Vegan Thanks 2013

Welcome to the vegan feast time of year!! I know it is coming up soon, but I just haven't had time to plan anything! I love cooking, and blogging, but with this being the first year of Walkstar, and just coming off of the Life Is Beautiful festival,  I haven't had time for much else. I know the Thanksgiving feast is the pièce de résistance of the year, and since I managed to miss ALL of Vegan MOFO, I decided to give "Vegan Thanks 2013" a shot!

Searching through hundreds of recipes (thank you Pinterest's Vegan Thanksgiving board for leading the way) I realized, like so many other vegan recipes, home chefs from all over the world have upped their game for the holidays! Scones, towers, and the craziest of desserts caught my eye. I remember when vegan Thanksgiving was just a bunch of sides, with maybe some type of vegan "loaf" that everyone tended to ignore. These main dishes, drinks, soups, salads, sides, and creative plates look AMAZING! And the desserts-pumpkin pie BROWNIES?? YES PLEASE!! Fat-free, gluten-free, vegan, raw, it's all here & ready to celebrate! Planning the menu will be a lot harder than I imagined!!

Obviously I picked recipes that contained local items, or ones I could substitute locally-grown. And yes,  I can admit it... I picked a few recipes I have been menaing to try, or that looked amazing, like the garlic knots and chocolate avocado cupcakes!

The Official Menu::

Carmelized Onion & Carrot Soup by Tomato Tart
Vegan Garlic Knots recipe by Vegalicious.com

Individual Veggie-Lentil Loaves with Avocado-Tahini Sauce by Ricki Heller
Garlic Mashed Potatoes by OhSheGlows.com
Deconstructed Green Bean Casserole by VeganYumYum.com
Tamarind and Ginger Glazed Carrots by Tomato Tart

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes by Edible Garden

Thanksgiving is in just a few days, so I have to get cracking!

Earth Balance

After years of trying to ignore the debate, much like  ChallengeOppression.com wrote wayy back in 2009, I've been doing pretty well all year weening out palm oil from my diet, and yes, that includes Earth Balance. People have been amazing on Facebook supporting me, letting me know (again) that this is a luxury item, and by all means we don't need this to live, but the orangatangs DO need their habitat. Yes, you're right. May I point out tht luxury item is a world of difference when it is one of the very few that can be found on a Caribbean island, but luxury item nonetheless.

By preparing my menu for Vegan Thanks 2013, I stumbled upon hundreds of recipes that all looked brilliant, and most had EB. I decided to check once again, just to make sure I was still supporting the no palm debate- maybe overnight everyone had changed their ingredients?

What I found was that Earth Balance is being very proactive to take their palm products from forests that do not support orangatangs, and have started a number of initives to promote responsible palm oil production.

Is it enough?



Bats & Black Cats

Somehow Halloween went from celebrating so much going on in this time of year to... logos. Certain images just signify Halloween now... pumpkins, witches, bats, spiders & black cats. Not that any of these are in particular scary (Ok we have some big hairy Caribbean spiders that would make your skin crawl, but I digress), but some have a very long tradition and association with Halloween and some just... do not.
Here in Puerto Rico we take our witches (brujas) extremely seriously, being that most of the island believes strongly in Afro-Cuban Santeria (Orisha), and the existance of Brujeria (witchcraft). Although the Caribbean is not known as some of the countries still killing wtiches in 2013 (7 Countries That Still Kill Witches) still the Caribbean bat and our homeless street cats that happened to be born with black hair desperately pay the price.

Puerto Rico was home to 16 types of bats, but 2 species have already gone extinct, like so many Caribbean animals that have left the face of the Earth recently. According to the book Bats of Puerto Rico: An Island Focus and a Caribbean Perspective by Michael R. Gannon, the Caribbean holds some of the most fascinating species of bats, and these creatures are the only naturally occuring mammals on Puerto Rico that were not introduced by the Taino, Spanish, or Africans. Other than those who eat only nectar or fish, most species of Puerto Rican bats are happy to live off of our very bountiful array of insects, or rotting fruits. You would think we would follow the example of Austin, TX and love our bats unconditionally! We are trying, through the Puerto Rico Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales, to identify where the majority of these little guys live so we can declare conservaional habitats for them, and there are many programs trying to educate and open the local communities to how awesome these little guys really are!

Black cats are not so lucky, and still do not have public opinion on their side. Every year around Halloween, and every unlucky Friday the 13th, there are reports of black cats getting killed on the island. Local T/N/R professionals Save A Gato always have their eyes and ears to the ground, helping the street cats of Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico, and they always find fosters or temporary homes for their pure black friends on the street. No animal shelters will, or should, have any black cats available for adoption, for fear of them being abused, tortured or killed. Even if not satanic or witch-like, black cats still have a negative aura to them on the island, and should be protected at all costs during these times of the year.
Hopefully throughout the year we will promote bats & cats enough that by next Halloween they will be a little less scary (or scared) and shown a bit more love!

Local Events Early November!

Sueña en grande un pequeño agricultor

de el Nuevo Dia 
29 de septiembre de 2013

Sueña en grande un pequeño agricultor

José Esteban López aspira a crear una escuela agrícola para niños de su pueblo
La familia de José vive en el barrio Vegas Abajo, en el área urbana de Adjuntas. (JORGE.RAMIREZ@GFRMEDIA.COM)
Por Sandra Caquías Cruz /scaquias@elnuevodia.com
ADJUNTAS – Los juegos electrónicos y la música urbana pudieran cautivar a cualquier niño de 10 años, pero ese no es el caso de José Esteban López Maldonado. Él vive enamorado de su finca y los frutos que en ella cultiva.
“Me gusta la agricultura porque sin ella no hay frutos y sin frutos no hay vida”, subrayó el pequeño de piel trigueña y pelo azabache.
José ama la tierra. También la música típica y la que interpreta con su cuatro entre las apartadas montañas del barrio Limaní, en Adjuntas, donde su padre le obsequió cinco cuerdas de terreno para que las cultivara.
Carmelo López, padre de José y quien trabajó de vendedor en una joyería, se encarga de las restantes cuerdas que poseen, todas en el sector Helechales.
José tiene tres empleados que le ayudan en las faenas agrícolas mientras él estudia el quinto grado en la escuela Francisco Pietri Mariani, a pocos pasos de la finca. Siembra café, plátanos, guineos, chinas y guayaba. Gran parte de ellos los vende en un mercado agrícola que realiza la Universidad de Puerto Rico, recinto de Cayey.

Island Farmers Markets to Enjoy!!

Plan Your Own DAY OF THE DEAD Bash!!

You have a space, a few friends, and a vision. Day of the Dead done right... at your house!

I believe most Mexican foods were created for fiestas! It is so easy to find great party portions, dips and chips, and finger foods done quick and easy! A quick vegan 7 Layer Dip, Black Bean Avocado Salad, Yucca Taquitos & a couple trays of brightly colored cupcakes should win over any crowd, but for more tips, http://www.veganmexicanfood.com is the way to go.

This is where Pandora really pays off. Mariachi music is the best, and our favorite Mexican artist, Lila Downs,  rocks any concert, event, or party! And yes, somehow The Cramps always works as well. For a fun touch put out little instruments around the room as working decorations. Skull maracas are fun on an end table, or for shaking it on the dancefloor!

Color color color!  skulls and flowers cut out of tissue paper are fun, as are garlands cut of brightly colored paper.  Balloons, art, and materials of BRIGHT color always work well. Piñatas can be beautiful (not just for kids parties anymore) and the candies and trinkets can be put out in bowls around the room.

Although the tissue paper cutouts are extremely traditional, if you are looking for a more authentic look, real or dried orange and yellow flowers (Chrysanthemums and Marigolds), small candles, dried corn, bowls of colored dried beans, and hanging bright or dark colored materials are some great ideas.

Face painting-know a tattoo artist or make up artist that can really whip up good Day of the Dead face paint? Put them to work & let them get creative! Not only are all halloween face paints safe & available during this time, but also glitter, sequins, and stencils can make this a lot more fun!

Sugar skull or chocolate skull decorating- Sugar skulls are easy to make (especially if you don't live in a humid climate), and are so much fun to decorate! Brightly colored icings, edible glitters, and cupcake decorations can make beautiful skulls! (recipes and supplies can be found here http://mexicansugarskull.com/sugar_skulls/sugar-skull-supplies.html)

Mix up your favorite punch, sangria, and margarita mixes ahead of time, and chill some Coronas and cut limes, so the bar can run itself! If you have a bartender or extra time, Tequilla Sunrises, Hibiscus mixers, and Mexican Hot Choclate shooters are party boosters!

Have fun, and get creative! I love Day of the Dead because to me it brings meaning, culture, tradition & style to our already spooky Halloween time, the holiday that lost its roots many many decades ago! And as always, any party is always more fun as a vegan pot luck!! Enjoy!


DIY Expression- Wheatpasting!

¿Por qué dejar que los artistas tienen toda la diversión? No tengo la capacidad artística pero tengo una boca grande y mucho que decir. Pegando de trigo con es perfecto para aquellos como nosotros. Escribir, pintar, imprimir o estampar algunas palabras en un papel, hervir un poco de agua con la harina y que tiene la forma más simple de la expresión-su propio!

Why do artists get to have all the fun? I have no artistic ability but I have a big mouth & a lot to say. Wheatpasting is perfect for those like us. Write, stamp, draw, paint or screen some words on a paper, boil some water with flour & you have the simplest form of expression- you own!!

How to make it?

How to use it?



Un día en el Mercado Agricola Natural!

Durante tres años, el mercado de los granjeros en Viejo San Juan, PR ha estado ofreciendo la mejor gastronomía local a la comunidad, y un mercado para los vendedores de alimentos locales. De los alimentos preparados a las plantas, producen, a veces, el suelo y suministros de jardinería, este mercado local ofrece más de solo consumismo responsable, que ofrece un gran lugar de encuentro para nuestra comunidad!

For three years now, the Farmers Market in Viejo San Juan, PR has been offering great local food to the community, and a marketplace for local food vendors. From prepared foods to plants, produce, and sometimes soil and gardening supplies, this local market offers more than just responsible consumerism, it offers a great community meet up!

Dado que este mercado se encuentra dentro de un museo, que por desgracia no se permiten perros en el interior. Nuestros amigos de Walkstar ofrecieron a ayudar! En frente del museo en el lado de la calle Norzagaray, Walkstar ha creado un espacio con el cuidado del perro libre para los clientes del mercado. Estos profesionales de cuidado de mascotas de San Juan están felices de pasar el tiempo jugando y caminando con sus pequeños mientras que ofrece agua filtrada, sombra, golosinas orgánicas (hecha a mano) y mucho mucho amor!

Since this market is located inside a museum, they unfortunately do not allow dogs inside. That is when our friends at Walkstar Inc. stepped in to help! In front of the museum on the side of Calle Norzagaray Walkstar has set up a space where they care for your dog for free while you are shopping! These pet care professionals of San Juan are happy to spend time playing and walking with your little ones while offering filtered water, shade, organic treats (made by hand) and much much love!

El mercado se encuentra en la antigua Plaza del Mercado
calle Norzagaray 150, Museo de San Juan
Viejo San Juan, PR
Todos los Sábados 08 a.m. -1 pm

The market is located in the old Plaza del Mercado (Museum of San Juan)
150 Norzagaray St. Old San Juan, PR
Every Saturday 8am -1 pm


Vidoes Del Dia mundial contra Monsanto!

La Marcha Mundial Contra Monsanto San Juan, PR

What a beautiful day we had fighting the good fight against the corporate giant Monsanto! All over the world farmers, countries and communities have stories, law suits and heartbreak all due to the company Monsanto who is poisoning our lands and destroying the future of food on the planet. Our right to nutrition, air or clean water should not be held by a corporation. Ever.

At 2PM the march started in front of the Department of Agriculture building on Fernandez Juncos, and the people were very vibrant and serious against the atrocities that Monsanto has performed on their people and soil previously, and stood firm for the future of food production on the island.

Traditional Escabeche de Guineos!!

This is a super easy and SUPER delicious salad that is served cold, or at room temperature, and is great for large groups. Like most good salads lots of marinating time is needed so make sure to prepare a day in advance!

Escabeche is a sauce that is used for pickling. In the Caribbean we use this for bananas, roots, and fish recipes, while in Mexico it is very popular for peppers like Jalapeños and Serranos and other vegetables. I fell in love with this salad while visiting the Kioscos Luquillo, a long line of kiosks along the beach next to the Blue Flag beach in the town of Luquillo. I love the full taste of the salad was surprised that it doesn't have the extreme tartness that pickling is usually associated with.

The recipe:

6 green bananas (not plantains!)
1 small yellow onion cut into strips or circles
½ red bell pepper sliced or diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves smashed
3 bay leaves
1 tbs. whole pepper corns
2 tbs. + ½ cup good olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
olives or capers (optional)

Peel the bananas and slice into ½ inch rounds. Boil for 9-12 minutes, or until the banana is softer but still firm, and by no means mushy. Drain.

Meanwhile in a frying pan, heat the 2 tbs. olive oil and very slowly cook the onions and red pepper without browning or making them crispy. Once the onions are transleucent add the pepper corns, bay leaves, salt and garlic and sautee for another 2 minutes to release the flavor. Transfer mixture to an airtight container, add 1 cup olive oil, olives or capers, and the vinegar. Mix well and chill for at least 12 hours, shaking or stirring every few hours.

Feel free to double or triple the recipe for larger groups (you can judge by the number of rounds there are before cooking), and have fun by adding cubed yucca or taro root!


Who Said Cats Can't Be Vegan?

Not VeganCats.com!

All of my life I have been told that cats need animal-source vitamins, but no one could really tell me which ones, or for what reason. None of these arguements I believed, but lacking super information about cats, their health & diet, I was stumped. My cats like vegetables and I have been able to make their foods, but I never trusted my own vegan combinations being nervous they were not getting the nutrition they need.

My research lead me to read articles like the NaturalNews.com report on the horros of the pet food industry, and I realized I need a new game plan, and quickly. No matter how much money I'm spending on cat food, the quality was desperately lacking, and I refuse to poison the little ones I have vowed to take care of.

The Whole Dog Journal did a wonderful exposé on the inside of a pet food manufacturing plant, but not on any brands I had ever heard of. Anyway, it was informative on certain practices and laws that are in play.

Finding the VeganCat.com site made me breathe a great sigh of relief, because not only do they have the answer I have been looking for, they have done the RESEARCH, and can physically tell me exactly what nutrients cats produce, why they need some extra help from animal sources, and exactly how they found replacement vitamins and minerals and from what sources.

From the VeganCat Website:
Cats need dietary taurine, but significant quantities naturally occur only in animal tissues. A shortage causes blindness and heart disease. Most mammals biosynthesize vitamin A from the yellow pigment (carotene) found in vegetables. Cats lack this ability, making a dietary source of this vitamin, found naturally only in animal tissues, essential. Vitamin D is another essential vitamin, found naturally only in animal tissues as D3. The essential fatty acid arachidonate is rare in non-animal sources. Cats require it for numerous vital metabolic processes including reproduction. Vegecat products contain the rare nutrients mentioned above derived from non-animal sources, such as D2 from yeast. Recipes meet nutrient levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Official’s (AAFCO) Cat Food Nutrient Profile for adult cats, without using any animal products. Each container comes with simple recipes which, when used with Vegecat, are formulated to meet all the nutritional requirements for adult cats. (For kittens, see Vegekit also offered on our site.) Vegecat recipes may include ingredients such as lentils, garbanzos, tofu, TVP, & yeast (we highly recommend VegeYeast as it is the healthiest for cats). 

There are different products and brands of vegan options for your cat on their site. If you are tired of processed pet foods on the market, and ready to make the switch to a cruelty-free life for your pets, this is definitely the place to begin!


That's Organic!

I'm a huge fan of this video! Anyone with kids please share this with them!
(Yes, Heather & Brenda, I'm looking in your direction..)


Green Tips that will Improve American Cities

Our 5 Favorite Vegan Recipe Sites!

In no particular order, these are the sites we recommend when people are interested in cooking vegan goodness in their own homes!

1. Post Punk Kitchen.
Yes, this is a no brainer. AMAZING food, easy to follow recipes, and hot vegan chicks all together in a cute little package. These famous vegan authors are responsible for giving us such books as the Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Brunch, Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Latina, Vegan Eats World, Viva Vegan!, Vegan Pie in the Sky and probably countless others. They also brought us the BCAT (Brooklyn Cable Access) television show Post Punk Kitchen. Although they are not filming anymore, the site lives on as a staple for amazing recipes and cooking/baking tips. Great for beginners in the kitchen, or newbies to veganism. Easy to follow, and the recipes taste great.

2. Vegweb.com
The Vegweb site blows me away. I am almost overpowered by how many recipes there are, and how nicely they are organized. The site is very easily navigated, na dthe recipes are plentiful. Not all are vegan, and since they are posted by the Vegweb community, not all have reviews, tips, variations or photos. It's a little more of a crap shoot, but with so many good recipes available, and general vegan information, it is still one of the first sites we go to when we need a good recipe!

3. Seitan is my Motor This is an old favorite blog from Dresden, Germany that has veganized some of my favorite European foods. Interesting, cultural, and some hella recipes.

4. VEGANYUMYUM This blog brings extremely appealing photos with incredibly easy and fun recipes. These creative and unusual combinations, and extremely versitile dishes, along with the look and content of this blog makes me want to jump up and cook, whether I am hungry or not. Seriously. \\

5. Vegan Lunch Box Another blog I have followed for many years, but at first blew off because I don't pack a lunch or have kids. Hello! How wrong I was! Packed with information, great recipes, easy snacks, and lots more, who needs the kids to eat great food?


T. Colin Campbell

Maybe you have heard of him, maybe you recognize the names of his books, or have seen his videos or movies. He is the legend, T. Colin Campbell and he is a nutrition guru!

From Wikipedia.org:

T. Colin Campbell is an American biochemist who specializes in the effects of nutrition on long-term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, the author of over 300 research papers, and the co-author of The China Study (2004), one of America's best-selling books about nutrition.[1] He also starred in the 2011 American documentary, Forks Over Knives.
Campbell was one of the lead scientists in the 1980s of the China-Oxford–Cornell study on diet and disease, set up in 1983 by Cornell University, the University of Oxford, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine to explore the relationship between nutrition and cancer, heart and metabolic diseases. The study was described by The New York Times as "the Grand Prix of epidemiology."[2]

Through his books The China Study and Whole, countless articles, and interviews Dr. Campbell has offered more than sufficient hands-on data that a plant-based diet offers many health benefits and aids in curing and proventing many of the diseases that plague Western culture today.  According to Dr. Campbell's research, diet and nutrition plays a huge part in conquering and provention of diabetes, thyroid diseases, obesity, heart conditions, cancers, infectious diseases, renal failure/diseases, and even some psychiatric conditions.

eCornell is currently offering a certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, with the intent on introducing medical professionals, as well as the public, to the benefits of nutrition on health and disease prevention.

http://www.tcolincampbell.org for more information!