Podcast #34! Esther the Wonder Pig!

Today on Eating Consciously Podcast, we welcome the proud caretakers of Esther the Wonder Pig, who has rapidly developed into a Facebook phenomenon!Today’s episode will also be co-hosted by Veganlicious LJ, as we ask Esther’s caretakers all the questions YOU have been dying to know!

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Vegan Crab Cakes

Many vegan crab cake recipes use tofu as a base, but jackfruit actually has a much “crabbier” texture to it, which makes these crab cakes pretty indistinguishable from the  ”real thing.” They are super-simple to make, too!

2, 20-oz cans of unripened/young jackfruit (can be found at most Asian markets)

1/2 C minced onion

1/2 C minced celery

1/2 C Vegenaise 

2 TBS Earth Balance, melted

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1/2 tsp black pepper

4 slices of bread, chopped into small pieces

In a large bowl, use your hands to break the jackfruit pieces apart into shreds and remove any seeds. Squeeze out any water from the jackfruit. Add all the remaining ingredients and use your hands to mix thoroughly. Use your hands to scoop out a palm-sized amount, form into cakes, and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until cakes begin to brown. Can be served with a sauce made by mixing horseradish into Sriracha chili-garlic sauce, or Vegenaise.

Makes 4-6 cakes, depending on size.

Roasted Brussels Sprout Stalk

So, either you already bought one of these fun Brussels sprout stalks, or you’ve been eyeing them up in the produce department. They are abundant this time of year (and also happen to be on sale for $2.99 at Trader Joe’s right now)! 

However, the ideal way to prepare such a monster can be overwhelming. Many people remove the sprouts from the stalk and prepare them alone — which seems to take all the fun out of buying one of these in the first place! Your guests would have never known about this amazing stalk you bought!

Why not turn this treasure into a really tasty and spectacular centerpiece?! Your guests will appreciate your expert cooking skills and preparing it whole could not be easier. Just imagine the excitement as guests pull off their own, tender Brussels sprouts right from the stalk!

1 Brussels sprouts stalk (keep in mind the size of your oven!)

1/4 C vegan butter or olive oil

1/3 C nutritional yeast

6 cloves garlic (minced)

1/3 C sun-dried tomatoes (cut in slivers)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 lemon (sliced)

First, make sure the stalk will fit in your oven. You can see from the photos that you can line an oven rack with tin foil and create a makeshift tray for the stalk. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Combine vegan butter or olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper in a bowl and use your hands to work it into a consistent paste. Coat the stalk with the paste, using your hands. Lay lemon slices on top of the stalk and toss it into the oven. Allow to cook for about one hour, or until the edges of the Brussels sprouts begin to brown. Serve immediately, or allow to cool, wrap in tin foil and refrigerate to reheat later.

Serves 2-4.

The Thanksgiving Myth
Many people incorrectly believe that the reason we consume the bodies of slaughtered turkeys on Thanksgiving, along with all the “fixins,” is because it’s a tradition that originated from the first Thanksgiving feast that the Native Americans and Pilgrims enjoyed together. The idea that turkey was the centerpiece of the first Thanksgiving could probably not be further from the truth. In fact, there’s little to no historical evidence indicating that turkeys were eaten at the first Thanksgiving and we know that they certainly did not consume any of the “traditional” foods we consume on our tables today.
So, where did all this come from? One may be surprised to find out that Thanksgiving was not declared an official holiday until 1863, 242 years after the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Even more interesting is that Thanksgiving “traditions” and the holiday as we know it can mostly, if not entirely, be attributed to one relentless woman, Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale has a vast legacy in American history and was quite the activist and businesswoman in her time. On her mission to get Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday, for 36 years she wrote to various politicians until one of them finally granted her request in 1863. That politician was a man by the name of Abraham Lincoln.
Sarah Josepha Hale, being the Martha Stewart of her time, immediately began creating her own mythologized version of Thanksgiving in her numerous pieces of publicized work. From cookbooks to prominent ladies’ magazines, Hale was unstoppable at creating her own version of what a Thanksgiving meal should be. While it may all stem back to a few seeds of truth from 1621, most of the foods we prepare today for Thanksgiving were not part of the meal served at the first Thanksgiving and nearly every Thanksgiving tradition we celebrate today, can be directly traced back to Sarah Josepha Hale.
While “tradition” is certainly is no excuse to continue immoral practices, anyone who says we need to serve dead turkeys on Thanksgiving to honor “tradition” is simply incorrect. As Sarah Josepha Hale showed us, we hold the ability to start our own traditions at our own tables. In fact, to Hale’s own admission, Thanksgiving is about celebrating what we have and giving back to those less fortunate. The first Thanksgiving was a meal of the plentiful autumn harvest, not a gluttonous feast on white-feathered turkeys that were only bred into existence within the past 60 years. So, it’s completely acceptable and just as traditional to partake in a compassionate, vegan Thanksgiving meal and perhaps nothing could be closer to the true meaning of Thanksgiving - appreciation for what we have and reverence for life.

The Thanksgiving Myth

Many people incorrectly believe that the reason we consume the bodies of slaughtered turkeys on Thanksgiving, along with all the “fixins,” is because it’s a tradition that originated from the first Thanksgiving feast that the Native Americans and Pilgrims enjoyed together. The idea that turkey was the centerpiece of the first Thanksgiving could probably not be further from the truth. In fact, there’s little to no historical evidence indicating that turkeys were eaten at the first Thanksgiving and we know that they certainly did not consume any of the “traditional” foods we consume on our tables today.

So, where did all this come from? One may be surprised to find out that Thanksgiving was not declared an official holiday until 1863, 242 years after the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Even more interesting is that Thanksgiving “traditions” and the holiday as we know it can mostly, if not entirely, be attributed to one relentless woman, Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale has a vast legacy in American history and was quite the activist and businesswoman in her time. On her mission to get Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday, for 36 years she wrote to various politicians until one of them finally granted her request in 1863. That politician was a man by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

Sarah Josepha Hale, being the Martha Stewart of her time, immediately began creating her own mythologized version of Thanksgiving in her numerous pieces of publicized work. From cookbooks to prominent ladies’ magazines, Hale was unstoppable at creating her own version of what a Thanksgiving meal should be. While it may all stem back to a few seeds of truth from 1621, most of the foods we prepare today for Thanksgiving were not part of the meal served at the first Thanksgiving and nearly every Thanksgiving tradition we celebrate today, can be directly traced back to Sarah Josepha Hale.

While “tradition” is certainly is no excuse to continue immoral practices, anyone who says we need to serve dead turkeys on Thanksgiving to honor “tradition” is simply incorrect. As Sarah Josepha Hale showed us, we hold the ability to start our own traditions at our own tables. In fact, to Hale’s own admission, Thanksgiving is about celebrating what we have and giving back to those less fortunate. The first Thanksgiving was a meal of the plentiful autumn harvest, not a gluttonous feast on white-feathered turkeys that were only bred into existence within the past 60 years. So, it’s completely acceptable and just as traditional to partake in a compassionate, vegan Thanksgiving meal and perhaps nothing could be closer to the true meaning of Thanksgiving - appreciation for what we have and reverence for life.

Quiche
This vegan quiche is super simple to make and is a great way to use up leftover fresh or frozen veggies. This recipe used asparagus and mushrooms, but you can use whatever you have around!
1 block extra-firm tofu1 C unsweetened soy milk1 tsp black salt (or regular salt, but black salt with give it an eggier taste)1 tsp black pepper2 TBS olive oil 1/2 C nutritional yeast1 tsp turmeric (optional, for coloring)1 onion, diced1 C mushrooms, sliced1 C asparagus (frozen or fresh), cut into 1 inch pieces1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips1/2 C dry polenta (also known as yellow corn grits)Add the tofu, soy milk, salt, pepper, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and turmeric to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Add onion, mushrooms, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and polenta. Mix to combine. Pour into a 9” pie pan that has been slightly coated with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for at least one hour before slicing to serve warm, or place into the fridge overnight and serve cold.
Serves 2-4.

Quiche

This vegan quiche is super simple to make and is a great way to use up leftover fresh or frozen veggies. This recipe used asparagus and mushrooms, but you can use whatever you have around!

1 block extra-firm tofu
1 C unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp black salt (or regular salt, but black salt with give it an eggier taste)
1 tsp black pepper
2 TBS olive oil 
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric (optional, for coloring)
1 onion, diced
1 C mushrooms, sliced
1 C asparagus (frozen or fresh), cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
1/2 C dry polenta (also known as yellow corn grits)

Add the tofu, soy milk, salt, pepper, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and turmeric to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Add onion, mushrooms, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and polenta. Mix to combine. Pour into a 9” pie pan that has been slightly coated with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for at least one hour before slicing to serve warm, or place into the fridge overnight and serve cold.

Serves 2-4.

Beyond Meat to Launch Vegan Ground Beef in May 2014!Beyond Meat was serving up vegan chili at the 2013 Natural Products Expo East this past weekend. Fresh out of research and development, it was the first time that this product has been dished up and served to such a large gathering of people. As with their famous chicken strips, the taste and texture of this vegan ground beef was spot-on. So, while we may have to hang on until May 2014 before we start seeing the product in stores, it will definitely be worth the wait!

Beyond Meat to Launch Vegan Ground Beef in May 2014!

Beyond Meat was serving up vegan chili at the 2013 Natural Products Expo East this past weekend. Fresh out of research and development, it was the first time that this product has been dished up and served to such a large gathering of people. As with their famous chicken strips, the taste and texture of this vegan ground beef was spot-on. So, while we may have to hang on until May 2014 before we start seeing the product in stores, it will definitely be worth the wait!

Podcast #33! Dallas Rising!

Today on Eating Consciously Podcast, we welcome back Dallas Rising, who contributed to the new book Confronting Animal Exploitation: Grassroots Essays on Liberation and Veganism and is Program Director at the Animal Rights CoalitionWe will get into topics such as “Happy Meat, Happy Rape" and the "abolitionist" debate, among other highly interesting points of discussion!

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Craziest thing you’ll see all day!

Anti-gay bigots claim they had to shut their business due to “mafia-style attacks” from gay activists.

This is great!

Can we please stop “listening to our bodies?”

Sure, there are perfectly legitimate reasons to “listen to our bodies.” For example, noticing a sharp chest pain or an allergic reaction (a real, diagnosed one) to food. However, there are many people who make a completely irrational attempt to justify their “need” to consume animal products by using the “listening to my body” argument. As a registered dietitian, this is probably one of the most irksome arguments I hear, because it’s simply untrue.

Thank goodness that we don’t have to rely on mere thoughts and feelings to determine what nutrients humans need to consume to stay healthy. In fact, there’s a thing called the scientific method and it’s an incredibly precise way of gathering and deciphering information. We have used it to compile decades of nutrition research that have resulted in established recommendations for the nutrients our bodies need to thrive.

We have even been able to use this body of scientific evidence on human nutrition to make the determination that we simply don’t need to consume animal products to survive. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put this issue to rest in a single position statement:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

Evidence-based nutrition recommendations tell us the appropriate amounts of macro and micronutrients the general population needs to stay nourished. How we choose to obtain those nutrients is completely up to us and there’s certainly no established recommendation for the amount of animal products we need to consume, because they’re not essential. We can get all the nutrients our bodies require while consuming a completely plant-based diet. This isn’t propaganda or zealotry; it’s a simple scientific fact.

So, let’s please stop using the “listening to my body” excuse, because it’s completely false. Let’s just be truthful and say “I’m not ready or willing to go vegan at the moment.” There are certainly many debates we can have surrounding the vegan lifestyle, but whether or not we need to eat animal products to be healthy isn’t one of them. No one needs to “listen to their body” to decide if they can go vegan or not. 

Podcast #32: An interview with Dr. Kim Socha!

Today on Eating Consciously Podcast, we welcome Dr. Kim Socha, co-author of the new book Confronting Animal Exploitation: Grassroots Essays on Liberation and VeganismWe will get into topics regarding other social justice movements, classism, corporate rule, and the “abolitionist” debate, among other highly interesting points of discussion!

Download now!

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Participate tomorrow!

There’s no health argument for veganism.

There is certainly a solid body of peer-reviewed scientific evidence to confirm that from a dietary perspective, it benefits human health to consume a primarily plant-based diet. Eating more plant-based foods is beneficial for our health and for the environment. There’s no argument about that.

However, we need to make a distinction between veganism and a plant-based diet. Surely, a completely plant-based diet is a part of being vegan, but veganism represents a larger ideology that defines a commitment to opposing the use and exploitation of animals. Vegans don’t eat animals, but they also don’t wear them, visit places that enslave them, or in any other way participate in the commodification of animals as much as humanly possible.

While we can say there are health benefits to adopting a plant-based diet, the truth is that there are no health arguments to avoid wearing wool, visiting zoos and circuses, or buying products that are tested on animals. Even the dietary argument only goes so far. You cannot necessarily say that someone who eats a predominantly plant-based diet, which includes small amounts of animal products, is consuming an “unhealthy” diet.

We commonly see celebrities and other high-profile people claiming to have gone “vegan,” only to return to eating animal products again and then being labeled as an “ex-vegan.” The fact is, they were never vegan in the first place. They were simply consuming a plant-based diet and their only commitment was to their own personal health, which is why it’s that much easier to give it up. When people are committed to living a lifestyle in accordance to principles that extend beyond oneself, it makes turning back much less likely.

There’s no doubt that many people have adopted a plant-based diet for health reasons and then transitioned to a vegan lifestyle after becoming more informed of the ethical implications. For that reason, it does continue to make sense to use health as a motivating factor to help people overcome the dietary aspect of transitioning to veganism. For many people, adopting a completely plant-based diet is the first step they’re willing to make. Any progress in the right direction is commendable.

Although, we need to be clear from the beginning that changing dietary patterns does not define a vegan lifestyle. Many people make the argument that the only way to get people to transition to a completely vegan lifestyle is through health. There are many people who have proven that’s not the case and it’s also reductive to assume that people are incapable of understanding the message of compassion. So, as long as veganism is perceived as nothing more than a diet, we cannot expect it to be respected as anything more than such.

Lasagna Casserole 
This quick and easy lasagna casserole is sure to please. It can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to pop in the oven!
Ingredients:
1/2 block extra-firm tofu
2 cloves garlic
2 TBS soymilk
2 TBS nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb of pasta, cooked (I used macaroni, any small pasta will work)
1 jar your favorite pasta sauce
1/2 bag frozen spinach
dried oregano and red pepper flakes to taste
Instructions:
Cook the pasta according to instructions, set aside. In a food processor, blend the tofu, garlic, nutritional yeast, soy milk, and salt and pepper until the consistency of ricotta cheese. Set aside.
In a baking dish, put in a few TBSs of the pasta sauce to coat the bottom of the baking pan. Reserve a few more TBSs for later. Mix the rest of the pasta sauce with the pasta and frozen spinach. 
Add half of the pasta to the baking dish and spread evenly. Use half of the “ricotta” mixture and drop several large dollops across the top of the layer. Add the rest of the pasta and spread evenly to cover the first layer. Coat the top layer with the reserved pasta sauce. Top with the remaining “ricotta” mixture in large dollops and finish with dried oregano and red pepper flakes. 
At this point, the dish can be covered with saran wrap and refrigerated, or put directly into the oven. Cook at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the “ricotta” begins to brown slightly. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving!
Serves 2-4 people.

Lasagna Casserole 

This quick and easy lasagna casserole is sure to please. It can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to pop in the oven!

Ingredients:

1/2 block extra-firm tofu

2 cloves garlic

2 TBS soymilk

2 TBS nutritional yeast

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lb of pasta, cooked (I used macaroni, any small pasta will work)

1 jar your favorite pasta sauce

1/2 bag frozen spinach

dried oregano and red pepper flakes to taste

Instructions:

Cook the pasta according to instructions, set aside. In a food processor, blend the tofu, garlic, nutritional yeast, soy milk, and salt and pepper until the consistency of ricotta cheese. Set aside.

In a baking dish, put in a few TBSs of the pasta sauce to coat the bottom of the baking pan. Reserve a few more TBSs for later. Mix the rest of the pasta sauce with the pasta and frozen spinach.

Add half of the pasta to the baking dish and spread evenly. Use half of the “ricotta” mixture and drop several large dollops across the top of the layer. Add the rest of the pasta and spread evenly to cover the first layer. Coat the top layer with the reserved pasta sauce. Top with the remaining “ricotta” mixture in large dollops and finish with dried oregano and red pepper flakes.

At this point, the dish can be covered with saran wrap and refrigerated, or put directly into the oven. Cook at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the “ricotta” begins to brown slightly. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving!

Serves 2-4 people.