Sweet Snacks for an Herbivore

Trying to get healthier, but have a sweet tooth calling your name? The SO Delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle ice cream might try to break you, but there are some other yummy snacks that can satisfy a sweet tooth without the after-affects of bowls on bowls of sugar!

  • Little Secrets: These faux M&M’s just hit my local Kroger’s, and I’m a fan! Dark chocolate, sea salt and peanuts make a combination that’s nearly impossible to beat! And it’s no secret that their ingredients are all natural and ethical, with fair trade chocolate and coatings colored with turmeric and spirulina. Just watch out for the Peanut Butter flavor, as it is the only flavor that has whey. They’re additionally good to quiet cravings, just pop in a few and your sweet tooth is set!

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  • Larabars: Larabars are snack bars based of nuts and dates, so they can be great to have in the pantry as a sweet and healthy treat on the go. Different flavors include Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Pie, and Lemon Bar.

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  • Justin’s products: Justin’s has a plethora of sweet products ranging from dark chocolate peanut butter cups (Reese’s has nothing on these!) to chocolatey, nutty spreads. They do have palm oil though!

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  • Enjoy Life Chocolate: Chocolate chips and chunks make any bowl of fruit a little more tempting! Especially when scary dairy is the least of your concerns! You can also make homemade trail mix, blend with avocados for a healthy chocolate mousse, or add a few into your PB&J!

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  • Hail Merry Tarts & Macaroons: These raw vegan products have been spotted in health stores such as Whole Foods and Rainbow Blossom. Within the last few weeks, I’ve frequently seen them on sale around town! All products of theirs are certified vegan and use mostly organic, familiar products such as cashews, coconut sugar and coconut oil. I’ve tried the Persian Lime Tart and the Almond Butter Chocolate Cup! Both were delicious and left my sweet tooth satisfied without feeling sluggish!

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Try these products out next time you’re on the hunt for a healthier, sweet alternative!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

What the Health?!

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Forks Over Knives and PlantPure Nation just got a new neighbor on the list of health-focused documentaries going viral across the web! What the Health? is a new film produced by the creators of Cowspiracy (another personal fave) exposing a surplus of shocking mysteries within animal agriculture and the human diet. The documentary covers everything from insider government lobbying, to industrialized racism, to cruelty-free protein and athletes, and more! They concluded with a series of eye-opening health success stories from victims of these industries who were able to trash entire shelves of medication after spending only two weeks plant-based! With wide eyes and a bowl of ripe fruit at my side, I was in disbelief at how much money is spent to convince humans that animal products are vital contributors to the human diet, despite the various studies that prove how deeply animal products are linked to an increase in bone fragility, deteriorating mental health, and countless lethal diseases.

After watching, the thought crossed my mind that I have seen hours on hours of health documentaries, and none had said anything beneficial about animal products! I was keen to listen to the opposition, but after a quick google search I realized there are no health documentaries that talk about the importance of animal products in our diets! That’s definitely no mistake. Modern doctors and researchers (who aren’t getting paid by Tyson and Yum! Brands, anyways) can’t deny the blatant evidence that meat, dairy and eggs are taking years off of our lifespans and keeping us sick, and thankfully this documentary uncovers all that lobbying vigorously works to blind us from! Check it out and prepare for your jaw to drop!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

10 New Vegan Products to Get Excited About

There was a rad vegan Expo West in California, and there are oodles of new vegan products coming out worth drooling over! Here are 10 that I’m tryna get in my fridge ASAP.

  • Miniature Corn Dogs: Need I say more?! No lie, within 5 minutes of seeing a picture of these babies, I called up Whole Foods and asked for them to get these in stock! No doubt people have already whipped up some killer vegan recipes for this, but imagine the pure joy of opening up your freezer, popping miniature corndogs in your toaster oven, and eating them with mustard just like your 5 year old self used to love. To say the least, I am about getting these in my life.

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  • Vegan popcorn Chicken: So maybe my love for frozen childhood fingerfoods is showing, but the only thing better than vegan chicken is vegan popcorn chicken. Imagine the possibilities… ranch or BBQ sauce??!

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  • Rocket Cakes: Breakfast food just got easier! Why deal with the mess of recipes when batter can pour right out of a bottle? This batter doubles as a pancake and waffle batter. Yum! Add chocolate chips and we’ve got a match made in veggie heaven!

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  • Sausage Ravioli: Ravioli is a favorite of mine: any food stuffed with other food is something I can get behind!

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  • Liquid Vegan Egg: An omelette without the cruelty! I’ve never tried the vegan egg before, honestly because it seemed like a lot of effort, so this sounds perfect to me! Between Rocket Cakes and the Liquid Vegan Egg, you can basically pour a vegan breakfast feast out of a bottle!

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  • Vegan Ham: I forgot that I actually used to like the taste of ham until the V-Grits Christmas box, but since getting a little taste in December, I can’t wait for more! Pass the vegan ham & cheese, please!

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  • Gardein Breakfast Pockets: Breakfast food is clearly a thing I enjoy, especially over simplified, handheld breakfast food! These pockets are filled with vegan sausage, egg and cheese! Basically a trifecta of things most of us thought we couldn’t eat anymore after going vegan! Yassss.

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  • Cocomel Bites: Satisfy a sweet tooth by biting into a Cocomel chocolate, basically a veganized Rolo filled with ooey-gooey vegan caramel. Probably good to eat one at a time… or one bag at a time. 😉

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  • Milk Chocolate Bunnies: Eat an animal in a way that doesn’t harm animals with this cruelty-free chocolate bunny! The only thing better than chocolate is chocolate formed into unusual shapes.

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  • Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake: Vegan cheesecake of any sort is immediately worth digging into, but pumpkin spice? Heck yeah! I am down to eat a piece of this no matter what the season.

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Huge shout out to VegNews for posting all the delicious products the spotted at Expo West! Hopefully these tempting, cruelty-free treats will grace our veg-friendly city soon!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

NABC Brewhouse

This weekend I headed to NABC (New Albanian Brewing Company) Brewhouse, also known as Bankstreet Brewhouse and formerly known as Earth Friends Cafe. You might not expect it judging by the name, but this female-owned restaurant just across the river in New Albany has a plant-eater friendly menu that any vegan will be daydreaming about days after their first visit. They have everything from loaded nachos with vegan taco meat crumbles, to vegan buffalo chicken quesadillas, to buffalo cauliflower (anything will taste good drenched in buffalo sauce, am I right?), and even vegan desserts! Just make sure your waiter is fully aware that you’re vegan before you place your order. On top of all this mouthwatering vegan food that sounds straight out of a sports bar, they hands down have the best rootbeer I’ve ever had – so much so that I have to resist bringing my growler for them to fill it up with that bubbly, sweet deliciousness any time I eat there.  I’ve also added this spot to my mental list of the top eateries in Louisville I’d take an omnivore to. Any place that uses Gardein or Beyond Meat will have your omnivore friends doing double-takes. So try this place out y’all! It’s worth the Indiana crossover toll. 😉 And while you’re over there, be sure to check out the beautiful Black Art Matters Exhibit at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, literally across the street!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

If Everyone Went Vegan, What Would We Do With All the Animals?

It’s a question that’s graced the ears of every vegan. “So if everyone went vegan, what would we do with all the animals?” Aka, are vegans trying to get animals to take over the world?! As pleasant as that world would probably be, I think it’s safe to say that’s far from the end goal.

If the world went vegan, that would mean all humans no longer put the life of one animal before another, so we wouldn’t treat the abundance of farmed animals any differently than we treat the abundance of dogs and cats. There would just be more animals that need all our lovin’! Humans definitely have the power to harm animals, but as I’m sure you know, just because we have power to cause harm, definitely doesn’t mean we should!

Dogs and cats have become prized animals in modern Western cultures, mostly because humans have domesticated them far beyond the point of return! But humans haven’t only erased a dog or cat’s natural place in the food chain. Farmed animals also fell victim to human greed. Since we are the ones who caused those animals to be unable to live freely in the wild as they once could, now it is our duty to be their guardians and protect these sweet, lovable fellas like they deserve! The treacherous practices of animal agriculture are coming into light more and more, and more farmed animal sanctuaries are popping up and saving our animal friends as a result! As the vegan movement grows, the more support sanctuaries will get, and the more animals they’ll be able to rescue.

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The world definitely won’t go vegan overnight (outside my daydreams, anyways), but I’ve got a little hunch that some day, not being vegan will be as taboo as not believing in global warming. Especially as humans realize how much animal agriculture and global warming correlate! For now though, if we stop buying meat and animal products, these animals will no longer be mass produced, and no longer be bred at alarming rates, which is proof in itself that nothing could reduce the amount of animals being brought into this planet more. Just like any other product on grocery store shelves, if the demand goes, the decline of those products is quick to follow.

I mean, it’s pretty clear at this point that animal products are in no way beneficial to our bodies (as shown in PlantPure Nation, Forks Over Knives and The China Study). They’re not only completely unnecessary to keep in our diets, but also extremely detrimental to our health. So are humans really only dedicated to eating animals just because they think there will be too many of them if they don’t? Maybe this is just a personal thing, but there’s an outrageous amount of things people have chosen to eat that are overly abundant in the world, that I can guarantee will never be on my dinner menu… for ex: dogs, cats, cat hair, mattresses, dryer sheets, glass, and plastic bags just to name a few!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

5 Carb Replacements Better Than Bread

Let’s talk about the C word… carbs. Carbs are becoming a fearful word in most mainstream diet regimens, but carbs are absolutely vital for our bodies to persist! “Carbs” is basically synonymous with “energy,” after all. They will either be broken down into glucose to be used as energy, or saved in fat for stored energy for later use. So rather than eliminating carbs, here are foods full of carbs that will give you energy, without the other cons of common refined carbs such as white bread.

  • Bananas: I am forever and always a banana enthusiast! 😉 Bananas are full of carbs that will sustain energy for your most strenuous work outs. They’re also loaded with Potassium and healthy fructose for an extra boost!

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  • Potatoes: Potatoes have are one of the most nutrient-rich carbs, despite their bad rep! Bake them tossed in coconut milk instead of oil to keep more of their nutritional value.

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  • Whole grains: Oats, quinoa and couscous are all products from grained without being highly processed, so they still can retain the benefits of carbs and sustain a high-carb diet. Whole grain bread is even a better alternative than white bread, but be careful not to mix whole grain bread up with multigrain bread!

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  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are another complex carb with a little more flavor than an average potato, and they’re also full of the good kind of fat!

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  • Beans and Lentils: Vegans don’t just use beans and lentils as high sources of protein! They are also full of carbs, as well as vitamins, minerals and sometimes antioxidants.

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Starbucks is Caving for Vegans

Finally, Starbucks is bumping up the vegan options so we can have more than black coffee! This coffee chain is starting to get the memo – vegans are everywhere, and we’re spreading! 😉 Just this past August, Starbucks decided to give into the 96, 000 requests (vegans ain’t subtle) for almond milk to be added to their string of vegan milk options, including soy milk and coconut milk. Almond milk isn’t just for vegans, though! Their house-made Almond milk also won over health fanatics, having only 3 grams of sugar in comparison to 2% cow milk’s 12 grams of sugar – and also just because… dairy. *Shudders*

Starbucks wasn’t finished helping out us plant eaters just yet, though. They recently just launched their very first grab-and-go vegan breakfast option! The new menu item uses a combination of steel cut oats, quinoa, chia seeds coconut milk, tropical fruit compote, almond slices and coconut shavings for the perfect healthy morning treat! The breakfast option has hit 600 locations around New York. Hopefully we’ll see them in Starbucks’ scattered across our veg-friendly city of Louisville soon! Until then, check out this handy list of vegan Starbucks finds!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Daring to Ditch Meat & Dairy

 

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As any viewer of Cowspiracy could conclude, meat and dairy are taking its toll on the environment one factory farm at a time – and environmentalists are finally taking note! Oakland, California (because of course Californians would be the first to hop on this ethically, environmentally and health friendly lifestyle) joined up with environmental activist group Friends of the Earth to devise school lunches that would be better for the planet. While the school hasn’t gone fully vegan just yet, significant improvements have been made! Oakland schools might occasionally have meat and cheese from organic pastured dairy cows, but for the most part, it’s vegan tostadas and and tofu stir fry for days!

And as for the environmental impact, the proof is in the gelatin-free pudding! Carbon Dioxide emissions from school lunches alone decreased by 14%, which is the equivalent of taking 127 cars off the road for an entire year. Holy guacamole!!  And if anyone was wondering about the myth that veganism is more expensive, the lunch program costs fell by 1%. There might not have been physical proof that this way of eating was also healthier, but it’s a little hard to argue that beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza stood up to rainbows of hearty, handmade, plant-based noms! Friends of the Earth stated that if every U.S school district followed Oakland’s lead, the drop in CO2 emissions would add up to be the same as taking 150, 000 cars off the roads!!! The environmental activist group is hoping the change in Oakland school lunches is just a stepping stone for more school districts to get the memo and join in on saving the earth, one meal at a time. We’re rooting for them!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Top 25 Valentines Day Restaurants in Louisville

Valentines Day is coming up, which is always a great excuse to test out some local cuisine! 😉 Here are 25 vegan-friendly spots in Louisville that’ll charm your socks off!

  1. Ramsi’s Cafe on the World
  2. Proof on Main (call ahead of time to let them know you’re vegan)
  3. Mayan Cafe
  4. Annie May’s Sweet Cafe
  5. Dragon King’s Daughter
  6. Simply Thai
  7. Martini’s Italian Bistro (call ahead)
  8. Seviche (call ahead)
  9. Time 4 Thai
  10. Louivino
  11. Shalimar
  12. The Grape Leaf
  13. Half Peach
  14. Crescent Hill Crafthouse
  15. Silver Dollar
  16. North End Cafe
  17. Garage Bar
  18. Queen of Sheba
  19. California Pizza Kitchen
  20. Lydia House
  21. BarriCibo
  22. Porcini’s
  23. Mellow Mushroom
  24. The Meridian Cafe
  25. Dakshin

Happy Eating!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Did Someone Say Super Bowl Food?

So, it’s that time of year – a day practically dedicated to eating as much vegan junk food as possible! I even heard there will be a really big football game going on too! 😉 If you’re on the hunt for delicious game day grub, Chef Kristina has whipped up some awesome recipes to make your omnivore friends awe-inspired and begging for more!

Game Day Dip
1 jar V-Grits Soul Sauce (Mild Cheddar or Mozzarella)
2 tbsp buttery spread
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Just mix, and warm it up on the stove top or in the microwave. This dip goes great with breadsticks, onion rings or pretzel nuggets!
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Pimento Stuffed Sweet Peppers

6 small sweet peppers

2 tsp olive oil

dash salt

1/4 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

fresh chives

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1/4 cup vegan beef crumbles

1/2 cup V-Grits Pimento Cashew

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse Veggies.

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Small dice 1/4 cup onion, mince 1 clove garlic, and slice 2 tbsp chives.

Add 2 tsp oil to a saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and a dash of salt, and sauté.

Add garlic and vegan beef crumbles, and cook to sear. Remove from heat.

Stir in V-Grits Pimento Cashew and half the chives.

Place peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and stuff. Top with breadcrumbs and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Broil for 2 to 3, to toast breadcrumbs.

Top with remaining chives upon serving.


YIELD: 12 Appetizer-Size Snacks

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Corn & Bean Queso
1 jar V-Grits Mild Cheddar Cashews
1 cup Black Bean & Corn Salsa
Warm it up and grab your favorite tortilla chips!
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Louisville suppliers for all your V-Grits cheese needs include Rainbow Blossom in the Highlands and St. Matthews and Lucky’s in Hurstbourne. Cheeses can also be found at Lucky’s Market in Bloomington, Lucky’s Market in Lexington, The Weekly Juicery in Cincinnati and Lexington, Lucky’s Market in Columbus, Weiland’s in Columbus, and It’s All Natural in Gahanna, OH!
Give these a try and let us know what you think! Other Game Day snacks to go with all that cheesy goodness include fresh-cut veggies with Follow Your Heart Ranch for dipping, Gardein Boneless Bites, classic guacamole, and vegan breaded “shrimp” by Sophie’s Kitchen (found in the frozen isle at Whole Foods)! I’m get hungry just thinking about it! If you test one of these recipes out, or get to experimenting and make your own V-Grits cheese recipe creation, share and hashtag #vgrits so we can see what all our soul sauces can do!
Signing off for the Sentient,
Sammi