September 2- Matt Moore’s Enchiladas from Engine 2

Have you heard about the Engine 2 diet? It was created by Rip Esselstyn, a NY firefighter, professional tri-athlete, with a family tree of renowned physicians including his father, grandfather and great grandfather. Check out his website for his story and recipes.

I was interested in trying their version of enchiladas, especially since it is similar to the way I make my enchiladas. None of that tedious rolling corn tortillas (and having them crack open), I layer corn tortillas with enchilada sauce, beans, potatoes and spinach.

Matt’s version uses hash browns which I found intriguing. However, in the end I used tater tots which we had on hand, baked them and ripped them apart so they would be like hash browns. I believe those tater tots are the only oil in the recipe. No one missed the cheese. I did substitute a can of black beans for the mushrooms since I had just used mushrooms the day before, that added some protein as well.

I thought it turned out pretty good, except the can of sauce I used was a bit thin. If you make it, use as much sauce as they ask. This one was pretty popular with the family, we’ll make it again.

Matt Moore’s Enchilada Recipe

September 1: Mushroom “Makhani” (aka vegan Butter Chicken)

Our whole family loves Indian food. I’ve been working on making more Indian recipes since there are many naturally vegan and vegetarian dishes.

My repertoire for now includes palak paneer (with tofu instead of paneer), aloo gobi and chana masala. I love how the palak used a huge amount of spinach.

I looked up a substitute for butter chicken on one of my favorite vegan Indian websites

I’ve made some really delicous food from her recipes and they are not overly complicated. Although in general, Indian food is a little intensive with all the chopping and amount of spices. Once you get all the spices you are set.

This recipe was not too difficult, and I followed it exactly except I used red pepper instead of green and did not get fenugreek leaves. My cashew paste went a bit awry, turning into more of a chopped cashew since I did not have a good way to grind it. It was still tasty!

It went over pretty well with the family- the kid who doesn’t like mushrooms and onions devoured it. It had just a slightly bitter taste to me, but I think making the cashew into a paste would have helped that. We’ll definitely try more from Holy Cow Vegan.

Holy Cow Vegan’s Mushroom Makhani recipe

A month of “eat less meat” meals

For the month of September, we’ll be posting for VeganMoFo. It is a challenge to undertake a month of blogging (and cooking!) vegan meals. It is an area that causes difficulty for the average person to know how to replace standard meat-centered meals.

Obviously, there are a lot of concerning articles about climate change, and many angles to approach. However, the personal one that each of us can undertake, and makes a huge difference is choosing what we purchase and put on our plates.

We can dispute all day, about whether we should eat meat or should not eat meat. But, what is indisputable is that all of the billions of people on earth can’t eat meat at almost every meal. As one of the worst offenders, this country needs to change drastically. There are ways to ease into it, start with Meatless Monday, try one vegetarian meal a day, or vegan before 6. Don’t do it because someone shouts at you to “Go Vegan!”. Take these steps because our future is at stake. I can’t think of a bigger cause, because this issue affects all of us- the animals and the people: homeless, transgender, feminist, gay, wealthy and poor. Fires, droughts, floods, record heat levels, the climate isn’t going to improve on it’s own.


Fast food- better get with the times!

While we definitely support completely vegan places (I have written about them here), there are times when we need to go to a specific location and want to also support those who offer good veg options!

It has been so great to see fast food restaurants like Chipotle doing so well, with their healthier menu, and vegetarian/vegan options. They are always full. Something about their cilantro lime rice, and salsa is just SO good. I usually go for a vegan bowl and they give you (A LOT of) free guacamole. The sofritas is a great option for those who like the taste of meat- it is a tasty spiced tofu.

Café Yumm is another example of a great business model. They are expanding like crazy, and even have one drive-thru in Salem. All their locations are in Oregon, except one in Seattle by Pike Place. If you haven’t tried it, they make a pretty delicious tempeh skewer.

Another favorite place to eat is Laughing Planet. I believe they are currently only in Oregon, but am sure they will expand, or have similar places follow their model. They give you a possibility to substitute tofu or tempeh I believe on their special items that have meat. Their vegetarian meals are truly delicious. One of my favorites is the Cuban bowl. Fresh smoothies and juices round out their menu- and vegan cookies.

Those are my top three choices. If we have to do a really fast drive thru, the only option I will consider is Burgerville. They at least have a veggie burger option, although it leaves something to be desired. There are seasonal vegetables, and it is local. They are a step in the right direction.

Hopefully, Amy’s Drive-Thru which just opened in California will be a huge success and open in all the States. With items such as Vegan Mac n Cheese, vegan pizza, veggie bowls and burritos, this is a game changer!

I’m adding in one newcomer, that is all vegan. I am SO excited about Next Level Burger, opening in Portland soon. Their Bend, OR location must be doing really well. I will have a separate post about them once I get to try it out. This can show how plant-based food can be mainstream and delicious. I want to try every thing on their menu!

As for the older Fast Food chains, I don’t give them much hope in this changing market of people wanting healthier options, and more visibility and awareness of their participation in factory farm’s pollution and cruelty.

McDonalds has been steadily losing money, which will surely be the trend for a lot of the fast food chains as awareness grows about factory farming and the ingredients.

I recently went to Jack in the Box for the first time in many years. We were with friends, late at night headed to Seattle, and that was what we went with. I was shocked to find that all of their salads contained meat. When I asked if my daughter could get a taco without meat, I was told that wasn’t possible, it was already in it. Seriously? It can’t be more cost-effective to include an ingredient than leave it out. But, when you are talking about pre-packaged convenience, they go for what they think people want. I will NEVER go there again, just because they offer zero choices. Add to that list- Arby’s and countless others I am sure.

With all these large chain fast food restaurants, people don’t want to know how the nuggets are made. Pink slime, meat glue, no thanks!

Even if it costs a bit more, I hope you’ll try these places and support them in making a difference. That will encourage the others to change their practices if they want to survive.



Evolving eat less meat

My husband and I are transitioning our business over the summer from being a boutique design agency specializing in wine and food, to new ventures focused on environmental issues. We are doing this in less of a business plan model, and just trying multiple ventures and seeing what works.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous to give up billing $100/hour, but it definitely aligns with our hearts and family, and we will figure out how to make it work financially. So far Jonathan has been focusing on more environmental/green projects, and I will be more in raising awareness of how food choices affect animals and environment.

What I have learned through the last 3 years, and especially this summer, is that I am not comfortable in being fully vegan. I have tried to find the right moniker for my eating style- vegan light, hardcore vegetarian? I find it is very difficult for the general populace to imagine going from eating meat and/or dairy multiple times a day, to having none. If veganism is a religion- then there is no halfway, and no reason for them to try unless they fully embrace the ideals. I am still fully aware of how I was eating meat fairly recently, and would have possibly continued if I had not started learning about the issues. Although I began for health reasons, and my daughter wanting to be vegetarian. I now have multiple, much more important reasons.

If  the message “eat less meat” is a message that is more easily acceptable and received, then that is the direction to embrace to effectively make change. Only when one’s mind is open to listening about the reasons why we all need to eat less meat, can there be understanding. The message, “You need to be 100% vegan” will immediately close that person’s mind.

In my life, I have chosen not to be religious because at an early age I learned that it causes division (my mother and father are different faiths). By choosing one religion, the others are false. Any dogmatic ideals create this tension. The basic tenet of all major religions is compassion towards others, especially those less fortunate. I believe this extends into our treatment of all animals regardless of how you feel their status relates to humans, exotic animals, or companion animals, as fellow earthlings.

If we can all strive for compassion, the overall burden will be less for the animals, our earth, our children. And that is what eat less meat is about. Not an “all or nothing” attitude, but a common goal of reducing and changing factory farming, creating more options for people who are trying to eat less meat, and giving everyone a way to help make Earth be physically survivable in the near future. Yes, that may sound drastic, but it has come to that point with drought, climate change and population growth that drastic steps must be immediately taken.

And that is why we are taking a “sabbatical” from earning money to pour our time and efforts into what we feel is the most important undertaking for our children, who will most certainly be affected.

Eat less seafood…


Like something out of a horror movie, “The Blob” is growing and getting stronger every day. This toxic algae bloom is a serious issue, and while we wait and debate over whether it is normal cyclical pattern, or a sign of climate change- time to cut back on the sushi.

If this doesn’t concern you, consider that half of the salmon in the Columbia River have died due to the unusually hot weather and drought conditions.

Everyone will soon be eating less seafood whether they want to or not.

Now is the time to do everything we can to reduce the global warming, slow it down. As individuals, we can choose to eat less meat, every day. And yes, seafood too. While I hate to be alarmist, we must take swift action. Ignore “The Blob” at your own peril.

A great victory for the animals

Industrial animal operations have long been given free reign to do whatever they wanted, with no visibility to the public. Those who attempted to simply photograph any of the scenes risked serious criminal charges. With Idaho’s ruling, factory farms may have to actually be accountable for the way they treat animals and their operations, and hopefully is just the beginning of other States following suit.

Paul McCartney once famously stated, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian”. I think this is the first step.

Read the NPR article!

investigation at Bettencourt Dairies' Dry Creek facility in Hansen, Idaho. / Mercy for Animals
investigation at Bettencourt Dairies’ Dry Creek facility in Hansen, Idaho. / Mercy for Animals

Foster Farms Humane Protest

On July 16, my daughter and I joined Mercy for Animal’s protest outside a NW Fred Meyer. I was very impressed with the professionalism, organization and peaceful nature of Mercy for Animal’s protest. We received so many supportive honks from passing cars, and people taking careful notice of the chicken’s images. Hopefully it brings awareness to the public that these large factory farms are deceiving them with the “humane” label.

It was interesting to have my 12 year old there. She started out feeling a bit sad about the grotesque chicken mascot and realistic photos. I explained the reason we were there, to let people know that this is happening. By the end of the hour we spent there, she was marching up and down, declaring “truth!” and talking with interested passerby who wanted to discuss the issue. I was very proud of her, and she felt good that she was doing something.

OPB and KGW were there covering the story. Here is the video and article about the protest from KGW, and OPB

Thank you Mercy for Animals, we are happy to support your efforts!






3rd year veganniversary

So, I just realized last month was my 3rd year as a vegetarian. The hardest part was definitely the trip to Japan in Fall 2013. Now if I am ever tempted by a bit of seafood, I think “If I didn’t fall off the wagon then, I certainly don’t need to just for some ordinary seafood restaurant here”.

I am still somewhere between a hard core vegetarian and vegan. I’m thinking of doing a month full vegan just because I really do want to be fully vegan. I just hate the actual label and the social implications around it. And maybe, I do sometimes still like a small piece of cheese. In French, vegan is translated as végétalien, or végétalienne. So “alien” is an apt term sometimes. I realize it may seem vegan is very accepted and mainstream. Until you actually try it! It will be interesting to order my grand creme in France, avec le lait de soja (soy milk).

We’re doing some work with veg-businesses and the labels are a real problem. Instead of saying vegan, which immediately sounds so drastic people will not even consider that option, the groups are using plant-based. Still kind of weird though, as you can see when applied to the other groups. Do you enjoy your meat-based diet?

Can the vegans just get off their smug high horse, and the omnivores open their mind past “BACON” and really look at the full picture? We all have to be in this together.

On a positive note, am seeing a lot of hopeful trends… the Ringling Brother’s circus announced they will phase out using elephants in their show. Sea World has some serious bad press around their treatment of orcas, which hopefully will put them down the same path. Beyond just these large, amazing mammals. Think about the billions of animals who suffer because of our overwhelming demand. How different are they from the companion animals… from us, even?

That is just the animal side. I feel the health and environmental issues are also extremely important. Especially the effects on climate change.

I’ve got to leave this here, since I tend to ramble. Please consider your choices and how you can lessen your impact on the animals and the earth. Peace.




Where do you draw the line?

Living your life so you feel good about the earth’s resources, the creatures who share our planet, and your own health is not a black and white issue.
Maybe you spend a dollar more and buy “humanely-raised” eggs (more on that later), or find a farm where you can buy from a local meat producer. Possibly you eat vegetarian 3 or 4 days a week, or like Mark Bittman, eat vegan before 6pm. Or,  you ride your bike everywhere and buy products without much packaging.

We all hopefully try to contribute in a positive sense to the future and a smaller carbon footprint. It may be a choice now, but as China and India follow our lifestyles and the world population grows, we WILL run out of resources. Let’s slow that down.

The newest thing seems to be insects as food. While I can’t quite stomach that option, I see how that makes sense. Protein-rich and plentiful, insects are not considered to be sentient creatures, and could be an alternative food source. Ground up crickets make flour, or just cooked in a sauce and they make a crunchy taco filling. I am sticking with the new delicious “fake meats” for now.

Another place to draw the line for me was last month when I was trying to find some new boots. I found my dream pair, but they were leather. I wanted them so bad, but I didn’t buy them. When I found the second best pair after much searching, they had fleece lining. What to do then? Was the sheep killed, or just sheared? Probably should avoid it in any case, but I went ahead and got them. I’m not perfect. And I know man made faux leather has it’s own issues environmentally, but is not causing animal suffering.

“And what about plants?”, ask the people who oppose vegetarianism. You could argue that there are negative consequences to plants being killed. All I know is they don’t scream out for their babies as they are harvested. And they use less water than livestock need.

Yesterday, we went to a Christmas tree farm. We’ve had an artificial tree, and it really looks ugly and doesn’t have the wonderful smell. I wanted the kids to have the fun experience of going out and choosing a tree and having hot chocolate. Well, once we found the tree and started cutting it, the kids realized the tree would then be killed. I found myself saying all the platitudes that I used to use about eating meat. “They were raised for this purpose”, “They will be cut down anyway”.  They were bummed, it made me sad too that we couldn’t purely enjoy the tree. Where do we end our compassion for living things?

Is it worth it to just enjoy life with hedonistic pleasure and not think about any consequences? I don’t think we have that luxury anymore. I really don’t. Changes are happening in our lifetime, and directly affect our children. If we can’t watch what Factory farms are doing, that doesn’t mean it is okay to allow it. If you love your dog or cat, give a small thought to an equally intelligent and sensitive animal- the pig. The law allows it, and other agricultural animals to be treated in ways that are incomprehensibly cruel.

If we can all push ourselves a little, we can make a huge impact. Start with just eliminating factory farmed meats. It will take effort and cost a little more, but money is the only thing that will change anything. We are all consumers every day, and our choices make a difference.