Vega One Vanilla Chai Tea Milkshakes!

Vega One Vanilla ChaiAll I have to say about this is…. oh my god!!!  I just randomly tried something that I swear is the best treat I’ve ever had.  Now that I’m mostly Vegan, I do try and pick up some protein boosters once in awhile.  I get plenty of protein through beans and grains, but every once in awhile I’ll top myself up.  The Vega One protein smoothies are a great option.

Walking through Whole Foods yesterday, I noticed there was one of those individual Vega One packs.  This one was Vanilla Chai flavoured.  I like Chair tea during the cold days, so I grabbed one, thinking I’d heat it up and make it warm.  But when I got home all I wanted was a milkshake.  As I’m not eating any kind of dairy, I obviously couldn’t have one.  I don’t know where the craving came from, but it was there.  I had a quick look through my cupboards and found a few ingredients that sounded good in theory.

Vega One Vanilla Chai

Coconut Milk

Ice

Water (ice cold)

Stick it all in your blender and blend until frothy.  Holy crap, it was a smooth delicious goodness!!!  I took one sip and got my milkshake fix as well as that wonderful warm Chai feeling from the spices.  I’d accidentally made a desert that was healthy and so delicious I ate the whole thing.

Here are a few things to note!!  Coconut milk can be fatty.  Add more water, but don’t skip the Coconut milk!!  It’s what makes it smooth and creamy.  Almost over blend it.  The ice will crunch down, but it’s that frothy that makes it feel like a dessert.  This could be a meal!!  It packs a lot of punch.  I would make half a pack if you’ve already had most of your portions for the day and are just looking for a tasty treat.  Those Vega Ones have a ton of stuff in them.

I find that the Vega Ones don’t always dissolve all the way.  Make sure you stir it ones in awhile, or you might end up with a sludge at the bottom that is really strong.

Want to make it even more like a dessert?  Whip some coconut cream on top, or use a thicker Coconut milk to make it thicker.  Put it in the freezer for a short while to freeze it up even more than the ice!

Red Christmas Cups

Starbucks Red CupsI’ve hesitated writing this for the last few days.  When such strong opinions start to surge through social media, pointing out the absurdity in them can often come across just as belligerent and uneducated as the original argument.  But I feel strongly with this one.  I feel we’re missing the entire point.  Instead of accidently offending everyone of one believe we’re missing that this entire debacle speaks directly to how far we still have to go to accept all the people of this world.  This is my opinion, and if I offend you, I am profoundly sorry.

From what I understand, Starbucks is under fire for being ‘anti-Jesus’ by refusing to celebrate Christmas with simple red cups.  Because they haven’t written ‘Merry Christmas’ on them (which they haven’t done in years), they’ve inadvertently sent a message to all who celebrate Christmas that they no longer support the Holiday.

I’m going to skip this overreaction and go directly to the simple fact that ‘not everyone celebrates Christmas.’

My best friend is someone I love with my whole heart.  She’s loving, caring and above all else, compassionate.  I honestly can’t say two words together negative about her.  If I were going to give a list of the attributes that make a wonderful, beautiful person, I would be listing her virtues.  We’ve been friends for ten years and the memories we’ve created together are magical.  Why do I bring her up?  She doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Her family is Vietnamese and they celebrate Chinese New Year the way we celebrate our Christmas.  I don’t know enough about Vietnamese culture to know if this is true generally, but it is true of her family.  When she and I first met working at a movie theater as teens, she quickly agreed to work Christmas Day if I would work Chinese New Year.  I immediately agreed because Christmas was such an important thing for my family.  I  never once thought anything of it.  She used to tell me about her families celebrations and once I even got to participate with her family.  It was so much fun!  I was absolutely thrilled to take part in something that means so much to her.  Every year I get her something for Chinese New Year, and every year she and I go do something Christmasy together, like see the lights at Van Dusen Gardens or see VSO choir singing Christmas Carols at Saint Andrew’s-Wesley church.  She loves the lights and festivities, and she loves the beauty of the songs and laughter.

My friend is not a judgemental person.  She’s never once walked through the thousands of stores that pour Christmas out in waves and complained that they were offending her religious beliefs.  She’s never said that she felt excluded.  She doesn’t care.  She sees our culture of Christmas and sometimes participates, but it’s never been part of her life.  When she walks into Starbucks right now and is handed a red cup, she knows it’s because of Christmas.  No one is hiding it.  It doesn’t matter to her.  Maybe it should.  Maybe she should get angry that they don’t incorporate any of her beliefs.  But instead she drinks her coffee and does the most important thing; she thanks the barista!

When I heard that this argument was taking place I was stunned.  I love Christmas!  I was raised Christian and I understand what Christmas is supposed to be about.  I’m not a practicing Christian anymore, but I grew up with nativity scenes and stories from the Bible.  I also love Starbucks.  They have gotten me through many a long day and I like their coffee.  I know there are people who prefer other companies, but that’s not the point of this.  I personally like Starbucks.  And as a raised Christian, I don’t feel offended in the slightest at their red cups. Continue reading

Veggies for Breakfast

Veggies at BreakfastBreakfast is one of those topics that just doesn’t go away.  Every person who Googles some sort of ‘weight loss’ or ‘up your energy’ search will eventually get to the same thing.  Breakfast is what makes the world go round.  Without it, you’re screwed.

I’m not a breakfast person.  I find it hard to force myself to eat in the morning.  It’s not one food over another, it’s just that I never seem hungry first thing.  I’ve tried to bring things to work and eat at my desk, but if I forget or get instantly busy I’m screwed!  I’ve tried preparing things the night before, but I tend to crave something at night that seems gross in the morning.  I’m 29 years old, and I’ve never figured out breakfast.

Finally, my mom bought me a Magic Bullet for my birthday and I discovered veggie smoothies.  Every morning I wake up and throw together a smoothie full of green goodness, sip it while I put on my makeup, and then go about my day.  Let me tell you, veggies in the morning is fricken amazing!

I’ve noticed this trend lately that I thought I’d bring up.  At the gym yesterday I was reading a Women’s Health while on the eliptical.  Elizabeth Banks is on the cover.  There was a breakfast recipe in there that I was sort of stunned by.  It had squash and turnips or something like that (I can’t find it again now!).  What got me is that the entire dish was all veggies.  If I hadn’t seen it in the breakfast section, I would have thought it was a dinner side dish of roast veggies.  But this was a veggie mash meant to be like oatmeal.  I thought at first that it was weird.  Why would I wake up and make a bunch of roast veggies for breakfast?  But then I realized that my morning smoothies had become pure veggies so how is this different? Continue reading

Kicking the Sugar Habit

Sugar

I have had a very long and complicated relationship with sugar.  I can’t pinpoint exactly where it started, but even as a kid I would spend my lunch money at the corner store on the way to school and spend the day living off of five cent candies.  As an adult it became worse.  I would binge most nights on candy, popsicles and chips.  Enough to last most people weeks!!  I knew I was putting myself at risk, but I didn’t want to stop.  I love candy.  Anything sweet.

I’ve tried to kick it a few times in the past, giving it up and replacing it with fruit and berries.  Sometimes it would work for awhile, but I always ended up back binge eating candy within a few weeks.

At 29, I’ve started to really put work into my health.  I’m tired of being tired, anxious and worried.  I’m tired of wondering what all my symptoms might mean, or why my skin gets so bad.  I’m nearing the second month of truly doing the right things for my body and kicking sugar is one of them.  Surprisingly, this time it’s working!

Here’s something I did differently this time.  I didn’t replace sugar with anything.  I didn’t have fruit instead or try to trick my body into detoxing.  Instead I focused on what the cravings meant.  An article explained that sugar cravings could actually mean protein cravings, so I tried to fill my dinners with beans and quinoa to counteract the late candy hankering.  I focused on getting enough water every single day, and eating enough veggies.  Pretty soon I realized I’d gone a week without sugar and I hadn’t struggled as much as usual! Continue reading

First Binge Day

binge-eating

Almost five weeks now of consistently eating well and suddenly yesterday I had my first crazy cravings and binge day!  Part of me says ‘congrats on making it so long!’ and another part things ‘damn, I’d done so well’.  The night before I went out with my boss to an industry event.  Nothing too exciting happened, but when I got home at nine I was hungry.  I quickly baked some potato wedges to curb the hunger, and shortly after went too bed.

About an hour later I woke up and was violently sick.  I mean yuck!!  For sure I thought I had food poisoning or something.  But it didn’t last very long, and I almost immediately felt better afterwards.  I wasn’t up long and slept through the night just fine.  The next day I was worried about it, but nothing ever really came of it.  I had a gentle smoothie for breakfast, and a zucchini crust pizza for lunch.  But I was craving hard.  I believe in listening to your cravings, and my cravings were telling me to eat meat.  As I have none in the house, I had to go out.  Unfortunately the closest thing to me is KFC.  I got a few chicken strips (no fries or any additives, just the strips).  I ate them and hoped it would curb the craving and for dinner I’d have something super light.  But an hour later I was craving so badly I couldn’t sit still.  I mean I haven’t had cravings like this since my candy addiction days!!  And the only thing I wanted was pizza.

I didn’t want to order a whole pizza for myself so instead I went to the really nice place down the street and got a small stone oven pizza with some good toppings.  It wasn’t the worst thing I could have in the world.  Made with real organic ingredients and really high quality cheese.  I ate the whole thing and afterwards I had to fight the cravings for a sugar binge!!  I went to be still thinking about stuffing myself to the brim with as much cheese covered, carb heavy, deep fried foods I could get my hands on!

This totally took me off guard.  I went to bed feeling a little bloated for the first time in weeks.  What had happened?  Is it because I’d been sick the night before?  Or was my body finally telling me that I’m missing something?  Five weeks and I’d thought cravings were a thing of the past!  Continue reading

Camping Hacks for Vegans

vegan camping

I was worried about this past weekend.  My family had planned a camping trip. I absolutely love camping with my family.  It’s so much fun and ridiculously relaxing.  But we normally go all out with food and I was worried that it would be a strain to keep the clean vegan eating going without making my own meals.  In the end, I was over prepared!!  Here’s what I did to curb the pitfalls.

1.) Be prepared for the late night snacking.  S’mores are a staples.  I don’t have the money to go out and buy vegan versions of marshmallows and graham crackers, so instead I brought popcorn!  My family ended up eating most of mine because it was so good.  I bought corn kernels and we popped them over the fire with a little oil.  Then I drizzled some freshly melted dark chocolate over it and tossed with a little sea salt.  Talk about a delicious snack!  Just make sure the oil isn’t super fatty and use a tiny bit of dark chocolate.  Milk chocolate is just sugar. Continue reading

Chickpea Quinoa and Yam Burgers

I’ve wanted to try veggie burgers for some time but I’ve always found that there were too many ingredients, or ingredients not readily available at my local grocery store.  I read a whole bunch of recipes and came up with this one.  I don’t know about you, but I hate trying to track down a bunch of ingredients you can only buy at whole foods.  These turned out quite yummy!  Next time I make them I might add a few more spices, like Chilli Flakes!!

The ingredients:

1 can organic chickpeas

1 Yam

1/4 cup Quinoa

Turmeric to taste

Cumin to taste

Parsley

Salt and Pepper

2 Garlic Cloves

1/4 cup of brown rice flour (or any kind of organic gluten free flour)

Olive Oil

Here’s what I did:  I boiled the Quinoa in water until soft, steamed the yam until soft and boiled the chickpeas until soft.  In a large bowl I mashed all the softened foods in with the garlic, herbs and spices.  I stirred in the flour until the mixture is thick and not wet.

Once the mixture is mashed and mixed well, I scooped out and patted down a few patties on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil.  I cooked at 350 degrees fahrenheit until golden brown one the bottom, then I flipped them until the other side was golden brown.

Because these are burger patties, you can really do whatever you want with them.  This time I made a salad to go with it.  The ingredients I used were grape tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and mango with a lime and olive oil dressing.

What I love about foods like this is that my taste buds are satisfied, my hunger is sated but I don’t feel big or bloated.  In fact I feel like I could go for a run just after I eat!  And the ingredients are so simple I can’t justify getting anything else because ‘cooking is too hard’.  If you want them a little crispier, fry them in a little olive oil.  Spicier?  Chili flakes.  Sweeter?  Maybe pineapple?  These patties didn’t fall apart on me at all and they stayed good for a few days!!