The Vegetarian Vixen

The Vegetarian Vixen

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip - Tzatziki Sauce

One of my favorite things to make on a Sunday and pick at during the week is cucumber dill yogurt dip.  It's quick, easy, and super delicious.  You can add more or less of the ingredients, depending on your taste, and it will still be delicious.  This literally can't be done wrong!

32 Ounce Fat Free Plain Yogurt (I use Trader Joe's brand)
1 cup shredded English Cucumber (I use a cheese grater, and then squeeze the water out of the cucumber after it is grated)
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 1 large fresh squeezed lemon
3 large cloves fresh garlic (grated, minced, crushed, chopped - whatever you prefer.  I grate)
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Cayenne pepper to tase (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, garnish with dill sprig and lemon slices if desired.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Yogurt? More like No-gurt :-(

I just finished eating a yoplait yogurt, and as I was walking to put my container in the trash, the word "gelatin" jumped off the packaging and hit me in the face like a ton of bricks.  When did they start putting that in there?   Apparently, many companies have always put gelatin in their yogurt.  How did I miss that?  And what the hell is "carmine"?  Oh my, this is going from bad to worse.  I'm guessing carmine is not the boy who sat next to me in Math class in grammar school.  Nope, it's crushed insects.  Wonderful.

Normally I eat Greek yogurt, and after doing some research it seems that most Greek yogurts do not contain gelatin, although I am not sure about this new ingredient, carmine.  The ones I usually buy do not contain gelatin, that's for sure, and honestly, I never really thought about checking every label, because I never imagined gelatin would be used.  When I think of gelatin, I think "Jell-O".  Ignorant of me to say the least.  I should know better.  I have a daughter with severe food allergies (lamb, eggs, milk, soy, nuts, beans, legumes, seeds, fish).  I check the ingredients EVERY SINGLE TIME I buy anything for her, even if I have bought it a thousand times before. Yet somehow, I made assumptions with my own food.  A huge wake up call!

I don't know why I made an assumption about my own food, but what's done is done.  I have now begun the hunt for a list of yogurts that do not contain gelatin (and also do not contain 20-30 grams of sugar either).  I'm hoping to share that with you in the coming week.

In the meantime, let's talk about both gelatin and carmine, and what they are.

"Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics; as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (such as Jell-O); in candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, and yogurts; on photographic film; and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules, and it is sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines. Gelatin is not vegan. However, there is a product called “agar agar” that is sometimes marketed as “gelatin,” but it is vegan. It is derived from a type of seaweed." PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS

Could you be eating foods that contain gelatin without even realizing it?  Here are some common foods that may contain gelatin:
  • FROSTED MINI WHEATS (Crazy one, right?)
  • Some varieties of KELLOGGS POP TARTS (Another one I wouldn't think)
  • Some brands of CREAM CHEESE and SOUR CREAM
  • Some flavors of TRIDENT GUM


"Cochineal extract is extracted from the cochineal, specifically the female, a species of insect that belongs to the order entomologists refer to as the "true bugs." (Don't trust any account that calls this bug a beetle — it's not).

Today, cochineals are harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands on plantations of prickly pear cacti, the bugs' preferred host. There, the insects are sun-dried, crushed, and dunked in an acidic alcohol solution to produce carminic acid, the pigment that eventually becomes carmine or cochineal extract, depending on processing. About 70,000 insects are needed to produce a pound of dye.

Until 2009, cochineal was one of many dyes that fell under the umbrella term "natural color" on ingredients lists. But because cochineal provokes severe allergic reactions in some people, the Food and Drug Administration requires carmine and cochineal extract to be explicitly identified in ingredients lists." Luke Yoquinto, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor LIVE

One January 5th, 2011 a new regulation the FDA passed became effective, requiring companies to list carmine and cochineal on their label. Other names for carmine are Crimson Lake, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470 or E120. - See more at:

With more and more people avoiding RED 40 dye due to health reasons, many companies are now replacing it with crushed cochineal bugs.  On January 5, 2011 the FDA passed a new regulation requiring companies to list carmine and cochineal on their labels.  The words Cochineal, Cochineal Extract, Carmine, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, E120, and even some ‘natural colorings’ all refer to the dye made from these little creatures.   

Well obviously there is a lot for me to think about when it comes to ensuring that what I am putting into my body is indeed vegetarian.  While I will continue to eat yogurt, as I am not vegan, I need to be more diligent when reading labels.  Still, these things may happen from time to time, simply out of ignorance.  I cannot beat myself over it.  Nor will this help anything.  Instead, I can see it as a blessing and an eye opener.

Peace and Love!
One January 5th, 2011 a new regulation the FDA passed became effective, requiring companies to list carmine and cochineal on their label. Other names for carmine are Crimson Lake, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470 or E120. - See more at:
One January 5th, 2011 a new regulation the FDA passed became effective, requiring companies to list carmine and cochineal on their label. Other names for carmine are Crimson Lake, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470 or E120. So the next time you see any of these names listed on your cosmetic product, beware of the bugs! - See more at:
One January 5th, 2011 a new regulation the FDA passed became effective, requiring companies to list carmine and cochineal on their label. Other names for carmine are Crimson Lake, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470 or E120. So the next time you see any of these names listed on your cosmetic product, beware of the bugs! - See more at:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

People are animals too!

I'll be honest, in my late teens and early twenties, I didn't think too much about animals and compassion while I was in line at the Fendi counter, waiting to buy a new handbag.  In fact, as recently as 10 years ago I jumped at the chance to buy a $1,400 Marc Jacobs calf handbag for $350. I even accepted the gift of a mink coat from a family I worked for in Manhattan about 8 years ago.

While I am not particularly proud of any of this, I am also not particularly ashamed of it either.  We all come to our own realizations in our own time and although I cannot undo my past choices, I see no reason for them to have been in vain.  I can be bummed about my past, or I can use my past decisions and past experiences as a point of reference and common ground when speaking to someone who may want to know more about my lifestyle and choices as a vegetarian.  After all, I too was once a consumer of these "products".  

As my blogger name, The Vegetarian Vixen states, I am a vegetarian. I am not a vegan.  Not yet anyway.  I do consume egg and dairy products, so that makes me a vegetarian.  This may change at some point, or it may not, but this is where I am right now. So let's be clear, I eat eggs and dairy, I do not eat meat. What about leather, fur, honey etc. you ask?  No, no, and yes.  In that order. Well sort of.  I do have a handbag that I received from one of my most cherished friends for my 40th birthday (prior to becoming vegetarian) that has very little leather trim, and I do wear it.  (This photo below was me receiving this handbag for my 40th birthday.)  Would I still wear that fur?  No.  But these are my choices.  They may not be yours.  And that's okay. 

Yup.. I can hear it already... the dreaded word...Hypocrisy... Let's talk about this for a minute.  So I don't eat animals, I do consume milk and eggs, and I wear a handbag with leather trim that was purchased for me as a gift before becoming a vegetarian. I won't wear fur.  I will eat honey...blah blah blah  Does that make me a hypocrite?  Many would argue yes.  And to those people I say that arguing in and of itself is hypocritical.  I am not going to argue with anyone whose mind is open to making more compassionate choices.  PERIOD.  Any place is a good place to start.  This all or nothing attitude makes it very difficult for people to even ponder the idea of life without meat, and ultimately the goal is compassion, no?  So I ask the bashers, how is this helping your plight?!  How is people bashing helping animal bashing?

No matter where another human being is, we should all learn to respect each other.  If all you are ready to commit is a "meatless Monday" meal once a week, then go for it! That is 52 meat free meals for the year.  I do not bash you for that.  I COMMEND you for that.  How beautiful that your mind is open to even the possibility of compassionate eating!  
Perhaps you need a different starting point.  Perhaps you want to begin by life without beef;  then that is where you are.  Start there. Start wherever is right for you to start.  Maybe even "meatless Monday" is too much for you to grasp right now.  That is okay.  It is all okay.  I'm going to go even a step further and say that even beginning with an idea of wanting to think about starting is a start.  Dive in there if you want to. Anywhere is somewhere.  But for the love of all animals (including humans)  please don't bash anyone who is not yet where you are!

Now I am sure many people will disagree with my views.  That is okay too. I see no point in bashing another human being because of their choices, and I make no apologies for mine.  Where is the compassion in bashing another human being for not being compassionate?  I'm not going to fight against meat eaters, or someone who wears a fur or a leather belt. I'm not even going to fight the bashers. In fact, I am not fighting against anything.  I am praying for a more compassionate world.  Beginning with myself and my choices, how I treat myself, and how I treat others.

Sadly, when I first decided to become more educated about compassionate living and eating, I found  no shortage of extremely disturbing comments online by people claiming to be compassionate and loving towards animals, yet lacking complete self control and empathy for their fellow human beings.  Earthlings, this does not bring more attention to our plight. It only serves to alienate people from each other. Only love and compassion towards each can foster love and compassion towards all living things.  After all, people are animals too!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's almost one year!!

So I will admit that I have fallen off the radar lately and have not updated this blog in forever.  What I haven't fallen off is my vegetarian lifestyle. :-)  This weekend will be my one year vegetarian anniversary.  I am happy to say, that it will be one year for my husband as well.

I was recently contacted by Vegan Outreach and offered the help of a mentor to continue on my journey.  While I am not vegan (not yet at least), I reached out to them today and asked if there may be a lacto-ovo vegetarian mentor who has experience with fitness and weight training.  I am excited to hear back from them.

Last year, with 40 looming, I decided that in order to practice compassionate eating, and compassion towards all living things, I must also practice compassion towards myself.  It is easy to get caught up in the day to day grind and forget that.  I made a commitment to at least try to remember.  I started to put myself first, and slowly but surely, I began to give myself the gift of a fit lifestyle.

Below is a progress photo of my fitness journey as a vegetarian.  I am proud to share it with you, and hope to share even more progress over the next year to show just what is possible as a vegetarian.  Hoping I can work with Vegan Outreach to accomplish even more as a 41 year old!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Vegan Product Review - ION COLOR SOLUTIONS Cool Blonde Shampoo (Purple Shampoo)

I purchased Ion Color Solutions Cool Blonde Shampoo at my local Sally Beauty for about 7 bucks. These products are 100% vegan, which is great!  Here's what's not so great.

First, it is extremely drying to the hair.  After I lather and rinse, my hair literally feels like straw.  Dry, cracking straw.  And my color was only done recently, on virgin hair, so it is not like I have been coloring and highlighting for years over damaged hair.  I have not.

When I first used it, it did a great job at toning down the color.  Now, I only see a slight difference, and I stress slight.  

There is absolutely no way you can use this product without conditioner.  The sales girl at Sally never mentioned that this had an accompanying Cool Blonde Condtioner, and sold me the Ion Color Solutions Deep Daily Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair.

I used this conditioner immediately following the shampoo, and had to leave it in for 3-4 minutes (Directions state to leave in for 1-2 minutes and then rinse) before even being able to attempt putting a comb through my hair.   It was so knotty from the shampoo!

After finally combing the conditioner through (that took almost another two minutes), I left the conditioner in for an additional minute, and then rinsed.  My hair did feel soft after that, but nothing compared to products I have used in the past,  (Loreal Total Repair 5, which I am not sure doesn't contain animal products.  I have to check on that.)

My hair still looked dry on the ends, but the color did look a bit brighter than it had.

All in all, I would recommend this shampoo only for newly color blondes, or in a pinch.  I would definitely not recommend this product for every other shampoo as recommended on the bottle. 

Here is a pic after I blew out my hair.  I had to add a drop of oil because it still looked and felt slightly dry.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WHIP IT UP WEDNESDAY.... Gardein Vegan Chick'n Piccata

Wednesday.  Damn smack middle of the week.  Not quite as energized as Monday, and not yet filled with the excitement of the impending weekend.  Who the heck wants to cook a gourmet meal on Wednesdays?  Not even me, and I LOVE to cook!  But that doesn't mean we have to settle.

Here is a great meal I whipped up in about twenty minutes and you can too!  It is a slight variation of the one posted on the Gardein recipe (exactly the same actually, except I doubled the recipe, and added shiitake mushrooms as a side dish with the remainder of the sauce).

MY HUSBAND AND SON LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS DISH!  Unfortunately, my daughter is allergic to peas, and cannot eat this. :-(



  • flour for coating (optional)
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 4 pieces (1 bag) Gardein Chick'n Scallopini (My local Target has a HUGE selection of Gardein products!)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (I use Trader Joe's Organic Hearty Vegetable Broth)
  • 4 TBSP capers
  • 2 TBSP vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2 TBPS lemon juice
  • OPTIONAL:  I added 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms to the meal which was amazing!  I soaked dry Shiitake mushrooms for a few minutes, and then threw them in the remaining sauce at the end.  (I love the mushrooms distributed by Walong Marketing, Inc.  I find them at my local Chinese market.  They are amazing!  I think they would also do great as a mock clam.  Will work on that soon!)
Prepare medium high heat nonstick pan with 1 TBSP of vegetable oil.

Saute gardein chick'n scallopini for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Set aside.

Add white wine, stock, and capers to pan. Reduce by half. Turn off heat, whisk in butter, and add lemon juice. 

Return scallopini to pan and coat with sauce.

Place and serving plate, topped with sauce.  

**You can keep a small amount of sauce in the frying pan, and see OPTIONAL note below for addition of shiitake mushrooms.  AMAZING!!!

Soak 1 cup dry shiitake mushrooms for 5 minutes.  Drain.  Saute quickly over medium heat in remaining sauce.  Serve as a side dish to the Chick'n Piccata.

***I served spinach as a side dish, with Trader Joe's quick cook (Ready in 15 minutes) Organic Brown Basmati Rice. *Note if you choose to use this rice, I would recommend boiling the water FIRST, before you add the rice, otherwise the cook time is much longer than stated in the directions.  (I have emailed Trader Joe's about this and awaiting a reply.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Meatless Monday Recipe - VEGAN STUFFED PEPPERS

So I decided that it would be fun to post weekly "Meatless Monday" vegetarian recipes.  For those just wanting to get their feet wet, Meatless Monday is a great way to test the waters, so to speak.  Living meat free is far from boring, and I hope to show you that with a new recipe every Monday.

I should warn you now, that I am a big shopper at Trader Joe's.  I have a 7 year old daughter, Sofia, (, and she has anaphylactic food allergies to many proteins.  She is allergic to milk and all dairy products, eggs, beef, pork, lamb, soy, nuts, seeds, all beans, and all fish (not seafood).    Trader Joe's meets almost all of my needs for her, so we spend a lot of time and money there.

Whenever possible, I will tell you all of the exact brands that I use for my recipes.  Of course, you can substitute any brand of your choice.

This recipe was created by me.



Makes approximately 8 peppers
I usually make only 4 and then put the remaining quinoa mixture into several tupperwares for my family to take for lunch during the week.


2 cups Trader Joe’s Organic Hearty Vegetable Broth
1 cup dry Trader Joe’s Organic Tricolor Quinoa
2 TBSP Trader Giottio’s Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 - 10 oz package of Trader Joe’s Beef-Less Beef
2 - 18 oz jars Trader Joe’s Traditional Marinara Sauce
1 - 15.2 oz can Trader Joe’s Whole Kernel Corn (beans can be substituted, but my daughter is allergic, and lots of protein already with beefless beef and quinoa)
4-8 large green bell peppers

Salt, pepper, garlic poweder, spices to taste.  Have fun with it!

First, combine 2 cups of quinoa and 1 cup vegetable broth, and cook according to directions on bag.

While quinoa is cooking, heat 2 TBSP olive oil in medium skillet, and then add onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Sautee over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  

Next, add Beef-Less beef, and sautee for 2-3 minutes, crumbling and mixing it together.

When quinoa is done, combine all ingredients (excluding the bell peppers of course!) in a large bowl and mix well.  Season with your favorite seasonings to your liking.  

Cut tops of the green peppers, and remove seeds.  

Stuff peppers with as much of the mixture as you can, and place Place in a baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until peppers are tender.

***These can also be made in a slow cooker. 
***For a vegetarian option, you can add some shredded or grated cheese to the mixture as well.