Plant Based Groceries: Starter Kit

Without the internet I would have been so lost when I first went vegan.  Of course you don’t have to be vegan or plant based to buy these groceries.  You could be wanting to eat healthier, want to participate in Meatless Monday, or be transitioning to a vegan diet.  There are so many things you can purchase that are vegan but these are things that I like and helped me start out.

Produce:

Obviously you can purchase any produce you want.  But it is extremely important that you get your fruits and vegetables in daily.  Most people even vegans don’t get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in.  It is also important to have a very colorful diet.  I am not a doctor or nutritionist so I am not going to try and give you medical or nutritional information or advice.  That stuff you are going to have to find on your own and I think that is the best way to get the most information that matters to you.  I will make a list of my favorite things.

  • Apples, Clementines, Bananas, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Avocados, POTATES (such an important carb!!), sweet potatoes, spinach, romaine, cabbage, bell peppers, mushrooms, brussel sprouts and so much more!

Eat these items like crazy.  Raw, cooked, in a smoothie or juice, however you want them.  This is the most important part of my diet.

Packaged, Canned, Bottled, and Bulk Bins:

These items you have to be more careful with.  But it also depends how strict you are.  But these items can be more processed.  Not all of them obviously but there is definitely a lot of processed items that are still vegan.  These items also will have hidden animal based ingredients.  Ingredients will often say “Contains” or “Allergens” and will usually list things such as milk, eggs, nuts, shellfish, etc.  But it is always safe to just check the ingredients and if you are curious about a specific item or ingredient, Google it! I have been vegan for about 9.5 months and I still check ingredients all the time and research online.  I will list items that I always have around the house or just really good options.

  • Oats, beans, rice, pasta, dried fruit, tortilla chips, peanut butter, jam/jelly, cereal, tofu, bread, oil, vinegar, frozen fruit and veggies, canned veggies, salsa, seeds (chia, pumpkin), ground flax, pasta sauce, salad dressings, etc.

It is amazing how many items that you are probably already eating are vegan or have a very similar vegan option.

Vegan Replacements:

Everyone is different but I love a good vegan replacement for my favorite foods before I was vegan.  I have not found a really good replacement for everything but just about everything! There are so many options and even if there is not a store bought replacement you can probably find a recipe for it somewhere.

  • Gardein: Gardein is a faux meat brand and they make just about everything. Fish fillets, meatloaf, chicken breast, turkey cutlets, chicken wings, and even an amazing Holiday Roast.  Read about that in my Thankful for Vegan Thanksgiving post.  They have even more options than that and everything I have tried is amazing.
  • Boca: Boca chicken patties are amazing! They are my favorite chicken replacement.
  • Fieldroast: Fieldroast makes amazing veggie burgers, bratwursts, and other specialty items.  Their hand formed veggie burgers are my favorite burger replacement.  Fieldroast also makes a cheese replacement called Chao and its the best cheese replacement I have tried.
  • Kite Hill:  If you like cream cheese normally, try this cream cheese!  Its made with almond milk and is amazing.  They have an original and chive.  They also have a ricotta and soft cheese replacements.  Everything I have tried is great.
  • Milk: When it comes to milk replacements there are about a million.  Almond, soy, cashew, hemp, rice, oat, macadamia, hazelnut, pea protein, and even more.  They also have different varieties like vanilla, chocolate, and unsweetened.  Find your favorite for things like cereal, baking, and smoothies.

With meat and cheese replacements you do have to be careful because some of them aren’t actually vegan but just lactose free or vegetarian.  Some items will also say vegetarian but also be vegan.  Just make sure you are reading the ingredients and you will be fine!!  Also these items can definitely be more processed so make sure you eat in moderation.

I could go on and on about all the food possibilities there are but this definitely makes starting out much easier.  It is so fun to learn about new products or recipes.  I have always enjoyed cooking and eating but I enjoy it even more now.  I also spend less money on food as a vegan.  So for the new year give some of these things a try! Eat less animal products and your body, the animals, and the world will thank you.  I hope you enjoy this post! If you have any questions feel free to comment down below and I will answer as best as I can!

My Top 5 for 2017

1. Read, Read, READ!

A couple years ago I had a goal to read one book every month and I almost doubled that goal.  I want to read even more than that this year.  This includes all forms of books.  Self-help, fiction, listening to audio books, etc.  Reading is something I find really important and love.  I want to educate myself as well as enjoy myself.  I put reading on the back burner in 2016 and I want that to change for the new year.  It needs to become a high priority.  It’s therapeutic for me and something I really enjoy so I am excited to focus on this goal.

2. Improve My Health.

During 2016 I picked up a plant based diet.  Like everyone else I eat junk food and fall off the health food wagon but I want to be better.  I want to eat more whole foods and less processed foods.  But improving my health doesn’t have to do with just what I put in my body but also how I treat my body and my mind.  Another thing that happened in 2016 was that I fell in love with working out but my mental health gets in the way of me actually working out as much as I would like.  I hope to get into a regular workout routine and get in the best shape of my life.

My mental health is my number one health focus for the year.  2016 was a very hard year on my mental health.  I experienced more anxiety and depression than I have felt in my whole life.  I have cried more than I have in my entire life.  It was a rough year.  I plan to get my mental health under control again because once that is under control my physical and emotional health is under control as well.

3. Reduce My Waste and Minimize.

This is one of the most important goals of mine but also going to be one of the hardest.  I am embarrassed to admit that for a majority of my life I have been terrible at wasting and buying WAY more than I need.  I would throw away so much food and get food I would never eat.  I was a shopaholic and worked at a clothing store for years.  I owned hundreds and hundreds of clothing items.  Hundreds and hundreds of pieces of makeup.  So much of everything.  I have sold and donated and thrown out many items.  But I still have a lot of work to do.

4. Be Successful.

This spring semester I am taking my final class to get my associates as well as the last class I need to apply for the OTA program at my school.  This semester is going to take a lot of work.  I will be taking one of the hardest courses so far as well as doing all the things I need to do to apply for my program.  If all goes well, I will also start my first semester in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program.  I would be a step closer to finishing school and getting to my career.  This goal is very important to me.  This is a goal I have been working towards for years and it’s so close I can feel it.

My mental health has made holding a secure job hard.  I have an amazing job that is very understanding but I can only get away with so much.  I need to work hard and make money.  I need to pay off my debt, make a savings, and be able to do the things I want to do like travel or go see my favorite band in concert.  This is something I have never been able to do.  I want to be able to do new things and really be more responsible.

5. Be Kind

Lastly, I want to be kinder in 2017.  I have been known to snap at people I know and strangers.  I want to be nicer to the ones I love.  I want to be nicer to strangers.  Because if I am nicer I will be happier.  All the negativity and hate for others puts so much stress on someone.  I want to let go of the grudges and hate and negativity and just be a happier, kinder, more positive person.

I know I have more goals than this but these are my top 5.  There are more smaller goals within the larger goals that may not be mentioned her but I will be continuing to post about things I have experienced and discovered as the year goes on.  I am excited for this new year and all the things it holds for me.  I hope all of you are having an amazing new year so far.  Set some goals.  Make them realistic and really work on them.  It is amazing what you can accomplish when you really put your mind to it.

Year of You 2017: Must Haves

I had every intention of making 2016 my year, but instead it was one hell of a year.  Emphasis on the hell.  I had some amazing experiences and life changes but with those good things came a lot of negative.  2016 was a year that challenged my mental, physical, and emotional health.  But 2017 is going to be different.  I believe 2017 is going to be hard and challenge me in ways I have never been challenged before but this year I am going to be prepared.  I am going to know how to handle these challenges that life throws at me.  I know I am not the only one who had a rough year so for the new year I have made a list of necessities to have the best year ever.

This challenge of mine is inspired by Youtuber Marissa Lace.  She has been an inspiration of mine for a long time.  For 2016 she made a series and challenge for herself called #YearofYou.  It has been so motivating to watch her change in such positive ways and become the person she wants to be.  So I have decided to take some of her advice and ideas and putting them to use in my own life.

Books

I LOVE reading and I honestly think it is so important.  I mostly read fiction or nonfiction books written like fiction but I have learned that I love “self help” (I hate that phrase) books.  Marissa is the one who originally introduced me to self help books through her videos and I have purchased many that she has recommended but also purchased some that I have seen elsewhere or just been interested in on my own.  For me and this challenge it is important for me to read both fiction and non fiction books.  I have such a love for books that I find joy in both forms.

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Youtube Videos Playlist

You can’t have year of you without a good #yearofyou youtube playlist.  This playlist of course contains videos from Marissa Lace’s year of you playlist as well as some other videos that I think are important for my year of you.  You can find that playlist on my youtube channel.  I will be continuing to add videos throughout the year because I like to come back and watch these videos when I feel like I need help or motivation in some aspect of my life.

Journal

If you do not already write in a journal at least every once in a while, I suggest you start.  I don’t write in my journal anywhere near as much as I would like to, but that is one of my goals for 2017.  I would like to get to the point where I am writing daily.  I think it is so necessary for my life.  I notice when I am writing in my journal more often I feel better than when I am not writing in it at all.  At the end of 2016 I made a goal to be more positive in my journal writing but still being honest with myself.  Since making this change I enjoy writing much more and feel better when I am done even on the bad days.

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Planner

I do most things through my computer or phone but when it comes to planning I like to have an actual planner that I can sit down and write in every day.  I go through periods where I am really good at writing in it every day and I go through periods where I barely touch it.  But I did a lot of research this year and found the perfect planner (Plan With Me coming soon!!).  I purchased the Day Designer and I am extremely excited about it.  It is very positive and goal oriented.  It is on the pricier side but it is definitely a year of you essential for me.  I hope I enjoy it as much as I think I will.

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Throughout 2017 I will be continuing to make Year of You posts.  But these are my must haves for the start of the year.  I am so excited to see what 2017 has to offer in my education, relationships, and my mental/physical/emotion health.  I am hoping to experience a lot of new things and new places.  See amazing movies, hear amazing songs, and enjoy the company of the ones I love.  I am determined to make 2017 my year.  I am feeling positive and happy about closing one chapter and opening another.  It is amazing what a difference a new year can make.

I hope you all had an amazing and safe new year.  Make goals, drink water, eat your fruits and vegetables, and be kind.  Make 2017 your year.  I can’t wait to see how we all grow.

Christmas Sweets and Treats

When I originally decided that I wanted to make Christmas treats I planned on doing it the middle of December not the day before Christmas Eve… But better late than never.  Plus who says you cant make Christmas treats year round?  I will admit the build up to Christmas is way better than actual Christmas day in my opinion.  I love being able to eat and drink festive foods, listen to Christmas music, and see all the bright colored lights and decorations.  But then Christmas day comes and goes so quickly and the holidays are so far away once again.  But lets talk about what you came here to see.  The sweets and treats.

Oreo Truffles

Okay so these aren’t necessarily a “Christmas Treat” but my boyfriends mom makes them every year and they are marvelous.  So since this Christmas is my first Christmas being vegan I knew I had to veganize some favorite Christmas Treats and try some new ones.  Oreo truffles are super simple.  I will post the recipe below!

Oreo Truffle Recipe:

  • 1 Package original Oreos (or your favorite oreo like cookie)
  • 1 container of Kite Hill original almond cream cheese
  • Vegan Chocolate Chips
  1. Take package of oreos and run them through a food processor or blender until they are in crumbs.
  2. Add container of cream cheese and mix, mix, MIX.
  3. Roll mixed dough into little truffle size balls and place on parchment paper.
  4. Melt chocolate in a double broiler or in microwave mixing every 30 seconds.
  5. Dip truffles in chocolate, place pack on parchment paper and let dry.

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This is a pretty well known recipe but I figured I would share it anyways because they are super delicious and easy to make vegan.  But they are also perfect for any time of the year or any occasion.  You can also switch it up with the kind of Oreo’s and kind of chocolate that you use.  And this version tastes just as good as the original!

Gingerbread

Gingerbread goes with Christmas like peanut butter goes with jelly.  I have never actually made home made gingerbread (I know so lame) I always just got store bought gingerbread cookies, but this year I found out about a really good recipe for vegan gingerbread by Britney at ilovevegan.com and I had to try it.  I only changed one thing on her recipe.  Her recipe called for 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour + 3/4 cup unbleached flour and I just did all unbleached flour since that is what I had sitting around at home.  Click the link above for her recipe that I used.  It’s pretty amazing.  I would recommend storing them with a slice of bread to keep them moist.

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Minced Pies

Now this is the recipe I am most excited for.  I have always thought that minced pies were so cute and festive.  They also looked delicous!  So I found a pre mixed and canned Mince meat and purchased some frozen vegan pie crust.  I figured I would try it the easy way before I go all out and make them homemade and screw it up.  Let me tell you, these turned out so cute!  And they tasted amazing.  Super sweet but amazing.

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I have to say for my first year of Christmas Baking things turned out amazing.  I didn’t try anything too challenging but I loved everything that I made and so did my family.  So I will be spending the rest of 2016 eating my leftover sweet treats and then getting back into a healthier lifestyle once they are all gone.  Moderation is key!

I hope you all had an amazing Holiday season.  The new year starts in just a few short days.  So make your resolutions and get ready for 2017!   Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you come back soon. ❤

Welcome to my crazy little world…

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Megan. I have wanted to start a blog for a very long time but have always been afraid of what others would say and think. I have recently been inspired and motivated to make a dream a reality. I may not be the best writer or photographer but this is something I am passionate about and I think that’s what matters. The only way I can get better at it is to try.  So once again welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy it and if you do please let me know in the comments and thanks for visiting! 😊

Thankful for Vegan Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  Growing up I spent at least 18 out of my 22 Thanksgivings at Chuck-a-Rama.  It has always been a family tradition and I have loved it.  But that tradition has come to an end because of my new lifestyle and with new lifestyles come new traditions.  A vegan Thanksgiving.

So many people might ask, how does one have a vegan Thanksgiving?  There are so many amazing recipes and alternatives for vegan Thanksgiving recipes.  On this post I am going to share some store bought options and recipes that I used for my vegan Thanksgiving.  How many times can I put vegan Thanksgiving?Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Thanksgiving “Turkey”

There are many options for a turkey replacement.  There are a handful of store bought alternatives and even more recipes.  For my first Thanksgiving as a vegan I decided to purchase the Gardein Holiday Roast.  It is a “Turkey” roast with wild rice and cranberry stuffing and gravy.  Gardein is a vegan cult favorite and one of my favorite mock meat companies on the market.  My omni parents, boyfriend and I all loved it!Processed with VSCO with s2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb1 preset

The Basics

Cranberries, mashed potatoes, and pie OH MY!  You can’t have a Thanksgiving dinner without the basics.  Cranberry sauce you can of course make on your own or buy canned cranberry sauce.  Both are delicious.  To make mashed potatoes vegan just add a bit of vegan butter and almond milk to get amazing creamy mashed potatoes.  Add you favorite mushroom gravy recipe or the gravy from the roast!  Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite things about the Holidays and there are tons of recipes online but my local whole foods carries a vegan pumpkin pie from City Cakes Bakery (an all vegan bakery in downtown Salt Lake City).  A slice of pie with some soy whip is perfection!

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Family Favorite Veganized

Growing up my mom made an amazing recipe and this year I decided to veganize it so I could still enjoy one of my favorite Thanksgiving treats.  The recipe is called Jello Pretzel Salad and it is delicious!  It’s the perfect sweet treat for Thanksgiving or any other Holiday or party.  It is definitely a crowd favorite!  Below I attached photos and a recipe so you can try it out yourself!

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Recipe:

  • 6 oz Vegan Raspberry Jello
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups salted pretzels
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick or 8 Tbsp of vegan butter
  • 1 container (8 oz) of Kite Hill vegan cream cheese
  • Almost 1 container (8oz) vegan coconut cool whip
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Frozen Raspberries
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine jello packet and 2 cups boiling water and mix until dissolved.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Crush 2 1/2 cups of pretzels in a ziploc bag.
  4. Melt butter and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan and combine with pretzels.
  5. Press pretzels into a 13 x 9 glass dish and bake for 10 minutes.  Then let cool to room temperature.
  6. In another bowl mix cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar until well combined.
  7. Fold in cool whip until well combined.
  8. Spread cream cheese mixture over pretzels.  Make sure you put it all over creating a seal so the jello won’t leak through. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  9. After refrigerated place raspberries on top of the cream cheese and then pour jello over the whole thing.
  10. Refrigerate until jello is set. (Overnight is best)

I had such an amazing Thanksgiving with my family and I can’t wait for many more vegan Holidays! I hope you enjoyed my first post!