Tag Archives: Christmas

Holiday Rice Salad


…with Cranberries & Apple!

Here’s the recipe for the holiday rice salad that I prepared for the Christmas party. It can be eaten at any time during the year, not just for the holidays! Everyone loved it and this dish makes for great left-overs too! This recipe is inspired by the Healthy Librarian over on Happy Healthy Long Life! (Link to her recipe can be found at the end!)

Rice Salad with applesUVC’s Holiday Rice Salad


Ingredients for Holiday Rice:


  • 1 cup of Basmati rice

  • 1/2 cup of Jasmine rice

  • 3 cups of water

  • 1 cup of dried cranberries

  • 2 firm green apples


Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews soaked in 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.

  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup orange juice (without the pulp)

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1/2 tsp. Himalayan Sea Salt

Suggestions for Add ins — when the Holiday Rice Salad is complete:


  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (or add fresh basil or mint leaves)

  • 3 grilled Field Roast Apple Sage sausages, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks.


Instructions for Rice:


1. In a medium-size saucepan combine the water, salt, and rice and cook over high heat. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.

2. Chop the green apples into small chunks.

3. When the rice is cooked, let it cool a bit before you mix in the cranberries. Then start grilling the sausage. Remember that they will cook fast!

4. Add the apple to the rice and cranberries, then mix in the Apple Sage Sausage.


Dressing for Rice:


1. Blend cashews, lemon & orange juice, chopped garlic and salt in a blender. A Cuisinart food processer, Vitamix or even a Bullet will do the job just fine! Blend till smooth.

2. Add to Holiday rice and mix together. Add fresh ground pepper to taste!




Triple Rice Salad with Dried Fruits, Nuts & Apple Sage Sausage

Holiday Virgin Recipe


I know that it’s after Christmas, but you can always save this idea for next year! As I mentioned in my previous post, every year our Christmas party invites a “holiday virgin” and we have a lot of fun with planning for this whole event! Everyone at the party has been a virgin at some point…yea, yea, I know where your mind is going, so get your head out of the gutter and get with the program, friend. The holidays are about sharing and caring!


VirginNot our virgin…or half the party, at least, would have been unable to focus!


Recipe for a Surprise Holiday Virgin


  1. Invite a friend you know who will be alone on Christmas Eve

  2. Tell them that they’re invited to dinner with a group of great people

  3. When they ask what they can bring, tell them, “Maybe some chocolates or a bottle of wine” – your choice!

  4.  Everyone at the party exchanges gifts later and has bought gifts for the virgin – but the virgin doesn’t know there are gifts involved. If the person asks, just say, “It’s just dinner!”

  5. Buy thoughtful and fun gifts for everyone to enjoy and/or bake goodies to share!


Speaking of baking, I had bought Kim Barnouin‘s “Skinny Bitch Bakery” before the holidays and made Stephane’s Orange Poppy Seed Bundt Cake. It was delicious! Everyone loved it!


photo-13Skinny Bitch Bakery by Kim Barnouin

Vegan Holiday Self-Defense


HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas to you all!

It’s the holidays and there are parties that all of us veggie lovers attend! However, as you are about to read, knowing a bit of what I call “holiday self-defense” might not be such a bad idea!


Vegan fitUVC’s Holiday Self-defense 101

However, that said, some veg lovers avoid these events like the plague, others go to these parties, bringing delicious vegetarian or vegan dishes with them, while a few have experiences like the one I’m about to share. I am sharing this woman’s story because I don’t believe she is alone with her experience. Yesterday, I came across her comment and asked if she would allow me share it with you all. Thankfully, she said yes! Here is what she wrote:


Overheard in the bathroom at work while I was apparently stealth peeing (or maybe they didn’t care who was in there):


Two ladies discussing the Meat Festival that was our floor party lunch last Friday. Steak (yum!), stuffed chicken breast (sigh of pleasure), etc. Oh, and there was salad and roasted vegetables for the two “vegetarians.” Smirk, eye roll, exasperated sighs (there is a crack in the stall and I saw the whole thing).


gossip women

First of all, there were not two vegetarians at the party. There was a vegetarian and a vegan. And the poor vegan couldn’t even eat the roasted vegetables because she wasn’t sure if they were roasted in butter or oil.


It’s just been a bad week in general. The holidays seem to bring it on. I was questioned at another party as to why I wasn’t trying the lobster casserole. I said I didn’t even eat lobster before I went vegetarian (the whole boiling it alive thing kind of got to me even as a clueless, meat-eating child), and I now don’t eat any seafood as a vegetarian. Duh


Then I got the whole “food chain” lecture about the “natural order” and how we’re superior to animals and were put on this earth to eat them. So I said would you eat your cat. Oh, that’s different.


Going out tonight to my first ever vegan restaurant experience. No one will ask why I’m not ordering meat – yay!


Thanks for letting me vent. Happy holidays!


You know this happens, right!? Any of us can find ourselves in one or both of these scenarios! Going vegan or vegetarian, you often become the “odd man out”, so to speak, unless you’re amongst “your own”! So how do you guard against situations like these? Do you take lessons in self-defense and go for a total smack down? (FYI: It is healthy and normal to fantasize about what you would like to do in situations like these! It only becomes “unhealthy” when you act it out! So go for an all out “smack down fantasy” if that’s what it takes!)


Women wrestlersFantasy Smack down!


All right, if you’ve read my postings or know me in person, you already know that I am not into these kinds of sports or taking people down…unless it’s the meat & dairy industry or corrupt politicians! I wouldn’t mind seeing them leave town! Let’s get back to the topic! What can you do if faced with co-workers, family members or others who want to give you a lecture or be nasty behind your back?


Well, I don’t think there’s much you can do other than be YOU! The fact is that we can’t change people’s behavior. If they choose to be rude, ignorant and/or disrespectful behind your back…or directly to your face, then that’s on them! Remember, that you are not responsible for their behavior only for your own! I remind my students at school that, “If someone is being mean to you, it’s about them, not about you! A person who feels good about themselves never treats others in such a distasteful manner!” 


Your most powerful “weapon” against people like these is to bring amazing vegalicious food for them to try! Don’t even mention that it is vegan or vegetarian! Just bring a delicious dish or two. Even better, bake something so mind blowing that it leaves their small brains spinning! Trust me, they will be asking you for the recipes! Other than that, shrug it off, smile, and have fun at the party! It took me a long time to come to the point and say, “These people’s opinions aren’t important! Life is too short! I’m not going to waste it on people who put me down, criticize me, talk about me behind my back – who simply are not kind people!” I’ve even let go of family members who exhibit this undesirable behavior!  So girl friend, kick up your heels and smile…if that doesn’t work, go out to your car and scream loudly! Then return to the party and grab a cocktail or two! YOU deserve it, dear!


Kick up your heels

Happy Joyous Holidays everyone! 

Busy Mom Wants to Go Vegan


Hi All,

I’ve been busier than ever this month, hence I haven’t had time to post! However, my Danish friend Helene wrote me this week and I asked her if I could share her letter with you, so that it would benefit not just her, but someone else out there who is a young busy mom who’s thinking about going plant-based vegan, but doesn’t have time to read a whole bunch. Here’s a section of what my friend wrote:


Helene & Vega IHelene & Vega

Hi Nina,

I’ve been wanting to write you for so long, but something always gets in the way. Time seems to fly with Vega running around and needing attention. She is amazing and at a wonderful age. She understands a lot and does fun things…Time’s flying – she will be two in February! I hope you are doing well – it looks that way. You look healthy and happy! Speaking of healthy, I wanted to hear if you would recommend some good books about “plant-based for beginners”? Something that is easily accessible, with ideas for all three meals. I am still very curious about it, but have not yet dared to take the plunge into it. Kevin is fully supportive of it. It is one thing that keeps “poking” at me in my thoughts. I have no doubt that it is healthier, but momentarily I just feel like it might be really difficult, and that is probably one of the biggest reasons why nothing has come of it yet. And I may be completely wrong? Perhaps it is really simple. I could easily live without meat. It is more cheese, eggs and milk, etc. Doesn’t it take time to get used to not eating these products. Well, I talk, you just got a few of my thoughts. I need a book with recipes, not a lot of theory, I don’t get anything read during this time, period. Now I can hear Vega crying in the background. Time to get her from her nap!

Best, Helene



Hi Helene,

A quick note for now, as I have to go to work. I will write more later! Yes, Helene, it is one of the Best decisions I’ve ever made for myself! Now I wish I’d started in my twenties or even earlier! Difficult? Were there difficult days in the beginning when I first started out? Yes, but most have been surprisingly easy! It has only been a difficult transition when I haven’t taken the time to plan or prep food, which I started doing on Sundays. Since you’re going to be in the United States for Christmas, I’d recommend that you start with a book like, “Everyday Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon. This one will provide you with all three meals. Another new cookbook is, “The China Study Cookbook” by Leanne Campbell. I just received this one not too long ago, but it also looks really good. I am a huge fan of Jennifer Reilly‘s book, “Cooking with Trader Joe’s – The Skinny Dish”. She’s the mother of two young boys (I believe) and was one of my trainers at PCRM. You do not need a Trader Joe’s to cook from this book. I hope this helps! Gotta run!

Talk later, Nina


Everyday Happy Herbivore

Hi Nina,

Thank you for your speedy response! I will definitely look for the books that you suggested when we come to the United States. I have a couple other questions for you:

What do you do when you’re somewhere where there’s simply only a nasty, unhealthy, non- plant-based option available. For example, at an airport “dead hungry” and/or running short on time. What do you do? Do you compromise, or starve yourself until a better option presents itself? And I can’t get away from the situation where you’re invited to dinner, and the person has done a decent job with a delicious dish, where you then have to say, “Sorry, I cannot eat it!” and what if you unknowingly have eaten an egg in a cake – or something else? Do you get sick or “sour” because you weren’t paying attention? These are in a nutshell issues and problems that I can foresee. 


Vega IIVega wants to know too!

Fine points and questions you bring up Helene! I would say, eat the cake or the dish in that situation as long as it is something you can live with. I mean, what are you going to do if you’ve already eaten the dish, not knowing what was in it? However, some dishes are so obvious! It is easy to say in a social situation, “My doctor has asked me to stay away from eating these products!” Who will argue with that? Not many! Yesterday, I went to a huge Christmas party, but had eaten before I went. (That’s always a good idea, then you don’t get tempted to “sway from the diet”!) There were huge tables set up with the usual big meat spreads, baked goods, candy dishes and only two trays with vegetables! I snacked on the vegetables along with a glass of wine and no one even noticed! I politely declined when other trays came around!


veg tray4A beautiful Veggie Tray

In regards to the airport, I haven’t been in the situation that you described. I would suggest packing snacks (nuts, seeds, fruits, vegan snack bars, etc.) to take along on any trip! I have always found something I could eat in any airport I’ve been in in the past two years! It has not been an issue! Most side dishes are vegan when you think about it. Plus, there’s usually a place to order up a veggie burrito – just ask them to hold the cheese! Or a large salad for that matter! There are vegan cheeses on the market! One of my students recently commented on really liking a certain soy cheese and something else. Some taste great, others don’t! You sort of have to test your way through to find the ones that you like! I used to miss cheese the most, but now, I don’t! As far as eggs are concerned, I have learned how to bake without them and so far I haven’t run into any issues! What deters me from eating them, besides knowing the cruel treatment they undergo, is that one egg equals two Burger King Whoppers in cholesterol and saturated fat! No Thanks!

By the way, when you book your overseas tickets, just ask for the “Strict Vegetarian Meal”! Your meal will arrive before anyone elses…A bonus if you’re hungry! And my experience has been that my seat companion has always either been jealous and/or regretful that they didn’t order what I was having!


Helene & VegaMy friend Helene & her daughter…I love this photo!

I know you didn’t ask me this, but as I mentioned earlier, I would schedule a “prep day” for your fruits and veggies! Mine is usually on Sunday, where I wash, chop and store for the week! This keeps me on track! I love making a big salad with kale, beans, cabbage, beets, and other veggies to take for lunch or simply to snack on! You make amazing salads, Helene! I know that you will make an easy transition into this wonderful world of whole foods plant-based nutrition! There are plenty of sites and free recipes out there for you to check out. Here are links to some of my favorites:


Healthy Girl’s Kitchen: Healthy Recipes


Happy Herbivore Recipes


The Engine 2 Diet – Favorite Recipes


FatFree Vegan Kitchen


Happy Healthy Long Life


Post Punk Kitchen


Carrie On Vegan – Recipes


This should at least help get you started and well on your way! I am so happy that your awesome hubby is on board as well! It is extremely helpful to have a partner who is supportive of going plant-based! I am really excited for you! This is such an exciting adventure – at least it has been for me! I miss you guys! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask…this goes for anyone reading this post as well! [Thank you for reading!]

Talk soon! xoxo Nina & Pippa…Woof!