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Sunday, March 25th

In no way, do I claim to be any kind of vegan or vegetarian. I enjoy an occasional buffalo wing, chicken McNugget, fried chicken sandwich… which also proves I’m not any kind of health nut. I’m not here to preach about how we’re destroying the planet by consuming so much meat. It may be true, but that’s not what is on my mind when I opt for the veggy burger over the meat. I’m not here to try to convince anyone that my way of living/eating is better than theirs and they should be like me.

My goal is to share the fact that meatless meals are not an impossibility. It’s NOT hard at all! In fact, at least for me, it’s actually easier because I always hated cooking my own meat. But that’s me, it was always gross to me. And the clean up was grosser than just wiping something down, because you have to worry so much about being sanitary. Raw meat touching something, and then the food goes bad within days. Seems like such a big hassle for little payout.

My other goal is to share the benefits. Obviously, it’s cheaper. I can thrive on $40/wk for groceries, EASILY. But some other benefits I’ve noticed since I started not consuming meat during every single meal, ever:

  • Clearer skin. When I DO get pimples, it’s obviously because I either haven’t washed my face in days or I ate meat. And they don’t last as long.
  • Stronger nails. This is gross and I would never type the beginning of this sentence if I weren’t able to type the end of it: I used to have yellowy, ripply toenails. They were always like that, my entire life, so I thought it was just the way it is. My toenails are beautiful right now, white, smooth, and strong. And my fingernails grow fast and don’t break as easily.
  • Another gross thing I really probably shouldn’t put on the internet but will anyway: my BM’s are totally more regular. So much so, that my body works like an alarm clock every morning. And I can bounce out of bed pretty quickly. 🙂
  • Cravings. The more you eat good-for-you things, the more you crave them. The less you crave garbage. I will always love potato chips, that is a life long love. But pizza flavored combos? I can live without.
  • Hunger. I know how to fill myself up with grains and veggies. I don’t find myself starving in the middle of the day. Half the time, I’m not even that hungry to eat lunch but I do anyway. And I usually have a pretty light dinner. Usually, not always!

I don’t know how long it’s been. There’s not really a time to be measured, because like I said, I don’t even consider myself a vegan. I will still eat meat on occasion. I’ll still eat cheese, even though it makes me feel like there’s an alien inside my belly, trying to claw it’s way out. It’s as simple as I can’t remember the last time I bought some meat in a grocery store. And I like it that way. That’s what works for me. There’s no strictness to my diet, I just try to lean towards what’s easiest and most beneficial for ME.

And when I have a nacho cheese craving, I pull out some potatoes & carrots. I’m not joking! This is my favorite cheese sauce recipe. The best part is, I always have all those ingredients on hand.

Sunday, March 18th

Sunday, March 18th

Today, I tried romanesco for the first time ever (feature photo). It’s so pretty, looks like little Christmas trees, has the taste of broccoli with the texture of cauliflower. Would buy again.

I’ve talked about Meal Mentor here before. Now, I’d like to share a few photos of dishes made from one of those meal plans. I actually remembered to take photos this time!

For anyone who is also following the meal plans, this is not the current week’s plan, I’m pulling from last week’s plan. That way, I have all week long to figure out what groceries I need and where to get my groceries.

I am a member of Imperfect Produce, mostly because I am a huge fan of their mission. They take all the produce that grocery stores don’t sell because they are ugly, overstocked, too small, weird color, weird shape, etc. and sell it for super cheap. I get to pick and chose what items I want before the box comes, I’m charged by weight. It’s always under $20, even when I get almost everything. And I get the warm fuzzy feeling of reducing food waste!

Priceless!

I’ll usually add whatever produce they’re offering that week that matches what’s on the meal plan. My picks have to be in by Tuesday night, and the new meal plans don’t come out til Wednesday. So, my perfect solution is to just go with last week’s plan.

I will also shop at Whole Foods, but try my damnedest to keep myself only in the bulk section. I like Whole Foods when I need to stock up on beans, grains, various spices. I don’t like Whole Foods when I need literally anything else. I wish we had more bulk stores in Chicago, or maybe we do and I don’t know about them. In that case, I wish someone would school me, because I want to buy things in bulk!!

Anyway, that was some rambling. On to photos!

Bollywood sweet potatoes – there’s mashed sweet potatoes under that mixture of spinach, peppers, carrots, zucchinis and lentils.

Cruciferous Curry – lil green to celebrate St Patty’s day. I’m a bit weary of this green stuff because it’s got cilantro in it, but I told myself I’d give the damn herb another shot.

Greek-style Tomato Stew – I actually forgot to toss the chickpeas in at the end, so that’s why they seem to be floating on top. Not pictured: a vegan “feta” dressing to go in once it’s warmed up.

Skinny Alfredo – this was a hit & a miss. I had an old TINY spaghetti squash to use up and this was supposed to take care of that. Unfortunately, the sauce turned out to be so incredibly plentiful that I had to improvise by adding linguine. It also called for green peas, which I also did not have enough for this massive amount of sauce.

There’s a couple more, but I either forgot to photo or the photo isn’t very pretty and not worth sharing. Before I even got started making anything, I made my own homemade hummus and almond milk, both to be used in these recipes. That was the first time I went to those lengths and it wasn’t so bad, might keep that up if I can help it.

I also made my own enchilada sauce the other day that was sooo delicious. I don’t think I’ll ever buy enchilada sauce again. Sometimes, doing that little extra instead of popping open a can is what makes the meal that much more worthwhile.

Yay!

Sunday, March 11th

I still have a few meals leftover from last week, so I made a smaller batch for this week. I had a few ingredients laying around forever, just waiting to be used up. That’s what these four meals did:

Coconut Cauliflower Curry: This is a curry dish with potatoes and cauliflower. I am loving Indian lately, it’s not hard to impress yourself with a homemade Indian dish. It’s all about the spices. And I am always down for spicy potatoes.

Winter Panzanella: This has roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash, corn, peas, cranberries, and chunks of bread. All covered in a balsamic, mustardy sauce. I’ve never made panzanella before. It feels so random, but will probably be delicious!

Enchilada Burritos: I only made the filling for these, for now. Zucchini, black beans, rice, and tomatoes. Some night this week, I will stuff the filling in a couple tortillas, cover em in enchilada sauce, and pop em in the oven. Still technically cooking at night/after work, but the majority of it is already done, so it’ll be real quick.

Purple Monster Salad: I had some oranges and beets to use up. Throw in some quinoa and you got yourself a salad.

I forgot to take any photos during the process, so have a look at my dirty oven.

I wanted to share with Marc that I was able to fit FOUR sheet pans in there, at once. FOUR!

Sunday, February 25th

by kandynet 0 Comments

Time to get back on the wagon. I fell off, hard. Whenever I don’t cook at home and opt to eat out, it’s great for a day or two, but after a while, I start to feel awful. Food really is the fuel of life and the best way to consume it is by home cooking.

I want to give credit to Meal Mentor. A couple years ago, I was feeling particularly uninspired on the cooking front. I had been trying this meal prep thing but was struggling with overbuying ingredients and then not cooking everything I’d planned to cook. Or making way too much of one thing and growing sick of it before I could finish it. So, I set out on a google search for a meal plan. There are a lot of options out there. And I tried some of them with not so great results.

Meal Mentor really was the best. It’s plant-based. So, first of all… I learned just how damn easy it is to cook plant-based meals. Groceries are cheaper, once you stock up on the basics of grains, beans, and legumes… all you’re really buying weekly is the produce. No expensive cheeses and meats, racking up the grocery bill. Storage is easier, you don’t have the same worries as having to eat meat within 3 days of cooking it, or dairy spoiling. Hell, I don’t even need to put my lunches in the fridge at work, if I don’t want to. But I swear, the most fun part is learning different ways to make cheese. I don’t miss cheese at all. AND I don’t feel like a dead animal is trying to climb out of my belly, after eating a plant-based cheese.

There is a monthly charge for this site, it’s $19.99/mo or $179 for an annual membership. I love it so much, I opted for the annual. I do not mind paying this fee at all because 1. I am saving a boat load on groceries (when I actually follow the plan). 2. She donates a portion of her proceeds to elephant charities. I LOVE THAT! The annual membership also comes with access to their Facebook group, which is full of amazingly supportive people. I’ve learned so much about vegan cooking from these meal plans, but also from that group. For instance, just today, I learned that freezing guacamole is a possibility. Who knew?

All that said, I have cooked the last meal plan for this week and am planning to share everything here. Today, I made a thing called a breakfast brownie, it’s just a brownie made with banana and oats instead of the regular flour and whatever.. eggs? But also, this incredibly simple soup that I thoroughly enjoyed called Thai Noodle Soup.


All it is is noodle, veggy stock, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, miso paste, and some ginger. I threw a sliced up jalapeno in there for some extra crunch. It’s delicious! And so so so simple to make.

Marc is planning on making pizza for dinner, so that will not be a meal mentor recipe, but I will try to share more this week!

I also want to attempt to remember teas that I’m drinking that I enjoy, because there are so many out there that I forget what I like. So, for today, it is this:

Simple Loose Leaf: Downy Jasmine. 9/10

Produce and Wildlife

Produce and Wildlife

This weekend, we went to Marc’s parents’ house. Marc and his mom made a delicious feast of shrimps, corn, potatoes, and a watermelon/tomato/feta salad.

shrimp & cornWatermelon Caprese

She sent us off with soooo many goodies from her garden: tomatoes, carrot, zucchinis, peppers, basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, chives, dill, green beans, cucumber. All great items!

File_008veggies

On the way back into the city, we stopped at this place Marc had been telling me about. Trailside Museum in River Forest. This house is over 75 years old and is a haven for injured wild animals and infants who are too young to fend for themselves. When they are well again, they are released back into the wild.

Turkey VultureCoyote

I thought it was interesting they had Pokemon GO signs for each cage, next to the normal descriptions…. that’s one way to get the kids interested.

OwlEastern Screech OwlPokemon Go

When we got back home, we went to a nearby farmer’s market and picked up a few things, but most importantly: the most delicious bloody mary mix I’ve ever tasted and some spicy dilly green beans, to drop into the bloody maries.

blood mary mix + spicy dilly beans

Melon Salad with Basil

Melon Salad with Basil

After a stay in a hotel, where water is not necessarily in great supply, you get a little dehydrated. What’s better for dehydration than a bunch of watery watermelon??

This is a great dish to bring to a potluck or big outdoor party. We plan to eat this as a snack or side at lunch, all week long. The lime juice will help the fruit not rot right away.

Here is Marc in the process of melon balling it all.


Print Recipe
Melon Salad with Basil
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Fruit
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Fruit
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut all the melons into bite size pieces, drop it all in a large bowl with the blueberries.
  2. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together lime zest, lime juice, basil, and chia seeds.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix, getting all the melon pieces covered in the dressing.
Recipe Notes

I have a melon baller, which is great for things like this. This can be eaten right away, but it's better if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, let those flavors really blend together.

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Chilaquiles with kale

Chilaquiles with kale

Chilaquiles is my all-time favorite breakfast. When you’re out ordering this at a restaurant, you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes, it’ll be loads of chips with hardly any toppings. Minimal chips, and tons of scrambled eggs on top. Aint nobody got time for some scrambled eggs on chilaquiles. That’s just not how it’s done!

I realize that eggs are not part of a whole foods, plant-based diet. So, i suggest getting eggs from your local farmer’s market. As close to fresh eggs as you can possibly get. There is a little amish store near me that I get duck eggs from and I just love them, the yolks are bigger and orange and just beautiful.

Print Recipe
Chilaquiles with kale
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
optional
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cover tortilla chips with enchilada sauce and mix up so that every chip is covered. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet, saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Toss in kale and beans, stir until kale is a wilted. Add water if things start to stick, oil is not necessary. Add corn here, if desired, but not necessary.
  4. Mix the veggies until the bowl of chips. Pour everything until a 13x9 casserole dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven, crack eggs on top, equal distance from each other. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until eggs whites turn fully white, or just before (to avoid overcooking the yolks). I find that taking it out of the oven and covering it with a baking sheet helps the eggs set up a bit.
Recipe Notes

On plating: you have to scoop up the ingredients from around the eggs first. Then, scoop up the egg and place on top. This will not only make it look pretty, but also allow you to crack the yolk and let it run down through all the food underneath.

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