Welcome to Nature Maven's Healthy Eating Healthy Planet Blog

Welcome! If you're a vegan, you'll find support and suggestions you may be able to use here. If you're a vegetarian as I was when I started this blog in June 2008, reading my archived posts may be of interest to you. If you haven't gotten here already, I hope you'll consider trying the vegan way of life, too.

As I try new recipes, learn to eat in restaurants, entertain non-veg friends and make the changes necessary to bring my life into greater harmony with the planet, I share what I learn. And little joys and other thoughts get thrown into the mix here, too.

In March 2009 after starting to read The Engine 2 Diet by vegan firefighter Rip Esselstyn, I became fully vegan, to the best of my knowledge and ability, and I post entries here as I live and learn in this lifestyle. It's definitely a process of experience and discovery.

Please check out the Vegan News Headlines supplied by Google News Reader down on the right, and see my Blogroll for just a few of the choice blogs and websites I've found useful.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Being Part of the Solution


Let us consider where we put our money when we shop. In our post-modern world, most of us don't make our own soaps and cleaning products. Those of us who are vegan and trying to live the principle of ahimsa do our best to avoid any association with people or companies who cause suffering. So, do look at the colorful chart above and consider who you patronize and look for other options when cruelty is an issue. An email, call or letter to a manufacturer or corporation might be a good idea, too. Most business make many decisions based on financial considerations.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Recipe: Eggless "Egg" Salad

One of the challenges this vegan struggles with is learning to let go of animal-food analogs such as faux lunch meats and ersatz whatevers. I found these foods really helpful in the early going. Now I sense that the salt, fat and other chemicals that help recreate those almost-familiar flavors may not be good for my constant consumption. For one thing, I never lost the weight I was told about by others knowing I was going vegan. Didn't happen to me. In fact, having transitioned from low-carb/high-protein eating to vegetarian to vegan, I actually gained some.

So let me share a recipe I just tried that is amazingly tasty and chemical free. The original recipe is the brainchild of vegan superstar Lindsay Nixon, aka the Happy Herbivore. I made it pretty much as listed below except for the black salt which I forgot to buy. I changed some of the ingredients and amounts (put in more garlic powder than planned by having the wrong mesauring spoon in my hand; had the wrong mustard) from the original recipe, and I used regular vegan mayo instead of the fat-free version she recommends. Click the link for her complete recipe. The photo I am using here is from her website, too. Here you go:

Happy Herbivore Eggless "Egg" Salad

Ingredients (makes about 4 1/2-cup servings)

14 oz. extra-firm tofu (this is the size block mine came in)
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 celery stalk, minced
1-1/4 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1-1/2 tbsp. mustard (recipe calls for Dijon; I used spicy brown)
2 tbsp. dill pickle relish
2 tbsp. vegan mayo
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. black salt (to impart a sulfur-ish, eggy flavor)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

  1. Press tofu to remove excess liquid or hold over sink and squeeze gently for a while. Crumble the tofu into a good-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Measure and add in the remaining ingredients.
  3. Fold ingredients together well, but do it gently so you don't break up the tofu too much.
  4. Refrigerate finished salad for a few hours or overnight so all flavors can blend well.
  5. Serve in a sandwich, as a filling in celery sticks or on a bed of lettuce as a salad. Enjoy!
Very tasty and easy to prepare. Lindsay puts her fat-free recipe at 63 calories per serving. Because I used regular Vegenaise, my favorite vegan mayo, I'm guessing that a 1/2 cup portion is about 150 calories. That might be a bit high, but that's what the Whole Foods Vegan Egg Salad clocks in at on SparkPeople.

I measured out a half cup and put 2/3 of it in a sandwich of light whole wheat bread with sliced homegrown tomato, and put the rest in a celery stick. Both were wonderful! All I had to do was add a little salt, probably because I hadn't put in the black kind the recipe called for.

Most people changing their diets buy cookbooks so they can make the foods the new lifestyle requires. I am no different. I've donated more cookbooks than anyone I know. I now have an impressive library of vegan cookbooks. One of the days I will post about my cookbooks to help out my fellow vegans and vegan-wannabes. The Happy Herbivore cookbook is great. I was lured to it by a post on Twitter that made a recipe sound so tempting I had to try it, and it was only to be found in the book. It's a favorite book now.

Thanks, Happy Herbivore!

 (click here to see this cool cookbook on Amazon)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You're a vegan, right? I have a question.

People ask us vegans all the time why we eat the way we do and was it difficult, but the biggest question we seem to hear is, "Where do you get your nutritional needs met?" and most specifically, "Where do you get your protein?"

PETA offers an amazing infographic colorfully illustrating the many tasty answers to these questions and others would-be vegans and vegan skeptics ask. Follow the link to see this marvel in eye-popping detail, and please share this with those folks who ask you those pesky vegan questions.
All of them, okay?

How do I find these gems? By following the coolest vegans on Twitter and clicking on the links they post. I email the links to myself for later use, and this way I stay on top of the vegan curve.

PETA does some amazing service toward animal welfare, animal rights and providing good solid information to the public. They also get feisty at times and draw fire. Sometimes I have to steel myself to open the site for fear of being bludgeoned with a horrible photo. But horrible photos exist largely because horrible acts towards animals occur with frightening regularity. The good PETA does far outweighs any distracting controversy or traumatic triggering, to my mind, and I urge you to support PETA. My favorite way to do so is by buying stuff I like at their online store. I've got the coolest t-shirts, fun catnippy cat stuff, and best vegan chocolates through their store. Yeah, the prices are up there, but that's my way of making a donation.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Yes, Let's Give Up Meat Burgers!

Today I posted the following comment (links added for this blog now) on Mother's Jone's Blue Marble blog in response to the post, Should You Buy Beef To Help US Ranchers Survive the Drought? —By Kiera Butler:
Any excuse is a legitimate excuse to stop eating meat! Vegan living is the most environmentally responsible, compassionate and overall healthy option. Your only health caveats are to supplement with Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin D or other supplement if blood testing shows a deficiency, and make a reasonable attempt to eat sufficient protein, easy to do with legumes, nuts, whole grains, veggies and fruit,plus soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, and a growing roster of products called meat analogs. Any would-be vegans out there can read Vegan for Life by vegan registered dietitians Virginia Messina and Jack Norris for the low-down. We must stop: causing serious, possibly irreversible, harm to our planet; contributing to inflicting terror, pain and life-long suffering on animals raised for food, eggs or dairy; and our human slide into obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and all the miseries they entail. So, yes! Drought is a great reason to stop eating meat burgers and all other animal-derived food products. Want a delicious, responsible and humane burger? Have a vegan burger such as Gardein's Beefless Burger. It's awesome! --Sunny
So, friends, readers, Tweeps, and just plain curious stumbling upon-ers, let's remember that every day we can make decisions based on ethical and responsible choices, and as we do so, we will become more the change we wish to see in the world, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi. Let go of wondering how much of an impact collectively your changes might have; just make them! You know animals suffer in today's agribusiness factory farms. You also know that the cute family farm with the red barn and silo and happy animals about is a dying entity. You may know someone who humanely raises and slaughters their meat animals. Chances are, however, that even such a responsible farmer takes his livestock to be slaughtered elsewhere, and that may not be as humane as he or we would hope. The so-called free range eggs you buy by law can be called such if the animals have an open window or door within so many feet but may never leave the production floor. If you don't buy them off the farm after touring the small-farm's coop, you cannot be sure cruelty was not involved. And besides, animal reproductive products such as cow's milk and chicken eggs were never intended for human consumption. We are meant to ingest human breast milk during the first year or two of life, and that's it for dairy. We are not meant to swill gallons of animal mammary fluids and make cheeses and other products out of them. You ought to hear Dr. Neal Barnard's comments on the very addictive quality of cheese (and other foods such as chocolate, meat and sugar). The eggs chickens produce are intended to bring more chickens into the world. What actually happens on factory farms is that female chicks are kept for laying more eggs and the male chicks are often ground into feed, and fed to chickens! Euthanasia? Please! No thought is given to their feelings at the time of their cruel and violent death. By the way, the typical beef steer or cow is "euthanized" by blunt trauma to the head, and the industry considers this humane. There is some pressure to change this, from the public mostly, so that mass suffocation in large chambers where oxygen is removed is considered better and a goal the industry hopes to attain. Are we nuts? As long as we pretend we are not a party to the cruelty, and to the slurry ponds filled with animal waste that contaminates nearby water supplies, and to the misappropriation of much of the planet's crops to feed those meat animals on factory farms, and to the growing obesity epidemic as we fall for the seductive temptation of the food porn thrust at us by pizza, fast food and seafood chains, we help cause it!

Want to try the vegan lifestyle on for size? I did at age 57 and haven't looked back since, over three and a half years ago. Check the word cloud somewhere on the right side of this page and click on any of the topics to read my experience, strength and hope. If I can do this, I'll bet you can too!

Cool dog tags available from Trudy Chalmers

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Your kitchen: Green isn't just what plant-based eaters eat.

Thinking of making your healthy kitchen newer and greener? Visit this Houzz article on eco-friendly appliances:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hitting the Big Six-Oh: Is Gray the New Black?

I just celebrated a milestone birthday, that dreaded big Six-Oh, and the day, and hopefully the year to come, was beautiful in every way. I took the subway an extra stop to 23rd Street so I could pick up my lunch at Terri, an amazing all-vegan cafe, take out and catering place just off 6th Avenue. I selected an amazing wrap they describe as:
Hummus & Avocado - hummus, avocado, smoked tofu, pepperoncinis, lettuce, tomato.
Avocado & Hummus Wrap, from Terri on 23rd, NYC
Here's how this delicious creation looked:

I cannot recall enjoying eating anything more than this wrap. The smoked tofu was so tasty and the tomato was gorgeously ripe and flavorful, surely a farmer's market find.
But I digress. I bought this great lunch before work, and treated myself to a baked (not fried) Apple Cider vegan donut which I ate at my mid-morning break with a fresh-brewed cup of Magie Noir coffee. I didn't eat the wrap until lunch time.
I walked to Broadway and stopped to take in the eponymous Flat Iron Building, having to bend over almost backwards to get it in the frame. I walked down Broadway savoring the interesting shops and stores along the way.

Flatiron Building, 23rd Street
between Broadway and Fifth Avenue
 There are some really cool places in this stretch between 23rd and Union Square where I work. There's Design Within Reach, ABC Carpet and Home, and Fishs Eddy, to name a few. I recently had occasion to buy a new office chair and ottoman, and since I sit in a chair almost all day most of the week, how I sit and where matter. Being vegan, I choose not to replace my current leather set up with another, although if I could have gotten an Eames lounge chair and ottoman in faux leather, I might have done that, but truly, it is too large for the space. This is Manhattan, and my rent is bad enough for the modest space I have. So I let that one pass and searched for something better.
I finally decided on a Risom chair from Design Within Reach, a great store featuring mid-century modern furniture. The Risom lounge chair is birchwood with canvas webbing, and it's a replica of an original we had in the 1950s in California when I was a child living in the house my architect dad had designed, and I have vivid memories of lying on the floor underneath it playing some sort of game. So as I walked down Broadway, I passed Design Within Reach, and there was my chair (on order from the factory and not expected for a month or so) in the window. iPhone in hand, I snapped its photo.
Risom Chair at Design Within Reach
Broadway, NYC
I look forward to many hours in this chair in the months and years to come. And in a few years when I retire, and hang up my therapist's boxing gloves (or whatever therapists hang up), I'll take it to my warm weather residence, when I have one.
I continued south to Union Square where the Farmer's Market was its usual hive of activity, but having no time to stop and linger at the many vendors, I snapped a few photos for this blog as I hustled to meet my first client of the day.

Flower Vendor
Union Square Farmer's Market

Veggies in all their glory
Union Square Farmer's Market
I hurried down and saw this lovely water fountain, and with this I leave you.

Oh, and the rest of the day was as lovely as the beginning. My husband surprised me with a high-powered blender and food processor so I can make the Green Smoothies with which I start most days. Then we met a dear friend in a favorite Italian restaurant where we had great food and wonderful conversation, and I was feted with flowers and gifts. I hadn't seen this friend since letting my hair go gray, and it was gratifying that she told me how well I looked. Gray is the new black, now that we Baby Boomers are hitting our senior years. I rejected the expensive dual-process colorings, gray roots, and the knowledge that I wasn't hiding anything. And I'm letting a wonderful hairdresser make it look its best. What else would one do in New York?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vegan Baking Bliss

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (foreground and top rack)
Oatmeal Raisin & Oatmeal Raisin-Chocolate Chip (lower rack)
A RAINY DAY is a perfect time for baking, so I pulled out my Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) and whipped up a batch of amazing chocolate chip cookies and a batch of oatmeal raisin that I divvied up and added vegan chocolate chips to half. They turned out hugely well.
Departures: I used hemp milk because the opened carton of soymilk had spoiled. I used it for the first time, and the hemp milk was a fine replacement. It has a nutty flavor, and I look forward to putting on my cereal tomorrow. Isa and Terry called for quick-cooking oats for the oatmeal raisin, but all I had on hand was extra-thick whole rolled oats, and they worked just fine in the cookies. The chocolate chips were my idea for enhancing the oatmeal raisin dough after making the first batch according to the recipe. I learned that they are nearly impossible to mix in. I had to grab walnut-sized gobs of dough and stuff the chips in, then push them back in on the cookie sheet when they fell out. But, once baked and cooled, they stayed put and are a great addition. For the chocolate chip cookies, I used mini vegan chocolate chips rather than the regular sized ones, mainly because I had more of them after using the bigger ones in the oatmeal raisin chocolate chip batch.
The egg replacers for these recipes are different. The oatmeal-raisin batch was held together with flaxseed meal in the dough. The chocolate chip batch was bound with the addition of a small amount of tapioca flour.
In Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Isa Chandra and Terry Hope (learn more and order via The Post Punk Kitchen, Isa's site)have done all the hard work of converting these classic recipes to egg-free, dairy-free deliciousness! I use the book all the time and have made some amazing treats that others marvel are vegan. I also love the earlier vegan books these amazing cooks have published.
After baking and cooling, I arranged the cookies on some of my vintage Fiesta plates and styled them for photos, and I left them thus on the counter until my husband returned from tennis so he could see, savor and enjoy them. After this I put some in a glass cookie jar, others in a plastic container, and at day's end after we'd had a few more, stuck the rest in a freezer container that already contained frozen vegan brownies (from the same cookbook). Because our weather was rainy, foggy and humid all day, they got pretty soft, but I think I could pop them in a warm oven for a few minutes to recrisp them if we want to try it.