Italian Wedding Soup

One of my go-to soup recipes comes from a cookbook I bought when my kids were young. This cookbook was used so often that is literally falling apart at the seams. Most people think Italian Wedding Soup gets its name because it combines all the leftovers from an Italian wedding but the truth is it comes from the Italian phrase, minestra maritata  meaning married soup. Much like the Costa Rican casada, it is said to create a “marriage” of flavors.

The original recipe calls for meatballs and chicken broth but it was very simple to veganize. I used Gardein brand meatballs but any pre-made vegan meatballs will work. This recipe is so easy that I’m almost embarrassed to share it. Buon appetito!

Italian Wedding Soup

2 quarts of chicken flavor vegan broth

1/2 C. orzo

1 bag of vegan meatballs

1 1/2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped

Salt

Pepper

Vegan parmesan cheese (optional)

Pour broth into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add orzo and meatballs and cook for 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Pour into soup bowls and sprinkle with parmesan, if desired.

Serves 6

The Day Chalet, Our Vegan AirBnB

Last November, Dr. D. and I decided to open our home to travelers through AirBnB using our spare bedroom. At first, we were a little hesitant about having strangers in our home but had confidence in AirBnb’s system as we learned more about ways to vet our prospective guests. Although many people around the world have turned to AirBnb to make money using a spare bedroom, a rental property, or a vacation home, ours was going to be unique.  Most AirBnB listings have house rules such as, no smoking, no parties, no pets, etc. but we had special house rules.

You are welcome to use our kitchen but please keep it free of animal products as our home is vegan.

Most guests understood this and many wanted to talk about it after they arrived. “Can I eat Cheez Doodles in my room?” one guest asked. I told him I wasn’t going to kick him out for eating Cheez Doodles but had a bag of the Earth Balance equivalent waiting for him in his room when he returned for the day. He loved them!

I had another AirBnB user send me this message prior to booking, “I’d like to know if it’s allowed for me to cook my dinner. I eat salad with chicken or rice, eggs. I don’t eat meat.” I gently explained that as stated in our profile under House Rules, we don’t allow any animal products in our home (and told him that chicken was, indeed, meat) which led him to give me warnings about Vitamin B-12 deficiency. He found another place to stay.

Our experiences with guests has been nothing short of fabulous. We’ve shared tea at midnight, bourbon after our usual bedtime, and lots of stories of travels at home and abroad. We’ve welcomed a motorcyclist during his cross-country trip and an older couple from a town 30 miles from us who were attending a concert and didn’t want to drive all the way home in the dark. We’ve had guests from India, Canada, Germany, Scotland, China, and many other places in the world. Each one of them enriched our lives during their short stays.

We quickly found that travelers were encouraged to book more readily after I added pictures of our cat and dog to our profile. “We want to meet Willow the Wonder Dog” or “your cat is adorable. I just had to meet her” were common remarks. Did this weed out some people who weren’t animal lovers? Maybe. But that was okay.

Marsali
Willow the Wonder Dog

What I found interesting is that we have not had a single person stay with us who identifies as vegan. We’ve had a couple of vegetarians but everyone else has been omnivorous. There’s no sense in “preaching to the converted” and we are happy to use our home to open up ways to passively promote veganism; it could be in the form of a conversation they initiate, a comment about a book they found in their room, or simply the aroma of delicious food cooking when they arrive. Or maybe simply finding out that vegans are friendly, welcoming, and kind.

We donate monthly to The Coalition for Healthy School Food, a non-profit founded by our friend Amie Hamlin and discovered that noting in our profile that a portion of our profits go to the organization helped spread the word about the work they’re doing. During Labor Day of 2017, we donated all our profits to Hurricane Harvey animal rescue relief efforts. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money using AirBnb but we feel our good fortune should be shared.

Our AirBnB business will be going international as we build our home in Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica. With the help of a property manager, we hope to be welcoming guests there by late 2018. In the meantime, check out our current listing here. If you’re interested in setting up your own AirBnB, please contact me with any questions or use this link and I will donate our referral bonus to an animal rescue organization of your choice.

Coming in 2018!

 

NYC Vegan

 

My very own advance reader copy!

I have been a big fan of Ethan Ciment and Michael Suchman’s award-winning blog Vegan Mos since the first time I heard about it on the Our Hen House podcast. Miss M. begs me to make their Piña Colada Smoothie (Green Smoothie), I always make the Tzatiki Sauce when we have falafel, and the French Onion Soup would fool any omnivore! I even blogged about the Avgolemono Soup back in 2014!

Vegan Mos has always been the first place I’d turn to find a tried-and-true recipe for any occasion and I left many comments on their site asking when a cookbook would be written. When that time came and I was asked to be a recipe tester I agreed faster than a New York minute! Continue reading NYC Vegan

The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty

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Robert Rose Publisher was so kind to send me a copy of  Sunny Subramanian’s book The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty to review. I was impressed to discover Sunny Subramanian has an expansive background as one of the first vegan beauty bloggers and has been writing Vegan Beauty Review since 2007. Continue reading The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty

Review of Healing the Vegan Way

Healing the Vegan Way

It’s not uncommon for me to receive books in the mail to review. Some are beautiful, some are a daily resource and some are just run-of-the-mill.

To be honest, I thought my latest arrival was going to fall into the last category. I mean, what could Mark Reinfeld say about plant-based diets that hasn’t been said before?

I was wrong. Continue reading Review of Healing the Vegan Way

5 Things I’ve Learned In Three Years

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This week marks my 3rd veganniversary. Three years ago I decided to remove all dairy, eggs, and aquatic animals from my diet. I had eliminated land animals back in 2011 making the change much easier. But still, going vegan was a pretty big deal.

The vegan I was in 2013 is not the vegan I am today. I have grown so much on this journey. Here are just a few things I’ve learned: Continue reading 5 Things I’ve Learned In Three Years

A Pro-Peace Rally

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“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” ~Mother Theresa

 

I know a lot of you feel the same way I do.

You’re tired.

You’re bewildered.

And you’re frightened about what is happening in our world and in our own backyards. 

This election season has seen family member pitted against family member as they choose sides. We watch hate speech and hate crimes escalate and get caught up in the noise that is our egos clashing.

My heart grows heavier with each bad news report. On a daily basis I allow myself to get caught up in the cacophony and it weighs on me. I find myself surrounded by a negative energy so strong it’s palpable. 

But tomorrow night, that changes.

Tomorrow night I will stand for peace. From 4:30 – 5:30 pm, I will be at the Federal Courthouse in Binghamton with other peace seekers sending out energy of peace, love and unity.

A worthless and ineffective act? Not to me. Because for one hour peace will fill my heart; a peace that extends to everyone in the world. 

Everyone. 

Please join me and if you can’t please consider spending that hour in a quiet space of your own thinking thoughts of peace and love; add your energy to mine to create a movement that can change the world.

Now that’s a pro-peace rally of which even Mother Theresa would approve. 

Continue reading A Pro-Peace Rally

The Modern Savage And Humane Meat

 

FullSizeRender (9)Have you ever started a book and thought, “I’m going to destroy this with highlighter marks and put so many Post-It™ bookmarks in it that 3M will send me a Christmas card”?

That was me within the first few minutes of reading James McWilliams’ book The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat AnimalsContinue reading The Modern Savage And Humane Meat

Abundance

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I am a career dieter. I have been on so many diets since high school (when I discovered mayonnaise) that I’ve lost count:

  • Jenny Craig – I lost 38 pounds but I firmly believe the processed crap I ate led to my thyroid disease 4 years later
  • South Beach Diet – not a bad way of eating and could be made vegan
  • Mediterranean Diet – I think I lasted a day on that one
  • NutriSystem – made me sick as a dog!

I have never thought of veganism as a diet but I do think of my diet experiences often when talking to others about eating plant-based. The best advice I can give a new vegan is the same advice I’d give anyone on a diet:

Continue reading Abundance

Ethical Choices Program

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I made a decision in January that I would start to focus more on animal welfare and the environment in my vegan outreach. As much as I enjoy the social aspect, cooking and of course, the FOOD, my heart is with the animals.

They say if you send your intention out to the Universe, the Universe will respond. This proved to be true in January when I learned about Ethical Choices Program (ECP). Continue reading Ethical Choices Program