Before I Put Your Meat In My Mouth, I’d Like To Know Where It’s Been

 

The republican-led House of Representatives voted this past summer to end the requirement that meat labels must state where the meat is from. As Bill Maher puts it, the new bill should be called the “Freedom From Information Act”.

We have a responsibility, to ourselves and society, to be as well informed as we possibly can in order to prevent companies from taking advantage of us. Within this vast corporate, money-driven world of America, the self-interests of companies outweigh the health and safety of its citizens, all in the name of profit. We allow them to put our very lives and health at risk with our ignorance, when we decide we’d rather not know the true facts because the taste of that hamburger, for example, in that moment, is more important. We are better than that. A single hamburger today, can contain meat from over a hundred cows. What else should we allow to be hidden from us?

At the very least, defend your right to know. Demand your freedom to access information about what you put in your mouth, even if the information isn’t easy to swallow. We cannot continue to be so easily content turning a blind eye, the consequences are too great. This new bill infringes on safety and the consumers’ most basic rights. As Bill Maher so eloquently put it, “regulations are supposed to protect people from corporations, not corporations from people.

It is easy to feel powerless by how much you can do and how much change will occur with our currant political landscape. However, you make yourself more powerful by staying informed and showing an example for others. People take notice when others start to. It’s a sales pitch the government and corporations are creating for the sake of profit. Don’t let them sell you bulls**t when it comes to purchasing your food. Stay aware and connected to what’s really going on and make informed decisions. Maintain your freedom to know.

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/house-votes-to-remove-country-of-origin-labels-on-meat-sold-in-u-s-1433990294

 

Vegan Cheating Confessional

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Confession time: I cheated on my vegan diet the other day and had a little cheese in my salad. The aged cheese was a thoughtful gift from the travels of a friend and not something we bought, it should be noted haha. I felt as though I was a crazed animal with a newly found, hypersensitivity to my taste buds and palette. Oh the massive amount of guilt that consumed me. In the past, if a little cheese was on something I was eating I barely noticed, didn’t give much thought to before. But now, it’s a completely different story. It’s an once-in-a-lifetime treat in my mind. The thrill and happiness that I experienced from eating that cheese… I was disgusted with myself, how it could have this affect over me, leaving me feeling weak and powerless.

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         I was reminded of a story my mom had told me of one of her former students. The child in her class had parents that enforced very strict diets for their kids since they were born, forbidding any and all sugar. But once their children were old enough to enter school and have the freedom from their parents’ presence, they stuffed themselves sick with candy and sugary treats, going on a wild mission for it. The restrictions that were placed upon them made them hunger for it and crave the unhealthy food more than the average child, who was used to having treats fairly often. I worry about having a similar incident and the parallels that I feel to those kids and one day cracking, giving this up. Perhaps going cold turkey was not the best approach for me, too much all at once. Although “cold turkey” is not the best term of phrase when speaking about veganism, I have to admit.

My boyfriend nicely shook off my worries and advised that it’s best not to refer to my cheese transgression as cheating, perhaps to remove the “forbidden-ness” aspect out of the picture. Rather than dwelling on your cheating, you should accept your few weak moments and actions, forgive yourself, and move on. Allowing you to continue on your path and be successful and guilt free, without the all-hope-is-lost attitude that tends to spin you back to your old habits. It all sounds very similar to the diet tips for people trying to lose weight. No one guaranteed it would be easy. I must remind myself what I’m going through is normal and I am not alone in my feelings during this journey, as others before me have wrestled problems during their diet change. I also have the support and backing from my boyfriend, family, and other loved ones to help me along.

From the lessons I’ve gained from the matter, if you slip up, do not think that everything is ruined forever. You must have an optimistic and determined mentality. Just continue on no matter how many times you have to hit the “reset” button on your diet change and keep going in the direction of your goal. In fact, a lot of people go through a transition period on their path to becoming fully vegan, and it’s ok, as long as you remember the exact reason that led you to becoming vegan in the first place. That will help get you through the weak moments.

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         Because all of this is psychological, we must train ourselves, body AND mind, in order to undertake one of the hardest challenges we face on a regular basis with every choice we make; which is to delay our immediate joy/gratification, in exchange for a much greater benefit in the future. I’m forgiving my cheese offense and carrying on.

The Pursuit of Taste

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Want versus need. What really, truly drives our decisions? Do we listen to what our bodies actually require rather than answer our strong, current desires each time we sit down for a meal? Is it a balancing act of sorts? As I reach the third week mark of my vegan diet, my cravings have been on the forefront of my mind, consuming any other thoughts of nutrition and threatening to drown out all the reasons why I chose to follow a vegan diet in the first place.

My boyfriend noticed my struggling and poignantly reminded me of the true, little importance that taste-based food choices have in the long-term and towards your happiness. He simply asked me if I could remember what we had to eat for dinner three nights ago and my mind drew a complete blank and I couldn’t recall. Which was astonishing because I’ve never craved, discussed, blogged, and thought about food as much as I am now. In the moment, you think how you absolutely must indulge and order those fries, buy that candy in the grocery store, and have that frozen pizza in your fridge instead of preparing a salad. Taste is your main focus. Yet, as my boyfriend has found, nine times out of ten, if you ask anyone, they cannot tell you what they had to eat for dinner three nights ago. Some time after I remembered, when I really thought it out, but his point really resonated with me; how taste is completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

That discovery gave me pause and I hope will create a shift in my thinking. Having worked as a waitress for a number of years, I am far too used to the atmosphere of a restaurant where taste is absolutely everything, customers come to indulge and gluttony doesn’t exist. I hope that’s what’s happened to me. Trapped too long in the restaurant world, warping my way of thinking temporarily. How am I so wrapped up in the present, pursuing mere taste and my wants time and time again? Allowing this inner child/brat in my head, without any regard for health, win out. In those times of temptation when I give in, I tell myself it’s just a little treat and all in moderation, as long as I’m not having this every day… maybe there’s still some truth to that, but I’m so focused on taste.

Hopefully there’s an ideal middle ground where you can have both, taste and health. I’m happily discovering it really is possible and proven to be so with the nutritious and delicious vegan cooking my boyfriend creates every day and undoubtedly surprises my taste buds with as well. There have been some things, such as juicing, that I have had trouble mustering though, even with hearing all the health benefits. Which leaves me contemplating the ultimate dilemma; how do I rise above and overcome my obsession with taste? Perhaps I have a very unhealthy relationship to food. I wonder if everyone faces this same battle, with some of us having stronger self-discipline than others, silencing their urges.

I suppose it boils down to a mental game to be won then. A test of determination. And in that case I must fight, every day, until the battle is so familiar to me that I hardly notice it, until it’s not a struggle any longer. I must resist my cravings that have built up, cutting off their power to take hold and control me. I cannot allow my heightened attention to food influence my desires and goal to maintain a healthy vegan diet. I do not wish to be at the mercy of my cravings. My problem has been that I’m too focused on what I cannot eat, instead of concentrating on all the new food possibilities that’s opened up to me since becoming vegan. I must let it go, recognize what is truly driving these unwanted urges and remember that these cravings feel and seem more important than they actually are. What’s more important to me is leading a healthy, happy life and that can easily start with diet.

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Taste is fleeting, too easy to give into, allows you effortlessly to think solely on pleasure, living in the present and not the future. Health is forever. Or in a case where you’re not thinking about health and nutrition, health isn’t forever at all. Health will be your doom and take your life sooner. Life and health are forever entwined. When you are in a hospital bed with death on the horizon, you won’t be applauding yourself for indulging all your life and you still won’t remember what you had three nights ago for dinner. Health and every food choice you make right now, add up, it is all your future stands on; it’s the entirety of your life. Taste, therefore, no matter how hard it is, must be secondary to health. Like the Rolling Stones’ song lyrics state,

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“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

Caribbean Ceviche for all mankind

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Just back from the West Coast from what turned out to be a mini food tour. Having been raised in Puerto Rico into my young adulthood you can safely assume I’m not a natural lover of winter. I was even surprised at how smitten I was by the snow covered hills and massive icicles in Lake Tahoe. For that moment it felt like I was home in paradise. We ventured from Lake Tahoe to Napa, Sonoma and ended in San Francisco where we visited chef friends, vineyards and many restaurants along the way. And like my unforgettable trip last year to Buenos Aires and Uruguay, this too was a priceless experience to start the year with!

Self-inflicted culinary adventures and childhood is where I draw most of my inspiration. Where ceviche originated is debatable but it is nonetheless a very popular dish across Latin America. It is raw fish or seafood that has been marinated in citrus such as lemon, lime and orange. The acid in the citrus is what “cooks” the fish. So technically it is a raw food, just not vegan. I created this vegan version based on the local tropical flavors of Puerto Rico. The texture and flavor is very close to the “real” thing. Great meal when you feel you want to eat something different and exotic.

I like to use shiitake mushrooms but you can mix it up with your favorite mushroom, although some work better than others. You’ll be amazed at how delicious it is! This dish is also great for those concerned with protein intake on a vegan diet. According to a study done at the University of Maryland, shiitake mushrooms contain all eight essential amino acids better than any other protein source, including red meat and eggs. That sounds like pretty good stuff!

Ingredients
1-2 oranges for juicing
2 lemons, freshly squeezed
2 limes, freshly squeezed
1/4 red onions, fine diced
2 cups wild mushroom mix or favorite type, cleaned and diced
1 avocado, hass varietal, diced
1 mango, medium, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely minced
Gray sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions
In a medium size bowl, mix the orange, lemon, and lime juices. Add the red onions and let soak for a couple of minutes to allow the citrus acid to break down the onion and make it easier to digest.

Meanwhile, clean mushrooms by placing them in a bowl of cold water and massage with your hands to remove any dirt. Using a kitchen or paper towel, lay the mushrooms out and pat dry.

Add the mushrooms to the bowl, mix well and let them sit for up to 30 minutes.

While mushrooms marinade, chop mango, avocado and cilantro.

Strain the mushrooms and onions from mixture and squeeze gently to release some liquid. Discard the liquid. In a separate bowl, mix well the mushroom, onion, mango, avocado and cilantro.

Enjoy with baked tostones!

It’s chilly, it’s Christmas, it’s lazy time!… 5 Easy steps to stay Healthy during Holidays=]

One more week to go of Holidays with the family. I love it, but it’s also easy to get unbalanced when it comes to work and health. Feel like getting all cozy in bed watching movies or by the fire with hot cocoa! And let’s not even talk about going to bed late, the extra alcohol and food on dinners! On one hand, I do want to fully enjoy the days I choose to do that, but on the other hand I don’t want to get off the wagon and overindulge on an unhealthy way.

My plan that so far is kinda working=]

1 One liter of warm water first thing in the morning.
2 One vegetable juice for breakfast.
3 One fruit smoothie at mid morning
4 One big salad a day.
5 Minimum of 45 minutes workout everyday and cardio at least every other day.

It’s really SIMPLE and EASY, that is, if you want to do it and if you care about staying healthy even in challenging times like Christmas in a chilly place!

Ayurveda on a daily dose… Rise and shine!!

With a background in yoga it has always made sense to me following Ayurveda as a great health guidance. Specially in times like today when we have so much available information, sometimes is hard to know what to do, how to best take care of our health. My advice is: do your research! Read, learn, investigate, ask, but most than all, experiment. Discover what your body needs and wants, how it works. Your body is different than mine, different than any other, so it has very individual and personal needs, only YOU can know what YOU need to be healthy…

That being said, Ayurveda works for me precisely because it relies on understanding each entity as unique, each living creature as one of a kind and in constant transformation. So not only you are different from anyone else, you are also different today, this morning, than you were yesterday or will be by this evening. Then it becomes obvious, you need to pay attention, to be here right now and live this moment. For taking care of your health, you must pay attention to how you are feeling moment by moment and act accordingly. Then, Ayurveda relies on habits, on the daily life; what a better way to prevent instead of fixing, even more, to make sure we’re allowing our body to express itself fully, letting our life energy flow freely.

Here’s an easy basic morning routine that will help balance your body and promote self awareness…

Wake up early, before sunrise!

From 2 am to 6 am it’s vata time in terms of energy in the atmosphere. Everything around and inside us begin to wake, to move and it’s a good idea filling yourself with this refreshing energy. Go out, breathe the morning air, fill up your lungs, your eyes with the peaceful dawn.

Drink 2 to 4 cups of luke warm water with a little bit of lime or lemon.
This will not only hydrate your body but also stimulate your internal organs, flush your kidneys and promote cleansing of the bowels. Lime juice is highly alkaline and filled with vitamins and minerals too.

Splash your face with fresh water to rehydrate the skin, remove accumulated heat from the eyes and stimulate your nervous system. Move your eyes around, from side to side, up and down, gentle circles and so forth.

Brush your teeth with natural toothpaste, avoid chemicals and harsh ingredients and scrape your tongue to remove toxins and stimulate your digestive tract and taste buds. The tongue is a good indicator of your whole digestive tract, pay attention to the appearance your tongue, any accumulations on the surface, any weird colors or shapes. You can find tongue scrapers in most health stores or you can use a spoon, scrape about ten times from back to front until you have removed any thick yucky stuff. Then rinse your mouth with warm olive or sesame oil, swish the oil around for two, three minutes and spit, don’t swallow! With your index finger gently massage your gums to stimulate and lubricate the tissues.

Now massage your ears and keep on massaging the rest of your face. You can do a dry massage but if you have the time is a good idea using a little oil that will nourish your skin and lubricate the tissues to a cellular level. For the face light oils like almond, sunflower or camelia are great. Then move on to the scalp, coconut oil is great for the hair. In Ayurveda there is an oil blend called Brahmi oil that is wonderful for the head and hair and that helps to clear the mind, relax the senses and induce meditation. Then massage the rest of your body. Sesame, coconut, olive and sunflower oils and all very good options. Stay away from mineral oil and artificial fragrances, I like to get my oils on the food section of the supermarket, feed your skin with natural food=]

Finish with a bath or shower and a fresh, whole, healthy breakfast. Remember breakfast is the most important meal of the day so don’t skip it! However keep it light and of easy digestion; a smoothie is always a great idea, a green juice too or if you want something more consistent how about some muesli or granola with almond milk….

Ayurveda on a daily dose… Rise and shine!!

With a background in yoga it has always made sense to me following Ayurveda as a great health guidance. Specially in times like today when we have so much available information, sometimes is hard to know what to do, how to best take care of our health. My advice is: do your research! Read, learn, investigate, ask, but most than all, experiment. Discover what your body needs and wants, how it works. Your body is different than mine, different than any other, so it has very individual and personal needs, only YOU can know what YOU need to be healthy…

That being said, Ayurveda works for me precisely because it relies on understanding each entity as unique, each living creature as one of a kind and in constant transformation. So not only you are different from anyone else, you are also different today, this morning, than you were yesterday or will be by this evening. Then it becomes obvious, you need to pay attention, to be here right now and live this moment. For taking care of your health, you must pay attention to how you are feeling moment by moment and act accordingly. Then, Ayurveda relies on habits, on the daily life; what a better way to prevent instead of fixing, even more, to make sure we’re allowing our body to express itself fully, letting our life energy flow freely.

Here’s an easy basic morning routine that will help balance your body and promote self awareness…

Wake up early, before sunrise!

From 2 am to 6 am it’s vata time in terms of energy in the atmosphere. Everything around and inside us begin to wake, to move and it’s a good idea filling yourself with this refreshing energy. Go out, breathe the morning air, fill up your lungs, your eyes with the peaceful dawn.

Drink 2 to 4 cups of luke warm water with a little bit of lime or lemon.
This will not only hydrate your body but also stimulate your internal organs, flush your kidneys and promote cleansing of the bowels. Lime juice is highly alkaline and filled with vitamins and minerals too.

Splash your face with fresh water to rehydrate the skin, remove accumulated heat from the eyes and stimulate your nervous system. Move your eyes around, from side to side, up and down, gentle circles and so forth.

Brush your teeth with natural toothpaste, avoid chemicals and harsh ingredients and scrape your tongue to remove toxins and stimulate your digestive tract and taste buds. The tongue is a good indicator of your whole digestive tract, pay attention to the appearance your tongue, any accumulations on the surface, any weird colors or shapes. You can find tongue scrapers in most health stores or you can use a spoon, scrape about ten times from back to front until you have removed any thick yucky stuff. Then rinse your mouth with warm olive or sesame oil, swish the oil around for two, three minutes and spit, don’t swallow! With your index finger gently massage your gums to stimulate and lubricate the tissues.

Now massage your ears and keep on massaging the rest of your face. You can do a dry massage but if you have the time is a good idea using a little oil that will nourish your skin and lubricate the tissues to a cellular level. For the face light oils like almond, sunflower or camelia are great. Then move on to the scalp, coconut oil is great for the hair. In Ayurveda there is an oil blend called Brahmi oil that is wonderful for the head and hair and that helps to clear the mind, relax the senses and induce meditation. Then massage the rest of your body. Sesame, coconut, olive and sunflower oils and all very good options. Stay away from mineral oil and artificial fragrances, I like to get my oils on the food section of the supermarket, feed your skin with natural food=]

Finish with a bath or shower and a fresh, whole, healthy breakfast. Remember breakfast is the most important meal of the day so don’t skip it! However keep it light and of easy digestion; a smoothie is always a great idea, a green juice too or if you want something more consistent how about some muesli or granola with almond milk….