Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fruit Week: Strawberry Juice

The other day the contents of my fridge consisted of odd bits of produce I wanted to finish off and a case of beautiful strawberries. So in a moment of inspiration I decided to juice everything I had and mix the flavors with strawberry juice in a Super Strawberry Taste Challenge:

Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

I was the only competitor, hoping I would come up with something new or inspiring. I am not the sort of person who is intuitive about combining flavors at all, so this was some very cheap excitement for me. Here are the results of my fun:
  • Strawberry-Lime: The clear winner! I know the inventors of margaritas beat me to this long ago, but still. Juice these two and put 'em in a glass with some sparkling water and ice and forget that you ever wanted an alcoholic one. If you love blended drinks, try blending frozen strawberries with lime and a little agave. Grade: A+
  • Strawberry-Mint: I'm disappointed to say this was not a match made in heaven. My ratio may have been off, but I found it no match for watermelon-mint, a favorite of mine. Grade: D
  • Strawberry-Basil-Sweet Potato: Yes, sweet potato is awesome in juices. Very filling and starchy and combines well with both fruits and veggies, I now know. This was a very thanksgiving-y flavor, which kind of jives with my summery strawberry mindset, but still: B
  • Strawberry-Cucumber-Spinach: This one was very "green" tasting, which isn't for everyone. But nutritionally this is a fabulous juice. Like a health spa in your mouth. Grade: A for health, C for taste.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fruit Week: The Pawpaw! (Papaya)

Hey, it's Tuesday. I present you with the beautiful and magical papaya! Or pawpaw, papayo, kapayo, or mamoa, depending on where you are in the world...

My Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

I guess it is more science than magic that makes this great fruit what it is: loaded with vitamin C, a good source of vitamin A, B, and G (yes! There is a vitamin G and you need it. You may know it better as riboflavin), with some iron and calcium to boot. It's low-cal yet filling which makes it great for weight loss. The range in color from yellow to reddish-pink = a gorgeous addition to fruit salads or smoothies.
I love:
  • simple cubed papaya with a twist of lemon, or 
  • juiced papaya and strawberries blended with fresh young coconut water and banana. 
 A popular and crowd-pleasing trick is to cut papaya in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds and top layer of goop and use it as an attractive and delicious serving dish for other fruit or granola.
This guy has an awesome video recipe for a spicy Caribbean papaya salad:

Pawpaw Epilogue- Fun Facts: Papaya does have some mystical properties after all!
  • The seeds can be ground into a suitable replacement for black pepper! 
  • Raw green papaya is never eaten but papain, an enzyme in the latex of green papaya skin, has a long history of uses, from the topical treatment of cuts, burns, rashes and stings to treating Harrison Ford's ruptured disk on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • However, those with latex allergies may want to tread carefully, as with melons, bananas, and kiwi.
  • Green fruit and seeds have been used to induce abortion, but the pregnant ladies out there don't need to be afraid of the ripe stuff!
  • And dudes, papaya is very, very good for your -ahem- prostate health. SO BE A MAN, AND GO EAT SOME PAPAYA!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fruit Week: Icy Blueberry Crush

Good Monday!
All this week I am focusing my recipes and tips on: FRUIT! Beautiful fruit!

My Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Today's recipe is one to beat the summer heat, and there is a secret to it's icy coolness: don't use ice! That's right! I've only recently acquired a blender and regular ice cubes watered down my first few smoothies (ugh, who on earth likes watery smoothies???) until I figured out how to get my fresh raw fruit AND my icyness too:

  • Substitute one of your fresh fruits with frozen ones.

Soooooo simple that I almost didn't post it because I thought, "Surely everyone has figured this out but me!?" But I'm doing it anyway on the off chance that it helps somebody somewhere. Adding frozen blueberries in lieu of regular ones turned my smoothie a much richer and more beautiful color (raw blueberries blend to a dull kind of blueish-purple), and I swear I feel cool from the inside out even hours after I drink this recipe. This is also an awesome way to enjoy an off-season fruit when it's not on the shelves.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more fruit-spiration! Here's today's smoothie recipe for an excellent and filling breakfast or lunch:
  • 1 - 2 bananas
  • 2 dates (soaked for a few hours in water if you can)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kale Recipes and Tips

How do I eat a whole head of kale a day?

Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Why Kale?
Well, for starters, I don't eat kale every day. I believe it's healthier and more interesting to switch my greens and eat a variety throughout the week. But it's important to eat plenty of dark leafy greens, especially for iron, which vegans need to monitor carefully. About six months after becoming vegan, I was going through an extremely lethargic and irritable period and went to see my doctor. My tests came back looking great except for being slightly anemic. I started eating more iron and noticed a big change in my energy and mood! Now I make sure I'm getting enough.

Kale is packed with important minerals and vitamins A, C, K, and B-6, and is a superfood when it comes to the prevention of many kinds of cancers and osteoporosis. That's right veggie friends- the next time someone asks you where you get your calcium, you might politely remind them that kale has more calcium per gram than milk, (not to mention easier absorption) with none of the fat and cholesterol!
Here are the two super-simple recipes I use to get my daily dose of kale:

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Oil-free Rubbed Kale Salad
This is an easy salad for established kale-lovers, but if you don't exactly love the taste of raw kale this can still serve as a great base to add on to:

  • 1 head of kale (I like Jacinto or dinosaur kale better than curly, for salads)
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 avocado
First you gotta wash and peel your kale. By "peel," I mean doing this:

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It's fun! Just hold the stem firmly at the bottom/ (cut end) with one hand, then use the fingers of your other hand (like my left in the picture) to apply pressure and slide from the cut end toward the tip of the leaf. The leaves should strip right off! Nice, huh? Discard the stems and put the leaves in a large salad bowl. Add the lemon juice and avocado.
Now that your hands already super-clean from rinsing and peeling the kale, go ahead and stick 'em right in and enjoy the gooey feeling as you massage the juice and avocado into the leaves. They will start to wilt as they are rubbed and coated with this base "dressing." Finished! No oil needed!

If the end result is underwhelming to your taste buds, try adding one of the following:
1. salt (go easy! Added sodium detracts from the healthiness of this recipe)
2. sliced almonds and a sweet fruit like apples, mango, or peaches
3. sliced heirloom tomatoes, garlic, and nutritional yeast
4. or, serve it over some brown rice and add beans or potatoes

Next, a much more universally delicious way of getting kale in liquid form:

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Good Morning Juice:
  • 1 head of kale
  • 3 or so oranges, blood oranges, or grapefruit, whichever you prefer
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup blueberries
Peel your kale (or not, if your juicer can handle the stems), peel your citrus of choice, and wash your blueberries. Then juice 'em up and enjoy! If you only have a blender, try straining it at the end to get a similar drink. This one is soooo delicious! I drink this for quick energy after I get up. Kale has lots of its own vitamin C, but the kind that comes from the citrus aids in iron absorption from the greens. The blueberries round out the flavor and are wonderful antioxidants to boot.

Go getcha some GREEN!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Enough Water? Tips and Facts

Luckily for most vegans, we get quite a lot of water through eating fruits and vegetables. But is that enough? 

My instagram: @veganlifeisgood

For most of us, probably not. Water is life! Our bodies need it for everything from vital brain functions, waste removal, temperature regulation, organ protection, and blood constitution to more cosmetic concerns like glowing skin, weight management, lubrication (yep), and those big sweat stains that prove to everyone how hard you just went in the gym. It should be a no-brainer to drink enough each day, but I suspect I am not alone in saying that it can be a struggle!

Here are some tips:
If you are like me, you may sometimes have headaches from overnight dehydration, especially in the summer when I sleep in later. So I make sure to drink a super-size jar of H2O as soon as I'm awake. Plain water that early makes me nauseous, so I have some tricks to make it delicious: I purify some with my Brita, then throw it in a jumbo mason jar with citrus and herbs overnight. Lemon, orange, mint & basil are just heavenly together! I leave it in the fridge before bed and pop it open for a cool awakening spa-like treat in the morning.
Water will dilute your digestive juices if you wait until breakfast to start drinking, so for those who want a flat stomach and easy digestion: don't combine your food & your water!! Get it first thing and try to wait 20-30 minutes after to eat. It takes me at least that long to shower, apply make-up, get dressed, and either juice/blend/or cook my morning meal, so it's no problem!

Wondering if you're getting enough water? It may sound gross to some, but... check your pee! Light yellow is a good sign. A darker color means it's time to pour yourself a glass. Or eat some of that watermelon left over from yesterday's post ;)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Watermelon Wonderful

Today on Instagram I posted about one of the most delicious and nutritious foods on the planet: WATERMELON!

My Instagram: veganlifeisgood
Did you know?:
-They contain more lycopene than any other food, even tomatoes, which is also the source of their lovely red color
-They are more than 90% water, making them an excellent food for hydration. This also means:
-They are the fastest digesting food you can eat and basically make a slip 'n' slide through your digestive tract and will catch up to slower foods. Eating watermelon before anything else will prevent bloating and gas. I made the mistake of having a monomeal of watermelon too soon after breakfast and it was quite a mistake! Avoid embarrassment and keep your tummy flat by eating watermelon first thing in the day and not after!
-Watermelons are also a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beautiful energizing carbs to start your morning with energy, and cartenoids which are believed to be powerful antioxidents

How should you eat your watermelon? Well, many vegans and fruitarians eat a half or whole as a monomeal, a meal made up of only one fruit. Like I said, a watermelon is best eaten as breakfast to aid digestion instead of creating problems later in the day. Just get a spoon, or juice or blend a cold one up and add some mint to your glass for a gorgeous combo made in heaven. Not convinced? Watch this video by FullyRawKristina and be converted ;) Have a delicious day!

A Good Start

Hey! I'm a California-based vegan who has been loving my plant-based life for just over 1 year now. I've learned so much and still have so far to go. I wanted to create a blog to document the things I learn and the things and people that inspire me. I started by posting on Instagram, as I'm sure many visual-learners do, and realized I could share those pictures and so much more by getting my ideas onto a blog. It may not be revolutionary to start a blog, but for anyone with eyes and ears who wants to educate themselves on the healthiest of all lifestyles- welcome! Vegan life is... so good!