Monthly Archives:

November 2009

Open Fire, Opening Day

If you’re strolling through the woods today in PA, make sure to put on your brightly colored clothing, or if you have one, an orange hat.  Today marks PA’s opening day for the firearm deer hunting season, which lasts for a period of 12 consecutive days.  As reported by ABC 4, approximately 80,000-90,000 deer will be killed within today alone.

If you’re a consistent reader of my blog, you’re probably wondering why I would be writing about opening day considering I don’t eat deer, or any meat for that matter (with the exception of seafood).  I would never hunt, nor have I ever particularly enjoyed opening day, for while I was living at home in the country, I couldn’t go two minutes without hearing the annoying noise of a gun shot echoing through my windows.  Around where I lived during my high school years, hunting was pervasive.  In fact, every year when opening day would roll around, my school would even give us the day off.

Throughout the weeks leading up to hunting season continuing into the actual season itself,  I’d wake up to persistent gun shots and be forced to listen to them throughout the day.  I can’t say this is a vegetarian’s dream-like ambient sound.  And, since I wasn’t willing to let hunting restrict me from my love of the outdoors and from preventing me to take my usual, frequent hikes/runs, I’d spend 12 days walking on edge through the woods near my house, thinking about having-to-dodge-bullet-scenarios rather than fully taking in my beautiful surroundings.

However, as much as I dislike opening day, I fully believe that if you’re going to eat meat, hunting is the way to get it.  My feelings towards hunting are similar to some of the reasons why I advocate gardening.  Progressively, there has become a palpable disconnect from producer to consumer.

This disconnect is part of the reason why the food industry is able to run wild.  Large corporations can do almost anything they want to the food we eat without ever even telling us.  Ground beef can be scoured in ammonia and numerous other items can be filled with ingredients that have been tainted with artificially injected genes, known as GMOs, without the majority of consumers even having a clue.

Not every farm looks like this...

The food industry is so furtively hidden from us that we often have no clue where the food on our plate even comes from, let alone how it’s been processed,

and this presents a problem because it limits the say we have about the quality of the food we are putting into our bodies.  The food industry increasingly focuses more on producing a profit than producing fresh, qualitative food.

Animals raised commercially are forced to live in squalor and under inhumane conditions, treating them as though they were objects, and then haphazardly processing them as though the consumers they are producing them for are nothing more than objects themselves.  When meat-eaters buy from the traditional consumer market, they are often unconsciously consuming chickens afflicted with cancer, cows smeared with feces due to being forced to live knee deep in it, and pig meat filled with laundry lists of chemicals. This isn’t healthy for our bodies or the overall well-being of life on this Earth.

By hunting, one can at least lessen their contribution to the meat industry, an industry of which often forces animals to live in darkness, smacked right up against one another.  The animals being killed through hunting get to roam around amidst green grass and sunlight for at least a portion of their lives.  While some consider killing animals for food inhumane all together, I’d rather see meat-eaters move towards obtaining their meat from free-roaming, happily living animals.  By hunting, one becomes aware of the process of obtaining meat (a process much different than the meat industry, but a process nonetheless).  One becomes conscious of how the animals used for meat breathe, eat and live.  One can really get to know an animal, learn about it, and become in touch with what he/she will be consuming, closing of the isolation of the producer from the individual.  One can refreshingly be able to see from where and how their food got to their plate.  Additionally, if hunting is relied upon as the sole source of obtaining meat, this will usually require the individual to eat less of it, ultimately contributing to their health. (Not to mention, deer meat is leaner and healthier than other massively sold meats, such as beef.  This is probably because they live a happier life that allows them to exercise, breathe fresh-air, and grow naturally).

Becoming a vegetarian was a choice, and with that being said, I don’t look down upon people who choose not to follow my same path. If I did eat meat, while I can’t say I could ever be a hunter, I’d at least try to rely on friends or family who were.  For the same reasons I enjoy growing fruits and vegetables, I’d want to know where my food was coming from, how it has been treated, and how it’s being processed.  I wouldn’t want chemicals in meat I would be consuming, just like I don’t enjoy chemicals on my produce.

What are your thoughts about this?  If you are a vegetarian, how do you feel about hunting?  If you eat meat, are you a hunter?  If so, what do you feel you get out of it?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

The leaves have fallen, cold weather is approaching, and winter is soon on its way.  Wow!  After today, just one more day of November…Can you believe it!?  That also means we’re coming to the end of National Peanut Butter Month.

While I won’t be ceasing my consumption of peanut butter (although I probably should moderate it), I thought I would share another one of my all-time favorite peanut butter recipes in light of the conclusion of one of my new favorite months.  Never before had November looked so good until I found out it was actually served as a whole month commemorated to peanut butter.

So in honor of the last days of this month, I’ve decided to post a recipe that includes not just one, but two of my absolute favorite peanut butter combinations.  The following bread recipe contains both banana and chocolate, pretty much the best two ingredients for pairing with peanut butter.  The bread is super moist and tastes like food heaven, especially when eaten while still warm out of the oven.

Another plus, for a baked good, it’s relatively healthy.  It utilizes whole wheat flour, which packs in some fiber and replaces the typical saturated, cholesterol-filled fat that comes from butter with fat-free yogurt and heart-healthy fat-containing-peanut butter.  However, be careful because it’s hard to stop yourself after just one slice!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

-1 cup of whole-wheat pastry flour
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
-1 large egg
-2 Tbs. safflower oil
-2 ripe bananas, mashed
-1/3 cup crunchy, all natural peanut butter
-1/4 cup plain, fat-free yogurt
-3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter a standard bread loaf pan (approx. 9 x 5 x 3 in.).

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg, yogurt, and oil.  Stir in the peanut butter and banana and mix until thoroughly combined.  Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Cool on a rack for 15 minutes in the pan, and then unmold.  Slice and serve.

It’s All About the Miso

Feeling a little full after the Thanksgiving holiday?  How about reaching for a bowl of miso soup for a light meal instead of putting that brick back into your stomach by filling yourself with leftovers.  Miso not only serves as an ingredient to make a quick and easy soup, but it also serves as a natural health enhancer that will boost your immune system for the next forthcoming holidays.

Similar to yogurt, miso contains probiotics that help aid in digestion.   It’s particularly beneficial to vegans because of the naturally significant amounts of vitamins K and B12 that it provides.  It also contains the immune-boosting trace mineral zinc, as well as iron, copper, and manganese.  Let’s take a closer look at this nutrient-packed flavor enhancer.

What exactly is miso? Miso is a paste that originated in Japan that is made from grinding fermented soybeans and usually another grain, such as soybeans or rice.  It’s texture is similar to peanut butter- whether chunky or creamy depends on the variety you choose.  It has a salty taste and can often provide a unique and healthy twist as a replacement for salt.

Why use miso? If the nutrient info. above wasn’t enough to convince you to buy some miso, there are also numerous studies that have shown that miso is an advantageous ingredient.  For instance, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, miso has been linked to reducing breast cancer by as much as 50%. It has been said that miso helps to regulate the hormone in women known as oestrogen, a hormone that can cause tumors to develop.

I see a handful of varieties in the store.  Are there differences between these types of miso?

Yes.  Each type contains variances in the duration of fermentation time, and each will offer slight differences in taste and texture.

Below are some details about a few of the varieties of miso.

White Miso: White miso is typically made from a 60:40 ratio of white rice and whole soybeans.  It has a short fermentation time of approximately 3-5 weeks.  Of all the misos, white miso has one of the smoothest textures and contains the sweetest and mildest taste.  It’s perfect for salad dressings and light soups.

Red Miso: Red miso is also made from a combination of soybeans and white rice but contains a higher concentration of soybeans than white miso, giving it it’s deep red color.  It is typically fermented for a 1-3 year period.  Red miso has the highest content of protein out of all the miso varieties.   It’s taste is stronger than that of white miso and is typically used in stir-fries, soups, and marinades.

Barley Miso: Barley miso mainly consists of soybeans and barley.  Since it doesn’t contain white rice, barley miso has the darkest color of all the misos.  It’s fermentation period is similar to red miso’s and is typically between 1 to 3 years.  The closer the fermentation time is to 3 years, the deeper the color and richer the flavor will be.  It has a robust flavor and is often used in sauces, heavier soups, and rich bean dishes.

Chickpea Miso: Chickpea miso is a great alternative for those who are sensitive to soy.  It is generally made from a combination of brown rice and chickpeas and is aged from 1-3 months.  It’s texture leans on the side of resembling chunky peanut butter, rather than creamy like white miso.  In fact, it often contains whole or pieces of chick peas.  It’s flavor is stronger than white miso but still relatively mild and sweet.  Chickpea miso is also great for spreads, dressings, soups, and dips.

If you’re legs and mind are burnt out from Thanksgiving cooking and your stomach is burnt out from Thanksgiving eating, try a simple miso-centered recipe for your next meal.  Miso soup can be whipped up in no time, or try making a variation of tea by simply disolving a teaspoon of the variety of your choice into a cup of hot water.  Enjoy.

Feasting on Food, Thankful for Thanksgiving

So the Vegetarian Times Thanksgiving was a success!  My stomach was full and my taste buds were happy.  The meal was actually entirely vegan except for the few pats of butter put on top of the pie before it went into the oven (could’ve easily been left off).

Butternut Squash-Bartlett Pear Soup

Carrot-Walnut Salad & Cranberry Sauce

Citrus Collards with Raisins
Smothered Seitan Medallions in Mixed Mushroom Gravy
Fruit and Toasted Almond Stuffing
Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions
Finished Plate
Grace’s Homemade Apple Pie

However, my favorite part of the meal wasn’t from the VT magazine…

Later today or tomorrow, I shall be lacing up my running shoes, hitting the road, and making my body happy.  As of now, I think I’m still happily in the process of digesting last night’s food…or maybe this morning’s apple pie breakfast 😉 .

Have a wonderful Friday, and don’t stress yourself out too much if you’re out there in the mad pandemonium of shoppers.

As always, remember to take a moment to breathe, get some fresh-air, and treat yourself well.

P.S.  After advice from several people, I’ve succumbed and have finally gotten a Twitter.  It’s mainly to help promote my blog.  Feel free to follow me! I currently have a measley few followers and am definitely still figuring out all that it entails. It’s under my name:  Grace Dickinson.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Take a moment out of your day today to reflect on some things that you are thankful for.

Use today as a launch date to start making this a habitual, everyday practice.  Just by taking 2 minutes a day to meditate on what you are thankful for can truly increase your overall appreciation for life.  From the broad to the details, from the complex to the simple, any area of life can truly be appreciated.

Here are a few things that I am currently feeling thankful for:

-How comfortable my bed at home is
-How tasty the pear was that I just ate

-My friends
-My puppy patiently and adorably lying on the floor
-My family
-This present moment

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