Did You Know?

Did you know??
Although using avocados and bananas are all the buzz now to get soft and shiny hair, all it will get you is a messy kitchen and bathroom. These products are great to help your hair for one day, but the proteins in them are way too big for your hair to absorb. And unless you are going to use them each day (yikes!), then you should head to a beauty supply store and check out some Vegan products that use "hydrolyzed" proteins - proteins from avocados and bananas that actually are small enough to help your hair.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Apple Pie Smoothie

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It's fall, and fall means many things here in New England; fresh pumpkins, squash, corn, apples, cider, and all the other flavorings of the crisp, cool season.  In a vegan house, it's really no different-- except we don't get distracted by basic 'meat and potatoes' meals!

Anyways, a quick update on things here in the city.  We survived hurricane Sandy, barely, and we got to watch some crazy waves and winds at the beach down the street from our house, but we did lose power for 24 hours or so.  Fortunately, we didn't open the fridge or freezer during that time so nothing spoiled!  We found our dinner at a local bar that was doing Monday specials so that helped offset the misery of being trapped indoors all day without power.  Hopefully the storm didn't barrel over you too badly either!

Also, we've been a bit bad at keeping up on here lately (I'm sure you've noticed); both of us are working two jobs during the school year so as time moves on this becomes less and less of a priority-- but hopefully that will be changing come the spring semester.  If things go as planned, we should be free to spend more time writing recipes, reviewing cookbooks, making awesome t-shirts, spending time gardening and plotting out garden stuff, and spending more time focusing on work-outs that meet the attributes of vegan and mostly vegan diets.

Back to the foods...

Before making this smoothie, I was hoping to find a recipe online.  There literally was not one apple pie smoothie recipe online-- not one!  So, this was a trial by fire-- lots of guesswork and tinkering to get this one right.  Totally worth it, though.  This is delicious and at least you won't feel too bad if you want to eat an entire apple pie.

1 Apple
3 shakes of Cinnamon
2 drops Vanilla extract
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 bananas, frozen
1 cup, almond milk
1 tsp, maple syrup

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Most Amazing Vegan Mac N Cheese Recipe Ever

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It's not like me to be a big braggart, but when it comes to comfort food, especially Mac N Cheese, I am wonder woman. When I first became vegan, mac and cheese was what I missed the most.

Then, Andy and I took a trip to Charleston, SC a few months after I'd gone vegan. We made a pitstop in Richmond, VA, and found a vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurant called Impanema in the city center. They had a great tofu burger which came with an amazing side of vegan mac and cheese. At first, I thought nothing could even come close to my childhood favourite dish, but my gods, their mac was amazing.

When we got home, I started thinking. They told me they couldn't divulge their recipe secrets, but they did say, with a wink and nod, that they couldn't serve it to people with a nut allergy.

It took some time (about 4 years, actually), a bunch of tests and a lot of failures, but in the end, I love this mac more than the boxes (even Road's End, which is an incredibly Vegan easy boxed version of the favourite).

I wasn't sure I wanted to share it with everyone at first, because then I couldn't have a "secret" recipe, but when even my non-vegetarian friends ate it and asked for seconds, I decided the world should have this one. Plus, I've seen cashew inspired mac floating around the internet a bit and thought I could jump in on the action!

As a PS, it's not very diet friendly, this recipe. That's what makes it really good, I guess, so I make zero apologies on that point. You also really need to have an exceptional blender or food processor to get the cashews down, or skip this step and use cashew butter - the unsweetened, unmodified kind.

1 c cashews (I use unsalted, roasted)
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c non-dairy butter
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1/2 - 3.4 c unsweetened almond milk
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
dash of red pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tsps lemon juice


Start by blending down your cashews in a dry food processor or blender, until they are broken apart and in small chunks. Add the oil in, and blender for 3-4 full minutes, or until completely smooth.

In a small saucepan, heat the non-dairy butter with a splash of oil to keep it from burning. Once it's all melted down, add the nutritional yeast, and then add the cashew and oil blend from your processor. Turn your heat down to medium-low. Stirring frequently, slowly add in the first 1/2 c of your almond milk. Then, add in your spices, and the lemon juice, whisking or stirring after each addition. If the sauce is too thick, add another 1/4 c of almond milk. If it's too thin, add a bit more nutritional yeast, or 1 tsp of arrowroot powder, whisking thoroughly after you add it.

That's it!. Pour the sauce over cooked elbow macaroni and there you go. You can add in some tvp chilli "meat" for a heartier meal, or mix this with a can of tomato soup and bake at 350 degree for 15 minutes or so and get a creamy tomato-y casserole.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tapout XT notes, what to do when you're expecting (to get sick), and more...

So you may have noticed that here at La Vita Vegan we have been a bit quiet on the blogging front.  Well, September is a strenuous month for us, as we both work in education, so we've been a bit busy.  I promise, though, we'll start kicking it up now that we've gotten into our routines and are (finally) healthy.  Finally healthy?  I thought you were vegan!  Being vegan doesn't make you God-- and sometimes with the things I see posted on the internet for pro-veg sites, I begin almost think most people believe that a vegan diet makes you invincible.  Alas, it is not true.  Your diet is not medicine.  You cannot eat away your cancer.  You cannot eat away many of the problems you may have.  To twist veganism into an anti-medicine/pseudo-scientific holistic health regiment which cures all only makes veganism appear to be out of touch with reality.  Sorry if it offends you, but food is not medicine.

This is not to say diet cannot have an impact on your health.  Of course it does.  But don't overestimate its value.  Because you eat broccoli and kale every day doesn't mean you won't ever have a tumor, or a disease, or cancer.  To paraphrase Slovej Zizek-- I imagine the day all of these health nuts are in the hospital, dying, dying of nothing...

Anyways, the point of bringing this up is that we have both been sick.  Ashley managed to get Lyme disease, which was swiftly followed by shingles, which was swiftly followed by the cold that I had caught from (probably) one of my many students.  Diet will not make this not happen.  It is not an indictment on a leafy diet that we were able to get sick, nor does it suggest that we eat unhealthily.  Overworking is one great way to put yourself at risk of getting sick, regardless of diet.  For example, my day job has me at work from 7-3, and then I teach night school until 9 o'clock at night, at which point I make the 45 minute trek back home, only to repeat for the rest of the week.  Over-exhaustion x 120 kids = 1 sick teacher/adviser/career specialist/any other hats I wear during the day.

So while trying to figure out my schedule, working out usually goes on hold.  That's the reason I dropped the ball the past 2 years, and I didn't want to fall into that rut.  What had happened in the past was I would try to keep up a 6-day-a-week workout schedule, and within 2 weeks I'd be down to 1 or 2 days, and ultimately say "whatever, 2 days isn't even worth it then" and drop it until school got out, with the plan that I'd get on the bandwagon when I got to rest up.  Two years later, I still hadn't gotten onto the bandwagon full-time.  This year was going to be different.  I would allow myself time to adjust into my schedule and work out 3 days a week until I felt I was ready to add another day.  Two weeks into the school year, however, I managed to get sick.  A nice phlegmy head-cold.  Love it.

At first, I thought, hey, I'll work out a little.  Or should I?  Well, this is a great question. I haven't been sick in almost six years, I can't even remember what I've done in the past.  The thing about working out when you're sick is that when you get the blood pumping, it helps clear everything out.  You feel great!  You almost forget that you're sick.  And then a half hour passes by and you feel like a zombie.  The trick with working out when you're sick is to remember that you are, in fact, sick.  Don't overdo it.  With that, it also is important to remember how you're sick.  Is it a head cold?  Is your chest congested?  If it's your lungs, running probably isn't a good idea.

As I was dragging myself through work, work, workout, I ended up dropping Tapout XT.  Why?  I found myself getting frustrated with the workout program and how it works so hard to have very unique exercises; while I thought the workout was very good at producing results, I found myself getting tired of getting in awkward positions for most of the moves with bands wrapped around weird parts of my body.  There was something about these moves that made the workouts feel slow and very long.  I found a few that I enjoyed-- Buns & Guns being one of them, and there are definitely moves that I'll be taking with me to my free weight workouts, but I don't think I'll be spending time on this workout soon.  I found myself, to be honest, going back to Insanity & P90X.  I'm hesitant to start a particular hybrid workout from these, and I've been floating on what I've enjoyed.  Much of the arms work from P90X I've memorized, so I've been including half of an arms workout before doing an Insanity, which has been good as of yet, but the time it's eating up has been killing me.  Hopefully Insanity 2  will tackle this when it comes out, as Shaun T has stated that he addressed the issue of arms workout in this new one.

How's your workout going this fall?  Have you held strong so far as the season has changed?