Vegan Spanikopita

Compassion begins on your plate!! 💚🌱✨ Did you know most phyllo dough is vegan? I created a spinach feta mixture with 365 organic chopped spinach, garlic, onion, and Violife Foods Feta cheese and wrapped it up into little crispy triangles. 🤤🍃🌍💚 (Before I found Violife, I also used chèvre from Heidi Ho for that tangy, cheesy flavor you’d expect from a feta.) I am such a sucker for anything spinach and feta that I just had to veganize spanakopita that I missed so much! Give it a try😋!

You will need: (makes 12)

1 – 5 oz bag fresh organic spinach, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 – blocks of Violife Feta Cheese, crumbled

1- clove garlic, chopped

1/2 – white onion, chopped

6 – sheets of Fillo Dough (I prefer to buy the Fillo Factory Organic Dough 16 oz box)

1- Melted stick of vegan butter (I prefer Earth Balance)

Directions:

(Pro tip: Dough must sit at room temp and thaw for two hours for easily malleable dough for folding.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add chopped garlic and onion. Sauté until onions slightly brown then add chopped spinach, stirring until wilts. Strain mixture, draining any extra liquid and let cool.

Crumble blocks of feta in separate bowl. Once the spinach mixture is cooled, mix with crumbled feta.

Warm stick of butter in pan.

Roll out phyllo dough sheet on cookie sheet or cutting board. Cut down the middle. Brush melted butter on top. Place heaping spoonful of spinach feta mixture at bottom of one side of the halved sheet. Fold over the phyllo dough, flag-style rotating each fold to become a triangle. Brush top of filled triangle with butter again.

Repeat until spinach feta mixture is empty.

Place triangles evenly on cookie sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the dough is flaky, and browning at edges.

Let triangles cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!!

Is Pizza Hut Bought by the US Dairy Industry?

Can you hear the collective sigh of disappointment today? Despite an outpouring of positive press, Pizza Hut rescinded the announcement of vegan cheese finally coming to their United States locations this summer.

This, sadly, did not surprise me. I was more surprised to find out they were doing the right thing after all these years.

Why? There’s a trend! My brain sees connections, and apparently I am not alone.

Both Domino’s and Pizza Hut have a lot in common financially. They both opened vegan markets successfully in other countries, yet they do not bring these options to the US despite knowing it works.

This is puzzling, because they have undoubtedly lost customers refusing to evolve with consumer demand for dairy free options. Me included! Your girl was a regular at the Rochester Hills Pizza Hut in high school, and the delivery guy knew me well when I was a vegetarian ordering stuffed crust pizza (I now shudder to think of all the baby cows killed for the amount of cheese I consumed). Shifting to a dairy free, plant based diet meant buying vegan pizza elsewhere. And there are tons of yummy options at locally owned establishments.

If United States consumer groups are demanding vegan cheese, yet the restaurant does not cater to consumer demand, why would they make a decision to not carry vegan options from a financial standpoint? Wouldn’t the market research show that vegan cheese is not only the right thing to do for the animals, but actually, dare I say, profitable?

Unfortunately, it’s much bigger than that.

The dairy industry proudly boasts about their financial partnerships with both Pizza Hut and Domino’s. Both companies not only take money from the dairy industry, but they use the Dairy industry scientists and nutritionists to introduce more menu items to push larger amounts of milk.

According to Dairy.org on a February 2018 release, “Pizza Hut – a dairy checkoff partner- increased the amount of cheese on its pan pizzas by 25 percent, a move that will require an additional 150 million pounds of milk annually to meet the change.”

They go on to say that the “project was made possible thanks to dairy scientist Nitin Joshi, a Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) employee who works onsite at Pizza Hut’s headquarters in Plano, Texas.“

Read that again. Let it really sink in.

The Dairy Industry not only gives money to certain big chain restaurants, but they actually have employees on site developing more products that push 150 million gallons more of milk per year. Products are designed for the sole purpose of pushing an agenda for US Dairy Farmers, and that agenda is far from human health.

Following the money further, we look at Domino’s, and their financial partnership with the US dairy industry.

According to a 2018 press release from Dairy.org, because of their partnership, Domino’s “increased their cheese usage by over 1 BILLION milk equivalent pounds. That’s just shy of 20,000 tanker loads of milk that was off the market because of the Domino’s partnership.”

They aren’t selling billions more in pizzas. They are updating their menu items to use more cheese to push more milk. Once upon a time, you could order Domino’s Breadsticks and they didn’t come with melted cheese. Now, you can’t even get their breadsticks without melted cheese, and they are a completely different product.

They go on to say at Dairy.org, “in addition to menu development, Domino’s has also been a partner in sharing the story of dairy farmers through the Undeniably Dairy campaign.  Last summer, Domino’s put the Undeniably Dairy logo on their pizza boxes across the country – reaching 7 million homes a week.”

As a business school grad that studied marketing, let’s really look at what is being done here.

Not only are they working hand-in-hand with the dairy industry to develop menu items pushing higher percentages of cheese usage on products (which is keeping America sick, but that’s another discussion for another day), they are also using marketing through their materials they use to distribute their products to psychologically get you to feel some allegiance to the “Hardworking US Dairy Farmer”. They even have language on their box boasting pizza isn’t pizza without tons of cheese. “How can it be anything else?” says the Domino’s box regarding dairy cheese.

Now, as someone who has eaten actual Italian pizza in Naples, Italy, pizza traditionally highlighted tomatoes and sauce more than copious amounts of cheese. And it’s delicious. It’s the agenda behind the marketing to make you believe you need the cheese to have a good pizza, and they are going so far to push that you should feel good about it because you are keeping people employed. Cheese is super addictive in nature, as milk was meant to encourage baby cows to latch on to their mothers, so it’s easy to give in to this message for the average consumer.

Meanwhile, billions of animals are being slaughtered, and many consumers are opting for the nut milks versus the cows milk. So doesn’t voting with our dollars help?

The Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) recently released a statement that traditional milk sales plummeted by $1.1 billion in 2018, so where is all of this dairy money coming from now that consumers are voting with their dollars?

The answer is the United States Government.

According to an ABC news article in August 2018, the USDA stepped in to buy 50 million in surplus milk to bail out the dairy industry. Where does all this milk go?

According to the article, “The USDA is buying the milk under a program that allows the government to buy surplus food or agricultural products and redirect them to food banks or school-nutrition programs.”

So even when we are voting with our dollars that we do not want to consume milk, they repurpose the surplus to encourage milk consumption by our children in schools.

Isn’t the government supposed to reflect what it’s citizens want?

Let’s not even get into the money circulating between the government and the dairy industry. I encourage you all to watch What The Health on Netflix or YouTube. The doc really lays out all of the financial connections between restaurants, the medical community, the dairy industry, and the government. The Thrive Movement documentary will take it a step further for you to show you who really pulls those strings. (Spoiler Alert: it’s not Trump.)

The day the US government decides to stop bailing out the dairy industry is the day the dairy industry will stop having the ability to lobby and push more dairy, even though demand of milk is technically down. That’s the only presumable reason there’s a resistance of adding vegan cheese at some quick food establishments — it won’t be until they realize their profits can be gained back by the consumers when they do finally lose that US Dairy money. And the day is coming. 😘

There is so much more than our dietary preferences at stake. In many ways, our preferences are being taught at an early age to support corrupt industries.

To keep someone in the dark means to keep someone from being informed. I hope posting this information sheds some light that leads to major changes. We totally have the power to manifest our higher desires, Peace and Prosperity on Earth, and while it seems overwhelming when looking at Earth’s dark parts, we can’t fix what we don’t know about. ✌🏼💚🌱✨

Links to Sources:

Dairy Industry and Domino’s Undeniably Strong Partnership

ABC News: US Government Buys 50 Million in Milk to Bail Out Dairy Farmers

PizzaHut Dairy Partership Leads to 25% More Cheese

Fast Company: Milk Sales Plummeted by 1.1 Billion Last Year

Documentaries Mentioned:

What the Health

The Thrive Movement

Excerpt Clip from Thrive Movement “Follow the Money”:

Beer-Battered Chick’n Fried Tofu

Compassion begins on your plate! 💚🌱 I am sharing this delicious, indulgent chicken fried tofu recipe just in time for Super Bowl Sunday! This tofu has the texture of chicken and is full of flavor. Enjoy the flavors of a juicy chicken, beer battered and seasoned to perfection, while refraining from harming any living being. ✌🏼

Ingredients

Beer Batter:

2 cups flour

12 oz of lager beer (I used Stella Artois)

1 vegan egg (2 tbsp Follow Your Heart egg powder and 1/2 cup iced cold water, whisked)

2/3 tsp salt

1/2 tsp basil

1/3 tsp oregano

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp mustard seed

4 tsp paprika

3 tsp garlic salt

3 tsp white pepper

Seasoned Flour:

1 cup flour

1 cup traditional bread crumbs

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp white pepper

The “Chicken”:

Organic canola oil (enough for 4 inches of oil in large pan)

24oz traditional or medium tofu

1 cup vegan chicken broth

1 cup flour

Preparation

You will need to freeze your tofu twice to attain a chicken-like texture.

Place tofu package in freezer for 6 hrs (or overnight) and thaw for 4 hrs. Repeat.

Once your tofu is thawed, you will need to drain it of moisture using either a tofu press or two cutting boards. I personally do not own a press, so I press my tofu on a cutting board with paper towels and a big glass pan.

Once the tofu is drained, it should be easily broken apart to reveal chicken-like tofu pieces. Did your tofu fall into bits? No worries! We will prepare this like popcorn chicken.

Place drained tofu pieces into bowl.

Pour chicken-style vegan broth as a tofu marinade. Let soak for 5 mins.

Drain tofu of excess broth.

Dip each piece in plain flour and set aside.

Mix seasoned flour ingredients and set aside.

Mix beer batter ingredients and set aside.

Fill 4 inches of oil into the bottom of a wok or large pan.

Heat frying oil to 350 degrees.

Now, this next part gets a little messy. Commit to the fact they will turn out perfect and charge on through any flour messes along the way.

You are going to take your pieces of marinaded tofu and dip them in the beer batter, coating it completely.

Roll the outside of the tofu in the seasoned flour mixture making sure the outside is coated with breadcrumbs.

Once you’ve done all the bigger pieces of tofu, make sure to dip all the smaller ones as well. They will turn out like popcorn chicken.

Drop tofu into the oil in small batches, turning each side until darkened like fried chicken.

Once cooked evenly, set aside on paper towel or a rack, draining any excess oil from the finished pieces.

Let cool for at least 5 mins before eating.

Serve like a finger food with your favorite dipping sauces, like Organicville Vegan Ranch, or serve it atop some vegan waffles for a southern feel.

Enjoy!

Vegan Confessions: I Dated a Hunter.

When I found myself out of married life and suddenly single, it literally took me years to get back out there. I rebuilt my life from rock bottom to this beautiful, passion-driven career focus. I’d be damned if I was going to let a guy into my life to destroy what I built again. It took a job promotion and moving to a whole new town with literally no friends to finally have the desire to make an online dating account.

It took me awhile to find anyone I was even remotely interested in. I grew tired of swiping left on all the Michigan boys holding bloody deer heads and dead fish proudly for the camera in their profile pictures, so I put right in my bio: no hunters, please ✌🏼 . The intention was set for a relationship based in common interests.

One of the first guys I met was super nervous after reading up on me. For privacy’s sake, let’s call him Ben. Ben saw I was super passionate about veganism in my bio and thought if he shared he enjoyed deer hunting, I would unmatch him for sure. He decided to take the second route: hide it until he saw me in person. And it paid off.

We met shortly after I moved to this area, and hit it off right away. He laughed nervously as he told me he was a hunter, and begged me to give him a chance. I right away wrote it off as something that wouldn’t last, but he seemed sincere, so I listened. I soon realized Ben loved animals. He loved being outside and surrounded by nature, and that’s why he loved to hunt and fish. He had certain qualities he would look for to try to pick a deer that has already lived, and didn’t have babies. He trained dogs by day, and was knowledgeable at animal psychology and genuinely cared. I could see his heart. His genuine intention for animals is to love them and be close to them.

Ben quickly became my best friend in this area and casually dated me a few times a week. We never really ate together, and he tolerated my vegan burritos, but was turned off instantly at the word “vegan” in front of anything. Despite this, we tried to find desserts we both liked and restaurants we both liked (which is a challenge in mid-Michigan). It all seemed like it was going well. He knew my coworkers and friends, he came with me to a wedding, and we were growing closer and closer, until….. November: hunting season.

It didn’t become known to me he had an issue with me being vegan until things got real. What set me on this nutrition focused path was looking for answers after my dad died of cancer back in 2008, never smoked, never drank, but ate a high meat, Atkins diet. The ten year anniversary was in November this year. Ben spent that day with me making sure I was okay. I found myself on my vegan soap box spewing all of my knowledge about preventing disease and longevity with a plant based, Whole Foods Diet. This was the first time I really let my vegan freak flag fly with him.

And then, I said it: “I want to raise my kids vegan so they have the best shot at life.”

This statement, unknown to me at the time I made it, lead to a 4 day blackout period where I didn’t hear from Ben. The man who stayed with me on the anniversary of my dad’s death, told me he was in love with me, and drove me to a wedding hours away, wouldn’t even text me back, until he finally explained.

Ben texted: “If 4 days is a problem, how are you going to feel when I’m on a two week hunting excursion in my near future? You talk about veganism 25% of the time, and I will not raise my kids vegan. It’s something I never wanted to learn about. And I don’t want to hunt and think about how my lady doesn’t approve. It’s not that you’re vegan, it’s that I can’t escape it. And I can’t change you so I’m letting go. ”

After 6 months of friendship and companionship, we are now strangers who don’t speak. 👌🏼

If I learned anything valuable from Ben, it would be how to look at someone who hunts compassionately. Many hunters’ main motivation for hunting is a misguided love for animals and nature. Knowing this is honestly such a gift and has helped me cope with living in an area surrounded by them. It also taught me another very valuable lesson: the red flags you ignore in the beginning will be the very reason your relationship ends. Never let anyone make you feel bad for setting standards out of self love. If they don’t meet them, not a match. 💚🌱✨

The Twin Flame Conundrum

I never really fully understood what the spiritual community meant by a “twin flame” and I confused the term for a soulmate for a really long time. I’m finding the people who truly meet their twin flames are those who dare to live with passion and purpose, despite impossible odds. The desire to live your fullest life that helps others will set your life in motion to meet them. The events that lead to meet them may be heart wrenching and difficult, but it was the Universe doing you a kindness to redirect your life perfectly. Twin flames are literally a part of your soul with a shared purpose, and are the most incredible mirror of your self. Everything about you will be amplified. The meeting of twin flames is so intense, both are changed forever. Sometimes the meeting is brief. But more likely, it’s a string of events that can be described as a roller coaster, a push and pull, a magnet that both attracts and repels. It will leave your friends and family questioning, and your brain second guessing. But your heart will always know and be set on this person.

I find that most people don’t even meet their twin flames and lead perfectly fulfilling lives with their soulmate or karmic relationship. Some people meet their twin flames and never actually marry them. The relationship is so intense, that it’s difficult to maintain in this 3dimensional reality. Both partners need to constantly release negativity and work on themselves to even hope to be together. A twin is your mirror, and while it can mirror the most heavenly love back to you, it can also mirror every insecurity, and every dark place you still hold in the back of your consciousness.

How do you know if you met your twin flame? I can only really speak to my own experience. You will instantly recognize them as someone significant, because it will be in perfect, divine timing. For me, I always see repeating 4’s during significant times, and the first time I learned the name of mine, I also saw his phone number ending in 444. You’ll meet your twin flame with such a small decision that could have gone either way. Then one day you’ll realize it was always meant to happen. They will share life experiences that you yourself have gone through that you didn’t think was possible to be shared with another human. You may listen to the same music, or have the same type of dogs, or share the same beliefs. My twin flame and I both lost 100 lbs, and left really unhealthy lifestyles around the same year. He also came into and lost a lot of money the same years I did, supporting our family and friends. When I first walked into my twin flame’s apartment, it looked exactly like my first apartment from the color on the walls, to the dream catchers displayed in the same weird way, to the same products and the same vibes. You can probably find yourself around their kitchen, and every single thing will be in the same spot, down to the same exact glass cutting board you both purchased. You may even both share the same random first concert, and it could be a band that often sings about love and intuition, and a higher power, even if they aren’t popular anymore. You may also both question yourself in similar ways, and have the deepest empathy you’ve ever felt for another human. If they are having a bad day, you can feel it, even hundreds of miles away.

When you are together, either everything will line up and fall together in the most magical, synchronistic way, or it can be a series of unfortunate events. You both manifest so strongly together that your focus of your thoughts will attract your reality and experiences for the day. This is by design, to manifest a big purpose together. Here in lies the twin flame conundrum. You and your twin flame truly have to master yourselves to make sure you are both manifesting the beautiful things you both deserve, versus the hell your darker parts try to make you believe you deserve. This was a hard one for me to recognize as someone who has grown so much and overcame some really testing situations. If your twin flame is struggling to love themselves enough to overcome their past, you also have more work to do. If your twin flame is still punishing themselves for past mistakes, instead of living in the moment, then you are too. Your twin is literally your perfect mirror, and any part of their ego you are analyzing is probably something you’ll have to analyze yourself.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have learned a few things I would like to share:

1. Don’t take the hard times too seriously, and remain positive. Your focus becomes your world, especially with the power behind your twin flame manifestations. Let the negative go, transmute perceived problems, and tell the story of the good times and the good things, and remind yourself how everything is working out as it should.

2. Things aren’t always as they seem. Twin flames connect on the deepest levels, and to focus on what’s happening on the surface level is missing the big picture.

3. Send them love, always. The moment you start sending them any darker emotion, is the moment you are only creating trouble for yourself. This also extends to what you say about them to other people. Your twin flame is a super intuitive person like yourself, and you want them to feel good, and in turn you’ll feel good.

4. Compassion is key. To have compassion for what your twin flame is going through is also extending compassion to yourself. Punishing them for a behavior is the last thing you want to do. The best thing is to try to extend understanding for anything that may be perceived as negative.

5. Focus on yourself. This seems counter intuitive sometimes, but when you are kind to yourself, you are doing them a kindness. This Love is so deep, that when you focus on yourself, and raise your own vibration, you are also uplifting them.

If I could tell myself one thing when I first met him, it would be to not be so caught up in whether or not you are in “union”. If you close your eyes, and you can feel them, there you go. You are in union. I hope this helps someone going through the same thing. There’s no exact manual or exact science, but this world is full of healers and people with purpose to help change the world for the better. With the state of our world, it’s no wonder that people with huge purposes are walking this planet. Everything is perfect, and everything is happening as it should. Trust the Universe. 💚✌🏼

Earth Day: Compassion Begins On Your Plate

Compassion begins on your plate!! 💚🌱✨ I’ve always been a bit of a bleeding heart. I was 14 years old when I decided weight loss wasn’t worth eating animals. My entire family was on the Atkins diet, and saw short term successes (but long term health problems, cancers and death). I was repulsed by seeing family members eat flesh for every meal. I went vegetarian without really knowing how to be a healthy one. As a Midwest girl with limited nutrition knowledge, I just decided to eat anything that didn’t have eyes. This included tons of bread, pasta, and cheese. 18 years old wasn’t even my heaviest. I was heaviest in my mid twenties working in the insurance industry. I finally had a moment where I felt like I woke up. I found myself staring down a road I didn’t want to be on, and drastically changed my life.

Working at Whole Foods and learning about The Whole Foods Diet, and finding veganism was the answer I needed all along. It was not only the most compassionate choice for the animals, and the planet, but it was the most compassionate choice for myself and my health. I finally found the answer to all the questions I had about our nutrition, while still limiting our harm, and impacting the planet positively. The energy this diet gave me impacted my physical activities as well.

We are all so hard on ourselves sometimes, myself included. We are all imperfectly perfect. As I learned more, my mind evolved, my behaviors and diet evolved, and then my body followed. It wasn’t a perfect process. It took time. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. It’s as simple as making a decision on what you are making for dinner tonight, or to take that walk you are thinking about. May your life and actions be a celebration of the Earth, every day.

Compassion Begins on Your Plate: How Plant-Based Eating Can Transform Your World

As a child, I basically ate whatever my parents decided to put in front of me. Until one day, I started questioning the choices of my parents. I was 14 years old when my dad’s side of the family all decided to be on the Atkin’s diet. I watched my dad order a beef burger without the bun, eat as much bacon and sausage as he wanted for breakfast, not eating many vegetables and completely cutting out carbs. Being someone who never particularly enjoyed eating tons of meat, I was repulsed by it. I called it the “flesh” diet. I declared I was a vegetarian and started preparing my own dinners. I didn’t really know how to be a healthy vegetarian, I just knew I didn’t want to contribute to the killing of animals. Once I researched documentaries like “Kentucky Fried Cruelty”, and saw the brutal treatment of animals in factory farms, there was no turning back. I often ate pasta drenched in garlic and olive oil, or omlettes covered in cheese. It wouldn’t be until years later that I truly would make the connection between food as medicine and vitality.

Back then I never could have imagined cutting out eggs and dairy. It took me seeing years later that it’s common practice that male chicks are ground up alive and baby calves are taken from their moms and slaughtered for veal- that there is no humane treatment of animals in any food industry. We are exploiting the most innocent beings on this planet by giving them a life of misery. This connection started making me think about energy in food and focusing on sourcing food that is “cruelty free”. If everything is energy, why would you ever want to consume a product sourced from an animal who lived in misery? It made me question how much negativity we bring into our own lives by absorbing that which we create from these tortured animals. 

It wasn’t until I started working at Whole Foods Market did I really put the idea into practice. I set out to eat the highest energy, nutrient-dense foods. I finally learned how to not only eat compassionately for the planet, but also how to eat compassionately for myself. I took E3-Live, a super nutrient-dense algae high in 65 vitamins, minerals and amino acids, every morning with my orange juice. I ate chia pods on my breaks instead of bagels and cream cheese. I often grabbed organic pink lady apples, bananas, and cashews if I was hungry. I always had Lara bars on me, and drank chia kombuchas. If I was craving cheese, I bought cashew cheese and gluten-free crackers. I replaced my morning omlettes with my now favorite dish: the tofu scramble. I often ate at the salad bar, but mixed an avocado from produce with lemon juice over my greens instead of dressing. This diet gave me so much energy I had no problem working out for a couple hours after an 8 hour shift. 

I was over 300 lbs when I first started working at Whole Foods. This change to a plant-based diet combined with regularly working out led me to drop over 90 lbs over the past year and a half. Little steps and daily decisions from the heart has led to a huge transformation in my life. It’s been less about the end goal, and more about how to make a loving decision towards myself and the planet in the moment. The weight has fallen off in the process. Every day we have choices to make. Every day we have the ability to channel love and light into every decision we make. It’s our little choices over time that lead to life-changing transformations. I truly believe compassion begins on your plate. What we decide to eat can literally transform our world: from our bodies, to our energy levels, to our environment.