Thursday, December 26, 2013

How breast-feeding led me to go vegan

Merry Christmas!  I want to start by saying that this is a very personal post.  I'm not trying to cause controversy, it's just how I feel.  I don't want to hurt animals, and I've created a life that incorporates my belief.  I don't judge anyone else for their food choices... As long as you're not eating fast food and junk food all day.  I feel that a person's diet is a part of who they are and if they're happy with it, that's what's important.  If you aren't happy with your diet, hey, that's why I'm here.

When I was pregnant, I drank raw organic milk every morning, and ate raw cheddar cheese almost daily.  I was a dedicated dairy addict.  It happens.  I know about the health benefits of raw dairy, and I thought that it would be a great thing for growing a healthy baby, which she appears to be by all measures. As I've said before, I really struggled with cravings at that time, and I knew my body was telling me it needed something, which I heard as "CHEESE!"  I stuck to only organic and raw products.  (That processed, homogenized, pasteurized crap is poison, in my opinion).  And I enjoyed it... A LOT.  

After Charlotte was born, I never once craved meat, even though I struggled with my red meat cravings while pregnant.  The one thing that kept me from going back to full-vegan, was cheese.  I actually didn't crave milk after her birth, either.  But cheese?  That was a different story.  I've met a lot of vegetarians who've said they'd be vegan if not for cheese.  I can totally understand that.  I wanted to go vegan again, but I just didn't see the harm in having a dairy product.  I mean, no one dies to make cheese, right?  Well, that's what I thought.  

I have driven past a dairy farm every morning on my way to work for years.  I always like seeing the beautiful cows eating their grass and lounging in their water hole.  To me, those big brown eyes are just gorgeous!  I've been around a lot of cows, and they are such gentle, sweet animals.  It wasn't until I came back to work in June, as a breast-feeding and pumping mommy, that things finally clicked.  I noticed the very large udders hanging from the cows, all the cows.  There wasn't a bull in sight.  I also noted there weren't any babies.  That got me thinking.  To get cow's milk, the cow has to give birth.  To give birth, the cow has to get pregnant.  How was this happening without any bulls or calves in sight?  Well, I discovered that in a lot of dairy operations, male calves are sold for veal (OMG!), and females are put back into the dairy business.  The mommy cows are impregnated "manually" by the farmers (ouch!), and kept pregnant for years until they're no longer useful.  At which point they're disposed of.  While they're being used for milk production, they're connected to painful milking machines.  Coming from a pumping mom, I would be miserable if I had to be connected to that thing against my will.  Pumping isn't comfortable.  Sometimes, it's quite painful.  I do it because it's what's best for my baby.  Will I miss doing it when she weans?  Hell, no!  I seriously doubt that Mavis the dairy cow happily steps up to her milking machine feeling like she's doing something great for humanity.  And I'm pretty positive that what she feels as the suction pulls on her udders is love.  Maybe becoming a mom has made me a big softy, but I just can't justify supporting an operation that takes babies away from their mothers and forces those mothers to be in pain day-in and day-out.   What if it was me?  It just seems heartless.  If I am to live a compassionate life, I can't be a part of it. And you know what?  I feel just fine.  I have less nasal mucus in the morning, and I'm sleeping soundly too.  I've not looked back.  So if you're struggling to give up cheese, butter or milk, hook yourself to a breast pump for a few days.  Ouch!  It'll change your prospective, trust me.  And if that doesn't work, just remember that we're the only species that consumes the milk of another species, and we consume it as adults.  It's kind of weird when you think about it.  Mothers' milk is made to make babies grow, so if you are drinking it as an adult and you have a weight issue, maybe there's a connection?  

I know people love their cheese, and this isn't meant to ruffle feathers.  I just want people to think about where their food comes from.  Consider it food for thought. 

Have a wonderful rest of the week, and eat something green. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Where have I been? And some easy, quick recipes

I know it's been a couple of weeks since my last post, but WOW, I've been busy!  As of this week, I'm an official Raw Foods Chef and Instructor.  That's right, I can now teach others (with some credibility) how to create beautiful, healthy, vibrant raw foods.  In addition, I can also certify other Raw Food chefs through the Living on Live Food program.  So, if you'd like to become a raw chef, I'd love to teach you.

With all of the holiday fun going on, plus work, and the general unpredictability of a teething eight month-old, I haven't been in writing mode.  I have, however, developed a couple of amazing recipes for you to try.  These are all vegan, some raw and very quick, ya know, since I hate to spend hours making one dish.  I sure don't mind being in the kitchen for hours, but I have recipe ADD.  So without further ado, please enjoy...

Massaged Kale Salad
(This is pretty much my kale chips without the dehydrator.)
1 bunch organic kale
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp olive/sesame oil
1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
Cayenne pepper to taste

Chop the kale as fine as you'd prefer.  I like mine very fine since it's easier to chew that way.  Add the lemon juice and olive/sesame oil and massage the kale with your hands until it appears bright green and evenly coated.  Then, add the garlic powder, onion, nutritional yeast, and pepper, and toss with a fork, or you hands. (Don't forget to wash your hands immediately if you toss with your hands!  We wouldn't want any cayenne pepper to get in your eyes... Or lemon juice for that matter.)  That's it!  You're done.  It's so simple.  If you want to make a more hearty salad, feel free to toss in some nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, apples, fresh herbs, etc.  

Coconut Mushroom Soup
(This soup is very savory and really helps with those post-Thanksgiving cravings.)

12 oz (or more) mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1-1/2 cup water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (optional)
2 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos ( or soy sauce)
1 tbsp tarragon
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary

Chopped red bell pepper
Sliced green onion

In a small sauce pan, heat water to boiling and add boullion cube.  Stir until the cube dissolves.  In a blender, pour the broth, then add the coconut milk, garlic and Bragg's Liquid Aminos, with half the chopped onion and half the sliced mushrooms.  Blend until smooth.  Then, add the herbs and blend briefly.  At this point, your soup is done, just pour it into a bowl and add the rest of the mushrooms and onion.  If you'd like to soften the veggies, just add the mixture to a pan a warm over low heat until your desired softness is achieved.  When serving, top the soup with fresh chopped bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, spinach, kale, etc.  it's beautiful!  Alternately, you could make this a "green soup" by blending fresh greens into the mix.  Yum!

Miso-Ginger Salad Dressing
(This dressing is AMAZING on any type of green salad.  The flavor is so rich.)

1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1-1/2 tbsp miso (any color will do)
1" piece fresh ginger, chopped very finely
1 clove garlic, chopped very finely
1/2 cup water
Black or white pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake to combine, or use a blender if you prefer smaller bits of ginger and garlic.  

Note:  Fresh miso can generally be found in the Nature's Market area of Kroger, or in the refrigerator at any Asian grocery store.  It comes as a paste and is very cheap.  It'll also keep for a very long time because it's a fermented food.  

Last night, I made a kale salad and used the miso dressing instead of my usual lemon juice and olive oil combo.  It was perfection!  

I hope these recipes will help you incorporate more gorgeous plants into your diet.  Whether you're a carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore, it never hurts to get more amazing greens.