Meatless Monday – Not Just for Mondays Anymore

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Mark your calendars! World Vegetarian Day is coming October 1st and it ushers in vegetarian awareness month. We begin the awareness early for this Meatless Monday post.

Recent advisories and predictions suggest that everyday will be meatless if current trends continue.

A population explosion and demand for meat and dairy has scientists, government advisers and the UN encouraging people to adopt a vegetarian diet. Meat and dairy production are resource extensive using copious amounts of land and water. Climate change and the many mouths to feed around the world seems to suggest that this type of food production is unsustainable. In order to proactively prevent food shortages experts have proposed a vegetarian diet with a prediction that the world’s people will be vegetarian by the year 2050.*

Proponents of a vegetarian/vegan diet have cited sustainable plant-based farming as one of the many benefits of going meat-free. Even doing so part of the time (let’s say the first day of the conventional work week i.e. Monday) will help alleviate some of the pressure on natural resources used for agriculture. Looks like Meatless Monday is here to stay.

Links

From The Guardian online:

From the Huffington Post online:

Spice Series – Lively Up Your Shelf

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Sporty, Scary, Baby, Posh, Ginger…Baker?

I never thought I would be a spice girl but I am in my element when utilizing any number of spices in both cooking and baking.

Spices have had a long and fascinating history. They have been at the heart of trade routes, empire building and wars. Spices are the dried parts of plants (except the leaves) used to flavour, season and preserve food. Besides their culinary use, spices also have medicinal properties and a number of studies are being published on the effects of spices on health.

Turmeric, the vibrant yellow spice used in curry powder and mustard, is touted for its anti-inflammatory property amongst others.

Throughout the year spices are all around us – pumpkin pie in the fall, gingerbread in the winter and carrot cake in the spring. It is in our meals, desserts and drinks. In the Weal Food spirit, spices do nurture and nourish. Our new series entitled Lively Up Your Shelf* will look at the uses, history and health benefits of spices.

Bob strikes again! Many a Bob Marley tune has inspired my culinary creations including the title of this series. Check out Bob singing the original tune “Lively Up Yourself”.

Meatless Monday – Me, My Kitchen Appliances and a Bunch of Nuts

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Nuts are a portable protein source for many vegetarians/vegans. It is used in sweet and savoury dishes, as the feature in meals or background in snacks and can be blended, puréed or spread.
This week’s Meatless Monday is nuts!

The upside of nuts
Nuts contain essential fats, fiber, antioxidants and micro nutrients (e.g. selenium). There exists a variety of nuts and they are quite versatile in the kitchen. They complement any meal and provide satiety. Nuts have been on the recommended list for those with diabetes, heart disease and they are considered part of a healthy diet.

Nuts should be kept in the fridge to prevent their innate oils from going rancid.  Before using, soak nuts in water to encourage enzyme activity and digestibility and avoid cooking them at a high temperature as this can degrade their oils. Opt for organic raw nuts that are preferably stored in the refrigerator of the grocery store.

The downside of nuts
Some people are allergic to nuts so can’t enjoy their benefits at all.
Not all nuts are created equal; some contain an exorbitant amount of fat (Macadamias are guilty of this) making them calorie dense. More is not necessarily better and many nuts are prohibitively expensive for some food budgets.
Commercially available nuts are often an antithesis to their unprocessed brethren. Improper storage of nuts, chemically treated plants and the addition of high levels of sodium, sugar and heat render processed nuts an unhealthy product.

Recipe ideas
Whether you can afford a Vitamix, Blendtec or standard food processor, you will need something for the preparation of nuts. A good knife along with some chopping skill will come in handy too. There are numerous nut recipes on the internet and in plant-based cookbooks. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Nut butter
    Go crazy-combine a variety of nuts. I just did a cashew and brazil nut butter with just a touch of coconut butter for some tropical va-va-voom to bring it all together
  • Nut milk
    Non-dairy milk need not be rice or soy only.
  • Cashew cream
    Flavour of the month for chefs and vegans alike. Can be used in place of regular cream.
  • Dips, spreads and pâtés
    Use your favourite nuts with herbs and spices for a nutty accompaniment to bread, vegetables and crackers.
  • Loaves and fillings
    Use ground nuts to form the basis for a stuffed pasta dish or a vegetarian/vegan meat loaf.
  • Granola
    Add nuts to your granola and eat it as cereal, topping for yoghurt or as trail mix.
  • Baked goods
    Peanut butter cookies, baklava, cashew butter cupcakes, macarons, banana walnut bread, homemade nutella, pecan pie, nut brittle-ah the list goes on…
  • Salad
    Add nuts to your salad or blend nut butter into your salad dressing. How about some pistachios to go with your Persian pomegranate salad?
  • The mains
    Include nuts in your soup, stew, stir fry, veggie burgers and curries.
  • “Icing on the cake”
    Use crushed nuts as a garnish.

Nuts nutrition facts
Mayo Clinic – Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health

Post Workout Fuel

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Have you seen the commercials advertising chocolate milk as a post workout snack? (No doubt sponsored by the dairy council.) Well I’ve got a better idea: a dark chocolate fruit and nut bar.

During a workout the body gets depleted of carbohydrates. (They are used as a major source of fuel). With the high use of oxygen during prolonged and intense exercise, free radicals can also form. The recommended ratio to eat post workout to replace lost nutrients is 3:1 carbohydrates to protein. The carbs replenish energy stores while the protein helps to repair and build muscle tissue.

A dark chocolate fruit and nut bar works on all counts. The dark chocolate contains antioxidants to help combat the free radicals while the fruit (and small amount of sugar) provides the carbs and the nuts provide the protein.

Love your body-exercise and eat well. A dark chocolate fruit and nut bar may be just what your body can use.

Bread – The Staff of Life

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I don’t braid my hair, I braid my bread. I become attached to my fermenting dough and I get excited when I see bubbles on the surface of my starter. I am willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a piece of linen so my dough has a place to rest and I have a whole cupboard full of various flours. Who am I?

I am an artisan bread baker. I love to eat it and bake it. I have now earned my certificate in Artisan Bread Baking and bread is my life! (Well a significant part of it anyways.)

Bread is many things: political, religious, social, cultural, and nourishment.
It has been around for millenia and every culture has some form of it along with a set of rules on how to prepare it and how and when to consume it. Businesses have been built around the production of bread, the modern-day mass production of it and the artisan trade which is growing in popularity. Bread has also been at the centre of controversy and revolution.
Bread has been shared, abhorred and adored. It accompanies most meals, is found in many celebrations and the very smell of it is said to encourage potential home buyers to buy the house in which the bread is being baked.

…another man’s poison.

The anti-carb revolution, on the other hand, has painted it as an evil product and for those with Celiac disease wheat breads are poison.
Love it or hate it, bread has a lot to say about who we are. Stay tuned for more bread revelations in this new series Bread: The Staff of Life.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Communion bread.

Community ovens.

Someone’s bread and butter.

The greatest thing since sliced bread.

The breaking of bread.

“Let them eat cake!”

In a French settlement, just across the pond the words “let them eat cake” were allegedly uttered by the Queen of France of the time Marie Antoinette. While many historians agree that she never actually said these words, the statement signifies the importance of bread. Here is an interesting read from the site Resilience.org:
The Politics of Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – What a Tangled Web

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…we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

Clearly meat is not vegan but so many other products aren’t vegetarian and/or vegan either. Some may surprise, others may not. This week’s Meatless Monday looks at things that may shock the meat-eater or flexitarian about certain food items.

White sugar
“Cream butter and bone char sugar together, then sift in the dry ingredients.”  Wait a second, the only cows in cakes should be the butter. White sugar gets that way through refining and cow bones have assisted with this process. See Is Your Sugar Vegan? on the Vegetarian Resource Group website.

Yoghurt
The low-fat or zero fat ones tend to be the worst culprits. Once fat is removed from a product it is replaced with something else and in the case of yoghurt, that is usually gelatin.

V8
Apparently animal parts may have been lurking in the production of this often high sodium vegetable drink. See what the Food Babe has to say about V8 and ‘natural flavouring’.

Soup
And on that note, many soups use animal stock (often chicken) as the base for their vegetable soups. Food Babe also did some investigation into Campbell’s soups.

Drinking alcohol
Animal products have been used to refine wine, beer and spirits. See our original post and check out Barnivore, an online directory of vegan alcohol.

Cheese
Rennet is an animal-derived enzyme used to make cheese. There is vegetable rennet, however, (I still have no idea what that is) and some vegetarian cheeses employ the use of a microbial enzyme.

One of the advantages of being vegetarian/vegan is that you really get to know where your food comes from and get to learn what’s really in processed foods. The food labeling laws in North America, or lack thereof, keep many in the dark about what ingredients are used in food products. Us plant eaters may just be the modern-day version of the whistle blowers of the commercial food industry.

 

Busy Bea Baking…Orange is the New Cake

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My kitchen was ablaze with orange: apricots, carrots and vegan cheddar. With free time on my hands and a bunch of ingredients, I finally got around to trying recipes on my to-do list.

Eat your veggies!

Carotenoids are credited with giving fruits and vegetables their colourful hues of yellow, orange and red. These organic compounds have been found through studies to help reduce the risk of certain cancers and promote eye health. So forgo the cupcake craze and get on the carotenoid bandwagon. There are a variety of ways to prepare these foods and the health benefits will catch up with you sooner or later. Then, once you’ve eaten your veggies, I can say “orange you glad you did?!” (Cheesy I know! And thus concludes the food puns in this post.)

The role of carotenoids in human health on PubMed

Moroccan apricot chutney Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Moroccan apricot chutney
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Apricot jam Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Apricot jam
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Peach chutney Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Peach chutney
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

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Vegan gingerbread lobster cookies Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Vegan gingerbread lobster cookies
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Brand new cookie cutter-now broken in. Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Brand new cookie cutter-now broken in.
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Golden kiwi fruit and coconut milk frozen treat with organic raspberries Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Golden kiwi fruit and coconut milk frozen treat with organic raspberries
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Sea-gan chowder Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Sea-gan chowder
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

A lobster mushroom represents real lobster Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

A lobster mushroom represents real lobster
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Vegan cheddar 'bacon' scones Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Vegan cheddar ‘bacon’ scones
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Vegan cheddar 'bacon' scones Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Vegan cheddar ‘bacon’ scones
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Gluten-free pancakes with banana and crushed hazelnuts Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Gluten-free pancakes with banana and crushed hazelnuts
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Banana everything cookie Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Banana everything cookie
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Carrot cake frozen dessert (vegan) Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Carrot cake frozen dessert (vegan)
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Kiwi lime curd Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Kiwi lime curd
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014