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back roads and mason jars

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vegan

Welcome to 2017!

brodie-snow-2016The holidays are over.  The tree has been removed.  The lights have been packed away until next December.  As you can see by the photo, we’ve even had a decent snow storm.  Brodie loves watching and playing in the snow as long as it’s not taller than him.  The magic is over and we have to transition back to reality.

In our small little world, 2017 has already started off with a bang!  My husband and I have new jobs and we are closing on a new house.  We are absolutely thrilled with the idea of having our little slice of heaven tucked in the woods down a dirt road.  We are looking forward to sipping our coffee on the front porch in the mornings and drinking a beer at the fire pit with friends on the weekend.

chex-watermarkOver the holidays, I made one of my husband’s favorite treats – homemade Chex Mix.  His Mom made it every year and it was always a huge hit for the entire family.  It took me awhile to find some vegan Worcestershire sauce, but I finally found some!  In fact, I actually found 2 varieties!  I was very excited to find this baking staple as I also use in my favorite gravy recipe.  Follow my tweaked version of the traditional recipe for a tasty, vegan snack.

 

Homemade Vegan Chex Mix

6 Tbsp of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

6 Tbsp of vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 Tsp of seasoned saltchex-mix-watermark

2 Tsp of garlic powder

2 Tsp of onion powder

3 cups of corn Chex

3 cups of wheat Chex

3 cups of rice Chex

2 cups of dry roasted and lightly salted peanuts

1 cup of sesame sticks

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the vegan butter.  Whisk in all of the seasonings once the butter has melted.
  3. Combine all other ingredients in a large roasting pan.  I find it easiest to just purchase one of those throw away pans from the dollar store.
  4. Pour butter and seasonings all over the cereal mix and combine.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes then stir.  Repeat this process for an hour making sure to stir every 15 minutes.

Bye y’all!

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!

 

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!

august vegan cuts box review

edited-photo-2Vegan Cuts is a company based in Canada that provides a service to send you a box of randomly selected vegan snacks directly to your door once a month.  They have a monthly vegan beauty box on their website as well as providing a store to purchase your favorite vegan tested treats!  I signed up in March of 2016 and have enjoyed every bite! Visit them here to subscribe today!

August 2016 Box Review

The website states that there should be 10 or more vegan snack items in each box.  Every box I have received has included several more than 10 snacks in addition to several coupons for vegan items that were either in this box or previous boxes.  This month I received 11 snacks in my box one of which was a duplicate snack I have tried in a previous box.  Read on to see what this wannabe Vegan and Omnivore thought!


Cabo Chips Original Flavorimg_1924-b

The chips were very hearty and would be great with dips like hummus or a 7 layer dip.  I didn’t taste any lime flavor unfortunately since I really love lime tortilla chips, but the soy sauce flavor was very strong.  The package does display a vegan label so there’s no question about the ingredients.

Vegan: 6/10

Omnivore: 6/10

 

img_1930-aBanana Water Mango Flavor

We did refrigerate this sample prior to tasting.  I thought it tasted like a watered down apple juice.  I didn’t really get a banana or mango flavor from this one.  It was refreshing and high in potassium!

Vegan: 6/10

Omnivore: 5/0

 

 

Enjoy Life Sugar Crispimg_1934-a

What could be bad about a cookie?  Nothing!  There is a characteristic crunch that I think all gluten free products have, but it was delicious with lots of sugar!  The company actually goes beyond the vegan label and are free from almost all allergens!

Vegan: 7/10

Omnivore: 8/10


img_1927-aBandar Naan Chips Tikka Masala Flavor

I was very much looking forward to trying these since I love Naan bread.  The chips were spicy and very crunchy.  I much prefer the texture of these to pita chips and would be a delicious addition to my hummus rotation especially with the Garlic and Himalayan Salt flavors available on their website.

Vegan: 8/10

Omnivore: 8/10

 

Karma Cashews img_1933-a

We actually tried our first wrapped cashew this summer at our first Vegetarian Festival.  I never knew there was such a thing!  We liked the additional texture and the skin makes the cashew have a more savory flavor.

Vegan: 8/10

Omnivore: 9/10


img_1926aCassava Pops Luau BBQ Flavor

This was by the far the WINNER of the box!  We can not wait to order more of these and I was thrilled to find out they come in a variety of drool worthy flavors.  The flavor is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy heat on a lighter than air crunchy chip.  They proudly boast a vegan friendly label too.

Vegan: 10/10

Omnivore: 10/10

 

Ocean’s Halo Texas BBQ Flavorimg_1928-a

While I love nori in my veggie sushi and BBQ flavoring, I was a little scared of this one.  The Omnivore had tried a similar snack in the past and was having flashbacks as he took the tiniest bite.  While we didn’t like the seaweed itself, the Texas BBQ flavor was pretty good.  If seaweed snacks are your thing, give this one a try!

Vegan: 2/10

Omnivore: 0/10

 

img_1931-aNutiva Coconut Oil Buttery Flavor 

The oil itself has a very artificial butter color, I didn’t really think the taste screamed butter.  I think I’ll just stick with my standard coconut oil.

Vegan: 5/10

Omnivore: 3/10

 

Huck’s Follow Farm The Everything Crackerimg_1929-a

The first thing that we noticed about these crackers was the packaging.  Yes it carries the vegan label, but the packaging is completely compostable!  The Omnivore thought the crackers weren’t as crunchy as expected.  I felt they had an after taste that wasn’t appealing.  I won’t be exchanging my regular crackers anytime soon.

Vegan: 4/10

Omnivore: 5/10

 

img_1925-aSimply 7 Kale Chips

I am a chip lover and the salt ratio and crunch is perfect.  I have actually tried these in a previous box and found them very tasty but a little greasy.  The Omnivore thought the kale taste was a little strong and would be better with a dip.

Vegan: 7/10

Omnivore: 7/10

 


The Ginger People Arjuna Ginger Barimg_1932-a

We aren’t crazy about ginger so we were hesitant about a bar of ginger.  The vegan label is present and so was the ginger!  The bar was almost molasses-like in color and chew.

Vegan: 4/10

Omnivore: 3/10

Bye y’all!

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