Quarantine food game freezer edition

So, how are things going for you?   COVID-19 cases are growing here in Charleston and I think (and hope) a stay at home order is coming.  We need to flatten the curve so we can save lives.

I know you’re not here for news, but for food help.  If you haven’t already seen the pantry and fridge posts, give them a peek. This one is all about what we keep in the freezer and how it helps us get through the busy days and when we just don’t feel like hitting the grocery store.  Believe me, those days were many when my back went wonky a few months back and walking was an ordeal.  Grabbing a bag of veggies and a veggie burger or sausage out of the freezer made meals so much easier.

What are our freezer staples?

  • Veggies – blends, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, greens, and okra
  • Beans – either cooked from dry and frozen in 2-cup increments or store-bought
  • Fruit – whatever happens to be on sale but usually berries, mango, and pineapple
  • Veggie meat – burgers and sausage
  • Vegan meals – occasionally homemade leftovers, skillet meals, and individual meals
  • Tofu – firm and extra-firm

It’s a short list, but these staples paired with pantry and fridge staples result in fantastic meals and snacks all day long.  Sometimes just the frozen options can make nice meals.  These are goodies I’ve made in the past, present, and future.

Smoothies with fruit and greens (or cauliflower rice) make a nice breakfast or snack.  I’ll add oats sometimes to make it a heartier drink or make a smoothie bowl topped with oats, nuts, and fresh or thawed frozen fruit.  Sometimes, I’ll blend tofu and berries to make a mousse as a snack or dessert.  Topping it like a smoothie bowl also makes a nice breakfast – one I ‘ve had a few days this week.  rsz_20200331_120333

A veggie burger with or without a bun served with fries and baked beans is a standard go-to when I’m not feeling creative.  When I am feeling more creative or feel like re-creating my old favorite tv dinners, I’ll turn the burger into Salisbury Steak with mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, and a fruit crisp or brownie for dessert.  I’ve also turned burgers into meatloaf when I want a lof but not lentil loaf.

Vegan sausage is perfect on a bun with sauteed peppers and onions, sliced up and mixed with beans (who didn’t like Beanie Weenies as a kid?), or sitting on the side of red beans and rice.  For a snack, a link with brown mustard and pickles is nice for a lower carb day.  Beyond Sausage and Lightlife’s new Sausage are in the freezer now.  I found them on sale a few months back and stocked up for a rainy day.

Sometimes all I want for dinner are beans, greens, and rice.  Throwing the rice in the InstantPot and thawing cooked beans and greens on the stovetop or microwave makes a healthy comfort food meal easy.   Hitting them with a little hot sauce or bbq sauce always does it for me. And if there’s time, some cornbread will seal the deal. There is no shame in using cornbread mix, y’all.

Frozen planned overs or leftovers help me get a homemade meal ready to go quickly.  Right now there is chili and a black beans and rice casserole waiting for their time to shine again.  When you freeze, make sure to put the name and date on the container. I’m not always up for “Vegan Surprize” after a long day.

Gardein Skillet Meals are a store-bought option that will work well if you’re in a hurry. Keep in mind that these will not feed more than two people.  Or one really hungry person.  I have Chik’n Florentino and Italian Style Rigatoni and Saus’age on hand and am looking at the Porkless Thai Curry as the next one to try.

Frozen veggies are perfect to round out a meal or as a meal in themselves.  I’ll serve cauliflower mashed, as wings (breaded or not), straight up with a sauce of some kind, as 20200308_214605a low carb potato substitute in home fries or salad.  Why? Why not.  Cauliflower rice is also a nice side option some days.  A stir-fry blend is nice for a quick curry or with teriyaki, hoisin, or orange sauce.  Classic mixed carrots, peas, and corn can be a nostalgic side or added to soup, a pot pie, or veggie fried rice.  See where I’m going here?  Ask me for more examples or my recipes and I’m happy to share.

I hope that these last few posts have given you idea for meals that won’t bore you while saving you from extra grocery stops.   Remember, there is no shame in convenience foods.  Do whatever you need to do to make healthy, filling meals that make you and yours happy.   Please be safe out there and wash your hands.

Take care.

 

 

 

 

How’s your quarantine food game? Fridge edition

Is your pantry stocked? The freezer?  do you have staples on hand so you can cook and eat all the goodness you need? If not, this post is for you.  The post works for you if you have stocked up.  There’s something for all the veggies and vegans here.  I’ll share what we keep on hand in my house and how we make it work for us.  I’m the only veggie in the house, but I will not share what the omnis add to their meals here.  This one is for us.

When you have pantry and freezer staples on hand, you can mix and match to make

culi fried rice

delicious and healthy meals.  Not sure about that?  Check out Miyoko’s Creamery on Facebook for live cooking demos featuring pantry staples.  Why?  Because Miyoko is a joy to watch and her products are banging.  She published a book all about the vegan pantry a few years ago.  The Homemade Vegan Pantry is one of my favorites and comes in handy in times of crisis and storm season.  If you have a busy schedule and don’t always have time to cook or shop the way you’d like, you should check it out.

What do I keep in my fridge?  Plant milk, condiments, and produce always.  The produce we pick up depends on what’s on sale and what looks good at the moment. After batch cooking, you’ll find rice, beans, and greens.  Depending on the condiments and sides, I can make different meals out of those goodies.  Add salsa, shredded lettuce, olives, radishes, and tortillas for Tex Mex night.  Arrange beans and green over rice with a little hot sauce and a  biscuit or cornbread for a Southern meal.  Turn the beans and rice into burgers (or sausage) depending on seasonings used and throw it on a bun, bed of salad greens, or bowl of grits.  Make bean burgers and serve them over rice and topped with mushroom gravy for a vegan take on Loco Moco (the link goes to Guy Fieri’s version, so don’t click if you’re not okay with looking at meat or dairy).  And there’s always soup or stew – throw everything in a large pot with sauteed onions, garlic, and water to cook until all is heated through,  Season it to your taste and there’s lunch or dinner.  Don’t forget about throwing veggies on a sheet pan to serve with the bean burger.  Try cutting carrots or turnips into fries – yum!

food prep

Sheet pan dinner ftw – toss with a little oil, water, or broth season, and roast.  Easy cleanup, too!

I hope this gave you some ideas on what to pick for the fridge.  If you want or need a specific grocery list, just ask.  I am always happy to help others find their groove in the kitchen.

Next time, I’ll focus on the pantry.  See you then!

 

Vegan Mofo 2018

Hi, all!

Your friendly neighborhood Sherrie will participate in Vegan Mofo in September!  Vegan Mofo is all about the vegan food and you know how much I love food. This gives me an excuse to eat and share more nummy goodness.

VeganMoFo-2

For those who don’t know me, I’m an omni turned vegan married to an omni hubs and have two omni college kids (well, 24 and 20 years old).  The food I love is a mix of omni-friendly comfort food, raw goodness, decadent desserts, bowls, Southern goodness, and everything in between.  Sometimes boring, occasionally misses, but always colorful and full of love.  I love to cook and have no problem taking shortcuts when necessary.   I deal with chronic pain, so shortcuts and takeout are necessary at times.

I’ll be posting here, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, so you won’t miss anything if you stalk – I mean follow – me like I follow some of you.

Keep an eye open for all the plant-based goodness all over the place! If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, give me a shout.

Until tomorrow!

 

The processed foods I love

July 2018?  Happy Holy Crap the Year is Half Over!

Yeah, it feels that way some days, eh?  The kids (well, adults) are getting ready for another semester of college, the dogs are practically mentilg in the summer hear, and life is life.

Since my last post, not much has changed.  My glucose is getting better but pain is not. Daily chances of thunderstorms mean daily muscle spasms and pain spikes.  It’s frustrating to say the least.  I’m pushing through, though, and working on my nutrition when my body fights.  Keeping processed foods to a minimum makes a huge difference for me, but some things will always be a part of my eating plan.  Why?  I’m stubborn.

I know I’m not the only one that deals with various health issues and know for sure there are some who do not feel like cooking or eating.  Processed foods as an occasional treat or served with unprocessed goodness is working for me.  Here are some of my favorites and how I enjoy them.

sujaWhen I’m on the run and need a drink to hold me over, I grab water and occasionally pick up a green juice.  Suja makes my favorite blends and I have yet to be disappointed.

Costco occasionally carries Suja juice cleanses and Target seems to keep a good mix of them in stock.  The new Drinking Vinegars seem to be everywhere, but I have not tried one yet.  The Wellness Shots are on my radar and I’ll let you know what I think.

Not all commercial salad dressings are junk.  While I do enjoy the occasional Just Caesar, turneric dressing I’ve been reaching for hummus with vinegar the most at home, but when I want something else, Trader Joe’s in my jam. Er, go-to.  This cold-pressed Almond Butter Turmeric blend is creamy and smooth.  I like more of a zing on my salads, so I add a little vinegar over the top.  This is fantastic on top of greens or as a mayo substitute in bean and pasta salads.  It makes a yummy ‘peanut’ sauce with a little soy or aminos added.  The other cold-pressed options are Carrot Ginger Miso and Green Goddess (with avocado).  I have not tried the other two yet, but both are only list.  There is nothing like a big bowl of mixed greens with Green Goddess dressing.  Anyway, swing by TJ if you want to give them a try.

Every once in a while, I’ll pick up a non-dairy yogurt instead of making it.  If I get in a baking mood and need yogurt, I will swing into the store instead of waiting a day for foragerhomemade to do its thing.  Yes, I’m impatient.  If I want to eat some straight up, I may choose a flavored one, but do love the flexibility of unflavored yogurt.  One of my favorites is Forager.  I have picked it up at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and Publix (at the best regular price).  While it is not as creamy as dairy, it is pretty creamy and the cashew base makes it more versatile thanks to the neutral flavor.  I’ve used it in baking, as sour cream, and as a topper for fresh or frozen fruit.  Give it a shot sometime if you’re not up to waiting for homemade.

I love making non-dairy milk.  Oat and cashew are the ones I reach for most, but when I want to bake for the family, nuts are out of the question and oat milk has a little too much flavor to most things.  I gave Ripple Unsweetened Original a try and will not go back.  This pea milk is as rich as non-dairy according to my omni family and the goodies baked with it come out perfectly.  It has no gluten, lactose, nuts, or sugar along with 8ripple grams of  protein, 32 mg DHA Omega 3’s, and 50% more calcium than 2% dairy milk, there’s no reason to use dairy.  Besides, the family does not complain about my vegan desserts.  If plain unsweetened isn’t your thing, Ripple also comes in vanilla, chocolate, and half and half.  I have tried the half and half in baking and coffee.  It’s really, really good.  Omni hubs enjoyed the half ad half in his iced coffee without blinking or commenting.  That says a lot.

The hardest food to find when I first dropped meat was a substitute that really hit the spot for me.  While I enjoyed the occasional veggie burger, I did not find one that tasted better than a fast-food burger.  And I wasn’t really a fan of fast-food burgers ever.  Morningstar Farms was my go-to until I dropped eggs and dairy, and back then their vegan burger was meh.  Boca was another favorite, but it stopped going into my shopping cart when I started experimenting with homemade bean-based burgers.  When I’m with the extended family and a random burger meal is in the works, I have to find something quick so I don’t sit there starving or eating just a bun with lettuce and tomato.  While that works sometimes, it isn’t always my idea of a meal.  Enter the Beyond Burger.

beyond burger

This beast has 20 grams of protein and gives the old-school burger feel that mome meat eaters will enjoy.  This is not a daily thing, but makes a nice option for the “can you eat burgers” discussion that tends to pop up at cookout time.

I don’t use these foods as a regular thing.  As I mentioned earlier, a primarily unprocessed eating plan works best for me.  Every once in a while, these foods help save the day.  Give some a try sometime and let me know what you think.

Until next time, peace.

 

 

 

Healing by any means

No, this is not another ‘no longer vegan,’ posts.  It’s just a commentary on trying work around meds and supplements that aren’t exactly veg-friendly. 

It’s a struggle,  y’all.  Not sticking to my way of eating, but trying to find vegan supplements and meds.  I’ve found many that work, but not all are veg-friendly.   Does it make me less compassionate?   No.  It means I’m one of the many dealing with this.

If you choose to judge me based on this mindset, so be it. Step into  body on a high pain day(well, week)  and talk to me afterward.  I’m doing what needs to be done while I find the optimal balance.

Does it mean veg-friendly instead of certified vegan supplements?   If the veg-friendly products work best, yes.  Does it mean dealing with meds that have no vegan alternative?   Yes, unfortunately.   Does it make me sad?  Yes.

I need to keep it together while on the journey.   On days like today, that means healing by any means necessary.

Eating for real

Let’s be real for a minute. We know it’s better to eat at the table so you can put your focus squarely on your meal, but that isn’t always how things go. We eat at our desks, in the car, and while watching tv.  While protein shakes and smoothies are a great option for mobile meals, those don’t always do the trick.  My question is this:  what kinds of things do you reach for when you need something more but don’t always have both hands available?

When I need to eat at my desk, easy-to-eat fruit and nuts is one of my favorite combos.  Apple slices or strawberries with a serving of mixed nuts on the side makes me happy.

apples n nuts

Give me a Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Ambrosia, or Granny Smith and I’m a happy woman. 

When fruit isn’t what I’m feeling at that  moment, muffins make me smile.  Blueberry, oatmeal, apple spice, pumpkin or sweet potato muffins are blissful one-handed goodies that don’t always leave a mess on my clothes or keyboard.

blueberry-yogurt-muffins2

These Blueberry Yogurt muffins from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean and delicious, guilt-free, and quick.  Happy Herbivore photo.

You can never go wrong with a good old fashioned sandwich.  I make sure it’s not made with messy fillings so I don’t have to worry as much about a gloopy keyboard or stains on my tops.

sandwich

Nothing like a sammy full of holiday leftovers.

What are you favorite meals or snacks when you eat on the go or in the office?

Make your own non-dairy milk

Note: I received the Victoos Nut Milk Bag free of charge in exchange for my honest review. Anything I say is not influenced by the product. My views are my own and I will not recommend anything I don’t believe in.

I used to just kind of like milk. I had it over cereal and used it in recipes, but as far as drinking it straight, I wasn’t a fan. I found out later in life that milk did not like me. At all. It smiled in my face and kicked me in the back. Hard. Milk gave me gas, made me bloated, and gave me headaches. Any milk or milk product had the safe effect. As much as I loved my yogurt, cheese, and ice cream, dairy had to go. While that made me a little sad, it sent me on a mission to find delicious non-dairy alternatives that like me as much as I like them.

Non-dairy milk was first on my list. While I can find soy, nut, rice, hemp, flax, and coconut milks on store shelves, my budget does not always appreciate the hit when they’re not on sale or when I go on a baking binge. Learning to make my own was not difficult at all. For quick soymilk or cream, I add water and to a package of silken tofu and whip it until I get the consistency I want. Sometimes I want to mix it up. When I want nut, seed, or grain-based milk, I blend the item with water and go. while I get a smooth consistency, the milk usually isn’t as smooth as a store-bought product. This is where a nut milk bag comes in.

The Victoos Nut Milk Bag is a lightweight nylon bag designed for straining.  Just blend your nut, seed, or grain milk, pour into the bag, and strain.  Squeezing the bag will strain out all of the liquid and leave pulp I use in smoothies, oats, or in baking.  I haven’t tried drying the pulp out to use as flour yet, but that’s on the list of things to try later.

Cleaning the bag is a breeze.  I give it a good rinse if I need it again right away and toss it in the wash with kitchen towels if I don’t.  By the way, a nut bag is excellent for people who want to juice but don’t have a juicer.  Just blend the juice ingredients and strain through the bag.  If you want a Victoos Nut Milk Bag, snag one on Amazon while it’s a great price – just $8.95.

What non-dairy milk will I make next?  I’m thinking a coconut-flax milk might be lovely.  Why that blend?  Because I’m obsessed with making tofu mousse and yogurt and saving my silken tofu for those uses.

This goodie is inspired by an older recipe from Happy Herbivore.  I added blueberries to the ‘yogurt’ recipe to snack on as-is or on top of fruit salad for breakfast.  Want some?

Which non-dairy goodies are your favorites?

One week into 21-Day Fix

Thank you, Autum Calabrese!  The 21-Day Fix is legit!



I’m proof that just about anyone can do the workouts and I had a good first week even with the modified moves and schedule! You know by now that I have to modify any program I’m on thanks to the crumbling spine.  I cannot (but can) belive I still had a successful week as far as weight and inch loss.

I made sure I ate my reds, greens,and blues every day without fail. Greens went into my smoothies along with fruit – even cabbage and broccoli.  I ate Soy Curls, tofu, beans, hemp seeds, and Gardein.  I counted oranges and teaspoons with nuts, nut butter, flax seeds and touches of oil in salads, oatmeal, and on bread. (Note:  Sherrie needs garlic bread with pasta!)  Starchy yellows included bread, rice, and oats.  When I ate Gardein as protein, I ate half to three-quarter sized yellows.  When I used beans as protein, I measured them in yellow containers and added more green to my meal.  My blues included homemade hemp and coconut milks.  I didn’t cheat last week.  I also didn’t eat on schedule thanks to a couple of crazy days.

For training, I alternated Upper, Lower, Total Body, and Cardio Fix with PIlates Fix and Yoga Fix to aid in my recovery.  I had a bad day on Thursday, so I did two short sessions with Tony Horton and a short walk.  Ten Minute Trainer is a great one for people short on time.

My results?  1 pound down and lost inches in my waist and hips.  Yes, inches plural.  I lost two inches off my waist and one off my hips.  I’ll take it!  I don’t usually care that much about the scale, but weighed in to prove that modification still yields results.

I cannot wait to see what the next two weeks brings!  I’m checking out Team Beachbody Club and Beachbody on Demand and will substitute a workout from 21-Day Fix Extreme, Focus T-25, P90X, P90X2, P90X3, Insanity, Asylum, RevAbs, Turbo Fire, or any of the other streaming workouts available on BOD.  If you like mixing it up or want to try a program before you buy, BOD rocks!

Here’s to another week of eating clean and training.  It doesn’t matter how you train – be consistent and go as hard as you can.  If you want to join me, just give me a shout.  I’ve got your back.

Note:  The images link to my Team Beachbody Store.  If you want or need support or accountability and don’t have a coach, pick up 21 Day Fix or any other program and I’ll be your coach.  You can join for free if you’re not ready to commit to a program yet and just need some help.  I’m here for you.

How not to go vegetarian

Switching from an omni to vegetarian way of life can be easy, but if you want to keep it healthy, don’t do what I did. Let my mistakes be your guide.

When I first made the switch, I replaced all meat with additional bread, cheese, and fat. I thought I could eat anything I wanted in large quantities because I wasn’t eating meat. Unless the cheese is made with vegetable rennet, it might as well be meat. And those calories add up. I lost weight because I was working out five days a week. The minute things slowed down, the weight came on.

Another big mistake I made was not eating more vegetables. I ate the same handful of veggies I’d always eaten, but most of them were either starchy or smothered in cheese or butter or both.

And don’t get me started on the sweets. I feel into the ‘woah, this is vegan?’ trap and tried everything. Lots of everything. I still try lots of vegan sweets, but not all at once.

If you have any questions about my missteps, feel free to ask.

Until next time, peace and good eats!

Ahh, chocolate! Thanks, Freedom Superfoods Organic Raw Cacao!

freedom cacaoHello.  My name is Sherrie and I have a chocolate problem.  I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.   I like it sweet, dark, mild, straight up or in recipes.  Cutting out dairy meant cutting way back on store-bought chocolate goodness and getting back into the kitchen for my fix.  That wasn’t a problem necessarily, but it wasn’t exactly the best thing for me to do.  You know, since I have that problem.

When I was asked if I’d be interested in trying Freedom Superfoods Organic Raw Cacao, I was not opposed.  Well, more than that.  I was excited; giddy, even.  I know that good quality chocolate has health benefits (it’s rich in antioxidants and minerals), but it seems this stuff is even better.  According to the folks at Freedom Superfoods, their raw cacao is alkalizing and energizing in addition its fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron that help keep my blood pressure and energy level on point.  It’s non-fermented, organic, raw goodness.

The first thing I did when I received the bag was make a mocha.  It was late morning when my shipment arrived and I needed caffeine.  I noticed how smooth and fine the powder was.  This was not the cocoa powder I was used to.   It blended perfectly into my mocha and made my chocolate-loving self smile.  I think the flavor did more to lift the afternoon slump than the caffeine.

Freedom Superfoods Organic Raw Cacao has adds rich dark chocolate flavor in anything its added to.  When you order a bag, Freedom Superfoods includes an e-book with recipes to try.  Instead of following their recipes, I used the raw cacao the way I usually use cocoa powder.  I mixed it into smoothies and oatmeal at breakfast, coffee and coconut milk for afternoon lattes and mochas, chili at lunch and dinner, and for dessert, everything.  I made raw banana chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup for topping and dipping, chocolate mousse, and, my current favorite, homemade coconut dark chocolate candy. Thanks to Angela Liddon (Oh She Glows) for that one.   she inspired me and sent me on a candy-making spree.

cacao ig

Coconut Oil, raw cacao, and maple syrup = vegan superfood candy bars!

The recloseable bag helps keep the cacao powder fresh until its all gone.  At this rate, I’ll finish it by the end of the year.  Yes, I plan to give chocolate goodness as holiday presents.   If you want your dark chocolate goodness throughout the day like I do, Freedom Superfoods Organic Raw Cacao is the way to go.  Check them out on Facebook and see why I love this stuff.  The company stands behind their products and offers a 60 day money-back guarantee.

If you’ll excuse me, I have a raw banana chocolate smoothie to finish while I work.  I’d share, but, you know, you’re not here with me.

choc smoothie

Cheers!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.