What I’m Reading: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer


I’m currently making my way through a rather difficult book – Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. If you remember my post from a few weeks ago about vegetarianism, you probably can recall I mentioned factory farms. Eating Animals takes an inside look at factory farming as well as why humans beings eat animals – the stories that drive us, the nostalgia that will always play a part in our eating habits, the societal exceptions we no longer even pay attention to. Surprisingly, this book isn’t purely advocating for a meat-free diet. It is not preachy in any way, and Foer states explicitly that he is not trying to turn anyone vegetarian. His purpose in writing this book was merely to bring to light how truly wrong some of our farming practices are when it comes to animals.


Foer himself always oscillated between carnivorism and vegetarianism growing up. As a child, he always felt there was something a little wrong about eating meat – he thought about the animals he knew, and didn’t understand how it was not okay to hurt a dog, but perfectly fine to eat a chicken. Once he had a child of his own, he decided to figure out exactly what we in America eat, and this book was born. He visited factory farms and did mounds of research, and the results are frankly frightening.

Nothing inspires as much shame as being a parent. Children confront us with our paradoxes and hypocrisies, and we are exposed. You need to find an answer for every why – why do we do this? Why do we do that? – and often there isn’t a good one. So you simply say, because. And whether or not your face reddens, you blush. The same of parenthood – which is a good shame – is that we want our children to be more whole than we are, to have satisfactory answers. My son not only inspired me to reconsider what kind of eating animal I would be, but shamed me into reconsideration.


Within this book are facts about chickens, pigs, cow, fish, and every other type of animal we know as food. Foer’s friendly and informative tone really makes it easy to reconsider our own eating habits, and it’s not just about being mean to the animals. It is about what is right.

Needless to say, jamming deformed, drugged, overstressed birds together in a filthy, waste-coated room is not very healthy. Beyond deformities, eye damage, blindness, bacterial infections of bones, slipped vertebrae, paralysis, internal bleeding, anemia, slipped tendons, twisted lower legs and necks, respiratory diseases, and weakened immune systems are frequent and long-standing problems on factory farms.

As I see it, God gave animals to man. Whether or not Adam and Eve ate animals while in the garden, eventually animals became one of our main food sources, and this was okay by God. But that doesn’t mean we can manipulate their genes, stuff them into cages where they can barely move, torture them with painful deaths. Animals were created by God and given to man, and therefore I believe should be given the sort of lives they were created for. Cows should be allowed to graze, chickens to peck and roam, pigs to be curious and play. 

It shouldn’t be the consumer’s responsibility to figure out what’s cruel and what’s kind, what’s environmentally destructive and what’s sustainable. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal. We don’t need the option of buying children’s toys made with lead paint, or aerosols with chlorofluorocarbons, or medicines with unlabeled side effects. And we don’t need the option of buying factory-farmed animals.

Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, I definitely recommend this book. It will make you think, reconsider. And this is a good thing.

Do you eat chicken because you are familiar with the scientific literature on them and have decided that their suffering doesn’t matter, or do you do it because it tastes good?

Healthy Banana Cookies

IMG_2191YUM! There’s nothing quite like a healthy cookie (the fluffy, cakey kind that I like), and so I must share with you these healthy banana cookies!

IMG_2170I made a chocolate version of these cookies for Grant a few weeks ago and they were delectable (I’ll probably post that recipe eventually as well), but obviously with the pounds of chocolate, they were not quite as healthy as the chocolate-free variety. As an ever ferocious advocate for healthy foods, I just had to make them healthier.

IMG_2198These cookies are great because you can eat them for dessert or breakfast (they have oats, guys) or a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. Versatile cookies are wonderful!

IMG_2175Healthy Banana Cookies


2 cups processed oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 medium bananas
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup honey
3 tbsp coconut oil


1. Combine processed oats, flour, protein powder, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine bananas, greek yogurt, honey, and coconut oil. Process until smooth.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Place dollops of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Press down onto the dough so it is slightly flat.

4. Bake cookies in a preheated 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.

5. Enjoy!


Vanilla Green Tea Energy Bites (With Kale) and Spring Break Adventures

IMG_1895This past week was Spring Break for Grant, which – perk of being a teacher’s wife – means Spring Break for me too! Some things never get old, and Spring Break is one of those things. It’s nice taking a little break from life sometimes, even if it means I’m behind in everything now.

spring breakFor the first part of break Grant and I went to Billings, Montana on a little weekend getaway. We had a great time thrifting and eating good food and riding our bikes along a cliff edge. Then, on Monday my brother and his beautiful wife came to visit us in the Bighorns! Leslie and Andrew have been married since January and live in Texas. They decided to make a loooong road trip to come see us, stopping along the way at places like Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Tetons. It is nice living in a part of the country that can be a road trip destination – Wyoming is so beautiful and contains so much adventure, which makes it easier to convince people to come visit us! While they were here, we explored the Tongue River Canyon, journeyed to Shell Falls in the Bighorns, and visited the Badlands. It was a great time!

Andrew and some mountain goats
Andrew and some mountain goats
Watching some bighorn sheep
We saw LOTS of bighorn sheep

spring break 2So it was a fantastic week off, but now it’s time to get back to reality. If you are having a hard time getting back in the groove like me (especially when the sun is shining and everything outside is begging you to take a break) I have some energy bites to hopefully get you in the spirit of things again. My Vanilla Green Tea Energy bites are bursting with flavor and color and adventure, kind of like spring itself.


And since energy bites are obviously the cure for everything……….

IMG_1902 IMG_1912Vanilla Green Tea Energy Bites


3 cups oats
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp chia
1/2 tsp salt
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 to 3 green tea bags, contents only
1 cup kale
4 tbsp honey
3 tbsp coconut oil


1. Mix oats, flour, chia, protein powder, salt, and the contents of your tea bags together in a large bowl.

2. Process your kale in a food processor until smooth. You may need to add water (one teaspoon at a time). Once kale is processed (it is okay if there are still some chunks), add honey and coconut oil and process together until smooth.

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and stir until all oats are incorporated. If the mixture is too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time. If too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time.

4. Once fully mixed, roll mixture into balls, using about a tablespoon of your dough per ball. These will last up to two weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!


Pina Colada Protein Bars

Because I’m sure my energy bite obsession is probably starting to annoy, I decided to shake things up a bit with with a batch of protein bars. Equally delicious and nutritious, these bars are still great for an on-the-go breakfast or a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. Maybe they’re not as cute, but they are rather more elegant, especially with that dusting of desiccated coconut on the top.


Pina Colada is the flavor, and awe-inspiringly yummy is the result. They remind of me of tranquil afternoons spent cruising through the Caribbean and listening to seagulls squawk in the distance. And no, these do not contain rum. 😉

IMG_1716 IMG_1708

I’ve got to say – I still think I like energy bites better. But it was nice to mix things up all the same.

Pina Colada Protein Bars


3 cups oats
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 tbsp chia
1 tsp salt
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 cup fresh or crushed pineapple
1 small banana
1/4 cup coconut
3 tbsp honey/agave
2 tbsp flour


1. In a food processor, process banana, pineapple, coconut, and honey until smooth.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, cooked quinoa, chia, salt, protein powder, and flour. Pour the pineapple banana mixture over the oats and stir until well-combined.

3. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out the oat mixture until about half an inch thick. Top with desiccated coconut. Cut into desired size.

4. Enjoy!


How To Sprout Lentils (Because Sprouts are the Best Thing Ever)


I lost a little respect for Jimmy John’s when they stopped putting sprouts on their sandwiches. In my mind, they had always been the premier sandwich stop because of the sprouts. But then they just stopped, and my heart broke a little bit.


Now, let’s just get something straight here: Sprouts are the best thing ever. Period. Done. End of story.

They add deliciousness to any and all dishes including but not limited to salads, wraps, rice bowls, and sandwiches. Good news – they are also super easy to grow right at home. And I think everyone should grow sprouts at home. There are no excuses, especially now that I’m going to show you just how easy it is.

Here’s what you need:

  • one or two mason jars
  • 1/2 cup of dried whole lentils, any color (make sure they are not dal-style or split)
  • cheese cloth
  • rubber bands

Here’s how to do it.

First, soak your lentils in water for 8-12 hours in a cool place, out of direct sunlight.


After they have soaked 8-12 hours, rinse your lentils and place them in your mason jar(s). Only fill up one-third of the jar, as the lentils will expand to at least three times their size. Cut cheese cloth to size and place over top the jar, securing with a rubber band. Place on your windowsill in the sunlight, and wait!


A few times a day, rinse your lentils (leaving them in the jar) and drain them through the cheese cloth. You want to make sure the lentils do not get slimy.

In one day, you’ll start to see slight growths on the lentils. In two days, the lentils will be about twice their original size. In three days, you will be able to harvest them to eat, but I particularly like waiting until the fourth day, when the tips of the lentils are green and they start poking through the cheese cloth.

Day One in jar: Lentils are just starting to sprout
Day Three in jar: lentil sprouts can be harvested at this point
Day Three in jar: Lentil sprouts can be harvested at this point
Day Four in jar: Lentil sprouts have expanded to fit entire jar and are perfect for harvesting
Day Four in jar: Lentil sprouts have expanded to fit entire jar and are perfect for harvesting

IMG_1778I really hope you try this at home because lentil sprouts are a nutritious and delicious addition to any meal. Not to mention, the yield is pretty remarkable, considering you start with just 1/2 a cup of dried lentils. As you can see, the bowl I started with was overflowing with sprouts when it was all said and done.

These last for many days stored in the fridge. I line a large plastic bag with a couple layers of paper towels and place the sprouts inside, leaving the bag open when I put it in the fridge so the lentils do not suffocate.



The Top 10 Reasons I’m Vegetarian

10987704_716252525158783_1671453570492868853_nSo I’ve been vegetarian now for about four years. In these four years, one thing I have found is that people feel the need to apologize to me: They apologize for eating meat in front of me; they apologize for asking why I don’t eat meat; they even apologize to me for being vegetarian, as if it’s some terminal disease I’ll never recover from.

I’m here to say that 1). I am in no way offended when people eat meat in front of me, 2). I am happy to give you my reasons for being a vegetarian, and 3). being vegetarian is not something to be ashamed of – it is simply a life choice that I have made, and I’m sticking to it.

The last two states I’ve lived in are not the most friendly toward vegetarians. I mean, Iowa is the primary pig-producing state in the nation, and Wyoming is Wyoming, the Wild West which homes more cows than people. Vegetarians are like foreigners here – in fact, since I’ve moved to Dayton I have yet to meet another one. That being said, I’d like to illustrate to all you lovely people that vegetarians are just normal people. We’re not aliens or monsters or terminally ill. We simply like veggies a lot.


So without further ado I give you the Top 10 Reasons I’m Vegetarian.

1. I don’t like meat. This is the main reason I am vegetarian. A lot of people find this hard to believe, but it’s true. It’s a texture and taste thing – it just isn’t something I care to consume. Before I was vegetarian, the only type of meat I really ate was the processed variety – lunch meat, pepperoni, sausage, etc., which are all high in sodium and fat and have essentially no nutritional value. And even then I didn’t enjoy eating it all that much – it was more a convenience thing than anything. It was what was being served, so I ate it.

2. Plant-based diets are heart-healthy. It is much easier to control your saturated fat and cholesterol intake when you are eating a plant-based diet. In America, heart-disease is the leading cause of death and obesity is rampant. Because vegetarians swap out high-fat and high-cholesterol foods for foods high in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients (beans, fruits, fresh vegetables), the risk for cardiovascular disease goes significantly down. Furthermore, since I don’t eat meat, my main source for fats are the heart-healthy, unsaturated kinds, such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts.

3. Plant-based diets are good for your digestive system. Without giving you too much information, I can tell you that since being a vegetarian my digestive system in general has become much more healthy and regular. It’s called fiber, people, and it’s a good thing.

4. I feel more energized after I eat a lot of fresh veggies are fruit. Many fresh fruits and veggies are filled with antioxidants and complex carbohydrates, which improves brain function and enhances energy. Furthermore, the absence of artery-clogging saturated fats from animal products allows your bloodstream to get the maximum amount of oxygen it requires, leaving you more energized.

5. It’s easier to eat healthy at parties or get-togethers as a vegetarian. Let’s face it: social time in our culture revolves around food. Most of this food is ultra-unhealthy, like pepperoni pizza or hot wings or popcorn shrimp. Party food is simply not for people who are trying to be health-conscious. If you’re a vegetarian, most of the bad stuff is already off the table, which 1) gives you a great excuse to say no to it, and 2) leaves room for better (read: healthy) food.

6. Being vegetarian has made me a better cook. I already mentioned before that Iowa and Wyoming are not states that embrace vegetarianism to the fullest. That being said, going out to eat at a restaurant isn’t really an enjoyable thing for me anymore because there is hardly anything I can eat on the menu. This isn’t because I’m picky – it’s because our world is obsessed with meat. Since becoming vegetarian I have learned how to cook delicious meals that are healthy – better than anything I could get at most restaurants. Even Grant enjoys the vegetarian dishes I make for dinner (don’t worry, I still feed him plenty of meat).

7. Being vegetarian has expanded my horizons when it comes to food and has forced me to try new things. Before I was vegetarian I liked trying new foods, but I had my limits. For instance, some childhood experiences scarred me against certain foods (brussel sprouts, spaghetti squash, etc), and I didn’t even think about eating them as I got older because I assumed they were disgusting. Now that I know how to cook experimentally and love all things plant-based, I’ve retried these foods I was prejudiced against and  can now list them as favorites.

8. I like animals. I’m not a PETA person by any means, but I’ve seen, up close and personal, the cows that turn into burgers…and that just makes me really sad. Have you ever looked into a cow’s big brown eyes? I’m not saying it’s evil to eat them or anything (after all, God did put animals on this planet for a purpose) but I figure why eat them when I can eat other, less-animate things instead?

9. Animal confinements are filthy and inhumane. Let me reiterate that I am not a PETA person; however, I am against factory farming. I have driven past a hog confinement. For MILES I could not breathe because the stench was so bad. And that’s what people are putting in their bodies. The same goes for chicken confinements and cow confinements. They stuff thousands of animals into windowless sheds, without room to run or graze or be free; in large hog confinements up to hundreds can die in just one day. Animal confinements are disease ridden, but they are this country’s biggest supplier of meat.

10. Lastly and most importantly, I love how I feel when my body is getting the nutrients it needs. For me, it is simply much easier to get these nutrients without meat, and after four years of being vegetarian I don’t know how I could go back to being a carnivore.


For more resources on vegetarianism, read these articles:

Lemon Dream Energy Bites


I’m going to admit something to you guys: I am sort of…totally obsessed with energy bites. Like, I can’t stop making them. Ever since my first foray into these marvelous ball-shaped bites of deliciousness with my Peanut Butter Spinach Energy Bites I have not been able to stop making them. So it’s been like four weeks straight of energy bites. But whatever, they’re delicious and nutritious, so I don’t feel bad about it.


These Lemon Dream Energy Bites are my favorite to date. I love lemon things, and these bites are tangy and wonderful. I rolled them in sugar-free desiccated coconut, but this is totally optional. I really love the additional sweetness it gives to the bites. And it makes them look kinda pretty too.


Lemon Dream Energy Bites


3 cups granola
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
Lemon zest of one lemon
Sugar-free desiccated coconut (to roll bites in)


1. Place oats, salt, chia, protein powder, and flour into a large bowl. Stir until combined.

2. In a microwaveable bowl, place coconut oil and honey and microwave for 15 to 30 seconds until the mixture is thin and easy to stir. Add lemon juice to mixture, stir, and pour over oat mixture.

3. Stir until well combined. If too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time. If too wet, add flour one teaspoon at a time.

4. Using tablespoon to measure, roll oat mixture into balls. Roll each ball into the desiccated coconut. Chill until ready to eat.


Creamy Carrot Soup and Garden Dreams

IMG_0400The weather in Dayton for the last couple weeks has been almost cruelly wonderful. I mean, it’s the middle of February and I’ve been outside in shorts on multiple occasions. I’ve had laundry on the clothesline to dry. I’ve been on bike rides and hikes. I’ve even wandered around my backyard aimlessly, blissfully, merely because it was too nice to be inside. All this gorgeous weather has got me thinking of spring and dreaming of gardens, but I know it’s only a short reprieve and that winter will be back eventually. I do thank Wyoming, though, for this lovely gift.

I can’t wait to plant my garden this spring. I recently found out that Dayton has community garden plots you can rent for $15 a season. It’s convenient (and better than doing it in our own yard) because there is a huge fence surrounding it to keep out the deer. Since we have hordes of deer in our yard every day, a garden vegetable would be feeding the wildlife more than Grant and me. I might plant them their own little garden for snacking though. ;P


So far for my garden I am planning on tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, and possibly parsnips. I haven’t quite decided yet, but I am suuuuuper excited to get started. I’ll be doing some research in the meantime on good Wyoming vegetables, and investing in some indoor plants as well (especially for when winter comes back!)

house plant

To tide myself over until garden-time, it’ll have to suffice to eat some of my delicious Creamy Carrot Soup, which is basically like a garden in a bowl. It has carrots and sweet potato and some hearty spices like curry and ginger. Sooooo good, and I imagine it’d be a thousand times better even with homegrown veggies. Enjoy!


Creamy Carrot Soup


4 large carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ginger, or to taste
1/2 tsp curry powder, or to taste
6 cups water
Salt to taste
A touch of milk


1. Sautee onions, ginger, and curry powder in olive oil until onions are soft and translucent.

2. Place onions, vegetables, and water in a dutch oven or soup pot and place heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until veggies are soft. Add salt to taste.

3. When vegetables are very soft, let soup cool. Puree in food processor until smooth, and add a touch of milk. Right before serving, heat soup just to boiling.


Guilt-Free Valentine Candy – Apricot Truffles


Valentine’s Day is coming up and everyone knows that it is the ultimate holiday of chocolate, whether you’re married, single, or in a complicated relationship with your cat. Since I am trying to avoid processed sugar, I decided to try out a truffle recipe that is kinda healthy so I can enjoy Valentine’s Day chocolate without overindulging and consequently hating myself.


This truffle is made with a mixture of unsweetened coconut, cashew butter, and dried apricots. I used dark chocolate for the chocolate coating, so there is a little bit of processed sugar in there, but for the most part it’s pretty great. And dark chocolate is good for your heart, so we won’t count it anyway. 😉


I slightly adapted this recipe to make my truffles. Since I used cashew butter instead of cashew meal, the inside of my truffle is smooth and creamy – more like a traditional chocolate or cream-filled truffle. Even though these are “healthy” candies, they don’t really eat that way. Even my dessert-obsessed husband appreciated them!


Apricot Truffles


1/2 cup cashew butter (I made my own using one cup of cashews and my food processor)
1 6 oz. bag of dried apricots
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp water
1 tsp agave nectar
Pinch of salt
1 bag dark chocolate chips


1. Place cashew butter, dried apricots, unsweetened coconut, salt, and water in your food processor or blender and process until completely smooth (two or three minutes).

2. Place mixture in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let chill in the fridge for about an hour.

3. After your mixture has chilled, line a baking sheet with parchment and melt your dark chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval.

4. Using a teaspoon, scoop out truffle mixture and form into a ball. Dip in the melted chocolate and place on parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Let truffles chill in fridge or freezer until the chocolate is completely hardened.