Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend: Happiness

This past weekend I was invited to attend two events for my friend Jack, or should I say Father Jack, who chose to join the Dioceses of Maine and was ordained a priest this past Saturday. Father Jack was beaming through the ceremonies as he found out the church where he would live after this weekend and thanked all of his family and friends for the support over the years. He was happy, genuinely happy.

Because I met Jack at Providence College, a group of friends, some in which I haven't seen in 5 years, ended up on the Maine coast for the special event.

Catching up with people was wonderful and as I  was puttering around in a canoe Sunday afternoon after the reception, beer in hand, with a group of friends that have chosen very different life paths - a NYC Public school teacher, a Financial Analyst at Coach, an organic farmer from Arkansas, and a program director at the University of New Hampshire -- I realized that all of us were genuinely happy.

It made me realize that at the end of the day that's exactly what I want for my friends, happiness. Regardless of life path, or what type of spirit or soul they choose to love and honor in this life, or the clothes they wear or the profession they select, or whether or not they only eat veggies, I really just want them to be happy.

This made me smile.

To all the naysayers: The NYC Princess did in fact get on the standing board from L.L. Bean
My contribution to today's family BBQ. Quinoa, garbanzo beans, spinach, garlic, basil,  tomatoes and red peppers. Yummy!

So, this Memorial Day Weekend while you're making your quinoa dish or trying Danie's lentil salad, let's be grateful to the people that are no longer here, enjoy the people that make us smile today, and remember that everyone's life path is their own to decide.

Thanks,
Danie

Friday, May 27, 2011

Valuable Health & Lifestyle Website: Vegetarian Resource Group


I am positive you will have a happy and healthy weekend. In the spirit of the latter, I wanted to present the Vegetarian Resource Group as a source of general vegetarian and vegan information. It is a non-profit organization that has a plethora of nutrition and lifestyle information. 

What are good sources of Calcium in a Vegan Diet? What is The Story with Soy? How many vegetarians are there in the U.S.? The Vegetarian Resource Group can help provide insight to all of these questions. 

The information on the website is presented in a easy-to-read fashion and is good to review, even if you've been a vegetarian or vegan for years. So, I hope you have lots of veggies at your Memorial Day BBQ. In fact, I hope the veggies win in a friendly game of picnic table domination. 

Thanks, 
Danie

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Danie's Summer Lentil Salad

Light, fresh, and fabulous. I love this salad with all my "family BBQ, what's a vegan girl got to eat on Memorial Day weekend" heart. Plus, more than just the vegans at the party like it AND almost all of the ingredients you can find at the local farmer’s market!





What You'll Need 

1/4 Cup  Lentils
2 Cups Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Celery
1/4 Cup  Cucumbers
2 Cups Maine Sweet corn
3/4 Cup Green onions
1/4 Cup Red onion
1 Large Avocado
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1/4 Cup Basil
To  Taste Salt & Pepper


Process

STEP 1: Measure and pour the lentils in a small bowl. Rinse throughly. Add water 3/4 cups water. Let the water simmer until lentils are thoroughly cooked.  Place in a prep bowl and into the refrigerator to cool.
STEP 2: Bring water to a boil in a large soup pan. Place corn into water and cook for 10 minutes. When done, rinse corn with cool water and shave the corn off with a knife. You can also buy the corn in a can if you're strapped for time. 
STEP 3: Chop the cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, onion and basil.  Place contents into a large bowl and mix. Add the fresh corn.
STEP 4: Add the lentils, olive oil, basil and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix until all food items are covered in oil and seasonings. Place dish back into refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
STEP 5: Place into serving cups and garnish with avocado slices. 

Thanks,
Danie

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Life is a Running Sitcom: Over the Rain

Seems like symbols are the only way to express how people in New England feel about the weather at this point. Sun, please return soon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

3 Tools at the Office That Can Help You Make A Positive Change


You spend a large majority of time at the office. So here are three little tools at your fingertips that can help you stay on track and complete your goals.

  1. Positively Use Your Password. You have to change your password every 60 days so why not make it meaningful! Think about the top thing in your life that you’re trying to change. Maybe it’s “walkmore22” or “eatveggies33”, or if you’re working too much “gohome530”. Whatever you decide is your top goal at the moment can become your password. I would caution to only use positive thoughts, you’ll be typing this everyday!

  1. Find an Ally: Your support at work can be just as important as the support at home. Tell someone you trust what you’re trying to do and see if they want to help. If you’re trying to walk more at work, going with a friend works because you can hold each other accountable for lacing up the walking shoes and going outside. If you go vegan, maybe your meat-eating co-workers could be on the lookout for recipes.

If you make an ally at work, they may just send you awesome
vegan treats while you're traveling on business.


  1. Make an appointment: Whether it’s on your outlook calendar or your iPhone, making a reoccurring appointment can help you reach your goal. Seriously, if you’re hunched over a computer for the majority of the day and you can’t remember to stretch, a reoccurring appointment will remind you. If you feel self-conscious about placing an appointment on a public calendar, just designate it as private so that your co-workers can’t see the details.
Humans are creatures of habit. Have you ever seen Sidney Crosby or Cristiano Ronaldo practice? Neither have I. But I’m sure it's a whole lot of doing the same thing over and over. Which makes the action become second nature. You can train yourself to drink more water or eat more veggies, you just have to use the tools at your fingertips.

Thanks,
Danie

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Giveaway! Pleasant River Soap Co.

Hi Everyone,

Mary at Pleasant River Soap Co. has offered to giveaway four bars of her fabulous vegan soap to one lucky My Vegan Corporate Life reader. They are as follows:

  • Bay Rum (1)
  • Lemon Grass (1)
  • Lavender (1)
  • Maine Woods (1)

To enter, just leave a short message on this post below! Entries will close on Wednesday 5/25/2011 at 12pm EST. 



Thanks, 
Danie

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sweet! : Vegan Chocolate Corporate Gift Set

Every year our ad agency sends us a Thank You gift. It's a "We appreciate your business. Let's do this again next year!" kind of thing. So when the 60 seashell shaped gourmet whoopie pies showed up at the office last year, much to my dismay, I couldn't eat them. 

On one of my recent trips to the grocery store I stumbled upon these fabulous vegan chocolate bars from Endangered Species Chocolate. Visiting their site I found this lovely vegan chocolate set. Perfect for the corporate vegan in your life!


The Vegan Collection! $19.99 
Dark Chocolate with Cranberries & Almonds! Yum!

Organic Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate with Blueberries!
Photo Credits: Endangered Species Chocolate

I'm in a toss-up between Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans and the Mint (not pictured here…because…I ate it.)
This is what it looks like when the chocolate is gone. 

This guy is not vegan in the box set …but I wish he was (in real life he's a keeper)

Photo Credits: Endangered Species Chocolate
Thanks,
Danie

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy and Healthy with a Plant-Based Diet: Guest Blogger - Erin

Erin is a friend from college that was willing to make a change in her life. Striving to become healthy and happy, she took on a plant-based diet regardless of what other people thought or said. Below are her thoughts on vegan lifestyle labels, veggies and will power.

Thanks for sharing! 

* * * 





I don't use the "v" word when describing myself, my lifestyle or my diet. Being Vegan to me isn't just about not eating animal products, it's also a commitment to doing your best not to use any animal products. It's a conscious choice that you make to stop eating, wearing and using animals because of the abuse and the death and the sacredness of life.


I feel all those things and I do my best, but my dietary choices are determined by the state of my health not my moral obligations.  

I explain the nutritional choices I make by saying I follow a plant-based diet. I like this term because it is an inclusive term rather than an exclusive term. Being vegan always means not eating meat, but it can include some things like oreos and other crappy vegan food made from oils, fat and sugar. But when I say I eat a plant based diet it means I eat plants. I don't eat cheese substitutes. I don't eat junk food. I eat whole foods that grow from the ground.  


In a crowd it does leave some controversy as to "Well what do I feed you then?" And usually I follow up with, "No meat. no diary."  But starting out with plant-based helps me maneuver the system my way.  


I don't want to talk about animal rights or be immediately associated with PETA or Food Inc. I agree whole heartedly with all those things but they are not the reason I chose to live this way and because of that I don't want or deserve the judgment involved.  Every time I have ever said I'm vegan I inevitably get, "But why are you wearing leather boots?" or "Why do you have a leather bag?" You're not really Vegan!  And honestly they're right. I only eat vegan and occasionally I slip, although 95% of my diet is vegan I still have that 5% that's  not. And the reason is because I listen very closely and follow what my body tells me.  


Yesterday my body said I needed to eat a tuna sandwich so I did. Because I choose this lifestyle for my health I feel free to make healthy concessions like that (to a point, I'm not going to sit down and eat a hamburger). At the same time I am thinking of the fish and honoring the fish in my mind while eating it. But I believe that I must do what's best for my health and well being and listen to my body first and foremost.

Plant-based diet is a term I first learned from a man named Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study. If you haven't read The China Study I highly recommend you do, and if you want to go even farther watch their new movie coming out Forks Over Knives


The basic premise of both the movie and the book is that animal protein is the cause of all our western diseases: cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, auto immune diseases like lupus, ms, diabetes, crohns, ibs and many many more. I can't possibly go into the science behind it, but study after study showed that when you removed animal protein from the diet cancer stopped growing and heart disease was controllable without medications!  


As a lupus patient myself I have noticed a significant difference from before I changed my diet. I have cut out almost all of my medications and I'm happy and feeling good!


Erin and fiance Brian
Ali (Like the boxer)


I am so grateful to the animal activists, the PETA supporters, all those who have uncovered the cruelty involved in eating animals and all the Vegans out there, because they have opened this doorway for animal free products to be introduced to our world. I support you, feel deeply for your cause, and thank you with all my heart, but that is not my cause. 


I feel like I can not focus on changing the world until I change myself, so my cause is my health. It is the only cause I'm strong enough to tackle and I'm making strides everyday. I am happy though, knowing that most of the choices I make for my health concurrently save lives.

-Erin

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sponsor in the Spotlight #1: Pleasant River Soap Co.

I believe strongly that advertising at it's purest form is to help the end consumer become more informed about the products and services they purchase. I am happy to introduce the first VCL Sponsor in the Spotlight post by the Pleasant River Soap Co.

Enjoy!

* * * 


Insight provided by Mary Phipps, Owner and Soapstress


Click Here to view the full product line.  



1. What was your inspiration for starting the Pleasant River Soap Co.?
For as long as I can remember, and especially after my kids were born, I have been interested in living as naturally and preservative- free as possible. With a background in biology and chemistry, it occurred to me that I could unleash my “inner mad-scientist” and combine it with my love of natural and nourishing ingredients, and make body care products that I would be proud of, products that are entirely free. Free, that is, of artificial colors, fragrances, and preservatives!


2. What is your most popular soap?
Unequivocally, Maine Woods!






3. Are all of your products Vegan friendly?
Yes, all my soaps are vegan friendly. They all have the same veggie base of primarily olive and coconut oil, and each have an extra-nourishing oil added at the end of the process, such as sweet almond oil, kukui-nut oil, hemp seed oil, or avocado oil. They are colored with the natural beauty found in herbs and spices, and scented with 100% essential oils. Pure Nature LIPS, however, my line of all-natural lip balm, contains beeswax, and is not therefore considered by most vegans to be vegan friendly.


4. Where can I buy Pleasant River Soap Co. products?
It depends where you are in Maine! In the Portland area, you can buy PRSC products at Whole Foods, Lalo Boutique, and Lovely Things. In Falmouth, you can find us at Allen, Sterling, & Lothrop Garden Center and Coastal Naturopathic Center. In Raymond, the Good Life Market, Kennebec River Artisans in Hallowell, and the giftshop at the Winterport Winery proudly carry our stuff. Finally, if you’re cruising the islands, Pleasant River Soap is available at The Niblic on Chebeague Island.


All products can be purchased on the Pleasant River Soap Co. Online Store.


5. What is the most interesting fact about Pleasant River Soap Co.?
Perhaps this can best be answered with two facts that I am proudest of. First of all, I have recently introduced a program called Spares to Share, in which endcuts and leftover bars are donated to local food pantries and shelters. I believe that everyone should be able to cleanse their life, starting with their skin. Also, I am proud of my commitment to “green” packaging…all soaps are wearing recycled materials, which are printed with soy-based inks, and produced with wind-driven power.


6. What other products do you see adding to your collection?
Perhaps the most exciting product currently in research and development is soft soap. It is an entirely different process from that which produces bar soap, so it’s really fun and exciting! I’ve been asked so many times whether I carried it, that I finally decided I better start!


7. How many people help create the actual soap? Can you describe the process or give any details on ingredients?
I’m currently the sole “soapstress.” Things are growing so quickly, however, that that will be changing very soon. My soap is produced by “cold- process,” meaning no heat, and therefore energy, is used in its production, other than to melt the oils which are solid at room temperature. It is not cooked for hours over a hot stove like the soap of yesteryear. So, my loyal soap supporters feel good knowing that not only are spares/extras donated, the packaging is produced with recycled materials, wind-driven energy, and printed with soy-based ink, but the soap itself is also produced with minimal energy!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recognition, Synergy & Human Trust

Three hundred people were standing in the conference room and I searched to find just one familiar face. It was clear, either I need to get out of my cubicle more often or the company I work for has way more employees than I originally thought (or maybe both).

It’s funny, right? I go to work repeatedly in the same job, same function, same parking space, same entrance, same circular door, sit down in the same ergo chair and wave to the same people to say good morning over and over, but a large majority of the people I work with are still strangers.

Now, some may like it that way. Quiet and private is safe. You can actually see the invisible line that separates the hall to your office space. It’s bright red or yellow so, although it’s not physically there, you’re hoping the person that stopped to talk to you can see the beaming color.

“This is my space. This your space.”

I agree that sometimes in professional environments safe and quiet is good. It makes us less vulnerable to judgment and we convince ourselves that “I only know this person because of work”, which may be irrevocably true.

However, there is an undeniable truth that the connections you make with people outside the office may help you inside the office.

That’s where the recognition conference comes into play. Somebody at some point in time decided to recognize the fact we are dynamic human beings. Rational beings, we do great things because we can.

Next is synergy. Yes, we can do even more great things together than what we could possibly accomplish individually. So while 300 employees were receiving recognition for accomplishments in their individual jobs, they were also there because their efforts are working towards a greater purpose for the organization.

That’s why connections are so important. I’m not talking about who knows who. I’m talking about the what and why and how. Getting to really know the people you work with. What are their likes, do they run marathons, do they take pictures? Are they vegan? When they go home after work do they have to pick up all three kids from basketball practice at different schools?

Simply talking with people builds trust and trust is what helps build concrete connections. 

 Honestly, you could do trust falls all day long but you’re still not going to know anything special about your co-worker unless you’re playing “Scream one interesting thing about yourself or your co-workers will drop you”, which I’m sure will sky rocket the office morale statistic in the next workplace satisfaction survey. A recognition conference with co-workers is the perfect opportunity to talk and build trust among your fellow employees.


Community Relations event: Building bookcases! My team built the bookcase while I was automatically put to work decorating the bookmarks. 
The Photographer of the Group
The Sports Princess

My point is this. Business is business. Bottom lines and budget restraints trump most all other things. But real human connections are important. People help us through times of desperation or life events. People take the time to explain processes ten times until you finally understand or offer help when you can’t possibly take on another project.

Yes the recognition conference last week was a time to give myself a pat on the back and enjoy the events, but it was also an opportunity to build trust among my co-workers. I encourage you to make connections with the people you work with outside your normal social circle. The friendships you make could help you on a professional level and you never know who may have something unique and interesting to share.

Thanks, 
Danie

Photo Files: All of the Lights



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge: Top Service & Atmosphere Make the Meal





Jiko
Disney World
Orlando, Florida



Vacationing at Disney World without kids is an interesting experience. You spend most of your time at the parks dodging strollers and hearing the shrills of laughter or tears from kids because they're so tired but really, really want to see Mickey Mouse. 

That's why I was happy Joe and I decided to skip the park options for dinner one night and made a reservation at Jiko. While Jiko seems to be kid friendly, the space definitely has an older feel. The atmosphere is much more relaxed then the normal Disney energy buzz that is happening in other dining locations.


MY Experience 
Rating: 5 of 5
Jiko gets a true 5 out of 5 for experience. Disney clearly has a prime service model for a reason. They even call their employees cast members because each person has a role to make your experience "magical". Our server Michael definitely helped make the whole experience enjoyable, offering recommendations on wine and food, but only inserting himself when he deemed appropriate. 

While there is only one vegan option on the menu, spending a week at Disney World makes me realize that if you want to request something different you just have to ask.

MY Food
Rating: 5 of 5
Fabulous.

Me: I'm so full, but it's so good I can't stop eating.
Joe: That quote better go on the blog.

APPETIZERS: 
We decided on the Taste of Africa to start. Honestly, it was wonderful. Michael explained that if we had ordered the dish off the regular menu, a different type of bread would be included for dipping. He included the non-vegan bread for Joe to try, which was definitely appreciated. 

The dish included four different dips, all pungent and tasty in their own manner. The flavors were accented depending on the bread you ate it with, so it was nice to have the ability to change the bread texture and taste per dipping sauce. 


They brought a basket of bread to start when we were first seated and Michael explained which breads I could eat immediately, without hesitation. Above is the flaxseed bread.
Dipping sauces, including masala and green olive hummus.
Bread Basket included multiple breads for dipping including Papadumand and Whole Wheat Lavosh
Me and Joe enjoying dinner.
ENTRÉE: 
Because there was only one entree on the Vegan menu I didn't have another option presented to me at the restaurant. That being said, I was looking forward to trying the entree made up of vegetables and coconut basmati rice in a flavorful curry sauce. I knew that would be my option when we made the reservation so I was perfectly content. 

The dish was great and definitely more than enough to eat. Michael even paired a nice white wine to accent the dish and I was thankful, since I'm definitely not a wine expert.




And...Joe got the lamb dish. He liked it. 

DESSERT: 
I was so full that we didn't get the sorbet on the menu, but I'm sure it's delicious. 

MY Logistics
Rating: 4.8 of 5
Joe and I took a cab to the The Animal Kingdom Lodge from the Caribbean Beach Resort, since Disney World does not offer shuttle buses that transport guests from resort to resort. You can go from resort to park to resort, but since we had a specific reservation we paid the $8 for a cab so we wouldn't be late. Finding the actual restaurant is fairly easy, just follow the signs downstairs to pool level. The restaurant is directly across from Boma, a buffet full of African food choices. 

The meal was on the expensive side, more then I would normally considering paying for an average night out. We considered it a special occasion and I definitely think the whole experience was worth the price. Our meal consisted of bread and butter, Taste of Africa appetizer, Joe's lamb entree, my vegan entree, and two glasses of wine (one each) we paid just over $115 with tip. 

Overall
Rating: 4.93 of 5
Like the title states, top service and atmosphere make this place shine. The food was great and easy to enjoy in a haven like location in the middle of Disney World. I think I liked it so much because it was out of the ordinary regarding meals that I could create on my own AND the offering was much different than any food or dining experience you would receive at the parks. Who wouldn't want to eat a vegan curry dish with white wine while watching a small pond of water trickle past? Relaxing...

I really enjoyed myself.

Thanks, 
Danie