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back roads and mason jars

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are you scared? part 4

What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?

For part 4 of this Friday mini-series, we’ll talk about what  you can eat on a vegetarian or vegan diet.  If you missed the other posts, check out these links to catch up: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

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

There is a preconceived mindset that if you are vegan, you can’t eat anything anymore.  The reality is that you can eat so much REAL food and sometimes even more food than you ate before.  Removing animal products from your diet really opens up a new world of possible foods that you might not have been willing to even try before.

Throughout this post, I will take you on a tour of my local grocery store to show you how much food you can actually it.  You won’t feel deprived and you’ll probably be amazed at all the food you can eat.  I will be showing what my small town Kroger (East coast version of Ralph’s) bread-watermarkoffers.  Let’s start at the beginning of the store.  I always stop by these little islands when I first get to the store.  The fresh bread section usually offers several options that are vegan.  I love extra crunchy bread full of seeds like sunflower, flax and pumpkin.  The next stop is this little cheese island.  I am currently still eating cheese, but I hummus-watermarkhaven’t purchased a cheese item from this island in months! However, one of my favorite foods is always here…HUMMUS.  I love all kinds of hummus but my all-time favorite is the roasted pine nut.  To take it up a notch, I squeeze half of a lemon into the container and stir it up.  I love to eat my hummus with carrots, snap peas, bell pepper strips and Mary’s Super Seed crackers.

 

Moving on through the store, I approach the two sections of the store that I spend the most kroger-watermarkamount of time and money – the Natural Section and Produce.  These two sections kind of blend into one harmonious store.  In the Natural section, I can find some baking staples that I use frequently like unsweetened coconut chips, different flours, ground flax seeds for egg replacers, vegan sour cream, vegan yogurt, vegan ice cream and vegan meat alternatives.  There is even shelf stable macaroni and cheese kroger-produce-watermarkproducts like these by Daiya.  Here is where you can find all the meal replacement bars, coconut water, almond milk, coconut milk and oat milk.  Now this may be news to some, but this section – Produce – here is ALL VEGAN!  You can have anything you want here! Clearly you can see that there are tons of options here like tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, potatoes, onion, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, watermelon, oranges, avocados, mushrooms, etc.  The options truly are endless.

Now you’ll want to pretty much avoid the outer perimeter of the store from here as it’s usually where the meat, seafood and dairy departments are.  The dairy department does have some saving grace though since they now offer cold milk alternatives and of course juice.

center-store-watermarkIn the center aisles, we purchase a lot of the same ingredients consistently.  Some of our pantry staples include various types of pasta, various flavors of spaghetti sauce (Don’t forget to check for hidden dairy!), taco shells, salsa, canned veggies, canned and dried beans, cereal, dried fruit, popcorn kernels, flour, chips, pizza crust and – how could I forget? – BREAD!

The standard frozen aisles has a lot of hidden gems that most people would miss completely.  When fresh produce is out of season, the frozen vegetable section is the next best bet since they don’t have any added salt like their canned counterparts.  Just keep an eye out for anything frozen-watermarkthat says it’s in some kind of sauce!  There are also more meat alternatives in this section as well like Boca, Gardein and Morningstar.  All of these offer vegan options for delicious additions to your dinner rotations.  Now the section that everyone loves – frozen pizza.  Growing up, Friday nights were always movie and pizza night.  We’d get delivery sometimes but usually it was a standard frozen pizza.  There are a few options here and can be difficult to find and unfortunately my store doesn’t offer any vegan options.  I usually have to go to the city to get my vegan pizza fix.  Amy’s Kitchen offers a vegan pizza with no cheese as well as a vegan cheese option sporting the Daiya label.  There are a ton of vegetarian options though!  I have never been a fan of meat on my pizza and have always purchased or ordered a pizza full of veggies like onions, pepper, mushrooms, spinach and basically whatever else I could fit on it!

The last section of the my store boasts lots of salty snacks and alcohol.  Chips are my favorite  chips-watermarkguilty treat.  There are a lot of vegan options here.  Here is a list of my favorite options: Kettle Brand Potato Chips (Backyard Barbecue and Pepperoncini), Lay’s potato chips (Barbecue and beer-watermarkDill Pickle), Lay’s Kettle Cooked potato chips (40% Less Fat Original, 40% Less Fat Sea Salt & Vinegar), Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, BBQ Pringles and Tostitos tortilla chips.  If your Friday night includes a happy hour, check out the Barnivore website to find vegan beer options.  Just type in your favorite booze to learn if it is vegan!

 

Hopefully, this gives you some confidence on where to steer your buggy on your next shopping trip.  Just remember to always check the ingredients list.  I have found that there are a lot more vegan products than just those that are labeled as such.  So many products are accidentally vegan so don’t deprive yourself and pick up those Oreos – they’re vegan!

Bye y’all!

 

movie night!

I love going to the movies, but even for two people it can cost about $50 if you want a drink, popcorn and a sweet treat.  Since we are on a budget, we tend to lean towards Netflix or Redbox for our movie nights.  Plus I get to cuddle with my dog during scary scenes while in my pajamas.

My favorite part of movie night is the fact that I get to have snacks for dinner!  Let’s start with the best part…popcorn!  If you are spoiling yourself at an actual theater, choose Regal or AMC.  You’ll thank me later.  Per the PETA website, the popcorn is cooked in canola oil so you’re safe there.  Now on to the serious business…movie theater butter.  Everyone loves it except our waistlines.  Regal’s buttery topping is actual made of soybean oil and is dairy free – so it’s VEGAN!  AMC’s topping is made mostly of coconut oil so it’s VEGAN too!  Hallelujah!

We usually watch our movies at home since we are on a budget like most people.  I prefer a low fat popcorn and it’s pretty impossible to find one that is vegan and readily available in the grocery store.  I haven’t found anything that meets the vegan requirements so I prefer to pop my own kernels with an air popper.  It’s a fairly inexpensive piece of equipment that  popcorn-watermarkdoesn’t take up too much space in your kitchen.  Since you’re at home, you can also customize it with lots of vegan toppings for pops of flavor.  Adding a tablespoon of coconut oil or melted vegan butter with a tablespoon of nutritional yeast will give you that movie butter flavor.  Some other options to add to some melted vegan butter are garlic, lemon, paprika, lemon pepper or chili powder.  The options really are endless.  If popcorn isn’t your thing, check out some salty snacks that are accidentally vegan like Doritos (only the Spicy Sweet Chili flavor), Fritos, Lay’s (classic and barbecue flavors), Wheat Thins, Pringles (original and barbecue flavors), Kettle Brand Potato Chips (several flavor options here – including barbecue, jalapeno, pepperoncini, sea salt and vinegar, maple bacon and more!) and Ruffles original flavor chips.

Now on to the sweet treats!  I have never been a big fan of candy bars or chocolate except dark cracker-jacks-watermarkchocolate with sea salt.  YUM!  I prefer to snack on gummy fruit flavored treats, but a lot of gummy products are not vegan because they contain gelatin.  However, there are a lot of snacks out there that are accidentally VEGAN that you probably already enjoy and you didn’t even know it!  Cracker Jacks are the sweet popcorn alternative that is vegan.  I actually like to mix a little with my air popped popcorn to mix it up a little bit.  Twizzlers are always a favorite in candy-watermarkmy house especially with my dog!  I love the strawberry and rainbow varieties the best.  Skittles are vegan too!  This list just keeps getting better and better!  My new favorite are the sweets and sours batch.  Sour Patch Kids have always been a staple on our movie night.  The watermelon variety is our personal favorite.  Dots are the classic movie candy for us too and one of my all time favorite candies.

 

For future reference, these are the three biggest offenders on your candy’s ingredient list – gelatin, carmine color and confectioner’s glaze.  When in doubt, just utilize your resources and search “Is it vegan?” with the name of the product in Google.  Most of the time you’ll find your answer pretty quickly.  Check out this link to get the best vegan candy to hand out for your Halloween trick or treaters.

Bye y’all!

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