Category Archives: Vegan

Weekly Eating – 1/28/19

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

The weekend was very relaxing. Saturday we took a reeeally long, like almost 3 hour walk to a park, then found a new way home. Turns out there’s actually a paved walking trail through some woods for part of the way.

On Sunday we went out to lunch with some friends to one of my favorite spots. We thought it was still Restaurant Week… but sadly that ended Saturday. We made the best of it and had a delicious brunch though.

Oh, and also I cut off a donated 12 inches of hair! 😲 Yes, you read that right, a full foot. I’ve been wanting to for years, and finally just said enough is enough. I sent it to Hair We Share, to give a free wig to a child who lost their hair due to chemo or other medical issues. Its been quite and adjustment so far, but I’m getting used to it.

one foot less hair

Monday:

Breakfast – scrambled quail egg breakfast burritos with mixed potatoes, vegan cheese, and hummus

potato and quail egg burrito

Lunch – Carrot dogs! A fun thing I’ve noticed on vegan blogs, where you marinate cooked carrots to taste like hot dogs. So I gave it a try, and they are actually quite delicious

vegan carrot dog

Dinner – Rice bowl loaded with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, some shredded chicken breast & hummus

veg and bean and hummus rice bowl

Tuesday:

Breakfast –smoothie

Lunch – leftover white bean soup & a big salad

salad and white bean soup

Snack – nuts & berries

Dinner – Butternut squash stuffed with black rice, lentils, carrot & onion. This is something I just kinda threw together with what I had and felt like eating, and bless the boy, he tried it. And actually liked it! Success.

stuffed butternut squash

Wednesday:

Breakfast – smoothie

Snack – green tea & a KIND bar

tea and nut bar

Lunch – out to lunch with a friend! We go out 2-3 times per month and I really love it because we don’t see each other much outside of work. So it is worth the $6-$9 per lunch.

out to lunch

Dinner –family was visiting overnight, so we took them out to Neomonde Durham! I got the half falafel pita platter with grape leaves and quinoa tabbouleh and it was amazing. Their garlic paste is to diiiiiiiiie for! And we ended up with oodles of leftovers.

Neomonde platters

Thursday:

Breakfast – smoothie

Snack – peanut butter

Lunch – leftover Neomonde & a salad

neomonde leftovers

Dinner – roasted veggies with rice & black beans

Snack – zombie corn! This is popcorn with nutritional yeast and chlorella to make it green. Looks crazy, tastes awesome, tons of health benefits.

zombie corn

Friday:

Breakfast – raisin bagel with almond butter and coffee

raisin bagel with almond butter

Lunch – the rest of the leftover roasted veggies with black beans and rice

roasted veg rice bowl

Snack –2 Thin Mint cookies! Just kidding, I ate the whole sleeve

two thin mint cookies

Dinner – Since Veganuary was over, when the boy said he wanted pepperoni pizza, I said sure why not! So we had frozen pepperoni pizzas haha

The Weekend

Well the food tour on Saturday got cancelled, so the day is mine. And thank goodness because we planned a big, ridiculous, outrageous stockup trip to Costco. Let’s just say some travel hacking is in the works, and to hit the minimum spends, we are front loading our food expenses, along with many other things.

And of course Sunday is the Super Bowl. Not that I care all the much about the game (still don’t know who is playing…) but we got invited over by our neighbors and I’m pretty stoked. It’s taken over 2 years, but we are finally making friends that live by us!

Food Total: Not even telling

The Costco trip… was crazy. Let’s just say we gave our über frugal friend serious heart palpitations!

Speaking of heart palpitations, February is Heart Health month! I’ll just say it again, straight from my Instagram:

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 1/21/19

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

The weekend was great, I led a really fun Durham food tour on Saturday. 4 of the visitors were a young man touring colleges and his family, and the others were 2 couples visiting as well (a mom and daughter, and old friends) so none had ever been to Durham before. I entertained them all night with stories and things I’ve learned.

table covered in food at Neomonde Durham

We got a crazy huge spread at Neomonde. I cannot say enough nice things about them! Their food is amazing and super fresh and tasty, it is Mediterranean/Lebanese. Best hummus I’ve had in a long time.

the Little Dipper Durham salted caramel chocolate

And I looooove that we end the tours with the chocolate dippers at The Little Dipper now. I just love their staff and atmosphere, as well as the food of course! We had the Fluffer Nutter (chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow fluff) and the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel. Mmmmm… they even gave me a to-go cup of the leftover chocolate! I had joked about it with my group, but they insisted…

carton full of quail and chicken eggs

And I am just so so thankful to finally have farm friends! To be able to visit the chickens and guinea hens, and have my own quail… the magic has definitely not faded, not yet! Every time I go out to the coop and find an egg, it is a tiny miracle.

Monday:

Breakfast – this was a holiday, so we slept in! Black coffee

Lunch – I had some small corn tortillas that needed using, so I brushed them with lime and toasted them in the oven, then loaded them up with refried pinto beans, salsa, red sauerkraut, and avocado for some tasty tostadas

tostadas

Dinner – Refrigerator soup! Basically bits of whatever veggies are about to go south, some beans, dried mushrooms, and veggie broth. With the rest of the toasted corn tortillas crushed on top.

refrigerator soup

Snack – We had a really awesome mixed berry ‘soup’ haha and a cup of turmeric golden milk for a nightcap

bowl of mixed berry nice cream

Tuesday:

Breakfast – pear and raisin oatmeal with flaxseed

pear and raisin oatmeal

Lunch – I forgot I’d ordered a lunch that got cancelled and rescheduled a while ago… so we had Panera today. Conveniently the same day Angela decided we would start tracking trash again… 🙈

boxed Panera lunch

Snack – local greenhouse strawberries and orange slices

strawberries and oranges

Dinner – mango tempeh and roasted veggies with black rice, and a garlic tahini hot sauce

mango tempeh and roasted veggies

Wednesday:

Breakfast – pear and raisin oatmeal with flaxseed (hey, I had 2 pears)

pear and raisin oatmeal

Lunch –mango tempeh and roasted veggies with black rice

mango tempeh and roasted veggies

Snack – local greenhouse strawberries and orange slices

strawberries and oranges

Dinner – giant salad of mixed greens & arugula, with seasame seeds, dried apricot, and walnuts. Dressing of tahini, lemon juice, garlic.

big salad

Snack – mixed berry smoothie with flaxseed and amla and spinach. I found it amusing, the size difference of our cup and spoon.

blender and coffee cup of smoothie

Thursday:

Breakfast – cinnamon raisin bagel with almond butter

bagel with almond butter

Lunch – I had some black beans left from the weekend batch cook, so I just added some dried onion, cumin, lime juice and salsa and used my immersion blender to make it a soup. Plus a big salad.

salad and black bean soup

Snack – faux Oreo cookies

Dinner –Instant pot baked potatoes smothered in vegan chili with vegan cheddar and fresh guac

chili baked potato

Friday:

Breakfast – big rainbow smoothie: canned beets, my last persimmon, spinach, frozen pineapple, a fresh banana, frozen mixed berries, flax seed, amla powder, coconut water

big rainbow smoothie

Lunch – the rest of the leftover mango tempeh with roasted veg

Snack – homemade garlic hummus and cucumber slices

hummus and cucumbers

Dinner – Went out with a friend for dinner on Friday for some awesome girl talk and Mexican food. This local place called Toreros has really good food and decent margaritas. I got a vegetarian burrito that was so enormous, I literally just started laughing when she put it on the table.

huge vegetarian burrito

The Weekend

This weekend we have no set plans really. Just relaxing at home and taking it easy. Doing some cooking projects, and maybe going out for the end of Triangle restaurant week.

Food Total: $164.99

Oof. Y’all.

I have totaled up January food spending, and it is not pretty.

We need to reign it in. Maybe I will ban myself from grocery shopping for a few months.

Dairy $6.48 Staples $69.77 Fruit/Veg $57.68
greek yogurt 3.99 diced tomatoes 12 6 frozen fruits 3lb x5 39.95
almond milk 2.49 canned beans 4 + 2 6pk 8.38 brussels sprouts 2.5
can pineapple 2.38 bananas 0.99
progresso 0.97 kiwi 6 1
spinach bags 2 5.98
frozen pizza 9.49 avocados 1.79
salad mixes 2 3.98
lemons 1.49

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 1/14/19

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

The weekend with the sister in law was super fun. I love having people visit so I can cook for them, and an excuse to go out too. She liked Durham, and I think she wouldn’t be too mad if she ended up moving here. 

quail eggs

The birds are laying pretty well, I’m getting 3 eggs a day on average, sometimes 4. And the soy sauce is starting to get some color to it. I try to keep it by the window with the blinds open so that it gets some sunlight, that is supposed to help it darken.

soy sauce fermenting

Monday:

Breakfast – Peaches & Cream oatmeal. 1/2 cup oats + 1/2 can of peaches, microwave 1 minute, stir. Add 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and a splash of almond milk, microwave 1 more minute. Done.

Peaches and cream oatmeal

Lunch – leftover red beans and rice, with some roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Clementine for dessert.

leftovers

Dinner – Teriyaki tempeh! One of my absolute favorite things to do with tempeh.

tempeh teriyaki

Tuesday:

Breakfast – wasn’t very hungry, so I just had an apple. Clearly, I need to remove my current nail polish…

pink lady apple

Lunch – leftover pierogi: mashed potato and applesauce. With some fresh cherries.

pierogi and cherries

Snack – hummus & cucumbers

hummus and cucumber

Dinner – Polenta and charro beans. The polenta was supposed to set in cans so I could cut them into rounds, but that didn’t work. So I just plopped it in a pan and baked it. And the charro black beans are a friends’ recipe that is super tasty.

polenta and charro beans

Wednesday:

Breakfast – accidentally skipped it…

Lunch – leftover rice and roasted veggies with falafel balls and hummus, big salad on the side

falafel balls and salad

Dinner – Simple: pasta shells with organic mushroom sauce, edamame on the side. And I found Lienenkeugel Berry, so yeah, that’s my favorite light beer and I bought some.

pasta night

Thursday:

Breakfast – Strawberry and peach oatmeal. Handful dried peaches sliced, 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water. Microwave. Add some fresh diced strawberries and chia seeds, microwave again.

strawberry chia oatmeal

Lunch – leftover beans and polenta with avocado

leftovers

Dinner – out to the Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill. I had the Veggie Burger and fries. It was really good, hearty with black beans and some subtle spice. The slaw was meh. But the honey wheat beer was darn good. 

veggie burger

Friday:

Breakfast – leftover sweet potato waffles with berry sauce. Just microwaved a cup of frozen berries with some maple syrup and blended it with an immersion blender.

sweet potato waffles

Lunch – repeat of yesterday’s leftover lunch, plus salsa

Snack – hummus and veg

hummus with veggies

Dinner – dinner party at a friend’s house. She made an amazing salad with pulled pork and a creamy cilantro sauce. I am totally willing to break veganuary for the sake of hanging out with good friends and catching up since the holidays. Plus it was damn good!

pulled pork salad

The Weekend

This weekend I have a Durham food tour on Saturday, so that should be fun. And we got invited to hang out with our neighbors on Sunday. Looking forward to getting to know them better. Since Monday is a holiday, I think that will be the around-the-house productive day. 

Food Total: $173.08

Yeah… I didn’t want to admit to this but I can’t lie to yall. I went to the store with the intention of buying 3 things, for a total of $12. But then I saw the clearance cart, with some things we use often at a ridiculous deal. When something you need that is usually $43 is marked down to $13, you buy it all!

Then I made the mistake of calling the boy to see if he needed anything while I was at the store. He has recently become hooked on the dried fruits and nuts as a snack too, so we are now basically out, and he requested more. And to balance the $50 of healthy food, we also ended up with $50 worth of beer haha

Staples $49.44 Fruit/Veg $12.11 Extras $111.53
dried apricot 15.99 bananas 1.35 stuff 52.8
dried prunes 11.49 avocado x10 5 cracklin oat bran 4.99
pitted dates 10.99 tomato sauce x4 5.76 leinenkeugel 14.99
dried cranberry 2     blue moon seasonal x2 29.98
raisins 4.49        
dried peaches x2 4.48     tax 8.77

 

Well, next week is another chance to do better.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 1/7/19

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Well I got to go mushroom foraging with my friend finally! I’ve been wanting to since last year, but finally we both had time, hunting season was over, and it had just rained, so I got to frolic in his acreage and benefit from his knowledge.

mushroom foraging with a friend

And what knowledge he has! This friend has been in the food business for decades, and foraging for many years. It was quite eye opening to have all the things pointed out, like light and tree types and ages and water and elevation. What kinds of things to look for at what time of the year.

mushroom foraging with a friend

And when we found a cache of oysters, what they should smell and look and feel like. We then compared them to two different books when we got back, just to be extra sure. If he says it won’t kill me, I’ll eat it.

homemade pierogi

I also made a big batch of pierogi because since I took them to a food swap last year people have been asking for them again. I did 3 types: mashed potato, sauerkraut, and applesauce; all the fillings were also homemade.

vegan lasagna

Oh, and totally nailed my first vegan lasagna! The boy even said the cashew-tofu “cheeze” tasted “ricotta-y” haha I followed this recipe pretty much to a T. Full disclosure: pretty sure the noodles were not vegan. But the “cheeze” and lentil “meat sauce” was delightful.

Monday:

Breakfast – smoothie

Lunch – veggie burgers of the leftover curry mixed with leftover chili and oats and flax added as binder. I love veggie burgers for using up any leftover odds and ends. Topped with green sauce, hot sauce, and cashew cream.

veggie burger with cashew cream

Dinner – I made a mushroom deuxelle stuffing type thing, but added some pickled figs because why not. And a red beans and brown rice to go with this lovely foraged topping.

red beans and rice with mushroom deuxelle

Tuesday:

Breakfast – 1 blueberry organic yogurt

Lunch – leftover sweet potato fries  with avocado and BBQ jackfruit

leftover jackfruit and sweet potato fries

Snack – blueberries and walnuts

Dinner – leftover pumpkin gnocchi, and a salad

leftover pumpkin gnocchi

This was food swap night, and we had a ball at Durty Bull Brewing.

food swap goodies

Wednesday:

Breakfast – local chicken eggs on toast with vegan pepperjack cheese. I finally found some brands that taste like actual cheese, not chalky, and melt! It’s wonderful.

vegan pepperjack and egg sandwich

Lunch – veggie burger with vegan cheddar, sauerkraut, and avocado, and a big side salad with green goddess dressing.

veggie burger and salad

Snack – blueberries and almonds

Dinner – Annie’s organic shells and white cheddar mac, with a can of white beans, nutritional yeast, almond milk, garlic salt, and turmeric for color as the sauce!

beef mac

It looked convincingly like real mac n cheese. I had a pound of pastured beef from the Butcher Box thawed, and added it for a super healthy but hamburger helper like meal.

Thursday:

Breakfast – smoothie with bananas and coconut water, citrus fruits, frozen mango and peaches

Lunch – leftover red beans and rice and a salad

Snack – dried prunes and figs, and almonds

Dinner – Corn and potato chowder in the instant pot!

corn and potato chowder

I just put 5 potatoes, quartered, a tbsp veggie stock, 1/2 cup cashews and some water in for 15 minutes. When it was done I used the immersion blender to make it smooth and creamy. Then I added 2 more potatoes, diced, a can of corn, not drained, and some spices, and put it in for another 5 minutes. BOOM. Delicious.

Friday:

Breakfast – toast with 2 quail eggs and vegan pepperjack cheese

quail eggs and vegan cheese on toast

Lunch – went out with a friend to our favorite Chinese spot. They had a new tofu curry, so of course I had to try it! It was pretty good, though the tofu was a bit overcooked and chewy, the sauce was nice and had a slow burn to it. Great with the fried rice.

tofu curry

Snack – a banana in the morning, and chocolate cherry pecan mix on the way home! I just mixed a tbsp pecans, a tbsp dried cherries, and a tbsp chocolate chips in a small container.

chocolate cherry pecan trail mix

Dinner – sister in law is in town, and she is vegetarian. We took her out to Bull City Burger and Brewery, because I heard they have the Impossible Burger and I am dying to try it!

bcbb green monster

But, turns out, they got rid of it  🙁  Apparently, once you dig into the details of how it is made, it actually takes a lot more resources to make and transport that patty than they take to obtain locally raised pastured NC cows for their burgers and process them in-house. Which is actually a decision I can get behind. Hence me having the Green Monster instead.

The Weekend

While sis-in-law is in town, we are going to take her around Duke’s campus and downtown Durham, to show her all the things she might do and places she might live if she ends up being matched here. Since I am a tour guide on the side, this is right up my alley! And Durham has SO much to offer, it’s not hard to persuade people that living here is pretty cool.

Oh, and this weekend is Step 2 of my grand food experiment this year: home fermented soy sauce! I think this is a thing most people don’t want to know how it’s made… but I find it fascinating.

soy bean mold patties in brine

Basically you create a dough from cooked soy beans and flour. Then cut it into rounds, and let it grow mold, on purpose. After 12-14 days, you put the rounds into a brine, which only lets the right guys keep growing (hopefully). Between 6 months and 2 years later, you have a salty, complex and flavorful sauce!

 

Food Total: $129 + 29.98 + 15.66 + 41.17 = $215.81

Yikes.

That hurts a bit, totaling it all up. So, first there was the Butcher Box that I forgot to unsubscribe from, so another box came. The promo box that included 2 free pastured chickens was totally worth it, but this one not so much.

But, the deal they are running now includes the normal box, plus $25 for 2 pounds of Alaskan wild caught salmon. If you use my affiliate link –> http://fbuy.me/lwpAj <– and sign up, we both get 2 pounds of wild salmon free! I would keep going for another box for that!

Second, the Produce Box, which this week included broccoli, winter strawberries, pears, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, and potatoes. And then a stop by the Co-op with sister-in-law just because she was curious and it turned into some bulk stock up shopping. Finally a quick trip to the regular grocery store because we were out of tissues, yogurt for the boy, and almond milk.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

 

 

Weekly Eating – New Year 2019

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, Happy New Year!

Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I know we did, even if the driving sucks it is always worth it to see family.

skyline in virginia

We also went to Niagara Falls, which was the boy’s first time seeing them. He thought they were “pretty cool”.   🙂

Niagara Falls

It was amazing being off Monday and Tuesday, and a rough reality waking up at 6am again come Wednesday. But at least it was a short week! Back to the usual grind come next Monday.

Monday:

Breakfast – I honestly don’t remember… we probably just slept in since we had driven home from Ohio the day prior!

Lunch – Leftovers from Christmas week. We came home with like 4 different meals  🙂  Several were not vegan, but I do not waste food if at all possible, so we ate them up this week.

Dinner – mom sent us home with a bag full of leftover turkey and gravy, so I added frozen mixed veggies and flour, topped it all with biscuits, and called it a pot pie

leftover Christmas turkey pot pie

We watched Bird Box on Netflix and drank fizzy wine for the New Year, and went to bed like the old folks that we are haha

Tuesday:

Breakfast – big smoothie of frozen mixed berries, amla powder, flax seed, and almond milk

Lunch – cooked a batch of sorghum and made a “everything in the fridge” lentil curry to go with it in the instant pot. And I thawed the leftover injera from Dec to make it more fun to eat.

sorghum curry

Snack – banana bread a friend gave us for Christmas

Dinner – I made a batch of saffron rice and a crazy lazy version of Hoppin John with black eyed peas for the New Year. No greens though, so this year might be disastrous for our finances haha

new years hoppin john

Wednesday:

Breakfast – big smoothie of frozen mixed berries, amla powder, flax seed, and almond milk

Lunch – leftover half of a tofu sofritas burrito from Chipotle on the drive home

Snack – hummus & cucumber slices

hummus and cucumber

Dinner – we tried jackfruit for the first time. The internet says it is a vegan superfood, and they are right! It doesn’t have much of a taste on its own, but it shreds just like chicken or pork, and cooks into whatever you want.

canned jackfruit

I made some rolls to put it on, and added some shredded carrots and cooked beans for bulk, and we had bbq sandwiches with baked sweet potato fries.

jackfruit bbq sandwich

Thursday:

Breakfast – banana bread from a friend & coffee

banana bread

Lunch – leftover mushroom soup from Christmas with a big salad of spring mix, blueberries, dried apricots, and walnuts.

soup and salad

Y’all this mushroom soup recipe has been in my family for generations, and we all wait all year for it. Is it vegan? Hell naw. Cause heavy cream and butter are lyfe in Ohio. But am I gonna let it go to waste? Hell. to. the. no.

Dinner – Pumpkin gnocchi with pumpkin I froze earlier, and thawed pesto, topped with cashew cream and hot sauce

pumpkin gnocchi with pesto and cashew cream

Friday:

Breakfast – big smoothie of frozen mixed berries, amla powder, flax seed, and coconut water

Lunch – a big salad, and leftover eggplant parm with frozen mixed broccoli and cauliflower

eggplant parm and veggies

Snack – Hummus & cut up cucumber

Dinner – I forgot to add one exception to my Veganuary rules… sushi. Sushi, wine, and popcorn are my kryptonite. So when a friend invited us to an over-due AYCE sushi night, I wasn’t about to say “no, put a pin in that until February please”. I had the most plates. 😀

The Weekend

The weekend will include cleaning the house from the tornado it has become. We need to put away Christmas things and generally tidy up the clutter. Mari Kondo has a show on Netflix now, so that’s hopefully gonna motivate me to keep purging clutter. I officially accepted the Dragons on Fire’s challenge to de-clutter and get rid of 1000 items this year!

shoes

I’m off to a strong start, decluttering 11 items starting with hats and gloves on January 1st. Then I tackled shoes, purging a total of 15 pairs and keeping another 28 pairs. Pretty sure the boy has maybe 5… (2 tennis, 1 formal, 1 hiking/snow, 1 slippers).

It’s not fair, for girls we have so many different styles compared to dudes, and need all the styles in different colors too! (Flats, flip flops, running shoes, ankle boots, tall boots, heels, formal or casual, black and brown…) But it’s a start.

quail

I’m also oh so happy to have my covey back! I missed these girls over break, and the pure jolt of joy when I find an egg. They had a great time on my friend’s farm, though one met a tragic end… the flock also accidentally expanded. Someone left a box with several quail, and the two groups were combined.

The person watching them kept a few, but I ended up coming home with 11 rather than 9, of which 9 or 10 are girls! So I’m not mad, that means oodles of eggs come spring time.

Food Total: $66.95

No produce box, deliveries resume next week. I also forgot to cancel the Butcher Box subscription, so that charge will show up next week, oopsie… At least their meat ‘meets’ my strict criteria! So the boy will get one treat night next week.

By the way, the deal they are running now is $25 for Alaskan wild salmon. If you use my affiliate link –> http://fbuy.me/lwpAj <– and sign up, we both get 2 pounds of wild salmon free! I would keep going for another box for that!

Meats $7.08 Dairy $7.06 Staples $24.17 Fruit/Veg $25.55
vegan burgers x2 kinds 7.08 flavored Greek 1.58 org salsa mild med 3.78 org avocados 4 x3 10.47
plain Greek yogurt 32oz 3.49 coconut water can x2 1.96 frozen berries x2 3.84
organic hummus 1.99 1.99 coconut water box x2 4.98 sweet potatoes x2 bags 3.38
hot sauce 1.49 bananas 11 1.39
organic seed bread x2 7.98 blueberries 1.99
wraps x2 3.98 big box spring mix 3.49
seedless cucumber 0.99

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

 

 

Veganuary: What is it, should I try it?

 

So, if you recall, one of my main health goals for 2019 is to do a Veganuary: one month of eating vegan (with a few caveats). This will  definitely also help kickstart my goal to follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen checklist of healthy foods you should eat every day.

Dr McGregor Daily Dozen

I’ll be drawing inspiration from their website’s many free monthly vegan meal plans, and will try to use their free downloadable template too. (But I’ll probably end up just writing in meals on the whiteboard like I usually do).

Curious to know more? Read on…

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary actually started in 2014 in the UK as a nonprofit. It has since grown by leaps and bounds every year, with more than 250,000 people in 193 countries signing up for 2019.

From their own site: “Veganuary is dedicated to changing public attitudes, while providing all the information and practical support required to make the transition to veganism as easy and enjoyable as possible.”

So, before you start rolling your eyes and saying “I’d DIE without cheese!”, just realize it doesn’t mean you have to never eat those things you love ever again.

Just try one day, one week, without it.

Try ONE plant-based meat or cheese alternative. Try one meatless meal, there are plenty out there. I bet you eat some already without realizing it. Veggie lasagna, a million kinds of soups, salads, curries, tacos, pasta, all kinds of ethnic foods like Ethiopian and dal.

I bet you can make it one week. And then keep going, for one month.

Why should I try vegan for a month?

There are a ton of different reasons why people try or choose a vegetarian or vegan diet. If any of the below things are of concern to you, then give it a go.

Health -it is no secret by now that vegetarian and vegan diets are crazy good for your heart and your health and lowering your cancer risk. I don’t want to belabour the point too much, but whole grains, legumes, and veggies are f*@%ing good for you. Eat them.

Nutrition – today’s industrial, monocropped, chemicalized, carbohydrate-and-corn based “foods” are basically leading to a double pronged epidemic of obesity and malnutrition. Think about how crazy and confusing that is. Meanwhile, plants are jam-packed with the fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body is so desperately craving, which it uses to maintain blood pressure, rebuild cell walls and proteins, and keep your guts working normally.

Environment – if you think about what it takes to raise an animal to slaughter weight, you realize all the resources that go into it. Tons of food, perhaps literally, that had to be watered and fertilized and processed and trucked to where the animals live. Water, for them. Probably some amount of antibiotics or medications. Several months or possibly years of feed and care.

Then they must be transported to wherever they will be processed, be processed so they use electricity and manpower and machinery, then be packaged up and transported to the store, and finally be transported to your home. So each 1 pound of pork or chicken or beef costs gallons of water and oil and feed. Meanwhile, one pound of raw barley, oats, tomato, beans, or zucchini also takes water and oil, but far far less. A diet heavier in plant products than animal products is easier on the planet with very few exceptions.

Money – any diet can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, depending on how much self control you have at the grocery store and how good your home cooking skills are. Unfortunately, due to demand, it is ususally cheaper to prepare convenience foods with animals, like a $12 salad versus a $8 burger. But it is always cheaper to cook at home, and better for you too. Want to know more about just how you could save nearly $200 a year by trying vegetarian? Read here, here, here, here, and here.

Animals – the industrial scale food production system is horrific. Just watch any documentary like Forks Over Knives, Food Inc, etc. or do some basic internet search. Beaks and teeth and tails cut off, animals crammed into living spaces just inches larger than they are, constant streams of antibiotics and growth hormones just to keep them alive and increase profit per pound, substandard and contaminated feed. Opt out of the industrial system at the very least, and if you eat animals, choose ones that were raised the way nature intended, out in the open on fields of grasses and bugs. Find a Farmers Market near you, there will definitely be people there you can ask.

tomatoes cucumbers and peppers

How do you Veganuary?

One of the New Years’ Goals this year is for the boy and I to do a one month Veganuary. I foresee this not being too tough a challenge, as we already eat a large volume and variety of plant based foods. This will be harder on the boy, without turkey burritos, but I will try my darnedest to make him enjoy it with creative cooking!

We do have some specific caveats to our Veganuary, which is more like a “healthy-foods-only-anuary”, but that’s not as catchy.

  • Animal foods we raise are okay. My quail eggs specifically.
  • Animal foods that meet very strict criteria are okay: basically free range and/or mostly pastured, no added hormones or antibiotics or other non-medically-required chemicals. I.e. the dozen free range chicken eggs a friend gave to us for Christmas.
  • No wasted food. If someone gives us a consumable gift, that can’t be preserved, we will eat it. Like a delicious banana bread loaf.
  • The boy will keep using plain Greek yogurt on burritos and such. Because I don’t want this month to be torture.
  • I will eat honey, dates, and things made with yeast. Because that definition of vegan is too strict for me. I’m in it for the health of it.

And that’s pretty much it! If it is made from or literally is a plant, we will eat it. We are trying to check all the boxes on the Daily Dozen by starting with a smoothie containing frozen berries, flax, and amla powder, with occasional banana or other fruit or almond milk or chia seeds tossed in. Lunch and dinner will be leftovers or a rotation of meals I know we like and new ones we will try together.

Is it too late to start?

No way! Just because it is no longer January 1, you can still start wherever you are.

You don’t even have to commit to a full month if you don’t want to.

Try vegan for one week maybe. Or go all in and do 6 months, it is up to you and your family. But I highly recommend giving it a shot, at least once. Worst case you end up finding new foods you might not have known about before.

Best case?

You feel better than you have in years, you get off all long-term medications, your skin clears up and is radiant, your hair and nails are shiny and strong, and you are as regular as a clock.

What do you have to lose?

 

 

What do you say? Would you try eating more plants?

Weekly Eating – 8/20/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Over the weekend, I spent some time pulling out diseased squash vines and clearing a corner of the garden. Since there is now space, I also started a big batch of fall seeds!

budget epicurean fall planting seedlings

My library is amazing and has a free seed service, where you can take home up to 4 kinds a few times a year. You can also save seeds and bring them in to share with your fellow Durhamites. I started the 4 from the library and a few from home too, so hopefully I will have beets, turnips, kale, collards, swiss chard, and/or onions in a few weeks.

 

Monday:

Breakfast – smoothie with peaches, bananas, frozen blueberries and flax & amla powder

Lunch – leftover veggie burger + portobello wrapped up in a whole grain wrap with roasted red pepper hummus and sliced veggies

Dinner – This AMAZING egg roll in a bowl from Don’t Waste the Crumbs: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2018/03/egg-roll-bowl/

budget epicurean egg roll in a bowl

Tuesday:

Breakfast – I diced up a potato, some mini peppers, grape tomatoes, and sweet potato leaves and cooked them in a frying pan with a lid on for about 15 minutes for a delicious and filling breakfast hash.

budget epicurean breakfast hash

Lunch – Well… I brought leftover egg roll in a bowl. But I forgot that Tuesday is now my busiest day, and I rarely am at my desk between 10 and 2 anymore. So I was starving, and couldn’t wait long enough, and succumbed to Starbucks (the closest semi-healthy option).

budget epicurean emergency starbucks lunch

I felt so much guilt for the $8.50 spent, as well as the plastic container. I’m hoping this makes me remember next week to pack a lunch that can be portable at room temp. I intend to re-use the package at least a few times.

Snack – hummus and veggies

Dinner – I diced up oodles of veggies: squash, zucchini, bell peppers, white corn, and red onion, and mixed it with 1 cup of quinoa and 1 cup of water. Then I baked it at 350 for about an hour, stirring once. The result was an amazing summer one pan dinner.

budget epicurean quinoa summer veggie casserole

I also had another big batch of leftover old bread slices and ends, so while the oven was on anyways I roasted the bread too, and then pulsed it in my food processor to make bread crumbs. Waste not want not right?

Wednesday:

Breakfast – homemade bread with peanut butter and fruit

budget epicurean toast and fruit

Lunch – leftover egg roll in a bowl with rice. I also had my reuseable water cup with straw, real fork from home, and used a hankie as a napkin. Was pretty pleased with myself.

budget epicurean leftovers waste free lunch

Snack – peaches, apples, and pear slices

Dinner – Erin’s amazing Turkish red lentil stew! I thought I over-did it on the cinnamon, as it smelled pretty strong, but the flavor was great!

budget epicurean red lentil soup

Then that night I had a great food debate on Twitter, which all started with popcorn. Of course I ended up making a big bowl.

budget epicurean stovetop popcorn

Thursday:

Breakfast – my tropical granola with almond milk

budget epicurean granola and milk

Lunch – leftover summer veggies and quinoa casserole and a big green salad

Dinner – Thursday night $3 co-op dinner! Some friends and I are making a tradition of it. Can you tell which is the beef hot dog and which is the vegan one? In my opinion they tasted pretty much the same!

budget epicurean co-op dinner hot dogs

We also went to one of the final home games of the Durham Bulls season, and a great time was had by all. Even though we got shut down pretty hard… at least the weather was GORGEOUS.

Friday:

Breakfast – I chopped up a potato, a handful of green beans, some tiny peppers, and an heirloom tomato and tossed it all in a pan with 1/2 cup lentils and 1 cup water. I let that simmer for 30 minutes while I made coffee and fed the dogs and got dressed, and then enjoyed my hot and tasty breakfast.

budget epicurean lentils for breakfast

Yes, lentils for breakfast. Try it sometime, you might be surprised.

Lunch – leftover African peanut stew that I made over the weekend with a giant rainbow of free produce from a friends’ parents.

budgetepicurean african stew

Snack – hummus & veggies

Dinner – leftover eggroll in a bowl

 

The Weekend

This will be a half and half weekend. Saturday is chillax and no stress day, I can be productive or choose not to be. And Sunday I am hosting another tea party!

 

Food Total: $55.49 + 74.05 = $129.54

This week’s delivery box price was a bit steeper than usual because in addition to my usual box I also invested in 10 pounds of ‘seconds’; peaches that were slightly bruised or discolored, to process into frozen, canned, and jam.

budget epicurean produce box

And then I spent a hefty sum at the co-op on Thursday, for a few reasons. One, we are nearly out of maple syrup. And I learned that real maple syrup is HELLA expensive. Like $20 a bottle. But. HFCS is no longer allowed in the house, and therefore this is the only option. Hopefully this will last a good long time.

Two, I did not realize spirulina is FORTY TWO DOLLARS PER POUND. Yeah I got like an ounce, but that cost near $20. Ugh. But it was already in my own glass jar and weighed and I wasn’t about to go put it back on the shelf… so I sucked it up. Better make some damn good smoothies is all I’m saying…

I also caved when I saw this amazing steel straw and straw cleaning brush on sale this week. It was cheaper here than on Amazon, plus now there’s no shipping or packaging, and my co-op benefits a little. I have tons of heavy duty straws but no cleaners, so this is great. Now the ones that are questionable from dried on smoothie gunk can be squeaky clean again!

budget epicurean steel straw

 

Lessons Learned

Bulk, package-free shopping is addictive! I had so much fun last time that I found myself getting some things that were not on my list, just because I had already tare-d jars just waiting to be filled. Hoarding habits die hard folks.

Also, always get wide-mouth if you have the choice. SO much easier to fill. And finally, almonds are heavy and come out really fast! I accidentally overflowed my jar, and had to pull out and extra container to put the handful that spilled into. Because I ain’t wasting $10/lb almonds y’all.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

 

 

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

 

Minestrone soup is one of my favorite soups out there. Not only is it packed with veggies, it is also super easy to adapt to whatever odds and ends you have in your refrigerator, and is very filling.

Many soups leave you ravenous a few hours later, but with all the lovely fiber and nutrients from the veggies, and extra staying power from beans and noodles, this hot and hearty soup keeps your tummy from growling all day long.

You can thicken it up easily by pureeing half the beans, or using mashed potatoes rather than chunks of potatoes. Or you can thin it out by doubling up on the stock, adding extra water before serving, or adding extra tomato juice.

I’ve written before how easy it is to make minestrone in ten minutes, but sometimes you want deeper flavors. That is where the slow cooker comes in.

slow cooker minestrone soup

The slow cooker is a great option because you can just “dump and go”, then come home to a delicious smelling house and a hot and ready meal. It’s also great because, unlike a boiling pot on the stove, you don’t need to constantly watch and stir. The soup won’t burn or stick to the bottom, and there’s no risk of boiling over.

And a programmable slow cooker is the best option yet, that way there is no risk of over-cooking it either! But don’t worry, if you don’t have the kind with a timer it will still work just fine.

Leave it on longer, on low rather than high, for the lowest risk of burning or over cooking. You can add the pasta noodles at the beginning, if you want a truly one-step meal and don’t mind soft pasta. If you want “al dente” slightly harder pasta, it’s best to boil it separately and add just before serving.

slow cooker minestrone soup

Ingredients:

  • ~1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen green beans
  • ~1.5 cups cooked pinto beans (or any bean you prefer)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, small dice
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 can tomatoes (whole, stewed, diced, etc)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen spinach
  • Either: 1 cup mashed potatoes or 2-3 small potatoes, diced
  • 4 cups broth, stock, or water
  • 1/2 pound pasta noodles, any shape you like

slow cooker minestrone soup

Step 1: Dice up your veggies, by hand or in a food processor.

slow cooker minestrone soup

Step 2: In slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except noodles, if you are cooking them just before serving). Cook on low 6-10 hours, or on high 3-4 hours.

slow cooker minestrone soup

Step 3: When you’re ready for dinner, just boil your pasta according to the directions. I prefer shapes, such as elbow macaroni, shells, or bowties, but any noodle works. Drain, mix in the noodles, and serve!

soup, salad, and smoothie

This soup is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but it also pairs well with salads, or a nice thick garlic bread for dipping. It is super healthy, vegetarian but meat eaters will also love it, and quite cheap! Especially if you have a garden to get some of the vegetables.

You can easily change it up, for example if you hate green beans but have some fresh zucchini, go right ahead and swap. Bell peppers go great here, and you can use fresh diced tomato or canned or even juice. Or forget the tomato altogether and just use broth, you’re in charge!

BE’s Black Bean Burgers

 

A new favorite one pan dinner — asparagus and black bean burgers!

🍔 Black beans are SUPER healthy; they have tons of fiber and protein to fill you up, folate, potassium, and vitamin B6, and eating lots of legumes 🥜 can decrease your cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lower your risk of heart disease 💓 and cancer! Plus this burger is damn delicious. I call that a win-win.

BE Black Bean Burger

Burger recipe:

  • 1 can black beans drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (can use lentils or mushrooms instead)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup breadcrumbs (can use whole oats here instead)
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil (or vegetable or coconut)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs – parsley, cilantro, chives
  • Spices to taste – I used dried onion, garlic salt, cayenne, & ~2 tbsp McCormick steak spice mix

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse. Add a bit more breadcrumbs for drier texture, olive oil a few drops at a time to make it more moist.

Step 2: Shape into 4 large patties (they will not shrink when cooked as meat patties do) and place on oven safe pan with your choice of veggies drizzled with olive oil. Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, zucchini, beets, green beans, all good choices.

BE Black Bean Burger

Step 3: Roast at 350 , covered in foil, for 20 minutes. Uncover and roast another 20 minutes. Flip patties and roast a final 5-10 minutes, until veggies are tender. Patties should be slightly crispy on the outside.

Top as desired. I suggest fresh lettuce & tomato, whole grain mustard, and purple sauerkraut!

BE Black Bean Burger

Simple Chickpea Salad

 

Do you struggle with what to bring for lunch to work, or to eat at home, or to send with the kiddos?

Trying to incorporate more healthy food into your diet, like plant based recipes and legumes?

Need a new flavor combo after years of tuna salad sandwiches and chicken salad sandwiches?

Tired of spending $6 or more on lunch every day?

Have I got the solution for you!

Meet the magical, miracle, chickpea salad.

I cannot believe I went 3 decades without knowing what chickpea salad is, or ever eating it! This stuff is so delicious! It is:

  • salty
  • crunchy
  • creamy but with a bit of texture
  • filling – no more 3pm tummy grumbles
  • super simple to make
  • cheap af
  • ridiculously healthy for you
  • everything I’m looking for in a brown bag lunch

The cheapest option is to buy dried chickpeas and cook them yourself. Just put 1/2 pound in a bowl and cover with water. (LOTS of water, these babies plump up like nobody’s business).

After 6-8-12 hours, drain and either simmer on the stove for 4 hours or so, or put in a crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.

That’s it! Then you can store them in the fridge or freezer for whatever and whenever.

You can also totally use cans, no judgment here. Not everyone has time for that, or remembers to soak the night before, or has space on the counter or a crock pot in your house. Just drain and rinse.

However you do it, just get yourself about a cup of chickpeas, and get ready to make some magic happen.

chickpea salad sandwich ingredients

This simple base recipe makes enough for 2 good sized sandwiches or wraps, but I recommend double or tripling! And below I’ll add some ideas on how to further customize it to whatever flavor combo you’re feeling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup cooked chickpeas, or 1/2 can drained
  • 1 small-medium pickle, chopped (or 1 tbsp relish)
  • 1/4 red onion, diced small
  • 1 tbsp mustard of your choice
  • Optional: 1 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • Optional: Green onion or celery, diced

Step 1: Soak your beans ~8 hours and cook until soft, or open and drain the can. Put about 1 heaping cup in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. You want it mostly crushed but with some small pieces left for texture.

chickpea salad mixing

Step 2: Add your other fillings, and mix well.

Layer on bread, in a wrap, or on top of a mixed greens salad. Put inside or on top of biscuit mix and make puffs. I haven’t tried it yet with pasta to see if it can sub as tuna noodle salad, but if you have please report back!

 

If you want it extra salty:

  • Add 1 tbsp capers
  • Layer on seaweed (nori) sheets between the salad and the bread
  • Sprinkle with sea salt or garlic salt
  • Add a tbsp powdered kelp

If you want it extra crunchy:

  • Add a few tbsp chopped cucumber
  • Add a few tbsp sliced radish
  • Add a few tbsp diced celery ribs
  • Sprinkle in some slivered almonds or walnuts

If you want it to be creamier:

  • Add 1-2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • Add 1-2 tbsp thick coconut milk cream (the top part when you open a can of cold coconut milk)
  • Add 1-2 tbsp cashew cream

If you want it a little bit spicy:

  • Add chopped jalapeno or green chilies
  • Drizzle on a tsp or 2 of hot sauce
  • Sprinkle a little cayenne on top
  • Add a tbsp horseradish or wasabi