Sunday, May 18, 2014

Product review: Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n

I love it when I find new vegan products at the store!

It's not easy being vegan in The Bahamas. Most restaurants don't have a veggie option unless it's a standard, wilted lettuce and tomato salad or some pasta dish drenched with cheese or cream sauce. Product offerings in our supermarkets have gotten quite varied in the last two years so luckily I can find nearly every vegan brand I want so I cook most of my own meals.

I've only tried a few of the Gardein products; their beefless tips and buffalo chick'n strips which were both quite good. I even got the omni bf to eat some of the "beef" strips in a taco and he wolfed them down.

So I was over the moon when I saw a slew of new Gardein products in the freezer section when I went shopping the other day. I've been shying away from faux meat products over the past few months and making more foods from scratch but I had to give these a try.

I pan fried them in a non-stick skillet greased with some Earth Balance soy butter. A frozen sauce comes in the package and defrosts in about five minutes under running water. I added that to the pan and a few minutes later the bad boys were done.

The verdict: the chick'n has a chewy and meaty texture so for those who don't want to be reminded of meat stay away from this one. The sauce was yummy, reminded me of takeout and the final product didn't taste like frozen food. They were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and cooked well even though I was distracted while cooking. I will definitely buy these again but not too frequently as I try to stay away from frozen foods.

Here's how the finished product came out: (I served it with green salad and a cold pasta salad.)

I had some leftover which I took to work for lunch the next day. The product tasted great reheated. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mindful changes

We all tend to get stuck in routines. The banality of everyday life can sometimes get us down, leading us to feel like a hamster on a wheel, chasing some elusive dream or happiness that will never come.

While it's easy to get mired in a feeling of hopelessness if you're stuck in a rut, I for one believe such a period is the best time to grab life by the reins and make small (and some big) changes to shake things up a bit.

I'm the kind of person who really resists change. I tend to like routines yet I feel stifled by the sameness of it all. So when life offered me the opportunity for a career change, one I feel like I have been preparing myself for for years, I took it, in spite of the nagging voice of self-doubt and worry in the back of my head.

There are also small changes I think a person can make each day that will also create differences in your life and well-being. Everyday after work I normally change clothes, plop on the couch and zone out in front of the TV for hours, eat and then sleep, still feeling pent up frustration from the day. But today, I ignored the TV, did some yoga and meditation.

It felt great, like I was doing something good for my body and brain!

BTW, today is day two of my cleanse. My stomach is still a bit irritated from whatever bug I must have caught (or the bad food I put in myself over the past few weeks) but other than that I feel great.

I started the day off with my Green Power Smoothie, had lentil mushroom soup for lunch and a green salad topped with a dressing I made from blended strawberries, lemon juice, a kiwi and dash of salt. For dessert I had raw banana, blueberry soft serve topped with almonds. It was so tasty I gobbled it up before I took a pic but will def post the recipe with pics to follow when I make it again.

Green Power Smoothie (serves one)
2 cups filtered water 
juice from half a lemon 
2 bananas, peeled and chopped 
1 pear, washed and chopped 
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped 
1 teaspoon spirulina 
2 handfuls of spinach
2 teaspoons agave nectar
4 ice cubes 

Place ingredients in a high-speed blender, blend and enjoy! 

Lentil Mushroom Soup (serves 4)
1 cup of lentils, rinsed 
1 small onion, diced
1 and a half cups chopped mushrooms
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped thinly 
large stock pot
five cups filtered water, plus enough to cover the bottom of the pot
2 tsp lemon grass seasoning 
2 tsp black pepper 
dash of cayenne pepper 
half a cup of Braggs Liquid Aminos

Place a little water in the pot, just enough water to cover the bottom. 
Add the onion and simmer in the water until translucent on medium-low heat. Add sliced mushrooms, lemon grass, black pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for about five minutes. 
Add Braggs Liquid Aminos and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add five cups of water. 
Turn heat to medium-high, then add potatoes and bring to a boil. 
Then add lentils and cook covered for 20 minutes. 


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cleansing is good for the soul

I woke up feeling particularly crappy today. Despite a full night's sleep, my body felt achy, my stomach upset and my mouth was gummy. My body was telling me what my mind already knew - it's time for a cleanse.

I work in a pretty high-stress industry, print media, and I'm about to switch jobs and take on a new role as an editor in a few weeks. I can't think of a better time to cleanse my body and mind. Even though I'm a health nut, there are times when I backslide. I'm a longtime vegetarian wrestling with ditching the devils of sugar and dairy. Ever since taking a mini-vacay with the omni bf over the Easter holidays I've gorged on pizza, desserts and Chinese takeout.

Add that to the stress of switching jobs and now my body is paying the price.

So I'm embarking on a two-week, vegan, high-raw cleanse to get my mind and body right. I'm hoping this will cement my vegan lifestyle and get me to kick dairy cravings for good. I will be consuming mostly smoothies, juices, salads and simple vegan meals during this time.

And there's no better way to kick start a cleanse than with a yummy green juice. I added frozen black berries for the antioxidants and to soothe my upset stomach. The spirulina is a great plant protein that is said to ease inflammation, help the body detox and aides digestion.

'Berry Green Juice'

Two cups filtered water
One large pear, chopped
One kiwi, peeled and chopped
Two frozen bananas, peel and chop them before freezing overnight
Juice from half a lemon
One cup frozen blueberries
Two handfuls spinach
Half tsp spirulina

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender, blend and enjoy!

Zen beginnings

Let's face it, we all need a little (or in my case) a lot of time to chill. Some time to take stock of our lives, reevaluate what's important and let go of unnecessary negative energy.

I've become a ball of nerves, anxiety and worry over the past few years, bogged down by the stress and pace of my job in print media and general problems of life. I've decided it's time to take my life back, slow down, enjoy small moments and be a better person.

This blog will document my efforts to reclaim some peace, some zen, with posts about mindful living, compassionate, vegan eating and spreading some much-needed joy in this world.

I hope you'll join me on my journey.