Shoppin’ like a badass (A.K.A. my vegan grocery list)

Labeling yourself can be great when it comes to your intake.

I take great pride when I tell people that “I’m a vegan,” and that I categorize myself as a “health nut.”

But labeling can also surround you with barriers and restrictions that cause you more stress and unhappiness than they’re worth.

I semi-fit into a few other labels when it comes to food. While I strive to maintain a Macrobiotic approach to eating, I also eat bananas on a daily basis and require snacks to keep me sane/satiated since I do work out daily.

Like I’ve said many times, I’m very stubborn and hard on myself, and when I say I’m going to do something, I go balls to the wall and DO IT. I’m learning that when it comes to my eating habits, I should be more lenient and just go with the flow. Yes, most days I eat grains and greens for breakfast, but I also have tofu scrambles with toast, banana, and PB & J even though those aren’t technically “macrobiotic.” I snack between meals because I’d rather be comfortably satiated rather than extremely full, and snacking helps keep my energy up. Although I’ve been avoiding nightshades like potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant, I will eat them when I’m out to eat, or if I’m in the mood cause they’re a delicious part of life.

Basically, although I love being a vegan, it’s hard enough being in social situations/dining out, and putting excess pressure on myself to fit within certain sub-labels just makes me anxious and unable to enjoy the pleasures in life.

So, with all that said, this is my basic grocery list if I need to stock up on EVERYTHING, but usually I only do a huge, comprehensive shopping trip once every two weeks. It’s veggie packed, all vegan, and isn’t labeled with anything more than being plant-based, healthy, and delicious.

I’ve also included some of the meals I make with this list. I hope this helps any vegans out there struggling for inspiration or shopping list knowledge!

Enjoy!

Note: I buy 90% organic, so most items are organic, with the exception of cucumbers, avocados, and zucchini, which for me, are far too expensive and I peel anyway. I utilize the bulk section as much as possible, and get my rice, pasta, dates, digs, nuts, seeds, and beans there. SUPER CHEAP and UNDERRATED. USE THE BULK SECTION.

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Some Meals I make with these ingredients:

  • Curried Cauliflower and Lentil Stew over rice
  • Falaffel Patties
  • Buddah Bowl w/ Grain of choice, Steamed Greens, Romaine, Sweet potato, bean of choice with Tahini Garlic Sauce
  • Mashed Parsnips with Mushroom Gravy over Millet
  • Veggie and Chickpea Curry
  • Veggie Fried Rice
  • Roasted Balsamic Tempeh with Quinoa and sauteed Kale
  • Tabbouleh with radishes
  • Alicia Silverstone’s Cleansing “tea”: 1/2 cup each grated carrot and daikon boiled with 1/2 umeboshi plum (not on the list…it’s optional) and 2 drops tamari boiled in 1 cup of water for 3 minutes. Drink unstrained and hot.
  • Peanut Tempeh and Greens over rice
  • Banana-date-raspberry-spinach smoothie
  • Curried Tofu Scramble with greens/veggies
  • Roasted Root Vegetables over quinoa with Tahini Sauce
  • Big Salad topped with pumpkin seeds, and black beans
  • Pasta with mushrooms and kale with lemon balsamic sauce

I hope my grocery lists and meal ideas give you some veg-spiration to keep you inspired and healthy while you’re in the midst of winter’s cruel fury. These are just a handful of recipes/idea you can create from humble but healthy and delicious ingredients.

Enjoy Betches!

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Super Simple Sushi + Check me out on Merakii.com!

Gotta admit, I am on top of my game lately.

During my Sunday prep, I made cashew cheese for this week’s Broccoli, lentil, and Cheez wraps, made a bit batch of chickpeas for the falaffel I made yesterday, cooked up some millet and rice to last me the week, and even made a big pot of miso soup and my very first sushi rolls!

Other than the culinary side of my life, I feel completely centered lately.

Like I have my shit together.

Here are some reasons why I feel like a badass in control of my life at the moment:

  • Collin and I have started to look at apartments to move into when our lease is up in March and can actually afford a much nicer place this time around…dining room, anyone??
  • I reached out to Merakii.com and am now honored to be a Meraki Angel. Go check out my first piece for them Here!
  • I cleaned out my closet! Like, literally, I cleared 3 garbage bags full of clothing I’ve been holding onto for as far back as Middle school, and have given in and am starting to rebuild my wardrobe to reflect my current style.
  • I just discovered that they keep the workout room open until 7 at my job! That means I can take a sweaty treadmill run before I go home and not have to worry about it once I get to my apartment.
  • I’m planning on trying rock climbing for the first time this weekend!

It may not seem like much, but for someone who is either constantly restless, or drained from pushing myself too hard, this balance I’ve felt lately has really brought a ton of good vibes my way.

Now, on to the sushi!

Since it was my first time, I kept it simple with just a filling avocado and cucumber and used brown rice. To me, no matter what’s in sushi (well, if it’s vegan fillings of course…) it’s going to taste delicious.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 6 sheets nori
  • water for hands

Once your rice is cooked, transfer to a bowl (not metal!). In a smaller bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, and salt together. Add it to the rice, and stir until it’s all coated. 

Slice your avocado and cucumber into matchsticks and lay our your sheets of nori. Take one sheet, and place 1/2 cup of rice in the middle. Wet your hands and a rubber spatula and pack down/spread rice in a thin layer until it reaches the ends of the nori. Place two sticks of cucumer and two slices of avocado lengthwise across the nori on the side close to you. Carefully take the end of the nori nearest you and roll over the veggies. Continue rolling tightly until you get to the end. Seal end with water so nori sticks. Cut into 8 pieces.

Repeat this process until your rice, cucumber, and avocado are all used. 

Serve these babies with some soy sauce (or tamari) and wasabi, or along side some miso soup and you’ve got yourself a Japanese feast. And, since it’s vegan, and therefore fish-less, they’ll last in the fridge for a few days!

Sushi on, beautiful bloggers.

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Coconut Almond Bliss Balls

Like I’ve said before, I do not, and have never had, a sweet tooth.

I prefer dinner to desserts, salt to sugar, and would rather eat the pie crust than the actual pie filling.

So I was stunned when the other day, all I could think about was eating some kind of raw dessert. I was tempted to make vegan cheesecake, but didn’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen. I almost got in my car, but didn’t want to lower my body temperature even more with a bowl of frozen goodness.

I almost gave up when I remembered the delectable, easy, and indulgent wonders that are bliss balls!

This recipe took me all of 10 minutes, between blending ingredients and rolling and since they’re raw, I didn’t have to wait around for them to bake and cool! Perfect sweet treat to satisfy my need for instant gratification.

These balls definitely qualify as a dessert without any added sugars, make a perfect pre or post workout snack, or are a convenient little breakfast.

Bottom line: I love them, and you should try them.

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INGREDIENTS:

Makes 10 balls

  • 1/2 cup raw or roasted almonds
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup pitted date, soaked in water for 5 minutes
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (or gluten free oats)
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut (made from coconut flakes)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds (optional for rolling)

While your dates are soaking, put coconut flakes into a food processor/blender and chop until they’re sand-like pieces. Drain dates, add them to blender with coconut, and add cashews, almonds, oats, and coconut oil. Blend until oats and nuts break down and all comes together in a ball, stopping to scrape down the sides as you go. 

Roll into balls using your hands, and roll the balls in chia seeds. Refrigerate for at least a half hour and store int he fridge.

I only had a bit of chia seeds leftover, so I only rolled half of the balls in the seeds…turns out it made for pretty pictures so I’m glad I did!

These little babies are full of healthy goodies AND super luscious. Next time your sweet tooth hits, forget the cookies and coconut milk ice cream and pop one of these bad boys into your mouth.

Enjoy!

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How to treat yourself like the divine goddess you are

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to be kinder to myself, to be as gentle, understanding, and loving to me as I am to the people I love.

I’m notoriously hard on myself, and hold myself to higher standards than anybody else in my life does. In fact, in reality, no one even comes close to putting the same amount of pressure on me than the kind of pressure I put on myself.

If I’m feeling lazy, I much more often than not force myself up and at ’em on a beautiful Sunday morning, hustling off to the grocery store, to the trail for a run, cleaning my apartment, or writing instead of just basking in the glory of lounging in bed, staying in my PJs and doing nothing all day, which is usually what I truly want.

While I consider myself a non-conformist, I fail miserably when it comes to rejecting the American ideology of “keeping busy” at all times.

But while I still have quite a ways to go in my quest for self-compassion and kindness, I have made a few strides when it comes to taking the time to treat myself like the beautiful, badass, divine, and mysterious goddess I am inside. I believe this goddess is trapped inside all women, desperate to be let out.

So, ladies, here is how I rub the lamp that releases my inner genie (sorry for the innuendo, mwahah).

1. Take a bath. I am a bath addict. Always have been, always will be. When I say take a bath, I don’t just mean throw some shampoo in the tub and pretend it’s bubble bath while you sit and stare at the wall. I’m talking pouring your favorite essential oil in a steamy tub of water, having a glass of wine or cup of tea by your side, and a book in your hand. I’m talking lying flat on the bottom of the tub with your eyes closed, breathing in and out as the water fills, listening to that incomparably soothing sound it makes as it trickles out of the faucet and onto your pruning toes. Whatever suits your fancy, whether it’s scrubbing every inch of your body with your favorite loofa or writing in your journal, make your bath your time, and experience the unparalleled benefits of indulging in you.

images (2) 2.  Do Solo Yoga. I’ve just started cultivating my own yoga practice, away from the studio, away from youtube videos, away from anything other than myself, my mat, and my breath. I’ve always found solace in my solo runs, but have just begun to unlock the self-discovery that comes with creating my own yoga practice. Don’t just plop your mat in the middle of your living room and repeat all the poses you can remember from your last class. Clear out a space for yourself, light every candle you can find, play your favorite tunes, or practice in silence. Put on your favorite pair of spandex and your strappiest (is that a word?? Eh, who cares) sports bra and just listen to your body, let her dictate how you will begin your practice, and how your time on the mat unfolds. I’ll admit, it’s tricky at first and the group classes at your studio may look enticing during your first go, but if you’re patient and open to listening to your body, solo yoga is pure bonding with yourself.

photo (48)3. Have a spa day. Melt some coconut oil and comb it through your hair, find a homemade face mask on pinterest and slather it on, listen to Debbie Harry or the Pretenders or whatever awesome chica you’re feeling while you paint your nails in your undies and favorite tshirt. Shave your legs and apply your favorite lotion from head to toe, pluck your eyebrows, clip your toenails. Treat yourself to a day of primping and connecting with the inner teenage girl you’ve been neglecting. You’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and relaxed.

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4. Write a list of things you love. I do this often and it puts a smile on my face every time. Just grab a pen and paper and go crazy. Don’t categorize, don’t plan, just scribble down what you hold dear in your life at this very moment, whether it be chapstick, snow, or your mom. This is such an awesome way of having tangible evidence that life is good, while stirring up positive feelings that last for hours!

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5. Create a sacred space that’s all yours. Though technically your room counts, I’m talking a space even more your own. I know this one has been hard for me, and is something I crave more than anything. While I love living with my boyfriend, it’s hard sharing a room and not having a space to go to that’s purely mine. Create a sacred space in your closet, at a desk, under your stairs, wherever, and fill it with everything that represents you and what you love like pictures, your notebook, your yoga mat, candles, the book you’re reading, etc. Go to this space when you need time to yourself to create, think, relax, or just get away from it all. Your sacred space should be free from distractions and should only be equipped with things you love.

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These are my go-to’s when my inner goddess is calling, and they never fail to reconnect me with the part of myself I love most: the sexy, badass, universe loving, passionate, and creative woman within.

All of us women should regularly slow down and let our divine goddess out to play. We all deserve it!

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Fresh Veggie Spring Rolls + Creativity Buzz!

Waking to the newborn sun making shadows through the lace sewn into my curtains, gently prying my eyelids open, beckoning me to come out and play.

Making a slow & steady breakfast in my undies, swaying to the whiskey voices of females I adore waiting for my tea to steep while I slice a banana.

Sitting Japanese style, knees tucked beneath my coffee table because we have no room for dining and the living room floor will suffice, taking in my favorite podcast or immersing myself in an episode of something I crave all week long.

Ahh, I love mornings…mornings like this.

Too bad most mornings my alarm takes the place of the morning sun, my breakfast is cooked sans music, plus slippers since it’s too cold for an undies-only affair, and I usually catch five minutes of my Gilmore Girls or Mindy Project and finish before my tea even has time to cool, only to be welcomed by the snow swirling ahead of me as a trudge to work.

As you can tell, I am missing warmth. I’m missing indulging in my morning routine, enjoying the intimate process of waking up, and the contentment of a weekend day with no strings attached.

Yesterday, though it was frigid as usual here in good ol’ Western NY, I had one of my special Sundays where I get to indulge in all of my favorite things while nurturing my relationship with myself. Bliss.

I went food shopping, did a challenging, squat-heavy workout, and spent most of the afternoon shaking my thang to playlist after playlist in the kitchen while I created dish after dish to prepare for this week.

I wrote, gathered ideas for upcoming articles I have to write, and finally pulled up a chair to my desk to create rather than my bed. It was one of those days that I wish every day was like, which reminded me that I am on the right track to making this happen, that I cannot stop the momentum I have going in pursuing my dream of supporting myself through writing from home.

I digress…

One of my Sunday creations was Simple Veggie Spring Rolls with a Soy Ginger Garlic dipping sauce. Surprisingly with how much I adore Asian food, this was my first time venturing into the world of spring rolls, and I gotta say, it will not be my last.

These babies satisfied my cravings for summer time with plenty of raw veg, unmistakable freshness thanks to the cilantro, and the light satisfaction of being satiated, but not full.

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INGREDIENTS:

For the spring rolls:

  • 7 rice paper sheets
  • 1/2 cup water for soaking
  • 1 large carrot stick, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 large leaves of cabbage, slices lengthwise
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 3/4 avocado, sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro

For the Soy Garlic Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 thumb of grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. sriracha or any other hot sauce

Begin by preparing your veggies and lining them up in this order: cabbage, cucumer, carrot, avocado, and cilantro. Pour the 1/2 cup of water into the center of a plate. (You may need a little less water…add as you go along if the plate does not hold all water). Soak the wraps for 15-20 seconds, or until pliable and softened. Transfer to a wet tea towel once paper is just pliable. It will soften more on the towel as you are preparing the filling.

Layer a few pieces of cabbage leaf, 2-3 pieces of cucumber, 2-3 pieces of carrot, 1-2 slices of avocado, and a few leaves of cilantro. 

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Fold the sides over the filling first, then take the front of the wrapper and fold over the filling, and roll like a burrito. It should all stick together and stay tucked in. Repeat until all 7 rolls are filled and wrapped.

For the Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, and water. Add minced garlic and grated ginger and whisk again. Serve alongside spring rolls.

I hope you all take a bite of something that brings the warmth back into life…preferably these spring rolls 🙂

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P.S. Become a morning person. It’s the best.

The Ultimate Macrobowl! + Skin/Life Positivity

Ahh, the mid afternoon slump, how I’ve come to expect your knock at my brain’s door at about 2:30 every damn day.

Whether it’s a sleepy slump where I can’t seem to stay awake at my desk,  or just a plain mind-wandering, day dreaming, can’t seem to rewire my brain to work mode after it’s been in lunch mode kinda slump, when 2:30-3 pm hits, I have more often than not checked out at work.

Today is a day-dreamy, mind-wandery slump where all I can think about is building a tiny log cabin on the edge of some North Pacific forest where my boyfriend and I will run free with our rescue dogs, gaggle of sheep, and whatever other animals we end up sharing our home with along the way.

As per usual, I’m using this blog to help me stay centered and sane, to appreciate where I am in life right at this moment rather than dream my time away.

So, in the spirit of pulling myself out of my blissful, will-be-fulfilled-in-the-years-to-come daydream, I’m going to focus this post on the positive aspects of my life happening RIGHT NOW.

Positive #1: MY FACE HAS FINALLY CLEARED UP!

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After a rough Christmas season, skin wise, where there were endless family gatherings filled with gluten, stress, and not enough sleep, I returned home with my skin screaming for a little TLC.

Instead of focusing on “banishing” my pimples with a new natural treatment every day, I just decided to let them be. I still wash my face twice a day with my coconut water-based, organic cleanser, but I don’t use vinegar as a toner since it turned out to be too harsh as a daily thing, and only moisturize with a bit of coconut oil when my skin requires it, not just because I’m “supposed” to do it every day.

I also exfoliate once a week with raw sugar and have been taking Vitamin A and Evening Primrose supplements. My lighter skin care regime coupled with eating gluten free a majority of the time and staying super hydrated has really made a huge difference in my skin issues! When I waved goodbye to 2014, I kicked my skin insecurities to the curb and I suspect even this mental ritual has helped my baby face…maybe.

Positive #2: Collin and I are looking at new apartments this evening!

Although our current apartment will always hold a special place in my heart for being our first apartment together, I can’t wait to get outta that place. Sure, it’s cute and suits our needs fine, but it’s falling apart and just isn’t serene. It fills me with pride that we’ve come out of our first year living together with bank accounts far larger than when our roommate status began, and an even deeper love and appreciation for one another. I’m excited for what our next shackin’ up adventure will bring.

Positive # 3: Delicious Macrobiotic Meals like this one:

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. raw sauerkraut
  • 1 tbsp. roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cubed squash and broccoli in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet. Drizzle sesame oil on top and mix the veggies around to coat. Bake for 25 minutes or until squash is tender and broccoli is brown.

While veggies are cooking, boil a bit of water in a pot, and lightly steam kale for about 2 minutes. Once the veggies and kale are done, layer cooked quinoa, veggies, kale, beans, and sauerkraut (I found curry sauerkraut at my local market! Holla!). Soften tahini in the microwave, and drizzle on top of the macro bowl. Finish bowl with a sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds.

I basically used whatever I had on hand. My quinoa was leftover from the previous night, I had half a squash leftover from my Butternut Squash & Lentil Stew and had just roasted a big batch of pumpkin seeds. Though I suggest this combo since it was out of this world, you can use anything you want!

The basic formula for a macrobowl is:

  • Grain of choice: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Cous Cous, any kind of pasta, Millet, Bulgur Wheat, etc. (Best to use whole grains)
  • Greens: Kale, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Collards.
  • Veggies, cooked or raw: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Onions, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Radishes, Cauliflower.
  • Beans: Garbanzo, Black, Pinto, Navy, Adzuki, Lentils, Black eyed peas, Black soy beans, tofu, tempeh.
  • Fermented Goodies: Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Pickled veggies.
  • Toppings: Roasted/toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and other nuts. Nori or any other sea vegetable.
  • Dressing/Sauce: Miso-ginger-sesame oil dressing, Tahini, Hummus, Oil and vinegar.

Basically, macrobowls are the shit, and one of the most versatile, fun, and nutritious meals to make/consume.

I hope everyone’s mid-afternoon slump ain’t so bad and you all inhale this bowl ASAP!

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Butternut Squash & Lentil Stew

It’s currently the Saturday of my 5 day New Year’s weekend which began on Wednesday afternoon.

The snow is falling, my Christmas tree is out of the house without a needle left on it, my white lights are plugged in, my candles are lit, and I’m relaxing in bed with a cup of peppermint tea waiting for my homemade granola bars to set in the freezer.

It’s just one of those days, ya know? Where everything feels calm, every minute goes by at just the right pace, and you accomplish tasks, but tackle them at your leisure and enjoy them.

That’s how my entire 5 day weekend has been and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Yesterday afternoon I had a few free hours, so I made it my prep day and just let myself get lost in the beautiful process of cooking food. I put on a Blondie-esque playlist for dancing around the kitchen purposes, slapped some coconut oil in my post-workout hair to condition it while I cooked, and got to it!

I made a bit batch of quinoa, cooked up a big pot of garbanzo beans to have around for the week, and made a batch of quinoa tabbouleh with radishes and leeks.

Once all of that preparatory deliciousness was prepped, cooked, and packed away, I dug out a butternut squash I’ve been meaning to use for almost a month now (oops…) and whipped up this ridiculously easy and equally delectable stew! Don’t underestimate this dish from it’s humble looks and small ingredient list…it’s absolutely mouthwatering, and heart warming.

The squash melts in your mouth while the lentils make it filling and hearty. In a nutshell, this recipe is a winner bitches.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup red or green lentils
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 cups veggie broth
  • 1 tsp. tamari
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup red wine

In a large pot, add 2 cups of the veggie broth and the lentils. Bring to a boil, them turn down to a simmer. Let cook for 10 minutes. When the lentils are part of the way done, add cubed squash and onion. Add rest of the veggie broth and boil on medium heat for 10 more minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf, and simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes. Add wine and soy sauce and simmer for 10 minutes more. 

It should be chunky and contain only a bit of liquid left. If it’s still looking like a soup at this point, boil rapidly and stir while liquid evaporates and the stew gets to the consistency you like.

Because I had leftover polenta, I served my stew on top of pan seared polenta, but you could also serve it with rice, quinoa, cous cous, with a nice slice of crusty bread…whatever ya want!

As with most soups and stews, it only gets better with time. My leftovers today had an even richer flavor than last night!

This stew is perfect for a day like today where the world seems to slow down and take a deep breath, just for you.

Enjoy<3

P.S. This post is dedicated to my beautiful mother and step dad who, as of New Years Day, are embarking on their very own vegan journey! I couldn’t be happier that the two people I’ve inspired the most are a part of my family. I can’t wait to see you guys discover how incredibly positive this lifestyle is in every way. I love you guys!

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