Kevita!

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As as a vegan I have long wished for a non-dairy kefir, and now we have one, sweetened with stevia, non-GMO, organic, made with coconut water and much lower in calories than regular dairy kefir.  Visit the website to find a store near you. I checked, and I can find it in a number of stores within an easy walk from my office, and even in markets near my rural home. How cool is that? 

If you’d like to know why probiotics are so important to our health, I recommend this blog http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/11/18/prebiotics-probiotics/.

I bought a bottle today, and it’s very good. It’s slightly fizzy, refreshing, and has a light, fruity taste. The flavor I bought is Blueberry Cherry and does not contain coconut water, but does have organic apple cider vinegar, something I love. Although the bottle says it may contain traces of alcohol, it isn’t detectable to me, either in flavor or effect. This product isn’t cheap, costing me $3.49 plus tax at my Manhattan Whole Foods. It isn’t really kefir, but it has four strains of live probiotics.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

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Jane Goodall’s 2015 Earth Day Message | the Jane Goodall Institute

Jane Goodall’s 2015 Earth Day Message | the Jane Goodall Institute.

Nancee Lewis Photography

Dr. Jane Goodall expresses great urgency over the state of our planet and the effects our human behaviors are having on its wellbeing. She urges vegetarian or vegan eating, or at the very least limiting the amount of meat we consume. The vast amounts of arable land and water with which to irrigate crops on the land that end up being fed to animal livestock, and the huge ponds of excrement and blood which their lives of suffering leave on the land, are all unsustainable.

Dr. Goodall brings us such wisdom. Let us follow her very sound advice!

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

 

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Thanksgiving is one of those conduits through this life I’ve been living since 1951. No, I don’t remember each and every one of them, but I do remember many. Here are some of those:

  • The turkey dinners ordered from Zucky’s kosher deli with all the trimmings
  • Mom learning from Gracie how to stuff and truss a turkey, with needle and button thread
  • The lentil loaf we had one year instead of turkey when Mom was a vegetarian
  • Thanksgiving dinner with Granny at the Santa Ynez Inn
  • The year when Lucille put her turkey on the counter and our cat and hers dragged it onto the floor and gnawed on it
  • Making my first pumpkin pie in high school from canned pie filling and a store-bought crust
  • Learning to make pumpkin pie from canned pumpkin and scratch crust
  • Jumping up on down on a scratch crust that refused to turn out, and starting all over again
  • Finally making pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin and a frozen crust
  • Getting the Betty Crocker Cookbook and making the turkey and everything for the family
  • Discovering the ubiquitous green bean casserole with French fried onions on top
  • Spending Thanksgivings during boarding school with my aunt and uncle in New Jersey
  • Discovering the ease of the disposable foil roasting pan, learning to put a cookie sheet under it
  • Adding a roasting bag and making the whole thing so much easier
  • Wanting to go to Dysart’s (inspired by Tim Sample) but new friends insisted we join them
  • Spending more than one Thanksgiving serving turkey at a church covered dish supper
  • Realizing there are many different Jell-o salads and Ambrosias, all with lots of whipped topping
  • Becoming a vegetarian briefly and actually making a lentil loaf for our Thanksgiving one year
  • Going on Atkins and eating way more turkey than anyone else at the table, and not much else
  • Watching a Mercy for Animals video on factory farm cruelty to turkeys, cows and other beings
  • Becoming a vegetarian again and eventually going vegan and remaining so
  • Making my first vegan Tofurky Feast, lots of work but good, especially the stuffing and gravy
  • Enjoying the Gardein Holiday Roast, a tasty turkey substitute

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And that brings me to this Thanksgiving. It was supposed to snow all over the northeast but in New York it only rained yesterday, and Wednesday is a very bad day to try to drive from New York to Pennsylvania, a Gridlock Alert Day, because everyone wants to get out of town at once. So this morning we drove to PA and once we hit New Jersey it snowed the rest of the way. There was about a foot of snow on the back deck, and although our driveway had been plowed this morning, there was another inch or two of fresh snow on our walk and driveway. The house warmed up fast with the fireplace and heat pump working beautifully. I put on my apron and started cooking. I roasted a turkey leg for my husband according to a recipe with rave reviews (it was disappointing), and I made stuffing in the crockpot, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans, and a wonderful Field Roast Celebration Roast as my vegan main dish. We had a lovely loaf of cranberry bread, cranberry sauce and olives. I turned to Mary McDougall and the Happy Herbivore for my recipes. Last week I had made butternut squash soup in advance for today. Dessert was a three-berry crumb pie from Fairway, with decaf. Delish!

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The food was fine, but I am so thankful for my family, our health, my recovery from back pain, our cat, our friends, my Buddhist practice, our material blessings, my work, and so very much more. And this year, as my teacher Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh lies in a hospital in France recovering from a severe brain hemorrhage, I am so thankful to have learned so many valuable lessons for my life from him. I hope and pray for his full recovery. I also understand that at 88 he may transition from this life before long.

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Namaste

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A Vegan’s Guilty Pleasures

Is being vegan boring? No way!

We who become vegan each do so for our own reasons. Some for health, as I did initially, some for ahimsa,  the principle of non-harming, and some for the environment. It takes way more water, land and feed to raise a pound of meat than an equivalently nutritious portion of vegetables, grains or fruits to be eating directly by the consumer, rather than inefficiently processed through the mastication and digestion of a animal confined for the purpose. The waste materials from factory farmed animals alone account for more water pollution than many other contaminants on the planet. The methane gases produced by ruminants raised for their meat is the single largest contributor of carbon dioxide to global climate change. So the reasons are many but all are compelling to each of us vegans at some point and we change ourselves. I am not proselytizing for veganism here, but if you want to know more, feel free to comment and ask!

That said, let’s examine the vegan lifestyle. Some people think that when someone becomes a vegan they eat nothing but tasteless leaves and twigs. Couldn’t be further from the truth! I have some criteria for vegan snacking such as no high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and naturally no eggs or dairy or any ingredients containing them or their derivatives. This is not always easy. Oreos are vegan but have HFCS so I don’t buy them anymore, but Newman’s Os are vegan. But I always read the labels because some versions of familiar products have unwanted ingredients somewhere down the list. For example, certain chili-lime flavored tortilla chips get their tanginess from a milk derivative. Who would think?

I’m not saying they are healthy, but one of my favorite snack treats are Snyder’s Buffalo Wing Pretzel Bites. Chunks of broken up pretzel pieces flavored with a zesty, spicy vegan buffalo-sauce-flavored coating. Vegan! Yummy! They are in every store around, so I won’t link to the company, but you can if you want to know the ingredients.

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I love the various meat analogs (meat substitutes) such as these (and there are many more):

  • Tofurky cold cuts, sausages and franks, and roasts with all the trimmings for special occasions p_holiday_feast195
  • Field Roast frankfurters, sausages, cold cuts, and meat loaf  sausages3-670x523
  • Gardein Beefless Burgers, Crispy Tenders (chicken-free), and everything else they make gardein_CrspyTndrsgardein_frz_BflsBrgr_US_Sm-225x238
  • Lightlife’s Fakin’ Bacon which is delicious with a tofu scramble or on a vegan Reuben sandwich tempeh_smoky_201210

I don’t miss mayonnaise when there are delicious egg-free versions such as Vegenaise, Nayonaise and more.

Who misses butter when one can use avocado, hummus, extra-virgin olive oil or Earth Balance margarine?

Cream cheese? There are several delicious vegan versions.

Hard cheese? No problem! Several great ones exist with more being introduced all the time. I love Daiya shreds and slices. There are amazing artisanal vegan cheeses, cultured and aged just as dairy cheeses are, but made with cashews instead of milk or cream, such as Kite Hill and Heido Ho and others.

Ice cream? Don’t get me started. There are several amazing soy and coconut-milk based variations that rival that pint you used to devour with a spoon at one sitting. You know what I’m talking about! I’ll leave it to you to research this one.

Where do I find all these amazing foods? Some at Whole Foods, Fairway, Wegmans and Giant. I have also found many of these products in the South at Kroger and Publix. You can order many of these products, even the perishable ones (with cold packs), at Vegan Essentials and Pangea, the Vegan Store. These and several other great online vegan resources are detailed here. Some products can be ordered directly from the producers, such as Meatless Select’s Fishless Tuna that is so good, I ordered a case. Check it out!  Product-Page_Tuna2

So why are all these yummy foods that make transitioning to a plant-based, animal-free diet so easy listed among my guilty pleasures? Because if one relies too much on them, the sodium and calories can add up and keep one heavier than one would expect a vegan to be. Ahem. I’m just sayin’ So eat more veggies and whole foods. Whole, as in big green salad, or a whole potato or bowl of brown rice, or a massaged kale salad, or a luscious mango, or a slice of whole grain bread with a little nut butter spread lightly. The possibilities are endless. If you want to know more, check out The Happy Herbivore whose bestselling cookbooks are available on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

But unquestionably, these foods are much healthier for you than their non-vegan counterparts. Just go easy and don’t have them at every meal. Even though I often do. I am a work in progress. So copping to my ways and sharing them here is one way I may get better with it all!

Bon appetit!

Namaste

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