The Tantalizing Taste of Tahini

Aside from having a really fun name to say, Tahini is a pretty amazing and versatile vegan food. It adds creaminess to salad dressings, makes hummus smooth and adds a nutty flavor to any recipe you include it in.

For those of you who have yet discovered Tahini, here’s the scoop [pun intended!]:

What is it?
Tahini is ground up sesame seeds. You can get hulled, unhulled, raw and organic.

How is it made?
Sesame seed are soaked in water for a day, then crushed. The crushed seeds are put into salted water and the kernels that float are skimmed from the surface. These kernels are toasted in some cases, then ground to produce a paste. (There are speedier methods too.)

Why Should I Eat it?
It’s yummy! and a great source of calcium, protein, B vitamins, Vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids (help to maintain healthy skin) and Methionine (the amino acid that helps your liver detox). You can see the full nutritional breakdown here.

My only ‘warning’ about Tahini is that a little goes a long way so only use a tablespoon in most cases. Otherwise, it will completely take over the taste of the dish you include it in and that’s no fun. Plus, since it is made up of mostly sesame oil and some recipes add olive oil, it’s best to use in moderation to keep your fat content to a reasonable level.

Even though Tahini is usually easy to find at your local store or online, you can make it yourself. There are lots of videos on YouTube that show various ways, but my favorite was the following since it includes fun facts, is entertaining and promotes a local nonprofit too!

What do you think? Do you like Tahini? Don’t hesitate – make that comment below!

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2011 Annual Blog Report

Thank you to the amazing people at WordPress.com who prepared a 2011 annual report for my blog!

Thank you for everyone who stopped by to read, comment and get to know me. I’m looking forward to a fabulous 2012!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Are you ready to make your own decisions?

I just read that Venus Williams has adopted a raw vegan diet. My first reaction was, “Woo hoo! Thank goodness there will be more examples in the mainstream media of people taking responsibility for their own health.” But as I read articles, blog posts and comments about it, I started thinking. Why does it take a celebrity or someone in the public eye to convince us that something might be good (or bad) for our health. Why don’t we evaluate what works best based on what WE are feeling, what works personally for US?

I think a lot of people are slow to embrace veganism because of peer pressure to eat a ‘typical’ diet and not stand out from the rest of the group. I also think people have a basic need to feel loved and connected to the world. These needs are also at the basis of our fixation on celebrities because they DO stand out and try things some people are afraid to try on their own.

So when a celebrity decides to go vegan (and then decides it doesn’t work for them, in some circumstances), their followers who may have decided to try it too all take the same ride but without the long term benefit. The fans weren’t doing it for themselves. They weren’t evaluating based on what they felt or personally thought. They just blindly followed someone else.

To me, blind obedience, in whatever form it takes, is pretty freakin’ scary and is what got us into the massive messes that surround us now.

So, I loudly applaud Venus and anyone else for taking action to improve their health. Not because they are chose veganism, but because they evaluated, investigated and formed their OWN opinions about what is right for them.

What do you think?

 

Being Blind to the Obvious

The last few weeks have been hectic for me and the holiday weekend put an interesting twist on my already wacky schedule. So, I admittedly wasn’t 100% present for a lot of that time.

Case in point, I have been looking for my nail file for 2 days (stay with me here, there is a relevant point to this!). I normally keep it in one place as acknowledgement and acceptance of my diminishing memory capacity, but when I looked it was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t a big deal and life went on but there was still this nagging thought in the back of my head.

So, I’m sitting at my desk today, looking at the same things I always look at (except for the Santa Claus decoration that was added over the weekend) and realized I had been staring at my nail file the entire (f-ing) time! It was right in front of my keyboard quietly waiting for me to notice it. At first, I was relieved but then I kind of freaked out. How the heck could I have NOT seen it before?

Aside from the possibility that my office fairies were pulling a fast one on me – it wouldn’t be the first time! – I obviously wasn’t paying attention to what was right in front of my face.

Then I wondered – is that what is happening with the people who don’t see the problems with factory farms, our non-sustainable food supply, GMOs, and mainstream medicine? Are they, on some level aware, but oblivious to their inability to see? Maybe.

Maybe being blind to the obvious is preferable to acknowledging reality when it is so dependent on our ability to be truly present.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Vegan Advertisement in a Mainstream Magazine

I saw this advertisement in a mainstream magazine recently and thought I’d share it with you. I find it very encouraging that the term vegan is becoming more commonplace and is being used correctly and in a complimentary way.

I’m sure the slew of vegan and vegetarian weddings by celebrities and public figures had something to do with it but I take it as a good sign and look forward to seeing it more in the future.

Have you seen any vegan advertisement in the mainstream media? I would love to hear about them on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Tamari or Soy Sauce?

I was recently asked why I use Tamari instead of Soy Sauce and I couldn’t answer. It had been a while since I made the switch and I knew it was for good reasons – just none that I could remember! So I promised to find out.

Here’s the scoop…

Soy Sauce:

  • Made from soy beans, wheat, water and salt; NOT gluten-free
  • Sharper taste
  • A product of China created ~2,800 years ago (wow!)
  • Looses most of its essential flavor (which are aromatic) when exposed to high temperatures
  • In some commercial brands, the soybeans are defatted with hexane; a petroleum derivative (ewh!)
  • Common production shortcuts include artificial fermentation methods using genetically engineered enzymes (double ewh!)

Tamari:

  • Made from soy beans, water and salt; gluten-free
  • Darker color and richer, smoother flavor
  • A product of Japan (evolved from soy sauce)
  • Retains its flavor after cooking
  • Has 37% more protein than soy sauce

I personally use Organic San-J Reduced Sodium Tamari. It contains 25% less sodium and is Certified Organic. According to their website, all of their Tamari is brewed for up to six months using traditional methods passed down for eight generations. They do not add MSG or artificial preservatives to any, and all are certified Kosher, Non GMO Project Verified and Certified Gluten-Free. Impressive!

So, now whenever I am asked in the future, I will be sure to remember the outstanding differences between the two and be able to confidently convince someone they are much better off consuming the obvious winner of this ancient competition – TAMARI!

I feel like taking an intimidating samurai stance with a corresponding scowl as I type this!

Maybe I’ll just stick with kickin’ butt in the kitchen. . .

Do you use Tamari, Soy Sauce or both? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Spiral Diner | A Dallas Delight

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a meal at Spiral Diner in Dallas last weekend on a visit to see my honey, T. It was the first time I had been to the city as a vegan and T had done an excellent job of finding dining options that looked healthy, vegan and yummy. The first on the agenda was Spiral Diner and what a delight it was!

It has the vibe and look of a diner with waitstaff that are also retro and super cool. The menu is fantastic and the self-serve atmosphere makes it fun to mix and mingle with the other patrons enjoying the amazing vegan fare. While you wait at your booth for your morsels of goodness, you can peruse stacks of books of various topics – vegan, animal rights, art, etc.

Eating Animals happened to be near our booth and after me going on and on about how freakin’ incredible it was,  T said he would put it on his reading list. (Read my blog post about this potentially life-changing book if you haven’t read it yet.)

The menu is impressive and extensive. Plus it was such a change of pace to know that I could literally order ANYTHING on the menu. After some pondering, we decided to go spicy and enjoyed Chips & Salsa, The Big Taquito (for me) and The ‘Ate’ Layer Burrito (for T). Everything was incredibly delicious and the service was friendly and efficient.

If you are in the Dallas area, or visiting, I definitely recommend making a stop even if you only can get something to-go. You will surely be delighted with your experience!

Have you been to Spiral Diner? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.