What a year

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done this, and a lot has happened in that while. I moved to Syracuse, New York. My baby sister got married. I chopped a foot of my hair off and quit my job. There’s a lot more, but that’s not why I’m here. Amongst all of these life changes and stress, my stomach developed a weakness for food. This has been a real bummer, because I’d you know me, you know I love food. Now the positive side to this is I list a significant amount of weight that I have been trying to lose for a year. So at least that happened.
If anyone out there is like me and has a weak stomach when times are hard or in general, I would like to share how I got through it without shrinking my stomach and getting sick.
The first thing I had to do was recognize that stress was doing this to me. Finding time for yoga and relaxing exercises was something I had to do. I also had to realize that my job played an integral part of my stress. Even though I didn’t have a job lined up, I had to leave Starbucks because it wasn’t a healthy environment for me anymore. Now some of you might wonder, “isn’t being unemployed more stressful? You don’t know how you’re going to pay for anything.” Sure, it’s stressful if you don’t believe you can find a more suitable and fulfilling job in the near future. I know I can be a great asset to any company that I choose to work for. This whole experience has helped me realize that you shouldn’t go through life doing something just to pay the bills, even if you’re good at it. You should love what you do and be surrounded by peers that feel the same way. That is what makes a business thrive and be successful.
Anyway, back to the point. Quick and easy vegan food to help the weak stomach. Raw almonds were my life saver. They are a good source of protein and they are delicious. Pressing some tofu for 20 minutes then throwing it in a skillet with some garlic and broccoli was pretty much my staple meal. Its a good source of protein and the garlic and broccoli helped get that vitamin C, calcium and fiber. My mornings usually consisted of a banana for some potassium and my afternoon was usually an everything bagel thin with tofutti cream cheese (gotta get those carbs in there for brain function!) Even if I wasn’t hungry, I knew I needed to eat and I knew I needed to pick healthy foods that would get my out of my funk, not pull me further down. Staying away from sugar was hard, but I know it would have an adverse reaction to my goal.
Food plays an important role in our moods and energy. Knowing that, I have been pretty mindful of what I put in my body to help me get through these hard times. You only have one life and its up to you to take care of your body to maximize your experience on this beautiful journey!

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My new hair and my new attitude!

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Delicious crock pot oatmeal

When people think oatmeal, almost no one thinks of something mouth watering and delicious. You think of weight loss and fiber. At least that’s what I think of. Recently while skimming Pinterest I found a lovely and delicious oatmeal recipe. It’s got apples and brown sugar to add a little more flavor and because it soaks in its own juices in the crock pot, it’s super flavorful. All you do is chop up 2 apples and throw them in the crock pot with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 cups of oatmeal and 4 cups of water. Let it all simmer on low over night. I sprinkled almond meal on top of it before serving it, just to add a little more flavor. It’s not super sugary and it tastes so much like apple, it’s wonderful. It’s also really healthy since its mostly oatmeal. But be careful, you’ll have left overs for a week!

Breakfast casserole

I know I haven’t posted in a while, sorry. I’ve been a little busy with work and haven’t been cooking a whole lot. But tonight I made something that I have been craving for a few days now.
I grew up in the Lutheran church which is known for two things: jello and casseroles. My favorite casserole growing up was a breakfast casserole with ham, eggs and lots of cheese. Being that I don’t eat any of those ingredients, coming up with a similar breakfast casserole was going to be a challenge. So I sat on the idea for a few days, really think about the flavored I wanted to replicate and the texture I wanted the casserole to have. I’m very pleased with the end result, and it took 30 minutes from prep time to eating time. I used a 9×11 casserole dish and lightly oiled the bottom. I used half of a bag of frozen hash browns as the first layer. Then I crumbled up half of a tube of breakfast flavored faux sausage. I used a tofu scramble mix and sautéed it with a pound of tofu and a fistful of nutritional yeast. While that was sautéing, I added a second layer of hash browns. When the tofu was done, I put that on top of the hash browns and the crumbled butter toast on top of that. I threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and enjoyed it immediately! It was delicious and full of delicious breakfast flavors.

C is for cookie

Some of you really seemed to like the picture of the chocolate cookies I made last night. So in your honor, here is the recipe. This is an adaptation of a recipe by the ever inspiring Isa Chandra from her cookie book. These took maybe 20 minutes (including bake time) and not only are they delicious, but they look pretty when you cut them in half.

In one bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of flour with 1/2 tsp. of baking soda and 1/3 cup of baking cocoa. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 brown sugar, 1/2 sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla. After that is mixed together, add 1/2 cup of almond milk. Mix until incorporated, then slowly mix in the dry ingredients until you have a lovely chocolate dough. Now, grab a bowl and mix 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Lightly grease a cookie pan and spoon the chocolate dough onto the pan, flattening the dough out. Place a small ball of the peanut butter on top of the chocolate dough and fold the chocolate dough over the peanut butter. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and 350 degrees and you have delicious, fancy looking cookies! Warning: if you are dieting, stay as far away from these as possible, they are too delicious to just have one!

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Pinterest

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I really have been slacking with my blogging lately, but after a fierce conversation with my husband last night, I will no longer slack! My recent obsession with Pinterest has left me lazy and unmotivated to blog. Maybe it’s because everything I think I came up with is already on there, or maybe it’s because I am spending way too much time on the website. One thing I can confidently say is that there is not enough vegan food on Pinterest. That does not stop me from looking. Those mouth watering sweets and succulent looking salts are more like a challenge for me than anything. How can I make those delicious, cheesy and dairy filled dishes into something I can enjoy? Well here was my first attempt! Pizza Balls! On Pinterest, this recipe could not be any further from a vegan diet. But do not fear! The pictures were way too attractive for me to not find a way to enjoy them. The original recipe calls for cheese, pepperoni, eggs and Pillsbury biscuits, all of which are not vegan. After some creative thinking and a trip to the grocery store my solution was the following:

  • One tube of Pillsbury pizza dough (half of Pillsbury’s products are vegan, you just have to check the ingredients before purchasing)
  • Daiya shredded mozzarella cheese (this is the closest thing to cheese a vegan can get. It melts and stretches like cheese, although it definitely has its own taste, its still good. It can be rather pricey, but I found them on sale at my co-op)
  • Homemade seiten bacon crumbles (this recipe is in a past blog of mine, check it out! It is delicious, quick and easy. Not to mention WAY cheaper than buying any of that imitation crap that looks the part but tastes like paper)
  • Green onion (who doesn’t love green onions? They are in season and all over your local farmers market, go support those farmers!)
  • Garlic (a pizza wouldn’t be a pizza without garlic in it somewhere)
  • And lastly, Italian season, because an egg glaze just sounds disgusting

I followed the directions of the pizza dough for baking time, since the dough was the only ingredient that really needed to be baked. I took the dough and ripped it in half, one for the bottom of the balls and one for the top. I cut 12 squares from each half and laid the first 12 pieces on a lightly greased pan. Then I had some fun and stacked all of my ingredient on the dough. I tried to smash them down a bit before putting the top layer of dough on them, so that the dough could cover everything. Lastly, I topped the dough off with the Italian seasoning. Looking back, I probably would should have melted some earth balance and wiped the tops of the balls with that before putting the seasoning on, but you live and learn. I put them in the oven for 15 minutes and Voila! The entire house smelled like a pizza shop and those 15 minutes felt like forever with the aroma that filled the air.

My husband and I dipped these lovely treats in some garden vegetable pasta sauce. We could have used pizza sauce but I find that pasta sauce has move flavor, and that’s what its all about. These were so easy and so delicious that I was asked if we could put this recipe into the regular dinner line up. Once you’ve made them, you will definitely understand. Pinterest might not be as vegan friendly as I would like, but now I will have more of a reason to post recipes here. Every delicious looking recipe I find, will be one more challenge to blog about!

Quinoa

The great and wonderful quinoa. Something that has been around for thousands and thousands of years. I feel like quinoa is making a come back, which is very exciting, so I thought I would talk about all the wonderful things you can do with this wonder grain. One of my favorite things to is substitute quinoa for rice and make a delicious stir fry. Another yummy gave is to mix a bunch of veggies with it and just chow down. Because quinoa has become so popular, it’s super easy to find frozen bags with veggies already mixed in. Quinoa is a god send for vegans and vegetarians because it has so much protein in it and is super flexible with adapting flavored. Go out and get some! Those Mayans really knew what they were doing when they discovered it!!

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mini pizza

I did something today that was brilliant and delicious and this post won’t be very long since it was so brilliant! I got home from work and wanted to eat a ton of veggies, but I wanted something warm with herbs. Looking at my fridge was a little depressing, but when I peered into my freezer I was hit with endless possibilities. I want to endorse frozen veggies. When Preston and I are grocery shopping, we grab at least 4 bags of frozen veggies. They are always organic, but there are so many blends it’s nuts! Especially at Trader Joes! That little slice of heaven offers mixtures that are already seasoned! So I found a bag of potatoes, green beans, onions and broccoli that were pre-seasoned with herbs de provence. I pulled out my huge bag of flour tortillas (has anyone ever noticed that the smallest bag of tortillas has 15? Who needs that many?!) I turned my oven on to 425 and spread some olive oil, oregano and chopped garlic onto the tortilla. Then I put some of my seasoned veggies onto the tortilla and threw it in the oven for 15 min! My house smelled amazing and my “pizza” was so good! It hit my veggie craving and I got rid of one more tortilla shell. Super simple and super cheap!

enchilada bake

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, sometimes life is a little frantic. I haven’t been cooking as much lately, but my husband sure has and he came up with something so delicious the other night! When we lived in Cleveland, we picked up a magazine about going vegan and it had life changing, awesome recipes. One of which is an enchilada bake. It is soooooooooo good, but it is definitely time consuming. So Preston decided to make his own “enchilada bake” with a few different ingredients and save about 30 min. Of cooking time so we could have dinner at a decent hour!
Preston used leftover garbanzos from falafel night and cooked them with onions, flour and veggie broth. While that was simmering, he prepared the “taco filling”. The taco filling we use is so good we buy it in bulk from Amazon. It’s called “Fantastic World Foods” and it tastes just like real taco meat! It is also really fast to prepare.
After the beans and meat were ready, he lined a dish with corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, bean medley and taco meat. Keep layering until the dish is full, then cover and put in the oven for 20 min. At 400. After the 20 min, you pull it, crumble fritos on top and put it back in the oven for 10 min.
This casserole is so good, non vegans ask for the recipe! They always think the meat is real and the fritos definitely help give it some crunch!

being vegan

I have no recipe today, I thought I would get on my soap box for a minute and talk about this wonderful lifestyle I live. My husband and I have been vegan for nearly 5 years. We decided to go vegan our last year of undergrad, when I found out I was lactose intolerant. I had been vegetarian before that, so finding out I was lactose intolerant really sealed the deal. Preston was really excited to support me by going vegan because he is an ethicist and factory farming and the environment are two things he is very passionate about.
Upon doing research about my new diet, I found that not only am I keeping myself healthy and reducing my chances of cancer, but I am also helping the environment and supporting my local farmers.
There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding vegans. My favorite two are: kitschy punks that wear skinny jeans and don’t shower often and hippies who smell funny and eat the most obscure and gross looking foods. I don’t think I fit into either category. I enjoy showering and I’m not very kitschy, I also like to eat food that looks and smells appetizing. There are a lot of foods out there that most people wouldn’t normally cook with that vegans do, but that is only because we have to be more creative when finding substitutes for cheese and meat.
Being vegan is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I never have to worry about high cholesterol and I have significantly reduced my chances of getting cancer. I have added years onto my life just by choosing to eat organic and fresh foods. I have never felt so in tune with my body and I have more energy and a healthy glow to my skin.
People often claim that they could never afford to be vegan but that is just absurd. I was able to afford being vegan when I was making $16000 a year. Going to farmer’s markets and places like Trader Joe’s makes being vegan very affordable. There is also the option of starting a garden and growing your own veggies and herbs, which can significantly reduce your grocery bill. Where there’s a will, there’s a way; and I think if I can send any message through this blog, it’s that ANYONE can be vegan.

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