Welcome to my Most Frequently Asked Questions Page, if you have a question you don’t see answered here don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.

Who is welcome here and who can benifit from your blog? Anyone and everyone is welcome here, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or omnivore. No matter what your dietary orientation or lifestyle, I believe we can all benefit from increasing the amount of plant foods we eat, and eliminating foods that are high in animal fats, chemicals, preservatives, excess sodium, refined flours, sugars, and oils. My hope is that no matter where you're from, how you were raised or how you currently live, that you’ll be able to find something helpful in what I write here. All I ask is that while you’re here you conduct yourself with compassion and respect toward both myself and one another.

Why vegan? There are four equally important reasons for why I chose to switch to a vegan lifestyle, but to put it simply I strongly believe that a vegan lifestyle is not only the healthiest thing for our bodies, but our minds, our souls, our planet, and, of course, the animals. It is, in my opinion the most compassionate choice.

Why "The Good Karma Kitchen"? Karma is a belief in both Hinduism and Buddhism that the sum of ones actions in this and in any previous existence affect ones future fate. As a spiritual person I believe strongly in the interconnectedness of all things in the universe. Which is why I strive to live my life with compassion for all beings. I believe in equality, not only for humans but for animals as well, and I believe that in killing an innocent animal simply to pleasure our palate - when that animal's consumption is absolutely not necessary to sustain us in our modern world - we bring negative karma upon ourselves. I also believe as the Buddhists do that you literally are what you eat. Therefore if you eat pain, suffering, and fear - as in that of the pain, suffering, and fear of abused, poorly treated, and slaughtered animals - you become that pain, suffering and fear. As a vegan, my kitchen is free from pain, suffering and negative Karma, hence the name "The Good Karma Kitchen" and with every meal I choose to make I pour into it my love and compassion. I delight in knowing that everything I put into my body works to nourish me, and it pleases me to know that no one ever need be harmed for the sake of my dinner plate.

So what does a vegan eat anyway? Everything and anything that isn't an animal, or come from an animal. We are fortunate to live in a world of great abundance, where there is a vast array of delicious foods at our disposal. There are over one thousand edible plant species known to us, and as a health-conscious vegan I try to consume as wide a variety as I can. I eat everything from fruits and vegetables, to whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and dessert. Yes I said dessert. Strictly speaking dessert might not be listed as a food group, but in my humble opinion it’s often a category all it’s own.

Beyond Veganism, Is there anything else you choose not to eat? I do not believe in 'Perfect' diets or super-restrictive eating, that line of thinking can get you into a lot of trouble, and you can become obsessive. I prefer to eat intuitively - meaning eating with the seasons, eating what my body is telling me to eat, etc.. - However I do try to limit - and in some cases exclude -  consumption of refined grains, sugars, flours, processed foods, and refined oils. (This includes - but is not limited too - white rice, white flour, white sugar, white pasta, white bread, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, bottled salad dressings, marinades, and most sauces - I tend to make my own 'staple' ingredients like seitan, soy or nut milk, cheese, ice cream, whip cream, dressing's and marinades not only because it's healthier but because it tastes better too. I do occasionally eat vegan 'meat' and 'cheese' products, vegan ice cream, or other vegan products, but I consider these items 'treats' okay to eat in moderation, they do not make up even a quarter of my diet. Though if you're new to veganism you may find them extremely helpful in making the transition. I eat organic as much as possible but not exclusively, support Fair Trade whenever I can, and refuse to spend my money on any product containing GMO’s. (Genetically Modified Organisms)

I have food allergies and/or follow a restricted diet, is your blog gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, sugar-free, salt-free or nut-free? I realize that food allergies and sensitivities are becoming more and more common these days and I try to be sensitive to that. However since neither my husband or I have any known food allergies there will be recipes posted here that may contain one or more allergens. Aside from being vegan we don’t strictly follow any other kind of restricted diet - ie - oil-free, salt-free, sugar-free - though because we tend to shy away from soy and gluten, as well as limit our consumption of oil, sugar and salt out of personal preference many of my recipes are free of these ingredients, and salt can always be omitted if you'd prefer. Most recipes are labeled accordingly, but for more detailed information on this issue please look to my post. Important Information About Allergy Concerns and Other Dietary Restrictions- For more information or if you have a question not answered by that post please feel free to ask!

Where do you do your grocery shopping? Because I seem to be getting asked this more and more frequently these days I thought it pertinent to include my answer here in the FAQ’s page in case anyone else needed a few tips or pointers. I don't always do all of my shopping in one store, nor do I shop exclusively at health food stores. Some of the ingredients I use may sound exotic to you at first, especially if you’re not familiar with them or with vegan cooking, but many of them are easily available in your average grocery store. Due to increasing demand both gluten-free and vegan products, as well as organic products are becoming more and more available in chain grocery stores. Of course depending on where you live things may be different. I find a lot of cool organic stuff in my local chain groceries like Meijer or Costco, but then I do the bulk of my shopping at places like Whole Foods Market, and The Fruitful Yield which have the widest selection of vegan products. Including non-dairy cheese, vegan meats, non-dairy milks, nutritional supplements and organic produce in my area. They also have a wide selection of beans, grains, spices, and international ingredients. Although sometimes international ingredients are easier found at ethnic markets. For some less common Asian supplies I tend towards Mitsuwa - a Japanese Grocery in my area, or Super H Market - a Korean Grocery in my area. For Indian goods I like Patel Brothers which has several locations near me. You can also find good Hispanic and Middle Eastern Markets if you look around. The Spice House is also a great place for a wide variety of spices here in the Chicago area. Lastly Farmer's Markets and CSA's are another great option for fresh, organic produce, and I enjoy them whenever I can. If all else fails there is always Amazon which I make great use of.

As with anything, when it comes to your groceries you have to pick and choose what is most important to you. To live a healthful, satisfied vegan life you do not need fancy faux meats and non-dairy cheeses although sometimes on occasions you may like these. If you stick to a primarily plant-based whole foods diet you can do most if not all of your shopping in your local grocery. If you want to eat gourmet vegan meals every night or prefer vegan convenience food rather then cook for yourself then you’ll probably have to spend more time in the health food store.

Nuts and Seeds, Do you use Raw, or Roasted in your recipes? I try to specify in my recipes whether or not I’ve used raw or roasted nuts and seeds, however if I’ve neglected to do so it is more then likely that I’ve used raw. I buy raw nuts and seeds almost exclusively because I don’t want the extra salt. I also prefer raw because I use nuts and seeds most to make cream basis for sauce, or soup, or to make nut based mayo, milk, or sour cream. Raw nuts work best for these purposes because they are much milder in taste, and because they yield a smoother consistency. I also prefer the taste of most raw nuts and seeds and they are something that are pretty easy to roast up yourself if you get the hankering for it. However, raw nuts can be expensive and sometimes they are only available at health food stores. If this is an issue for you, you can always by roasted unsalted nuts but make sure to soak and rinse them. You can also by salted nuts if you must and soak and rinse them very well to remove any salt. I have done this in the past with cashews and didn’t have a problem. Sometimes costco has raw almonds, walnuts and pecans for sale and when they do I buy them. Otherwise I tend to buy my nuts bulk from Whole Foods. If you buy in bulk, and only as much as you know you need it becomes much cheaper.

You use Vegetable Broth a lot, what kind do you use? I buy Organic Low-Sodium Veggie Broth, usually from Whole Foods.

*** All photographs and recipes appearing on this blog were taken and created by me except when indicated ***