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Archive for January, 2010

Amy’s Cheeseless Pizza

Posted by tinako on January 31, 2010

We brought dinner to my folks’ house again, and my frozen entree this time was Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza.  It was good.  It didn’t look like the picture, in that the vegetables were much smaller, just little shreds, but there were plenty and they were good.  I cooked it right on the oven rack and the crust was very good.  Overall I’d say it was better than the Kashi cheeseless pizza.

The only thing I wasn’t thrilled about was the sauce.  It was brown and very sweet.  If I knew what it was, it probably wouldn’t have weirded me out, but I don’t see any explanation on the package, and it looked and tasted like a brown sugar sauce.  It wasn’t terrible, just strange.

At $6.99 it’s pretty expensive, but it’s also 3 times as much food as those $3.49 entrees I’ve been buying.  I ate it all myself, but I’m stuffed and I think I’d be better off buying less food.

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Chocolate Glaze

Posted by tinako on January 31, 2010

Lasagna, Fusili, Salad, Collard Greens, Focaccia

I made the more-or-less same dinner I make every other Saturday.  It’s absolutely delicious but we’re both sick of hearing about it.  Here’s the picture from last time, only we had Whole Wheat Penne and I made a batch of Tomato Coulis.

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Glaze

For dessert I made Vanilla Cake, only with 1-1/2 t vanilla and 1/2 t almond extract; I think next time I will try 1 t of each.  I wanted something different to top it with, so I found this recipe for Chocolate Glaze.

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Chipotle Pizza

Posted by tinako on January 29, 2010

Pizza

I made Pizza tonight, and my side had spring onions, olives, portobello mushrooms, banana peppers, garlic, and chipotle chili powder.  Whoooeee!

I learned on Totally Vegetarian TV that chipotle is just smoked jalapeno.

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Back-of-the-Refrigerator Soup

Posted by tinako on January 28, 2010

Refrigerator Soup

Tonight I defrosted some Braided Sweet Potato Bread and made Refrigerator Soup.  The soup had onion, garlic, celery, potato, leftover takeout rice, alphabet noodles, and frozen green beans, collard greens, and cilantro.

I used about 1/4 c of cilantro and it was really flavorful.  I’m still using some cilantro I froze dry before I learned about freezing them in water.

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More Historical Diets

Posted by tinako on January 28, 2010

A few days ago I posted an entry about the Paleozoic Caveman Diet.  I have been thinking that as long as we’re looking to history or pre-history to supply us with an eating pattern, regardless of the opinions of health organizations or the health or long life of those who originally ate it, perhaps we could mine other eras for our ancestors’ diets.  How about:

If you ate it Yesterday, you can eat it today!

Crunchy Carboniferous Snack

The Carboniferous Diet: Paleozoic, pft!  The earliest mammals appeared in the Carboniferous, and these ancestors of ours enjoyed eating bugs.  Bon apetit.

The Bacteria Diet: Those decomposers weren’t picky eaters.  They’ll eat eat anything from sugar to iron nails, from sulfur to wood.  And they’re still around!  If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.

The Yesterday Diet:  This would still be the Standard American Diet.  308 million Americans can’t be wrong.  Can they?

The Grandma Diet: Pull out all those fantastic recipes!  Jell-o with celery, Tuna Souffle, Fluffy Mackerel Pudding.   If Grandma inflicted it, you can have it.

Paramecium

The Paramecium Diet: Our earliest ancestors really knew how to eat.  In this diet you could eat anything that you could get into your mouth while flailing your arms.  Twinkies, Cheezits, whatever comes within reach.

The 50’s Diet: The Gallery of Regrettable Food is the go-to guide for this diet plan.  Enjoy our ancestor’s favorites, such as Bacon Milkshakes and “Cookin’ with Dr. Pepper.”

The Cannibal Diet:  It happened.  It’s historical.  It counts.

Of course, while all these diets are just as historical as the Paleolithic Diet, they are missing one thing.  They fail to give us an excuse to eat what so many people seem to want to – a freezer-full of meat.

Posted in Musings | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Burritos

Posted by tinako on January 26, 2010

When we close our eyes to the unpleasant realities of the meat, dairy, and egg industries, we also close our hearts to the possibility of expansion and change. The pain of looking is nothing compared to what the animals endure; the joy of looking is that we realize we don’t have to be part of it.Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Swiss Chard, Refried Beans, Lettuce, Tomato, Guacamole, Rice

Another lazy dinner: burritos.  I opened up a can of Amy’s low-sodium Vegetarian Refried Beans, and added some Chi-Chi’s Taco Mix that has been ratting around for years.  When I was vegetarian I used to use a lot of refried beans, but since going vegan I discovered that they aren’t really flavorful enough to stand up without cheese.  And I can’t even remember what I used to use those packets for – this one expired in 2006.  But this worked pretty well, and the leftover will make a good veggie dip.  I heated up some leftover takeout rice, chopped up some lettuce and tomato, put out alfalfa sprouts I’m growing, and made some Guacamole.  We wrapped all this up in microwaved part-whole wheat tortillas.

I microwaved up some more Swiss Chard.

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Chickpea Crepes

Posted by tinako on January 25, 2010

I wasn’t in the mood to cook much tonight.  It was just the kids and I, so I made V-BLTs and Swiss Chard.

I was too lazy to steam the Swiss Chard (two pots!), so I microwaved like I did for the pizza the other night.  That worked pretty well.  I use the same microwave pot I use for all my other veggies and just put about an inch of water in it.  I press the Fresh Veggie sensor button and it did pretty well.  It might need adjusting the power to “more” to reliably get the stems cooked all the way.  I had tried cooking greens in this pot before but without extra water they dried up.

Chickpea Crepes

I had made Crepes for dessert on Saturday, but I didn’t tell you that that was the second batch of batter I made that night (and ever).  The first batch I had thought would be OK for dessert but it was more savory.  It was Chickpea Crepes from the Totally Vegetarian TV show (aired 7/13/09).  I was dubious about using this for dessert, but Toni had suggested spreading chocolate/hazlenut spread on them and sprinkling with powdered sugar.  That sounds desserty.  But as I was making it, it was the sesame oil that clued me in that this wasn’t going to be sweet enough for us, so I put the batter aside a few days and pulled it out today.

I recommend using a blender instead of a whisk and a strainer.  I tried this in my 8″ cast iron but it stuck terribly, so I gave my 10″ heavy non-stick skillet another go and after the first few, they came out pretty good – used 1/3 c batter.  I think the first few were not so great because the pan wasn’t heated evenly.  I ate my first one wrapped around the Swiss Chard, which was good.  I had another with a little olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.  That was good, too.

But the batter made more than we wanted to eat, so the squirrels got another feast.

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New Age Cavemen

Posted by tinako on January 24, 2010

Ah, the good old days. They're probably deciding whether that thing is dead enough to eat yet.

The New York Times ran an article on January 10th, 2010, titled “The New Age Cavemen and the City.” The new Caveman Lifestyle “involves eating large quantities of meat and then fasting between meals to approximate the lean times that distant ancestors faced between hunts.  Vegetables and fruits are fine, but [not] foods like bread that were unavailable before the invention of agriculture.”

This seems to me to be one of the sillier justifications I’ve heard for eating lots of meat.  I don’t want to go on and on about this, except to point out a few problems that these people seem to have missed.

Number one.  In the ten seconds I devoted to this research, I couldn’t find an authoritative answer to what is the average caveman lifespan, but the answers I did find clustered closely around 30 years.  Most of the diseases we die of don’t show themselves until after 30, so it doesn’t make much sense to count on a diet that ignores this as a basis for good health.

But I don’t think these neo-cavemen are really thinking about health.  This diet seems to be all about being macho.

Number two.  The article says these men “regularly grumble about vegans, whom they regard as a misguided, rival tribe.”  But the American Dietetic Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Mayo Clinic, even the USDA all endorse well-planned vegan diets as healthy alternatives.  The Caveman Diet seems most like the Atkins Diet, which the American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Society, the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and the American Kidney Fund have all found to be unhealthy*The Paleo Diet web site even makes the low-carb diet connection:  “Recent Diet Research indicates that The Paleo Diet is humanity’s natural ‘low carb diet’ – a low carb diet high in protein and historically natural foods.  The Paleo Diet is different in its approach than the ‘average’ low carb diet.  Like others it is higher in protein, but it is premised firstly on a historical basis.”

Oh, well in that case, who cares what virtually every health organization in the country says, this diet is different because it’s historical.  Or at least pre-historical.

[I have some more ideas for historical diets.]

Posted in Musings, Nutrition | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Frozen Stir Fry

Posted by tinako on January 24, 2010

Whole Wheat Pancakes

We had Pancakes for breakfast.  These are just so good.  We had Strawberry-Rhubarb Syrup and real maple syrup with them.  I hope you appreciate that picture, because the hungry hordes were complaining about the extra five seconds it took to snap a photo.

Dinner was takeout brought to my parents, and along with cheesy pizza, I brought for myself another Amy’s frozen meal, this one an Asian Noodle Stir Fry.  It was good, kind of sweet, and it looked the closest to the package of any I’ve tried so far.  These Amy’s meals are $3.25 at my store, a little cheaper than some of the competition, and seem to be a better value.  Many of their meals have cheese, though.

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Vegan Cats

Posted by tinako on January 24, 2010

I think most vegans feed their cats regular commercial cat food.  I do.  We just sort of accept that if we decide to have a cat, that is what cats eat.  But it bothers me that, while human veganism is often discussed reasonably, most discussions about feline veganism, even among vegans, involve verbal frothing at the mouth.  Reason and logic seem to fly out the window.

Maybe this negativity is justified, but so much of it seems to be circular in reasoning.  The number one reason given against vegan cat food is that (all together now) “cats are obligate carnivores.”  All that means is “they have to eat meat.”  So: they have to eat meat because they have to eat meat.  I wish we could ban that pat phrase from discussions and move on to some actual facts, such as who decided that and what it’s based on.

It’s probably primarily based on the fact that cats naturally eat nothing but meat in the wild.  Grass is just for digestion.  OK, but that does not automatically prove that they would not be healthier on an “unnatural,” vegan diet.  We vegans hear that same argument when cavemen are dragged into discussions.  Who cares what cavemen ate?  Luckily studies prove that well-planned veganism is very healthy for humans, so we humans don’t have to put up with that reasoning.

In addition, pet cats do not live like they would in the wild – they are inside sleeping in fuzzy beds and gazing at the fish tank, not stalking prey in the snow.  And most commercial cat food is a conglomeration of the worst parts of the most ill-treated animals – beyond the misery involved, which is outside the scope of a discussion on whether vegan food is healthier, this flesh is so beat up it’s not allowed for human consumption.  But people get apoplectic at the thought of someone substituting a thoughtful plant-based diet for that factory crap, because it’s not “natural.”  Blech!

We’re getting to better arguments when people start talking about nutrients.  But the nutrients that we know about are all available in plant or synthetic form.

I think the best arguments will point out that there seem to be some formulation problems with some of the commercial vegan cat foods.  The two I know of, Evolution and Vegepet, were found in a test to be nutritionally inadequate.  One producer denied this and another fixed it.  Wikipedia seems to have a reasonable discussion about this topic.  It’s not clear to me why vegan cat food manufacturers can’t solve these formulation problems and prove it, so we can all move on.

It turns out that thousands of cats eat this cat food, and I was unable to find a single complaint where someone who actually fed their cat these foods felt it made them sick.  Google “Evolution Diet cat complaint” or “sick” and you will find nothing.  Same for HAINA.  The BBB has two complaints against Evolution Diet, both regarding shipping issues.  I couldn’t find any BBB record of the Vegepet manufacturer, HAINA.

But not everybody posts their negative response where Google can find it.  Colleen Patrick-Goudreau said that she felt her cats did better on meat cat food, I believe because one of them became ill on vegan cat food.  The Evolution Diet web site says that male cats may have trouble and should perhaps not be fully vegan.  They recommend a urine test to check the pH.  We as pet owners have to weigh all this information ourselves.

But none of these arguments supports the conclusion that cats cannot be vegan – that is, that no non-meat food invented ever (as in the future) could be healthy for cats.  I am not sure how anyone can prove that argument.  The best the nay-sayers can reasonably try to prove is that there is no suitable commercial vegan cat food right now, and that it is not currently known how healthy vegan cat food can be prepared.

Ella

Here’s my experience.  I decided to put my 15 yo cat on a 75% vegan diet (Evolution dry) because she was diagnosed with liver cancer.  The vet said there was nothing they could do, and I wanted to see if cutting her animal protein would help.  She was given 3-12 months to live 3 months ago.  She looks better than ever.  Her fur, which had turned brownish over the summer, is starting to come in black again.  Fur turning orange like that can either be a result of more licking (due to allergies, etc. – she wasn’t doing that), or due to severe protein deficiency, which can be caused by kidney or liver failure or intestinal disease.

She has two of those, because she also has kidney failure, 15 months now.  Because we were replacing her Rx kidney diet with non-Rx vegan food, my vet and I have carefully monitored her renal figures, which have improved slightly since the change.  (FYI her treatment for 12 months has been 150 ml Sub-Q fluid 3x per week, and 1 month of Fosamax 1x per week (experimental therapy decided on 2 months ago, but not begun until after renal panel showed improvement on 50% vegan diet alone).  Neither of these treatments bothers her much).

I sprinkle brewer’s yeast on the vegan cat food, and I can’t pry her face out of the bowl.  And you would never know she was sick – she is alert, sleek, plays with my kids, eats and drinks well.  This is one reason I am so determined – her quality of life is absolutely worth maintaining.

When I asked for help at message boards three months ago, trying to find phosphorus levels in different vegan foods, I got so much negativity, even though I deliberately never mentioned I was vegan myself, since that had nothing to do with my decision.  People literally told me I’d be torturing my dying cat.  They were incredibly mean at a very difficult time, calling me selfish, that I was doing this for me, to try to drag out her death.  I know she’s not going to live forever, but why wouldn’t I want to try to help my cat?

It’s way too early to make any kind of claims, but so far so good.  The owner of Evolution Diet (who I freely admit seems kind of flaky – but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong or lying) told me that he has had many cats at his shelter with exactly my cat’s issues (kidney failure and cancer) live healthy for many years on his cat food.  I based my decision on The China Study, but it was nice to hear his experience.

I’m not pushing vegan cat food, I just think there should be more reason and less venom in the discussion.  There don’t seem to be studies, actual science-based information, on vegan cat food.  We are left to try to find information for ourselves in a very hostile environment.

Posted in Animals | Tagged: , | 38 Comments »

 
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