Sprout New Roots


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups! (V)

Since I made my homemade peanut butter yesterday, my brain has been consumed in peanut butteryness! And since Wednesday is Halloween, I thought it’d be fun to make a chocolate that I used to LOVE during Halloween-time before I gave up dairy-Reeses Peanut Butter cups! I know, I know…we’re “healthy” eaters and this amount of sugar is absurd. But every now and then, I think it’s good to indulge a little-at least until I officially give up my sugar addiction-which was getting better by the way until I made these tonight. Anyways, I had to share this with you guys because, while it still is sugar, it’s Halloween week and it’s at least free of animal products and the peanut butter is fresh and whole. Am I justifying myself enough here or what? Hah! Oh and in case you missed my Homemade Peanut Butter post-check it out here.

Ingredients:

(makes about 12-16 choc. pb cups)

  • Vegan dark chocolate chips
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut Oil (optional)
  • Baking Cups

Directions:

First, cut the baking cups in half so that they are short sided. Place into your muffin tin. Then, melt half of the chocolate chips in a double boiler or very slowly in a small pot on the stove. Add in some coconut oil (not a lot at all) to make the chocolate more soupy. Pour the melted chocolate into the cups-covering the bottoms completely. Place the muffin tin into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Take it out and add some peanut butter on top of each hardened chocolate piece in the muffin cups. Place the tin back into the freezer for another 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt the rest of the package of chocolate. Take the muffin pan out and pour on top of the peanut butter then put into the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. You can skip this step if you want because there is definitely enough chocolate in each piece with the bottom slab of chocolate. Or if you do proceed to add the chocolate on top-it makes for a cleaner solid piece of candy-but be warned-this is A LOT of dark rich chocolate in each piece. One piece per person is more than enough due to its richness. I honestly recommend you don’t top them off with chocolate, or you pour 2 thin layers of chocolate for the top and bottom. I made them both ways to test it out.

Happy Halloween!!!

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Easy Homemade Peanut Butter!

Ok y’all, I love peanut butter. Like, love it. I dip my apples in it, I make pb banana sandwiches, I add it to my smoothies, the list goes on. I used to buy JIF peanut butter until I noticed the ingredients having lots of oil and other things in there that I didn’t find necessary. The same goes for other brands-most have added oils. So for the last year or so I have been buying Whole Foods 365 brand-which is great. Ingredients read: Peanuts, Salt. That’s it and I’m cool with that. But then I saw a link on Pinterest (haha that’s how most girl’s conversations go these days, right?!) about making your own peanut butter and how easy it is. I know that you can make your own at Whole Foods and other groceries but the DIY-er in me had to try this on my own at home because it just seemed too easy.  And it is! This is my first go at it so I literally only used peanuts-which is all you need.  I took a bag of roasted peanuts that I had in my pantry and shelled some until I had enough of that (this is the only work that’s really involved here), threw them in the mini processor, blended until it was the right consistency-done! It’s crazy how at first it starts to look like sand-but you have to keep blending because eventually it breaks down the natural oils and becomes a buttery consistency.

I can’t wait to get experimental with this and add things like cocoa powder or coconut flakes or chocolate chips! I wonder if pumpkin would work in there? I’ll have to try my own almond butter as well-and cashew butter/cream. Now I’ll be dreaming about nut butters the rest of the day! Ooh these could make great Christmas gifts too!

Ok cough it up-do you have a great home-made nut-butter recipe that we should know about? Please share!


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Butternut Squash “Mac ‘n Cheeze”

I really love Fall. And everything that comes along with it. The changing colors of the leaves, pumpkins, cool weather, and BUTTERNUT SQUASH!

I have been experimenting with “cheese” sauces lately, since it is that comfort food that everyone loves. I have grown to really love nutritional yeast, as it has that “cheesy” flavor. I tried a nutritional yeast and bell pepper based sauce that was really good (recipe to come!). So I figured a butternut squash and nutritional yeast based recipe would be equally as delicious and very “fall” tasting! And it was!

I based this recipe off of Oh She Glows Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp wheat flour (to thicken sauce)
  • 10 or so (to taste) tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • black pepper, to taste
  • pasta of choice (this time, I used a veggie rotini pasta)

 

– Preheat oven to 425F. Place chopped butternut squash on pan to bake. Sprinkle with water to wet the butternut squash so it does not stick. Roast for about 40 minutes or so uncovered.

– Put olive oil in pot over low heat. Mix in milk & flour until there are no clumps. Mix in nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic, pepper and stir over low heat for about 5 minutes

– Once the butternut squash is done roasting, blend sauce and butternut squash together in a blender.

– Mix sauce & pasta

– Eat up!

Does anyone else have any GREAT butternut squash recipes to share? I have a whole other half of this butternut squash and of course I want to try something new and tasty!

I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful fall weather!

 


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Top 10 Ingredients/Foods We Avoid

Hello All!

Jenn and I talk every single day and a large portion of our conversations, believe it or not, are health, animal, or food-related. We’re both learning and growing in this lifestyle and we love helping others find their way as well. One issue that we recognize as a huge problem today is the food system that we have in this country. You really don’t know what you’re getting in that box of pre-made powdered pasta roni mixture, your cereal, energy bars, that Lean Cuisine, or a can of soup. Even most of the condiments and jams that you buy today are basically high fructose corn-syrup and faux tomato ketchup or blackberry jelly! Our society is run on corn sugar and chemicals. Next time you go to the grocery store, pick any aisle and look at ingredients on the boxes and jars of foods you normally buy. Chances are, there will be about 10-50 ingredients listed and you won’t understand what any of the words even mean, and yet you’re supposed to eat it. Your body won’t even recognize it as food and neither should you because it isn’t food. It is chemicals disguised as food; chemicals so powerful that you’re addicted and you crave them and you don’t even realize it. This issue is actually very upsetting to us as we see relatives and friends eating these “food-like” things, getting sick all the time not knowing why, when the answer is staring them smack in their face-from their plate yelling “Hi! Eat Me!”

Our point here is that health is simple, not complicated. Just eat real food. By real food we mean food that is as close to its original, whole form as it can be. We know this isn’t always possible 100% of the time for everyone, but we know for a fact it’s possible most of the time.  Health is a choice and you vote with every single spoon and fork full of food that you’re putting into your mouth. For or against yourself. It’s that simple.

So, since my sister and I were discussing this topic, we were thinking that it would be helpful to let you know a few food-related items/ingredients that we try our best to avoid (besides animal products of course) and why we avoid them. We truly encourage you to do your own research on each and every one of the listed items below so you can make informed decisions for yourself on what you put into your own body. You’ll thank yourself later!

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup This is a highly processed and refined sugar that comes from corn-so it’s super cheap and is put into everything from cereal to sodas to yogurt to breads-you name it. It is an inflammatory and is directly linked to Diabetes and obesity among many other ailments. It is NOT your friend.  Like all refined sugars, it’s highly-addictive and your body will crave more and more. One of the only ways to avoid it is to be aware of it, read all labels, and to cut back on the processed foods. I went to the grocery store and snapped 2 pictures of seemingly harmless items most people have in their cabinets-Heinz Ketchup and Aunt Jemima Syrup. I highlighted what every consumer should be wary of.

2. Aspartame/Saccharin/Other Artificial Sweetners Going by several names such as NutraSweet, Equal, EqualMeasure, and Spoonful, we have been avoiding these little devils for many many years now. I remember when we were kids, our mom would beg her friends and family to avoid these fake sugars because of studies she read on it causing short term memory loss and holes in the brains of lab rats. People thought she was crazy to think it was harmful, but now, the world is waking up-as it usually does-late in the game. At least people are beginning to realize it though. “Some of the ninety-two aspartame side effects listed by the FDA include memory loss, nerve cell damage, migraines, reproductive disorders, mental confusion, brain lesions, blindness, joint pain, Alzheimer’s, bloating, nervous system disorders, hair loss, food cravings, and weight gain…When ingested, one of aspartame’s ingredients, methyl alcohol, converts into formaldehyde, a deadly neurotoxin. (Skinny Bitch pg. 34-35) You can find aspartame in thousands of foods, drinks, diet sodas, almost all gum, and vitamins. Oh and also, in the end, artificial sweeteners actually cause your body to store more fat!

3. White flour/Most breads The only breads we buy for our own homes are by Alvarado St. Bakery (here)and Food For Life (here) including Ezekiel Bread. These breads and tortillas are made of live sprouted whole grains and are much better for you as they are a nutrient-rich food due to the live sprouts. They are more easily digestable for your body and contain a higher protein and fiber content than regular breads. There are 3 components to all grains: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. During the process of milling these grains for white breads, on the other hand, 2 important parts of a grain are removed-the germ and the bran-which is where the nutrients and fiber are located. White breads only use the endosperm of the grain-which is mostly carbohydrate and has little nutrient density. If we are eating out at a restaurant, we choose multi-grain or wheat breads-but even those make us feel sluggish now that our body has adjusted to a better live option. We aren’t 100% perfect with this-but on a day-to-day basis we are really good about it.

4. Soft drinks We did not grow up obsessed with drinking soft drinks as kids. Sure, they were around and we would have a Coke here and there, but 90% of the time, we followed in our mother’s footsteps, drinking water with lemon and, occasionally, tea. We think that actually played a huge role in our not becoming interested in carbonated drinks, despite our friends drinking them on either sides of us at the lunch tables at school. To this day, we avoid them. Our mom explained to us that sodas were empty calories and weren’t good for us-especially diet sodas-containing artificial sweeteners. Plus we both agree that we always felt bloated after having just a few sips of a soft drink! Not to mention how bad they are for your teeth…so much sugary syrup! Did you know that a typical 12oz Coke has around 10 teaspoons of sugar in it? That is crazy town! So yea-this one is such an easy no-no for us. Here are just a few of the fun things that diet sodas are doing to your body: HERE

5. Fried foods We grew up in New Orleans and this town can do up some fried foods, let me tell ya! We’ve got fried oyster poboys, fried shrimp, fried onion mum, fried fish-you name it and people fry it and love it. While fried foods do taste good, we admit, we avoid it 99.9% of the time. Loaded up with calories and fat, fried foods can contain trans fats-which put you at a higher risk of heart disease. Like a car, your body needs fuel that is clean and will help it run smoothly, not clog it up with greasy crap!

6. Super processed foods First of all, never believe anything you read on the outside of a box. It’s an advertising ploy to get you to buy it and eat it, believing you’re doing yourself a favor. “Low-fat!”, “Gluten-Free!”, “Zero Calories!” “Sugar-Free!” “All Natural!” While some of this may be true-there’s usually some other component in the mixture that off-sets the lack of a bad ingredient with another equal or worse ingredient. For instance, sugar-free soda is even worse than regular soda. See #4 on this list as to why. Anyways, super-processed foods also mean that the ingredients that were alive and good are now dead and have been broken down to components that your body won’t even recognize as food-and therefore your body will utilize so much of its energy trying to break it down inside of you to figure it all out. So we avoid most processed foods with over 5 ingredients and/or with ingredients we don’t understand.

7. MSG aka Monosodium Glutamate Basically, MSG is a cheap flavor enhancer. It also is toxic. Suprise! Big Agro-Biz puts toxins in our food! It causes migraines and affects your neurotransmitters. You’re probably affected by it but don’t realize it because it’s in so many things you probably eat all the time. Here is a list of aliases that MSG goes by on labels: MSG Aliases. Meats and processed foods contain it and guess what?! There are no regulations on how much companies can put into your food. Scary thought, right? Read more about it here.

8. Coffee Yes-we know what you’re thinking: “Are they CrAzY? I couldn’t live without my coffee!” We know the topic of coffee is much debated. People feel extremely passionate about their coffee-we get it. We used to drink coffee too.  The issue that we each had was that it would cause our stomachs ache every single time we drank it. We read The Ph Miracle and in it Dr. Robert Young explains how coffee has an extremely acidic PH level-which isn’t good at all for our body-the same way that animal products and sugars have a super acidic PH level.  The more food and drink products you consume with acidic PH levels, the more your body pulls calcium reserves from your bones to neutralize the acids-thus leaving you with weaker bones. So, coffee, believe it or not, was a simple thing for us to nix once we learned about that. But this, along with everything else on this list is a personal choice. We will have mocha coffee flavored vegan ice cream from time to time though on a special occasion or a small cup every now and then. But generally, we have been avoiding coffee for about a year now. Hot or Iced Chai tea with soy/almond milk has become our latest fav!

9. Non-Organic Corn and Soy This article from Natural News basically says it all for us: “More than 90 percent of all soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified (GM) for herbicide resistance and are consequently sprayed with massive quantities of those toxic chemicals. Fully 85 percent of all corn grown in the country is also genetically engineered, either for herbicide resistance or to produce pesticides within its tissues. Since farmers sell their corn and soy to large distributors who mix the product together for processing, this essentially means that 100 percent of non-organic corn and soy products on the US market are GM.” So that, in a nutshell, is why we avoid non-organic corn and soy products.

10. Fast Food It isn’t real food and contains all of the above that we avoid. Plain and simple. 🙂

We hope this post helps you all identify the areas in your diet that can be improved upon so you can be on your way to a happier, healthier you!

Are there any ingredients or food items that you tend to avoid in the name of better health?

We’d love to know as we’re constantly learning more and more from you guys!


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World Vegetarian Day Interview with My Husband!

First off, Happy World Vegetarian Day! I love that we have a few dedicated days a year to acknowledge this-even though I’m sure most non-vegheads haven’t clue about it. It makes me feel good though! In honor of today, I wanted to interview one of my favorite vegetarians, my husband, Jason. He actually decided to go vegetarian a year ago today! I don’t even think he realized it was World Vegetarian Day last year when he made that decision, so that’s kind of funny-but serendipidous for this post! As a precurser to this interview, I would just like to say that these answers are  not tampered with by me-his wife. My questions and interactions are in bold and his answers are in regular type.


(at my cousin’s engagement party, and at Bennachin in New Orleans)

How long have you been a vegetarian?

Today makes 1 whole year! Woot woot! It never once crossed my mind that I would give up meat-but I’m really proud of myself and feel great! By the way, I really like your hair… (my mom cut my hair again last night and he’s drifting from my questions lol) Thanks, babe!

Ok, back on track! What made you decide to give up meat?

I did it for 2 reasons. You said I was getting a gut! ha! But really, my weight had been slowly climbing over the past few years. Personally, I didn’t really notice it, until one day, I shaved my beard and saw that I looked swollen in my face. At that point I started talking to you about it and you told me that I should watch Forks Over Knives. So, in learning about the health benefits of giving up animals from my diet from FOK, that plus my rising weight were my 2 main reasons.

What does your diet look like on a regular basis? Like what is your day-to-day regimen?

Monday through Friday, I cook and eat vegan at home with you, my wife. Most weekends I still eat like this-unless we go out to dinner and I get something with dairy or cheese in it.  Also, I have eaten fish a few times over the past year-but I consider those rare special occasions.

Do you notice any changes since you became vegetarian?

My stomach shrunk! Yesss! But seriously, before I gave up meat, my stomach would hurt a lot ofter I ate. I just always thought I had a sensitive stomach. You would even make fun of me for not being able to handle food compared to your gut-o-steel! Do you remember that?! Yes, Jason, good times! (hah) Once I gave up meat and dairy on a regular basis, I no longer had this issue and still do not to this day. I also lost 25 pounds over the last year. Actually, I lost the 25 pounds in the first few months, but have easily maintained this weight since. Oh, I noticed that I am way more “regular” too-if you know what I mean…haha! Basically, I poop more now! (he’s winking at me with a thumbs up…oh dear god)

Did you ever feel deprived?

At the very beginning, I did a little. But over a short amount of time, I realized how satisfied I was after I ate. I also have much more energy now. So that feeling of being deprived has gone away. I enjoy my food much more now. There’s so much flavor that I just hadn’t noticed before. I can’t imagine ever eating another piece of meat again-even though I joke to drive my wife crazy. Haha

What reactions do you get from people when they find out your diet?

Being from New Orleans, I get a “head-scratching” look of confusion from most people I know. Friends poke fun at me about it, but they always have questions and I feel like that means they’re curious. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal though since so many people are choosing to cut back on eating meat these days.

Do you find it difficult to eat out?

Honestly, I never realized how many restaurants catered to this kind of lifestyle. I rarely encounter times when there is nothing on the menu for me to eat-without me having to alter the dish. There almost always seems to be vegetarian options or a vegetarian section. Hey, let’s go to Sudkho Thai soon! Now I’m hungry…That does sound good, we’ll go soon. With that all being said, I find that ethnic restaurants have the most options and I never would have experienced these different kinds of foods had I not decided to change up my eating habits. Shout out to Chris and Jenn-Bennachin next time you come in town? (haha shout out-he thinks this is some mtv interview or something lol he’s cute)

Since we’re on this topic, what’s your favorite New Orleans restaurant now that you eat this way?

Probably, um, this changes every month I think…right now, it’s Carmo!

What are your health goals for the next year?

I want to run more-with you of course…(he’s sucking up) maybe out at the lakefront! And I do want to weed out all animal products from my diet-and I want to be more knowledgeable about it too. Maybe I’ll watch some more of your famous documentaries….hah! (I drive him crazy with my love of documentaries…haha) I also want to get more in-tuned with nature…maybe get out more to parks that we have around here or go on the boat some more.

(Jason proudly wearing his Kale shirt, whilst eating a portobello panini)