at the market now: beets + 5 ways to use them

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I just adore beets.  Those gorgeous colors, that deep earthy sweetness, and the fact that they come with a free bunch of greens attached!!!!  YES please.  In all honesty, I really used to be disgusted by them, though.  I thought they tasted like dirt.  Thankfully my taste buds aren’t petulant babies anymore.  Beets are abundant at our local farmer’s market throughout fall, winter, and spring.  After a long hot summer, I’m dying to welcome  them back.

I usually find three varieties at our market- red (Bull’s Blood, Detroit Wonder, Cylindrica), pink with white rings inside (Chioggia, Candy Stripe), and yellow or golden.  They all taste a little different.  The golden and chioggia types taste milder and sweeter.  They are delicious raw, sliced paper thin on a mandolin (chioggia are especially gorgeous this way, as you can see all the vibrant stripes).

Beets can be roasted, pickled, steamed, eaten in salad, added to hummus, and so much more.  Cut into cubes and roast with squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rosemary and garlic for an easy side.  Slice them thinly on a mandolin, and bake with olive oil and sea salt for crispy chips.

An easy way to prep the whole bunch at once: cut off stems and tail, wrap tightly in aluminum foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour until soft.  Let them cool a bit and then open up the foil and rub it against the skin-it will slip right off.  Compost the skins and rinse off and reuse or recycle the foil.

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Treat beet greens like any other hardy green (kale, chard, etc) and saute.

At the market, choose beets that feel firm with fresh and green leaves.  The best, freshest beets will have a sort of sheen to the skin.  When you get home, wash them and cut the greens off, or they will continue to draw moisture and flavor out.  I store the roots loose in my crisper drawer.  Cut the leaves off of the stems.  Compost the stalks and store the leaves as you would any leafy green- I either wrap loosely in a slightly damp kitchen towel, or in my storage bags from The Swag (they work really well).

All that said, let’s get cooking.  Here are a few recipes that we especially enjoy using beets as the star.

citrus and beet winter salad (serves 4 as a side)

INGREDIENTS:

2 large beets, steamed or roasted, peeled and sliced into wedges (see roasting instructions above if interested)

1 small chioggia or yellow beet, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin

2 oranges, skin and pith removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick crosswise, seeds removed

1 large avocado, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup of roasted pistachios (sub any other toasted nut or seed)- roughly chopped

1/3 cup of pomegranate arils

1 small shallot, finely chopped ~ 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme OR 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped very finely

1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

a handful of leafy bitter/spicy greens, like arugula, radicchio, or endive

flaky sea salt for finishing

opional: Urfa Biber chili flakes (I had them around, they are black flakes with a mild heat and deep flavor + they look beautiful on food) black sesame seeds would do the trick too to pop the colors.

METHOD:

Place shallot and ACV in a small mixing bowl.  Let sit 2 minutes, then whisk in the oil, sweetener, herbs, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

Spread the greens out over a large plate or serving platter.  Arrange the roasted beets, oranges, avocado on top.  Tuck in the raw sliced beets around the sides and in empty spaces. Sprinkle on the pomegranate arils and drizzle dressing over the salad evenly.  Sprinkle the nuts and a few pinches of flaky salt over and serve immediately.

We like to serve as a side with a nice creamy soup, like butternut or carrot + some crusty bread + the beet greens (sauteed with olive oil, shallot, lemon, and nutmeg).

+4 more recipes that can’t be beet 

crushed and crispy beets with yogurt : this is a delicious recipe.  I skip the second step of pan frying to make it easier.  Coco yogurt with a few teaspoons of lemon and pinch of salt mixed in is an easy swap for the labneh.

french “peasant” beets : I’ve made this recipe quite a few times, subbing miyoko’s vegan butter (TJ’s has the lowest price on this or you can make your own!  this is miyoko’s recipe and it’s really easy + no plastic) and a cashew cheese for the goat cheese called for.  A great dinner with a green salad and some crusty bread.

fudgy chocolate beet cake with avo frosting : GF/V, rich, dense, packed with healthy plant foods, and tastes like perfect cake.  I made these in cupcake form once to send with my son to a SAD eater’s kid’s birthday party, where I knew they’d be serving chocolate cupcakes.  They looked exactly the same and my son didn’t eat crappy corn syrup and hydrogenated oil laced cupcakes.  WIN!

ginger+star anise quick pickled beets : so easy + silky, sophisticated flavors.  A perfect dinner party starter along with some roasted almonds and some crackers and nut cheese.

Now go buy some beets and eat them all the ways 🙂  Tag me on Instagram @mamaeatsplants so I can see all your beet-y creations!

xx love to you

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a week of fall cooking

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I don’t know about you, but we are so happy to be welcoming back fall.  The crisp mornings, the gorgeous oranges and reds, a whole new season of foods.  I thought it would be nice to share a seasonal, vegan week full of nourishing foods.  Seasonal foods are amazing because they align perfectly with what your body needs at this time- grounding and nourishing foods in fall, deep greens and denser fare in winter, detoxing light foods in spring, hydrating and cooling foods in summer.  Also they are cheaper, fresher, and more environmentally friendly when they’re local and not shipped from halfway around the world.

Just coming into season here in Northern California, we have: apples, pears, pomegranates, beets, cauliflower, winter squash of all types, carrots, dates, almonds, grapes, mushrooms and more.  The best way to find what’s seasonal to your area is to visit your nearest farmer’s market.

Here’s what I’m hoping to cook up this week (with links to recipe where applicable):

  1. Red lentil soup with spinach and lemon (recipe)  + a flexible fall salad
  2. Falafel feast: herby falafels + green tahini sauce + pomegranate cabbage slaw and pita or tabbouleh to round it out.
  3. PIZZA with butternut puree as a sauce.  YES PLZ. Here’s the recipe.  Serve with a nice kale or arugula salad.
  4. Dhal- is there anything more comforting than this?  There’s so many versions out there and I need to write down my own, but this is a good recipe to start except I like to add onion, and fresh shredded coconut on top.  Serve with a saffron rice (i like to add orange zest and sub the pine nuts for pistachios) and simple salad or sauteed greens.
  5. Mushroom dumpling stew.  This post includes the recipe and its an absolute obsession in our house, I’ve made it so many times (even a few times in summer!!!!) plus theres two other great recipes for easy vegan dinners in that post.  It’s so so easy, comforting and meaty (even though I leave out the faux meat).  I’ve swapped out the all purpose flour with GF all purpose with success before too.  Also, you should definitely follow Rhian (@wifelife) if you don’t already for vegan and cruelty free makeup and recipes.
  6. Pumpkin Turmeric Granola : I never made this before, but it looks so good and I love Amy Chaplin’s recipes.  It will be nice to keep around for a quick school morning breakfast for the kids with some fruit and almond milk.
  7. Beet hummus: I make Ottolenghi’s hummus recipe (my all time favorite) and then add in some roasted or steamed peeled beet (maybe 1/2 a large or 1 whole small) plus extra lemon.  So good to dollop on salads, grain bowls, dip veggies in and more.  Plus it has a gorgeous electric pink color (or neon yellow if you use yellow beets!).
  8. Simple roasted veggies.  I’ve been loving the combo of delicata squash (no need to peel!  So nice), red bell pepper, beets, cauliflower or carrots.  Toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary and roast at 400 for 30-45 minutes.  I make a nice big batch and keep the leftovers in the fridge for easy lunchbox crafting.

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to try something new this week at the market or in your kitchen!  Have a lovely week and tag me on instagram @mamaeatsplants with your favorite fall foods 🙂

butternut squash raviolis

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Continuing with the fall theme, tonight I made butternut squash raviolis- from scratch and vegan.  I had a small squash I was roasting and a little light bulb went on in my head while I was cooking it, remembering a butternut ravioli recipe on Trash is for Tossers that I read years ago and had filed in the back of my head.  Even though I wanted to make dinner soon (it was already 6 pm) I still wanted the raviolis.  I googled “vegan ravioli dough” since the recipe in Lauren’s post uses eggs, et voila, this recipe popped up and I was on my way to dinner in no time.  I poured a glass of wine and put on some Frank Sinatra and got down to business.  They were quite easy and fun to make even though I’ve never made them before, and we were eating by 7 pm, with a fresh salad to go with (the flexible fall salad from my previous post, with avocado and romaine added).  Here’s the recipes from the two sites, compiled and with added tweaks, notes, and pictures from me.

INGREDIENTS:

for the filling (adapted from trash is for tossers, link above)

1 small butternut squash- mine was about 1.25 pounds / 3 cups

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice blend or 1/4 teaspoon each powdered cinnamon and ginger +1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons of cashews (optional but delicious)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

for the pasta dough (from keyingredient.com, linked above)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2-3/4 cup of water

2 pinches salt

fresh thyme or sage or parsley, minced, for serving

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel squash and scoop out seeds (roast them too for a snack!) and cube the flesh.  Toss with the 2 teaspoons olive oil and roast until soft, about 20-30 minutes.  While the squash is cooking, first put all the other filling ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Then get started on your pasta dough.  Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and 1/2 cup of the water.  Use your hands to incorporate the dry into the wet, starting from the outside in, little by little.  Add in the rest of the 1/4 cup water in increments if the dough feels tight and dry.  Continue to knead the dough for 5-8 minutes until it forms a nice and smooth elastic ball.  Wrap it loosely in a kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes (I made the salad and the filling during this time).  Your squash should be done about now, place it in the blender that has the seasonings in it and blend it up.  I did a rough puree so that there was still a bit of texture.

Now, back to the dough.  Divide the dough in half equally.  On a lightly floured flat surface, roll out one of the two pieces as thinly as possible- you don’t want it to tear, but you also want it to be thin because it will get a lot thicker as it cooks.  Fold the dough in half and in half again.  Unfold it and cut it into strips along the creases.

Dollop your filling on the strips, leaving an inch or so in between for room to cut and seal it.

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Wet the edges of the bottom sheet of pasta with water- this will help the top sheet to seal.  Place a sheet of pasta on top, press the edges to seal, stretching gently as you go to help them match up.  Cut in between the filling to make them into squares and press with a fork to crimp and seal the edges of each one.

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As you finish them, lay them on a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour.  Continue this process with the second half of the dough.  Cook them in salted, boiling water for 3-4 minutes, gently remove from the water with a strainer or slotted spoon to a serving plate.

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Drizzle with olive oil, chopped herbs, and cracked black pepper.  Serve immediately.

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a flexible fall salad

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This is a seasonal favorite of ours, a colorful salad with a strong vinaigrette that can hold its own and acts as a nice counterpoint to the denser, grounding, cooked dishes that our bodies gravitate toward in winter.  There’s hearty greens, crunchy vegetables, sweet fruit, toasted nuts and/or seeds, and a garlicky, mustardy vinaigrette.  I’ve added lots of substitution suggestions in the recipe as I don’t believe in rigid cooking.  Use what you have, what you enjoy and gravitate towards, whats available and fresh in your area.  One of the pleasures of cooking is sensing and feeling instead of measuring.  Also, if you have children, whisking vinaigrette is a fun job for them and they can learn the proportions and how make it themselves over time.  Serve it as a side or as a meal with soup, or add some legumes, tofu, or tempeh to make it a complete meal.   I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

VINAIGRETTE:

1 clove garlic, minced OR 1 small shallot, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice OR apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard OR whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons agave nectar OR maple syrup OR honey

S+P to taste

SALAD:

1/2 a head of kale, stems removed, sliced crosswise into thin strips OR any other hearty green like beet greens, bok choy, endive, escarole, spinach, or a mix.

1 cup sliced cabbage or brussels sprouts

1 large carrot, thinly sliced or grated OR radish OR celery- anything with CRUNCH!

1 large apple OR pear OR fuyu persimmon, sliced thinly

1/2 cup pomegranate arils

1/3c toasted nuts and seeds- any or all.  pumpkin+sesame, sunflower+hazelnut, almond+hemp, pecan+poppy are great combos

METHOD:

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a large salad bowl.  Taste and adjust to your preferences.  Add in kale to bowl.  Massage until softened, 3 minutes or so.  Add in the rest of the veggies and the apple and toss to coat.  Last, sprinkle the pomegranates and nuts+seeds over the top.  Serve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zero waste bathroom.

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Zero waste can seem like an elite, ableist idea full of promise yet unattainable in today’s fast paced life.  Since we currently operate in a linear economy where things are specifically manufactured to eventually end up in a landfill (as opposed to a circular one where things are re-used, recycled, up cycled and repaired indefinitely), its easy to get frustrated and give up on trying to change all together.  Our family has had our ups and downs of moving towards a more waste free life.  I realized that 1. everybody in your house needs to be on board with the changes in order to make the most meaningful change, and 2. every change you can make, no matter how small, adds up over time.  Please don’t give up on even starting just because it seems way too challenging.  Its really not, and its SO rewarding to live in alignment with your values and the earth.  So, I thought it would be a good idea to try to touch on areas of our life and home, one by one, and show you how we easily have shifted to better alternatives.  A chunk at a time.  Here’s my zero waste bathroom cupboard essentials.

1.Bamboo toothbrush- Did you know that about 1 BILLION plastic toothbrushes are tossed into the landfill (aka our beautiful earth) every year just in the US?  That’s 50 million pounds of just toothbrushes!  There are so many bamboo toothbrushes on the market that have compostable handles.  We currently use the brush with bamboo toothbrush which comes in compostable/recyclable packaging.

2. Homemade toothpaste- We’ve been doing this for years and loving it.  Its easy, cheap, works well (approved by our family dentist!) and I don’t have to worry about my kids accidentally swallowing some because its all edible ingredients.  Here’s our recipe: 1/3c melted coconut oil + 1/2c baking soda + 1T stevia + 2T bentonite clay + 40 drops of peppermint essential oil (or a gum health essential oil blend).  You can adjust to your preferences of consistency, sweetness, flavor etc.  You can leave out the clay if you want- it has minerals and detoxifying properties which is why I use it.  You can also sub xylitol for the stevia for even more cavity fighting power.

3. Floss in a refillable, recyclable container- I buy our floss from a small US company called Dental Lace that sells floss in a small glass vial with a metal lid, and separate refill spools.  All recyclable and compostable packaging.  The floss itself is 100% silk, so it is compostable.  You can also pull silk threads from a thrifted or old silk scarf to floss with, a la Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home .  Most conventional floss is coated with Teflon-like chemicals that make it glide easier between your teeth.  These chemicals end up in your mouth and therefore your body.  Plus, when you throw the floss away, those chemicals end up making their way into waterways and soil!

4. Copper tongue scraper- I love my tongue scraper.  It makes my mouth way fresher.  I like to use a copper one because the ones at the store usually have plastic handles, and copper is bacteria resistant.  Pick one like this up from Etsy and nicely request no plastic packaging in the note to your seller.

5. Homemade mouthwash- Same reasons as homemade toothpaste, but also because conventional mouthwashes are loaded with crappy ingredients, dyes, alcohol, chemical agents, etc.  One time I was using a Crest brand mouthwash and it STAINED MY TEETH GRAY over time!!!!!  I had to have it all scraped and polished off by the dentist.  He said chemicals in mouthwash can interact with your own personal strain of oral bacteria to cause this staining sometime.  UGH.  After that I started making my own.  Just 500 ml distilled water + 30 drops peppermint oil and 15 drops clove essential oil , stored in amber colored glass bottle – I use an old kombucha bottle.

6. Safety razor- aka how people used to shave before Gillette and other ripoff companies started the myth of a “smoother” shave with ridiculous amounts of expensive blades, creams, and other shaving accoutrements.  I bought ours (my husband and I share one) from Amazon about 7 years ago, along with a pack of 100 (!!) blades.  This cost us 42 dollars and we still haven’t used up all the blades.  I was scared to use it at first but it operates just like any other razor.  Easy and shaves close.  Here’s the razor and here’s the blades.

7.  Toilet paper- TMI?  Probably, but it is a real issue that we all have to deal with.  Normally, TP comes all packaged up in a giant plastic wrap.  I bought a bidet from Amazon years ago and so I use that + cloth wipes (left over from when my son was a baby and we used them instead of disposable wipes) for #1.  For #2, I use actual TP, which I buy in bulk at my local coop.  I buy the kind that comes individually wrapped in paper, like this and it all comes in a large recyclable/reusuable paper box.  Since I buy a case of it at a time, I get a 15% off discount, too.

Also, for further Zero Waste inspiration, please check out: Zero Waste Home , Paris To Go , Trading Waste For Abundance , and Trash is for Tossers .

vegan meal prep

This weekend I prepped some food to eat during the week to save some time and sanity when things get hectic.  I try to have some building blocks of meals available in the fridge so that I can make school lunches easily in the a.m. by mixing and matching, and it makes cooking during the week faster if I have veggies cleaned and prepped.  I posted my prep this week on my instagram stories (my handle is @mamaeatsplants) and I wanted to add it to the blog too.  My style of prep is not the bodybuilder-plastic tupperware-same meal for 5 days-plain veggies and meat situtation that I see a lot.  I would get SO bored if I did that.  I want the freedom to create what I feel like eating that day but also have the building blocks on hand to speed up the process, because #momlife .  Here’s the list with links and some interjected photos I saved from my IG story.

IMG_8196I start out on Friday morning, by setting aside some time to compile a list of meals, snacks, condiments, etc I’d like to make that week.  I write down all the groceries I’ll need to buy for those recipes.  To that list I add staples that we buy every week like fresh and frozen fruits, crunchy snack veggies, sweet/regular potatoes, lentils, quinoa.  Then I make a list of foods that I can prep ahead so I know exactly what I’ll be cooking on Sat/Sun.  I gather together all the bags, containers, and jars I will need to buy things package free.  Doing this ahead of time is KEY for me, otherwise I will inevitably forget to bring them with me.  On Saturday morning we go shopping at the farmer’s market, where I buy the majority of our fresh fruits and vegetables.  We head to our local co-op after that, where I buy bulk water, spices, dried beans and grains,and veggies/fruits that are on sale that week plus tofu, tempeh, nut butters and more.  That way I can just use my own bags and jars and not consume and throw away unnecessary plastic waste packaging.   Every couple of weeks we  go to Costco when I need something that’s a lot cheaper there- I stock up on bags of frozen fruit, rice, and onions which are so much cheaper there and we go through those items quickly.  I avoid most other stuff there as it comes in so much packaging!  Also, the grocery outlet near us has so many organic and quality items for super cheap, so we go there every once in a while too.

IMG_8197First up, I put some almonds in a jar to soak overnight.  I’ll blend and strain in the a.m.  It’s easy, tasty, and waste free almond milk.

IMG_8198Next, I toasted cumin seeds in a pan.  I bought these seeds in bulk and I used about half of them to refill and old spice jar of mine.  So, it only cost about on dollar for a new jar of ground cumin.  Store bought ground cumin loses flavor over time and tastes stale and dusty to me.

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Next, I started soaking a pound of chickpeas for a double batch of falafel I made the next day.  I use this bon appetit recipe and double it so I can have a bunch leftover.  I bake it instead of frying.

IMG_8200Then I made a fresh batch of rawnola in my food processor.  It’s so good to have on hand to snack on, top smoothie bowls, pack in lunchboxes for a treat, eat with almond milk and berries for breakfast, it’s amazing!

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I usually cook up a big batch of a grain to keep in the fridge to add to soups, salads, bowls and more to quickly create meals.  Tricolor quinoa is a favorite of ours as it’s gluten free, quick-cooking, and a complete protein.  I boil it like pasta so its al dente and all the grains are separate and not mushy at all.

IMG_8202I had some extra fresh red chiles on hand that were on their last legs, so I blended them up into sweet chili sauce.  It keeps a long time in the fridge and is great to drizzle on plain steamed greens, broccoli, buddha bowls and spring rolls.  I use this recipe .

IMG_8203I like to prep a healthy treat to pack in my daughter’s lunch and to bring to the park after school along with fruit.  These black bean brownies are a household favorite and I’ve fed them to unsuspecting picky omnivore kids with ecstatic feedback.  They are this recipe .

IMG_8204This week I decided to make a loaf of bread because I had some sprouted spelt flour on hand.  This is the recipe I used, and you should definitely check out Amy Chaplin’s blog.  She has tons of amazing plant based recipes.  This one has sprouted flour, seeds, whole grains, and is great for avocado toast.

IMG_8205Speaking of avo toast, I love to put sauerkraut on toast too.  Kraut is dead simple to make at home and costs a fraction of what store made does.  This week I decided to try a beet-cabbage kraut because I saw one at the store but it came in plastic so I passed it up and made my own.  This is the recipe I used.

IMG_8207IMG_8208Another staple for the week is a large pot of soup.  I pack this in a thermos for my daughter’s lunch, eat it with a salad for a super quick meal, have it for dinner, anything.  Soup is so healthy since all the nutrients stay in the broth, and it just keeps getting tastier as it sits in the fridge.  Also a great way to use up any less than fresh veggies you need to use up- reducing food waste too!  This week I made one with chard, lentils, tomatoes, quinoa, chickpeas and more.

IMG_8209Every week I wash and prep any veggies I buy.  Especially with kale, chard, lettuce and other greens, if I wash it and rip it up or take the stems out, I am so much more likely to eat it quickly.  If its in the fridge dirty I get really lazy about washing it and then it gets wasted sometimes!  Same with cauliflower and broccoli, I like to cut up pieces to make it easy to grab and cook.  I’ll be making cauliflower wings later in the week using this recipe except I sub part chickpea flour and part rice flour for the all purpose flour.

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All done and ready for the week, no matter how crazy or busy it gets (usually flies by like crazy).  I also made a batch of eggplant hummus using this recipe .  Hope you guys enjoyed!

 

What I eat in a day

When they find out I’m vegan, people usually ask “What do you eat?” followed by, “How do you get enough protein?” which is annoying, but I get it.  I had similar questions when I was first dipping my toe into this lifestyle.  Our society (funded by dairy/meat producers) has created an illusion that meat and dairy are essential to being healthy, which makes it hard for people to wrap their heads around vegan meals.  My mom still thinks you have to eat rice and beans at the same time to create complete proteins, that weird myth from the 70s when vegetarianism suddenly became in vogue, riding on the coattails of the hippie movement.  Literally no one who eats enough calories has had health problems from protein deficiency (I’m probably paraphrasing slightly here but whatever).  I also want to point out that this is the style of eating that makes ME thrive.  It’s very intuitive, I eat what I crave that day.  Different people feel better with varying ratios of fat, protein, carbs, raw vs cooked, etc. but I think everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.  Enough hot air, though.  Let’s get down to the good stuff.

7:30 am: finally get out of bed after an undisclosed number of unsuccessful attempts to brush off my alarm clock/the intense desire to remain in a warm bed (sigh…winter).  I drink a liter of water while I make school lunch for my daughter/make the kids breakfast (oat and chia porridge with blueberries, cinnamon, walnuts, flax, and coconut sugar).  I make a matcha latte with stevia and soymilk + pop a vitamin B12.  I almost never eat breakfast unless I have to leave the house early and will have no options to eat later.  I’ve always been like this- I hate to eat in the morning, it makes me feel sluggish and nauseated.

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Noon: feeling pretty hungry: make a GIANT smoothie.  2 cups of OJ, peel 2 oranges and put them in the blender whole, top with ALOT of frozen mango (4 or 5 cups? i hate measuring because I’m supremely lazy), spoonful of homemade vanilla extract, some coconut water powder i had kicking around.  Add a glass of water and some vanilla stevia>>> blend.  I scooped some passionfruit on top because passionfruit.  Basically a tropical dreamsicle.  This made approximately 64 oz (2 large mason jars) and I drank. it. allllll.  Then my son came inside from playing, saw me with the smoothie, and cried because he wanted it.  OK, kid.  So I made another smaller version for him.

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2:00 pm: another liter of water and some herbal tea (Celestial’s Tension Tamer, if you’re interested)

3:30 pm: home from picking up my daughter and piano lessons, and getting hangry.  I grab some medjool dates and snack on them while I prepare dinner.  I got them from the farmer’s market, they are grown in Coachella and they are to DIE FOR.  Jumbo size (the length of a thumb and twice as fat), SOFT, tender, meltingly sweet with caramel and fudge notes.  They taste like spectacular German Chocolate Cake.  I eat 6 and drink some more water with them.

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5:30ish: sit down to dinner: Mac n Chz with peas and broccoli + our “house” salad- mixed greens, kidney beans, green onions, celery, dried cranberries, tomato, cucumber, ground flax, and a balsamic/maple/dijon dressing (google 3-2-1 dressing for exact measurements).  The “chz” sauce is a new favorite from the Forks over Knives cookbook: its potatoes, carrots, nooch, almond milk, and seasonings blended up.  Weird, right?  But SO good, the blended potatoes create a gluey, cheesy texture and the taste is fantastic.  The pasta I used are quinoa and rice elbows from Costco (gluten free).

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7:00 pm: eat a black bean brownie I made earlier.  They are SO good, fudgey, rich, perfection.  I added some chocolate chips into the batter of  this recipe and added hazelnuts on top.  Vegan, gluten free, low fat, high fiber, high iron, omega 3s…..and they taste out of this world.  Great for kids, lunchboxes, afternoon pick me ups, etc.  Their fiber and protein means they won’t give you a crash after eating them, either.

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8:00 pm: I drink some hot tea (Traditional Medicinal’s Chamomile Lavender) to wind down.

There are also outdated ideas perpetuated by the media that vegans don’t get enough vitamins/minerals like iron, calcium, etc *eye roll* so I logged everything I ate today in Cronometer just to show the nutritional breakdown of my day if you’re interested in the science-y side of things.  Everything is spot on, selenium could be higher but I eat brazil nuts every once in a while to spike that up.  IDK why the B12 is so high?  I think I may have put in the wrong amount or something.

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Hope this was helpful in any way.  LOVE U ALL XOXO

Weekly grocery haul

Hi!  I often hear people say that they couldn’t afford to go vegan, which is very interesting.  I find that a whole food, high carb and low fat style vegan diet is a lot cheaper than when our family ate meat and dairy or high fat vegan.  The staples we rely on are some of the most affordable- bananas, potatoes, rice, beans, oatmeal, and frozen fruit.  I budget for my family of 2 adults+2 small kids $150/week for groceries. To make this work, I employ a combination of Costco (i try to limit these purchases because i hate all the plastic packaging), bulk bins at my local co-op, and the farmer’s market/produce stands.  This is what I bought this week: (first pic is from the farmer’s market, second from my Co-op and Costco combined).  Mostly everything is organic, but I also buy conventional sometimes if the organic option comes from far away or doesn’t look as fresh.  In this case, the almond milk, chocolate bar, and oranges are not organic.

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1/2 gallon of almond milk $2.99

bulk tamari (i refill an old 20 oz kombucha glass) $4.31 lasts quite a while

1 bunch kale $2.39

2x bunches celery $1.98

1 big cluster of shallots $1.69

gardein frozen “chicken” scallopini (the kids love these and i buy them maybe once every few months as a treat- not the best choice but you have to live a little ;))

90% chocolate bar (Lindt) $2.89 for treats- SO dark and bitter but very silky

10 Fuji apples $6

large hand of bananas $2.69

2 GIANT heads of romaine $4.78

large block of local tofu, from bulk section (put in my own le parfait jar) $3.11

black beans from bulk section (in my quart mason jar) $3.85 for black bean brownies!!

dried cranberries in bulk (quart mason jar) $4.79 for salads

chickpea miso paste $6.39 (lasts forever)

bulk bin chocolate chips in a pint mason jar $6.10 (expensive! but i prefer to forgo packaging whenever possible-kinder for the earth) for black bean brownies

4 gallons bulk reverse osmosis water in our giant glass jugs $1.17

6 large sweet potatoes

1 head red cabbage

25 lb local navel oranges $8.99- a super deal!  Not organic but super fresh and not sprayed with pesticides as per farmer.

4 lemons $1

6 limes $1

big bag of broccoli crowns $2.99

2 bunches asparagus

11 avocados $11

2 bunches green onions

1 kabocha squash- i love this steamed and drizzled with tamari, green onions and sesame seeds.  add rice and tofu for a complete meal.

GIANT bag of yukon gold potatoes- potatoes are life in this house, lol.  they get us through the winter.  roasted, in soups, oven fries, potato salads with vinaigrette, etc.

1 lb mixed greens

1.5 lb cremini mushrooms

2 large (Costco) bags frozen fruit: mango, and a tropical blend of mango, papaya,strawberry,pineapple

15 tomatoes

large bag of dried apricots, large bag of dried prunes- the kids love these as an after dinner treat and I have recently become inexplicably obsessed with prunes?

I lost one of the detailed receipts so I can’t list exact prices for everything , but I came in at approximately $160.  This is $10 over my budget for the week BUT some of these things (dried fruit, miso, tamari,choc chips,black beans) will last past the week and I came in quite under budget last week, so it evens out.

Some meals I’ll be making this week?

-celery, mushroom, cashew, tofu stir fry, seasoned with tamari and garlic+brown rice: one of our FAVE combos.  Super flavorful, filling, fast, and balanced.

-our “house salad”- mixed greens, green onions, kidney beans, dried cranberries, whatever chopped up veggies you have in the fridge+ a maple syrup/balsamic vinegar/dijon mustard dressing (3-2-1 dressing)

-quinoa, black rice, lentil, shredded kale salad- seasoned with shallots, herbs, and a bright mustard-vinegar dressing.  Probably will toss in some roasted asparagus or broccoli too.

-“house salad” + greek style lemon oregano baked potatoes- i use this recipe

-black bean brownies: seriously so good and i can let my kids have them for snacks because they are loaded with fiber, protein, and iron

-OJ+frozen fruit smoothies: such a easy and delicious combo.  loving OJ+ froz mango+ vanilla right now

-avocado sushi, duh

-forks over knives PIZZA with chickpea flour crust- recipe here

I’ll probably make other things too, but I don’t like to plan every meal.  I’d rather leave space for some creativity and intuition.

Hope this helps and please leave me a comment if you have a question or if there’s a specific topic you’d like me to post about!

 

Wintertime essential: ginger cinnamon tea

Ginger cinnamon tea anti inflammatory arthritis IBS cramps weight loss

In the same vein as last week’s post, I thought I would continue with the immunity and self healing thread.  It is winter and everyone is getting sick! My morning ritual revolves around meditation + yoga and a hot drink of some kind.  In the summer I like warm water with lemon, and in the winter I like ginger and cinnamon tea.  Having something warm first thing in the morning feels stimulating and soothing for my body.  It also helps to keep my immunity up so it can fight all the colds and flus going around.  The powerful anti inflammatory effects of these herbs help me keep my rheumatoid arthritis under control.

In traditional Chinese medicine, cool and iced liquids are thought to reduce Qi, or vital life energy.  In Ayurvedic medicine, the same concept exists: drinking cold liquids and foods puts out your digestive fire.  It is no surprise that hot herbal teas are commonly used in these cultures, to stimulate digestion and warm the body.

Cinnamon bark + fresh ginger root tea benefits:

Cinnamon is anti viral, anti fungal, and anti bacterial, making it wonderful for cold and flu symptoms.  It is also effective against candida and urinary tract infections.  It stabilizes blood sugar and is strongly anti inflammatory.  And it is delicious!  Cinnamon has a natural sweetness to it that balances out the spiciest of the ginger in this tea.  I use dried cinnamon sticks.  Ceylon cinnamon (the true cinnamon) is the most healing and medicinal variety.  Cassia (common cinnamon) can also be used, and is more widely available.

Ginger is an equally wonderful and underused herb; it improves circulation, eases pain (headaches and cramps!) reduces inflammation in the body, aids with digestion, and soothes nausea (morning sickness!).  Now I’m not talking about dried, packaged ginger tea- that stuff has little to no medicinal value.  Get your hands on a nice fresh chunk of ginger and prepare yourself some tea!

Directions: (serves 1)

2.5c water

2-3 inch chunk of ginger, cut into slices

2 cinnamon sticks

Put all ingredients in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  This is crucial!  My acupuncturist told me that different medicinal compounds get released by the ginger after it is cooked for 20 minutes.  Otherwise it will not be as effective.  Strain into a coffee mug and add sweetener of your choice to taste (raw honey is especially good), I usually use stevia.

Sliced fresh ginger anti inflammatory weight loss immunity flu

Lots of love,

A.

Sickness + a turmeric ginger immunity latte.

Turmeric ginger pepper immunity latte flu prevention

(For the turmeric latte recipe, scroll to the very end of the post 🙂 )

My daughter for sick for the 100th time since kindergarten started.  *le sigh* kids are so germy when they are all together!

Happily, no one else has gotten sick… Yet.  And she has gotten a thousand times better just from herbs and natural remedies.  So I thought I would post today about my go to herbal medicine cabinet when illness strikes.  I don’t like to use medicines for kids, they are often unnecessary and very harsh to a little body who is not equipped to process such toxins.  Remember when they recalled cough and cold medicines for kids because they are dangerous and don’t even work?!  I go the herbal route and it has worked for us 90% or more of the time.

First of all, for fevers, I don’t give fever reducing meds like ibuprofen unless the fever is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  Children can safely have higher fevers than adults.  Fever is a natural defense your body utilizes to get rid of the virus/bacteria.  If you lower the fever, you are lowering the body’s ability to heal itself!  Lukewarm baths and cool washcloths for the head can help to comfort a child with a fever.

Do not give cold liquids!  This is jolting for the body and it has to struggle to bring it back up to equilibrium.  Warm liquids encourage the removal and dislodging of mucus and congestion and are soothing for a sore throat.  Especially beneficial are herbal teas like chamomile, elderberry, slippery elm, and echinacea.  Traditional medicinals brand teas have tons of great blends just for kids.  Stir in a tablespoon of coconut oil for a sore throat.  Also great are warm water with lemon juice added, and diluted warmed citrus or apple juices.

Support the body’s natural ability to heal with herbs!  I love the herbs for kids brand of tinctures, they have lots of different blends for different ailments.  The two I use the most are the echinacea +astralagus for deep immune support and the cherry bark blend for respiratory support.

If there is mucus, I always give marshmallow root.  It has mucilaginous qualities which help to remove mucus and break up congestion.  I buy it in capsules and then empty 2 capsules into hot liquid and stir it up.

For coughs and colds, I find umcka syrup to be amazing.  It is a homeopathic syrup that is widely used in Europe to shorten the duration and severity of colds and it really works well.

Elderberry syrup is also wonderful for supporting the immune system and reducing the severity of illness.

As far as homeopathic medicines, I always keep belladonna (for high fevers, infections and inflammations) and pulsatilla (runny nose, mucus, clinging child) around.

Ear infections respond really well to warmed oil with garlic and mullein.  You can buy it in a little dropper bottle at your health food store, usually it has arnica added too-a homeopathic medicine for pain relief.  Just warm up the whole bottle by submerging it in hot water.  Test some oil on your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot.  Then have your child lay on their side and drop 5 drops of the warmed oil in each ear.  Sing or tell a story while you do this so that they will stay at least a minute on their side.  Do the other ear the same way too even if it doesn’t hurt.  HOWEVER if the ear is leaking pus/blood/liquid do NOT put anything in it, this means the eardrum has perforated.

If your child doesn’t want to eat, it’s OK!  Sick animals do not eat.  This is because digestion takes LOTS of energy.  Energy going towards digestion=energy taken away from healing and fighting sickness.  Give foods that are easy to digest with high water content, like juicy fruits (citrus, pineapple, grapes, mango) white rice, warmed broth and steamed broccoli.  Absolutely do not give your child dairy or wheat when they are sick.  These foods produce mucus in the body, adding to the mucus that is already there when they are sick, and are generally hard to digest and irritating to the digestive tract.

Essential oils are another great tool to have.

eucualyptus: breaks up congestion, good to dilute and rub on chest and to put in a diffuser and or humidifier, or in the bath.

peppermint: relieves headache.  Dilute and rub on temples, jaw, forehead to relieve pain.

Clove and cinnamon oils: are potent anti virals, dilute and rub on the bottoms of feet to fight and prevent illness.

lavender: very calming.  Great for massage or in the bath to calm an irritated or sad child.

And lastly, to ensure no one else gets sick, up your intake of immunity boosting foods…mushrooms, greens, vitamin c rich foods, lemons, spirulina, turmeric, ginger, garlic, etc.  If you feel like you are getting sick my favorite remedy is to blend lemon juice, ginger, cayenne pepper, garlic and honey all together and drink it.  It really works!  Also, this turmeric-ginger latte is a delicious favorite.  Here’s the recipe:

Turmeric ginger immunity latte.

2c plant milk (almond, hemp, coconut, whatever)

A few quarter sized slices of ginger

1t ground turmeric

1/8t fresh ground black pepper (this increases the turmeric’s bioavailability a lot)

honey/sweetener to taste

bring the milk and finger slices to boil in a small saucepan.  Let them simmer for 5 minutes, covered.  Fish out the ginger and add the turmeric, pepper, and sweetener.  Pour into a cup and enjoy!