Christmas is around the corner and that means gift time! It can be hard sometimes to get the right things for friends and family and honestly, I’ve often found it quite a stressful experience in the past. However, especially since becoming vegan, I changed my perspective on it all and started thinking about useful, sustainable and ethical gifts and suddenly, it became so much easier. I love to give something that I can identify with and that means a lot to me. It’s also nice, to share an experience with someone, or a service that you have benefited from yourself. In that way, your gift is personal and truly comes from your heart.
A subscription to a service you enjoy
A great and equally useful gift is a subscription to a service that you have enjoyed in the past. It’s a cool way to get something useful and personal for your loved ones. I recently became obsessed with Headspace for example – an amazing meditation app that makes sure you get your daily dose of zen by reminding you. You can even check what your friends are doing and how their meditation practice is going. Another fun idea would be a vegan meal kit such as the Purple Carrot – how useful for busy people that want to eat creative and healthy food but don’t have time to shop and plan or just hate grocery stores. The options for health and wellness subscriptions are truly endless!
Your Favorite Vegan Cookbook
One of my favorite things to share, are recipes. I think there is something super personal about giving a recipe to a friend or family member that you enjoyed so much, that brought you culinary joy or just tastes delicious. It’s almost like you are enjoying the food with that person, to whom you are providing an experience through the recipe. So what’s better than sharing one recipe? Well, sharing a whole book full of recipes! One of my recent favorites is The Help Yourself Cookbooks For Kids by Ruby Roth. Actually, Jenné told me about it first and then when I bought it, I became obsessed with it. The simple kid-friendly recipes are definitely also adult friendly and the illustrations are just so charming. I also highly recommend Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ books – her recipes are indulgent and just perfect for winter and the holiday season.
A gift certificate to a restaurant or store you love
Some people think this is not super creative but I love giving restaurant or food store gift certificates because I like encouraging my friends and fam to discover new, cool, delicious places in their city. Yep, it’s a tiny bit selfish because afterwards we always talk about how much we love those places for hours ;) But really, if you want to inspire your loved ones to explore and eat off the beaten path, then give them a gift certificate to your latest obsession. Some of my current NYC favorites, are Riverdel, the Brooklyn based vegan cheese store, that also carries tons of other delicious treats and snacks. And of course, By Chloé, the new vegan fast food chain, available in NYC, LA and Boston.
A homemade goodie bag
Finally, I love gifting homemade goodies. Especially items like granola, cookies, cakes and other sweet treats, tend to do really well. Jams and marmalades are good ideas too, as they keep for a while and can be used over time. Have a look at some of these recipes here for some delicious inspiration for your very own, personalized, goodie bag:
Jenné’s Sweet Potato Sugar Cookies
Isabelle’s Easy Granola
Jenné’s Tahini Granola with Rose and Pistachio
Isabelle’s No Bake Granola Bars
Fall is around the corner and so is the seasonal Fall produce. To be honest, Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, especially here in NYC. The leaves turn orange, red and golden and the farmer’s market is still vibrant and colorful. Since I moved to NYC, I also discovered so many new types of veggies and fruit, that are native to the US. I'm truly in love with Fall produce!
Although I love most veggies and fruit equally, I do have a couple Fall favorites and would love to share them with you. I also added some links to recipe ideas that you can prepare with these delicious ingredients.
1. Sweet Potatoes
Yes! They are back! While you can find sweet potatoes at grocery stores all year round, their true season is Fall. Fun fact: Sweet potatoes are actually not related the normal potato. They are high in starch and complex carbs and hence provide you with long lasting energy. They are also a good source of beta carotene as well as Vitamin C. For some recipes ideas, check out Jenné's delicious sweet potato noodles and my tempeh bacon sandwich with sweet potato hummus.
2. Kabocha Squash
Another starchy vegetable, also knows as Japanese pumpkin and part of the winter squash family. Kabocha is also high in beta carotene as well as iron and potassium. You can enjoy it just baked in the oven or in soups and drips. One of my favorite ways to eat it, is mixed with other veggies in a simple skillet recipe.
Figs are my absolute favorite, and quite frankly, I mostly just eat them as is. When they are ripe, they feel soft on the outside and sometimes you can even see the sugar come out from the bottom. There are tons of different kinds of figs and I definitely have a particular love for the green candy stripe ones. Figs are part of the mulberry family and are good sources of manganese and phytochemicals. Have a look at this delicious fig cookie recipe for more inspiration.
Originally from Asia, cauliflower is related to cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It's high in Vitamin C and a good source for Vitamin K as well. It doesn't only come in white, but also green, orange and purple and hence makes for some nice color on your plate. You can eat it raw, and make cauliflower 'rice' out of it or roast it and add it to salads and other veggies dishes. This delicious Fall salad and these tahini crusted cauliflower pops make for some good recipe ideas.
A lot of my friends and clients tell me, that one of their biggest challenges in going vegan, is to find a good replacement for milk and coffee creamers. Other than ethical reasons, health reasons definitely justify why giving up dairy milk is a good idea: Did you know that dairy is actually causing osteoporosis and not protect us from it? Yep, it’s the acidity in milk, cheese and yogurt made from animal products that will leach the calcium off your bones. More on that topic, here.
The solutions are easy though. Today, you can find tons of milk substitutes in your local grocery stores. It ranges from soy and hemp milk to different nut milk options such as almond, cashew, pecan, hazelnut and even macadamia milk. The great things is that all these products are wonderful alternatives to dairy as they don’t contain the harmful animal protein, nor any animal fat.
The downside to store bought nut milk, can be additives, that might be harmful for your health down the line. A lot of processed vegan milk options contain for example a series of additives, such as carrageenan. This ingredient functions as an emulsifier, which can trigger an immune response in your digestive system. The consequence can be inflammation or even intestinal bleeding. Even though science isn’t 100% clear about this topic, I try to stay away from ingredients I can’t pronounce. I prefer going with minimally processed products, that contain a short list of ingredients. And there are definitely options out there, such as Malk milks, my recent discovery.
Alternatively, you can make your own nut milk. It’s really easy and doesn’t take too much time. The bonus is that you can control 100% what goes in it and you can customize it to your taste: thicker or thinner, sweetened or unsweetened, vanilla flavored or plain. The world is your (vegan) oyster! ;)
And this is how you do it:
1 cup of soaked nuts (you can use seeds too; most nuts need to soak at least for 6 to 8 hours)
3-4 cups of water
optional: salt, vanilla extract, dates, maple syrup, orange extract etc.
Blend nuts and water until smooth.
Strain your nut mixture through a nut milk or cheese bag. Make sure to strain well so the remaining nut pulp is really dry when you are done.
You can now add any other ingredients for flavoring and blend again.
Et voilà, there is your nut milk!
The nut pulp can be dehydrated in an oven or dehydrator and then you can make flour out of it.
Enjoy in your coffee, on top of cereal or just as is with some nice cookies!
Some become vegan for health reasons, for others it's for the welfare of animals, and for many it's out of concerns for the environment. Whatever your reason for giving up animal products, these documentary films will inspire you to stick with the lifestyle, and help you understand the implications of your choice to become vegan.
Watch these movies with friends or family who want to learn more about the lifestyle, or who are skeptical of your decision to become vegan.
As summer comes to an end it's common to start seeing fall produce next to summer produce at the farmer's market. While it may not seem obvious at first, the two season's produce can compliment each other in many dishes (especially Buddha bowls) during those cross over weeks. Here are some tips for making that happen.
1. Put it in a bowl. Summer ingredients like corn, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, and greens are great to eat all year round because they don't necessary scream 'summer!'. Toss these ingredients into a Buddha bowl along with fall produce like butternut squash and sweet potatoes.
2. Herb it up. Use summer herbs in pestos, pasta, salads, and soups. I especially like to add summer herbs like basil, cilantro, and parsley, to warm soups. One of my favorites is tomato butternut squash soup with basil.
3. Grill fall produce. If it's still warm out, and the farm stand has a ton of summer and fall produce, don't be afraid to grill it all together. Try grilled pears and peaches served with quinoa, fresh summer herbs, and beans.
4. Eat your fruit. Lastly, keep eating as much fresh fruit as you can get your hands on. I like to make sorbet with surplus fruit, and I also make jams with the summer bounty. Do this and you'll be able to enjoy fresh summer produce into winter.
alsBetween seasonal, local, organic, non GMO, fair trade and plenty of other food labels, it can be overwhelming to navigate the grocery stores and farmers markets. First thing, it's important not to go crazy and obsess too much. There is no 'perfect' way to eat and you shouldn't obsess over details. That being said, eating seasonal produce can have lots of benefits, not only for your health, but also for your finances and the environment. Check out the top reasons why you should eat seasonal:
1. Get the freshest produce with the highest nutrients.
Seasonal produce is not only the most flavorful, because it's super fresh, but it's also the highest in nutrients because it's grown freshly, with all of nature's goodness. That makes it healthy and you can avoid to buy frozen produce that can be watery at times and more expensive.
2. Save money.
Seasonal produce is usually cheaper because it takes farmer's the least effort to grow when things are in season. It also means, you don't have to pay for imported goods, that cost more because they often come from far, far away.
3. Reduce green house gas emissions.
Seasonal produce is usually also locally grown. That means that it doesn't get shipped in from foreign places and so green house gas emissions stay low. The environment will thank you for that!
Now that you know why eating seasonal is a good idea, the question is, how do you do it?
The best way to eat seasonal is to familiarize yourself your local harvest calendar, which obviously depends on where you live. Growth NYC has a great overview here for the NYC area and most cities will have farmer's markets or grocery stores where you can inquire for that information. Shopping at the farmer's market is anyway a great strategy if you want to stick to seasonal fruit and veggies, as most of the food that is sold there is usually also in season. Another great resource is this seasonal fruit chart that also includes more exotic fruit.
If you have doubts, you can always email Buddhalicious :)
A lot a friends and clients tell us that a major challenge for them in transitioning to a vegan diet comes up in social situations. When you eat differently from most people, it can indeed feel alienating at times, especially at the beginning and especially when you eat out at restaurants.
A big part of this is getting used to it and thinking about it in a relaxed way: if you go vegan, that doesn't mean you can no longer eat out with friends and it also doesn't mean that all meals need to be eaten at exclusively vegan restaurants. While I love introducing my friends and family to vegan eateries, I also participate gladly in dinners, lunches and brunches at non vegan places. Through a couple simple tricks, I learned to navigate the waters and oftentimes it can be mind opening to share meals with non vegan friends at non vegan restaurants. They often realize how easy it can be to eat vegan and that it doesn't compromise your social life at all.
Cross contamination can always be an issue when you eat at non vegan places but most restaurants pay attention to that today. You can also always ask the waiter to make sure your tofu doesn't get touched with the same utensils than meat or fish dishes. Obviously, you are never 100% sure what happens in the kitchen but that's the case for vegan restaurants as well.
Here are my top 3 tips on how to navigate the menu in a non vegan restaurants:
1. Do your homework : if I go to a new place, that isn't vegan and than I have never been to, I always look up the menu in advance and make sure there is at least one option for me. If you have doubts, you can always call in advance and confirm that then restaurant can prepare a dish that doesn't contain animal products. That way, you know there won't be an issue when you get there.
2. Ask to have sauces and condiments on the side + pass on meat or dairy items: most American restaurants use oil instead of butter (not like French places ;)) so usually most of the food shouldn't contain any dairy. A lot of condiments however come with dairy, eggs or even meat based ingredients so make sure to ask about that and order your salads with dressings on the side. You can always ask for a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Make sure no bacon or eggs make it on your salad. When it comes to creamy veggie dishes, double check what the cream is made from and ask for no cheese on pizza and pasta.
3. Educate yourself about the content of dishes: this refers to a lot of ethnic cuisines, that tend to be more vegan friendly but sometimes contain non vegan ingredients that can easily be removed or avoided. For example, a lot of northern Indian dishes ask for ghee (clarified butter) that is often added to curries or dhals at the end so ask the waiter non to add any ghee. Chinese and Vietnamese dishes often contain fish or meat broth or sauce so ask for an alternative/veggie broth. Some fresh pasta dishes are made with eggs but most restaurants can make you eggless pasta too. French food often contains butter as a base for frying so ask for oil. Some burger buns are made with eggs so check on that as well and worst case, you can always go bunless.
If you ever run into the issue that you are going to a place that you won't be able to get anything fulfilling at, then just make sure you eat beforehand and order a little snack at the restaurant! The most important is really to have confidence in your decision, no matter if you do it for health or ethical reasons. And don't be too hard on yourself: veganism isn't a goal, it's a journey!
If you're like me, you love dessert and sweet treats throughout the day. My mom was always worried I would develop cavities because I ate so many cookies, chocolates, and cakes as a kid––grandma could never say no. I was lucky to never get a cavity, but I'm even luckier to have changed my approach to eating sweets.
When I first became interested in healthy eating refined sugar was the first unhealthy ingredient I learned about. It was also the most difficult thing to reduce my consumption of...until I learned about the world of healthier vegan desserts.
If you struggle with a sweet tooth, you'll want to acquaint yourself with these fantastic and delicious refined sugar alternatives. As you begin to ween yourself off of refined sugar, you'll notice that your tastebuds shift and you'll appreciate the deeper more rich flavors of alternative sweeteners and sweet foods. Sugar is addictive, so expect a few bumps along the way. Undeniably, it's a journey worth taking.
1. Sugar has an unfair monopoly. It isn't the only granulated sweetener that works in baked goods and other sweets. Replace refined white sugar with turbinado (raw cane sugar), coconut sugar (or coconut nectar), maple sugar (or maple syrup), and date sugar. These alternative sugars are more flavorful and nuanced than refined sugar. They've got more of their nutrients intact, and may have a different effect on your blood sugar levels. Coconut sugar is low-glycemic, so safer for diabetics. I wouldn't consider these a whole food, but they sure are closer than white sugar. Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses and caramel color added, FYI.
2. Go whole. Dates are a great sweetener for a variety of delicious desserts. Don't expect to replace white sugar with whole dates, though. Wholesome dates are best used in desserts that call for a liquid sweetener––dates should be pureed into a paste to replace liquid sweetener. I especially love using dates in raw desserts––like chocolate mousse, raw crumbles, and bars. They sweeten and they add a creamy texture and hold to desserts.
3. Get fruity. Instead of relying on traditional desserts to get my sugar kick, I would rather eat a piece of fresh fruit that is naturally sweetened. Your body loves this type of sugar even better. It's not addictive like refined sugar, and it packs more than a sweet punch. Fresh fruit is full of vitamins, minerals, and other protective phytonutrients. Keep your kitchen well stocked with seasonal fresh fruit all year.
4. Ice Cream? How about some banana nice cream? You can eat this creamy frozen dessert for breakfast, it's that healthy! Add cocoa powder, chopped nuts, and/or other frozen fruit to fancy it up. Click here for a recipe.
5. Do. It. Yourself. Make your own desserts at home to avoid consuming too much refined sugar. Here are some more recipes for delicious vegan desserts made with alternative sweeteners :)
Green Tea Cheesecake
Banana Coconut Milkshake
Cashew Chocolate Mousse
Need more help getting off of refined sugar? Check out this post on Isabelle's blog: theplantiful.com/how-to-get-off-refined-sugar/
With the next 30-Day Buddha Bowl Challenge starting on August 15th it seems like a perfect time to talk about why these one-dish meals are so amazing! Beyond the appeal of eating out of a bowl, Buddha bowls are pure magic! Here is why!
1. They're delicious! Healthy food should be delicious and satisfying, not bland and boring. Buddha bowl recipes combine a number of wholesome ingredients, and serve them with flavor packed spices, sauces, or broths. The combination of all of the ingredients together is nothing short of bowl-lickin' good. No need to sacrifice flavor for health when you're eating Buddha bowls.
2. Oh so healthy! The perfect Buddha bowl recipe includes whole grains, dark leafy greens, legumes, a starchy vegetable, and plenty of nutritious and delicious toppings. It tastes amazing, AND each part of the Buddha bowl is incredibly healthy and nutrient dense. Buddha bowls are full of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates to keep you energized and nourished throughout the day. They're also packed with antioxidants, healthy fats, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Together these nutrients are the basis of a healthy diet. Eating this way will help you reach your optimal weight, increase your energy, lower your risk of chronic disease, and even reverse some preexisting conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
3. Easy to make. Making a Buddha bowl requires that you spend a few hours in the kitchen on one day each week to prep and cook your ingredients. Then, throughout the week you can throw together a delicious bowl in less than 10 minutes (and as little as 5). It's really that easy! In our 30-Day Buddha Bowl Challenge we give you all of the meal plans, shopping lists, and prep instructions necessary to have the optimal Buddha bowl experience.
4. Beautiful & Full of Color. Eating your colors is important because each color in a whole food represents different phytonutrients (plant nutrients that act as protective nutrients in our bodies). Buddha bowls are an easy way to make sure that you're eating a wide variety of these powerful nutrients; and who doesn't appreciate a beautiful meal?
5. Family-friendly. Anyone can enjoy a Buddha bowl. If you cook for a family member who eats meat, they can still eat a Buddha bowl, so no need for you to cook multiple meals. Even kids love creating their bowls and topping them with colorful ingredients.
In what ways have Buddha bowls improved your life? Share your comment below!
If you're new to the Buddhalicious world, join us for the brand new 30-Day Buddha Bowl Challenge starting August 15. It's an online program that will help you adopt a healthy, delicious, and easy plant-based diet. Click here to learn more and sign up today!
A lot of people feel this afternoon low. This moment, where dinner seems centuries away and you barely remember what you had for lunch. Where craving and hunger become one and where you really really think that you NEED that snack, right now.
I noticed that Americans are snackers. Snackaholics if you will :) You guys love your energy bars, little popcorn bags and nut pouches, that you often consume between meals, all throughout the day. In France, we have a more 'established' snack hour which is called 'le goûter', meaning 'the taste'. It usually happens at 4 or 5pm and usually consists of a sweet or savory 'snack' which can be a piece of fruit and a cookie or a little pot of apple sauce and maybe a small pastry. It's almost like a mini 4th meal and what I like about it, is that it's almost like a national daily tradition. This means that people make an effort to take a break, for 10-15 minutes. Get up, stretch their legs, move away from their work and computer screen and make it a point to focus and enjoy their snack.
I think it's great to snack and make sure your blood sugar level and energy stay up all day. The essential part to snacking is however to be conscious about it. It means that you should take a break, evaluate if you are hungry or need energy or if you are just bored. Sometimes dehydration plays a role too, so it's essential to drink enough water throughout the way. Most essentially, it's so important to pick the right snacks that are actually health supportive and will provide you with that needed energy. Check out my top 5 below:
1. Fresh fruit
Fruit is always, always a good choice. Bananas are great as they are high in starch which will give you lots of energy. Berries have a low glycemic index, which prevents you from experiencing a blood sugar roller coaster. Citrus fruit is high in vitamin C and will wake you up. But honestly, there is NO bad fruit. Just grab your favorites that are in season and mix it up so you stay entertained ;)
2. Dried fruit
I love dried pineapple pieces, mangoes and figs. Dates are my favorite though. I like a little hand full of dried fruit when I feel like I need energy or have to focus but feel a little tired. Keep in mind that dried fruit is more calorie dense so you might not wanna eat a whole pound of dates in one sitting. By the way, my favorite is to cut open a medjool date, take out the pit and fill it with some peanut butter.
3. Raw chocolate
I used to really dislike chocolate. I thought it just tasted like sugar and I always felt sick after it. Since becoming vegan, I have discovered the world of raw vegan chocolate which has totally changed my life. I love to go with the ones that contain nuts or fruit essences and I usually make sure they are sweetened with coconut sugar (lower glycemic index!!). My current favorite brand is 'Conscious Chocolate', a UK based business. I love their 'Nutty One' and the 'Cranberry Kiss' and you can order all flavors online!
Beans are wonderful providers of protein and are high in fiber as well. I like to have them as a snack, either roasted or as a drip. You can easily drain some chickpeas, add some paprika, salt and pepper and roast them for 10-15 min at 400°. Or you can use black beans or cannellini beans and just blend them with some tahini. They make a perfectly balances snack with some raw veggies or crackers (I love Marry's!). They will for sure fulfill your savory craving.
5. Baked Root Veggie Chips
While on the topic on savory snacks, baked root veggies make an amazing snack. They are high in starch and hence good for energy while also providing tons of fiber and just a really wholesome snack. In order to make them, you can simply thinly slice (best with a mandolin) sweet potatoes, carrots and other root veggies and toss them with a little bit of oil. Add some spices and herbs and place on parchment paper in the oven for 20 minutes at 375°. Make sure you don't lay them on top of each other, other wise they won't crisp up.
Jenné & Isabelle
We're both passionate vegan foodies with backgrounds in nutrition. We decided to bridge our skills to create Buddhalicious; a program that guides members to find balance, excitement, and flavor on their plates, and in their lives.