Everglades Day and Majorie Stoneman Douglas- April 7, 2019

Shero. Activist. Inspiration. Legacy.

All words to describe a woman I grew up revering as a modern goddess, in the sense of maternalism for wetlands.

Today, is Everglades Day and more importantly, Majorie Stoneman Douglas’ birthday. I learned about her greatness while in elementary school. Everything I know today about the importance of the Florida Everglades is a combination of living here and reading the work of Majorie.

While in law school, I wrote a paper about restoring the Florida Everglades. Majorie is one of the people who inspired that vision, but also brought to light why we MUST protect this wetland. Today, I would like to honor her by asking you to donate to the Friends of the Everglades Fund. They continue to fight for protection of the wetlands.

The Everglades is a one of a kind ecosystem, found only in Florida. Yes, there are other wetlands. Yes, there are other marshes. However, there is only one Florida Everglades. An ecosystem filled with so much biodiversity. Where the limestone and the aquifers are vital to the survival of Florida’s fresh drinking water. The animals and plant life depend on the restoration of the flow south.

The mangroves of the everglades acts of the first sign of defense when a hurricane wants to make landfall. Those roots are meant to dig deep into the ground and act as a natural barrier. The animals work together to carve the paths of the river and it flows and brings forth all the nutrients for plants and animal to survive.

Rapidly, we have destroyed the Everglades. Taking more and more land for development. By removing more water. Adding invasive plant and animal species which are destroying this once vibrant ecosystem. Lack of water flow from Lake Okeechobee is stifling the “River of Grass”, making it a barren wasteland.

The history stems all the way to the Army Corp of Engineers. I could sit here and talk about their involvement and the fact they destroyed the everglades creating all of these canals for waterfront properties. Also, the other culprits are those involved in “Big Sugar”, which is heavily lobbied here in Florida. Sugar = Poison. Yes, you read that correctly. Did you know the US subsidizes the price of sugar, just like they do gasoline! Mind-blowing. The East Agricultural Area is located right outside of Lake Okeechobee and that is where the water must be restore. Dilemma, that water is tainted and polluted. This is actually also the cause of the lovely Red Tide, I think you’ve heard of it. (The dumping of polluted water of the east and west coast of Florida, pouring into the estuaries. – FYI estuaries is where ALL baby sea life start, great start, poisoned water, but I digress).

What will you do to change your impact? We must stand up and speak to our government. Hold them accountable for the environmental atrocities and reckless negligence forced upon the Everglades.

I am doing my part, now it is your turn!

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World Wildlife Day 2019

World Wildlife Day 2019
I’m a day late, but yesterday, March 3rd was World Wildlife Day. The United Nations decides to proclaim March 3rd, which is also the day of the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or Wild  Fauna and Flora. The purpose of World Wildlife Day is to raise awareness of the words beautiful species both plant and animal life. All life is precious. Our world relies on intricate ecosystem that support each other’s existence. It is the ever changing nature and balance between these ecosystems that we see life and purity. Keeping the “wild” protected is safer for the animals, but also for humans. Remove humans from the wilderness and most forms of life will thrive. This years theme is “Life below water: for people and planet”.

Meatless Monday Chronicles: It’s Grillin’ Time!

Most of the time people think grilling is only for carnivores. Well, that is not true! Anything and everything can be grilled. I absolutely love grilling veggies. It equals zero fat. No oil, no butter (if you’re just vegetarian or trying something new). It is literally just the fire, some water in a spray or squeeze bottle.

I know I have not been on in a week and I apologize! My life kind of took over and I needed to focus on some outside matters. Trying to get my posts where there recurring frequently on their own! Woot woot, trying to be tech savvy.

Today’s menu: Grilled veggie skewers, grilled corn, smashed potatoes and a grilled veggie burger! Yum-a-licious and protein packed.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Broccoli and Cauliflower cut in big chunks
  • 2 ears of corn (or more if you’re doing a larger group)
  • 1/2 pound of petite creamer potatoes
  • 1 Boca Burger Veggie Burger
  • handful of small baby bella mushrooms
  • 4 wood skewers for shikabobs (Soaked in cold water- the longer the better!)
  • Dill weed (dry seasoning)
  • salt and pepper

 

Process:

  • Turn your grill on to medium/hight heat!
  • Turn the stove on and fill a large pot with water and bring to roaring boil.
  • Add the potatoes to the boiling water.
  • Meanwhile, take the ears of corns and peel the harder husk away, leaving a thin layer.
  • You always want to put the corn first on the grill because it takes a longer time to cook.
    • *cooking tip: If you are pressed for time, boiling corn is the fastest way to cook them!
    • *cooking tip: If you don’t have a grill, but still want to infuse flavor. Peel the corn entirely and coat with olive oil and some seasonings then wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes!
  • Now, grab your skewers that have been soaking in cold water.
    • *why!? to prevent the skewers from burning! Typically you want over 2 hours of soaking, but a good 15 minutes soak works as well.
  • Take your rinsed, clean veggies and stack them up on the skewer.
  • Now, put them on the grill, near your corn that is still cooking.
  • By now, you may be freaking out because the husk has caught on fire. That is OKAY! Just grab your spray or squeeze bottle of water and saturate it. This will also help with the steam effect to help cook the corn.
  • Also, great time to add your Boca Burger to the grill (spray lightly with cooking spray so it does not stick or fall apart when you flip. Make sure you use a spatula and not tongs-I learned the hard crumbly way lol!)
  • Don’t forget your potatoes that are boiling! (Isn’t cooking fun!)
  • Stab them with a fork to see if they are tender, if so, strain them in the sink! (Good way to get some anger out!)
  • Throw the potatoes back in the pan and get potato masher and just do a quick hard smash. Here, I added the dill weed with a little salt and black pepper. (you can add butter here if you want or some olive oil).
  • Cardio time! Run back out to the grill. Your corn, skewers, and Boca Burger should be done!
  • Best part…ASSEMBLE and Eat!!

 

I hope you find my recipe fun and entertaining. Yes, I do speak the way I type with excitement. It truly is my personality! Let me know how you like this simple, grilling creation.

 

Check out the pics belowwww!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday Chronicles: What’s that Quinoa Thing?!

Hey everyone! Sorry for the late start, or late post. It has been one heck of a Monday! I have been a little under the weather, so my food is kind of like comfort food today.

Today,  I used quinoa. I know what is this weird grain thing that all veggie and vegan people eat. I literally put it in everything from, “fried rice”, pancakes, eggs, brownies, I mean pretty much anything. It truly is a fantastic grain. It has a lot of antioxidants, which are great for your skin and fighting free radicals in the body. There is also a lot of protein in this enriched, ancient grain. The ancient people of Peru utilized this grain.

The dark truth of quinoa’s ever growing popularity, is that this food source was once a staple in Peru. However, today this grain now costs more than rice in their country because it is of only high demand in the United States and other more advanced countries. This has hurt the populations because they now lack access to their own natural food source. How do you make the right choice? Look for free-trade brands when you are shopping. It is the best for the environment and the surrounding people. Remember this is all our planet and we all deserve the riches she provides.

Enough of my soap box. What do you do with quinoa?! Well, you can cook it as the package instructs with water. This is best when you are going to use the quinoa for some other purpose. Such as pancakes (I’ll teach this recipe soon!)

For today, I used it in its normal form, a grain or a starch for my meal. Let’s start!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Quinoa 1 cup
  • Vegetable broth 2 cups
  • 3 big Idaho potatoes (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of a diced onion
  • half a bunch of asparagus

Seasoning for Potatoes (Perfect side as wedges/fries)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • you can always add more if you prefer more flavor!

 

Process:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees for the potatoes.
  • Cut the potatoes long way to make nice even strips or wedge shape.
  • To prevent from turning brown, place potatoes in a bowl of ice water. This helps remove a lot of starch and helps in the cooking process.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Place your wedges on the sheet and add the seasonings.
  • Mix them up with your hands and then throw in the oven for 15 minutes, then flip and return for 15 minutes.

 

  • While the potatoes are cooking let’s move on to the rest.
  • Chop your onion and throw in a medium sized skillet.
  • Peel the carrots and cut on a diagonal and cut the ends off the asparagus.
  • Then rinse the carrots and asparagus.
  • Bring the onion to a nice sauté and then add the rest of the veggies.
  • Meanwhile, in another medium size saucepan. Heat some olive oil.
  • Add the 1 cup of quinoa to the pot and let it get toasted, like you would pasta or rice. Gives it an extra earthy flavor.
  • Then add the 2 cups of vegetable stock. This also adds new flavor to the quinoa, which is a lot like a sponge and absorbs what ever flavors you put in it.
  • Let it boil and then simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

 

Serve:

  • Throw the quinoa at the bottom of your dish.
  • Add the veggies on top and the potatoes, there is your quick and easy  beginner quinoa meal!!

 

Check out some photos of the process. Let me know what else you like to put quinoa in!

 

 

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Weekly Wisdom Wednesday: Everyday Pollution

Pollution. The definition according to Webster’s dictionary is : “the action of polluting especially by environmental contamination with man-made waste.”

Ah, there’s the key word – “man-made waste”. Everything humans create is not natural to the planet, i.e. pollution. Majority of the products created throughout mankind’s history are not from natural resources. From the inception of humans we have always formed and created tools from either things in nature or now, in a lab or a factory. Many of the items we have grown to become accustom to in our everyday lives are actually the very products that are leading the epidemic of pollution.

For example, plastic water bottles. These items are created for individual, one sale use. The demand for single use items has grown exponentially over the years. however, the demand is not only by the “industrialized nations”, such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and so on and so forth. There is a plethora of single use water bottles in “third world” countries all around the world! Why? Well, if the “better” nations are doing this and leading by example, then we must follow suit. The issue is simple: these items take 450 years (yes, you read that correctly, that is FOUR centuries!)

What is the other problem with plastic water bottles? The amount of oil used to create them! So, we are using a non-renewable resource to create something that will not decompose in any of our lifetimes. Some have said it is roughly over 1.6 million barrels of oil to make plastic water bottles.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is unable to provide a real number for the amount of crude oil that is used to produce plastic. Then whom is responsible for knowing these specific amounts? ( I will do some real legal research and come back and update this post).

The purpose of this post was to show that we are responsible for pollution. Everything that humankind has created is with a single purpose. Once those items have fulfilled their purpose they are literally thrown away! There is not even a thought to repurpose them, recycle them, or reuse them in another fashion. This is for glass, plastic, cardboard, paper, napkins and the list goes on!

Collectively, we need to find a way to reduce the DEMAND for single use items. Imagine a world where all you saw was trash every step you made. Oh, wait… we already live in that world.

Here are some images from my stroll in Port Canaveral, Florida this past weekend. I was abhorred to see the amount of trash I did in every single turn!

 

I was disgusted and disappointed. I could not fathom that I descended from one of the “most” intelligent species to see such disregard for the environment. For those of you that are not familiar with Florida’s geography. Port Canaveral is of course near NASA, but it is also the major Port for cruise vessels. That means the ocean is right there!

Below is an image of my location.

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One of the biggest causes of sea life death, pollution! So, if you are littering all over near the ocean, odds are majority of this trash is going to wind up in the ocean.

What can we do? I will admit, I did not see a lot of recycling or trash receptacles. However, that does not mitigate our duty to do our due diligence and pick up and throw or recycle items!

We only have one planet, please take care of it. If you have any other suggestions or things you have seen work, please feel free to comment!

 

Meatless Monday Chronicles: Butternut Squash Soup!

I am still figuring out this whole blog website thing…however, I want to create a recipe corner! (Just not sure how to make the menu thingy work). I am always concocting new creations. I have been obsessed with the kitchen since I was five. My mother said the first thing I learned was to push the dining chair into the kitchen and get to the counter. She would catch me peeling and stuffing boiled eggs in my face.

Then elementary school summer break came along, guess who loved reading books of all kinds?! Yup, cookbooks too. Very first, unsupervised thing I made was fudge. Boy was it delicious! My mom was impressed, yet terrified because I was cooking and boiling hot sugar…of course, I did not do that unsupervised again. I did learn to be really messy in the kitchen, which did not go so well with mom either. What can I say, I live by organized chaos! (I’ve learned to clean more haha).

My inspiration for this recipe is my mom. She has been vegetarian for over 30 years, maybe longer. As I got older, I perfected meat dishes for my dad (do not cook meat anymore), but I wanted to create unique things for my mom too. So, I combined a lot of my favorite orange things and thus called it soup!! Yup, as creative as it gets sometimes lol.

My mom is from the beautiful small island of Trinidad and Tobago, so, making a “Butternut Squash Soup” was definitely not a normal thing, but she was excited to try it! I have been making it the same ever since!

# of ingredients: 5

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Butternut Squash (1/2 pound)
  • Sweet Potatoes (2 medium size)
  • Carrots (3, peeled)
  • Veggie Stock (homemade or store bought – 3 cups)
  • Olive Oil Spray (or mister if you have one)

 

Directions:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots into similar size chunks.
  • Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  • Place all the orange veggies on the sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Use a long wooden skewer to pierce the veggies. If it goes through, they are ready to come out of the oven.
  • Heat a pot with 1 1/2 cup of veggie stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add all your veggies, (here, you can add some other fresh veggies like onion or fennel to give a different flavor!)
  • Bring to a nice simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Turn the stove off, and get your blender ready! I have a NinjaChef, which was an awesome Christmas present!
  • I used the soup setting first and yes it will look like small lumpy mashed veggies, that is okay!
  • Don’t forget that reserved vegetable stock! Start to add that liquid to your veggies to help them move around the blender.
  • I do it in half portions to not exceed the “hot liquid” warning and to ensure smooth soup texture!
  • Once, all has turned into mush, add the last 1/2 cup of vegetable stock to the blender and put on the puree setting!
  • It is like magic, no more mushy, just silk smooth soup!
  • You can store in a freezer proof container for up to a month! I always divide my portions for lunch, dinner, and a lazy day in the future, i.e. freezer.

Below are some pictures from my Meatless Monday Chronicles! Tune in next week for another fun creation!

Remember, there is nothing to being an amazing home chef! Healthy meals are quick, simple, and low maintenance ingredients, they also do not have to break the bank!

Notice, there was no salt or sugar in this recipe! You get all the natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes and the carrots. Also, the butternut squash gives you amazing flavor and texture. This is a sure fire healthy meal, whether you are on a diet, trying to be vegetarian or vegan, or just want to try something new!

 

Hope you enjoy!! Come back for more Meatless Monday Chronicles!!

 

~Elizabeth Gosein-Vasquez

Mentor from Afar, Dr. Jane Goodall

I became enamored with Dr. Jane Goodall as a child, watching her on television. I thought how remarkable her career must be to study animals for a living and traveling the world. Her passion inspired me to want to make a difference in the world. To be the change I wanted to see. She instilled something within that I have since tried to follow.

Dr. Goodall may not even know the impact she has had on my life or my choices, but everything she stands for is what I believe in. She made groundbreaking strides not only for women in a male dominated field, but for animals. The Chimpanzees are very lucky to have an advocate like her in their corner. Dr. Goodall also brings the protection of local and indigenous people into the realm of protection. We must educate the masses on their vital role to protecting wildlife. The local people are very much part of the problem, but also they key to the solution when provided with the proper tools.

Not only is she a brilliant scientist, but a phenomenal world leader. She is known for being a peacemaker around the globe. According to her website, she “travels the world, writing, speaking and spreading hope though action, encouraging each of us to use ‘the gist of our life to make the world a better place’.”

I may not have followed in her footsteps, but I have continued to follow her work. I may not have become the scientist my parents wished, but I instead chose to take the law into my own hands and pursue a career in the protection of the environment and animals.

Many people do not believe they can make a change, but Dr. Jane Goodall is the perfect example of one person “being the change they wish to see in the world.” She is the ultimate “shero”, most definitely one of my idols. My dream is to one day meet her in a world where animals are given rights to exist and coexist with humans. I aspire to one day achieve the incredible accolades Dr. Goodall has over her lifetime as a pioneer in the animal rights community. Thank you for everything you have done, Dr. Goodall. Wishing you the most fabulous 84th Birthday. Here is to many more, and one day meeting you.

One of your biggest fans, Elizabeth ❤

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Amongst the Hustle and Bustle…Life is Created

Even with the constant movement in our mundane lives, life is being created. Spring is the time of rebirth. For all the beautiful plant life and vegetation, the sun is out longer and new plants have a chance to blossom. With the revival of the fauna, it is also time time for LIFE!

In our little yard, we noticed some perfectly made holes in our fence post. Of course, we thought woodpeckers! Interestingly enough, it was definitely birds, but not the ones we thought. We have in our fence post multiple holes in multiples posts and they all seem to be form the same birds! They have blue upper bodies and a red breast area. They are called Eastern Bluebird. If you click on the link you can see the type of bird I am referring too, unfortunately, I did not catch any good photos of the birds, but I see them everyday!

However, I have pictures of something even more precious. Important Note: Never touch wild eggs or wild babies. The parents will no longer recognize the scent and they will then abandon their eggs or young. This is a common problem of humans always feeling the necessity to touch what does not belong to them.

When we took our picture, we made it quick and brief and did not linger long so or scent would not perfume the air. The parents kept a safe distance as we captured a quick photo! Do you see the beauty?! Five beautiful small colored eggs, you could not ask for a more special Easter Surprise! We can’t wait to see the little birdies learn to fly. ❤ Happy Easter!!

Elusive Ghost Crab

The Elusive Ghost Crab
Probably my favorite creature on the shoreline. I absolutely love crabs! They are the cutest thing running across the beach, sideways. Have you ever notice tiny holes on the beach when you arrive early morning right before sunrise? Crabs are pretty active in the early hours, mainly because their main predators, birds cannot see them as easily. They tend to burrow into their holes. They are very shy and easily frightened. I had to stay pretty far to get a picture of this one. I am a huge proponent of beach clean ups. This little ‘fella’ was out while I was cleaning the beach with fellow law students. Beach clean ups are one of the best ways to give back to the earth and then being able to spend the rest of the day enjoying what nature has to offer. Whether it is finding crabs, watching birds dive into the ocean. Seeing, jellyfish, turtles or other fish in the water and even the rare stingray if you are lucky! I would never trade the ocean life. There are a multitude of creatures that can be found at the beach.Just remember to respect their space and admire them from a distance. They are just as afraid of us as we are of them.

The End of the White Rhino

What are you going to do to help prevent the extinction of animals? Poaching is not necessary. The horns of these animals are made of the same material as our fingernails and hair. Why is it so coveted throughout the world? If there is no demand then there should be no supply. The people who poach and kill many of these innocent creatures are doing it out of desperation to feed and support their families. They are forced. The extinction problem is a human caused problem.

Humans have an obsession with believing we are indestructible and our actions hold no consequences. Quite the contrary, animals such as the White Rhino coexisted with dinosaurs for millions of years before our existence. We single handily destroyed this species. For what? To exploit their horns and carve designs on them? Supposedly according to ancient culturales they held healing powers. However, we are not as ignorant as our ancestors. We have science that has proven we do not need any of those materials from a Rhino or any other animal such as elephants, tigers, pangolins and more.

We must come together to preserve what is late of the wildlife. Humans created this problem. Now, humans have to solve it.

What will you do to help?