Is Flax Seed the Vegan Baker’s Miracle Worker?

I spent the weekend trying to find a good recipe for vegan pumpkin cookies to take to a family dinner. Unfortunately, the recipes that looked somewhat tasty had a lot of ingredients that were not very healthy – even though they were technically vegan. I finally found one that used oatmeal as the base and gave it a try. Not much success. They could be described as blobs of dough that didn’t remotely resemble anything I would normally associate with pumpkin cookies. So I went on another search to find a better recipe. What I found rocked my world!

The pumpkin cookie recipe I found called for an egg replacement for the equivalent of 2 eggs. Being a fairly novice vegan baker, I thought to myself, ‘What the heck can I use for an egg replacement that won’t have me traipsing all over creation trying to find it?’. I did a quick internet search and found what is sure to be a life changer – ground flax seed and water (can you get any more simple than that?!) is the perfect egg replacer! At first, I thought, no, this can’t be true. It seems too simple but I gave it a try. I was running out of time and needed a miracle. Flax seed delivered!

Not only did the cookies turn out really tasty, the texture of them was comparable to those Soft Batch cookies I used to inhale when I was a teenager. You remember those don’t you? The cookies that were supposed to mimic Mama’s homemade cookies right out of the oven. Heaven only knows what horrible list of ingredients were in those tasty morsels but they sure were yummy. I was so thrilled to find something that reminded me of them and were healthy!

So, here’s the scoop. If you need an egg replacer for a baking recipe in order to make it vegan all you have to do is mix 2 Tbsp of finely ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp of water for each egg you need in the recipe. Mix together and let set for a few minutes until they reach that gooey egglike texture. Then mix it with the rest of your ingredients as called for. Voila! a vegan miracle has occurred in your kitchen!

Not only are flax seeds a great egg replacer, they are great for your body! They contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your heart healthy, Lignans which contain antioxidants and tons of Fiber to keep things movin’! So including them in something that people might consider an indulgence is a great way to balance the health scale a bit.

One caveat though. If you are one of those people who feels like flax seed has a strong taste you may want to add more of the spices or flavorful portions of your recipes to overcome it. My brother Justin is one of those that doesn’t really like spicy or pumpkin-y food so he really liked these cookies since the flax seed kind of overrode the cinnamon and cloves. I really like the pumpkin-y spices so I’m going to try another batch and up the cinnamon and cloves until I get the spice level I like.

In case you are curious to try it out, the recipe can be found here on Natural Papa’s Blog.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of flax seed, WebMD, Flax Seed Heath and Women’s Fitness all have great information.

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating – Book Review

 

Vegan

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus

 

When I picked up the revised edition of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus at my local library, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t read a book about vegan issues in a while and as I flipped through the pages deciding whether to check it out or not, the content seemed interesting and broad enough to retain my interest. It did much more than that!

Erik starts the book with Part I: To Your Health. It looks at the state of our nation’s health and our quality of life. He highlights Dr. Dean Ornish’s work, including personal stories about people who have suffered from heart disease. Cancer and The China Project are also examined and links are shown that the consumption of animal products can trigger the development of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Of course, a section about health benefits without weight loss would be incomplete, so he also talks about how a vegan diet can easily reduce your body weight to its optimal level and discusses the work of Dr. Terry Shintani.

The ‘Perfect Food Isn’t’ chapter was of particular interest to me because I experience a dramatic shift in the happiness of my body when I cut out dairy products and I am dismayed by the implications of the constant barrage of messages to drink milk and eat cheese that we experience as Americans. Mr. Marcus does the topic justice by explaining what dairy does to your body and how we are being manipulated by special interests.

The final chapter in this section was the most eye opening for me. It is entitled; ‘How Now, Mad Cow.’ I had no idea what was going on in the 80’s regarding mad cow disease. Now I know that was intentional. I also didn’t fully understand that a discussion on Oprah Winfrey’s show between Howard Lyman and Dr. Gary Weber about the disease was what spawned the well known lawsuit she endured. I also know much more about how this disease proliferates and how we as a species are seriously compromising the health of ourselves and our children (throughout the world) by consuming beef products from factory farms.

Part II starts off with Rescued! a chapter about Gene and Lorri Bausten who started Farm Sanctuary. The chapter Chickens and Eggs is next with a devastatingly complete depiction of the horrific conditions of poultry which are used for egg production or slaughtered for meat. If you are a Vegetarian who eats eggs, you may want to take a look at this chapter before your next shopping trip.

Erik goes on to explore the lives of pigs, dairy cows, veal calves and beef cattle. He notes throughout these chapters how breeding practices and conditions are creating an environment of disease, misery and death, not only for the animals but for the people who consume their products. This section ends with a chapter named The Killing Business. It explores both sides of the slaughterhouse situation and completes the horrific life cycle of the animals.

If you weren’t convinced by now that consuming animal products is not in anyone or any animal’s best interest, Erik goes even further in his discussions about world hunger, public property violations by the National Cattlemen’s Association and his personal journey to his current stance on veganism. The New Four Food Groups from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Vegetarian Starter Kit is included for those who are interested in eating a more plant-based diet.

Overall, I agree with Howard Lyman when he says, “Reading Erik Marcus’s Vegan is a critical first step for anyone wanting to extend both the quality and length of their life, and the planet’s life.” So read the whole book or just those chapters that interest you. I am sure that you will be more informed and more able to make better choices when it comes to deciding what you consume. Once you do take a look, please let me know what you thought!

The revised edition of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus is 211 pages and includes a foreword by Howard Lyman the Director of Eating with Conscience Campaign of the Humane Society of the United States. There are three main sections; To Your Health, The Truth About Food Animals and Beyond the Dinner Table along with two appendices; The New Four Food Groups and Resources.

If you would like to learn more about Erik Marcus, his website and blog can be found at vegan.com. You can also find him on facebook, and twitter.

Welcome to Wannabe Vegan!

Wannabe Vegan strives to be a source of information, inspiration, guidance and humor to people who are curious about a vegan lifestyle and how their choices impact their bodies, lives and the world.

I have been on this path for a few years now, ranging from an eater of the Standard American Diet to a raw vegan and all of the variations in between. My philosophy is to keep an open mind regarding people and the process and continue to learn as I strive to find my own personal sense of balance.

Making choices each day about what we eat, do and buy can be difficult sometimes. I hope to provide answers in order to ease that burden and also maintain a voice of reason about a topic that can cause people to be very judgmental, not only of themselves but of the others around them.

We are all in this together, doing the best that we can, one choice at a time.

Thank you for joining me along the way . . .