Vegan Waffles – I Want You Every Day

IMG_20160625_084639 Oh My Goodness.

If I had an easier waffle maker to clean, I would literally be making these every single day of my life.

*Side note – does anyone know if there are easy to clean waffle makers? Mine has a cord attached to it and I have to hang that out of the sink while I rinse off the waffle iron part of it and I’m like.. This can’t be safe*

You might as well just make a waffle IV.  The first time I made them, I forgot to put in baking powder, and they still came out awesome.  This picture here is from my second attempt.  And trust me,  I will be making more.

Waffles are essentially some flour, vegan chocolate chips, agave/honey, oats, oil, and maybe some baking powder or water/almond if you don’t forget.  When there are so few ingredients, how could you not try and make them?

I got my recipe from the Minimalist Baker, but like I said – I messed it up a few times and it still came out fine.  And my fine I mean amazing.  You should try them too.

Collard Roll Ups

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Who wants a salad when you can have some of these little collard roll ups?

Instead of using taco shells or quesadillas – I just use some collard greens!  Inside is some guacamole, beans, rice, and corn.

What do you think?  Delicious 😀

 

I have been doing this vegan diet thing for a year and 9 months.  Before that, I was a vegetarian for about a year.  Now, I know I have posted something similar in the past, but I’d like to reflect on how difficult the vegan diet is.

When I say that, I know there are tons of people who will go on about how cheap it is, and how easy it is if you are just prepared etc. and more often than not I would agree.    Basically, I think the vegan diet is completely accomplish-able if you set your mind to it.  Just be ready to eat more, more frequently.  I do think, however, that depending on who you are, where you live, and the circle you have around (for example do your friends always want to go to a steak house?) that there could be more challenges.  It’s obvious, by my 21 months of being a vegan, that it is not impossible even without endless smoothie shops and dedicated vegan restaurants in your area.  I just do my vegan thing using a regular grocery store and some interesting attempts at cooking where I basically alter every recipe I find because I don’t like to have too many steps, and I prefer to use what I have.

I would also like to make a note that in the 21 months I have been a vegan, not a single friend who lives close by to me is also a vegan.  The BF who I live with is also an omnivore, but he is trying to eat more plant based, although he hasn’t made a complete switch.  I have been unable to tap into a local vegan community with real people here where I live to go to places with and try and make recipes.  I have met plenty of people online, and have been completely inspired by the enthusiasm there, but in terms of a real human being in my area – it has yet to happen.  Part of it might be a reluctance to share my information over the internet, and my hope that I will just run into people.  I even went to a local vegan restaurant to read by myself (a book called How Not To Die).  I ate vegan appetizers and expressed to the wait staff that I was hoping to meet some vegans! Guess what? The one I spoke to was a vegetarian.  At least the food was vegan.  I guess it time, maybe it will just happen.

What I am trying to say is, even though I will never eat meat again, it is just exhausting when you go out to restaurants and you have to ask a million questions.  What is this made with? Can I see the ingredient list for your home made “power bars”? Does that have egg in it? Do potato pancakes have egg in them? Can they be cooked with olive oil and not butter?  What about Chinese noodles? Some are rice noodles, some are egg noodles – how do you know?  And Chinese brown sauce? It’s all over the broccoli but is it made with beef broth or oyster sauce and am I allowed to eat that?  Is it thickened with a gelatin? Or agar? Or is it just corn starch to thicken it?  I just can’t tell.  So sometimes, you think you are getting just a veggie dish, and it turns out the sauce might be made from something else – how do you send it back?

That being said, I am still trucking along.  Also, I am trying, to be perfect.  We can’t always be perfect all the time.  Sometimes you mess up.  Sometimes, especially if there is a language barrier, you might now know exactly what is in what you are getting.  The best bet here is to eat out less often, and make more at home.  But guess what? Sometimes you are on the road a lot and it just can’t be helped.  We all do our best.  I do my best, and I will continue to do so, but I recognize that this path is more of a journey, where I find things that work for me, and some that don’t.  And with each little bit of discovery, I try and make it work towards my vegan goals the best I can.  I hope that people can at least recognize my efforts and know that they are based in a strong belief that we are meant to get our nutrients from a plant based diet.

Cruise Adventures and Being Vegan

IMG_20150327_085715So I went on a cruise… And the Vegan part, lets just say it was way easier than I expected.

I used to flip through magazines and say “oh hey look there is a vegan cruise! But it’s 9x the cost of a regular cruise” and then not go on a cruise.  This time, I said, “The heck with it” and took my chances with the run of the mill budget cruise.

So it was a Carnival cruise… and first of all, the fruit selection was AMAZING.  The fact that there are options at any hour of the day/night for the duration of the cruise is also AMAZING.  Additionally, on Carnival, the room service was free, so even when the only thing that was open was the pizza place and the ice cream parlor at 1 am, I could order free fresh fruit and oatmeal delivered right to my room!  I mean, I didn’t even have to walk to get my vegan fix, how great is that?

Also on cruises, the BF and I try and jump start our healthy lifestyle choices.  I would say this is my favorite part.  So healthy fruits, fresh raw options, and some jogging with a side of salsa dancing?  I’ll take it.  We went jogging on the track, swimming in the pools, dancing in the clubs, and even visited the gym to check it out.  Overall, cruises make me happy 😀

Oh, and if you go to the service desk when you first get on the boat, and tell them you have special dietary requirements – they tell the kitchen! And at your dinner time, since you have the same wait staff every night, they come up to you and alert you that they were told about your food preferences.  I was offered to select an entirely vegan cooked meal not on the menu for every single night.  The only caveat was that I had to let them know the night before, but they usually gave me two or three choices to pick from.

Needless to say, I will be cruisin’ more often for vacations!  Less work for food prep, and fresh fruit around the clock! Sign me up!

 

Vegan Nacho Cheese

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I have been wanting to make this vegan nacho cheese recipe for awhile… It was posted on my Facebook page from a friend literally a year ago.  I know, I’m slow.  Anyway, Alissa’s recipes over at Connoiseurus Veg’s website are always pretty awesome looking, so it’s about time I made this one.

I tried it out on Christmas eve.  Then tried it out again the other night.  I must say, it was pretty consistently good, even with my variations.

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The recipe calls for 1 sweet potato.  The first time that was what I used, and it was tasty.  The second time, I diced up one sweet potato and two other potatoes that I picked out at the super market, and it still came out tasty.

So I diced up the potatoes and boiled for about 15 minutes until they got soft.  Then I drained and mashed.  After that, all you have to do is add some flavor!

For the flavor, I put in various amounts of sriracha sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast flakes.  Alissa has measurements on her original recipe, but I find it’s just better for me to do it by taste.  For example, I held back on the sriracha sauce a bit because I don’t like things too spicy.  I also used less olive oil to reduce the amount of fat going into it. And I didn’t peal my potatoes.

Basically, this recipe is awesome – all you have to do is mix a few things together and in about 25 minutes you’re done and dipping nachos in this cheese!

I see a lot of potential here!

Chickpea Salad

 

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This Chickpea salad was modified from Oh She Glows.  The origional has additional ingredients like onion, pepper, cilantro, and peanuts.  My sister and I chose to make this salad with other ingredients because we like the flavors of carrots and tomatoes better.  Either way, I am sure the original is great too! It was simple to make, and easy to modify, which makes it a perfect salad to me!

Raw Vegan Brownies – Beware – lots of sugar.. But soooo goood!

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YES!

AMAZING!

SUGAR!

That’s how I feel right now.  I am amazed.  I just made the no-bake raw vegan brownies from minimalist baker, which you can find here.

As always, I did things a bit differently, but they still turned out fantastic!!

I always use my Ninja blender, because that’s all I have for mixing.

I used ALL the dates, and I didn’t put them in the blender a few at a time.  I just threw half in, blended, and then the other half right after.  No time for single dates!

I used only half the coconut oil since I don’t like it that much.

I used a little less sugar, and a finely granulated sugar not a powdered sugar, so my frosting came out more dense and less fluffy.

I didn’t have any baking pans available today and I didn’t want to wash them, so I shaped my brownies into a heart to surprise bf when he gets home.  Hooray!

 

Here are some snapshots along the way:

No Bake Vegan Brownies Progression Photos

BBQ Tempeh Sandwhiches

 

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Quick and easy BBQ taste! And on a nice vegan English muffin.  Now that’s what I needed for my carb-and-main-stream-food-craving!

I basically crumbled my Tempeh into a pan, added some onions, peppers, and some BBQ sauce, and heated with a tablespoon of oil.  Then added some salt and pepper and put it on my toasted English muffin.  It took about ten minutes to make.

It’s Sushi Time

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I have wanted to make sushi for so long! I always thought, why am I paying so much money to get sushi, when I can make it at home exactly the way I want it?  Well the answer to that is because I had no idea how to make it.  Now I do.

I went to the Asian store and bought two bamboo rolling sticks, sushi rice, nori (which is the seaweed paper), and of course I had to get a cute plate to put it on.  Then I sliced up some veggies, and watched this tutorial on youtube, and off I went!

My final product, shown below, came out great before I cut it.  I didn’t have a sharp enough knife to cut through the nori without squishing the sushi a bit, so that is now on the shopping list for next time.  It still tasted great!  I’d like to experiment by adding different veggies for next time.  I am so excited!

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My Best Banana Ice Cream Yet – Raspberry

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It was so delicious, so tart, and I spent extra time blending it so I didn’t add more almond milk.  That gave it a creamier consistency.  Fantastic!

2.5 Bananas (some frozen)

12 oz. Raspberries (frozen)

A splash of almond milk to help it blend.

A Heartfelt Interpretation of my Vegan Journey

Being vegan is not easy, at least not for me.  The main reason for my blog and my Instagram account are to hold myself accountable.  That means that I am overly enthusiastic online all the time, showing my success as a vegan.  The truth is, there are a LOT of times where I am successful, but there have been a few setbacks too.  There have been 3 occasions that I can think of when I ate a non-vegan item.  It has been 57 days today that I have been embracing this lifestyle.  The important part is, when I ate the non-vegan item, I just moved on.  I didn’t cave and keep eating that way.  I acknowledged it, and then set my sights on continuing to eat vegan.  In my personal opinion, three small discrepancies (I mean seriously, one of them was one of those little Ferrero Rocher candies) over the course of two months is not too bad! I have to remember that I have been eating a meat based diet for 26 years, and change is not easy.

I find it helpful to have a lot of bananas on hand.  Those work for when I am too tired to make a new recipe or go food shopping, but still need some vegan food to hold me over until I decide what to cook.

I also find it helpful to have peanut butter and vegan dark chocolate.  These are the things that keep me away from the candies! Not to mention, with bananas, these are a treat (see my banana bites post!).

I have to wake up a lot earlier to make sure that I have time to eat an entire vegan breakfast.  Eating fruit takes a long time.  This is sometimes tiresome, but when I get a good nights sleep, it’s rewarding to be up early.

I live in an apartment complex where I try not to make too much noise in the morning.  If I want a smoothie at 6am, I find it helpful to make it the night before, leave it in the blender in the fridge, and then just hit the pulse button once or twice in the morning.  The smoothies still taste just as good, and I don’t feel like a terrible neighbor.

I have a lot more dishes.  This might be because I am packing more food, using more knives and cutting boards, and cooking a lot more – but it adds up to a little more effort.

Sometimes the combination of foods in my stomach does not produce good results, and my day gets slightly changed because of it.  I think this is a food combination issue that I will have to figure out.

I have not yet determined what to do about my B12.  I know that down the line this will present an issue, and I will need to take supplements or get injections.  It has not been long enough to tell.  Also many cereals are fortified with B12, as well as 5 hour energy drinks, etc.  I try to avoid caffeine so I haven’t had any of those, and I haven’t had my levels tested.  That will have to be done shortly to see where I stand!

The purpose of this post is not to discourage anyone from being vegan, but to tell you a few things that I have noticed, and the bumps in the road from a normal perspective, not one that is overly bubbly or focusing only on my successes.  I plan to continue to use this blog, and my Instagram to post all my successes as motivation to continue forward, and I am very happy with the choice I made.  I just want to express that it is not an easy change, but it is absolutely worth it.  It is also completely obtainable.  I feel happier, healthier, and I have more energy than I did before.  Additionally I feel like I have control of what goes into my body and I feel good about it.  I see this as a lifestyle change, not a diet, and longevity is the goal.  To anyone considering being vegan – you have nothing to lose if you just try it out!