Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Product Review: Almond Yogurt

I've been eating soy yogurt & granola as part of my breakfast for a few years now, & now that more dairy alternative yogurts are showing up on the market I thought I'd give them a try. First up: almond milk based yogurt.

I buy my yogurt in the big tubs since I eat so much of it, so I figured I'd start out with 24 oz tub of plain 'amande' brand cultured almondmilk from my co-op. When I opened up the tub it was a big solid mass sitting in clear-ish liquid. I was clearly gonna have stir up this entire thing before I could use any of it. It did not come out very smooth, kind a chunky, almost the consistency of cottage cheese. Wait, I brought my nose closer for a sniff. It smelled like cottage cheese! And yes it tasted more like a non-dairy approximation of cottage cheese than of yogurt. I did not look forward to my morning bowl of 'yogurt' & granola for the next two weeks.

I recommend the plain flavor of amande as a cottage cheese substitute. It will give you that consistency, smell & slightly tangy taste. This product could easily be re-branded as such, especially as I have not ever seen a non-dairy cottage cheese on store shelves. Perhaps the vanilla flavor would approximate ricotta? I hope the individual serving size containers stir up to that chunky consistency so that I won't have to buy a big tub the next time a cottage cheese craving hits.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Vegan Thing, is Totally Happening

It can be so frustrating, but it is paying-off big time!

Let me start at the beginning. In December of 2007, with lots of encouragement from my long-time-vegetarian-for-health-reasons Mother-in-Law, I took the plunge into vegetarianism not sure how long it would last. I had been meat averse for a long time but never taken a firm commitment to the diet. A vegetarian co-worker of mine was excited for me & very encouraging. She mentioned that the first 6 months was the hardest, so I figured I'd stick with it that long & see how I felt about it in June. I stayed vegetarian for three and a half years.

This summer as I was preparing for my first trip to Europe (many more blog posts on that trip to come soon) I decided that I wanted the ability to experience new cultures through their traditional cuisines. So, I slowly began adding meat back into my diet. I had heard horror stories of vegetarians accidentally being fed meat & becoming rather ill. As I was not raised vegetarian & I still consumed the occasional preferably white only egg & home-cooked salmon, I figured my digestions system still contained the proper enzymes & what have you, in order to prevent that from happening. With the exception of a week long rash after consuming who knows how many different kinds of seafood at a sushi bar, I was fine. I actually did not eat as much meat on the trip as I thought I would & was able to maintain a mostly vegetarian diet, while enjoying some traditional foods. More importantly due to my earlier experiments I was able to travel worry free about consuming, say a soup with hard to translate ingredients & becoming sick.

When I came back to the states I was not sure how my diet would proceed. Although I am not sure why it surprised me to learn this, I discovered I simply found the taste of most meats disgusting. I decided I would stay mostly vegetarian but enjoy the occasional meat I enjoyed such as bacon, or a slice of pizza that also happened to be topped with say pepperoni. One thing I would do while vegetarian, based on a fear of food illness, was refuse a taste of something my omnivore husband offered, simply because it had touched a piece of cooked meat. No more. I felt free to sample things that I wanted to taste without fear of digestive retribution. My decision was bolstered by reading "The Omnivores Dilemma" by Michael Pollan which confirmed that semi-vegetarians could live just as healthily as strict ones. (Although I feel the need to make the statement here that Mr. Pollan's book was not my only source for coming to the conclusion that this could be a healthy lifestyle for myself. While I HIGHLY recommend the book to everyone, it is not the end all be all on the subject of diet.) Then, the incident occurred. I was eating a seemingly innocuous slice of Hawaiian pizza, when what should I sink my teeth into? A bone chip. That was it. My ass is now much more firmly placed on the vegetarian wagon. Yes I will, occasionally try a morsel of something new, but I will no longer be ordering non-vegetarian meals at restaurants.

Now we come around to the vegan part of this tale. I have had a milk allergy for most of my life, my sister, and if memory serves, brother have it as well. In the past several years it has been growing steadily worse & I have done the bare minimum to avoid its consequences. You see I have always had a massive fondness of cheese. This grew when I met my husband & he introduced me to that fact that there are WAY more than 5 types of this particular nectar of the gods. Finally I had to say enough is enough, and I decided to give semi-veganism a try for 30 days. I would not cut out dairy completely, but cut back large quantities at one time. No more cheese or cream heavy dishes, no more meals consisting of wine & cheese, no more cheese & crackers for a between meals snack. I thought that this massive reduction of cheese would allow me to enjoy our pizza & movies 1 night a week with friends. It made it worse. So, I had to cut out pizza all together. I didn't realize how much cheese & dairy I had been consuming until I wasn't anymore. I think that the vegetarian diet especially, is heavy on cheese. When you go to a nice restaurant the vegetarian option is usually something rich & creamy like risotto. or vegetable lasagna. I think that many vegetarians consciously or unconsciously think that because they aren't eating meat they are eating healthier & therefore are allowed to consume more dairy & still be healthier than the average American.

So what was my conclusion after the 30 days? I didn't even notice that the 30 days was up. I just kept finding ways to reduced the dairy in my diet. How do I feel? I feel much more energetic, as if my body isn't wasting energy trying to consume something that is making it sick. Kinda obvious I know, but sometimes I can be so stubborn it takes doing it to see I can. How do I look? So fine! I had been at weight loss plateau for about six months. I am now within three and a half pounds of my end of year goal! In the foreseeable future, I will not be a strict vegan looking for animal byproducts in everything I eat & use but just eliminating the big sources of milk products like cheese, cream or butter based sauces, soups, and desserts; that sort of thing. Now that I am a semi-vegetarian, semi-vegan, weight loosing, high energy machine, I'm looking forward to how this new commitment will affect me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My WW1 Connection.

Yesterday was memorial day and today I decided to see what I could find on my Great-Grandfather's Service Record from World War One. Vernon Vain Veysey was less than a week from turning 23 years old in 1915, and thought the US was taking too long to enter the Great War. So, he took a trip across the border into Canada and up to Calgary. After just seconds on the webpages of Library and Archives Canada, I found his enlistment papers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, which he signed exactly 96 years ago today.

There it all is, in his handwriting! I want to take thank the staff at Library and Archives Canada for taking the time to digitize these documents in order to give not only the citizens of Canada but also of the world the opportunity to feel closer to history & to their families, whom they may never had a chance to meet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Setting up my Worm Composting Bins

Yesterday I set up my worm bins for vermicomposting. The first thing was to find suitable boxes. I choose wood.

I found these lid-less wine boxes for 10 bucks each on craigslist. I bought 6. I don't think I'll use them all for composting but I got them while I could. I am starting with 2 & will probably expand to 4 & use the extras for planters.

The next thing I did was add some wood dowels in the corner to reinforce & protect them. I also had to drill holes in the top to allow for air circulation. I used coconut coir as the bedding. I soaked the brick in distilled water in order to protect the worms from chlorine.

In go the worms! Eisenia fetida to be exact.

Here they are all stacked up with the lid on top. For now my strawberry & herb starts are weighing it down, but I'll have to find something else & soon, since I'll be potting them this week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What to do....

I went to the fabric store today after dropping off my sewing machine for its annual check-up. I was looking for fabric for a specific project. I didn't find any, instead I bought this:

14 fat quarters bundled up all pretty and matchy-matchy. I have no idea what to do with it: Quilt? Skirt? Something else?

I bought it as an exercise in stretching my design muscles. I always get an idea in my head & have to find fabric to match that mental image. I do not buy fabric without a predetermined project or pattern in mind.

I don't plan on actually executing this project anytime soon, too many UFO's in my brain and in my workroom. It will be fun to see what unfolds.