Saturday, March 17, 2018

Interview with Bhavani Jaroff on iEatGreen

It was so great being the guest on Bhavani Jaroff's podcast, iEatGreen! We talk about the difference between vegan and plant-based and why I always call myself vegan, how to answer the "what about sustainable meat?" question, what to do when you're the only vegan in your family, and my love of curry. 

Listen here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Developing Resilience

A challenge we often face as vegans is staying positive amidst adversity. We frequently encounter defensive reactions when speaking the truth about animal agriculture, and communicating effectively with non-vegans can be difficult. 

I like to think that every interaction is a learning opportunity as well as a teaching moment, because growth can happen in both directions. Discomfort is often the first step toward real change. It's a signal that prevailing assumptions are being questioned, and that can result in what's known as "cognitive dissonance," or feeling disoriented and confused. 

People often react to this discomfort by doubling down on their beliefs since they're not ready to examine them, and they may lash out defensively with sarcasm, criticism, or anger. Don't be discouraged! Remind yourself that this is a normal reaction and you are not at fault for speaking the truth. 

So why is this important? Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. This is essential for vegan activism. It means seeing every obstacle as an opportunity. When we feel powerless, we need to recognize that this is only temporary and the situation can be turned around so that we can connect with our inner strength.

Struggle builds strength. Know that you have the ability to overcome adversity by thinking creatively to solve any problem. Know that you are never alone in this struggle.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Peas & Love Veganic Community Garden

I recently embarked on an exciting new project: a veganic community garden.  Crops grown will feed people in need in Hartford county through the Manchester Area Conferences of Churches food pantry. In addition, volunteers will learn about veganic farming methods and vegan food preparation through educational events and cooking demonstrations.  We are planting the seeds of peace, love, and justice through veganic farming. 

We recently held the first organizational meeting of the Peas & Love Veganic Community Garden to begin planning. Soon this small patch of land will be planted with peas, carrots, radishes, kale, chard, and collards and surrounded by an herb and pollinator garden to attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. 

One of the principles of veganic gardening is creating an environment which mimics the natural ecosystem and minimizes outside inputs. We have a compost pile on site, plus lots of leaves and pine needles for mulch. The only thing we’ll need to be careful about is not being too inviting to the deer, birds, and woodchucks who live nearby! We’ll experiment with row covers and fencing tied with CDs.

Thank you to all who attended, the Unitarian Universalist East for the space, and to Awesome Foundation for the "seed money" to start planting!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Chronic Inflammation

Do you suffer from chronic inflammation? This is a condition where your immune system is over-triggered due to stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and other lifestyle factors.
Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to digestion problems, mood swings, pain and swelling around joints and nerve endings, allergies, migraine headaches, and many other degenerative conditions we commonly think of as "normal." Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you this isn't fun! But I've learned that these symptoms are really our bodies telling us we need to make a major change and take time for healing.
So what can we do? While medications may offer temporary relief, they're not a long-term solution because they don't address the underlying causes, and they often come with side effects that can lead to other problems.
It's important to realize that we have the ability to control inflammation by making lifestyle modifications, as suggested in this link from the American Fitness Professionals Association. Most of these recommendations will not only reduce inflammation, but also improve our overall health, so they're worth considering doing as part of a healthy, daily routine.
I'd also recommend Turmeric and St. John's Wort, two excellent medicinal herbs that reduce inflammation and support the immune system, but check with your doctor first for any drug-herb interactions if you regularly take medication.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Vegan Valentine's Day

One of the biggest challenges many new vegans face is social situations, and particularly what I refer to as "Dating While Vegan." This was the topic of an article featured this Valentine's Day in the Portland Herald Press.

What I always recommend is to be authentic, honest, and respectful, which is generally good practice anyway, but is particularly important for first impressions when dating.  You can read more tips like this in my new book, Eat Vegan with Me, which is excerpted in this article.

Also featured is one of my favorite dessert recipes for the holiday, Vegan Dirty Blondies, made with chocolate chips, pecans, and shredded coconut. Prepare them in an 8"x8" pan, or make them fancy in a pretty tart pan and drizzle with your favorite sauce. They're best enjoyed chilled where they develop a decadent, fudgey consistency.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Vegan Food Demo - CT Shoreline Vegans

I feel so fortunate to be able to bring delicious vegan food to people! As a private chef, most of the cooking I do is in my clients' homes, and since I don't have a restaurant, group classes are the only opportunity I get to share my creations with larger audiences.

Such was the case this weekend when I gave a "Very Vegan New Year" food demonstration for the CT Shoreline community at the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society in Madison, CT. The free demonstration included instruction in two of my favorite "crowd pleaser" recipes: Eggless Egg Salad and World Peas Salad.

I discussed preparation techniques and ways to modify the recipes for eating on a daily basis or dressing them up for a fancy occasion.

All those in attendance sampled the Eggless Egg Salad with cucumber slices ("cuke scoops" as one person called them), rolled with fire roasted red peppers and baby spinach into pinwheels, and the World Peas Salad garnished with scallion ribbons.

I'm always thrilled to hear that people enjoyed the food and plan to share the recipes with family and friends. This is how we spread the vegan message of making compassion the main course!

Happy New Year!