So let’s just get something clear – I am a cookbook hoarder. I have shelves and piles and stacks of vegetarian cookbooks, vegan cookbooks, gluten-free cookbooks, juice and smoothie recipe books, raw foods un-cook books, an entire book devoted to peanut butter, and oh-so-many vegan and vegetarian “health” books. Yup. It’s bad. It’s bad because so frequently I get all excited to pre-order a new, well-reviewed and highly anticipated book on amazon (yes, guilty as charged), only to flip through the pages a few times, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the glossy photos, try a half a dozen recipes and then put it aside, somehow forgetting about all the delicious meals I was once oh-so-inspired to make (that’s why Pinterest is so freaking handy!). Then, naturally, when the next cookbook arrives, this routine starts all over again. Now, that’s not to say I don’t return to the said cookbooks from time to time… But in reality, there are only a precious few that encompass recipes that end up making themselves into my weekly cooking menus.

Christy Morgan‘s Blissful Bites is one of them. This book, my friends, has turned my kitchen into a Blissful Bites Cafe. I kid you not – ever since I purchased Blissful Bites, I have been literally living off of her Mac ‘n Kale Salad (I eat it nearly every day- sometimes with extra veggies, hemp seeds, a little tempeh or whatever else is handy). I also LOVE the Kale Salad with Sweet Mustard Dressing. Can you tell kale is my favorite food? Aside from these amazing massaged kale salads, my boyfriend and I LOVE her tempeh recipes and I make either the Maple Tempeh or the Tempeh Fakin’ Bacon each week to add to salads, wraps and sandwiches. Other faves include her Curry Tempeh Chicken Salad, Save a Duck Pate,  Not-Your-Usual Pad Thai, Gluten-free Banana Walnut Pancakes and the Basil-Cashew “Cheese” Sauce… and so many more! What makes Christy’s recipes different, in my opinion, is her perfectly balanced focus on health in all aspects- physically, mentally and spiritually- combined with her creativity in the kitchen and desire to make health taste as good as it feels.

Aside from providing me with the majority of the recipes my boyfriend and I literally LIVE on, I have to say.Blissful Bites is more than a cookbook. It is full of bright, vivid food porn! The photographs are eye-catching, amazing and always inspire me to experiment with even more of her delectable creations. What’s more, however, is the length that Christy goes to in order to truly educate (and again, inspire!) her readers about not only her vegan philosophy and tips for “starters,” but also the basics of macrobiotic cooking, tips on pantry stocking, explanations of some of the less common ingredients, clear directions on various cooking, chopping and slicing techniques and the benefits of seasonal eating (going so far as to divide the chapters up by season, which makes it effortless!). With all of this goodness packed into one book, what isn’t there to love?

So, as I stated- Blissful Bites is one of my absolute favorite cookbooks- full of delicious, healthy, easy to prepare plant-based foods that both long time vegans and full time omnivores (yes, even vegaphobes, ie: my brother!) enjoy. If you have yet to get this cookbook, I highly recommend you do so- if you are anything like me, it will be a worthy investment for your health, taste buds and for anyone that is ever lucky enough to have you prepare a meal for them!

 

So I stumbled across this article while skipping around the interwebs today and thought I would share. It is a list of VERY commonly used foods that use genetically modified ingredients, ranging from BABY FOOD to cooking mixes, soda to meat products and more or less everything and anything in between. Although I didn’t see any of the foods I personally eat on the list, I figured this list is worth sharing for anyone interested.

Things you didn’t know were genetically engineered foods!

“When you make a commitment, there is no decision.”

I stumbled upon this quote last week while endlessly searching the internet for resources, articles and generally everything pertaining to juice cleansing (more on that later). It’s a saying that helped one woman gain the strength to complete a juice cleanse- and while it certainly helped me do the same- these simple words have since been on repeat in my head ever since.

Why? I suppose this quote relates to my current relationship with my vegan lifestyle. Long ago, I made a commitment to living a compassionate, cruelty-free lifestyle, free of meat, dairy and all other animal by-products due to various personal, ethical and health related concerns. While it did take me a few years to initially ease into a strictly vegan lifestyle, for the last seven years I have been consistently making choices in line with this commitment. While some people are in awe of vegans for their “will power” and “strength” or scoff at our “restrictive” and “protein deficient” diet, I don’t think my ability to live this lifestyle has anything to do with my will power – and I certainly do not feel restricted! Rather, I feel free from the unhealthy confines of the Standard American Diet, which is typically full of, to put it bluntly, dead animals, sugar, refined carbohydrates and other processed crap- not to mention antibiotics, pesticides, artificial food dyes and other strange chemicals I am wary of, to say the least. I also feel free from the guilt I once felt for supporting companies that mistreat and slaughter hundreds of thousands of animals a day, contribute to the degradation of the Earth’s resources and place profit over health. I feel free to eat the foods that came from the Earth that I am confident will fuel and nourish my body, providing me with the nutrition I need to feel my best, all the while reducing my risk of various diseases and illnesses.

To me, the commitment to the vegan lifestyle captivates the essence of the quote mentioned above – for me, there is no longer a decision involved in many aspects of my life. I don’t feel “tempted” to eat foods that are not in line with my health guidelines, morals and ethics. Rather, I simply check the ingredients of an item- or, if at a restaurant, ask questions- and if there is an item I am not comfortable consuming, I do not eat it. For me, “cheating” is no longer an option- because who am I truly cheating out of good health, both mentally and physically? Myself. And that’s just not something I am okay with doing.

That being said, I don’t want to come across as a militant, condescending better-than vegan enthusiast. I actually do not support that type of mentality- for me, that attitude goes against one of the very notions my veganism is based upon – compassion! I do my very best each and everyday to extend this compassion to humans. I am also not someone that thinks everyone will have the same experience transitioning into this lifestyle that I have had. Change is not something that happens overnight- sometimes it is quickly, other times it is slowly. However, I do encourage individuals to learn more about veganism and take a particular look at industrialized agriculture, the dairy industry, and the effects that animal by-products have on human, animal and environmental health. I truly believe that this is information that needs to be sought out, because chances are, it might not make the headline news and yet it significantly impacts humans in so many ways. That old saying “knowledge is power” rings true in this context – knowledge provides one with the power to make educated decisions in line with personal, moral and ethical beliefs. While I do feel that once provided with the knowledge of the basis of the vegan lifestyle, it should be the everyone’s first choice, I ultimately know from my own experience, this is not necessarily the case. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and enabled with the power to make their own choices. All that I can do is make the commitment to live the life that lives up to my own personal beliefs, and help to educate those seeking more knowledge.

That being said, I wonder what other people think about the above mentioned quote. Do other people experience commitment in the same way that I do – a black and white line in which decision is revoked in order to fulfill the commitment? Or am I just an extremely black and white, all or nothing type of person? I would be interested in hearing what other people think, whether it is in relation to veganism or in regards to other areas of life.

As a long time vegan and excessive stalker of all vegan-themed blogs, I figured it was time that I start my own.

For years I have debated beginning my own vegan blogging quest- yet always decided not to, feeling a little too intimidated, a little too inadequate. I don’t have a good camera- and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to skillfully photograph anything. I don’t know anything about web design. While I am a great home-cook and adept baker, I do not compare to the many culinary geniuses that are out there on the web, developing new recipes and perfecting the art of “food porn.” While I know lots about nutrition, I hold no qualifications and therefore deem myself unable to offer any significant dietary advice. And I don’t have a cool job or a weeding or cute kids to talk about either. So what could I possibly offer to the vegan-blogging community?

Nothing- or so I thought. Until right now.

This morning I came to the sudden realization that everything that I am permitting to hold me back from starting a blog are the things that have held me back my whole life- fears, insecurities and self-doubt. I am comparing myself to people I am not- registered dietitians that specialize in vegan nutrition, holistic nutritionists, doctors, professional chefs and bakers, cookbook writers, food photographers, culinary geniuses, fitness gurus, motivational speakers- the list goes on… And so it’s no wonder I have continued to shush my voice and devalue my own experiences to the point that I refuse to share them! It’s easy to feel inadequate when comparing yourself to other people – and that’s why it’s generally not something I would suggest any one do- including myself. So here I am, saying “shut up” to those voices and allowing myself to just being myself, blogging my little fingers away about whatever it is that is burning beneath my skin, boiling through my veins, waiting to erupt through my fingertips and onto the screen. I have my own voice, my own interests and my own experience to share. And hopefully that’s enough.

FatFree Vegan Kitchen

vegan paraphenalia & true life inspiration abound

Save the Kales!

Filling bellies and hearts.

Plant-Powered Kitchen

vegan paraphenalia & true life inspiration abound

The Full Helping

vegan paraphenalia & true life inspiration abound