Warm Kale Salad

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I made this recipe for my mom when she was struggling to find lunches for her vegan, gluten free, low FODMAP diet. It was easy, delicious, and perfect for meal prep!

Ingredients

Makes 8 Servings

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 beet
  • 8 cups Organic Kale
  • 1/3 cup raisins (no added sugar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • salt, pepper, ground coriander and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Coat your whole beet with oil, and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes.
  3. While the beet is baking, remove stalks from fennel, wash, and chop
  4. Remove stems from the kale leaves, wash, and chop
  5. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add fennel to pot and sauté for 12 minutes until tender
  6. Add kale by the handful, stirring gently
  7. Stir in apple cider vinegar, water, red pepper flakes and raisins.
  8. Once your beet is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 5-10 minutes
  9. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and toast your chopped walnuts for 8 minutes, then add them to the pot
  10. Chop your beet, and add it to the pot
  11. Season with salt, pepper, any other spices you may like, and serve

 

*This recipe is safe for gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, candida diets and Low FODMAP diets.

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Why I Kneel In Solidarity

This past weekend, several athletes took a knee during the national anthem on game day. They stood in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick after he was called a “son of a bitch” by the President of the United States. The country is now in an uproar and these peaceful protests are being called disrespectful by many. Here is why I support the protest:

 

An open letter to those offended,

It bothers you that people are kneeling during the national anthem? Why doesn’t it bother you that our country’s national anthem celebrates the blood shed from African slaves? Is it because you’re a racist, or because you simply didn’t know? Yes, that’s right, interpret it how you will, but the national anthem for the United States of America celebrates the murder of African-Americans. Before you start taking offense, why don’t you read the lyrics and understand what you are defending? You’re defending an outdated anthem written by a man who was the family of slave owners, yet you expect African-Americans to stand during it? Respect it? THAT right there is oppression itself. You know what else is oppression? Being angry that people are kneeling during a racist song for a country that doesn’t protect them and respect their rights. Black Americans have died in America’s wars but do not fully experience the freedom that comes with that sacrifice as white people do. We claim everyone has the right to protest, yet no matter what African-Americans do, no matter how they protest, somebody has to say its not right. Kneeling peacefully on a field isn’t right? You don’t like it? So maybe they should lead peaceful protests in the streets instead. But WAIT, when they do that, they get arrested, tear-gassed, pepper sprayed, and murdered. So what would be considered okay? If this peaceful demonstration to protest injustice and wrongful treatment is so offensive and disrespectful to the military, why are there thousands of Veterans around the world taking a knee in solidarity? If you’re so upset that people are “disrespecting Veterans” why are you not upset that we are still living in a racist country even after Veterans fought and died to protect civil rights? Hm? Why does the confederate flag not offend you? That ACTUALLY disrespects our flag. Why are you not upset that we are disrespecting the Emancipation Proclamation? When soldiers fought against Britain during the Revolutionary War, it was a victory for white people. The American flag was raised in victory as its black citizens, who were still not legally considered human beings at the time, continued to suffer in slavery for the next 80 years. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is an insult to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. How dare they! In 2017, as white people stand for the national anthem, most of them sit in silence as police kill black people and hide behind the excuse that “they deserved it.” So did 12 year old Tamir Rice deserve it too? Because him playing at the playground was a “threat,” right? The national anthem is a symbol of white hegemony and protects anti-black violence. It was never intended to reflect the protection of our humanity.

Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Interesting. “No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” This represents the authors satisfaction in the death of slaves who freed themselves. Satisfaction from a man who owned slaves himself. People could argue that in his later years, Francis Scott Key actually fought for the freedom of slaves, but that is besides the point. This song was written in vein and we actually fucking expect little kids in classrooms to put their hands on their heart for it, black people to stand for it, and us all to respect it. Sorry, but no. I love America and I have nothing but the utmost respect for our Veterans. However, I don’t love what this country stands for because it doesn’t hold true for all its citizens, and until it does, I will continue to speak my mind.

Vegan Tofu Tacos

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Ingredients

Makes 16 tacos

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning OR make your own:
    • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup leftover roasted veggies, diced (optional, I used roasted sweet potato and broccoli from the night before)
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded vegan (or regular) mexican cheese blend
  • 16 hard or soft taco shells, warmed

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add minced garlic
  2. Drain tofu and press with a towel to absorb extra moisture, finely dice and add to skillet, cook for 3 minutes
  3. Add diced to tomatoes and black beans, stir
  4. Add taco seasoning or your own mix of spices, stir, simmer
  5. While the tofu mixture is simmering, chop left over roasted veggies and re-heat in a small skillet
  6. Heat taco shells in the microwave or oven
  7. Place tofu filling and roasted veggies in a taco shell, cover with lettuce, cheese, and hot sauce
  8. Enjoy

 

*This recipe is safe for gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and candida diets.

Each taco is about 150 calories

The Meadows

 

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This past weekend, I attended the Meadows Music and Arts Festival in Queens, New York. I bought two 3-day passes for my boyfriend and I as an early birthday gift because we fell in love with the line up. I don’t usually attend city festivals like this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me just say, I can’t wait to come back to this place next year.

Day one, we showed up around 5 PM and explored the grounds, checked out the food vendors, and got a feel for the lay of the land. There were so many amazing options for food and drinks which is the first thing that I loved about it. Usually festivals only offer basic foods like chicken fingers, fries, hot dogs, etc. At the Meadows, there were endless options. You could have a ramen burger, a spicy tuna taco, wood-fired pizza, or vietnamese banh mi, among many other things. We smashed a ramen burger and proceeded to the music.

The first artist we saw was Queens native, Joey Bada$$ who put on an amazing show. Then we saw Run The Jewels. It was awesome to see legends like El-P and Killer Mike in the flesh. For one song they were accompanied by Gangsta Boo, the only female from the hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia. During the set we were sitting in the back, people watching, and we loved the diversity of the crowd. There were so many different kinds of people from all walks of life and everyone was genuinely having a great time. The vibes at the Meadows were seriously fantastic.

Jay Z was the headliner on Friday night and his set was a true spectacle. From bringing out Damian Marley, to playing all his greatest hits, to doing  a tribute to the late Chester Bennington, he reminded the crowd why he has earned the title of a hip-hop legend. I was on cloud 9 while dancing to some of my favorite songs like “Welcome To Jamrock,” “Lucifer,” “Hard Knock Life,” “No Church in the Wild,” “Heart of the City,” and some gems from his new album 4:44, like “The Story of O.J.” and “Bam.”

Heading home after the show was a breeze. We hopped on the subway right at Citi Field and took it one stop back to our car in Flushing.

Day two, I arrived around 2:30 and was able to get a front row spot for Big Boi. He came out on stage and played all the greatest Outkast hits like “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Rosa Parks,” “ATLiens,” “Spottieoittiedopalicious,” “Ms. Jackson,” and more. It was epic. Even though it was hot, I managed to stay comfortable because the security guards were all incredible and were handing out water. That was just another thing that made this festival great. After Big Boi, I got some free coffee and vitamin water and caught Erykah Badu while charging my phone. There were enough chargers or ports for everyone which I appreciated. I then traveled over to another stage where I caught the New York hip-hop trio, De La Soul. Next up was Future, and even though he isn’t my favorite, his set was a blast. He brought out special guests like Nicki Minaj and Young Thug and had the crowd going nuts.

I then devoured a spicy tuna taco while watching Torey Lanez, who brought out legend Busta Rhymes. They performed the banger “Pass the Courvoisier,” and the whole crowd sang it in unison. I was able to catch a few minutes of M.I.A before heading back to the main stage for Gorillaz. I have been wanting to see them since I was a kid and it was a privilege to finally be introduced to the men behind the cartoons. They opened with the song “Saturnz Barz” off their new album and then played fan favorites like “On Melancholy Hill,” Feel Good Inc.,” “Clint Eastwood,” and “Stylo.” They also had tons of special guests including De La Soul. They put on an amazing show and since their live performances are so few and far between, I truly felt like I was witnessing history.

Day three, we arrived just in time for the hometown hero Action Bronson. His personality alone makes you fall in love with his live performance. There was equal parts crowd interaction and music. He also took some time to sign peoples copies of his new cookbook, “F*ck, That’s Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well.” After his set, we indulged in some Roberta’s Pizza and yet another ramen burger, and then another Queens legend, Nas, took the stage. He appropriately started things off with “New York State of Mind,” and performed other classics like “If I Ruled the World,” “Lifes a Bitch,” “The Message,” “I Can,” “Memory Lane,” and “One Mic.” He also did a tribute to the late, great Prodigy, who passed away earlier this year.

We left the Meadows stage to head to the other side of festival and I was ecstatic to catch Weezer closing out their set with “Buddy Holly.” I think the ONE thing that I didn’t like about this festival was the scheduling conflicts, but sometimes you just can’t avoid them.

Last but not least, we were ready to see Bassnectar. This is a man I have been traveling all across the country and sometimes across borders to see since 2009. He has gained so much momentum over the past 4 years and sometimes its hard to find a good spot for his sets if you don’t get there early. Well, Sunday night, we were in luck. We found the perfect spot to the left of the stage about 10 rows from the front. Since he was playing at the same time as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, there was so much space for us to dance. The lights went out and my favorite long-haired bass wizard took the stage. For an hour and a half he played the filthiest tracks and I had the best time dancing my ass off with my boyfriend and friends, as always. It was also his lighting director, Michael Smalley’s last show with him. The lighting rig was on point and offered a perfect visual aspect to go along with the music. We danced so hard that my body is STILL recovering after three days. 62 Bassnectar sets later, I’m still not sick of it. I never will be.

I was so sad leaving the festival Sunday night. It was an absolutely incredible event all around. It truly blew my expectations out of the water. It was perfectly curated on all fronts and I hope next year’s line-up is just as good. I can see myself attending Meadows for years to come.

 

 

Live In The Present

A year ago yesterday, I was sitting in a doctor’s office finally getting a diagnosis for pain I had been feeling every day for 3 months. The doctor explained everything to me, including how much my life was about to change. She wrote a huge list of supplements I had to get, as well as a diet that I was to follow strictly until further notice. I did exactly what she told me to do for almost a year. I also got lost in research, suffered extreme depression, and lost more weight than I ever intended to. But I came out on the other end. I was in pain every single day for a year. Today, I feel pain for a few minutes once a week. The problem I had came as a result of drastically changing my diet to lose weight, which I did, but my body wasn’t happy. If anyone wants to make dietary changes, I encourage you to start slow. If you want to introduce new supplements, whether they are herbal supplements or that green drink that is advertised as healthy, do your research first. Don’t put your body in shock. It might get mad at you. 

Yesterday, I went to the doctor’s again. It had been a nice 3 month break. I saw a specialist for the immunologic deficiencies that my PCP discovered at my annual check up back in June. She explained what these deficiencies could mean, what they may cause, and what we are going to do about them. Overall, she didn’t seem terribly concerned, but she did send me to get more blood work. Based on the results, she says I may have to be sent to another specialist for more testing. She thinks that there is still a possibility of autoimmune disease, but we’ll just have to wait for the results before analyzing the issue further.

A year ago, this news would have destroyed me. At this point, however, I’m done worrying. I can’t spend my life worried about what COULD happen, what diseases COULD be possible, what my test results MIGHT read. OVER IT. I lost a year of my life worrying, crying, being miserable, and feeling so sorry for myself. I don’t want to be that person anymore. If I do end up having a disease, even though every test result I have received thus far suggests I don’t, I will handle it. I treat my body well, I eat healthy, exercise every day, and splurge from time to time. I’m doing what I need to do. I won’t dwell on the possibilities. There are so many things that could happen any moment of any day. I will only live in the present.

 

Vegan Spiced Lentil Soup

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup sprouted (or regular) green lentils, rinsed

  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

  • 1 tbsp turmeric

  • 1 tbsp curry powder

  • 2 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, outer layer removed,  minced

  • 2 tsp pink salt

  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 1 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

  • 2 cups swiss chard, chopped

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions

  1. Add the lentils, broth, thyme, turmeric and curry powder to a large pot

  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes (less if you rinsed the lentils overnight)

  3. Heat the coconut oil in a pan.

  4. Add the onion and saute until browned.

  5. Add the lemongrass, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes, and saute another minute.

  6. Add the onion mixture to the lentils and stir

  7. Add the coconut milk and swiss chard, and simmer another five minutes

  8. Once the chard is wilted, add more spices to taste

  9. Finish with lemon juice and coconut flakes on top

*This recipe is candida safe, vegan friendly, refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free

“We Can’t Help Everyone, But Everyone Can Help Someone”

In the wake of the terrible natural disaster occurring in Houston, Texas, I wanted to remind everyone how much power they have to help those in need. You don’t need to be rich, you don’t need to donate your life savings, and you don’t need to support hundreds of charities. As the late Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

Sometimes when making charitable donations, it’s hard to pick which organizations to support and which organizations to steer clear from. Some donate all the funds directly to those who need it, while some go to line the pockets of CEO’s with six figure salaries. It is so very important to do your research and only support those organizations who are transparent.

One tool I have found to be extremely useful is Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. Their rating system examines two broad areas of a charity’s performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency. Their ratings show givers how efficiently they believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to good governance, best practices and openness with information.

If you don’t feel like doing your own research, some charities that I have found to be great to support Hurricane Harvey victims include;

  1. The Houston Flood Relief Fund
  2. The Houston SPCA
  3. The Houston Food Bank
  4. The Food Bank of Corpus Christi
  5. The Houston Humane Society

Let’s help these poor people and animals get some relief and lessen their burden.