Recipes

Why I am Vegan for the Environment~ My Diet History!

When I tell someone that I eat a mostly plant based diet, I get a lot of mix reactions. Some people think that it is a great idea but explain that they could never give up cheese. Others ask me how I get my protein, calories, etc. There are even people who think I am some sort of weird hippie that is going to get into an argument with them about their personal diet. The last on is a little bit less popular, but does still happens. 

Now, many people are vegan or plant based for ethical reasons. However, people are very shocked when I explain to them that the main reason I don’t eat a ton of meat, dairy, and eggs are for health and environmental reasons. For years I have been flexatarian, vegetarian, dairy-free, and even completely vegan before. I honestly believe that eating a mostly whole foods plant based diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies is best! I do also eat a ton of whole grains like steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, beans, and legumes. Not to say that I don't eat processed food, but I try to keep it to a minimum. It's most important to note that I am doing this completely for my health and environment.

In the video below, I talk a lot about why I have decided to start eating some animal products to help save them from going into the landfill. However, in this article I will be focusing on my personal diet history. This will hopefully help motivate some of you to start researching various kinds of diets, the destruction factory farms have on our planet and health, and most importantly that no one is perfect. 

When I was in high school, I took an environmental science class that really opened my eyes to the issue of factory farms and animal products in general. At first I wanted to get rid of all the animal products in my life. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to go vegan correctly, so I decided to only eat meat, dairy, and eggs from my house, since I knew they were organic. When I went out to eat, I wouldn't order any sort of meat, dairy, or egg product. This is something that I was ok with doing, but was also somewhat difficult when going out to certain restaurants that didn't have may vegan friendly options. Eventually I went back to eating the normal Western Diet. 

When I was in college however, I decided that I would become a Flexatarain. This meant that I wouldn't eat meat products unless I knew they were organic. As a result I never got sick from the mystery meat that was found in the dining hall. It was also during this time that I realized that dairy played a significant part in my cystic acne, especially on my chin and jawline. So, I decided to cut that out as well. This was the best, considering that I didn't eat many eggs that often. However, I found that I would still cheat occasionally when I was home with my parents.

While, I was in college I also started binge watching a ton of amazing vegan documentaries, like Cowspiracy, What the Health, Food Inc (the documentary that first opened up eyes to the dangers of the meat and dairy industry), and a few other ones. As a result, I decided I would try veganism for my last year of college. This was amazing! My anxiety began to lessen, despite having a harder work load than in previous years, and I even saw a reduction in my acne.

For a while after graduating from college, I stuck to a mostly vegan diet. However, after learning about the zero waste lifestyle, I absolutely hated seeing perfectly good food going into our landfill just because it had meat, dairy, and eggs in it. I believe that we can all do our best to help save our plant. I have decided to do what is best for my health and the environment by only eating meat and eggs to help them from going into our landfill. That means I eat animal products about 2-4 times a week. Which, according to many health nutritionists, is around the recommended amount for most people. Above that, these products can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, clogged arteries, and a bunch of other health issues. I know that this isn't a very popular topic to explore, especially since many Zero Wasters are also Vegan. However, I believe this shows that we all have to do what is best for ourselves. Hopefully, when I move out of my parents house, I will be able to go fully vegan. For now, this is what makes me happy! 

 

 

 

Zero Waste Recipes: Homemade Gluten Free Bread

This recipe is my go to Gluten Free Bread! The original recipe comes from Gluten Free Baking! I don't think I could ever try a different recipe! I have added her original recipe below the video incase you are interested in it! I have replaced Mullet flour for Brown Rice flour, since I can purchase it in brown bag packaging or make it myself by grinding up brown rice from the bulk bin! I also use flaxseed eggs instead of regular eggs, since I eat a mostly vegan diet! 

This recipe is quick, easy, and will make your house smell amazing!!! Please let me know if you try it out! 

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water, about 110° F (6 ounces; 170 grams)
  • 1 packet instant/rapid rise yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons; 7 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups millet flour (6 ounces; 170 grams)
  • 1 cup tapioca starch (4 ounces; 113 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (1 ounce; 28 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon table salt (not Kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs , whisked (about 5 ounces; 150 grams total, out of shell)
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • *if desired , replace the eggs with 3 large egg whites.

Instructions

  1. Whisk together water and yeast in a small bowl. Allow to stand for five minutes.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine millet flour, tapioca starch, granulated sugar, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to combine. Fit the stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture, eggs, oil, and vinegar. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Dough will be thin.

  3. Spray an 8-1/2" by 4-1/2" by 2-3/4" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread dough evenly into the pan. Spay a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and place plastic wrap loosely on the pan. Allow dough to double in size. This takes about one hour.

  4. When dough has doubled in size, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove plastic wrap from the top of the pan.

  5. Bake until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 210°F, about 45 minutes. (If the crust gets too dark before the internal temperature reaches 210°F, place a piece of foil onto the bread. This prevents the crust from burning.)

  6. Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool for two minutes. Transfer bread to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

  7. When cool, slice into pieces with a serrated knife.

  8. Store bread on the counter for up to three days or freeze sliced bread, wrapped in freezer wrap with waxed paper between each slice, and placed into a freezer container, for up to six weeks.

All Natural and Zero Waste Bug Repellent!!!

Summer is bug season. They LOVE ME. It doesn’t matter if I use natural repellent or DEET repellent, I can’t go one summer with at least 10 to 20 bites. During a family vacation to Antigua, I was attacked by the sand flies. My legs and arms were on fire because of the bites. I could only spend an hour or two in the sun before the pain became unbearable. It took a week of anti-itch cream, tea tree oil, and ice packs to get rid of the pain and the bites. When I got home I was on the hunt to find an effective bug repellent that was both zero waste and natural!

Last summer, thanks to this bug repellent recipe, I only got a handful of bug bites! I don’t think that there is bug repellent recipe or product that will stop the bites entirely. This is major success in my book and I will never use any other recipe. I will be sharing the recipe below and then some information on the dangers of DEET on our health and the environment. Please comment below if you try this recipe!

(PS: Deet is still a little bit more effective than the natural alternatives. That being said, mosquito bites can cause severe illness and health related issues as well. If I was in an area that was populated with malaria and other deadly diseases, I would use a Deet repellent.)

Ingredients:

Apple Cider Vinegar: It’s the strong oder that actually repels the mosquitos. It has been said that if you drink enough apple cider vinegar, you will develop a strong oder that will also repel the mosquitos.

Essential Oils: I use Young Living essential oils that have been proven to repel mosquitos. One of my favorites is R.C because it contains lemon grass and citronella. I also add tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, and citronella oil.

Directions:

Fill up the bottle half way with apple cider vinegar. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with warm water. Put 3-5 drops of Young Living's R.C oil (or something applicable), Lavender, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus oil. Shake the bottle and start using it.

I put mine in a roller ball bottle so I can carry it in my purse, pocket, or keep it in the car.

The Dangers of Deet!

Despite what many people think- mosquitos are actually super important to our eco-system. Did you know that it is only the female mosquitos that actually bite humans. The male mosquitos don’t have the ability to bite. That being said, they also carry a ton of deadly diseases that aren’t so pleasant. The majority of bug repellents have an ingredient called DEET in it. DEET is a chemical that has been known to help repel the mosquitos away. However, DEET has been proven to come along with some severe health and environmental risks as well.

According to a few sources, Deet can be extremely toxic to various animals including fish, birds, and other sea life. Unfortunately- it is still inconclusive if it is also harmful to the plants and life under water and on land. Back in a 1991 study, scientists found high levels of Deet in the Mississippi River. This resulted in a ton of the sea life and insets dying. Deet also has the ability to break down like mist and vapor in the air. Allowing humans, plants, and other animals to inhale it.

According to a few sources, deet has been linked to kidney and liver damage, birth and development defects, and neurotoxicity. The following health risks haven’t been proven yet- but it has been said that deet can lead to cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive effects. It is for these reasons- along with that many of the mosquitos in my local area don’t carry a ton of deadly diseases- that I have decided to switch to a more natural alternative to help my personal health along with the environment!

Homemade Gluten Free Almond Pulp Crackers

I love to make my own plant based milks as they are cheaper and taste way better than anything you can get at the store. Not to mention that it is more cost effective and don’t have any weird fillers. Not to mention that the majority of plant based milks come in non compostable or recyclable packaging. What are you supposed to do with the leftover pulp?

I usually add the leftover almond pulp in granolas, cookies, muffins, etc and other ways that I can easily hide it. I found that you are able to replace some of the dry ingredients such as oats or flour with the left over almond pulp. As a result- I have begun to add it to my homemade granola recipes, cookies, and even muffins. Sometimes you have to play around with the texture depending on if your pulp is wet or dry.

However my sister came up with this gluten free almond pulp cracker recipe so I thought I would share it with you all! I was able to find an egg replacer in cardboard packaging, which is easily recyclable.

Ingredients

Almond Pulp

1 egg or egg replacer

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Mix the almond flour and sea salt in a large bowl. Add the egg and mix well, until it forums a dough.

  • Place the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll out to rectangle, about 1/16" thick. (It will tend to roll into an oval shape, so just rip off pieces of dough and re-attach to form a more rectangular shape.)

  • Cut the cracker dough into rectangles. Prick with a fork or toothpick if desired. Place on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until golden.

Recipe taken from: https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/paleo-crackers/

Make your own Toothpaste!

When I started my personal zero waste journey, I was dealing with a ton of sensitive teeth issues that no toothpaste seemed to help. I decided to try out a DIY recipe. It took me a few different batches before I found the perfect recipe that wont clog your sink, keep your teeth nice and healthy, and does not make my teeth sensitive. I used this recipe for the last 2 years without any new cavities or teeth issues! (Currently, I am trying out some brands of natural toothpaste, just for fun- not because this recipe stopped working for me).

Disclaimer: I would like to also state that I am not a dentist, doctor, or any other type of health care provider. If you have any health issues that could lead to tooth decay I would recommend going with your dentists recommendations. I also understand that many dentists assert that fluoride is an essential part of one’s tooth regime as it helps prevent plaque buildup and cavities. However, I have used fluoride-free toothpaste for years and my dentist has never said anything about tooth decay or rotting gums from the lack of fluoride. I have also been to the dentist since using this recipe and the only thing they have told me is to floss more or get an electric toothbrush.

This recipe only contains three ingredients: Bentonite Clay, Baking Soda, and Cinnamon

Baking soda is the main ingredient to my homemade toothpaste because it helps scrub plaque and buildup off your teeth. According to studies published in The Journal of The American Dental Association, “baking soda-based dentifrices are effective and safe for tooth stain removal and consequently whitening.” If your in a pinch and can’t find your toothpaste- I recommend using baking soda by itself. However- I wouldn’t recommend doing so long term, as it can cause tooth sensitivity.

The Bentonite Clay,  like the baking soda, helps get rid of plaque buildup. The clay has also been shown to help remove “heavy metal toxins” out of your mouth. We can encounter these specific toxins in highly processed foods, some kinds of fish, paint, chemicals, and some pesticides. Bentonite clay is also known to contain an abundance of minerals. From Dr. Axe, 10 Bentonite Clay Benefits and Uses - The mouth is one of the most susceptible areas of the body when it comes to harmful outside “invaders” taking over, like bacteria and toxins. Bentonite clay binds to unhealthy substances in the mouth, such as around the teeth and on the tongue and gums, and helps to remove them before you swallow them and become sick.

Cinnamon- bad bacteria in the mouth but allows good bacteria to thrive. It also helps prevent inflammation.

Many people also add essential oils, like peppermint, to their toothpaste to improve the taste. I don't mind the taste without and therefore prefer not to include it.

I also used to add coconut oil to this recipe, since coconut oil is an anti-bacterial and can help with the rebuilding of the enamel. During this time I would spit it out into my compost pile. Please do not spit coconut oil into your sink, as it turns to solid at room temperature- it will clog your drain. After a few months of using coconut oil, I noticed that the toothpaste was just as effective without it. I have decided to stop adding coconut oil to the recipe so that I can spit it into the sink without any problems.

Disclaimer: when using natural products internally, investigate the labels thoroughly to ensure that they are safe for ingestion. In the case of both bentonite clay and essential oils, some are safe for internal use and some are not. If you are unsure of the purity of the clay, contact the manufacturer. When ingesting essential oils, look for 100% pure oils with no added ingredients, or career oils.

Recipe =  

1 tablespoon baking soda  

1 tablespoon of Bentonite Clay

½ tablespoon of cinnamon powder

8-10 drops of peppermint essential oil (optional)

If you have sensitive teeth, I recommend adding about ½ a tablespoon of baking soda at first and then work your way up to the full tablespoon. One time I put too much baking soda in my toothpaste and I had severe tooth sensitivity for the next few months. None of the other ingredients should be an issue for your sensitive teeth.

I have also adapted my tooth regime to include compostable floss, made out of plant based waxes and materials. A few other options are Dental Lace and Tree Bird Eco’s, refillable silk floss options. My toothbrush comes from Brush with Bamboo. I currently do not use any type of mouthwash.

If you aren’t comfortable with making your own toothpaste- I highly recommend trying out Davids Toothpaste. It comes in a metal tube that is more easily recyclable than the plastic tubes. The ingredients are also super effective, natural, and fluoride free! With the exception that the David’s toothpaste seems to make my teeth a little bit whiter than my homemade recipe- I would say that the too are pretty comparable!