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?

Cashew-apple-on-tree.jpg

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!

cashews-ftr

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Herbalicious!

Herbs make the perfect addition to any dish, or even beverage! There are so many that it can get a little overwhelming to find out which herb matches up with your latest recipe idea, but we’re here to help! Here are some of my favorite herbs and foods they seem to pair nicely with!

Sage: Sage just might be the prettiest of all the gorgeous herbs out there! Sage goes great in typical western comfort food, like Thanksgiving stuffing or an earthy casserole. It also can be a great compliment to sweeter dishes, with vegetables like butternut squash or a creamy pasta dish.

herb1.jpeg

Mint: Mint is light and refreshing. It adds a yummy twist to lemonade, or makes the perfect finishing garnish for any dessert. Mint can brighten a salad or a vegan yogurt sauce. If you want a simple snack, top a bowl of watermelon with some fresh mint leaves.

herb2

Basil: Basil is commonly associated with Italian cooking, and can be used in a tomato soup or tomato salad, and goes great on top of pizza. This herb isn’t just for savory items, though, it goes great on top of strawberries, blueberries and other fresh fruity desserts too. Asian Basil can additionally be used in curries or fried rice, or an asian-inspired tofu dish!

basil.jpg

Rosemary and Thyme: Rosemary and Thyme are other herbs popular in Western cooking. The combination of thyme, rosemary and salt taste good on practically any vegetable. Add them to potatoes done any kind of way (roasted red potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fries) or root vegetables for a delicious side dish.

rosemarythyme

Lavender: Lavender is one of the most floral herbs. It puts an elegant and classy twist on fruity drinks. Lavender can be detoxifying paired with hibiscus, charcoal, or lemon water and it has many medicinal properties.

lavender.jpg

Cilantro: This herb might have a bad reputation with some folks, but if you aren’t one to find the taste of cilantro soapy, cilantro is so versatile! Asian and Latin cooking tend to be heavy handed with cilantro. It can pep up a spicy curry or add a nice tang to a mango salsa.

cilantro.jpg

Dill: Dill is almost lemony, and goes great with citrusy dishes. It also goes great mixed into a creamy dip like ranch, or topped on some vegan seafood! Dill is also great with starches and grains like potatoes and orzo.

dill.jpg

Chives: Chives are the classic baked potato topping! They’re great snipped as a garnish or mixed into a vegan herb butter.

chives.jpg

Parsley: Parsley is typically found in Mediterranean or Italian Cooking. It gives a bright pop of green to grains like couscous, mixed into creamy hummus, or to top your spaghetti.

parsley.jpg

 

Now that you know the herbalicious details of some of those most popular herbs, it might be time to get experimenting! Happy cooking!
Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Would a Caveman’s Diet Meet Paleo Standards?

cavemen.jpg

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!

avocado.jpg

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

Zoos or Sanctuaries: What’s the Difference?

Going to the zoo was always a classic childhood memory… but so was eating animal products, so do some of these childhood memories need more thought? I never truly felt like zoos were just, but I didn’t understand how unjust they were until I learned about the differences between zoos and sanctuaries. Unfortunately, “zoo” and “sanctuary” are not as synonymous as we’d hope. Unlike sanctuaries, zoos tend to keep animals in far more confined spaces since such a vast amount of funding goes towards landscaping, sculptures, t-shirts, and other human-focused amenities. Zoos are also allowed to use disciplinary methods that are physically and mentally harmful to the animals in order for the animals to become easier to work with when they are put on display. Over time, animals fade from being their true selves into a human-inflicted version of the animal they could have been. There is even a term called “zoocosis,” created to describe the common, repeated behaviors of depression and anxiety animals exude when they are in zoos. That certainly does sound like any place I’d like to live in!

Thank goodness for the animals, sanctuaries also exist. Sanctuaries tend to ensure a permanent, realistic and secure home for residents. An average sanctuary, for example, will have between three to 1,000 acres of an animal’s natural habitat for them to live in.  As a result of the animals being surrounded in their natural settings, the residents also tend to express themselves in a more realistic manner comparable to the rest of their species in the wild: animals can swim, run, play, and socialize it up as they please! The animals are also looked after 24/7 to make sure they’re as happy and safe as they can be! Learning about the secrets of zoos was what first propelled me to give up meat. I figured if I thought all wild life deserves freedom, happiness and love, then so do the animals in farming agriculture. There’s a classic saying in the vegan world; “If you wouldn’t want it done to you, it’s not humane.” Luckily, never seeing dinosaurs has never stopped a child from loving them! However, if children do want to meet animals, there are a ton of fun alternatives! Sanctuaries can fill the animal void, and you’ll feel better knowing the furry, feathery, scaly fellas are free from confinement! Boating, kayaking, hiking and whale watching are great alternatives too, and you’re bound to see some crazy critters swimming, crawling or flying around! Try one of these adventures in replacement of zoos, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

elephant

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Veganism: Coming to a School Near You

veganout

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

Kombucha 101

It’s not quite soda, it’s not quite beer, and it’s definitely no kind of juice; what is this crazy stuff?! Kombucha, or fermented black tea, was introduced to me a couple years ago when I just started to dive into the health scene. It has a pretty intense taste on its own, but its typically mellowed out with some type of sugar, fruit, herb or even a root like ginger. Kombucha was definitely like nothing I had ever drank, I just knew it did some gnarly stuff for my body. It took me a second to get used to the unfamiliar taste, but now I am so hooked on kombucha that it’s a hassle for me to drink water! Like anything, kombucha is good in moderation. It’s the perfect probiotic to start the morning to wake up your digestive system. It’s brewed with a live culture, otherwise known as a scoby, derived from an ancient Chinese recipe. The vinegar, probiotics, enzymes and different acids also improve energy, detoxification, immune support and joint pain. I would describe it almost as a healthy, earthier tasting soda, and it’s hitting stores everywhere! Even mainstream grocery stores like Kroger are starting to catch on to the new trend. Lucky for fanatics, Louisville has two amazing local kombucha companies! Kentucky Kombucha and Elixir Kombucha have spread to different cafes, markets and stores around town; both with yummy unique tastes that are great to wash down some delicious vegan noms with! Owners of Elixir have taken note of the new-found interest in fueling your body with the right products.

img_9802

“There’s kind of an awakening going on in regards to food and beverages,” founders say. “Folks are moving away from conventional beverages like sugary sodas and energy drinks, most of which are devoid of any nutrition and they are moving toward functional and nutritious beverages like coconut water, watermelon water, cold brew coffee and kombucha. We love brewing kombucha not only for the taste but for its wide range of health benefits. We’ve seen first hand it’s impact on friends and family with gut and autoimmune issues. It’s the real deal. We hope kombucha becomes a household product. Gut health for all!”

We couldn’t agree more! The whole V-Grits team is made of avid kombucha drinkers, and we think they’re the perfect pair with our vegan cheese creations! Both V-Grits and Elixir will be sampling Saturday at the Rainbow Blossom off Bardstown Road on Saturday from 11am-2pm. Stop by and get your fix! See you there!

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

V-Grits’ September Spotlight

Upon getting into the vegan community here in Louisville, I was quick to notice an adventurous nine year old girl named Zelda. I didn’t know too much about her, just that she was the daughter of Buddy Wheeler (owner of Tattoo Charlie’s local vegan-friendly tattoo shop) and that she was vegan! A vegan kid, in real life? Sounded too rad to be true! Buddy and Zelda have been long-time fans of V-Grits, and even made the sign for the orange truck (Zelda held the dog back from chewing it up!).

Zelda has been vegan since she was four years old! After Zelda’s mom and dad went vegan as a result of health concerns, she quickly began her transitioning as well. She only ate animal products such as dairy and eggs occasionally outside of the house, until the family all started noticing patterns of her sickness and discomfort after birthday parties. Even the toughest people still can’t stomach all the alarming mysteries within animal products! After the second birthday party, Zelda decided enough was enough and made the switch! She grew into learning about the ethical side of veganism over time, and now there is no way she’s turning back!

zelda2

Q: What’s your favorite part of being vegan?

A: All the yummy food! And saving all the cute animals, like the ones at Upland’s PEAK! Lucy (one of PEAK’s resident pigs) is my favorite.

Q: Do you talk to a lot of your friends about being vegan?

A: Sometimes! And my friends love coming over and eating all our food! When they come over, they’re vegan for a weekend. Sometimes at lunch I will hear people talking, like “Did you know this is made from this?” And I’ll have to turn around and correct them and say “Actually, it’s made from this.” Two of my friends are mostly vegetarian.

Q: Are there ever moments where being vegan can get a little harder?
A: Most of the kids are really nice about it. It’s usually adults at birthday parties that try to get me to try something I can’t have. But every birthday party I go, I know my dad will get a vegan treat for me so I don’t mind!

Q: What’s your favorite V-Grits food?

A: The V-Burger or the Mac and Cheese! I loooooove the Mac and Cheese!

Q: What’s your favorite animal?

A: Grandma! (That was definitely a new one 😉 gerbils are her second favorite!)

Q: What do you like to do outside of school?

A: I really like building things! I build all sorts of things. I made a piano out of wrenches once! And I really like cooking. I make these spring rolls with noodles and lettuce and carrots and mint and vegan bacon bits! Mmmmm.

Q: If you had any advice for anyone interested in  going vegan, what would it be?

A: Just eat lots of fruits and veggies! With everything! And you gotta learn about your food. Because or else you might be eating pig butt!!!

I couldn’t have said it better myself! This girl is doing amazing things! If you wanna keep up with all of Zelda’s various escapades, follow the Facebook page “The Adventures of Zelda” for more updates!

zelda

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi