My First Vegan Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I don’t know about you guys, but Thanksgiving day is one of my favorite holidays, filled with so many amazing family traditions. This Thanksgiving is extra special though, as I celebrated my first major holiday as a plant-based eater. My lovely mother and I have done our research and were well-equipped for alternatives to the traditional thanksgiving dishes. Although she isn’t vegan, she is always looking for healthier alternatives, so it works out well.

First tradition on the list: eating a delicious, traditional Thanksgiving breakfast, usually consisting of a specialty recipe of some sort, while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and sipping on some apple cider. This year, my mom and I decided to make Pumpkin Walnut Pancakes, inspired by PreventionRD’s Vanilla Pumpkin Pancakes.

Pumpkin Walnut Pancakes 

This makes a lot of pancake. Just warning you. #leftoverbatterfordays

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Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar (we used the all natural
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs (flax meal & water vegan sub)
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups nonfat or non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 walnuts, chopped (my last minute genius deicison!)

We served the pancakes with almond butter & cinnamon, alongside some honeycrisp apples. A fabulous combo.

Of course my mom also whipped up her traditional coffee cake for my brother and dad. The pumpkin pancakes were plenty for me though.

We then continued watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade until noon, aka until Santa came rolling in to kick off the season.

Afterward, we gave Hudson a much needed Thanksgiving bath and blow-dry. He secretly enjoyed it.

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We usually have all of my dad’s side of the family over to our house for the holiday, from all across the East coast, but this year it was just us four, and a few family friends for dessert. Simple.

At around 3 o’clock…

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This girl ate:

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This year, I decided that I love my school’s mascot too much to eat it. 😉 Go Hokies!

Mommy’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 tb fresh garlic, minced (for garlic lovers!)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 stick butter (vegan margarine)
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Peel potatoes.
  2. Boil potatoes in water, adding in garlic as they boil.
  3. When a fork is able to stick into them, whip potatoes with electric mixer, while adding in almond milk, butter (vegan margarine), salt and pepper to your preferred consistency.
  4. Serve.

Mommy’s Garlic Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 4 heads of broccoli
  • Fresh garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Steam broccoli to liking.
  2. Sautee chopped garlic in olive oil.
  3. Once broccoli is steamed, place in serving dish and drizzle the sauteed garlic olive oil over the broccoli evenly.
  4. Serve.

Mashed Cauliflower with Cannellini Beans (New this year!)

Stolen from Beyond Diet’s Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 small onion (red or yellow)
  • 1-2 TBSP raw organic butter
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on your taste)

Instructions:

  1. Steam or boil the cauliflower. Chop the onion and sauté it with either olive oil, butter or coconut oil.
  2. Add the cooked cauliflower to the sautéed onions and sauté together for approximately 8 minutes.
  3. Take the cauliflower and onion sauté and puree in a food processor or blender. Add a tablespoon or more of butter and blend.
  4. Take 2 cloves of garlic and chop them up into small pieces. Add more olive oil, butter or coconut oil to pan and cook the garlic until brown (but try not to burn it).
  5. Pour the garlic into your mashed cauliflower and mix by hand.

Sweet Potato Wedges 

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sprinkle of paprika

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees and slice sweet potatoes into wedges.
  • Place on baking pan, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle paprika to taste.
  • Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until browned. Serve.

Whole Grain Stuffing (New this year!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 whole grain seeded loaf of bread (1 wk old), bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 red onion
  • Sprinkle of salt & pepper
  • Thyme to taste
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients, but olive oil, in bowl.
  3. Pour boiling water on top of mixture, and then drizzle the olive oil.
  4. Stir mixture.
  5. Pour mixture onto pie plate and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes (depending on crispiness preference).
  6. Serve.

And for dessert, we had quite the variety. I ended up having:

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Pumpkin Coconut Pie with a Raw Vegan Crust

Pumpkin filling snagged from Eat Pray Bake’s Vegan Coconut Pumpkin Pie.

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Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Filling Instructions:

  1. To make the filling, combine the pumpkin puree, honey, coconut cream, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the corn starch, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Pour the filling onto the crust and smooth out with a spatula.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. When it is completely cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.

Raw Vegan Crust

Taken from FitSugar.

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Raw Vegan Crust Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup dates (about 18), pitted
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Raw Vegan Crust Instructions:

  1. Get out a 9-inch pie pan, and set aside.
  2. Place crust ingredients into a food processor, and process until you see a crumbly mixture form, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour the “dough” into the pie pan, and use your fingers to gently press it into the pan firmly, all the way up the sides of the pan. Place it in the fridge.

Mommy’s Apple Pie with a Raw Vegan Crust

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Apple filling ingredients:

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Create paste mixture.
  • Place apples with mixture into pie crust evenly stacking them.
  • Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until browned. Serve.

Chocolate Pumpkin Nutty Fudge Bars 

Inspired by The Sweet Life’s Sugar-Free Chocolate Pumpkin Fudge.

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This recipe had to be altered, as we didn’t find it as satisfying as we had hoped. So after neatly squirting pumpkin and chocolate into the cupcake pan and letting each layer freeze, we took them out and lined them all up in a rectangular pan, reconstructing the dessert into one big piece, and added chopped almonds and a slight bit of Xyla sugar. When it was time for dessert, we cut them into squares and served. This is what recipe experimenting is all about. Just keepin’ it real for my readers!

Ingredients:

Pumpkin layer=

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 5 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Chocolate layer=

  • 1 large banana, very ripe
  • 3 medjool dates, pitted
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp coffee, finely ground
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Instructions:

  1. Lightly spray a mini muffin pan and set aside.
  2. In a food processor combine all the ingredients for the pumpkin layer other than the coconut oil. Blend until very smooth. With motor running, slowly add coconut oil. Process until combined.
  3. Fill a piping bag or ziplock bag with the pumpkin fudge and pipe it into the mini muffin tins, filling up half way. Place in freezer while mixing the chocolate fudge.
  4. Prepare choocolate layer in the same way you prepared the pumpkin. Note: the coffee in the recipe does not add a coffee flavor, it just makes the chocolate darker and richer. Pipe the chocolate on top of the chilled pumpkin layer, filling to the top. Return to freezer for 1 hour or until hard.
  5. When ready to remove, run a sharp knife around the edge. Using the knife as a lever, pop the fudge out from the bottom. Let thaw 15-20 minutes before eating. Store in refrigerator for 5 days or freezer for up to a month.
  6. Reconstruction: BUT then we redid this and layered a rectangular pan with crushed almonds, Xyla sugar and smushed all of the treats together. Then, covered the entire top with crushed almonds and a slight sprinkle of Xyla sugar.

After all is said and done, I am so thankful for sooooo many things, but most importantly, my family: my mom, my dad, my little brother and my Hudson pup. They are each such a blessing to have in my life. They’ve made me who I am today and I can’t thank them enough for the amazing support system that they are.

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I’m also incredibly thankful for my health, because where would I be without it?

And you guys, my blog readers! You guys keep me blogging and producing long, detailed posts like this one.

I hope you all had an enjoyable, happy and healthy Thanksgiving. I know I did.

Chow! 🙂

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Balls for Days

Thanksgiving break has been going so amazingly thus far. I’m so grateful to have a full 10 days home. It’s been the perfect balance of relaxing and productive.

On Tuesday, my mom and I literally made an entire day of cooking up plant-based concoctions, and plenty of them. A vegan chef’s dream of a day.

One of my favorite sweet recipes we tried was Lemon Ginger Cashew Balls, snagged from Robot Heart Recipes. I found them to be the perfect combination of sweet, tangy and refreshing.

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Lemon Ginger Cashew Balls

(This recipe yields 10 balls, so we doubled it)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 10 medjool dates (soaked for about 30 min prior)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, grind the cashews. Transfer the cashews into a bowl.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in your food processor and process until the dates are in very small pieces.
  3. Add the cashew back into the mix and pulse until combined. Roll the mixture into 10 balls.
  4. Refrigerate. Eat.

These delicious balls were relatively simple to make, aside from the lemon zesting. It was my first time zesting a lemon and boy, did it use a little finger stamina. The smell and taste from the zesting were well worth it though. How I love lemons and lemony things!

Next on the list were balls of the savory sort, Lemon Pesto Lentil “Meatballs,” from Sprouted Kitchen. We actually had these little guys for dinner tonight, atop some fresh spinach. De-lic-ious.

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I think it’s safe to say these balls required a little hands on action.

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Lemon Pesto Lentil “Meatballs”

Makes 18 small meatballs–> we doubled this, as usual.

Lentil “Meatball” Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (flax meal & water vegan sub)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta (OMITTED)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan (OMITTED)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • hefty pinch of dried or fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp each sea salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (we used Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes cereal)

Lemon Pesto Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan (OMITTED)
  • 2 tbsp water to thin

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, pulverize the lentils into mush. Put them into a large mixing bowl. Add the beaten eggs (thickened flax meal & water combo), ricotta (I omitted), parmesan (I omitted), garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in breadcrumbs and sit (to thicken) for 20 minutes.
  2. For the pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and salt in a food processor or blender and run until smooth.
  3. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired.
  4. Stir in parmesan (I omitted) and set aside. The sauce will stay fresh in the fridge for about 1 week.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll lentil mix into 1 inch balls between your palms. They should hold together fairly well. If they seem pretty wet and are falling apart, stir in another 1 tbsp of breadcrumbs until ball will stay together.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and line the balls up on the baking sheet (they don’t need much space, as they won’t spread). If you like a bit more a crust, brush the balls with olive oil (I did!).
  7. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the balls over halfway through baking. Remove to cool slightly.

*I recommend serving these with your favorite grain, pasta, bed of greens or simply on their own with a nice drizzle of the decadent pesto sauce.

One of the best things about making all these yummy foods at home is that we never fail to make double or triple batches and I get to take some back to school with me! Yay for showing off my cool, yummy vegan food to my roomies and friends in Blacksburg!

Well I’m off to do more prepping for tomorrow’s food-filled festivities! The recipes never seem to end, but let’s be honest, I don’t mind at all. That just means more to blog about and share with you guys, right?!

I don’t know about you, but I’m stoked for Thanksgiving day tomorrow. So many fun traditions, so many delicious eats and even some new recipes for my house for this year! Don’t worry, I’ll be filling you in on it all, so be expecting a Thanksgiving post soon!

Before I go, I’ll leave you with this. I think the caption says it all. Gotta love snapchat.

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Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Chow [down], people.

Make Your Own Sunshine

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I’m honored to have been awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award by the inspiring Elyse, actually one of the first bloggers I met that opened my eyes to veganism, at Lizzie Fit! I usually don’t do posts like this, but what the heck?

The rules for Sunshine Award are:

1   Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2   Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back.
3   Answer the same 10 questions given.
4   Nominate up to 10 blogs for the award, a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
5   Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.

Sunshine Q&A:

1. Where would you most like to travel to?

I would LOVE to travel to Spain, but really Europe is general, as I have yet to cross the Atlantic Ocean. I also have a Spanish minor, so being able to put my Spanish to use would be pretty nifty. Luckily, I actually have plans to study abroad in Barcelona for 6 weeks this summer. That will probably do the trick.

2. Do you have a sweet tooth?

Um YES. I try my very best to limit my sweet intake and take care of that craving with naturally sweet foods, like fruit or nut butters. A little dark chocolate is okay every once in a while too ;). It’s crazy how you can train your sweet tooth to be satisfied by natural, good-for-you foods.

3. What motivates you to keep blogging?

My motivation lies in my passion for health and my desire to spread it. I just want everyone to realize the importance of health and how easy and how good it feels to live life leading it. Health is too often overlooked and that needs to change, or our world will have some serious consequences. Happy and healthy going hand in hand is no myth.

I also love getting feedback from fellow bloggers, friends and family that read my blog. That always makes my day and makes me want to fire up that next blog post!

4. Who is your favorite comedian?

I can’t say I follow too many comedians, but I do love Kevin Hart. My brother Kyle is pretty funny too.

5. What is your favorite outdoor activity?

I run outside a good amount and always enjoy the scenery, even if it’s just streets and apartments (in my college town). Anything is better than the treadmill scenery.

Hiking too though! Nothing beats hiking a challenging trail and then reaching the top, stopping and admiring the beautiful landscape.

6. Who was your favorite teacher and why? 

My favorite teacher was my freshman English teacher at App State, Ms. Peaches Hash. Aside from the coolest name I’ve ever heard and the brightest red hair I’ve ever laid eyes on, she had one of the best, most upbeat and enthusiastic personalities I’ve ever come across. Her continuous positive energy kept all her students focused on new and creative ideas to write about.

I bet she’d be proud of me now! 🙂

7. Do you own any pets?

Yes, my darling Hudson, a little 6 year old yorkie that I love dearly. It kills me to be away from him whilst at school. I got him the summer before my freshman year of high school after begging and pleading to my parents for a dog for two whole years. Yes, persuasive essays were involved. He will always be my little Hudson pup.

8. Most embarrassing moment in your life?

I don’t know if I can say a single most embarrassing moment, but it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share.

9. Where are you from?

I’m from Fairfax, Virginia, right dab in the hustle and bustle of the Washington Metropolitan area, and have lived there my entire life. I grew up in a house about 1 mile from the house I currently live in. Drastic stuff, I know.

10. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? 

It would depend on the amount and the quality of wood, as he would obviously be concerned with the nutrition factor of all this chucking. More information needed.

Nominations

I chose bloggers I follow that always seem to brighten my day with their blog posts, filled with inspiring new ideas and never any shortage of healthy enthusiasm. Keep it up!

Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear?

Honk If You’re Vegan

Food to Glow

Trading Paper Crowns

Clean Eating Veggie Girl

I hope you were able to find some sunshine amongst all the rain today! (Figuratively or literally, depending on your location ;))

Oh, and be expecting some plant-based dessert posts coming up! All this time without schoolwork has given me so much time for vegan recipe testing. It’s been craziness.

Chow!

Minty Black Bean Spinach Vegan Brownies

As your sweet tooth is probably at an all time high with holiday spirit in the air, I would like to present you with some healthy dessert alternatives that do the trick without all the guilt.

Let’s start off the list off with a spin-off of the traditional American brownie we all know and love.

Instead of using butter, sugar, highly refined white flour, eggs, and artificially flavored chocolate sugar powder, this recipe involves nothing but natural, wholesome ingredients.

Thanks to Carrie On Vegan for this deliciously healthy creation, I give you

Minty Black Bean Spinach Vegan Brownies

Pre-blending

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Pre-oven

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Post-oven

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Cut & served (still hot & gooey)

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Yields 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups pitted Medjool dates, soaked in 3/4 cup of water for at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup carob powder or cocoa powder
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a large baking dish (I recommend 13″x 9″) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth, adding a small amount of non-dairy milk if necessary to blend.
  4. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for at least 45 minutes. If the top of the brownies begins to burn during the last 10-15 minutes of baking, drop the temperature to 350 degrees.
  5. Let brownies chill completely before serving (I couldn’t wait!), preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

These brownies were definitely winners, and so much more moist than the sweet potato brownies I made a few months ago.

I do recommending adding chocolate chips of some sort if you’re a chocolate lover, like myself. My mom  and I added mint chocolate pieces to the top of this batch before baking. Great addition!

Well, I’m off to go see one of my closest friends  after so many months! I can’t wait! Catching up while we’re all home from school is the best.

Until next time. Chow!

5 Tips to a Healthy Thanksgiving

So the countdown begins! Thanksgiving in T minus 5 days.

Looking forward to stuffing your face for hours on end with Thanksgiving cuisine? You bet.

But then sitting around uncomfortable for hours afterward regretting that last bite of pecan pie? Probably not.

No fear, CHOWIDO is here! I think I may be able to help you out a bit, so we can both get through the holidays, healthy, happy and without an extra pound!

I’ve come up with 5 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving:

  • Lose the extra creams and butters. They simply are not necessary. Instead, get your flavors from natural oils and herbs for dinner dishes and other wholesome, natural ingredients (fruits, veggies, nuts, spices) for desserts.
  • Scrap the gravy. Gravy is made of flour, water and leftover turkey grease, so basically a heart attack in a ladle.
  • Minimize or cut out cheese. It just adds extra fat.
  • Add in extra veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds when you can!
  • Incorporate exercise. Give your body a break from the sedentary holiday lifestyle. Curve ball.

And WAMO, there’s your recipe for a feel-good holiday.

Take it upon yourself to veer away from the traditional, fattening holiday food and start new, healthier Thanksgiving traditions for you and your family. I promise you, you will be so happy you did.

Here are some healthy (mostly vegan) Thanksgiving recipes to give you some ideas and get ya thinkin’. Although the recipes don’t have to be vegan to be healthy, you can almost always count on vegan foods to be filled with nutrition. 🙂

Dinner time–

Main dishes:

  • Rotisserie Turkey (rubbed w/ olive oil, herbs & spices)

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Side dishes:

  • Garlic mashed potatoes (mash w/ non-dairy or non-fat milk & whatever spices you like)

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  • Stuffing (no butter or refined flour (no white bread)

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  • White and green beans

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  • Steamed garlic broccoli (no butter or cheese please!)

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  • Sweet potato wedges

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  • Pomegranate-mint relish

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Dessert–

  • Pumpkin chocolate fudge bites

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  • Raw apple pie 

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  • Carrot cake bars

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All delicious, all healthy. Sounds like a good deal to me. What do ya think?

Staying on track during Thanksgiving isn’t as hard as it may seem. You got this, people.

Stay tuned for some yummy vegan treats this upcoming week!

See ya soon my chowido-ers! Chow.

Hey Thanksgiving Break

Greetings and happy beginning of the holiday season!

I don’t know about you all, but as soon as Halloween was over, I was ready to start blasting some christmas jams. I always start way too early and wear myself out towards Christmas. I’m trying my best to pace myself this year…

I’m back home in Northern Virginia for the next 10 days to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, as of yesterday night.

I have been anticipating this break more than any other. School has been demanding as always, but I also haven’t made a trip home this semester. Yes, that’s a full four months away from my mom, dad, brother and pup! Sad times.

It has never felt so good to be back in my house, surrounded by all the little things I’ve missed so much. It’s funny, when I come home from being at school, I always get so delightfully overwhelmed with the grand amount of space there is, compared to my crowded, little college apartment.

I know it’s been a shamefully long time since my last post, but I promise that I will make up for it with this break, and the next (looong winter break)!

For my diet, I’ve been staying disciplined as always. Of course, there have been a few exceptions to my perfect vegan diet as special occasions come up. For example, sometimes you just gotta have certain sweets…GNI (Girls Night In) Sweet Frog anyone? I’m sure most college girls can confirm this necessary. It’s that practical vegan in me coming out. Whoops.

Here’s a few foods I’ve had over the past few weeks or so that you’ve missed out on.

Vegan Nachos

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Panera custom order (their green Power Bowl hummus is to die for!)

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Garlic broccoli (Mom’s special recipe)

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Jamba Juice Berry Upbeet Smoothie, quinoa & veggies w/ hummus & cukes

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Sauteed garlic & herb zucchini and spinach

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Baked sweet potato w/ almond butter, walnuts & cinnamon

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Homemade black bean burger on whole wheat seeded bun w/ tomatoes, lettuce & homemade sweet potato fries (my first meal home!)

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With the cold and flu season upon us, I just wanted to take this time to remind you all how important eating right is. Yes, eating healthy yields an attractive aesthetic, but more importantly, it maintains your well-being. And where would you be without your health? More than any other time of year, germs are being spread like wildfire from all the indoor activity. Eat right and stay well! I promise you it’s no myth.

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Yeah, so I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this guy, but I hear he’s relatively smart. If you don’t want to listen to me, maybe you should at least take it from him.

“But how on earth can I eat healthy when I will soon be surrounded by loads of decadent Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies?”

Don’t worry, I’ll help you out with that one in my next post. Your girl’s got you. 😉

Well, I’m off to finish up a Spanish project due tonight! That should be the last of my school work before I can be lazy and get a little Colleen-time in.

Chow for now!

My 4 Month Veganniversary

Today is the day four months ago that I started eating strictly plant-based (July 5, 2013).

4 months. 18 weeks. 124 days.

All vegan, all delicious, all the time.

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Through out the past four months, I’ve learned a lot; a lot about myself, my self-discipline, my strengths, my weaknesses, and my potential.

Switching to a plant-based diet has allowed me to grow as an individual, allowing me to further develop my personal identity, discovering who I am and what I am passionate about. And isn’t that what college is for anyways? Bingo.

Since the switch, I have a much better idea of what career path I plan to pursue. If I can work for a company that is as passionate about leading a natural, wholesome, sustainable lifestyle as I am, I will be one happy girl.

Although I have not been blogging as regularly as I was able to over the summer, I promise you I have been continuing with my vegan fixings and workouts, with the addition of some weight-lifting into my routine (my latest favorite).

I did a vegan Q&A session in a past Veganniversary post, which I think was a hit, so why not carry out that tradition and give you another insider scoop on my plant-based lifestyle?

I know most of you are probably curious as to what I eat on a given day, so here goes.

A typical Tuesday:

  • 6:15 AM Wake up
  • 6:30 AM Breakfast Sprouted grain cereal OR steel cut oats w/ a whole diced apple, almond butter, unsweetened almond milk and a large cinnamon sprinkle
  • 8 AM Coffee w/ soy milk & Truvia OR vanilla coconut milk creamer
  • 10:30 AM Morning snack A piece of fruit, a bar (Larabar, KIND, Kashi granola, etc. [usually non-protein]) or nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  • 12:30 PM Lunch (usually my biggest meal) Beans (black beans, chickpeas, red beans, cannellini) w/ lots of veggies (spinach, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, etc.) in some form (sauteed, soup, burger, etc.) & sometimes with a side of fruit (grapes, citrus fruit, etc.)
  • 3 PM Pre-work out snack Either an apple, hummus & veggies, or a protein bar (Clif, Quest, Alt Larabars, Mojo, etc.)
  • 5 PM Workout 1-2 miles jogging/sprinting, weight lifting focused on one or two core muscle groups
  • 7 PM Dinner Grains (quinoa, brown rice), legumes (beans, lentils) and vegetables (sweet potato, spaghetti squash)
  • 9 PM Before-bed snack Fruit (small or half apple, grapes, clementine, pomegranate) or nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  • 11 PM Bedtime

Also, each day:

  • I aim to drink about five 750 mL Camelbak size water bottles (equating to approx. 16 cups of water, 3750 mL)
  • Take a generic Women’s Multivitamin & a B-12 Vitamin supplement
  • Limit simple carbs and starches
  • Add more exercise via daily tasks (take stairs, skip steps, park farther away, stand more often, do household chores)

Personal goals:

  • Incorporate juicing into my daily routine (will require the purchase of a juicer)
  • Limit caffeine intake (coffee addict = yikes!)
  • Improve weight lifting skills (for strength & toning purposes)

Over the past few months, I’ve adapted to a college student vegan lifestyle, which is, let me tell you, a whole heck of a lot different than living at home in Northern Virginia with my family type of vegan lifestyle. I’ve accepted the term “practical vegan” as something I can live by, especially being in college. I’ve had my fair share of miserable unable-to-eat experiences at restaurants or at friends’ homes and realized they aren’t all that necessary. Of course I will 9 out of 10 times go out of my way to maintain my vegan diet, but if absolutely necessary, alternating to vegetarianism isn’t the worst thing in the world. If there is a sprinkle of cheese atop a salad I order, I won’t send it back.

I’ve also realized I’ve got to let myself indulge sometimes. Yes, there are definitely some indulgent vegan foods, but some of my all-time favorite foods are not plant-based. When it comes to Italian style pizza or chocolate desserts, every once in a while I think I can manage a little mozzarella or a little chocolate milk fat into my life.

If you miss these things so much, “why not just go back to eating meat, dairy and eggs” you ask?

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I recommend educating yourself on the reasoning behind plant-based eating. Start with these inspiring documentaries (all available on Netflix):

  • Forks Over Knives
  • Vegucated
  • Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
  • Food, Inc.
  • Food Matters

Why do I lead a vegan lifestyle?

  • It’s an extremely healthy, nutrient dense diet w/ almost no cholesterol or unhealthy fats (a health nut’s dream)
  • My food doesn’t weigh me down
  • It keeps me lean with little effort
  • It keeps me well now & well in my future (cancer/disease rates almost completely diminish)
  • It’s cleaner & greener for our world (agriculture industry has > carbon emissions than transportation)
  • It’s a more sustainable lifestyle (for our world & for your pocket [medical expenses plummet])
  • It’s cruelty-free (no animals are getting tortured for me, thank you!)
  • Plus so many more benefits that go on and on…

Read about some various individuals that switched to veganism and were shocked at the benefits they got out of it in this article by GentleWorld.

Being vegan is definitely something that makes me unique as a 20 year old college kid, but I love that about it. With the abundance of greasy, fat-filled, convenience foods that surround a college town, the temptation is always present, but that just makes sticking to my veganism for four months strong that much more rewarding. Sometimes, you just gotta stand and shout (even it’s in just in your head) “GO ME!” Today happens to be one of those days.

I even had a vegan-inspired halloween costume this year, Mother Nature. Here’s a pic of the roomies from this past weekend!

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I hope this post gave you a little more insight into the amazingness that veganism is. We’re not just crazies that “don’t like” typical food in the American diet. Who doesn’t love that stuff? Vegans are normal people that simply vouch to give up certain things for their own health, well-being and the good of society. It’s all about priorities. Maybe you too will join the club. All the cool people are doing it…

Chow until next time!