Crazy for Carrot Dogs

Vegan carrot dogs, what?! Many of you are probably shaking your head at this, thinking "what the hell..." but seriously, don't knock it 'til ya try it. This is my second time making these although I tweaked the recipe a little this time. If you're even the slightest bit intrigued, I'm nudging you to give 'em a try -- they are so so easy to make. And bonus... HEALTHY!

This is a great way for you & your family to become aware of and cut back on processed meat. Like many other cured meats, hot dogs typically contain additives called nitrites, which preserve the freshness and shelf life. These nitrites have an association with an increased risk of cancer. Hot dogs, in particular, raise the risk of cancer 9x in children who consumed more than 12 hot dogs/month, according to a study published in the journal, "Cancer Causes & Control."

On that note, do your best to look for healthy alternatives. Food should NOT be this complicated, you know? It's not rocket science. However, we are forced to do research on certain topics because our food system today is mostly comprised of food-like substances, not food. My advice: eat whole, natural foods as often as possible. And if/when you do eat meat, be aware of it. Do some research in your area to find local meat, free of hormones and preservatives. 

Now... let's talk carrot dogs:

carrot dogs

Ingredients

  • 8 medium carrots - scrubbed (do not peel)
  • 8 hot dog buns

Marinade

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of each: black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
  • ½ tsp of each: mustard seed, coriander

Toppings

  • Optional: ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, chives, microgreens, etc.

Preparation

carrots
  1. Steam carrots for 12-15 minutes. Test with fork. Carrots should be soft, but not as soft as a cooked carrot.
  2. Pierce carrots all over with fork so that the marinade can seep in.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine all marinade ingredients. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Place steamed carrots in a large zip-lock bag and pour the marinade all over the carrots making sure they are fully submerged. Let sit for 4-8 hours (the longer the better).
  5. Preheat grill to medium heat & cook approx. 2-3 min/side.
  6. Serve in buns & top with condiments.
marinade
carrots in marindae

Catch Up With Your Ketchup

If you enjoy burgers, hot dogs, french fries, etc., you probably consume a good amount of ketchup. Most ketchup contains High Fructose Corn Syrup and Natural Flavoring, two additives you should do your best to avoid (see below for more on this). Luckily there is a way around this - make your own. It's so simple and tastes so good.

ketchup1

Ingredients

  • 2 - 6 ounce cans tomato paste
  • 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp sea or pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 6 to 10 ounces water depending on your preference

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients into a saucepan & whisk until smooth.
  2. Add water slowly & mix until you reach your desired consistency. 
  3. Cook over medium heat for approx. 5 minutes. Reduce heat & let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Cool & store in refrigerator. 
  6. OPTIONAL - Dump out your Heinz/Hunt's/any brand of ketchup in your refrigerator that contains harmful ingredients & reuse the bottle for your new & improved version. I added the ketchup to a plastic baggie, cut a hole in the corner and easily transferred the ketchup to the bottle.

Ingredients in Heinz Ketchup:

  • Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup - Should absolutely be banned from our food supply. Some disturbing facts: 1. Americans consume an average of 50 grams of HFCS/day 2. It has been shown to increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes & heart disease 3. Consumption of HFCS increased more than 1,000% between 1970 and 1990 & is a main factor in our current obesity epidemic 4. HFCS can cause leaky gut syndrome 5. It has been shown to promote cancer 6. The average 20-ounce soda contains 15 teaspoons of sugar, all of it high fructose corn syrup. 
  • Salt (160mg sodium) -  Whole Foods 360 No Salt Added tomato paste only contains 20mg sodium/can.
  • Spice
  • Onion Powder
  • Natural Flavoring - Natural & artificial flavors are the exact same molecules; nutritionally, there is no difference between them. When it says "natural flavors" on the label, that doesn't just mean one natural flavor source -- added flavor, both natural and artificial, can have anywhere from 50-100 ingredients. 

Bottom line -- read labels & if you don't like what you see, take matters into your own hands!

ôrt/ noun: a scrap or remainder of food from a meal

I first heard the term, "ort" at church camp; I want to say I was around 8 years old. We learned about the concept of wasted food and were encouraged to only fill our plates with what we could eat. When we were finished eating, instead of throwing any leftovers into the garbage, we'd scrape the remnants into a designated ort bucket which was weighed after every meal. Our goal by the end of the week was to have zero ort. Zero waste. And year after year, we were always successful. 

I'll never forget this. The concept of wasted food and ort has stuck with me ever since. I make conscious efforts every day to not waste food - unfortunately this is such a huge global problem.

When I discovered the idea of saving vegetable scraps to make soup broth, I had to do it. It's basically re-purposing what would otherwise be thrown into the trash. I honestly don't know why I didn't think of this myself. So, over the past month or so, I've been saving the scraps of onions, carrots, red beets, garlic, bell peppers, celery, kale, etc. in a large zip-lock bag in the freezer. When the bag reached its limit, I added the frozen veggie scraps to a pot of water and let it gently cook all day. Finally, I drained the contents of the pot, and the most delicious veggie broth was born. 

The end result: SO good...better than store-bought veggie broth, in my opinion. By making your own, you have complete control over the flavor so it could potentially taste different every time. Experiment with adding different herbs and spices. You can use the broth immediately or freeze in glass jars or ice cube trays for later.

Put your scraps to use! Learn about composting. Many veggie scraps can be added to smoothies, as well. Think outside the box.  I also encourage you to really think about the concept of ort. Do your part to reduce food waste. Everything counts. 

Simple Lunches

From my style to my food, my outlook on life is simple. So much of what we know is chaotic and complicated. Our lives are oftentimes stressful and demanding and we have a tendency to overlook life's simple pleasures.

If I have control over something, I try to make whatever it is as simple as possible. As an adult, our food choices are an aspect of our lives that we have COMPLETE control over.  It is important to take responsibility for our health and realize that the power is in our hands (or fork).

Meal prepping has become a huge part of my life. Honestly, I can't imagine not doing it.  Not only does meal prepping alleviate the daily stress of wondering what I'll have for lunch, it also saves me a lot of money. I meal prep every Sunday & keep it super simple. I take the "less is more" approach with food.  I always cook 1 cup of quinoa along with an assortment of vegetables for different lunch combos throughout the week. Yesterday, I prepped quinoa, spinach, broccoli and chickpeas, with sunflower seeds for added flavor.

Only FIVE ingredients!

-quinoa (superfood, gluten-free, contains protein, fiber, high in many plant compounds, especially antioxidants.)
-steamed spinach (contains protein, fiber, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, etc.)
-steamed broccoli (contains protein, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin E, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, calcium, iron, etc.)
-canned chickpeas drained & rinsed (contains protein, fiber, manganese, folate, iron, etc.)
-roasted sunflower seeds (contains significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, etc.)

*For meal prepping purposes, I steamed 2 bunches of spinach, 2 heads of broccoli and rinsed a 12 oz. can of chickpeas.
*I usually add a little Himalayan Salt before eating, but any spices are obviously completely optional.

Have a great week & don't forget to stop and smell the roses!

greenlunchbowl
I believe that eating simple food in a healthy body with a clean conscience is more pleasurable, and infinitely more satisfying, than eating decadent food that makes you and your world ill.
— John Robbins

Dinner with Grandpa

My grandfather loves his meat - especially red meat. Steak, ribs, burgers... you name it. He's definitely a meat and potatoes kinda guy. He recently had quadruple bypass heart surgery and he's struggled with other health issues over the years. My mom & I made dinner for him last night and we wanted to see how he'd react to a meatless meal. 

"Well Hannah, this is certainly a new way of eating." 

"It's called plant-based eating, Grandpa."

"It's what?"

"Plant-based... everything on your plate is from the earth. No animals."

For the record, my grandpa ate & claimed to enjoy all three dishes & I'm PRETTY sure he wasn't just being polite.

It's truly amazing what you can create with plant-based ingredients.  If you're looking for some Meatless Monday inspiration, I highly recommend this entire meal (especially the Meatless Meatloaf)!

What's your favorite meat-based meal? I bet we can find or create a plant-based version if you'd like to alternate on occasion.