Happily moving forward

Find what moves you…

On day one we acknowledged that people come to veganism from a number of different backgrounds and beliefs. One that I mentioned was a concern for the environment. I want to share with you some very basic information on the impact that a vegan diet can have on the Earth and then perhaps your WHY VEGAN is because of something you see here that leads you on a path to further research and discovery.

In the days of constant climate change debates and the protection of water and other natural resources it’s important to see how our dietary choices can contribute to a healthier body and healthier environment. This info graphic from yourdailyvegan.com shows how much of our resources are dedicated to the production of meat.

What strikes you most about the information above? Is there something that you are most passionate about that resonates with you to encourage you on this path?

One thing that really resonated with me is the amount of corn and soy beans that farmers have to grow just to feed the animals that are eventually slaughtered. I really am interested in learning about how much of that land could be rededicated to crops for human consumption and what impact we could make on the issue of Hunger in America. I see a follow up post on that in the future!

There you have it. The goal today was to think beyond just ourselves and our personal changes but to ways in which our choices may impact our environment. As always, I appreciate your comments!

Happily moving forward

Tofu and all it’s glory! 

Y’all I love tofu. 

My 3.5 year old loves tofu. 

You, too, can love tofu. Honest. 

It’s all about the preparation. 

Tofu is a soy based product that comes in a number of different textures. You will find Silken, Soft, Firm, and Extra Firm varieties. There is also a sprouted variety but I find that less common in my shopping excursions. 

Tofu is typically found in the produce section of the grocery store but may sometimes be found in vacpacks in non-refrigerated areas depending on your grocery store. In grocery stores like Walmart, Target, or Albertsons look in the produce section first. More specialty stores such as health food stores are often more likely to carry the vacpack tofu. 

So which type to buy? Most often I buy firm or extra firm. I don’t notice much of a difference between the two for my everyday preparation so whatever is there is fine with me. Silken or soft tofu is best for baking or savory dishes when the tofu is blended to make a cake or quiche. Sprouted refers to the state of the soybeans when the tofu was processed. Again, it’s less common in the stores but want you to be aware of the difference. 

This is my go to brand – so look for this or something similar in your produce section. Don’t be surprised when you open the container that it’s packed in water. Just drain that and begin your preparation. If you don’t cook the whole block, store it in the refrigerator in water but use it within a few days. 


Tofu’s nutritional punch includes protein, calcium and iron. At just under 100 calories per half cup and 9 grams of protein for that amount it’s surely a main part of a lot of plant based meals. 

How to prepare tofu: 

  • Bake it – slice it into 4 smaller bricks and lay on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 turning once. 
  • Sautée it – cube the tofu and throw in a hot skillet with a bit of olive oil. Allow to brown on each side. 
  • Grill it – keep the tofu steaks relatively thick so they are easier to flip on the grill 
  • Crumble it – crumble it right out of the container or freeze the tofu and then thaw it prior to crumbling for a more chewy texture similar to a ground meat 

So the real point here is if you have had it once and didn’t care for it because of the texture, I encourage you to try another preparation! 

One really awesome thing about tofu is it acts like a sponge for marinades. To infuse some flavor before your preparation of choice, take the tofu out of the container and press it. This doesn’t require fancy kitchen gadgets, just place the tofu on a few paper towels, put a flat plate on top and and squeeze the excess water out a bit. Then slice or cube your tofu and marinate it in your favorite marinate. Then prepare it in any of the ways listed above. Super flavorful tofu coming your way! 

Y’all I adore Angela from OhSheGlows.com. She offers amazing recipes for every meal of the day. I linked here a tofu recipe page for y’all to visit. She also offers an app if you want access to exclusive content right in your phone! 

I hope this tofu primer has demystified this wonderful food for you! Happy cooking! 

Happily moving forward

So what do I buy? 

So what do y’all you need in your pantry and refrigerator to begin this vegan journey? Likely not much more than you have already if you are eating a well balanced diet that alread includes fruits and vegetables. 

The grocery stores, restaurants, and mainstream media are all hopping on board the vegan and vegetarian train and showcasing meatless Monday ideas and as a result items are becoming more available at a local level. I do all of the family grocery shopping between Walmart and Costco and between those two places I am able to stock up on everything I need for my week. 

What I buy every week: 

  • Tofu – there are so many ways to prepare it! I’ll share many of my favorites with you soon!
  • Vegan patties – super easy to heat for a quick lunch with veggies. Morningstar brand is very common and makes both vegan and vegetarian food products – just be sure you know what you are buying if you want to commit duly to a vegan diet. 
  • Beans – y’all the variety is amazing! I always have canned beans on hand. Dry beans are super cheap and easy to throw in a crock pot as well. 
  • Fruit – we go through so much fruit each week! So full of vitamins and nutrients. 
  • Vegetables – think outside your regular variety of carrot, cucumber and lettuce!  Or try one of the many varieties of those three that are super flavorful as well. 
  • Soy yogurt – I have found that the taste and texture of the Silk brand yogurt alternative is the most reminiscent of traditional yogurt that I remember. 
  • A nut milk or soy milk. One tip : if you are looking to add protein to your day go with the unsweetened soy milk for the extra protein without the extra calories of a sweetened or flavored soy. Those can add up quickly. The nut mills are great substitutes as well but not as high in protein. Try a few and see what your new favorite is. 

What I consider a treat and can usually only get at Whole Foods

  • Vegan cheese
  • Vegan specialty products like faux sausages, vegan cheesy popcorn etc. 

With these simple pantry and refrigerator staples you can tackle your vegan meal prep with ease.

For sure there are a lot of specialty vegan products like nutritional yeast that packs a cheesy flavor and is high in B vitamins but I’ll try to point you to healthful recipes that you likely have all the ingredients for right at home already! 

So don’t feel like you have to only shop or specialty grocery stores or buy a lot of vegan food. Vegan food is really food that we all already eat – it’s the fruits and vegetables we know and love! 

Happily moving forward

What is Veganism?

There are a lot of reasons why someone would be interested in going vegan – likely as many unique reasons as there are unique people – but a few common themes generally emerge.

  • I am vegan for the animals
  • I am vegan for the planet
  • I want to lose weight or improve my health

When I began my journey it was a matter more of a personal challenge. I had been a vegetarian for a number of years – since I was a child – and had recently gone through a  pretty large life change.  I was just getting into distance running as a way to relieve stress and I also wanted to see if I could take my diet a step further and completely eliminate animal products.

Within a two weeks of my vegan diet I felt a huge change. It was such a refresh for my body and I felt so empowered and fueled that I decided to commit for good! And here I am, five years later, still loving my plant based diet. And I can’t imagine any other way for myself.

So what does it mean to be vegan? A vegan diet is one that seeks to eliminate all animal byproducts from then diet. This includes any meat, eggs, dairy products but it also goes as far as removing gelatin which is made from horse hooves, “natural” vanilla flavoring which is made from the anal sacs of beavers, and red dye which is a product derived from crushed beetles. Yummy, right? 

So what do you eat? I get this question all the time. The short answer is: a lot! Anything that was grown of the ground and derived from a plant. There are so many options when you open your mind to new possibilities! Instead of just heading straight to the carrots and lettuce you are used to in the grocery store, spend a little more time walking around and I expect you will find a few new fruits or vegetables you haven’t tried yet!

Many people are immediately concerned about the current star of most American plates – protein. “How do you get your protein?” I challenge you to consider this: what do the cows eat that helps them grow before the are butchered for human consumption? Plants. What do the chickens eat to helps them make high protein eggs? Plants. No one asks them where they get their protein! We can learn to skip the middle man (the animal) and derive our protein from plants as well and more than meet our daily needs. 

Here’s an info graphic of protein found in plants to drive the idea home. Thanks to rebeldietitian.us. 


So vegans, for whatever reason they choose to be vegan, seek to keep all animal products and bi products off their dinner plates. Also, many choose to not to purchase any products that exploit animals including but not limited to: skin products, furniture, clothing, and cleaning supplies. How far you choose to make the change is entirely up to you. 

Remember it’s not about doing everything as much as it is about doing something! Do something for the animals, do something for the environment and do something for yourself!  

Comment away! I’d love to hear from you!
 

Happily moving forward

Welcome to our One Week Vegan Introduction

Hi friends,

Welcome to our one week introduction to veganism. When Jessica asked me if I wanted to collaborate on a short introductory program to introduce fellow challengers to the idea of cooking without the use of animal products, I was equally nervous and excited! I’m mostly excited to share something I’m incredibly passionate about! 

This week is supposed to be very elementary – it will not require more than 10 minutes of your time to read a post but I hope you will take away something new every day.

When I began to educate myself on a vegan diet I was able to quickly find a wealth of knowledge online. Its not possible for me to boil down the 5 years of knowledge into a few days of short posts. I hope to share with you my favorite resources and get you right to reliable and current information.

The I hope to share with you:

  1. What is vegansim?
  2. Social impact and health benefits
  3. Easy vegan food to have on hand 
  4. Simple food swaps
  5. Resources
  6. One week of vegan recipes

I want to encourage you to ask as many questions as you can think of while you read the posts or visit other resources. Ill be more than happy to expand on any topic or question that you have.

Welcome, friends, lets learn something new today!

 

 

 

 

 

Happily moving forward

My postpartum self care commitment 

So let’s be totally honest. Along with the absolute joy of bringing home a new baby there is also anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, lack of sleep, more lack of sleep, and generally unpleasant body issues going on. Yeah! 

After I had doodledbug I was a bit more than overwhelmed. Looking back I would have done a lot of things differently – including talking to my doctor about postpardem depression and anxiety. I didn’t but I definitely think I should have. 

Back then I felt totally overwhelmed and alone in this new place. I wasn’t totally alone – hubs was there but we weren’t as solid as we are now. We had been together just over a year when she was born and we’re just trying to get through it. I also didn’t feel like I really had a tribe of support around me. My parents live out of state, his parents are an hour away, and I felt alone and that I had to do it all. It was rough. 

Before my sweet little man was born, I was already dreading the postpartum period because remembered how difficult I felt it was the first time. Because of that, I decided I was going to combat that and be proactive about my self care and what I thought would help me. 

I know newborns are hard – colic, nursing schedules, lack of sleep (I feel like that’s been mentioned), and general fourth trimester issues cannot be avoided but I was going to make sure that my mind was right. Here’s how I chose to take care of myself. 

Exercise:

Beginning at 5 weeks postpartum, I began to start moving my body again – to exercise gently. I put him in the stroller and began walking short distances. I’d get down on the carpet and do stretches to open my hips, legs and back after hours of nursing on the couch and on the bed. At 6 weeks out I started a workout video series from Beachbody. I began the County Heat aerobic dance workouts. They’re quick, easy to follow, and low impact. Check, check and check. 

Soon I was combining longer daily walks with additional workout videos – I was slowly losing weight but more importantly I was able to keep my mind clear and mentally focus on me for 30 plus minutes a day. This was honestly the most important commitment I made to myself. 

Appearance:

Call me vain, but I didn’t want to look like a hott mess every day for 12 weeks! I want to feel a little like the old me! So I made sure that after he was born I made an appointment with my stylist for a fresh cut and summer color! 

This was also a great excuse for three hours of me time!

Another thing that I did was tone down my make up routine so I could get out the door quickly but still feel put together. I settled on a BB cream, blush, mascara and brow pencil. I’m out the door in no time but don’t feel like I’m facing the world with a naked face! Good enough for me!

Date Night: 

One thing I know for sure is that my husband and I are not great at making date night a priority. With two young ones and busy careers we really like to be home on the weekend. We love to grill and watch sports together but don’t make the priority to go out just as us. 

So…when our first anniversary came around just a few (8) weeks after little man was born, I made it a priority. I know we both would have been ok staying home and blaming it on the fact that we had a newborn but I pushed myself and set up to find something to wear and called a babysitter. 

And we had a great time. Just us. We weren’t out very long or very late but it was so nice to just be out. 

The romper that I bought for the date was a size larger than I normally wear but I still felt great. The cut was adorable and it had flattering lines. It was a win for me and for us. 

And there you have it. Those were three things that I planned to do differently this time around that really helped me reconnect to the old me and keep mentally strong. I didn’t feel locked in the house because I got myself out of the house and I moved my body and got the blood pumping as often as I could. 

What works for each woman is surely different. And I want to make an important note that if you think even for a second that you are battling postpartum depression or anxiety to immediately contact your doctor and not wait until it’s progressed. There is nothing to be ashamed of and seeking help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. 

Happily moving forward

Grocery shopping tips and tricks

Who loves grocery shopping?

Y’all – I might be crazy but if I were given the opportunity to spend a few hours in a fabulous gourmet grocery store I would take it in a heartbeat! I love exploring new products and foods.

Weekly grocery shopping is another story all together. In fact, we’ve all but done away with it. Since Walmart grocery pick up came to our town we have used it every weekend except once when I placed the order too late and our pick up time was not available. Lesson learned on that one! But that’s not really the point of this post.

My girlfriend causally mentioned that her new goal was to cut back on what she thought was overspending on groceries. I think we all agree groceries are expensive. As a family of four (but really 2.5 eaters) we spend about $150 a week. We try to buy as much organic as we can and while that makes the grocery bill climb, it’s very important to us so we make that adjustment.

When thinking about how to cut her bill she mentioned that they throw out an unfortunate amount of food because the girls decide they don’t like it or it doesn’t get used in time.

Here are a few options that I have for really cutting the grocery bill:

  1. Look at what you wasted last week and do not purchase those items this week. Perhaps you went through a period where the girls loved a specific fruit but that’s passed but your still buying the same quantity (we sometimes go on autopilot, right?).
  2. If you see you’re wasting veggies, consider buying frozen veggies for your sides. They are just as healthy and you can pop extras back in the freezer!
  3. Meal plan for the week and stick to that plan so you use the ingredients you purchase! If it seems like you won’t need to cook all the recipes you planned, cook the ones that called for the most fresh ingredients first – save recipes that rely primarily on pantry items for last so you won’t have much waste.
  4. Order groceries online! Our grocery bill has drastically dropped just thanks to this tip! Instead of strolling through the grocery and pulling little items into the cart, ordering online eliminates the impulse buys!

So there you have it! What do you do to same money on groceries each week?