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Yesterday’s – A Present Favorite

A few years ago, a good friend of ours moved back to her college town – her second home.  The very first time we had the opportunity to visit in her element, she introduced us to one of her all time favorite places to be where everyone knows her name.  That place is Yesterday’s.

The first time I visited, I did still eat meat, but I was in the “cutting back phase” of my journey and only eating meat or eggs about two meals a week.  I heard stories about Yesterday’s for years throughout our friendship before actually enjoying the restaurant so my mouth was watering before I even walked in the door.  I ordered a classic southern staple, Shrimp & Grits, which used to be one of my all time favorite meals, but my husband ordered a unique variation of the classic – Buffalo Chicken & Grits.  He loved it so much that he still orders it every time we have the opportunity to visit!  I have changed up my orders a little bit now.  During our last visit, I tried their Veggie Mushroom Burger which was delicious as always, but you have to ask for no mushrooms since they are sauteed in butter.  It’s worth noting too that even though it is a southern comfort food restaurant, they have made an effort to accommodate vegetarians/vegans as well as those that follow a gluten free diet.  Their menu is clearly labeled which items are vegetarian and the staff is well versed in what items have hidden non-vegan items like butter, milk, and eggs.

Fast forward a few years and I see food a little differently now.  When I dine out for a meal, I think “Can I make that vegan?” when reading through the non-vegan portions of the menu.  My husband and I will toss around ideas while waiting on our order.  This is where some of my inspiration comes when planning my blog posts as well.  When I was planning out my meals for this week, I was craving this dish and knew instantly that I could easily make this vegan.  Check out my easy and quick version below!

Vegan Buffalo Chicken & Grits

1 pack of Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders

1 cup of Grits

4 cups of water

Salt & Pepper to taste

Vegan Butter to taste (I used Earth Balance)

Optional – Vegan Cheese will add a creaminess to the grits.  I recommend Follow Your Heart Parmesan.  For this recipe, I only seasoned them with salt, pepper and vegan butter.

 

Buffalo Sauce:

1 cup of your favorite hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)

1 tablespoon of Vegan Butter (I used Earth Balance)

 

 

  1. Bake the Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders per the instructions on the package.  I baked mine a few minutes longer than the package instructions.  This really paid off because the chicken stayed crispy after it was tossed in the buffalo sauce.
  2. While they are baking, you can get started with the grits and buffalo sauce.  I used stone ground yellow grits in this recipe, but you could use polenta or even instant grits.  I used 1 cup of grits and 4 cups of water which makes about 6 servings.  Adjust your ratio based on how many servings you need.  I’ll be having the leftovers for lunch and grits are never wasted in my house.  Again, depending on what type of grits you are having, this will affect your cooking times.  After they are done, I like to add some vegan butter for a more creamy consistency and salt & pepper to taste.  For the buffalo sauce, melt the tablespoon of vegan butter in a saucepan with a cup of your favorite hot sauce (Only Frank’s Red Hot will do in our house!).  Simmer to make sure the butter is well combined and transfer to a bowl to toss the chicken.
  3. Once the chicken is done cooking, simply toss the chicken in the buffalo sauce and assemble your plate.  To kick it up a notch, you could drizzle a little bit of vegan Ranch dressing on top to cool down the heat.  Enjoy!

Bye y’all!

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!

are you scared? part 3

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

Part 3 of the Friday mini series addressing the fears of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle focuses on the #1 asked question when people find out that I don’t eat meat anymore – But where do you get your protein?!  Click to read part 1 and part 2!

Are you worried you’ll never get enough protein for those gains you’re working on?

Our society has become obsessed with protein specifically animal based.  Between the meat counters at the supermarket, whey protein shakes of every flavor and even protein infused vodka, there is a high demand for animal products to support a high protein – low carb lifestyle.  As a weight loss surgery patient, I lived this life for several years and I felt miserable.  I was instructed by a nutritionist in connection with my surgeon on what I should consume in my new post-op life.  My nutrition instruction was based largely on a diabetic diet.  I only met with her for approximately 30 minutes once before surgery and never afterwards.  I was given instructions to consume a minimum of 75 grams of firm animal based protein each day starting each meal with the protein first and, if I still had hunger, I could have some vegetables or fruit.  While the surgery did help me lose a significant amount of my excess weight, I just wasn’t happy with the way I felt.

When I started transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, I was still obsessed with calculating my protein grams each day.  How could I survive without protein?  I know how silly this thought process was now.  The USDA recommends 5 ounces of protein for a woman in my age range which is far less than what I was consuming each day.  My blood work started to suffer from my diet as well.  For the first time in my life, my cholesterol was starting to rise enough to concern my doctor and discuss medication.  In an attempt to eliminate having to take medication, I started taking meat out of my diet. Below is a standard formula for the recommended protein grams that you need per day.

Formula for protein grams:

Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = Recommended Protein (in grams)

seafood-watermarkI started first by researching more on the nutrition of fruits, vegetables and grains and changing my mindset.  I was so tired of my diet and knew there was no way I could eat this way for the rest of my life.  My research led me to protein grams first naturally given my previous mindset.

beyond-meat-watermark

I traded in bacon, steak, chicken and eggs for tofu, beans, pasta, broccoli and meat alternatives.  I’ve never felt better!  Now I know I get my recommended protein grams without even trying and I focus more on getting the recommended 35 grams of fiber per day instead.  Below shows some examples of vegan foods and their protein grams.  As you’ll see, it is so easy (and yummy!) to get your daily recommended protein grams cruelty free plus fiber!

Protein Source Serving Size Protein Fiber
Tofu 1/2 cup 10 grams 0 grams
Black Beans 1 cup 39 grams 29 grams
Lentils 1 cup 18 grams 16 grams
Hemp Seeds 3 Tbsp. 11 grams 1 gram
Quinoa 1 cup 9 grams 5 grams
Green Peas 1 cup 8 grams 7 grams
Pasta 1 cup 8 grams 2.5 grams
Nutritional Yeast 2 Tbsp. 8 grams 4 grams
Peanut Butter 2 Tbsp. 8 grams 2 grams
Artichokes 1 medium 4.2 grams 7 grams
Asparagus 1 cup 2.9 grams 2.8 grams
Broccoli 1 cup 2.6 grams 2.4 grams
Spinach 1 cup .9 grams .7 grams
Meat Alternative Protein Fiber
Beyond Beef Patty 23 grams 4 grams
Boca Beefless Grounds 13 grams 3 grams
Gardein Porkless Bites 13 grams 2 grams
Boca Chik’in Patty 12 grams 3 grams
Gardein Crabless Cakes 9 grams 1 gram
Gardein Fishless Filets 9 grams 3 grams
Gardein Crispy Chicken 8 grams 1 gram

Bye y’all!

Chinese food can be vegan?

When I decided to go vegetarian with dreams of being vegan, I was missing Chinese food.  My favorite choice was always beef and broccoli and one of my husband’s favorites was sweet and sour pork.  I was never much of a fan because I don’t like a lot of heavily deep fried foods.  When we lived in the city, there were tons of Chinese restaurants that offered tofu options instead of meat, but in my little small town it’s a little harder to come by.

Insert the frozen aisle of most grocery stores even in my small town.

gardein-watermark

 

Gardein Sweet & Sour Pork!  It’s not beef and broccoli, but it’s a great Chinese alternative without all the grease and heavy feeling.  It’s super easy to make and you can easily customize it however you like.  The hardest part of this recipe is waiting on the rice cooker to cook your rice!

 

Follow these simple steps to make your Chinese at home my way.

  1. Place 1 cup of Basmati rice and 2 cups of water in your rice cooker.  I also love this product with Jasmine rice, but my husband doesn’t care for it so I just save it for meals when I’m the only one eating rice.  Remember to wash your rice thoroughly before cooking.
  2. I always serve broccoli on the side with my Chinese food no matter what variation I’m making.  Start boiling fresh or frozen broccoli on the stove top with some water.  Once completed cooking, drain the excess water and add a little bit of sea salt and vegan butter.  I prefer Smart Balance because the price point is usually a little cheaper.
  3. While everything is moving along, put 1/2 a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet and let that warm up.  Once heated and completely melted, add the porkless chunks.  Saute until all sides are crispy.  It takes about 6-8 minutes when stirring frequently.
  4. Once they are fully cooked, add the sauce packet that comes in the Gardein bag.  At this point, you can add whatever you want in addition to the Gardein pork.  My favorite addition is chopped canned pineapple.  Other options we have added were snap peas, sugar snap peas, sweet onion, bell pepper strips, mushrooms and broccoli.  If you are using these fresh veggie additions, I prefer to saute them before adding, but the pineapple just needs to be heated and mingle with the sauce.
  5. Once plated, I always sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Occasionally I will use a low sodium soy sauce, but not always.

watermark

My favorite aspects of this product are that it is made with Non-GMO soy, it is certified vegan and labeled for easy reading and it’s nutrition content.  For one third of the bag, there are 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 9 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein!  My husband and I usually eat two thirds of the meal the night of and I usually get about a third the next day for leftovers.  It heats up well in both the microwave or stove top the next day.

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 10/10

Omnivore Rating: 9.5/10

Bye y’all!

are you scared? part 1

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

Are you scared of tofu and meat alternatives?

Are you scared of being deprived?

Are you worried you’ll never get enough protein for those gains you’re working on?

Are you scared you’ll never have anything to eat?

Is it just too expensive for you?

But I can’t live without cheese!

 

I’ve been there with you.  I’ve had these hesitations and fears too.  I’m here to tell you that it’s OK.  The biggest advantage you can give yourself is to be open minded.  That changed everything for me.  I also challenge you try eating a few vegetarian or vegan meals each week.  If you do, let me know how you feel – Did you enjoy it? Did you hate it? Did you feel better or worse? What did you try?  Over this Friday mini series, I’ll show you that it is possible and worth it to try more plant based meals in your rotation.

Are you scared of tofu & meat alternatives?

Image result for tofu turkey everybody loves raymondI know what you’re thinking.  Tofu is what TV sitcom nightmares are made of in disguise as a tofu turkey at Thanksgiving dinner.  It can be so good!  My favorite use of tofu is baked crispy in an Asian stir fry, a tofu scramble as an egg replacement or silken tofu added to frozen fruit in a smoothie to add a delightful texture and protein boost.

In addition to tofu, there are LOTS of companies that have spent a ton of time and resources creating delicious replicas of your favorite meals as well.  Some of my favorite companies for meat alternatives are Gardein, Beyond Meat, Boca, Morningstar and Field Roast.  Most of the nutrition is comparable to the meat version or less in terms of calories and packed with protein.
pizza-watermarkGardein provides lots of options like fish, crab cakes, sweet and sour pork and even pizza pockets!  What’s better than cholesterol free pizza?
gardein-watermark

 

 

Beyond Meat is the new standard for beef beyond-watermarkalternatives and they do not disappoint.  Currently they provide a seasoned and original ground beefless product and a variety of chicken alternatives.  These delicious sliders pack 23 grams of protein in a single serving! Not too shabby!

 

 

boca-watermarkBoca and Morningstar make vegetarian and vegan options but the products are labeled clearly to distinguish which diet you follow.  My favorite Boca products are their beefless crumbles, chick’n nuggets and they have the BEST spicy chick’n pattie.  Morningstar offers more vegetarian products than vegan options.  The morningstar-watermarkvegetarian options that we enjoy are the wings – buffalo and parmesan garlic flavors, chipotle black bean crumbles and corn dogs.  Our favorite vegan option, hands down, is the hickory BBQ riblets.  Most of these products are found in the frozen food section of a lot of grocery stores.

 

 

field-roast-watermarkField Roast provides exact replicas of breakfast sausages, frankfurters and burgers that are worthy of any backyard BBQ.  These are usually found in the natural section of the grocery store.

 

 

Bye y’all!

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