Tag Archives: vegan

Yoga: 3 ways it can change your life

21 May

I’ve been practicing yoga for about a year now, ever since I took a yoga class for school credit a few semesters ago. I can’t mention enough how awesome it is. I used to think I hated yoga. It seemed boring, slow, pointless. Did it really enrich my life so much by breathing a lot and moving slowly? I have dealt with anxiety issues, and it was hard for me to sit still long enough to even try and reap the benefits of a yoga session. That’s when I discovered power yoga, which is basically a constant flow workout that can really get your heart rate up, get a good sweat going, and also leave you feeling more relaxed and stretched out. Perfect. Here I wanted to highlight the main reasons I think yoga is amazing: 1. Doing yoga helps me love my body. I’m sure many can relate when I say this isn’t always easy. Yoga can be a very intimate experience with all the twisting, turning, and bending. It helps one feel strong, lean, and beautiful. 2. I recognize my limits. If I’m not feeling particularly energized that day, I take it easy, and if I want to get a good sweat on I can do more of the challenging yoga flows. Yoga is about being kind to yourself. 3. I’m reminded to BREATHE. I have this horrible habit of holding my breath or taking very shallow breaths when I’m stressed, busy, or even bored. Yoga constantly reminds you to take deep breaths even at the hardest times. So, now, my advice to you… Try it! I suggest hitting up YogaDownload.com if you’re new to yoga or need some help getting started, or even if you’re an advanced yogi looking for new routines. This website has tons of classes with different types, experience levels, and class lengths (I usually download the beginner/intermediate power yoga classes). You can download a 20 minute class for free, or pay a small price to download longer classes to keep. You could also look for yoga classes in your area. Or… You don’t even need a class! Now that I’m familiar with most of the poses, I like to make up my own routines as I go. That’s the beauty of this — you go with what’s best for you! Here is a link to sun salutation poses that can give you a great workout. Namaste!

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Coffee: To drink, or not to drink?

9 May

My name is Lauren, and I’m a coffee addict.

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I used to think there was nothing wrong with drinking coffee, that I NEEDED coffee to get around, to do my schoolwork, to focus in class. I’m still not completely convinced that I don’t… but I’m also aware that could just be the addict in me talking. Because within the past year I’ve realized coffee also tends to make me more anxious and on-edge. Plus, what I’ve read/heard about the effects of caffeine turn me off.

When my parents and I attended the Farm 2 Forks event in Austin, Dr. Essy spoke about how coffee causes damage to the endothelial lining of our arteries. Of course no caffeinated coffee was served over that weekend, but I was surprised to find myself alert and focus despite having lack of sleep and no morning coffee. It seemed the deliciously healthy food had something to do with my high energy levels. 🙂

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I’ve also noticed no caffeine has kept my energy levels more consistent — no extreme highs and lows like when I’m hyped up on caffeine (and sugar). Of course, I do sometimes enjoy those highs, but I’ve found overall that the resulting lows aren’t worth it and leave me more cranky, anxious, and tired. And I can actually stay up late more easily without coffee. Who would have known?

So I’ve actually been going without my regular morning and afternoon cups now, and I have to admit I feel wonderful. The first few weeks were tough and i found myself wanting to eat ALL THE TIME, but that has pretty much balanced out now that I’ve adjusted. Do I miss coffee some mornings? Hell yeah. And there have been a few particular times I’ve been low on sleep and have caved and had a cup… But was sad to admit I just didn’t like how it made me feel anymore.

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I think it’s safe to conclude the best steady source of energy is healthy plant-based foods! (And exercise!)

Sweet Potato & Kale Tacos

21 Apr

These are the easiest things ever, and so yummy and healthy!

Sweet Potato & Kale Tacos

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Serves 2-4 (depending on appetite)

1 sweet potato, cooked (I poke it and stick in the microwave for 5 min)

1 bunch of kale

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

A few dashes No-Salt Seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash Original)

Corn tortillas

How-to:

1. Steam the kale. I don’t currently own a steamer basket, so I simply heat about 1/2 cup water over medium heat, add kale, and wait for it to wilt down. Then I drain the kale.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients on medium heat until heated throughout.

3. Spoon into tortillas and enjoy! I also like to sprinkle on some sliced green onions, if I have them.

Engine 2: My Farms2Forks Weekend and exciting news!!

20 Apr

I actually have two subjects to report on in this post. Let’s start with the Farms2Forks adventure:

A few weekends ago, I took an awesome trip with my parents to the amazing Austin, TX, for a two-day immersion conference on a whole foods, plant-based diet! It was a weekend of amazing speakers, delicious food, and beautiful scenery! The conference was held outdoors at Boggy Creek Farms, and was run by members of the Engine 2 Diet and the documentary Forks Over Knives.

We ate extremely healthy, and were basically eating the whole time. That’s how I like it — GOOD healthy food, and lots of it! I believe all of the food was made and prepared by Natural Epicurean of Austin.

So fresh!

So green!

I completely fell in love with this simple dessert.. Brownie bites! I believe they’re just walnuts, dates, and cacao blended together.

Oh, and they were rolled in coconut. YUM!

Another simple favorite.. the breakfast. We had breakfast tacos each morning — grilled veggie or potato and mushroom — and oatmeal with green tea or decaf coffee. The best.

And these little delights are simply strawberries stuffed with a blend of banana and cocoa powder, topped with mint! (Can you tell I have an obsession with desserts?)

Gah, I miss that food. But that wasn’t the only great part of the weekend; in fact, the people there were what made it truly amazing. I was super excited to get pictures with a couple of them:

Rip Esselstyn, firefighter and author of the Engine 2 Diet book (which I highly recommend, especially if you are still getting the hang of a plant-based diet), Rip was busy pretty much leading this whole conference so I had to get this picture quickly. I was glad I did, though!

Rip’s father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. This man is so impressive and he has made a difference in so many lives. His book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, is a must-read. As I stood in line waiting to shake his hand and have him sign my book, I noticed how kind and patient he was, answering people’s health questions. A humble man, indeed.

The other people there who I didn’t manage to get a good picture of:
Brendan Brazier – vegan Ironman triathlete, bestselling author, and creator of Vega

Dr. Doug Lisle – psychotherapist and author of The Pleasure Trap (hilarious guy, by the way! I love his dry humor)

Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN – plant-based dietician and nutritionist. This guy makes you wanna give him and huge hug and be his best friend! He’s awesome!

So yeah, I’d say the whole weekend was one of the best times of my life.

I missed those people, the food, and the farm (and Austin) the moment we left. Plant strong for life, baby!

And now for my second bit of info — and I’ll make this short because this post is long enough already — but I’m excited to announce that this summer…

I’ll be interning at Farm Sanctuary in New York!! AAHH!

I’m going to be a communications department intern, and I’m SO SO excited to meet all the animals and people, and to experience New York for the first time!

Yummy Banana Bread! Vegan, sugar free, oil free.

19 Feb

Moist, chewy, and super filling!

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Sugar Free, Oil Free Banana Bread

Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice

Wet ingredients:
3 1/2 bananas
2 cups prunes or dates + 8 tbsp water
1 tbsp flax seed + 3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla

To make:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8×8 cake pan with no-stick cooking spray.

2. Whisk flax seed with 3 tbsp water and set aside.

3. Using a food processor or high-powered blender, blend prunes with 8 tbsp until smooth.
In a medium bowl, mash bananas. Add flax seed mixture, prune puree, and vanilla. Stir until
incorporated.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

5. Add wet mixture to dry and stir until just combined. Pour into cake pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Enjoy!

Healthier Puppy Chow

6 Feb

Healthier Vegan Puppy Chow
(adapted from PETA.org)

4 1/2 cups Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls cereal

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+
6 tbsp Better n’ Peanut Butter

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+
1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips

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+
1 tsp vanilla
+
1/2 cup powdered sugar

To make:
Microwave chocolate chips and peanut butter for 30-45 seconds, stopping to stir every 15 seconds. Stir in vanilla.

Pour cereal into a large bowl and pour the chocolate/pb mixture over the cereal, stirring very gentle until all cereal is coated.

Lastly, slowly pour powdered sugar over everything, stopping to stir around some more until coated nicely. Then place the puppy chow in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Voila!

This is one of my favorite desserts to make because it’s quick and easy and satisfies my taste buds easily with the chocolatey-salty-crunchiness. However, this may be one of the most un-healthy recipes I’ll be making for a while. Lately I’ve really been staying away from added sugar (which I thought was impossible for me) and the results have been incredible. My skin is clearer, I have way more energy – in fact, I’ve upped my usual workout time and have even been going to the gym in the mornings! – and i’m more focused because I don’t “crash” on extra sugar in my diet. Just as exciting, it’s given me a lot of creative ideas for healthier desserts! That’s not to say that I won’t have my healthy puppy chow sometimes, but probably much less frequently.

I’m really hoping to devote more time to this blog, now that I feel like I’m getting a better hang of it. I want to reach out to other vegans out there, or anyone who is interested in being healthy. And I want to share more tips on how I use my health to get through college in one piece.

So that’s my plan for now! Stay healthy and happy, my friends. 🙂

Sugar free blended vegan coffee

30 Jan

Take that, Starbucks!

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1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup almond milk
2 dried, pitted dates
1 frozen banana
A few dashes ground cinnamon

Blend everything together! I suggest blending up the dates with almond milk first if you have a weaker blender, like mine.

Sugar free, low fat, guilt free!