About Me

My photo
Clarksville, Tennessee, United States
I have been an Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian for a few years and am considering making the switch to a full Vegan diet. I decided to become a vegetarian because I could no longer disassociate the meat on my plate from the loving, kind and peaceful animal it had once been. I have always been an animal lover, so I guess this was a natural progression. I am not a diet or nutrition expert by any means, I am just a woman on a mission to eat better, feel better and live better.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

This Week's Recipe - Dec 23 - 29

Sweet Potato & Kale Gratin
Photo copied from Oh My Veggies

Sweet Potato and Kale Gratin 
from Oh My Veggies (http://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-sweet-potato-kale-gratin)


1 large bunch kale (about 1 lb), tough stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (mine were between 1/8 and 1/4 inch)
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmet
2 Tbsp salted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more to grease baking dish

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Steam kale for about 3 minutes, or until wilted, in a large steamer basket set over boiling water.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Squeeze out excess water.
  3. Place half of the potatoes in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  (You don't have to do this neatly, but try to make sure each layer is even.)  Top potatoes with kale, then top kale with half of the Parmesan cheese.  Place remaining potatoes in dish and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
  4. Whisk together whipping cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and pour over potatoes.  Dot with butter.
  5. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 20-25 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender and cheese is golden brown.  Allow to sit 15 minutes before serving.

Christmas Dinner

Hello!  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Yule, and Happy Festivus!  This is why I usually say "Happy Holidays" because there are so many people of different faiths celebrating holidays this time of year and I want to respect the beliefs of each of my friends regardless of their faith.  I hope you all have been blessed enough this season to be surrounded by those you love, creating wonderful memories and enjoying great food.

I haven't posted much these past two weeks because I've been so busy preparing and shopping for today, plus my mom still has appointments for her cancer treatment and I always go with her to each one.  I apologize that it's been so long.  I'm sure the two of you that read my blog have been busy as well and probably haven't noticed.

I just wanted to quickly share a recipe with you that I tried today for the first time.  In a word, it was AMAZING.  It's so creamy, sweet and decadent, and it's simply the best way I've ever had sweet potatoes.  This is now a definite must have for many, many years to come.

The recipe I am referring to is Sweet Potato and Kale Gratin.  I got this recipe from one of my favorite vegetarian blogs I follow, Oh My Veggies.  She knows what she's doing because I love her recipes.  You simply HAVE to try this.  I am not a huge sweet potato fan, or at least, I didn't used to be, but this dish has made me a believer.  I have a love affair with kale, so that didn't surprise me so much, but pairing it with the sweet potatoes, heavy cream and nutmeg is out of this world!

I hope you all give this a try.  It doesn't have to be for a large meal, either, just be sure to make plenty because it won't last long!

Happy Holidays to each of you.  I wish you nothing but peace, love and happiness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Compassion and Kindness

While this time of year usually brings to mind images of families getting together, decorating homes and being creative, unfortunately there is also a darker, sadder side where emotions run high, depression sets in and people do unspeakable and unthinkable acts.  Over the past several days, there have been several mass shootings reported and it truly breaks my heart.  I am sitting here watching the news reports of a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, and I can't imagine what these families are going through, or what these children had to witness and endure. 

I don't understand why it seems to be easier to carry around hate, negativity and violence in our hearts and minds than it is to show compassion, kindness and love for one another.  We are all neighbors on this planet, and we should take care of each other.  Imagine what it would be like if everyone was looking out for each other, to make sure everyone was fed, clothed, warm, loved and sheltered; if everyone would lend a hand to those less fortunate, or just offer compassion to those they encounter each day.  

I don't have much more to say today, other than please be aware of your actions and make it a point to show compassion and kindness to those around you.  You never know what hardships someone is facing in their life and how much a simple smile, a touch, a hug, etc. could mean to someone, or what a difference it could make in their life.  

I wish you all a very splendid Friday, and I hope you're blessed enough to change someone's life today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

So Much To Try, So Little Time

I follow quite a few vegetarian/vegan sites on facebook and on the web, and I just get SO many recipe ideas it becomes overwhelming.  I want to try them all, but I don't have the time!  If I were to try everything I want to, I'd never leave my kitchen.  If I could earn money doing it, I would.

I just saw a recipe for a sweet potato and kale gratin over at Oh My Veggies that I HAVE to make!  With the winter holidays fast approaching, and just coming off the Thanksgiving meal, I don't want to just repeat the same dishes.  But there are some staples that we have always had with these meals, and sweet potatoes is one of them.  We did the candied sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, which is the family tradition, but I'm thinking this is the dish I will make for our Christmas meal this year.  You know, to change it up a little.  

Honestly, sweet potatoes have never been a favorite of mine, but that may be because I've really only had them a few different ways.  But I LOVE kale, and I love a good potato gratin, so this may be a new favorite!  I can't wait to give it a try.  I'll post and let you know how it comes out when I do.  

Do you have a vegetable that you are looking to try in new recipes?  I know it's easy for us to get stuck in "the rut" of cooking the same dishes over and over, especially when times are hectic like Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.  I do have to say, that's one of the reasons I enjoy Pinterest.  So many people pinning so many different recipes, it gives me a lot of ideas.  And as I mentioned above, the pages I follow have many delicious recipes to choose from, too.  

Sometimes, a recipe won't look like something I would particularly enjoy, but it will spark the imagination of my inner chef and give me some great ideas to try.  I have actually come up with some of my favorite recipes in this way.  I will see a technique or an ingredient that I haven't tried before and I will start to think of ways I can incorporate it into my meals.  

I know some people need a recipe to follow, but I've always been able to just look through my cupboards and throw something together.  You shouldn't be afraid of failure in the kitchen.  It's just food.  If it doesn't work out, figure out what went wrong and try it a different way next time.  In fact, I don't like to think of them as "failures", I choose to view them as "lessons".  

So here's my challenge to you:  find an ingredient or a technique that you've never tried, and give it a go.  Follow a recipe if you like, but be adventurous.  And let me know how it works out.  I'm going to be trying a new soup this week, and I'll let you know what happens, even if it's an epic fail.  Some lessons are harder learned, but they're worth it.  Happy cooking!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I'm Baa-aack!

I'm sorry it's been almost a week since my last post!  I have been busy doing some holiday shopping and getting my cards all signed and ready to send.  No excuses, just didn't have the time to work on anything worth posting about. 

However, yesterday I was shopping with my mom at TJMaxx and was absolutely amazed to find a VEGAN leather jacket there!  It was truly gorgeous!  It was soft like butter and really beautifully made.  Unfortunately, it was in the juniors section so there wasn't one in my size, but I was still shocked and thrilled to see it.  I cannot remember who made it, though.  I wanted to look them up online to see if I could order one for myself, but I can't remember for the life of me.  I may have to make another trip over there just to see who manufactured it.  

I didn't realize that vegan clothing was available in mainstream stores, did you?  Have any of you come across this as you've been shopping?  Honestly, I never even looked before, but I couldn't miss the vegan badge on the tag of this jacket.  They said it loud and proud!  I have looked up some vegan clothing and shoes online and found that they were fairly expensive.  I don't have a large clothing budget, so I have to be frugal where I can.  This jacket yesterday was only $30 at TJMaxx, but I don't know how much it usually sells for.

I do have to say that I have become so much more aware of what I buy without any effort at all.  I find myself looking at labels to see what ingredients are used beyond vegetarian and what materials are used to make an item.  Then I realize what I'm doing and there's this little moment where I'm extremely proud of myself.  Like yesterday, I was also looking at winter hats.  There was a cute bomber-style hat rimmed with fur and I checked the label to see if it was faux fur.  I was disappointed to find out it was real rabbit fur.  WHY?  I don't know why real fur is still used when faux furs looks just as luxurious as the real thing.  There's no reason not to use the fake stuff.  I think in order to buy something made with real fur, you should be required to watch the process from start to finish and see if you still want it!

Anyway, I just wanted to share my excitement with you of my find yesterday.   I hope you all are having a great weekend and I wish you all the very best!

Monday, December 3, 2012


I really need to start exer...exercis....ah, heck....I need to start working out!!  Why does exercise have to sound like exorcist?   Have you ever noticed?  I have, and I'm sure that's why I've always tried to avoid it!  

But seriously, I have been eating better and making better choices, but I really need to get my butt in gear.  I was doing really well a while back with getting up early every morning and going for an hour walk.  But then it rained for about 5 days straight, and I just didn't get back into my routine.  I know, pathetic, right?  But I am a creature of habit, and when that habit gets broken, I have a hard time getting back into it.  

I have a picture of myself in my mind, but when I look at myself in the mirror, that's not what I see.  It's discouraging.  I want those two images to be the same, and the only way that's going to happen is if I make a commitment to myself to get in better shape.  I am ready to do it, so I thought I would post about it here so that you can help hold me accountable.  I hope you all will offer your support and encouragement.  I need all the help I can get.

I want the rest of my life to be better than my past.  I want to shed this heavy coat of self degradation and self-doubt.  I want to truly feel good about myself for the first time in my life, both on the inside and the outside.  That's what this whole transformation is about, really.  It started smaller than that but has grown to be so much more.  

So I am making a vow here and now to exercise at least 30 minutes every day.  No matter what.  Let the transformation begin!

Chilly Chili Weather

I had a nice, relaxing weekend, and I hope all of you did, too.  The weather here in NYC has changed again and it's going to be in the 60's today and tomorrow, and while I'm not complaining, I like the chilly weather for cooking up the warm, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kinds of soups, stews and chili.  I don't consider temps in the 60's to be "chili" weather, but I'm making chili for dinner tonight either way.  I just love it when it's cold outside and I'm all warm and toasty inside, curling up with a hot, steaming bowl of deliciousness.  There's just something about it that makes it just a little more comforting, don't you think?

So chili tonight it is.  I can't wait!  I've been wanting to make this for several days, but the meal planning and timing just hadn't worked out until now.  I've got my ingredients ready to go, and am anticipating the arrival of about 4:30 this afternoon so I can begin to cook!  You may think I'm crazy, but I really do enjoy cooking that much!  I think I should have been a chef.  I've always wanted to own a small, cozy restaurant that serves really, really good food.  Maybe someday....I can dream, can't I?  

I am using an ingredient that I haven't used before.  Or should I say a brand I haven't used before.  I've used the veggie crumbles by Morningstar Farms, but I'm using the ones by Lightlife in my chili tonight.  It's not that I wasn't happy with the Morningstar Farms, I just want to try out all the different brands to see which ones I like the most.  I use other products by Lightlife and love them, such as their Smart Dogs and Smart Sausages, Smart Deli slices, Smart Bacon and Gimme Lean Sausage, so I am sure I will be happy with these as well.  

I don't usually make my vegetarian chili with the veggie crumbles because I'm completely happy with just the vegetables, but I am feeding this to my parents as well, so I want to give it the meaty texture they're used to.  I am determined to convert them to a no meat diet one of these days.  They absolutely LOVED the No Beef Stroganoff I made last week!  I thought my dad was going to lick the plate, he was loving it so much.  So if I can continue to make meatless meals for them like that, ones that they actually WANT me to make again, I think I would have a much better chance of convincing them to just skip the meat.  Baby steps.

I know the weather is turning colder (in most places in the US, anyway) and I'd love to hear about the yummy winter comfort foods you all are cooking and creating!  I hope you all have a wonderful beginning to your week, and enjoy the cooler days.