January 30, 2012

Royar's Famous, Ya'll!

She'll have to forgive me for tooting her horn loud enough for all the neighbors to hear, but my cousin Royar, author of My Life as a Young Southern Prep, was quoted in a New York Times article about teenage bloggers!

Did I mention it was the Sunday edition? Ka-ching!

Check out how eloquent and amazing she sounds:

Sigh. I can only hope she allows me to cling to her coat tails as she skyrockets to international fame. On another note, do you think the New York Times would be interested in featuring single, 20 something bloggers who live in the middle of nowhere? Didn't think so.

Until then...

Cheer's ya'll!

Vegan Sandals for Spring

Happy Monday everyone! (Or not. Wonk wonk.)

I got this lovely email from a reader over the weekend:

I know you've talked about this before, but am looking for vegan sandals for the spring; what do you think of the Jelly Jacks? Any other suggestions for sandals that I could dress up or down? Also, I love Bass Weejuns and Sperrys obviously, and I have some from before I was vegan, but what are vegan alternatives?

Thanks so much!

Ah, spring. Despite the gray days and wintery mix that Mother Nature continues to belch upon us, we can always start dreaming of warmer breezes, cotton sundresses, tanned yard boys gleaming with sweat....woops. Where was I?

Laura, you've asked a great question. I'm still clinging desperately to the pair of Jack Rogers I've had since The Dark Ages (aka my pre-vegan days). Once they're done, I'm not buying another pair due to them being covered in dead cow skin and all. They're still holding strong after 6 years and 2 repairs, but their days are numbered.

Which brings me to my first point: When transitioning to a vegan wardrobe, (i.e. one free of leather, suede, wool, silk, etc) I can't emphasize this enough: you don't have to toss all of the non-vegan clothing you already own. Seriously. Who can afford to buy an entire new wardrobe? Not I. (And if you can, would you mind sending some of that disposable income my way? This teacher's salary ain't cutting it.)

However, once your leather goods wear out, it's time to start hunting down some vegan footwear. The Jelly Jacks that Laura brought up are a fabulous option, and HALF the price of the regular sandals. See, being vegan really pays off! (Couldn't resist the pun. My sincere apologies.) They're plastic, so you don't have to religiously avoid water like you do with the traditional sandals, and they are seriously just as cute. 

Jelly Jacks in Gold, $68.00
Don't you agree? They also come in gold, silver, black and white. 

One of my favorite stores for vegan shoe finds is Aldo. Read labels carefully, but many of their shoes, bags, and belts are 100% man made materials.  

Giacoletti Sandal $27.99 (on sale!)
I love the animal pattern on these and think you could easily wear them with shorts and a tank top during the day, and a sexy LBD at night. They're totally versatile and could be paired with neutrals or even a bright spring neon like fushia or chartreuse.  Ka-ching!

And can we discuss how FABOOSH these are while still being 100% synthetic?
KOTUR Heels $80.00
Daaaaaang. Don't get me started. 

If you're looking for a specific "look" of a brand (Sperry, Bass Weejun, etc), Target has GREAT vegan knockoffs that are also a fraction of the price.  Check out their adorable canvas boat shoe that's less than $20:

Canvas Boat Shoe in Red $16.98 (on sale!)
My stylish cousin Royar has also found amazing Jack Rogers look-alikes there that cannot be distinguished from the real thing. 

The moral of the story? Great vegan shoes ARE out there, but finding them requires a little patience, the careful reading of shoe labels, and a slight sense of adventure. As for the rest, just email me, and let me do the leg work :)

Hope this helps, Laura! As for the rest of you, always feel free to email me with questions, suggestions, or undying declarations of love at: the_preppy_vegan{at}yahoo{dot}com.

Cheers, ya'll!

January 25, 2012

The (New) Clothes Make the Woman

...or at least, make going to work at 6am just a liiiittle more bearable. (Emphasis on a little.)

Despite the fact that my bank account has practically dwindled down to $0 this month, my online "window" shopping is still in full-swing. Here's what I'm loving:

Old Navy Charmeuse Tab-Sleeved Dress, $34.95

Faux-leather belt $12.94
This is obviously my favorite...
Crew Neck Pullover $20
You know you're a teacher when you have to covet less than $70 of clothes at a time....sigh.

A "Meat" and Potatoes Kind of Girl?

Maybe my Midwestern friends are rubbing off on me (or not). Either way, this week I was craving some hearty "meat" and potatoes. I traded rotting animal carcass for a veganized recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens (of course), and the result was very different from my last foray into veggie "meatloaf". (I guess not all lentil loafs are created equal.) The texture is decidedly un-meaty, but the curry and apricots provides a kick of flavor while the pecans provide some crunch. It was great re-heated, which is essential for this single girl who eats the same thing for dinner all week. (Wonk, wonk.)

 I paired it with a healthier version of BH&G stuffed spuds...stay tuned for that recipe.

Using red lentils would make this look more like meat, if that's what you're into...

Vegan ingredients:
1 and 1/4cups dry red or yellow lentils (I used yellow split peas, but using red will make it look more like meat)
3     medium carrots, shredded
3/4cup dried apricots, diced
1medium onion, chopped
1stalk celery, chopped
1 1/2teaspoons curry powder
2cloves garlic, minced
1tablespoon vegetable oil
3 Tbsp instant mashed potatoes (an egg replacement, this will bind everything together)
1 1/2cups cooked quinoa or brown rice
3/4cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2cup mango chutney
1/4cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4cup chopped peeled fresh mango
Cilantro leaves, for topping
What to do:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place lentils and 3 cups of water in medium saucepan and bring to boiling. Cover; simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Drain; set aside.

2.Meanwhile, get out a medium/large skillet and cook carrots, apricots, onion, celery, curry, and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

3. In large bowl, combine instant mashed potatoes, cooked lentils, carrot mixture, quinoa, 2/3 cup of the nuts, half the chutney, and 1 tsp. salt.

4. Firmly press lentil mixture into a greased loaf pan. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. In small bowl combine remaining chutney with red pepper, mango, and remaining pecans.

5. Evenly spoon chutney mixture on loaf. Bake 10 minutes more or until chutney mixture is heated through. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Make yourself a drink, allow the loaf to cool for 15 minutes, and cut in wedges to serve. Makes 8 servings.

 Cheers, ya'll!

January 22, 2012

(Yet Another) Letter to NPR

Sigh. My response to this unnerving article: 

To the Editors of The Salt:

I was shocked and saddened at the graphic nature and lack of balanced reporting in your recent article “
How One Former Vegan Learned To Embrace Butchering”. NPR is part of my daily routine because of its excellent and endearing journalism and accuracy in reporting, but I saw none of this in the above mentioned article. You not only romanticizing the killing of animals as a way for man to “connect with his food”, but failed to mention any of the benefits that an animal-free diet provides.

Would NPR have been so cavalier about depicting butchering if Andrew Plotsky had been holding a rifle to the head of his family dog and describing how to slit its throat afterwards? I doubt it. The fact that pigs have been designated as food instead of companion animals is simply bad luck for them. However, I would mention to Mr. Plotsky that taking “years to rationalize” something, as he is still trying to do with butchering, is generally our conscience nudging us in a different direction.

If you are going to write an article about vegans, then I would encourage NPR to actually include something about veganism in its reporting.

Ensley Gilchrist. 

January 19, 2012

Superfood Saute

As the winter months drag on and my choice of clothing (hello, turtlenecks!) becomes more and more depressing, I've realized that bread can no longer be my go-to side dish for any and every new recipe I make. I like to say that I'm "preparing for hibernation", but the reality is that I'm getting fat eating waaay more calories that I expend. Woops.

But hey, yelling at kids all day makes me H-U-N-G-R-Y. Luckily, I found this (already vegan!) recipe in Better Homes and Gardens in the January 2010 issue. (This may be a first.) Not only does this look pretty on your plate, but the soybeans provide filling protein while the corn adds some crunch. (Unfortunately, the crunch isn't quite loud enough to drown out the voices of my students at lunchtime, but hey, that's what earplugs are for.) It went perfectly with my Mediterranean wraps, and is low-calorie to boot. Tell your bikini I said you're welcome.
What You Need:
1 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen edamame, shelled
1 can no-salt-added corn kernels, rinsed and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed and halved
1 Tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

The How-To:
1. In a large skillet, heat oil and cook onion until softened.
2. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Add the edamame and corn, stirring until warmed through, 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in grape tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are softened. Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

January 17, 2012

Mediterreanean Wraps with Quinoa

I don't know about ya'll, but the word "Mediterranean" conjures up images of azure-blue waters and white stucco houses sticking out of a Greek hillside. Quite the contrast to the hospital-white walls and cottonfields I'm usually gazing at while eating my lunch. My solution? Veganize Mediterranean wraps from Better Homes and Gardens, of course. The original recipe contained salmon, but the swap for quinoa and hummus provides enough protein, flavor, and texture to more than make up for it. The lemon juice provides the zing I need in the middle of the day, and it's a meal that keeps me full past my usual 3pm crash. You could also leave the wrap out and eat this as a main-course salad if desired. 

As for the view of the Greek Isles? You'll have to let your imagination do the work there. (But FYI, I'm always available to travel internationally when other people are paying.)
Extremely similar to a middle school lunch room...*cough cough*

What You Need:
1/4 cup chopped, pitted, kalamata olives
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 ripe tomato, halved and sliced
1/2 cup hummus
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
4 large whole wheat tortillas

The How-To:
1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Saute onions and peppers until peppers are soft, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. To assemble each wrap, spread 1/8 cup of hummus first, followed by 1/4 cup of quinoa. Add 1/4 cup of lettuce, the 1/4 of the tomato, 1/4 of the olives, and red pepper and onion mixture. Sprinkle with lemon juice, wrap, and enjoy! Makes 4 servings.

Cheers, ya'll!

January 11, 2012

Smoky Red Pepper Soup

Earlier this week, I mentioned my slight addiction to simple carbohydrates. The perfect enabler? Hearty winter soup. What calls for a toasted slice of whole grain goodness better than a bowl of chili or this yummy red pepper concoction? (The only correct answer: nothing. Nothing. At. All.)

The original recipe called for heavy cream and some fancy pistou on top, but I simplified it due to:

1) Being vegan, and
2) A woman with things to do other than make pistou...whatever the heck that is

The result? Amazing, flavorful, and a perfect companion to my Grilled Veggie Paninis with Hummus. The original recipe appears in the November 2011 issue of Southern Living

Vegan Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons nondairy, non-hydrogenated margerine, like SmartBalance
  • large red bell peppers, chopped
  • medium carrots, chopped
  • large sweet onion, diced
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons  paprika
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk (like Thai Kitchen, found in the "ethnic foods" section of your local grocery store)
(Preppy) Preparation

    1. 1. Melt margerine in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add bell peppers, carrots, and onions. Saute until onion is golden, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, ginger, and paprika. Cook 2 minutes, stirring continuously. 
    2. 2. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 
    3. 3. Process soup with a handheld blender until smooth. Stir in coconut milk, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
    4. Note: If you don't have a handheld blender, let mixture cool slightly after Step 2; process mixture, in batches, in a regular blender until smooth. 
    Cheers, ya'll!

January 10, 2012

Cruelty-Free Conditioner

Now that I feel I've gotten a grasp on cruelty-free eating, it's time to turn my attention to the #1 most important thing in my life: the way that I look. (Obviously.) The only problem? I don't really want to smell like patchouli oil, and a lot of "cruelty-free" products contain just as many harsh and nasty ingredients as their animal-tested counterparts. The other problem? I live in the middle of nowhere, so my health food store option are relatively zilch. 

Luckily for me...

I stumbled upon the brand Jonathan Product while searching online for vegan/cruelty free brands, and was able to score their Infiniti Conditioner on sale. And by "Infiniti Conditioner", I mean the yummiest smelling, best conditioner ever. My hair is smooth and silky, but not flat. (Can we say ka-ching?) Did I mention that it smells what I imagine heaven to smell like? Not a whiff of patchouli anywhere. 

Check out more Jonathan Product here

Where do you find your vegan beauty products? 

January 9, 2012

Grilled Veggie Paninis with Hummus

Come wintertime, it seems that all I want is bread. (Ok, ok. That's all I ever want.) Cold weather=hibernation which=stocking up with carbs, right? (RIGHT?!?!?!) It doesn't help that it's become much too easy to disguise my "fluffy" body beneath pants and bulky sweaters during this season of joy and eating. I like to think of it like this: if a snowstorm hits and we're stuck for days without food, who's surviving? Me. (Let's not discuss the likelihood of this actually happening in North Carolina and focus more on how prepared I am for all situations.)

Cheap and easy panini press. (Handle with care.)

I realize bread is not the enemy, but it is a way to fill up on relatively empty calories. I've never liked meals that are comprised merely of simple carbohydrates: cereal, pasta, etc. My deal with myself is that if there's a significant amount of carbs, there better be a LOT of fruits/veggies to compensate (aka fill me up so I don't consume a day's worth of calories in one sitting).  

While most panini recipes use pesto as the condiment, all the pre-made brands I found  contained cheese, and I (gasp!) couldn't find any basil leaves in my podunk grocery store. (There goes that idea.) I substituted hummus, which provided a bit of protein as well as a punch of flavor. 

Toasted bread, roasted vegetables, deliciousness...

This recipe is a combination of how-tos from Giada's Family Dinners and Colleen Patrick-Gourdreau's The Vegan Table. 

Vegan Ingredients
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2 thick slices
2 green bell peppers
1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
2 zucchini, sliced longways in 1/2 thick slices
2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 container classic or garlic-flavored hummus (I used Sabra garlic hummus...yum)
1 Italian baguette or ciabatta loaf

(Preppy) Preparation
Makes 6 sandwiches

1. Heat a grill pan, griddle, or skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle the oil, salt, and pepper over the eggplant, zucchini, and onion slices.
2. Working in batches, grill the eggplant, zucchini, and onions until they are tender/grill marks appear, about 2-3 minutes per side. Cool completely.
3. Cut each baguette into 6 pieces. Working with one baguette piece at a time, slice in half and spread both sides with hummus. Working with the bottom slice of the baguette, stack 2 slices of eggplant, 2 slices zucchini, 1 slice onion, 1 slice tomato, and 1 slice of roasted pepper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place top half of baguette on top and continue with remaining baguette. 

4. You don't have to have a panini maker to finish this off. Simply place the sandwiches back on the skillet you were using, and top with a baking pan with a can or jar on top to add some weight to "press". (Make sure it's centered....I may or may not have let this fall over once or twice and caused my roommates to think I had died. )

Cheers, ya'll!

Letter to National Public Radio

To the editors of Morning Edition , As an educator of students with disabilities and someone who follows a vegan (whole-foods, plants-only) diet, I found your recommendations dangerously one-sided in the segment "For Kids With ADHD, The Elimination Diet Falls Short Of Success" . 

As a teacher who's worked with students of many ages, I've seen first hand how medication coupled with a diet that moves away from processed, animal-based foods and towards a plant basis has many positive effects on children and their families dealing with ADHD. I agree with the reporting that students with ADHD usually aren't good eaters, but especially so once they begin their medication. (Many of my students suffer nausea as a side effect of their stimulant medicines.) 

However, in your recommendation of a protein-rich diet, you neglected to mention any of the wonderful vegetable sources of protein, such as peanut/almond butter, walnuts, beans, etc. The fact that many of these protein sources also happen to be a source of healthy fats and omega-3s means that children would also no longer need the fish oil supplements which you recommend though admit clinical trials about its benefits "are not consistent". Despite the evidence being inconclusive, you also recommend that everyone take fish oil supplements anyways "given the heart benefits for us all (not just those with ADHD)" because Dr. Prince says "it can't hurt". 

However, according to the research done by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. Campbell of the China Study, and Dr. Esselstyn of Cleveland clinic (just to name a few) it CAN hurt. A vegan diet has been proven to not only prevent heart disease, but reverse its effects entirely. Perhaps this is why I don't see a psychiatrist for nutritional tips and tricks?  

I would encourage you to look into the research being done on the effects of a vegan diet and ADHD, and until then I look forward to future segments that contain the well-rounded, unbiased reporting that's the reason I listen to NPR in the first place.  

Ensley Gilchrist 
Special Education Teacher 


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