Movies with Friends: Top 5 Best Pro-Plant Documentaries

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Since we had no pics of us watching documentaries, I searched Google for “couples watching documentaries”  – and this was the result.

Most members of a couple can recall that one magical moment when they knew that this person was their ‘person’, when the fire of longing for love is quenched with a cool calm (potentially followed by an immediate panic attack) and the search was finally over. My moment came after a mind-blowing meal at Kayrn’s on Green in Chicago when Evan leaned over, grabbed my hand gently, and said “let’s go back to the hotel and rent that new documentary on the New York Times”. My reaction was much like  Jennifer Aniston in Office Space when Peter asks her to watch Kung Fu and she is put in a trance, “yeah, totally. Okay. Okay.”   I thought, “play it cool Hayls, this may be your only chance to score a vegan, documentary watching, sarcastic man who idolizes Lance Armstrong, listens to Radiohead, and has a 401k.”

Gettin’ our documentary on in the early days. This one was about caves. Mmmmm.

There are many things you can take away from this story: 1. rehearsing the right thing to say will never lead to long lasting love, so just be yourself. 2. A great vegan meal can really set up a prime environment for magic to happen. 3. Financial stability enhances your sex appeal. 4. Documentaries WILL get you laid.

Okay, that last one may be false but hey – filling yourself full of information can help you to engage in more educated arguments, not to mention the whole part about making the best decisions for YOU and not following the mainstream, media-driven social norms. If the thinking-for-yourself gets lonely, find a group that shares your passions on a website like Meetup. This past Saturday, our Southern Oregon vegetarian/vegan meetup group brought apps & zerts to our house, drank some adult beverages, and a  watched the documentary Got The Facts on Milk (trailer below) followed by an informal chat on our evolving journey towards going sans dairy. Not only were we reenergized and had lots of new recipes to try, we made connections with like minded peeps that made us feel at home again in the world. I love love.

Meetup group movie night!

As for this list, we could have made this a ‘Top 50″ but narrowed it down to our all-time favs. Whenever we need a little magic in our lives, I make it a point to lean over to Evan and whisper softly “let’s watch Food Inc tonight.” Awwwwwww yeeaahhhh.

Top 5 Pro-Plant Documentaries

1. Food, Inc.

There are few films that provide such a holistic, fact-based, and captivating insider look at our nation’s food industry as Food, Inc. Citing food industry experts such as Michael Pollen (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) combined with insider dialogue with those growing, producing, selling, and purchasing food, this film reveals shocking truths in a digestible language. This film is a great recommendation if you (or someone you know) want to take back their power and understand how the social demand for “faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper” impacts global, local, and personal health.

2. Forks Over Knives

Two out of every three Americans are overweight. Diabetes is beginning to impact our citizens at younger and younger ages, and nearly half of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug, yet our health is only getting worse. Why is this happening and can it be reversed?  This question is examined and addressed using modern technology, cases that follow real patients, and global scientific studies to examine the cost, politics, and scope of the problem. If you have an illness, you much watch this video.

3. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

The first time I watched this was during the most difficult time during a recent three-day juice fast, and I went from wanting to quit to wanting to juice for months. Joe Cross, 100 pounds overweight with a rare and debilitating autoimmune disease, goes on a 61 day journey across America drinking only juice that he makes out of the back of his vehicle. While his story is incredible, it was the transformative story of the 400+ pound truck driver whom he rescued from near death that brought me to tears. The power of plants is amazing.

4. King Corn

Coming from Iowa, this one hit our  hearts, mind, and stomachs hard. The film follows two friends that move for a season to Iowa and follow one acre of land from prep to plant to harvest and beyond. Corn: the “raw material for an overweight society” – this movie is a commentary on the story behind what we eat, where it comes from and where it goes. This film feels less like a mother’s guilt trip and more like a your burnout college friends preaching the cool truth.

5. Food Matters

The perfect starter movie for anyone even a little open to understanding their health and wellness. This independently funded film examines a breadth of issues that lead to our health crisis of today from pharmaceuticals to food programs to education to diet. It clearly marks out consequences of continuing on this path and provides hope for the future.

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Vegan 101: How Samoas and Thin Mints can make you friends.


It can be tough to make friends as an adult. As we get older, it seems that time becomes more elusive, leaving many people to settle for the friends they already know from work or high school or beer league softball or yoga class. I’m not insinuating there is no value to long-term, meaningful relationships – just that there can be life-enhancing value in engaging with the unfamiliar – and that goes for anything in life. I have found that with every new experience my mind opens up, my creativity is stimulated, and there exists new things to learn about myself (not to mention new memories to laugh at that don’t include the same mishaps from high school…what a relief!)

Moving to Oregon we made a ‘brave new world’ list with ‘make friends’ at the very top.  And what better way to make these friends in a new world then looking for love on the internet?!  Thankfully there is Meetup, an online matchmaking site for all the shit you love to do.  Are you plus sized AND into playing sports? There is a meetup group in Virginia for you. Obsessed with your bearded dog? There is a meetup specifically for bearded dog owners to socialize called ‘The Dirty Beards’. As much fun as it would be to forego cultivating meaningful friendships for time alone laughing at peculiar meetup groups, we figured that the Southern Oregon Vegetarian/Vegan group would be a great place to start.

While I’m a little too curious about the members of The Dirty Beards meetup, it would be tough to beat the group of folks that we met during the last potluck of our new Southern Oregon meetup group.  The people were relaxed, loved talking about obscure kitchen gadgets and ingredients, and were as equally self-deprecating about the life of a vegan as we claim to be. What can I say, I dig talking about frequent bowel movements with strangers.

Onto the foods (great segway, I know). The pressure was on to represent who we were as people through our food – so Evan the Athlete prepared a protein power salad with lemon-tahini dressing and Hayley the Nostalgic-Sugar-Junkie celebrated the seasons with two kinds of vegan Samoas (one with shortbread, one without) and vegan/gluten-free Thin Mints.  We made our own touches to these recipes, but much of my help came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Babycakes Covers the Classics.  Now go out there with confidence adults, and make some friends!

Earn yourself a merit badge for being awesome.

VEGAN SAMOAS (with shortbread)

SHORTBREAD

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (melted, slightly cooled)
  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour (make w/ 1 cup all-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 pans with parchment paper, and set aside.

Mix everything, knead into a cohesive lump. On a floured surface, roll dough to a 3/8″ thickness, cut into rounds (I used a biscuit cutter).  Cut out the middle to resemble the Girl Scout kind (I used the back side of a pastry tip, but you can even use a marker top or anything lil.)

Bake 15-20 min, or when the edges begin to brown.

COCONUT CARAMEL TOPPING

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance (melted)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

In a small pan over medium heat, melt the sugar, stirring constantly.  The sugar will caramelize, and once it’s a deep copper color and begins to smoke, slowly add the Earth Balance and milk while stirring rapidly. Cook until there are no clumps of caramel and you can see the bottom of the pan when sliding the spatula across. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coconut.

To assemble: once coconut topping is cool enough to handle, spread evenly on cookies top. Once completely cool, you can use wet fingers to make hale in the middle and even out for esthetics.

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Line pans that will fit into fridge/ freezer covered with wax paper. Use a double broiler to melt chocolate chips, then stir in coconut oil.  Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes, then dip bottoms of cookies into chocolate and set onto wax paper. Drizzle remaining chocolate over the top of cookies using a fork or pastry bag with a round tip. Chill for at least 30 minutes to set.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN SHORTBREAD SAMOAS: 153 calories – 9 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 48 mg sodium– 17 g carbs – 1 g fiber – 11 g sugar – 1 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN SAMOAS (*see notes for gluten-free) 

Ingredients:

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two pans with parchment paper, set aside.

Pour coconut into skillet and toast on medium-low heat until golden brown. Remove from heat into dish to stop cooking and cool down.

In large bowl, combine coconut oil, brown sugar, milk, flaxseed, and vanilla until smooth. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix together to form thick batter. Fold in coconut until combined.

Scoop 1 tbsp dough, 2 inches apart on sheets. Flatten with back of measuring cup and use your (or someone else’s) finger to work hole in center to look like Girl Scout kind. Bake 8 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. After cooling, transfer cookies onto wax paper surface for easy refrigerator storage.

Decorating: Melt chocolate chips in double broiler, then stir in melted coconut oil. Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Dip bottoms into chocolate and return to wax paper. Now, drizzle remaining chocolate over cooking using a fork or pastry bag with small, round tip. Chill cookies for at least 30 minutes to firm chocolate, then store in cool place in a tight container.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN SAMOAS: 182 calories – 12 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 6 mg sodium– 19 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 13 g sugar – 2 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN/GLUTEN-FREE THIN MINTS 

MAKIN' IT RAIN THIN MINTS!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp mint extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking sode, and salt. Add the melted coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until thick dough forms.

Drop dough by tsp onto sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten each mound and smooth edges. Bake 7 minutes, rotate sheets in oven, bake for 7 more minutes. Leave on sheets 15 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

After cooling cookies for 15 minutes, combine chocolate chips and mint in sauce pan or double broiler over medium heat. Stir until just melted, then remove from heat. Dunk the top of each cookie and smooth out with finger. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set before eating the shit out of them.

Makes 30 cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN THIN MINTS: 129 calories – 7 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 1 mg sodium– 16 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 10 g sugar – 1 g protein- 3 WW points

PROTEIN POWER SALAD with LEMON-TAHINI DRESSING 

Thanks to www.ohsheglows.com for the template to this great dish (and the pic since we forgot to take one.)

Ingredients for salad:

  • 1 cup green lentils (uncooked)
  • 1 cup kamut berries (uncooked)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • salt & pepper

Cook lentils and cook grains in separate saucepans or separately in a rice cooker.

Saute together onion, garlic, red pepper, and tomato for approx. 5 minutes. Add kale, then cook until kale is soft.  Stir in dressing (see below), then add lentils and grains – stirring until combined.

Remove from heat, add parsley.

Serves 6.

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 + 2 tbsp cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp water

All all ingredients together in food processor and process until smooth.

Yields 1 cup.

NUTRITION IN PROTEIN SALAD W/ DRESSING: 323 calories – 13 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 32 mg sodium– 44 g carbs – 13 g fiber – 4 g sugar – 17 g protein- 7 WW points

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