Tag Archives: vegitarian

Lentil patties that’ll make meat lovers wanna go vegan! (or at least lick their plates)

Lentils are amazing. Filling, cheap ($2/pound dry), often available in bulk and full of protein (26% by weight) and fiber (31%). I never knew how amazing they really were, until I went plant-based and started experimenting making new vegan recipes.

Lentils are part of the legume family and Canada produces about 50% of the world’s lentils. Superfood and grown close – score.

vegan lentil patties vegan biffar

One of the ways lentils totally impress omnivores (and recently converted vegans) is by their ability to substitute hamburger meat (ground beef) in almost all recipes. Taco filling, lasagna, minestrone soup, pasta sauce, you name it. Speaking of which, you can find my recipe for vegan, Swedish moussaka (lentil and potato casserole) on Mother Earth Living Blog right now :) (Go check me out!!)

Today I am sharing another Swedish recipe for abso-lentil-ly delicious vegan, lentil patties or what my husband calls “vegadeller”.

First let me tell you that these are not easy to fry just right. Contrary to meat patties, burgers or steaks, heat doesn’t travel the same way within plants. There’s no browning the outside surface first and then waiting for the patty to slowly heat and cook “automatically” (chicken grill-masters know what I am talking about). Nope, you have to saute them super slooooow, in an abundance of oil. I’ve failed multiple times and made lentil crumbles… Luckily they taste amazing like that too ;)

Here’s what you need for 8-10 vegadeller:

  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped (really fine)
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils (mixed types work well)
  •  0.4 cups flour (gluten-free mix or regular)
  • 1 tbsp bread crumbs and 1 tbsp water
  • salt, paprika, garlic powder to taste (vegan food is safe to taste uncooked!)
  • oil

Here’s what you do:

  • Rinse and boil the lentils in water; 25-30 minutes will make them soft and mashable with a fork. Rinse in colander after boiling.
  • Mix the bread crumbs with water, let sit. It should turn into a “paste” after just a few minutes. Add more crumbs if consistency is runny, more water if dry. This paste helps “bind” the patties.
  • If you haven’t already shredded carrots and chopped the onion, do it!
  • Mash the lentils with a fork and mix them with carrots, flour, crumbsy-paste and spices. Add onion bit by bit. Too much onion or too big chunks of onion will make the patties fall apart so stay on the safe side. We want a sticky mash-up.
  • Form 1.5″-2″ diameter patties. It’s ok if they are different sizes, just try to make them similar thickness and quite flat (thin) for easier cooking.
  • Heat the pan to low-medium heat, add oil to cover the bottom and saute sloooow and carefully. As you cook them, add oil so they don’t stick. Yes, it’ll take a while but don’t stress them. THIS IS KEY for success.

I like to serve vegadeller with roasted potatoes, veggies and vegan bearnaise sauce (which we personally import ready-made from Sweden) or with cold (vegan) potato salad for summer. Let me know if you need a recipe!

One last word: If you can’t get the center of the patties to cook (they seem mashy and raw) turn down heat, give them more time or chop them up in anger with your spatula; also known as “you just made lentil crumbles”. You can use your tasty crumbles as salad topping (the potato salad you made will work!), in soup, on pizza. They freeze well also and are delicious. Then, please give the recipe another try. Play around with the ratios of ingredients and the heat in your skillet. Like I said, I’ve failed at this recipe too. They’re worth some practice though :)

Thoughts and ramblings about raising plant based children

I was brought up eating meat like most children are.

The first time I went fishing with my dad, a friend of his and my sister, I started crying when we caught the first fish. I couldn’t believe we were going to kill it and that I had contributed to its death. It broke my heart. The little mermaid was my favorite movie after all. I was told I was a party-pooper.

The first time I fried bacon at my mom’s house I almost fainted. The memory is so vivid. What was puttering in the pan looked incredibly gross to me. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t and that no one else faints when frying bacon! I did eat bacon when someone else cooked it. I got through it, resting on a chair during the frying and of course was later told I was being ridiculous. “It’s bacon.”

So I toughened up.

10 years later I had learned to distance myself from what I was cooking and dealing with enough to even roll meatballs. I became a pretty good cook.

Most people eat meat because most people eat meat. I don’t judge my parents (or any other parents) for raising omnivore kids; society shapes us and our actions. Nevertheless, now a mom myself I’ve given this a lot of thought and come to the conclusion that I’m not really okey with us serving flesh to children.

A child’s natural instinct is to love animals. To play with them and cuddle them. Young children, who hasn’t been taught differently yet, don’t differentiate between a dog and a pig – who’s the friend and who’s dinner – they’re both worthy of the same love. Who wants Babe to be eaten anyway? Raise you hand!

veganstreet
Borrowed this picture from Veganstreet.com 

I never thought I’d “go vegan”. I quit (most) meat due to environmental reasons but had never before “Cowspiracy”, seen any reason to do that or to be vegetarian either; the vegetarians I knew did not appear healthy with diets based on sugar, carbs, dairy and popcorn. I finally went 100% plant based due to health reasons and now as an adult knowing it was the right thing to do with the information I had at hand. Honestly though, I still struggle with truly finding empathy for the billions of animals that are being killed every year and understanding the actual horror of slaughter. Society has shaped me to be a hypocrite, no doubt. Maybe you feel the same way.

However, when I ask myself the hard questions and really take the time to consider them, the only answer I can come up with is the ethical one. Would I be okey with killing a pig myself to eat it? No. Is it fair to take baby cows away from their mothers at birth so I can consume dairy? No. Should beings of earth be tortured for profit? No. Do I support an ocean depleted of sea creatures? No. Yet, there is a brain-heart-disconnect. I wish to not give my child the same.

When he is old enough to understand that chicken nuggets are fluffy 7 week old chicks with breading, he can make the decision if he want to eat them. Babies don’t understand what meat is and if they did they’d say “What the fuck mom!? Are we eating Nemo/Babe/Sebastian/Donald!? Why??” Parents don’t have an answer. Anyone looking forward to explaining where sausage comes from?

Because most people eat meat and society has taught us that protein, calcium and iron must come from animals, some publications and folks believe that a plant based kid is malnourished. I don’t believe that at all; in fact it I know it is not true.

I am not an expert or a nutritionist (though in this day and age that doesn’t guarantee anything either!) but I’ve read a good book on optimizing baby’s nutrition and I follow several blogs on plant based family living. Common sense tells me that the “regular” American kid who is brought up on Mac and cheese, nuggets, pb&j, hot dogs and the occasional fruit and carrot is not a well-nourished kid. Yet, society appears to be fine with that diet!?! Ever read the kids menu at a restaurant? Nothing but fat, animal protein and white bread.

B12 is the only vitamin a vegan truly must add to their diet. Animals get it added to their food or they absorb it while consuming bacteria (dirt) if they roam free. So we basically need to do the same: supplement in food or eat dirt! (That’s a joke, we supplement.) Baby will take vitamin D and B12 (after he quits formula all together, which has it) and he just started loving our unsweetened, organic, fortified soy milk with calcium and B12.

As with all Utopian scenarios or ideals, our kid’s diet won’t be perfect. I won’t be that parent who denies my child birthday cake or pizza at a party because it has milk in/on it. He will eat the occasional pancake made with eggs and ice cream I’m sure. (Meat might happen on some occasion as well. I don’t know.) I do think that animal products like dairy and eggs are easier to explain to a child. I know there is A LOT of killing and suffering in these industries as well (maybe more) and it’s not healthy foods, but if people ate cheese only a few times a year we wouldn’t have the money to fund an industry of abuse and exploitation. We’d get the cheese from a local farmer who had a few grazing cows to maintain open landscape. (That’s land meant to be open not former rain forest mind you.) Idealistic and Utopian – I know – but explainable to my kid and makes life SO MUCH EASIER.

Daycare has worked with us and knows “August doesn’t get the meat”. In fact it was recently reveled that some of the teachers had had a taste of baby’s lunch box because it looks so delicious every day! They told my husband “he eats such good food!”

I don’t judge anyone’s eating habits (except the constant use of straws in people’s drinks, but that’s another subject) and I don’t blame myself or my parents for eating the way I did for 34 years.

Read this post with an open mind and remember:

Most people eat meat because most people eat meat.

Aside from culture and society’s dietary norms: Did Anna just drink the vegan kool-aid or what do you really think about it?

A final note. I am aware of rural communities and tribes who raise and consume animals for survival, who teach children respect and the circle of life. I love the Alaska homestead shows and “Naked and Afraid” where hunting equals survival; an only source for protein and fat. Just like I know there are Americans living in “food deserts” with only McDonald’s and gas station food available; they can’t go get the lentils and the multivitamins. I’m writing about me and the BILLIONS of other people who shop at the grocery store every week. What do we really think?

[Picture from Veganstreet.com – go support them in their efforts to educate!]

How to master going Plant Based – when you have a life (Six quick tips!)

Switching to a plant based, whole foods (PBWF) diet from a “regular” one is super easy!

Said no one.

Ever.

I am a pretty determined lady, yet I will be the first to admit that changing your own and your family’s diet over night is a bit of a struggle. Not so much when it comes to the tasks at hand (find a recipe – make it – taste it) but in the acceptance and adjustment of appetite, taste and lifestyle.

I started my PBWF transformation about three months ago. At the time I was eating a 95% vegetarian diet; I had switched most dairy for plant based alternatives a long time ago and quit beef in 2015. However, I was eating chicken occasionally (when we got Chinese take out), cheese on pizza and eggs. It was a gluten heavy diet with a fair amount of processed foods. I wasn’t by any means a stranger to great vegan food and for a long time I’ve enjoyed cooking and shopping for healthy meals. To me, it was a planet-friendly diet, that didn’t compromise the comfort of my life.

Then came the health issues and I decided to go full on PBWF.

I’ve had ups and downs. Lost weight and cleared my skin. Cheated with cheese.

Either way; I have learned a lot and I want to share with you!! Here are SIX THINGS I’ve learned since going Plant Based, which I hope can help someone else in their transition to the MOST planet-, and health-friendly diet there is :)

1. Go easy on other eco/health/life goals

This is number one because it’s important.

No matter what anyone tells you, cooking from scratch with whole ingredients while reading new recipes takes time. If you are a master chef already, you’ll be good, but if you think making grilled-cheese is cooking, you’re in trouble. (Also, consider how much time you’ll spend figuring out what toppings to put on sandwiches!) Now that I have committed to guiding  my wonderful family through a transition to a PBWF lifestyle, you might be wondering how I make time. Well, I go easy on other things. Hell no there’ll be no cleaning. Do I ever work out? NO. I am not zero-wasting this thing either. This mama can’t be making her own waste-free hummus and bake crackers in order to have an after work snack. I am also not exactly the social butterfly, I like being home. (My situation is I work full time as a project manager, I have a 10 month old, a husband, a house and a blog.) No matter your lifestyle, with a new diet, there is no time for shitty commitments. Or Facebook. Let them slide.

vegan
A balanced, vegan diet. Fancy.

2. Soups are your new (best) friends

I am the kind of cook who freaks out if there are too many steps to a recipe, that’s why I love making soup. Measure, wash, chop and in the pot it goes. Try this awesome Moroccan Lentil Soup, this Minestrone, this Peanut Soup or search for a simple vegan curry. (I know many of my friends love their croc-pot which, I am sure, also makes great PBWF soups.) On a side note, why do carrots taste out-of-this-world amazing when they’ve simmered in a soup for an hour?

3. Broth, broth, broth

This tip is somewhat related to above soup tip, since vegetable broth is included in pretty much every soup. However, you can also use it to add flavor to stews, mashed potatoes, rice, lentils, cooked veggies – anything! You can make your own broth from scratch or like me (in accordance with tip number one) buy meal saving, ready-made, packaged bullion tablets from Knorr.

4. Exploring recipes is your new hobby

Forget Instyle, your new leisure reading materials are vegan cookbooks and PlantBased magazine. The Forks over Knives’ recipe app will become a dear friend as well. Downtime at work should be spent reading amazing health stories on how people survived [insert illness here] by going plant based. Anything to keep you motivated and inspired on this journey. Please note you may develop “militant vegan” type traits. (“My foot hurts” says random person, so you say “maybe you should go vegan!”)

5. Junk food is the hardest thing to quit

I had no problems quitting junk shopping a few years ago (Yay, go not made in China challenge!) but quitting junk food is not as easy. I have no magic trick that makes cheese all of a sudden taste gross. (Sorry animal activists, vegan cheese is not cheese.) I eat too many chips probably. The only tip I have when it comes to this part of it, is to create a directory of local, plant-based friendly take-out restaurants (like Chipotle, salad bars, Indian places) for when you need something quick. Then just do your best and pick something vegan. It may not be all “whole foods” but at least it’s plant based.

6. Find your signature meal

Last but not least, find your signature meal! Our go to is wholegrain spaghetti with vegan Bolognese: marinara sauce, onions, tomato, pea-protein and whatever veggies I feel like throwing in. We love it and baby eats it too. Dinner shouldn’t be difficult or fancy all the time, just nutrient packed.

peanut soup
Meet Peanut Soup with brown rice (cooked in broth!). Yum.

That’s my whole list of wisdom! (So far.)

As for the future, I think Carrie Underwood put it best; “I am vegan but I don’t freak out if there is some cheese on my pasta.” (Cheating with cheese, also referred to as “cheesing”. LOL.)

Even PETA agrees; don’t be the vegan who makes a plant based diet look difficult by asking the waiter to check if there’s dairy in the burger bun. Instead be the person who makes a vegan, or vegetarian, diet seem tasty, easy and inclusive. That’s how you encourage others to cut their meat, become healthier and more planet minded.

Questions?

Let me know if anyone is or have been going through the same transformation!

10 weeks on a plant based whole foods diet: Here’s my progress

A few weeks ago I told you all about my struggle with a skin rash on my face (Perioral Dermatitis, “PD”) and how I was in desperate need to heal my body.

I, as you know, decided to do that by:

  • Eating a 100% plant-based, whole foods (PBWF) diet
  • Remove all toxic skin and body care from my life
  • Stress less with no Facebook and less social media time

To give you an idea of what was going on, here is the picture evidence. Not very flattering, I know, and honestly just how bad my PD really was at its worst, can’t be illustrated by a picture. Sad times for a somewhat vain woman like me.

Perioral DermatitisThe PBWF Diet.

I decided to start with my diet since chances were (according to the internet) that my issues were gut related.

I started to eat super clean which meant my body finally got a chance to thrive all while making it possible to pin-point triggers and find out why I (probably) developed PD in the first place – at least based what my body was telling me. (I haven’t been to a doctor since the dermatologist tried to sell me antibiotics and diagnosed this as “rosacea” back in August).

In regards to triggers, unfortunately every bite of (vegan) bread has made my skin worse. It has also made my stomach ache i.e. I believe I have developed gluten sensitivity. I have heard about women developing all sorts of allergies after pregnancy so chances are, I am one of them. I love bread and cookies so this S U C K S for me.

Moving on.

Another trigger for PD may be hormone imbalance, which also makes a PBWF diet the sensible choice. Stop consuming the hormones of other beings so that your own hormones can adjust back to normal. This also applies to anyone struggling with acne. Makes so much sense.

My skin started to clear, finally.

On top of that, with a PBWF diet, I have lost weight! So, yes, I am as smashing as I was before pregnancy (Ha! Almost). My husband has been on the PBWF diet too and he has lost over 10% body weight and experiences less back ache.

And, yes, there’s more. By eating a vegan diet for ten weeks we have saved at least:

  • 60 animals’ lives
  • 2,500 pounds of CO2
  • 3,500 square feet of forest land
  • 6,000 pounds of grain
  • 125,000 gallons of water

Aaaaah, that makes an environmentalist happy.

I will admit a PBWF diet takes time. I will share a post on how I’ve managed to cook and stay clean with a full time job and a 9 month old baby in a separate post! I’ll make sure I share some recipes too, though I normally don’t do that here on the blog :)

Non-toxic skin care.

Second part – topical intervention.

This “no toxic skin care pledge” quite quickly turned into “no make-up at all ever” which has been an eye-opening, time-saving and over all great experience. After YEARS of always doing my make-up almost every day, I am now totally comfortable in my own skin – even on the days my PD is flaring up a little (it does come and go, however there’s enormous progress each week). No one has said anything yet and I actually feel pretty most days. I will admit, I do make sure my hair looks good :)

I have been washing my skin with raw, unfiltered, organic honey each night before bed and used only non-toxic body care like Alba Botanica, pure coconut oil and Meow Meow Tweet deodorant and lip balm.

IMG_4017
Me – without a drop of make-up and almost clear skin

Less social media.

Third part – inner peace.

I am not sure that I’ve stressed way less these past ten weeks… Tesla and I still don’t have any patience for slow drivers, but it’s freaking awesome to not have Facebook! You know a friend told me that FB can listen in on conversations to better select appropriate ads for people! What!? I am out of that business, thank goodness.

Also, I have discovered that not caring about how often I post on Instagram, when I publish a blog, how many likes I get or to maintain an online “persona” is true freedom for me. This is why it’s taken forever to publish this post… (and I’ve been busy too!)

So that’s a bit of my progress in ONLY TEN WEEKS people. Isn’t it amazing? I’ll tell you a secret too: We’ve had a few (erm, several) pints of Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice-cream and we’ve been on a pizza date where I did have a bit of cheese on my gluten free pizza. We’ve also eaten French fries, chocolates, granola bars and pre-made veggie burgers. All that and still amazing progress. (Check back soon for more diet information :))

Oh, and aren’t you impressed?!

Five easy ways to cut back on your dairy consumption (for the sake of your health!)

Yes, dairy.

I first started to cut back on my own dairy consumption in an attempt to reduce acne and breakouts and it worked, however this post is going to be about the cancer building properties of animal based foods, focusing on dairy.

Processed foods, refined sugars, air pollution and chemicals found in cleaning products and lotions all help cancer tumors grow. This is somewhat accepted knowledge by now, but no-one seems to want to talk about the effects that meat and dairy have on our bodies*.

plant food consumption vs disease diagram

Why is dairy so bad for us? Well, we consume a lot of it, and most importantly, the main protein (casein) found in milk, has proven to be an extremely potent fuel in firing up cancer cells, especially for liver, breast and prostate cancer.

A series of lab tests, for example, using rats, concluded that when cancer genes (or clusters) are present, a diet consisting of 20% dairy protein in fact grows the cancer, while a diet with 5% doesn’t. Switching from a 20% dairy diet down to a 5%, actually stops the growth and even reduces the tumor over time!

It doesn’t matter how organic, local or non-gmo your dairy products are – the building blocks are the same. You’ll think twice about that organic, “all natural” strawberry milk you put in your kids’ lunch box now, I hope.

And sit back and think about this for a second: why would breast milk, by nature designed for another mammal, be good for humans? Do we aim to grow at the rate of a baby cow? We’re the only species on this earth that steals and uses breast milk from another. Awful! Rude!** 

Now, let’s take action.

1. Change your milk.

There are lots of great options to diary, like organic almond, cashew, coconut, oat and soy milk. I promise neither you nor your kids will get sick from protein deficiency. Ask your doctor how many patients he sees for lack of protein in a year (none). Don’t worry about the calcium either, osteoporosis is most common in high dairy consuming countries (like USA and Sweden). Due to the high acidity in animal products the body actually uses our bones’ calcium (a base) to naturalize that acid, meaning the more dairy we consume, the weaker our bones.

2. Change your ice-cream and yoghurt 

Organic coconut milk ice-cream and yoghurt is like the best thing that ever happened to me. Try Nada Moo or So Delicious varieties. Your kids will LOVE this.

3. Change your sautee and frying base

Please note that I am not in any way a promoter of synthetic margarine or high fat oils! Personally I use mostly organic olive oil for any satueeing action. Recently I found a brand made right here in Texas. Shop around, find a vegan option you like, and use scarcely. 

4. Change your sandwich base

Peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil, hummus, avocado, tomatoes… so many foods are delicious on a piece of bread. Still, if you feel you need a sandwich basic, instead of using cream cheese or butter go for vegan mayo. There are lots of great versions, we use Just Mayo from Hampton Creek which comes in a gigangtic jar that lasts forever and saves packaging.

5. Just Cut back!

Sure, I’ll have a pizza and won’t reject a meal with dairy in it at mom’s house. It’s about reducing! Always opt for light or no cheese and skip it all together on bean burgers, fajitas, fries and other foods that don’t “need it”. Learn to enjoy your tea and coffee black. Have your pie without the ice-cream. Get it?

Our bodies are amazing and want to be healthy. Once you remove the constant fuel to the fire, they can handle a slice of cheesecake now and then. (This philosophy also applies to meat y’all.) A plant-based, whole foods diet is the best thing you can feed your body for longterm health (and beauty!).

Please continue to support cancer research with any means you want and can afford. (Just don’t buy useless merchandise!) We still need to find cures. But also remember to create awareness about diet based disease prevention.

Tell your friends and family about the effects of animal based proteins! Do your own research when it comes to disease vs. meat and dairy consumption (it’s a click away) or set up a screening at your house of the Forks over Knives movie (it’ll tell you everything you need to know and it’s on Netflix!).

In addition to all the positive changes to your body’s strength and health, our environment will also thank you for reducing your dairy consumption. Dairy cows fart and burp methane (greenhouse gas), use endless resources (grains, water, lands) and create much more waste per head than humans do.

Got milk?

*Refer to The China study.

**Dairy cows actually have a miserable life, separated from their babies only hours after birth, constantly artificially impregnated while living in small booths for three to four years until they become low grade hamburger meat.

Please don’t take my tag away from me! (What I learned from Cowspiracy)

Whenever there is a new documentary on Netflix promising to get our wheels turning, we always watch it. Watch, absorb, discuss, research and make necessary changes. So when Leonardo DiCaprio (my favorite eco-celebrity) posted that “Cowspiracy” was available, we knew we had to watch it.

There’s a lot to be learned from watching this amazing movie about how agriculture, raising livestock and eating meat, beef in particular, impact our environment. I will not be able to do the movie justice by attempting to summarize what it’s all about; you have to see it (and listen!) for yourself.

Personally, we knew eating meat was bad for the environment (cow burps and farts = methane), but honestly, we had no idea to what extent.

Water usage, meat vs. plant
Water usage, meat vs. plant

One of the sources interviewed in this fantastic movie said something like; “No meat-eater can call themselves an environmentalist”. Based on the fact that livestock is the largest global source of methane and nitrous oxide pollution, number one reason for deforestation, causes drought and produces excessive amounts of waste, to name a few issues; there’s no doubt that he is right.

This blog is all about tags. I’m always saying we must check the tag to see what something contains, where something is made, what a brand stands for. Tags and labels are important, and when it comes to myself, I like to think my tag says “made in Sweden”, contents: opinionated (150% of daily recommended value) environmentalist. I can’t have my tag taken away from me!! I’ve built a whole blog around my tag! Must eat better!

Land it takes to have a steak.
Land it takes to have a steak.

We saw the movie a few months ago, and since then, low, lower, lowest meat consumption for me and hubby. It’s not like we ate beef several times a week, and I was already doing meat-free-lunch every day, but we’ve stepped up our game dramatically. It hasn’t been a very hard change for me to be honest. But, yes, I do need to work on my vegan-cooking skills. I love cooking, so I am sure I’ll get better in time (that’s the optimist in me talking).

You know we’re saving for our first made right (here) Tesla, and here’s an interesting fact from the movie; switching to an electric vehicle (from a gas driven) will save a teeny bit more CO2 per year, than what switching to a plant based diet from a meat based diet will (only talking CO2 not the other worse greenhouse gases). But, how easy is it to change the purchases at the grocery store today compared to saving up and buying a new car? Exactly, that’s a no-brainer; start at the grocery store. Combined, these two changes are dynamite – in a good way.

We must all admit that we don’t know everything, and we all have the right to be wrong – that’s the cool thing about being human. We are wrong to eat meat in the vast amounts that we are, and the solution is really simple.

This movie got the world talking. It got me and my friends talking. Thank you Leo and Cowspiracy, that is truly grand.

3 gases

Pictures are from Cowspiracy’s Facebook page and copyright Culinary Schools.org. Read more at cowspiracy.com.

Personal note: I reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging I bring into our home, by not buying meats. It’s also easier to check tags on veggies than it is on meats (and processed foods) making it easy to shop local.