Spaghetti O’s for the vegan hearts

 

Food Porn Friday fitandfancylife.com vegan vegetarian recipes

Today’s Food Porn Friday is kicking it primary school style. I’m taking your virtual taste buds down memory lane to the good old days when the most exciting dinner options came from cans. I’m bringing back Spaghetti O’s!

Do you remember those tiny noodle rings in magical red sauce? Did you get the same fist-pumping reaction that I did when my mom broke out the can of Spaghetti O’s instead of orange marinated pork loin again? (Or some other feared dish that everyone in the house hated except the person cooking the monstrosity.) If you answered yes to either of those questions – your childhood clearly rocked.

Spaghetti O’s have always been near and dear to my heart. I have a bit of a tradition with my best friend, who shares the same ageless taste buds as me, that when we do dinner together we check our adult hats at the door. Spaghetti O’s and grilled cheese sandwiches are our favorite go-to dinners.

When we both became vegHeads, one of our biggest regrets was saying good-bye to our Spaghetti O’s and grilled cheese sandwiches. The struggle was real folks. Neither of us cared about ditching meat, but when it came to these two power-players we were mourning. Then I found this amazing recipe by MilkFreeMom.com and Spaghetti O’s were back on the menu!

Dairy-Free-SpaghettieOs

Ready for the really awesome part about this recipe? It’s vegan! It’s also got a short ingredients list, has 8.5 grams of protein per serving, and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Dinner time win-win.

As with most things highlighted on Food Porn Friday, this recipe is adaptable to fit your needs. If you want to try a different type of dairy-free milk, go for it. If you want to boost the already decent vitamin count, add steamed spinach or kale.  If you’re catering to friends and family that still eat dairy, you can always substitutive cow’s milk and Parmesan if they aren’t willing to do the recipe’s original ingredients.  (Or you can just use canned Spaghetti O’s for their servings and keep all the dairy-free Spaghetti O’s to yourself. It’ll be a sacrifice in the name of love and extra leftovers. Try not to look to eager or they might catch on to you.)

You can find the recipe here.

 

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Dan, Zanto, and The Problem With Dog Breed Bans

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As I write this, I can’t stick with one emotion long enough to decide if I’m sad or angry. The two feelings are so strong, it’s safer to say that I’m both angry and sad.

I wasn’t fully awake after yoga practice this morning, so I decided to scan Facebook in hopes of stalling having to get off my butt mat. That’s where the emotional debate started. While perusing Facebook, I ran across the story of Dan and his Pit Bull, Zanto. Have you heard about these two lives ended over a breed ban in Denmark?

For those of you who haven’t read the article yet, I’ll sum it up for you. Dan and his Pit Bull, Zanto, had a pretty happy relationship. They did their own thing and did not disturb anyone else while pursuing their happiness. Dan and Zanto lived in Denmark. Denmark established a breed ban on 13 breeds of dogs, and any dog mixed with one of these breeds. Guess what dog is on their list – Pit bulls. The government gave Dan a few days to prove Zanto wasn’t one of the banned breeds, which Dan could not do. The government then took Zanto and euthanize him. Distraught over the death of his dog and feelings of responsibility over the death, Dan committed suicide.

Do you see why I’m in an emotional debate now? No? I own Pit Bulls.

Now before you chalk me up as some hippie dog activist, blindly protecting every dog alive, with no idea of what I’m talking about – think again. This article is not a blind rant against Pit Bull discrimination. I realize that governments, insurance agencies, and neighborhoods have these bans to protect the public. I also realize that there have been cases where “aggressive breed*” dogs have attacked people. I do not think every dog attack by a Pit Bull was the human’s fault. There are cases in just about every species of animal where at least one individual has attacked a human (because we’re everywhere). While I acknowledge these concerns by the anti-Pit Bull party, it’s not the only valid side.

First, let me start with my qualifications to spout out facts, opinions, and accusations on this issue. I am not a dog trainer, veterinarian, or scientist. In all likelihood, you aren’t either. I do however, own Pit Bulls. I’ve had four in my life; my boyfriend has had 6+ Pit Bulls. I’ve also had toy poodles, cats, reptiles, rodents, and a myriad of other adorable pets. I’ve volunteered at shelters, worked with aggressive breed adoption agencies, been to dog parks, and worked in pet stores where I was exposed to all sorts of creatures with various temperaments. I have family members who have been bit by dogs at some point in their lives and are afraid of dogs as a result. I have owned two dog-aggressive Pit Bulls. I know what aggression is like in this breed.

This article is not about why Denmark is a bad country. I don’t think it’s full of monsters. I think it has a bad policy regarding these 13 dog breeds. I think it’s horrible that these two lives ended over a generalization of a dog breed. I believe it’s ridiculous to think an entire, or rather 13 entire, breeds are inherently bad. That’s the equivalent of saying 13 nationalities of humans are inherently bad. Ridiculous, right? This article is about the alternatives Denmark could have taken instead of creating this policy. So for the sake of this article at least, let’s all agree to concede that not all individuals born a specific breed or nationality are inherently bad. I don’t think this request is too demanding of anyone.

Since you’ve already agreed to at least the possibility that all dogs are not born bad due to their breed, I won’t go into more detail about breed banning problems. Like I said, I understand the Denmark government trying to protect the public. I don’t know the history in Denmark, so I can’t speak to any history of dog attacks they may or may not have had from these 13 breeds. (If anyone from Denmark has some more information about the country’s history with dogs, please let me know.) I do know that there are so many more options to deal with breed issues than to confiscate and euthanize the animals based on the idea that they are all dangerous. (Also, Denmark isn’t alone in their poor handling of dog situations. America and Canada are full of example of communities and governments handling breed issues poorly. Just look at this article about a soap opera actor committing suicide after he chose to give in to his apartment complex’s breed ban to get an idea of the devastation a breed ban can have on the breed and on humans.)

So what’s my optimistic solution to these world-wide breed issues?

Education. A World-wide commitment to abstain from generalized prejudices against animals. Programs set in place to help the animals.

The key to combat prejudice, improve societal tensions, and create a better world is education. In this instance, I’m referring to education on dogs. Many people don’t know how to properly act around dogs, how to train dogs, how to report their concern for dog abuse, or even dog psychology. Some people can go their entire childhood without interacting with a dog. They rely then on what they see in the media and what the adults in their lives tell them. Dogs aren’t humans, but they’re certainly just as complex as humans. You can’t just assume every dog is the same. Not all dogs understand your intentions, personal boundaries, or concerns. Not all dogs have interacted with kind humans, or any human for that matter. This is why you have to educate people at a young age.

School systems don’t expose children to animals early on. There are little to no community dog awareness classes to educate people on interacting and reacting to dogs. How hard is it to send a note home to parents explaining that their child’s class will have animals visit on such and such day? If their child has any allergies the parents can let the teacher know via email, phone, or note. Teachers and animal experts can bring in common household pets to desensitize and start educating people about animals from an early age. I’m not saying holding your hands up and screaming “I know you’re scared and angry right now, but please don’t bite me” isn’t going to stop a dog attack. I assure you however, that dog attack statistics will get better if more people had even a basic understanding of what to look for when meeting a dog, signs of aggression, and how to treat an unfamiliar dog. (Also, it’s 2015 people. EVERY parent has some way to get in touch with their child’s teacher. There are too many forms of communication in existence to excuse a lack of communication.)

Another, albeit more difficult, measure to take is a world-wide commitment to abstain from generalized prejudices against animals. I say this is more difficult, because our world can’t even abstain from prejudices against our own species. If we could all agree to at least not prejudge an entire dog breed, and instead take each dog as their own character representation, the world would see a change. Not all dogs of the 13 banned breeds are aggressive. If Denmark wanted to better regulate and substantiate its banned breed list, it should check its Dachshunds and Chihuahuas. A study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the Official Journal of the International Society for Applied Ethology, found these little wieners to be the most aggressive dog breeds towards humans and other animals. Pit Bulls were only found to be more aggressive towards other dogs. If you’re worried about dog-aggressive dogs, I understand. This particular type of aggression is a much more manageable type of aggression than a human aggression. Trust me or not, I’ve owned and helped desensitize both types. It’s easier to keep a dog-aggressive dog away from other dogs than it is to keep a human-aggressive dog away from humans (because we’re everywhere). It’s also often harder to desensitize the human-aggressive dogs, because a human is the one trying to retrain it. If you’re worried about either, please judge each dog on its own aggression, or lack thereof, before condemning it.

Similar to a need for more education in the world, there’s a need for more programs to help the animals. There are tons of options the Denmark government could have taken instead of adopting a policy to euthanize these dog breeds. If you don’t want them in your country or community, create a rehousing program for those breeds that allows the owners to surrender their pets to someone outside the country or community. Give the owners a reasonable time-frame to surrender their animal or move. Eight days is not a reasonable time. Give these owners at least a month to start finding other options on before forcing them to comply with the options set forth by the country or community.

The community could have adopted a policy that all dogs found to be of these breeds need to have their animal tested and licensed in order to keep them. Programs such as the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen teach owners and their pets to behave with humans and other animals. Once the animal has passed the test, it gets a badge and certificate identifying that it has been through the program. The animals with these certificates have been officially tested and deemed fit to be around humans and other animals. If the animal cannot pass the test, or if the owner refuses, then the animal might need to be rehomed outside the community or there might be a need for more programs to give these animals options that include life.

There’s so many alternative options the government could have adopted, that I won’t keep listing them. It’s pretty bad there’s still a need for this type of article in 2015, but I think you’re all smart enough to get my points. They’re pretty outrageous, right? I’m a regular old, bare-foot radical. Watch out! I might disrupt your day with my anti-dog killing ideas. I bet my parents are proud of me.

If you agree with Denmark, and other policies similar to those in Denmark, I hope this article at least shows you these two lives didn’t have to end. If you agree with me, I’m obviously happy. Regardless, I hope no similar situations ever happen to you and your pet.

*”Aggressive breed” is a term used to categorize breeds of dogs commonly thought of as dangerous. You can read more about which breeds are associated with this list, and the problems with it here.
**Again, let me explain that I don’t hate Denmark. I don’t think the Denmark government is made up of a bunch of monsters. I simply think they need to give more options to prevent another situation like this from occurring.

April @ fitandfancylife Signature

Food Porn Friday: Healthy Sweet & Spicy Tacos (vegan)

Food Porn Friday fitandfancylife.com vegan vegetarian recipes

In honor of one of the few days this Spring it’s not predicted to rain, I’m serving up a rainbow meal item! This is an easy recipe for weeknights, large groups, and hungry foodies.

Everything in this recipe can be adjusted. This is one of biggest characteristics I look for in a recipe. I love being able to make more, make less, and change ingredients while keeping the finished product delicious.

You will need a large skillet and a lid for this if you’re making enough for two or more people. If you’re making this for one, or as a side dish, half everything.

Healthy Sweet and Spicy Rainbow Tacos vegan

Healthy Sweet & Spicy Tacos

10 Ears Of Corn (or two drained cans of sweet corn without salt)
5 Bell Peppers (Mix up the colors! I used red, orange, yellow, and green.)
1 Large Yellow Onion
2 Large Tomatoes
2 Heads Of Romaine Lettuce (tortilla shells optional)
2 Tbsps. Cayenne
1-2 Tbsps. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbsps. Ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Taco or Fajita Seasoning (optional)
1 Tsp. Salt (optional) 

  1. First slice the corn off the cobs, cut the peppers into one-inch long strips, and cut the onion into two-inch long strips.
  2. Turn your stove on to medium-high heat. Dump all the vegetables from STEP 1 and half your spices into your pan. If you’re using canned corn, drain the corn before you put it into the skillet. Make sure to mix everything together thoroughly in order to spread the spices around the vegetables. Cover pan and let it sit for about 4 minutes.
  3. While your mixture is heating up, prepare your lettuce and tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks to go on top of your tacos. Wash the lettuce and break off the leaves to use as your shells.
  4. After the 4 minutes are up, check on your rainbow mixture. The veggies should be starting to sweat and creating a sweet sauce at the bottom of your pan. Add the rest of the spices, stir, and recover the pan. Let your mixture sit for about 5 to 7 more minutes, or however long it takes the peppers and onions to become mostly soft.
  5. To make your tacos with the lettuce, scoop the rainbow mixture into the leaves and top with tomatoes. If you’re using this as a side dish, just spoon onto your plate, sans lettuce, and enjoy! (Helpful Hint: Eat them from the bottom of the stem, so you can cup the top of the leaf to prevent spillage.)

So simple, right?! The corn and peppers give the mixture its sweet flavor. When you add the spices it basically turns into a juicy, sweet, and spicy foodgasm in your mouth. Even if you choose to use just the rainbow mixture as a side dish, it creates a great addition to any meal.

(Helpful Hint: If you’re entertaining meat eaters, you can cook ground meat separately to add to their tacos. My boyfriend adds his own ground meat to his tacos. He says it gives his tacos more flavor.)

April @ fitandfancylife Signature

Earth Day and Veg. Burger Review

Review: Hilary's Eat Well HEMP-AND-GREENS-BURGER

Happy Earth Day! (And Hump Day!) I feel like every day we keep spinning is technically Earth Day. I am thankful to be alive and healthy; I hope you are just as blessed.

I know today isn’t Food Porn Friday, but I really want to highlight this awesome burger I had last night.

Have you heard of the brand Hilary’s Eat Well? I had never heard of them until this weekend when I picked up two of their frozen burgers from Target. I was definitely a little hesitant, because I’m not usually a big fan of frozen burgers. These burgers were hard to pass up trying though, because they’re gluten free, yeast free, dairy free, and egg free (among other things). So I went for it.

Best purchase all weekend!
I was ravenous last night after the gym, so I chef’d them up on the stove. I didn’t use oil, but I did add some oregano and pepper to both patties while they were cooking. The patties are a little big for the buns I use, but somehow I managed to pack them in with caramelized onions (also no oil), tomato slices, and lettuce. It was a food orgasm in my mouth.

I ate both of those bad boys. I realized after the fact that I probably could have stopped at only one patty, because damn was I full! They’re perfect for anyone looking for a quick meal; an extra vitamin boost; or even as something to take to a cookout.

Hilary’s Eat Well has a ton of different types of burgers on their website. I had the Hemp & Greens Burger last night. I also have the Root Veggie Burger in my freezer for later this week. I forgot to take pictures of my burgers before I ate them, but I did get a couple shots of the package and ingredients list. I’ll try to get better about this.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: These cooked really nicely in a non-stick pan without any additional oil. They had a bit of a crunch to them, but it was a nice characteristic. These burgers are huge. You probably wont need sides or extra helpings after eating the two patties each package comes with.

The Bad: These patties are almost too big. It could have been the buns I used, but the patties were jutting out of the sides. This might not be a con for anyone else out there, and it will certainly not stop me from eating these again, but I think you should be warned. Use big buns.

The Ugly: This one is definitely a user error. The pan I was cooking the burgers on was too small to fit both patties. Like the genius I am, I used it anyway. The result was one of the patties breaking in half first, and then into thirds. I had to stack the pieces onto the bun. This made for an ugly burger, but a damn yummy meal. Just as a precaution, use a medium to large pan if you’re going to cook these on the stove.

So that’s it, my first product review on Fit & Fancy Life. Yay! (My dogs just looked at me funny when I fist pumped while rereading that. So judgmental…) I hope you have a great Earth Day, and let me know if you’ve tried other products from this company. I’d love to get your suggestions.

April @ fitandfancylife Signature

*Disclaimer: I don’t get paid to do product reviews or name-drop Target. I legitimately found the product on my own, ate it, and wrote a review of it. Also, I love Target. It’s one of the few stores I like. I’m not sure if it’s because their online store is fantastic, they have Starbucks, or the fact that there’s one across the street from my apartment. Regardless, this is a legit review.

How to handle going vegan when the rest of the world “can’t even”

How to Handle Going Vegan When The Rest Of The World "Can't Even"

To anyone not brought up vegetarian or vegan, the shock your lifestyle choice sends throughout the universe may be hard to handle. After all, you are now the leper to all your meat and dairy loving peers who “can’t even” imagine life without dead flesh and titty milk.

You have declared open season on yourself. For the rest of your life, so long as you abstain from meat and dairy, other people will comment on, make judgment on, and challenge you about what you eat. Were you ready for that? Did your reasons, whatever they were, for turning to this lifestyle include hardening yourself against the opinions others will have about your choice for your diet for the rest of your life? Mine certainly didn’t.

I shouldn’t complain, I had it easier than most. I’ve never really liked meat. I almost always refused to eat it as a child, told friends’ parents I was allergic to it growing up, and pretty much avoided it my whole life. Before I decided to openly cut meat out of my life, it was easy to avoid the elephant in the room that the word “vegan” seems to be. After all, who’s going to force you to eat anything you simply don’t like?

How wrong I was. From the moment I associated myself with the “v” word, the world flipped. Friends and family members had a big problem with my diet and still see fit comment on it regularly. While neither my friends nor my family were very subtle about their opinions on my lifestyle, my friends at least try asking questions and trying to work around my “new” way of eating. My family on the other hand saw this lifestyle “change” as open season for debates, endless unsubstantiated facts they “read somewhere,” and the distinct feeling I look protein deficient and pale. (For the record, I was actually closer to being protein deficient before I gave up meat and lived off spaghetti, cheese-less pizza, and Caesar salad. Also, I usually pale. That part is probably true.)

Through trial, patience, lack of patience, and acceptance I’ve learned a few things about how to handle going vegan when the rest of the world “can’t even” deal with your lifestyle choice.

Study your shit.
People are going to challenge you. People you’ve known your whole life, and some you just met, are going to think they know more about your health and diet than you do. Be prepared with facts and rebuttals on demand. If you’re an ethical vegan, study up on animal treatments and laws around the world. If you came to the lifestyle for health reasons, you better know all the facts about how meat diets and veggie diets affect your health. Actually, you should probably know your shit on all aspects and health effects of a veggie diet regardless.

Understand you are not the only one adjusting to your lifestyle.
Your friends and family have grown accustomed to your quirks, behavior, and diet. While it may seem to be a logical change for you to go from eating whatever to having dietary restrictions, it may not be for those around you. Give them time to adjust to your new eating habits. It might be a little stressful for them to try to figure out what you can and can’t eat, when you eat, and especially how much you eat. Change affects everyone differently. Answer their questions, try to ignore their “facts” about your lifestyle, and remember that they’re only concerned because they care. I still struggle with this one from time to time, and that’s okay. You don’t have to be infinitely patient, just enough to cut others some slack.

Be the planner.
It’s time to be the event coordinator of your social situations. Believe me, it’s awkward for everyone involved when you go out to eat with your friends and the restaurant has no meal options for you. This is where your inner event coordinator comes in. There is no longer an option to answer inquiries on where you want to eat with “wherever”. Speak up. Take control of your social life by suggesting safe restaurants, vegHead-friendly activities, and even cooking at home. If these options feel too burdensome, then at least eat beforehand or bring snacks.

Learn to cook.
If you’re new to a vegan diet, or even a vegetarian diet, it will be beneficial to know how to cook. Eating all your meals from restaurants gets expensive quickly, and eating only pizza and boxed macaroni and cheese is an easy way to pack on pounds. There are thousands of YouTube videos, blogs, and recipe websites to feed you for the rest of your life. Don’t let a lack of kitchen experience hold you back, because there are recipes for novices and experts. Take advantage of these resources; your budget and belt will appreciate it.

Let in and let go.
People that live their lives differently from what’s considered normal by society are always subject to curiosity and even contempt. Remember why you chose to switch to this lifestyle, and don’t walk through life with a chip on your shoulder. You may grow and evolve with age, but you’re still the same bag of bones you were before you gave up meat and dairy. Embrace the change. Remember your friends and families love your vegHead ass and will accept you. If they don’t embrace your lifestyle right away, they will in time. Remember that there are meet ups and festivals where you can connect with others who follow this lifestyle. You don’t have to go through life feeling as if there’s a separation from the rest of the world. There’s someone who understands behind this article, and I can probably relate to your journey. If not me, there’s someone else out there that does. Remember that you are not defined by what you do or do not eat. You are a unique individual made up of a complex personality, belief system, and preferences. Don’t get sucked into thinking “you are what you eat” is a literal statement; you are so much more then what you eat. I know it can be annoying to deal with questions and opinions against your lifestyle choice. Again, you don’t have to be infinitely patient with people, just enough to give them the patience and consideration you would like in return.

Switching to this lifestyle is different for everyone, some find it easy and others struggle. If you found a different way to deal with a world that “can’t even” handle your lifestyle, if you found this article helpful, or if you never experienced any turmoil in going vegHead then let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.