Archive for July, 2012

July 30, 2012

Outdoor Markets in Israel

by ashley

Just a few more photos I thought might be interesting to our readers – a real glimpse into the daily lives of shopping in Israel. They LOVE candy, there are so many candy shops everywhere in the country!

July 30, 2012

Visiting the Promised Land: Israel

by ashley

Going to Israel was something that I never really planned. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go, I love to travel and I’d be hard pressed to find a place I don’t want to visit, but I’d never really gave Israel much thought. I grew up heavily Catholic and fell away from the faith in my teens. I knew many stories from the Bible, but only because I had to for classes or hearing them in mass. Many have stuck with me, but not necessarily in a religious way. This is why it was hard to believe for many who know me that I would really appreciate a trip to Israel. However despite all of this, it quickly transformed into one of the best experiences of my life.

When I say I didn’t plan to go to Israel, I couldn’t be speaking more of the truth. I knew for a while that my grandmother was going there again, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be. Two days before she was to leave, I receive a phone call from my grandmother asking if I’d like to go with her. I said sure, in disbelief, but didn’t think it would really happen. First of all, I have a day job. How could I possibly leave for two weeks on two days notice? Secondly, it’s an expensive trip. Someone was cancelling due to health reasons (my grandmother runs tours through her travel agency), I couldn’t imagine that they would really cancel something that cost them well over $10K dollars. I wrote an e-mail to my boss, fully expecting him to say no, and explained the situation. Miraculously, he said no problem. He even seemed excited for me, which is surprising as he is normally extremely private with his feelings. The next miracle was that the couple actually cancelled their trip. My grandmother calls me with less than 24 hours before the flight left and told me to pack my bags.

My two weeks in Israel were filled with activities: so many churches, historical sites, meetings with religious leaders in the community. Our guide was Palestinian and we learned a great deal about their view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’m certainly not educated enough on the topic to formulate a definitive opinion, however I feel badly for those stuck in the middle on both sides. We met so many different kinds of people, saw the way they carry out their daily lives. Life seems hard for most people there, definitely not like the sheltered lives we relish here in the United States. My trip awakened a new thirst for travel, for knowledge, and yet it also helped me appreciate the fact that I live in the US that much more. The people in Israel were so friendly, inviting and accommodating. I found that literally everyone I came in contact spoke amazing English, as well as several other languages. They truly are sensational people, whether they are Palestinian, Israeli, Armenian; Muslim or Jewish or Christian. I loved my experiences with every single one of them.

It’s hard to choose my favorite sites, as everything was so beautiful. I love Haifa, on the Mediterranean Sea with gorgeous buildings and foliage. The Hanging Gardens of Haifa are unbelievable, even if you don’t have the opportunity to enter the site (it was closed, but we saw it from the outside). Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is also a beautiful city, with a modern boardwalk that reminded me a bit of home (Miami). My most favorite city was Jerusalem, though. Walking the old city, inside the ancient walls, is surreal. I was blessed to have an entire week in Jerusalem, with the opportunity to walk the city alone in the early morning hours. The sleepiness of the city in the early dawn, just when the sun is peaking above the horizon, is the best time to walk and take pictures on your own. We stayed in the Notre Dame hotel, just outside the New Gate. It was easy to walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In just seven short days, I began to feel like a local in the city. I could run around the tiny, winding streets, with ease. I must have visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher eight times during that week. It was like a dream being in the church in the early morning hours. The sun rises well before 5 o’clock AM in the summer there, making it easy to rise early and take in the sights without hordes of people blocking your view.

The food…yes, unfortunately our tour guide did not do the best job in giving us a rounded view of Israel’s cuisine. As our tour included all meals except two for the entire trip, it wasn’t possible to go out much on our own to explore. I did find that it is extremely easy for a vegetarian, even vegan, to eat well anywhere in Israel. Every meal includes a salad course, which is a meal unto itself. Grilled eggplant, hummus, baba ganoush, cabbage slaws, roasted potatoes, fresh flat breads, stuffed artichokes and oh the olives – every kind imaginable was available. In Israel, the biggest meal of the day is lunch, followed by breakfast and little is eaten for dinner. Olives are served with every meal, including breakfast, as well as eggplant and several other things that seemed interesting for early in the day. But it made for a delicious and balanced meal at any time of the day. I fell in love with their lemons and lemon juice, which is also served at all hours of the day or night. I already was a lemon freak, I snack on them in the office (I can just hear the gasps from the dentists reading this) and I savored the selection of lemons at almost every meal in Israel.

I will always treasure this trip with my grandparents. I haven’t travelled with them in so long, and it was wonderful being able to spend two weeks with them uninterrupted. I highly recommend Israel – and for those of you who say it is dangerous, just look at our country. There are shootings, murders, car accidents and so many other tragedies right here on our own soil. Is there danger there? Of course, but the Israeli government works hard to make sure tourists are well taken care of. I cannot say that I never felt threatened, as there were times here or there, but I would return in a heartbeat. I love the history, the melding (and clash) of cultures. I love the hint of danger. I guess it’s just in my blood, I felt as though I had arrived home.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about travelling there, I’d be happy to tell you my experiences in more detail.

To see all of my photos, updated regularly as I upload more and more (I have literally thousands) you can visit my flickr:

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July 25, 2012

Litelife Vegetarian Meals- Move Over Lean Cuisine!

by jem614

Since finding out I have gestational diabetes, I have been trying to reduce certain things in my diet in order to keep myself and baby healthy.  I met with my nutritional counselor this week who told me that since my numbers were so low, I would most likely be able to control my diabetes with diet.  What a relief that was- but it also made me realize how much I don’t pay attention to what I eat- as long as my calories are under a certain amount and I’m eating veggies and grains- I was happy.

Our bodies don’t operate like that, or at least mine doesn’t.  I have been put on a carb-focused diet where it’s not necessarily about the sugars (apparently the sugars are included in the carbs).  Of course, you don’t want to be slamming back ice cream and candy bars all day but that’s obvious.  The counselor explained that I needed to stretch out my carb-eating evenly throughout the day.

Here is the plan:

Breakfast- no milk or fruit or anything with sugar.  I can have 30 grams of carbohydrates (2 Carb servings) with some type of protein (non-starchy veggies are welcome all day long).  If I can’t read a food label, I basically count each piece of carb as 1.  For example- one English muffin is actually 2 carbs servings because you count the top piece and the bottom.
Snack- 15 grams of Carbohydrates (1 carb serving).  I have found that this is one of the hardest to do.  Did you know that 1 piece of Bubble Yum is 6 carbs?  That’s crazy!  However, I found some nature valley granola bars that are under 15 grams and very happy!
Lunch (3 Carb Servings)-Favorite meal because you can have 45 grams for lunch.  So, this is where Litelife comes in!  Amy’s meals, though delicious and mostly healthy, often have more than 40 grams of carbs in each meal which leaves me feeling a little too close to my goal for comfort.  Litelife, a new brand in my grocery store, only had 31grams of carbs for the Tuscan Chick’n meal.  Obviously I’m not going to eat this for every meal but thank goodness for things like this!  Now, if I want to eat a little more, I can still eat another 14 grams of carbohydrates (or not).  The ingredients are mostly whole- the only negative is that it’s not organic but I know we can’t have everything.  It really felt like I was reheating something that I had made the night before – I could see large chunks of bell pepper, spinach, mushrooms, barley and the chik’n was actually good.
Afternoon Snack- 15 grams (1 Carb serving) – this is a good time to add in some celery and peanut butter or 1/2 a banana (yes, just a half).
Dinner- another 30-45 grams of carbohydrates (2-3 Carb Servings)- this is the hardest part of the day for me because I usually cook for myself and if I can’t read a label, I have a hard time telling how many carbohydrates.  Thankfully has a way of checking carbs and calories so I use that.
After dinner snack- 15 grams (1 Carb serving)- did someone say popcorn?  If you make it yourself in the pan and don’t put tons of butter on it, it can be a nice 15 gram snack.

So there it is, I think it’s a great plan for those that have diabetes and those that don’t.  You don’t realize how much you’re eating till you start reading labels!

Check out the Litelife website at  Oh! and we’re going to be trying their Portobello Burger patties this weekend at the game- we’ll let you know how they turn out!




July 20, 2012

Vegan Carrot Soup

by jem614

There is nothing better than a veggie soup on a hot summer night.  It’s light, refreshing and has very little calories.  I had seen a few recipes online and decided to try my own.  This was my first attempt at brewing this concoction and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and quick it was to make!

3 snack bags of organic carrots (mini)
1 large potato (I used the one with the pink skin)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 an onion
2 veggie bouillon cubes (the small ones)
1/2 pot of water (this was a small pot)
1 cap olive oil
tons of pepper
1-2 tsp of salt to taste

Start your water boiling and add in the potatoes and carrots.  Next add the rest of your ingredients and set them to cooking.  I cooked my soup about 20 minutes on the stove on medium heat.

Turn off the stove and get your blender out (unless you want to sit and mash this by hand, a blender is your easiest bet).  Make sure to be careful because the soup will be very hot- put your lid on tight after you pour the ingredients in the blender.  Blend until smooth and pour into a serving bowl.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did, I can’t wait to have some more this weekend!

July 18, 2012

A Special Thanks to Robert from Vegan Printer!

by ashley

A very big thanks to Robert from Vegan Printing for providing us with some awesome business cards! 

July 16, 2012

Organic Probiotic Yogurt Sweetened with Stevia- Stonyfield Farms

by jem614

I’ve cut out the Activia in my life because of my recent Gestational Diabetes diagnosis and have been paying the price for it- to be blunt.  Pregnancy makes things move a little slower so that more nutrients can go to your baby (if you know what I mean).

Desperate for an alternative I found this Stonyfield Farm, Organic, stevia-sweetened, probiotic yogurt in the Publix dairy isle.  The taste is refreshing and clean and doesn’t have a terrible aftertaste.  It’s not overly sweetened either!

I’m still working on the “For The Glow” plan for one or two meals a day but this fits in for a good afternoon snack at only 70 calories.  The only negative would be that it’s real cows milk- would love to find some sort of alternative that isn’t as mucus-inducing but maybe that’s where the probiotics come in?

Check it out if you’re looking for something with no sugar- great for diabetics or even those that are just looking to cut the sugar.

July 16, 2012

Ashley’s Back from Israel: Vegetarian Cuisine at Newark Airport

by ashley

I’m finally back from my whirlwind trip around Israel! I’m so excited to start sharing some of my experiences with you, as I know I’ve talked the ear off of most of my friends and family already. I took a total of around 4,000 pictures, filling two 8 GB SD cards, so it’s taking me a while to get everything organized. I’ll start with my first experience, which was at the Newark airport in New Jersey.

Anticipation mounting of my Israel trip, along with the awe inspiring view of the One World Trade Center to my right, it wasn’t easy trying to center my thoughts on food. A stocked deli with beautiful sandwiches and desserts caught my eye, and I ventured over to take a closer look. For Airport cuisine, it looked really fresh, so I took a chance and went for La Tapenade’s  Portobello Griller sandwich. Grilled to order for about $10, it isn’t cheap (but is anything cheap in an airport?), yet makes for a great vegetarian meal option on the go. If I had more time, I absolutely would have checked out the wine bar Vino Volo located just down the corridor.

La Tapenade Mediterranean Café, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Terminal C, Post-Security near Gates C120-139

Here are some photos of my first day in Israel to tide you over until my next post =)

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July 13, 2012

Update on For The Glow Plan

by jem614

It’s been a week or two since I started trying to follow the For The Glow plan.  I had previously been trying to eat right but just couldn’t force myself.  I recently had a three hour Glucose screening and failed it- barely.  That was a wake-up call because I definitely didn’t want to have a c-section and I want to have a healthy and vibrant baby.

I started incorporating some of the healthier grains- cut out the white bread (though I do have some once or twice a week because I’m not perfect) and started eating greens again.  It may be obvious to eat greens but I have hated eating veggies since I got pregnant, just another wonderful side effect!

So baby is healthy, I’m doing well and looking forward to the last 10 1/2 weeks!


July 5, 2012

For The Glow Test Drive for Veg On The Run Readers!

by jem614

Jenn at “For The Glow” has a special offer just for our Veg On The Run readers! Meal plans, cleanses and much more! Check out her “TEST DRIVE” here:

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