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15 Delicious Vegan Recipes to Make For Thanksgiving

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Holidays can be a stressful time for many people, especially for the chefs responsible for cooking meals for their loved ones, and for those with dietary restrictions, like myself, for whom eating at another’s home often presents unique challenges. On the other hand, cooking for others can be really fun, particularly if you’re using a recipe that’s easy to follow. I love cooking, but I tend to take the more simple route by choosing recipes that can be prepared quickly. I also love cooking for other people because it gives me the opportunity to show people how delicious plant-based food can be!

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With that, I’ve pulled together some of my favourite vegan Thanksgiving-spirited recipes to share with CE readers. Please note that the following recipes are 100% vegan and some are gluten-free (GF) and soy-free (SF) as well.

Appetizers and Snacks:

Spinach Dip (GF, SF)

Spinach dip is easily my favourite “comfort food.” It’s a dish that most people adore and can be served as a snack or an appetizer. I usually serve it with raw vegetables such as carrots and cauliflower as well as GMO-free corn chips. I’ll occasionally add artichokes to the recipe as well! Click here for the recipe.

Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad with Lemon Maple Dressing and Raw Parmesan (GF, SF)

I love vegan cheese, so I’m always looking for new recipes to make raw cheese instead of purchasing conventional vegan cheeses. This dish includes a recipe for parmesan made from pumpkin seeds and hemp, and works well as either an appetizer or a side dish. For the recipe, click here.

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Herb and Cheese Biscuits (SF)

One thing’s for sure: You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy these biscuits. One of my favourite vegan food bloggers, Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows, crafted this mouth-watering dish, which can be served as an appetizer or accompany a main dish. Check out the recipe here.

Main Courses:

Shepherd’s Pie (GF, SF)

Traditional shepherd’s pie was a staple in my house during my childhood. Although I’d never tell my mother, this cruelty-free version is much better! Swapping out the potatoes for sweet potatoes and the meat for a variety of beans, this dish makes an excellent main course. While the recipe is not strictly gluten free, the traditional breadcrumbs could easily be replaced with your favourite gluten free brand. Here’s the recipe.

Lentil Walnut Apple No-Meat Loaf (GF, SF)

This was one of the first vegan recipes I ever cooked; I made it for an old boyfriend of mine who loved it, despite not being vegan himself. It makes an awesome main dish or can even be sprinkled on top of spaghetti or vegetables, or stuffed into a sandwich. Check out the Oh She Glows recipe here.

Eggplant Tofu Tower (GF)

This recipe can easily be made in 15 minutes or less, requires minimal ingredients, and makes a great main course. Check out the recipe here.

Tofu and Vegetable Pot Pie

A vegan take on the classic holiday comfort food dish, this recipe requires more time to prepare than the others, but it will be well worth the effort. Here’s the recipe.

Side Dishes:

Doug McNish’s Cranberry Sauce, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Veggies (GF, SF)

Doug McNish is an award-winning (and rightly so) chef based in Toronto, Ontario, whose dishes never disappoint. This trio works well served together or you could simply make one of these recipes and enjoy it as a side dish. Check out Doug’s three Thanksgiving-inspired recipes here.

Mushroom Gravy 

The great thing about gravy is that it can be served on just about anything. Whether that be on one of the main dishes mentioned above or perhaps on some sort of organic soy product (tofu, seitan, etc.), vegetables, or mashed potatoes, this mushroom gravy is guaranteed to be a hit. Get the recipe here.

Desserts:

Pumpkin Cheesecake (GF, SF)

If you’ve never tried vegan cheesecake, I would highly recommend making one. It’s simple yet decadent and delicious. Refined-sugar free and made mostly from nuts, this dessert is a healthy (and yummy) alternative to conventional cheesecake. Check out the recipe here.

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Pudding Cake (GF, SF)

Pudding cake is generally at all of my family functions, so I was super excited when I first came across this recipe! I’ve made an equally delicious variation of this cake without the pumpkin as well; just sub the pumpkin purée for unsweetened apple sauce and omit the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg (“pumpkin spice”). Check out the recipe here.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte (GF, SF)

A much healthier version of the Starbucks “PSL,” this beverage can be served with dessert or even as a dessert itself with some coconut whip on top. Click here for the recipe.

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is quite possibly the easiest and cheapest dessert to make, but you wouldn’t know by the taste. It’s a recipe I often make because I can whip it up really quickly, without even having to consult a recipe. Plus, it’s healthy enough that you can serve it as dessert and eat the leftovers for breakfast! Get the recipe here. (I typically add a bit of organic brown sugar to the topping as well and sometimes serve it with coconut whip or dairy-free vanilla ice cream.)

Final Thoughts

In an ideal world, we would purchase exclusively organic ingredients, but I know the cost of such products makes this impossible for many people. I want to specifically stress the importance of purchasing organic tofu and sugar, however. Conventional soy products are almost always genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides, and non-organic sugar is often not vegan-friendly because it contains animal bone.

If you decide to make any of these recipes, please send me a note and let me know how it goes. Much love and happy holidays!

 

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Natural Measles Immunity — Better Protection & More Long-Term Benefits Than Vaccines

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Natural immunity compared to the immunity provided by vaccines is extremely different. Public health authorities have made a case for measles eradication since the early 1980s, 50+ years of mass measles vaccination have stopped nothing.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do pharmaceutical companies continue to make false claims about vaccines, using mass marketing? Why are they allowed to? And why does everyone believe them?

Stories about vaccines in the popular press tend to be unabashedly one-sided, generally portraying vaccination as a universal (and essential) “good” with virtually no downside. This unscientific bias is particularly apparent in news reports about measles, which often are little more than hysterical diatribes against the unvaccinated.

Although public health authorities have made a case for measles eradication since the early 1980s, 50-plus years of mass measles vaccination and high levels of vaccine coverage have not managed to stop wild and vaccine-strain measles virus from circulating. Routine measles vaccination also has had some worrisome consequences. Perhaps the most significant of these is the shifting of measles risks to age groups formerly protected by natural immunity. Specifically, modern-day occurrences of measles have come to display a “bimodal” pattern in which “the two most affected populations are infants aged less than 1 year and adults older than 20 years”—the very population groups in whom measles complications can be the most clinically severe. As one group of researchers has stated, “The common knowledge indicating that measles [as well as mumps and rubella] are considered as benign diseases dates back to the pre-vaccine area and is not valid anymore.”

A little history

Before the introduction of measles vaccines in the 1960s, nearly all children contracted measles before adolescence, and parents and physicians accepted measles as a “more or less inevitablepart of childhood.” In industrialized countries, measles morbidity and mortality already were low and declining, and many experts questioned whether a vaccine was even needed or would be used.

Measles outbreaks in the pre-vaccine era also exhibited “variable lethality”; in specific populations living in close quarters (such as military recruits and residents of crowded refugee camps), measles mortality could be high, but even so, “mortality rates differed more than 10-fold across camps/districts, even though conditions were similar.” For decades both prior to and following the introduction of measles vaccination, those working in public health understood that poor nutrition and compromised health status were key contributors to measles-related mortality, with measles deaths occurring primarily “in individuals below established height and weight norms.” A study of measles mortality in war-torn Bangladesh in the 1970s found that most of the children who died were born either in the two years preceding or during a major famine.

Moms who get measles vaccines instead of experiencing the actual illness have less immunity to offer their babies, resulting in a ‘susceptibility gap’…

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Measles vaccination and infants

Before the initiation of mass vaccination programs for measles, mothers who had measles as children protected their infants through the transfer of maternal antibodies. However, naturally acquired immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are qualitatively different. Moms who get measles vaccines instead of experiencing the actual illness have less immunity to offer their babies, resulting in a “susceptibility gap” between early infancy and the first ostensibly protective measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age.

A Luxembourg-based study published in 2000 confirmed the susceptibility gap in an interesting way. The researchers compared serum samples from European adolescents who had been vaccinated around 18 months of age to serum samples from Nigerian mothers who had not been vaccinated but had experienced natural measles infection at a young age. They then looked at the capacity of the antibodies detected in the serum to “neutralize” various wild-type measles virus strains. The researchers found that the sera from mothers with natural measles immunity substantially outperformed the sera from the vaccinated teens: only two of 20 strains of virus “resisted neutralization” in the Nigerian mothers’ group, but 10 of 20 viral strains resisted neutralization in the vaccination group. This complex analysis led the authors to posit greater measles vulnerability in infants born to vaccinated mothers.

…many vaccines may eventually become susceptible to vaccine-modified measles…and consequently complicate measles control strategies

The Luxembourg researchers also noted that in the Nigerian setting, where widespread vaccination took hold far later than in Europe, the mothers in question had had “multiple contacts with endemic wild-type viruses” and that these repeat contacts had served an important booster function. One of the authors later conducted a study that examined this booster effect more closely. That study found that re-exposure to wild-type measles resulted in “a significantly prolonged antibody boost in comparison to [boosting through] revaccination.” Taking note of expanding vaccine coverage around the world and reduced circulation of wild-type measles virus, the researchers concluded in a third study that “many vaccinees may eventually become susceptible to vaccine-modified measles…and consequently, complicate measles control strategies.”

Bimodal distribution

With the disappearance of maternally endowed protection, what has happened to measles incidence in infants? A review of 53 European studies (2001–2011) focusing on the burden of measles in those “too young to be immunized” found that as many as 83% of measles cases in some studies and under 1% in other studies were in young infants.

At the same time, the predictions of an increased percentage of measles cases in older teens and adults have also come true. Reporting on a higher “death-to-case ratio” in the over-15 group in 1975 (not many years after widespread adoption of measles vaccination in the U.S.), a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researcher wrote that the higher ratio could be “indicative of a greater risk of complications from measles, exposing the unprotected adult to the potential of substantial morbidity.”

In recent measles outbreaks in Europe and the U.S., large proportions of cases are in individuals aged 15 or older:

  • In the U.S., 57 of the 85 measles cases (67%) reported in 2016 were at least 15 years of age. U.S. researchers also have conservatively estimated that at least 9% of measles cases occur in vaccinated individuals.
  • Among several thousand laboratory-confirmed cases of measles and an additional thousand “probable” or “possible” cases in Italy in 2017, 74% were in individuals at least 15 years of age, and 42% of those were hospitalized.
  • Examining a smaller number of laboratory-confirmed measles cases in Sicily (N=223), researchers found that half of the cases were in adults age 19 or older, and clinical complications were more common in adults compared to children (45% versus 26%). Likewise, about 44% of measles cases in France from 2008 to 2011 (N=305) were in adults (with an average age in their mid-20s), and the adults were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized as infected children.

Time to reevaluate

Pre-vaccination, most residents of industrialized countries accepted measles as a normal and even trivial childhood experience. Many people, including clinicians, also understood the interaction between measles and nutrition, and, in particular, the links between vitamin A deficiency and measles: “Measles in a child is more likely to exacerbate any existing nutritional deficiency, and children who are already deficient in vitamin A are at much greater risk of dying from measles.” Instead of inching the age of initial measles vaccination down to ever-younger ages, as is increasingly being proposed, there could be greater value in supporting children’s nutrition and building overall health—through practical interventions that “improve[e]…existing dietaries through the inclusion of relatively inexpensive foods that are locally available and well within the reach of the poor.”

Ironically, while acute childhood infections such as measles protect against cancer, the rise of chronic childhood illnesses (disproportionately observed in vaccinated children) is linked to elevated cancer risks.

There are many other tradeoffs of measles vaccination that remain largely unexplored, including the important role of fever-inducing infectious childhood diseases in reducing subsequent cancer risks. Ironically, while acute childhood infections such as measles protect against cancer, the rise of chronic childhood illnesses (disproportionately observed in vaccinated children) is linked to elevated cancer risks. These tradeoffs—along with the dangerous loss of infant access to protective maternal antibodies and the higher rates of measles illness and complications in older teens and adults—suggest that measles vaccination deserves renewed scrutiny.

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Awareness

10 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Walk Everyday

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    There are multiple health benefits to be gained by taking a simple walk every day. These benefits are measurable, and if you don't already have an active lifestyle it can be a great way to assist you with your health.

  • Reflect On:

    Reflect on how the human race has become extremely sedentary, and how disease rates continue to climb as a result of the modern human lifestyle.

The human experience has become extremely sedentary, the average human lifestyle in the western world has been linked to multiple diseases and is one of the main causes of why disease rates continue to climb, among many other factors that surround all aspects of human life, like big food, for example. With technology in place and jobs that require tremendous amounts of sitting, there is no doubt that it’s having a detrimental effect on our lives.

That being said, the world is clearly becoming way more health conscious. It’s like we needed this experience of unhealthy food, the corporate take-over of everything, and our motionless lifestyle to knock us out of it. We are seeing a health revolution take place, where more and more people are becoming health conscious, and are always being encouraged to be more active.

Ultimately, we can’t really blame the human experience for our lack of movement, it’s something that all of us have the time to incorporate into our lives in one way or another, and if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy being too active, a simple walk every day can have tremendous amounts of benefits. As pointed out in the video below, by Bright Side.

If You Want To Increase The Benefits Even More, Walk Barefoot

It’s called grounding, or ‘earthing’ and it involves placing your feet directly on the ground, without shoes or socks as a barrier. Why? Because there is an intense negative charge carried by the Earth, it’s electron-rich, which serves as a good supply of antioxidants and free radical destroying electrons.

A study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health titled “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons” postulates that earthing could represent a potential treatment for a variety of chronic degenerative diseases.

That’s right, many positive health benefits occur as a result of walking barefoot, and these are measurable.

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The picture below represents improved facial circulation (right image) after 20 minutes of grounding, as documented by a Speckle Contrast Laser Imager (dark blue=lowest circulation; dark red=highest circulation). Image Source: Scientific Research Publishing

If you want to read more publications and access the in-depth science with regards to grounding, you can refer to the article linked above the picture.

10 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Walk Barefoot On Earth 

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Nature Valley Ad Shows The Down Side Of Children Addicted To Technology

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Technology has impacted most of our lives in a really big way. We use it daily for everything we do pretty much. Kids today, unlike previous generations, use technology more than ever and spend much less time in nature.

  • Reflect On:

    How much is too much technology for young and developing minds? Is it time to reevaluate our children's relationship with technology and get them back into nature?

Technology has become a staple in most of our lives, really, could you imagine life without it? In the video posted below, Nature Valley asks 3 generations what it was that they did for fun as a kid, the answers from the youngest generation may or may not surprise you, but is it time to cut back on the technology and bring kids back to nature?

Technology is not bad per se, that isn’t the discussion here. This is about how we use it.

Before technology, children would look to nature for entertainment. They would play outside on the lawn, go sledding, build forts, and use their imagination to create their own entertainment. Nowadays it’s all too easy for kids to get sucked into technology, there are video games, tablets, computers, cell phones and television, all of which provide a type of escape from the real world. Although, there are many ways that technology is and has been used for good in the world, is the disconnect that it is causing children and adults to part from nature causing more harm?

With the rise of mental disorders and illnesses, is it possible that the answer to these issues is simply to get kids back into nature, more time with self, using their brains to build things, be creative and connect to the energy from the Earth? We already know how effective a simple walk or hike in nature is and how they both can literally change our brains. Nature appears to be much more important than we generally give it credit for.

In my own experience, disconnecting from technology and going camping on my own proved to be a very cathartic and healing experience for me. I’ve come to realize that although being immersed in nature regularly does have a lot of benefits, but even just making time for it at all can cause a positive impact. For many of us who live in cities, with the constant bombardment of noise and of course EMF frequencies etc., just disconnecting for a short period can make a huge difference.

The following video is a brilliant ad from Nature Valley, check it out.

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It’s easy to get emotional watching something like this as it shows just how far removed the newer generations are from what has been most natural to children for centuries, simply playing in nature. The children are essentially self-proclaimed tech addicts and get their entertainment by playing video games, watching videos or tv shows, texting etc. Is it time to go back to the basics and start evaluating how detrimental too much technology can be on young and developing brains? You can read more about this issue here, Is Your Child Struggling From Nature-Deficit Disorder?

Is it up to the parents to ensure they are setting proper boundaries with the amount of time their children are allowed to use technology? Or is this the future and something we should simply let happen as a natural part of evolution?

Much Love

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