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 Depression, health, Life, Mental Health, Monthly Health Check In, Vegan, Weightloss

November, That’s A Wrap!

I know I’m late posting this but the past few weeks have been hectic for me. The last several months have been difficult for me, you can read more about that here and here. This month, unfortunately, was just as difficult. I’m getting pretty tired of writing about how hard of a time I have been having lately but I feel like it is important to be honest. Battling depression and weight issues is not a straight path, as I’ve been learning, it has many ups and downs.

This month I was lucky enough to go on an amazing eleven day vacation with my boyfriend to visit his sister and then my aunt, in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I managed to lose 9 pounds, even though I was on vacation! You can read more about my vacation here and here!

However, once I got home I plateaued, and didn’t lose any weight the rest of the month.

It’s not all about weight, however. I’m a bit disappointed in myself. I definitely didn’t live my best life for most of November. I have been having such a difficult time with other aspects of my health that I never anticipated when I started this blog. When I started writing this blog I felt on top of the world, it is amazing how quickly you can fall back to the bottom.

I try everyday to make the best decisions that I can but because of the adversity I have been facing, it has been very difficult. I’m not giving up though. I’m determined to get back on my feet and get my health under control, in all aspects.

I have so many goals I want to reach. I’m working towards so much. I just need to get a hold on my depression again before I can step forward.

There are some positive things to report this month!

On November 23rd I officially became a Beachbody coach! You might be wondering what that is. A Beachbody coach is someone who helps people reach their own health and fitness goals. I’m so excited to start this new chapter in my life. I am so passionate about my own health, I can’t wait to share that passion with others. The thought of making a positive impact on other people’s lives fills me with so much joy!

I also had an amazing Thanksgiving with my family in Mechanicsburg, PA! My cousin Elizabeth cooked a beautiful dinner and provided lots of yummy vegan options for me! I really appreciated the thought that went into making sure I had something to eat as well.

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How was your November? What do you have planned for December?

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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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Posted in Depression, Grief, Life, Mental Health, Vegan, Weightloss

My Story

   My story is a long one, it spans over eight years of my still young life. It deals with loss,  disappointment, and ultimately triumph. So bear with me as I sift through the mess that has been my life for nearly a decade.

   It started out when I was 15 with headaches, but not your everyday typical headaches. I went to my local doctor and was put through every scan, procedure, and medication in the book. Nothing worked. I was poked and prodded until the doctor finally shrugged and said “I don’t know what else to do”. I walked out of that office and never went back.

  I started my 16th year with a new doctor, and new symptoms. The headaches that once plagued me had transformed into searing debilitating pain coursing through me. On my first visit with my new doctor I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, amongst other symptoms. I almost always was in pain and unable to gather my strength to make it to school most days. The people in my life didn’t understand, and neither did I. As the stressors in my life gradually got worse so did my symptoms.

  As my symptoms worsened into the next year, it affected my attendance so bad that my High School forced me to drop out. I had to attend online school. I rarely got out of bed, everyday activities were almost impossible. I had hit rock bottom.

   One day while watching TV I heard about a new vegan cookbook coming out. I bought it immediately and started a strict vegan diet. I lost 60 pounds in a short amount of time. My pain was alleviated and I felt amazing. I finally had something to be proud of. I returned to high school for my senior year and over the course lost an additional 30 pounds. Everything seemed perfect. I went to prom, graduated, and was heading off to college.

    All of my dreams were coming true.

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I graduate at 145 pounds.

       Unfortunately things didn’t stay that way for long. Shortly after graduating High School I decided to stop my vegan diet. My symptoms slowly became apparent again. I started college, but after one semester I had to take a break. I began to feel unmotivated and my pain came back. In 2013 when I was 20, everything got worse when I lost two family members, who I loved dearly, within a few months of each other. I started gaining weight rapidly.

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The summer of 2015, at my heaviest, 261 pounds.

 In 2015  I was tired of feeling sick all of the time, so I decided to get help. I finally found a doctor  who I was comfortable with and she recommended that I should see a psychiatrist. I was later diagnosed with Bipolar Depression. The most painful part of the process was learning I never had Fibromyalgia. For eight years I mistook the physical pains and symptoms I experienced as Fibromyalgia, I was convinced that I would live with that diagnosis for the rest of my life. But I know now that depression can cause physical side effects. Now I had to learn how  to treat this new diagnosis that I had no experience with.

   In 2016, after a year of trial and error, I finally found the right treatment that worked for me. I am able to be my true self. I am back to being vegan again. Before, I was stuck in bed, but now, I hike every morning and I’m as active as I’ve ever been. I just started and I’m down 26 pounds. I couldn’t be happier.

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Now, at 249 pounds.

    This is not a road I have walked alone, though many days and weeks and months have felt that way. I have been isolated from emotions and the physical comfort of youth, stripped of these things by depression on a long road full of twists and turns. But, always remember this: It has been so worth it to get to where I am now.

    Some days it feels like I have lost so much… people in my life, opportunities I was too incapacitated to take advantage of, a typical high school and college experience… It’s made me a minority in my age group, but I am not willing to play victim. Now it’s my time to play catch up. I’ve spent the last 8 years healing myself, now it is time to move forward and get on a new path. A road with less rocky twists and turns, but more adventure, experience and enjoyment. I am thrilled to be starting my journey to me and I hope you’ll take it with me!

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