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Friday, November 28, 2008


I think this year's Thanksgiving dinner was our most delicious yet. It was so good, even my ultra-anti-vegan-food nephew admitted how much he liked it.

Clockwise from top: Tofurky with carrots, potatoes, and onions; green bean casserole; candied lime sweet potatoes; Nana's stuffing (veganized), mashed potatoes with vegan gravy; lefse; and orange pecan cranberries in the middle. (Not pictured: sweet potato biscuits, pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate pie.)

I wish I'd thought to serve it up on my pretty vegan plate. Darn.

Vegan Sources of Essential Nutrients

I put together this handy list of vegan sources of essential nutrients for my niece who is trying to go vegan, and I thought I would share it in case others can benefit from it. You can download a printer-friendly version to hang on your fridge here if you like.

Adapted from Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan World by Erin Pavlina

Vitamin B12
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified soymilk
  • Fortified juices
  • Spinach
  • Chickpeas
  • Baked beans
  • Broccoli
  • Almonds
  • Dried apricots
  • Sesame seeds and tahini
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Whole grains (oats, brown rice, pasta)
  • Nuts and seeds (tahini, almond butter, peanut butter)
  • Meat analogues
  • Legumes (tofu, lentils, split peas, beans)
  • Tofu
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Aduki beans
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Pinto beans
  • Tofu dogs
  • Veggie burgers
  • Baked potatoes
To boost absorption of iron, serve the foods listed above with a good source of Vitamin C.

  • Garbanzo beans
  • Lentils
  • Pinto beans
  • Firm tofu
  • Meat analogue deli slices
  • Almonds
  • Pine nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
Trail mix (nuts, seeds, and dried fruit) is great for zinc.

Omega-3 Fatty acids
  • Flaxseed, walnut, canola, soybean, & hempseed oils
  • Flaxseed (whole & ground)
  • Walnuts
  • Green leafy vegetables
Add ground flaxseeds to baked goods or as an egg replacer (1 T ground flaxseeds + 3 T water); use walnuts in baked goods and for snacks.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids
  • Corn, safflower, & sunflower oils
  • Walnuts
  • Tofu and other soy products

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkeys in the News

I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of an HSUS spokesperson, images of vegan advertisements, and acknowledgment of Tofurky as a viable option in this clip on last night's NBC Nightly News. I think we're becoming more mainstream!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A little photo montage of things I'm thankful for today...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My new favorite smoothie

So good.

Smoothies are the perfect antidote to holiday overeating. They are a healthy, light breakfast (or even dessert) - perfect to offset that enormous dinner you'll be eating tomorrow night (sans turkey, I hope!). This one is my new favorite, inspired by one I had at Jamba Juice on my trip over the weekend. I daresay mine is as good or better than theirs. I'm not going to give exact quantities because I change it up depending on how many smoothies I'm making, but here are the ingredients. (Use about a handful of each fruit per person.)

frozen banana chunks
frozen strawberries
frozen mango
pomegranate juice, frozen in ice cube trays
ground flax seed (1 tablespoon per person)
apple juice (I ran out of apple juice and had to use grape juice this time, but I like apple better)

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Countdown to Thanksgiving - 1 Day Left! (Why Free-Range is NOT the Answer)

Today I'd like to elaborate a bit on my earlier remarks about poultry (and other meats) bearing labels such as 'free-range,' 'organic,' and 'natural'. Once again, most of this info comes from the good folks at Farm Sanctuary.
  • Most people don't envision physical mutilations as part of their 'natural,' 'free-range,' or 'organic' turkey. But mutilations, from de-beaking to toe removal, are still performed at 'free-range' farms. These mutilations are a source of continual pain for the birds and can make eating and walking difficult.
  • As on factory farms, birds on 'free-range' and 'organic' turkey farms are genetically manipulated to grow at an unnaturally fast rate. The strain of growing so quickly causes many health problems for the turkeys, from crippling joint disorders to heart failure. Premature death on the 'free-range' farm is still common.
  • The USDA does not limit 'free-range' animal density or flock size and these turkeys are often packed crowded tightly together on 'free-range' farms.
  • Even though 'free-range' operations are supposed to grant turkeys outdoor access after about a month of life depending upon the weather, there are no specific requirements for this access. The provision for 'access', therefore, is practically meaningless.
  • In the winter, 'free-range' birds are not required by federal regulations to have access to the outdoors. Due to the fact that poultry is slaughtered at an extremely young age (about 14-16 weeks for turkeys) birds raised during the winter months do not have to go outside at all.
  • The size of the outdoor 'free-range' turkeys have access to is also unregulated by the USDA, so it can be surprisingly small and is often nothing more than a tiny, barren dirt lot.
  • Since the 'free-range' label has no clear definition it is nearly impossible to regulate the methods by which these animals are raised. In order to obtain approval for labels bearing the claim 'free-range,' poultry producers must only provide the USDA with a brief description of the birds' housing conditions. These claims are almost never verified by on-site inspections.
I know this is pretty depressing information, but I heard a quote today that really resonated - We must not refuse to see with our eyes what they must endure with their bodies.

I promise - tomorrow I'll focus on something more upbeat, and for today I do actually feel surprisingly grateful to possess this knowledge and to be able to share it in hopes that it might change someone else's perspective.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pics from my Farm Sanctuary visit

Gene Bauer (co-founder of Farm Sanctuary)

Emily Deschanel (star of Bones and 15-year vegan - she ROCKS!)

Countdown to Thanksgiving - 2 Days Left! (Lefse, anyone?)

Okay, I'm not sure how many of you will care about this; I think it's kind of an obscure, Norwegian-specific thing, but just in case there are other lefse lovers out there, this is for you. For me, nothing says 'Thanksgiving' quite like a big pile-o-lefse.

Longtime readers may remember my earlier reference to my Grammie's cooking lessons. My fondest memories of my great-grandmother are in her kitchen, where she taught me how to make several traditional family recipes. Foremost among these important family foods is lefse (pronounced 'lefsa'). My love for lefse is difficult to describe. How can what is essentially a giant potato tortilla evoke such excitement and anticipation? It's one of life's great mysteries. :-) We usually eat lefse around the holidays, as part of either our Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners, or here and there for snacks or breakfast.

I'm going to attempt to describe how to make lefse; however, I fear that it is one of those activities that is easiest to learn in person. If anyone reading this is truly interested in seeing more than what I've posted here today, let me know (leave a comment on this post) and maybe next time I make lefse I could videotape some of the techniques and post them here later.

This is a recipe that requires a bit of advance preparation and some special tools, as well as some upper body strength.

Equipment needed:

large pastry cloth
lefse turner
large round griddle
waffle-patterned rolling pin with cloth cover
wax paper
aluminum foil
clean scissors

The night before you plan to make your lefse, make a big pot of mashed potatoes. I find it easiest (and equally, if not more tasty) to use potato flakes, but if you're a snob and insist on making your potatoes from scratch, just make sure you get all the lumps out. You need very smooth mashed potatoes. Prepare them just as you normally would, with soy margarine and soy (or other non-dairy) milk, then the next day, when you're ready to cook the lefse, mix in enough unbleached all-purpose flour to make a workable dough. Here is a rough guideline, according to Grammie's recipe, but to be honest, I don't even follow it anymore - I just make the potatoes according to the package directions and do the flour by feel.


5 cups instant potato flakes (make sure they are vegan!)
3-1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 stick soy margarine
1-1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon salt
a few shakes of pepper, optional
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring work surfaces


Mix together all ingredients except flour and chill overnight. The next day, when you are ready to cook the lefse, add the flour to form a workable dough.

Time to prep your work area. Plug in your griddle and heat it to 500 degrees. On a table-height surface (not counter-height; the rolling is much easier down lower, but maybe that's because I'm short), lay out your pastry cloth and tape down the edges to keep it from shifting around while you roll the dough. Lay out a piece of aluminum foil topped with a piece of wax paper next to the griddle. Bring out your flour bin so you have plenty to keep using as you make the lefse. Sprinkle plenty of flour onto your pastry cloth and cloth-covered rolling pin before rolling each piece of dough.

Form the dough into balls slightly smaller than tennis balls. Work the dough around to make sure it's totally mixed and try to make a nice smooth sphere. Flatten the dough slightly and sprinkle flour on both sides.

Begin to roll out the dough until it's about the size of a salad plate. Flip it over, adding more flour if needed.

Keep rolling until it's super thin - I'd say a bit thinner than a tortilla. Mine usually end up around 14-16" in diameter. This is where the upper body strength comes in. You really need to get pretty aggressive to roll it out this thin. But be careful not to tear the dough!

Using your lefse turner, carefully lift the lefse and put it on the griddle.

Mmm... steamy.

When the dough starts to look a little bit bubbly, flip it over using your trusty lefse turner.

If big bubbles form, tap them with the tapered tip of your lefse turner to pop them. After about a minute on the second side, fold the lefse in half, then in half again, using your lefse turner. If you've done your job well, there will be some nice brown spots on the lefse, and it will be nice and soft. (Hint - if the lefse is crispy, your heat is probably too low. I know it sounds counter-intuituve, but trust me.)

Set the lefse on the wax paper and cut along the fold.

Once you have a decent stack (I do 12 halves to a package), wrap 'em up and store them in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat. (If you're going to store them for more than a couple of days, you may want to put them in a more airtight container - a freezer bag or big plastic container or whatever.)

These are best served warmed - I prefer them just with margarine, but some of my family puts jam on them, and they might be good with cinnamon and sugar - I'm sure you can be creative. Just spread your topping on, roll it up, and enjoy!

Fitting Right In

Blossom and Tinkerbell have discovered the essential keys to happiness at our house (coincidentally, the same tenets that the ducks and chickens follow religiously) -

1. Hang out on the front porch all day, soaking up the sun or hiding from the rain.

2. Poop a lot.

3. Poop some more.

4. C'mon, don't you have any more in you? Those humans we live with REALLY love hosing poop off the porch all day long!

5. If bored, peck at front window incessantly. Maybe someone will bring food.

6. Return to #2 and repeat sequence until sun-down.

Monday, November 24, 2008


We got a little bit of coverage in our little local paper yesterday over our recent adoption of Blossom and Tinkerbell. I realize that not everyone loves animals the way I do, but why do people have such nasty, snarky reactions to the idea of someone attempting to alleviate suffering in the world? You can click on 'comments' to read what some of the local ignorant rednecks had to say about our story. Grr.

Countdown to Thanksgiving - 3 Days Left!

Today I'm going to pass on some sad facts about the way turkeys are raised and consumed in our society. Most of this information comes from Farm Sanctuary.

Life on a factory farm is miserable for turkeys. Crowded inside dark, filthy warehouses by the thousands, commercially bred turkeys are treated like unfeeling commodities and denied the very basics of a natural life.

They are bred to reach a crippling weight at an unnaturally fast rate. They are de-beaked and de-toed without anesthetic*, which places them at risk for disease and infection. They are plagued by constant stress and physical debilitation. Selectively bred to grow abnormally large breasts, they can no longer reproduce naturally, meaning that all commercial turkeys are bred through aritificial insemination. (How would you like to have the job of stimulating male turkeys and collecting their semen? Fun stuff.) These sentient creatures suffer immensely before being sent to the slaughterhouse at just 14-18 weeks of age.

* Cutting off the tips of beaks (and obviously toes) is nothing like trimming a fingernail. Turkeys and other birds have nerve endings in their beaks and toes, and these cruel procedures cause severe pain.

Between 250 and 300 million turkeys are raised for slaughter in the United States every year - more than 45 million for Thanksgiving alone.

For the tiny percentage of factory farmed turkeys lucky enough to find refuge at a sanctuary, life still holds many challenges. Because they have been bred to put on so much weight so quickly, it's important for sanctuaries to manage the turkeys' weight carefully. Commercial breeders only intend for these birds to live for a couple of months; when they are allowed to live longer, they tend to grow unnaturally large with disproportionately big breasts. Foot and leg problems are common due to the excess weight on their skeletal structures as well as the common factory farm practice of de-toeing. De-beaking is also the norm, which poses problems for many turkeys at feeding time. Their mutilated beaks make it difficult for them to eat normally and without pain.

If you're reading all of this and thinking to yourself, 'Thank goodness none of this applies to me - I buy only free-range, organic meat products!' - well, I hate to burst your bubble, but you're just plain wrong. Out of increasing awareness and public concern about animal suffering, some consumers are turning toward so-called 'free-range,' 'organic,' or 'natural' turkey this holiday season. Unfortunately, although their hearts may be in the right place these labels are deceptive and do not equal humane. Thanksgiving shoppers buying these alternative turkeys have no way of knowing just how 'natural' a life these birds actually led before being slaughtered and labels such as 'free-range' and 'organic' are notoriously poorly monitored and enforced. All turkeys, whether conventional or 'free-range', are subjected to inhumane treatment, and ultimately their lives are ended painfully and prematurely.

I don't know about you, but I don't see how participation in any aspect of this dispicable industry can in good conscience be incorporated into a celebration purported to celebrate thankfulness and friendship.

If you'd like to learn more about factory farming, please check out

Fear Not, Gentle Reader...

...I have not forsaken ye. We had fun at Farm Sanctuary on Saturday, but the trip ended in a black cloud of despair and sadness when we hit and killed a deer on the way home. I've been in kind of a funk these past two days. Anyhoo, I will try to get caught up on my Thanksgiving countdown tomorrow, and hopefully post my Farm Sanctuary pics then too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chicken Pic of the Day

Countdown to Thanksgiving - 4 Days Left!

Using a turkey as the centerpiece and symbol of Thanksgiving is a relatively new tradition invented and actively promoted by the poultry industry during the twentieth century. Thankfully, humans are not bound by cruel traditions. Just because we've done something routinely in the past does not mean that it is automatically right. Traditions must evolve over time in order for our civilization to thrive. We must strive for better, more compassionate ways to interact with one another and with other animals.

And I'm glad to report that there are many delicious, cruelty-free alternatives!

In addition to staple Thankgiving foods like baked squash, savory stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and cornbread, there is also a growing variety of products that have been developed specifically to take the place of turkey at the Thanksgiving table. Try a Tofurky, a meat-free faux turkey roast made by Turtle Island Foods, or if you prefer to make something yourself, just stuff a squash or pumpkin instead of a turkey. After all, celebrating a compassionate Thanksgiving entails celebrating all life by skipping the broiled bird carcass. For more information on turkey alternatives and to access delightful and festive holiday recipes visit

Personally, I've decided to serve two Tofurky roasts at my Thanksgiving table this year. We tried them for the first time at Farm Sanctuary's Celebration for the Turkeys recently, and they are totally delicious!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Countdown to Thanksgiving - 5 Days Left!

I'm headed off to Farm Sanctuary today to attend their Celebration for the Turkeys, but I've scheduled this to post during my absence... a little dark comedy for today's installment of my turkey-day countdown.

(I found this on Google images - I'm not sure where it came from, but it looks to be signed by 'S. Ely' - thanks Mr. or Mrs. Ely!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

More turkey pics! You know you want 'em...

Blossom and Tinkerbell discovered the front porch today (a longtime favorite hangout for the ducks and chickens; they spend hours staring at us through the front window; now the turkeys have joined in the fun). Boy oh boy, you would not believe the quantities of turkey feces we had to clean off the porch at the end of the day.

Chicken Pic of the Day

LaFonda is always such an easy photography subject. She's just so gorgeous!

New Ring

California green tourmaline, California pink tourmaline, garnet, recycled sterling silver, and recycled 14k gold ring, size 6

This one was kind of a practice piece for a new look that's been rattling around in my head for a while. I love the combination of stones, and the little 14k gold accents, but I wish I'd put another 14k gold ball in the middle of the cluster of stones, and the bezels aren't totally smooth. Ah well, live and learn.

Countdown to Thanksgiving - 6 Days Left!

Today's Thanksgiving countdown post recaps our exciting day yesterday, when Blossom and Tinkerbell finally arrived to live with us! Thanks so much to everyone at Farm Sanctuary, especially Sarah, for all the work that went into rescuing these sweet girls and bringing them to us.

Finally here!

Hmm... is it safe to disembark?

Oh, there's food. Can't be that bad of a place...

Mmm, pumpkin - our favorite.

Cute little pumpkin goatee.

Num num num.

Dare I say - gobble gobble?

Chowing down!

Who is this strange miniature human who keeps throwing food at us?

I guess he's not that bad.

New friends.

Getting to know each other.

Happy little herbivore.

What are you lookin' at?

Such a beautiful girl!