April 2015 - Julie Green and Keen
Walking through the grocery store it is hard not to miss the milk section.  With countless varieties including animal milk, plant milk, nut milk, soy milk, and grain milk; how do you know what to choose and what is the best for your family. 

I have always been lactose intolerant so I have drank plant based milks since I was a child.  With all the recent hype about antibiotics and pesticides that are said to be in animal milk, many people are turning to alternatives.  Milk substitutes are often consumed by people with intolerants, people concerned with the environment, vegetarians, and vegans. 

I have never known anything but plant based milks and have always had an interest in the various types.  Here are a few plant based milks I consume and their pros and cons.

  • Almond milk is a safe milk option for people with food allergies or a lactose intolerance like me.  It does not contain any dairy, lactose, soy, eggs, cholesterol, gluten, MSG, or whey (milk proteins).

Almond milk has less protein than traditional dairy milk, one cup of almond milk has 1 gram of protein and one cup of dairy milk has 8 grams.  When I drink almond milk I make sure that I am getting protein from other sources in my diet.

Over all Almond milk is very healthy.  It is heart-healthy, low calorie, nutrient dense dairy milk alternative.  

  • Soy milk is my favorite non-dairy alternative.  It has the best source of protein compared to other substitutes.  It has about 7 grams of protein and has a similar fat content to dairy milk.  Most of the fat in soy milk is unsaturated, providing the body with healthy fats.

It is the milk is produced by soaking soybeans and grinding them with water.

It is a good alternative to dairy milk.  The only concern I have is that many soybeans that are grown today are genetically modified.  I make sure to read the labels and buy soy milk that is organic and “non-GMO.”

  • I don’t often use Hemp milk, but it is also another alternative.  Hemp seeds are high in plant based omega-3 fatty acids which help keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control.  It also has 10 essential amino acids making it a good source of protein. 

I like hemp milk in smoothies because it has a thick and creamy texture.  It also has a little bit of a nutty flavor that is really delicious in banana smoothies.

If you are looking to switch to a plant based milk for health reasons it is important to read the ingredients and understand the products nutritional value.  Many substitutes can be high in sugar and have little to no difference in their nutritional values.  I drink plant milks because of my intolerance and because I am a vegetarian.  If you are thin thinking about switching for environmental reasons, know that you will not have a lack of nutrients.  
With spring right around the corner I have been feeling pretty ambitious.  Over the past year my cute little herb garden has turned into somewhat of a little jungle.  When I started growing it last year I had no idea how quickly it would grow or how much it would yield.  I was really surprised how my green thumb has developed, I haven’t killed any herbs and they are growing like crazy. 

My family secretly loves when I cook with our fresh herbs…they usually don’t know but they always have seconds.  J  I decided yesterday because of how much of a hit my garden is, I should expand it and plant some new herbs.  I had no intention of making it larger or planting more when I first started but our family loves it and I like being able to share it with friends.

Yesterday I started planning out how I am going to make it larger and what herbs I want to attempt to grow.  Expanding my outdoor herb garden took more time planning than I thought it would.  I had to figure out if I could transplant and move herbs so they have enough room to grow and to see which way I could expand the garden without hitting any power lines.  I felt like an architect or something like that.

This morning I went to the hardware store to pick up some new garden stones and some healthy black soil for my expansion project.  I was motivated to start moving stones and building up the walls…then I tried moving the ones that have been in the ground for a year; it wasn’t happening.  I decided I needed my husband’s muscles to help. 

In the mean time until he gets home, I have be looking up other herbs to plant in the garden.  I already have a healthy growing amount of mint, chives, parsley, basil, sage, and thyme.  The mint plant is probably one of my favorites; I love mixing it in drinks and when I am cooking vegetables.  I guess I can’t really say it is my favorite, I love all the herbs I have planted. J

I think I want to add some rosemary to use with olive oil and cheeses, tarragon to cook with rice and tofu, and cilantro to add to sandwiches and guacamole.  Adding these three should be enough herbs for me now.  I don’t want to go over board and create an even larger jungle. 
Since planting my herb garden I have used so many more fresh herbs while cooking.  It is so convenient to just walk outside and find an entire garden full of flavors.  I can’t wait until my expansion project is done and I have even more herbs.

Go Green and Stay Keen, 


Please! :)

by on 4/21/2015
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It is easy to avoid the obvious products that are not vegetarian, but there is a grey zone where it is necessary to understand what an ingredient is and how it is made.  I have learned through the years that it is not always safe to assume that certain processed foods are vegetarian.  More often than not, labels can be misleading and sneak meat-based ingredients into products you would never think to look for. 

It is important to read and understand the labels about what ingredients are made from animal products.  The good thing is, after figuring out what products are not vegetarian, it is easier to find product alternatives that are.

This list I compiled contains products that MAY have animal by-products.  It is dependent on the brand and what kind or flavor it is.  This list is here to help make you more aware and read the labels of these products closer.

·         Vanilla Ice Cream may contain castoreum, secretions from beaver’s anal glands, as a “natural flavor.”
·         Orange juices can contain fish oil and sheep’s wool.
·         Some salted peanuts use gelatin as an adhesive to help the salt and other spices stick on to them.
·         It is common for beef fat to be present in boxed cake mixes.
·         Everyone’s favorite Easter snack, peeps, is made with gelatin.
·         Some bagels and other bread products have L. Cysteine, which is found in bird feathers and human hair.
·         Potato chips have been known to be produced using chicken fat.  It is commonly used in the BBQ flavored potato chips.
·         Boxed mac and cheese might have rennet, an enzyme in mammal’s stomach, in it.
·         Wines can be made with gelatin, isinglass, or chitin while being processed.
·         Frosted Mini Wheat’s contain gelatin as well. 
·         Some canned vegetable soups are made with beef stock.
·         Vitamin supplements often contain animal bi-products, especially in the capsules or casing they are in.

It is very important to stay educated on changing ingredients and processing protocols.  If there are any products I missed of have any questions, I would love to hear from you!

Go Green and Stay Keen, 

Hummus, hummus, hummus; I have been obsessed with this delicious dip for the past couple weeks and can’t get enough.  My husband was laughing at me earlier today because we have FIVE different kinds of hummus in the fridge.  I love it and it is packed with protein.  Recently, I have been making different mixtures to try different flavors.  My favorite is still the classic; Chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.

Since my obsession started I have been putting hummus on everything.  To me, it is not just a dip for pitas or pretzels, it’s my secret weapon to spice up ordinary food.  Here are four of my favorite ways to incorporate hummus into everything I eat. J
·         Sandwiches with hummus up the ante to all other “regular” sandwiches.  I am a testament that nobody likes a dry sandwich; but instead of drenching it with some unhealthy sauce or dressing add hummus.  It adds the perfect amount of saucy taste.  There are so many kinds of hummus, I mix and match to pick out the perfect flavor for that sandwich.
·         I am have always love potatoes, but hummus mashed potatoes are even more creamy and delicious.  I just make mashed potatoes like I would any other time, and add the hummus while it is mixing.  I usually use garlic flavored or red pepper depending on the meal.  It adds a rich and savory flavor that makes the mash potatoes even better than they already are.
·         Hummus pizza…don’t crunch up your nose just yet.  Think savory and healthy pizza.  When I am making a homemade pizza, I use the hummus instead of pizza sauce.  It is so delicious and adds a little more zest and richness to your pizza.
·         After trying hummus salad dressing there is no going back to any other dressing.  I mix a tub of hummus with 1/3 cup of olive oil, 3 tbsp. of white wine vinegar, and 1 tbsp. of sesame oil.  It makes the most incredible dressing. 
·         Topping grilled and roasted veggies with thinned hummus is even better than you might believe.  I thin down hummus by mixing it with some water to make it into a more saucy consistency and toss my veggies in it.  I usually even add a little more to my plate to dip it in.

I am sure that I will get sick of hummus on everything, but until that day I am going to continue embracing this obsession.  Right now, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love hummus…and everyone else.  J Happy Hummusing!

Go Green and Stay Keen, 

Hummus Obsession

by on 4/06/2015
Hummus, hummus, hummus; I have been obsessed with this delicious dip for the past couple weeks and can’t get enough.  My husband was laugh...