Friday, July 15, 2016

Minimal Summer Makeup

Here in the Northeast U.S., we have had some scorching hot days. For a while, it was also very dry, but the humidity has picked up and everything is droopy (plants and people included). I usually stick to light makeup, but that's especially true when it's so hot.

Note: The matte bronzer from Tarte is vegan, but the regular 
one is not. I have the non-vegan one pictured in the travel size, 
given to me as a gift. It is not vegan because it is made in 
China, and therefore required by law to be tested on animals.
I have normal to dry skin, with a few breakouts still, so I have a tough time finding the right balance of moisturizing products that don't leave me feeling sweaty or greasy on my face. I'm still working on a good skincare routine, but lately I make sure to wash and tone my face in the morning, and then apply a moisturizer with SPF. I like the Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisture SPF 47 because it uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both physical SPFs, instead of chemicals. It is very greasy, though, so powder is a must (and I NEVER use powder).

For base, I've only been using concealer around my t-zone to even out redness and dark under-eye circles. I currently use the BareMinerals BareSkin Complete Coverage Serum in Fair. If I had the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, I'd probably use that instead, since it's a little less greasy, but setting the serum concealer with powder works fine for me. I use an EcoTools Buffing Brush to blend in the concealer under my eyes, around my nostrils, and on any blemishes (usually around my chin). It does seem to settle into my pores around my nose, so when I remember, I try to use the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer first.

The secret to my minimal summer makeup is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powder in Dim Light. I picked up a mini size at Sephora this spring, and could NOT figure out what to do with it. I thought it was just a setting powder, but it was way too dark for me. However, since I'm so pale, it looks really nice on my cheeks as a sort of mix between blush and bronzer. It's so subtle that I don't have to worry about going too heavy or blending to long. I've also used it as an eye shadow, and it's really subtle and pretty as well. If I feel like adding a bit more bronze, I will brush some of the Tarte Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof bronzer to the top outside part of my cheekbones, near my hairline. And I'll brush some on my neck if I seem to pale/contrasting there.

For eyes, I'm trying out different nude/natural shades, but today I grabbed my HAN Skin Care Cosmetics 100% Natural Eye Shadow in Taupey Plum, and it's perfect for this bronzed but minimal makeup look. I put a small amount on the EcoTools Full Eye Shadow Brush, and applied focusing on the lash line and then blending out towards the crease. You could use a liner as well, but I kept it simple by just curling my lashes and applying a single coat of the Pacifica Aquarian Gaze Water-Resistant Long Lash Mineral Mascara in Abyss. As I mentioned, I used a setting powder because my face looked way too shiny. I have the Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Loose Powder, but it's really too dark for my skin tone.

I finish off the look by brushing through my eyebrows with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel in Brunette and adding some lip moisCrazy Rumors 100% Natural Lip Balm in Hot Cocoa. I should really find a lip balm with SPF--any suggestions? I don't care for the scent of the Hurraw Sun Balm, or I would use that. Let's be honest, though, I really don't like most SPF scents--they're too citrusy for me. If I could just wear a hat all the time, I totally would!
ture with the

How are you staying cool in the heat? Make sure to drink lots of water! xoxo

Friday, April 15, 2016

My Skincare Routine

I have been on a beauty and skincare kick for...a while now. It started last fall with a couple of subscriptions to some vegan beauty boxes (Petit Vour and Vegan Cuts Beauty Box). I was so excited with the boxes because, after six years of being vegan, I was still having a tough time figuring out what personal care products were vegan. Food is easy--makeup and skincare are not always so straightforward.

The beauty boxes helped me discover and fall in love with many products, and it turns out that there are SO many options! I mostly try to stick to natural, non-toxic products that are vegan and cruelty-free. For information about ingredients, I recommend the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep database. For lists of vegan and cruelty free products, check out Tashina Combs' amazing blog full of resources.

You'll notice these products are focused on detoxing and anti-aging. I don't have particularly sensitive skin, but I've been prone to breakouts lately and I just like having more natural products on my skin. Grad school has not been kind to my skin, so I'm hoping that with time these products will help restore my skin and reduce some frowning wrinkles on my forehead.

One of the brands I was especially pleased to find was Derma E, and now I use their Hydrating Night Cream and Day Cream, as well as their Purifying Daily Detox Scrub and their Firming DMAE Eye Lift Cream. All of their products are vegan and cruelty-free, and they have great formulas that I find super effective. I've used their Hydrating Serum, but I just picked up their Purifying Youth Serum yesterday, so I'm trying that one out now. My mom, who is also vegan, has enjoyed using their products as well. I love that they look and feel high end, but they're actually really affordable.

Another affordable brand I've known about, but have recently been interested in more, is Pacifica Beauty. They're also all vegan and cruelty free. I think for a while they were mostly making perfumes and really smelly lotions, but lately they are upping their skincare game and it's amazing! I was so happy to see a few weeks ago that they launched a Cactus Water Micellar Cleansing Tonic. Micellar water is all the rave with the beauty bloggers, but all the brands I've heard them mention are tested on animals, so I could not have been happier to find a product I feel good about. Not only is this product both vegan and cruelty-free, it also smells great and the bottle looks so lovely.  I also picked up their Pore Refine Deep Detox Mask, which I think is helping to help reduce my blackheads, and I'm trying out their Cactus & Kale Oil-Free Stress Recovery Lotion. The lotion feels so nice, and unlike their earlier products, the scent is so subtle and soothing. I will say that I was also tempted to buy their Sea Change Future Youth Serum, but I got the Derma E serum instead, because it was on sale!  Next time! (EDIT: I picked it up in June, and like it just the same as the Derma E, so I just switch back and forth.)

Finally, I just discovered a local Rochester skin care company and have really enjoyed the products I picked up from them during Anthropologie's Pop Up Market in Eastview Mall. Red Moon Apothecary is located about half a mile from my house, and they make lovely botanical skin care products. Some of their products have milk or honey in them, but I found a few that are vegan. The Activated Charcoal Cleansing Cream is SO luxurious. It is like an oil cleanser, but it is so refreshing because of the activated charcoal. Like I said, my skin has been breaking out so much, and this feels like the perfect balance for my skin. Ob-sessed. I also picked up their Lavender and Citrus Cleanser, which is bright and fresh as well. The other product I picked out from them is their Hydrating Facial Serum, which is a lovely and light combination of 5 different oils plus essential oils. The jury is still out whether it's a keeper, but I think it will work well for an evening when I really want my skin to soak up hydrating and natural oils.

I seriously have so many more products that I have been loving, but I'll save those for next time! What vegan products do you have in your skincare routine? Any local, handmade brands you're proud to have discovered? Let me know!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Seven tips for taking care of yourself in stressful times

I woke up feeling very antsy today. My body is agitated and all my tight spots are screaming to be stretched. No matter how much I stretch, though, I can't seem to shake the irritated feeling. Since I only have 2 weeks left until my thesis is due, I know there's a lot going on. Although I don't always feel calm and carefree, I thought I'd share some of the things I do to reduce anxiety and restlessness. I also stopped by my local grocery store and picked up some gear to give me a boost and help get through another day of statistical analysis and writing. *Ooof*

1. Stretch
As I mentioned, my body really tells me when I need to stretch. I've been working 7 days a week at my workstation, putting in time at my 40+hour/week job, and all day every weekend day finishing up my thesis. My right forearm is really fatigued from using my mouse and typing, so I'm trying to stretch it as much as possible by pulling my fingers back and down. Sometimes I press my hand flat against a wall do get that same stretch. I also try to hang in a forward fold as much as possible, because my hips are so achy from all the sitting. It helps also to clasp my hands and hang my arms over my head when I do the forward fold, to stretch out my chest, shoulders and arms. I will say that I think the main reason I'm so agitated today is that I did a very deep stretch yoga class on Wednesday, and my muscles aren't happy about going back into the tense positions that I just worked so hard to reverse. I have the same issue when I get a massage. So, word of warning, it's not always good to work all of that out when you still need to maintain the same unhealthy sitting positions! I'll save the massage for when I'm DONE with my thesis!

2. Magnesium
One thing I try to reach for when I get that feeling of heightened stress and malaise is a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is an essential mineral and most Americans are deficient because our food has less than it used to (because of overused, nutrient-deficient soil). There are great food sources for magnesium, including leafy greens, whole grains, and even dark chocolate! But when I feel this way, the easiest thing for me to do is to mix up a glass of Natural Calm, a relaxing magnesium supplement. It's a tangy, sugar-free vegan beverage mix and it's easy to drink all at once. I sometimes take it before bed if I'm feeling wired, and every once in a while I will take it during the workday if I'm feeling particularly stressed. Stress actually depletes your magnesium stores, so it really is a good idea to supplement if you have a lot of stress and pressures in your life.

3. Mineral water
Mineral water is also a source of magnesium and other minerals like calcium. My favorite brand is Gerolsteiner, and I like to buy it in the glass bottles where possible. When I have a lot of work to do, I like to sip on this fizzy, calorie-free drink. It feels luxurious and very French.

4. Herbal Tea
I try to avoid caffeine because it makes me manic. From what I've shared so far, it's obvious that I have a lot of energy and I don't always know what to do with it, so adding caffeine into the mix is usually a bad idea! But I LOVE coffee, especially with a big splash of soy creamer. So when I'm in the midst of a stressful push to get work done, I have to reach for something that won't distract my thoughts. Herbal tea is such a great option because it can have so many medicinal benefits in addition to being a calorie free hot beverage that keeps me from snacking endlessly. My favorite any time of day or year is peppermint, and I especially like the Traditional Medicinals brand. I also really like their Gypsy Cold Care tea just for its flavor, but I also think it has helped me stay healthy through this winter/stress season *crosses fingers*. Today, because of my anxiety, I thought I'd try something new. I picked up the Yogi Tea brand St. John's Wort Blues Away tea. It's very important to learn about the medicinal properties of herbal tea. For example, St. John's Wort can reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control, so it's best to avoid if you're sexually active and using the pill, etc., to prevent pregnancy. I think it tastes great and I do think it has helped me feel calmer as I've been writing this--though the writing probably helps too! If you're not sure what tea to try, some brands offer sampler boxes to test out. My co-workers all love tea, so we will often swap or let one another have one to try. It's fun and is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to bottled kombucha drinks or lattes. If you have a friend who lives far away, you can send each other a few bags of your favorites. I will often slip a few into cards or gift bags for my friends. Such an easy and thoughtful surprise!

5. Beans, Greens, Grains
Finally, a huge way to stave off the bad feels is to eat a healthy diet. I am *not* eating a very healthy diet lately. Because thesis. I go to the store and grab chocolate peanut butter candy, chips, baked goods, salty sandwiches and soups...and so on and so forth. So instead of getting ALL unhealthy food (come on, you know I picked up those Earth Balance PB Popps!) I picked out some wholesome foods that would be easy to prepare in my office kitchen. First, I grabbed some bananas and coconut yogurt, because it was already 10:30 and I still hadn't eaten breakfast. Then, I grabbed a box of washed baby spinach and a lemon, which I can steam in the microwave. I also stopped by the freezer section and picked up one of the Amy's Kitchen frozen meals. Guys, this is NOT that healthy, especially because of the sodium (which also depletes magnesium!) but I wanted something that had beans, greens, and grains, and this fit the bill. I also picked up a tofu scramble breakfast burrito. Hey, I need snacks that aren't full of sugar! Beans, greens, and grains all have healthy carbs that actually help with anxiety, and they also have fiber, minerals (magnesium! I'm obsessed!), and vitamins. Whenever I'm off the wagon with the healthy eating, having a bowl of these three powerhouses always set me straight.

Some other ideas...
6. Exercise
So important! But I don't have time! Sometimes I try to fit in an hour long walk with Adam when I get home, so we can catch up and I can stretch my legs and get my heart rate up a tad. We have a nice long loop that we walk through residential neighborhoods, and it's a great way to talk and check in with one another, with no distractions like screens or chores. Daily walks have become so key to my general wellbeing. If you can find a safe place to walk with someone you love, please give it a try!

7. Meditation
I do this every once in a while, but my scattered brain often talks me out of it. I've tried different apps, like Headspace and Calm, and they are great, but I just don't think of it enough. I'm trying to work on a morning routine based on the SAVERS approach, where the first S stands for Stillness or meditation. Work in progress!

So that's it! I'm really feeling better already, though my shoulder and hips will just have to keep quiet for now until this project is over. What do you do to beat restlessness and anxiety?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Swedish Cardamom Bread

I'm daydreaming about veganizing this recipe. I would substitute regular unsweetened soymilk for the whole milk, Earth Balance sticks for the butter, and more milk, maybe mixed with some starch or sugar, for the egg wash on top.

Inspired by @thekitchenwitch

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Vegan Cocido

While I daydream about visiting Spain next spring, I think I a lot about how this time will be different now that I'm vegan. From blog posts to internet searches, it seems vegan foods abound all over the major cities of Spain, so I'm not concerned, and I'm even a little excited to discover a world that was unknown to me while I lived there 5 years ago. It will be a new adventure in an old hometown.

Today,  while it's still windy and cold, I decided to whip up a quick soup to use up some vegetables in our fridge, in preparation of our grocery trip tomorrow (hopefully the weather will be kinder). I grabbed some potatoes, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, a rutabaga, and some kale, and was delighted to see we still had some Italian Tofurkey sausages. Perfect. A cozy basic vegetable soup with some sausage for depth.

As this dish evolved, I was reminded of a delicious stew called cocido, which I enjoyed mostly while I trekked through northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago, the way of St. James. The traditional soup has a variety of meats, all very easy to find in vegan form. If I'd had some, I would have added pinto beans and seitan strips, and maybe used kielbasa instead of Italian sausage. Adding a little red wine and smoked paprika made it look like a tomato-soup, which it is not. The porcini mushrooms are perfect for adding some earthy depth and another chewy texture. Don't leave them out if you can help it.

So if you want to be transported to dreary, wet, northern Spain on this equally dreary northeastern US day, please try this out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, leaves included if you have them
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 small red potatoes (Yukon gold would work too)
1/2 C red wine
6-8 dried porcini mushrooms
2 C vegetable broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
2 vegetarian sausages, cut in half moon disks
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 C kale, chopped
Smoked paprika

In a soup pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Stir occasionally, and cook till soft, about 10 minutes on medium heat. Add the garlic and stir, cooking about 1-2 minutes, not allowing it to burn. Add the red wine to deglaze the pot, then add the potatoes and vegetable broth. If the liquid does not cover the veggies, add water. Add the thyme and oregano, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

While the soup simmers, brown the sausages in the remaining oil in a cast iron skillet (a regular frying pan is fine too).  When the potatoes are tender, remove the mushrooms (if they are big) and set aside to mince. Then remove about 2 C of the broth and veggie combination, and blend with the lemon juice, using a handheld or regular blender. Return the blended soup to the pot and add the minced porcini mushrooms, kale and sausages. Cover and simmer until the kale is soft. Sprinkle with smoked paprika to taste.

Buen provecho!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

dreamy mornings

I have been fighting an awful viral infection for the better part of a week now, and I have never taken so many pain medications in my life. Alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen, this dreamy state I find myself in this morning might just be drug-induced. 

All the same, it's a hot, steamy, midsummer morning, and I found myself on public transit instead of my normal bike ride because I am still too weak to do the 12 mile round trip, especially in this 90 degree heat. After a quick shower, I threw on my new purple chinos and a rust-colored blouse, grabbed a cardigan and bus money and ran out of the house in a hurry, hustling to catch the bus, as usual.

Thankfully, the bus route I chose allowed me a quick visit to Java's on Gibbs St., where I ordered an ice tea and breakfast bar. Wishing I had just a bit more time to sit on the patio and watch the birds pick up bits of food off the sidewalk, I returned to the bus stop near the Eastman School, when I noticed the free university shuttle was rounding the corner to make a stop. On a whim, I dashed down the street to catch the bus, curious about the route and looking for a change to my normal city bus route. I sat in the back of the bumpy bus, sipping my iced tea and listening to a random mix of music on my phone that I could not have picked out more perfectly for this spontaneous morning. Zee Avi, Adele, Ani Difranco, etc. put me in a dreamier mood than I was expecting. I watched as students stepped onto the bus, swiped their id's and sat down with friends, making conversation about summer courses and weekend plans. Something about being around college students is inspiring to me. It's not that I want to be a student again, 21 and still so uncertain about the world. But I think I appreciate the intensity with which they live their lives, and being around them opens me back up to that electric pulse of new ideas, dreams and possibilities. It is refreshing and also satisfying, to reminisce but also feel grateful for the years and distance between that bewildered college girl and the person I am now, nearing 30 with a life and career and ever expanding circle of family and friends. 

After a winding route through my beloved city, we arrive at the university library, where I step off and begin a long walk to the other campus where I work. The air is thick and humid, but after the cold blast of AC on the shuttle, I'm grateful for the way the heat wraps around my tired and still sick body. My trips to the Caribbean have eased my dislike for hot weather and now I relish the memory of those tropical days. The campus is lush and fragrant with bright flowers and green grass and although there are people everywhere, I can be alone in my thoughts as I wind down narrow paths alternating between shade and bright sunshine. This walk through campus with more Zee Avi and Amos Lee puts me in a peaceful state, and I am so satisfied with life and all the moments that brought me to today. I know that I won't be able to sit down to my work until I get these words out, and yet I'm grateful that I can allow myself the bit of time it takes to really savor these feelings and this moment. 

There really is nothing like Rochester in the summertime....

You know how the time flies
Only yesterday was the time of our lives
We were born and raised in a summer haze
bound by the surprise of our glory days

- Adele, "Someone Like You"

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reflections on Health Promotion (while procrastinating)

I'm writing up a final take-home exam for my Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine course, and I just stopped downstairs for a snack. I had just finished the question talking about dietary patterns, and I poked around my cupboard and fridge, feeling satisfied about my eating habits.
In our cupboard, we have whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal. We have dried beans, nuts, and seeds galore. We have a lovely stash of nutritional yeast, a delicious Vitamin B12 supplement. We have whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes, natural nut and seed butters, vinegars of various flavors, and sea vegetables. In the fridge, we have unsweetened almond milk and flax milk, bags of apples, carrots, kale, celery, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and mushrooms. We have cilantro, basil, and parsley. We have homemade leftovers like split yellow pea soup, tomato and chickpea soup, and vegetable paella. We have some vegan meats, cheeses, and margarine, tofu, tempeh, wholegrain English muffins, jams, soy yogurt, and day old bagels (that I picked up on a 4-mile walk this morning in the sunshine). I have a pound of beans soaking in the crock pot to be cooked tomorrow while I'm at work. In a bowl on the table, we have a huge bowl of oranges, kiwis and an avocado. And I didn't even mention the freezer. Can you tell we went to the grocery store today?
We eat pretty darn healthy. It's sometimes hard for me to remember that not everyone eats like me. I have to remind myself to laugh when people ask if I'm getting the nutrients I need on a vegan diet. Except for a few supplements (B12, D, Calcium), I get everything I need and more from this diet. Without this diet, I'm sure I would be much further off course and struggle much more in getting the things I need.
I also happened across a series of photos of the foods families from across the globe consume in one week. Randomly enough, these exact photos also appeared in a lecture I looked at a little while later, and it listed the dollar amount spent on these foods. In the US, a family of 4 spent nearly $400 on food, and much of it included fast food, chips, soda, pizza, etc. Today, Adam and I spent $187, including about $20 extra for prepared sandwiches, sesame cashew noodles and drinks for dinner. I estimated this week that I have been spending about $50 a week buying breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner at work, so we threw in some extra things to try to save me money (yogurt, hummus, English muffins, almond milk in small boxes, salad fixings, etc.). Generally, we spend around $100 per week, and we shop at a natural food store. Most of the food we buy is organic, some of it is local, and almost all of it is healthy.
At any rate, I was just thinking, as I grabbed a spoonful of no-sugar-or-salt-added natural peanut butter and my glass of flax milk, that I could give myself a break for once.
And, then there's all those animals whose body parts and excretions I didn't buy. :) It's so rough, being a vegan.

Friday, January 18, 2013

career musings

In my professional life, I spend a bit of time doing Spanish to English translations, both written and verbal. Sometimes I wonder about changing jobs to do translations all day long. It would be pretty stimulating for me, and probably less stressful, to focus on this particular discipline that fits with my perfectionism and love of MS Word formatting. 

However, in the course of about 24 hours, in working on a large translation project where edits are constantly being made and I have to go back to make changes in one language based on changes made in the other, I have consumed an entire bar of chocolate, a slice of pie, french fries, and chocolate soy milk. And that's just the non-meal foods....

...on second thought, I better not quit my day job. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

a long december day...

It's been a roller coaster ride kind of day.

Things started out pretty normal, but we had a holiday party with our research group, so that was fun and nice to not have to work for a couple hours. People liked my lentil walnut pate and there was plenty of vegan food for me to eat. 

After the party, I went with 2 other people to the cancer center to drop off gifts we had collected for a family whose father is dying of cancer. The social worker said he won't be around next year. He has two little girls, one- and four-years old. Gift cards and mittens seem so insufficient compared to the burden they bear. 

Actually, before I even dropped off the gifts, I stopped to read a blog entry our friend, Annie, wrote about the loss of their daughter, Piper, and how she's been handling it. It was good to hear an update but it is just as heartbreaking as I imagined it would be dealing with the loss of a child 6 months into a pregnancy. She said she has this constant urge to break coffee mugs on the pavement in anger, but that their mugs have been carefully collected through travels over many years. So what do you break?

On my way home, I was feeling really sleepy, and although I try not to do this, I allowed myself to doze a little. I noticed towards the end of my ride that the boy behind me seemed to be leaning in pretty close to me. At one point I looked back and he asked me if he could use my phone. I asked him why and he said he needed to call his mom. I asked him for the number and dialed it for him. At this point I knew I had to be careful that he wasn't trying to steal it, so I made sure I was situated in way I could grab it back instantly. He said I dialed the wrong number and gave it back. It was too late already, he said, it was almost his stop. 


Minutes later, as he's getting off the bus, he reaches back and grabs at my phone! I thankfully had a good grip on it and he was out the door in a flash, sans phone, but not before I could yell "YOU F*CKING A**HOLE!!!" as he looked back at me, bewildered.

I told the people around me that he had tried to take my phone, and immediately apologized for my language. People gave me sympathetic looks, and the woman in front of me said she had heard that phone snatching was becoming more common. 

I'm pretty shaken up, and a little paranoid at home alone (Adam's bus broke random). But what gets me the most is that this kid is heading down the wrong path, and I don't know what to do about it. I'm tempted to try calling the number (he said it was the wrong number but told me what it should be) and ask them if a teenage boy lives with them, and let them know he tried stealing a phone from someone. I want his mother to know what happened. Or a teacher. Someone. I want someone who cares about him to help him see what a slippery slope it is between petty theft and armed robbery. I want him to never do that again. For him. 

I am trying to think about what I could say if I see him again. It reminds me of this scene from a silly movie called "Ira and Abby" where Jennifer Westfeldt's eternally optimistic character is on a subway and a kid pulls out a gun and tells everyone to give him their money. She immediately starts talking to him and asks him how much money he needs, and then goes around politely to all of the passengers collecting the amount he asks for. He is shocked and even lowers his price, and then gets off at the next stop. I think you see the kid again later and his life is somehow changed because of Abby. 

I guess I could try to contact the bus company and ask them to review the tapes from the bus and maybe talk to him. That doesn't seem right, but neither does leaving everything as it is. 

All this on top of the enormous grief I feel for the families of Newtown and the victims of gun violence everywhere, and for the innocent targets of drone strikes, and for the babies who die before being born and for the billions of animals stuffed into tiny cages and crates, standing and sleeping in their own feces and waiting to die a cruel death to end up on someone's plate. I guess I'm saying that the world is cruel and some days it is more clear to me. But as Annie wrote in her post, the injustice of the world only makes me want to take a stronger stand, to be powerful instead of powerless, to be a force for good instead of a silent bystander. 

But for now, I'm ordering pizza. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Healthy Potluck Ideas -- Halloween

Well, the holiday season is upon us and at work we are starting to get inundated with requests for potluck contributions. Today is Halloween and the Epidemiology division is sponsoring an all day eating extravaganza. I am always shocked at how little regard our Public Health Sciences department has for healthy potluck options. Here we are promoting healthy lifestyles and then there is a 20 foot long spread of different kinds of homemade cupcakes. The future of public health, my friends.

I thought I'd share some healthy ideas for potlucks that attempt to accommodate different diets and promote well being, instead of gluttonous excess.

For a Fall/Winter potluck:
1. Chai tea
    I brought in a box of nice chai tea along with a container of coconut creamer and jar of cinnamon for sprinkling. This is vegan, gluten free and suitable-ish for those crazy paleos out there. If you're not avoiding soy, I like Wild Wood soy creamer, as it's not as sweet as Silk.
     My original plan was to use Annie's great chai recipe (from the Betty Crocker Project) whereby you heat up almond milk and steep the chai together with the spices. You could then put it in a thermos pump pot. I didn't have the ingredients at home, so I opted for the DIY version. What I like best about bringing chai to a potluck is that it provides a different beverage option for those who don't necessarily want to drink soda, but who will if it's the only thing available (myself included).

2. Coconut squash
    I just thought this up this morning, but I think a really yummy side dish would be twice-baked winter squash. Cut a couple of acorn squashes in half, remove the seeds, roast cut-side down for an hour in a 350-degree oven (or until VERY soft), let cool, then scoop out the flesh from the halves. You can do this days in advance.
     The day of the event, mash up your squash in an oven safe dish, mix in coconut oil (or vegan margarine or olive oil) and maybe some non-dairy milk or creamer (depending on your crowd/dietary needs) and bake until slightly brown on top, or at least hot all the way through. Sprinkle with warm spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, or garam masala. If you have a microwave-save dish, you can warm it up for a lunch-time affair. Optional additions: chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme), toasted coconut (unsweetened) sprinkled on top, toasted nuts or seeds (sliced almonds, toasted pumpkin seeds), etc.

3. Pumpkin streusel loaf
    I tried this recipe from Peas & Thank You this weekend, and it was quite good. I used the glutinous options, using the 1 Cup of whole wheat flour, and it was dense but moist. I also used xylitol instead of the sucanat. I like this recipe because there are a lot of options for modifications, based on the needs of your crowd. You can use a variety of oils and flours, and it would likely turn out the same. Just be aware that paleo folks don't usually eat oats, but it is a small amount and they may be open to trying it regardless. Not sure how you could replace them...maybe sliced almonds?

That's all I have for now--I do plan on adding ideas for future events. Until then, enjoy Halloween!