I hate the word “diet”. Like….I really, really do. I’ve been on a diet almost my entire life, so, for me, the word evokes a major feeling of restriction and deprivation. It also suggests, by the name alone, that we are either “on it” or “off it”. When we go off it, and we always do, we’re most likely to end up right where we started before we went on it in the first place. That’s why when talking about the plant-based diet, I’d rather use the word "lifestyle".
Last week I was talking about when I first started eating plant-based, I felt deprived of eating sandwiches. I remember missing my favorite ham, cheese & mustard combo on squishy white bread. I realized I had actually been grieving that sandwich. It was nothing fancy...not even the mustard was fancy, but my mom would stop whatever she was doing to happily prepare that sandwich for me, slicing it diagonally and serving it on one of her treasured, beautifully decorated dishes as if I were the Queen of England.
It’s important to note here that ALL change is grief. Even good, positive, healthful change. Change signals the end of something and the beginning of something else. And where that happens, there is grief, my friends; especially when we find ourselves emotionally attached to our food at a very deep level. This isn’t to be confused with emotional eating, although they often go hand-in-hand, as they can in my case.
Like, when you're crying and eating out of a bag of chips at the same time.
It’s having that unwillingness to let go of certain foods because it’s what we know or the recipes have sentimental value, having been passed down through generations, or it’s holiday tradition, it’s the way our friends are eating...it’s how my momma use to make it.
And when you boil all that down, folks, eating certain foods gives us that feeling of safety and comfort, reassuring us that all is right with the world.
And if it’s not, well then you at least have your favorite sandwich.
I was the girl who used to say, “I could never give up cheese.” I was also the girl who thought…”Well if I can’t have the sandwich I like, then I’m having none at all.” So, I didn’t eat them for a long time. But over the years, as my taste buds have changed and healed, I’ve learned to like new foods and unique combinations that would never have appealed to me before.
Last week I shared some cold sandwich variations from my repertoire and this week I’ve promised to deliver some warm sammie creations perfect for the summer meal rotation. I hope they ease the pain of breaking up with the sandwiches of yesterday...and seduce you to fall in love all over again.
1. VBLT- I LOVE BLTs...especially in the summer time. Veggie Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and light vegan Mayo. You can buy pre-packaged vegan bacon (check the ingredients list to be sure it doesn't contain dairy or egg) or simply sauté some sliced Portobello mushrooms in a little vegan Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup and a few drops of liquid smoke. Sautéing mushrooms in soy sauce, tamari (gluten free) or coconut aminos (soy free) also does the trick for me.
2. Loaded BBQ- Sauté shredded sweet potato or carrot in your favorite barbeque sauce until warmed. Trust me. Top with shredded cabbage, guacamole and/or jarred pineapple salsa to give it that Caribbean flare. Alternatively, top with your favorite coleslaw using eggless mayo, such as Just Mayo. Make a quick, fresh pineapple salsa with diced pineapple, red onion and squeeze a lime wedge mixed in.
3. Grilled Cheeze- There is something about a grilled cheese sandwich. Whether you’re dipping it in creamy tomato soup or taking it up a notch with a thinly sliced tomato and spread of Dijon mustard, it may surprise you to know the sky can be the limit. Any good vegan cheese recipe always starts with potatoes, carrots and onion...I don’t care who you are. Oh and cashews just take it to a whole 'nother level as it does in this recipe. I like to skip the vegan butter part and just slather it on two pieces of whole grain toasted bread.
If you really want to go down the rabbit-hole for some swoon-worthy grilled cheese combinations, check out Peta's top picks for #nationalgrilledcheese day.
4. Quick Portobello Panini- Cooked mushrooms do make a repeat appearance in many of my sandwiches. The surprising part is I use to loathe mushrooms only a few years ago. If I can learn to like new foods after hating them most of my life, anyone can. Sauté sliced portobello mushroom in soy sauce, tamari (gluten free) or coconut aminos (soy free) and serve on toasted bread slathered with hummus, your favorite mustard and fresh spinach leaves.
5. Breakfast McSandwich- This Happy Herbivore, Meal Mentor inspired breakfast creation is savory and satiating for the soul. And it’s a perfect way to start your Saturday morning when you have a little more time to indulge in distant memories of Egg McMuffins past...with a south of the border twist.
On average, Americans eat just ONE serving of fruits and vegetables per DAY. “If Americans ate just one more serving of fruits or vegetables per day, this would save more than 30,000 lives and $5 billion in medical costs each year.” What? Crazy! Just think how amazing it could be if Americans added two more servings?!?! *Mind Blown* All kidding aside, it really is important to add more fruits and vegetables in your diet. EVERYONE needs more and you can not eat too many fruits and vegetables. They are called superfoods for a reason! Did you know all fruits and vegetables contain cancer-fighting compounds?!?! People who eat just five servings of fruits and vegetables a day lower their risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other conditions!
I know what you are going to ask me: “what's an easy way to add in more fruits and veggies?” That is what you were going to ask me, right? I am always looking for easy ways myself! The best way to make a change is to Set Goals! Don't just say “eat more fruits and vegetables”; make it actionable! Set tangible, specific goals! So, let's make this a list, I LOVE lists!!
I use it for fruit, too! I always hesitate buying berries because I feel like they go bad
by the next day. With these nifty contraptions I can store berries in the fridge for at least 10 days!! I know, so exciting, right?! So, the tip is to make a big salad that you can grab at anytime!! How easy is that?! The secret to keeping the salad fresh though is not adding the vegetables that get too wet...I save the tomatoes and cucumbers until I'm ready to serve. I also top with some seeds like sunflower or pumpkin.
Here's what I throw into those awesome containers:
Are those doable? Can you find some time to fit more fruits and vegetables into your life? Your life depends on it;)
Do you have any tips that can make my life easier?!?! I'd love to hear them; post in the comments, facebook, instagram, or throw an email my way!
Peace, Love, Plants,
*I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you real information about health and holistic wellness.
Years ago, when I was transitioning to a plant-based diet, I remember feeling deprived of eating sandwiches. I was really stuck in the mindset of the deli meat and cheese-filled sandwiches of my youth and quickly grew bored with the comforts of peanut butter and jelly.
Over the years I’ve gotten creative in layering up a good ‘sammie’ and put together a solid list of go-to hot and cold creations to give me that fix.
Here are the makings for a healthy delicious sandwich. Conventional store bought breads often have small amounts of dairy and egg products, so always check the label to be sure!
Here are 6 COOL summer sandwich ideas to curb your cravings.
1. Chik’n Salad- Pulse soy curls or chickpeas in a food processor or mash chickpeas in a bowl with a fork until no whole beans are left. With vegan mayo ,such as Just Mayo, you can make up a chik’n salad just as you always have. I like to add chopped celery, red onion, dill relish and poultry seasoning or celery salt. My picky daughter prefers only the mayo, and salt & pepper to taste.
2. ALTO- Meet the better looking younger sister of the BLT: sliced avocado, lettuce, tomato & red onion. Toast up some bread, slather hummus, vegan mayo and/or your favorite mustard and layer it up for a delicious summer sandwich.
3. 7 Layer- 2 slices of whole grain bread, spinach leaves or lettuce, sliced red onion, tomato or roasted red pepper, cucumber, avocado or guacamole, hummus and add a drizzle of your favorite mustard!
4. Mediterranean- I like to top a bagel or toasted pita bread with a slather of hummus, spinach or lettuce leaves, sliced or diced tomato, sliced kalamata or green olives, capers, cucumber and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or glaze. Alternatively, you can roll it up in a wrap.
5. Tea Room- Vegan cream cheese and sliced dates make for a nice alternative to pb&j. I like to do this combo on a bagel or toasted whole grain sprouted bread. This is also a great one for your next afternoon soirée, serving on smaller cocktail store-bought breads for ease. Alternatively, you can do vegan cream cheese and cucumber, sprinkled with white pepper.
6. Italian- This is a fun combo to have on a baguette or sub roll. Slather vegan pesto on both sides of bread and layer chopped artichoke hearts, seeded and diced tomato or roasted red pepper, pepperoncini, red onion sliced into thin rings, vegan cheese (optional) and top with shredded romaine lettuce, sprinkle of dried oregano and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
BONUS RECIPE! Check out Cristy’s Mock Tuna Salad! It's simple, delicious and you probably already have all of the ingredients.
Check back next week for some HOT melt-in-your-mouth variations you can whip up in a snap!
In this social media obsessed world it's hard to imagine that everyone but me doesn't have a perfect life. We are all human...we all want to share the good in our lives, but we also hide the bad...maybe because we think others don't have the bad?...that we are weirdos, failing at life? We ALL have the SAME struggles! Remind yourself of that when you are doubting your imperfect life while looking at those perfect pictures. We are all IMPERFECT.
Speaking of being imperfect...we all love junk food! Wanting junk food over healthy food makes you human and every other human feels the same way. If I found out that McDonald's food was the key to a life free of disease and illness, I'd be there...every-damn-day!! The important part of that sentence was the key to a life free of disease and illness...it's no secret that McDonald's food is bad and that fruits and vegetables are the most important things you can eat for a healthy life. The problem lies in decision making. How do you get yourself to make the right choices when junk food tastes so good? I.love.potato.chips...brownies...kettle corn drizzled with dark chocolate...bagels...cookies...you get it, right? I love the same things you do and so does everyone else. We are all in the same junk food boat floating through the oceans of processed crap. How do we make good decisions when bad stuff is everywhere tempting us with their whorish-goodness?
I deal with those junk food cravings by finding healthy alternatives that make me think I'm eating junk food. Before you can even get to that point though you have to make the decision that you are going to choose health over your taste buds. You WILL go through a transition. Your taste buds WILL change, I promise you, this is true. Me-ten-years-ago would laugh, really hard, at me-today. Sometimes I want to punch myself for saying things like “your taste buds will change” or “you'll crave a big salad”. But it really is true...ask anyone who changes their eating lifestyle. I say those things to give you hope not to make you want to punch me in the face. To give you even more hope, at the end of this post I have included my favorite brownie recipe! It is easy, CHOCOLATEY, ooey, gooey, sweet, amazing, fulfilling...promise me you're going to try it?! Do NOT judge the ingredients! Just make it. Try it! You can't say you don't like it if you've never even tried!! (The picture is sucking you in, right?!)
Back to making the best decisions...moderation is damn hard, but we are in CONTROL of our choices. Each and every moment of our lives is due to a choice that we have made. They are not always easy choices, mostly hard, right? That's LIFE. Life is hard, but we are in control of things that can make it easier. One of the best decisions you can make in your life is making choices that keep you healthy.
The best first step is deciding that YOU are IMPORTANT and that focusing on your health is the best thing that you can do for you. Make your health priority number one and now, decision making just got a little easier. Because now you know each choice you make needs to answer yes to the question, “Will this make me HEALTHIER?” This question can be used in every aspect of your life! Will eating this bag of chips make me healthier? Will saying yes to everybody make me healthier? Will yelling at the car in front of me make me healthier?
What's stopping you from making better decisions? What's keeping you from reaching your goals? Share some of your answers in the comments and let's start a discussion! Let's share our struggles with others and maybe showing our imperfect life will inspire others and us along the way!!
Peace, Love, Plants,
So, with impending life changes ahead and much of my life excess I wanted to leave behind, in January of this year I made the decision to get rid of half my belongings. Like....I really, really, really wanted to. But I was really, really, really afraid I just... wouldn't.
I mean, if history is any indication, there have been several attempts to reduce my consumption, to shop less and let go of much I was holding onto simply because I felt guilty for buying it in the first place. To hold on to it meant I hadn't wasted my time and money. And I SHOULD hold on to it all just in case of that unforeseeable , come-to-the-rescue need in the future when I'd be so glad I had it on hand.
But, my #wonderwomangoals are behind me, and I now want to DO things, rather than accumulate things. I want to explore other places and start moving into the next chapter of my life with less to manage.
My goal was to reduce my possessions by half by June of this year. That meant going through every room, every space, every closet, every drawer and eliminate by half. That did not include my daughters' rooms and possessions or my husbands clothing and personal items. I laid out a 6 month schedule, allowing for planned vacations and time away and assigned each space a date. I pretty much stuck to the schedule, sometimes switching the order, but in the end, I did it.
It is finished.
I want to thank you all for your encouraging words and feedback as I've trucked on through this journey of letting go. If any of you are wanting to have less in order to live more, I hope this gives you some bit of inspiration. There are those of you who have given me TREMENDOUS inspiration and the motivation to
Finish. It. With heartfelt thanks and gratitude...
Oh, Pennsylvania! You are so beautiful, but can we stop with the rain and chill, already?! It's June for crying out loud! As I look to the extended forecast and the coming weeks of summer, I'm excited for sunshine and hot weather! But more importantly, fresh produce!
I started my garden a few weeks ago. At this point, it is looking pretty great, but right after planting I was a little worried. I woke up to a fat groundhog munching on my lettuces and celery! I wanted him/her out of there! We got the box trap out, prepared to find that lettuce-stealing whistle-pig a new home. The trap was all set up, I looked out the window and see HER and two adorable, plump baby groundhogs following their mama through the yard. And then, another one comes bounding around the corner! Ugh, I can't trap that thief now! They are so adorable and I could never separate them from their mama! So far, they haven't feasted in my garden since the last time. Let's hope we can keep our relationship amicable. If my plants can survive through the groundhogs, I plan to be eating very well all summer!
I thought I would miss grilling after going plant-based, but honestly it hasn't crossed my mind too much. Occasionally, we will do some veggies or a veggie dog. I find that most plant-based burgers stick to the grill and I don't want to add the extra oil to them.
My interest in grilling was reignited after attending the Cleveland Vegfest last weekend! At one of the cooking demonstrations, they showed us how to grill corn on the cob; not that it's difficult, but the exciting part was what they put on top of it after grilling...cashew cream and herb sauces!!!! We got to test-taste one of them and OHEMMGEEE!! it was delicious. Needless to say, I am so excited to give it a try.
I have to go find some organic corn on the cob and then, I'm going to have a feast. In the meantime, I have assembled a few cashew cream and herb sauce recipes here. I'm hoping that maybe we can explore these together!
This one is from Sam at www.itdoesnttastelikechicken.com:
Creamy Cilantro Lime Corn on the Cob
Author: It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken
Serves: 8 Cobs of Corn
Corn Ingredients: 8 Cobs of Corn
This one I found at www.ohmyveggies.com. It was paired with quinoa cakes, but I thought it would be great on grilled corn on the cob!
Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream Sauce
And one more because I can't resist anything spicy!! This one is from www.simple-veganista.com :
SRIRACHA CASHEW CREAM SAUCE
Place all ingredients into a small blender (I used a magic bullet for this job). Blend until creamy, taste for flavor adding extra chili sauce if needed. Thin with water to desired consistency using one tablespoon at a time. If you find it’s too watery add a few cashews and blend again until smooth. Store leftovers in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to six days.
Makes about 2/3 cups or 3 servings.
Send us your grilled corn creations and I will share mine, too!!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Last week I was sharing with you my number one strategy for staying on the plant-based diet, food batching. Batch cooking my staples and then freezing them has been the best cooking shortcut in that when I’m ready to eat, I don’t have to wait 30 minutes for my rice to cook or worse yet, skipping a home cooked meal altogether and ordering a pizza.
Maybe all this seems obvious. I’m not really sure. The idea of batching and prepping food has been around for awhile. But, today happens to be the first day of summer vacation for us and a personal refresher seems in order.
School is out, the weather is slowly, but surely, coming around. Graduation parties, bridal showers and weddings are gearing up and we are celebrating summer with picnics, barbecues, weekend camping and trips to the beach.
It can be a recipe for disaster.
Historically, for me, this is when I start to put weight back on after working so hard to take if off after the winter holiday season. And the fact that I'm probably more active in the summer than in the winter doesn't seem to be enough. It’s just the cold, hard truth.
I'm not getting on that loop again. Not this time. So, I’m dusting off my batch cooking skills and sharpening the knives of a few other strategies that have proven to work for me in terms of not only staying plant-based, but staying slim or even slimming down this summer.
And if I’ve said it once to myself, I’ve said it 1000 times, failing to plan means planning to fail.
Here are 6 simple shortcuts I’m using to stay on track, eat more greens, have better quality control over my food, and limit overt fats/oil (Remember, as Dr. McDougall says, the fat you eat is the fat you wear!):
1. Overnight Oats- The idea of preparing overnight oats is not novel, but if you’re a breakfast person, why not batch them? I like to create an assembly line of mason jars and make as many as I need for the week. And, yes, they will keep the entire week! Here’s a video tutorial to show you how I did it this weekend.
2. Giant Salad- I got this tip from Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore. It has been a game changer for me as I happen to be someone that doesn’t enjoy chopping up a fresh salad on a daily basis. The magic is in this Tupperware bowl. It’s a little pricey, but I’ve found it to be so worth it not having to pitch slimey, wilting greens I wasn’t able to eat in time. At the beginning of the week I make an enormous salad of chopped mixed greens, shredded carrot, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes and green onions. You can add less or more variety, I stay away from wet vegetables like diced tomato. This bowl will keep your salad fresh for at least 7 days or even 10 days if you’re using a heartier lettuce such as romaine, and makes it SO SIMPLE to get your daily greens. I grab a couple handfuls everyday and maybe add some grains, beans or potato if I want to bulk it up or I’ll add a handful to a wrap, top a rice bowl or tacos.
Note: Purchase pre-washed, chopped salad greens. I do this, almost always, to save time. It may be a bit more expensive but not really if the head of lettuce rots sitting in the fridge as I keep thinking I’ll get to it tomorrow.
3. Sauces and Dressings- We talked about salad dressings last week but it’s worth mentioning here again while we have an enormous salad to eat up. Find a dressing recipe that meets your needs and make a double batch, if necessary, to store in a mason jar.
Also, if you’re a meal planner, look at your recipes to see if there are any sauces you could make or whisk up ahead of time. If my schedule permits, I like to do this on Sundays or if it doesn’t, I’ll do this in the morning when I have my best energy for cooking.
A word on OIL: While I can't say I'm following the oil-free thing 100% (it’s almost impossible to be perfect) , sauces and dressing can be GIANT CALORIE BOMBS and a source people often overlook when wondering why they are gaining or not losing weight. Cut oil where you can and you very well could effortlessly create that calorie deficit without realizing it.
4. Hummus- If you are transitioning to a plant-based diet you’ll find hummus to be your new go-to condiment and dip. There are MANY variations out there depending on what type of bean is used, but as with dressings and sauces, hummus can be very calorie dense, meaning a lot of calories per weight of food. Find a fat free or low fat hummus recipe like this one and batch up enough for the week. There are also brands out there making oil free varieties such as Engine 2, Wild Garden Hummus, Oasis Mediterranean, Roots Organic Gourmet and Cedars All Natural Hommus. They can easily be found if you’re near a Whole Foods and Cedars All Natural Hommus and Wild Garden allow you to purchase online.
5. Prepping vegetables- Whether you’re a meal planner or enjoy coming up with a dinner plan that same day, prepping regularly used vegetables from your repertoire will make your dish come together that much quicker. At the beginning of the week I will pre-chop veggies such as onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, or bell peppers along with shredding vegetables like cabbage and zucchini, if using, and store them in the fridge for use throughout the week.
6. Freezer and Produce Shortcuts- Don’t feel like cutting your own veggies or herbs? Me either. That’s why I mostly do them all at once while watching a show or listening to an audiobook or podcast. But sometimes I don’t even feel like doing that. Grocery stores really come to the rescue on this one both in the freezer and produce sections. Frozen vegetables are superior to even fresh vegetables most of the year. More on that in a future blog post. Fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at their peak and cook up perfectly on the stove top or microwave. Most produce sections these days are full of pre-washed, pre-chopped vegetables and medleys that work perfect in a pinch. As Cristy likes to say, the best vegetable to buy is the one you’re going to eat!
The interest in the plant-based lifestyle is exploding! I love how the growth of options in the supermarket has grown exponentially, just in the past year. It is so exciting! There will be a new generation of healthy people.
I get asked all the time, “What do you eat?” Everyone is so curious and I LOVE it! Their minds are blown at what I actually eat compared to what they think I eat. It can be funny sometimes. “Do you eat a lot of kale?” Haha, not really. (I prefer spinach;) “Wait, you eat hot dogs, burgers, and fries?” Yup, yup, and yup.
I'm here today to answer the top 3 questions that I get asked EVERY time someone wants to talk plant-based.
1. Where do you get your protein?
There are lots of plant-based cheese options. Some are really good and others, not so much. But, the point is you have options. You don't have to give up cheese, just dairy cheese. The nut-based cheeses are the best, in my opinion. They are less processed than the vegetable protein and soy cheeses, which, also, contain a lot of oil, but the nut cheese also taste better. You don't have to give up your pizza or grilled cheese sandwiches! It takes a little trial and error to find the ones that will please your palate.
3. What do you eat?
Tuesday: Tacos/Burritos (rice, beans, lentils/couscous or tofu, salsa, guacamole)
Wednesday: Sushi or Vegetable Lo Mein with Rice Noodles
Thursday: Rice and Beans Dish (usually with tofu...curry, general tso's, sweet and spicy)
Friday: Burgers and Fries (black bean, cashew and rice, seitan...with sweet potato fries)
Saturday and Sunday: Could be leftovers, hot dogs, pasta, rice, or whatever Mama feels like cooking! As you can see, my meals probably look and sound pretty similar to yours. It takes a bit of practice to find the things that work for you and your family.
I love running into people and they start asking me all these questions and more. I know they are excited at the idea of changing their lives...getting healthier, looking better, and feeling better! So, if you see me, don't be afraid to stop me and pick my brain! I'm obsessed and love sharing it with anyone and everyone!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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