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The Conscious Crusader Issue #10 - Your newsletter for healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living
January 15, 2012

Happy New Year and welcome to the 10th edition of the Conscious Crusader!

The Conscious Crusader

This month we have these great tips, stories, and recipes for you:

Welcome to the Conscious Crusader's New Year 2012 Edition!

New Year Inspirations


Another new year has started and it is chockfull with great intentions and resolutions to make this year the best ever! After all, the economy finally looks up and the US job rate seems on the rise again, so one could say that the overall mood is quite positive (unless you watch too much of the political bickering that goes on in preparation for the US Presidential Elections)!

I have already started 2012 with a bang, attending multiple motivational seminars with great speakers in Las Vegas – all in January!

If you haven't heard of TEDx yet, check out this information about one of the most transformational days that I spent in recent times.

A TEDx event was held in Las Vegas on January 07th and I was invited to attend it by amazing speaker and life coach Loren Slocum, who can herself fill an all-day event with her memorable experiences and inspiring life tuneups!

And then there are the New Year Resolutions to live and eat healthier! Now this is something that I can help you with – whether you live in Las Vegas or anywhere else in the world!

Below I have selected a few popular tips to start the new year right, and our recipes this month will focus on getting your groove back, which means putting great energy into your body and slashing the calories for the right mix of flavor and lightness.

Do you want to shed a few pounds? Here are some easy tips for healthy, long-term sustainable weight loss. As you would expect, Belsandia focuses on healthy choices that offer the most bang for your effort, and not some diet pill or quick fix that wows you at first but leaves you stranded soon afterwards, with many regrets and the inevitable diet yo-yo effect.

Find out how to lose weight the right way, long-term, sustainable, and healthy.

These are some very good reasons to shun the popular low fat diets!

How about that resolution to exercise more? It's easier than you may think. Here are some ideas for an effective workout that does not need to eat into your busy schedule.

You want to eat healthier, but where should you start? No worries, you can start right here with some healthy eating plans that could make your choice easier.

Latest Green Living Trends - Green Trends for 2012

Green Trends

The United Nations has designated 2012 as the "International Year of Sustainable Energy for All". Regular access to sustainable energy will be essential to solve many of the challenges the world faces, including food production, food security, and poverty. The good news is that many of the solutions to these problems can come from simple practices and lifestyle adaptations. Read more about some of the amazing initiatives underway to provide sustainable energy for all.

Here are a few not-so-oft heard ways that you can contribute to a more sustainable environment:

1. Support Food Recovery Programs

Every year we are wasting about 1/3 of all food that is produced for human consumption – approximately 1.3 billion tons! Based on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United States alone is wasting as much as 34 million tons of food, usually fully edible food that ends up in trash cans and landfills.

Grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants are throwing away tons of food that is just slightly over its expiration date or has cosmetic imperfections, but is still perfectly edible.

This is where food recovery programs run by homeless shelters and food banks come in, which collect the food and provide meals for the hungry.

You can contribute by donating any non-perishable food from your cabinets that you won’t be using to your closest shelter or food bank. Even local grocery stores often have food drives where you can bring your own still edible foods to make a difference for hungry people in your city, and to divert food away from landfills.

2. Make your own non-toxic cleaning agent

Environmental toxins abound in most of our commercial cleaning agents, which commonly include so-called "gender bender" NPE (Ethoxylated nonyl phenols), Bleach (Sodium Hypochloride) and Ammonia – all highly toxic to sea life when they get into our waterways. Apart from that, many commercial cleaners contain numerous carcinogens and reproductive toxins.

You can avoid these health hazards to yourself and the environment with a few very simple do-it-yourself recipes for non-toxic cleaning agents. It is easier that you think: many ordinary kitchen staples work perfectly fine as sustainable cleaners around your house!

Try out this recipe for a home-made all-purpose cleaner:

Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep it in a dry space and use it for all generic cleaning needs.

3. Green your information devices

We are using ever more electronic devices to stay connected, read ebooks, play games, or watch movies. The multitude of your devices like computers, ipads, tablets and smart phones all suck a lot of energy to provide you instant data access, but there are ways that you can save some of that energy:

Turn on your energy management features - All computers come with energy management features that you can set to "hibernate" or "deep sleep" mode after a certain period of inactivity.

Turn off your screen saver - While these help your screen they don't save electricity. If you have a complex screen saver it can use as much processing power as using your computer to run programs! Again, set your computer to go into hibernation or deep sleep mode after a period of inactivity, instead of using screen savers to protect your screen.

Stop the spinning disks - Your hard disks in your computer could be spinning even when the computer is not in use. Be sure to click the box next to the control panel that controls disk spinning.

Unplug your chargers when not in use – Chargers for computers and mobile devices are classic examples of "energy vampires", as they continue to draw power even after charging. Unplug these to make sure no energy is being wasted.

Dispose of your electronic devices the right way – by either donating them or recycling them properly as e-waste. Many manufacturers also offer to take their old devices back, so check with them too. Electronics contain high amounts of toxic materials like lead, mercury, barium, cadmium, etc., which are hazardous to the environment when they end up in household trash and landfills.

Green Events & Vegan Events Calendar – January / February 2012

Green Events

We compiled the most complete list of Green Events and Vegan Events in the US, so check here and find the best event in your city or near you in January and February 2012.

Featured recommended product of the month: Books That Make Your New Year’s Resolutions A Breeze

If your goal for the new year is healthy weight loss, I have the right companion for you: The "21 Day Weight Loss Kick-Start" by Dr. Neal Barnard, an expert in nutritional and medical research who will help you to shed the pounds and speed-up your metabolism in just three weeks without counting calories or depriving yourself of nutrients like carbs.

This is an excellent resource for a long-term sustainable and healthy weight loss goal!

If your new year's goal is to eat healthier, you will find that this book is a great guide to better health with the right food choices: "The Food Prescription for Better Health" by Dr. Baxter Montgomery.

This is a cardiologist' proven guide to reverse heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and many other common diseases. Be inspired to take your health into your own hands and "nto your own fork"!

Health News of the Month: Pancreatic, Rectal, And Kidney Cancer – By Courtesy Of Your Friendly Meat Producer

Bad Meat

We have all heard it before but the news about cancer linked to meat intake is continuing to grow steadily, and red meat is not the only culprit anymore: sausage, bacon, chicken, fish – you name it. Ask yourself when you order your next grilled chicken breast or hot dog: "would you like a side of cancer with this?"

Red Meat Intake Is Linked To Kidney Cancer
The risk of kidney cancer is increased by eating red meat and grilled and pan-fried foods, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers tracked approximately one-half million men and women in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Those who ate the most meat, around 4.5 ounces of red meat per day (about the size of an average hamburger), had a higher risk of kidney cancer.

Source: Daniel CR, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al. Large prospective investigation of meat intake, related mutagens, and risk of renal cell carcinoma. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;(1):155-62.

A Sausage A Day Could Lead To Pancreatic Cancer
The Swedish Cancer Foundation and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, found that even 50 grams of processed meat eaten every day (a sausage or two rashers of bacon) increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 19 percent, compared to those who ate no meat. The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer and analyzed data from 11 trials and 6,643 patients with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer has poor survival rates and if diet can affect its development in the first place, it is an important factor for public health campaigns.

Eating red and processed meat has already been linked to bowel cancer and the World Cancer Research Fund has advised people to completely avoid processed meat.

Source: One Green Planet

Carcinogen Found In Grilled Chicken
The grilled chicken commonly hailed as "health food" by several fast food chains including Mc Donald's, KFC and Burger King was found to contain PhIP, a chemical classified as a carcinogen by the US federal government. PhIP is part of a chemical family called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and has been linked to several forms of cancer, including breast cancer, in dozens of scientific studies. So far, no safe level of ingestion has been identified.

Source: PCRM

Chicken Meat Contains Cancer-causing Arsenic
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally admitted that they know about the fact that arsenic is added to chicken feed in the US. This was a common practice for the last 60 years and the toxic chicken feed called Roxarsone was only recently pulled from shelves when this shocking detail could no longer be swept under the carpet.

Source: CBS News

Hot New Recipe on - Vegan Chili: Healthy Protein Bomb "Sin Carne"

Vegan Chili

Chili is one of our favorite comfort foods: the mix of beans provide a protein-rich meal and the slow-cooked spices and veggies give you additional nutrients that make this dish such a satisfying and nourishing meal on a cold winter day.

While traditional chili recipes pack on the meats and fats, this vegan version is equally great without any meaty components, as it not only skips the fats but also tons of calories. The flavor in our recipe comes from the combined richness of all ingredients and the smoky chipotle peppers, which will fill your kitchen with delicious aromas during the longer cooking process.

Serves: 6-8 / Ready in: 1.5 hrs / Calories per serving (1 cup): 230


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles (based on your spice tolerance)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons unprocessed sea salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
3 cups dried red kidney beans
1 1/2 cups dried black beans
4 cups water
fresh cilantro or green onions (optional)


Soak the dried beans in water for a few hours before making your chili.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned.

Add chipotle chilies, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and 4 cups of water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Add the beans and simmer an additional 45 to 60 minutes on low heat, until the beans are soft. You can add more water if you prefer a more liquid chili.

Serve hot and garnish individual bowls of the vegetarian chili with green onions or cilantro.

See the full recipe here.

Global Veg Food Specialty: France - The Gourmet Food Country Goes Rogue (Veg)

Vegan French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

For many people, French onion soup is the first dish that comes to mind when they think of French cuisine. No wonder, the hot caramelized onions mixed with gooey, melted cheese over hearty bread is a winter favorite that satisfies any cravings on a cold day!

While the traditional French recipe is loaded with fat and cholesterol, we have lightened it up and veganized this recipe for you below – while not sparing any of the great flavor and warm comfort feeling that this delicious soup provides.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium-sized yellow onions, finely sliced into half moon shapes
2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/3 cup whole wheat flour or corn starch
1 loaf whole grain sourdough bread
2/3 cup meltable shredded vegan mozzarella (Daiya cheese is great for this)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil and a layer of onions and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt. Repeat layering the onions and salt sprinkles until all your onions are in the pot. Allow the onions to sweat for about 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup and continue simmering the onions for about 20 minutes until golden. Make sure that they don't burn!

Add the vegetable broth, coriander, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, ground black pepper and bring to a boil, then lower and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the end of your boiling time, combine the red wine, soy sauce, mustard and flour/corn starch in a small bowl and stir thoroughly to remove all clumps. Stir this mixture into your onions and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, preheat your oven to 375 F. Cut the bread into thick slices and then into smaller squares that will fit into your soup bowls. Sprinkle vegan cheese on all bread squares and place them into a baking dish. Place onto top shelf of your oven until melted and brown.

To serve, ladle your French onion soup into bowls and top these with your cheesy bread squares. Delicious!



One of France's traditional vegetable dishes, ratatouille achieved a renewed claim to fame with the popular animated movie with the same name "Ratatouille".

This tasty and hearty winter dish combines the rich flavors of eggplants, zucchinis, and tomatoes to a mouth-watering delight when cooked in your oven for just about 30 minutes.

You can serve ratatouille as a side dish or main dish along with potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta. Yummy!

Serves: 4 / Ready in: 1 hr / Calories per serving (1 cup): 154


1 large or 2 medium eggplants
3-4 zucchinis, chopped in 1/4-inch slices
1 large red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
3 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1 large onion, peeled and cut into slices
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
A few cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Cut the eggplants into thick chunks and sprinkle the pieces with salt to prevent them from oxidization. Set aside for 30 minutes and then rinse well and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, and onion into a roasting pan that holds all vegetables in a single layer. Sprinkle with ground coriander and olive oil. Then scatter the chopped garlic and cilantro leaves on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring the vegetables occasionally. The zucchini should be golden brown and the peppers should start to show a little roast. Serve the ratatouille with potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta.

See the full recipe here!

Amazing Animal Story of the Month: Lost Blind Dog Gets Home For Christmas

Blind Dog

Here is a heartwarming story from the holidays, to carry the spirit of kindness to animals a little further with you into the new year:

A blind dog that had been lost for almost a month and was feared dead was able to join his San Antonio-based family again for Christmas!

The puppy born without eyes was home again after being lost for almost a month, and that was possible with the help from a teacher, an animal care agency, and Craigslist.

The San Antonio Express News reported that the dog showed up at the Animal Care Services in their city on December 11th. Normally he would have been put down, but a high school teacher working at the facility took pity on the dog and agreed to care for him during the holidays.

This clever and caring person also checked Craigslist for possible lost dog entries, and that's where she found a notice from the dog’s family. She promptly called and the lucky pooch was reunited with his doting and grateful family – just in time for Christmas!

That must have been the best Christmas present that any of his family members could have wished for!

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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 specialties, animal stories, health tip of the month, and more!

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