Lifestyle Tips, Recipes, Uncategorized

Forsythia Syrup

I have had wicked bad seasonal allergies since I was very young. My eyes would be so itchy I would give myself black eyes rubbing them in my sleep, I could not be outside without being a big ball of ick, itchy throat to the point of no relief… In high school, I started getting allergy shots over 5 years or so, but still need to take regular allergy meds. That is just how bad my allergies are. Still, no medicine would alleviate my itchy throat! The only thing that would help is a teaspoon of honey a few times a day. When I went vegan, I did not know what to do instead of honey. This year, I noticed a bunch of my friends posting about foraging, especially with dandelions and forsythia flowers. I started to look more into some of these recipes and found blogs saying using forsythia flowers can help with allergy relief! Luckily, I have forsythia bushes in my backyard that already bloomed and were not treated with fertilizer or any other chemicals, so I tried right away! (For more seasonal allergy relief tips, check out this blog post: https://www.earthpothecary.com/blogs/news/allergy-season)

 

I use the syrup to sweeten teas and other foods. Sometimes I will have a spoonful of the syrup if my throat is itchy.

 

Why is honey not vegan? Here are some main points, but you can read more here: https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/honey-industry

  1. It is a product that comes from a living being. Vegans do not eat animal flesh or anything that comes from a living being.
  2. Many bees can die or be badly injured when humans collect their honey.
  3. Commercial industries and some local producers artificially inseminate (rape) the queen to breed more worker bees.
  4. Bees make honey to survive through hibernation. It is not ours to take, they are not our slaves, working to make something for us to steal from them.

 

Tips for how to harvest:

  • Make sure there are no bugs on the flowers you are picking! I found a few bees close by and some ants in the flowers. It would not be vegan if I accidentally got bugs in it!
  • Just pick the flower, no twigs.
  • Do not press the flowers down into the measuring cup. Just pluck them and put them right in the cup.
  • Make sure the flowers you are harvesting have not been treated with any chemicals.
  • When you bring the flowers in, do not rinse them! Having the pollen on the flowers helps your allergy relief just like local honey has pollen in it.
  • The recipe calls for 2-3 cups of flowers. I like to use 3 cups for a slightly stronger flavor, darker color, and potentially slightly more relief. The relief part is probably mental.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups forsythia flowers
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-2 cup sugar (I prefer 1 cup of brown sugar which very closely resembles the sweetness and taste of maple syrup.)
  • something to steep tea in
  • small/medium sauce pan

Directions:

  1. Pick 2-3 cups of flowers.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a tea kettle or saucepan. (You can add less water if you would like a bit of a stronger flavor and your mixture to be more syrup-y and less watery.)
  3. While boiling, place the flowers in a tea pot or a heat-safe bowl to steep. I have a tea infuser so I can pour the liquid out without having the flowers come out too. If you do not have one, any heat-safe bowl is fine as long as you can cover it. You can strain the flowers out later.
  4. Pour the boiling water over the flowers.
  5. Steep overnight to make it nice and strong.
  6. Strain the flowers out of the “tea.”
  7. Pour the “tea” into a saucepan and add sugar.
  8. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for about 30 minutes stirring frequently to avoid burning.
  9. Allow the mixture to cool and pour into a Tupperware container or mason jar.
  10. Store the syrup in the fridge.

Enjoy! I hope this helps soothe your allergies as well!

Syrup
This recipe yielded about 6 of these jars

FDA Disclaimer:  The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act require this notice.

Recipes, Uncategorized

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp water)
  • 2 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup flour (I used rice flour, substitute other gluten free flour if desired)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips

Raspberry Breakfast Bars Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 8 x 8 cake pan or muffin tin with parchment paper or muffin papers.
  2. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Add the chickpeas and water to a sauce pan. Place on the stove and cook on low for 15 min. Then drain and allow chickpeas to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. While chickpeas are cooking and cooling, continue with the remaining directions.
  4. Make your flax egg. Whisk 1 Tbsp flax egg with 3 Tbsp water and let stand for 5 minutes.Raspberry Breakfast Bars Flax Egg
  5. In a bowl, mash the two bananas with a fork until all the lumps are gone.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt.
  7. Once chickpeas are cooled, mash them in another mixing bowl with a fork until smooth.
  8. Add bananas, chickpeas, flax egg, apple sauce, and maple syrup to a food processor or blender. (I use a manual food processor that works pretty well. Mixing with a wooden spoon in a mixing bowl works well too.) Raspberry Breakfast Bars Food Processor
  9. Once smooth, add in dry ingredients and mix/blend more until smooth.
  10. Mix in hemp seeds, raspberries, and chocolate chips with a spoon.
  11. Scoop batter into the pan or tins.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. It might be longer, periodically check how they are baking by inserting a toothpick skewer into the middle.
  13. Remove from oven when it’s thoroughly baked and place on a cooling rack.
  14. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  15. Allow to completely cool before storing in Tupperware in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Lifestyle Tips, Uncategorized

Free Vegan Mentor Program

I volunteer with PETA’s Vegan Mentor Program and highly recommend signing up to receive a mentor if you need help going vegan. It’s totally free!

You’re sent a packet of information about going vegan and assigned a mentor who is available to answer questions and guide you along your journey to veganism via phone call, text, email, video chat…however you prefer.

Since I started last year, I’ve mentored about 11 new vegans. We share recipes, tips on how to face new challenges, and resources to answer your questions.

Sign up today and your free mentor will help you go vegan at your own pace. No pressure! Sign up here!

Already vegan? Interested in becoming a mentor? PETA is always looking for volunteer mentors. E-mail KeithB@peta.org with “Vegan Mentor” in the subject line to get started.

Lifestyle Tips, Uncategorized

Recycle Plastic Packaging

How to Recycle Plastic Packaging
Plastic wrapping and packaging that I consumed in 30 days.

There are many societal benefits to adopting a vegan lifestyle besides the most commonly known animal rights. These are environmental conservation, health, and human rights. Therefore, many vegans are concerned with environmental issues, such as the excessive use of plastic and pollution.

If environmental protection and conservation are something you care about as many vegans do, the sight of plastic packaging and other waste will make you groan. You CANNOT recycle these plastics in regular recycling with materials like cardboard, glass, and aluminum as it clogs the processing machinery and causes many headaches for the facility’s workers. Plastic is over-used in retail and therefore can be difficult to avoid as a consumer. When plastic is thrown in landfill, it does not often stay there. It is light, gets blown around, and can end up causing harm to animals and polluting our water. When plastic is in the water, it can look like marine life and is eaten. This is killing marine life and causing a major shift in the ecosystem.2

What you can do is decrease plastic consumption as much as possible and recycle as much as you can.

To decrease consumption, you can bring reusable bags with me for every shopping trip (repurpose an old t-shirt), use reusable produce bags, reusable “ziploc” bags (find some here and here), reusable sandwich wrap, silicone lids, biodegradable bags for pets and for trash bags, and buy with less plastic packaging when possible. You might still find yourself so upset by the amount of plastic with which you end up. You may have noticed boxes at certain retail locations, like Target or chain grocery stores, for collecting used plastic shopping bags. Most places with these receptacles also recycle similar plastic materials. Target is a location that definitely accepts plastic wrapping other than plastic bags. You can go to http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org, type in your zip code to find locations with these recycle bins near you.

Please recycle only clean, dry plastic bags and film. Remove receipts or any other items from bags.

Here are some examples of plastics that can be recycled in these bins3:

  • Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags (clean, dry and free of receipts and clothes hangers)
  • Zip-top food storage bags (clean and dry)
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
  • Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products
  • Furniture and electronic wrap
  • Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)
  • Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label shown at right

Do not include3:

  • Degradable/compostable bags or film packaging
  • Pre-washed salad mix bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Candy bar wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Six-pack rings

Please consider taking these steps to decrease plastic

I hope this helps you with decreasing and recycling of plastic packaging!

 

Sources:
1 – https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-plastic-bag-ban-recycling-0731-biz-20150730-story.html
2 – https://ntepa.nt.gov.au/waste-pollution/plastic-bag-ban/environmental-impacts
3 – https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/recycling-bags-and-wraps/plastic-film-education-individuals/learn-whats-recyclable/
Lifestyle Tips, Uncategorized

Tips for Cooking Beans

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit…

It’s a topic we don’t talk about enough, but there are ways to cook or consume beans to reduce uncomfortable gas. Beans cause gas because they are complex carbs and have sugars (healthy sugars) that cause gas as they break down in our digestive tract.

**Note: This post is not intended to replace a visit to a medical specialist. I am not licensed or certified to give medical advice. This list contains suggestions that I have personally found useful.**

  1. Progressively add beans into your diet so your body can get used to digesting them.
  2. Avoid eating fruit or other sugary foods at least two hours before or after consuming beans. Adding different types of sugars makes digestion harder and produces more gas.
  3. Don’t just drain canned beans, but rinse them thoroughly.
  4. Chew your food slowly. The process of digesting foods begins in your mouth. The more the food is broken down before entering your digestive tract, the less work has to be done by your stomach and intestines, where gas produces.
  5. Don’t have a meal that combines beans and potatoes. Potatoes also have sugars that conflict with the sugars in beans that makes digestion more difficult.
  6. Avoid cooking meals that combine beans with other proteins. Each type of protein requires different enzymes and they don’t play nicely together.
  7. Make sure your meal is made up by 75% veggies to aid digestion.
  8. Be aware of the types of beans you consume. Mung beans, lentils, and peas have high protein, and produce less gas.
  9. Drink herbal tea after your meal. Certain herbs can reduce uncomfortableness associated with gas. Teas with ginger, peppermint, and/or fennel work best. (Try these: Simply Balanced by Target and Traditional Medicinals.)
  10. Consider seeing a specialist.

 

sources:
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/diana-herrington/pass-on-the-gas-7-ways-to_b_3080786.html 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228670/