Posted in Cooking, health

Stress Free Weekly Meal Prepping.

For me, dinner is one of the most stressful meals of the day. By the time it’s dinnertime I’m usually tired, hungry and unable to plan a well rounded meal. I always made my dinners on the fly, until I discovered the life saver that is weekly meal prepping! Meal prepping is taking one day at the beginning of the week to prepare your meals for the rest of the week. I use this method to prepare my dinners for the week since I have a shake for breakfast and a salad for lunch. They can’t necessarily be prepped (although I do make one large salad at the beginning of the week and store it in a mixing bowl in my fridge and it keeps for the rest of the week). I prep my meals on Sunday or Monday. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you meal prep like the pros!

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First you will need a plan. You can’t start cooking without a plan! You’ll want to simplify your cooking. Pick a few basic recipes like baked veggies and tofu, your favorite soup, and a good stir fry. These things will last in the fridge all week. You can make them in large portions and you can easily portion them out into single serving meals. You’ll also want to invest in some good meal prep containers. There are great ones available on Amazon!

Now that you have your plan, you’ll want to make a shopping list and purchase all the foods you will need for your food prepping for the week. Load up on veggies, chop them and bake them in the oven at 350 degrees until tender. They will keep in the fridge all week!

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After you have purchased all your produce, its time to prep! Clean all your produce, and starting chopping! After you’re finished you can begin cooking. Cook your chosen recipes in bulk then break them down into single servings for the week. You can freeze anything you have leftover for next week! You can also portion out your snacks for the week, like fruit and nuts.

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Now that everything is cooked you can put everything into meal sized portions in your containers and put them in your refrigerator. You’ll be set for the week and not have to worry about dinner!

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A weekly meal prep can actually save you time. It takes less time to do all your meals in one day than to prepare them individually. So, if your every day to day is as busy as mine, give this a try. Sometimes it’s the little changes that make the biggest difference.

 

Posted in Cooking, Recipe, Vegan

Your Basic Vegan Buddha Bowl.

First off, what is a Buddha Bowl? A Buddha Bowl is a healthy eating staple. It is a bowl filled with different layers of hearty healthy foods. It is great for vegans because you can load up on veggies and protein in one bowl! It is also a wonderful choice because you don’t have to plan it, you can take whatever leftovers or odds and ends you have in your fridge and make a Buddha Bowl.

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        First Layer: Grain

  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Millet
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Brown Rice

Second Layer: Protein

  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
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Quinoa

Third Layer: Veggies

  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Spinach
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Spinach

Fourth Layer: Extras

  • Spices
  • Fresh herbs
  • Seeds ( Sesame, Chia)
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Tofu Cream
  • Salsa
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Tofu Cream, Pumpkin Seeds, and Chia Seeds!

Experiment and make your own Buddha Bowl! Tell me what recipes you come up with.

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Posted in Cooking, Recipe, Seasonal, Vegan

Three Easy Vegan Side Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Thanksgiving can be a hard time of the year if you’re Vegan. You often don’t have much control over what is put on the table in front of you, that is, if you spend the holiday at a family member’s house. It can be stressful not only for those that are vegan to try and find friendly options, but also on the host to provide them. To ease this stress, I’ve come up with three super simple vegan friendly side dishes to help you out this holiday season, all just four simple steps! If you’re looking to replace the staple of the holiday, the turkey, here is a great guide to help you find a vegan replacement!

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  1. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Everyone loves a potato dish on Thanksgiving! However, most of the time these dishes are loaded with butter and milk. Not vegan friendly at all! This recipe replaces the butter with vegan butter and the milk with your choice of milk replacement (I chose Almond milk).

Ingredients:

  • 6 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Almond Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vegan Butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

Step One:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place your sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for one hour.

Step Two:

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and allow them to cool off enough to handle. When cool, cut in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon. They should be soft enough that the insides just come right out.

Step Three:

Add all other ingredients and begin to mash. I started with a hand masher and then used a hand mixer. I switched between the two repeatedly until I achieved the smooth texture I was looking for. You can add more milk to the potatoes if you want a smoother consistency. About 1/3 of a cup.

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Step Four:

Pour finished mixture into dish and sprinkle the top with cinnamon if you wish. Serve and enjoy!

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2. Baked Mac and Cheese

Baked macaroni might not be a classic staple of Thanksgiving but it is something I enjoy having on my Thanksgiving table. With this version you can enjoy your classic mac and cheese along with the rest of your family!

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Ingredients:

  • 10 oz dried macaroni
  • 1 Cup Golden Potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of Carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup of onion peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 Cups of water from pot of boiling vegetables
  • 1/4 Cup of Almond Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Paprika

Step One:

Cook macaroni until Al dente. Put aside.

Step Two:

Bring a pot of water to boil. Once you have a rolling boil, toss in your veggies and cook for 10 minutes.

Step Three:

After the ten minutes add the 3/4 a cup of water from the vegetables to your blender. Drain your vegetables and then add them to your blender. Add your remaining ingredients to your blender as well. Blend until smooth.

Step Four:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pour your sauce over top of your noodles and stir until well combined. Coat the top in bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy!

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3. Classic Stuffing

Stuffing is a huge staple on turkey day. It is also my favorite dish. I look forward to stuffing every holiday as a part of our meal and I love having it as leftovers. So, of course, I had to make a vegan version of my favorite holiday dish!

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of wheat bread
  • 2 Cups of Vegan Butter
  • 3 Onions, Chopped
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, Chopped
  • 1 Quart of Vegan/Vegetarian Chicken Stock
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Chicken flavored Vegan Bouillon Cube or seasoning packet
  • 1 teaspoon of Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of Sage
  • 1 teaspoon of Thyme

Step One:

Open up your bag or bags of wheat bread and allow the bread to become stale. This makes for better stuffing! You can also use more than one loaf of bread if you want to make more stuffing, it won’t effect the other ingredients.

Step Two:

Cut your bread into cubes and place in a baking dish or casserole dish. Set aside for later.

Step Three:

In a medium pot, heat your butter on medium heat. Add your onions and celery and cook for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes add your stock and all other ingredients. Stir until well combined.

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The Vegan broth seasoning I used.

Step Four:

Remove your mixture from the stove and gently pour it over your bread. Only add enough to make all the bread moist, not soggy. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

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Posted in Cooking, Recipe, Seasonal, Uncategorized, Vegan

Cleansing Squash Soup

Autumn is a time of hearty foods such as pumpkin pies, stews, and heavy breads. Our systems can get overwhelmed with the indulgence of it all. This soup is a great meal to take a break from those heavy foods while still enjoying an Autumn themed meal. It is cleansing and boosts immunity to prep you for when those bugs make their rounds this winter. Add some quinoa or rice to bulk up this soup and make it a nice family dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups of Vegetable Broth
  • 2 teaspoons of Minced Garlic
  • 1 Apple, peeled, chopped
  • 1 Butternut Squash, peeled, chopped
  • Carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
  • 1 teaspoon of Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut or Almond Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • Garnish with fresh greens
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

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Step One-

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Peel your vegetables and apple. Remove the seeds from your squash and apple. Chop everything into quarter sized chunks, put your apple aside for later. Fill pot with water and place in squash and carrots. Bring your pot to a rolling boil and let your vegetables boil for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drain your vegetables from your water and put aside.

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Step Two-

In a crock pot, add your vegetable broth, garlic, carrots, apple, squash, salt, turmeric, brown sugar, cinnamon, coconut oil, and pumpkin spice. Put crock pot on high and let cook for 1 hour.

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Step Three-

Take everything in your crock pot and place it into a food processor, or a blender, and puree until smooth. Place your soup back into your crock pot and let steep on high for an additional 2 hours until creamy.

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After your soup has cooked, add the milk and maple syrup. Whisk well.

Add  garnish, salt, and pepper to taste.

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Enjoy!

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Posted in Cooking, Recipe, Vegan

Amazing Apple Cookies

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September, to me, is a time of change. The leaves change their color marking the start of Autumn, a new school year, and the harvest season. So what food do I think of most, this time of year? Apples! They are a staple of Fall cooking. For my first recipe I wanted to make a heavenly cookie to put a spotlight on this autumnal fruit. They are versatile to work with and delicious, making them the best ingredient for a vegan cookie.

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For this recipe you will need…

  • 3/4 Cups Vegan Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Applesauce
  • 1 and 3/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Cups Oats
  • 1 Medium Apple, peeled, shredded = 1 Cup total

For Icing…

  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon Coconut Milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/4 Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Honey

Add more Powdered Sugar to thicken or more milk to thin.

First, heat your oven to 375. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper and put aside for later. In a large bowl, mix vegan butter, sugar, and brown sugar.

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Vegan Butter, Brown Sugar and Sugar.

Next, add vanilla and applesauce.

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Vanilla and Applesauce

Beat with your mixer until you get a smooth consistency.

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Now, in a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients with a whisk. They are flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Then pour it into your batter. Beat the two together with your mixer.

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Next, take your apple and wash it, peel it, and then shred it with a grater.

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Add the Apple and Oats into batter and mix.

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Your dough should turn out looking like this!

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Pro Tip: Pop your batter into the fridge for an hour or so before baking your cookies. This helps the batter absorb all of the flavors and improves the texture.

While you’re waiting, now is the perfect time to make your icing!

In a medium bowl beat together powdered sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and honey.

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Once your icing is nice and smooth it’s time to transfer it to an icing bag. If you don’t actually have one, just use a Ziploc bag and rubber band the top. When you’re ready to use your icing, just snip off the corner of the bag. Remember to make a small cut or else the hole will be to big. Pop in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

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Now it’s time to make those cookies!

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Pro Tip: Use a melon baller/ ice cream scoop to get perfectly round cookies. The scoop I used makes roughly 1 and a 1/4 inch balls.

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Put your balls of dough on your prepped cookie sheets. You should be able to make around 36 cookies. I flattened my cookies with a fork and sprinkled a bit of flour on top to keep them from rising too much. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

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When your cookies are done baking just slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets to let them cool.

Once they’re cool get your icing from the fridge and drizzle over the cookies. Make sure to let the cookies completely cool before icing!

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Enjoy!

 

Printable Recipes: Just save photos below and print! (Servings may vary)

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Posted in Cooking, Lists, Vegan

Top 10 Vegan Must Haves!

I may not be the most knowledgeable vegan there is, I admit there’s still a lot I have to learn. I tried the lifestyle for over 2 years back in High School and for the past 4 months there’s been a huge difference in how I’ve progressed this go around. When I first started I relied solely on my eating habits to lose weight, but now I’m incorporating exercise into my routine. However, the things I’ve learned about cooking, and from nutrition, have changed my outlook on just how important it is to eat the right foods. This is a guide to my vegan necessities, a small list of the foods I’ve relied on to help me get through the beginning.

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 1.Your Milk Replacement

   The average American drinks 20.4 gallons of milk a year (Huffington Post) so if you are vegan, or are considering a vegan diet, a milk replacement will be a huge staple in your diet! I chose coconut milk as my replacement because it wasn’t something I had tried before. Another great option is almond milk, sadly I cannot drink it because I have a sensitivity to almonds. Regarding soy milk, here’s a great article explaining why you should stay away from it or drink it in moderation. (Ten Reasons To Never Ever Drink Soy Milk)

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 2. Tofu!

Obviously if you’re vegan you’re going to be eating a lot of tofu! Tofu is a curd made from mashed soy beans. To prep your tofu, cut a slit in the top and drain out excess liquid. Remove your tofu from the package and place it between two plates lined with paper towels to absorb the moisture from the tofu. Next, place something heavy on top of the plates to press the absorbed water out of the tofu, I use a tea kettle filled with water! Replace paper towels as they become saturated. Press your tofu for at least 3 hours unless your using your tofu in a soup or in a cream. Remember to enjoy tofu in moderation, it is a soy product.(refer to soy milk)

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3. Grains

 Grains are extremely important when considering veganism. They often make up the core of our meals and help keep us feeling full and satisfied for longer.

Some grains to consider are:

  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Rice (Brown or Jasmine)
  • Millet
  • Cuscus
  • Buckwheat

 

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4. Beans

What’s the one cliché question every vegan is asked… “Where do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?” Well, from beans, of course! That’s not our only source of protein. Others include: Quinoa, Spinach, Pumpkin Seeds, Tofu, and Avocado. But beans make up a large portion of our much needed protein. My favorite are Dark Red Kidney Beans with some rice, soy sauce, and hot sauce!

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 5. Protein Powder

Speaking of protein…let’s talk protein powder. I add a scoop of this in my morning shake and together they keep me full till lunch and helps me recover from my workouts! This particular protein powder is pea protein. It’s gluten free, soy free, and allergen free and most of all, vegan! I purchased it at my local Natures Harvest, I told the employee working that I was vegan looking for a cheaper protein powder and he was super helpful! So if you live in the outer Philadelphia area be sure to check out Natures Harvest!Also be on the look out for any vegan friendly food stores, they have lots of hidden treasures that your average grocery store won’t carry.

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6. Vegenaise

I know what you’re thinking ” Vegan Mayo? Ew!” but this stuff is great! Not just as a vegan replacement but for cooking as well. Use your veganaise to make a yummy veggie dip, pasta sauce,or sandwich spread. I use my vegenaise solely for Tofu Cream, a staple in my kitchen, I put it on everything!

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*Bonus Recipe:

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7. Vegan Friendly Chocolate!

Who doesn’t love chocolate? You would think Vegans couldn’t enjoy this delicious treat or bake a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but you would be wrong. There are many vegan chocolate options! Head to your local food store and hit up their “Vegetarian/Vegan” section (usually located by the fresh produce) and see what goodies you can find!

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8. Boca Burgers!

I am in love with Boca Burgers! They are an extremely convenient meal for those of us who have very busy days. They are microwaveable soy protein patties that come in many different variations, but so far I’ve only found the Spicy Chik’n flavor to be vegan exclusive so be sure to read the labels. I know that Vegan burgers and other ‘meat options’ have a bad rep, but these patties are genuinely delicious.

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9. Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Again, if I haven’t sold you yet on the idea of veganism, I’m sure you’re thinking “Ew! Yeast?” but these act as a cheese replacement in your recipes! Here’s a great article about the benefits of this more mysterious product What Are the Benefits of Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

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10. A Butter Replacement

What would we do without butter? How would we enjoy a simple slice of toast, or bake some slammin’ cookies! Vegans don’t have to go without these things, there are plenty of vegan butter options out there. This is my preferred brand, Earth Balance Vegan Spread. Go out and find what’s best for you!

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