Vegan Diaries – 21 Meals, 35 Bucks (Days 6 and 7 and Recap)

Brussels sprouts with balsamic

This week didn’t turn out as I planned.

I wanted to repot that this was super easy and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be eating a yummy vegan life on the cheap.

It was hard. With my teaching schedule, practice, projects and the meager social life I try to have seamless transition aren’t the first words that jump out.

On Days 6 and 7 I grabbed a few apples for breakfast and lunch. I had soup on Day 6 and another hummus wrap on Day 7.

Dinners were easy and I think that was my biggest takeaway. Focus on one meal that will be the most satisfying. It doesn’t have to be the same meal, but one meal is the biggie nonetheless.

I’m an oatmeal girl when it gets cold so oatmeal that’s a no-brainer.

Other things that made me hmmm:

1. Beans. This is going to be another post. Dried beans are the way to go. Sure they take time to soak, but they are hella cheap. And frankly, my hummus is better with chick peas I’ve made myself. This is also due to Nadia Zerka’s recipe, but I can expand on that in the beans post. Back to my point, beans are a great way to get protein into a vegan diet. As I also read in a NYT food blog, they are back in fashion. Beans are the new black and all that.

2. Eating well on a budget is definitely possible, but it takes time. I’ve mentioned the pantry issue. My pantry is pretty well stocked. I’ve spices, grains and though I dumped a lot of condiments when I moved, I slowly building back my stash.

3. I’m also fortunate because I don’t live in a food desert. I have access to farmer’s markets and big grocery stores that have great prices on fresh food.

4. I enjoyed eating more and was more mindful because I knew it took time and thought to prepare something good in a budget.

Day 6

Breakfast

2 apples

Lunch

Dinner

Brussels sprouts roasted with balsamic over brown rice

This was very tasty. But I used balsamic, not on the list and from my pantry.

The recipe itself is super easy.

1. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil, chopped garlic, balsamic. Add salt and pepper.

2. Roast in a 425° oven for 25-30 minutes. Toss midway through cook time.

3. Serve over a bed of brown rice.

Day 7

Breakfast

Apples and hummus

Lunch

Leftovers from dinner.

Dinner

I skipped dinner which is a terrible idea, but by the end of the week I was low on groceries and wasn’t inspired to make anything. Next week I’m planning on making soup. This should take care of skipping dinner because nothing is handy.

So there you go. It was harder than I thought.

Stay tuned for week 2.

Namaste y’all.

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Vegan Diaries – Grocery Yoga (11 Tips to Keep It On Budget)

 

 

grocery store

 

The grocery store is a dangerous place for me when I’m hungry. But since I’ve been juicing and eating vegan I need to be there more often. Juicing tastes best when the veggies are fresh.  Making myself crazy about why I haven’t transitioned to a vegan diet creep up on my once in awhile, but mostly I bask in the glow of feeling great.

No really I glow. Juicing is hella amazing on the skin. Between increased blood flow, reduced stress, whole foods, slow cooking and an overall sense of peace, I am Buddha on the Mountaintop (Does anyone know the movie reference?)

Anyhoo- enough about me and my skin, I use the following tricks to make sure that my trip is healthy and under budget.

1Be edgy. Just about everything processed resides in the middle aisles. Shop the perimeter.

2Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. I know it’s been said before but it bears repeating. Your subconscious will begin to convince you that ice cream and potato chip are a legitimate food group. Really.

3Only have eyes for your list. You can’t overspend if you don’t check out cool things that aren’t on your list. You didn’t need the newly discovered item before you hit the store, so chances are you don’t need it.

4Shop alone. This is easy of you’re single. If the kids or spouse is in tow, shopping becomes a group trip and it’s super fun!!! But checking your bill after the fun is done can leave you with a shopping hangover you can’t get over.

5. Keep it real. Focus on real foods. This means they may expire more quickly but a menu plan will keep you on track. If it doesn’t expire for a year, it probably is best left out of your body.

6. Keep it simple. Foods with less ingredients are better for your. Try to keep it to 5 or less ingredients per items. It helps to if you can pronounce the ingredients.

7. Plan your trips. You don’t have to always make one big trip but try to eliminate unplanned trips to the store.

8. Menu plan. It’s a little extra work up front, but will pay off on the back end when you aren’t blowing the electric bill standing in front of the fridge deciding what to make everyone. This is also great on the waistline. Now there’s no excuse to miss a Meatless Monday, good for you, your wallet and the planet.

9. Don’t pay full price. Use the savings card stores offer. Use two supermarkets. Many stores running promotions at different times.

10. Keep Mother Earth healthy. Use canvas bags. 

11. Bag it. Check bagged produce. Grocers sometimes (more often than not) throw in extra into bags, making the deal even better than advertised. So check the scale. It could be worth it if you eat lots of apples, citrus and onions.

This is yoga. And it’s fresh, slow and oh so good.

Namaste y’all.

Vegan Diaries – A Slip (Kefir? Don’t Even Know Her!)

It was the swirl that got me...
It was the swirl that got me…

I caved on my vegan journey and was punished.

Spanked. Slapped and humilated.

And then I felt dumb.

I was at Hudson Market. It’s a local grocery that sells organic peanut butter for 20 bucks and le creuset cookware. For real- le creuset cookware at a grocery store. *eye roll*

So why was I there? The veggies are just as reasonably priced as they are at the big grocery store.

I think that’s pretty cool. So while I won’t spend 5 dollars on triple recycled paper towels, it’s a great for veggies.

It was late and I was loosey goosey from a hot class- I wasn’t hungry but I was on a post yoga high.

You know that juicy mellow ride that comes from a great practice?

Anyhoo I’m chillin’ listening to Jill Scott‘s ‘Do You Remember’…

Walking past the freezer section with Jill’s raspy voice in my ears, a yoga high and a glimpse of dairy? Well I slipped.

*Jill Scott voice* And I don’t even really like ice cream like that!

So I see Kefir- at first I thought it said Kaffir and almost started a riot. Once calm I grab a pint- creamy and tangy….

Gross, yet I am intrigued…Damn endorphins.

I should have walked away or picked up some Skinny Cow ice cream bars and been done with it…

Chasin’ that dairy dragon. I tried to rationalize, after all it wasn’t ice cream… (I’ll get the filtered Camels instead of the unfiltered, trying to keep my lungs clean and all).

Showered, clean and cozy at home I pulled out the Kefir.

I sniffed it. Smelled good. Sniffed and sniffed and sniffed again and then…

Brought the spoon to my lips and. Gag. (Disclaimer- I am a very adventurous eater)

I made a face like I did when I was five  and forced to eat liver “This is yuuuuuuuuucky”. This was not the frozen yogurt that usually tasted so good.

And because my foolishness knows no bounds, I try it again. Because, maybe my taste buds were off.

They weren’t.

What a waste. I don’t even know what to use it for and I can’t give it away. I like my enemies too much for that.

My ass is back on the vegan wagon.

Sorry I strayed.

This is yoga. A karma will get you like Keyser Söze.

Namaste y’all…

Vegan Diaries – Squash Soup (It’s Food Yoga Baby)

It’s pretty amazing how quickly my vegan challenge is becoming a part of my life! I feel compelled to share a recipe when it really knocks my socks off.

I love soup. I love soup. I love soup. There’s nothing better that a warm mug of soup on a cold night. It makes me snuggly wuggly.

So here’s a little soup yoga my friends. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!!

I’m always looking for new soup recipes. Recently I’ve been on a spaghetti squash kick. It’s available year round and is very economical (cheap). I’ve sautéed it with veggies, used it in place of pasta and drizzled it with maple syrup as a dessert.

This soup is my new fave. It’s easy to make and tastes like something off of the menu of a great restaurant. Impress your friends and family tonight!

Ingredients:

1 whole spaghetti squash

2 granny smith apples peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

2 shallots chopped (onion works just fine- I like the mellow taste of shallot)

4 c. vegetable stock

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil

fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

  • Poke several holes in your squash. This way it won’t explode in your oven (ask me how I know this…)
  • Roast the squash whole at 350 for 60 minutes. Allow the squash to cool. Cut the squash down the middle and remove the seeds. Scoop out the squash and place in a bowl.
  • Heat oil in a soup pot (med heat) lightly sauté the shallots add the green apple and the squash.
  • Add all spices.
  • Stir the mixture until fragrant and mixed. Add the broth.
  • Allow to simmer for 25 minutes

Now the important part:

  1. Add the soup in batches to your blender. (You can use a food processor- but I think blending creates a much better texture)
  2. Puree until smooth
  3. Transfer batch back to soup pot
  4. Heat the soup
  5. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and serve immediately

Serving suggestions: I had mine for dinner with a salad.  This makes a great starter for a dinner party as well. If you are craving carbs, toasted Ezekiel bread with a schmear of hummus (yeah I broke out some yiddish, I’m from NJ and live in the NYC area if you don’t know some yiddish- oy! I can’t admit to knowing you. The shame!)

The Vegan Diaries

vegan_heart

I miss cheese. I know…pathetic.

I keep talking about it. It’s the only thing I miss since I started my vegan challenge. And don’t tell me to try vegan ‘cheese’ because it won’t do.

I’m a cheese person.

By choice, I went to a farm in Northwestern NJ to take a tour and meet the cows.

Yes, really. It’s this great farm that lets the cows roam free. They personally milk the cows and don’t use those horrible milking machines.

I’ve also gone to cheese boot camp. In one weekend we tasted and learned about 60 cheeses. Wine was also involved. It seems redundant to mention that this was an outstanding weekend. A final exam was given at the end of the boot camp and yes, I welcomed it.

More than just good eatin’, these experiences opened my eyes to the Slow Food Movement. Slow Food promotes the idea: real food, grown sustainably and cooked– not processed. The Slow Food Movement supports national and local projects like urban gardens and green markets. These folks do good work.

Other than my cheese fantasies, eating vegan has been a wonderful experience. Food and meals should be a time for expression and sharing. Cooking has always been a way for me to relax. I was afraid that my vegan adventure would mean a six-week sentence of rice cakes, hummus, black beans and salad.

Somebody shake sense into the lazy minded yogini! Like anything else, effort and thought is required.

I must take a quick detour to the Black hair care world. It all comes full circle, promise. Previously, I chemically straightened my hair. It’s just what I (and millions of other Black women) did.
There was a period when I cut it short and wore it natural, but for reasons that I can’t remember, I relaxed (straightened) it again. It wasn’t good for my hair. My hair was dry, the ends split and no good can come from slathering chemicals on your scalp every 6-8 weeks. Over a year ago, my sister who was known for her absolutely stunning head of hair, chopped it all off and began to wear her hair natural.

I followed suit about six months later. I loved it. I loved the texture and the freedom. But I also had to learn how to care for my newly chemically free head. It required work, a little effort, research and patience. It’s second nature now- and honestly- my hair is awesome, but I may be a little bias.

chemical free!!
chemical free!!

So I said to myself as I tackled this vegan challenge, ‘Self, you’ve never eaten a vegan diet before. Do research. Do homework. You’re a research geek and book nerd , go crazy.’

It’s been a very interesting time. I’m learning a lot about food. I’m learning that I don’t miss certain things that had been a regular part of my diet.
I’m finding out that I miss other things. But, if I want to make changes, change has to happen and it’s not always comfortable.

Good stuff is on the other side of discomfort. Stuff like health, happy animals and a smaller carbon footprint. The Yamas and Niyamas teach us about Tapas, or that burning but disciplined passion. I think this is what sustains change.

Tapas, fresh ingredients and love. Hmm, sounds like a recipe.

This is yoga. And it tastes fantastic, even without cheese.

Namaste y’all

quinoa stuffed pepper
quinoa stuffed pepper- yep I made this tasty goody- it’s stuffed with quinoa and wild rice- you can click the photo for the recipe
Vegan burger
ultimate vegan burger- made this burger too- and. it. was. bangin. w-o-r-d click if you’re interested in wowing those taste buds, bud.

To Be or Not to Be Vegan

tomato

I’ve never considered myself a conscious eater. Like a lot of people I had a stereotype of what conscious eaters looked like – crunchy, Birkenstocks and preachy.

Oh Patchouli is involved. Always lots of patchouli.

For health reasons (at least that’s what I’ve told myself) I have eaten a lot less meat. I’m a proponent of the Meatless Monday Movement and think that eating less meat is better for you and the planet. But I avoided the whole ‘it’s wrong to kill animals’ line of thinking.

And truthfully, I’m not sure why. I read Fast Food Nation when it came out. What shocked me was the conditions of slaughterhouses, for animals and employees alike. For several months I couldn’t eat meat. I cringed at the grocery store. The meat section looked like a graveyard. Inevitably, came the period when the shock of what I read wore off and I went back to eating meat.

I remember the day clearly.

The smell of a grilled burger attacked me in the lobby of a hotel in Arizona. I paused for a moment, knowing that I was going to make a choice that didn’t sit with me morally. Weakness prevailed and the burger was eaten. It’s been this way the few times that I’ve decided to stop eating meat.

I wrote post about my fears of taking the full vegetarian plunge.  Clearly, it must be something that I want to do because it’s on my mind quite a bit. And don’t get me wrong, this is simply my story. I’m not here to preach about not eating animals.

And then I ask myself, why not? I don’t know the answer and it really bothers me. I’m passionate about my politics when it comes to people. Shit, I’m proud of my politics. Why doesn’t that passion for humanity extend to animals? I mean if someone tried to hurt my dog, I’d… Well, let’s just say I’d react badly.

So why am I hedging with this? Because I know I am. This wishy washy stance makes me feel icky. It makes me feel that my politics are self-involved. This in turn makes me feel shitty. It’s important to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves, right?

I watched Vegucated. Here’s the premise this documentary:

  • A filmmaker finds three regular New Yorkers of various ages and backgrounds
  • For three weeks she challenges them to lead a vegan lifestyle
  • After the three weeks they talk about how they feel
  • All three people decided to stay vegetarians. One remained vegan, the other two remained mostly vegan

I loved it!!! Vegucated was fun, honest, informative and didn’t hit you over the head with the message that you are evil if you eat meat. But it did pose some hard questions that I can’t shake.

  • If I know that it’s bad for the planet to eat meat, why am I?
  • If I know that there are affordable ways to live a vegan lifestyle, why haven’t I done the research to give it a shot?
  • If I know the conditions of slaughterhouses, why am I continuing to buy industrial farmed meat?
  • If I know that the labels ‘organic’ and ‘cage-free’ don’t equal humane, why do I still eat eggs?

So I’m not going to for three weeks. But I’m going to do homework, read and make an effort to add to my diet instead of thinking of it as an exercise in subtraction. Why am I not committing to a vegan lifestyle whole hog? Fear of failure, maybe? Maybe I’m just chicken.

I know that I have to leap over the fence. If I believe that everything is everything, there really isn’t another choice.