What Does Vegan Mean? Archive

Nut Milks

Posted June 16, 2014 By Sandy

When I first became dairy (casein) free, my first thought was what was I going to do for milk?  Since we are also gluten free, we cannot use oat milk (not certified GF).  It wasn’t until later that I discovered nut milks!

My husband, Malcolm, is a huge lover of nut milks.  He usually makes walnut milk — which is his favorite.  (Personally, I am very fond of coconut milk, but that is a subject for another post).

So how, do you make nut milks?  Believe it or not, they are easier to make than it sounds.

1. Soak 1 cup of your favorite unsalted nuts overnight in filtered water

2. Drain the water and rinse nuts

3.  Add 3-4 cups of fresh filtered water to your 1 cup of nuts, 2 tsp. vanilla and 4-5 drops of stevia (Note:  If you plNut Milksan to drink your milk right away, substitute one cup of water with ice cubes.)

4.  Blend well in your VitaMix.

5.  Run nut milk through cheese cloth or fine stainer to remove the pulp or, if you are like my husband, leave nut pulp in the milk.

6.  Refrigerate until chilled before drinking.

Nut milks are delicious and nutritious.

But why soak them first?  My friends at Tasty Yummies explains the reason:

How-to Make Nut Milks

Most nuts, seeds, grains and beans are covered in natural chemicals – enzyme inhibitors and toxins – that protect them while growing, both from sprouting prematurely and also from predators. … Once harvested, those same chemicals, the major one being phytic acid – are indigestible to the human body and must be broken down before consumption. When food containing phytic acid is consumed, the acid combines with important minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and blocks their absorption which inhibits our digestive systems’ ability to break the nut down properly.

The very simple process of soaking releases these chemicals, helping you to absorb your food’s essential minerals and nutrients. Additionally, by soaking the nuts with the removal of these nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances, the flavor and taste is much more ideal and appealing.

Read more about nut milks in the Tasty Yummies article!

Be the first to comment

What is a Flexitarian?

Posted May 19, 2014 By Sandy

Last week, I posted an article on What is a Vegan?  Because I admitted that I was really not a vegan any longer, this was a difficult post to write.

So today, I am going to explain that I am a Flexitarian and why ….What is a Flexitarian?

First, what is a flexitarian?  According to Wikipedia:

A semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat products. In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year’s most useful word and defined it as “a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat”.  In 2012, the term was listed for the first time in the mainstream Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat. Common reasons for adopting a flexitarian diet may be health, environment or reduction of resource consumption, which are also arguments in favor of adopting a fully vegetarian diet. While flexitarians may view the flexitarian diet as occasional indulgences, vegetarians may strongly resent the term and view it as cheating or as a moral lapse. Other than flexitarian diets that may include any type of meat, semi-vegetarianism includes:

  • Pollotarians: They eat chicken or other poultry, but not meat from mammals, often for environmental, health or food justice reasons.
  • Pescetarians: They eat fish or other seafood, but not poultry or meat from mammals. The macrobiotic diet is plant-based, and may or may not include the occasional addition of fish or other seafood.
  • Pollo-pescetarians: They eat fish and poultry, but not meat from mammals.

So yes, I eat meat occasionally.

My story is rather interesting as I grew up in a ‘meat and potatoes’ family (or a meat and macaroni family!) and never really enjoyed eating much.  Once I got out on my own in college, I ate lots of vegetable dishes — often without meat at all!

Salad or soups/stews have always been one of my favorite meals.  But it never occurred to me that my body needed more veggies!  When I got sick from the overload of gluten, my naturopathic, who diagnosed me, was a vegan.  He and his wife spent time helping me adapted a vegan — or nearly vegan diet!  I felt like I had found home!!

So why did I switch to a Flexitarian diet?  After being vegan for a few years, I went back to be retested.  My naturopathic doctor discovered my high uric acid level and asked me again if I really had given up red meat!!  After some research, I discovered that the extra uric acid was, mostly likely, coming from the extra beans I was eating.

So once again, for health reasons, I changed my diet again.  I now eat poultry a few times a week, have an occasional fish or pork dish — and almost never eat beef.

There you have it!


Be the first to comment

What is a Vegan?

Posted May 12, 2014 By Sandy

I have a confession to make:  I am not a vegan!  After nearly five years of eating a plant based diet, I have just recently found out that I am NOT a vegan.

Why?  Because I don’t eat a plant-based diet due to the fact that  I am not an animal rights activist!!  In other words, I eat a plant-based diet because I feel it is a better diet for me.  Animal rights has nothing to do with my decision.

(More specifically, I am a flexitarian — but that is another story.)

Anyway, this all started with a few (of what I thought) were innocent comments on a vegan Facebook group concerning the following joke:

“If you are trying to save the animals, why are you eating their food?”

What is a Vegan?Personally, I thought the joke was hilarious, but the person who posted it was furious!  My comment to the gal that posted the ‘joke’ was that if vegans would stop flaunting their superior diet, maybe meat eaters would not make such comments.

Boy, was that the wrong thing to say.

Long story short, I finally looked up the definition of a vegan and here is what I found:

“Veganism/ˈvɡənɪzəm/ is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.”


What is a Vegan?

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.

Why Veganism?

People choose to be vegan for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. For example, some vegans feel that one promotes the meat industry by consuming eggs and dairy products. That is, once dairy cows or egg-laying chickens are too old to be productive, they are often sold as meat; and since male calves do not produce milk, they usually are raised for veal or other products. Some people avoid these items because of conditions associated with their production.

Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world. They know they are not perfect, but believe they have a responsibility to try to do their best, while not being judgmental of others.
The Vegetarian Resource Group


Vegan. Does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product. … People gravitate to veganism for various reasons; but its popularity stems from three main reasons–number one being love and respect for animals. Animals raised on factory farms endure horrific living conditions, and most vegans believe that even animals raised with “free-range” and “organic” classifications still suffer. Another reason that people follow a vegan diet has to do with environmental concerns. Take this fact, for example: The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people–more than the entire human population on Earth. If we stop feeding all our land’s output to farmed animals, there will be more food for humans to eat. Lastly, some people become vegan for health reasons.

So, I decided, based on the information above and what I learned in the group, that actually, I am a plant-based eater as I have no affiliation to the vegan movement as it pertains to animals.  Technially, I should change the name of my website to ‘Gluten Free Plant Based Living’ — but I am not going to do that at this point in time!)

Seems to me that each person should be able to chose what they want to eat without being attacked by anyone for their choices.  I don’t like to see animals suffer, but I am a people advocate FIRST!!

My form of eating is not a religion …. it is just a better way of eating for me.  But then, I still love my animal eating friends.


2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Salads are Not Just Lettuce!

Posted March 1, 2014 By Sandy

I get really frustrated when I go to a restaurant and order a salad — knowing it will be gluten free and vegan — and the waitress comes back with a plate full of lettuce and maybe a carrot or cucumber on the side!  That is NOT a salad!!  How come no one tells them that Salads are Not Just Lettuce??

I am the Salad Queen — I love salads!!  I’ve incorporated dozens of ways to make a salad with LOTS of different ingredients.  Check out some of my salad recipes here:

Salads can be made with lots of different ingredients that most people just don’t think of using.  Most of my salads are a meal within themselves!  Just by adding a few ‘extras’ you can have a satisfying meal too!  Check out the following tips to round out your salads:

  • Add beans:  My favorite is black beans, but you can use chickpeas or any of your favorite beans.  I have even added a can of Amy’s Black Bean Chili to my salads for a Mexi-Tex flavor.
  • Add grains:  My Quinoa Tabouli Salad is a perfect example of a grain salad — but you can also use rice or any whole grain in your salad.
  • Add starches:  White potatoes come to mind  — you can also try sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, and red potatoes.
  • Add fruit:  I frequently add raisins to my salads, but craisins, apples, pears, grapes …. or your favorite fruit will work well.
  • Add pasta:  Gluten free pasta is a good filler for any salad. Just makes sure you have plenty of veggies so the pasta does not overpower the veggies.

Last, but not least, your salad dressing can make a big different in the tastes of your salad.  I am pretty plain, myself, as use one basic dressing — but there are a number of good salad dressings and dressing recipes out there to chose from.  Here are my two favorites: Gluten Free Vegan Salad Dressings

What ‘secret’ ingredient to you use in your salads??  Share with us!!


Be the first to comment

Sprouting Your Grains and Seeds

Posted October 11, 2013 By Sandy

If you are not srouting or using sprouts in your recipes, you are losing a wonderful chance to add  a new and nutritious food for Gluten Free Vegans.

According to Wikipedia, “Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds to be eaten raw or cooked. Sprouted foods are a convenient way to have fresh vegetables for salads, or otherwise, in any season and can be germinated at home or produced industrially.”  (Check out the informative article on Wikipedia explaining about sprouting.)

I am a member of a wonderful Facebook group called Raw Food Wild Riot — I know, funny name, but great members and shared content!  Although I have been sprouting for years, I have learned lots about the subject that I did not know before.

For instance, did you know that black bean sprouts are toxic?  Well, I sure didn’t (although I have never tried sprouting them before).

On the other hand, chickpeas, mung beans, peas, adzuki beans, and lentils are safe to eat raw sprouted.

I, personally, sprout mung beans, broccoli and clover seeds (unfortunately, my husband and I are allergic to alfalfa sprouts — which are most common sprouts — after mung beans, that is!).

If you have never sprouted before, or if you would like to know how to sprout seeds, check out the video below that was referenced on Raw Food Wild Riot:

(If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can check it out here:  http://youtu.be/xoaIpZZfcFc).

If you are interested in more details about sprouting grains, I suggest you check out the following article (NOTE:  The article does reference gluten grains, so use caution when applying the suggestions):  Health Benefits of Sprouting Grains.

Do you sprout?  If so, what grains or seeds so you use?


Be the first to comment

8 Raw Foods to Add to Your Diet

Posted May 15, 2013 By Sandy

As you know, I have been paying more attention to the amount of raw food I have been eating lately.  Thankfully, the benefits of added Raw Food to your diet is becoming more widely known in the health community.

Salads are a pretty eSalad 3asy choice for eating raw foods every day, but variety is also a goal to strive for in your diet.

Today’s featured article is by Joyce del Rosario.  Here is her list of the 8 Raw Foods to Add to Your Diet:

foods that should be eaten raw

1. Coconut … is known to be one of the most effective natural hydrating foods there is, especially when eaten fresh and raw…

2. Leafy greens — Fresh leafy greens like kale, chard and spinach are full of vitamin C that boosts your immune system and also contain chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant, as well as fiber, enzymes and amino acids

3. Fermented vegetables … are super easy to digest, as the fermentation process ensures that the starches are pre-digested, which makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients…

4. Sprouts … are the best “live” food you could eat, and are thought to provide more vitamins, minerals and enzymes per calorie than any other food, cooked or raw.

5. Blueberries … are one of the best sources of antioxidants and are excellent for improving brain function…

6. Nuts — Raw nuts like almonds, walnuts and cashews can lower the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood and are even thought to reduce the risk of blood clots by improving the lining of your arteries….

7. Chia seeds — If you want a food that contains fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium, then the chia seed is going to be your new favorite snack….

8. Cacao — Raw cacao is a great mood booster due to the phyto-chemicals it contains, which explains why so many people turn to chocolate when they are feeling low….

Make sure to check out the original post from This Rawsome Vegan Life for recipes using these raw food ingredients!

I was surprised to find that I am eating many of them, myself!  Hopefully, huckleberries are as good as blueberries — as huckleberries are very popular in the northern Rockies (Idaho state fruit!).  And I need to study and share more info and recipes with fermented foods …. not a big item in my diet.

How many of these nutrient dense raw foods are you eating?

Be the first to comment

Giving Up Dairy

Posted April 10, 2013 By Sandy

We spent the last two weeks talking about Cow’s Milk vs. Non-Dairy Milk, Part One and Part Two.  But what about Giving Up Dairy all together?  If cow’s milk is not good for you, neither is cheese, ice cream, sour cream, …..

My favorite article on this subject comes from Dr. Mark Hyman.  He writes a very lengthy article on the fallacies of the food pyramid and quotes Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D (the second-most-cited scientist in all of clinical medicine and the head of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health) views on dairy:

Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs

1. Milk doesn’t reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!

2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) — a known cancer promoter.

5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn’t. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance.

So, now you know that dairy is not good for you and you should avoid it as much as possible (of course, if you are vegan, you are probably already doing that!).  But what do you do to replace dairy.    Here are a few recommendations from Lindsay Nixon from Happy Herbivore:

How to Give Up Cheese, Yogurt, etc.

1. Know your motivation. Keep in mind why you’re dumping dairy (see above).

2. Willpower. Know that you’re going to have to fight off an addiction. There will be a withdrawal — stay strong and break the cycle.

3. Find substitutes. Find vegan cheese and dairy substitutes to help make the transition easier. Find a non-dairy milk you like. If you liked whole milk, try almond milk. If you liked skim milk, try rice milk. Try different brands and different milks — soy, almond, rice, sweetened, unsweetened. You will find one you like.

Try different cheese substitutes (just make sure it’s vegan. Some rice, soy, and almond-based cheeses contain casein or whey, milk proteins). The most popular brand is Daiya. Other brands include Tofutti and Follow Your Heart.Gluten Free Vegan Substitutes

I have just released a digital guide, How to Replace Gluten, Dairy and Eggs in Your Diet, that lists numerous tips to help you along.  Order a copy today!

If you are interested in more information from either Dr. Mark Hyman or Dr. Walter Willett, check out the links below:


Be the first to comment

Cow’s Milk vs Non-Dairy Milks, Part Two

Posted April 3, 2013 By Sandy

Last week we talked about Cow’s Milk and some of the reasons why dairy is not good for our bodies.  Today, I want to talk about Non-Dairy Milks.

Non-Dairy Milks are plant based milk.  In other words, they are made from plants, nuts and seeds.  Here is a short list of the most popular ones:

  • Almond milkMilk 09
  • Coconut milk (my favorite, by the way)
  • Hazelnut milk
  • Hemp milk (my husband’s favorite)
  • Oat milk (not sure if there is a Gluten Free variety available!)
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk (I don’t recommend soy milk)

Lindsay Nixon, the Happy Herbivore, provides a list of what to look for when buying your non-dairy milk:

1. Make sure the plant-based milk you are using doesn’t contain oil. Refrigerated milks tend to, but shelf-stable do not. The shelf-stable ones also tend to be cheaper, and the great thing about them is you can stock up so you never run out in the middle of the recipe.

2. If you trying to eat a low-fat diet, you might want pick the brand with the lowest amount of fat per serving. This tends to be rice or oat milk, as soy and almonds both are fairly rich in fat naturally. You can, however, find low-fat and fat-free soy milks.

3. Pick the brand with the least number of ingredients.

4. Buy unsweetened if you can. If you need your plant-based milk sweetened, that’s fine. Sugar is a scapegoat, not the biggest concern. A little sweetener in your plant-based milk is nothing to worry about — just make sure you’re buying sweetened plain or vanilla, not chocolate or another flavor, which is basically a candy bar in a glass.

Although, Lindsay and I don’t agree on oil based milk, she has some excellent points for choosing Non Dairy Milk.  (If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love coconut products — including coconut milk.)

You can also, easily, make your own Non Dairy Milk.  I have published a complete recipe for making Non Dairy milk here.  My husband, Malcolm, prefers homemade Non Dairy Milk and has developed his own recipe!

If you are interested in more dairy substitutes, I recommend you purchase a copy of my new ebook:

Gluten Free Vegan Substitutes:  How to Replace Dairy and Egg in Your Diet.


Be the first to comment

Cow’s Milk vs Non-Dairy Milks, Part One

Posted March 27, 2013 By Sandy

Before we talk about Non-Dairy Milks, let talk about Cow’s Milk.

Even if you are not casein intolerant (that is the main protein in milk) like me, cow milk is just not the best thing to drink.  Despite the hype that the Dairy Counsel has put out for years, the human body was not meant to ingest as much dairy as modern Americans, especially, do today.

Cow 20

According to the Global Healing Center .….

“Ingredients” Added to Cow’s Milk

  • A Veritable Hormone Cocktail: including pituitary, steroid, hypothalamic, and thyroid hormones (remember most cows are extremely stressed)
  • Gastrointestinal Peptides:  Nerve and epidermal growth factors, and the growth inhibitors MDGI and MAF
  • rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone): a genetically engineered hormone directly linked to breast, colon and prostrate cancer. This is injected into cows to increase milk production.
  • Pus: National averages show at least 322 million cell-counts of pus per glass! This is well-above the human limit for pus-intake, and has been directly linked to paratuberculosis bacteria, as well as Crohn’s disease. The pus comes from infected udders on the cows known as mastitis.
  • Blood Cells: The USDA allows up to 1.5 million white blood cells per milliliter of commonly-sold milk. Yes, you are drinking cows blood in the milk and the USDA allows this!
  • Antibiotics: Currently, cows are in such a state of disease and mistreatment that they are continually being injected with antibiotic medicines, and rubbed down with chemical-laden ointments to deal with their chronic infections. Currently, regulating committees only test for 4 of the 85 drugs in dairy cows. This means that the other 81 drugs in cow’s milk are coming directly into your glasses and bodies. Estimates show that 38% of milk in the U.S. is “contaminated with sulfa drugs or other antibiotics,” according to a study by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest and published in the Wall Street Journal on December 29, 1989. A study from the FDA data showed that over half of all milk was laden with traces of pharmaceuticals yet nothing has been done to control this.

If that isn’t enough to turn you off from drinking Cow’s Milk, here is more information from Micheal Dye as quoted by Organic Baby:

In addition to the difference in the amount of protein in these two different types of milk, there are also major differences in the composition of this protein. The primary type of protein in cow’s milk is casein. Cow’s milk has 20 times as much casein as human milk, which makes the protein from cow’s milk difficult or impossible for humans to assimilate, according to Dr. John R. Christopher, N.D., M.H.

One of the biggest lies we have been told is that we need milk because of the high amount of calcium in cows milk.  In Dr. Robert Kadijan’s Letter to His Patients, he states:

And no doubt about it, milk is loaded with calcium.  But is it a good calcium source for humans?  I think not.  These are the reasons.  Excessive amounts of dairy products actually interfere with calcium absorption.  Secondly, the excess of protein that the milk provides is a major cause of the osteoporosis problem.  Dr.  Hegsted in England has been writing for years about the geographical distribution of osteoporosis.  It seems that the countries with the highest intake of dairy products are invariably the countries with the most osteoporosis.  He feels that milk is the cause of osteoporosis.

These are just a few of the facts about the dangers of Cow’s Milk and milk products.

Next week, we will talk about Non-Dairy Milks.


1 Comment. Join the Conversation

Coconut Milk

Posted August 9, 2012 By Sandy

I LOVE Coconut Milk!  I use various forms of Coconuts and Coconut Milk is several different dishes.  My favorite way is to pour it over Gluten Free cereal and bananas!  No, wait! …. I think I like Coconut Milk better in smoothies …. maybe in the ice cream dish my husband makes ….

I guess I like Coconut Milk anyway I can have it!!

If you are a Coconut Milk lover too, you are going to love our featured post:

How to Use Coconut Milk:

Recipes, Tips, and Best Brands

Alisa Fleming ~ Coconut milk is a wonderful food and a truly amazing ingredient for anyone who is dairy-free or vegan. But, many people wonder how to use coconut milk? I recently posted about a great deal on Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk (I bought two orders right away!), and a reader asked this question. That very evening, a friend asked me how to use coconut milk when she spotted a few unpacked cans on my counter. I knew it was time to demystify the powers of coconut milk!

Types of Coconut Milk

First, the three basic types of coconut milk on the market:

Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk …

Light Canned Coconut Milk …

Coconut Milk Beverage …


This writer finishes her article with a list of sweet and savory dishes using coconut milk.  I think I will go try some now ….

Be the first to comment