Category Archives: WELLNESS

Snacking – Vegan Style (W/Bonus Recipe)…

Having quick, simple, healthy and vegan-friendly snacks on-hand doesn’t have to be hard by any means. Actually, with a little planning, it can be quite easy. It’s really fun and simple to keep your fridge stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a sure way to get most of the nutrients you will need to keep your body and mind fueled. Combining your produce with nuts, nut butters and seeds will make your snack even more substantial. These snacks are not just for strict vegan, but for anyone looking for some handy, healthy snacks. Naturally, fruit and veggies are great snacks and should be at the top of anyone’s snacking list. However, here’s a list of other snack ideas.

Some of the Healthier Vegan Snack Ideas:

  • Vegan yogurt with granola or fruit
  • Baked tofu, store-bought or homemade
  • Tofu jerky
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter or jam
  • Edamame
  • Granola
  • Kale chips
  • Vegan trail mix
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Pita and hummus
  • Pita and baba ghanoush
  • Dates (watch these, very high in calories)
  • Apples, bananas or celery with peanut butter or another nut butter
  • Nuts, sunflower seeds
  • Applesauce
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bars or protein bars
  • Banana chips
  • Dehydrated fruit leathers
  • Crackers with olive tapenade
  • Chips and salsa
  • Chips and guacamole
  • Veggies with goddess dressing
  • Cucumbers with vegan sour cream
  • Frozen grapes
  • Soy nuts
  • Popcorn (really good with nutritional yeast)
  • Sesame sticks
  • Graham crackers (not Honey Grahams)
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Crackers with pesto
  • Chips with bean dip (store bought or homemade)
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Bagel with peanut butter, hummus or guacamole
  • Vegan muffins
  • Vegan brochette

A Bit Less Healthy Snack Ideas:

  • Vegan ice cream
  • Vegan cookies
  • Vegan deli meats wrapped with vegan cheese
  • Frozen hash browns, French fries or tater tots
  • Vegan chocolate
  • Vegetarian pepperoni slices
  • Fried or baked zucchini chips

*Note: It’s best to avoid vending machines, though the snacks served by them may be convenient, the vegan options (if there are any) are often lacking the nutrients you need. They’re also not the best sources of energy.


  • Make an extra large (or double) batch of muffins, and cookies, etc. and freeze them.
  • Clean and cut your fruits and veggies for the week ahead and put them in the fridge until you’re ready.
  • Soak your nuts and seeds in advance and dehydrate them and they’ll be ready to grab and go.
  • If a dip will be part of your weeks’ snacks menu, prepare it ahead of time and refrigerate.
  • When planning your meals for the week, plan your snacks also.

Bonus Recipe:

Vegan Cheese Dip

  • 1 Can – 15½ oz. Great Northern, Navy or Cannellini Beans (drained)
  • ½ Cup – Roasted Red Pepper (or Pimiento)
  • 3 Tbsp. – Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. – Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbsp. – Sesame Tahini
  • 1 tsp. – Sea salt
  • 1 tsp. – Yellow Mustard
  • 1 tsp. – Onion Powder or Granulated Onion (not onion salt)

Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. Can be stored in fridge for up to a week.

Stay tuned…Coming soon…The next series of articles will cover the spiritual/mental/emotional aspects of a vegan diet and lifestyle.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Supporting Evidence for Vegans

There's plenty of scientific evidence to justify a transitioning to a plant-based diet, and it seems the stories of personal transformation; curing a host of diseases, losing unwanted weight, manifesting an active lifestyle are the things that make the biggest impression.

There will always be plenty of ready-made excuses for those who have lost their battle with leaving behind an omnivore’s diet; they fill food networks with dreadful accounts of fatigue, illness, hair loss, anxiety, diminished sex drive, and mental/emotional breakdowns after they have quit consuming animal products. The problem with their accounts, and one they almost all have in common, is that those who made the vegan leap and failed, did so with a lack of diligence sufficient to understand intelligent veganism. One can dine on fast foods, processed foods, and all sorts of junk foods and wash them all down with soda and still call themselves a vegan. Many backsliders have evidently tried to do exactly that.

There are even those who turn to veganism in order to support serious eating disorders (E.D.s), and this type of unintelligent choice can represent a dangerous slide from health to pathology. Anorexics/manorexics and orthorexics (a controversial new disorder compulsively avoid foods thought to be unhealthy or unnatural) are examples of those who opt for a strict vegan diet for all the wrong reasons. By making proper and intelligent choices veganism can be used as a effective tool to recover from all types of E.D. including anorexia, bulimia and orthorexia.

There are piles of documentation and books, such as The China Study, and whether you choose to believe them or not, there's no disputing the fact that a diet rich in plant-based, un-processed, un-altered food is a smart diet. Undeniably there are countless healthful consequences of a well informed vegan diet and lifestyle. Even so, we are bombarded by endless excuses for why someone simply cannot go vegan, but the assertion that veganism, when done properly, is not healthy; well that’s just plain bunk.

It often seems the most persuasive evidence supporting a healthy vegan diet is anecdotal. The vegans, who eat and shop intelligently, are paragons of good health. Regardless of whether they’re young or in their 50s, 60s, and 70s they rock on with glowing intensity, often looking much younger (in some cases as much as 20 years) than they actually are. Many of these vegans have conquered afflictions such as obesity, chronic disease, depression, and an array of food-related disorders by exclusively eating a delicious and nutritionally dense diversity of plants. If there's a single lesson to be learned from seasoned vegans, it’s that this diet empowers.

Above and beyond anecdotes, there's considerable scientific evidence showing that veganism is a wise way to eat. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claims that a well-planned vegan (and vegetarian) diet is "healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases." And please note that this is a much more cautious assessment than many studies suggest.

According to a less restrained study; "vegan diets are effective in treating and preventing several chronic diseases." The adaptation of a low-fat vegan diet can substantially mitigate the impacts of type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson's disease. Veganism reduces the risk of colon cancer. Vegans have a better "antioxidant status" than non-vegans. Veganism is more effective at combating obesity than almost all other prescribed diets. Veganism has been shown to significantly lower risk factors associated with cardiac disease.

There are also transformations initiated by a healthy vegan diet that extend far beyond physical health. For those who so desire, their plant-based diet can be a potent political criticism of our broken food system. We're looking at a diet for which the ultimate beneficiary is the individual. In no way does healthy veganism serve the corporate or industrial gods. In fact, it counters their greedy interests. Veganism keeps these executives up at night. As long as people keep eating meat, they're happy, even if it costs their animal eating customers their health, not to mention the animal cruelty involved.

Consider the prospect of simultaneously giving corporate food executives nightmares while achieving personal dietary empowerment. At the same time you’ll lower your carbon footprint and minimize animal suffering. If this has any appeal, then veganism is for you. But here's the catch, you have to do it right, and doing it right means consuming a wide variety of nutrient-rich plant-based foods and following the simple nutritional guidelines outlined HERE.

Stay tuned…Coming soon, “Snacking – Vegan Style”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Vegan Baking – Without Dairy or Eggs (W/Bonus Recipe)

Most of us have a sweet tooth, and especially a weakness for baked goods. The problem is for many vegans, it’s tough working baked sweets into our diet, because dairy and eggs are found in most recipes for cakes, muffins, cupcakes, cookies and even such items as pancakes and waffles.

The good news is it’s not that hard to substitute eggs and dairy in baking. Here are some recommendations.


Milk is commonly used to add liquid and fat content to a baked recipe. Unless you are making whipped cream, milk isn’t all that important to the structure of most baked goods and it’s quite easy to substitute.

Any dairy milk can easily be substituted with non-dairy milks in baking. Common alternatives are soy, almond, cashew, rice and coconut milk. Good to keep in mind: soymilk tends to be sweeter than dairy milk, and full-fat coconut milk can be a bit creamier than regular whole milk.

Non-dairy milks can quickly be used to make a buttermilk substitute. Suppose you need 1 cup “buttermilk”; here’s how you would make it: Place 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar in a measuring cup. Add enough non-dairy milk (of your choosing) until it reaches the 1-cup line; stir with a fork or whisk. Allow mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes. Voila, you have your vegan buttermilk! The juice/vinegar adds a flavor similar to buttermilk and also curdles the milk allowing it to become slightly thicker. Just as with its dairy counterparts, non-dairy milks with higher fat content will create thicker buttermilk.

An easy way to substitute heavy whipped cream is by using full-fat coconut milk. Simply chill the can overnight and remove the separated solid cream. Using a mixer, whip the solid cream on high with a ¼ cup to ½ cup of powdered sugar (depending on the sweetness desired). The coconut milk cream will become firm and hold stiff peaks, just like whipped heavy cream.

Solid fats like butter and margarine are sometimes integral to things like puff pastry, pie crust, shortbread, croissants, Danish pastries and certain cakes.  If you’re lucky your local supermarket or health food store will carry Earth Balance Products (look for buttery sticks and buttery spreads). Although it is possible to make your own vegan butter, just go to this site.


The function of using eggs when baking is to contribute to structure and incorporate air when beaten. Some surprising ingredients can be used to replace eggs and still provide firmness. For whole eggs there are a number of great options here.

  • A banana can be used in place of 2 eggs.
  • Mixing 1 tablespoon of flax meal with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, and leaving the mixture to sit for 5 minutes will create a jelly-like substance known as a flax egg, a great substitute in baking.
  • ¼ cup plain mashed potatoes can also be to replace one egg in a recipe.
  • ¼ cup of pureed pumpkin can stand in for a single egg in baking, depending on the flavor of your recipe. ¼ cup of non-dairy yogurt can be a healthy substitute for a single egg in baked goods.
  • Tofu is a great option in recipes that call for several eggs. Whip or blend soft tofu and use ¼ cup of the mixture to replace each egg.
  • EnerG Egg Replacer is an awesome store bought mix (also available online) and my favorite egg substitute. This product can be used in almost all recipes where eggs are needed with great success.

Bonus Recipe – Vegan Chocolate Cake

For the cake:

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water (you may substitute warm coffee for this)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar

For the glaze

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons margarine or vegan butter substitute
  • 2 Tablespoons soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Prepare the Cake. Preheat oven to 350F (177C). In an 8 x 8 inch square pan, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a fork. Add the water or coffee, vanilla extract, vegetable oil and vinegar. Mix the ingredients together. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.
  • Prepare the Glaze. In a small saucepan bring the sugar, margarine, soy milk and cocoa powder to a boil, stirring frequently. Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat and stir an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Glaze the Cake. Pour the glaze onto cake and let it cool for one hour.

Stay tuned…Coming soon, “Dining Out – A Vegan guide”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Eliminating Dairy from Your Diet (W/Bonus Recipe)

There are tons of health and ethical reasons to avoid dairy products. Looking at the health side, countless people who’ve quit dairy discovered that their chronic congestion, digestive problems, ear and other upper-respiratory infections, acne and other issues that compromised their optimal health disappeared within a few weeks. Consider going completely dairy-free for a month and see how significantly your quality of life improves.

Nutritionally speaking, dairy is pretty much bad news everywhere you look. Nearly half of the calories in whole milk come from fat, and almost all of its carbohydrates come from sugar, all in the form of lactose, to which many people are intolerant and can’t properly digest. Even worse, the fat in dairy products is every bit as saturated as the fat in beef and most other meat products. Additionally, dairy has absolutely no fiber and no iron. And if all that weren’t enough, you might wonder why the FDA refuses to answer the question about the amount of pus (a buildup of dead leukocytes, aka white blood cells) in dairy products.

Looking at the ethical side, most commercial dairy cows are never allowed to graze outdoors; they’re confined to cramped stalls on factory farms. Although a cow is meant to live about twenty years, practically all dairy cows are sent to slaughter before they turn five because the overall milk production of aging cows can’t come close to that of a younger animals. Commercial dairy cows are impregnated every year in order to maximize their milk production, and their calves are commonly sold to the veal industry. So if you, like more and more people every day, are opposed to this type of inhumane treatment; they’re chained at the neck so they can’t turn around or move more than a step forward or backward. All they can do is stand up and lie down. This is done so that they don’t develop muscles so that their meat stays very tender. These young calves never get to play or graze or feel the sunshine on their backs, or be with their mothers. They spend their entire lives in the dark in little stalls until they’re big enough to be killed and turned into veal; usually around 16 weeks old (about 4 months).

For detailed information about the dairy industry’s cruel farming practices, see Jonathan Safran Foer’s awesome book Eating Animals.

Also, A highly recommended documentary, "The Perils of Dairy"

How to Go Dairy-Free:

If the idea of suddenly removing all dairy products from your diet seems daunting, try easing into it.  Make a note of the dairy products you currently consume: chances are that there a few such foods you love, but a dozen or so others you might eat regularly but you’re not really crazy about. So, get rid of all the ones you can do without and you’re more than halfway to being dairy-free! But the real key to success in eliminating dairy from your diet involves not as much cutting them out, but instead, replacing them with superior non-dairy alternatives.  And luckily, there are all sorts of non-dairy products on on today’s market shelves that are truly great tasting and healthy:

  • Butter: "Earth Balance" and "Soy Garden" are excellent vegan alternatives.
  • Yogurt: Made from soy, coconut and almond milks, various vegan brands available.
  • Milk: Soy, rice, almond, coconut, and even hemp seed milks are becoming widely available, not only at natural food stores but also at many supermarkets.
  • Cheese: There are several non-dairy cheeses on the market, but always check the label for casein or sodium caseinate.  Casein is a milk protein that is used in some soy cheeses. Happily, two of the best non-dairy cheeses, "Daiya" and "Wayfare," are vegan. Both brands are widely available in the United States. Also, try “Go Veggie” vegan Parmesan cheese alternative.
  • Ice Cream: There are a number of excellent brands made from non-dairy milks currently on the market. “So Delicious,” “Purely Decadent” and “Tufutti” make vegan versions of many delicious ice cream products, and you won’t even be able to tell the difference! Plus don’t forget about sorbets, which tend to be vegan (check the label) and are lighter and often more flavorful than ice cream.
  • Cream Cheese and Sour Cream: Once again, there are vegan alternatives. “Follow Your Heart,” “Daiya” and “Tofutti” make superb vegan versions of cream cheese and sour cream, which are available at many natural food stores and supermarkets. 
  • Mayonnaise: There are also several vegan brands of mayonnaise, including a wonderful and widely-distributed product called “Vegenaise.”.
  • Coffee Creamer: Now there’s no need to put dairy cream products in your coffee: "So Delicious" and "Silk" are two companys that make vegan creamers that blend perfectly into coffee.

Bonus recipe! Fettuccini Alfredo, the vegan recipe everyone thought was impossible, and WOW, is it ever good!


  • 8-10 ounces pasta (fettuccini, linguini, spaghetti or fusilli)
  • 3 Tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 small shallot (or onion)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 4 Tbsp. all purpose flour (slightly rounded)
  • 2 cups (420 – 480 ml) unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 Tbsp (20-30 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup “Go Veggie” vegan parmesan cheese (plus more – reserved for topping)
  • 1 cup canned green peas (if frozen, cook al dente)
  • Red Pepper Flake (reserved)
  • 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance (reserved)


1. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, shallot and garlic, stirring quickly to ensure it doesn’t burn.

2. Next, reduce heat slightly and add 4 Tbsp. flour and whisk to combine. Cook for about a minute and then add almond milk 1/4 cup at a time (adding 1 3/4 cups total, working up to 2 cups) and whisk to prevent clumps. Cook for 2 minutes.

3. Transfer to a blender and add salt, pepper, vegan parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed – you want it to be pretty cheesy and salty so don't be shy.

4. Add pasta to a large pot of boiling, well-salted water and cook according to package instructions. Drain and cover to prevent drying.

5. Return sauce back to skillet and cook on medium heat until it bubbles, then reduce heat to low and cook until thickened, stirring frequently.

6. If sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. If too thin, scoop out some sauce in a 1/2 cup measuring cup and whisk in 1-2 tsp. arrowroot flour. Whisk to combine and add back to sauce. Repeat as needed until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust (if necessary).

7. Once sauce is ready, add pasta, cooked peas, Earth Balance and toss. Cook for 1-2 minutes to warm through, and then serve with additional vegan parmesan cheese and red pepper flake.

Stay tuned…Coming soon, “Vegan Baking – Without Dairy or Eggs”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Vegan Nutrition – Addressing Your Concerns…

In the last few years, vegetarian diets have rapidly increased in popularity. A sufficient vegetarian diet is directly related with many health benefits because of its higher content of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and numerous phyto-chemicals, phyto-nutrients and a fat content that is considerably less saturated. Going one step further, vegans commonly choose a plant-based diet for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world.

When compared with most vegetarian diets, vegan diets tend to contain even less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber. This results in vegans generally becoming thinner, having lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, further reducing their risk of heart disease. That’s good news! However, eliminating all animal products from the diet may increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies unless vegans take certain precautions. After all, there are plenty of crappy foods that would fall under the vegan category, (Fritos, Pop-tarts, Oreos, Potatoe Chips and a seemingly unending list of "junk" foods), and these have become the mainstay for the typical American diet. So, nutritional deficiencies can exist in both camps and it is safe to say that vegans consume foods with a higher nutritional value as long as they don't fall prey to certain indulgences and follow a few obvious guidelines. 

The micronutrients that are of special concern for vegans often include vitamins B-12, D, and long-chain (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that contain or are fortified with these nutrients, supplements should be considered. In some cases, iron and zinc status of vegans may also be of concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals.

Let’s address each of these vitamins and minerals that could be deficient in a vegan diet, detailing non-animal sources:

  • Vitamin B12 – This is especially important for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children, they need to have reliable sources of vitamin B12 in their diets. Numerous vegan foods are fortified with B12, but sometimes companies change their methods, so always read labels carefully (or write to the companies). Many nutritional yeast products (not to be mistaken with brewer’s yeast) are fortified with vitamin B12. Tempeh, miso, and seaweed are known to have large amounts of vitamin B12; however, these foods are not always reliable sources of the vitamin because the bioavailability of vitamin B12 is questionable depending on the type of processing the food undergoes. Other sources of vitamin B12 are fortified non-dairy milks (check the label), vitamin B12-fortified meat substitutes and alternatives.
  • Vitamin D – This vitamin is not found in the vegan diet, but it can be made by humans with exposure to sunlight. At least ten to fifteen minutes of sun on hands and face two to three times a week is recommended for adults so that natural vitamin D production can occur. Food sources include vitamin D-fortified non-dairy milk. Vitamin D is also added to foods such as fortified juices and fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – In order to maximize production of DHA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acids), vegans should include good sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in their diets; sources include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, tofu, soybeans, and walnuts. For some vegans ALA does not efficiently convert into the other two more beneficial types of omega-3s (DHA & EPA). Since fish oil (a no-no for vegans) is a rich source of these types of omega 3s, to insure adequate amounts of DHE and EPA are included in the vegan diet there are omega-3 supplements made from algae, one of nature's original sources of EPA and DHA. These are readily available online if they can’t be found at your local health food store.
  • Iron – Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.
  • Zinc – Vegan diets can provide zinc at levels close to or even higher than the RDA. Zinc is found in amost all grains, legumes, and nuts.

*One last subject of concern: “The protein myth…” Should you believe the hype about vegetarians and vegans being deficient in protein intake? This is almost a joke! Why, because it’s ridiculously easy for a vegan diet to meet all the recommendations for protein by simply maintaining adequate calorie intake. Strict planning or food combining is not necessary to insure ample protein intake. The key for vegans is to eat a varied diet.

Almost all plant-based foods except for alcohol, sugar, and fats provide some protein. Vegan sources include: Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), tofu, tempeh, seitan, peanut butter, non-dairy milks, almonds, mushrooms, rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, etc.) and the list goes on. Additionally, store-bought meat substitute products and veggie burgers are also quite high in protein!

Stay tuned…Coming soon “Eliminating Dairy from Your Diet”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Vegan Substitutes for Animal Products

One of the trickiest aspects of vegan (plant-based) cooking is finding substitutes for animal products and this applies to both the novice vegan cook and someone who has been doing it for a while. The good news is that it can be fun (and quite rewarding) to over-turn those long-held traditions when it comes to cooking and baking using cruelty free products and getting results that are just as good tasting and looking and usually healthier than their animal-saturated versions. Here’s a list of some common vegan substitutes that have worked well for me – listed by groups of the animal ingredients they replace:

*1 EGG (To replace more than one, just multiply):

  • 1 Tbsp. of ground flax meal + 3 Tbsp. of water. Very good for baked breads, cakes, cookies and muffins.
  • 1/4 cup tofu. Best to blend the tofu so it is smooth before using it, otherwise you might not be able to break up all the lumps. Tofu works especially well in quiches, pancakes and pastas. With a little turmeric added it is also a great replacement for scrambled egg dishes.
  • 1/2 banana. Only use banana when you want the recipe to be banana-flavored, as in banana cake.
  • 1/4 cup applesauce. Applesauce also makes a baked good really moist, allowing you to cut down on fat in the recipe. It works great in carrot cake.
  • Commercial powder substitutes like EnerG Egg Replacer Read the package instructions for correct measurements.

* MILK (With all the alternatives available, there is really no excuse to use dairy milk):

  • Soymilk
  • Rice Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Hazelnut Milk
  • Cashew Milk

*YOGURT (Yogurt substitutes work great in Indian foods like call for yogurt):

  • 1 cup silken tofu blended with 2 tbsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp salt = 1 cup yogurt, (use more or less lemon juice if you don’t want the yogurt to be too acidic.)
  • Coconut milk yogurt, Almond milk yogurt and Soy milk yogurt are becoming popular commercial yogurts. Commercial soy yogurts are also available in the United States as well as other parts of the world.) Look in the regular refrigerator aisle alongside regular yogurt.

*1 CUP BUTTERMILK (Buttermilk substitutes can be used in any recipe that calls for it, including cupcakes, pancakes and “southern-style” biscuits):

  • 1 cup soymilk or almond milk + 1 tsp vinegar (you can use any vinegar on hand, but the best is apple cider. Mix and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.)

*1 TBSP. BUTTER (Butter substitutes, like milk and yogurt substitutes, replace the bad cholesterol with healthy fats that are better for you. But be cautioned, vegan fats also contain the same number of calories as animal fats, so don’t overdo the use of fats of any kind.):

  • 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine or “butter” (I find Earth Balance is the best)
  • 1 Tbsp. flavorless oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (Crisco is a substitute for lard, and it's vegan; but it is basically 100% transfat).


  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional (good tasting) yeast (aka “nooch” – it’s packed with nutrition, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein)
  • 1 tsp. miso. (Use instead of salt and in place of cheese in pestos and soups. You can add it to quiches, sauces, etc. Always add miso toward the end of cooking, since heating miso can kill its wonderful enzymes).


  • 1 Tbsp. cashew cream (blend cashews with enough water to keep blender blades running)
  • 1 Tbsp. almond cream (blend blanched almonds with enough water to keep blades running)


  • There are commercial brands of vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream (like Tofutti) that taste and act similar to the originals.


  • 1 Tbsp. agar agar flakes or powder.


  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. agave nectar (Delicious in almost any baked good. Agave nectar also has a low glycemic index and makes a healthy sugar substitute)

Stay tuned…Coming soon “Stocking Your Vegan Kitchen (A Basic List)”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Veganism – Getting Started

Adding love and compassion to your life with a plant-based diet is not as hard as you might think.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “every journey begins with the first step.” And that first step is prompted by desire. There are many reasons to transition to a vegan lifestyle and everyone’s reason is going to be slightly different. A large percentage of vegans believe that there is a solid link between animal foods and a host of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer and hypertension for example. Some people adapt a plant-based diet because they simply love animals and don’t want to be a repository for their corpses. There are other reasons like the environment, religion, weight loss and the list goes on. Whatever particular reason you choose, you will inevitably end up widening the circle of compassion in this world. Your mind and body will soar to new levels health and well-being.

George Bernard Shaw: “Animals are my friends…and I don't eat my friends.”

When starting off, don’t try to be a perfect vegan, just do the best you can. Every day it gets a little bit easier. With a little time and experimentation you’ll find a strategy that works for you. If you’re one of those rare individuals that feels eliminating all meat, fish, and dairy foods all at once works for you, then do it. If you need more time to adjust to a vegan diet, just take it slowly and start eliminating non-vegan items from your diet every day (or week). Make changes that you feel comfortable with, at your own pace. Some start by giving up red meat and fowl but continue eating fish (Pescatarian). Others give up fish in addition to meat and poultry but continue to consume dairy products and eggs (lacto-ovo Vegetarian).

For many people it helps to network with other vegans through blogs, web sites etc. You will soon learn much from the vegan community and will become a more informed consumer.

Stay away from processed foods, fast foods and avoid ingredients like hydrogenated/trans fats and refined sugars. Read labels, some companies remove the word “animal” from their ingredient labels to deceive the consumer. A good rule of thumb is: if you don’t know what it is, or if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

It’s not all hard to eat out at non-vegan restaurants if you’re a little selective. It just takes some time to learn what to order and adjust. Some restaurants now inform their customers that they’re “vegan friendly.” Quite a few restaurants will accommodate you and cook your veggies etc. without dairy or lard. It’s not always a good idea to proclaim you’re vegan because there’s still a lot of people that don’t understand that. Simply tell them you’re vegetarian and allergic to dairy (milk, butter & eggs). They’re more likely to take your request seriously if you say you have an allergy.

The best food you can eat is the food you prepare for yourself. Although some people are challenged to find sufficient time or energy to cook, but when they can, look at cooking as creative time. Put on some appropriate music, have fun and create. Whenever possible set some time aside during the week to make some vegan “go to” options. These will come in handy at a later date when you’re tired or short on time. Cooked grains last quite a few days in the refrigerator (like rice, quinoa & farro). Add a quick stir-fry to them or make a cold salad with cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. Learn to sprout seeds (alfalfa, lentil seeds and mung beans are easy). Consider starting a small indoor herb garden, growing cilantro, basil and rosemary are popular choices and are simple to grow.

Mindfulness is one of the most important things a vegan can practice. Mindfulness itself can and will change your life and the way you eat. Never eat in front of a computer screen or television set. Instead sit somewhere quietly or with family or friends and enjoy the food. The practice of mindfulness, combine with eating slowly will help you eat less and enjoy food more. You will also find yourself practicing mindfulness in other areas of your life.

Remind yourself daily that the key to kicking meat and dairy is giving yourself enough time to feel the wonderful and extraordinary changes as they take place in your mind and body.

Stay tuned…Coming soon “Vegan Substitutes for Animal Products”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Sattva, Rajas & Tamas – The 3 Gunas

Within Hindu (including Tantric/Yogic) philosophy, the manner in which the universe manifests itself is described with numerous intersecting and overlapping concepts, explaining how Brahman (as the non-dual consciousness) becomes duality; bringing the material (observable) universe into being.

Brahman’s very impulse to know itself as ‘other than self’ is considered to be the reason the universe exists, as Brahman is the ultimate essence of material phenomena. The sages of the Upanishads teach that Brahman is characterized as having the ultimate freedom to do or become anything, being (or containing) the source of all things

This impulse prompts Brahman to split into Prakriti (un-manifest matter) and Purusha (pure consciousness), the original cause all creative processes.

The Sanskrit term Prakriti comes from the root words ‘Pra’ (before) and ‘Kri’ (to make); and so can be interpreted as “prior to anything being made.”

Prakriti is entirely composed of the three Gunas; Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

The Gunas are the measured qualities of the manifest world and combine their various forms as the mind, the senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell) and the elements (earth, water, fire, wind, space) and virtually all that can be known, including the knower.

When viewed in this way, Prakriti is the actual source of the world and everything in it.

The Gunas are associated with various qualities and when these qualities are combined they can be used to describe any “thing”. Some of the qualities inherent in each Guna are:

  • – Sattva– Positive energy, harmony, balance, unity, happiness, light, spirituality, “beingness”; Sattva is the higher or spiritual potential.
  • – Rajas– Energy, action, change, movement, creativity; the intermediate or life potential.
  • – Tamas– Laziness, heaviness, impurity, darkness, sleepy, dullness, inertia, inactivity, materiality; the lower or material potential.

These three Gunas co-exist, merging to form all objects, people and “things” in varying degrees.

One Guna is usually predominant over the others, and so certain tendencies (heavy, light, dark, warm, hot, dry etc.) become associated with objects, and this forms a part of how we understand and relate to the world as it is perceived. The predominant Guna is dynamic (not static) and may change over time.

The significance of the Gunas in regard to human beings is how they manifest in our health, the food we eat, our thoughts, our actions, our moods, the seasons of the year and weather and so on.

In Yoga practice, it’s preferable to work towards a more Sattvic lifestyle. Some Rajas may be necessary, but minimizing Tamas should be the primary goal for attaining optimal health and wellbeing.

When Sattva is increased it naturally and automatically reduces Rajas and Tamas. The Yogi or student achieves this by maintaining Sattvic thoughts, diet, lifestyle and home/work environments etc. The more Sattvic your body, mind and life becomes, the more peace and joy you and those around you are likely to experience.

When minimizing Rajas, keep in mind a balance must be maintained. If Rajas is eliminated in your life, you won’t have the necessary desire to keep living, working and doing things. On the other hand, too much Rajas will manifest as aggressiveness, cruelty, carelessness. Rajas can be reduced by regulating your diet (not eating too much Rajasic food), and avoiding excessive or extreme behaviors (working, partying, even exercising too much).

Tamas is not entirely ‘bad’ as such, but the amount of Tamas in your life does need to be carefully managed because too much can result in depression, fear, obesity and negativity. Tamas is reduced by avoiding over-sleeping, over-eating or being slothful or inactive and also with diet (by avoiding Tamasic foods).

The Gunas and their relationship to foods…

For optimal health, it’s imperative to pay attention to the foods we eat as our diet greatly impacts both our physical and mental wellbeing.

The Gunas of food aren’t limited to just the food itself, but also its current condition; whether it’s fresh, stale, rotting etc. The way food is treated is also a major factor; different methods of storing, cooking or preserving can also change the state of the food, and consequently the Gunas.

Some common foods and the Gunas they’re represented by…

  • – Sattvic food: Cereals, whole-grain bread, fresh fruit & vegetables, pure fruit juices, legumes, nuts, seeds, herb teas. Eating “mindfully” contributes to a food’s Sattvic quality.
  • – Rajasic food: All hot substances & stimulants; fried food, coffee & tea, spices, fish, eggs, salt & pepper, chocolate/sugary foods. Eating hastily is considered Rajasic and bad for the digestion and assimilation of food.
  • – Tamasic food: Meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic, fermented foods, stale foods overripe foods, processed foods and leftovers. Overeating is also regarded as Tamasic.

Sattvic food has been shown to be the most ideal for those practicing yoga. By eating a Sattvic diet you’re supporting a peaceful state of body and mind and meditation comes more naturally and is less easily disturbed.

An imbalance in favor of too much Rajas will destroy one’s equilibrium. It will also over-stimulate the body and make the mind restless, overactive and unduly energetic resulting in a tense and willful (or aggressive) disposition.

An overly Tamasic diet weakens and/or destroys the body’s immune system and tends to fill the mind with negative thoughts and emotions like anger, fear and greed.

Purification of the Gunas is essential for spiritual evolution and for that evolution to take place Sattva must predominate moment to moment in one’s body and mind.

The three gunas can also be associated with the Trimurti (‘three Gods’ or ‘three forms’) which describes the three faces of god as being:

  • Brahma (the Creator/Sattva)
  • Vishnu (the Preserver/Rajas)
  • Shiva (the Destroyer/Tamas)

The symbolism of the Trimurti conveys that all three gods (and by extension, everything in this universe) are really all part of the one supreme consciousness (Brahman).

The creation of living forms cannot occur in a vacuum (it must exist in time and space); so along with creation (Sattva), there must also be change (Rajas) and dissolution/death (Tamas).

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Your Body’s pH – Is It Acid or Alkaline?

So what exactly is ph? pH stands for “potential hydrogen” which is the measure of hydrogen ion concentration, i.e.; the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. In our particular case, that “solution” refers to our body’s fluids and tissues. Everything, from the healthiest cells to malignant cancer cells, from soil quality to fresh and sea water life is affected by pH.

The pH scale is used to determine how acidic or alkaline a substance is and ranges from 0 to 14. Seven is considered neutral. As that scale falls below 7 it becomes increasingly acidic, above 7 increasingly alkaline.

Just as is the case with most health-related barometers, balance is extremely important. Ideal pH levels vary throughout our body for a number of reasons. For instance, our bowels, skin and a woman’s vagina should be slightly acidic, as this helps ward off unfriendly bacteria. Saliva is more alkaline; while our urine is normally more acidic, especially in the morning. Additionally, your body regularly deals with a host of naturally occurring acids that are the by-products of respiration, metabolism, cellular breakdown, and even exercise. So it’s best to resist the temptation to think of acid as “bad” and alkaline “good”. As always, it’s a delicate balance.

By far the most important bodily measurement of pH is you blood. For optimal cellular health, our blood pH must be slightly alkaline, ideally with a pH between 7.365 and 7.4. A general understanding of how our bodies maintain an alkaline blood range is essential for good health. Our body doesn’t automatically “find” the proper pH balance; it works exceedingly hard to create it. Whenever we make poor lifestyle choices or are burdened by a toxic, chemical laden environment, our bodies will have to work harder to create homeostasis (or the tendency to maintain its pH’s stability).

Whenever there’s even the remotest possibility that our body is about to become overly acidic (as a result of poor food and/or lifestyle choices, toxic environmental exposure, etc.) this remarkable body of ours will extract alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium from our bones, teeth, and organs to neutralize the acids. It’s a bit like having a supply of inner or internal antacids. This may be okay every now and then, but stressing or depleting our reserves over the long term can lead to osteoporosis and other assorted health challenges.

Think of the average or standard American diet (SAD). Most Americans are flooding their cells with an inflammatory acid bath multiple times every day (tons of sugar, processed foods, factory farmed animal products, etc.). One of the biggest casualties of this type of diet is the toll it takes on the body, especially the digestive system, liver, and kidneys. Conditions like inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, constipation, bowel issues, stress (both physical & mental) and chronic disease simple love an acidic diet. Excess acidity also sets the stage for bad bacteria (including yeasts and fungus) and even viruses all of which wreak havoc on our health.

Shifting the pH scale in the alkaline direction is easy with a diet filled with nutritionally dense, mineral-rich plant foods. By eating an alkaline based diet (leafy greens, wheatgrass, spirulina, veggies, sprouts, avocados, green juices and smoothies) as opposed to an acidic diet (high in animal products, processed carbs, refined sugar, energy drinks, etc), we nourish our bodies with chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and oxygen. Healthy food creates healthy cells, whereas junk food does the opposite.

Check out this handy alkaline/acid food chart, click on:

Tip: Watch this short video on the “9 Benefits of Warm Water & Lemon in the Morning.” Click on:

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Yoga and Muscle Conductivity

Muscle conductivity is simply the ability to conduct impulses, either electrical or chemical, along the muscle membrane.

Muscles enable you to move. The muscles in your arms lift and pull. Muscles in your legs help you stand, walk and run. Thumb muscles help you to hold things. Muscles in your chest help you to breathe. You have more than 600 muscles and muscle groups in your body. Muscles help us to move if we don’t have muscles we can’t move of our own free will.

Muscles function in many aspects of the body. There are three basic types of muscles:

  1. 1. Skeletal muscles function to move your body during any activity such as walking, etc.
  2. 2. Smooth muscle is found in your blood vessels and can regulate blood flow.
  3. 3. Cardiac muscle is what your heart is made of and is necessary to pump blood to all of your body.

One purpose of the skeletal muscles is to allow movement of the limbs, whereas the smooth muscles keep the body functions going. Also, the heart is a four chambered cardiac muscle, whose sole purpose is to pump blood round our bodies and keep us alive.

Traditional yoga from the ancient East didn’t emphasize how yoga can sculpt one’s body, but it definitely was all about the mind-body connection. Much of the West has evolved yoga to its own purposes, adapting it to the modern world. Originally, yoga was a way of life and being, rather than a way to look better in clothes. Nonetheless, whenever we look at a typical “yoga-crafted body,” we can’t help but admire their limber physique.

Many now believe that yoga, however, is a more balanced approach to strengthening and toning than resistance training and weight lifting. For one, it trains conscious muscle conductivity and conditions your body to perform things you do every day: walking, sitting, bending, lifting. Your body moves in the way it was designed to move.

As our understanding of the human body as a matrix of electromagnetic and chemical energies deepens, we come to see that the fascia or connective tissue (structuring, sheathing and interconnecting our circulatory system, nervous system, muscular-skeletal system, digestive track, organs and cells) is actually an energetic communication system dependent on conductivity.

The collagen that most of the connective tissue in your body is comprised of is liquid crystalline in nature. Liquid crystals (known to be semi-conductors) are designed to conduct energy in similar way that wiring system in your house conducts electricity. They are also able to send, receive, store and amplify energy signals, almost like your high-speed internet connection.

Because our fascia interconnects every system in the body, it provides a basis for both information and energy transfer beyond purely chemical origins. That is to say; while we’ve traditionally thought of communication in the body as mechanical (where chemical molecules fit into receptors like a key into a lock), we now realize we can open the lock much faster with energy (like remote control devices).

Yoga seeks to open and release the tightest places in our bodies (connective tissue, joints, ligaments and tendons) which routinely become tight and restricted through injuries, repetitive stress, poor postural habits and even emotional trauma. The amount of neural conductivity it takes to do just one simple action is huge, and any movement of the body requires an intense amount of brain power. As we perfect a physical skill, such as yoga asana most of this happens subconsciously. However, yoga can also teach you to have finer control over these movements and you progressively become more skilled.

Yoga helps better tune mind-body connection through conscious conductivity. Ultimately, yoga enhances the way you create motion and move through life. With proper yoga instruction and practice you can train yourself to become more aware and in control of all the physical actions you perform.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500