Health Benefits of Cashews

At V-Grits, we got a love for cashews that can’t be contained! We’re also pretty passionate about health, so thank goodness cashews exist to make creamy, cheesy, delicious and healthy dairy replacements! Cashews start as seeds that form at the bottom of cashew apples. Crazy, right?

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The US doesn’t seem to love cashew apples as much as they’re adored in Brazil and the Caribbean, but we’re nuts for the seeds! The health benefits of cashews are infinite! They have over eighty different nutrients. They may be known for their still relatively low fat content, but there’s nothing to fear! 82% of their fat is made up of unsaturated fatty acids. Cashews are additionally filled with magnesium and phosphorous which can lessen migraines and lower blood pressure; and copper which is high in antioxidants, works against heart disease and cancer, and protects our skin from sun damage. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, these gnarly nuts even contain zero cholesterol! So grab a bag of cashews as a snack, or get that cashew-based cheese (wink wink 😉 )! It’s only good for you, after all!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Eating Healthy on the Go!

Clean eating is an infamous travel struggle! Here are ten snacks that keep me satisfied and energized when I’m on the go!

  1. Fruit: Fruit is the easiest “fast food” there is. 😉 Wash it, cut it, and package it for the week and you have a quick snack no matter how much of a hurry you’re in!
  2. Clif bars: Clif bars feel like you’re eating a cookie that’s good for you! They’re meant for active people, so they’re especially great for hikers, cyclists and climbers who could use the extra energy & protein boost! Not all of them are vegan, though, so double check the label!
  1. Dates: Dates are also fruit, but especially handy for people in a rush. Dates may dry out a little after a month or so, but it takes them so long to actually go bad that they’re always good to keep in your glove compartment or purse for those unexpected hangry moments!
  2. Homemade trail mix: Dried fruit, nuts, vegan chocolate chips, and pretzels make a delicious and easy to eat snack anytime. Make a big batch and store it in your pantry, or throw a few handfuls into a Ziploc bag on your way out!
  3. Dips: If you have a little time before you’re on your way, quick dip boxes can be filling, healthy ways to rid yourself of some hunger. Slice up pita bread and with a few scoops of hummus, veggies with guacamole, or ciabatta bread with scoops PB&J and you’re good to go!
  4. Seeds or nuts: Seeds & nuts are surprisingly filling. They’re great in between meals, or as the “I’m bored so I’m going to eat something” snack. 😉
  5. Vegan yogurt: Thanks to food science, that yogurt container can still make its way into your lunch box. There are all sorts of vegan yogurt brands out now, from So Delicious to Kite Hill to Trader Joe’s.

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  1. Chia Pudding: Chia Pudding is so easy to make. Add fruit juice and your favorite nut milk to chia seeds in a bowl, leave it in the fridge overnight and you’re set… and so is the pudding! If you’re not up for making it at home, though, there are pre-made chia puddings sold at Whole Foods and Rainbow Blossom!
  2. Kale chips: Kale chips are ideal for long car drives! They’re easy to make, not super messy, and they even sneak greens into your diet! Make them at home, or buy Brad’s Raw Kale Chips in stores (they even sell them at certain Kroger’s)!
  3. Dark chocolate: Many dark chocolates are vegan, but always double check! Dark chocolate is on the healthier side of the sweets spectrum. It has tons of health benefits and can can also help curb a sweet tooth! My personal favorite is from the Endangered Species brand found at Kroger’s!

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Don’t listen to the rumors, eating vegan doesn’t have to be inconvenient! 🙂 We hope you give some of these snacks a try on your next busy day or roadtrip!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Would a Caveman’s Diet Meet Paleo Standards?

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The Paleo way of eating is frequently referred to as a caveman’s diet, but a caveman would probably look at you like you’re from a whole different century if you tried to tell them not to eat plant-based! The Paleo diet is highly focused on a heavy intake of grass-fed meats, and tells followers to avert from dairy, grains and over-processed foods. This dietary regimen is one of the most followed diet fads out there. I can definitely spot the research backing the alarming mysteries of dairy and processed foods, but I think the rest may need a little digging into. Researchers estimate that only a small portion of the average caveman’s diet consisted of meat! Why go through all the trouble of killing animals when there were hills on hills of lush plants you could simply grab by the handful? Previous studies made inaccurate estimations that cavemen ate a surplus of meat, only to find later that an intake of that much meat would actually poison humans.

Along with adding a heavy portion of meat into your diet, Paleo is also heavily focused on the abstinence of any type of grain. Despite the claim that pre-historic people didn’t eat grains, researchers have found traces of oats on grinding tools dating back to 32, 000 years ago. Oats, wild wheat, and other starches have been proven to be strong cores of a real diet during the Paleolithic period. These days, the term “carbs” is made out to be just as scary as the word “vegan,” but if you opt for the less processed carbs you’ve got nothing to fear! Many of the foods that are actually allowed in a Paleo diet were not even discovered during the Paleolithic period, such as the lovely avocados that were found in 1519, or squash that was found in 1591. As much praise as I’m sure anyone would have gotten for introducing the heavenly avocado to cavemen, it’s safe to say a Paleo diet has a long way from being caveman approved! And I mean, no offense to the cavemen and all, but why is everyone trying to eat like people did hundreds of thousands of years ago anyways? I would take a V-Grits burger over a handful of leaves and wheat any day!

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Over time, we were able to grow in knowledge and take on studies that show us that in current society, our bodies are not meant to intake any meat whatsoever. Even our own bodies reveal to us that we are better off with a plant-based diet since veganism has cured and or/reversed everything from diabetes, to forms of cancer, to heart disease. Thank you, technology! And trust me, if you’re trying to better your diet, just leave the “gathering” for the produce section at your local grocery store. 😉

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Veganism: Coming to a School Near You

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Veganism is the newest social justice movement on the block, and kids of all ages are starting to get the memo! Each new generation of kids is growing in awareness and feels more inclined to take interest in political issues. Recently, countless videos of children protesting eating animals in their households have gone viral, and it’s astounding amazing to watch kids as a whole grow in understanding and give a voice to the voiceless. The anti-animal violence front is at its peak: colleges were the first to take on guest seminars informing young adults why to go vegan, now veganism is spreading to kids all around the USA as young as sixth grade! Food or Friends is a new program backed by Vegan Outreach. This educational presentation reminds youngsters to give into the voice that tells us to love and protect our furry friends, despite how different social trends urge us to put those thoughts on the back burner for our taste buds. Vegan Outreach worked to establish an interactive and fun classroom experience, while also urging kids to push their critical thinking (and critical empathizing) skills; as they question if deterring their health, the earth they live on, and the well being of animals is worth that cheeseburger. The Food or Friends project currently is small-scale and in just a handful of cities across the United States, but I can’t wait to see this project grow so more and more kiddos can get on board and help to put an end to animal cruelty!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Cruelty-Free Fried Chicken Joint

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The world just got another fried chicken restaurant…

Oh wait, except this one is entirely cruelty-free! Temple of Seitan is taking on the inevitable first all vegan fried chicken joint!  That’s right KFC, be very afraid!  This new spot makes their vegan chicken out of seitan, a gluten-based alternative. Temple of Seitan will be putting their chicken in everything from subs to mac and cheese, and serving their plant-based chicken popcorn style and family style! The only bad news? This fried vegan chicken is calling our names all the way from across the pond! London was lucky enough to get the first vegan chicken joint, but hopefully America will get the memo and be next for a store-front of this juicy, breaded, fried deliciousness! I might just have to book a flight to London soon if not!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Sports Bar Goes Vegan Friendly!

When I make my weekly trip to Cincinnati, there hasn’t been one visit where I didn’t pass the sports bar chain, Yard House; little did I know they have an entirely vegan friendly menu! They list it as their “Gardein” Menu, and thankfully they skipped out on the infamous vegetable plate! 😉 Vegan options include a Thai “Chicken” Pizza, Chicken wings, hummus, a Blackened Chicken Torta, and a vegan burger! Almost everything can be made vegan on the menu, just double check with the servers about condiments. I was accompanied by omnivores who were floored by how much of the chicken wings tasted like chicken! I ordered the BBQ Chicken Pizza as an entree (and brought a jar of V-Grits Mozzarella for them to top it with) while others ordered the non-vegan version, and even the servers had to double check which pizza was free of animal products! I was ecstatic to see a classic sports bar making some vegan gains! Way to set the bar for the rest of them, Yard House! If you ever spot a location or are in the Cincinnati area, I would definitely recommend checking this place out! I’ve been craving those wings ever since!

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Sugning off for the sentient,

Sammi

Are Turkeys Aware?

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Save-the-Turkeys Day is just around the corner! While stuffing our bellies full of delicious, cruelty-free plates on plates of food, and getting faced with some unethical food choices, it might help to remember that turkeys are far more intelligent than they’re typically given credit for! As vegans say, if they use their eyes to see, they use their brains to think! Even Benjamin Franklin had a fit when the Bald Eagle was chosen over the Turkey as the National Bird, and wrote a letter stating the Turkey was a “much more respectable bird” and a “bird of courage” rather than the unimpressive, scavenging Bald Eagle. I have only been in the lovely company of turkeys once, and were such sweet and curious little fellas! The ones I met were far from shy, and you could find them bobbing their heads in between lines of people waiting for food. They were just itching to see what all the fuss was about! Some of a turkey’s favorite activities include cuddling, being stroked and pet, clucking along to music and playing their own version of football with things like apples! They’re so smart in fact, that they have an astounding sense of hearing despite having no ears! They can even recognize each other’s voices! That comes in handy for them, since they thrive on affection and love making long connections and friendships with humans and birds alike. Being as curious as they are, they also enjoy exploring and are able to remember up to 1,000 acres of geographic content, which is definitely an advantage when they’re stocking up on food! Turkeys can live up to ten years, despite that they typically only live a few short months in animal agriculture. This time of the year, it is particularly important to show our love and appreciation for these friendly, loving birds. Let’s all do them a favor and extend our compassion to leave them off our plates this season! If you would like to take an extra step to help our beautiful feathered friends, you can adopt a turkey! How cool would that be?! Happy cruelty-free holidays!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Surprising Store Finds for the Vegan Junk Food Enthusiast

After going vegan, you might start to realize that grass and greens can be the least of a vegan’s concerns! With so many sweet and salty, animal-approved temptations out there, the “Potato Chip Vegan” even began circling around the vegan world for the herbivores dedicated to animal ethics who don’t mind indulging on some cruelty-free treats. If only kale tasted as good as chocolate frosting! Here are some surprising store finds to satisfy the Potato Chip Vegan in you!

  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
  • Lay’s Regular (unbaked) BBQ Chips
  • Kettle Brand Maple Bacon Potato Chips
  • Betty Crocker Baco’s & McCormick Bac’n pieces (and some other vegan bacon bit brands)

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  • Oreos
  • Popcorn at Regal Movie Theaters and sometimes AMC Movie Theaters
  • Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
  • Junior Mints
  • Bugles
  • Airheads
  • Swedish Fish
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Skittles
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Krispy Kreme’s Glazed Cherry Pies
  • Duncan’s Chocolate Frosting
  • Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

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  • Unfrosted Strawberry Poptarts
  • Xtra Tangy Buffalo Wing Pringles
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • Nutter Butters
  • Thomas Blueberry Bagels
  • Smucker’s Marshmallow Topping
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Burger King’s French Toast Sticks

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  • Earth Balance Cheddar Squares (vegan Cheez-Its)
  • Auntie Anne’s pretzels (with no butter)
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Reese’s Puffs
  • Cap’n Crunch
  • Original flavored Pretzel Crisps
  • Dark Chocolate Pretzel BarkThins

If you’re feeling like indulging, save the grass for our cow friends 😉 and show omnivores what they’ve been eating vegan all along!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Thanksgiving Veganized

What better way to give thanks than celebrating lives instead of eating them? With so many vegan substitutes, it gets easier and easier every year to veganize Thanksgiving! You can even have V-Grits cater your Thanksgiving spread with vegan Turkey Pot Pie, a healthy bean & oat based Thanksgiving loaf, Mac and Cheese topped with breadcrumbs, Beans & Collard Greens, Orange Walnut Quinoa Salad, Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce, homemade Bourbon Balls and 6 packs of Elixir’s Harvest Cider Kombucha! Did your stomach just growl, too? You can even make some yummy side dishes and appetizers with our cheese line! Add spinach, artichokes, garlic powder and italian seasonings to our Mozzarella sauce for a yummy spinach and artichoke dip! Or try our Mild Cheddar sauce over broccoli or in a potato casserole! Don’t want to fuss over appetizers? Put out a bowl of our Pimento spread with veggies or crusty bread for dipping and you’re good to go!

For even more Thanksgiving options, though, there’s a whole grocery world of holiday vegan spins waiting to be explored! You can replace the dairy in homemade mashed potatoes with creamy coconut milk! Since just about every Thanksgiving side pretty much requires butter, Earth Balance always seems to do the job! Kite Hill also makes amazing vegan cream cheese and yogurt, if a recipe you want to try calls for it! Green Beans and yams can easily be made vegan, too. There are also some good lookin’ vegan turkeys out in stores! Tofurky (no, they are not made of tofu 😉 ), Gardein (featured below) and Field Roast vegan turkeys are some of the most popular out there! There are even versions that are pastry dough wrapped or filled with stuffing! Even Trader Joes has a Turkey-less Stuffed Roast! I haven’t experimented with any vegan Turkey’s personally, but they have all been reviewed to be pretty gnarly! For dessert, luckily the typical (double check allergens just to be safe!) pastry dough is vegan! Top some apple filling with a sheet of pastry dough as a crust and bam! You’ve got apple pie! In Lucky’s Market, neighbors to our line of V-Grits Cheese Sauces are rice milk and soy milk based vegan whipped cream! I haven’t gotten a chance to try it yet, but I cannot wait to drench my holiday sweets in mountains of that stuff! We hope this makes your veganized holidays a little bit easier! Happy cruelty-free eatin,’ folks!

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Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Atlanta VegFest

I don’t know what that “Panda” song was talking about, we were too focused on all the vegan shenanigans in Atlanta! We were so lucky to be a part of the 2016 Atlanta Vegfest! Vegfests are generally an overwhelmingly happy time for any plant eater, especially in a big city! I mean, being surrounded by thousands of vegans and eating some of the yummiest food around? Count me in! And of course, no vegan road trip is complete without checking out some of the best spots in town along the way!

Cashew in Chattanooga, Tennessee was our first stop. Donut breaks are the best kind of breaks, am I right? It was placed fittingly in a cute, trendy part of town and had some beautiful plant-strong art! We grabbed raspberry jelly filled powdered donuts and chocolate donuts with sprinkles before hitting the road again. I also got a beet and kale juice because you know, have to at least pretend I’m trying to eat healthy! The cake donuts were super moist and delicious, I would definitely recommend checking them out if you’re ever in town!

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Once we arrived in Atlanta, for Kristina and Jeff it was practically a no-brainer where to go for dinner! Cafe Sunflower brought on the class! It was a beautiful place that had vegan scallops (texture was spot on!), ah-maze-ing vegan chicken wings with sugar cane “bones,” vegan chicken enchiladas, vegan steak fajitas, and a mouth-watering dessert plate to choose from! At some point into the three appetizers, entrees, and dessert that passed on the table, I seriously questioned what tastes people think vegans could be missing out on! The next day I topped my vegan chicken enchilada leftovers with our V-Grits Mild Cheddar sauce, talk about the perfect combo! We all agreed the trip to Atlanta was worth it just for that amazing meal alone! We were even lucky enough to meet the sweetest vegan Uber driver afterwards! What are the odds!

Atlanta VegFest was beautiful, to say the least! An overcrowded room of vegans and the vegan-curious is my own personal happy place. We brought samples of Mac and Cheese, gooey with our Mild Cheddar Sauce, and crackers with our southern Pimento spread. We’re happy to say that we felt everyone there shared our same enthusiasm about our cheese line, and we even sold out of the 250 jars we brought in three bustling hours! The festival made us even more excited to be selling on Vegan Essentials hopefully by the end of next month! After we filled the vegfest-goers cheese needs, it was time to partake on the fun ourselves! We got to see the friendly face of David Carter (wearing a shirt I need in my closet), an NFL Lineman and animal activist! Carter acknowledges that veganism overlooks people of color and food deserts, and works to overcome those divides! How rad! Not to mention, he clearly puts all the vegan protein questions to shame! We also indulged in hot fudge vegan sundaes (too bad I ate mine too quick to take a picture!) and a range of vegan products from protein-loaded quinoa bites to yummy vegan meats! I couldn’t leave without snagging a new member to my vegan wardrobe, a grey scarf covered with animals by Compassion Company. On our way back home, we stopped at the Chattanooga Whole Foods for snacks and were surprised with super creamy and super pink sorbets of the fruity variety! All in all, it was a great day! We’ll definitely see you again next year, Atlanta! Thanks for the loveliest vegan noms!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi