Happily moving forward

Moving hack! 

I’m so thrilled to be moving this weekend! 

We really feel that this home is going to be our forever home. We put so much thought and consideration into the design and are so thrilled with the finishes our designer guided us to. There’s no doubt in my mind that she pushed us a bit out of our comfort zone but the end result is really beautiful and something we will love for a long time. 

So here’s my little packing hack. 

ClingWrap! 

Yes! Y’all I use it for so many things. When I pack up my utensils I wrap a group of them in the sticky stuff so they aren’t loosely moving around in the box. I also wrap items without a top like cute baskets that hold papers or smaller items. And kids toys! Check out this puzzle that will come right out of the packing box the way it goes in. 

No lost puzzle pieces during this move!

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Happily moving forward

Vegan Resources

Friends, I want to share with you some of my favorite vegan resources. These are individuals or pages that I have learned a lot from in my journey to veganism.

One individual that had the largest impact on my knowledge and commitment to veganism is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She is the incredibly articulate and passionate about veganism and animal rights and uses multiple platforms to share the information. Her website is https://www.colleenpatrickgoudreau.com/ . If you would like additional information on veganism and animal rights I encourage you to begin there.

Colleen offers a thorough 30 Day Vegan Challenge program, podcasts, recipes, videos and more.

A site that I really love is Engine2 at http://engine2diet.com/. They refer to their diet as Plant Strong but it a diet that excludes all animal products. They also have a great newsletter where they share recipes. I encourage you to sign up for it to enhance your vegan recipe collection.

One of my absolute favorite food blogs is OhSheGlows.com. Her site is easy to navigate and her recipes are well tested and delicious. You will find some unique ingredients you may not have in your pantry but overall its a home run in my book! She also offers an app for specially curated recipes as well as multiple cookbooks.

A great site that really offers a lot of help with meal preparation for the week and also includes a FREE shopping list in  PDF is OhMyVeggies.com. Choose from the vegetarian or vegan list and a full week of meals with instructions and shopping guide is available to you to print. Its amazing! I did find that for my family with young children we would have plenty of leftovers each night so I would use one weeks grocery list for two weeks of dinners. Just use the recipes that require the most produce first so that it doesn’t go to waste.

Pinterest is a great resource for recipes! I have a vegan board there that I frequently reference for dinner ideas when doing my meal prep for the week.

If you are on instagram I would recommend following some of these awesome vegan bloggers:

  • @sweetsimplevegan
  • @frommybowl
  • @thrivemags
  • @bestofvegan

 

Please share with my any of your favorite resources as well! I love to keep learning and growing!

 

 

 

Happily moving forward

A vegan in a non-vegan world 

I’m often asked questions about dining at restaurants, gatherings with friends (because everything down here revolves around food), and cooking for my non-vegan husband and kids. I want to address each of these separately in hope that you will see how truly possible it is to be a vegan in our non-vegan world.

Dining Out

When it comes to eating at restaurants, I don’t often have an issue finding SOMETHING to eat. Occasionally I have to settle for a salad (I say settle because if Im going out to eat I want something different than what I usually make at home) but most times I can find something different to eat and that is a winner. As more restaurants recognize the needs of their patrons, were seeing new and exciting options on the menus.

Lets just take a sampling of a few restaurants in the town where I live:

BJ’s Brewhouse offers a vegan lentil soup with ancient grains and its very tasty!

Mellow Mushroom offers plenty of options including tofu and tempeh.

Chinese, Thai and Mediterranean cuisine are known for using lots of vegetables, tofu and chickpeas in many of their main dishes so I usually can get a great vegan meal at any of these types of restaurants. 

Tip: Take a look at the menu ahead of time if you are not sure that a restaurant will offer something for you. Almost every restaurant has a website these days.  Or I often inquire with the waiter as to what the chef can prepare for me. I’ve always  been pleased with what the chefs have offered when I made a special request. 

Gathering with Friends

Since all of my friends and family know of my vegan lifestyle, they are incredibly accommodating and want to be sure that there is something there for me to eat for a snack or the main course. I really appreciate that they want to accommodate me and make sure I have just as great a meal as everyone else! 

It’s always a good idea to offer to bring something and then you can be sure you have something to eat. If chili is on the menu, I’ll bring a can of Amy’s chili because that brand makes a yummy vegan chili. If it’s a BBQ I’ll bring my own veggie burger or vegan sausage to eat with everyone. Field Roast makes a great vegan sausage! For movie night bring your own popcorn with a butter alternative and snack away. A little preparation always goes a long way. 

Cooking for the Hubs

I’ve mentioned before that my husband and daughter are not vegan.

One thing that I absolutely love about my husband and that I appreciated about him when we first started dating was how accepting and accommodating of choices he was. Once he understood what I did eat and what I did not, he always went out of his way to make sure I had what I needed and in return I am accommodating of his choice to continue to eat meat.

When it comes to cooking dinner I usually prepare one dinner with two proteins. Lets take a simple supper like chicken, vegetables and rice. I would cook the chicken breast for him (yes this is my least favorite part) and prepare the vegetables and rice in a vegan preparation meaning I would use Earth Balance butter and vegetable stock for flavoring. I would then prepare some baked tofu for myself and season it in a similar way to how I seasoned his chicken so we are all essentially eating the same meal.

For dinners such as casseroles where ingredients are all mixed together, I will typically make two entrees. For a lasagna, I would prepare a meat lasagna and a vegan lasagna. Yes, there are more dirty dishes to clean up but after years of doing this I really have it down pretty quickly and don’t find it that much trouble at all. The kitchen was going to get messy if I make one dish or two!

One thing that I really cherish from my childhood is sitting around a table all eating dinner together. I really strive to have us all eat dinner together and by preparing that dinner in a similar manner for all of us shows my daughter the importance of that time together but also of eating a healthy balance meal.

I hope that this has shown you that with a little preparation, planning or assertion, you can ablsolutely be the vegan in a non-vegan world and eat very well while doing so!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!