Air Fryer Experiments

Hi!

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought an air fryer on sale. What is an air fryer, you ask? Well, it’s basically a healthier version of a deep fryer. It fries food with hot air instead of oil.

Personally, I am still figuring out what works and doesn’t work with it and trying to perfect temperatures and cooking times. I have found that using a lot of liquid batter without any kind of dry coating over it does not work so well. It says you can make donuts in it, but I have no clue how that’d work. I have not tried cooking french fries yet, but I really want to, just haven’t yet.

So far I have fried some soy curls using this recipe here. Those came out excellent, I think I cooked them at 350 for about 10 minutes. I also tried defrosting some Gardein chicken scallopini, coating it in watered down Neat egg substitute coated with vegan/gluten free rice crispy-esque cereal. That was okay, but not that exciting even though I had high hopes.

Then, when I botched a bunch of battered cauliflower, I came up with a splendid idea. But I didn’t have any more cauliflower, so I tried it with tofu. It’s supposed to be like coconut coated fried shrimp, but is made with tofu (and someday I need to try it with cauliflower, too!)

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Here is the recipe for it:

Coconut Crusted Air Fried Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vodka or unflavored soda water/seltzer
  • 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • one bag sweetened shredded coconut flakes
  • sweet chili sauce for dipping
  • 1 block tofu, preferably frozen, thawed, then pressed for 20 minutes

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the water, vodka/soda water until a liquid, medium thickness batter forms. Water it down if necessary to be the desired thickness, but it should stay fairly thick.
  3. Cut tofu into smallish rectangles.
  4. Place some of the sweetened coconut into a dish.
  5. Dip the tofu in the batter, then into the coconut.
  6. Delicately place in the air fryer tray.
  7. Air fry for 10 minutes, 350 degrees F or slightly lower if you don’t want it as browned as I did. May take some experimentation as I believe air fryers can vary quite a bit.
  8. Use sweet chili sauce to dip in, and serve with a generous helping of veggies!

I’m sure I’ll discover some new tips and tricks about air fryers soon!

So check back here for those.

Until then, or until another recipe creation strikes!

Take care! xo

 

Asparagus and Saffron and Garlic Aioli

When I was younger, my mom used to make a non vegan version of this that I loved. Every time she’d make it, she would say “Saffron and Garlic Aioliiiiii” all long and drawn out in a funny voice and it made me have fonder memories of it. It leaves you with horrible garlic breath, but is worth it.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • Olive oil or spray oil
  • 1 cup Just Mayo (vegan mayo brand…I do not recommend trying this with other brands of veganaise, they will get too thin and the taste won’t be the same)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch saffron threads

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Trim the ends of the asparagus off. Place in a baking pan with oil spread or sprayed on the bottom. Spray the tops of the asparagus with oil as well or use a couple teaspoons of oil if you don’t spray.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. To prepare the aioli, place the vinegar, agave, and saffron in a saucepan and bring it to a boil on medium heat.
  5. Allow the vinegar to cool in the refrigerator.
  6. Stir the garlic together with the Just Mayo.
  7. When the vinegar mixture is cool, mix together with the mayo and garlic.
  8. Dollop the aioli over the asparagus. Enjoy! It also makes a yummy dip for other veggies and such.

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Mango Cashew Thai Yellow Curry

Tonight I made this really good dinner for my brother and I! He said it tasted like it was from a restaurant. It was surprisingly easy though. I had bought this curry paste, pictured below, at Market Basket:

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Which eventually became this:

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Note: the curry paste is not mild in spiciness. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can organic full fat coconut milk
  • 1 package Kanokwan yellow curry paste
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 14 oz chopped stir fry veggies of choice
  • 1 champagne mango, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Directions:

  1. Mix together the full can of coconut milk and curry paste. Heat on medium low heat and stir until oily on top.
  2. Add in cubed tofu. Stir and allow to cook for a few minutes.
  3. Pour in vegetable broth and stir. Increase heat to medium, and add veggies, mango, and cashews.
  4. Heat until veggies are cooked.
  5. Serve over rice.
  6. Deliciously simple!

Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice and Father’s Day! I wish it wasn’t supposed to rain…:(

Easy Baked Seitan Recipe for Vegan Homemade Hibachi!

Hi all, it’s been awhile since I have posted anything. I’ve taken a sort of unofficial break to work on some other stuff.

Things like my running blog, actually training for a half marathon, and my Banana Curl, Vegan Girl cookbook zine that’s all my favorite recipes from my childhood. I hope to complete it and start selling it by March. I’ve also started a new website, but haven’t done much work on it yet. It’s not ready to share yet, but I plan to have it be an informational website for vegans of all levels interested in various topics around veganism for social justice and support for people who want to become new vegans. I’m really excited about it, but I have to be patient and keep it secret for now while I’m working on it.

In the next few months or so I will be trying to post new recipes more often as I’ve gotten a bit out of habit with it. I will be sharing recipes I’ve created for the zine too to get you all excited about buying it when it comes out…(It’ll be cheap, like 2-5 dollars I think).

One of those recipes I’d like to share is my recipe for Vegan Hibachi. I loved hibachi and other Japanese foods so much growing up as a kid. We had this restaurant in Providence called Fuji when I was very young in Providence that we would always go to. We went there so often that we got to know the family who owned it really well. Their daughter even came with us on a trip to San Francisco. Unfortunately, it went out of business years ago, but I still have fond memories of it. They always gave us Botan Rice candies as a treat when we left, which I still love (and they are vegan too!) It wasn’t a hibachi restaurant. It was more traditional.  After it went out of business we often went to Hibachi restaurants. I feel like trying to recreate a dish from Fuji I would never get right, and would not do justice to. So, I have settled on making yummy vegan hibachi.

This recipe consists of 4 major steps, but with some planning I am sure you can pull it off! Make the Yum Yum dipping sauce and baked seitan the day before, then prepare the veggies and seitan and mushroom hibachi right before serving.

vegan hibachi!

vegan hibachi!

Recipe for Yum Yum Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup Just Mayo (a commercial vegan mayo that can be found at Target and Whole Foods, among others)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp melted Earth Balance
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • dash cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Stir together all ingredients.
  2. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Use as a dip for the hibachi.

Recipe for Seitan:

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp ketchup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. If you have an electric stand mixer, place them in the bowl for that.
  3. Add the wet ingredients into another bowl or large measuring cup. Stir together well.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir until there is no loose powder.
  6. When cohesively stirred together, use the dough hook attachment on your mixer, or knead the dough by hand on a clean surface for 10 minutes.
  7. Place into a loaf pan, stretching it to fit the length of the pan.
  8. Heat for 30 minutes, flip over, reduce heat of oven to 350 degrees, and heat for another 20 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then take out of the loaf pan and place on a plate to cool.
  10. Slice up into pieces as desired.

Recipe for Seitan w/ Mushrooms and Veggie Hibachi

Ingredients for seitan hibachi:

  • 8 oz whole white mushrooms, sliced in halves
  • 1 batch Seitan (in the basics chapter)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and Pepper

Ingredients for hibachi veggies:

  • 2 cups chopped zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp earth balance
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt and pepper

Directions for Hibachi:

  1. Place a tablespoon of oil in two separate skillets. Heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Melt Earth Balance in the skillet in which you will cook the veggies in.
  3. In the other, add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and the mushrooms.
  4. Cook mushrooms until their juices are released.
  5. Melt the Earth Balance with the mushrooms and 2 more tablespoons soy sauce.
  6. Add seitan to the mushrooms, cook until heated, stirring frequently.
  7. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  8. In the other pan, place the veggies into the oil and melted Earth Balance, add 4 tablespoons soy sauce, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  9. Stir frequently, until everything is fully cooked.
  10. Serve with Yum Yum sauce to dip in.

If you like or dislike this recipe, please tell me why in the comments. And keep an eye out for the zine that will have this recipe inside!! 🙂

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Ps: here is a beautiful picture of my cat, Franz, that I took recently and wanted to share. Isn’t he cute?

Vegan Mofo Day 27: Soup, Sandwich, and Salad Saturday: Salad tips

So far this Saturday theme has been all about soups and sandwiches, like my recipe for Jackfruit Chicken Noodle Soup, California Club Sandwich with Nori Bac’non, and Easy Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil Grilled Cheese. Today, I’m going to finally address some salads.

I have been trying to eat a salad almost daily for a meal for over a year now. At first, I figured I’d just put as many vegetables as I could possibly chop and cram into a large bowl with not much else, but there was so much chewing involved that I ended up eating it for over an hour. That wasn’t too fun.

Eventually I started getting the hang of it. To make a good meal salad, you typically need more than veggies. Although protein isn’t as big a deal as people make it out to be, we still need a minimum amount each day at least. That can be hard if you eat one meal a day without any substantial source of it.

For a long time I was obsessed with Boca Chick’n patties on my salads. I’d cook them in the oven, cut them up and toss them in. Nowadays, not so much. They’re a bit expensive and I’m not really a fan of them for other reasons as well. Sometimes I will get them as a treat, though or if they’re on sale.

Here’s a few salads I have made in the past:

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This is I believe the Thanksgiving salad I had blogged about awhile back.

IMG_1348Here is the Burrito Explosion salad, also made awhile back.

Anyways, I think I’ve developed a bit of a formula for the perfect meal salad. It requires a delicate balance of textures and ingredients.

I’ve composed a little menu of different types of ingredients and things you can choose from to create the perfect salad. Each heading has the explanation of how many you should include…

The Base (2-3 cups)-Greens of some type:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Mixed spring greens
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

(You get the idea, you can mix say, 1 cup of spinach with 2 cups of romaine, or any other combination you desire here)

The Protein- Usually soft (1-2 servings):

  • Some type of your favorite veggie burger, chopped up
  • Beans of any type
  • Edamame
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Seitan
  • Marinated and grilled tofu (or even plain tofu)
  • Tempeh
  • Tofurky slices
  • Gardein Products
  • Any other meat substitutes, like Beyond Meat

The crunchy element (1-3 things):

  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Carrot rounds
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Croutons
  • Crunchy Tortillas
  • Potato chips (yes, I’ve done this!)
  • Crispy fried vegetables like onions (or I like these crispy fried red pepper strips that I get in the salad supplies in the grocery store)
  • Wontons or crispy lo mein noodles
  • Water chestnuts
  • Pickles

Other optional additions:

  • Baby corn
  • Regular corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Dried Cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, like goji berries or whatever
  • Red onion
  • Olives
  • Beets
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Vegan Cottage Cheese (my recipe can be found here)
  • Basically anything you desire and think up!

The Smooth (dressing):

I try to base the dressing I select on the rest of the ingredients I have used. If it has a certain area of the world associated with the flavors, I will try to honor that. For example, maybe a salad with spinach and napa cabbage, tofu, sesame seeds, water chestnuts, wontons, and baby corn with have an Asian Ginger Sesame dressing. Or a salad with romaine, black beans, tortillas, carrots, red onion, and salsa will have a spicy South American style dressing, maybe by combining salsa with vegan sour cream and some hot sauce, even.

Avocados are also a great thing to add if you don’t want to add dressing, or if you want to make a dressing with them!

Here’s a good big list of no oil dressings you can make yourself that are easy and I’ve tried many of them. I really liked E2 Basics recipe for a long time…

I also wanted to share two of my favorite salads I have made through other vegan blogs that seem to fit my expectations:

Donut Salad from Bake And Destroy

Aloha Salad from Healthy Happy Life

There ya go! What are some of your favorite salad ingredients? Tell me in the comments.

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Vegan Mofo 2014: Friday Pie Day: Basic Veggie Pot Pie

Hi there,

I originally fell in love with vegan pot pies after trying to follow this recipe, which was originally on vegweb. However, it inspired me to create my own pie crust recipe, because prepared vegan pie crusts are a pain to find. Also, since so much of the recipe just says “to taste” it’s hard to find the right amounts to make it feasible. I have experimented with all kinds of fillings, but this is my favorite combination (much of which isn’t really on the original recipe). I also have more or less figured out a good proportion for the broth, cornstarch and water, and almond milk but please note that it can vary depending on how big or small the vegetables are.

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Basic Vegan Veggie Pot Pie Recipe:

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp cold Earth Balance
  • 6 tbsp non-hydrogenated organic vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup cold water

For the filling:

  • Cauliflower- 1 cup steamed
  • 1/2-1 cup mushrooms, sautéed until the juices are released
  • 1 zucchini steamed
  • 1 yellow squash steamed
  • 1 onion, sautéed for about 3 minutes with a bit of oil
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 4 daiya cheddar slices or 1/2 cup daiya shredded cheddar

Directions:

For the pie crust:

  1. Place flours and salt in a food processor. Give it a quick whir to combine together.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of shortening, quickly pulse, and continue to add the shortening 2 tbsp at a time until you’ve put in 6 tbsp.
  3. Follow the same method with the earth balance as above.
  4. With the processor running, open the little opening thing on top and slowly pour in the water.
  5. Separate the dough into fairly equal halves.
  6. Smoosh into two round disk shapes, and wrap each in plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to 2 hours.

For the rest of the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Take out the crust disks from the fridge to soften up a bit depending on how long you placed them in the fridge. If you only placed it in for 15 minutes then just take it out right before you want to use it.
  3. Prepare the vegetables accordingly. Once each is cooked place in a large bowl.
  4. Once the oven is heated, roll out one disk of the dough on a flat surface over plastic wrap into a thin circular shape (it’s okay if it’s not perfect) and place over a pie dish. Mould to the sides of the dish, place some slits with a knife into the bottom of the dough, and bake for 5-7 minutes so it isn’t as soft as it was before. Set aside.
  5. Prepare the broth/gravy.  Mix together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup. Set aside and boil together the veggie broth and almond milk and herbs and spices. When hot, add in the cornstarch and water mixture and whisk until this all starts to boil and thicken. Pour over the vegetables in the bowl you set aside and stir to combine.
  6. Place the Daiya cheddar in the bottom crust.
  7. Place the veggie and gravy filling inside the crust.
  8. Repeat the steps you used to roll out the bottom crust and place on top, pinching the sides together. Design a cute decoration out of the slits you cut for ventilation.
  9. I find it a good idea to place a baking dish under the pie before baking in case things ooze out.
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to ensure the crust isn’t burning in your oven. If you think you need more time to bake it but the crust is starting to brown around the edges, you can wrap foil around those edges and it will help with that problem.

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Made with love!

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The filling before it was baked

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Happy Friday, everyone!!

Playing a bit of catch up-tofu, hibachi, gyros, and taco salad

I have been a bit missing in action lately. Sorry!

Next weekend I am playing food Coordinator again at the Ladies Rock camp through Girls Rock RI so that will be super fun, but I will also be super busy.

Here is what  I’ve been cooking up!

photo 3 (2)This is what I made for breakfast today. It was the Curry Scrambled Tofu with Cabbage and Caraway from the Vegan Brunch Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moscowitz. My kitchen still smells absolutely amazing from cooking it, and it’s now 3:30pm (I got up at 8 to cook it). Yay. Also, I love that it’s a fusion of Russian and Indian food together, which are two cuisines I would not think to pair together but love individually. They work together too, to my surprise. I always reduce the salt when I cook by a lot…I am not a fan of it and try to cook without it when possible. I did not always do that, though.

photo 2 (2)I made vegan hibachi vegetables with a vegan version of my favorite Japanese dipping sauce (called “yum yum sauce” on recipe sites). Basically for the veggies you just cut 4 zucchini into bite size pieces and 1 1/2 white or yellow onions and stir fry it with 2 tbsp Earth Balance and 4 tbsp soy sauce until cooked thoroughly (I think 5-8 minutes?). For the mushrooms just chop them and cook them in 1 tbsp Earth  Balance and 1 tbsp soy sauce. For the Yum Yum sauce I used this recipe  and made vegan substitutions with vegenaise and Earth Balance and used a bit less water (or you can just add more vegenaise after and stir it up to make it thicker like I did). It’ll need to rest overnight before you eat it so the flavors set.

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Tempeh Gyros with tofu Tzatziki! From this recipe! They were so good and quite healthy! The Tzatziki is made with silken tofu and you can’t even tell it’s not made with yogurt of some type. The only thing I realized is that there is an error in the recipe and they do not tell you what to do with the cucumbers they allude to later (like how much to use and how to cut them up) so I just omitted them and put sliced cucumbers into the sandwich.

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I used the recipe from the Eat To Live Cookbook for the taco salad. It’s really healthy, but could use some kind of improvement in flavor I think that I cannot quite pinpoint. Maybe some more spices or some cherry tomatoes, I do not know! It has corn, black beans, red onion, red and green bell pepper, and a “guacamole” dressing.

That’s all for now! For dinner tonight I am making the Bacon Cheeseburger Pie from Betty Goes Vegan, so I will let you all know how that goes sometime soon!

My own version of raw vegan pad thai!

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My friend Kian invited me over last night, and we made a really yummy recipe up together! Whenever I have tried to cook pre-created recipes with friends or other people, I have had a challenge doing so for some reason. But this time not following a specific recipe worked really well, and Kian and I made a really good team! Lucky for you all (my blog readers!) I did write what we did down so you can make it too!

Thank you Kian (if you are reading this!) for helping me figure out this delicious dish, and for making the (un)cooking extra fun with awesome conversation!

First of all, to make this recipe work well, you will either need a spiralizer, or some kind of a spiral cutter. I recently got this device from amazon, and that is what we used. It took a few tries to figure out exactly since it does not come with directions. Basically, you just push it into the middle and spin it around. It’s kind of like a veggie pencil sharpener!

Okay, so here is the recipe:

Laura and Kian’s Raw Vegan Pad Thai!

Serves 8-10, would be the perfect size for a picnic, potluck, or party too if you eat smaller portions

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • about 5 large zucchinis (we actually used ten mini ones) spiralized into a thick spaghetti type shape, but it’s okay if some pieces aren’t very long. We even used the parts that we could not get to spiral and just chopped them up into rounds to add some different textures in
  • 3 medium sized carrots
  • Mung bean sprouts (we used a large bag, probably about 4 cups, adjust to your liking/desired level of crunchy-ness!)
  • 1 bunch chopped scallions
  • 14 tbsp raw cashew butter (I made my own…I would say you could process 2 cups raw cashews  into a powder, then add 2 tbsp oil and some water as needed until it becomes pasty…or use store bought)
  • 8 tbsp coconut milk
  • Juice of one lime
  • 4 to 5 (or to your liking) tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ginger (grated into a pulp)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (or less to your liking, it gets very strong when it’s raw)
  • about 1/3-1/2 cup chopped raw cashews (to place on top as garnish)1 bunch (or less)
  • Chopped cilantro (optional-I just put a tbsp of it on top after I served myself)

Directions:

  1. Chop the red peppers, spiralize the zucchini into noodle shapes, spiralize or peel the carrots in strips with a peeler, chop the scallions. Place in a large serving bowl, add the mung bean sprouts, and toss together.
  2. Now to make the sauce. In a medium bowl, place the cashew butter into it. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, and water. Whisk or stir with a spoon until combined. Add more water, a tbsp at a time, if necessary to reach your desired consistency (it’s really good thick, though! plus the veggies have water in them!)
  3. Mix in the garlic, ginger, and curry powder into the sauce.
  4. Mix the sauce into the veggies, making sure every part of it is coated.
  5. Add the cilantro if desired.
  6. Place the chopped cashews on top!
  7. Eat!

Becoming a Healthy Vegan

I’m on a quest to become a healthy vegan. Becoming a healthy vegan may not always mean the person trying to become healthier needs to lose weight, but for me it has. I started out obese, and a doctor’s visit before I went back to veganism showed that my cholesterol was high, and so was my blood pressure (for my age especially, which scared me, which is why I started this quest right away after realizing it all). So far I have lost a bit over 50 lbs, and am really happy so far with my progress. I want to share some ideas I have about how people can become a healthy/healthier vegan, based on what’s worked for me and also what I’ve read about and the information I’ve absorbed.

As I like to say, often when talking to non-vegans about veganism, it is entirely possible to be an unhealthy vegan. People seem to think vegan = healthy or vegan=skinny but that’s just not true all the time.  Just taking a look at all the mainstream brands listed here that carry “accidentally vegan” products will give you an idea of how that’s possible (note: I’m skeptical that some of these are completely vegan, as some may have bone char sugar used sometimes, etc so eat these at your own risk).  Plus, vegan companies (and companies that aren’t exclusively vegan but market vegan products occasionally) are often devoted to veganizing non-vegan junk food staples.

My philosophy about becoming a healthy vegan though is to not give up too much more than what I have to. I’m already refraining from dairy, meat, and other animal derived products (for many reasons- both ethical and health-wise), so having junk food in moderation, or a good helping of pasta (like the cashew mac and cheese I made the other day) once in awhile isn’t going to totally hurt me. Especially if you look at the types of foods I’d typically eat when not vegan.  I mean, if you want to totally cut out all overly oily, starchy, sugary, types of snacks and meals all the time, and stick to just the healthy necessities,  then I commend you! But personally I feel like I will be too grumpy without indulging sometimes. It’s okay to have treats as long as I don’t go overboard or neglect other healthier and important food groups.

With that in mind, I try to eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but really, I aim for at least 10! The most I’ve ever done in a day since trying to increase my consumption of fruits and veggies is 15 (but I counted 5 of them from my shake, so maybe that’s technically cheating?) I try to have well balanced meals with every main food group involved but that can be difficult especially because I personally can’t eat 3 large meals only a day…I need to have 3 medium sized meals a day at normal mealtimes and about 3 other small meals (basically snacks…but not always junk food snacks) in between or I get too hungry and irritable feeling.

So, you may have seen it on pinterest or my facebook page (which by the way you should like it here if you haven’t already!) but a little while ago I illustrated a vegan food pyramid to put in a post like this.  I’m really excited about it because it looks SO AWESOME. I definitely put a lot of love and time into it. It’s not a perfect nutrition guide, but hopefully it can give you an idea of what a vegan food pyramid would be like, and all the different examples of awesome food we vegans eat. It’s not a comprehensive list of all the foods in each group, because, uh, the possibilities are so abundant and always expanding and I wouldn’t have room for that on a 8.5×11″ paper… (my hands would’ve hurt 1,000x more too after it was “complete” hehe). Anyways, without further ado (Please click on it to see a larger, more readable size):

food pyramid

I can’t say I follow this perfectly every day, but I do make sure that I eat at least 7+ servings of veggies most days, and that basically everything else is met throughout the day. I just don’t necessarily make sure every meal is the way the food pyramid says to do it (I based/adapted my image off of a vegetarian food pyramid I saw on the back of a can of chickpeas). I have given up all carbonated beverages after reading in several places how horrible carbonation is for your body (never mind the artificial sugars or fructose syrup they’re often ladled with), only cook occasionally with alcohol (but never drink alcohol or do drugs!) and only have about 1 cup of coffee a day. These things are definitely good to keep in moderation if you  don’t want to completely abstain from them.  I probably should have had something about smoking and drug use illustrated too, because I don’t recommend that in order to get healthy either, but yeah! And I drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water a day (I’d rather get my calories from food, not drinks that neglect to make me feel fulfilled.) Also, exercise is so good for you! It helps me a lot with mood problems and has lots of other benefits for your body, such as ability to decrease blood pressure, lose weight, stay active and sharp-minded, have fun, reduce stress, combat depression, etc (the list goes on and on!)

In addition, there are some really great tools I have found. For me, it’s made sticking to my goals much easier if I track my food and exercise every day and am completely honest with myself about it. The best place to do it I’ve found, is a website sparkpeople.com. I love this site because not only does it have a calorie tracker, but it also takes some of the guess work out of figuring out a calorie range you need if you want to lose weight healthfully, has an exercise tracker and lots of exercise demos (both strength training and cardio), lots of ways to get support from people on the web (especially people like me trying to get healthy or trying to lose weight), message boards, health articles, recipes, etc! It can be a great way to get a fairly good idea whether you need to ramp up your B vitamins and other vitamins and nutrients because it keeps track of how much you’ve consumed through food each day. It’s the best. I recommend it to everyone who asks about what I’m doing or who talks to me asking for advice based on my success so far. The best part is it’s a completely free website except for the sparkcoach, which I don’t need or want…haha.

I also like some exercise apps on my iPhone, such as Runkeeper and Gympact. Sparkpeople has an app that is really useful, although that does cost a small amount to purchase from the app store. It has all the same stuff as the website has though, I just like it because I can track things on the go without having to go to the computer all the time.

Also, if you’re reading this as a non-vegan and want to know more about simply becoming a new vegan, here are two great resources I recently found:

Going Vegan Isn’t Crazy (Reader’s Digest)

Go Veg Guide (Vegnews Magazine)-for people ready (or who may need some convincing!) to take the Vegan plunge (in .pdf form)