Happy Meat Free Monday!

Today I encourage you to eat Meat Free today or encourage a friend or family member to do so!

Why? Lot’s of reasons. Reducing the amount of meat in your diet limits your risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity. People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights. You’ll weigh less and live longer. And that is pretty awesome.

Reducing the amount of meat made is also kind to Mother Earth. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide… far more than transportation. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains.

Then there is the issue of animal cruelty. I know this is not a topic that many people like to think about. But, briefly put, those animals are not living very happy lives. If you are not familiar with factory farm practices, I encourage you to read Mad Cowboy by Howard Lyman. It is an honest and powerful account of the factory farm industry.

You can find tons of vegetarian and vegan recipes on this blog (I’ll be adding more!), on the internet, and the Meatless Monday Web site.
*If you do eat meat, I strongly recommend grass-fed, hormone-free, locally-raised options.

Favorite Snack :: Mashed Sweet Potato

Like a lot of people, I definitely battle some serious sugar cravings at times! One trick that works for me is to eat a sweet vegetables. I LOVE sweet potatoes! When I lived in California I would buy them by the case. They are high in fiber, and satisfy the appetite. The micro-nutrients in sweet potatoes can also help prevent heart disease and cancer. And, they are freakin’ delicious. Here is quick sweet potato snack I have been loving.

One sweet potato
Maple Syrup
Celtic Sea Salt

Peel the sweet potato if not organic. Chop into large pieces and steam until tender. Mash with a fork. Mix in a bit of cinnamon, a dash of salt, and a small drizzle of maple syrup. If you like something more savory, I like to mash in salsa or hot sauce instead of the cinnamon/maple syrup combo.

Vegan, Gluten-free, Oil-free

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Cilantro-Tahini Sauce

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies to grill. The cilantro-tahini sauce for this is so easy to make & the leftovers make a great salad dressing.

2 heads of cauliflower 

1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup water
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1 large clove of garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Sea salt & black pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Get your grill set up for indirect heat @ 375 degrees.

Trim the cauliflower stem so that the cauliflower sits flush to the table. To cut steaks, start in the center, and slice the cauliflower in 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces. You want part of the stem so that the whole slice of cauliflower stays together. Then chop the rest of the cauliflower in large chunks that won’t fall through your grill grates.

Brush both sides of the cauliflower steaks and florets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on the grill, turning at least once, until the cauliflower is tender. It usually takes about 30 minutes total.

While the cauliflower is grillin’, blend the sesame seeds, water, lemon juice & cilantro.

To plate, take the cauliflower off the grill, drizzle the cilantro sauce, then top with more chopped cilantro. Yum!

*If you are not a fan of cilantro, I think this would also work well with fresh parsley or basil*

Seseame Sriracha Grilled Tofu

 A yummy, Asian-influenced way to make tofu on the grill. Would be great with some soba noodles & steamed bok choy!
1 container of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup Sriracha or “rooster” sauce*
1-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon white miso paste
3 chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves

Cut tofu into 1” blocks. Drain on paper towels while you prep the marinade.

Blend the Sriracha, sesame seeds, miso paste and garlic with about 1/4 cup water. Marinade the tofu in this mixture overnight.

When you’re ready to eat, heat your grill to about 375 degrees. Grill the tofu for about 15 minutes, turning a few times. Sprinkle with green onions.

*It was quite spicy with a half cup of Sriracha. If you are not into hot & spicy, use less!

Homemade Vegan Tamales

Tamales are not hard to make at all – but they are time consuming. Get friends or family together and make some! Even the meat eaters in my family loved these vegan tamales.

First, make your fillings…

Black Bean Filling:
2 dried hot chili’s
2 cups cooked black beans
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Seal salt to taste

Soak the chili’s in hot water. Puree in a food processor, stir with rest of ingrediants.

Roasted Veggie Filling:
1 sliced onion
2 peeled and sliced carrots
2 sliced zucchinis
2 bell peppers, diced
2 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all of the ingredients and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until they brown, about 30 minutes. Cool and chop into smaller pieces.

Now, for the Tamale assembly…

Corn husks (about 15)
2 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups masa harina
*this make about 15-20 tamales*

Soak the corn husks.

Bring the water, salt and olive oil to a boil. Slowly add to the masa harina, stirring as you do so, it will make a pasty dough.

Assemble your tamales – flatten a husk. Make a “golf ball” of the dough. Smoosh onto upper right section of the husk. Add your filling – start with small amounts. Vertically fold your husk in half to “seal” the tamale. Then unfold. Fold in the bottom section, fold in the left section, then tie the bundle with a piece of husk. Check out the photos below for reference.

Cook the tamales in a steamer for 15 minutes, until the masa is soft and heated through. Serve with pico de gallo or salsa. Yummy! Have a tamale party!

Winter Power Smoothie

This smoothie is awesome for breakfast and/or post workout. So filling and energizing!

1 frozen banana
Handful frozen blueberries
2/3 cup (approx) organic canned pumpkin
2 hug handfuls of spinach
Small handful raw almonds
Maca powder – about a tsp
1 TBSP ground flaxseed
Cinnamon and ginger to taste (I like a lot of cinnamon in this!)

Travel Essentials

These essentials make air travel so much more comfortable for me!

Neti Pot – Airplanes really make my nose stuff up, and using the neti pot really helps. I have a plastic one just for travel that won’t break and is lightweight.

Tea – Drinking your own herbal or green  tea on flights and in hotel rooms is nice. And, its so easy to pack.

Snacks – As someone on a plant-based diet that also try’s to avoid gluten and eat organic, finding food at the airport is just not gonna happen. Plus, its  so expensive! I bring carrot sticks, apples, oranges, dates, dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, dark chocolate & almond butter sandwiches. If you are flying out of Reno, NV there is even a Whole Foods very close to the airport where you can stock up.

Water bottle – Bring a water bottle and fill it up at the water fountain. Or, better yet, some airports now have filtered water stations.

Entertainment – Big headphones, iPad, magazines, books, knitting, ipod or phone loaded with music and podcasts.

Thieves Essential Oil Spray – This is a great product. It’s antibacterial – so great to use after using the restrooms – and it smells amazing. If there is a stale smell in the airplane I’ll spray a little in my hands and take a whiff. You can get this on Amazon.

Lip Balm & sample-sized hand lotion – To stay hydrated! I love Hurraw lip balm and currently have a great sample of Rose-scented Weleda lotion.

Patience– Yes, air travel has become not the most fun experience in the world. And other travelers can be very annoying. But take a deep breath and just relax. Sometimes your flight is delayed or you miss a connections. You will be fine. Breathe. You are very fortunate to even have the means to travel. You will get to your destination. Smile and be courteous and kind to your fellow travelers.

Bonus Travel Tip– Meditation app for your iphone! Put your earphones on and bliss out without anyone else knowing. You will feel so much more relaxed and refreshed. Calm is my favorite.