Saturday, November 15, 2014

Healthy Tips for the Busy Vegan

If you are balancing a busy life, with a side dose of stress, it is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The balance factor is multiplied when you are vegan and you need to make sure the foods you are eating contain the essential vitamins and minerals you need for looking and feeling your best. It is easy to reach for processed foods or to order take out. However, it is not so easy to stay healthy with that lifestyle.

Below are a few tips that can help relieve the stress and pressure of eating well while maintaining balance.

Plan Ahead!

Take a couple hours on a weekend to prep a few meals for the coming week. I’m in love with mason jar meals. All the salad makings you need stuffed into a jar.

Produce with Amy has some great mason jar salad recipes. Here is a link to 30 different salad recipes – click on the first link and she has a great Q & A and basic information on prepping and storing your jars.

You can do the same thing with chopping veggies for a stir fry or putting together all of the main ingredients needed for a full meal later in the week.

Double Your Recipe

Make a staple item – and make it a double batch. Try things like a big pot of soup, tomato sauce or chili. All of these items freeze really well.  You then have instant thaw and prepare items that are not packaged and processed.

Vegan Slow Cooker

Slow cooker meals can be started in the morning, or on your lunch break. Throw the ingredients in, turn on the pot and go! Traditionally, the slow cooker meals are meat based. There is finally a couple of good Vegan Slow Cooker books out there that are well worth the investment. A few suggestions below can get you started, but there are a ton of options out there now that you can find with a simple Amazon search.

Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson

The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go, by Kathy Hester

Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You, by Kate Lewis


Meal Plans

Prepared meal plans are one of the very best modern conveniences. Whether they are from a local business like Four Square Meals Iowa, or an online food service like Hello Fresh, meal plans are amazing.
Hello Fresh meal, Stuffed Portabello Mushroom with Balsamic Glaze

When I lived in Iowa City, I used Four Square Meals Iowa. Delicious, wholesome and healthy, I really miss this vegan food service! Owner, Chef David Burt, is a former owner of the renowned vegan restaurant, Red Avocado. They offer a weekly pick-up for a meal plan providing four full meals for the week. With a little demand - maybe you can get him to extend and offer delivery/pick up outside of the Iowa City area! Four meals for one person $40 a week or a meal plan for two for around $70.

Another option, Hello Fresh, offers quick healthy vegetarian meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Order online and the meals are delivered in a “Cold Box” fresh to your door. You can order meals prepped for 2 people or in a larger family sized quantity for 4 or more. It is not quite as convenient as having someone prepare everything for you like Four Square Meals - but if you don't have time to shop or plan out your meals, it is a great option.

Each meal comes with everything you need pre-measured and ready to cook. The vegetarian meals are made with fresh vegetables and grains and provide a great balance of nutrients for a healthy vegan diet. There are few “non-vegan” ingredients that are easily subbed or omitted from a couple meals. The meals for 2 people actually prepare enough for 3 good healthy servings. So for single folks, the meal plans can actually spread much further. A couple of the meals I received use cheese as a garnish and I have subbed Daiya dairy free shredded cheese or left it off completely.

If you would like to try Hello Fresh - use this code for a $20 discount on your first order: XFX7GQ

Stay Active!

Modern conveniences like some of the ones listed above have helped us to balance some of the stress that comes with a busy lifestyle. It is still important to find a way to stay active and decompr
ess. If 20 minutes at the gym is not your thing, try pulling a yoga mat in front of your TV. My yoga mat does not get put away unless company arrives. It reminds me to get up off the couch and do something. There are tons of links you can find with a simple internet search that will provide floor exercises and easy yoga or Pilate moves that can work your core. Whatever it is you do – take good care of yourself!


Four Square Meals Iowa:
Hello Fresh:  $20 Discount code: XFX7GQ

Monday, March 31, 2014

Stuffed Noodles

I’ve been making this recipe for years and years and realized recently that I had not shared it on my blog. When I was a kid ricotta stuffed noodles was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made. Of course, with all of the ways out there to make vegan cheeses, there is a vegan ricotta recipe and this meal is a staple in my kitchen.


1 package firm or extra firm Tofu
½ - ¾ Cup Cashews

2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast

1 Tbsp Lemon

½ tsp Onion Powder

½ tsp Garlic Powder

½ tsp salt

Optional: 1 Cup Daiya Cheese or 1 cup frozen spinach

½ box of large shell noodles

2 Cups of prepared marinara sauce


First bring 4-6 cups of water to boil and cook ½ box of large shell noodles (20-22 noodles). Store the remaining noodles for a later date. I like to store my food in mason jars, and find that the other half box of noodles (20-22 large shells) fits perfectly in a large mason jar.

While your noodles are cooking, prepare the filling. Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and pulse until it forms into a thick and creamy cheese. If you like the recipe and want to add some fun you can mix in 1 Cup of Daiya cheese or 1 cup frozen spinach that has been thawed and well drained.

Drain noodles and rinse with cold water to help them cool faster. Make sure noodles are not sticking together.

Spread two tablespoons of marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8” glass-baking dish.

Fill each noodle with a scoop of ricotta mixture. Place each noodle open face up in the
baking dish. Once the dish is filled, spread the remaining marinara evenly over noodles. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of Daiya cheese over the top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

These are extremely filling and just a couple tend to fill you up!

 **If you are making a meal for one or two - this is the perfect freezer meal! Prepare half the noodles ready to bake and then freeze the other half, leaving out the marinara in the freezer dish.**

Makes 20-22 Large stuffed shells or 5-6 servings

Serving Size: 3-4 Shells

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Creamy Potato Soup

I’ve seen a few potato soup recipes out there and I was looking to make a creamy soup that delivered without dairy as a base. The nutritional yeast and liquid smoke gives this soup a smoky cheese flavor

3-4 cups of water or vegetarian broth
1 cup of chopped cauliflower
3-4 medium potatoes
1 small onion finely chopped
1 cup red lentils
½ Cup Nutritional Yeast
1-2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp pepper

Add all ingredients together. Bring water/broth to a boil then turn down heat and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Take 2-3 cups of the soup and blend on low until smooth. Make sure to cover and hold down the top of the blender with a towel. Depending on your preference for thickness and smoothness, you can blend more or less of the soup or add more water. I actually prefer to keep my chunky instead of smooth and just use a potato masher to thicken this up.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 7-8 servings