Vegan Food, vegan lifestyle

5 Tips on How to Become a Vegetarian or Vegan in 2018

There are two theories on setting resolutions for the New Year: 1. Yaaass honey fresh start clean slate I’m gonna slay this year, or 2. Ahem, you shouldn’t have to wait 365 days to start a new resolution. I hear you both. But there is something especially special (redundant?) about January 1st this year…it lands on a Monday. What’s more resolutiony than that? Whether you decided to stop eating meat (yay you!) On November 25th or want to start fresh at the beginning of a new year, more power to you! It never matters when you start, it just matters that you start a change and most importantly, that you stick to it. Here are 5 steps to help you become a vegetarian or vegan so that you can make 2018 better not only for you, but for the plant and all the animals on it.

Step 1: Tell Everyone

There is absolutely zero shame in you wanting to a) better your health and b) better the planet. The latter is pretty much the foundation of every religion, right? And no one will bash you for what you believe in (go away trolls!). And if you do happen to deal with those negative naysayers who make fun of “vegan food” or act negative around you, just shroud it out with your good vibes cause that’s all you’re putting out and lettin’ in sistah. Some show on Blue’s Clue’s (hi, 80s baby here) told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. If you’ve tried to nicely explain your way of life or amazing decision to stop eating meat to someone and they just don’t get it…move on. You do you.

Step 2: Expect Bumps In the Road

Giving something up is never easy. If you’ve eaten meat your whole life, it’s hard to go cold turkey. Know that you may have a setback here or there but one setback isn’t the catalyst to failure. Just get back on the buggy.

Step 3: Educate Yourself

Piggybacking on step 2, the main reason most people fail at resolutions, regardless of what it is, is because they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Someone may want to lose weight because they just want to be skinny and may get there the unhealthy way. Setting up a resolution should come from a desire for change. If you want to become vegetarian or vegan, but aren’t sure why or what to say when people ask you why, then it’s time to educate yourself! Once you feel compassionate about your cause, your resolution becomes less of a goal and more of an intrinsic belief. Check out numerous documentaries on Netflix and YouTube, get a vegan starter kit from PETA, and follow inspirational social media influencers to surround yourself with likeminded individuals.

Step 4: Plan for Success

You may be stuck on your daily ham and cheese sandwich for lunch or chicken and broccoli for dinner. As with every resolution, becoming vegetarian does need some work, but minimal at best. Googling vegetarian versions of your favorite recipes, new recipes all together, finding inspirational meal planners on social media or YouTube, these are all things that can help you plan for success.

The easiest way to start is to take a weekend and meal prep 2-3 vegetarian meals or vegan meals you can use for lunch and or dinner. It’s as easy as even preparing the ingredients you need to pull the meal together in minutes once you get home from work or after picking the kids up from school.

I have some What I Ate Wednesday videos on my YouTube channel with ideas to get you going!

Step 5: Enjoy the Journey

This resolution you set to not eat meat shouldn’t be a stressful one. Your body takes about a month to detox all the blood, spirit and chemicals from the meat products you’ve eaten over the years. Expect withdrawals, bad skin (a part of detox) which turns into amazing skin, stress and pressure. But all this in such a small period of time will lead to your best self.

Please always consult your physician before making any drastic physical or dietary changes.

Question of the Day

What is your resolution for the New Year?

I’m giving up processed sugar of any kind for the month of January. If all goes well, then another month after that and so forth.

Vegan Food

Beyond Meat Burgers: Delicious or Gross?

These are the most aptly named patties…maybe ever. These burgers not only look like meat, but I personally think they taste better than meat! I was a meat-eater until 2007, when I went vegetarian, so while I don’t remember what all meat tastes like and while I rarely had hamburgers then, I can say that this tastes much better than any dead carcasses.

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Not only does it look like meat in the packaging, but it also cooks like meat.

When I immediately put it on the pan:

Photo_Dec_16,_12_53_17_PM[1]After I flipped it once, you can see how it browns:

Photo_Dec_16,_12_53_45_PM[1]What’s weird is it even stays a little pink in the middle. Also, since it already has some fat in it, I didn’t cook it in any oil or vegan butter. I just plopped it onto a high-medium heated pan as is and it immediately started sizzling away.

I paired it with some Angelic Bakehouse hamburger buns and had it with a side salad and some Daiya provolone cheeze.

While it may be a little higher in fat, it certainly is high in protein and completely 100% plant-based. If you’re going vegan and crave a big, juicy burger with all the fixings, this Beyond Meat Burger will definitely quench your craving.

Photo_Dec_16,_12_59_39_PM[1]Photo_Dec_16,_12_59_57_PM[1]Question of the Day

Have you tried these? Do you like them? What are your favorite alternate meats for burgers?

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Uncategorized, Vegan Food

Low-Calorie Vegan “Meat” Substitutes

When I first went vegan on January 2016, I couldn’t stay away from carbs. I ate broccoli and rice almost every day and a lot of pasta…and let me tell you where all this carbo-loading went (I put Kim K’s butt to shame). It took me anywhere between 2-6 months to really figure out a balance in my “diet”, air quotes because ya’ll know it’s a lifestyle. Part of this balance is finding “junk” food and sometimes wanting a little more than your faithful greens. Ya girl can only eat so much broccoli without turning green [P.S. it’s kinda true–my husband ate so many carrots as a baby he turned orange.] So to change it up, I opted for some vegan meats. Now while I like to stay as clean and as few ingredients as possible, these little patties, balls and strips (Las Vegas club name?) make salads just a bit more fun when you need to change it up. FYI you can get all of these vegan meats at Trader Joe’s!

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1. California Veggie Burgers

If you like veggie patties or want to make more delicious burgers, opt for these low-calorie, nutrition-packed vegan patties (see the little circle with the heart on the bottom?). While they don’t taste like meat, they don’t taste like squashed veggies either. Something about them is so tasty!

Not so Secret Tip: If you do want the look and taste of meat, Beyond Burger patties are EV-UH-REE-THING. I’m getting them again this Friday and will talk about them on Monday, in case you were considering them ^_-.

Calories: 120

Highlight: Cleaner than most other patties (Veggie Masala Patty is a close contender)

2. Chickenless Crispy Tenders

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These are so delish. If ya’ll want to add a bit of something naughty to your salads, add these dumplings that are FAR from meat! Or if you want to trick your friends, these do the trick too 😉

Calories: 150 for 3 chicken tenders

Highlight: They’re hella tasty. Like dang yum yum. Unfortunately, one serving has 7g of fat, which is pretty dang high. Most should aim for 0-4g of fat per serving.

3. Meatless Meatballs

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PC: PinchofLovely

Now the above picture isn’t of the Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs, but it’s a recipe where you make your own. Now if you don’t have time to make your own, sub those kinds of recipes with these “meatballs” and you’ll be good as vegan gold. Also, if you miss spaghetti and meatballs, I got yo back! These work great with tomato sauce or also make a great addition to salads. I’ve even made them just as snacks, and they’re great for that too.

Calories: 140 for 6 meatballs

Highlight: It’s good for those on a low-calorie diet. These are the best of the worst products for you, because it’s high in sodium and highly-processed.

Question of the Day

What are your favorite naughty “meats”? Share!

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Vegan Food

The Easiest Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Before you read on, you’re welcome. This is by far the easiest vegan chocolate chip cookies you’ll ever find, and best of all, they came out tasting amazing all thanks to serendipity and some experimentation (and a whole lotta taste-testing). I started with this recipe from Daily Rebecca, but ended up making it my own. They take less than 20 minutes to make so if you need a last-minute (omg I need to bring something to Thanksgiving dinner), then these cookies got you covered. Plus, you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup almond milk + 2-3 tbsp. reserve on the side
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used the ones from Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 cup (or as many as you want, really) vegan chocolate chips

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Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a big bowl, mix the coconut oil with the brown sugar.
  3. Add ¼ cup of almond milk and the vanilla extract.
  4. Into the same bowl, add in the flour and baking powder (salt is optional).
  5. Mix it all together. If it looks crumbly, add in 1 tbsp. of almond milk at a time. If it feels wet, it’s probably not wet enough, so it’s okay to add some more until it feels wet and soft.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Roll into small sized balls and flatten with your hand before placing on a pan with a silpat sheet on it or an un-greased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes and check. These cookies should be a bit hard coming out of the oven, so you may need to add 2 minutes at the end.
  9. Let cool and serve!

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You can throw some of these into a clear plastic bag, tie them with a little string and give them away as affordable presents to your co-workers, the mailman, or just about anyone! (but not your dog, cause hello, chocolate).

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You can make these cookies just about however you want. Feel free to nix the chocolate chips and throw in cranberries, or nuts, toffee, or any other vegan mix-ins. Enjoy!

Question of the Day

What are your favorite vegan cookies? We’d love to know!

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Vegan Food

What is Maca Powder & How to Use It

Always consult your doctor before considering new additions or supplements to your diet.

Maca powder. It sounds like the name of an ancient ruler and looks like dirt. So why is everyone going crazy over this finely milled powder? You don’t have to maca me tell you! #nerdlife #veganpuns

What is Maca? Maca is a plant that grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes Mountains. It is a relative of the radish and has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in this area for at least 3,000 years. – Webmd

Maca1Maca powder has a sweet-ish smell, reminiscent of butterscotch. You can easily use it in place of cocoa powder or chocolate. It makes a great addition to protein shakes for a mocha like flavor: Add a tablespoon to some almond milk with a banana and some chocolate protein powder (tsp. of coffee crystals optional), blend it up and MM-mm.

Ok, so it tastes good. I know what you’re thinking, But why do I want to put it in my body. My body is a temple, I mean come on.

Health Benefits of Maca Root Powder

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Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

According to Healthline, maca root is high in some essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, copper and iron. Because of these vitamins, it’s a great supplement when used in the right doses for people suffering from anemia.

Helps Balance Hormones

Rich in flavonoids, maca can help reduce anxiety and put you in a better mood. According to Wellnessmama.com, it is an endocrine adaptogen, meaning that it does not contain any hormones, but rather it contains the nutrients necessary to support normal hormone production. Because of it’s composition, it helps balance hormones and reverse hypothyroidism. Whoa.

Additional Benefits

Since it’s rich in vitamins and because it’s an endocrine adaptogen (throw that in someone’s face today), it’s a hearty root that may also help to*:

  • promote fertility
  • build muscle
  • increase stamina
  • relieve symptoms of menopause
  • boost energy
  • support prostate health
  • increase bone density
  • alleviate depression
  • boost libido
  • balance hormones

What to Look for When Buying Maca Powder

As always, quality matters. Sure you may pay more to get less, but that often means you need to use less, much like matcha powder [what my hubs thought I was talking about this whole time…maca, not matcha ;)]

1 – Date of Harvest

Not unlike other organic goods, you’re going to want to look for powder that’s been harvested within a few months of purchase. This plant can be grown as a perennial, so it really doesn’t have a “season.”

2 – Sealed for Freshness

Make sure it’s vacuum-sealed to preserve it’s quality.

3 – Color

Maca root comes in three different colors, kind of like potatoes. You have purple (black), white and red. The white/cream is the most popular, and so is the most affordable. No shade though, because it still have a high amount of benefits. According to gnowfglins.com:

  • Hormonally, the red (which is the sweetest tasting and has the highest phytonutrient levels) is recommended for women and the black for men.
  • Black is recommended for both men and women for these specific issues: muscle building and stamina.
  • Red is recommended for both men and women for these specific issues: energy, mental focus, depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety/stress, circulation, bone density, hair growth, and acne.

* Bullet list source

Question of the Day

What are your thoughts on maca powder? Have you tried it? Are you interested in trying it? What other natural supplements would you want to learn more about?

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Vegan Food

Kid (& boss lady)-Friendly Vegan Halloween Mummy Pizzas

So I’m not going to lie. I failed at this vegan pizza recipe. Well kind of. From the title of this post, I’m sure you’re expecting some pizzas that look like mummies. I can tell you now, (before you even scroll down), that my pizzas only barely resemble King Tut. What I CAN tell you though, is that they’re so dang darn delicious! So whether they end up looking like our favorite wrapped monster or not, this recipe is a fun option to get your kids in the kitchen, or just you for a #netflixandchill kinda night (no shame) and enjoy nearly guilt-free pizzas. Best of all, you only need 4 ingredients! What whaaaaat.

Mummyza1Ingredients

– Vegan cheese of your choice
– Sandwich thins, One Buns or English muffins
– Your favorite pasta sauce
– Pimento stuffed olives

Directions

I used 100-calorie One Buns, which make two pizzas each.

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Pull apart one bun into two, and spread about a tablespoon of pasta sauce onto each “pizza crust:”

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This is where things went disturbingly awry. You can take shreds of the cheeze you like and spread them out onto the pizza so it resembles the wrappings of a mummy. I tried this, and by the time I heated it, it looked more like … well a sprinkling of cheese than an ancient monster. On the left is with cold cheeze and on the right is what it looks like when I heated it up:

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You can either pop these (covered) in the microwave for 30 seconds, let them breathe, then another 30 seconds or into a small conventional oven for a couple minutes until the cheeze gets nice and gooey.

The secret to scary eyes comes from stuffed pimento olives. Chop them into little rounds, and place them near the top to make ghoulish peepers.

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Whether it looks like a mummy or not, these are SO yummy and best of all, they take maybe 5 minutes to make. We don’t have kids but I can see myself making them as little treats after a long day of work.

What are your favorite easy go-to meals?

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Vegan Food

Vegan & Cruelty-Free Halloween Candy

Figuring out how to enjoy a vegan Halloween can be tricky, especially since so many good-looking treats are filled with way too much tricks–no kid needs to eat chocolate filled with high fructose corn syrup or candies dyed with red 40 and other unnaturally-occuring substances…um, like why? So I did some digging and found some pretty easily accessible vegan and cruelty-free Halloween chocolate and candies to make every ghoul, witch and pokemon-dressed kid enjoy the treats you give out. The trick? They won’t be able to tell the difference.

  1. Unreal Brand Chocolates

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For healthy, well really I should say, “better for you” chocolate, Unreal will appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike. They have milk chocolate and dark chocolate options, and according to their website, ALL of their dark chocolate options are indeed, vegan. #raisetheroof. So instead of handing out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, consider Unreal dark chocolate PB cups, dark chocolate gems and more! The one downfall? They’re pretty expensive–I bought mine at Fresh Thyme for $11.99 (a box of 20 treat packs). So this may be a good option if you only get a handful of trick or treaters to your doorstep. You can use their Store Locator to find a store near you–I called my Fresh Thyme before I went and he said they didn’t carry them–lies. Because they had them on display right as I walked in! So the Store Locator knows more.

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2. Little Secrets Chocolate

Little Secrets chocolate is a hit or miss. While they say you can’t really call their chocolates vegan (because they don’t own the factory where the sugar comes from), their ingredients say otherwise. According to their FAQs page, however, “[Their] Classic Dark, Raspberry, Sea Salted Peanut, and Seasonal Peppermint candies do NOT contain any dairy in the ingredients, while [their] Peanut Butter, Toasted Coconut, and Seasonal Spiced Pumpkin Pie do contain dairy.”

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These little packets seem to be a little hard to get your hands on. They may be worth it if you stumble across them at your local Whole Foods or other health food store.

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3. Surf Sweets

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It seems like all of Surf Sweets treats are either vegetarian or vegan. Unlike with the Little Secrets chocolates, you don’t even have to go through the trouble of reading the ingredients to see if they are, because it says right on the package: Vegetarian or Vegan. #lazyvegan

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These packets are maybe too big to hand out one-by-one to each ghoulish child that comes your way, but you may also get the reputation of being that house that hands out King Size candies! Either way, they make a great treat for your kids (or even you because come on face it we all want sugar) to have with lunch as Halloween nears. Get in that spirit, child!

What are your favorite Halloween treats? Share with us!

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