Meatless Memorial Day

I can hear the gasps already at just the mere thought of a meatless Memorial Day. It’s almost an American tradition to celebrate holidays with meat it seems. But, I don’t think there is anything wrong with going out and grilling a nice big, juicy, black bean burger with some healthy veggie sides! They are way delicious.

I actually made black bean burgers a couple of days ago to make sure they were good, with this recipe from Sarah at Gazing In. I’m absolutely amazed at how delicious these are. They of course, taste nothing like meat, but are packed with so much flavor and are so juicy that you should forget about whatever you think black beans are supposed to taste like and just try this recipe.

I followed the modification to add the flour in slowly to make sure the consistency was good. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of cumin for some kick, and a little extra chili powder for a bit more heat.

If you’re thinking about what to top these with, really, any of your favorite burger toppings will be good. I used hummus, sun-dried tomatoes, a dab of ketchup, and some fresh sliced baby bok choy.

Looking for some sides to this yummy burger? Try some of these healthy veggie ones!

Have a safe and delicious Memorial Day everyone!

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Why being vegan isn’t always healthy

Switching over to the vegan side of eating certainly has its benefits. You generally eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and discover countless ways of cooking tofu and tempeh (actually, that might be a downfall, since I really hate tofu). I’m not a vegan, and I don’t know quite yet if it’s truly the best way to eat, but I do know that I’ve had the impression for a long time that vegans, in general, eat healthier and are healthier than a lot of people.

Once I see an interesting idea or a possible new way of being healthier, I research the crap out of it. It is both a blessing and a curse, for it not only makes me more knowledgeable, but also consumes a lot of my time. So, when I ventured into the world of vegan foods, I found out that actually, much of what the American diet consists of is, in fact, vegan. In general, it probably is healthier, but it’s not always peace, love, hippie foods, and health.

Oreos are a vegan food. Cocoa Puffs are vegan (in fact, many sugary, processed cereals are also vegan). Red Bull is vegan. Apparently a “7-Eleven 7 Select Apple Snack Pie” is vegan. You could literally live off of Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs, Red Bulls, Unfrosted Pop-Tarts, and Boca Burgers (which are highly processed and most likely contain GMOs) and call yourself a vegan.

This might please you or it may disturb you, but either way, consider yourself informed. I’m just plain confused, and a little grossed out. So, instead of focusing on eating things that don’t contain meat or dairy, I think I’ll just focus on the whole-foods, plant-based diet thing. I prefer my food to actually look like food—like it came from a plant or even an animal.

What are your thoughts on this? What does your “food” look like?

Recipe of the Week – Quinoa and Black Beans with Oven-Roasted Radishes

Quinoa, once held by the Incas as the sacred “mother of all grains”, is now becoming more widely used in our meals. It is truly a complete protein with all of the essential amino acids we need, and is a great source of dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. If you’re sensitive to gluten, this is the grain for you, because it’s also gluten-free.

I haven’t used quinoa much, but as I move toward a more plant-based diet, it’s becoming a necessary item in my pantry. I found a recipe for Quinoa and Black Beans that is just awesome. This dish has everything you would want in a balanced meal (whole grains, beans, and legumes), except for more veggies, which is why I decided to use some fresh organic radishes to try this recipe for oven-roasted radishes. I have never even heard of roasting radishes, but these my friends, are so delicious and much tastier and smoother then I had anticipated. My boyfriend said they were just like roasted potatoes with a more celery type of flavor.  But, if you’re not into experimenting with radishes, the quinoa recipe would taste great with more veggies or legumes added. Try it with peas, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, or mushrooms!

What are your favorite quinoa recipes? I’m looking for more!

Sandwich spreads that don’t suck

Mayonnaise is a high calorie food. In fact, I’m not sure I would even consider it food. It’s oil (usually soy or canola), eggs, salt and sugar, unless you get Miracle Whip, and then there’s probably some processed version of corn in there. Nowadays, mayo seems just plain boring when it comes to healthy, delicious sandwiches, because there are so many other options for spreads that are lower in calories and have more nutritional value.

Here are some more flavorful, nutritious options (all vegan!):

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Spread

Tomatillo Guacamole

Pesto

What spreads do you use instead of mayo?

Forks Over Knives: No Need for Animal Protein

Invest in your health now, don’t pay for it later.

I recently saw a life-changing movie called “Forks Over Knives”. This film is about the surprising research that has been done on the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. If you’ve ever heard of the China Study, which was a huge 20-year long research endeavor, you know that this research is pretty incredible. The research shows that switching from an animal protein-based diet (meat, milk, seafood, eggs, etc.) to a plant-based diet, helps prevent disease and aids in the proper function of our cells and organs. The Chinese have historically lived off of a plant-based diet, with meat (mostly seafood) in very small portions (think of how much fish is actually in sushi) and certainly not as often as our Western diet now contains. We know that vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (actual food) is good for us, but it likely isn’t as simple as eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day.

It sounds like a lot of naturopathic crap, really, it does. I was a skeptic before I watched the movie, hoping there would be actual science, biology and rigorous, peer-reviewed research cited. Turns out, there was all of that. I already know the whole myth about needing to eat meat to get all the protein you need (there is plenty in beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains AND vegetables), but what is it that we get out of dairy products? I bet you just said “calcium”.

Osteoporosis is not really about not having strong bones or not being able to build strong bones. Osteoporosis is actually a premature degeneration of the bones. Not only does our acidic diet help cause this but there is also some implication that too much calcium could contribute as well. If you are eating a plant-based whole foods diet, you probably don’t need much more calcium, if any at all.

See this list of vegetables that have calcium (there are a lot more than I even thought there were!)

There are also many fruits that have calcium.

Oh yeah, whole grains also have calcium.

Have I convinced you that we don’t need dairy yet? No? Ok well, many nuts and seeds also have calcium.

Plus, eating these foods gives you all of the other health benefits and nutrients they have. Dairy products don’t give you much more than calcium (remember, these calcium-rich foods also have plenty of protein and omega-3, so don’t even go there!).

If you’re still skeptical, beans and legumes also have a lot of calcium.

No, I’m not calling myself a vegan. I won’t avoid cheese, fish, or eggs completely, but I will treat these things as though they are delicacies, meant for special occasions and in small portions.

I encourage you to see Forks Over Knives if it’s playing in your area.