May 21, 2014

"Everything's Golden" Regenerative Green Drink

When I was new to the raw food lifestyle, one of the most common debates I came across was the smoothie vs. juice one. Which one is better for detoxification? Which one is healthier? Which one will make you live into the hundreds? Some people swore by juicing, others swore it off. I always march to the beat of my own drum, and so I became both a seasoned juicer and avid smoothie maker. There are days that I make a juice followed by a smoothie. Sometimes, I can't fathom going a single day without 32 ounces of green juice. Other times, I don't touch a juice for weeks. The rhythms of the body change with each moment, and it is wise to tune into what it is asking for.

Here are a few differences between smoothies and juices:

  • They are fiber-rich drinks that will keep you full. It's possible for one to regularly stand in for a meal if it includes enough calories and the right macro combination for you.
  • In addition, insoluble fiber sweeps out toxins/bad bugs in the colon and keeps you regular.
  • You can achieve different textures like a frosty, smoothie, ice cream, pudding, juice, etc., depending on the ingredients that you include and the ratios in which you use them.
  • They can be made quickly when you're in a rush.

  • Because fiber is stripped from juice, you can concentrate a massive amount of nutrients into one small drink without feeling too full. It's also a great break for digestion.
  • Juices are highly medicinal and a clean source of energy.  (Keep in mind that green juices are the most medicinal and that most fruits are best consumed with fiber intact.)
  • Think of juice as a supercharged multivitamin and a wonderful supplement to a wholesome diet. Though it can stand in for a meal occasionally (sometimes I do a juice for breakfast), relying on juice too much for meals can have a negative effect on metabolism and leave one unsatisfied, leading to unhealthy cravings and binges.
  • Juicing requires some time to make though it can be done fairly quickly once you have a routine. I like to think of my juicing time as moments that I can quiet my mind, listen to a podcast, or dance around the kitchen while singing along with my favorite songs. In other words, juicing time is me time.

These are only a few of the things that run through my mind when I'm deciding if I want to make a juice or a smoothie. What about when you want a juice and a smoothie? You may wonder what the point is of adding fiber to a juice. Juicing takes the fiber out so that nutrients can be absorbed quickly and with minimal digestive effort, right? Well, yes, that's correct, but there's no harm in combining the two. When you add a juice to a smoothie, you can increase the nutrients exponentially without adding the fiber of, say, 6 cups of added greens. Also, if you add fats to the smoothie, you'll absorb more of the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K) that you otherwise may not have from your green juice.

I don't often combine juices and smoothies for a few reasons. For one thing, it's because it usually seems excessive. Mostly though, it's because I enjoy the benefits of green juice alone, and I don't want to add anything else in. This green drink, like so many delightful combinations that occur in my kitchen, was a happy accident. I made a huge green juice the night before and couldn't finish it all. I also had some pineapple in the fridge that I needed to use up. And so this regenerative green drink was born.

The "Everything's Golden" Regenerative Green Drink

  • 1 cup of green juice (mine had cukes, celery, parsley, dandelion greens, kale, lemon, ginger, and orange)
  • 2 cups pineapple
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds

-Blend and serve.

May 16, 2014

The "Gets Better with Age" Kale Salad

Those who don't know me well would be shocked to learn that I'll be 30 next month. I've always looked young for my age - thanks, mom, for the youthful genes! - which is nice now but was pretty annoying when I was 20. When I was old enough to go to the bar or go to 21 and over concerts, I often got a scoff from the bouncer at the door. One even shouted, "Pfft! What are you, 12? Go home.", in the most condescending little-girl-you're-not-fooling-anyone voice. Like I said, it could be pretty annoying.

It was when I entered my late 20's that I fell ill and spruced up my diet. My new and improved diet was comprised of beautifying foods that are known to halt and even reverse the aging process. Coincidentally, the late 20's are a time when a lot of women my age start to notice signs of age on their bodies which can induce anxiety in some people. Wrinkles may begin to wind out from the eyelid. A gray hair or two may sprout up. Those who were always tight and toned may find it harder to maintain their physique.

I've never been one to stress about wrinkles or aging in general. I care more about becoming a glowing, vibrant, agile, happy, and energetic older person than preventing the eventuality of becoming a wrinkly or saggy one. I've noticed some (small) wrinkles starting to form over the years, but I've also noticed that my skin looks much more supple and full of life than it did a decade ago. There's no escaping the aging process, but if you care for yourself, you're bound to age with grace. As someone who can have difficulty with change sometimes, I sure do welcome aging with open arms!

That being said, I know I have a while before the aging thing really becomes a hot topic among my peers. In the meantime, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and know that the future me will thank the present me for being so kind to myself. I plan on being amazing at 30 (Wow, am I really almost 30 already?!), even more amazing at 40, and by the time I'm in my 60's I plan on being another vegan living out their golden years with a zest for life, youthful in body and in soul and feeling even better than I did in my twenties.

This kale salad will not only be a powerful beautifying food to add to your age gracefully arsenal, but it will give you the immediate health benefits that come from a plant-based diet. And just as I plan to age gracefully, this kale salad, too, gets even better with age. On the first day, it will be a light and springy fresh accompaniment to any meal. On the second day, you'll notice the depth of flavor starting to develop. And on the third day, the flavors will have mingled and will be more mellow but bright all the same, and the kale leaves will still be sturdy yet delicate. When I grabbed the container of leftovers for lunch on the third day, the flavor blew me away. Kale salad doesn't last long around here, so I had never discovered until now how amazing it tastes after letting the flavors deepen with time.

Not everything gets better with age, but I certainly plan to. Caring for myself now will not only reward me with an ecstatic present, but will lead to a dynamic future, too.

"Gets Better with Age" Kale Salad

1/2 large bunch of purple kale (or 1 small bunch), destemmed and ripped into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1 small carrot, grated
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp dried cherries, chopped

1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp thyme, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

For the salad:

-Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Allow it to cool before adding to the salad. (I cooked 1 cup of dry quinoa, so that I could have some leftover for other meals.)
-Wash the kale, destem, tear into pieces, and place in a large mixing bowl.
-Grate the carrot with a vegetable peeler and chop the dried cherries. Then, add the carrot, dried cherries, and pumpkin seeds to the bowl. Toss to combine.
-In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk well with a fork.
-Pour half of the dressing into the bowl and massage the kale with your hands until it is tender.
-Add the garlic, thyme, and parsley to the other half of the dressing. Give it a quick whisk and then pour it over the kale. Toss it with salad hands or other desired utensils. You don't want to use your hands this time because the herbs will get stuck to them.
-Plate and serve. 

May 12, 2014

A Weekend to Celebrate: Vegan Birthday Parties and Mother's Day

Happy Monday, Everyone, and Happy belated Mother's Day to all you mamas out there! When I was walking Tucker on Sunday morning, this random guy wished me a Happy Mother's Day, saying that even though they're not human, dogs have moms, too. That made my day!

This weekend was amazing because I got to celebrate Mother's Day with my grandma and mom and throw a birthday party for J. Many of my family members were born in May (I'm counting close to ten right now). Most of them are still here (both in a geographical sense and a physical sense), so we had a big birthday/Mother's Day party on Sunday at my aunt's house. I was feeling pretty chill, preferring to keep things low key and just enjoy the moment, so I didn't take any pictures. However, it was so nice to play with the kids and catch up with the busy goings-on of all of the adults.

Every year for the past several years, I wear my cow ribbon for the entire Mother's Day weekend in remembrance of all of the animal mothers who do not get to nurture and raise their children, instead having to cope with the anguish of having their young stolen from them shortly after birth. It's sparked numerous conversations with people, some of whom open their hearts and listen and others whom, out of fear, choose to remain in the dark for the sake of their eating preferences. Either way, I am making visible that which some try so hard to keep invisible.

The reason I was needing such a laid back day is because I hosted a birthday party for J on Saturday. I invited 9 of our friends to join us first for dinner at a restaurant and then we came back to my house for cake and ice cream. The restaurant I chose, Kaya, is one of J's favorite spots in the city for lunch. They're knowledgeable about which menu items contain nonvegan ingredients and are open to substitutions within reason. It can cost a pretty penny, but it's a great place to go for a special treat.

One might argue that we threw a party for J at Kaya and then threw a party for Tucker at the house. That's the way Tuck saw it at least. Everyone piled into the house and scratched him and pet him and talked to him like he was a king. He spent a couple hours circling our living room, settling shortly on one person's lap before moving to the next. He's always the life of the party, so it didn't surprise me, but it always makes me feel so happy to see him so high on life.

When I unveiled the cake, J's eyes were almost popping out of their sockets. I think he ate almost half of it himself. He loves pineapple upside-down cake (it seems this has become a birthday theme for us...), but he also likes to make things bigger, grander. I didn't want to go too big though, and I think I struck a good balance.

For the bottom layer, I made a cherry upside-down cake and stacked on top is a pineapple upside-down cake. Stuffed in between is the fluffiest coconut whipped cream flecked with vanilla bean. On the side, I served maple ice cream with toasted allspice. I think divine is the word to describe this birthday dessert. Divine. Decadent. Fruity. Ambrosial.

Seconds, please!