Plant-Based Plan: Week 3- 5-Bean Chili (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

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Baby, it’s COLD outside! It’s shaping up to be a winter for the record books, and everyone and their mother is thinking of how they would trade ANYTHING to be on a beach right now working on their suntan (with plenty of SPF of course!). While that sounds like a pretty tempting aspiration, it’s days like today that make me happy to live in the midwest. It may be -12 degrees out, and my car battery may have froze, leaving me stranded for the time being, but I’m in my bed under 4 or 5 blankets, cuddling with my kitten and savoring a big bowl of steel-cut oats and blueberries while I write to you all. Hello SNOW DAY! If I lived in Hawaii or Mexico or LA, the ever-elusive-but-joyfully-decadent-when-it-happens snow day would be non-existent. I don’t think I could give days like this up! How have you been spending your snow days? (assuming of course that you’re not essential emergency staff and assuming you live in the CLE like I do!)

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I planned my food out again this week. Three weeks in a row; I think this is becoming a habit and I’m not upset about it! Actually, I’m really proud of myself. I’ve been sticking to my budget (5$ over this week on groceries but that’s not bad!) and I’ve been prepping all my meals from scratch! It’s good to praise yourself and give yourself credit when it’s due, and I am really happy with how well I have been following through with this plan.
Last semester, I lived of Clif Bars and pita bread from the BRB cafe (@ CWRU). Three weeks into this semester, I haven’t had to buy a thing from the cafe! Unless coffee counts. You all know I’m very anti-caffeine, but between 40+ hours at work and 30+ hours spent on campus, Starbucks and I have been getting pretty chummy.

Okay, let’s get to the FOOD! I’ve been trying to come up with new and creative “pre-packaged” meals that aren’t REALLY pre-packaged. Sorry, no juice this week. It just wasn’t in my budget, and though the old Kate would have just gone over her budget and rationalized it, Present Kate is trying to be better than that! Next week there will be some yummy juice recipes though, I promise!

Sunday after work, I ran up to Giant Eagle (I wish Earth Fare had FuelPerks) and did my grocery shop for the week. When I got out of my car though, a bitter gust of wind ripped my list from my hands! I had to do the whole shop from memory, so that may have contributed to being a few dollars over budget. I did all my food prep Sunday night and thought of my friend @allisoninwellnessland since she always has her “Sunday Food Prep” posts! Two big recipes: I made a big bowl of salsa chickpea salad to make lettuce wraps with, and at the same time I had a huge pot of chili simmering (hot chili and a little nutritional yeast is sounding really delicious right now!). The chili fit perfectly into 5 small mason jars and perfectly encompassed my “pre-packaged” food goal! Still trying to figure out how to pack the lettuce wraps, but since today’s a snow day, I get to enjoy them from home and their logistics have become a non-issue today.

Okay. You want this chili recipe? You ready to warm your bones? I know I am! use whatever beans you have on hand. This is a loose recipe, so add in or omit as you see fit! Go where the flow takes you!

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Obviously Bran-approved! Cats love nutritional yeast!

5-Bean Chili (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • ½ tbsp chili powder
  • 1 cup water
  • cayenne pepper to taste (if you like your chili to have a little kick!)

If you’ve got a slow cooker/crock pot, then 1) just throw everything in there on low for 4 hours and 2) when can I borrow it? For everyone else out there using their stove, start by sauteing the vegetables and spices. Add in everything else after about 7 or 8 minutes and cook on low-medium for about an hour. Stir occasionally.
I know some people like corn, but I am not one of those people. Feel free to add in anywhere from ½ to 1 cup of corn if that’s something you’re thinking needs to be a part of your chili-devouring experience. Also, if you are a non-dairy consumer like I am, feel free to throw some Daiya cheddar shreds on top, or be like me and dump a pound of nutritional yeast into the bowl! I love nutritional yeast. So much. I could talk about it all day every day! some chives would be good in there too. When pulling out my individual jar to reheat, I filled the empty mason jar about a third of the way full with water and added it to the chili since it was a little thick. This also helped me get all the stuff stuck to the sides of the jar into the bowl!

Until next time, be healthy, be happy, and happy juicing!

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Day 2- Clean Eating Cleanse: Banana Shake + Green Juice

Let’s hear it for Day 2 of the Clean Eating Cleanse!  Things are going great!  I started the day off right with a mug of hot lemon water and a solid half hour of yoga.  I swear, that combo is better than coffee.  It never fails to leave me energized, invigorated, and ready to get the day started! Breakfast was out of this world.  I made a banana-oat smoothie, one of my go-to recipes.  Only 3 ingredients!

bananaoatshake

  • 3 bananas, sliced & frozen
  • ¾ cup water (or almond milk if you prefer)
  • ½ cup oats

Blend and enjoy!

What I love about this breakfast recipe is that it is so simple, and yet so satisfying!  It’s become a favorite of mine, and has become very popular with friends and other followers I have recommended it to.  Packed with protein and carbohydrates, this ice cream-like concoction seems more like dessert than a satisfying breakfast.  Seeing as I work in a job which requires a decent amount of physical labor, you can believe me when I tell you that it filled me up and carried me through my morning’s work demands.

Sticking with my goal to substitute one meal per day with a fresh juice, I brought a tasty green juice to work with me as my lunch.  I love not having to pack a lunch in the mornings, and instead just throw a jar of juice into my bag and know I’m good to go!  I like to eat lunch in a lounge with free-roaming cats meandering around, and little Emma found her way over to me and my juice.  I guess even cats love my juicing!

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Fresh vegetable juice is so full of micronutrients, I can almost feel the rush of nutrition as my body absorbs it!  Kale is, well, a superfood, and I can say I really do feel amazing after eating it or juicing it!

Dinner was a water-based vegetable soup full of carrots, onions, turnips, garlic, celery, and lentils.  SO deliciously filling, and with fresh rosemary and thyme from my herb garden, my apartment smelled AMAZING.  Yeah, you’re welcome neighbors!

Once I let this dinner digest a bit, it’ll be back to the kitchen to prep veggies for tomorrow’s meals.  I can’t wait to share more great juicing and recipe finds with you all! Tomorrow may be a bit more of a struggle since I won’t have work to occupy me; I’ll probably be eyeing the Earth Balance and Vegenaise like no other in my fridge.  I can do this, though!  Honestly, I’m really excited for another banana breakfast shake tomorrow morning!

 

Stay clean, stay healthy!  Happy juicing!

 

 

Clean Eating Cleanse + My First Turnip!

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Where has the summer gone?  It’s already August and that means school, sweaters, and squash season are all right around the corner!  I can’t wait.  Autumn is my favorite time of year, and pumpkins are sort of a small obsession of mine. Pumpkin pies, roasted pumpkin seeds, and, of course, pumpkin smoothies! Yummm.  Okay, my mouth is watering now.  Point is, summer will be drawing to a close, and to quote one of my favorite books, “Winter is coming.”  Fasting and cleanses are pretty much non-existent in the winter thanks to a busy school schedule and cold weather, not to mention the fact that many of the yummy foods I eat during cleanses like cantaloupe, berries, and bell peppers won’t be in season.  Sad face.  Even though summer technically draws to a close in mid-September, us students must wave goodbye early, at the end of August, when classes begin and life gets put on hold until December.  So while I’m definitely excited for my kitchen to transition with the seasons, I’ll be gearing up for another cleanse starting next week in order to get my body one final reboot before my sweater-wearing, snow boot-loving, hibernation instincts take over!

One part of winter I won't be looking forward to is not being able to sit out on the river and enjoy my morning bagel!

One part of winter I won’t be looking forward to is not being able to sit out on the river and enjoy my morning bagel!

I’m still in the process of piecing together the “rules” for this Clean Eating Cleanse, partly because I think rules are silly.  For those that know me, I’m not a believer in mass-produced diet schemes, rather finding healthy alternatives that work for my lifestyle in particular.  That’s what I encourage everyone to do.  I obviously love my juice, but it’s not like I tell my followers “You HAVE to substitute 2 meals a day with juice” or “If you don’t do a juice fast for 10 whole days, you’ll never be healthy.”  That’s just ridiculous!  In my book, every health-conscious decision you make, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction!  Do you make fresh juice every day? Every couple weeks? Once a month?  Good for you!  I won’t lie, some nights I’m just too exhausted after working 10 or 11 hours to make a home cooked meal, and I’ll admit that I DO reach up to the tippy top shelf of my pantry for the Ramen noodles I tried to hide from myself.  It happens.  Health isn’t about perfection, people; it’s about progress.  Baby steps in the right direction eventually turn into miles and miles in the right direction! That all being said, I would like this cleanse to be yet another stepping stone in the right direction.

So what’s the general idea behind this Clean Eating Cleanse I’m about to embark on?  It’s exactly what it sounds like: 10 days of eating nothing but whole, fresh, unprocessed foods.  This means no Ramen (my heart is breaking a little).  This means no Franks Red Hot (I put that s*** on everything!).  This means no Oreos or tortilla chips or Earth Balance.  For a week and a half, I want to attempt a few raw recipes, as well as focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and seeds exclusively.  Oh, and juice of course!  Substituting one meal for a green juice every day is good practice to begin with, so I definitely want to stick to that whilst on this cleanse!  It took me 6 months to fully transition to veganism, and though I’ve been a full-fledged veganista for 5 months and 16 days, I’ve still only scratched the surface when it comes to finding new foods.  Cleanses and special goals like this help expand my world, and I’ve never been one to stand stationary for too long; I love trying and experiencing new things, no matter what realm of life they’re in!

Take tonight for example.  Tonight, I had my first turnip.  Did you know turnips are little white radish-looking things?  I had no idea (says the girl who learned how to cook rice at 22)!  I made broccoli soup for dinner using the recipe my mother has sworn by since before I was born, and threw in some cubed turnips.  I don’t know anyone else’s take on cooked turnips, especially in soups, but in my opinion they almost had a meaty texture, and added some much-appreciated bulk.  I know most people are probably used to the traditional, cream-based, broccoli-cheese soup, but my mother always made us a water-based broccoli soup growing up, and that is what I made tonight. Ahhhh, mother’s cooking.  That’s a blog post all its own though.  For now, I’ll just say that turnips are now about to be a staple during grocery trips and I’m positively delighted about that!

What new foods have you tried lately?  What did you think?

6 cups water 2 tbsp olive oil 3 cloves garlic 2 small stalks broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces) 5 turnips, peeled & cubed 1 bay leaf 1.5 tsp Old Bay 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper 1/2 onion, chopped Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. (pasta optional for a bulkier meal.  I like ancine di pepe noodles) Enjoy!

6 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 small stalks broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces)
5 turnips, peeled & cubed
1 bay leaf
1.5 tsp Old Bay
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. (pasta optional for a bulkier meal. I like ancine di pepe noodles) Enjoy!

Cheezy Cauliflower Soup (Vegan)

Thank goodness for this beautiful weather!  Now that the rain has stopped (for the most part anyway) I can officially resume walking to work again!  I’m so lucky to live in a town where everything is reasonably close together.  Just the simple act of walking to work and back adds 5 miles of walking to my day!  I love it!  

My college roommates got married last weekend, so I was out of town to celebrate with them!  The wedding was beautiful, and the reception was awesome… Especially the bride and groom’s late night trip to Taco Bell, wedding dress and all!  Monday meant back to reality, though, and I was way too wiped to head to the grocery store.  I didn’t even have fruit to juice 😦 sad day. I guess it was the perfect time for a little kitchen experimentation!  The result was pretty delicious, and I can say I will definitely be making it again!  

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Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

  • 4 tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
  • 6-7 cups water
  • 1 can Full Fat UNSWEETENED Coconut Milk (drain liquid from can and save for later)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 9 or 10 stems fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Throw everything but the parsley in a pot and bring to a boil! Simmer for 30 minutes and top with fresh parsley. Voila! 

As for the liquid from the can of coconut milk, I threw it into the blender along with a couple frozen bananas and had a very creamy dessert!

What kinds of healthy meals do you throw together when your cupboards are less than stocked?