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The Conscious Crusader Issue #1 -- Your newsletter for healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living
April 17, 2011
Hello

Welcome to the Conscious Crusader # 1 - our very first newsletter for a healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable lifestyle!



Introduction to the Conscious Crusader

Welcome to the very first edition of the Conscious Crusader! You are part of the "inauguration club" for this new e-zine that I will publish every month to bring you the hottest and latest on green, healthy, and cruelty-free living.

Thanks so much for signing-up and please let me know if you enjoy this newsletter - all comments are welcome and I encourage great interaction between us conscious folks, so feel free to comment away on anything good, bad, and in-between!

April is the month of spring time and of new beginnings, and here in Las Vegas we are frolicking in the first warmer days of the year. Las Vegas has a desert climate, so while we start wearing shorts in the daytime, we often still need a jacket after sunset. And then there are the infamous spring storms! I am just watching the first pedals of my early roses blowing all over the lawn, buhu..


April is also the month where many of us want to get into swimsuit shape, so we are looking for lighter, fresher and healthier recipes again. If that's on your mind too, take a look at my latest lunch creations: these amazing new healthy lunch sandwiches will make slimming down a breeze - and they don't spare the flavor!


If you haven't seen it yet, I also want to introduce you to our new "Famous Vegetarians" section, and we made the kick-start with famous vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke. Find out more about Robert's super-fit and compassionate lifestyle here.


As a passionate co-organizer and volunteer for animal fundraisers and vegan outreach, I am looking forward to our very first Vegans in Vegas event May 19 – 22. That's a 3-day all-out party with over 100 vegans and veg-interested folks in attendance. We will have awesome speakers, cooking demos, Q&A sessions, restaurant events, shows, and whatever else you can think of in Vegas - but in vegan style! Don't miss that if you are in the area, of if you need an excuse for a long weekend in Las Vegas..



In this first edition of the Conscious Crusader, we have great tips, stories, and recipes for you:




Latest Green Living Trends

going green at home

Five creative things you can do to green your home:

  • When lighting candles or your fireplace at home, use matches instead of lighters. Matches are made of wood and can be recycled in the paper bin, whereas lighters use gas and will end up on landfills. Even for your fireplace you can find longer matches that get the fire going without burning your fingers.
  • Don't get a paper phonebook! Consider when you have last consulted a local phone directory made from paper - maybe 3 years ago..? The huge phone books in the bigger cities are an enormous paper waste. Most local businesses have an online presence now, or have a listing in the online yellow book, city search, yelp, Google places, etc. And if you are looking for a private phone number, everybody listed in the phone book can usually also be found via 411 directory services for private numbers.
  • Do you think that washing your car at home is saving water? Think again! While it may conserve the fuel cost, your water use is considerably more at home than at the car wash - hard to believe right? And besides, the soapy car wash water that runs off your front porch can pollute a nearby water supply. Commercial car washes have to use filters for chemicals before sending off the wastewater to treatment facilities.
  • Have more candle light dinners on your patio or balcony - and challenge yourself to leave the lights and any other energy source off as long as you can in the evening. You can even read by candle light with the right size candle! And who says that you can't have a candle light dinner by yourself too..? Not only do you save energy, but it's also a great way to reconnect - with yourself or another person - and without the consistent noise and humming of background distractions like TVs, computers, or music players. We depend way too much on external entertainment, instead of having a great conversation, a great reading session, or simply a great moment of silence and dreaming!
  • Skip buying gift bags and use reusable tote bags for your gift-giving instead! These reusable totes are long-lasting and will be used more often that gift bags. Besides, you can send an important message with a compassionate & green touch if you get a tote from a charity and promote a cause when giving your gifts. Here are some great totes from very worthy non-profit organizations:
1. The Greater Good Network allows you to pick your favorite cause and then shop for bags & totes here. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit the cause of your choice.

2. PCRM is the Physicians Committee for responsible Medicine, which offers excellent information about fighting and preventing diseases with the right diet and lifestyle choices. They also support healthy school lunch programs and fight to end the lab testing on Great Apes. Check here for a sleak and compassionate PCRM tote.

3. PETA is a well-known animal rights organization that fights for the rights of creatures large and small all over the planet. You can sport your message in support of exploited animals with a PETA tote too.


What great going green tips do you use at home? Please share with us or comment on the ideas above!




Veg & Green Events Calendar - April / May 2011

save the earth

April is Earth Day month and every city around the globe has something green going on: you can find an Earth Day Festival or Event in every nook and corner, celebrating our planet and green, sustainable living. I compiled the most complete list of Earth Day Events and Green Events in the US, so check here and find the best event in your city or near you. This list covers April and May 2011.


Looking for a vegan event in your town? Our green events list also features all announced vegan bake sales, veg fests, and any other note-worthy veg gathering in the country. Check for the vegan even closest to you here.


Farm to Fridge Tour by Mercy for Animals
The non-profit organization Mercy for Animals has launched its nationwide Farm to Fridge education tour, which shows a 12-minute video narrated by actor James Cromwell with undercover footage from meat, dairy, egg, and fish farms. The movie is shown in 40 cities around the US from a moving truck with large screens. This eye-opening exploration behind the scenes of the nation’s food production is sure to shock viewers out of their complacency, and hopefully sparks more interest in a vegan diet.

Please support the Farm to Fridge Tour when it comes to your town! Watch the video here and share the tour dates with everyone on your mailing list.




Featured & recommended green product of the month

save_energy

April is the "green" month of the year where we celebrate Earth Day and the beauty and bounty of Mother Nature. You already know that a vegan diet is the best choice to go green, but besides being veg, many other components in our daily life still cause havoc to the environment, and some are really heavy hitters that can be avoided easily with the right products.

Washing your clothes and dishes with common detergents is a daily process that sends gallons of chemical-laden waste water through the pipes, requiring endless filtering and cleaning of the water, and it often seeps into our soil and local water supplies.

Apart from the bad chemicals that are harmful for our health and the planet, most common detergents are tested on animals. And that's the main breaking point for me: I don't want to use anything that was tested on animals and has hurt another living breathing creature.

Therefore I am shopping with compassion and the knowledge that I avoid harm to myself, the animals, and the environment: Herbtrader is an online purveyor of all things organic, natural, and animal-friendly. They have products from the finest green and organic companies around the globe:



Pair your peace of mind with convenience and shop online here for great natural cleaning products that are good for all living creatures on the planet.

And in case you wonder: yes I do get a small commission from your purchase at Herbtrader through this link, but I only recommend products that I use myself and that earn the highest quality ratings! I scrutinize partner companies extensively for their ethics and values, and only those that match Belsandia's requirements will be suggested to you. I attempt to offer quality content to my readers free of charge every day, and these small commissions from selected partners help me to pay for the resources to do so. Thanks very much in advance for supporting me and my partners!




Health Tip of the Month

Fork with vegetables

Eggs are even worse than you thought!

A new study has shown that eggs and cholesterol consumption are responsible for an increased risk of Gestational Diabetes. This was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Women who consumed 7 eggs a week or more showed a 77% increased risk of diabetes in a study called the "Omega study", and an even greater risk of 165% in the "Alpha study". The comparison was made against women who ate the least amount of eggs.

Are you still consuming eggs or don't know how to best replace them in your breakfast and baked goods? Here are some tips for fabulous - and healthy - egg replacers:

Instead of one egg, use:

For baked goods

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup of silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt = for recipes that call for moistness and density
  • half a ripe mashed banana = adds a sweet flavor and is great for desserts
  • 1/4 cup non-sweet applesauce = for moisture and it's also great to reduce fat
  • 1 1/2 tea Egg Replacer from EnerG (potato starch and tapioca powder) plus 1 tablespoon of water
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of soy milk or water

For cooking

  • Scramble extra firm tofu for breakfast to replace scrambled eggs. Add some nice spices and vegetables for flavor!
  • You can also use extra firm tofu to replace egg whites in "egg" salad




Hot New Recipe on Belsandia.com

low calorie meals

Green asparagus sauce with red wine – eat it as stew or as pasta sauce

It's season for asparagus - a great vegetable loaded with vitamins and without any fat. The green asparagus version has more flavor and bite than white asparagus, and it doesn’t get that mushy when cooking. In our new hot sauce / stew recipe below we keep the asparagus slightly crunchy, as that brings out its flavor to the fullest.

Serves 4 Calories per serving: 70 Nutrients: vitamins A and C, iron, fiber, folic acid, potassium

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic green asparagus, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium-sized white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green Serrano chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized organic tomato, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, slightly shredded
  • 1 teaspoon light olive oil
  • 1 glass dry red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • organic sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Stir until the onions are slightly glazed.

2. Add the serrano pepper, green asparagus, tomato, sage, and oregano. Sauté for about a minute.

3. Add the red wine and cover the pot. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the water and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

5. Finish with the parsley, salt and black pepper to taste. Switch off the heat and let everything soak for 1-2 minutes.

Enjoy it with your favorite whole wheat pasta, over orzo pasta, or even with a brown rice side dish.




Global Veg Food Specialty – Viva la Mexico!

Chili and garlic

Introducing vegan tamales

Tamales come from Latin America and are made of a corn-based masa dough, which is then boiled or steamed in a leaf wrapper of corn husk or banana leaf. Tamales can be made with any variety of fillings, and are often offered with meat, cheese, or even as a sweet. Today we will explore a very tasty vegan option for this traditional Mexican dish!

This recipe serves 2 and is borrowed from the Accidental Vegan cook book, which has many great ideas for tamales, soul foods and any other dish you would like to veganize.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of fresh corn - save the husks for the wrappings
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups masa harina (you can find this in a Hispanic food store, or otherwise use yellow grits instead)
  • 1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can organic pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 organic tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (available in Indian or Asian food stores)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 serrano chili, minced
  • kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, freshly chopped
  • black ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Boil the water, salt, and olive oil in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the masa or grits until a thick dough forms.

2. Once it has cooled down a bit, form the masa into 2-inch balls and set aside in a bowl.

3. Shuck the corn and wash the husks - keep them as wrappers for the tamales later. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and set aside.

4. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil to a small saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic. Then add the tomato, corn kernels, all beans, cilantro, and spices. Cook until the beans are hot and the corn has just a little bite left. Set aside.

5. Place one masa ball in the center of a corn husk and push a little dent into the middle. Fill one tablespoon of bean mix onto the top and then wrap the husk tightly around the masa and the filling. You don’t need to tie it, just tug-in the edges and place the small tamal package into a bamboo steamer. Repeat until you have one layer of tamales in your bamboo basket.

6. Use a wok or bigger pot and fill the bottom with water, bring to boil. Place the bamboo steamer over the water and cover it. Steam until the tamales are hot, between 3-6 minutes.

Unwrap your yummy vegan tamales and discard the husk wrappers. Enjoy them with a side dish of roasted sweet potatoes, avocado slices, or sautéed zucchini and squash.



Chile Rellenos Sin Queso – gimme that without the cheese!

Chile rellenos are stuffed chili peppers that have their origin in Mexico. A slightly bigger chile pepper such as poblano, Anaheim, or jalapeno can be used to make it. Traditionally the chiles are stuffed with melted cheese and /or a pork meat mix. Making chile rellenos without dairy cheese is a challenge to behold – but the results are very worth the effort once you have the melted mass of joy in your mouth!

This recipe serves 2 and uses mild poblano peppers. You can up the ante on the spice level by using jalapeno peppers instead.

Ingredients:

  • 6 poblano peppers, washed
  • 1/2 pound firm tofu
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Cumin powder
  • Chili powder
  • 1/2 lime
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of "Follow your Heart" soy mozzarella
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup white flour

Directions:

1. Roast the chile peppers on a baking sheet under the broiler in your oven until the skin is black. Set aside to cool them off.

2. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skin with a small knife, which should be easy to do now. Cut the peppers lengthwise with a 2-inch cut and remove the seeds.
3. Sauté the onions, garlic, cumin, and chili powder in olive oil until soft. Set aside.

4. For the filling, blend 1/2 cup soy milk, tofu, and soy cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add the onion/garlic mix and season with salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste.

5. In another bowl, make the frying batter: mix 1/4 cup soy milk with the flour. Add some salt or garlic salt to taste. The batter should be thick enough to stick, but you still need to be able to move your whisk around. Adjust the mix as needed.

6. Heat the tomato sauce in a skilled and season to taste.

7. Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet.

8. Fill each chile with the soy filling mix and then dip it into the frying batter. Fry in the oil on both sides until golden.

9. Set the fried chiles aside on a paper towel to dry-off the excess oil.

10. Serve your vegan chile rellenos with the hot tomato sauce - enjoy!




Amazing Animal Story of the Month

Lucky on his favorite outside chair

How our cat Lucky really got lucky after he was missing for 4 weeks

Our cat Lucky is a grey tabby who we had rescued from the local shelter in 2006. He was with us for 2 years when he suddenly went missing one night without any sign or trace for almost 4 weeks.

I know many readers may not agree with me, but while it is more dangerous for our cats, we allow them to get the best of both worlds: they can frolic outside in the garden during daytime and will be locked in safely at home during the night. They never roam far from the house, mostly snoozing lazily on the cushy sofa in our backyard.

During one summer night in 2008, Lucky was not in the backyard when it was time to go to sleep, so we left the cat door open that night to allow him a safe return at anytime. In the morning there was still no sign of Lucky, and by lunchtime I really started to get nervous. Lucky is on the heavy side and he loves his food, so it was odd that he would be out all night without coming home to eat..? By the evening without any trace of him I officially freaked out.

Lucky was now officially missing. We started printing missing pet sheets and plastered them all over the community; we talked to all the neighbors; we went to the animal shelter every two days (this is a kill shelter and cats don't make it longer than a few days once they are offered for adoption, so it’s important to go regularly for a chance of finding your beloved pet). We posted ads in all local papers. But after one week, there was still no sign of Lucky, not even a single sighting by anyone!

Read on about our gruesome search for 4 weeks and Lucky's lucky return


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Check out the latest Belsandia Blog posts from this week.


Thanks so much for reading the Conscious Crusader and join me again next month for a new edition with green living tips, hot new recipes, global veg specialities, animal stories, halth tip of the month, and more!

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