Tuesday, July 13, 2010


A good hostess, vegan or not, always has something to offer her guests.

In this case, a little information and a kick ass cupcake recipe (technical term) will have to suffice.


I've read a lot about the environmental and health benefits of being a vegan, and found on-line the most comprehensive and plain-speak articles in which I 'borrowed' a few excerpts to share with you, which explains it so much better than I ever could:


"Eating vegan is more environmentally efficient than feeding the animals in a meat-based diet. Veganism also greatly reduces the wastes, pollution, and deforestation caused by mass raising of animals.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans lead the way in a global trend. They are eating more meat than ever before: the average American consumes nearly twice his or her weight in meat each year.

Today, our planet is home to nearly 1 billion pigs, 1.3 billion cows, 1.8 billion sheep and goats, and 13.5 billion chickens - more than two chickens for each man, woman and child on the planet. We have altered vast ecosystems and devoted massive resources to support the world's burgeoning livestock herds. These animals need to be fed. They need water to survive. If they are ranged, they need land. And these animals produce enormous quantities of waste.

The ecological footprint of meat production is deep and wide, and ranges from forest destruction in Central and South America for ranching to suppression of native predators and competitors in the United States. Nearly one-quarter of the world's meat, primarily beef and mutton, depends on a natural ecosystem - rangelands. Yet, as overgrazing becomes the norm in much of the world, rangelands are being pushed beyond their limits.

Huge amounts of food - not to mention the water and farmland required growing the food - can be freed up by modest reduction in meat production. For example, if the 670 million tons of the world's grain that is fed to livestock were reduced by 10 percent, the resulting grain could feed 225 million people or to keep up with growth in the human population over the next three years.

If each American reduced his or her meat consumption by just 5 percent, roughly equivalent to eating one less dish of meat each week, enough grain would be saved to feed 25 million people - the number estimated to go hungry in the United States each day."


"All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.

1. Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of saturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.

2. Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.

3. Fiber. A diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.

4. Magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.

5. Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

6. Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.

7. Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that antioxidants help protect your body against forming some types of cancer.

8. Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.

9. Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.

10. Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.

11. Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet."


"Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.

12. Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.

13. Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.

14. Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.

15. Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also "easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association." Read more about it here.

16. Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.

17. Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.

18. Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.

19. Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.

20. Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.

21. Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

22. Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis."


"In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits. Find out how a vegan diet makes your body stronger, more attractive, and more energetic.

23. Body Mass Index. Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower BMIs–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.

24. Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues. Read more about weight loss and a vegan diet here.

25. Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher. This blog post in Happy Healthy Long Life describes how NFL tight-end Tony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energy–while playing football.

26. Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.

27. Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.

28. Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.

29. Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.

30. Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.

31. Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger, healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.

32. PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.

33. Migraines. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines. Read more about the food-migraine connection in this article.

34. Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.
Too Much in the American Diet.

The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on too much of unnecessary food products or toxins. The following list explains how a vegan diet can eliminate these problems.

35. Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for osteoporosis (see above).

36. Cow’s milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may be lactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating cow’s milk from your diet, you are improving your overall health.

37. Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American diet is too high. While sometimes disputed, it has been shown that eggs can raise cholesterol levels.

38. Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed has mercury in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury in your body when you eat fish.

39. Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal bones."

**Jo here: Now, in regards to the sugar issue: many vegans still eat sugar -- I'm one of them. I don't consume it by the pound, but I don't deprive myself either.

'Dominoes' sugar (yellow bag) is known to still use activated charcoal, so I simply stay away from that brand of sugar.

Also, many vegans don't eat honey because of the bee factor. I don't go out of my way to eat honey (bees make honey anyway -- perhaps most vegans object to the beekeepers smoking them out and the maiming that can sometimes occur) but I will do so occasionally.

With all that said, is there a better combination than bananas, chocolate and peanut butter???

I don't think so!!!

Below is a vegan cupcake recipe from my favorite cookbook: 'Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World' by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (I have all their cookbooks and love them!).

Vegan cupcakes are just as tasty -- the only difference you'll maybe notice is that they tend to come out with the density of a muffin.

I know the following seems like a lot of ingredients and extra steps, but it's really not that much more than making a batch of homemade non-vegan cupcakes.

These are B's very favorite (who's a non-vegan, mind you) and I promise that you and your loved ones won't be disappointed. I defy anyone to be able to tell they're vegan if you don't tell them. All they're going to taste is yummy goodness!


Cupcake Ingredients:

~1/2 cup pineapple preserves

~1/2 cup very ripe banana, mashed well (the darker & browner the banana the better)

~1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

~1/4 teaspoon baking soda

~1 teaspoon baking powder

~1/2 teaspoon salt

~3/4 cup granulated sugar

~1/3 cup canola oil

~2/3 cup rice milk or soy milk

~1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

~1/2 teaspoon almond extract

~1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate (stay away from 'Hershey's' & other name brands of dark chocolate -- most have dairy -- read labels and go to a health food store)


1. Preheat oven to 350 & line muffin pan with paper liners

2. Stir pineapple preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until it can be poured easily when scooped up with a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Push the mashed bananas through a sieve or blend for a few seconds to get rid of lumps -- they should be fairly smooth.

4. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix.

5. In a separate, smaller bowl whisk together the oil, rice/soy milk, vanilla, almond extract and mashed banana.

6. Create a well in the dry ingredients and fold in wet ingredients, mixing just to combine -- don't over mix (very small lumps are okay)

7. Fill liners 2/3 full with mixture.

8. Top the batter of each cupcake with 1 teaspoon of the melted preserves

9. Top that with 1 teaspoon of the chopped dark chocolate

10. With a small knife, carefully stir each cupcake 2 or 3 times to swirl in the preserves and chocolate.

11. Bake 22 minutes or until knife inserted in cupcake comes out clean.

12. Let completely cool before frosting.

*Makes about one dozen cupcakes. Feel free to double the recipe to make more for your next gathering.


~ 1/4 cup margarine (non-hydrogenated/vegan), softened

~ 2 tablespoons of 'Earth Balance' margarine/shortening

~ 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

~ 1 tablespoon molasses

~ 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

~ 1 1/4 powdered sugar, sifted

~ 1 to 2 tablespoons rice milk or soy milk


1. With electric mixer (hand held is fine) cream together 1/4 cup margarine and the 2 tablespoons shortening/margarine at medium speed until smooth.

2. Add peanut butter, molasses and vanilla -- beat until very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Beat in powdered sugar, mixture will be very stiff.

4. Dribble in rice or soy milk a little at a time, beating continuously until frosting is a pale tan and very fluffy.

5. Adjust the thickness of the frosting by adding more rice/soy milk or more powdered sugar.

6. Garnish frosted cupcakes with chopped nuts, chopped dark chocolate and/or banana slices if desired.

Last step -- ENJOY!

1 comment:

  1. OMG I am soooooooooooooo making those, yummers!