Meal Planning 4.30.18

IMG_1545.jpgI just finished meal planning for the upcoming week and this was the first time I was struggling to pick things that I wanted to make. Nothing sounded good to me…nothing really caught my eye… anyone have days like this? Luckily this week have have a few nights out, so I only needed to come up with four meals. I’m sure I’ll be kicking myself later this week that I didn’t put more effort in! I still found four yummy sounding meals that will work.

Tofu Scramble with Home fries- I’m going to make breakfast for dinner and use mushrooms, onion, asparagus, and kale cooked with crumbled tofu and add spices to make a scrambled egg consistency and then bake up some potatoes as a side.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches and Roasted Broccoli– I’ve been wanting to try jackfruit for a while, but it sounds so weird that it’s intimidating me! Fruit that mimics pulled pork… what?! I know, but apparently it’s great so I’ll give it a try. I’m going to buy the can from TJ’s and then cook it with their BBQ sauce for an easy meal. Fill a ciabatta roll with the mixture and top with avocado and a side of roasted broccoli.

Chinese Eggplant, mushroom, and Broccoli Stir Fry– I’m going to make a soy based sauce and make a stir fry and top a bed of rice with this saucy mixture.

Quinoa Tacos– I’m going to make quinoa, spice it with taco spices, and then cook it until it gets crispy and crunchy then make tacos out of it with tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, and salsa.

That’s all I’ve got for this week! Hopefully these options sound tasty to you and I’ll be posting each recipe as I cook this week. Enjoy the finally sunny weekend!!

Why Trader Joe’s is THE Best

Why Trader Joe's is THE Best

Why Trader Joe’s is THE Best

I usually make my weekly Trader Joe’s haul and I’ve found some awesome products that we love. They’re flavorful, easy, international, and cheaper than traditional grocery stores and I play a little “Guess how much?” game with friends when I unload because it’s ALWAYS cheaper than what everyone guesses. 

                                                                 Must Try Products

  • Flowers-I have fresh flowers in my kitchen every week and they make it a lot more affordable to keep the habit. I can get a beautiful bouquet for $5.99.
  • Produce– All beautiful and reasonably priced. They also have bagged riced cauliflower and broccoli, precut butternut squash, and a great selection of fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Tamari Flavored Mini Rice Crackers- salty, crunchy, and asian inspired. The serving size is 37 crackers and believe me, it’s hard to even stop there.
  • Herb and Olive Oil Popcorn– flavored with olive oil, dill, and other spices, this popcorn is a satisfying salty snack.
  • Peach Mango Salsa- The perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and smoky elevates your mexican meals.
  • Creamy Almond Butter (no salt)– This is the creamiest version I’ve tried and I like to add my own salt to control it.
  • Low Fat Tuscan style Marinara– big cans for just over a dollar and it’s great! I mean it’s not Rao’s, but it’s not $9 a jar either.
  • Brown rice or red lentil pastas– A great way to get a healthier version of pasta without as much guilt
  • Dried Mango– pretty much vegan jerky
  • Hummus– there’s several varieties but my favorite is the original
  • Organic tofu– firm or extra firm
  • 3 Grain Organic tempeh– under $2 for a package and it makes the best “sausage” crumbles
  • Animal crackers– a huge tub that make you feel 4 years old again
  • 72% Dark Chocolate packs– perfect after dinner treat
  • Simply Nutty Bars– nuts, dark chocolate, and sea salt

Frozen section

  • fruit and veggies-mango, raspberries, peas, grilled cauliflower
  • Brown rice – just microwave a bag and it serves two people
  • Organic quinoa-did you know quinoa has a lot of protein?
  • Shrimp or Veggie Gyoza- they’re so affordable and so delicious! Just a few minutes to pan fry then steam and it’s a quick weeknight delight.
  • Japanese style fried rice– rice with seaweed and edamame with veggies mixed in.
  • Mahi Mahi burgers– bought these last time but haven’t tried them yet!
  • Vegan Tikka Masala- when you want quick Indian without the heavy cream.

And no, this is not an ad. I’m not famous.

The Beginning of the End for Meat

It all started with What the Health… that’s how going vegan started for quite a few people I’ve heard. I know it might not be 100% factual and it’s one documentary, but it was enough for me to be cleaning out every animal based product under our roof before the credits were done rolling. I NEVER thought we would be veganish… I’m such a foodie and my husband is a meat manager after all! What would we eat? How would we survive without eating meat or dairy? Would other people think we’re going to start marching in animal protests and wearing hippie clothes? How am I going to come up with all new recipes? Are we going to be starving? Are we going to still be able to go out to dinner? Can I really survive a get together without devouring a cheese *mostly brie* plate? Those were just a few questions running through my mind, but there was enough evidence that pushed us to do this complete lifestyle overhaul so drastically. We decided to still eat seafood occasionally because we have a slight sushi obsession, so that’s one thing we didn’t give up completely. I know it’s not for everyone, but these were my reasons to try this out..

  1. Josh, my brand spanking new husband, had to have an ileostomy last December due to his severe Crohn’s disease. He has been living with Crohn’s since high school and had to have his colon out at that time. He had a J pouch formed after and was unable to digest any fruits or veggies so he could only eat lean meats, carbs, and sweets without hurting. His diet consisted mainly of chicken, mac ‘n cheese, donuts, and ice cream and he was always exhausted. I had to make two meals every night just to fulfill both of our dietary needs and it was tiring but necessary. Last fall he was getting thinner, sicker, and we were in and out of the hospital. By December, a surgeon told us that an ostomy was his only option for a semi-normal life. We were devastated with the news, but hopeful for a good outcome. We spent 2 ½ weeks in the hospital and it was one of the most trying experiences we’ve ever been through, definitely not what we predicted in our first year of marriage. The procedure ended up giving him a new lease on life, and he is able to eat whatever he wants and he feels better than ever. I would eat mulch for every meal if it prevented another surgery and hospital stay. Plant based diet is helpful for autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s because it helps with inflammation, so if it helps keep him healthy we decided it would be worth every missed steak dinner.  
  2. The evidence of a plant based diet keeping cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and other terrifying but common things at bay is enough to make anyone steer clear of the bacon.
  3. I’ve always struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I could never eat what my friends ate and not gain 10 lbs. The only success I’ve had was doing Nutrisystem for years towards the end of college and lost 55 lbs, but there’s only so long a girl can eat astronaut food. I remember crying when I discontinued my order because I was so terrified I’d gain my weight back. I’m always trying to figure out the best way to eat healthy and lose weight. VOILA! Going vegan would make me so skinny finally, right?? WRONG! We’re 5 months in and still trying to find a balance. My hair is starting to grow in thicker, my skin is clearer, my IBS has felt more stable (after the first few very unstable days) , and  my blood pressure has gone down so there’s some positivity.  I’d rather be a little chunky and my body be healthy, so we’re going to stick to this plan and try to figure out what can help. Less carbs? Less food? Miscounting calories? More exercise? Bueller, Bueller…?
  4. Oh, and I’m lactose intolerant so I should probably be giving up dairy anyway…I put it off for too long, it was just too tasty.

I’ve always loved cooking and baking, but I wanted to start this blog (after a friend’s suggestion) because I started cooking 5-6 veganish meals a week and it was fun to add more creativity to my cooking and find healthy, vegan, and delicious meals that wouldn’t make us miss meat. It’s a lot harder now that food can’t hide behind the flavor of cheese! For people that ate meat basically every meal, we don’t miss it much. It’s the dairy that’s much harder to avoid! I spend a lot of time looking on Pinterest, blogs, and cookbooks to find recipes that would fit all of those categories and meal plan each week. I’ve searched for healthy, vegan meal plans online and can’t find any that are free or don’t have 343 ingredients. I’m going to try and make it a little easier for new vegans and give you what has been helpful for me.The Beginning of the End of Meat