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back roads and mason jars

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that’s vegan?!

where is the turkey?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – a day to be thankful.  This year I am thankful for many things – my health, a peaceful home in the woods, moving closer to family this year and having a puppy greet me at the door.  This year there is one big change for me.  This is the first year I will not be eating turkey.  I thought this holiday especially would be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but I haven’t even given it a second thought.  My favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast has always been the sides anyway!  There will be turkey on my family’s Thanksgiving table, but I will be bringing my own vegan option.

There are lots of vegan turkey options available on the market today.  I have purchased the traditional Tofurky Veggie Roast and the Gardein Stuffed Turk’y.  I am not sure which one I will be taking yet – I just can’t decide!  I will review which one I use after our delicious feast.  Below I breakdown just a few of the vegan turkey options available for you and your family to celebrate Thanksgiving cruelty free!

Tofurky Veggie Roast

tofurky-holiday-roast-packageTofurky offers 3 sizes of holiday roasts but they are all the same – a turkey roast with a wild rice stuffing.  Some packages include gravy and even brownies!  In terms of nutrition, it offers a very high protein plant based option if that’s something you care about.  One fifth of the small roast (147 grams) is 300 calories, 8 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 6 grams of fiber and 40 grams of protein.

Field Roast Celebration Roast

cr-1lb1-e1443025979840Field Roast is a newer company offering many very realistic meat and cheese replacements including one of my favorite cheeses – Chao Slices.  Their Celebration Roast is a one pound feast stuffed with a sausage, butternut squash, and apple stuffing which is stable enough to cut leftovers for that famous Thanksgiving sandwich.  My favorite feature of Field Roast meat alternatives is that they use so many whole fruits and vegetables in their meats instead of only tofu or vital wheat gluten.  A 4 oz serving has 280 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 6 grams of fiber and 31 grams of protein.

Gardein Holiday Roast & Stuffed Turk’y

gardein_frz_a_holidayroast_usrgbsm-225x135 Gardein offers 2 vegan turkey alternatives – the Holiday Roast and Stuffed Turk’y.  The Holiday Roast is great if you have a larger family, but I actually purchased the smaller Stuffed Turk’y option since I am the only vegetarian in my family.  This package comes with 2 gardein_frz_a_stuffedturky_usrgbsm-225x231turkeys and gravy packets too.  These alternatives are a little different from the ones above since they are breaded unlike the traditional roasted turkey and boast a cranberry stuffing.  The nutrition does vary on these items though.  For one Stuffed Turk’y (150 grams), you’ll get 290 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 3 grams of fiber and 23 grams of protein.  One Eighth (90 grams) of the Holiday Roast, you’ll have 150 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 2 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein.

Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Stuffed Roast

Trader Joe’s adds this holiday treat to their already coveted vegan product line during the trader-joes-turkeyholiday season.  I was even on a waiting list to get one last year, but I wasn’t able to score one at all!  With a $9.99 price tag for a 2.5 lb roast and gravy, this is the best priced product by far!  No wonder they keep selling out so fast every year!  This is also a breaded roast like Gardein with a stuffing inside.  For one sixth of the roast, it has 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 2 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

and the curse is broken!

cub-watermarkBaseball has been the most loved sport in my household growing up.  From T-Ball and batting cage lessons to high school softball practices and summer leagues, it was a bond between my mom and I that holds a special place in my heart.  My mom raised me to be an Atlanta Braves fan, but when I married my husband, I became a Chicago Cubs fan as well.  Even our dog, Brodie, and our Halloween pumpkin are Cubs fans!  Needless to say, this has been some kind of year for the Cubs.  The curse has officially been broken when the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series last night and it was some game!  We watched in awe with a tense feeling in our gut and biting our nails the entire time.

In celebration of the Cubbies victory, I thought I would share my favorite Hot Dog combination – the Chicago Dog!  The traditional Chicago hot dog toppings are yellow mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, dill pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers and celery salt on a poppy hot-dog-watermarkseed bun.  I made some variations to what was available to me in my small town.  I used a soft white roll with a Light Life Vegan hot dog topped with yellow mustard, chopped Vidalia onions, sweet relish, a crunchy dill pickle spear, sliced cherry tomatoes and banana peppers.  I served it with a side of red, purple and white potato kettle chips.  The Light Life Smart Dogs are a delicious replacement for the traditional ball game favorite with only 50 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber and 7 grams of protein.  A lot of baseball stadiums actually serve vegan and vegetarian food options including hot dogs.  Check out Veggie Happy’s website to see what vegetarian and vegan options are available at your favorite stadium.  What a perfect way to celebrate such a historical victory!  Go Cubbies!  #FlyTheW

Bye y’all!

are you scared? part 6

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

This week is the last post in this mini-series and it’s a doozy!  Check out the previous posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

But cheese! How can I live without cheese?!

As I am writing this post, I am still consuming cheese a few meals a week.  I am limiting my cheese intake and working on eliminating it from my diet completely.  This is usually the one factor that keeps vegetarians from converting to veganism.  It is the one factor stopping me as well.  Even limiting my cheese has been a drastic change.  I was the person that could have only cheese and a few crackers for dinner and be completely satisfied.  I love a cheese plate.  I stopped eating meat relatively painlessly but cheese has been tricky.  There aren’t many products that you can create or purchase that truly replicate cheese 100%.  However, after some extensive research, regrettable purchases and some ah-ha! moments, I have found some not only suitable replacements for cheese, but some amazing cheese!  Below I will talk about the different cheese products available on the market to save you the heartache.

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Daiya Cheddar and Jalapeno Havarti

Daiya – Daiya is a Canadian based company that provides vegan cheese products in the form of shreds, blocks, slices, cream cheese, pizza, mac and cheese and even cheesecake!  The shreds are available in Classic, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Pepper Jack – add on top of tacos or pizza.  Slices are sold in flavors like Cheddar, Provolone, and Swiss – great for any sandwich. The cream cheese comes in Plain, Strawberry and Onion and Chive – delicious on toasted bagel.  Cheese blocks are available in Jalapeno Havarti, Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Smoked Gouda – perfect for any cheese plate.  The cream cheese and blocks are my favorite items by Daiya that I have tried.  I am able to find these products in the Natural section of most grocery stores.  Daiya also has several options for frozen pizza, cheesecake, yogurt and mac and cheese.

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Tofutti Cream Cheese & Sour Cream/Daiya Strawberry Cream Cheese

Tofutti – Tofutti offers a limited selection of products, but don’t let that fool you!  They do offer Ricotta, cream cheese, sour cream and sliced cheese.  Sour cream was also a frequent condiment that I used so Tofutti saved me with their product.  It is very affordable and I can even find it in my small town.  Cream cheese is available in Plain, Herbs & Chive, French Onion and Garlic & Herb.  Traditional plastic wrapped cheese is available in American and Mozzarella to satisfy that classic grilled cheese fix.

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Kite Hill Truffle Dill & Chive

Kite Hill – This is an almond milk based cheese that is cultured in a similar way as traditional cheese.  Kite Hill is a Whole Foods exclusive product as of right now.  I am telling you from experience that it is worth the drive or trip just for their products.  They offer artisinal cheeses, yogurts, cream cheese and ravioli.  Their cheese spreads are flavorful and can rival any traditional cheese spread.  The spreads are available in Original, Truffle Dill  & Chive, Soft Ripened (like Brie) and Ricotta.  They also offer cream cheese in Plain and Chive.  There are two flavor options for ravioli as well – Mushroom Ricotta and Spinach Ricotta.

 

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Chao Creamy Original, Tomato Cayenne and Coconut Herb/Follow Your Heart Provolone and Pepper Jack

Chao by Field Roast – Field Roast is a gold standard in their meat as well as their cheese slices.  In my opinion, they are by far the best cheese slice product that I have tried thus far.  They are currently available in three flavors – Creamy Original, Coconut Herb and Tomato Cayenne.  All three flavors are perfect raw on top of crackers or melted in a grilled cheese and a bowl tomato soup.

 

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Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan/Go Veggie Grated Parmesan

Follow Your Heart – Follow Your Heart was formed in 1970 in California as a grocery store and restaurant with an extensive product line including salad dressing, mayonnaise and cheese.  Their slices and blocks are available in Pepper Jack, Smoked Gouda, Garden Herb, Mozzarella, Provolone,  and American.  Shredded cheese is available on Pizzeria, Cheddar, Mozzarella and Fiesta Blend.  The coolest product that they have is Parmesan – available grated and shredded.  This is the perfect accompaniment to pizza, pasta or our house favorite – Mushroom Fries (Sliced mushrooms sprinkled with Parmesan and baked until crispy).

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Trader Joe’s Mozzarella Shreds

There are plenty more brands of vegan cheese products on the market including Go Veggie and even store brands like Trader Joe’s.  While vegan cheese products can be quite expensive especially for the really good ones, there are alternatives that are affordable.  While I have been able to find some of these products in stores, you can also order them and have them shipped directly to your door!  I recommend Vegan Essentials since it provides so many vegan products all in one place and affordable pricing.

Bye y’all!

spooky thirsty thursday

Halloween means different things to different people.  Whether you are going to a bar, a costume party or frantically getting your kid dressed up in their costume to walk the neighborhood all night, we all want one thing – to have a great time!

In my Halloween pasts especially in college, we used any party as an excuse to make Jello shots with Vodka.  Jello was also a favorite low calorie snack (I ate the sugar free kind) that I ate with lunch.  When I went vegetarian, I knew this had to be removed from my diet since it contains gelatin and there went my favorite party treat.  When I was in my small town Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, I came across a product that was totally new to me.  There it was – Bakol Jel Dessert – right next to the standard Jello.  I grabbed one of each flavor available – Cherry and Strawberry.  When I checked online, I was excited to see that there were a few more options too like orange, raspberry, lemon and unflavored.  The box boasts the vegan label as well as non-gmo, 100% natural and no preservatives.

Bakol Jel Dessert meant Vegan Jel Shots.  Yeah, that’ll work for me!  Here is my recipe to make my Spooky Strawberry Vegan Jel Shots.

jel-shots-watermark1. Boil 8 oz of water.  Once boiling, add the water to a vessel with a spout.

2. Add the 3 oz Jel pack and stir until it is completely dissolved.

3. Add in 3 oz of cold water and 5 oz of vodka.

4. Place in a mold or cups and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  I used a silicone sugar skull mold for some of mine in the photo.  The Jel worked very well with the silicone and were super easy to remove.  This product is not as firm as its traditional counterpart.

 

skull-water-watermarkIs Jel not your thing?  A lot of people have a texture issue with Jel or Jello.  Don’t worry – I have a treat for you too!  First, grab a spooky glass like my skull mason jar!  Add a shot of vodka to the glass, pour in your favorite La Croix water (cranberry pictured) and add in any fruit you like.  There you have a very tasty, low calorie spooky treat!

My husband and I are planning on enjoying our Spooky Jel Shots this weekend while we cheer on the Chicago Cubs!  Hope y’all have a safe and fun Halloween!

Bye y’all!

a vegan halloween

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My Mom and Me – August 2001

Some of my favorite memories are around holidays.  Since my mother passed away when I was in high school, I cherish those memories.  My mother loved the holidays and any excuse to celebrate life.  Fall and Halloween was a favorite time in our household from carving pumpkins in a sad artsy attempt and decorating our house in skeletons and spider webs to getting dressed up to go trick or treating.  These days I spend my October following these traditions of attempting to carve a pumpkin, decorating my house and dressing up my fur baby in embarrassing costumes for adorable photos.

Just like growing up, I don’t live in an area that is ideal for children going door to door for Halloween’s favorite activity.  A busy trick or treating night would be one child stopping by our house.  We would drive 20 minutes into town to show off how proud we were in our costumes.  If you live in a busy trick or treating neighborhood, there are a ton of options of candy to hand out.  There are also lots of options that are naturally vegan that don’t cost a fortune to hand out to adorable kids dressed as robots, dinosaurs, baseball players or their favorite cartoon characters.

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Here are just a few of my favorite vegan Halloween candies!  Laffy Taffy, Skittles, Dots, Now & Laters, Smartees, Mamba and Chic-o- Stick are all VEGAN!  Mamba and Chic-o-Stick are actually labeled as vegan on the back of their packaging.  Some other vegan options that are available are Airheads, Charms Blow Pops, Mary Jane’s, Pez and Sour Patch Kids.  Check out more options here.  All of these are great options to ensure that your kids or trick or treaters will have a cruelty-free sugar rush for days!

For your enjoyment and my love to dress up my dog, here are some pictures from past Halloweens with my fur baby in his adorable costumes.  Enjoy!

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Halloween 2014
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Halloween 2015
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Halloween 2016

Bye y’all!

 

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