Baby’s Bliss and Mommy’s Bliss
Balm Envy
Bamboo Aesthetics
Bamboo Aromas
Bamboo Elements
Bamboo Minerals
Bamboo Zen
Bare Escentuals
Bare Organics
Barefaced Mineral Cosmetics
Bath & Body Works
Bath Island
Bayse Natural Care
Bazil Essentials
Be Green Bath & Body
Be Natural Organics
Beauty Control
Beautiful Earth
Beauty 21
Beauty Bliss Cosmetics
Beauty Without Cruelty
Bee Mine Products Inc
Bella Bardot
Bella Lucce
Bella Mira Essential Oils
Belle & Bianca
Belle’s Botanicals
Better Botanicals
Beverly Hills Cold Wax
Big Moon Mountain
Bioethique Organic Cosmetics
Black Corset Candles
Black Radiance
Black Tai Salt Company
Blooming Lotus
Blue Moon Candles
Bob’s Red Mill
Body Bakery, The
Body Bistro
Body Butter Factory
Body Crystal Inc
Body Shop, The
Booda Organics
Boston Baked Bonz
Botanical Skin Works
Botanics Skin Care
Brooklan Tree
Brookside Soap Company
Bubble & Bee Organic
Bug Off
Bugs B Wear
Burt’s Bees
C.O. Bigelow
Cactus & Ivy
Candy Kisses Natural Lip Balm
Carrot Tree Soaps & Essentials
Celestial Body Inc
Cheeky Cosmetics
Christine Marie Cosmetics
CiCi Cosmetics
Clarins of Paris
Classic Beauty
Clean Kids Naturally
CleanWell Company
Clear Conscious
Clearly Natural Products
Coastal Classic Creations
Cocoa Pink
Color Me Beautiful
Coola Suncare
Corrective Skin Care
Cosmic Tree Essentials
Crabtree & Evelyn Cosmetics
Crystal Body Deodorant
Daisy Blue Naturals
Desert Essence
Desert Moon Bath & Body
Destiny Boutique
Duchess Cosmetics
E.L.F. Cosmetics
Earth Alive
Earth Friendly Products
Earth Goddess Minerals
Earth Science
Earth Spirit Natural Home
Earthlight Organics
Ecco Bella Botanicals
Eco Concepts
Eco Lips Inc
Eco Minerals
EcoGlow Minerals
Eco-Nature Care
Ed Hardy Habit
Eden’s Kiss
Elemental Herbs
ELON Nail & Skin Essentials
Everyday Esthetics
Everyday Minerals
Freeda Vitamins
Fresh Body Market
Fruit of the Earth
FX Special Effects
Garden Girl
Garden of Eve Skincare
Giovanni Cosmetics
Glam Nation
Gluten Free Beauty
Golden Earth
Golden Path Alchemy
Grapeseed Company, The
Great American, The Wholefood Farmacy
Green 4 Your Soul
Green Babies
Green Forest
Green Girl Basics
Green Ritual Organics
Gustavo Cosmetics
H20 Plus
Halloween Moon Creations
Hannah’s Handprints
Hard Candy
Healing Scents
Hello Kitty
Herbal Clear
Hippy Heaven Natural Beauty
Honest Kitchen, The
Hugo Natural Products
Jabon Natural Company
JASCO Organics, Inc
Jason Natural Cosmetics
Kiss My Face
Kiss Products
L.A. Girl
La Bella Pink
Lacovit (Puig)
Lady of the Lake
Lamas Beauty
LaRocca Skincare
Life Garden
Lilly’s Naturals
Lip-Ink International
Little Moon Essentials
Little Twig
Liz Claiborne Cosmetics
Looloos Escape
Lotus Body Botanicals
Lotus Moon Natural Skin Care
Lucky Tiger
LUSH Cosmetics
Magic of Aloe
Magick Botanicals
Malibu Fragrance
Malibu Sun Products
Mango (Puig)
Manic Panic
Medusa’s Makeup
MESS Makeup
Mia Rose Products Inc
Mineral Fusion Cosmetics
Mixed Chicks
Mod Skin Labs
Mountain Girl Botanics
Mountain Girl Soap &Sundries
My Lip Stuff
Mystic Wonders
Mystique Products
Naava Inc
Nadarra Skin Care
Nadina’s Cremes
Natural Bodycare Company
Natural Chemistry
Natural Salt Lamps
Naturally Fresh Crystal Deodorant
Nature Clean
NewLeaf Clean LLC
Newman’s Own Organics
Nuvo Cosmetics
Ocean Potion
Opulence Cosmetics
Organic Grooming
Organic Indulgence
Osea International
Pangea Organics
Pink Beauty Cosmetics
Pink Quartz Minerals
Planet Botanicals
Pomegranate Body
Prestige Cosmetics
Prima Pet Foods
Puig USA
Rainbow Brite
Raven Odara
Ravenwood Gardens
Raw Advantage Inc
Rejuva Minerals
Seaside Naturals
Secret Garden
Seventh Generation
Shave Inc
She Zen Beauty
Shea Moisture
Siren Beauty
Sound Earth LLC
South Beach Skincare
SpaGlo Beauty
St. John’s Botanicals
Timberwolf Organics Inc
Tom’s of Maine
Too Faced Cosmetics
Touch of Nature Body & Bath
Trader Joe’s Company
Twig & Leaf Botanicals
Urban Decay
UV Natural Sunscreen
V Glam Cosmetics
Victoria’s Secret
Vital Earth Traditions
Vitamin Shampoo
Wachter’s Organic Sea Products
Warm Earth Cosmetics
Wet n Wild
Whole Foods Market 365
Wildflower Organic Body Care

PS. Tomorrow I promise to return with an actual food related post.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Companies That Test On Animals....

As promised, here is a list of companies that are known to test their products on animals. I can’t say that this is a complete list so if you’re concerned about a company that you don’t see listed here you can always send them an inquiry email. There are a lot of companies on this list, more then I was aware of. It saddens me greatly to look around and realize that I own some of the products made by these companies. Some products I thought were better alternatives turned out to be just as bad if not worse, but how are we to know when animal-testing isn’t an issue that gets much if any media attention these days? These companies are rich, powerful and popular and flood the market with their endless array of cruel products, all the while leading us to believe that they are a happy, responsible, and superior alterative. It seems there isn’t a grocery or department store around that doesn’t sell products from at least a dozen (it not more) of the companies listed here. However cruelty-free alternatives do exist, and I strongly urge you to seek them out, and boycott these companies until they move away from the archaic methods of animal testing. There is absolutely no reason why cleaning products and makeup need to continually be tested on animals. If there are companies out there who have found a way to create good, superior, reliable products without testing them on animals then these companies should be able to do so as well. The fact that they don’t just shows how ignorant, irresponsible, and uncaring they really are. I know that I do not want to be part of such a horrendous practice, I don’t want my money to support the cruel and atrocious practice of animal-testing, and so I’m quickly switching over all of my products. I hope you will do the same.

Companies that test on animals....

Acuvue (Johnson & Johnson)
Aim (Church & Dwight)
Air Wick (Reckitt Benckiser)
Alcon Labs
Allergan, Inc.
Always (Proctor & Gamble)
Ambi (Proctor & Gamble)
Aquafresh (GlaxoSmithKline)
Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight)
ArmorAll (Clorox)
Arrid (Church & Dwight)
Aussie (Proctor & Gamble)
Aveeno (Johnson & Johnson)
Axe (Unilever)
Bain de Soleil
Band-Aid (Johnson & Johnson)
Ban Roll-on
Banana Boat
Bausch & Lomb
Bic Corporation
Biotherm (L’Oreal)
Block Drug Co. Inc.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Cacherel (L’Oreal)
Carefree (Johnson & Johnson)
Carpet Fresh
Chapstick (Pfizer)
Christina Aguilera Perfumes (Proctor & Gamble)
Church & Dwight (Arm & Hammer)
Clairol (Proctor & Gamble)
Clean & Clear (Johnson & Johnson)
Clearasil (Reckitt Benckiser)
Clear Choice
Close-Up (Church & Dwight)
Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Comfort (Unilever)
Commerce Drug Co.
Consumer Value Stores
Cover Girl
Crest (Proctor & Gamble)
Dana Perfumes
DDF (Proctor & Gamble)
Del Laboratories
Dial Corporation
Dolce & Gabbana (Proctor & Gamble)
Dove (Unilever)
Dow Brands
Drackett Products Co.
Drano (S.C. Johnson)
Dry Idea (Dial)
Dunhill Fragrances (Proctor & Gamble)
Eli Lilly & Co.
El Sanofi Inc.
Elizabeth Arden
Erno Laszlo
Escada Fragrances (Proctor & Gamble)
Ever Clean (Clorox)
Fantastik (S.C. Johnson)
Febreze (Procter & Gamble)
Final Net
First Response
Flame Glow
Formula 409 (Clorox)
Fresh Step (Clorox)
Gillette Co (Proctor & Gamble)
Giorgio Armani
Glad (Clorox)
Glade (S.C. Johnson)
Glass Plus
Gucci Fragrances (Proctor & Gamble)
Head & Shoulders (Proctor & Gamble)
Helena Rubinstein (L’Oreal)
Helene Curtis Industries
Herbal Essence (Proctor & Gamble)
Hugo Boss (Proctor & Gamble)
Iams (Proctor & Gamble)
Ivory (Proctor & Gamble)
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson Products Co.
Kimberly-Clark Corp
Kiwi Brands
K.Y. (Johnson & Johnson)
Lacoste Fragrances (Proctor & Gamble)
Lady's Choice
Lancome (L’Oreal)
Lever Brothers
Liquid Plumr (Clorox)
Listerine (Johnson & Johnson)
L'Oreal USA
Lubriderm (Johnson & Johnson)
Mary Kay
Matrix Essentials (L’Oreal)
Max Factor (Proctor & Gamble)
Maybelline (L’Oreal)
Mop & Glo
Mr. Clean (Proctor & Gamble)
Nair (Church & Dwight)
Natural Instincts (Proctor & Gamble)
Nature’s Source (SC Johnson)
Neutrogena (Johnson & Johnson)
Neutron Industries, Inc.
New Dana Perfumes
Nice ‘n Easy (Proctor & Gamble)
Off (S.C. Johnson)
Olay (Proctor & Gamble)
Old English
Old Spice (Proctor & Gamble)
Orange Glo
Oscar de la Renta
Oust (SC Johnson)
OxiClean (Church & Dwight)
Pampers (Proctor & Gamble)
Pantene (Proctor & Gamble)
Parfums International
Pearl Drops
Pfizer, Inc.
Physique (Proctor & Gamble)
Playtex Corporation
Prestige Brands
Prince Matchabelli
Proctor & Gamble Co.
Purex (Dial)
Ralph Lauren Fragrances
Reckitt Benckiser
Right Guard (Dial)
Rogaine (Johnson & Johnson)
Sally Beauty Supply
Sally Hansen
Savion (Johnson & Johnson)
SC Johnson & Son
Scope (Proctor & Gamble)
Scott Paper Co.
Scrubbing Bubbles (S.C. Johnson)
Scrub Free
Shout (S.C. Johnson)
Shower to Shower (Johnson & Johnson)
SmithKline Beecham
Soft & Dri (Dial)
Soft Scrub (Dial)
SoftSheen (L’Oreal)
Spray ‘n Wash
Stanhome Inc.
Stayfree (Johnson & Johnson)
Sterling Drug
Suave (Unilever)
Sun Star
Sunlight (Unilever)
Sunsilk (Unilever)
Swiffer (Proctor & Gamble)
TCB Naturals
Tide (Proctor & Gamble)
Tilex (Clorox)
Vaseline (Unilever)
Vichy (L’Oreal)
Vicks (Proctor & Gamble)
Vidal Sassoon (Proctor & Gamble)
Westwood Pharmaceuticals
White Shoulders
Whitehall Laboratories
Windex (S.C. Johnson)
Zest (Proctor & Gamble)

P.S. Since this list is so long, I’ll post a separate list of companies that don’t test on animals. Hopefully I’ll put that up either tomorrow, or Monday, so keep an eye out for it. Also if you’re interested in finding out more you can check out or simply Google "Companies that test on animals" and a bunch of different animal-welfare sites should pop up with detailed information.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Realities Behind “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and Why We Should Change...

Today I bring you a post not about food but about film. Friday night I saw the film "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and I must say it exceeded all of my wildest expectations. As a practically lifelong fan of the original 1968 film, both for it’s amazing story and it’s sociopolitical subtext, I wasn’t sure this ‘reboot’ could compare. When I saw the first trailer a few months ago, my initial judgement was that the film would be a glossy, CGI extravaganza, lacking any sort of plot, or intelligent thought, but I was wrong. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that this film matches the greatness of the original, at least in storytelling capacity, but it does without a doubt surpass the original in presenting it’s message of social justice.

The film is getting a lot of press right now for it’s attempt at tackling issues of animal welfare. An overwhelming majority of the reviews have been positive, and most of those good reviews have praised the film’s anti-animal testing, pro animal-welfare message. As well as it’s decision to use CGI apes rather then real ones. Which of course brings to light the issues of animal-cruelty within the entertainment industry. A problem that still exists today but doesn’t get the amount of attention that it should. The bad reviews on the other hand appear to be coming at the film from two different standpoints. On the right you have those who are annoyed by the films message, labeling it ‘animal-rights propaganda’ and even going so far as to argue why cruel animal-testing is still necessary. On the left you have those who consider themselves animal advocates or activists who are annoyed with the film for not doing enough to promote the pro-animal message.

I can certainly understand why some people may feel the film wasn’t good enough, because I agree that it would be nice for once to see a mainstream film with massive financial backing to dig deep into the issues and present a truly in your face message. However at the same time I don’t feel that being aggressive with people is very helpful to the cause. I find that coming on with a strong attitude turns more people off, and would only enrage viewers and alienate a wider audience. No one, after all, enjoys being preached too.

Considering this is a Hollywood film, and I don’t expect much if anything out of Hollywood I’m surprised the film makers were able to get in as many of the animal welfare issues as they did, to the degree that they did. I don’t think the message of the film is in anyway subtle, and I especially admire the two pronged approach the film takes in tackling issues of animal-welfare and cruelty. This is after all the only film in the series (Including the Tim Burton remake) that portrays the apes as heros rather then villains. On top of that this is arguably the only film (or at least one of very few) that tells a story entirely from a non-human animal point of view, that attempts to explore not only the physical side of animal cruelty but the psychological and emotional sides as well. Considering the constraints the film needs to work with I thought the film makers did a reasonably good job here. You of course get all the images and sound bites you might expect from a film that takes a stance against animal-cruelty. You see despondent apes in cages. You see apes experimented on, and mistreated. You see apes living meaningless lives filled with nothing but pain and suffering. You see them killed, tortured, and brutalized. You see them living in squalor, and you hear the humans all around commenting on it and yet turning a blind eye. These are the things you expect to see, but the film also showcases other issues that I feel are less explored when discussing the cruelty test-animals are subjected to each and every day.

For instance the film opens on a scene in the jungles of what is presumably Africa, with a group of men tracking a group of apes. When thinking about test-animals I think it’s rare for us to have the awareness to realize that in order to acquire these animals they need to be taken from the wild. To rip these animals from their homes in the wild, away from everything they know, away from their mothers to whom they’ve bonded, their families, and their extensive social networks is both devastating and traumatic. Not only for those animals captured, but also for those who are left behind. In many cases during these ‘capture’ missions animals are hurt, brutalized, and even killed, particularly if they show signs of posing any kind of threat to their human captors. It’s clear these animals do not want to be taken, that’s why they run in fear, that’s why they hide, that’s why they scream when they’re locked away, and why they cry out so mournfully as they leave their jungle homes. They have no desire to become our tools, our test subjects, or our entertainment. This is a well thought out scene that proves a point and in my opinion is the perfect beginning to the film.

Of course the film makers don’t stop there. They try to get us thinking about a lot of issues we might not normally consider. They show us very specific scenes in order to get us asking those important questions. For example, what does happens to lab animals once they are no longer needed for the particular experiment or trial they were captured for? In many cases it would be appropriate to think those animals would be exterminated. Having served their purpose killing them is more cost effective then keeping them. However the film chooses to also show us another path that is frequently taken. In a particularly moving scene later in the film we are introduced to an ape who looks as though he’s been through hell and back. Not only does his body show signs of the atrocities committed against him but his spirit is obviously broken, giving him the air of a death row inmate. He is self-aware, knowing and understanding his fate, and accepting it for what other choice does he have? The reality that many animals are used repeatedly in different tests, trials and experiments, shipped all over the country to whatever company requires them might not occur to people, but it should. After all it is cheaper and more cost effective to buy a lab animal off of a company that no longer needs it, rather then fund your own animal ‘snatch and grab’ operation in the jungles of Africa. Quick and cheap is what corporations are always after and so one animal may go through several different excruciating experiments during the course of it’s life. Being forced to endure a barrage of tests in any field from the medical, to the cosmetic, to being the testing surface for household cleaners, and any other number of chemicals. These are just a few of the physical cruelties dealt with In the film, but the exploration doesn’t stop there.

The film makers go on to probe the minds of the apes. Attempting to show us the psychological abuse they are forced to live with, as well as their emotional suffering. It is clear from the expressions on their faces that the apes do not want to be test subjects. They do not want to live out their lives in cages and inadequate man-made zoo like habitats. Through their eyes, the subtle movements of their facial muscles, and their vocal ability they express pain when they are harmed and mistreated. They express pain when injected. They exude grief and mourning when one of their own is killed. They encompass loneliness when they are thrown into their cages. In their solitary cells locked away from one another they are oceans of woe, despondence, devastation, depravation, rejection, and bitter compliance. They are broken of will and hopeless, they hate their lives and yet have grown complacent with them because they haven’t yet realized that they can fight for change. You can see as plain as day the anguish they feel, their powerlessness fills every scene. Then in other scenes they are also shown to feel happiness, love, respect, forgiveness and most importantly compassion. It’s that example of compassion that I was most drawn to, and I applaud the film makers for it. Despite whatever else may be happening in this film, it is at it’s base an action film, depicting a revolution. The apes of course are the heroes of this film, and so humans must indeed die during their uprising, but what I love is that the film makers refrained from falling into the easy cliche of portraying the opposing side (The apes) as blood-thirsty revolutionaries. Never do the apes go on a mad, insanity driven killing spree. Rather their actions are calculated and precise, their mission is to free and enlighten others of their kind. Some humans are killed at the hands of apes, of course, but it’s only those humans guilty of animal-cruelty, or hell-bent on murdering the apes, who perish. Cesar who is the revolution’s leader, you will see, does not allow the killing of just any human. Those who are deemed ‘innocent’ are struck down, or pushed aside but they are not killed. In at least three scenes Cesar stops an ape from murdering an ‘innocent’ human. Sending a message to all of his comrades that innocents should be shown compassion. While the humans in the film proceed unwavering in their attempt to kill the apes for no better reason then it’s what they were told to do. In this situation through their actions it’s the apes who show that they have a deeper sense of compassion, and are more capable of rational thought then their human counterparts. Which in my opinion, with all the trouble facing the world today, isn’t that far off the mark.

Another great idea brought forth by the film is the simple but clear message that humans can often be cruel by being kind. We can become so tightly wrapped in our own lives that it can be hard to look at things objectively. More often then not we are incapable of seeing anything from any perspective other then our own, and we’re endlessly guilty of allowing our own sense of morality, shape how we see everyone and everything else. Too frequently we are guilty of being unaware, which is how we can be cruel to other beings without realizing it, or while thinking that we are in fact being kind. The best example of this in the film is James Franco’s character. He undoubtably loves Cesar, he has given him a good home and takes exceptionally good care of him. He believes it’s his duty to protect Cesar and keep him safe. He even respects Cesar as a unique and intelligent being, and doesn’t think of him as a pet in his mind, and yet his instincts have him inevitably treating him as one in certain situations. The deep love and affection he feels for Cesar has blinded him to the fact that he is in actuality Cesar’s oppressor. No matter how much he may love him, he is incapable of giving to Cesar everything he needs. He is indeed his keeper, his ‘owner’ they are not equals no matter how much love and respect may flow between them, and that’s oppression, but he doesn’t understand that. He’s unaware of how Cesar perceives the situation, and in moments where he might become enlightened he chooses selfishly not to understand. Which is something I think as humans we do far to often.

Now putting aside the actual storyline of the film there is one other significant way in which the film tackles issues of animal-welfare, and it’s why in the beginning I referred to the film as having a ‘two pronged approach’ This is perhaps a much subtler way of addressing animal-welfare issues, then the films plot, however I consider it to be far more significant. The very making of the film itself is a stance against animal-cruelty as not a single ape was used in the film. All apes were generated using high-quality CGI. Now the CGI was my biggest worry with this film as I thought the apes would look horrendous and cheesy, thus taking away from the films overall message. Though as it turns out my worry was all for naught, as the CGI in this film was beyond incredible. It didn’t exactly lend to the film the kind of texture you get with the monkey-costumes, but it is visually impressive. More importantly you get a far greater range of facial expressions, implied emotional intelligence, and motion then you would using humans in monkey costumes. Not only do the apes look like apes but they move and act like apes. Which is important because it shows just how good our technology has become. CGI has improved immensely over the past ten years, and it will only continue to improve. The fact that we are now at a point where we can create entire realistic worlds, as well as develop CGI animals that not only look like the animal they are meant to be but move accurately as well should be enough to stop the industry from ever using another real animal in filming again. It has become completely unnecessary. In this day and age with our advanced technology there is no reason for us to continue to rip animals from the wild and force them into lives of servitude simply for our own enjoyment. It’s cruel and heartless. The animals used in the entertainment industry whether it be for film, a circus act etc... are horribly treated. They’re beaten, mistreated, mishandled, misunderstood. They are living lives very similar to the caged apes in this film. Lives of hopelessness and loneliness. Animals die during filming, due to careless accidents, and mistreatment as we saw with the Giraffe that died during the filming of the movie "Zookeeper" Reports are now surfacing claiming the elephant used in "Water for Elephants" was repeatedly beaten into performance, as are the other elephants owned by that company. Animals are living, breathing beautiful creatures. As capable as we of forming friendships, and bonds with one another. They are not our play things, they are not ours to do with as we will, they are not ours to hold dominion over, and they are certainly not deserving of the horrendous situations we place them into each and every day. It is unfathomably cruel to continue using and exploiting these beings when there is absolutely no reason why we need to, and that’s the point this film has made. By refusing to use a real live ape, using CGI ones instead this film has proved that at this point we are continuing to use animals out of sheer ignorance and selfishness. This film shows us just how speciesist we are, and how we are greatly lacking in compassion, having far less then those ‘animals’ we consider to be less than....

Now I realize that a lot of people will go into this film and come out of it with little to none of the message absorbed. People are very good at compartmentalizing life. They can see something horrible like scenes of animal testing and then not connect that reality to the fact that they contribute to animal-cruelty by buying shampoo that is tested on animals. My hope however is that if you have seen this film your eyes have been opened, at least a little bit. I hope this film makes you think, and if you haven’t seen the film then I hope this article helps you to realize and understand that everything we do has a consequence. You may not support animal-cruelty in your mind or your heart, but you may be unknowingly supporting it with what matters most- your money. Please do what you can to refrain from buying products that are tested on animals. Everything from makeup, to personal care products like shampoo and toothpaste and deodorant, to household cleaners and bug sprays are tested on animals before they go to market, and many companies participate in this horrible practice. Many of the companies you most frequently buy are guilty of this, but the good news is that there are more and more companies everyday who are committed to finding other, cruelty-free methods. Please search out and support those companies because when it comes right down to it, your dollars speak louder then words. If a company sees a profit in searching out another testing method then they will, you just need to speak up, take a stand, and refuse to continue contributing to animal-cruelty through your consumerism.

PS: For those interested I’ll post a list of companies that are known to test on animals, and companies who have committed themselves to producing cruelty-free products. That way you can better navigate your way to a cruelty-free life.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Simply Steamed Broccolini with Forbidden Rice...

There’s no doubt that I love cooking elaborate, fancy dinners, but sometimes you just want dinner to be quick and simple. With a minimal amount of ingredients, appliances and dishes used. Am I right? Especially on a busy day, or a particularly hot day. In those moments the temptation to go out for dinner, or have take-out can be fierce and I find too often people give into it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with eating out once in a while but when you’re eating out more days of the week then you’re spending cooking at home it’s not good. Not good for your health or your wallet as restaurant food is typically very fatty, and more expensive then just buying the goods yourself.

We all have those days though, and yesterday was one of those days for me. I wasn’t feeling particularly interested in cooking, but I was determined to refuse the temptation to go out. So I came up with this very simple, yet incredibly delicious meal. The best thing is that If you own a rice cooker you don’t even need to turn on your stove. Everything can be done with one appliance in one shot. However if you do not own a rice cooker you’ll have to make your rice and steam your veggies the old fashion way. In pots on the stove, which will be using a few more dishes then I had to use, but the meal should still be fairly quick and easy.

Simply Steamed Broccolini with Forbidden Rice

First a few notes about this recipe. 1) Umeboshi Plum Vinegar (also known as Ume Vinegar) is awesome, but if you don’t have it, can’t find it, or don’t want to invest in it then you can use another sweet tasting vinegar but then I suggest you add a sprinkle of sea salt to the dish to enliven the flavors. 2) If you don’t have Japanese 7 Spice you can just add a generous amount of citrus pepper (like lemon or orange pepper) or Black pepper and some finely shredded orange peel. 3) If you don’t have or can’t find Forbidden Rice you can use any rice you like but the taste, texture and consistency are going to be different.

Having said that, Forbidden Rice is an Heirloom Grain that's really worth looking for. Not only is it delicious but it’s highly nutritious. Personally I felt it had a taste very similar to wild rice, but with the tenderness and consistency of white rice. The other great thing about Forbidden Rice (also known as black rice) is that it has a very high mineral count, including Iron. More so then any other type of rice, and of course like all rices it’s also rich in several amino-acids. Interestingly the name Forbidden Rice comes from the fact that in China Black Rice was considered the Emperor’s Rice. It was thought to promote longevity, and so it was forbidden for anyone else to eat this rice.

Simply Steamed Broccolini

11/2 lb Broccolini (roughly. More or less depending on how much you eat)
6-10 Garlic cloves finely minced (or to taste)
1 1/2Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Umeboshi Plum Vinegar
1-2 Packets of Stevia to sweeten (Optional)
A few twists of a black pepper mill

- Trim the ends of your Broccolini stems and then place in your steamer basket.

- Steam for 10-12 minutes until fork tender and bright green. Remove from steamer and place into a large bowl.

- While Broccolini is steaming mince your garlic super fine, then place into the bowl in which you’ll be putting your broccolini.

- Also while Broccolini is steaming you can mix together your olive oil, Vinegar, and Stevia in a small bowl. When Broccolini is ready pour mixture over top and lightly toss the Broccolini with your hands to coat it in the sauce and garlic. Twist some black pepper over top and serve.

Forbidden Rice

1 C Forbidden Rice
1 1/2C + 1-2 Tbsp Low-sodium Vegetable stock or water (I prefer stock)
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
A couple of dashes of Japanese 7 Spice seasoning (Optional)

- Place rice and 1 1/2C Veg stock into rice cooker and cook as directed by manufacturer.

- When rice is done, fluff it up with a fork, and if it seems dry add in the additional 1-2 tbsp of veg stock, (you want it moist but not soupy, so add a bit at a time) along with 1 tbsp of soy sauce, and your Japanese 7 spice. Divide among plates and serve.

Voila! Finito! And you might not think that it sounds like very much at all, but it was extremely delicious and filling. Forbidden Rice is incredible, and I strongly urge you to pick some up when you see it.

*** Note - If you use a rice cooker you can cook the rice and use the steamer basket to cook your broccolini at the same time. This saves on time and the use of an extra appliance or pot. The broccolini will be done before the rice though and so you’ll have to check it after about 10 minutes to make sure you don’t overcook it. Also I served this meal with a large side salad, which I neglected to photograph. Side salads are always a good accompaniment to dinner.***