Fake Weight Loss Claims: I Hate ‘Em

I know, I know. It’s been FOREVER since I last posted. A lot has been going on in my life in the past year, and a lot of planning has been going on in my head about where I want my future to go. I won’t say too many details yet, but I’m working on starting my own business — and very soon. So I’m also currently figuring out where exactly I want to go with this blog.

But I still want to have it! So today I’m just going to write about something I’m very passionate about. And angry about.

I really can’t stand how much money some weight loss companies make from completely bogus, unscientific claims. And earlier this week I came across one so elaborate that I just have to talk about it.

THIS site: http://womenshealthweekly.org/cambogiafb2.php

fake weight loss claim

It’s a “review” written about some product called Garcinia Cambogia, and the article is supposedly written by a staff reporter of this website/magazine, which is apparently called Women’s Health. There is a real magazine by this name, but their website is womenshealthmag.com, not the womenshealthweekly.org that is this site. It LOOKS like a real site, but click on any of the links and you are sent to a pdf of the Garcinia Cambogia product.

These people are posing as a legitimate magazine to trick buyers into thinking this is a product that has been tested by a health magazine writer and given her unreal results. They are not only being deceitful and dishonest, but this is cruel.

We are surrounded by food, and the easiest to find is processed, sugar-laden, high-fat, low-fiber… crap. Until you are informed about what foods are health-promoting and how to make them a normal part of your diet/life, finding your healthy weight feel like be constant, painful, failing fight. And antics like what this company is pulling are just feeding the desperation that comes with feeling helpless over one’s weight. It really, really bothers me that there are so many products like this allowed to be sold.

Friends, let me tell you that it has been proven that there is no secret pill. There is no ONE move or method or food or “trick” that is going to make your weight “melt off like it was butter,” as this article claims.

The answer is healthy foods and education, NOT quick weight loss products. A whole foods, plant-based diet will give you all of the great, healthy stuff you need to nourish your body while also eliminating the junk and fillers in meat, dairy, and processed foods that is getting in the way of us being our most healthy selves. It’s really as simple as that. And the more people who are aware of this, the less these companies will make off of a scam.

Let’s spread health and positivity to better our world, not phony rip-offs just to make a buck.

And if you need help with getting started, contact me (I love to help as much as I can) or see any of these great resources:

 

Low-fat, Soy-free, Gluten-free: Vegan Cheezy BBQ Lentil Nachos

Today is the Super Bowl!

But I won’t be watching it. We aren’t really sports fans at my place. Like, at all.

However, I do LOVE making snack dishes that can be used for such occasions! I am a huge snacker, and there’s something so nice about having something delicious to munch on while enjoying the company of others. And although this weekend has been more about barricading myself in my apartment with the pets and my Nintendo 3DS (yep, I’m a gamer), I still felt like making myself a crunchy, salty finger food.

Maybe the Super Bowl spirit is rubbing off on me a bit.

Thus, the following nacho recipe was born, which turned out so great that I’m sharing it for you to enjoy the crispy barbecue cheesiness as well. Enjoy!

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Vegan Cheezy BBQ Nachos

1 bag Frito Lay Baked Tostitos (or any type of tortilla chips, but I prefer these because they’re low fat and easy to find)
2 cups cooked lentils
1.5 c chopped spinach
1 zucchini, diced
2 green onions, chopped

BBQ Cheezy Sauce:
2 c almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
1/4 c flour (I used white whole wheat)
2/3 c nutritional yeast
1/2 c barbecue sauce
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp cumin

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange chips in a single layer on sheet.

3. Make the Cheezy sauce by whisking all sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan and heating over medium heat until it thickens, stirring frequently.

4. Sprinkle lentils, spinach, zucchini, and green onions evenly over chips.

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5. Pour prepared Cheezy sauce over everything as evenly as possible.

6. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the sauce has darkened a bit and chips are browned slightly.

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Serve immediately, and enjoy!

TexaVegan: Low-Fat, Down-Home Recipes for Everyone

I got a ton of cookbooks for Christmas this year.

Everyone in my life knows I love to cook and bake, so these were perfect gifts for me that I was overjoyed to receive! The list includes:

Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

The Cheesy Vegan by John Schlimm

Vegan Pizza by Julie Hasson

Easy as Vegan Pie by Hannah Kaminsky

The Vegan Bible by Editors of Publications International Ltd.

Happy Herbivore Light & Lean by Lindsay Nixon (who is the BEST!)

The only problem is: which to cook/bake from first!

Well, I’m actually starting off with a cookbook I didn’t receive as a Christmas gift, but that I received around the same time and have been given the opportunity to review: TexaVegan by Deborah Brutsche. Also, I thought it looked awesome and pretty perfect for my dietary preferences.

And, as hinted at from the title, the author — Deborah Brutsche — is from Texas like me!

So, a couple thoughts on the book before I get into the recipes I made:

  • This would be a great cookbook to give someone just starting to cook vegan. Brutsche goes over the different types of vegan items called for throughout her cookbook; however, basically all of the ingredients used are basic and easy to find. She even has a whole section called “Stocking a Vegan Fridge” that lists all the vegan kitchen staples and explanations of them.
  • Most of the recipes seem quick and contain ingredients that are easily accessible in basic grocery stores. For each dish I’ve made so far, I already had most everything I needed for them.
  • Although the cookbook is “low-fat”, Brutsche does use a slight amount of oil in many of the recipes, which I try to avoid usually. However, even though I usually leave out/replace oil called for in any recipe, for these I did so as to stick strictly to the recipe.
  • The book also doesn’t contain any pictures, which may turn some people off, but I promise the taste and appearance of the finished recipes more than make up for it!

Now, for the first dish:

Bean & Chili Pasta Bake

This was delicious!! Quick, easy, and worked well as a weeknight meal. I love pasta dishes, and I love how baking it gave the noodles a nice crispiness. The sauce was pretty simple, with basic veggies like tomatoes, corn, and onions. I plan to make it a regular.

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Potato & Veggie Sausage Bake

Another baking dish! As implied in the title, this one called for vegan sausage (Gimme Lean brand is what I used).

Here’s the meat being sauteed and browned…
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Then a yogurt sauce with green onions and spices…

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And everything layered and baked with sliced red potatoes!

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Now, I am actually not a big fan of veggie “meat” substitutes. Honestly, they freak me out a little bit with how similar they are to actual meat… which I guess is a compliment to the modern vegan meat companies! But I was still very impressed with this recipe. The yogurt sauce was my favorite. And my boyfriend LOVED it with veggie sausage. So I would make it again for sure, maybe just picking around the meat for me. :)

Nut & Medjool Date Crust with the Yogurt Pie Filling.

Brutsche includes several crust recipes and then separate pie fillings recipes, so you can easily mix and match any of them. I went with this combo — an almond-date crust and cream cheese yogurt filling — which was extremely easy and very delicious! I also added some sliced banana between the crust and filling, because I’ve made several Engine 2 pies that did this and were really amazing.

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Yum!! Probably my favorite recipe so far, just because I love dessert and I love cream cheese. :)

So, overall, I’m very impressed with this cookbook and intend to pull recipe ideas out of it regularly. I would recommend it to anyone, whether vegan for many years of veg-curious, because of the easy yet creative recipes. You just have to overlook the fact that there are no pictures. Well done, Deborah Brutsche!

What is most important to you when buying a cookbook — do you look for quick recipes, creative recipes, pretty pictures, or something else?

2014: Focusing on the positives

Happy 2014, everyone! I know everybody says things like this each January, but I can’t believe it’s already the year 2014.  I still remember when the millennium was quickly approaching and the twenty-teens seemed like a lifetime away. I certainly had images of myself in 2014, but I just imagined myself as a mature adult with everything put together.

“Put together.” Ha. But I can say that I’m very happy with my life in my early adult years, and I’m excited for a new year.

I used to be the type of person who refused to set solid New Year’s resolutions. It seemed like too much pressure, and I try to focus on just bettering myself in general, so why set it all on one day?

But now, there are actually a couple of things I want to pay special attention to for this year. I have some dreams that I want to make reality sometime in the near future, and I feel these resolutions are a good step in that direction.

So here are my resolutions for 2014:

1. Focus on the positive in any situation. This has been hard for me at times, like when I’ve started a new job or had something change in my schedule that through off my initial plans. I can often be stubborn about what I want and have difficulty adapting to anything that strays from my expectations. My boyfriend and a co-worker have been a great inspiration for me to be an optimist in these situations, though, and I’m already noticing a change in my attitude just from avoiding the “doom and gloom” I sometimes tend to focus on.

And the most important one (to me):

2. Finish at least one creative project every two weeks.

As mentioned above, I have dreams for my future, and the more I think about it, the more I’m pretty certain I want to have my own business at some point. I love baking, working on websites and graphic design, I have most of what I need for a jewelry making venture I’ve been planning for a while.

I’m extremely passionate about reaching others through delicious, healthy versions of foods. So if I can stay focused on some of these projects, the closer I can get to figuring out exactly what I want to do. This blog will definitely be a big part of this. :) At least that’s the plan. It’s not obvious from reading here, but I’m always experimenting with recipe ideas, and I want to showcase that more here. So I’ll be focusing on more recipes more often.

So, those are my focuses for now! I’m excited about what’s ahead and feeling really motivated to take my passions and work on running with them.

What kinds of resolutions did you guys make for the new year, if any? I’d love to hear about any thoughts you have on 2014!

My Birthday Weekend (new cake recipe!)

Last weekend was truly awesome. It was my birthday! :) But, most importantly, I got to spend time with my family and my awesome boyfriend and eat delicious food.

And some of that food included my homemade birthday cake!

Birthday Cake

But I’ll get to that in a second.

For dinner, we went to Counter Culture here in Austin… and it was so good!

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We got an appetizer for everyone to share and I ordered the special that night: mexican pizza. I was so impressed, and the best part was getting to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Why is leftover pizza so great? Somehow it makes me feel like a kid again.

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Oh yeah, and my sister is responsible for the cuteness above. She got Lilly and me matching UT shirts to represent her new school!

Lilly and me

Lilly, Lindsay, and me

Anyway, on to my cake recipe!

I gotta say, I’m pretty proud of this one, folks. I was really nervous about the reaction to it because my goal was to make a cake that was gluten free, soy free, SUGAR free, and oil free, and sometimes experiments like that can become a free disaster. I also wanted to make it a two-layer cake with icing in the middle, because… well, that just makes a cake twice as awesome.

Two-layer cake

Cashew Cream Icing

So when I put everything together the night before, I was super nervous that it wouldn’t taste as good as I was expecting. It was an experimental recipe, after all, and I had been so sure it would be great that perhaps I had overestimated the result.

Icing my cake

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Frosted cake

But as soon as everyone bit into it, the reaction was immediate and SO good! Yay! They used words like “fudgy”, “cheesecake-y” and “rich” and “you could sell this!”. Yes!

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So, in case you are interested, here is the recipe:

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Birthday Cake w/ Cashew Cream Frosting

For the cake:

3 cups garbanzo beans
2 cups oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
6 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 5 tbsps truvia
2 cups pitted dates
2 cups chocolate chips

How-to:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine baking powder, salt, and truvia together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Add the beans, oats, applesauce, nut butter, vanilla, and dates to a HIGH speed blender or food processor (I have a Ninja blender, which I consider second best to a Vitamix, so it works better than my food processor. But the more powerful machine, the better.). Blend until very smooth and well incorporated. You may have to stop a few times and push down/stir the mixture yourself to make sure everything is moving properly.

3. Add the dry mixture from before to the blender or food processor and blend until it has been mixed in well.

4. Transfer the blended mixture to a large mixing bowl and gently stir in the chocolate chips. (NOTE: If you stir in the chips immediately after blending mixture, some of the chocolate may melt in the mixture. I liked this because it gave the cake a nice chocolate swirl, but if you want whole chocolate chips throughout, let the mixture sit in the bowl for a while until it cools off and then stire them in.)

5. Spray two cake pans with cooking spray and distribute the mixture evenly between the two. Bake for about 35 minutes, watching closely to make sure they don’t brown more than you’d like. Let cool in pans for 15-20 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

For the icing:

4 3/4 cups cashews
2.5 cups water
4 tbsps agave
2 tbsp vanilla
4 tbsp truvia

How-to:

1. Clean out the blender or food processor you used and add the icing ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Once cake halves have completely cooled, add icing to the top of one about 1/4 inch think. Very carefully, pile the other half on top of the iced one evenly before icing the rest of the entire cake. Top with chocolate chips, sprinkles, what you like!

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And enjoy!

My New Austin, TX, Life

I officially feel like a grownup.

I’ve been here in Austin for a few months now, and so far I’m loving my new life! I have a full time job, my own place, an amazing boyfriend and little dog, and I’m in one of the COOLEST, most vegan-friendly cities ever. In the last few years it had been a dream for me to live in Austin, and now I’m finally here.

Just a little update on what’s been going on with me lately:

I figured I would start with the food involved. Naturally.

My training class for my job just ended, and the last day we had a potluck that involved… a chocolate fountain.

Chocolate Fountain!

And the best part is that is was dairy free chocolate, so I could participate in the deliciousness.

More Chocolate Fountain!

Soooo good. I love living in a place where vegan food isn’t few and far between. In fact, I was actually able to fully enjoy the two potlucks our training group held. I wasn’t stuck eating only my own food! Although I have to brag a little on myself — the stuff I brought got very good feedback. And it’s all thanks to this book:

china study cookbook

The recipes in it are awesome. For the first potluck, I made the Broccoli Fettuccini with Cashew Cream and the No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars (I’m including the recipe for them at the end of this post). Here is my plate from that potluck with my Fettuccini dish and the others I could eat on it:

Potluck Vegan Food

The second potluck had me bringing Sweet Potato Enchiladas from the cookbook. I got some very good comments on this one, and two people asked me for the recipe! One coworker even mentioned that she couldn’t believe it didn’t have cheese in it. I love showing people how awesome vegan eating can be!

Enchildadas at the Work Potluck

This one also involved many delicious dishes that happened to be vegan.
My Potluck Plate

In other non-food news, I also recently went hiking with a work friend at Bull Creek Park, which was beautiful and so much fun. Here is me in all my sweaty glory:
Hiking at Bull Creek

And then last weekend, the boyfriend and I went to the local Humane Society and spent forever “awwww”ing over all of the adorable cats and dogs there. I just couldn’t not include pictures of those that really caught my eye. They were so sweet.

Sweet Babygirl at the Humane Society

Cute doggy

Animals hold such a large place in my heart, and it’s always a weird mix of feelings going to an animal shelter: happiness at being able to love on the animals as well as regret that you can’t take them and put them immediately in great new homes.

But oh, did we love on them that day!

Two cuties here. :)

That’s all for now. This weekend we’re planning to check out more of downtown Austin now that we’ve both gotten a little more settled in the cities and our jobs. I can’t wait!