Grilling: Black Bean Burgers


Grilled Bean Burgers: First batch of bean burgers

Grilling is something I enjoy doing when the weather is nice. I’m an outdoor girl, so soaking up the sun while I grill a variety of dishes on the outdoor grill is tops on my list.

In my pre-veggie days, I wasn’t too fond of grilling meat. I did enjoy grilling the sides that accompanied the main meat dishes; asparagus, greens, beans, French fries, root vegetables, etc., Well… you get the idea.

Yesterday, was an incredibly warm day the flavorful veggie sandwiches played the starring role in our afternoon meal but I decided to toss some bean burgers on the grill too. Huge bonus points that some non veggie friends sampled and raved about the bean burgers.

I’ll get around to posting a recipe for these bean burgers. I admit since closing my foodie blog a little over a year ago I’ve gotten out of the habit of measuring whatever I prepare. I’m not one to follow a recipe, so toss in whatever feels ‘right’ at the time.

For the most part, I tend to stay away from the fake meats. Instead I use whole food ingredients that don’t mimic their meat counterparts but taste good anyway! Initially when I attempted to make grilled bean burgers, they would fall apart. Wendy from The Vision Quest of Life mentioned encountering this issue to. In response to her comment I said…

My bean burgers used to fall apart too, it took some tweaking before I had a burger that stayed together on the grill. I tend to chill my bean burger mix at least an hour, but usually overnight, before adding them to the grill. Adding a binding ingredient such as ground flax seeds can help also.

Since following these rules I haven’t had an issue with my vegetarian/vegan burgers crumbling. Why flax seeds? Flax seeds acts a binding agent, so it can be used in place of eggs to bind your ingredients together. Therefore giving you a firm burger that won’t crumble as easily. I’m all out of flax seeds, so didn’t use them in yesterdays grilled bean burgers but they held up their shape throughout the grilling.

Celebrate Life is a new blog. It’s less than a week old. Since that’s the case, I really don’t have a lot of readers; however, I’d urge those that have wondered to my virtual home to check out Wendy’s virtual home too. I’m enjoying reading through her posts. Check out her post on a Summer BBQ Feast. I think it’s great for those looking for veggie friendly BBQ ideas. While you’re there, you might want to read her Why not Dairy post too.

What’s in the Grilled bean burger?

  • Black beans
  • Carrots
  • Green onions
  • Collards
  • Garlic
  • Corn meal
  • Squash
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Sea Salt

With the exception of the carrots and some of the green onions, I tossed everything into my food processor and pulsed. The grated carrots and green onions were grated and folded into the mixture.

I would love to say that the grilled bean burgers are still around but they’re gone. No, my daughter and I didn’t eat them all ourselves. I had friends over, remember! Non veggie friends that gobbled them up. There was only one lowly burger left this morning and that burger was chopped up and added to the homemade home fries I prepared this morning.

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Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, whole food

Gardening: The Benefits of Mulching

Mulch.05.30.10.jpgCongratulations, you’re garden has finally been planted. Now you can sit back, relax, and wait for your crops to grow, right? Hey, not so fast! Another important part of the gardening process is mulching.

Of course, mulching will add an extra step to your gardening time, but the benefits make it worth it. When mulching I tend to use about three inches of mulch around my plants. I don’t put the mulch against the plant, I tend to mulch up to a few inches around the plants.


Mulching: Adding mulch to the flowers (I had no idea my daughter was taking my picture.)

As someone who’s gardened with and without I can definitely see the results of adding it to your gardening routine.


Gardening: Peach Blossoms

I’ve decided to include some of the benefits of mulching below.

Benefits of Mulching

  • Consistent moisture for your plants.
    I use about three inches of mulch around my plants, I’ve found that adding mulch reduces evaporation and retains moisture.
  • Weed reduction
    Weeds can rob your plants of nutrients and water. Some weeds can take over a garden fairly quickly. Mulch can help smoother the weed seedlings before they have a chance to take control.
  • Mulch breaks down, over time they add nutrients to the soil.
  • Mulch keeps your soil from drying.
    Have you ever seen a heavy downpour and watched the rain run off hard packed/baked soil? Definitely something you don’t want, when you are wanting your plants to grow! Mulch helps prevent this since the ground isn’t exposed to the elements. Adding mulch keeps the soil brittle, enabling water and air to reach it.
  • Mulching helps plants roots maintain an even temperature

    Gardening: Vine loaded with grapes

    You can have a great garden without mulching, I’ve definitely noticed an improvement when I started adding mulching to my gardening routine.

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Gardening: Table of Organic Produce


Gardening: Organic produce fresh from the garden

As a child, my parents had a nice size garden. It was a little over one and a half acres. I’ll admit, assisting my parents in the garden wasn’t a job I enjoyed but I truly appreciate it now.

It’s amazing how much you can remember from childhood. I applied a lot of that knowledge into my gardening today. These days my garden isn’t quite that size. It’s a little over three quarters of an acre, but it still brings in a lot of produce.

When I worked out in the corporate world, a coworker brought me in his only zucchini plant. It was a pitiful looking thing. For some reason it wasn’t thriving in his tiny garden. He gave it to me since he knew I had a ‘green thumb.’ I took ‘Little zucchi’ (what I named his plant) home and planted it amongst my other zucchini plants. It flourished and when it was time it produced a lot of zucchini, I happily brought in the zucchini (along with tons of other vegetables) to my co-worker. It wasn’t something he was expecting, but he surely appreciated receiving the produce. I really enjoy sharing with others. It makes me feel great!

Gardening is my ‘me time’, yes at times it can be strenuous work but it’s an excellent workout. On the intense gardening days, I tend to skip my rigorous gym workouts. The initial phase require a lot of commitement; tilling, hoeing, weeding, sowing the seeds or putting out the plants, mulching, composting, etc., but seeing the fruits of our labor, makes it worth it. It also gives me a healthy respect for those where farming is their full-time job.

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whole food, garden

Vegan: Flavorful Veggie Sandwich

Veggie sandwich


I really love color, and enjoy seeing it displayed in the various cuisines I prepare. Naturally, I was extremely pleased with this colorful vegan sandwich. Although the cooked meals I prepare are usually ready within fifteen minutes there are times when I don’t feel like cooking. In those instances, I’ll choose something such as the veggie sandwich above.

My daughter and I can choose to eat a salad, or wrap the filling into a wrap. Today we decided to make sandwiches and so our wrap of choice was rye bread.

I’ve been vegetarian since 1992 (turned vegan a few years later.) You want to know something? I wasn’t always fond of salads. I chalk it up to the tasteless salads I encountered as a child. It was obvious that no thought was put into them. I was expected to eat them because they were a salad. You’re supposed to eat your veggies, right? Although I ate them, I didn’t enjoy the bland vegetables that were put out before me. Fast forward years later, and now I enjoy my salads and realized that they can be extremely flavorful, imagine that! 😉

What’s in this sandwich?

  • Grated carrots
  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Collard greens
  • Raw sunflower seeds
  • Yellow onion
  • Raisins
  • Black olives
  • homemade mayonnaise

Within the next few days, I’ll come back to this post and include the exact measurements used for creating this salad.

The beauty of salads is that you can make them as simple or complex as you want them to be. This ‘salad on bread’ was bursting with flavor. My daughter enjoyed eating it a lot. I tend to make large batches of these types of salads so we can snack on throughout the day. There are so many different options that can be done with this sandwich, at times I use collard or kale leaves to make this a 100% raw meal. Regardless of what path you choose, it’s still delicious.

I really enjoy the weekends. If the weather is nice, it gives me a chance to hang outside with my daughter for the majority of the day. The sky was overcast for a good portion of the morning, however, the clouds eventually, rolled away to reveal the glorious sun.

Earlier today, I started the grill and grilled some homemade bean burgers. Yes, their vegan and no they didn’t fall apart. I’ll be posting the recipe for those burgers and a few other dishes sometime next week.

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Recipe, Vegan, vegetarian, Vegetarian, whole food

Guinea Pigs: Cuteness overload


Guinea Pigs: Daizy and Angel checking out my Nikon D80

This past Christmas holiday I adopted these two adorable guinea pigs for my daughter. She’s no stranger to animals. We’ve had ferrets. They’re hilariously feisty critters. We also had two dogs. I say ‘had’ because Lalita (our oldest and my #1 furbaby) passed away last month. She was fourteen years old. I still miss her. We still have one dog (our Shih Tzu) and two fish.


Guinea Pigs: All right, enough is enough, we’re trying to sleep here!

The black guinea pig is named ‘Daizy’. At the time when we adopted the guinea pigs my daughter was six years old. She informed me that Daizy wasn’t spelled like the flower (Daisy.) Glad she cleared that up, since that is how I was spelling it (in my head.) Our white little piggy is named, Angel. My daughter actually let me name the white piggy, and I thought that was the appropriate name for her.

Although I was familiar with guinea pigs (having had them as a child) I still brushed up on the Guinea pig care, since I knew the bulk of the responsibilities would land squarely on my shoulders. We definitely enjoy having our newest furbabies in our home, and they definitely add to the entertainment factor with some of the silly antics they do.

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Vegan: Green Energy Smoothie

green-smoothie.05.28.10.jpgAs I’ve already mentioned I’ve been craving a lot of greens lately. Fortunately for myself I have plenty of green vegetables growing in my garden, and so last evening I went out and picked more collards and kale.

Quite a bit of the green veggies were turned into collard and kale chips. I’ll post the recipe in a later post. Kale chips are a tasty (and healthy) snack. It was hard not to put all my greens into my soon to be chip pile, but I managed, and I was able to make a green smoothie.

Green smoothies are something my daughter and I drink daily. The green smoothies I make are delicious and nutritional powerhouses. Yep, they are chock full of vitamins and minerals. Something that not only taste good, but is good for you too. You can’t beat that right? Yes, the smoothies are Vegan. The green smoothies are a much better choice than the many of the empty calorie drinks that are flooding the market.

A few facts about greens
Did you know that ounce for ounce collards have more calcium than milk? Shocking stuff, I know and something you most likely won’t hear too often if you’re listening to mainstream media. According to many of those sources, milk is where it’s at, right?

Importance of Vitamin K
Another powerful vitamin you’ll find in most green leafy veggies is Vitamin K. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color, It also provides vitamin K. Many people overlook this amazing vitamin. We really shouldn’t since it plays an extremely important role in calcium circulation and bone formation. There have been numerous studies done that show low levels of vitamin K are linked to low bone density. Don’t forget your vitamin K!

Spinach and Oxalic acid
Ok back to the calcium, it’s true dark greens are an excellent source of calcium. However, there is one dark green that shouldn’t be counted (at least not by itself) on for calcium. Which dark green is that? Spinach. The reason is simple, spinach contains a high amount of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid removes calcium from the blood. When you eat spinach it’s best to pair it with foods that are loaded with vitamin C since this will help cancel out the oxalic acid.

Green Energy Drink

  • 4 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 2 cups kale and collards
  • 1″ ginger root (if you don’t like spicy leave out the ginger)

*If you don’t like your smoothie thick add more apple juice.


  1. In a blender add all ingredients
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Drink and enjoy

This is one of the numerous high energy drinks I make throughout the week. It’s all natural, sweet, and it’s good for you. I naturally have a lot of energy but this drink gives me even more.

For those of you who aren’t eating enough vegetables, why not give smoothies a try? Smoothies are a great way to add more vegetables into your diet without the ‘taste’ of the vegetables. Personally, I do like the way vegetables taste however, if you aren’t used to them but would like to add more to your diet, green smoothies are a tasty (and delightfully sneaky) way to accomplish that. Enjoy!

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Gardening, Recipe, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

Gardening: Early morning adventure

I’ve always been an early riser. Yeah I’m that person, the ‘type’ that some people love to hate. I’m usually awake by 4:30 AM. I bounce out of bed with a lot of energy. I’m ready to start the day.

Yeah… I’m one of those people! I tend to have the house to myself in the wee morning house. Sometimes our dog joins me on my adventure, but usually (if he even responds) he lifts up one eye, grumbles, and goes back to sleep.

I have a few cherished early morning rituals, and one of those is walking outside, soaking up the early sun rays, enjoying nature, and looking out at the beautiful garden.

Today, I decided to include a few photos of some of the things I see everyday. You might see a little white house in some of the pictures. That’s our shed. Our garden is a little over 3/4 acres. We have more than enough produce for us. What we don’t eat is stored away for the colder months and given out to family and friends.


Praying Mantis hiding in fennel

Can you see the praying mantis in this picture? They certainly do look like they’re praying, don’t they? I love praying mantis. Our fennel bush is covered with these little critters. It’s fascinating to watch them grow. My daughter and I pay them a visit daily.

When I pick my daily fennel, I carefully check the leaves to make sure I don’t bring them inside, occasionally I do and I take them back to their beloved fennel bush. The praying mantises are great insects to have in the garden since they eliminate the critters that can destroy your plants.

How do I use fennel? I use it in my green smoothies, stir fries, and at times I eat it raw. I love the mildly sweet, licorice taste of my beloved fennel. This is an herb that I cut back yearly. If I didn’t it would be taller than myself. Ok, so that’s not saying too much since I’m only 5′, but when I did let it grow it was a lot taller than I. 🙂

Strawberry patch.jpg

Strawberry patch

If you don’t watch out the early bird will pick all your strawberries, since I’m an early riser this doesn’t happen too much. However, I do leave some juicy berries for them to fight over. There are plenty of other juicy things for them to eat. I see them out there picking up a juicy worm or some type of insect.



I love cabbage, and use it in a variety of dishes, from Eggrolls to Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.


Squash and Beans

It’s always nice to see your garden thriving. I was happy to see that our squash and beans are coming along nicely. Beans are used in stir fry recipes, baked, eaten raw, and we dry them too. Squash are used in numerous dishes too. One of my favorite ways to use them is make them into pasta.



Fresh corn is incredibly sweet. I cannot wait until the ears of corn are ready to be picked.



As much as I enjoy onions, I should have planted more than two rows of these, right?

This isn’t our complete garden, but I wanted to give you an idea of some of the things you will see growing there. Perhaps I’ll post pictures of my flower garden over the weekend.

The great thing about being an early riser is that I get so much accomplished before most 9 – 5 folks are awake. By the time 6:30 rolls around the birds are out singing, I’m coming back inside so that I can prepare my daughters breakfast and awaken her.

I enjoy my early morning adventures. It’s my quiet time. 🙂 Quiet time, me time, needing space… However you describe it, I believe we all need it now and again. How do you spend your time?

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