I DID A 5-DAY JUICE CLEANSE

Green Goddess Juice by The Island Vegan

I recently completed a five-day juice cleanse and let me tell you, I am so proud of myself! I’ve wanted to do a cleanse for so long and I have tried many times in the past, but I have never made it past day one — until now.

Like everyone, I’ve been having a tough time over the past few months. Stressing about keeping safe in this pandemic, working from home, dealing with depressing events on the news and feeling powerless as stories of police brutality and racism pop up on my TL — it’s safe to say that I’ve been a bit of an emotional wreck.

I also gained about eight pounds during quarantine due to my boyfriend’s newfound talent for bread and pizza making (not to mention the copious amounts of wine and spirits we consumed while stuck at home.) I head back to the office soon and wanted to feel better and let’s be honest, drop some el bees before I squeeze back into my work attire. Read on to learn about my experience and how I stuck with it.

Day 1- I woke up early to go to the grocery store for my supplies for the week. I got mostly organic produce (such as greens, apples, strawberries, carrots, grapes) but also a mix of non-organic fruits with a tough outer layer (cantaloupe, watermelon, etc. I’ve read that these fruits don’t have pesticides in the flesh because of their tough skin. But get as much organic produce as you can.) I made several batches of two types of juice in my Vitamix (apple/grape/kale/celery and orange/ginger/carrot) and sipped on those throughout the day. The apple juice was fine but I had to gag down the carrot concoction because I didn’t strain it after blending and it was too thick. I finished the day off with a small bowl of steamed broccoli and cauliflower (it honestly tasted like the best thing ever by that point!) and some tea and went to bed. I wasn’t that hungry which surprised me.

Day 2 – My juices tasted much better on Tuesday. I made a big batch of green juice with organic seedless grapes, apples, collard greens and celery in my Vitamix and another carrot/orange/ginger juice. I strained both mixes with a wire mesh strainer after blending which really improved the taste. I was feeling a bit tired on day 2 and *TMI alert* I was feeling backed up which is rare for me since I usually get a lot of fiber. I ended up having a smoothie with banana and flax seed to see if it would help, ahem, fix things.

Day 3 – This was the hardest day for me. Although I was less bloated and not really hungry, I just wanted to quit the cleanse. I felt a bit tired, which could be because my cycle was about to start in a few days but it was also from the lack of calories. (I realized later that I wasn’t drinking enough juice.) It didn’t help that my boyfriend brought Chinese food in the house, which is my favorite, and the smells were intoxicating. I went to the store to get more produce. I had more green juice but also switched things up with melon juice. For dinner, I had scrambled tofu with spinach and tomatoes cooked in a tiny amount of olive oil.

Day 4 – I felt much better this day. My backed up problem had been fixed and I was down about three pounds. (Seeing the scale go down each day, even if only marginally really motivated me to keep going.) I experimented with different juices like watermelon and kale and cantaloupe and mint, papaya, carrot and orange. Normally before my period, I have intense craving for carbs, fried food and chocolate and although I felt tired, I didn’t have any extreme cravings. I only drank juice and water that day.

Day 5 – This was the last day of my cleanse. I drank mainly juice and had a smoothie for lunch because I had a family event in the evening. I also snacked on raw cherry tomatoes with a bit of sea salt and a handful of raw cashews. My event ran late and by the time I got home it was after nine and I was starving. I ended day five with a small bit of tofu and spinach seasoned with nutritional yeast.

Verdict: When I weighed myself on morning six, I had lost five pounds, my stomach was less bloated and my digestion was back on track. Because I had been eating small amounts of cooked food most days for dinner while on the cleanse, I wasn’t scared about breaking my fast but decided to still drink some green and fruit juice with my meals. I started off with easy to digest foods and still ate clean. Looking back, on days one and two I should have had more juice, and that probably explains why I felt so icky on day three. It also was tough not chewing things. I think it’s fine to snack on raw veggies and fruits if you want to chew something during a cleanse. I wish I had done that earlier in the week. It’s better to be 80-90% than fail and relapse on something unhealthy because you feel deprived. I also let myself have a cup of organic black coffee every morning because me without caffeine is not a pretty site! I slept better while on this cleanse and also had the most vivid dreams. I also felt great, aside from my evening cravings of just wanting to chew something.

What this cleanse has taught me: The past few days have taught me that I have the willpower to get through things even when I want to throw in the towel and that I can fight my cravings. It’s helped to reset my palate and taught me to enjoy simple meals like steamed vegetables without a ton of sauce or vegan butter. It showed me I can be satisfied without mindlessly gorging on rice or pasta. Before this, I had been consuming too much refined sugar and carbs and not as much vegetables as I would have liked to.

Would I do a cleanse again? Yes, most definitely. First of all, I loved juicing so much that I plan to keep drinking green juice at least once a day for the foreseeable future. It made me feel energized and like I was doing something good for my body. I’ve also juiced fruits that I normally don’t eat or like, such as watermelon, papaya and grapefruit. Next month I’ll probably try a two or three day cleanse as I feel like five days was too long. But a couple of days is fine for a reset or refresh.

Cons: Juicing is expensive. I live in the Bahamas where food is generally pricey and imported, especially organic produce. Next time I’ll hit up a farmer’s market to try and find cheaper fruits and veg, but because of the pandemic I haven’t been to the market in months. It’s also a lot of prep work to clean your produce, chop it up, blend (or juice if you have a juicer), strain it in my case, and then wash your blender/juicer. Like I said, I was working from home, but when I get back to the office, I don’t know if I will have the time to make multiple juices every day.

If you are thinking about doing a cleanse, my advice is it start incorporating one or two green juices into your diet first to get used to the taste before going full throttle. Also experiment with different fruits and flavors so you don’t get bored. Add citrus to your juice and another flavor enhancer like a bit of ginger root, tumeric or mint leaves. And it’s perfectly fine to do a partial cleanse like I did, having juice in the day and a small meal of steamed or raw veggies at night if you desire. Do what feels best for you.

For those interested in a juice cleanse, please consult your doctor first.

Creamy Ginger Carrot Apple Soup (Vegan)

This ginger carrot apple soup is easy to make and perfect as a vegan Thanksgiving appetizer or light fall lunch or dinner.

The other day I had a craving for soup and decided to make something I hadn’t had in years – carrot apple soup. Adding apples to your soup may sound weird, but I remember making this recipe when I first went vegetarian as a uni student and loving it.

It’s so simple to make as well as being nutritious and filling. This soup would be perfect as an appetizer for Thanksgiving or even just as a light fall lunch or dinner, paired with a salad and some bread. The full recipe is below.

Creamy Carrot Apple Soup

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

2 apples, peeled and diced

1 tsp grated ginger

1 small onion, diced

2 1/2 cups of water

1 tsp each of black pepper, ground sage, garlic parsley blend

1 vegetable bouillon cube

3 bay leaves

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

salt to taste

2 tbsp of oil


Directions

  1. Peel and dice your onion, carrots, apples and grate your ginger.
  2. Heat oil over medium low heat in a pot. Add grated ginger and onions and saute for 3-5 minutes until onions are translucent, being careful not to let the ginger burn.
  3. Add carrots and apples to pot along with water.
  4. Add spices, stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Once at a boil, add vegan bouillon cube and bay leaves. Cover and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, until carrots are tender.
  6. Remove veggies from pot using a slotted spoon and add to blender. Add a few tbsps of broth if needed to blend. Reserve remaining broth and discard bay leaves. Add nutritional yeast and blend veggies until creamy.
  7. Return blended mix to reserved broth and stir. Add salt to taste. Serve soup garnished with sauteed kale and mushrooms. Top with red pepper flakes if desired.


Enjoy!

How To Make The Best Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins

The other day I had a few overripe bananas on my counter, and instead of chucking them in the freezer for my smoothie stash, I decided to make some banana muffins.

Not just bland banana muffins, but the best banana carrot muffins you will ever eat and they’re vegan to boot. Before I made these, I was on a self-imposed break from baking. I went from baking some sort of treat every week or two, to basically going on a baking fast if that’s a thing (it’s not lol).

The BEST vegan banana carrot muffins. Photo by: The Island Vegan

So when I made these muffins, I was worried that they wouldn’t come out well or worse yet, they would be so good that I would eat the whole dozen in one sitting. (They are that good but I have self-control and only ate three of them in one day. Progress!)

Trust me when I say these muffins are delicious, moist (did you just shudder at that word?), sweet but not too sweet and filled with lots of fiber that you won’t feel guilty if you eat as many as I did in one day. I shared them with omnivore friends and they were a hit, one even said she couldn’t tell they were vegan, which I took as a compliment!

The recipe calls for wholewheat flour and a flax egg, making them healthier than standard muffins, but trust me there is no compromise on taste. The carrots add more fiber and antioxidants to the recipe, while you’re getting potassium from the banana and Omega-3s from the flax seeds. Win, win!

Bet you can’t eat just one! Photo by: The Island Vegan

You could use white flour if that’s what you have on hand and your fav egg replacer but the result may turn out a bit differently than mine did.

Can I just tell you how much I love vegan baking? Even if you’re not vegan, there’s lots of reasons why you should add some plant-based recipes to your arsenal. First of all, you’re free to lick the spoon (and bowl, who am I kidding) without worrying about salmonella. You can serve vegan goodies to friends or relatives who may have allergies or dietary issues with consuming dairy. And you can indulge in healthy but tasty treats knowing they have a lower carbon footprint than traditional desserts and no cow or chicken had to be harmed to make them.

As the weather cools down, I probably will be baking a lot more so watch this spot for more recipes. Until then, let me know in the comments how this banana carrot muffin recipe turned out for you.

The Best Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

1 flax egg

1 tsp of white vinegar

half cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk

⅓ cup of oil (I used organic canola)

1 scant cup of vegan sugar


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare flax egg. (Mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water. Stir and set aside until it congeals, about ten minutes.)
  3. Peel bananas. In a small bowl, mash banana with a fork until it resembles pudding and set aside.
  4. Add vinegar to non-dairy milk, stir then set aside.
  5. Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and then add flax egg, banana, and remaining wet ingredients. Mix well to combine with a spoon, but do not over mix. If mix appears too dry, add one tablespoon of non-dairy milk. Fold in carrots.
  6. Lightly spray or grease a muffin tin. Scoop batter into muffin pan, filling each hole about 2/3 full. If you have remaining cups, fill them with one or two tablespoons of water to ensure even baking.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until tops are brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for five minutes before eating or cooling fully on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Ok, I’ve Gained Weight (And I Am Not Happy About It)

So I have neglected this blog for months on end.

It’s part writer’s block, part feeling like a fraud, part feeling like I’m not good enough/not getting enough engagement and part laziness. I had a plan to abandon this space all together, to scrap it and start a new blog with a new direction – because that’s what I do. Push things aside and abandon them when they get hard. But I’m a writer and I am passionate about veganism, so I don’t want to leave this space. I just have to let go of my desire to be perfect all the time and only post what I think is perfect content.

I started this blog for myself mainly and then became upset that many people weren’t reading it. Now I am just going to go back to the mindset of having a space to share my thoughts and not trying to fit into the mold of a food/lifestyle blogger and sharing the aesthetic of an Instagram perfect life. Because my life is far from it. I will share recipes from time to time because I enjoy that. I will share vacation photos and tips on where to eat vegan because I enjoy that too. But I also want to be more real.

To be honest the past 10 months or so have been pretty hard on me. I went through a break up and then getting back together with the love of my life. I went from not being able to eat and feeling like my world was at an end and losing weight to eating so much junk food and comforting myself with processed meals that I have gained back nearly all the weight I lost when I first became vegan.

One of the handful of pics I took on vacation because I felt self-conscious about my weight.

I don’t feel like the perfect ambassador for veganism. I’m not skinny, sometimes I am tired and stressed and I have bags under my eyes from insomnia. I get so anxious from my job that I don’t have the energy to do anything creative and that makes me even more miserable. I went from exercising six days a week and feeling strong to working out every two weeks or so. I stopped working out because I was depressed or maybe I was depressed so I stopped working out. Whatever the case, I’ve decided to get my life back on track. I will cut out the vegan junk food and work out five times a week.

Let’s make this clear: I am not trying to be skinny. I suffered from an eating disorder from my teens until my late 20s. While I don’t restrict or purge anymore, sometimes I still binge – which is not healthy. Focusing on filling my body with more whole foods and dealing with my anxiety will help change those patterns.

I will meditate and be grateful for all I have, instead of wallowing. My goal is to write more and share more, whether one person reads it or 100 people do. So I will start fresh tomorrow, with a log of my food and exercise plans. I will also share what I am doing to better my mental health and my self-care tips. My goal is not to be skinny, but to focus on my health and vitality and treat my body with the love and attention it deserves.

This will be a space to keep me accountable, instead of one where I feel intimidated or not good enough.

xoxo

Comforting Chickpea Stew

My favorite recipes are ones that are simple, quick to make and full of flavor.

While I love spending time in the kitchen and making elaborate dishes, most of the time I don’t have the time, but that doesn’t mean I want to skimp on taste or food quality.

Lately I’ve been eating a lot of stews. They are easy to make and customize with what I’ve got in the fridge and pantry, and also are very comforting in the cool weather we’ve had in the Bahamas in the evenings for the past few months, which is rare.

A few days ago I whipped up a chickpea stew that reminded me of my recent trip to Costa Rica, which I will blog about soon. The recipe came about as a result of me needing to use up some items left over in my fridge from before my trip and also me craving a layer of flavors.

Vegan chickpea stew

The end result was very satisfying and tasty, so I hope you try it out and let me know what you think!

Comforting chickpea stew (makes four servings)

One small onion, diced

1 ¼ cup of diced white mushrooms

1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used cherry)

1 16 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup of frozen corn kernels

1 ½ tsp ground sage

1 tsp cumin

¼ tsp chipotle powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of red pepper flakes (for garnish)

Chopped cilantro (for garnish)  

1 1//4 cup of veggie broth

1 tbsp of tapioca starch or cornstarch

Oil for sautéing

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a medium sized pot on medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until transluscent, about two to three minutes. Add mushrooms and tomatoes, stirring occassionally and cook for about two minutes more.

Add tapioca starch to veggie broth and stir to combine, ensuring there are no clumps. Add broth/tapioca mix to pot and stir. Add chickpeas and spices except red pepper flakes and cilantro. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 20 minutes. Then add frozen corn and cook for another five minutes uncovered.

Garnish with red pepper flakes and cilantro and serve with rice.

How to Go Vegan: A Simple Guide

I firmly believe becoming a vegan is the best decision a person can make for their health, well-being, the environment and the animals. Vegan diets can prevent diseases, are full of fiber and micronutrients, and if done right, can help you lose weight. Factory farming is one of the biggest atrocities humans have inflicted on this planet. More than 50 million land animals are killed each year by humans for food. By becoming a vegan, you are making an ethical decision with your wallet and your stomach that will no doubt lead to a paradigm shift in how we view food and other animal species.

How To GoVegan

When someone finds out that I’m vegan, many times they are curious and want to know what I eat, how I did it and how they can make the transition. While I extol the virtues of this lifestyle to anyone who wants to listen (and even some who don’t!!) I know firsthand that it can be a daunting process to someone who is eating a diet heavy laden with meat and dairy.

To the uninitiated, a vegan diet may seem extreme. After all, most of us have been conditioned by society to view eating the body parts of dead, mutilated and abused animals as normal. We have even been conditioned to think that eating corpses and animal byproducts is healthy. Milk does a body good, remember? However nothing could be further from the truth. So many people in the western world are riddled with preventable health problems, obesity and chronic, non-communicable diseases. It’s all down to what we are putting in our mouths.

Some people think vegans live off iceberg lettuce, carrot sticks and tofu (I love tofu, btw), when in reality vegan food is so varied and tastes effing awesome! You can have pizza, burgers, ice cream – all without harming animals and having a gentler impact on your health and the environment.

 Read on and I will show you how to go vegan step-by-step.

How to go vegan the right way

    1. Educate yo’self. When I first became interested in a vegetarian (now vegan) lifestyle, I did what I always do when learning about a new topic. I researched the **** out of it. I scoured the internet for recipe ideas, the health benefits of not eating meat and how to go vegetarian. But I didn’t stop there, I also read a lot of peer-reviewed medical research which showed that many plant-based eaters had lower incidences of chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension) and those who adopted a plant-based diet after getting one of these diseases had a higher rate of recovery than those on a standard diet. I also found that on average, vegans and vegetarians live longer than omnivores, another win. Additionally, through my research I found humans can get almost all the nutrients we need from plants if eating a well-rounded diet, but there is one supplement vegans need to take – B12. You can also find it in fortified plant milks or nutritional yeast, all of which I use including a daily tablet. Moral of the story is, if you’re going to do something, do it right. The Vegan Society’s website is a good place to start.
    2. Clean out your closets and pantry. Once you decide to go vegan, it’s time to clean out your fridge and pantry of anything containing animal products. The way you do it is up to you. You can wait until you eat all the meat and dairy you have on hand, as well as all the packaged/frozen food containing animal products. Or you can donate these items to family, friends, or a food bank. I don’t recommend throwing away anything unless it is something spoiled or half-eaten, etc. Food waste is a serious problem in the developed world while there are so many people going hungry and starving in other places. If you choose to eat through your stored food before making the switch, set a timeline for yourself for the transition and stick to it. In the meantime, avoid purchasing meat and dairy products for your home. You should also extend your purge to your beauty and cleaning products. Use up any cosmetics and toiletries that were tested on animals. When making new purchases, look for things which have not been rubbed or dripped into a bunny’s, dog’s or monkey’s eye. The leaping bunny symbol or the words cruelty-free on the back of the product are things to look for. Same goes for your leather and fur (shudder) items. Some persons continue to wear used leather after going vegan but I think that sends a mixed message. Donate them to a charity and buy sustainable vegan alternatives in the future.
    3. Experiment in the kitchen. As you start your vegan journey, focus on adding not subtracting. When people first make the switch to veganism, too often they think about what they are giving up instead of what they are gaining. Trust me, a whole new culinary world will be opened up to you. You will learn that you can bake without eggs and dairy and your desserts and baked goods will come out the same, even better sometimes. You can make ice cream with bananas, coconut milk  – even avocados. You will learn that soft tofu is a perfect dupe for eggs in a scramble and you can even make omelets and cheesecake with it. Raw cashews can be soaked and blended to make vegan cheese and sauces, the list goes on. And you will begin eating an array of vegetables and fruits you never thought of before as you expand your palate. Sure you can subsist on fries, potatoes, Coca-Cola and mock meats, and all those things are vegan, but you want to thrive, not just survive. Buy vegan cookbooks, watch vegan cooking tutorials on YouTube, try some of the recipes on this blog (shameless plug) and embrace your new world.
    4. Tell your friends and family. A good way to hold yourself accountable as a new vegan is to tell friends and family what you are doing. To be honest you will probably feel so great in the first few weeks (improved digestion, weight loss, more energy and feeling lighter) that you will want to scream from the rooftops that you are vegan. I found when I became a veg, many of my friends were supportive. When I’m invited to parties people do think of me and try to have something vegan there, even if they aren’t too familiar with the lifestyle. And by spreading the word, you may open the eyes of more people about the health benefits of going vegan, thus saving the lives of more animals. Win, win!
    5. Research menus before dining out. Eating out. Perhaps the biggest fear of a new vegan. What will I eat? Will they have anything on the menu besides a garden salad? Will the waiter and my friends judge me for asking about the ingredients of dish after dish? Just because you are a new vegan, doesn’t mean you have to hole yourself up in your apartment eating plate after plate of veggie curry, watching Netflix and turning down dinner invitations. (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience). But eating out will be tricky unless you are going to a vegan place. The best bet is to call ahead or Google the restaurant where you will be eating and scope out their menu. See if they have vegan options, or anything that can be veganized. Or if you show up to a place unexpectedly with no vegan options, you can always ask the waiter if the chef will make something vegan just for you. Most places should be able to do a simple pasta with veggies in oil or tomato sauce. And if all else fails, just order fries and a small salad and try not to think of all the amazing vegan food you have at home, while hating your friends.
    6. Dust yourself off and try again. I have been a vegan for just over three years and was a vegetarian for 10 years before that. I am far from perfect, but every day I try to make choices for the good of animals, my health and well-being. But there have been times when I have inadvertently eaten meat or dairy. Cheese hidden in pasta that I thought was vegan. Or chicken in a Chinese dish even though I specifically told the waiter no meat. I do not consider these things food or healthy, but I did not beat myself up about it. If you make a mistake, whether you knowingly or unknowingly eat an animal product, it doesn’t do anyone any good to hate yourself over it. Just recommit yourself to the path that you are on and realize this is a marathon, not a sprint.
    7. Be ready to defend your choices. I said earlier that when I went veg, many people were supportive of and open to my decision. But there were those who chose to deride my choices, make fun of me at work or social gatherings and for some reason shout at me that they could NEVER, EVER give up meat. I have even had a person tell me at a dinner party that not eating animals was not solving anything and my lifestyle wasn’t doing any good. I was so angry that I started to shake. But getting into a shouting match with people over being a vegan doesn’t help anybody (been there, done that), however you should have about five talking points memorized for those uncomfortable conversations. People will ask you why you are vegan and tell you how good bacon or steak tastes and that they don’t care if animals are murdered. They will say these things because your choice not to exploit animals scares them and shakes the core of their pre-conditioned thinking. And because of limited diets, many people don’t realize how good vegetables can taste and all the amazing things you can do with them. They have yet to be enlightened. Instead of being flustered when you encounter a person like this, having a well-thought out response with some statistics will show that you are serious and on the right path. It will also shut up those ignorant people who just want to troll you. And if not, you will still come out looking like the better, more educated person.
    8. Stay healthy. Another stereotype of vegans is that we are all twig, waif like things that will blow over in a slight breeze. In truth, there are vegan body-builders, athletes and performers who go against this cliche. And while some vegans are thin and yoga-toned, it is beneficial to remember that we come in all shapes and sizes, cuz we’re human. I would love to lose ten vanity pounds and I am working on that, but my main goal every day is to be healthy. I don’t worry about dieting, but focus on eating as many whole, plant foods as possible with a few vegan treats here and there. I also try to get a lot of sleep (which is hard since my day job is in journalism which is full of anxiety and adrenaline), drink lots of water, exercise and take vitamins. When you get sick as a vegan, there will be people who will gleefully say it’s because you need to eat a steak. In actuality, I hardly ever get sick and my digestion is much better than when I ate dairy, which often made me bloated and gassy. Stay in tune with your body, if you are feeling sluggish on a vegan diet, try upping your intake of leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, etc and also eating more plant-protein. Don’t rely on processed foods (anything in a package) but eat organic foods from the earth. I also take a mix of supplements which I rotate in my smoothies such as maca, Spirulina, wheat grass powder, and ground flax. I also take magnesium, B12, and a vegan probiotic. Your health and how you look will become a reflection of this lifestyle to society. I take care of myself because I care about myself, duh, but also because I want to show those around me the benefits of this way of life.

I hope these tips have helped you. If you enjoyed this post, please like and follow my blog and share this on social media. xox

Mango Chia Seed Parfait

Happy Monday everyone!

I’ve only been back home from Greece for about two days and finally getting back into the swing of things. While I had an amazing time on my trip (which I will detail with posts and lots of photos on this space later) I did miss blogging and creating content. So I am very happy to be back, although my travel lust is already in swing and I am planning my next big trip.

Also, I can’t believe it’s October already! In no time at all it will be Halloween, then Thanksgiving (which isn’t a holiday in the Bahamas but since we’re so close to the US, it might as well be) and then Christmas. Then a new year will be upon us and we will all be wondering where the time has gone. Normally the end of the year tends to get me a bit depressed because I think about all the things I haven’t done, goals I haven’t met, and the general pressure over holiday shopping etc.

But this year I am taking a different approach and instead reflecting on all the good things that have happened this year and all I have accomplished. I finally travelled to Greece, which was number one on my bucket list and my first time to Europe, I overcame my fear of swimming in the ocean, bathed in a hot spring, (another bucket list item), hiked up a volcano and I have been working on this blog as well as other creative projects and I feel a new sense of commitment to getting the things I want out of life.

Today I am sharing a simple breakfast/snack recipe with you. I love making intricate dishes, but sometimes you also want something that is simple and easy to make.

This mango chia seed parfait fits the bill. I hope you enjoy.

IMG_0331

Easy Mango Chia Seed Parfait

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • half cup of non-dairy milk plus three tablespoons
  • 1/4 tsp of green superfood powder of choice (optional)
  • 2 tsp of agave nectar
  • 1 cup of mango chunks (I used a fresh mango)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of water

Directions

  1. In a mason jar, combine chia seeds, agave nectar, non-dairy milk and green powder. Mix and cover in the fridge overnight, stirring twice after 30 minute intervals.
  2. The next morning, place mango chunks into a high-speed blender and mix, using the water 1 tbsp at a time if needed to thin the mango puree.
  3. Layer the mango puree over the chia seed pudding. Top with granola, oats, or fruit. Enjoy!

3 Tips to Help You Ditch Your Dairy Addiction

Have you ever said, “I would love to go vegan but I just can’t give up pizza, cheese or ice cream?”

If you have, I totally get where you’re coming from. I was a vegetarian for about ten years simply because try as I might, I didn’t know how to shake the dairy demon and live without takeout pizza, ice cream, grilled cheese, mac n’ cheese, chocolate – you name it.

There’s a reason why dairy, in particular cheese, tastes so good, why we crave it. It truly is addictive. According to this LA Times article which likens cheese to actual crack, “Cheese happens to be especially addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins.”

What this means is, when you eat a fatty, salty cheese laden pizza for example, the chemicals spark off feeling (although to a lesser extent) similar to morphine. When you think about this, it makes sense. Cow’s milk is for baby cows. Biology has made cow’s milk addictive because it’s meant to help a calf grow strong and healthy, from about 60 pounds at birth to more than 500 pounds when weaned at eight to nine months.

On top of that, we are bombarded with propaganda from the dairy industry and the US government claiming milk is good for us. We are spoon fed the lie that we need cow’s milk to get calcium, grow strong bones, and to get vitamin D. The truth is we can get all of these things from plants and sunshine.

That said, breaking your cheese/dairy addiction can be done. I am living proof. Read on to learn how to shake this succubus out of your life.

1. Get Educated. Dairy is a truly disgusting industry. All those images you see on tv and in the movies of happy cows on farms, grazing on green grass with their calves next to them, living out happy lives is a bunch of bull****, no pun intended. In actuality, calves are ripped from their mothers a few days after birth. The baby girls are normally destined to become dairy cows, living the same fate as their mothers, forcibly impregnated over and over and drained of their milk before they are killed around age four. The baby boys don’t get off easy either. They will be kept in cages and fattened up before they end up on someone’s plate as veal, killed even though they are only a few months old. Knowing the horrors of the dairy industry is a huge catalyst to help you give up the stuff.

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There’s no such thing as a happy cow on a dairy farm. Photo by Dan Hamill on Pexels.com

2. Shop for Substitutes. There are so many vegan dairy substitutes these days, there is no reason to buy traditional ones. From soy, flax, pea protein and cashew milk – the list goes on, there’s a formula and a brand to suit your taste buds. There’s also soy and coconut milk creamers for your coffee, vegan Greek style yogurt and plant-based cheese that can even please the palate of the unsuspecting omnivore. My favs are Good Karma flax milk and old school Silk soy milk (I buy the organic, non-GMO kind). For butter, I use Earth Balance buttery spread and when I’m craving cheese (which is really infrequent now that I’ve given up the cruelty-laden stuff) I use the Daiya brand sparingly. Don’t give up if you try a product you don’t like; sample a few before you find the one that hits the spot. And if you’re really adventurous, make your own vegan nut milk, cheese and even plant-based mayonnaise!

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Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

3. Dust yourself off and try again. So you’ve gone a few days or even months without dairy and then out of the blue you accidentally (or purposefully) eat some cheese or candy with dairy in it. It happens to the best of us. A few months ago, while on a work trip I ended up eating some pasta at a hotel buffet before realizing there was cheese inside. Once, after specifically telling a take out restaurant to hold the feta, I dug into my gyro only to find it scattered inside. Not to mention the countless times I tried and failed to transition to vegan from vegetarian because I was craving a Dominos pizza or some Dairy Queen. We’re human, we all make mistakes or have accidents. It doesn’t do anyone any good to beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself of the reasons you have gone vegan in the first place (animal welfare, the environment and your health) and continue on your journey afresh, with a new resolve to cause as little harm as possible.

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Remember, you’re doing this for the animals! Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Good luck 🙂

Sources: One Green PlanetPETALA Times

How to Make Awesome Avocado Ice Cream (Vegan)

Summer is almost gone, can you believe it?

I know it’s September already, but technically the last day of summer is not until near the end of the month. So you still have time to squeeze in some summer bbqs and bonfires and pretend like you’re still a teenager, without a care in the world. (Or maybe you are, in which case I hate you!)

There were so many things I had planned for this season that didn’t get done – I was supposed to get back in the gym, work on my novel novels (I have so many draft pages of projects I start and stop), and also work on this blog more. But, life as usual gets in the way and as they say, God laughs at man’s plans.

Anyway, I couldn’t let summer pass me by without making ice cream. I bought a Cuisine Art ice cream maker last year and actually used it several times (unlike my dehydrator which is sitting on top of my fridge, catching dust, waiting sadly to be donated to the Salvation Army.)

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Chocolate and cashews put this avocado ice cream over the top.

I also had a super ripe jumbo avocado in the fridge, too ripe to eat on its own. So, I decided I can either make guac with it or ice cream. I chose ice cream, wouldn’t you? I know what you’re thinking, avocados in ice cream? Is this bish crazy? But before you close this screen, let me school you. Avocados are actually a fruit, so it makes sense to put them in ice cream. Considered a superfood, this nutritional powerhouse has lots of healthy fat, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and a host of other vitamins. The fattiness of the avocado also adds creaminess to this non-dairy ice cream, something once lacking in my homemade attempts.

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Coconut cream also ups the ante on creaminess. The trick is it has to be cold and firm so make sure your can has been chilled in the fridge overnight. Whenever I go grocery shopping I normally buy a can or two of coconut cream or milk, and I always have one in the fridge since I use it so often to make vegan desserts.

A few of the problems I’ve encountered in the past is that my ice cream just comes out too hard, full of crystals. No matter what I did. Except for my first batch which was a peanut butter vanilla flavor, everything else ended up in the trash after a few bites.

To help solve that I used agave nectar instead of sugar (the liquid sweetener slows down crystal formation) and also added a special ingredient – agar agar. According, to One Green Planet, agar agar “is a mix of carbohydrates extracted from seaweed, specifically Red Sea algae.” But don’t freak out! It has no flavor, odor or color and can be used as a sub for “gelatin, to thicken soups, and make jams and jellies, ice cream, and other desserts that need to set.”

I found a packet of agar agar flakes in my local organic health store. You can also grab some from Amazon if it’s not found near you. My packet was pretty pricey, like all specialty foods imported to the Bahamas but I plan to use it later on to make cashew cheese and vegan Jello, so I think it’s worth the coins. It may be cheaper where you live. Plus a little goes a long way.

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Enjoy this vegan avocado ice cream poolside.

This recipe is so easy. It only has seven ingredients (one of them is water, does that even count?) and it’s totally healthier than store-bought frozen desserts with God knows what in them. It is also refined sugar-free. You will need a blender and an ice-cream maker for this recipe (I’m an appliance junkie, but honestly, how does a dessert lover live without an ice-cream maker??) and that’s it!

I hope you try this recipe out and let me know in the comments, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

7 Ingredient Avocado Ice Cream

  • Servings: Makes 2 pints
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Ingredients

  • 1 large ripe avocado, cut in half and pitted
  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 can coconut cream, chilled in the fridge overnight
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp agar agar flakes
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • Juice of half a lime

Directions

  1. Add agar agar flakes and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently, until flakes have dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. Once cooled, the mixture should congeal.
  2. Scoop avocado meat into a high speed blender. Add the top layer of the hardened coconut cream, being careful not to add any water that’s left at the bottom of the can. Store coconut water for a smoothie or other later use, or discard.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, including agar agar, and blend on high until smooth.
  4. Chill ice cream mix in the fridge for about 20 minutes before transferring to your ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (I ran mine for about 30 minutes).
  5. You can eat the ice cream immediately as a soft serve or transfer to an airtight freezer safe container (if using a pyrex dish, place a layer of plastic wrap over the ice cream, gently pressing out the air) and freeze for a few hours. Let ice cream defrost for a few minutes before scooping.
  6. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!


 

Bahamian-Style Corn Fritters

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you guys!

Anyone familiar with Bahamian food knows that conch is a frequent feature in our delicacies. Bahamians love it so much that it’s pretty much everywhere. Conch chowder, cracked conch (basically deep-fried, battered conch served usually with fries), conch salad (think ceviche), conch fritters and the list goes on.

Top on my list was always conch fritters. There was a time in my life when I ate them every week. My friends and I would go to the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay, where every Sunday night without fail, I would order a plate of fritters and a Miami Vice daiquiri.

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You can never have too much sauce!

That was years before I gave up eating animals. If you truly love conch, the best thing to do is leave it off your plate. According to this 2017 Miami Herald article, conch populations in Florida are in trouble and researchers are worried about declining young conchs in the Bahamas.

“A marine preserve in the Bahamas famed for its abundance of queen conchs and intended to help keep the country’s population thriving is missing something: young conchs. Researchers studying the no-take park off Exuma, one of hundreds throughout the Caribbean, found that over the last two decades, the number of young has sharply declined as adult conchs steadily matured and died off. The population hasn’t crashed yet like it has in the Florida Keys, but in the last five years, the number of adult conchs in one of the Bahamas’ healthiest populations dropped by 71 percent,” the article reported.

Humans are overfishing this treasured resource, and if we aren’t careful, the Bahamian conch could one day go extinct. If that isn’t reason not to eat this sea-snail, I don’t know what is.

Lately I’ve been craving a vegan version of fritters. There’s just something about deep-fried food that makes you remember your childhood right? Sweet corn is a perfect substitute for conch in this recipe, but you can also use mushrooms and I’m sure they will turn out just as delish. I added a few sheets of salty seaweed sheets (I used Annie Chun’s Seaweed Snacks, wasabi flavor) to give it more of a “fishy” taste but you can totally leave them out.

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I’m happy to report that these fritters hit the spot. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. But the dipping sauce is what really pushes it over the top.

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Look at that deep fried goodness!

If you make these, please don’t skimp out on the sauce, because that’s part of the experience!

Bahamian-Style Corn Fritters

  • Servings: About 4
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Ingredients

    For the fritters
  • 1 quart oil for frying
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 flax egg
  • ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • Old Bay seasoning or cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh sweet corn kernels
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 4 small seaweed sheets, crushed (optional)
  • For the dipping sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Half a tsp to one tsp of hot pepper sauce or hot sauce

Directions

  1. Prepare flax egg by mixing one tbsp of ground flax seeds with three tbsp water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix dipping sauce ingredients together then set aside.
  3. 3. Heat oil in pot or a deep fryer.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour and spices, mix together.
  5. Add milk, flax egg and crushed seaweed sheets, if using. Mix together.
  6. Drop batter into hot oil, one rounded tablespoon at a time.
  7. Fry fritters until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce and enjoy!

Adapted from: Conch fritter recipe