5 Healthiest Nuts to Eat

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On a plant based diet, or any healthy diet, nuts are a great snack option. Most nuts are higher in fats, so a small handful a couple of times a week is optimal. And nuts are an ideal source of fiber and protein.

Nuts contain other important and beneficial nutrients. Read on for the 5 healthiest nuts to eat, to receive the most from your snack.

5 Healthiest Nuts to Eat Title Meme

Nutritional Nuts

Overall, nuts are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats along with omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. They also deliver vitamins and minerals.

In spite of their higher fat content, nuts have many health benefits. Studies have shown that nuts help to prevent diseases and may even prolong life by reducing the risks of some types of cancers.

Here are the 5 healthiest nuts to eat.

1. Walnuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). They are also a significant contributor of protein, fiber, vitamin E, melatonin and magnesium. Walnuts also contain a plant compound called polyphenols that reduce inflammation throughout the body, which in turn lowers the risk of many diseases, including cancer.

Walnuts also reduce bad LDL cholesterol while boosting good HDL cholesterol. They also contribute to better heart health, regulated blood pressure and increased blood flow through the circulatory system.

Additionally, walnuts are considered brain food. Eating walnuts increases cognitive function and reasoning abilities.

Healthy Walnuts
5 healthiest nuts to eat: walnuts

2. Almonds

Almonds provide a significant amount of protein, fiber, vitamin E and magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and iron.

This tree nut improves cholesterol levels and supports heart health. Its high fiber content aids in weight loss and lowers blood pressure. And consuming a few almonds during a meal helps to regulate blood sugar levels that can rise after eating, in people with diabetes. For those with type 2 diabetes, almonds can lower inflammation.

Almonds also improve gut health by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

5 Healthiest Nuts to Eat Almonds
Almonds, one of the 5 healthiest nuts to eat.

3. Pistachios

This popular green nut, typically packaged still in its shell, is high in fiber and protein and provides vitamin E and magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorous.

As with walnuts and almonds, pistachios improve cholesterol levels. Eating just a couple of ounces of pistachios a day also increases good HDL cholesterol. Additionally, pistachios decreases the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and help maintain a healthy weight. Their antioxidant properties prevent oxidative damage to cells.

And pistachios help to keep blood sugar levels down after a meal.

Healthy Pistachios
Health boosting pistachios.

4. Cashews

Cashews have a creamy texture, making them perfect for baking and vegan sauce making. They are also an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamin E and calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. Cashews also provide antioxidant properties.

This tree nut reduces blood pressure, improves blood lipid levels and increases good HDL cholesterol.

5 Healthiest Nuts to Eat Cashews
Fiber and protein rich cashews.

5. Hazelnuts

Nutritious hazelnuts have a distinctive flavor. They are also an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamin E and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

They lower the risk of heart disease and reduce bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Hazelnuts ease inflammation throughout the body and improve overall blood vessel health. Additionally, they increase the amount of vitamin E in the blood.

Healthy Hazelnuts
The last of the 5 healthiest nuts to eat, hazelnuts.

Ways to Benefit from Nuts

Try including nuts in your diet, in these ways:

  • combine them with unsweetened raisins, dried cranberries, unsweetened dried coconut and seeds to make a homemade trail mix
  • drink nut milks such as cashew milk, almond milk or hazelnut milk
  • use sugar free nut butters that only contain nuts and a small amount of sea salt
  • add raw nuts to salads
  • use in baking recipes
  • make vegan sauces from cashews
  • eat plain, as a snack
  • make your own vegan cheeses and milks, from nuts

Remember to enjoy nuts in moderation, due to their fat content. Eat a small handful at a time or include in recipes on days scattered throughout the week. And check out some of my favorite recipes below, that include healthy nuts.

5 healthiest Nuts to Eat Tabbouleh
Parsley Tabbouleh with almonds.

 

Favorite Recipes Using Nuts

Dairy Free Potato Soup with Cashew Sauce

Broccoli and Macaroni Bake

Raw Blueberry Pie with Cashew Crust

Vegan Banana Blueberry Bread with Walnuts

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Parsley Tabbouleh

Amazon finds:

 


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Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

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One thing that many people enjoy about fall is pumpkin flavored everything. From pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin donuts and gnocchi, this rich and homey flavor defines the season.

This evening I happily tried a new pumpkin recipe, adapted from litecravings.com. These easy to prepare bars are full of pumpkin flavor and spices. They do not contain gluten, eggs, oil, grains or refined sugar.

Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars Title Meme

 

Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

I used organic canned pumpkin puree for this recipe. The rest of my ingredients were organic as well and non GMO. Make sure you are using pumpkin puree, rather than pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar. I found non GMO peanut butter powder at my local Natural Grocers, in the refrigerator section of the bulk foods aisle. I located the almond meal, which gives the bars a nice texture, in the same section. You can use almond flour instead, if desired.

The original recipe required two eggs. I used “flax eggs” instead. Check out this post, for four egg substitutes, including flax eggs, that work well for baking.

Vegan & Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

These easy to prepare bars are rich with pumpkin flavor and spices and do not contain eggs, oil, refined sugar or gluten.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free, Pumpkin Bars, Vegan
Servings: 9

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, organic if possible
  • 1/4 cup powdered peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, organic if possible
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, aluminum free
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the almond meal.
  • Fold in almond meal, just until combined. Pour mixture into an 8x8 cooking pan, lightly greased with coconut oil.
  • Top with walnut pieces, if desired. Dark chocolate chips would be good too.
  • Bake 20 - 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out with just a bit of batter clinging to it. It's okay to slightly undercook the bars. Begin testing for doneness at 20 minutes.
  • Let cool completely, at least one hour. Bars do even better chilled for several hours in the fridge so that they set. Cut into 9 bars,
Ingredients for vegan pumpkin bars
Ingredients for vegan and gluten free pumpkin bars.

Pumpkin Bars that Taste Like Fall

I admit, I rushed the cooling process so I could finish up photos and complete my blog post! However, these vegan and gluten free bars are so good! The bars are slightly sweet and loaded with spiced pumpkin goodness. Because my bars were still warm, they tasted like a delightful cross between pumpkin pie and pumpkin brownies.

The remainder of the bars will chill in the refrigerator overnight. I baked them for about 25 minutes. I think next time…and there will be a next time…I’ll leave them in two minutes longer.

I enjoyed a couple of vegan and gluten free pumpkin bars with a cup of hot peppermint tea. They were perfection…and the taste of fall….in every yummy bite.

Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

 

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Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables

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In a recent post, I mentioned that I looked for hull beans at the farmer’s market, without success. I have a recipe I’m eager to try and hull beans are a late summer crop.

However, on the next visit, I scored! One market vendor offered purple hull beans for sale. I purchased a large container of the beans, excited to create a hearty meal from them.

Purple hull beans and vegetables are another perfect end of the season treat, using fresh produce. For another great recipe, check out Summer Succotash.

Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables Title Meme
Background template created by my blogging friend, Lisa Mitchell.

What are Purple Hull Beans?

These staples of the south are closely related to black eyed peas. They thrive in warm, sunny environments. Other names for this bean are southern peas or cowpeas. Purple hull beans originated in Africa and came to the United States by way of Egypt, Asia and Europe.

The outer pod, or hull, turns a deep purple color as the seeds inside mature. Peel back the hull and snap out the beans, which are a pale green color when fresh. Purple hull beans are considered creamier, smoother in texture and sweeter than black eyed peas.

My cousin, Michael Lauderdale, used to grow purple hull beans in his garden. I loved visiting his farm and dining on a big bowl of freshly prepared beans. My favorite summer meals continue to be simple ones made from garden produce. I couldn’t wait to try my new recipe featuring a mix of purple hull beans and vegetables.

Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables In the Shell
Purple hull beans in the pod.
Purple Hull Beans Shelled
Shelled beans.

Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables

The recipe is adapted from the wonderful book, Vegan Under Pressure. I used garden fresh tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers and hull beans along with canned non GMO corn. The pressure cooker creates a healthy meal in minutes.

Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables

Enjoy end of the summer produce with this savory dish.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups shelled hull beans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup tomato, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or canned, non GMO

Instructions

  • Heat pressure cooker (I use the meat setting). Saute onion and garlic in small amount of vegetable broth, for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and continue to stir and cook, for another minute.
  • Add hull beans, vegetable broth and cumin. Lock on lid and bring to pressure. Cook for 5 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Carefully remove lid.
  • Taste to make sure hull beans are tender. If not, cover and return to pressure and cook for 1 - 3 minutes more. Carefully remove lid.
  • Stir in diced tomatoes and corn. Simmer in open pressure cooker for 5 minutes, until tomatoes begin to break down. Or replace lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables Before Cooking
Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables before cooking…
After cooking purple hull beans
…and after.

Savoring an End of Summer Meal

This pot of purple hull beans and vegetables completely satisfied my craving for a hearty end of the season meal. The combination of beans and vegetables was perfect. I used my own DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps for the stock. And the cumin lent a hint of spice to the mix.

Greg and I enjoyed a steaming bowl of this delicious meal, without adding anything else. However, purple hull beans and vegetables are excellent as well served over brown rice, quinoa or a plain baked potato.

I’ll be looking for more hull beans on my next trip to the farmer’s market. This is a meal I can enjoy well into fall, as long as the beans are available.

Purple Hull Beans and Vegetables
A bowl of summer goodness.

Pick up a copy of Vegan Under Pressure and get your own Pressure Pot. They are so handy to have in the kitchen.

 

 

 


 

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Summer Succotash

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As summer winds down and fall approaches, gardens offer their final harvests. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the bounty with meals created with fresh produce.

I browsed through cookbooks today, looking for something new, something different to try, that incorporates end of the season vegetables. The one that appealed to me the most is a simple, wholesome recipe that is quickly prepared in the pressure cooker. This summer succotash features fresh foods such as onions, tomatoes, corn and okra.

Summer Succotash Title Meme

Creating a Summer Succotash

Succotash is an American culinary dish consisting of sweet corn and lima beans or other shell beans. Other ingredients include tomatoes, green bell peppers and okra. When served with a grain, such as brown rice or quinoa, succotash is high in all the essential amino acids that the body requires.

Fresh shell beans are removed from a pod and eaten. There are many varieties. The most common shell beans are lima, fava, borlotti and chickpeas. I’ve also seen what’s called purple hull beans in my area of the Midwest. However, a search at the farmer’s market and local grocery stores didn’t yield any shell beans. No worries. The original recipe didn’t include them. I scratched them off my list.

Summer Succotash Fresh Produce

Creating a Summer Succotash

At the local farmer’s market I did find plenty of tomatoes (my plants at home are just about done for the season) and containers of fresh okra. People either love okra or they don’t! I’m in the love category.

This flowering plant in the mallow family produces bright green pods that are edible. Known to many as a food to pickle or to cover in corn meal and fry, okra also does well lightly sauteed with other veggies and as an ingredient in soups and stews.

Okra is a great source of fiber. It’s also high in vitamins A, B6, C and K and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Summer Succotash Mix

Summer Succotash in the Pressure Cooker

Summer Succotash Recipe

Use fresh produce for this easy summer succotash. Because I only eat non GMO corn, I purchased a can labeled such, rather than use fresh corn on the cob. This recipe came from my Vegan Under Pressure Cookbook.

Summer Succotash

Enjoy late summer produce with this quick and easy succotash.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Succotash, Summer Succotash
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup fresh okra, sliced
  • 1 large ear of sweet corn, kernels removed about 1 1/2 cups (may use 1 can non GMO corn)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups ripe tomatoes, diced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • With the top removed, heat pressure cooker and saute onion in small amount of vegetable stock or coconut oil.
  • When onions are translucent, add okra. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add corn and vegetable broth. Stir. Lay diced tomatoes on top of other veggies. Do not stir.
  • Lock on lid of pressure cooker. Cook on steamer setting for 2 minutes. Quick release the pressure. Remove lid, stir and serve over grain such as brown rice or quinoa. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Delicious Summer Meal

Because of the pressure cooker, this recipe came together so fast, I barely had time to reheat the brown rice I’d already prepared! I love a quick and healthy homecooked meal when I come in late after a long day. This one is perfect.

And I used my vegetable broth made from scraps in this recipe as well. I’m loving the convenience of this simple and flavorful broth. You can find the recipe HERE. I made a fresh batch of vegetable broth this afternoon and used some of it for the summer succotash.

This meal is light and yet filling. The fresh flavors of late summer shine through. Add smoked paprika or a small amount of chopped pepper, to spice it up. Or garnish with favorite fresh herbs. Until the frost comes and officially ends the growing season, summer succotash goes into my meal rotation!

Summer Succotash Meal

 

Order Vegan Under Pressure by clicking link above or clicking on the photo below.

 

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DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps

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Have you ever thought about making your own vegetable broth?

I’ve thought about it. However, I’ve never been inspired enough to do so. All that chopping of veggies deterred me. For convenience, I’ve purchased organic vegetable stock.

Last week I came across a simple and amazing recipe for DIY broth from vegetable scraps. Inspiration struck! Because I make juices and eat a plant based diet, I have lots of vegetable scraps. Those go into the trash or into a compost canister…and often then into the trash as I don’t have a dedicated compost pile.

What if I used the veggie leftovers to create broth? I can, I discovered. And the best part? Because these are the scraps, they are already in small pieces. No additional chopping required. Second best part? I used my pressure cooker to create a perfect batch of broth in 30 minutes.

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What Scraps to Use

Throughout the week, as you prep meals, place vegetable scraps in a gallon size container and store in the freezer. When the container is full, it’s time to make broth.

These vegetables are perfect for broth making:

  •  red and yellow onion pieces and skins
  •  garlic pieces and skins
  •  celery ends and tips – avoid using many leaves as they can be bitter
  •  carrot ends and tips
  •  tomatoes pieces
  •  asparagus stems
  •  bell pepper ends, stems and seeds
  •  mushroom stems and pieces
  •  spinach
  •  zucchini pieces and ends

Don’t use starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. They cloud the broth. Also avoid cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts because of bitterness.

DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps
Thawed and rinsed veggie scraps ready to cook. I added additional fresh tomatoes from my garden.

DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps

Vegetable broth may be used for soup and stew starters, to cook rice and pasta in, to saute vegetables in or to replace water for cooking vegetables.

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps

Make your own delicious and nutritious broth from leftover vegetable scraps.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps
Servings: 8 cups

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon container vegetable scraps, frozen
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

Instructions

  • Thaw, at least partially, gallon container of frozen vegetable scraps. Rinse veggies.
  • Place vegetable scraps in pressure cooker.
  • Add water, bay leaves, sea salt and dried herbs.
  • Cover cooker and bring to pressure. Cook for 30 minutes. Allow natural release.
  • Carefully remove lid. Strain broth through fine mesh strainer or through cheesecloth. Store in covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or freeze and keep for 3 - 6 months.
DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps Ready to cook
Veggie scraps in the pressure cooker with herbs. I added two chopped carrots to the scraps.
Cooked vegetable scraps.
Cooked vegetable scraps. It isn’t beautiful, however, doesn’t it look yummy?
Draining veggie scrapsl
I used cheesecloth inside a colander to strain the broth.

The Finished DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps

The broth smelled wonderful as it cooked. Smell is an important sense for me when I’m cooking, as it is for many. When something “smells right”, that’s a good indicator. The broth smelled very right.

After allowing the pressure cooker to release steam naturally, meaning I didn’t turn the knob on top to release it manually, I lifted the lid and peeked inside.

What began as a mess of scraps transformed into a rich and savory looking broth. In the sink the cheesecloth draped colander rested over a glass bowl. I carefully poured the contents of the cooker into the colander and allowed it to drain completely.

The broth is excellent. I sampled a spoonful, to make sure the flavor is up to par. It is! In fact, it tastes much better than what I purchase.

I LOVE that I have a use for all my leftover vegetable scraps. It makes me feel so good to know I am not wasting those bits and pieces. Rather, I am turning waste into something that I can use. And, I know exactly what’s in my broth: veggies, water, herbs, sea salt. Nothing more.

Tomorrow night I’ll prepare Lentils and Brown Rice in my pressure cooker, using one of my containers of DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps. And I’m already collecting veggie scraps for my next batch of broth. I feel ridiculously excited!

DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps Finished
The recipe made three containers of broth, about 3 cups each.

 

Pick up Vegan Pressure Cooking, the book that inspired the DIY Broth from Vegetable Scraps.

And grab a Pressure Cooker by clicking on the photo below:

 

 

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Plant Based in Edinburgh

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As one who eats a plant based diet, it is crucial for me to adhere to that lifestyle when I travel. For me there’s no eating whatever I want while on vacation or exploring another country. The consequences are almost immediate and dire, if I stray.

I’m okay with following healthy practices away from home. I know my body thanks me for not throwing it off balance and I thrive, no matter where I am. Therefore, I am fine being plant based in Edinburgh…or any other city in the world.

Perhaps you have not adopted a plant based lifestyle…yet…however there are simple health practices that can help you feel your very best while you travel.

Plant Based in Edinburgh Title Meme

Health Tips for Traveling

These are health practices that my sister Debbie and I observed, during our 11 day stay in Edinburgh, to ensure the greatest level of health. Why is that important? To enjoy ourselves the most, it’s important to feel our best. We walked…a lot. We stayed busy throughout the day with explorations, tours and family gatherings. Energy and stamina were crucial.

It was our great joy to be in Scotland. The last thing I wanted was the distraction of not feeling well.

Request Special-Diet Meals

I discovered on my last international trip that vegan and gluten free meals can be requested on flights, as long as they are made prior to the travel dates. My travel agent Ken, with GalaxSea Cruises & Tours, listed our meal preferences when he booked our flights. On our long travel days, going to Scotland and returning home, our primary meals were in airports and on board airplanes. We ate simple vegan snacks like fruit or veggie sushi in the airports and enjoyed plant based meals on the plane.

For six days, Debbie and I explored Edinburgh on our own. The remaining five we joined family members from around the world for the Clan Maitland Gathering. Carolyn, our North American clan officer, arranged all of the meals that we shared as a family. She contacted the restaurants and made sure they prepared vegan meals for us. My food was gluten free as well. From tea houses to cafés to formal restaurants to lunch at Thirlestane Castle, I enjoyed wonderfully prepared meals that supported my health, rather than weakened my body.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to make your dietary needs known. My experience is that the cooks and chefs go above and beyond to prepare healthy and delicious meals that meet those needs. They seem to take great pride in presenting those carefully prepared dishes and appreciate hearing that they are wonderful.

Plant Based Meal at New ClubBeautifully prepared plant based meal at New Club in Edinburgh, with gluten free bread.

Stay Hydrated

Traveling makes one thirsty, especially when flying for an extended time. I discovered that it is permissible to carry an empty metal water bottle through airport security. Once through security we filled our bottles and carried them onto the plane.

In Edinburgh, we took those water bottles everywhere. It saved us money, since we didn’t have to purchase bottled water, and it cut our plastic use to virtually zero. And we could easily refill the bottles throughout the day, to help us stay hydrated. Choose foods that help to hydrate the body too.

Tip: Consider carrying a metal or glass water bottle and refilling as needed, to stay hydrated.


Click on photo to order a metal water bottle.

Prepare and Cook Your Own Food

Being plant based in Edinburgh, for us, meant purchasing, preparing and cooking many of our own meals. We chose to stay in an apartment in the New Town part of Edinburgh so that we could have a full kitchen. It was very easy to shop for fresh fruit and veggies, hummus, gluten free pasta and no sugar pasta sauce and prepare our own simple meals, when not dining with family. I cooked and my sister cleaned up!

Tip: Consider staying in an apartment or a room with a mini kitchen, and prepare many of your own meals. You’ll know what you are eating.

Plant Based in Edinburgh CookingPreparing a simple meal of boiled new potatoes and stir fried veggies.

Make Healthy Choices

The few times that we ate in a restaurant, on our own, we made healthy choices. I love how easy it is to be plant based in Edinburgh. They have many vegan cafés to choose from and regular restaurants offer plant based options. We found a vegan and gluten free bakery just down the street and a vegan café across from the apartment we stayed in.

I researched vegan restaurants in Edinburgh before the trip. As a blogger, I offered several a blog post and social media shares, in exchange for a healthy meal or afternoon tea. I’m grateful to these restaurants:

Beetroot Sauvage Café – Vegan Afternoon Tea

Seeds for the Soul Café – Plant Based Lunch

Naked Bakery – Vegan and Gluten Free Goodies to take back to the apartment

We also enjoyed plant based meals at The Elephant House and Henderson’s Vegan Restaurant.

Tip: Before a trip, Google restaurants and cafés that meet your dietary needs. If you happen upon a delightful eatery, while wandering around, make wise choices that support your health.

Seeds for the Soul Cafe An amazing lunch from Seeds for the Soul.

Pack Supplements and Meds

If you take supplements and prescription meds at home, by all means pack those for the trip. Prescriptions needs to be in bottles with your name and your doctor’s name on them. I carry vitamin B12, Cat’s Claw and MSM with me when I travel, in their original bottles. Most of the time you can carry supplements through security in the plastic daily pill sorters as well.

For this trip, Voke Superfood Supplements sent two boxes of tablets with us to try. These all natural supplements overcome jet lag quickly, support the body and boost energy. We started them as soon as we arrived in Edinburgh and found them to be very helpful.

Tip: Travel with any necessary prescription meds and include supplements that are most crucial to your well being.

Voke Superfood Supplements

Listen to Your Body

I’ve learned to pay close attention to my body’s needs. When traveling, with changed schedules, more activities and different time zones, this becomes very important.

Stretch legs and walk back to the rest room frequently, on the airplane. (If you are staying hydrated, this will be a necessity!) Do yoga poses in the hotel room or apartment. Rest when you are tired. Get enough sleep. We retired earlier than we normally do at home, most evenings, to ensure we were well rested each morning. And we gladly observed the practice of afternoon tea, which provided a welcome break in our busy days.

We walked all over Edinburgh. Proper fitting shoes prevent blisters and sore feet. Pay attention to weather through online apps and pack accordingly to stay cool enough or warm enough. Don’t go too long without a healthy snack or a light meal. The body needs the fuel to keep energy levels up all day. My sister brought along packets of nuts and seeds, which were great for toting.

Tip: Listen to what your body tells you. Stretch. Rest. Eat. Pause. Take a break. Wear comfortable supportive shoes if you are walking or hiking. Begin checking a weather app a couple of weeks before the trip, to get an idea of temperatures and weather conditions, and pack accordingly.

Walking in EdinburghWe climbed to the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, twice!

Enjoy Your Travels

The whole point of following health practices while away from home is so that I can focus on enjoying myself, rather than battling an upset stomach or a flare up of inflammation due to eating foods I shouldn’t. I know what my body needs, to operate at a high level of health and wellness, and I’m happy to support it.

It’s not worth it to me, to abandon a plant based diet and suffer the consequences while I’m traveling. Rather, I’ve found that I do so much better if I eat in a healthy way and listen, really listen, to the feedback I’m continually receiving from my body.

I know I can drink a Thistly Cross hard cider in Scotland, and be okay. And I enjoyed one. I also know that if I indulge in gluten laden foods or allow dairy or meat products into my diet that I will pay a price for that, one I’m not willing to pay.

Tip: Learn what foods best support your body and adhere to that lifestyle, even when traveling. As I often say, NOTHING tastes as good as healthy feels. And when I’m traveling, that is especially so. Nothing taste as good as exploring a country or a city feels to me.

Plant based in Edinburgh? Oh yes, gladly so. And I’ll be plant based anywhere else that I go.

Plant Based in EdinburghPlant based in Edinburgh.

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3 Years Plant Based

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I can’t let this month slip by without noting that July is an anniversary month for me. I am 3 years plant based. In July 2016 I made a decision that radically changed my life. What an amazing journey.

Read my first year update, to appreciate the many changes I have experienced.

Year 2 update is here, with more incredible healing.

And now, on to what 3 years plant based has brought.

3 Years Plant Based title meme

Healing During Year Three

The first two years plant based created dramatic changes in my health. With such remarkable changes, there is no way I’ll ever return to my old way of eating a typical American diet.

I continue my routine of lemon/lime water, celery juice and fruit smoothies in the mornings and veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds for lunch, dinner and snacks. Water and herbal teas are my drinks of choice.

The health changes have not been as dramatic this year, as most of my ailments and chronic conditions have healed. However healing continues.

3 Years Plant Based DinnerA typical plant based meal.

Year Three Changes

  • hair continues to darken
  • healthier skin, nails and hair
  • discoloration on lips gone
  • ability to fight inflammation more quickly
  • greater awareness of what my body needs, for optimal health
  • greater awareness of what my body does NOT want or need
  • improved liver function
  • improved mental clarity and focus
  • greater flexibility

Still working on:

  • full range of motion in left knee
  • strength in both knees

The area that still requires further healing is around my left knee. I’ve fallen twice this year. The first time, in January, a grocery bag caught on the front door knob as I walked by, laden down with too many bags. I twisted my left knee badly as I fell into a nearby chair. The second time, three weeks ago, I slipped on a small puddle of water in the kitchen. I went completely down onto the floor, pinning my left leg beneath me.

This is what 3 years plant based has taught me though. I can quickly support my body by increasing inflammation fighting foods and herbs. Doing so restores mobility and eliminates pain. I am so grateful for the knowledge I’ve acquired, that helps me maintain optimal health and wellbeing.

3 Years Plant Based DillOne of my favorite herbs…dill.

Higher Awareness

What I’ve noticed most this past year is an increased awareness of several things.

Herbs and foraging for wild edibles is something I continue to learn about and enjoy. I grow many herbs in my garden that are wonderful for cooking and creating healing teas with. I have fun combining fresh herbs to make delicious tea blends.

Experiencing my own healing increases my compassion for others who are suffering. It has been my privilege to assist people who are hurting or looking for help with health challenges.

Greater opportunities for sharing my healing story appeared this year. My mother and I were included in Woman’s World Magazine in a feature about the healing power of celery juice. A second national magazine has contacted me about an article this fall.

I shared part of my journey as a guest on my first podcast. And I’ve done several interviews with other bloggers. I’m so grateful for these avenues that allow me to offer hope and healing to others.

And finally, beyond my healing and helping others heal, I have a greater awareness of the health of our planet. I’ve already reduced the use of chemicals in my home and garden. Recently I’ve begun eliminating one-use plastics from my life. This is an ongoing desire, to reduce waste and lessen the strain upon our resources.

In the same way that I must love myself before I can love others, I needed to heal myself before I could offer healing to others and to the earth.

3 Years Plant Based Honeysuckle TeaA delightful wild edible, honeysuckle tea provides many healing benefits.

To Continued Good Health

My healing journey continues. As I feel gratitude for improved health, I want to express thankfulness to Anthony William for guidance and to my family for supporting me as I heal. I deeply appreciate two people especially, as they have journeyed alongside me.

My mom is experiencing her own dramatic health shifts. We’ve shared many adventures along the way, learning and healing together.

And Greg makes my journey easier. His choice to become plant based as well encourages me and makes food and meal prep simpler. His health has improved greatly and continues to shift. I’m proud of him.

I’m thrilled to be 3 years plant based. It’s a lifestyle that I embrace with incredible joy. It’s become a tradition to snap an commemorative photo of my journey with Redbud Tree in my yard. We have both overcome so much. We’ve both become stronger. This year, the tree leafed out beautifully, creating a full canopy for the first time since the 2011 tornado. I feel so connected to this resilient tree. For the first time in many years, I feel beautifully whole. Redbud Tree and I are healthy.

3 Years Plant Based Cindy

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6 Bedtime Teas

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When I talk to people about their health, insomnia comes up frequently. Defined as sleeplessness, insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

In the US, three million people a year experience sleeplessness. Causes include poor sleep habits, depression, anxiety, lack of exercise, certain medications or chronic pain and illness.

Most sufferers rely on over the counter or prescription drugs to help them fall asleep and stay asleep. For years that was true for me. I took allergy meds every night for the drowsiness they induced. When I realized how dull they made my brain, I switched to melatonin.

Since embracing a plant based lifestyle, my ability to sleep has improved greatly. I no longer take anything at night, to help me sleep.

I’ll be sharing several posts around this difficult to heal condition. Today I start with herbal remedies…six bedtime teas.

6 Bedtime Teas

6 Bedtime Teas

Easing insomnia is a complex matter of changing habits, eliminating foods and situations that impede sleep and consuming the right foods to help calm and relax the mind and the body.

Instead of reaching for meds, try drinking one of these herbal bedtime teas about an hour before turning in.

Chamomile

Long used as a healing herb for inflammation, chamomile also reduces anxiety and soothes the body into sleep. The antioxidant apigenin binds to receptors in the brain, lowering anxiety and initiating drowsiness.

Regularly drinking chamomile tea helps people to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, improving the overall quality of their rest.

Steep two teaspoons of fresh or dried chamomile in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Sweeten with raw organic honey, if desired.

6 Bedtime Teas

Passionflower

Passionflower tea is made from the dried leaves, stems and flowers of the plant. Traditionally, passionflower decreases anxiety and improves the quality of sleep.

In a recent study, those who drank passionflower daily for a week reported better sleep quality, compared to those who did not drink the tea. Another study showed that passionflower, when combined with valerian root and hops, is as effective as the prescription drug Ambien in improving insomnia.

Steep two teaspoons of dried passionflower in one cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Sweeten with raw organic honey, if desired.

Lavender

This aromatic herb helps calm the body and mind through its healing properties and its scent. For centuries lavender has helped people to sleep better, especially those with anxiety disorders or chronic insomnia.

Drinking the tea and inhaling the soothing fragrance from the hot drink lowers heart rate and calms nerves. Those who drink lavender tea frequently find that their quality of sleep improves. Plus, they awaken with more energy and less fatigue.

Steep two to three teaspoons of fresh or dried lavender blooms in one cup of very hot water for 15 minutes.

6 Bedtime Teas

Lemon Balm

One of my go to herbs, lemon balm is a member of the mint family. It has many healing properties. As one of the bedtime teas, lemon balm calms inflammation, relaxes tense muscles, reduces stress and improves sleep by initiating a sedative effect.

With its citrusy scent, lemon balm offers aromatherapy benefits as well. And it is extremely easy to grow your own plants.

Steep this mildly flavored tea by combining two teaspoons of fresh or dried leaves with one cup of very hot water. Sweeten with raw organic honey, if desired.

Peppermint

Another member of the mint family, peppermint contains anti-inflammatory properties that relax tense muscles and reduce stress. In fact, peppermint’s ability to work as a muscle relaxant induces feelings of calm and peace, making it an ideal tea to drink before bedtime.

Peppermint also relieves nausea, an upset stomach, and gas and bloating, soothing the digestive system so that sleep can occur.

Steep two to three teaspoons of fresh or dried peppermint leaves in a cup of very hot water for 15 minutes. As a bonus, peppermint is very easy to grow in the garden or in containers.

6 Bedtime Teas

Ginger

For a few people, ginger acts as a stimulant. However, if digestive problems such as an upset stomach or nausea are keeping you awake, ginger is an effective sleep aid. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties calm achy muscles and joints, soothing pain so that the body can relax into sleep.

Ginger also relieves tension and lowers stress.

Steep a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Or combine a teaspoon of dried ginger with a teaspoon of dried turmeric and add a 12 to 16 ounces of warm almond/coconut milk to create this wonderfully healing nighttime drink.

Bedtime Teas for a Better Night’s Sleep

Consistently drinking one of these bedtime teas signals the body that it is time to prepare for sleep. The healing properties of the herbal teas soothe the body in myriad ways while lowering anxiety and stress.

Choose one tea and try it for a week or enjoy a different tea every evening. Herbs can be combined too, to create fresh, delicious blends that are just as effective.

In the coming weeks, watch for posts with more tips for eliminating insomnia from your life.

6 Bedtime Teas

Click links below, to order dried herbs for bedtime teas.

 


 

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Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

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It’s known by many names, this easy to make dish. Some call it beefy macaroni or macaroni dish. Others call it hash or just stew. My mom calls it one pot meal. I call it goulash. My kids grew up eating it.

The actual name of this tasty meal is Hungarian goulash. Originating in Hungary, goulash is a meat and vegetable stew, seasoned with paprika. Although it is now eaten around the world, it is one of Hungary’s national dishes and symbolic of that country.

Traditionally, goulash is prepared with tender chunks of beef or for a quicker version, ground beef. I haven’t eaten goulash since shifting to a plant based lifestyle. However, with leftover brown rice macaroni in the fridge, this evening presented the perfect opportunity to cook up a pot of vegan and gluten free goulash.

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

I not only avoid meat, dairy and eggs, I also don’t eat foods with gluten in them. Pasta doesn’t have to be off the menu however. Gluten free pastas are readily available. Look for them in the gluten free section of regular supermarkets and health conscious food stores as well. My favorite product is a brown rice pasta available as macaroni, spaghetti and other pasta favorites. It cooks just like regular pasta and looks and tastes the same. It just doesn’t have the gluten in it.

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

This tasty goulash recipe has all the flavor without the meat and wheat pasta.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash
Author: journeywithhealthyme
Cost: $2/person

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (Optional) May water saute instead.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can red beans
  • 2 cups gluten free macaroni, cooked
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Add one cup dried gluten free macaroni to pan of boiling water. Allow to cook while prepping veggies. Need two cups cooked macaroni.
  • Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in large skillet. Or add small amount of water to water saute. Add onions, garlic and green bell pepper, cooking and stirring until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add diced tomatoes. Heat through. Stir in red beans, paprika, sea salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring, until beans are heated through.
  • Drain gluten free macaroni and add to bean and tomato mixture. Mix well and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Serves 4.

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

The Taste Test

So, how is goulash, without the beef?

I didn’t miss the meat at all. The vegan and gluten free goulash was full of the robust flavor of veggies and pasta in a rich tomato sauce. The paprika gave a hint of spiciness without overpowering the vegetables. I loved it.

The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. A pinch of cayenne pepper ups the heat level. Or lean toward Italian spices like oregano and basil. Thyme and rosemary bring their own unique flavors to the mix.

On a whim, I added a can of red beans to my goulash, as a protein source. Mushrooms make a flavorful addition as well, or add carrots. I like using what I have on hand, which was, after all, the inspiration for creating goulash tonight. Leftover pasta should never go to waste!

This satisfying and delicious vegan and gluten free goulash goes into my menu rotation. I’ll enjoy playing around with the ingredients!

Vegan and Gluten Free Goulash

You might like these vegan recipes too:

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Vegan Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Find gluten free pasta by clicking on photos below:



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Beyond Meat Brats

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Are you familiar with Beyond Meat, the company creating a stir in the food industry? Their plant based hamburgers and sausage brats are showing up in grocery stores and restaurants.

With all the media attention, I felt curious about the claims that these products are amazing. Let me add that after three years of embracing a plant based lifestyle, I don’t crave meat at all. Greg, who has been plant based almost as long as I have, occasionally does. Or at least, a sizzling burger or brat on a commercial looks good to him.

We decided to taste test the Beyond Meat Brats, for a Try This Tuesday experience.

Beyond Meat Brats

The Beyond Meat Company

This company, founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown, began with the question, “Why do you need an animal to create meat?” Brown wondered if meat could be created directly from plants. It turns out, yes it can.

Their Mission Statement includes the belief that there is a better way to feed the planet, that’s beneficial to people, animals and the earth. Producing savory alternatives to animal based products solves the growing issues attributed to livestock production: human health, climate change, constraints on natural resources and animal welfare.

Beyond Meat uses the building blocks for meat…protein, fat, trace minerals and water…to create plant based substitutes without sacrificing taste or texture. Currently the company offers plant based hamburger patties, crumbles (resembles ground beef) and two varieties of sausage brats. Their products are available in grocery stores and health conscious stores such as Natural Grocers. Look for Beyond Meat products in the meat section.

Beyond Meat BratsGraphic from Beyond Meat website.

Beyond Meat Brats

I picked up the Beyond Meat Brats at my local Natural Grocers. I carefully read the label before purchasing.

Beyond Meat Brats contain 16 grams of protein, made from peas, fava beans and rice, per serving. Other ingredients include apple fiber, coconut and sunflower oils and fruit and vegetable juices. The casing around the brats is plant based as well. It’s made from algae. Don’t worry. You can’t taste it.

What they do NOT contain is impressive. There are no GMOs, soy, or gluten in these brats and also no hormones, antibiotics, nitrites or nitrates.

The brats come in the original flavor and a spicier Italian version.

The promise is that Beyond Meat Brats look, sizzle and satisfy, like a pork brat.

I was about to find out.

Beyond Meat Brats

Beyond Meat Brats with Green Peppers and Onions

Since I had green peppers, onions and garlic on hand, I created a simple dinner using those ingredients plus brown rice and the Beyond Meat Brats.

Brats with Green Peppers and Onions

  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, mined
  • 1 package Beyond Meat regular brats, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked

Saute pepper, onion and garlic in a water or a very small amount of coconut oil. I did this while the brown rice cooked in the pressure pot.

As onions turn translucent, about three minutes, add sliced brats. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until brats are browned, about five more minutes.

Spoon over brown rice and serve. Makes 2 – 3 servings.

The brats did sizzle. They smelled just like pork or beef brats, as they cooked. And they browned up nicely, holding their shape and texture.

How would they taste?

Beyond Meat Brats

The Taste Test

My simple dinner looked and smelled wonderful. Would the taste hold up to the hype?

Yes. Yes it did.

The Beyond Meat Brats tasted wonderfully like regular brats, with just the right amount of seasoning. The texture was as good as the taste. Combined with the green peppers, onions and garlic, the brats delivered and dinner met all my expectations for flavor and texture.

Greg enjoyed this special treat very much.

And a special treat, savored occasionally, it will be.

Why?

I like the way I eat. And more importantly, I like the way I feel. The veggies and fruits, legumes and nuts, seeds and limited grains that I enjoy are very, VERY good for me, and I truly don’t miss meats, eggs, sugar and dairy products. I don’t ever intend to go back to my old way of eating and my old way of feeling.

Plus there’s another reason. The Beyond Meat Brats contain 43% less fat than their animal counterparts. However, they are still a bit high in fat for me to consume them on a regular basis.

I’m glad for the Beyond Meat Brats experience. The company is great, with a philosophy that I can agree with. Their future is bright, I believe. However, these healthier brats might make it onto the menu once a month or so. Like the occasional healthy dessert, these will be a special treat rather than a regular dinner item.

Have you tried Beyond Meat products yet? Let me know what you thought!

Beyond Meat Brats

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