Our Top 100 favorite things about being vegan (celebrating our 100th post!)

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100_eurekamural

HAPPY 100th POST TO US! It’s been so much fun sharing our food, laughs, and life with you over the past year and we are excited for hundreds of more posts to come! As a tribute to what plant-based lifestyle has done for our lives, we are breaking the barrier of our normal hump-day laziness to share our top 100 reasons for being vegan (in no particular order).

100 Favorite Things About Being Vegan

  1. Having enough energy to workout, work long hours, cook delicious meals, write a blog, plan and partake in adventures, and live passionate life.
  2. Saving 50+ animals a year

    We found a magical snow elephant snowshoeing this weekend!

    We found a magical snow elephant snowshoeing this weekend!

  3.  All the amazing, compassionate, open people we have met because of our interest in plants
  4. Losing over 60 pounds between the two of us
  5. Creating and re-creating favorite meaty & cheesy meals
  6. Kayrn’s on Green (oh man – our fav)
  7. VooDoo Donut Apple Fritters
  8. Quick recovery time after hard workouts
  9. Discovering new substitutes (and proving that vegan cookies are breathtaking)
  10. MindBodyGreen
  11. Taking a more mindful interest the role each meal plays in the quality of my life
  12. Helping others to discover their healthiest, happiest selves (even a few more plants is great!)
  13. Yumm sauce
  14. Veg-fest’s galore: Portland, Chicago, San Fran

    Rockin' Out at Chicago Veg-Fest 2011

    Rockin’ Out at Chicago Veg-Fest 2011

  15. Eating Animals – good for thinkers of going veggie
  16. Papa G’s

    Deli of vegan deliciousness in Portland

    Deli of vegan deliciousness in Portland

  17. Portobello
  18. That sweet potato fries can be considered a meal
  19. Cruelty free products not tested, or made with, sweet fuzzy loving animals
  20. Daiya – we lika the cheeze!
  21. Post Punk Kitchen
  22. Coconut Bliss Ice Cream
  23. Veganomicon
  24. Predictable and extraordinary poops
  25. Millennium
  26. Vegetarian House

    All vegan chinese restaurant in downtown Portland - and right across the street from VooDoo Donuts!

    All vegan chinese restaurant in downtown Portland – and right across the street from VooDoo Donuts!

  27. Tofutti Cream Cheese
  28. Farm Sancutuary
  29. Food, Inc
  30. Vegan Essentials
  31. Clear skin (not for everyone, but most see an improvement)
  32. Lara & Halo bars
  33. Vegucated
  34. Sweet and Sarah marshmallows
  35. The Vegan Sourcebook
  36. Forks over Knives
  37. Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Milk
  38. Mastering the art of making our own meats
  39. Scott Jurek
  40. Sizzle Pie – Spiral Tap Pizza will bring you so much joy100_sizzle
  41. Finding veggie friends using Meetup.com
  42. Asian markets
  43. The Green Owl Cafe

    Where our love from BBQ Jackfruit was born

    Where our love from BBQ Jackfruit was born

  44. Vega products
  45. Soy milk commercials
  46. Food coop’s (and getting memberships to actually support them!)
  47. The China Study
  48. Happy Herbivore
  49. Planning vacations around restaurants, and maybe fitting in some other things
  50. Trumpet Blossom (get dessert peeps!)
  51. Vegan MoFo (vegan month of food)
  52. Chef Chole Coscarelli
  53. Babycakes
  54. Vegan Cuts – sign up for their monthly vegan snack box
  55. Diet for a Small Planet
  56. BBQ Jackfruit (and knowing what Jackfruit is – never would have ordered before going veggie)
  57. Tofu scramble Sunday brunch
  58. The Vegan Stoner
  59. Herbivore clothing
  60. The day that you can feel your body begin to crave vegetables more than junk food
  61. Vegan with a Vengence
  62. Isa Chandra Moskawitz
  63. The Joy of Vegan Baking (best.cookbook.ever)
  64. Taking our love for all beings to another level
  65. Warrior Force protein powder
  66. Sage’s Cafe – and Salt Lake City
  67. Mad City Vegan Fest
  68. No more cholesterol!
  69. Two Beans or Not Two Beans
  70. The Shop ‘N Kart (Our new favorite grocery store.)
  71. Getting creative at Thanksgiving and blowing your families mind
  72. Cinnaholic

    The best part of Berkley after the people watching

    The best part of Berkley after the people watching

  73. Meat is for Pussies  – veggies for bros!
  74. Vegan Brunch (another favorite – you can tell by the amount of pancake batter between the pages)
  75. Finding new and interesting ways to use tempeh
  76. Rich Roll
  77. Juicing – and having your body show you how happy it can really feel
  78. Prepping ourselves for our first visit this summer to NYC as vegans
  79. Dandies marshmallows
  80. Thunderbird Energetica Bars
  81. Chocolate-Covered Katie

    I love a girl that loves cupcakes:)

    I love a girl that loves cupcakes:)

  82. Upton’s Natural’s Seitan
  83. So Delicious coconut milk egg nog (that’s right, I said egg nog mofo!)
  84. Kickstarter funded veggie cookbooks like The Lotus and the Artichoke
  85. Earwax Cafe  – the place it all began for Evan, and we are still mourning it’s loss
  86. Cocomels – sea salt are the bomb
  87. VITAMIX!!!

    The day we finally got rid of our old blender and bought a Vitamix. We had feelings.

    The day we finally got rid of our old blender and bought a Vitamix. We had feelings.

  88. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
  89. Thai food – especially Tom Kha with Tofu NOMS!
  90. Veggie Superbowl menu planning!
  91. Bearded brother’s bars100_beard
  92. Moo Shoes
  93. Cornbread Cafe – I could curl up and live in their menu

    Cornbread Cafe in Eugene - sandwiches of the gods

    Cornbread Cafe in Eugene – sandwiches of the gods

  94. Sea vegetables on everything
  95. Babycakes cookbooks
  96. Slowly beginning to use coconut oil for literally everything
  97. Food Democracy Now
  98. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
  99. Bare Escentuals  – cruelty free beauty
  100. Getting to do this amazing blog for you amazing people every day – we hope you enjoy reading it even half as much as we love sharing it with you. LOVE!

Cooking with Coconut Oil: Zucchini Bread & Quinoa Pilaf with “Chicken”


If the Case for Coconut Oil post didn’t convince you of the magic of coconut oil, these tasty examples of sweet and savory uses of it will.

MEAL-REPLACEMENT ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH MAPLE STREUSEL TOPPING

Okay, so it may not be the healthiest options for a meal replacement, but this slight adaptation on Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s version from The Joy of Vegan Baking (my all time fav vegan baking cookbook) is so hearty and irresistible, you can easily fill up on accident. This is an example of replacing canola oil in a recipe with the healthier coconut oil without compromising texture or taste.

Best eaten with a glass of coconut milk, a bib, and an elastic waistband.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed or 4 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer (equivalent to 3 eggs)
  • 1/2 cup water (6 tbsp if using Ener-G)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pans, 4 mini loaf pans, or 24 muffin tins (use coconut oil!)

In a mixer or food processor, combine the flaxseed and water (or Ener-G and water) and whip until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the oil, vinegar, and sugar, and combine. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla. If using a food processor, transfer the oil/vinegar/sugar combination to a large bowl with zucchini/vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the nuts and raisins to sifted ingredients. Stir the dry mixture into the wet  until just combined. Divide the batter into the pans.

To make topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple extract in a small bowl and stir to combine. Use pastry cutter or fork and cut earth balance into mix until crumbly texture. Sprinkle topping evenly across the top of each pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes for stand loaves, 40-55 minutes for mini loaves, or 30-35 minutes for muffins.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center.

ZUCCHINI BREAD NUTRITION (1/9 of loaf): 288 calories – 10 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 16 mg sodium– 47 g carbs – 3 g fiber – 29 g sugar – 3 g protein- 6 WW points

QUINOA PILAF WITH “CHICKEN” *v/gf

Evan took one bite and said, “this stuff tastes just like Rice-a-Roni with chicken.” In our world, that is a complement. Not only is this meal packed with protein, healthy fats, essntial vitamins and amino acids, it is super easy to make and crazy inexpensive (around $2/serving).

Your mind will think it's a cheat day...your body will whoop it up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh sage
  • 6-10 oz seitan or tofu, cubed
  • 4 cups kale
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, and carrot in hot oil until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Add the zucchini, quinoa, broth, seasoning, and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and cover until liquid has absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, de-stem the kale and tear/chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. Add to skillet or wok with either cooking spray or 1/2 tsp oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until kale is tender. Do not overcook.

Stir in the seitan or tofu and stir into the quinoa mix.  Serve pilaf on a bed of kale, makes 4 servings.

QUINOA PILAF NUTRITION: 367 calories – 11 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 748 mg sodium– 49 g carbs – 7 g fiber – 7 g sugar – 21 g protein- 7 WW points

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Rub it on your body & use the rest for cookies: A case for coconut oil

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I would hope that this advice could only go for a few items – but, whatever you’re into I guess.

In this case, I’m talking about the magical, wonderful, and miraculous Coconut Oil.  Remember the dad in Big Fat Greek Wedding that just sprayed Windex on any problem that needs solving? Coconut oil is my windex…and PS, that movie is a decent commentary on the vegan/vegetarian experience. (PPS…I will bet you $50 that you will never again in your life hear the sentence “coconut oil is my windex”).

Apart from my own testimony, studies have cited coconut oil as having health benefits including weight loss, hair care, skin care, digestion and metabolism, fatigue, infections and even in treating serious illness such as heart disease, HIV, and certain cancers. Most of the benefits come from lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that studies have shown has anti-macrobial and antioxidant properties with topical use and also increases producing of HDL (“good”) cholesterol when ingested. Fun fact: Lauric acid is also found in human breast milk.  There are a number of benefits of coconut oil, but I will share a little more on the top 3 reasons we can’t live without it:

Nutiva is my fav brand...and it comes in giant tubs!

1. IT MAKES YOU LOOK FABULOUS

After reading up on some of the topical benefits of coconut oil, I bought an extra jar as a replacement for my PM face lotion. Within a few days, I began to notice that my skin was softer and had a more even tone while also reducing fine lines and giving off a healthy glow. After the first week, I stored most of my face and body lotions and replaced them with a few jars of coconut oil. It takes 30-60 minutes on my skin for the oil to absorb, so if you are running out of the house or going right to bed, I would use regular lotion or your clothes/pillow will be a little greasy.  Beyond your skin, coconut oil is wonderful for your hair, leaving it smooth and super shiny.  A few days a week I will melt about 2 tbsp and massage my scalp and hair, then leave it wrapped in a towel for 1-2 hours before washing normally with shampoo and conditioner. For reals, you should start practicing your slow motion Mariah Carey walk now because coconut oil will make you damn sexy!

2. HEALING AND BRUISES

There are many things I’m great at, but normal navigation through life without accidental injury is not among them. I have street fighter hands that are scared up from times that I slipped with a knife, touched something hot, or caught myself after falling for no reason. Needless to say, I’m used to having scrapes, cuts, and bruises and I know how long they it takes them to heal.  But it wasn’t long after I replaced my lotion with coconut oil that I noticed my cuts and bruises where healing in half the time, and after a little research I discovered that coconut oil will act like a barrier protecting the cut from external bacterial and will also repair damaged tissues that leave bruising. Beyond this minor healing, coconut oil is great for killing virus’, bacteria, and for use as an anti-fungal – therefore good for treating everything from athlete’s foot to the flu to ulcers. Awesome.

3. WEIGHT LOSS AND DIGESTION

It’s difficult to say what role coconut has played in Evan and I both losing 20 pounds in the last 2 years, but I know can tell you that during that time we used it in most of our baked goods on purpose and that our energy and digestion have never been better. When used in cooking, usually as a replacement for butter or other oils, coconut oil does help boost metabolism by removing stress on the pancreas thereby burning off more energy. It is used by the body to produce energy in lieu of being stored as fat while also aiding in the digestion of vitamins, minerals, and other amino acids.

HOW DO I USE COCONUT OIL?

Coconut oil can withstand high-heat cooking, but has a high melting point therefore it’s solid at room temperature but can be easily melted. You can simply run between hands to melt for topical use and for cooking, place in the warm sun or in warm water to slowly melt or in a double broiler to melt over heat. It will quickly harden, so ensure that you use immediately and combine with other ingredients quickly. You can use as a replacement for butter or other oils, just ensure that you be mindful of it’s mild coconut flavor.

WHAT KIND OF COCONUT OIL SHOULD I PURCHASE?

There are a crazy number of coconut oils out there, but I only use USDA Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Any kind that indicate it’s “raw”, “virgin”, and “unrefined” will have more nutritional components and the same topical benefits.  Visit this website for more info on different kinds of coconut oil. It goes without saying hopefully, but buy two jars…nobody wants you to rub down your cash and prises with the same batch that you use to make dinner.

Overall, coconut oil has changed my life. It’s helped in shifting my perspective on the choices I make for beauty, weight loss, and natural cooking from seeing these things as mutually exclusive to thinking of them as one empowered journey to educate myself on holistic and truly natural wellness. I am now saving loads of money on special hair conditioners, lotions, ointments galore by finding a natural solution. More importantly, now I will more money to spend on guilty pleasure celebrity magazines and unnecessary kitchen gadgetry.  BOOYAH!!

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