Liebster!

Way back in September, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by two awesome bloggers – The Veg Abides AND Gallivanting Vegan! Between traveling, starting a new job, and a fried motherboard this never got posted (oops!), but I thought it would be fun to share now. I would love to hear your answers to my questions. Enjoy!

liebster

The rules are:

  • Answer the questions provided by the nominator, then come up with 10 new ones to ask your nominees.
  • Nominate 8 other blogs, let them know you have nominated them and put a link to their blog in your post.
  • No Tag backs (i.e. you cannot nominate the blog that nominated you)
  • Nominees must have under 200 followers on any platform.
  • You must tell all the blogs that you nominate that you have nominated them.

Now let’s get started!

What food did you hate as a child and enjoy/tolerate now?

I used to hate okra and papaya. Luckily I gave them a second chance and I love them both now. I’m not really a super picky eater – just don’t make me eat arugula!

Favorite sandwich filling?

Avocado and tempeh. Mmmmm! And of course you can never go wrong with the classic PB&J.

Do you have any strange food habits (my food can’t touch, has to all be a different color, etc.)?

After living in China, I became so used to using chopsticks all the time that it felt weird to use a fork in other countries. Sometimes I still use chopsticks to eat random foods.

Which type of vegan substitute (veggie meat, plant milk, etc.) can you not live without?

Soy milk! It goes in everything – oatmeal, tea, smoothies! And “flax eggs” for baking everything. (Or chia eggs.) Flax seed is amazing and I love the added fiber, protein, and omega 3 boost!

What food item do you prefer to make at home, even if it’s easily bought?

Do tomatoes count? Home grown tomatoes are one of my favorite things. I love hunting for red tomatoes in the garden and eating them every possible way. There is just something about tomatoes that you grew yourself that you can never replicate from a store bought tomato.

Which fresh herb or spice do you love the most?

I don’t discriminate against fresh herbs. Basil, mint, rosemary, cilantro – I love them all! I also use a lot of pepper, garlic salt, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper.

What’s your fondest food memory?

Every year before Christmas, my family spends an entire day baking cookies at my grandma’s house. It’s great to spend time with my family. And what’s not to love about cookies? I have missed a lot of holidays when I was out of the country, so I am really looking forward to cookie day this year!

What’s your number 1 comfort food craving?

Chocolate! Always chocolate.

Why are you vegan?

I think I’ve always gravitated towards a more plant based diet. Thanks to a very graphic Lonely Planet video in geography class, I developed a desire to see the world and a stronger distaste for meat. As I entered college, I became more interested in nutrition and learned a lot about the benefits of eating plants. I learned that my body didn’t need to eat meat. I never really woke up one day and declared myself a vegan, but I would say that point in my life was when I really started focusing more on becoming vegan. As I did more research, I discovered other benefits as well – plant based diets are better for the environment and don’t contribute to animal cruelty. The more you get into it, the harder it becomes to separate each of these reasons.

What is your favorite vegan restaurant and why?

I don’t eat out a ton and generally I enjoy finding dishes in mainstream restaurants that are accidentally vegan or can be easily veganized. Having the ability to choose anything off the menu is always exciting though (and the cheesecake from The Chicago Diner is awesome!) While I was in Kathmandu, I think I ate at a place called Shree Lal at least once a day. I love Indian food and the people there were super friendly.

Now it’s your turn!

1. What is the best mistake you’ve made in the kitchen?

2. What is your favorite zucchini recipe?

3. What is your favorite thing in your kitchen?

4. What strange food combinations do you enjoy?

5. What are you planting in your garden this year?

6. Why did you start blogging?

7. What is your favorite vegan pizza topping?

8. What is the best way to eat chocolate?

9. If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

10. What would the theme of your own cooking show be?

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Vegan 101: Calcium Part II

Hello to all you MoFo’s out there! Did you see yesterday’s post about calcium? Here’s Part II, with five more calcium-rich foods.

Calcium: 10 with 10 – Part II
6. Almonds
Almonds are full of heart healthy fats and phytosterols. What are phytosterols? Basically a component found in plants that help to lower cholesterol. Almonds are also full of fiber, iron, and vitamin E. You can use them to make your own almond milk or eat them plain. Try swapping peanut butter with almond butter for added nutrients. Two ounces of almonds will provide 16% of your daily calcium needs.
7. Kale
Green leafy vegetables, like kale, are packed with calcium and other nutrients. Kale is also anti-inflammatory and contains anti-oxidants and anti-cancer properties. There are many varieties to choose from. My favorite way to eat kale? Kale chips.
8. Molasses
Molasses can be used instead of sugar or sweetener in baking. Molasses is high in potassium, iron, and selenium. Managanese in molasses helps the body synthesize fatty acids and produce energy from proteins and carbohydrates.
9. Flaxseed
Like chia seeds, flax is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and calcium. Lignans in flaxseed protect against cancer by inhibiting tumor growth. Use ground flax in smoothies, mix it in oatmeal, or sprinkle on soy yogurt. To prevent oxidation, it is best stored in the freezer.
10. Rhubarb
Rhubarb is often used to make pies, but can also be eaten raw. While similar in appearance to celery, it is actually a fruit. Rhubarb contains lots of vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium, which help with calcium metabolism. Antioxidants provide health benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, and immune system.

Honorable Mentions:

With only 10 spots on the list, there simply wasn’t enough space for all those other delicious calcium-rich foods. We don’t want anyone to feel left out. Here are some other promising contenders:

Rutabagas, chickpeas, artichokes, oranges, black eyed peas, dried herbs (basil, thyme, dill, oregano,..), white beans, broccoli, dates, cinnamon, soy products, Swiss chard, amaranth, sea cucumbers, navy beans, seaweed,…

So there you are. Where do you get your calcium from?

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See you all tomorrow for HalloWednesday!

Vegan 101: Calcium Part I

Hey MoFo-er’s! Nice you see you again!

Today we’re going to have a little Vegan 101, which will be part of a series addressing myths, misconceptions, and other stuff I think you should know about. But first, here are some food pics from this morning.

breakfast: pomegranate tea and oatmeal with flax, cinnamon, bananas, almond butter, and dark chocolate

snack: green smoothie (lots of kale, soy milk, frozen banana, and frozen blueberries) while looking through The Engine 2 Diet

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s get this party started.

There’s this amazing phenomenon that happens after I tell someone that I eat a plant based diet: they become instant nutrition experts. But where do you get your protein?, they gasp. And don’t you need iron? You may have experience this phenomenon yourself. While I appreciate the concern, hearing these questions again and again becomes a little tiresome.

So how do you respond? I find that a little education can go a long way. Knowing a couple sources of important nutrients can be helpful in these situations. And you can also ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet.

Calcium: 10 with 10

Yes, calcium is an important mineral. It is important for bone health, but plays many other roles. Calcium helps with blood clotting, muscle contractions (including your heart), releasing certain hormones, and sending and receiving nerve signals.

Dairy is not the only source of calcium. And may not even be the best source, according to these guys over at Harvard. Calcium is best absorbed in small amounts throughout the day. Here’s a list of ten, non-dairy sources with ten percent (or more) of the recommended daily value.

1. Chia Seeds

Yes, as in the Chia Pet. Chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies. They can be added to baked goods or used to make chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Just 3 tablespoons provides 20% of your daily requirements of both calcium and iron.

2. Sesame Seeds and Tahini

Those little seeds on your [veggie]burger bun are more than just a decoration. Add two tablespoons of tahini to a sandwich or wrap for 12% of your calcium needs and 6 grams of protein. Tahini can also be used to make a dressing, such as this Raw Tahini Dressing (look at those nutrition stats! and while you’re there, check out the awesome “A Day in the Life” series). Look for unhulled or whole sesame seeds, which have more calcium than hulled.

3. Bok Choy

A cup of bok choy has only 10 calories, but is full of nutrients, including calclium, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin C. Look for bright, green leaves. Yellow leaves indicate that it has been sitting on the shelf longer and has also started losing favor. Bok choy can be steamed or sauteed, but I prefer the crunch of raw, baby bok choy.

4. Dried Figs

Dried figs make a great snack. Just half a cup provides 8 grams of fiber, over 10% of the RDA for calcium, and lots of potassium. If you like fig newtons, then I have a great recipe for you! Check back later this week.

5. Black Beans

Beans can be used in so many recipes, adding protein, fiber, and, of course, calcium. Have you tried black bean brownies or black bean soup? If beans are giving you gastric distress, try soaking and rinsing dried beans before preparing them. You can also add kombu or kelp, a type of seaweed, to the water to make them easier to digest. (some canned varieties also contain kombu seaweed- check the ingredient list) When adding beans to your diet, you might also want to start with small amounts at first. This allows your body to adapt to an increased fiber intake. If all else fails, you can also try using digestive enzymes, like Bean-zyme.

To see five more food sources of calcium, come back tomorrow for Part II. I’ll also share some calcium-rich recipe ideas.

It’s a gorgeous fall day, so I’m off for a bike ride! Have a great day, MoFo-er’s!