Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy Burger Day: Veggie Burgers

 Today is "Happy Burger Day" so I decided to share with you some veggie burgers that I have prepared. As a lacto-ovo vegetarian (occasional vegan), it's only appropriate. I love making them, so I am always getting creative. Until the next time. Enjoy friends!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

National Pancake Day: Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

Today is "National Pancake Day". When it comes to making fluffy, delicious pancakes, the key ingredient is using almond milk (and if you suffer from an allergy, use soy milk) instead of eggs and vegan butter instead of dairy butter. Adding some carbonation into the mix is always good, as well. I like to use Zevia's Cream Soda simply because it's a healthier alternative to many.
To create a very flavorful yet yummy cinnamon sauce, try using ground cinnamon mixed with stevia, vegan butter, and almond milk. If you suffer from a nut allergy, just use soy milk. The glaze should always be sweet, but not sickening sweet to the level where it overpowers the dish. Daiya Cream Cheese, vegan butter, and stevia always works great. Add some coconut cream for a creamier texture.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Baked Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese

Continuing "National Macaroni & Cheese Day" with my signature Gourmet Baked Macaroni & Cheese. Aside from making your pasta from scratch, a tip to make this cheesy dish delicious is to use sharp cheddar cheese instead of regular cheddar cheese and to use plain Greek Yogurt as a substitute for Milk. Also use vegan butter like Earth Balance instead of regular butter or oil. Also, before baking, you only want to boil your pasta until it is soft, not al dente.

National Mac n' Cheese Day: French Macaroni & Cheese

French Macaroni & Cheese with Muenster Cheese, Havarti Cheese, Brie Cheese, and Greek Yogurt (plain/unsweetened) cooked with Earth Balance Butter.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

MTV 2014 VMAs

MTV hosts an award show every year to honor the greatest talent in popular music. With an array of categories and awards, recipients are honored for their contributions to music. I am not a psychic, so I cannot predict who will win, however, I do have quite a few that I can see taking home the moon man. So, who do I think will win a VMA?

Video Of The Year
Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus

Best Male Video
All Of Me by John Legend

Best Female Video
Dark Horse by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J

Artist To Watch
Stay With Me by Sam Smith

Best Pop Video
Fancy by Iggy Azalea featuring Charlie XCX

Best Rock Video
Until It's Gone by Linkin Park

Best Hip Hop Video
Berzerk by Eminem

MTV Clubland Award
Turn Down For What by Lil Jon featuring DJ Snake (Check out my interview with Lil Jon here)

Best Collaboration
Timber by Pitbull featuring Kesha

Best Direction
Turn Down For What by Lil Jon featuring DJ Snake (If you haven't read my interview with Lil Jon, you can by clicking here)

Best Choreography
Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake (RIP Michael Jackson)

Best Visual Effects
Turn Down For What by Lil Jon featuring DJ Snake (Don't forget to check out my exclusive interview with Lil Jon here)

Best Art Direction
Turn Down For What by Lil Jon featuring DJ Snake

Best Editing
Pretty Hurts by Beyoncé

Best Cinematography
City Of Angels by Thirty Seconds To Mars

Best Video With A Social Message
Pretty Hurts by Beyoncé

Best Lyric Video
Really Don't Care by Demi Lovato featuring Cheryl Lloyd

I am looking forward to watching Nicki Minaj perform her latest hit Anaconda, along with the other talented artists tonight. Are you going to watch? If so, tune into the 31st Annual MTV Video Music Awards tonight on MTV at 9 PM EST (6 PM PST).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

National Spumoni Day: Spumoni Cheesecake

Today is "National Spumoni Day". Spumoni is simply a traditional Italian dessert that consists of three flavors such as pistachio (green), cherry (red), and vanilla (white) to mimic the colors of the Italian flag. Often containing fruits and nuts, it is popular amongst Italians all around the world.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Food Talk: Exclusive Interview with Gardein

When it comes to enjoying amazing vegetarian food, gardein is definitely one of the best there is. In fact, it is a personal favorite of mine. Recently, I had the chance to speak with the CEO and founder of Gardein, Yves Potvin about the brand. Here is what he had to say...

(Q) Tell me a little more about the gardein brand...
gardein (garden + protein) is a sustainable protein brand that creates deliciously meaty foods made from plants. We offer mouthwatering products that are good for you and good for the planet. Our product line-up includes 23 different products, ranging from beefless tips, golden fishless filets, as well as, awarding winning favorites such as seven grain crispy tenders and crispy chick’n sliders, and a selection of limited edition holiday items (Turk’y Holiday Roast stuffed with Wild Rice and Cranberries with traditional gravy). Breakfast, lunch and dinner are covered for anyone who wants to incorporate great tasting, plant-based protein into their diet.

(Q) Behind every great product lies a major source of influence. What inspired you to create this plant-protein brand?
I was inspired to create healthier, sustainable versions of foods people love to eat that offer real meat-like taste and texture I’ve always believed that plant protein should be at the center of every plate. It shouldn’t have to feel like a sacrifice to swap meatless options into your diet. We launched gardein in 2009 and have since become the fastest growing brand in the category. My goal is to continue developing new convenient and versatile plant-based proteins to feed the rising demand for healthier meat options. I feel it has never been easier to make the change in your diet for better health and a better environment.

(Q) It is evident that Gardein is made from plants, but is gardein free of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs)?
Yes, the soy protein and wheat in all our products are non-GMO We are currently enrolled with the Non-GMO Project and hope to be 100% non-gmo in the near future.

(Q) I absolutely love the 'Beefless Tips' however; everything I have tried by gardein has been fantastic. What are your current best sellers?
We love hearing that you love gardein! Of course we make delicious beefless items, but we’re so much more. We currently offer 23 products and to date, some of our most popular items are: the gardein golden fishless filet, which is our newest product, but already a fan favorite. It’s a cholesterol free, great-tasting protein that is rich in flavor and texture and provides 32 mg of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids. The gardein seven grain crispy tenders which provide a good source of protein with 8g per serving, no trans-fat and are ready in only 10 minutes! The gardein mandarin orange crispy chick’n is another favorite and a good source of protein with 17g per serving. It also comes with a sweet and tangy sauce. The gardein crispy chick’n sliders are perfect as a snack or meal, each meat-free slider comes with a bun and delivers 11g of protein and only 190 calories per serving. In addition this Item won Better Homes & Gardens Magazine Best New Product of 2014 as voted by consumers. The gardein ultimate beefless burger is ready in as little as 8 minutes and this beefless burger is made with 65% less fat than a beef burger.

(Q) Talking about the health benefits, what are the benefits of eating Gardein?
Eating meatless, even just one day a week, is the simplest way to improve your overall health. gardein has less fat than traditional proteins and no cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. gardein also provides a good source of protein and fiber.

(Q) How do you flavor your products? I have to ask, the yeast extract that you use in your products, is it MSG or non-MSG?
While we won’t give away the secret to how we create such tasty treats, we can say confidently that there is no MSG in our product and we use non-MSG yeast extract to enhance gardein’s flavor. I was trained as a traditional French chef and understand that flavor is everything. Over the past 30 years, I have dedicated my career specifically to perfecting the taste and texture of plant-based foods.

(Q) Is it true that if you eat one less meat burger, it's like taking your car off the road for 320 miles? And if an entire family of 4 stops eating red meat for a week, it's like taking the car off the road for 3 months? Tell me a little more about these statistical facts...
Yes! gardein is making the world a better place, one meatless meal at a time. Many people don’t know that cutting back on meat just one day of the week, while beneficial to your health, has a drastic impact on the environment. One of the biggest environmental impacts of a meat-eating diet is the depletion of natural resources, specifically the consumption of large amounts of water for livestock production. Today, with more than 17 billion livestock in the world, that’s about triple the number of people, raising these animals requires huge amounts of water! Most of the water is used to irrigate the grains and hay to feed these animals – it can take up to 15 times as much water to raise animals compared to farming plants for food supply. Also, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently published a report stating that the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation.

(Q) What is your stance on animal cruelty?
We believe all animals deserve to be treated in a humane and compassionate manner. We support and applaud the efforts of the multitude of organizations bringing awareness and affecting policy change including PETA, HSUS, Mercy for Animals and Sea Shepherd.

(Q) I think a lot of your fans (like myself) want to know what products you are going to be coming out with next. The question remains, what is next for Gardein?
You’ll have to wait and see! We are always developing new protein innovations, new flavors and new categories to meet consumer’s culinary preferences. I can’t tell you what will be next, but I can tell you they will be tasty!

(Q) For those people considering the vegetarian or vegan eating lifestyle, what advice do you have for them?
Today, eating better for you protein is easier than ever. We suggest incorporating meat options, such as plant-based proteins, like gardein, into your diet slowly. Try eliminating meat once a week for Meatless Monday. Another great way to cut back on meat is to swap out the meat from your favorite meal with a plant-based options. Our website offers great meatless recipes that deliver tasty and filling meals.
For more information about gardein, please visit today.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Music Talk: Exclusive Interview with Arch Enemy

Arch Enemy performing in
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil.
(Photo by Naira Teixeira Dias)
Arch Enemy is melodic death metal band located in the heart of Sweden. Established in the mid 90s, they are one of the greatest rock acts ever. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Michael Amott, the guitarist and one of the main founders of the band. Here is what he had to say...

(Q) What inspired you to create Arch Enemy? Tell me a little more about the inspiration behind the band...
Well, I had come out of a death metal phase and while I was still into heaviness and speed, I also had a newfound passion for catchy songwriting and melody. I was looking for a new project where I could fuse both the extreme sounds and heaviness with quality guitar songwriting and structure. The term "melodic death metal" was not a thing yet so I was just acting on pure instinct.

(Q) I remember when I was first heard Black Earth. I was about 15 years old at the time. I remember hearing "Bury Me An Angel" and thinking how amazingly great you were. You are truly melodic death metal at its finest.
Thanks, that’s great to hear! 15 years old is a great time to be exposed to something like that, haha! Yeah, the first album got us some initial underground recognition and also got us our first shows in Europe and Japan. It was the beginning of what we still do to this day.

(Q) Let's talk about the new album. You have a new album called War Eternal, which I am very excited about. Tell me a little more about this album...
It’s the accumulation of the work we put into the song writing process that started after our last album (2011’s ‘Khaos Legions’). I’m very proud of the album, I have a feeling that maybe we've made something quite special this time. I pushed myself harder as a songwriter, with the help of some great collaborations along the way. In a similar way to how ‘Wages Of Sin’ (2001) was a new horizon for Arch Enemy. That is the sort of emotion I feel when I hear these new songs, fresh and exciting.

(Q) How is War Eternal different from your previous albums?
We have a new lineup obviously and we also had a whole year to put this together which helped us make it something very detailed and sonically deep sounding. Now the album is finally out, everyone can judge for themselves.

(Q) Alissa White-Gluz is new to the band. In fact, she joined this year. She's very talented. She was also recommended by Angela, which I think is amazing. What has it been like working with Alissa?
It’s been really good, of course different and new, but good! It’s true that Angela recommended Alissa and after rehearsing with her and doing some demos of new material we all agreed she was in fact perfect for the job.

(Q) Let's talk events. What are your upcoming events? Will there be a tour following the album?
Oh yeah, we’re on the road now in Europe. We’re about 15 shows in and it’s going very, very well! We’ll be in the US this fall with Kreator and Huntress as special guests. We’re looking forward to that.

(Q) Do you think you will ever make it to Pittsburgh, PA?
We haven’t played Pittsburgh, PA in many years. I have no idea why not, from what remember it was good.

(Q) For all of those Arch Enemy fans reading this interview, what would you like them to know? What is next for the band?
Thanks for the interview! Our fans can expect a lot more shows through this and next year as we continue touring the world. See you out there!

For more information about Arch Enemy, please visit today.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

National Honey Bee Day

As you are aware, bees are extremely important to our entire world. Without these small little flying insects, life would not be what it is today. They are the crown jewel of pollination. As much as we would want nature to be a stand-alone situation, it is every living thing that makes it what it is. Bees definitely contribute a lot to nature and our planet. I want to take the time to say "Happy Honey Bee Day" and next day you see a bee, take a picture, and let them work because in the end, they are doing everything for you.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Vegetarian Recipes: Khoresht Bodemjoon

Persian food <3
As a Persian woman, I am always finding myself in the kitchen cooking an array of cuisine especially Persian cuisine. There are so many amazing dishes, however; a lot of these dishes call for meat and/or fish.

As a lacto ovo vegetarian, I am always looking for ways to execute various ingredients into the cuisine without ruining the actual dish. Luckily, it is possible to enjoy your favorite Persian dish using various meat alternatives. Today, I am going to demonstrate one of favorite Persian dishes with a vegetarian spin on it.

One of my favorite Persian dishes is definitely Khoresht Bodemjoon, which is an eggplant and lamb stew that melts in your mouth. I said to myself "Although I know how to cook this using the traditional ingredients, is it possible to incorporate this dish into vegetarian cuisine" and guess what? It is very possible. Let's get started!

You are going to need the following ingredients...

2 Classic Eggplants

Vamb (see the recipe here)

1 Tomato

1 Red Onion

2 Garlic Cloves

2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons of Soybean Oil

2 Tablespoons of Turmeric

2 Tablespoons of Salt

1 Teaspoon of Nutmeg

1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon of Clove

1 Teaspoon of Dark Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Black Pepper

You want to first and foremost, prepare the ingredients because it makes this dish so much easier to cook. You want to begin by dicing the onion. The onion should be chopped generously. Sit them aside. Once you get this out of the way, you can start on your tomatoes. Dice the tomatoes the same way you prepared the onions. Add a little bit of lemon juice and add the tomato paste. You want to smash and chop the garlic cloves before adding them into this dish. Set aside.

As you continue, you want to peel the eggplant. You want to them slice it. The slices should not be chopped or diced in cubes, but cut into semi-thick portions. Prepare a simple marinade of a little bit of oil and some salt in a bowl and add the eggplant to it. The lamb should be chopped into cubes, but they should also be generous sized and not cut small or thin. You can also use balls, as well. Today, I am going to use my very own interpretation of vegetarian lamb (Vamb).

In a cast iron pan (and if you don't own one, any heavy frying pan will work) you want to add the oil, followed by the diced onion, salt, and black pepper. You want to also add the lamb followed by the tomatoes you prepared. Then, as you want to add all of the rest of the ingredients including the garlic gloves, lemon juice, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and dark brown sugar. You want to cook on high heat for 10 minutes and then cook on low to medium heat for about an hour.

As we continue making the vegetarian Koreshte Bademjan, you want to start frying the eggplant. Grilling the eggplant is a great idea, so you have that option too. You want to add a little more lemon juice and a little bit of oil, followed by salt and pepper. I also recommend adding a little bit of nutmeg. You want your eggplant to have some flavor, as you don't want it to be over powered by the soybean oil.

Once you have cooked everything, you can start plating your Koreshte Bademjan. You want to place your eggplant on your dish first. Two slices work amazing for every dish. As you continue, you want to take the stew you originally prepared with the lamb, onion, tomato, and additional spice mixture and apply it on top of the eggplant. You are done and have completed the vegetarian Koreshte Bademjan.

Vegetarian Recipes: Ghormeh Sabzi

I love cooking
Ghormeh Sabzi is one of the most popular Persian dishes in all of Persian cuisine. Today I am going to demonstrate how it is possible to turn this very favorable carnivore classic into something even more amazing, executing vegetarian alternatives and balancing various flavors that are truly paradise on the palette. Let's get started!

What you will need...
 3 Cups of Parsley

2 Cups of Spinach

1 Cup of Coriander

1 Cup of Red Onion

3 Cloves of Garlic

1 Cup of Dried Kidney Beans

1/4 Cup of Chives

1 Pack of Gardein's Home-style Beefless Tips

3 Tablespoons of Lime Juice

2 Tablespoons of Turmeric

2 Tablespoons of Soybean Oil

2 Tablespoons of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Black Pepper

1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

3 Limes

First and foremost, you want to prepare your ingredients. Because the kidney beans will need to soak for a few hours, you will need to prepare those first. In a separate bowl, you want to add about a cup of water followed by the kidney beans, a little bit of oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Secondly, as you begin preparing the Ghormeh Sabzi, you want to chop your onions. They should be lightly diced in a cube-like fashion. As you continue, you want to smash and chop your garlic cloves. Create an oil and turmeric mixture with a little bit of salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Add the onions and garlic to the mixture. Set aside.

The meat in this dish definitely brings this amazing Persian dish to life. For this particular dish, I am going to use the entire pack of Gardein's Home-style Beefless Tips. Although you can use any meat alternative, I truly believe that Gardein makes one of the best I have used which is perfect for the Vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi. You want to create a marinade using just a little bit of soybean oil, a little bit of turmeric, some salt, and some pepper and add the meat free alternative to the mixture. Set aside.

The greens should be chopped generously. You want to also add some oil followed by the limes. The limes should be whole, but you should use a knife and cut small holes into the limes. Add a little bit of salt. Set aside.

Now it is time to cook the Ghormeh Sabzi. Are you ready?

First and foremost, you want to begin cooking by adding the chopped onion and garlic into a large pan or medium sized pot. Because the mixture is already prepared, this will give you the opportunity to sauté them properly. Add a little bit of turmeric if necessary. Cook on low to medium heat.

You want to add the Gardein Beefless Tips as is, however; if you feel that they are too big (and some may actually find them too big) you can cut them in half and add them to the already cooking onions, garlic, and oil. Because you already prepared the marinade, you don't have to add anything. Cook on low to medium heat.

As you continue, you want to take your kidney beans and add them to the already prepared mixture. You want to also add your limes. Cook on medium heat. Then, you want to add your greens. Add the chives followed by the lime juice. Give everything a big stir and cover your large pan or medium sized pot and cook on low to medium heat for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Serve alone in a bowl or on top of chelow or shirazi rice on a plate. You are done and have completed the Vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

National Dessert Day: Yellowstone Caldera

Today is "National Dessert Day" so for today, I decided to share with you the Yellowstone Caldera dessert. You can enjoy this decadent chocolate truffle torte with a warm molten middle at the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. The next time you visit Yellowstone National Park, you may want to check out the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room at the Old Faithful Lodge. Order the Yellowstone Caldera for dessert, as it's excellent.

How complimenting other people can make your life easier

Words hold power, but they don't hold enough power without action. When you compliment other people, you are delivering more than just words to them. You are delivering an action that speaks much louder than any word. So, how can complimenting other people make your own life easier?
When you make someone's day by telling them "you look beautiful today" those words alone create a level of awareness that triumphs any negativity they are enduring. Although it is possible they could already be in a great mood, your words projected onto another gives them a sense of empowerment that someone else notices them in a positive life.
That level of empowerment then creates a chemical barrier that reflects onto your individual state of well being. So, when you compliment them the compliment is usually reciprocated in return. Statistically speaking, reciprocation has proved to be true in this fact. If they don't compliment you back, no big deal. Just remember the compliment is cherished, embraced, and remembered.
When someone compliments you, how do you feel? Obviously good because you are being fed something positive, which is very crucial and important to ones' individual psyche, esteem, and overall state of well being. Think of this polite expression as a way to live in the moment and appreciate all of the good things you have done to help another person because it is a proven scientific fact that the energy one compliment creates, is projected and reflected upon you.
The next time you see your friends, compliment them. Tell them why you are grateful to have them as friends. Tell them that you look forward to spending many memorable times together and look forward to what the future will hold. Trust me, in the end they will never forget it and not only will it make their day, but your own life easier too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Morgan Ingram: Exclusive Interview with Ryan Ingram

Morgan and Ryan.
Morgan Ingram was found dead on December 2, 2011. As her death remains a mystery, one thing is certain, she was murdered. Recently, I had the chance to speak with her older brother Ryan Ingram about his sister's life and her death. Here is what he had to tell me...

(Q) Hello Ryan. How are you?

Hello Sarah. I am doing ok.

(Q) I wanted to ask you some questions today. Can you tell me a little more about Morgan and the type of person she was?

Well, I can talk on for days about Morgan. She was a beautiful soul. She was very brilliant in many ways. She loved life. She was the best sister anyone could ask for. Morgan was very loving and caring. She was very articulate and intelligent. The list goes on.

(Q) That is so amazing. I think Morgan was such a beautiful soul. Everything about her was so amazing. Plus, she was raised by your mother who is another beautiful soul. I truly believe everyone in your family is so kind and compassionate.

Thank you.

(Q) I wanted to ask you Ryan, did Morgan ever tell you about the stalking? Did she seem distant when you talked to her? Can you tell me a little more?

We talked. Yes, she did tell me about the stalking. I was very angry about it when she told me. I wanted to help my sister, I wanted to protect my sister. She was very classy in a sense where she didn't want me to worry, when I said that I wanted to put an end to it. She was the type of young woman who did not like drama or confrontation. "No Ryan, no Ryan..." she said to me when I offered to handle it. I know my mom and dad were going to the sheriffs and filing reports about it. They were taking proper measures to catch the guy and make him stop, but I was still worried.

Morgan's request was "I love you Ryan and I will call you if I need you" and I respected her wishes like I always did. She did tell me about the stalking and I chose to go along with her feelings on the matter at that time. Knowing what I know now, I should have went against her wishes. I could kick myself now because now my sister is dead.
Morgan Ingram enjoying dinner with family
and loved ones, including Ryan Ingram.

(Q) Wow, she actually told you about stalker?

Yes, she talked to me about the stalker and so did my parents. My life did not just change after the loss of Morgan. It changed months before due to the stalking. It changed by worrying about her and my parents. The months leading up to her death were not good ones for our family. The stalker was all we thought about, and all we talked about. How do we keep her safe? What kind of person was this, what does he want, how do we catch him?

Before her stalking started in August of 2011 we talked about how much fun Morgan was having flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hawaii. We all celebrated her wrapping up her first two years of college and earning her AA degree, we talked about how wonderful the pictures were that she took of everyone in the family - we asked her to do a family portrait up on the mountain. We were a family that loved to do things together, spend time together and make wonderful memories, but the stalker took that all away from us.

(Q) Did she describe the stalker?

Yes, but referred to him as a neighbor’s boyfriend. When I did my research, I found out exactly who he was.

(Q) When is the last time you spoke with your sister? Tell me about the last time you saw Morgan...

I saw her the day before she died. She came by the shop with her friend at the time to help my dad pack up some stuff. She looked really pale. I was concerned so, me being the big brother, I asked her a bunch of questions. She was very open. She was very positive. She was in good spirits. We had a good talk. She was loving life, and having fun, just really tired. She wasn't going to let her stalker ruin her life. We said I love you and we hugged, just like we always did, like any other day, and she left. At that time I didn’t know it would be the very last time I would ever see my youngest sister alive.

(Q) Taking you back to that sad day, the day of December 2nd 2011. I know this is so hard. When you heard the news that your sister was dead, what went through your mind?

I went and destroyed my closet - I literally tore it apart. It was sometime after 6:00 am in the morning here. When I got the call, I knew it was an emergency. My mom doesn't usually call me that early in the morning, so I knew something was wrong. After I ripped apart my closet, that is when everything kind of set in. My girlfriend approached me and asked "Ryan, what is going on?" I told her that I had to go. I decided to head to their house.

When I got to the house, it was pretty much a crime scene. There was crime scene tape all around and I just went through it. I looked at the sheriffs, who looked at me shocked because I had just barged in. I remember having a little confrontational moment with them. I remember telling them "you didn't do your f^#%*@^ job!" and proceeded "And this is what the $%^& happened?!"

Morgan was laying on the ground with a towel over face. She was laying there in a frozen position. At this point, I was escorted out of the house. After that morning, I noticed that one of the cops parked his car outside of my house for a few days. I found that odd that he was more worried about me than going after the man responsible for my sister's death, even more worried about me than they ever were about protecting her how does that seem right?

(Q) I want to ask, do you believe that your sister was murdered? What are your reasons for believing she was murdered?

I never sat down and came to the conclusion as to any details about what happened, but yes, I do believe my sister was murdered.

(Q) I definitely believe she was murdered, as well. I don't believe suicide was ever the case. For someone who embraces the arts and loves writing, I find Morgan to be the type to leave a note. The drug levels are only the beginning.

Most definitely, she was not suicidal, she had a stalker, I have seen and heard the evidence, and for people to even mention suicide is not only ridiculous at this point, but an impossible conclusion given the evidence. So yes, that is exactly how I feel.

(Q) Do you think this woman, along with the alleged stalker/suspect are angry because your parents have exposed the truth and are not backing down? Do you believe their harassment is based on fear more so than anything else?

Absolutely. Everytime my parents expose something, these people come lashing back with the same exact thing every single time. "Everyone's crazy!"

(Q) Tell me a little more about the phone calls you received from the suspect's family and friends...What did they say to your girlfriend, as well as, yourself?

They approached my girlfriend and offered her incentives to give them any information, any "dirt" on me or my mom or anyone defending my parents. They offered money, as well. They basically approached a weak person and tried to manipulate that person into doing something to discredit my mom, my dad, and everyone supporting them.

The woman behind a lot of this talks a lot of trash online, but also embellishes and exaggerates her claims to fit her story. She never knew Morgan, doesn’t know our family, doesn’t even live in the same state. She was calling multiple times and not leaving any messages, so that is when I took it upon myself to call her back.

(Q) Wow...

At this point, I was so irritated because I couldn't have a conversation with anyone, she would just call and say nothing. She wasn't trying to be civil, so I just called this person and left them a message to let them know that it wasn't ok to do what they were doing. I wanted this person to stop harassing my parents and the mother of my children, as well as, anyone who supports them. I guess that gave her ammo to spread lies online and make herself look like a victim and me the bad guy for defending what is right. I didn't say anything threatening. I was just very clear when I asked her to leave my family alone.

(Q) Now I have a question, as you are aware - some people try to say that your parents, Toni and Steve are overbearing parents who cannot accept that your sister took her own life. What do you want these people to know?

My parents have always been truthful and honest. If overbearing means telling the truth and separating fact from fiction, then I guess you could say they are. Anyone who says this about my parents does not know them. They are hardworking people who knew their daughter, my sister. You will notice that as more evidence surfaces, those people connected to the stalker will try anything they can to discredit them and those that don't know much will learn more about what went wrong. There is so much evidence, there is so much proof that my sister was murdered and my parents will continue to keep going until the truth about what really happened to my sister comes out.

(Q) I have to ask, on December 2nd when you went to the house and you made your way in and so forth, did you notice anything really strange? Anything that was awkward? Anything that was odd that stood out?

Morgan was a little snuggle bug. She wore PJs to bed. Although I wasn't in the house for long, I found it very odd that she was wearing clothes she would go out in. She was in street clothes. That just wasn't my sister, that just wasn't Morgan. She was in a strange position lying on the floor and none of what I was seeing was making any sense to me.

(Q) That is just so sad. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about that day. I just want to know Ryan, I know you have a lot to say so I want you to say everything you would like to say.

I do have a lot to say. My sister's death has changed my life. After she died, I had a hard time dealing with her death. At the time, I had a great job and I was very successful. I couldn't work because of her death. It was very stressful. I could not stop thinking about Morgan. I also could not stop thinking about Morgan's stalker. I ended up moving away to try and get a fresh new start. The day Morgan was murdered everything changed for everyone in our family for the rest of our lives. Colorado was my home for many years, and I don't think I'll ever be able to live there, and do not even feel comfortable visiting.
Ryan Ingram's tattoo.

My youngest son was too young when Morgan died and will never remember his aunt. My daughter, who is nearly 6 and knew Morgan well will forever miss her aunt, she will never have cousins, and she will never know the happy go lucky grandparents that my parents used to be. As much as we have tried not to talk around her, it is impossible. She has nightmares and is scared of the dark, and to asleep alone. She asks about Morgan’s murder almost every day, and every day she wants to know if they caught that guy yet? The loss of Morgan and the manner of her death, has changed all of us, forever… I don't think any of us will ever be who we were before her death.

My mother was very passionate about everything and she knew what happened to my sister, as we all did. Everyone would talk about it and every time I kept thinking about Morgan's stalker. I miss my sister and I love my sister. I support my parents 100%. Morgan told me about him and I respected her wishes not to do what I thought I should do at the time. The reality is, my sister was murdered and justice has not been served. If I could turn back time, I would do things a lot differently.

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Morgan wrote this to her brother Ryan:

January 06, 2009

To the best brother a girl could ask for, when people tell me that the world is a cruel and horrible place all I can do is smile. I smile because I know them to be wrong. I know that the world is a beautiful place worth fighting for. I know this because of you. When I think of you I feel my heart, not the one that beats, rather the one that feels. Seventeen years here on earth, I have seen bad people and good people, but you Ryan, I know to be the best. For reasons I can 't quite explain, I see you more clearly than other people. I see your struggles and your triumphs, but mostly I see your heart. I am truly blessed to have a person like you in my life, a person who makes hope look so tangible, so real. ~Morgan


Hot In Food: 10 Amazing Iced Tea Recipes To Enjoy All Year Round

What happens when you take an aromatic beverage, add a fusion of your favorite fruits and/or spices, and incorporate a couple of ice cubes? I don't think there is anyone in this world who doesn't love iced tea. So here are some refreshing iced tea recipes to enjoy during the summer.

1. Chai Iced Tea. One of my favorite iced tea drinks is definitely this one. All it takes is black tea, vanilla almond milk, agave syrup, cardamom, allspice, black peppercorn, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, and ice cubes. Combine the ingredients, bring to a simmer, remove from heat, place into a chilled glass, and serve on ice.

2. Persian Iced Tea. What happens when you combine water, rose water, black tea, agave nectar, cardamom, mint, and a few ice cubes? This amazing Persian tea. Believe it or not, the ice cubes are made from rosewater. Add the rosewater to the ice cube tray and place it into the freezer overnight. Combine your water and black tea. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Combine the agave and cardamom syrup, add it to the tea and stir generously. Add the tea to a chilled glass along with the rosewater ice cubes.

3. Peach and Mint Iced Tea. Some of the best tasting iced teas ever are those that are as simple as the recipe. So, how do you make this iced tea? All you need to do is boil water and add tea (any tea is fine, I used black tea). Remove from heat. Add some sugar and refrigerate. As you continue, add some fresh peaches and some minute. Finally, serve in a chilled glass with ice.

4. Thai Iced Tea with Boba. I had the chance to enjoy some amazing Thai Iced Tea with Boba when I visited my good friends from Thailand. In order to create this amazing iced tea rendition, all you need is water, Thai tea, Boba, sugar, evaporated milk, sweet condensed milk, and some ice cubes. Combine all of the ingredients except for the tea, the milk, and Boba. Bring water to a boil and add the tea once you turn the heat down. Add the sugar. Mix your tea with sugar and place the tea into the fridge. Cook your Boba, add the milk, and then add everything into your already prepared tea.

5. Sweet Green Tea. If you love the oriental fusion of a southern classic, this twist is destined to fix that sweet tea craving you have. All you need is green tea, water, sugar, and ice. After you bring your green tea and water to a boil, remove from heat. Let it set for about 2 minutes, then add your sugar. After you have stirred your tea, place it into a chilled glass and serve on ice.

6. Iced Masala Chai. What happens when you combine almond milk, water, Irish breakfast tea, chai masala blend, cinnamon sticks, sugar, and add a few ice cubes? This happens. Combine all of the ingredients, bring to a simmer, remove from heat, place into a chilled glass, and serve on ice.

7. Southern Sweet Tea. Nothing beats this sweet, Southern classic. So, what does this tea require? Aside from the tea, all you need is water, baking soda, and a ton of sugar. You also need some ice cubes too. Boil your water, pour them over the tea bags, and steep for about 15 minutes. Pour the tea into a pitcher and add sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add some cold water to kind of shock your tea and place it into the fridge to chill for a few. Finally, add the ice cubes and you are basically good to go.

8. Cherry Pistachio Iced Tea. In my quest to experiment with individual flavor pairings, I discovered that cherry and pistachio go together incredibly. All you need is 2 cups of water to get you started. Once at a boil, add tea bags. As everything comes together, blend a combination of raw cherries and maraschino cherries in a blender. Add the contents into a bowl followed by 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of pistachio extract. Remove tea bags and add the bowl followed by 1 cup of sugar. Remove from heat. Add some Vanilla Almond Milk and some iced cubes.

9. Spiced Apricot Tea. Courtesy of Taste of Home, all you need are 2 cinnamon sticks, 10 whole cloves, 3 cups of water, 2 tea bags, 3 cups of apricot nectar, 2/3 cup of sugar, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Combine your water and tea bags, along with your cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pan. Bring to a boil. Then, remove heat and add the nectar and sugar.

10. Pumpkin Spiced Iced Tea. What do you get when you combine 3 cups of pumpkin puree, 2 cups of hot water, one cinnamon stick, 5 whole cloves, 1.5 cups of sugar, and 6 cups of cold water? This is what you get. Courtesy of The Pumpkin Project, this iced tea is one of the best you can enjoy all year round.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Soda Talk: Exclusive Interview with Zevia

Zevia is a naturally sweetened soda that has no sugar, no calories, and no artificial sweeteners. It is vegan, kosher, and gluten-free. Zevia is not only one of the greatest additions to ever grace the shelves of our local supermarket, it is one of my favorite sodas ever. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Paddy Spence, the CEO of Zevia. Here is what he had to say...

(Q) Hello Paddy. How are you? Great to speak with you. You are the brains behind this amazing brand.
Hey Sarah. I am doing great, thank you. I am so excited to be able to get on the phone today. How long have you been familiar with Zevia?

(Q) I first discovered Zevia when I was searching for the perfect soda alternative that was not only love in calories, but low in carbohydrates. I wanted something that was not sweetened with artificial ingredients such as Aspartame or Splenda. I noticed that when I would drink anything that was labeled diet, I would feel awkward, as if there were side effects to the sugar alternatives. Then, one day I took a stroll to my local supermarket to discover Zevia and ever since, I have been a big fan of the brand. The first flavor I tried was the Ginger Root Beer, which is one of my personal favorites right now. I was thinking to myself "this is so amazing, I have to contact the individual who created this soda."
That is so awesome.

(Q) There is so much that I find amazing about this soda. It's very low in carbohydrates, but there is still enough carbs to give you energy, as well, but the fact that it doesn't have the Aspartame or any of the sugar alternatives in it, is a huge plus for me. As much as I don't believe in brand or product belittling, I think it's evident that am not a fan of Aspartame.
I think, like you, that a lot of Americans are finding out that they are uncomfortable with Aspartame. We don't even know how much we are taking in because there are so many foods and beverages with Aspartame in them. In fact, a lot more than we can expect. That is one of the big benefits of having Zevia. From a no-sugar stand point, Zevia does not include Aspartame.

(Q) Stevia vs. Aspartame, the sweet dirty truth. It's evident that Stevia is natural and Aspartame is lab created. I wanted to ask you Paddy, what are the benefits and concerns of consuming both of these?
I think when it comes to Aspartame, it's less about having that one can of diet coke. Is that one can going to impact you? It's more about the quantity that one person is consuming. When you think about it, if you were to drink four cans of diet coke a day, over the course of one year, you are getting something like a kilo of Aspartame. So, huge quantities and I think that is where people really get concerned. The various health impacts that you see, whether it is concern over weight gain, etc. Recently, there was a big study that the University of Iowa conducted on menopausal women and they found that for folks who are consuming two cans or more of diet soda a day, there is an increase in cardiac arrest and stroke. So, things like that are important because this study consisted of thousands of people. So, pretty reliable data and I think that is where people are really getting concerned.

(Q) Wow, very interesting. There are a lot of problematic health issues when consuming this ingredient. I just want to say that I love the fact that you don't use this ingredient in your soda.
Well, thank you. I really appreciate that.

(Q) I have to ask, I notice that you use monk fruit in Zevia. Can you tell me a little more about this fruit?
Monk fruit is a fruit that is cultivated in parts of Asia and specifically parts of China and Thailand and like Stevia, it is a plant-based source of a sweetening ingredient that is 200 times as sweet as sugar with no calories. It is a really fantastic natural sweetener. It's a great compliment or accompliment to Stevia, so we use Stevia which is our primary sweetening ingredient which provides about 80% of our sweetening power and about 12% comes from the Monk Fruit and about 3% of Erythritol which is a sugar alcohol. So, it's really the unique blend of those three sweeteners that allows us to get a really nice, sweet product without the after taste.

(Q) That is amazing. And you know, there is no after taste which I was going to tell you, I absolutely love. When you drink other brands (and I won't mention any names) that do include Aspartame. You can definitely taste "it" and it isn't pleasant or something you want to taste.

(Q) Now I have a question, Zevia is a gluten-free which I absolutely love. I also love the fact that it is kosher, however; is it vegan-friendly? Is it free of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs)?
It is vegan and it is also non-GMO. Actually, if you look on our can, we have the vegan logo, the gluten-free logo, and the kosher logo. We are currently going through the non-GMO verfication process, so we are excited about that. We have been at it for a while, as there is a lot of documentation, etc. We are making great progress so we can use the logo and put on the can that we are non-GMO verified.

(Q) That is amazing. You know, I definitely wish you luck in that journey. It is definitely hard to brand a product like this, however; once everyone discovers what it is all about, it is definitely going to get recognized for what it is. It's already out there on the shelves. I mean, I discovered it and I am sure there are millions upon millions of people discovering this amazing soda as we talk about it. I must confess, I am a huge fan and I drink it religiously. It's like my favorite soda. Now, I have to ask you, what are your most popular flavors right now? Tell me a little more about your best sellers...
Well, the Cola is still our biggest seller, but we are really a variety in the brand. We currently have 15 flavors. Ginger Ale, Cream Soda, and Ginger Root Beer would be the next three, most popular. What is interesting is our fruit flavors are also extremely popular. There are some regional aspects to soda, as well. Dr. Zevia is very popular in Texas. With Dr. Pepper being born in Texas, Dr. Zevia is popular there. If you go into a retail store in Texas, there is a soda section and then there is a Dr. Pepper section. It's incredibly popular. Mountain Dew was born in the Southeast, so there are a lot of Mountain Dew drinkers in the Carolinas and in Tenessee, so that is an area where our Mountain Zevia sells really well. So, it's really neat to see regional pockets of preference. In the Northeast, it is a huge Ginger Ale market. People in New England particularly love Ginger Ale, so we sell a ton of that there. In addition to Ginger Root Beer and Cola, Ginger Ale and Cream Soda are our top sellers right now.

(Q) That is amazing. I have tried every single one of them and they are so amazing. You know, I really love the fruit sodas too. And they actually taste better than any diet fruit soda out there.

(Q) For all of those health enthusiasts and soda lovers that will read this interview, what would you like them to know? What is next for Zevia?
That is a great question. Well, one of the things that is next for us is getting out there into all of the locations where people buy soda. Today, you can find Zevia hidden in your natural products retail store and then in the supermarket and depending where you live, you may find us in Target or Costco, but there are a lot of places that sell soda where we traditionally haven't sold our product. Particularly places like convenience stores, restaurants, stadiums, etc. Starting this year, we became the first independent soda to sponsor a major league baseball team, so we are the zero-calorie soda sponsor for the Oakland A's. It's been pretty exciting. I have been to a few games this year and you can go into the stadium and buy a 16 oz. can of Zevia. That kind of thing is incredibly exciting and you are probably similar. Our fans go places outside of the home and they want Zevia. They go to the movies, they don't want a diet pepsi, they want a Zevia Cola. Some folks keep it in their purse and others request it at the movie theatre, so I think you are going to see our product in a lot more places. Single cans being sold in convenience stores and other places like that.
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