It's almost done!  My month of vegan eating has not been quite as hard as I thought, but my desire for cheese has reached an all time ma...

Vegan Adventures on the Go

It's almost done!  My month of vegan eating has not been quite as hard as I thought, but my desire for cheese has reached an all time mammoth sized craving.  Some things are frustrating, like that only the cheap white flour brand of english muffins are dairy free AND they contain high fructose corn syrup.  The whole wheat ones have egg and milk in them, boo!  Also, I don't want to have to shop at whole foods to purchase vegan bread crumbs.  Seriously, no brand at Kroger was dairy free.  I ended up buying kroger brand shake'n'bake instead because although it had every other chemical known to man in it, no dairy!  Issues like that seem to defeat the purpose of eating healthy in the first place, so to sustain this type of diet, I would have to stock a vegan pantry with lots of forethought and planning.

Here's the other thing that made it easier.  I've only eaten away from home a handful of times this month.  Once to Pei Wei, where they were incredibly accomodating and almost excited to help me find a vegan option.  Once to Panera for lunch on the very first day (which I shared with you on FB!) and failed.  Once to Mexico Chiquito and once to Chuy's, and oh gosh once to Razorback Pizza.  Here's what I had.

Panera - Corn Chowder (FAIL!) and Greek Salad- order black bean soup in stead and get a vegan bread option because the little mini baguettes are not

Pei Wei - Pad Thai w/no Egg (Success! and YUM!)  There are just a million calories in it.

Mexico Chiquito - (Half Fail) Veggie tacos which consisted of black beans only because I ordered them with no cheese dip.  The half fail is because their lettuce/tomato/cheese mixture for topping is all mixed in and I couldn't get the powdery goo off of my taco.  I also got guacamole and chips which were tasty.

Chuy's - Veggie fajitas (SUPER DELICIOUS!), OMG their tortillas are so good and the veggie fajitas with some quacamole and salsa honestly left me feeling no sadness for the lost sour cream.  The only thing I didn't like was paying (sortof, we had a gift card) $12 for veggies on a skillet.  They should adjust the price if you are only ordering veggies I think.

Razorback Pizza - Spanish Pie w/no cheese or meat or sour cream (EPIC FAIL OF SADNESS) Seriously, I have had taco pizza at Larry's before and it was delish and needed no cheese or meat at all.  This stuff at Razorback pizza was awful.  The beans are mixed with chili powder and tomato paste to create a bitter, vinegar flavored awful paste stuck to stale crust topped with big hunks of salad bar lettuce and tomato wedges and olives that seemed way past their fresh by date.  They gave me half off the pizza because I couldn't even get the kids to eat the cheesy/meaty goodness side of the thing.  It was awful and in the bathroom, there was this photo.

Talk about adding insult to injury!! Needless to say, that was a tough day to stay vegan. Later that night my church hosted their annual homemade ice cream and dessert bingo night. I ate my black bean burrito wrap from home with great sadness as everyone chowed down on ice cream and brownies. If I'd had the time I would have made myself a vegan treat, BUT I was too busy shopping for new pants and treated myself to a pair of red high heels. So although it didn't feel quite as good as those treats probably tasted, I vaguely understand the phrase! 


We are on a crazy tight budget this summer after vacation, so it's actually great to be cooking vegan/vegetarian foods. Meat is expensiv...

Cheap Vegan Meals and Recipes

We are on a crazy tight budget this summer after vacation, so it's actually great to be cooking vegan/vegetarian foods. Meat is expensive, especially the healthy kinds. Here's my dinner list for the week along with recipe links and my original recipes are posted below. Enjoy! 

• Black Beans & Rice w/avocado
(I use dry beans and omit the radish!)
• Black Bean Burritos (cook onions and garlic to skillet, put leftover beans in food processor then cook in skillet until bubbly) 
• Vegan Chili 
• Vegan Chili Mac w/double fiber rotini
• Lentil Cauliflower Rice Tacos

• Vegan Shawarma Patties w/jasmine rice
• Spaghetti with Vegan Vodka Sauce

Easy Vegan Chili 

1 small yellow onion, diced
1 yellow squash, finely chopped or shredded
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 cans chili hot beans or kidney beans
1 can chili ready tomatoes 
1 large can tomato sauce
1 tbspn nutritional yeast (optional for flavor only)

Chili Seasoning
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (adds great flavor if smoked, but sub regular paprika if needed)
1/2 tsp brown sugar

Mix well with fork, save for more chili! You will only use about 1 and a half tablespoons.

In large pot on med-high, heat the olive oil then add diced onion, garlic, and shredded squash and cook until tender and starting to brown. Then add 1 tbspn of your prepared chili seasoning, stir well. 

Turn heat to medium then Add can tomato sauce and stir well. Slowly add all canned ingredients plus one small can of water and the nutritional yeast. Let heat until bubbly, then taste for spice. If you need more flavor, add another half tablespoon of chili seasoning. If bitter or needs more tomato taste, add 1 tbspn ketchup! For more spicy flavor, add more cayenne pepper. Let simmer on low for awhile, stirring occasionally. Serve hot topped with cilantro, salsa, fried onions, or eat with chips! 

Gimme some and no TVP!!

• Chili Mac -  Serve over double fiber rotini topped with nutritional yeast or smoothed silken tofu in the food processor mixed into leftover chili for creamy sauce. 

Vegan Shawarma Patties

1/2 cup green lentils (dry-cook according to package)
1/2 cup of cooked jasmine rice
1 small yellow squash, diced
3-4 portabello mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp curry
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp coriander
Dash salt & pepper
Dash allspice and cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup oats

Mix cooked lentils and rice together
Cook all veggies in skillet with olive oil, when very soft add spices
Add veggies to lentil/rice mix
Add flour, cornmeal, and oats, stir well 

Create patties and pan fry in olive oil (same skillet used for veggies)  until brown on both sides (3 mins or so on each side over med-high heat)

Serve on pita or with rice and cucumber sauce 

Vegan Vodka Sauce

Favorite Spaghetti Sauce Veggies
Garlic cloves (2)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Prepared Jar of Marinara (sockarooni by Newmans Own is goood)
Half block of Mori Nu silken Tofu (soft or firm)

Cook veggies and garlic cloves in pot or skillet
Cut tofu into chunks
Place in food processor with garlic powder, basil, and about a 1/4 cup of marinara and blend until smooth
Add mixture to pan with veggies along with remaining marinara. 
Cook until bubbly and serve over desires pasta noodle
I use whole grain or double fiber by Ronzoni or Barilla 


August really surprised me.  I knew it was coming, but not so soon.  We all say that, but I have so many things to do, that are due (Master&...

Very Vegan Vignette

August really surprised me.  I knew it was coming, but not so soon.  We all say that, but I have so many things to do, that are due (Master's PROJECT!!), that I don't want to do.  This summer was too short, but we had our vacation and our three day family weekends now that I'm working 4 x 10 hour days.  The kids are getting so big.  Freddie went to a two day summer camp.  Charlie is working on potty training and Addie hasn't sucked her thumb in weeks.  Addie starts a 4 y/o pre-k program this school year so I will have three kids in three different places every week day.  Soccer starts soon.  Dance starts soon.  Homework starts soon.  With all of these impending stressors, it was a must for me to step up my diet and exercise routine and give myself a vision for the month of August.  I needed something to keep my self-care near the top of the priority list, but with enough room for the MANY other things headed my way.

The past few months I have been dabbling in Weganism or being a Wegetarian.  That's where you eat vegan or vegetarian until the weekend hits!  It started with just an interest to see if I could do it.  Could I cook vegetarian meals for a family of five on a very tight budget with a meat lovin' husband and a picky two year old?  Could I buy more organic fruits and vegetables and not go wildly over my weekly grocery average?  Could I cut meat meals down to 3-4x a week, then down to 2, or maybe just one?  The answer to these questions was YES!  It cost more to buy organic fruits and veggies and meat, but once I cut out the meat, it evened back out.  Some questions were a resounding, NO!  Like, Can I buy only local food?  Can I go to the Farmer's Market every Saturday morning?  Can I order from the AR Local Food Network every week?  Nope on those things.  Too expensive, too much time commitment, too much future planning, tooooo much for me.  That's ok though.  I found out that I can grow stuff, with some help.  Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, eggplant, and now even some peppers from the garden have helped feed my locally grown fancy.  Another resounding NO for me right now is feeding an entire family of five on a vegan diet.  We have made HUGE strides in eliminating animal products from our house and at least having a variety of options.  We have almond, soy, and dairy milk in our fridge.  Meat meals are down to once a week besides eating out or at church functions.  I haven't figured out how to get rid of yogurt, sour cream, cheese, eggs, butter, and hot dogs from a kid's diet.  My children love fruit, veggies, hummus, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, beans, etc though.  That's a plus!

So, what in the world is wrong with me anyway?  Two years ago I had a blanket distrust of anyone who didn't eat meat.  It was hoity toity nonsense.  Vegetarians were obnoxious enough and vegans were on my list of the most pretentious on the planet.  Don't get me wrong, those judgy snobberies definitely exist.  It's just that there are multiple motivations and varying degrees of expectations related to plant based eating.  Mercy and realism are elements of most people's daily perceptions!  Rachel has been kicking tail at being a vegan, besides an occasional corn dog or cheese stick mishap.  Damn that Sonic Drive-In!  She's so encouraging when I cook vegan meals and appreciative.  It made me realize that I wouldn't have to give up my joy of loving people with food in order to give up meat.  It just didn't happen that I wanted to give it up or saw any reason that I needed to.

Then came friggin' My Fitness Pal.  Do you know how many calories are in ground beef???  It was terrible, so I switched to ground turkey.  Cue the e-coli bacteria outbreak in ground turkey.  Um, now what?  Ground chicken?  Organic chicken was stranglingly expensive.  I looked into a meat share with a local organic farmer but was way too overwhelmed with the thought of having a deep freezer full of a 1/4 cow, 1/4 pig, 12 chickens, a huge turkey, 8 lbs of organ meat, and an entire 10lb bucket of lard in my garage.  Then I decided to give in and watch Forks over Knives on Netflix, then every other plant based, locally grown, organic food documentary I could find like Food Fight, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Vegucated, and many others.  It was so interesting and sortof scary.  Watch them!  Seemed like a pretty good challenge for me, so August it was.  I geared up by eating vegetarian for awhile and then just made the decision to try eating a vegan diet for the month of August.  Done, sorta. 

I have made a few mistakes and it is definitely a learning curve. I'm not freaking out about it though and continuing to make good choices even if I do eat a cream based soup by accident.  I'm also finding humor in the huge tupperware I have to bring to the church hot dog bar and the whole cucumbers I pull out of my lunch bag.  It's just another layer of being in this world, but not of it.  We don't have to ascribe to a standard American diet of processed food and meats that are actually funding dessertification, soil degradation, and starvation for much of the world.  We deserve to know how our bodies were created to work and how chemicals and hormones effect our health both mental and physical.  I may not be able to stick this out and I LOVE hamburgers, corn dogs, turkey sandwiches, fried chicken sandwiches from chick-fil-a, hot wings, pepperoni pizza, oh man I'm getting hungry.  It's just worth a try!  The worst thing so far is not being able to use half and half in my coffee.  Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk creamers, tried them all and yuck, splfhfffh, ecck, ugggh, nope.  The best is soy milk with lots of sugar but still it isn't the same joy.  Poor me. 

I hope to post some recipes up here and easy meal lists for people interested in just cutting back on the meat, cutting down their grocery bills, or in going all in.  Oh, check out this awesome blog for amazing fat free vegan recipes.  It may be important to note that I'm going to try and primarily eat plant based, which means no vegan cheese, processed prepared fake meats, oreos (totally vegan!), onion rings, and the like.  This is supposed to be healthy, low fat, low calorie, HIGH nutrition.  I still have more weight to lose ya know. 

Last thing for promised, 18 month weight loss photos!  58.2lbs down!  It's still so incredibly slow, but I see shape change even when I don't see pounds shedding off.  I love to see the progress I have made and I laugh to myself thinking about what my infomercial would say.  "Would you like to lose up to 58lbs in a year and a half?  How would you like to exercise, run a half-marathon, track calories, watch your portions, completely change your eating habits and lifestyle, makeover your grocery shopping routine, and find yourself losing a steady 1lb a week over the next couple of years?  Does losing three sizes and 8.5 inches from your waist by next Christmas sound good to you?  If so, call this number NOW!"  :)  It just doesn't sound like it would sell very fast.