Friday, December 28, 2012

New Years Resolution Challenge: Recycle More

Recycling is a passion of mine. 
It always has been, and always will be.

Over the holidays I was going crazy watching the things that were being thrown away as everyday trash. I spoke up a couple of times, and was told to just throw it away. As a disclaimer: I love my brother and his family to the moon and back. However, watching all of the recyclable items that the family was throwing away made me want to scream. They tossed the glass bottles, paper packaging, plastic molds for toys, and wrapping paper away like they were dirty diapers (another pet peeve). There are plenty of things for me to argue with my family about, so standing on my recycling soapbox in their kitchen didn’t quite seem right. After all, they do recycle some things. It is just not quite as much as I would recycle in my own home.

On my drive back to Iowa I made a totally different kind of New Year’s resolution.  
I’m going to challenge those around me to recycle more.

There are a few ways I can take action, and hey why not blog and encourage others to do the same? If you are already the king or queen of recycling, there is always more work to be done. So I thought I would share some ideas, and examples of ways you may be able to inspire others. If you have more ideas, please share them!

Recycling takes time, space, and energy. That's all, just a little bit of your time and energy and a little bit of space around you. Do you know everything that can be recycled?  If not click here for a little recycling 101.

Everything starts in our own home. 

Do you have a space dedicated to recycling? In my home, I have a large cupboard next to the sink where I installed two bins on sliders. The front bin is for trash, the back one for recycling. Check it out here. Often times my recycling fills up 4X faster than my trash and I can go a couple of weeks without having to pay for trash tags.

One of the most common excuses I have heard from people who do not recycle is that their apartment or town does not offer recycling pick up services. This is no excuse at all. This is where an individuals time and energy come into play. Almost every small town in Iowa has a community recycling space. Huge containers where you can drop off papers, plastics, aluminum and glass for free. Make a decision to put aside the time each week or month to take care of your recycling.

Here are some ideas to increase your at-home recycling habits:

  • Be picky and buy items from the store that are minimally packaged. I love how Apple uses minimal packaging for their computers. But you buy just about any other computer and it comes in a gigantic box, four times larger than the actual CPU and filled with Styrofoam. There are companies that are attempting to lessen their carbon footprint.
Bulk foods in Mason Jars provides instant kitchen decor!
  • Buy grocery items from the bulk bins. There are bulk bins at Hy-Vee and at the Co-Ops, try it out! I love buying organic spices in bulk. Once you have the little glass jar, the spices themselves are just pennies!
  • Bring your own bulk containers to the grocery store. When you arrive, have your jars weighed at register, and then fill them up! (Yes, this takes some time and effort, as mentioned above.)
  • Compost your food waste. The City of Iowa City has great free programs to educate the community on composting (you can attend even if you are not an Iowa City resident. In the summer, they offer deals on purchasing compost bins.  Hey - why not take action and encourage your town to offer some community education on composting?


Next, look at your life on the go, starting with your car. 

I have been known to drive around with a car full of items that can be recycled because I forget to empty it at home, and I don’t want to throw away a perfectly recyclable bottle! (I know in a perfect world, I would not be buying plastic bottled anything.) 
  • Get a reusable hot and cold cup. My Starbucks Venti sized plastic cup with a reusable straw goes everywhere with me. If you bring in your own cup when eating fast food, then you save a cup from the landfills! Panera is great, they only charge you something like thirty-cents for your beverage when you bring in your own cup! (and they have great black bean soup).
  • Bring your own doggy bag. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but that is one less plastic container or Styrofoam carton that will be sitting in a landfill the next day.
  • I’m the conservationist that picks up trash and recyclables while walking through parks. There is no excuse to litter.
  • If there is no container for recycling at an event, start one! Throw a couple plastic bottles in there to show people what it is for and wha-la instant recycle bin. I’ve also been known to walk out of places with empty plastic bottles, so I could recycle them at home. 


Take action at work! 

Do you recycle paper? Is there a place to recycle in the lunch room? Make sure the recycling is being used. I have been known to stick my hand in the garbage and pull out plastic bottles, paper bags, cups, etc. and throw them into the recycling that is literally sitting RIGHT NEXT TO THE GARBAGE. Eventually, I hope others will catch on and notice the type of items that are filling the recycling and follow suit.

I started a new job a few months ago and made a joke about being the recycling nazi that throws everyone else's recycling into the containers. Our property manager looked at me and said that he had noticed there was a lot more recycling since I started working there.

Well good! I am glad to hear it! One person CAN make a difference.


You can take the same kind of action on your job.

  • If there isn’t a place to put recycling, ask if you can start one.
  • Recycle within your own desk space. Make the space underneath to put a container, and take the time on Friday to carry your recycling out with you. I have friends who work at large corporate offices like Alliant Energy and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics that do this. They haven’t been able to take on the administration, but they make a difference in their own space.


Schools are the perfect place to Recycle

Are you a student? What about your school or your child’s school? Educating people about the importance of recycling is one of the simple ways to get others to take action.

In fifth grade a couple classmates and I took on the school administration and convinced them to stop using Styrofoam lunch trays. Every day we would walk through the lunchroom. There were shiny metal shelves lining the back wall, filled with colorful hard-plastic reusable lunch trays. Somewhere along the line a lazy lunch lady thought it would be easier to just throw the trays away and do away with dishes. So our school began creating tons of waste that would never biodegrade instead of continuing to take the time and effort to respect the environment. The plastic trays just sat on the shelf collecting dust. Getting the school to do away with those Styrofoam trays was a huge victory for a ten year old.


Take action in your community!

A few years ago when I worked as Executive Director for Summer of the Arts, I learned that the Iowa Arts Festival and Iowa City Jazz Festival each created over a ton of waste in a single weekend. Meaning over the course of two weekends each summer, four thousand pounds of waste was added to the landfill. This did not sit well with me.

With a little creative thinking I changed the festival policies. Food vendors would be required to use compostable food ware and water stations would sell refillable water bottles and we would add in water machines. The first summer this was a highly encouraged option for vendors, the second year it was required. Compost bins were added to the festivals, advertising, signs and education items were added for the community. And just like that a new green tradition was created!

There was a lot of hard work that went in on the back end of things. The Operations Manager helped to coordinate a bulk order and distribution of compostable food ware because there was no place local to order what they needed. Not every food vendor jumped right on board with the new policy either. It was a learning lesson for everyone involved. But there was a lot of support. The City of Iowa City helped us to get containers and then gave ideas on how to improve the process. By the second summer we had diverted nearly a ton of trash by composting.

Today, the compost program has received grant money for better sorting containers and education programs. The festivals are called upon by other organizations across the country looking to start their own composting program. The program has also helped to establish a new small business. One of the food vendors now has a business selling compostable food ware. Many of the food vendors that own restaurants use the compostable containers as their every day to-go containers instead of Styrofoam.

Okay, so now the challenge is back to you.

What will you do to go green this year? How can you make a difference in your home, place of work, school or community? Are you up for the challenge?

Share your success stories and ideas!

Most importantly, have a fabulous new year filled with positive energy and momentum for creating change.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The GMO Fight is Still in Full Force!

California’s Proposition 37 did not pass this week. At first I was disappointed, and now I am motivated to do more. My best friend and I decided we are going to collect seeds for a time capsule to pass onto our grandchildren to be able to plant wholesome food in the future. We were just joking on Facebook, and then I learned there are people who are actually hoarding Non-GMO seeds in deep freezers across the country!! It made me smile to know we are not the only ones thinking about what it will take to assure whole foods for future generations (and I do have a deep freeze that is in need of being filled…)

Then, another friend posted a comment on my Facebook page asking what the big deal was with GMO or Non-GMO labels? 

Well, the big deal is our health!

This is where the motivation comes in… Let the positive education begin!

Seed hoarding should not be the way we pass on healthy food to the future. The great thing about California and the masses heading to the polls with this hot issue is that there are now more educational tools, resources, and advocacy groups available for people everywhere to learn more about GMO’s.

Just in case you don’t know, GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. Scientists have discovered ways to make a seed durable enough to grow after pesticides are applied. So the insects and weeds die, but not the actual crop. National Geographic has a great little online article (Link #1 below) defining organic and GMO crops, and explaining the differences.

GMO’s are in everything. You name it, cereal, crackers, breads, and yes - even meats.
For years I have avoided GMO foods, mostly because there was no research on either side explaining what effects genetically modified foods may have on our body or our environment. 

People have made fun of me and called uppity, a hippie, and well…I just say I have been healthy! There is finally research on the effect of GMO’s. Sadly, it doesn’t look good for the human body. A group of scientists in France did a study on the long-term effects of GMO consumption. Natural news published some of the outcomes and the findings are overwhelmingly negative:

• Up to 50% of males and 70% of females suffered premature death.

• Rats that drank trace amounts of Roundup (at levels legally allowed in the water supply) had a 200% to 300% increase in large tumors.

• Rats fed GM corn and traces of Roundup suffered severe organ damage including liver damage and kidney damage.

• The study fed these rats NK603, the Monsanto variety of GM corn that's grown across North America and widely fed to animals and humans. This is the same corn that's in your corn-based breakfast cereal, corn tortillas and corn snack chips.

The study is entitled, "A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health." The pictures of the rats are horrible, and not ones I want to publish. It tears my heart and then makes me think of all of the sickness, disease and the high rate of cancer that we have right here at home. Eating organic just became even more important to me than ever before. 

I’ve daydreamed about winning the lottery and what I would do with millions of dollars. The funny thing is that I have been in non-profit way too long and I don’t imagine spending all of that money on myself. Instead, I would create and fund a nonprofit designed to advocate, support, expand and sustain organic farming. Not because I am a huger farmer, or come from a farming family. Rather, I see this as one of the ways to make the largest impact on so many of the issues facing the world today including environmental, hunger, and sustainability. 

Daydreaming is best in fields full of flowers
I would love to be able see farmland that goes up for auction purchased and put in the hands of an organic farmer (a lot of money would be invested in this). I know that some of the barriers facing young people (well people of any age) who would like to farm are the costs. The cost of land, equipment and for an organic farmer the licensing, training, and legal fees is exorbitant. Legal fees is one area where I have read organic farmers have the most trouble, especially when going up against corporate giants like Monsanto. 

My lottery-funded program would loan organic farmers acreages and provide monetary loans for equipment in exchange for supporting the other parts of the program. In exchange, farmers participating would help to train and support other young people interested in organic farming methods. After so many years the land is theirs, with the stipulation they donate back to the program with their time, talent, and wholesome food to help feed those in need. It is a daydream, but any time you want to buy me a lottery ticket, I promise the winnings would be put to good use!  

((And for people that know me really well, yes this is my secret plot to feed the hungry and change the world. This program would provide wholesome, healthy food, directly from farmers to those in need. Low-income families say that the price of fresh fruit and vegetables are too high and this program would go right to the source to provide these items to those people who need it most… Wouldn’t it be great to see crates of fresh vegetables shipped to the food bank in the poorest counties in the US? …Yeah, I think this program would rock!!!))

Back to reality from my millionaire daydream world….

While researching, I found the organization Cornucopia, which is already providing resources and support to organic farmers! Hooray!

Cornucopia is advocating and helping to educate the public on organic foods, the effects of genetically modified crops, etc. They are also helping to raise dollars to support organic farmers in large lawsuits!

I wholeheartedly recommend a nice long visit to the Cornucopia website. Become a member, donate, get involved, and make a difference. The only way we as Americans are going to be able to stand up to corporate lobbyists is through education and lobbying efforts for what is good and wholesome

And - Good news Iowa!! According to a USDA study, Iowa ranks #5 in the number of certified organic farms in the USA. That is a start, Go Iowa!! 

Now, the big question is: What do we do? What steps can we take to get regulations in place to label our food and help preserve natural farming methods?

How can we make a difference so the next time a vote comes up to label food, it is done?

Learn more:

National Geographic Link

Abstract of French Study, "A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health." :

Natural News – with review of GMO Study

Cornucopia Website

Iowa Dept. of Agriculture Release on Organic Farming

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vegan 101 - Part 3

Connect to Other Vegans!!

Breathe a sigh of relief now, because you are not alone on the journey to eating and living a healthy lifestyle! Iowans are resourceful with great groups of people coordinating potlucks, teaching raw and vegan food preparation, meeting regularly, and communicating tips and ideas to each other via social media groups. Hooray!
The third installment of Vegan 101 brings together all of the resources currently out there - Yes, I will update this as more are found! If you spot another great resource, give me a shout out and I will make sure this list gets updated.

Vegan/Vegetarian Organizations and Groups
Vegetarian Community of Iowa -

Raw Food Meet Up - Fork in the Road -

Facebook Groups

Fork in the Road - Raw food nutritionist Sheree Clark has a huge group on Facebook!

 Vegetarian Community of Iowa - Monthly meet ups and other activities are often shared online through the facebook group page

Des Veg Life - A Des Moines area group of vegetarian and vegan friendly people, lots of idea sharing and tips on here!

Vegan Meating Club - Another great group online for Iowans!

Vegan Diners of Central Iowa - I think the name of this group says it all!

Iowa Raw Vegan Foodies - Raw Vegans unite! Great resource if you are raw or thinking of going raw with your vegan diet.

Recipe Resources

This is a website full of vegan recipes posted by people from around the world. I like to sort by 5 star reviews and look at the comment suggestions for other options. It is constantly being updated and has recently undergone a redesign and facelift. Near holidays, they have a special section with dishes for the season. I admit to having spent hours perusing recipes, using the shopping list tool and marking my favorites on this website! If you do nothing else with any of the suggestions on this blog – at least visit this website.

Vegan Iowa Recommended Websites

Okay, I know there are TONS of vegan websites out there but these are just a few of my own personal favorites. (Beyond VeganIowa of course!)
Traveling? Visit Happy Cow before you hit the road, and download the travel app onto your phone. Happy Cow has community listings around the world with traveler reviews on vegan and vegetarian hot spots and grocery stores. Make sure you add your own personal favorites to the lists!

Brendan Brazier, author and founder of the Vega product line, has a great website! Blogs, communities for support (recipes, adrenal fatigue recovery, etc.), training advice for athletes, you name it! Highly recommend bookmarking this page. There are recipes for cooked and raw vegan dishes, smoothies, energy bars, etc.        
Vegan fashion, recipes, animal activism, this site has it all ~ Features a “Vegan Shoe of the Day” LOVE!

For the compassion based shopper – you will find the latest trends, make-up, accessories, new clothing lines, seasonal recommendations, etc.

Great recipes and fun ideas!

Musings, recipes and lots more.

What the hell does a vegan eat anyway? Ha, ha, I love the title of this blog, it is one of my favorites!!

If you are active and vegan/raw then this fabulous resource is for you! - This is one of the very first vegan blogs I began following seven years ago. The amazing recipes she produces, and then packs up to send her son to school with, are fantastic. 

Looking for more information? Did you check out the first two parts of the Vegan 101 guide?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Des Moines Raw Food Week: August 20-26

Get ready for Raw Food Week in Des Moines!

The perfect way to recover from the deep fried coma induced by the Iowa State Fair is to treat your body to some healthy goodness! A full week of inspirational speakers, classes and networking await anyone interested in a healthy lifestyle during the week of August 20-26, 2012.

The week starts out with a special screening of Forks Over Knives at Fleur Cinema in Des Moines, Monday night at 7 pm. Forks Over Knives is an eye opening movie providing solid, evidenced based facts about our culture and the current lifestyle we live.

Skip ahead for the BIG event everyone needs to get out to on Wednesday, August 22. Hear the inspirational story of Dave the Raw Food Trucker. Dave lost over 200 pounds and helped to fight off life threatening diseases like cancer, diabetes, and more simply by changing his lifestyle and diet. Dave will be speaking at Event Center West from 6-8 pm, tickets are $20.

Area restaurants specials will celebrate Raw Food Week:
Above: A raw pasta dish from Fresh Cafe
Check out the fabulous restaurants who are offering specials as part of the week's activities:
  • ALBA Chef Jason Simon, 524 East 6th Street, Des Moines
  • CAMPBELL’S NUTRITION, 4040 University Avenue, Des Moines
  • GATEWAY MARKET, Chef Bill Overdyk, 2002 Woodland Avenue, Des Moines
  • LUNA BISTRO + CATERING, Chef Kris Van Tuyl, 621 Des Moines Street, Des Moines
  • NATURAL THIRST, 1000 Grand Avenue, Des Moines

Plus, there are special raw carry-out meals available all week long at Fresh Cafe! If you haven't been to Fresh, you need to jump in your car and go!
1721 25th Street, Suite 110, West Des Moines, Iowa or call ahead to 515.440.4700

You can get a whole week of meals at one time thanks to Chef Brandy Lueders. She is creating a menu of entrees, sides and desserts for pre-order and pickup. For Raw Food Week, Brandy’s menu is entirely raw and vegan. Orders are due by 5:00 p.m. Monday, August 20. Pickup is Wednesday, August 22 between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. For details email before August 20.

Schedule of Events:

MONDAY, AUGUST 20 Movie Night FORKS OVER KNIVES 7:00 p.m.    Fleur Cinema, 4545 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, Iowa | $5 
Could it be there’s a single solution to all of our health problems? A simple remedy that doesn’t require a prescription or create horrible sideeffects? FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the claim that most of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled—or even reversed—by changing our present diet of animal-based and
processed foods. Join us for an exclusive Raw Food Week screening of this profound documentary. While you’re there enjoy a special concession menu of healthy raw snacks and treats.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, ENDLESS SUMMER: CAPTURING YOUR GARDEN’S BOUNTY, Sheree Clark, Fork in the Road 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.  Walnut Ridge, 1701 Campus Drive, Clive, Iowa | $20
Wondering what to do with the last vestiges from your garden? Wishing you had healthier snack options for the kids? Or do you simply want to transition to better eating, without a lot of work? There are lots of ways to preserve the current harvest for future use, so you’ll have tasty snacks on hand into the fall. This presentation is sponsored by Women of Worth (WoW), a monthly networking group that charges no membership fees. If you’re a woman businessperson looking for opportunities to meet others, WoW is worth your while.

6:00-8:00 p.m.   Event Center West, 1701 25th Street, West Des Moines | $20
Over a period of 13 months, Dave reshaped his life by losing nearly half his body weight: going from 430 pounds to 230. During this time, Dave was successful at weaning himself off 24 of the 25 prescription medications he was taking. Join us for this life-changing live presentation.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23 Meals That Heal, Dr. Jean M Lorentzen, MD, DO 
7:00 p.m.   All Play | Master Party Room, 615 Third Street, Des Moines, Iowa | $10
Dr. Jean Lorentzen, DO, is passionate about the role nutrition plays in good health. In this candid and invigorating presentation, you’ll hear startling information about how prescription and over-thecounter drugs can deplete your body’s nutritional balances. More importantly, you’ll learn what you can do about it—including which foods can help reverse symptoms of chronic illness and disease.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 24 Healthy Happy Hour 
5:00-7:00 p.m.   Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines | $10
Did you know that wine is technically a “raw” food and—in moderation—can even provide
some health benefits? Come support a local winery, nibble on some raw treats and mingle
with other Raw Food Week participants. Who says eating healthy is boring?

SUNDAY, AUGUST 26 Raw Sunday Brunch; 
2 Seatings: 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Echo Valley Country Club, 3150 Echo Valley Drive, Norwalk, Iowa
$29.95 for adults | $14.95 for children under 12.
Come celebrate the grand finale of Des Moines Raw Food Week while you treat yourself to a luscious four-course gourmet raw vegan Sunday brunch. Let us capture your heart and soul with this bounty of good food and good health. Join us at either 11:00 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. Wine and alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase. Reservations required and can be made at
Call 515.314.2031 for information.

*All event concessions prepared by Fresh Cafe

Keep up to date on all of the upcoming events:
For more information or to RSVP for an event visit:
As a side note, I am proud to be friends with the two raw food chefs who helped inspire this week long celebration of healthy goodness and who are also sponsoring activities throughout the week. Thank you Sheree Clark and Kerri Rush! You two are ROCK STARS! Check out their vegan and raw food friendly businesses:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vegan 101

This three part series has links, resources and ideas for anyone curious about veganism. There are links to Iowa based nutritionists, vegan cooking classes, Raw Food Vegan classes, a grocery shopping guide, vegan social networking groups, and more!

Vegan 101 - Part 1: Vegan Nutrition and Local Resources
Vegan 101 - Part 2: Stock Your Vegan Kitchen
Vegan 101 - Part 3: Vegan Recommended Websites and Other Tools

Saturday, August 11, 2012

With Brewed Cafe - CR is Finally Vegan Friendly!

I absolutely love coffee. 
In fact, I consider a nearby coffee shop vital to my happiness at work. With a new job in downtown Cedar Rapids, I didn't have to look far to find some java joy. Brewed Café just opened in the lower level of the CSPS building and I admit to being absolutely over-joyed with the food, atmosphere and coffee.

With only a few weeks clocked in at my new job, I have been to Brewed Café numerous times, and it is always a pleasant experience. (Admittedly, most of my upcoming meetings in the next few weeks are also scheduled there.) When you walk in, it is bright, cheery and welcoming. Tall windows overlook the street of the ever expanding and thriving New Bohemia district, filling the small space with natural light and a great view. 

I had the opportunity to visit with one of the managers, Nate Marsceau. He mentioned that the staff are still getting into the groove of things at the cafe. However, you would never have guessed it from the fabulous service provided. Everyone seems knowledgeable and the service is friendly and fast.

Brewed Café has great coffee as well as a simple, diverse menu. Vegan and gluten-free items are clearly marked (Hooray!!!!) You may ask yourself, “What, is this really in Cedar Rapids?” Yes, I thought the same thing when I saw the menu! Marsceau commented that an allergy-friendly menu was one of the plans in bringing additional service to patrons at Brewed. The Cafe's chef prepares food on site in the kitchen.

 The breakfast menu features a couple of gluten-free and vegan items, including granola and a breakfast cookie. There are several lunch items that are vegan or can easily be made vegan. Each evening a dinner special is featured, often times vegan friendly. I also noticed vegan and gluten-free pasta sides in the glass cooler, and other yummy offerings for on the spot snacking.

A small bar inside the cafe offers a different type of brew for the evening crowd attending a show at CSPS. Brewed Café also caters and hosts the Carlo bar upstairs during CSPS events.

I lived in Marion and worked in downtown Cedar Rapids for years before moving to the vegan-friendly Iowa City area. My fear in accepting a job in downtown Cedar Rapids again, was that I would once again be constantly frustrated at not finding good vegan friendly food or coffee. Thankfully, I found Brewed Cafe right away! With Brewed Cafe, Cedar Rapids has finally "grown up" and become a little more vegan friendly.

Here are the details:
Brewed Cafe 
1101 3rd Street SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401


Friday, August 10, 2012

Vegan 101 – Part 2

If you are researching or curious about a vegan diet then this three-part Vegan 101 guide is for you! In Part 1, the focus was on vegan nutrition. Now we are answering the question everyone asks, “What does a vegan eat?”

The answer is simple. Think non-processed, good for you grains, fruits, nuts, beans, legumes and vegetables. There are a lot of processed vegan foods, and of course they are not quite as nutritious for you. However, everyone knows where to find Oreos and Nutter Butters, so don’t worry some of those old favorites are still edible!

For the most part, the standard American diet is NOT vegan friendly. However, Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean, you name it – everyone else in the world seems to have standard vegan meals that are really fabulous. Make yourself a bean and rice burrito, and voila it’s Vegan! Hummus, falafel and pita with a Mediterranean salad makes a full satisfying vegan meal. The question becomes putting together the vegan meals and learning a new way of buying and preparing foods.

One of the biggest things a person adjusts to in looking to add vegan meals to their diet is a new way of shopping for groceries. PETA actually has put together a really nice comprehensive list of common grocery store items that are vegan. Surprising items like JELLO pudding and Pilsbury Croissonts can be found on this list.

However, it can be daunting to carry a gigantic list of vegan items with you - or to remember all of the items that are vegan. SO, the first step: learn to read ingredients really well.

There are so many hidden ingredients that don’t actually SAY milk, but actually contain dairy. Look for things like “casein” which is a milk protein. Some mock meats are made with egg and milk. Quarn products and Morning Star products are common examples. There are lots of guides to food ingredients. Here is a site I like a lot:

So, once you get past reading the labels, here are some of my personal FAVORITE items to help stock your cupboards and fridge:

Milk Alternatives
Silk uses non-GMO soybeans that are grown in the USA! Silk has soy, coconut and almond milks.  My personal favorite choices are below:

Silk Chocolate Almond Milk – Fabulous tasting chocolate milk alternative. I add this to my coffee on a daily basis.

Silk organic unsweetened soymilk – Closest alternative to regular milk that I have founds. It is not sweet or vanilla flavored.

Common Dairy Based Product Alternatives

Best Life Buttery Spread – This is a low cost alternative to the other

Earth Balance - Buttery spread. Is available as an organic option for "butter"

Tofutti – has a soy based sour cream and a soy based cream cheese. I think these taste exactly like the dairy based products!

Trader Joe’s has their own “Trader Joe’s” brand of Cream Cheese that is really good.

 Veganaise – Vegan mayonnaise! I love this stuff.

There are tons of homemade cheese like recipes. Most are nut based (yum!) There is only one mock cheese that I rely on and buy from the store, that is Daiya, the rest I make myself.

Daiya – This is a great Non-dairy cheese alternative. Even my non-veg friends love this stuff! It melts and tastes better than any other vegan cheese available! Find this in Hy-Vee’s Health Market or New-Pioneer Co-Op. If you are just adjusting your diet, don’t spend money on a ton of different cheese alternatives go for this one first!

Snack Bars & Protein Bars

Clif Builder Bars – 20 grams of protein in each bar! The Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, and Peanut Butter bars are vegan!

Kind Bars – Yum! These bars are a great delicious snack

Mock Meats
There are tons of protein filled mock meats out there. I recommend to not rely to heavily on these, as most are still highly processed products. However, there are those days when you have little time or energy and want something fast and easy.

Boca – Boca has vegan veggie burger patties, mock meat crumbles, mock chicken patties, and more. Check the ingredients as some Boca products do have cheese or egg.

Gardein – This meat alternative brand has some great options that taste surprisingly good. Shop at Target for the best prices. They are $2-$3 cheaper than Hy-Vee on Gardein products (The Coralville Target does not have as much of the Gardein products as Cedar Rapids or Des Moines.)

Tofurky – Look for mock deli meats, a Thanksgiving mock roast, and lots of other fun “mock” meat products that are protein packed!

Upton’s Naturals – They have flavored seitan (a gluten based protein). I LOVE Upton’s products! I have found Upton's products at Wheatsfield Co-op and New Pioneer Co-op

Yve’s – Another company with some great mock meat products. Read the labels carefully some of Yve’s products have egg in them.

Protein Powders
Plant Fusion - I love this stuff, it is non-soy, non-dairy based protein powder that is gluten free! Very easy on the stomach, and it has a really good flavor. One scoop is 22 grams of protein! Plant Fusion is available at New Pioneer co-op in Coralville.

VEGA - I haven't actually tried this product, but have heard good things about it. Plus, there are always online coupons floating around for VEGA discounts!

Other Foods
Amy’s Frozen Meals – They have a few vegan meals, organic ingredients, taste great! The Tamale Verde Black Bean is my favorite!
Locally, Target seems to have the best prices on these meals, usually $1-$2 cheaper than Hy-Vee and other competitors.

Ener-G Egg Replacer
This is the easiest and most used egg replacer in my cupboard. The big box this mix comes in lasts forever! Ener-G is a mixture of starches that froth up when mixed with warm water. It provides a perfect egg substitution when baking.
Where to Buy Vegan Foods
Hy-Vee -- Health Food Section


Trader Joes

New Pioneer Co-op

Wheatsfield Co-op
Whole Foods

Vegan 101
Just in case you haven't seen the first part in this series here is the link!

Vegan 101 - Part 1

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vegan 101 - Part 1

This blog post was just taking shape when I received a message from a Vegan Iowa reader seeking advice and resources to get started with her lifestyle change. The timing could not have been more perfect! Her questions helped to shape some of the information included in this post

Are there any local resources or people to consult with when changing your diet?
Balance! Don't lose your balance and keep at it!

Where do I start? This three-part, Vegan 101 guide is a compilation of information, tips, tools and resources to help make the transition to living vegan a little easier. This particular blog post will focus on nutrition.

I’m including a disclaimer here to say that I am not a professional nutritionist. My primary goal, in sharing the information and resources below, is for you as a reader to seek out professional advice on nutrition. However, I have read extensively on nutrition and have improved my own personal nutrition immensely by taking steps to increase nutrient dense foods in my diet.

The reader who emailed me expressed she was feeling sluggish and had a lack of energy. This is a common side effect of making a dramatic change to what your body is using to fuel itself. Think detox! Your body is ridding itself of the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics ingested when eating factory-farmed meats and drinking homogenized milk. This sometimes lasts a few weeks, and it is really easy to fall back to eating these products to relieve the sluggish feeling. As your body is detoxing, fight back by pumping yourself full of nutrient dense foods like spinach, sweet potatoes, flax seed, chia seed, bananas, cocoa, and blueberries. It might help to add a little extra vegan protein powder to a smoothie to help give you a boost in the morning.

One of the ways to make sure your body is getting the primary nutrients it needs is to keep a food diary. There are a few food diaries you can use as apps on your phone. I use My Net Diary. This tool tracks the protein, fiber and vitamin rich foods your body needs, and gives you a status update on what you have consumed. In this way you know from the beginning whether or not you are consuming enough protein, etc.

Food Diary Apps:
My Net Diary (free download on an iPhone)

There are tons of misconceptions about being vegan. There are ways to make sure you are getting your B12 intake, Iron, Omegas, etc. Personally, I love root vegetables like organic carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes. One of the natural sources of B12 is in the soil where they vegetables spend their time growing. When I had my B12 tested last it was higher than most people who are NOT vegan! My doctor and I were both a little surprised.

So as you sort through information and begin to change your diet, here are some local resources and books that you might find helpful:

Burt Family Food Services – Iowa City/Cedar Rapids
Just getting started on a vegan diet and trying to figure out what to eat? Look to Chef David Burt, former owner of the Red Avocado in Iowa City, for fabulous food! Nutritional counseling is available by appointment. Burt Family Food Services specializes in weekly meal plans, available in single and double portion sizes. 

Some of the most amazing vegan food you will ever eat will be available at your fingertips each week. Chef Dave uses nutrient dense foods and balances out grains, greens and proteins in his meals. If you are new to being vegan, this is a great way to SEE wholesome vegan meals and what types of foods go well together. I have a meat-eating friend who chooses the weekly meal plans as a way to simply add healthy food to his diet. This very affordable option is just $40 for single portion sizes or $80 for a double portion.

Chef Dave also teaches vegan-cooking classes at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, and at New Pioneer Co-op in Coralville. I took the Vegetarian Sushi class a few years ago and it was a lot of fun!

Fork in the Road – Des Moines
Sheree Clark provides one on one nutritional counseling as well as group led classes for people looking to change their lifestyle. Sheree is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. With the knowledge of what makes your body tick, Sheree has been providing educational presentations to the community for years. Her classes are fabulous and I highly recommend the juices and smoothies class for anyone just getting started.

Visit a Farmer’s Market
Look for vendors who use organic or traditional growing methods. There are some vendors who are not certified organic because of the long, expensive, tedious process of becoming USDA Certified. Fresh organic produce really does make a difference.

Join a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups thrive on YOU! A CSA is the perfect way to get the seasons best farm fresh produce on a weekly basis.

Local Harvest has a complete listing of Farmers Markets, CSA’s and much more. You can search by your specific city or region.

Dr. Jason Bradley, ND, DC, DABAAHP, FLTCHP, MA
Dr. Jason Bradley practices out of Washington Street Wellness Center in downtown Iowa City. Visit Dr. Bradley to look at your body’s nutritional balance and make sure you are getting what your body needs to be healthy and active. He has experience in working with patients who are vegan, raw vegan, gluten free, etc.

Dr. Bradley is the first person I have worked with who actually HELPED me through stress and anxiety in a natural way. After some blood tests, I discovered my Cortisol hormone was highly elevated, and that my Vitamin D levels were well below what is considered the “low range.” These two nutritional levels being so far off balance in my body, were likely the main reasons I was experiencing anxiety and depression. After one month of adrenal support and Vitamin D, I felt an amazing shift in my energy and everyday mood.

Dr. Jason Bradley
General Practice Traditional Naturopathy
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement and Balancing
Acute and Chronic Pain Management
Certified First Line Therapy Provider
Board Certified, American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine
DNP Candidate, Excelsior/ Frontier School of Nursing Medicine, Community Family Practice (May 2013)
American Society for Nutrition - Professional Member
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists - Professional Member
American College of Lifestyle Medicine - Professional Member
American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine - Professional Member
Institute for Functional Medicine - Professional Member
ACA Council on Nutrition - Professional Member
Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine - Professional member

From My Book Shelf:
Thrive and Thrive Foods, Brendan Brazier
These books have great information on combating stress, dealing with adrenal fatigue, and identifying nutrient dense foods for your body. Brendan has developed some great recipes and tips for Vegan athletes. The information is helpful whether you are athletic or not.

Vegan With a Vengeance, Isa Chandra Moskowitz
This is my favorite cookbook of all time. As proof, my favorite recipe pages are covered with food.

The Completed Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions: Veganize it! Foolproof methods for transforming any dish into a delicious new Vegan favorite, Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

Look for more information coming soon!
~ Vegan 101 - Part 2: Stock Your Vegan Kitchen
~ Vegan 101 - Part 3: Recommended Vegan Websites and Other Tools