The Decline of Processed Foods

Clearly it’s been a busy fall around these parts but I sure haven’t forgotten about my favorite corner of the Internet. Last night my local grocery store had an incredible sale on plum tomatoes: 3 pounds for $1! That was the only sign I needed to know it was time for endless bowls of fresh soup. I dashed to the store after dinner, my mouth watering at the thought of several dozens of juicy tomatoes just waiting to simmer on my stove, and of course, share with you.

You can imagine my heartbreak, then, when I was met with empty crates at the produce section. The only hint of the juicy, ripe tomatoes were the bruised, and squishy remnants I encountered sitting sadly at the bottoms of the bins. I humbly gathered the last three pounds I found scattered across the store and headed home undefeated.

I’d say it’s no coincidence that Treehugger has an insightful post today about the decline of processed foods in our grocery stores. It’s true: packaged foods strain our overburdened landfills, contribute significantly to cruel animal agriculture practices, and harm our bodies with additives. Earlier this year, the Washington Post published a story on the falling profits of companies like Jell-O and Oscar Mayer.

Now that explains why I was left with the twice-picked over tomatoes. Not a problem for me, though, if it means we are eating healthier and protecting the Planet at the same time 🙂 And since I did manage to round up the last bits of tomatoes, stick around for my recipe later this week.

Have you had a hard time finding produce these days?

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Sweet Potato is Your Fall Bae

Crunchy leaves. Later sunrises. Fall is here to stay, no doubt about it. I’m not going to lie and say I’m super pumped about the sudden chill–summer is my favorite season. It’s in my blood. I’m a desert rat what can I say?

If I had to pick one thing to be excited about for the cooler days ahead, though, it would surely be hanging out in the kitchen warmed by an oven cooking a delicious meal. And what might be inside that oven, you’re probably wondering, that could be so delicious?
Subtle yet dazzling. Muted but bold. What could it be?
Sweet potato, that’s what! This fall you’ll want to eat as much of it as you can get your hands on. Here’s why:
The nutritional value of this root vegetable is out the roof. Every vitamin you could imagine, sweet potato’s got you covered. A few of the benefits you’ll gain from eating one of these babies–potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Fiber. That alone makes up for the summery fruit you’ll be missing in colder days.
They are incredibly versatile. I mean just think about the possibilities. Sweet potato chips, mashed sweet potato, sweet potato curry…the list goes on! Whatever you’re in the mood for, sweet potato will be there for you. This brings me to my last point…
How can you resist this face?

How can you resist this face?

They ooze warmth. Indeed, sweet potato is best served warm. They very act of preparing it to eat requires you to heat it in some way, whether over the stove, or in the oven. However you choose to prepare it, eat it right away. Sweet potato will warm your frozen heart in no time.
What are your favorite ways to prepare sweet potato this fall?

The Not-So-Glam Vegan

The New York Times recently published a story about a vegan family set in their beautifully breezy home in California. Over a plate of artfully arranged beet ravioli complete with aged cashew cheese, the author asserts that a plant-based diet has become less stigmatized as a proclivity of the hippie dippie type, and become more “glam,” like an ephemeral fashion trend. Say what?

The truth is though, that neither of these representations could be further from the truth.

Veganism isn’t just a personal hobby–it is a lifestyle dedicated to safeguarding the Earth’s, animals, and our own health. The underlying basics of plant-based eating are decidedly not glamorous. Legumes, vegetables, and grains comprise the poor (wo)man’s diet.

If I eat these carrot sticks in a really cool way, will I be glam?

Maybe this really yellow lighting will make me and my carrot stick look glam?

Who is the real face of a vegan diet? It is you! The overtired student-athlete, the superhero stay at home dad of three children, the hardworking young professional, and the retiree, enjoying hard earned freedom. What are the dishes you enjoy each day? I bet they’re something like:

  • black beans and wild rice
  • toast and sliced avocado
  • quinoa and sweet potato
  • seared tofu and sautéed spinach
  • pasta and fresh marinara with basil

Sure it’s nice to enjoy a gourmet dish of nut cheese nachos, but the staples of our diets are wholesome and delicious in themselves. Veganism is accessible, tasty, simple and enjoyed by the most diverse arch of global citizens.

Free for My Readers

As we enter into our last week of Fruits and Vegetables month, I’m offering my EGuide free to my treasured readers through the end of September. At just 13 pages long, it’s designed to help you answer the fundamental challenges of plant-based eating: simple and adaptable preparation methods, selecting between fresh and frozen, tips for snacking on produce and a few more topics.

Email me at: mitali (dot) shah (dot) 17 (at) gmail (dot) (com) and I’ll send you the PDF.  I’m excited for your feedback after you have a chance to check it out.

Email me at the address above for your PDF copy

In Pictures: Savor Summer Fruit Every Season

While I may not be able to wear my white dresses anymore, the end of summer doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy fresh berries all year long. Maybe you just picked up a few pints of blueberries on sale at the supermarket or enjoyed one last trip to the farm and picked your own; the thought of surviving cooler months without juicy berries too much to bear.

Well, you’re in luck because in a few easy steps you’ll be able to enjoy your fresh summer pickings all year long!

This is my favorite way to freeze fruit like berries and pineapple. Sure, it does require an extra step or two beyond simply throwing them in the freezer, but I really think the end result is worth it. This method of freezing your fruit allows you to remove as much or as little as you need without getting stuck with a solid block you need to thaw to separate. It’s perfect for mixing fruit into smoothies, oatmeal, muffins, and just plain snacking!

I’ve used strawberries in this example but the method is pretty much similar for other fruit you’d like to freeze. Here are the four easy steps:

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1. Chop the stems off your strawberries. I prefer to chop the tops off first before washing them because then the dirt/pesticides from the top doesn’t mix in with the rest of the berry.

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2. Wash and dry your berries. The important part here is that you thoroughly dry your berries after washing them. I dab them gently with a paper towel to absorb any remaining water. The better you can dry them off, the fewer ice crystals they’ll form when you freeze them.

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3. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place strawberries on the pan and take care to leave space between each one.

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4. Freeze berries on pan for 3-4 hours. Be sure to keep the baking pan flat when you lay it in the freezer. Once berries are frozen, remove them from the pan and store them in a freezer-safe bag. Store bag in the freezer.

After each piece has room to freeze separately, you can put them all in the same bag without fear that it’ll turn into one huge blob. You can freeze blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries with the same method–just no stems to chop off first. With fruit like pineapple, chop it up into bite-size pieces and place each piece on the pan to freeze.

In a few easy steps, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying summer fruit every season!

A Surprise Unveiled

Earlier this week I mentioned I’d be revealing an exciting addition to my blog in honor of Fruits and Vegetables Month.

And here it is:
 E-Guide Cover
An E-Guide! Available on Etsy as a digital download, this guide was written to help my readers who are just beginning their plant-based journeys. It’s designed especially for those of you who want to eat greener not just for your health, but to protect our Planet’s precious resources as well, and aren’t sure where to begin.
It’s a very short guide at just 13 pages and it’ll be a quick read. My intention is for it serve as a reference for incorporating fruits and vegetables into your meals each day. It’s something I hope you come back to when you need help deciding whether to buy canned or frozen produce, organic or conventional fruits and vegetables, and tips for snacking on them.
Connect with me if you’d like to know more about the E-Guide.
My treasured readers can visit this post here for a sneak preview of what’s in the E-Guide.  Even if you don’t like kale, these basic prep methods will serve you well with other leafy vegetables.
Coming up later this week, I had a lovely chat with a farmer local to me here in DC about selecting fall produce.  Though her tips didn’t make into this short guide, I’m so excited to share them with you later. Stay tuned!