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!

Planning Ahead: a Plant-based Plan

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Happy Tuesday everyone!  Has it really been 4 months since my last post?  I sincerely apologize; with a full time job and a full time class schedule, life can definitely get in the way of everything else sometimes.  And I won’t lie to you: these next four months are going to be even more hectic and insane than ever, so bear with me.  We will make it out alive; I promise!  

Classes officially began yesterday, though I was in and out of meetings last week as well.  Some exciting changes in my life since last we spoke:

  • I will finally be getting out of this horrendously-lit apartment at the beginning of February!  Goodbye outskirts, hello downtown!  I can’t wait to be in the heart of this great city and take part in all it has to offer!
  • I adopted a kitten!  What’s crazy is that I’m a self-proclaimed “dog-lover” to a fault, and one day at work my heart just told my head that this little guy was mine.  His name is Bran (after the character on Game of Thrones).  I figured since Bran Stark is in a wheelchair and my little one is missing a leg, they had a bit in common!  My Instagram feed (Khaleesi_Kate) is now all food/health photos and tons of pictures of Bran.  Hashtag “crazy cat lady”!

Okay, now to the good stuff!  Balancing work, school, and a life are going to be more challenging than ever in these next few months, and I know that in order to succeed, I need to make sure I make things like meals and shopping as organized as possible.  I created a meal plan for the week and hung the clipboard next to my stove.  Now I don’t have to stress about “What do I bring to campus for lunch today?” or “What the heck am I having for dinner?”  It only took me about a half hour to write it all down, and that made the shopping trip 100x easier.  With a few staples already in my kitchen, I managed to keep the bill under 30$… not bad it I do say so myself!

The menu for this morning included my hot lemon water (as always) and a kale-banana smoothie with the almond milk I made last night.  I’m a creature of habit, and I always know it’s going to be a good day when I am able to stick to my routine in the mornings.  Again, planning is key.  My morning routine looks something like this:

Stumble out of bed and wander blindly to the kitchen to turn on the stove and heat my water.  glance at my meal chart and see that a banana-kale smoothie is what’s happening this morning.  Wash 1000 mg Vitamin C and 1000 mg niacin down with a full glass of water while I pull out everything I will need from the fridge.  My counter looks something like this:

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Bran wanted to help photograph the food this morning.  He’s hiding in most of my pictures now, so be on the lookout!  As you can see, I’ve already cut up lemon slices, and everything has been prepared (I did chop the kale this morning though).  If you look in the right corner of the picture, you can see the edge of my clipboard hanging on the wall!  I sip my hot lemon water while checking emails and once I finish, I head to the kitchen to make breakfast.  If I make something like an oatmeal bake or roasted apples, I take that oven time to get my yoga on. This banana was not nearly as ripe as I prefer (the browner the better!) but the smoothie was still delicious and I always feel good about making a meal from ingredients I have prepared myself.  The jar of brown stuff in the back is almond meal.  If you remember my post about making almond milk (refresh your memory here)  I talk about making almond meal from the leftover almond “pulp”.  It’s quick, easy, and I added it to my kale-banana smoothie to up the fiber content, which is never a bad thing!  Feel free to omit this if you are using store-bought almond milk, since prices of almond meal at the grocery store are a bit outrageous.  

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1 ripe banana
3-4 leaves kale, chopped
2 tbsp almond meal (optional)
1 cup almond milk

To reiterate what I said in my previous post about almond milk, I can’t stress enough how easy and effortless this process is!  Yes, the almonds need to soak beforehand, but I did that while I was in class.  And the almond meal has to go in the oven for an hour or two… which I just read and did work for my classes while that was happening.  All in all, you probably only will spend about 10-15 minutes doing actual work.

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Today’s menu includes brown rice & broccoli for lunch, mashed sweet potatoes and steamed kale for dinner, and some carrots and hummus as a mid-day snack.  I’ll try and post as often as I can this semester, so let me know if there’s a certain health topic you want covered or an ingredient/recipe you’d like to see on here!