Month Anniversary+Meal Prep+Baking

Hello all,

I am really excited because I’ve been vegan for one month!  Over one month, actually!  I am super proud of myself and have found it easier than I initially thought it’d be mainly due to meal prepping and staying organized with grocery shopping.  It’s actually one of the easiest things I’ve ever done!

That being said, I decided to branch out a bit this weekend and do some vegan baking.  I am an avid baker, and I love making treats for my husband to take to work.  In the past, I’ve perfected macarons, biscotti, pies, tarts, cakes, various cookies, and different types of quick and yeast breads.  One of the reasons I was so worried about going vegan was because I LOVE to bake, and, let’s face it, there are some things that are difficult to veganize, at least in an authentic way.

I decided to first veganize baking I know best and have done the most of–cookies and quick breads.  I planned on making vegan banana muffins this weekend, but I turned the old bananas I was going to use into a smoothie, so I just made some chocolate chip cookies instead.

This cookie recipe is what I used and is SO amazing! I was so pleased with how these cookies turned out, and I really love the subtle coconut flavor.  The extra chocolate chunks added at the end make them a decadent treat.  My husband also enjoyed them, and he is very picky about this whole vegan thing in general.  I hope to make more vegan cookies soon, and I’d love for people to share any solid vegan cookie recipes!

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After making some cookies, I did some major meal planning for the week.  I am honestly not really a sandwich for lunch kind of person, but I was craving them this week, so I decided to make Forks Over Knives recipe for a “no-tuna” salad sandwich. (BTW, FOK has been really integral in helping me go vegan–I love their website and cook books!)  I already had most of the ingredients, so it was a breeze.  It is also super delicious and making for some great packed lunches this week!

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And last but not least, I decided to go back to an old stand by recipe I’ve been making and enjoying for years.  This slow cooker lentil recipe is one of my favorites.  You can substitute Earth Balance for the butter, and it tastes exactly the same.  Although it says it makes four meals, I can get five out of it when serving it with rice as I did here.  It is super filling and delicious even though it only calls for a few ingredients.  I would highly recommend it!

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I would like to do my next blog entry on some major changes I’ve seen in my health in just a month since going vegan, so stay tuned!

 

 

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Vegan Meal Prep Part II

Happy Monday, everyone–I hope you had a great weekend!

I was able to relax most of the weekend, which was great, but I also had some extra meal prep time on Sunday, so I decided to go all out and make some vegan recipes I’d been eyeing.

One strategy I’ve been using in order to stay within my weekly grocery budget is to only buy food that’s on sale (except for produce and essentials, of course).  This week, my favorite grocery store had coupons for tofu, mushrooms, and pasta, so I decided to make some mushroom stroganoff courtesy of From My Bowl, slow cooker tofu tikka masala courtesy of Yup…it’s Vegan!, and since I had about a cup of red lentils left and had a craving for tacos, some lentil taco meat from Delish Knowledge.

The mushroom stroganoff was SUPER easy, and my taste test confirmed it is delicious.  IMG_20180128_094619618.jpgInstead of cashew butter, I added Daiya cream cheese as that’s what I had.  I think one of the best things about this recipe is how cheap it is, and it’s one of those things most people will enjoy despite its simplicity.  I absolutely love comfort food, so I am excited to have this to eat all week.

I absolutely love cooking and eating Indian food, so I was excited to find the tofu tikka masala recipe.  It is super delicious, but it requires a bit more prep work.  IMG_20180128_113533307.jpgI don’t mind that at all as I love cooking, but it might be difficult to make if you are in a pinch for time.  This also requires a few more ingredients, so it might not be the best recipe if you are trying to keep things simple and cheap.  I had a lot of the ingredients on hand already, so this was easy and cheap for me.  I also love using my slow cooker when I can since it’s become 2nd to my Instant Pot.

The lentil taco meat was also a hit, although I will probably add less cumin next time.  I love cumin, but I find I need to err on the side of less is more when using it.  I used it to whip up some amazing tacos tonight.  IMG_20180128_180537646.jpgI didn’t have hard taco shells on hand, and that’s what I was really craving, so I made my own using some corn tortillas.  They came out looking kind of funny, but they were delicious.  I topped them with some Daiya mozzarella shreds, guac, vegan sour cream, lettuce, tomato, and lime.  I forgot we were out of salsa, so that was a bummer, but they were still amazing and just what I wanted!

I am really glad I took the time to meal prep this week.  Although I’ve been vegan almost a month, I think it really helps to be organized and prepared.  It’s also good to find vegan versions of the meals I’m craving so I don’t go astray.  I am also finding it really easy to go vegan throughout the day if I pack enough vegan snacks and don’t feel tempted to grab something that isn’t vegan.  I think now I have vegan basics down, I can focus more on being creative with my recipes. IMG_20180128_103959797.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Veganizing Breakfast

Hello everyone,

I hope you had a great week and are ready for the weekend!  I know I am–I had a stressful week as my student teacher decided to quit after only a few weeks in.  The resignation came out of nowhere, so I really had to scramble to make sure I was prepped to teach all of my classes each day.  I was upset at first, but now I’m glad to have complete control of my class back as I don’t want someone who isn’t passionate about teaching running my classroom.

I decided to make ahead some breakfasts for the week as I knew my life was going to be crazier than usual. I honestly have a really tough time with breakfast and don’t eat it half of the time.  I get to work around 6:30 or 6:45 a.m., and I’m usually very busy from then on.  I will drink a lot of coffee, but sometimes I can’t make myself eat breakfast even if I bring it.  I also try not to ever eat in front of my students, so if I don’t have time to eat before they arrive, I just forget about it.

I know it’s really important for me to eat breakfast if I want to be on top of my game, so I’m going to try my best to be organized enough to make that happen.

Something I used to do to “treat” myself in the morning was stop by Starbucks once a week and get a fancy specialty latte and their spinach feta wrap.  But I was starting my day with a lot of sugar and sodium (not to mention $10+), so now that I don’t do that, I definitely feel better.

This week I decided to use some steel-cut oats I had forever (and just now expired) to make mason jar oatmeals.  I wanted to customize them each day in order to entice me into eating them since I get bored so easily.  I have a microwave in my classroom, so these were easy to heat up each day.  I came up with so many combinations with items I already had in my pantry and need to use up.  I did (left to right): apple pie (oats, almond milk, cinnamon applesauce, and fresh apples), raisin oatmeal cookie (oats, almond milk, cinnamon agave syrup, raisins, and toasted almonds), peanut butter chocolate banana (oats, almond milk, banana, cacao powder, peanut butter powder, and peanuts), cashew coconut banana (oats, almond milk, banana, cashews, unsweetened almond flakes), and berry delight (oats, almond milk, blueberries, blackberries, and toasted almonds).

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Each one tasted great, but my favorites were the oatmeal cookie and cashew coconut banana.  Since I am almost out of steel-cut oats, I think I will try it with regular oatmeal next week.

And even though I meal prepped pretty well this week, I needed something different tonight, so I made some mashed potato waffles.  I have been craving potatoes lately, so I steamed some russets in my Instant Pot and mashed with sauteed onions and garlic.  I then put in some almond milk, Earth Balance, and Daiya cream cheese and seasoned with a ton of smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. IMG_20180125_183533518.jpg The result was even better than I imagined!It was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten!  I made enough for a few waffles, so I am really looking forward to eating them as leftovers!

 

 

Saving $$$+Vegan Meal Prep

Hello all, I hope you’ve had a great week and are ready to begin a new one!  I am super excited as we had the first real snowstorm of the year last night.  It usually snows quite a bit here, and the lack of snow this year has been concerning, especially for the ski resorts.  I plan on making the most of the beautiful snow by taking my dogs for a romp in the park.

I am going to talk a bit about saving money at the grocery store as a vegan and meal prepping to make the most out of it.  People always ask me “Isn’t going vegan SO expensive??”  It definitely could be, and I can understand that mindset.  Some vegan recipes, especially staples, are daunting because they require so many ingredients most people don’t already have in their pantries.  But there are definitely ways to eat vegan on the cheap.

I think one of the best way to affordably vegan meal prep for the week is to make something really basic and build on it depending on what you like, your grocery budget, and the amount of time you can spend meal prepping.  This week my grocery budget was pretty tight and I didn’t have much time, so I decided to make some pasta for all of my lunches.  Pasta is cheap, but I had a digital coupon for some bowtie pasta, making it even cheaper.  I sauteed some spinach and mushrooms I found on clearance and mixed theIMG_20180121_112037014.jpgm with a jar of marinara (for which I also had a coupon) and topped with some nutritional yeast.  Making five vegan lunches added up to around $6, which is pretty good.  I know some people get sick of pasta, but I really like all of the variations you can make.

I usually don’t meal prep dinners unless I know it will be a busy week, and this week is going to be hectic in the p.m.  Another cheap vegan option that almost everybody likes is stir-fry.  Frozen stir fry vegetables w/noodles were 10 for $1 at the store, and I sauteed them with some tofu marinated in Siracha and soy sauce and made some rice to go along with.  Making four stir-fry meals cost me around $5 or even less as I have a HUGE bag of Jasmine rice I’ve been using for ages.IMG_20180121_134511374 Frozen vegetables are usually on sale or generally really cheap, and I find it’s good to buy a bunch and then store them in the freezer for easy meal prep ingredients.

I think Asian (both east and west) and Mexican/Central American foods really lend themselves to being vegan and affordable.  Beans (especially when you buy them dry) and rice are always cheap as are ingredients for a curry.  You can add or subtract ingredients based on what you have and can afford, and most of them are very nutritional.

When people say going vegan is so expensive, I think they don’t realize most people in the world, especially those living in poverty, eat simple meals without animal products.  Eating a ton of animal protein is such a western thing, and it is definitely ruining our health.  I hope once people figure out how easy it is to go vegan on a strict budget, they will try to make more vegan meals.

If I have more time to meal prep next week, I hope to try some tips on eating vegan and saving money from Sweet Potato Soul!