Tag Archives: vegetarianism

Pickled Onions

30 December

Picled Onions

Pickled Onions

When I was growing up, my grandfather used to make these pickled onions once a year. He would make about 1 two-gallon-size jar of these and share with the entire family. He would peel every little onion, wash them, and fill up the jar. These onions would be served with steak and other dishes.

I now eat them with salads and any other raw dish we make for lunch or dinner. I have shared them with friends and even made a few jars to give as gifts for the holidays.

Here is what you’ll need to make these pickled onions:

1 glass jar or Mason jar with cover

Small red, yellow, and white onions (enough to fill up the jar)

1 small beet per jar cut in small cubes

2 garlic cloves chopped

2 Tbs. chopped cilantro

1 small jalapeño pepper or any other hot pepper sliced

Water (enough to cover onions in the jar)

Real salt (1 Tbs. per 1 cup of water)

Peel onions and wash them. Put the garlic, hot pepper, a few of the beet cubes, and half of the cilantro at the bottom of the jar and add one tbs. of Real Salt. Fill the jar half way with the onions and add the rest of the beets, garlic and cilantro. Add the rest of the onions until the jar is full. Add one cup of water and if the onions are not covered, continue to add more water one cup at the time. Add one Tbs. of salt per each cup of water added after the first.

Cover the jar and let is sit at room temperature for four days. Each night open the jar and let the gases out. Replenish the water and salt if necessary. I put a pan under the jar in case that water comes out which happens often and that way I won’t have to clean a mess.

After the four days, put the onions in the refrigerator and use in salads, dishes, etc.

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Raw Hummus

14 November
Mediterranean Plate

Mediterranean Plate

Whenever I don’t feel like making a complicated dish for dinner or I have run out of greens, I make this hummus I learned at this year’s Raw Spirit Fest in D.C. I also add some cut veggies, usually left over veggies, to make a “Mediterranean” dinner or plate that comes out amazing with very little effort.

1 cup of Sunflower Seeds

2/3 cup of Hazelnuts

1/3 cup of Sesame Seeds

1 Tbs. Raw Tahini

2 cloves of Garlic

2 Tbs. Bariani Olive oil

The juice of ½ Lime or Lemon

Organic Cumin seed powder and Salt to taste

½ cup water

½ cup sun dried black olives

Using the food processor, combine the seeds and nuts; add tahini, olive oil, salt, garlic, cumin, lemon or line juice and begin mixing. After most of the nuts are grind, begin adding some water until you reach the desired consistency. I personally like it very smooth and liquid, but you can decide how much water to add. Add the sun dried black olives and continue to mix in the food processor until smooth.

Cut other vegetables such as broccoli, celery, carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, etc, and serve as a meal. It takes a few minutes and everyone loves the hummus.

Tips to Begin a Green Lifestyle

25 October
10:10

10:10

We went to the global premiere of “The Age of Stupid” on Monday September 21st and as usual, I walked out angry, frustrated, and depressed. Anytime I watch a movie about the environment, I cry and feel hopeless. Mostly because I feel that no one cares and no one is doing enough to conserve the very little resources we have left. It usually takes me days to recover. As we drove home, I decided I was going to be more positive and thought of what else I could do, not just in my lifestyle, but promoting what I’m passionate about. I talk about raw food more than anything else, but I don’t share my feelings and knowledge about the environment. So I’ve come up with these three lists of tips on how to help conserve and be “greener.”

For Beginners

Reusable bottles, bags, and natural soaps

Reusable bottles, bags, and natural soaps

So you already recycle and have changed your light bulbs. Well that’s not enough! Here are 5 tips for beginners.

Reusable bottles

Stop buying bottle water please! It will save you money and help conserve by not making more plastic bottles that will eventually land in our ocean. Get a reusable bottle and a filter and voila! You have bottled water!

Plastic bags

Ok so you probably bought the reusable bags but are forgetting to carry them. I keep at least three bags in my car, one at my office, and two in my purse. I now collect a tote or reusable bag from every place I travel. I actually no longer gift wrap presents but put them in a nice reusable bag, that way the person will get two gifts!

Soaps

Yeah I bet you didn’t know about this. Most soaps contaminate the water supply. There are environmentally friendly soaps that are very reasonable in price, for example, Dr. Bronner’s soap is great because it last for a very long time and it comes in gallon size containers. They also carry a laundry and cleaning Dr. Bronner’s soap called Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.

Packaged Food

It creates tons of garbage! So if you can’t cook or don’t have time, look for recycled packaging specially plastic number 1, 2, and 3. However, I strongly recommend starting to fade out microwaveable foods.

Re-Use

Instead of immediately throwing things away, donate or swap with other people. Freecycle.org is a great way to re-use; it’s a way to give away the stuff you no longer want without having to find a place to take it. It’s free and a lot of people can benefit from your “garbage.”

Advanced “Greening”

So you already know more than the average person, here are some advance tips that will prove how committed you are to saving the planet.

Compost

Compost Bucket

My Compost Bucket

Great way to create less trash and make fertilizer for your plants. If you live in an apartment, there are methods to compost in small places. Once we began composting, we reduced our trash to 1 bag a month for 4 people!

How to Compost

EnviroCycle Composter

Thermostat

Replacing your current thermostat for one that can be programmed for multiple temperature settings throughout the day and week can help save a lot of money and energy thus saving the earth. I recently replaced mine for a three bedroom house and my electric bill went down 40%! Mind you I’m in Florida and summer just ended.

Energy Star Programmable Thermostats

Carbon Footprint

Anytime you travel, there is a carbon footprint. Your car and house also have carbon footprints. To offset these, you can sign up for an inexpensive service that will plant trees.

TerraPass.com

Become a vegetarian/vegan

Yes, it’s time for that big step! Begin transitioning to a healthier lifestyle and save the world at the same time. What a concept! For tips on how to start the process, read my post for tips to transition to vegetarian and/ or vegan.

Collect water

There are two ways to do this. One by collecting water every time you wash your dishes and re-use the water for plants. Two if you have a backyard and can collect rain water, set up buckets outside and use that water for plants and lawn.

Extra Credit

Here are some more tips to earn extra credit in the “greening” path.

Mail

MailStopper - Formerly GreenDimes

MailStopper - Formerly GreenDimes

I used to recycle all my junk mail until I found Green Dimes. It’s the best $20 bucks I’ve spent ever! I no longer get any unwanted mail.

Plant more trees

Even if you live in an apartment, there are local projects and even national places where you can plant trees or donate as little as $1 for each tree planted.

Drive less

Yes, you may think you already do this but in fact, you may be driving the same amount. Count how many miles you drive a week and reduce them by carpooling, taking public transportation, etc. When I bought my Prius, I also started riding the train to work and carpooling. It becomes a habit very quickly and part of your life.

Buy local food/organic

Support your local organic farmers; it saves the earth because they are using organic farming methods and you are not supporting produce that travels across country using fossil fuels.

Laundry

Replacing the soap used for laundry, the dryer sheets for dryer balls, using a low temperature, and air drying helps tons not to mention will save you money.

I wrote this post a day after I saw the movie but was unable to post it because I didn’t have access to Internet at home. As one of my decisions to do more for the environment, we downsize our living space and moved to an area that reflects our beliefs and lifestyle.

Raw Asian Food: Miso Soup & Cucumber Spicy Noodles

28 September

Miso Soup & Noodles

Miso Soup & Noodles

One of the hardest things to give up for me was Asian food such as Japanese, Thai, and Korean. So I’ve created several recipes to make up for my favorite dishes and flavors I miss. Hope you enjoy them too!

Miso Soup

Serves 2

Water

1 inch cube ginger

2 carrots

1 Tbs. brown miso paste (unpasteurized)

Garlic, olive oil, and salt to taste

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until mixed. Serve immediately and add cilantro to decorate.

Decorating tip: Add some avocado, sprouts, and pour some olive oil.

Cucumber Spicy Noodles

Serves 2

3 medium size peeled cucumbers

¼ red peppers sliced or julienned

½ romaine lettuce

½ jalapeño pepper or cayenne pepper (or powder)

2 Tbs. of Nama Shoyu or Braggs

Olive oil

A handful of cilantro

Sesame seeds (black if possible)

Using a spiral-slicer cut the cucumber to make noodles and put aside. In a bowl, mix the Nama Shoyu or Braggs (or both) with the olive oil, cayenne, and chopped cilantro. If using jalapeño peppers, mix in food processor. Cut the romaine lettuce and make a bed of lettuce in each plate. Put the noodles and cut red peppers on top of lettuce. Pour the dressing on each plate and sprinkle some sesame seeds and more olive oil.

Decorating Tip: you can also cut some fresh tomatoes and add to dish.

Cucumber Noodles

Cucumber Noodles

5 Tips to Become a Vegetarian

22 August
Tuna Fish Salad w/ Organic Dressing and Vegetarian Taquitos

Tuna Fish Salad w/ Organic Dressing and Vegetarian Taquitos

When we began our transition to health, we started taking small steps. I strongly believe in transitioning slowly is the best way to achieve being a vegetarian because it eases the body into your new lifestyle. I’m not a believer in changes overnight… or cold turkey! At least, it didn’t work for us! So here are five easy ways to begin the transition to a healthy vegetarian lifestyle.

Start fading red meat and pork from your diet

One easy way to accomplish this is to find how many times do you eat red meat and pork and fade both gradually. For example, if you eat red meats 2 times a day 5 days a week, start by eating it once a day for three weeks. After three weeks, eat red meat 3 times a week only and so forth. Calculate how many times a week you eat pork and apply the same principle. In addition, after the first two months, stop buying pork and red meat at restaurants. Only eat it if you buy it to prepare at home. If you go out very often, order poultry only, chicken and turkey. After six months, eat meat and pork only once a week, and after that every other week. Very soon your body won’t even remember what flesh tastes like! After a year, say goodbye to flesh!

Increase amount of vegetables and whole grains

As you eliminate the amount of red meat and pork you eat, begin to increase the amount of vegetables and whole grains in your meals. For example, if you eat two hamburgers a day, eat one and replace the rest with your favorite vegetable or whole grains such beans, chick peas, lentils, quinoa, or buckwheat to name a few. I suggest experimenting with frozen vegetables because they are less expensive and that way you can begin to identify what you like. Vegetable and wjole grains have lots of protein and vitamins that your body will need to begin the transition. Once you know what your favorite vegetable and grains are, buy them fresh and experiment with different seasoning, etc.

Decrease the amount of dairy and eggs you consume

I became allergic to dairy at 21, so it was very easy for me to give up dairy. You may find that you may be allergic to dairy too. The problem became learning to read labels. A lot of “vegan” and “vegetarian” products such mock cheeses and even crackers have dairy in them, so I had to learn to read labels when shopping.  I was also allergic to eggs since I was 14, every time I ate more than one egg a week, I would get chest pains.

Apply the same rule as in eliminating meats, find how many times you consume dairy and eggs, and begin decreasing the amount slowly. Eggs have high amount of cholesterol. One easy way to start is by buying a carton of 6 eggs as supposed to 12 and make them last for two weeks. After a few months, make them last for three weeks until you reach a point in which you can eat one egg a week. In addition, start buying less milk, cheese, butter, and other dairy products. If you are able, replace milk with soy or almond milk. Start with small amounts, for example instead of buying a gallon of milk, buy a small jug, a smaller pack of cheese, and replace your butter with a vegetarian option that doesn’t contain hydrogenated oil.

Fish, your new best transitional choice!

I loved fish! This was the hardest thing to give up when I became a vegan especially because I loved sushi (don’t worry; we won’t go there in this list). But we didn’t always like fish until we started giving up meat, pork, and chicken. I come from a country where is very hard to buy fresh fish and what you get smells very bad… which as we all know, if the fish smells, it’s not good to eat anymore! So as we began eliminating meat, we began ordering fish at restaurants and buying to make at home. We started with salmon which was our favorite and later incorporated trout as well which is a great source of omega 3. I don’t recommend canned fish, but if that’s what it takes to begin eating fish, I’d say do it for the first two or three months until your body learns to like fish. Anything canned has tons of sodium and preservatives that the body doesn’t need.

Go to a vegetarian restaurant

This is a very easy step towards health. Going to vegetarian restaurants or even preparing vegetarian dishes is the best way to begin. Apply the same rule as eliminating meat, calculate how many times a week you eat out and begin replacing one restaurant with a vegetarian choice. For example, if you eat out 5 times a week, 1 time a week choose a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. Lots of restaurants have vegetarian meals nowadays, if you think you can resist from choosing the steak over the vegetarian meal of the day, then go ahead. But it may be hard to watch everyone else eat the steak while you eat a plate of grains and vegetables. In addition, vegetarian restaurants are more creative with their meals and they tend to taste much better than the “veggie” plate at the local steak house that usually serves canned veggies with only salt and pepper.

To find a vegetarian restaurant near you, visit Happy Cow, a directory of vegetarian restaurants in the country and even outside the U.S.

Fish Paella w/ Brown Rice and Romaine Lettuce and Tomatoes

Fish Paella w/ Brown Rice and Romaine Lettuce and Tomatoes

Any transition takes time and consistency. After the first year we stop eating meat and pork completely, we lost between 20 to 25 lbs each without doing anything else. That was the most “visible” change we had in our lifestyle, but there were other changes as well. I also recommend visiting a doctor and get your blood tested before making any changes to your lifestyle. Some people may want to add vitamins and even a B-complex vitamin as they eliminate red meat and dairy. After you fade out red meat and pork, get your blood tested again and compare it with the previous test. Most likely, your health will have improved!

Recommended reading

  • Vegetarian Times Vegetarian Beginner’s Guide by the Editors of Vegetarians Times
  • Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman
  • Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins
  • The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life: Simple Measures That benefit You and the Place You Live by Nell Newman
  • The Great American Detox Diet: Feel Better, Look Better, and Lose Weight by Cleaning Up Your Diet by Alex Jamieson
  • The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil (Andrew T. Weil, Rosie Daley)
  • The Chopra Center Cookbook: A Nutritional Guide to Renewal / Nourishing Body and Soul by Deepak Chopra M.D. (Deepak Chopra, David Simon, Leanne Backer)
  • If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spirit by Hale Sofia Schatz (Halé Sofia Schatz, Shira Shaiman)

10 Tips to Begin Transitioning to a Healthier Lifestyle

16 August
Fruits

Fruits

I believe health has many meanings and we all have a different definition of what being healthy is. At every stage of my journey I felt I was healthier than before. I believe that being healthy is a cycle of different parts of one’s lifestyle. I believe it’s not just about food and exercise, but also about state of mind and the environment we live in. However, food and exercise have a huge impact on the other elements of one’s lifestyle.

Therefore, I will start with answering one of the most common questions I get asked, what are some of the things a person can begin to do to change their lifestyle to a healthier one? I’ve summarized what I believe are the top 10 first steps to start transitioning.

Eliminate

I read and did tons of research when I started my journey. I began by eliminating the following from my diet and lifestyle.

High Fructose corn Syrup

It’s almost in everything! Reading labels is very important and you will find that high fructose corn syrup is in everything you are used to eating and drinking. Why is it bad for you? Well I will need almost another page to write about that, but instead, I would suggest to read Dr. Andrew Weil’s explanation

Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Oils

Once again, reading labels is very important. Even though some packaged foods may say “No Trans Fats,” they may have hydrogenated oils. They are not the same, and I will let Dr. Weil explain that in his article.

Coffee

I loved coffee! It took me two weeks to quit. I replaced it with black tea, green tea, and white tea. These teas have caffeine but lack the toxins that coffee has and will help you begin the transition from coffee. How is that something so tasty can be bad for you? Well the studies conducted recently contradict each other leaving us with only the side effects to judge. Side effects according to Dr. Weil may include “anxiety, insomnia, tremor, irregular heartbeat, irritate the digestive system, bladder and prostate.”

Junk and Fast Food

Have you ever wondered why fast food is so inexpensive? Why junk food is so addicting? Well if you read the labels you can see the answers to those questions. Most contain trans fats, hydrogenated oil, and high fructose corn syrup. If you eat it everyday, start small by cutting any fast and junk food two days a week the first week, three days the next week and so forth.

TV

Why is TV bad for you? Well not all shows are bad, but the more time we spend on the couch watching TV, the more time we loose on other activities that can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. I would suggest cutting down the amount of time spent on the couch watching TV and playing games to 30 to 45 minutes a day and begin replacing that with other activities. This is one addiction I’m still battling.

Add to your Lifestyle

So we remove bad things and replace them with good things. Here is a list of things one can begin to add to help the transition.

Whole Grains and Foods

Replace white rice, white bread, white pasta, with whole grains and foods such as brown rice, whole wheat breads and pasta. I developed a love for Soba noodles, rice noodles and past as well as long brown rice and whole grains.  Most grocery stores carry these nowadays and have reasonable prices.

Vegetables and Fruits

Organic Vegetables

Organic Vegetables

Probably one of the most important things to add to one’s new healthier lifestyle. At the beginning I would recommend to start with frozen vegetables that way you can experiment and find what you like and then replace them with fresh vegetables. Many times, if one is not used to eating certain veggies, buying fresh and not using them in time can be discouraging. Replace the afternoon snack-machine-candy-bar for a fruit or the morning on-the-go frozen-breakfast for a fresh fruit smoothie. You will be adding tons of vitamins to your diet without having to spend money on additional vitamins.

Water

Drinking Delicious Ionized Water from Reusable Bottle

Drinking Delicious Ionized Water from Reusable Bottle

Drinking water is very important to help the body eliminate toxins. Start small if you are not used to drinking water. Replace two of your preferred drinks with a bottle of water everyday until you are able to drink water without thinking. I prefer Essentia water because it has the highest pH available in bottled water, but I also rather carry my reusable bottle and fill it up with water from my own filtered kitchen sink. I later bought a water Ionizer which I prefer.

Spending Time with Nature and Doing Outdoor Activities

So even though I’m a TV addict and can spend up to 6 hours straight in front of the TV without even blinking, I feel much better when I go outside and spend time with nature. I don’t pay for being outdoors; I find activities or recreational sites that are free. For example, going to the beach, taking a walk in a park, hiking in local parks, going for a car ride, riding a bicycle around the block, or simply sitting in my backyard reading. Even if you live in a city, there are parks and sites. If not, use your balcony or roof to spend time outside your living area away from the TV.

Exercise for 30 minutes three times a week

I know… I know… this is the hardest thing to do! I love and hate exercise. I love it when I’m doing it, and I hate it before I begin. I can come up with all sorts of excuses to getting out of exercising. So I’ve decided now that as creative as I get with the excuses, I can be creative on how I get my 30 minutes of exercise a week. I recently started going to the beach and swimming in the ocean three times a week after work and swimming for 30 to 45 minutes a day. I also have a rebounder that I moved near my computer and started to jump for 15 minutes before I begin to check my email or go on Facebook, etc. While Denis works on the computer I may do some yoga poses while I wait for the computer or lift some weights. I belonged to a gym and loved it, but we had to cut out our budget for the gym to save money. Now, I look for ways to exercise for free.

Walk on the Beach

Walk on the Beach

Every person is different and I suggest beginning very small. Pick one thing from each list to begin with and see how it works for you. It also helps to have the support of others or people who can do it with you. I’ve read many books and done research before I started. I also do a general check up every year and get my blood work done too.

It’s important to have the help of a doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.

Here are some of the books I would recommend reading before getting started:

8 Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body’s Natural Healing Power by Dr. Andrew Weil

Eating Well For Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Bringing Health and Pleasure Back to Eating By Dr. Andrew Weil

The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young
The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins
Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins
The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life: Simple Measures That benefit You and the Place You Live by Nell Newman

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman

For more books on health, food, and exercise, visit the Books Tab.

Vegetarian vs. Vegan

26 July
Vegan Sandwich

Vegan Sandwich

Many of my friends and family members often ask us what is vegetarianism and veganism, difference between them, and the benefits of changing to these lifestyles. So I’ve decided to write about these three commonly asked questions and explain what I have learned in the subject of vegetarianism and veganism.

Definitions and Difference

Vegetarianism means to me to exclude all animals (meats and fish) from one’s diet. There are three subcategories within the definition of being a vegetarian. Lacto-Vegetarian includes dairy, Ovo-Vegetarian includes eggs, and Lacto-Ovo vegetarian includes both eggs and dairy. Veganism excludes all animals and animal byproducts not only from one’s diet but also one’s lifestyle. For example, vegan will not buy leather goods, or soaps that contain animals, etc. Therefore, the difference between being a vegetarian and a vegan is that vegetarians still consume some animal products (eggs, cheese, butter, honey, etc) even though they don’t eat the flesh. Vegans don’t eat, wear, or buy any animal products.

Benefits

Some of the benefits I found by transitioning to a vegetarian and later vegan diet included improvement in my health, increase in money savings, and decrease in environmental impact.

When I first started in the whole-foods/health journey, I was obese. Once I started fading out the amount of flesh I consumed, I started to loose weight. In addition, I saw changes improving my skin, energy level, mood swings, and productivity. I made sure to transition carefully and visit my doctor regularly to run blood tests to ensure that the process was not damaging to my body.

As we stopped buying animal products, I noticed that we were spending less money on food bills and eating out. We were also spending less money on energy drinks, extra vitamins, and restaurants as we found that vegetarian dishes are usually the least expensive in restaurant menus.

When we became vegetarians and later vegans, we were not aware of the impact that consuming animal flesh has in the environment. Always being an environmental conscious person, I was blinded about the effects that animal consumption has on our earth. I was glad to find months after the complete transition to veganism that we were helping save the planet by not consuming and not buying any animal byproducts.  I strongly believe that one cannot be an environmentalist and still eat animal flesh.

I don’t judge people for what they choose to eat. I have many friends and family members who will eat a steak in front of me while I’m eating a raw vegan meal. I believe every person has the right to make their own decisions when it comes to their lifestyle, and therefore, only one knows what is good for one’s self. I do not recommend anyone to change their lifestyle without doing the appropriate research and getting the advice of experts. I strongly believe that every person is different and what is good for me may not be good for another person. So here are some resources that can direct you to find answers.

Books

  • Vegetarian Times Vegetarian Beginner’s Guide by the Editors of Vegetarians Times
  • The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young
  • The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins
  • Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins
  • The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life: Simple Measures That benefit You and the Place You Live by Nell Newman
  • Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman
  • The Great American Detox Diet: Feel Better, Look Better, and Lose Weight by Cleaning Up Your Diet by Alex Jamieson
  • If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spirit by Hale Sofia Schatz (Halé Sofia Schatz, Shira Shaiman)

Movies

  • Super Size Me (2004)
  • Crazy Sexy Cancer (2007)