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    Vegan Lentil Vegetable Soup





    2 tsp olive oil

    3-4 diced shallots

    3-4 sliced carrots

    3-4 stalks sliced celery

    4 cups organic vegetable broth (I used Pacific brand low sodium)

    1 cup water

    1 cup dried lentils (I used a half-half mix of yellow & brown lentils)

    1/4 tsp black pepper

    1/4 tsp dried thyme

    2 bay leaves

    1/2 tsp salt

    1 Tbsp lemon juice

     

    Sautee shallots, carrots, and celery in the olive oil until onions are clear. Add vegetable broth, water, lentils, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until lentils are soft (but with a bit of texture); about 45 min, depending on the type of lentils you use. Your house will smell heavenly and you will have a hard time not tasting the soup, a lot, while cooking. Remember to remove the bay leaves and stir in the lemon juice before serving! All-told this dinner - prep to serve took a bit over an hour (but I'm a slow chopper). Makes about 6 servings.

    I served with multigrain bread and a green salad (arugula, spinach, sprouts, celery, and cucumber) with raspberry vinaigrette.

     

    Everyone in my family finished their bowl to the last drop (they liked it even better than my bean & mushroom soup). I call that a win! 

    (this recipe was inspired by About.com's Vegetarian Lentil Soup http://vegetarian.about.com/od/soupsstewsandchili/r/lentilsoup.htm)

     

    Posted: Oct 13 2012, 15:26 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    I Imagine a Future of Compassion - On Becoming Vegan





    Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.

    ~Albert Schweitzer

    It's not too often in this short life you have truly life-changing experiences. Maybe the opportunities for such occurrences don't come about with frequency. Perhaps our hearts aren't always open. But occasionally, the giver of such opportunity and the recipient are in synch. All planets in alignment, so to speak, and the intended message, and subsequent experience, comes across loud & clear. This past week, such an opportunity presented itself to myself and my family.

    We had the occasion to visit a place called the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. It's a beautiful place, rural (rural, anyhow to my Philadelphia-suburbs-living self), hilly, graced with wildflowers, lakes, streams, and lush woods. We came to the Farm Sanctuary thinking we would be simply visiting a zoo of sorts - a place where our children could come pet the rescued farm animals. What we left with was a far greater and deeper understanding of animals, the current state of factory farming, an introduction to the phenomenon of carnism (the human belief system that certain animals are okay to love and protect, while others are okay to kill and eat), and a real connection with farm animals that I've never in my 30-something years on this planet experienced before. Have you ever had the chance to pet and talk to a turkey (yes, a turkey)? I had the opportunity to do just that, and it was an eye-opening experience.

    Farm animals, truly, farms in general (again, being a suburban gal), have always been a bit elusive and distant to me. I'd venture to say the case is similar for most people living in the United States in the 21st century. In the US, most of us live in the suburbs or city and our encounters with farms, or farm animals, are brief and fleeting - a school field trip here, a farmer's market there. Most of our food purchases come from grocery stores, not directly from farmers. So, for the majority of North Americans, the connection with the living, feeling beings that live on farms - cows, pigs, chickens - and the food on our plates is tenuous; in some cases non-existent. Our grocery stores don't help the matter, either - there's no brilliantly colored photograph of the cow that donated her life on the wrapper of the shiny wrapped ground beef that you purchase in the store, no connection between the farm and the food. The fact is, for most folks, a bowl of cereal is a banana is a hamburger; just something to eat. The story of the cow's life before the burger doesn't even cross the mind. Of course, that being said, being a greenhorn when it comes to farming doesn't automatically correlate with ignorance surrounding food origins. For myself, being a vegetarian for over 20 years, I may not have ever spent time around a cow, but I've understood for a good long time that cows are alive, and that I wasn't comfortable eating them. But I know I'm in the minority; just look at any menu in any mainstream restaurant - the vast majority of items available for consumption are animal-based or contain animal derivatives - the names have been changed, of course. As the meat department in your local store doesn't show photographs of cows, the menu in your local restaurant doesn't call its hamburgers cowburgers. So, while the lack of physical or even suggested connection with the source of our food may not be the only motivating factor in why so many people choose animal-based diets, it certainly is a considerable factor; perhaps the most substantial. People don't see the meat on their plates as once being alive.

    One of the Farm Sanctuary's goals is to end that disconnect; to "bridge that gap most people have in understanding and empathizing with farm animals, which is a result of the fact that they rarely have an opportunity to interact with them in their everyday lives" [Bruce Friedrich] I can tell you that when you have the opportunity to: walk amongst a herd of cows out in a field and see a baby calf peeking out from around her mother's leg, have your hand licked by the rough tongue of a huge cow so incredibly gentle and receptive to human interaction, pet dozing pigs' bellies, or stroke the rough fur of a 3,000 pound bull... you don't forget the experience. It touches your soul. Vegetarian or not. Animal lover or not. You just can't help but be affected when a (former) dairy goat leans her body against your leg (not unlike my dog used to do) - connecting, communicating without words. When you walk around Farm Sanctuary - freely able to interact with the animals - that gap they're trying to bridge… doesn't feel like a gap at all.

    While at the farm, we not only had the opportunity to meet the animals face-to-face, but we also received a real education about the state of animal treatment and animal consumption in the United States. The number of animals slaughtered for consumption in this country alone (I looked the numbers up later, after getting home) is staggering, and sobering: In 2010, the USDA stat on land animals slaughtered for food (cattle, pigs, chickens/hens, and turkeys) was...

    Are you sitting down? You should be.

    10,153,000,000 Yes, that's billions (and does not include fish/sea life killed for consumption)

    While that number may be astounding, what is perhaps more astounding - and disturbing - is the knowledge that a far-too-large number of those animals (~875 million) die due to malnutrition, mistreatment, disease, injury, or outright slaughter (male chicks are discarded shortly after birth as they are not considered valuable for breeding or meat production purposes). We learned that most farm animals are slaughtered far sooner than their natural life span would dictate; and babies are routinely taken from mothers much earlier than their natural weaning age (which causes great distress to the nursing mother/baby pair, as well as increases the likelihood of illness in the babies from not having sustained breastmilk nourishment). That cows must be pregnant or lactating in order to produce enough milk to keep up with demand and are forced into a highly unnatural cycle of continuous impregnation, birth, and milking; along with hormone injections in many cases, to keep up with demand. That cows' tails are routinely docked without anesthetic in the name of hygiene. That pregnant pigs are often confined to gestation crates for the duration of their pregnancies - with barely enough room to lie down. That the living conditions of most chickens raised for meat are deplorable and sickening - extreme overcrowding, excessive feces, warehouse-like buildings with no access to outside, forced rapid growth that leads to deformities and health conditions. That many ill and injured animals are not protected against slaughter and are as such forced to suffer, often abused on their way to death. I could go on. It's sad that our society condones the mistreatment of so many animals just for the pleasure of eating.

    But still, I feel hopeful. In spite of those chilling facts, and while my heart aches for so many animals I've never met, having experienced the Farm Sanctuary's mission in person gives me hope that things are changing - and that they can continue to change for the better. Through their sanctuaries and website, they are bringing a greater awareness of animal rights to a younger generation (and my own!) by allowing people to really connect with animals in a way that most people don't have the opportunity to do. Their stories of animal rescue from abusive or neglectful situations are awe-inspiring; it was amazing to meet some of the sweet souls who have been rescued - so gentle and trusting, in spite of their past. The people working at the farm were so friendly; not judgmental, just informative. They truly care about animals, the earth, and yes, humans too.

    I left the Farm Sanctuary with my head spinning; saddened, astounded... inspired. It was a touching experience, and as I mentioned at the start, life-changing: as after leaving, and much discussion, we have decided as a family to change the way we eat to an all plant-based diet. We are migrating from being a family of vegetarians to a family of vegans - my husband, my daughter, my son, and myself. Knowing what we now know, it is the right choice, the best choice. I don't want to live making excuses for my choices when I can make a choice that doesn't require apology or defense (going vegan is easy, healthy, economical, peaceful, eco-friendly, and fun!). I know I can do better with my life, we can do better by our environment and our animal cohabitants; as a society I have hope. We can all choose not to ignore the connection between what's on our plate and the animals who have worked or given their lives (and perhaps suffered) to provide our nourishment. We can all vote with our dollars - choosing to buy and consume fewer, or even no, animal products. We can tell others about our choices, and point them in the direction of amazing places like the Farm Sanctuary. We can be heartened by knowing that our small choices - awareness of the source of your food and how those animals are treated, choices to reduce your meat, dairy, and egg consumption, to eat vegetarian, or vegan - can have large repercussions, not only on your own personal health, but on the health of the planet, the health of animals, and our collective future.

    I can imagine a future of compassion and sustainability; I teach my children that it is reachable. Can you and do you?

    If you have the opportunity, I highly encourage you to visit one of the sanctuaries to experience the animals in person, and to educate yourself about the state of farm animal treatment in our country, and the healthy, compassionate, and sustainable choice of a vegan diet.

     

    For more information on veganism and compassionate living:

     

    The Farm Sanctuary's Compassionate Communities Campaign

    Veganism in a Nutshell at The Vegetarian Resource Group

    ChooseVeg.com - Info on vegetarian and vegan living

    The Vegan Society - Become a Vegan

    Explore What Vegan Means

    Why Vegan? at the Beautiful-Vegan.com

    Top 10 Vegan Cooking Substitutes at VegNews.com

    Vegan Action

    Becoming a Vegan? Ask Dr. Weil

    On Going Vegan at VegSource.com

    Veg101: Becoming Vegan Starter Guide at The Happy Cow

    Vegan Recipes at VeganLunchBox

    Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie with Chia Seeds





    I’ve recently discovered the awesomeness of super food chia seeds and have been experimenting with them (you can check out my Pinterest Yumminess board for some recipes). The evidence seems to point to chia being a super vegan source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, and protein. Plus, chia seeds add just a bit of texture without much (any) flavor. So, I thought I’d try them in a smoothie. I made this for my dinner last night, and it was so tasty, I decided to post it here for you!

     

    Ingredients:

     

    8oz organic milk

    1 container (individual serving) of organic greek yogurt (I used vanilla)

    1 ripe banana

    1/2 cup of frozen raspberries

    1/2 cup of frozen peaches

    1 Tbs of chia seeds

    1 Tbs of ground flax seed

    1 Tbs of raw honey

    1 tsp of vanilla extract (if you used plain yogurt)

     

    Put all of the ingredients in your favorite blender. Blend & drink!

     

    Note: I did not use ice because I had frozen fruit on hand. If you use fresh fruit, I’d recommend adding a bit of ice if you like your smoothies cold! This made around 20oz of smoothie, so my kids split the extra – it was very smooth, creamy, and fruity-sweet. Delicious!

    Another note: Next time I’ll add some spinach or kale for a vitamin boost!

    Final note: I made this with milk & dairy-based yogurt. I’m sure coconut milk & coconut milk-based yogurt would work as well – and make it vegan! 

    Posted: Jun 05 2012, 14:17 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Rainbow Orzo Pasta Salad (vegan)





    This salad is quick & easy, healthy, super-fresh, kid-friendly, and best of all (of course), tastes delish! Perfect for a warm Summer (or Spring that feels like Summer) evening! 

    Ingredients:

     

    1 box of orzo pasta

    1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped

    1 bell pepper, chopped (the more color, the better - we only used one, but could have done with a second)

    1 bunch of asparagus, lightly steamed (cooked just enough to tenderize, but not lose crispness - 3 min in the microwave did it for us)

    1 cucumber (seedless if possible), chopped

    1/2 cup of italian dressing (whatever dressing you love the best!)

    salt & pepper to taste

     

    Other things you could add to expand the rainbow… carrots! celery! corn! peas! tomatoes!

     

    Preparation:

     

    Put the pasta on to boil. While it's going, steam the asparagus - but remember to go light; you still want it to have a crispness to it. Chop the veggies (the kids helped with this). When the pasta is ready, drain & immediately cool with cold water. Drain completely. Transfer to a bowl & add veggies (more kid help!), pour over the dressing, add salt & pepper, stir (even more kid help!), and then… enjoy!

    This keeps well in the fridge for a few days; watch the cukes for softness, otherwise, all the other veggies hold up well. 

     

    (I know this isn't a grea photo, but I had to add it - just for the GUSTO with which this boy stirs the pasta!)

    Posted: Apr 18 2012, 23:17 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Kelly's Vegetarian Mediterranean Pasta





    This was an experiment that turned out quite yummy, so I'm sharing! I don't have a recipe, per se… I just threw together some things that looked good. You'll have to fiddle with the quantities per your own taste, but here are the ingredients I used & what I did with them:

     

    Box of whole wheat penne pasta

    Bunch of fresh asparagus, chopped

    Bunch of fresh basil, chopped

    Jar of marinated artichokes, sliced/chunked

    Green pitted olives, sliced

    Fresh mozzarella

    Extra virgin olive oil

    Garlic

    Salt & Pepper

     

    Put pasta on to boil. Sautéed the asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt, & pepper - til tender but crisp - remove from heat sooner rather than later.

    While those two things were happening, I chopped the basil, added it to an 8th (maybe) cup of EVOO, along with the chunked artichokes and sliced olives. 

    I drained the pasta, added it to the asparagus, then mixed in the EVOO/artichoke/olive combo.

    Right before I was about to serve, I added the mozzarella - I didn't want them to melt. I served with garlic bread & everyone was very happy with the results! 

    Posted: Apr 11 2012, 00:49 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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