Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Edition: We All Die Of Something...


DEATH.

death, coffin


People are scared of it. Scared of the unknown. Scared of saying "goodbye". They are so terrified that they almost make light of it by using the old adage 
"We all die of something..."

I hate this statement.

The first three words are undeniably true. (We all die.)
But it's the last two that really bother me. (.. of something)

People use the last two words as their excuse to do whatever they want.

"I might as well just binge drink every night of the week during university... my poor liver.. oh well... WE ALL DIE OF SOMETHING"


"I'm going to go to the tanning bed twice a day and slather myself with toxic lotions that are cancerous... oh well... WE ALL DIE OF SOMETHING."


"I'm going to live on junk food and McDonalds and let my children do the same... oh well... WE ALL DIE OF SOMETHING!"


"I will clean my house with toxic chemicals and dump them down the drain- contaminating the water supply for future generations... oh well... WE ALL DIE OF SOMETHING."


"Yes I'm just going to wear deodorant that contains aluminum. I don't like sweating, and this is convenient. Lots of studies show it heavily linked to breast cancer... oh well... WE ALL DIE OF SOMETHING."

"I'm going to eat all the meat and dairy I want. They make my stomach hurt and are linked to cancer, obesity, environmental destruction, and kill millions of innocent beings- but they taste good and are readily available. Oh well.... WE ALL (including the animals)
DIE OF SOMETHING."
         

"I hate drinking water. It tastes terrible. I love Coke and Mountain Dew! It's terrible for my entire body and causes weight gain and diabetes... oh well... WE ALL DIE OF SOMETHING."


Living with this sort of mentality is living life, imprisioned. One becomes defensive of their habits and doesn't care to gain knowledge to improve their life. Explaining away the reasons you live your life in terms of death is so... bleak.

I'm not advocating living a perfect life, free of toxins. This sadly is impossible in today's world. I am however, an advocate of living an informed, conscious existence that minimizes risks and emphasizes living life in all its vibrancy.


There are so many things you can do to LESSEN or even PREVENT your chances of dying a slow painful death. Everyone will die. But death doesn't have to come as a "relief" after living a life of disease. Sadly, in the west this is what we have come to expect. We believe that diabetes, obesity, heart disease, impaired mobility, and loneliness are all symptoms of getting older. This couldn't be further from the truth.

There are plenty of great role models that show us the contrary, Here are my Favorites:
  

        


                                Mimi Kirk                                                                                     Charlotte Gerson
                                  Age 74                                                                                                Age 90



They are not special, per se. They just have a different attitude and they both eat a raw vegan diet and live a life of activity and purpose. They both know that they control their health and they have taken it into their own hands. If they can do it, anyone can! Both of their websites are excellent sources of information and inspiration!

No matter how old you are, never give up. Never give in to some arbitrary timeline that you think you should be following. This is your life, after all.

 It's not easy to take responsibility for your health. Actually, most people enjoy playing the victim. They find comfort in the fact that "things just happen" to them. We need to shake this attitude. Part of learning to break these bad habits is attaining knowledge in the first place!

Watching the documentaries,  "Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days" or "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" is a great place to start. You will feel empowered as to what you can do to help your body heal.(Click the links to watch for free online)

Some people aren't ready to change their diets, but there are baby steps that you can take TODAY that are really beneficial!

The easiest place to start is with everything that you don't eat.
So, reconsider changing your household cleaners, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, body wash, make up, toilet paper, etc.

All of these things are just loaded with chemicals that damage your body, disrupt your hormones, cause dis-ease, and are linked with other malfunctions in the body.

Here are some of the products we use at our house for personal care & household upkeep.



The top row is what we use on our bodies.

The bottom row is what we use to clean house.

I am going to do a more detailed post/video about the importance of using all-natural products in your home- so stay tuned for that.
AND
I will soon feature these products for sale straight from The Empowered Way blog! How easy is that!? The store will be here!!


I am also going to be doing a GIVE AWAY for two of these products soon! 
Like "The Empowered Way" on Facebook for a chance to win!!!


Once you get used to reading labels on your personal care items, you will start caring what goes in your body too and will naturally be mindful of harmful food ingredients as well.


Make a simple step on your "journey to health" today!

Here is your homework:
  - Watch one of the documentaries above.
  - Eliminate one toxic household/personal care product that you currently use and
     replace it with a better option!

*If you need help finding something, please let me know! I have a few great resources.

LIVE your life- it's the only one you have. Take care of your body-it's the only one you have!

Read labels, re-define your life in terms of what you can do!

Start living life "The Empowered Way"

Meg


As promised, here are some pics from my Halloween events:

My husband and I

Cruella de Vil and her henchman. Can you think of a worse costume for a health-conscious vegan than a villain that chain-smokes and wants to kill puppies to take their fur?

Some friends over at our house for Halloween movie night. Almost everyone is wearing a mustache! There are 3 blondes with disguises- can you find me?


               
                       Me and my pre-school class! They are terrified of Cruella de Vil! But they LOVED my costume!



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MY SECRET RECIPE: Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

Everyone has their "go to" dessert they bring to whatever function they attend. Mine for the past year has been, Pumpkin Muffins.

vegan pumpkin muffins


These muffins are really special to me (aside from the fact they taste AMAZING). Over a year ago is when I decided I would start making steps to cut dairy out of my life. I randomly googled something to the effect of "non-dairy pumpkin muffins". The first hit came from PETA's website. I didn't really know much about PETA aside from mental images of Pam Anderson in a lettuce bikini and the fact that they are always in the news trying to protect the rights of animals. But, I thought they would probably know a thing or two about vegan muffins- and boy was I right! Here is the long awaited recipe:

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Ingredients:
- 2 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups coconut sugar*
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. allspice*
- 1 1/4 cups puréed pumpkin   (Make your own. Recipe HERE)
- 3/4 cup nondairy milk (I usually use almond milk)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil*
- 2 Tbsp. molasses or maple syrup*
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 190ºC (375°F)
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and spices.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, nondairy milk, oil, and molasses or maple syrup.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup 3/4 the way to the top.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove muffins from the oven. Devour... I mean, share with friends...
Makes 12 muffins
I haven't tried it yet, but PETA recommends adding a cup of chopped nuts or dried fruit to the batter. 

SOME NOTES:
* I have about every spice there is, but I do not have any "all-spice". You don't ever really need all spice, as long   as long as you have powered cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Just add a little of each to make up the 1/2 tsp that this recipe calls for.
* ALWAYS use coconut oil for cooking (yes not even olive oil)! There is NO OTHER oil suited for high heat cooking. Every other oil will break down and form free radicals in your body... other oils have also been closely correlated to cellulite!
* Black strap molasses is much healthier than maple syrup. Black strap molasses is high in calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and copper. If you use molasses, the muffins will come out darker than the photo above. The muffins in the picture are definitely made with maple syrup.
* I dislike using added sugar, but when I need to, I always use Coconut Sugar or Xylitol! Xylitol is a natural sweetener with a different molecular structure than other sugars. The problem with most sugars is that germs in your mouth feed on the sugar, then digest and expel it. This means lots of germ poo poo in your mouth.. this is where problems start. But Xylitol is like a spy... Those little germs can eat it, but they cannot digest it, SO... THEY IMPLODE! Bye bye buggies! There are many benefits to using this as a sweetener besides dental hygiene... check out 9 more of them HERE.

You can buy Xylitol HERE and Coconut Sugar HERE. Use the coupon code YUR005 and get $5 off your first purchase of less than $40 or $10 more than $40!
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After making this recipe, I kept diving deeper in to the PETA website last year and I made the commitment to be a vegetarian for the month of October (HERE is the oath I took).




I have never eaten meat or felt better since! Thank you PETA and all the other wonderful film makers, writers and  bloggers that have inspired me to take a positive step for my health and the health of our wonderful planet. I will forever be grateful to you! 


There you have it. My recipe, my story AND my 2 cents! 
NOW, go MAKE THOSE MUFFINS! Don't tell your meat-eating friends and family that they are vegan until after they have eaten 3! ;)
Let me know their reaction,
Meg 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Movie Night

We hosted a Halloween movie night last Friday. We invited some great people, who just so happened to be awesome cooks as well... what a coincidence! ;)

My friend and blog guru extraordinaire, Jill wrote about our movie night on her awesome blog!

Check it out here. She is a master blogger, gorgeous, vegetarian enthusiast and DIY goddess!!! Some people just have it all!


Usually Halloween is filled with lots and lots of unhealthy treats.... but not it doesn't have to be! There are always super creative ways to celebrate traditional holidays with a healthy/vegan/eco-friendly twist! No need to keep yourself or your children away from celebrating a holiday- just find your own unique way to celebrate!

Here are a few ways The Empowered Way celebrates this ghoulish occasion:


Deadman's Fingers- Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Pâté of Zombie Liver- Cinnamon Carrot Date Dip



Make-shift pumpkin decorations-
* An up-cycled water bottled painted orange with black paper cut outs for eyes.
   I have my students to thank for these.. we made them last week.
* Mandarin oranges with Lack o' Lantern faces drawn on in permanent marker.



Witches Brew- Pineapple Kale Ginger Apple Juice
Pumpkin's Blood- Carrot Celery Juice


Skeleton Man- Celery, cucumbers, red peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce. The head is made of eggplant hummus or as some call it, "Baba Ganoush"
(Don't you just love to say that word)

We also had AMAZING Kidney bean dip- my friend Careena's Argentinian family recipe, really great vegan pumpkin-cranberry-oatmeal cookies (available at Alien's Day Out Bakeshop), strawberry cupcakes with chocolate icing and pumpkin muffins--YUM!

Don't ever miss out on a holiday because of the way you choose to eat or live! Take the opportunity to be creative and share your food with friends and family. You can show them that healthy can be delicious AND fun!


Vegan vampires and meat-free mummies,

Meg


PS- This is possibly me in the future:

Except I would never recommend Psyllium! hehe
                        

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kick the Can This Holiday Season

It that time of year again... 
If you're in the US, it's time to stock up on...


THIS.

Living in Korea during the holidays never feels quite "right". You aren't bombarded with Christmas starting in October. No shops smell of cinnamon or clove. There is no snow. There aren't twinkling lights that flash to old Christmas tunes. There are no Christmas tree farms. There is nothing. 
Not even Pumpkin in a can. 

But how will you bake pumpkin pie? (assuming you even have an oven) How will you make your pumpkin rolls, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin cookies. Well, after living here (and going without) for TWO YEARS, I realized....

YOU CAN MAKE PUREE YOURSELF!

Such an obvious solution, but I think most Americans don't even give making pumpkin puree a second thought. Most would have no idea how to go about it.  I just so happened to make pumpkin muffins (recipe here) for a party tonight and I took some quick pics on my phone to show how easy it is to make the puree... even when you are in a hurry to get ready to host a party.

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 175ºC (350ºF) 

 

STEP 2: Get pumpkins. You will need about 1 pumpkin per cup of pumpkin needed in recipe. We  got these beautiful pumpkins from our great friends Emily and Gunoo! Thanks, guys!



STEP 3: Cut in to quarters and scoop out seeds. 



STEP 4: Place in a roasting pan and cover with water. Leave about 1/2 centimeter of water in the pan.

                                                                                      


STEP 5: Roast in oven for around 35- 40 minutes.



STEP 6: Let cool for around 10 minutes, and scoop out the orange insides with a knife or a spoon.   Then place in blender. Use some left over water in the pan to help get the blender going. Blend
until smooth. Depending on the strength of your blender, you may need to add a little 
more water to help.  

If you don't have a blender, keep your pumpkin in the oven about 10 minutes longer but just make sure it stays moist- add more water to the pan if needed.  After it cools you can mash it up with a fork! To ensure it stays moist, cut the pumpkin in half and bake it orange side down in the water.



STEP 7: You're finished! Wasn't that easy!? Now taste the difference and share with all of your 
friends and family! Use as needed in all of your holiday dishes! 

*This also makes a great baby food for your little guests :) Baby Marion loved it tonight!





Sometimes you are forced to learn something new out of necessity. I am so glad to have lived in a different country and be pushed out of my comfort zone. On so many levels, this has expanded my mind to things that I would not have learned or experienced otherwise. I will always be grateful for my time spent here.

Coming upon a difficulty in life and finding your own way around it- then finding the new path to be more pleasing than the first....

Now THAT is living life "The Empowered Way"!

Pumpkin dreams,


Meg


Don't forget to like "The Empowered Way" on Facebook for daily tips and inspiration.
    www.Facebook.com/TheEmpoweredWay


PS- If you are in the US and you want to try this recipe, go to your local farmer's market and ask for one of these pumpkin varieties: Sugar Pie, Baby Bear, or Cheese Pumpkin. They are all small, round and very orange. Let me know which variety you choose and how to it works for you!

PSS- Halloween pics coming in next week's post! You won't want to miss them!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

FALLing for... Soy?

It appears that Fall is starting to make its appearance here in Korea. Normally, this is not something I look forward to (because it means winter is next), but I am learning to love and appreciate all seasons.


Top 13 Reasons I Like Fall:
-The smell in the air
-Stepping on crunchy leaves
-Manageable hair thanks to less humidity
-FIG and persimmon season!!!
-The return of good apples in Korea
-Cooking with pumpkin
-Finding new ways to cook with pumpkin
-My birthday
-No more fruit flies swarming my bananas
-Making cute halloween crafts with my students
-Elton John coming to Seoul!
-Soups and stews
AND... drinking warm beverages 





I just so happen to work at a preschool in a department store. Right outside the door is a *shudder* Starbucks. I try to avoid all mainstream food-ish things, because I believe they are evil.... But lately, I confess that I have been enjoying some Starbucks.

When I came back from getting my tea this morning, I found
another one on my desk! My wonderful
co-worker bought me one too! The tea gods
were smiling on me today!

Before I became vegan, I loved Green Tea Lattes. But, I didn't love how they made me bloated and how they left a mucosy film in my mouth. 
These days, I prefer the vast assortment of herbal teas they have. I am currently obsessed with the Hibiscus Blend!

On the days that I am craving something a little more creamy and rich, I order.... a Soy Green Tea Latte.

Choose the mug if you're not in a hurry. Save some
natural resources, people!


I do not believe that processed soy (or any processed food) to be optimal, but I KNOW it is much better than dairy... BY FAR. 

Before I begin, let me preface with this- not all soy is created equal. If there was ever a situation where you needed to choose between GMO soy or starving to death, please choose the latter. :)
As with anything, before you consume something that is questionable**- please know the source. The soy milk used in Korean Starbucks is called "Soy Caffe"- it is non-GMO AND non-sweetened! SCORE!
Korean Soy milk
Yay! Thanks for making a great soy choice, Starbucks Korea!

In the US, as far as I know from research, Starbucks uses "Silk" soy milk. Silk has a bit of a tarnished reputation in the vegan/vegetarian community because they used to use organic soy beans and changed to conventionally grown.. and yes, even GMOs without any notice! Obviously they received a HUGE backlash over this and as of last year, announced that they have cleaned up their act. Now, all Silk products have been verified GMO free by the "Non-GMO Project".
Search here to see if your favorite items are verified non-GMO.

Here are the nutrition breakdowns for a Soy Green Tea Latte vs. a Dairy Milk Green Tea Latte: 
The main points that I would like to show are at the bottom of the charts. Despite what the dairy industry has lead us to believe, there is more calcium, more iron AND more PROTEIN in the soy drink. Take that, dairy propaganda!!! We are on to you now!
*The soy drink also has ZERO cholesterol, More Vitamin A, and there is more fiber and less saturated fat.

The sodium and sugar differences are likely due to the added cane juice (sugar) and sea salt (sodium) in the Silk product. But the nutrition facts would be different in Korea since there are no additives in the soy milk. :) The reason for the increased carbs (and thus, cals) is due to soy being a plant product. Puss (aka- milk) however, is not a plant product. Everyone knows that puss is low-carb. ;)

Still concerned about calories and want to keep your latte with dairy milk?
Well- to save an additional 72 calories and 18g sugars, you can forgo the "Simple Syrup" (sweetener). Your latte will still have a sweetness from the Silk and you will have much less empty sugars and cals in your body!
Note: The nutrition facts below show the syrup used in the U.S. Starbucks. There are 3 squirts of syrup in a tall size latte in the US, but only 2 in Korea!

                      
Here are a few more basic facts about Soy Milk that the dairy industry doesn't want you to know:

- Soy milks provide more than 10 times as much essential fatty acids as cow's milk. (healthier fat)
- Soy milks are cholesterol free, vs cow's milk which contains 34mg of cholesterol per cup!
- Soy milks lower total LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, but cow's milk raises both total and LDL
   cholesterol.
- Cow's milk has about 9 times as much saturated fat as soy does.
- Soy milks contain numerous protective phytochemicals that may protect against chronic diseases.
  (i.e. osteoporosis and heart disease)
- No animals are endlessly tortured for the production of soy milk.
- No Bovine Growth Hormones in soy milk.
- When you are drinking soy milk, you aren't ingesting the hormones from a large animal.

Most Americans know very little about soy and don't want to venture out to try new things- understandable. In a hot latte, you will be unable to tell the taste difference between your regular dairy and soy alternative- trust me! Just by subbing out something that you can't taste anyway,
    will do a great benefit to your body, the environment AND the lives of other creatures that we
    share the Earth with!

No one is under the illusion that any Starbucks product is good for you. Anything loaded with sugar and caffeine is not good for your health, regardless of what ELSE is in it. I just like to help people make smarter choices. The BEST choice would be a herbal tea of course, but for those that aren't quite ready to make that step- choosing soy is a better alternative. Choosing to forego
the "Simple Syrup" is an even better alternative.

*Tips for a healthier Starbucks experience: 
- Choose tea over coffee. (there are no health benefits to coffee regardless of what the coffee
   industry would have you believe)
- Choose herbal tea over black tea.
- Substitute soy for dairy.
- Opt for no sweetener OR less. (ex- you can ask for 1 pump instead of 3)
- Coffee and tea are diuretics/ very dehydrating. Drink lots of water to make up for fluids lost. Did 
   you know that when you drink a cup of coffee, you will pee out a cup and a half of water!?
- Use coffee and tea products occasionally. Don't rely on your caffeine or sugar fix to get you 
   through the day! Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, and eating a
   nutrient-  rich diet. You won't need to make up for lack of energy if you take care of yourself :)


Sexy Latte



Knowing your options, seeing the facts, optimizing your nutrition in realistic, everyday circumstances...

These are just a few more ways to live your life "The Empowered Way"


Wishing you love and a mucous-free way to keep warm,

Meg


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Notes:
**I used the word "questionable" in relation to soy because 91% of all the soy produced in the US is GMO!!!!! Chances are most of us are just shoveling it in without even knowing it! Soy is found in almost every processed food in some form or the other AND the animals that are used for meat in the US are fed a steady diet of GM corn and soy (among other undesirable things)!

*** All nutrition facts were found here. This site is a great resource for finding out the facts in mainstream foods.

**** Want to know more? A previous post about dairy can be found here.