Veganism and Health: Continuing My Journey + Strawberry Maca Smoothie Recipe

Well, hello there. It’s Saturday afternoon evening (since when is it so late?) and I’m sitting here with a stomach full of Oreos and a mind full of regret. Over the past few months, my junk food addiction has reared its head again and my sweet tooth is pretty much ruling my current food choices. Too many sweets. Too much processed food.

I’ve always had a terrible sweet tooth. Whenever we went out to eat as a family during my childhood and the waiter asked, “Would any one like dessert?”, my parents would inevitably look at me, expectingly. I never passed up a chance for dessert. Any one who knows me knows how much I love sweet stuff. There was one time, I distinctly remember, I ordered a chocolate marshmallow brownie parfait dessert. It came in this giant goblet of a wine glass. My parents didn’t think I could finish it. I totally did. Chocolate is my real downfall. Chocolate cake. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate bars. If it’s chocolatey, I want it.

Processed foods and excessive oil use have also snuck back into the kitchen over time. Veganism and health aren’t one in the same, unfortunately. (Wouldn’t it be nice, though?) It’s not that I think eating processed and/or oily foods every now and then is a horrible thing – I’m all about indulging from time to time. But indulging for me lately has turned into a constant stream of eating food that isn’t so great for me. I can feel it in my body, I can see it on the scale. It’s time to clean up my diet.

My plan is to cut out all oils, gluten, and refined sugar for at least 1 week, starting Sunday (which is now today- I waited to post). I feel best when I eat raw foods for breakfast and lunch and cooked for dinner, but we’ll see how it pans out. It can be tough to make serious changes in your diet, especially if you live with someone who isn’t making the same changes you are. (Harrison can eat whatever he wants without feeling disgusting or gaining an ounce of weight.) That’s why I’m taking some steps to try and hold myself accountable.

Accountability is key for me. Last week, I made a vague promise to myself to cut down on my oil and gluten intake. I ended up eating 4 sandwiches made with gluten-full bread and too much oil. Unless I do something concrete to begin the process, the process never begins. So, this is me concretely enacting some accountability. I just joined My Fitness Pal under the username VeggiesandMeows. Add me if you use that app!

I will be logging all of the calories that I consume daily in hopes that it will keep me from eating junk that I would (and should) be not-so-proud to log. I’m not in it for the calorie counting. Calorie counting turns me into a total crazy person, and I believe it’s not necessary when you eat whole plant foods. I’m on My Fitness Pal for the purpose of logging my foods and tracking my macronutrient ratio (I like to keep it as close to 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat as possible). I will also be doing my best to share all of my meals on Instagram at @VeggiesandMeows, so follow me there if you don’t already!

To start the healthy week off right, I’m sharing a healthy recipe of my own: a strawberry maca smoothie that gives a perfectly sweet and energizing boost. If you don’t know what maca is, you can read more about the benefits here. Coffee and I don’t get along (hello stomach pain), so maca has become my new best friend! I’ve been adding it to all my morning smoothies for the past week. Besides providing natural energy, maca is well known for balancing hormones, reducing anxiety, and increasing mental clarity, among other things. Plants are pretty magical, y’all.

Here’s the smoothie I’ve been gulping this week – hope you enjoy!

Strawberry Maca Smoothie

3 bananas, ripe (spotted)
10 oz frozen strawberries
1.5 T maca powder (I use Sunfood’s Maca Extreme, but any will do)
1.5 T ground flaxseed

Blend all ingredients in a blender with cold water until desired consistency. Top with whatever you like – I chose hemp seeds, chia seeds, cacao nibs, and dried mulberries.

Drink up!

Strawberry Maca Smoothie

What are your best tips for avoiding unhealthy cravings and staying on the nutritional straight and narrow? If you have a sweet tooth, how do you keep it in check? Share any suggestions you have in the comments and don’t forget to add me on My Fitness Pal!

Until next time,
Rachel

Things I Love Thursday #2

Happy Thursdaayyyy! If you are reading this, that means tomorrow is FRIDAY. Let’s all do a little dance for Friday! *dances* Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

I’m back for my 2nd Things I Love Thursday and hoping to actually make this a regular thing that sticks. Time management, YOU WILL BE MINE. Soon enough. Let’s begin.

1) Colorful notebooks and pens

Random, I know. But colorful notebooks and pens make me irrationally happy. They motivate me to be more organized while keeping me cheerful at the same time! My absolute favorite notebooks are these notebooks from Target. My favorite pens? Colorful G2s. I’ve been obsessed since I was a kid. They are the best pens, and no one will convince me otherwise.

colorful notebooks

2) Amy Schumer

If you aren’t a fan of Amy Schumer’s comedy, I’m sorry. I absolutely adore Amy and her sense of humor. I love that she talks about subjects that most people, even most female comedians, wouldn’t dare talk about. She is breaking boundaries and being a total badass while doing it. I’m not ashamed to admit my boyfriend and I saw Trainwreck twice in theaters. I just loved it that much. Then on Tuesday, we watched one of her standup shows “Amy Schumer: Mostly Sex Stuff” at home. I was laughing SO hard my boyfriend was giving me weird looks. That woman is HIL.AR.I.OUS. Next on my list is to watch all of the episodes from her show “Inside Amy Schumer”. I’ve seen a few skits and they were all fantastic. Here is one of my favorites, which exemplifies the horrifying, ever so common habit that too many women have: apologizing for things they shouldn’t apologize for: Inside Amy Schumer: I’m Sorry

3) Bananas

I love bananas. While I don’t eat quite as many as I used to (last Summer my boyfriend and I split a 40 pound case every week), I still enjoy them almost every morning. The girls I nanny think I’m totally crazy, but I just don’t think I will ever tire of bananas. They’re the perfect food: portable, high in calories (60-100 calories per banana, depending on the size), easy to eat quickly, give you great, lasting energy, and I can eat them right before I workout without vom’ing all over the place. That, my friends, is the perfect food. I saw this meme on Instagram recently and almost spit my drink out I was laughing so hard at the accuracy.

bananasBasically sums up my life.

4) My iPhone

I hate to sound phone obsessed, because I try really hard not to be attached to my phone all the time (though I do spend too much time on Instagram), BUT I am such a fan of my iPhone. My boyfriend works in tech, so he is always buying the latest and greatest phone. Every time I try to use his phone, I just end up feeling stupid and confused. iPhones have simple design, they are still relatively small (I have the 5 and refuse to size up), and my phone is white. It’s just cute. What’s not to love about that?

5) Birthdays

My birthdays, specifically. I turned 24 last week and holy moly, the birthday gifts and money started to roll in right away. I sort of thought I was past receiving gifts from any one other than my parents, but apparently I was wrong. Hallelujah. The fact that I got a bazillion cat cards didn’t hurt either.cat birthday cards
At what age does this gift receiving end? Can someone give me some sort of a warning? Because I’m definitely not ready for that yet.

Well, that’s it for me! I’m off to work for the day. Happy Thursday again, peoples. What is something that you are especially loving lately? Share in the comments below!

Until next time,
Rachel

Vegan Birthday Party – Photo Recap and Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

vegan birthday cake capital city bakery austin texas

Where to begin?! It has been more than 2 months since I last posted. (SORRY!) Life gets in the way sometimes and I’m still trying to figure out time management. 24 years old and I still don’t have it down. Then again, does any body actually have it down? Don’t answer that…

Anyway! In that time, my job situation has changed again (for the much better) and now I have more free time to dedicate to this lovely blog of mine. Speaking of, did you see my new logo? My awesome friend made it for me and I absolutely adore it.

So, as I said on Facebook (follow me at http://www.facebook.com/veggiesandmeows if you don’t already), I am sharing photos and a recipe from a birthday party I hosted this past weekend 2 weekends ago. Saturday the 1st was my boyfriend’s birthday so we threw a little party for him on that Friday night at our house! His friends came over, I made a bunch of food, we played Cards Against Humanity, and overall had a really great time.

For the party, I made a veggie platter with homemade white bean dip, meatball and polenta bites, and my famous stuffed mushrooms (well, famous among my friends and family 😉 ), for which I am sharing the recipe at the bottom of this post.

For dessert every one (99% of the people were omnivores and they did most of the dessert devouring) enjoyed a Daiya NY Style Cheezecake and a birthday cake from the amazing Capital City Bakery, our lovely vegan bakery here in Austin. Kristen at Capital City did such an amazing job with the cake. I couldn’t have been happier with it, and neither could every one else, evident from the fact that it was gone before I could grab a second slice!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing all kinds of other fun things that will be mentioned in another blog post. For now, enjoy the photos from the lovely evening at our house (scroll to bottom for stuffed mushrooms recipe):
IMG_7368

Rainbow vegetable tray with homemade white bean dip

IMG_7338Stuffed mushrooms

I realized later that I didn’t get a picture of the meatball + polenta bites… I predicted no one would touch them (because I figured people would be freaked out by vegan meatballs), but in fact they were the first thing to be completely gobbled up! It’s always nice when your friends surprise you with openmindedness…

IMG_7341This is what your fridge looks like when your boyfriend loves beer, it’s his birthday, and he has awesome friends… He is still working through all of it 10 days later (and this doesn’t even include the 3 bottles of whiskey they brought him. Seriously good friends.)

IMG_7369

The glorious cake from Capital City Bakery! It was phenomenal.

IMG_7342People loved the desserts and kept commenting on how they couldn’t believe the Daiya cheezecake was vegan (internal fist pumping).

IMG_7358Fred is so social. He literally sat like this right next to the circle of people the entire time we played Cards Against Humanity.

And there you have it! It was a really great night with really great people, as all the best nights are.

Now, for those of you mushroom fans like me, I hope you enjoy the following recipe. I have made this recipe every year for the past 5 years at my mom’s annual Christmas Eve party. After going vegan, I switched up the ingredients to veganize it and no one even noticed. In fact, I got even MORE compliments on them than ever before!

It’s a simple recipe, similar to many other stuffed mushroom recipes on the internet, but I happen to think the vegan version is much more flavorful and obviously better for you, the animals, and the planet! Munch away.


Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
24 mushrooms
1 package Field Roast Italian Sausage
1 (8 oz) package vegan cream cheese (I prefer Kite Hill, but since it’s mixed up with the sausage, it doesn’t really matter what brand you choose here)
2 T minced garlic
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste

Instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 350
2) Spray baking sheet with cooking spray
3) Wash mushrooms thoroughly, then dry. Once dry, carefully snap off mushroom stems. Set mushrooms aside.
4) Chop mushroom stems into small, fine pieces
5) Heat oil in skillet on Med/High heat, add minced garlic and chopped mushroom stems
6) Saute until fragrant and all moisture is gone. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
7) While mixture is sauteeing, you can take this time to break apart the sausage into very small pieces. I use my hands as it is the easiest way to get it broken apart quickly. Keep an eye on garlic/stem mixture.
8) Once garlic/stem mixture is ready, set aside in small bowl to cool
8) When mixture has cooled, mix in larger bowl with sausage, cream cheese, and spices. I like to add a good bit of cayenne.
9) Spoon mixture into mushroom caps
10) Arrange stuffed mushrooms on greased baking sheet
11) Bake 20-25 minutes in oven, until mixture has browned on the top and liquid has begun to form underneath the mushroom caps
12) Optional step: With 10 minutes left to cook, sprinkle vegan parmesan or bread crumbs on top of mushrooms. Put back in oven to finish cooking.
13) Serve hot
14) Enjoy!

**Note: While the recipe says 24 mushrooms, using a full package of sausage and cream cheese typically lends for leftover stuffing, unless you are using giant mushrooms. Keep in mind the more mushrooms you use, the more stuffing you will create, as you continue to increase the amount of stems added into the mix. I usually use 4-5 8 oz. packages of mushrooms (around 50 mushrooms since I make them at parties) and that uses up all the stuffing, but I figure most people won’t need that many mushrooms. Feel free to half the stuffing recipe to fit your needs.**

IMG_7316

Mushrooms post-stuffing and pre-baking

IMG_7338All done and ready to serve! YUM.

Well guys, I hope you enjoyed this post. I know I am enjoying my return to the blogging world. I will be back on Thursday with my 2nd “Things I Love Thursday”! As always, thanks for reading.

Until next time,
Rachel

Things I Love Thursday

Mickey foster dog austin pets alive

Hi friends! It’s been another week since I’ve posted last, and in the meantime I have been buuuuusy. I got a job… and a dog… both in the past 4 days! Phew. It’s been crazy, but crazy in the best kind of way.

I love the idea of a weekly post with the same theme, and since Thursdays seem to be a surefire posting day for me, I’ve decided to join in on the trend of Things I Love Thursday! Including my weekly TILT post, I’m aiming to put up 3 posts a week from now on. Bear with me if I don’t get on it right away, but I assure you I am trying! 🙂

So, onto my first ever Things I Love Thursday!

1) Our new foster dog Mickey

mickey austin pets alive foster dog shelter rescue adopt

If you guys are up to speed on the crazy weather happening across the country lately (cough, climate change is real, cough cough), then you have probably heard about the insane flooding that we Texans received this week! Oh man. Well, if you didn’t, basically it went like this: Monday afternoon it started to torrentially downpour, a few tornados were spotted outside of Austin, a couple storms IN Austin had the potential to cause tornados, and flash flooding abounded.

flash flooding austin texas
Oh ya know, just a pool forming in our backyard…

It was just a general weather shit show here. Unfortunately, one of the local animal rescue organizations, Austin Pets Alive! got it really bad. (They are still seeking monetary donations to help recover, if you are interested, click the link in the previous sentence) They have outdoor kennels and their entire facility flooded. They sent out pleas for people to come pick up dogs and cats to house temporarily until they could clean up the shelter. I’ve been trying to get my boyfriend to commit to fostering for the past few months (I did it in college and loved it), so this was the kick in the pants he needed. He agreed that we could take in an emergency foster, so once the flooding had stopped in our area, we got in the car and headed downtown. Fortunately, Austin is a freaking amazing city and by the time we got there, all of the hundreds of animals had already been taken home with someone. How incredible is that? I’m still in awe of the people in this amazing city…

Fast-forward to the next day and the shelter still needed help. Animal shelters across the state were experiencing huge influxes of animals due to the storms, so APA started pulling dogs from other cities. I got word that a bunch of dogs were being driven up from San Antonio, so once they arrived, we went back to APA to pick out our newest foster baby. Mickey stole our hearts right away ❤

Mickey foster dog austin pets alive

He settled in quickly and made it clear that he loves to lounge. Which is A-OK with me.

2) V-dog food

V-Dog dog food kibble vegan vegetarian

So now that we have a dog, we had to decide what to feed the little guy. Being a vegan, I strive to cause the least harm possible in all things that I do. Ever since I learned about V-dog just a few months after going vegan, I knew that when it was my time to foster again, this is what I would feed my pups. Not only is it free of any animal products, it’s also got a really great ingredients list and it’s higher in protein than most commercial dog foods on the market.

The firsthand testimonials I heard about it have all been just amazing. Dogs with skin problems? Problems gone with V-dog. Digestion problems alleviated. Allergies remedied. Energy levels up. I mean, basically everything I experienced when I went vegan, it seemed that dogs were experiencing when they went vegan, too. This was a no-brainer for me. So, I drove down to Rabbit Food Grocery yesterday and picked up a 30 pound bag. Definitely expect a longer post in the near future about vegan dogs and all the information you need to know. I know there are some skeptics out there 😉

V-dog dog food kibble vegan
Mickey was excited about it the second I brought it in!

He’s been happily eating it and full disclosure: I even ate a piece, too, just because I could!

3) Counter Culture 

vegan dairy free spicy baked artichoke dip counter culture
Spicy Baked Artichoke Dip

Easily my favorite restaurant in Austin, Counter Culture never ceases to impress me with their food. Harrison and I ate there twice in just one weekend when we visited ATX to house-hunt, and though we hadn’t been in awhile recently, we finally made it there this week. Oh my lordy. Somehow I had forgotten about their Spicy Baked Artichoke Dip, but was quickly reminded at dinner. The dip is basically amazing and I’m sad because I don’t think I will ever be able to recreate it at home. But that’s okay, that just means more trips to Counter Culture!

I also got this week’s Pizza Special (pretty much my go-to order), which was their standard cornmeal crust topped with fig sauce, spinach, brie, and apples. Caramelized onions were on the special, but I asked for it without, because I really dislike them. It was a glorious dinner and I keep thinking about it…

cornmeal crust fig sauce apples spinach vegan brie pizza counter culture austin texas
Cornmeal crust pizza with fig sauce, spinach, brie cheese, and apples

4) Dollar Shave Club

dollar shave club vegan cruelty free razors blades
Inexpensive, vegan, cruelty-free, and shipped to me? Yes please!

About a year after going vegan, it suddenly hit me one day: my razors aren’t vegan. I had started buying only vegan, cruelty-free beauty, health, cleaning, etc. items but for some reasons, razors had never crossed my mind. I bought some Preserve razors at Whole Foods after doing some research and finding out they were pretty much my only option. Well, I had a really bad experience. Not only did they give me razor burn (I have very sensitive skin), they just flat out didn’t work. I had to shave 3 times just to be successful. Lame. I’ve been enduring them since, and by that I mean going 3 or 4 weeks at a time without shaving my legs because it’s too much of a hassle.

Enter Dollar Shave Club. Thanks to a vegan Facebook group I’m in, I learned about this amazing company. I paid $6 (yes 6 freaking dollars) for a razor handle and 4 replacement blades. It is a monthly subscription with 3 razor options, from which I chose the mid-grade. I tested out the razor this morning and OMG I am so excited!! Seriously guys, I can’t recommend this company enough. Even if you aren’t vegan, chances are you spend a crap ton of money on razors. No more. Make the switch… right now. If you want to be super helpful, join with this link so I get some credits to my account, and you can do the same for your friends when you join! They even throw in a sample shave butter, if you’re into that kind of thing.

5) Photo booths

wedding collage photoboth robotbooth

I love photo booths. Always have, always will. Since Harrison and I started dating in 8th grade, every time we are out together and there is a photo booth, we have to get a photo strip done! We have one from the Museum of Science in Boston, Fern Bank in Atlanta, malls, movie theaters, and so many more. I think they are super fun and a great, inexpensive way to capture some cute memories.

This particular group of photos is from his sister’s wedding 2 months ago. She hired RobotBooth and it was such a fantastic idea! They had a ton of props and you can take as many photos as you want! You can print out as many strips as you want, too, and they have a guest book to tape them in and write a note. Then, they compile a video with all of the photos from the night. How neat is that?! Check out the video from her wedding by clicking here. (It was a super fun wedding, in case you couldn’t tell 😉 )

That was fun! I hope y’all enjoyed learning a little bit more about my latest favorites!

Until next time,
Rachel

Rabbit Food is the Best Kind of Food: Vegan Grocery Shopping!

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Haul

Hello peoples. I took a whole week off from blogging and it feels good to be back! Being unemployed means sometimes things like job interviews take precedent. Lame, I know.

I also dog-sat two of my friend’s pups this past weekend, so that took up a great deal of my time. Sitting a not-yet-potty trained puppy means I’m constantly on alert. Here are a few adorable photos of them to make up for my absence!

boxer pug dogs
Hyper puppy! and a not so hyper pug lounging in the background.
pug dog
Trying to blend in with our plants…?
pug dogs boxer
Chillin’ in the kitchen while I cook!

Aren’t they cute? They were so much fun to have around, but I must admit it’s nice to be back to a calm household with just my kitties and our guinea pig. Onto today’s topic…!

As a vegan, grocery shopping isn’t always fun or enjoyable. Before I went vegan, I LOVED grocery shopping. I still do, for the most part… but there are a few parts of the experience that can really put me off.

Namely, walking through the store, happily choosing my plant-based foods, and suddenly being faced with the stench of death from the fish and/or meat display. If you’re lucky, it won’t be as horrifying as this display (click with caution), which a vegan cookbook author saw on one of her trips to Whole Foods in New York, but regardless, butchered parts of animal carcasses are still there, filling your mind and your nose as you try to quickly walk by onto the happier part of the store.

Then, you get to the checkout line, and watch people unload those butchered body parts onto the same conveyer belt on which you are about to place your beautiful plant foods. Hoping no blood spills onto the belt. Hoping no juice leaks. Yeesh. I’m not trying to be a buzz kill and I’m certainly not here to judge or condemn those people; I was once one of those people. All I’m saying is I always try to get behind people with carts that don’t have those products in them, to ease both my mind and my tummy.

I try to avoid thinking about it most of the time, but recently, two wonderful vegans in Austin, Texas have provided a solution to this sometimes off-putting endeavor: A 100% vegan grocery store. No carcasses. No animal secretions. None of that. Just plant-based foods, plant-based accessories, plant-based beauty products, plant-based drinks, and more.

Behold: Rabbit Food Grocery.

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas
Harrison eyeing all the options at Rabbit Food Grocery on opening night in February

I first met Gabriel and Jessica within a few weeks of moving to Austin. Harrison and I were both already vegan upon moving to Austin and while I can’t remember for sure whether this was the first time we encountered them, I’m about 99% positive. We ate lunch at Counter Culture, an all vegan restaurant, one day and saw a little table set up inside with a sign “Rabbit Food Grocery”.

Being curious, after we finished our lunch, we checked out the table and met Jessica and Gabe. They explained to us that they were an online vegan grocery store and they did pop-up shops at places around town. After buying a few goodies (probably chocolate knowing me, though I can’t remember), we headed home. After that, we continued to go to their pop-up shops regularly and grab random sweets, vegan vitamins, Earth Balance products, and more.

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas
Earth Balance Mac and Cheese at Rabbit Food!

Fastforward a few months later and the two of them began a Kickstarter fundraiser to open a brick and mortar shop! We were SO excited. We (obviously) contributed to the campaign and it eventually ended up being fully funded…

Fastforward again to February and THEY OPENED THEIR STORE. I was a little sad because it is a pretty far drive from our house, seeing as we live in North Austin and it’s about as South in the city as you can get, but as you can probably tell from my opening about how much I dislike shopping in non-vegan stores, it’s definitely worth the drive. I don’t go there for everything, because my gas tank would constantly be empty, but I try to go once every couple weeks, at least.

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas

They continue to expand their offerings, acquired a refrigerator not long after opening, and have added a whole lot more home goods, accessories, and health and beauty products.

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas
Just LOOK at these home goods. I mean, really? So cute.

I adore going into that shop knowing that not one single product in there required harming animals in its creation. Lately they have added a whole purse/wallet section.

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas
Vegan purses and wallets… I want them all.

I recently bought a wallet from them and I get compliments on it all the time!

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas
Beautiful stitched foxes on vegan leather

Their socks and cards are all amazing, as well. I haven’t gotten any socks yet, but I pretty much only buy cards from Rabbit Food now. Not only are they made by small, local businesses, they are freaking hilarious, too.

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas
Thanks for always looking at photos of my cat on my phone… Seriously though.
Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan Store Austin Texas
There is no such thing has having enough socks. Just a reminder.

I made a quick run there the other day for a few things, since we have a friend coming into town and we like to keep our guest room stocked with yummy vegan goodies! Here is my little haul:

Rabbit Food Grocery Vegan HaulNommmnomnom. Let’s go through some of the goodies!

Vegan Cruelty Free Tissues and Paper Towels Rabbit Food Grocery

Cruelty-free paper towels and tissues, yahoooo!

Vegan Basics Pasta and Broth Rabbit Food Grocery

Staples at our home – veggie broth and pasta.

Vegan Dr. McDougall's Soup Rabbit Food Grocery

I am obsessed with these Dr. McDougall’s soups. The white bean + split pea ones are my faves, but every flavor I’ve tried has been tasty.

Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Kettle Chips Rabbit Food Grocery

Um, hello beautiful. Harrison and I mow down a whole bag of these Earth Balance cheddar kettle chips in one sitting. They also have Sea Salt, and Sour Cream and Onion, both of which are also incredible.

Vegan Primal Sam's Jerky Rabbit Food Grocery

I’ll be honest: I think jerky is disgusting. Always have, always will. Vegan or not. That being said, I know not every one feels that way, so I got these for our out of town guests.

Vegan Chocolate Bars and Cookies Rabbit Food Grocery

THESE. Oh man, these. All of these products are amazing and are just a few of the many chocolate bars and cookies sold at Rabbit Food. Those peanut butter cups were gone within the hour.

Go Max Go Vegan Snickers Bar Rabbit Food Grocery

Mmmmm that vegan “snickers” bar… Yes, please. This is what dreams are made of.

Lazy Cat Fred

Fred was really tired of me snapping photos of my groceries. Can you tell?

Aside from the pictures I posted, Rabbit Food has many, many more amazing vegan products, including vegan dog food, vegan condoms (most mainstream condoms aren’t vegan, sorry y’all), several different teas, an entire jewelry case, and more.

Now, if you’re sitting at your computer thinking, “Damnit! Why can’t my town have a vegan grocery store?!,” fear not. Rabbit Food still sells most of their products online!

Check out their website here and go get you some vegan groceries! Don’t forget the Go Max Go Vegan basically-Snickers bar, called the Jokerz bar. You’ll thank me later.

Does any one else share my aversions to regular grocery stores? What’s your favorite grocery store? Do you have a vegan grocery store in your city? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this!

Until next time,
Rachel

Quick and Easy Thai Peanut Bowl

thai peanut bowl

Good morning fellow inter-netters!

I’m stopping in this morning for a quick recipe post. If you’re looking for an easy meal to throw together in less than 20 minutes, look no further.

Yesterday I posted this picture

thai peanut bowl with broccoli cashews and brown rice noodles

on my Instagram account and got a few requests for the recipe, so figured I would put together a post to help you make your own delicious Thai Peanut Bowl! I think you will be surprised at how simple it is.

When I was debating what to eat for lunch, I was really craving some Asian food, so I decided to make a noodle bowl with whatever I had on hand. I took a head of local, organic broccoli and used up the cashews I had leftover from making spinach and artichoke dip and got to work.

I took the easy route and instead of making my own Thai Peanut sauce, I used this:

thai peanut sauce

It is delicious! But, I realize that not every one has a bottle of this stuff on hand, so I checked the ingredients and whipped up my own Thai Peanut Sauce recipe to make things a bit easier on those who don’t want to make a grocery run… because let’s be honest, the fewer grocery runs, the better.

thai peanut sauce ingredients

(edit: I just realized this sauce has honey in it. Ugh. If you are not vegan, this is likely of no concern to you. If you are vegan like me, your best bet is to avoid buying this and make the sauce listed below. It makes me sad when I miss ingredients like that. Disappointed in myself. Wah.)

This recipe pretty much involves a small bowl, a whisk, and some basic ingredients that you likely already have on hand!

thai peanut sauce ingredients

If you just want the recipe already, you can skip down to the bottom of this post or you can keep reading for a photo journey of creation!

I went ahead and soaked my cashews for about 10 minutes in a small bowl because I’m not a fan of crunchy cashews in Asian dishes. If you like them crunchy, feel free to skip that step.

At the same time, I soaked my brown rice noodles in warm water in a big pot. This also takes about 10 minutes to get them soft and usable.

While I was soaking the cashews and noodles, I cut the broccoli into florets, sprinkled them with a bit of salt, some garlic powder, then lightly steamed the broccoli in the rice cooker. Multi-tasking is fun, y’all, and makes things much quicker than doing each step one at a time!

Now, onto the sauce…

IMG_4119

I love chopping garlic. Have I mentioned that before? Because I love chopping garlic. Nothing quite like it. BTW, how cute is that cutting board? My awesome sister gifted it to Harrison and I as a housewarming gift when we moved to Austin a year ago.

He and I both admitted to each other the other day that we feel guilty using it because it’s so beautiful. It is a cutting board, after all, so we’re trying to get over our aversion…

thai peanut sauce ingredients bowl

Yummm… Just kidding, that looks kind of gross. But I’m a big fan of before and after photos, so this is all the ingredients before I whisked them together! Is it strange that I’m still attracted (in a normal, food-loving way) to that big hunk of peanut butter? Gawd, I love that stuff.

thai peanut sauce recipeWhisk, whisk, whisk it all up until it reaches a good consistency! Mine was a little thick for my liking, so I added in a bit of water to thin it out. Then I whisked some more!

thai peanut sauce

Mmmm, perfect!

thai peanut sauce vegan recipe

Ignore the splatters and the strange shadow, but this is what it looked like once I was finished! Not too runny, but just enough to pour over the noodles without big globs. Ew, I hate the word “glob”.

thai peanut sauce noodle bowl

thai peanut sauce noodle bowl

thai peanut sauce noodle bowl vegan recipe

thai peanut sauce noodle bowl vegan recipe

Mix it all up once you’ve poured enough on… and voila!

thai peanut sauce noodle bowl vegan recipe

Quick and Easy Thai Peanut Bowl

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes or less

Ingredients

8 oz package brown rice noodles (I like Annie Chun’s but any brand will do)
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup cashews, soaked if you don’t want them crunchy

Sauce

1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1.5 T apple cider vinegar
2 T sugar (I used coconut sugar but any sugar will work – maple syrup or agave would likely work as substitutes, but I didn’t have any to test so can’t vouch for certain)
2 T minced garlic
1/2 T ground ginger
water, as needed to thin

Instructions

1) Soak noodles in warm water for 8-10 minutes, or follow directions on box
2) Lightly steam broccoli or other vegetables
3) While waiting for noodles and veggies, add peanut butter, soy sauce, ACV, sugar, garlic, and ginger to a small bowl
4) Whisk until it reaches a smooth consistency, adding water as needed to thin
5) Toss soaked noodles, steamed vegetables, and sauce in pan
6) Mix ingredients and warm in pan to your heart’s desire
7) Enjoy!

thai peanut sauce noodle bowl vegan recipe

thai peanut sauce noodle vegetable bowl vegan recipe

thai peanut sauce noodle bowl vegan recipe

Though I haven’t tried it out, I have a feeling this would be delicious on a rice stir-fry, as well! That may be my dinner tonight, actually, since I still have some sauce left over.

What are your favorite vegetables to use in dishes like this? Would you stick with broccoli and cashews or mix it up?

Until next time,
Rachel

How I Spend My Sundays + My Favorite Farmers Market in Austin

fresh vegetables johnsons backyard garden local organic mueller farmers market austin texas zucchini squash green beans

Hellooo! Monday morning and we are back to the grind. Time for me to do some meal prepping with the beautiful food I purchased this weekend!

I’m sad Sunday is over because Sunday is my absolute favorite day of the week. That’s because Sundays are my market days.

summer vegetables johnsons backyard garden mueller farmers market austin texas

There are a lot of different farmers markets in Austin, but after visiting them all last Summer when I moved here, I am in a pretty committed relationship with the Mueller Farmers Market, located off Airport Boulevard right by Mueller Lake and the Thinkery.

fresh vegetables johnsons backyard garden local organic mueller farmers market austin texas

local organic garlic hairston creek farm mueller farmers market austin texas

There is something really special about waking up on Sunday morning, eating breakfast, getting dressed, grabbing my reusable bags, and heading to the market. Something about the Mueller Market is just different than any of the other ones I have visited. I absolutely adore the feel of walking through the aisles of vendors and peeking at all the goods they have to offer.

Whether the market is under the hangar for fear of bad weather or out in the open air, I revel in the ability to aimlessly wander around and absorb the community vibe that resonates throughout the whole area.

fresh vegetables johnsons backyard garden local organic mueller farmers market austin texas caulliflowerHarrison and I only buy organic produce, so we usually stick to Johnson’s Backyard Garden, which easily has the biggest selection of local, organic produce of any farm I’ve seen in Austin. Their produce is super high-quality and like most farmers market produce, it’s quite affordable, too.

local organic kale parsnips johnsons backyard garden mueller farmers market austin texas

local organic potatoes johnsons backyard garden mueller farmers market austin texas

We try to buy as much produce as possible from JBG before going to Wheatsville or Whole Foods for the rest, because buying from the store is noticeably pricier. Not to mention, the feeling you get when purchasing food directly from your local farmer is a seriously rewarding one. Putting money right back into the local economy is a beautiful thing, people!

fresh vegetables johnsons backyard garden local organic mueller farmers market austin texas kohlrabi

fresh vegetables johnsons backyard garden local organic mueller farmers market austin texas zucchini squash green beans

Summer vegetables have finally arrived and I am STOKED! Squash, green beans, potatoes, a new variety of leafy greens… and tomatoes are on the way! Oh man, I can’t wait to make some bruschetta and homemade pasta sauce. Yum!

hairston creek farm organic local mueller farmers market austin texas

While I spend most of my shopping time at Johnson’s Backyard Garden, I did venture out of my comfort zone yesterday when I saw these strawberries at another local and certified organic farm called Hairston Creek Farm.

local organic strawberries hairston creek farm mueller farmers market austin texas

local organic garlic hairston creek farm scapes mueller farmers market austin texas

I went to check out with my pint of beautiful little strawberries when I caught glimpse of these babies! Garlic scapes… hm. Anything garlic-related, I am all over, so naturally I had to ask about them.

The woman told me they are the flowers from garlic plants. Apparently they have a very mellow flavor and can be used in all sorts of ways, from substituting for regular garlic (it won’t be the same) to sprinkling them on top of your salads. I am still in research mode for these guys, but I grabbed a bunch because I couldn’t pass them up. Edible-ness aside, they are gorgeous!

miniature australian shepherd mueller farmers market austin texas

dog mueller farmers market austin texas

The dog-population at the Mueller Market is also way higher than I’ve seen at any other markets, which is definitely a big influencer for me. Not having a dog of my own, I get super excited at the opportunity to ogle other people’s pups, and this market gives me plenty of opportunities for that!

vegan tamales mueller farmers market austin texas

If you’re looking for something to eat right then and there, vegan tamales are always available from Tamale Place!

local vegan donuts red rabbit bakery mueller farmers market austin texas

Craving something sweeter? Don’t worry. Red Rabbit Bakery has got you covered with vegan donuts galore! Not buying 5 is always a real challenge.

buddha's brew mueller farmers market austin texas

Buddha’s Brew kombucha is on tap and ready to drink! Ohmygoodness this stuff is amazing. Blackberry Spearmint and Tart Cherry Melon are my 2 favorite flavors, but any of them will blow you away.

local pickles mueller farmers market austin texas

Local pickles from Pogue Mahone – these are soooo fresh tasting. I go with the Fresh Dill & Garlic every time (big surprise – like I said, I never pass up garlic).

sweet thyme design mueller farmers market austin texas

sweet thyme design mueller farmers market austin texas

Sweet Thyme Design has an adorable shop full of the sweetest wares! Her spoons and cards are absolutely lovely. Herb markers are next on my list from this cute little shop.

stellar gourmet mueller farmers market austin texas

stellar gourmet mueller farmers market austin texas

Stellar Gourmet is yet another Austin gem. The owner Chris sells incredibly flavorful sauces! Harrison is big on his Calaverde hot sauce, and both of us are absolutely HOOKED on his raw, vegan pecan alioli made with local heirloom garlic. If you live in Austin and haven’t tried Stellar’s pecan alioli, I suggest you hop over to your next market and grab some before he sells out!

We slather it on anything and everything and I am not exaggerating. Roasted vegetables, sandwiches, bagels in the morning, anywhere you would use oil or butter, just use the alioli instead. It will not disappoint.

gourmet texas pasta mueller farmers market austin

Gourmet Texas Pasta has some of the best pasta I’ve ever eaten. It’s $8 per pound, so we don’t usually splurge on it very often, but it’s definitely worth a try! The flavors are fantastic.

mueller farmers market clown austin texas mueller farmers market live music skylark lounge

For kids (who aren’t terrified), there is often a clown at the market, blowing balloons and entertaining in general. For adults and kids alike, we always get some great live music.

mueller farmers market lake austin texas waterskiing

Last but not least, this view. Once I’m done with my shopping, I always meander over to the lake and plop down on the stairs, taking in the scenery and the hustle and bustle of the market.

Yesterday, I even saw some guy water-skiing on the lake. Seems a bit dangerous, but to each his own…

mueller farmers market lake austin texas

Do you go to a local farmers market in your area? What is your favorite vendor there?

I’ll be back later with a dinner recipe post, so stay tuned. For now, make Monday amazing!

My 2 Year Veg-iversary + Reviewing “Vegucated”

vegucated the movie

Hi! It’s Thursday night where I am and this post is coming late in the day, so hello to all you night-owls 🙂

Yesterday as I was eating lunch, it hit me. I have officially been vegetarian for 2 years!

May 5th, 2013 is the day I decided to change my life. I decided that day that the next day, May 6th, would mark the end of my meat-eating days and the start of my vegetarian life. If you want to read a little more about the happenings in my life that led me to that decision, take a peek at my introduction where I explain in more depth my motivations.

So, when I realized yesterday it has been 2 whole years since I made that decision, I felt like I should celebrate somehow. I didn’t have anything exciting to eat in the house so instead, I decided to re-watch the film that sparked my decision. That film is called Vegucated and it’s available on Netflix RIGHT NOW. I grabbed some leftover spinach and artichoke dip and flipped on the TV.

vegan vegetarian spinach artichoke dip organic

Now, before I get into Vegucated, I want to touch a little on how my life has changed since I made the decision to stop eating meat and start focusing my diet on plant foods. When I first made the decision, I was greeted by a whole lot of resistance by my friends and family, but I knew deep down it was the right choice, so I kept on.

Two years later, I feel like a different person. Looking back on pictures of myself from college and before, I feel guilty. I want to go back and free that poor woman from the life she had imprisoned herself in, but I can’t. The past is the past and we only have the present, so instead I focus on the positives that have resulted from going vegetarian. Let’s bust the myths here. Vegetarians are NOT protein deficient and they are not weak. On the contrary, my health has blossomed like never before since removing animal products from my diet.

before after vegetarian vegan healthy weight loss

Two years after making the decision to stop consuming animal flesh, I don’t just feel like a different person. I am a different person.

I am 55 pounds lighter. I no longer suffer from IBS. I no longer suffer from insomnia. I no longer suffer from chronic joint pain. I no longer suffer from depression. I no longer suffer from a constantly yo-yo-ing weight. My anxiety is now very manageable and I no longer have panic attacks. Ever.

I no longer suffer from an extreme self-hatred that caused me to despise looking in the mirror, getting dressed, and being in public. I no longer look forward to Winter so I can wear leggings and a hoodie to hide my body. Now, I love myself and I love my body. Is my body perfect? Absolutely not, but I have accepted and embraced the imperfections. I even love my stretch marks! I never thought any of this was possible for me.

Two years after making the decision to stop consuming animal flesh, I am the happiest I have ever been. I no longer suffer because of the choices I make.

Do you know who else no longer suffers for my lifestyle? Innocent animals. No pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows, fish, lambs, or any other innocent sentient being that walks this earth will EVER be killed for me again. And that makes me happy. So happy I can never put it into adequate words.

When I first started my journey into healthy eating, I started it for selfish reasons. I wanted to lose weight, look better, feel better, and just be healthier. I knew I was in a pit of despair when it came to health and I was trying to climb out. What I didn’t think about is all the other creatures I dragged into that pit with me every time I sat down to eat. The day I found Vegucated on Netflix, that all changed.

Vegucated marisa miller vegan vegetarian

Vegucated is a film about 1 woman who challenges 3 regular New Yorkers: Go vegan for 6 weeks, be filmed, and learn about veganism while doing it.

At the beginning of the film, I wasn’t actually considering vegetarianism. I simply wanted some more information on eating healthfully. About 5 minutes in, I knew my mission had changed. When Marisa, the filmmaker, says she always thought vegans were a bunch of weirdos, I totally agreed with her! I think vegans are weirdos, too, I thought! Then she said something that startled me… she became a vegan. Why? I wondered. Well, she goes on to explain that after doing extensive research into the food industry, she realized the way animals are raised and killed for food are less than idyllic (that’s putting it lightly), so she changed her habits to reflect her values.

Hm, I remember thinking two years ago. I have values. I have morals. I love animals. Maybe… Just maybe… this is something I should consider, too. I grabbed a notebook and a pen and started taking notes. If you’ve read my introduction, you know the end of this story. By the time the movie finished, just 76 minutes later, I was determined. That was my last day eating meat. I was done.

Vegucated is a fantastic film that is not only a documentary filled with current, relevant information you may not be aware of, but it is also an intimate personal experience. It is the journey of 3 people awakening to truths, trying new things, and getting to know each other. It’s entertaining, encouraging, and sometimes really, really funny. For those reasons, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

If you are interested in watching movies to learn more about the food system and possibly vegetarianism but you really dislike preachy vegans (we call ourselves “passionate”), then Vegucated is for you. The film, and the filmmaker, come from a place of understanding. None of us were raised vegetarian or vegan… Well, some of us were, and to those people, I say, I ENVY YOU. But the majority of us weren’t. We grew up eating meat. We grew up drinking milk. We grew up with family and cultural traditions that often centered around consuming these foods. I get it. The filmmaker gets it. This transition isn’t easy, but it is important.

It’s also important to note that not every one switches their diet as suddenly as I did. I’m an all-or-nothing type of girl, so that’s just how I approach everything. The truth is, for most people, going 100% vegetarian overnight isn’t the best approach. My boyfriend, for example, took 6 months to fully transition to a vegetarian diet, then another 3 months to transition to fully vegan. My friend Romina is currently eating mostly vegan on her way to fully vegan. And THAT’S OKAY. As long as you have an end goal in mind, take your time and don’t rush yourself. At the same time, don’t make excuses for yourself, either. You know what you are capable of, so do your best. All. the. time.

Going vegetarian is something I always talked about, but two years ago, I finally decided to walk the walk. Living in alignment with your values is the most rewarding way to live your life, and I encourage every one to start reflecting on their morals, their daily actions, and whether or not the two match up. If you love animals, I ask that you watch Vegucated.

If you decide to watch it, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Happy 2 year Veg-iversary to me and good night to you! 🙂

Until next time,
Rachel

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to present veganism as a cure-all for health problems or a guaranteed weight-loss plan. I am simply sharing my personal experience. I do not own the image associated with Vegucated and I am not compensated in any way for this post, and the following review represents my own opinions only, and not of the persons mentioned.)

Vegan Potluck and 2 Recipes!

welcome banner vegan potluck

It’s Tuesday! I hope all of you had lovely weekends filled with whatever it is you like to do best. This post was supposed to be up yesterday, so I apologize for the delay. I was exhausted yesterday.

But I’m back now, ready to give you deets about our vegan potluck and 2 fantastic recipes, neither of which are mine! 🙂 (Scroll down to the bottom for recipes)

My weekend was JAM-PACKED with stuff. Holy mol-ay. Saturday, I helped host a baby shower from 2-4 then hosted a vegan potluck at my house at 6. So naturally, I stayed up until 2 am on Friday preparing, then woke up at 6:30 am on Saturday to continue getting ready.

It’s not that potlucks require a lot of work – they don’t. I am just an insanely meticulous planner, especially when it comes to gatherings at my home, and I need everything to be perfect down to the very last detail…which ended up failing miserably as I was abysmally prepared when 6 o’clock came around. Spoiler alert: Everything was okay, anyway.

house austin texas

Since we moved into our house in Austin almost a year ago, my boyfriend Harrison and I have been wanting to host a potluck. We didn’t know a whole lot of people last Summer, so that wasn’t really much of an option. Fast forward to where we are now and we actually have friends! YAY! We were at the pool with our friends last weekend when I mentioned that we would be hosting potlucks sometime in May and they all insisted we have it the following weekend. So, we did.

Keep in mind, Harrison and I keep an entirely vegan home. We don’t allow any one to bring or consume animal products in our house. Call us crazy, we call it boundaries. Understandably, we were a little hesitant about having a vegan potluck with our omnivorous friends, but to our surprise, they were all gung-ho about the vegan-ness of it! We are very fortunate to have such awesome, open-minded friends. I’m really quite grateful.

We had quite a spectrum of eaters at our house that evening, which was perfect! We had 4 vegans, 2 vegetarians who eat mostly vegan, and 3 omnivores. There was a wide variety of dishes and a whole lot of alcohol. I was completely negligent about taking photos, so I got like 7 total, all of pretty poor quality, but I’m going to share them anyway. Ha!

dishes and utensils vegan potluckI set all the dishes out on a table in our dining room, along with the flatware separated into mason jars. I got that idea from Pinterest and thought it was super simple and super cute! A ribbon tied around the lip would have made it even cuter! Next time…

welcome banner vegan potluck

I also made this pendant banner by using printable letters from Pinterest, cutting out the pendant shape, and gluing each letter to card stock, then cutting the card stock to fit. I punched 2 small holes in the top corners of each letter and strung them together with some hemp to hang over our fireplace! I’m obsessed.

vegan potluck sign

Our easel hung out by the open front door (we have a clear glass door we left closed but unlocked), letting people know they could come on in!

wine and flowers vegan potluck

Our awesome friends Mike and Adnan not only brought food, but they also brought along fresh flowers and alcohol! That is the kind of friend every one needs, just saying. Now, onto the food…

vegan organic lettuce strawberry cucumber avocado salad

I made this very simple green salad (every potluck needs a green salad) with romaine lettuce, sliced strawberries, sliced and halved cucumbers, and diced avocado mixed in for dressing. I also made the food label cards myself, which I was pretty excited about. I just used card stock and a Sharpie pen and mimicked some patterns I found on Pinterest.

vegan organic spinach artichoke dip potluckThis spinach and artichoke dip was a huge hit! I used a recipe I got from the internet (scroll to bottom of post for details) and almost the entire dip was gone before I even had time to snap a picture! Vegans and omnivores alike were raving about it.

vegan fruit salad potluck

My friend Clare brought a huge assortment of fresh fruit in a bowl, which was a lovely and light addition. Apples, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries – YUM!

vegan organic cornbread potluck

Our friend Julia brought 3 things. One of them was cornbread, which I haven’t had in YEARS. It was delish. She also brought the amazing potato salad in the next photo and watermelon lemonade, which I totally forgot to get a picture of because it was in the fridge (along with all the alcohol I also forgot to photograph).

vegan organic potato salad potluck

Julia’s potato salad was a HUGE hit. People were asking who made it all night long. Julia was kind enough to share her family recipe with me, so scroll down to the bottom if you are looking for the perfect potato salad recipe (I’m not exaggerating, people.)

vegan chocolate chip cookies potluck

And of course, dessert! Our friend Mike brought chocolate chip cookies, made using the vegan cookie dough sold at Whole Foods. They were really good and were all gone before the potluck ended. I majorly regret that I only ate one. I think the brand he used is Eat Pastry, but I know there is also Celeste’s Best and Just Cookies (by Hampton Creek), if any one is looking for some ready-made vegan cookie dough.

vegan skull and cakebones better bites bakery dessert cupcakes cake potluck

And last, but certainly not least: this gloriousness. Two of our friends, Adnan and Chevy, had been planning to cook dishes all week. Come Saturday, they didn’t reaaaally feel like cooking. So instead of cooking, they went to Whole Foods and did the next best thing. (Honestly, in my world, this is the first best thing, but whatevz.)

They got a disgusting amount of vegan dessert, including cupcakes and cake. They walked in apologizing for only bringing pre-made desserts, like I was going to be upset. I literally screamed with joy when I saw all the goodies. I have a sweet tooth like no other, y’all. Just ask my parents… they paid my dental bills all through childhood.

We had a total of 9 people at the potluck, which I thought was a great number for our first ever potluck. The number kept it intimate but also not too small. All of our friends did an amazing job with their contributions and I am so happy it all turned out so well! It was lovely to share time with all of our friends from different circles over satisfying food.

We chatted, played with our cat Fred and Julia’s boston terrier Ruby (find her on Instagram at @ruby_mooseface) in the backyard, and just generally had a good time. Now, onto the recipes. I know that’s why you are here, don’t pretend…

Another giant thank you to Julia for sharing this ridiculously tasty potato salad recipe! You can find Julia on Instagram at @youngnancybotwin. She’s a pretty awesome person and I’m so glad I met her in Austin! We actually met through Instagram. Anyway…

vegan organic potato salad potluck

Julia’s Tichy Family Potato Salad Recipe (aka the best potato salad ever)

Ingredients:
6-8 large russet potatoes (or a bag of small Yukon gold potatoes, they’re cuter)
1 bunch of scallions
4-5 sticks of celery
1 block of extra firm tofu
Vegan mayo
Yellow mustard
Fancy mustard (grey poupon level)
Dill
Some pickles
Pickle juice and/or homemade balsamic dressing (Julia says this is the secret ingredient)

Instructions:
1) Peel and cube potatoes
2) Bring water to a boil, then leave potatoes in a rapid boil for 10 minutes (so they don’t get too mushy)
3) Drain and cool immediately using ice cubes, ice water, and the fridge (or however you prefer)
4) Prep the celery, scallions, and dill by washing and cutting, then drain and cube the tofu.
5) Add a little bit of turmeric to the tofu to give it an egg-like color *optional*
6) Add in all the cold vegetables to the tofu, then add the potatoes.
7) Add salt and pepper to taste
8) Add in 4 T mayo (adjust to your preference), 2 T yellow mustard, 1 T fancy mustard
9) Stir well, adjust seasoning to taste.
10) Add a drizzle of dill pickle juice. Just trust me. It’s delicious.

Potato salad is the perfect Summer side dish and I absolutely love eating massive amounts of it. I’m super happy Julia shared her recipe, because I was never quiiiite content with the ones I found online. If you give it a try, comment and let us know what you think! Or head to Julia’s Instagram and tell her yourself 🙂

Next up, the Spinach and Artichoke Dip! I actually made this dip for dinner last night (yes, I ate dip for dinner) because it is so easy and I had enough ingredients left over to make a second batch. So, last night, I took a much better photo of the dip than I got at the potluck.

vegan organic spinach artichoke dip potluck

How amazing does that look? It tastes just as good. I used to be obsessed with spinach and artichoke dip, starting in middle school all the way through college, until I graduated and entered my “healthy eating” phase, which a few months later turned into veganism. That being said, this dip doesn’t taste *exactly* like the version filled with mayonnaise, parmesan, sour cream, and other gobs of dairy cheese, but it’s pretty damn close. Plus, do you really want that bloated post-dairy feeling after eating this?  I didn’t think so. So, try this version instead and be amazed!

Here’s the deal. This recipe is not mine; I used a recipe I found from the web. Normally, I would share the full recipe and link to the website, but this page specifically says not to share the recipe. Not one to be disrespectful of copyright, I am abiding by those directions, so hit the following link for Vegan Spinach Dip over at No Recipes.

The only adjustment I made was when I added the tofu mixture to the pan, I also added a can of artichoke hearts, which I had chopped into small pieces. Spinach dip is great, but in my opinion, adding those artichoke hearts takes it to a whole new level!

This post was looong, but I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our potluck. We will be having another one in a few weeks, so stay tuned! Oh, and don’t forget to separate trash and recycling! We love the environment over here.

vegan potluck trash recycling

Happy Tuesday peeps! I hope you have an awesomely productive day, whether that means working hard or just laying in bed. Sending you good vibes wherever you are!

Rachel

A Toast to Toast – 5 Ways for 5 Days!

Organic Vegan Fruit Vegetable Toast Spreads

Guys, I have a confession to make. I’m obsessed with bread. Like, completely and unequivocally obsessed. Like, a loaf rarely makes it past a day in our house. Like, my mom used to take the bread basket from me as a child at restaurants because “you always fill up on bread and then don’t want your dinner!”. Maybe they should serve bread for dinner. Has anyone ever thought of that? I would order bread for dinner. Anyyyway…

Last night while I was slathering way too much herbed vegan butter on a slice of sourdough, I decided bread was on the menu for breakfast the next day, as well. This time, in the form of toast.

Bread is amazing. Toast is also, in my humble opinion, freaking amazing. I’ve always been a big fan of toast and butter, but when I went vegan and learned about avocado toast? Oh man… things changed. Avocado toast is one of the best food inventions ever.

I’ve been eating random variations of it lately – the classic avocado with nutritional yeast, avocado with cucumbers, avocado with vegan goat cheese, and avocado with strawberries.

Chopping Organic Fruits Vegetables Herbs kitchen knife cucumber avocado strawberry garlic chivesThen, I saw the Minimalist Baker’s toast party photo on Instagram (I mean, are you serious? Best idea ever.) and my obsession with toast went onwards and upwards in all kinds of weird ways. Now I am here to bring you 5 ways for 5 days. No scrambling for breakfast in the morning!

If you are a toast-lover like me, grab a loaf of bread and whip up these deliciously different toast recipes for breakfast all week long. The best part? Aside from the white beans, which are super easy, they don’t even require recipes! Just slicing and spreading.

I used 2 slices of sourdough and 3 slices of multigrain whole wheat, then halved all 5…

Organic Vegan Fruit Vegetable Toast Spreads

I love when my food is this colorful. It’s so much more appealing to the senses…

Organic Vegan Fruit Vegetable Toast Spreads

First is a popular breakfast: peanut butter with sliced bananas. I added dried mulberries!

Organic Vegan Banana Peanut Butter Mulberry Toast

This avocado toast with mango and blackberries is a ridiculous flavor combination.

Organic Vegan Avocado Mango Blackberry Sourdough Toast

Orange marmalade with sliced strawberries… Simple, but sweet and delicious.

Vegan Orange Marmalade Strawberry Toast Organic

These creamy herbed white beans on toast are delightful. They would be fantastic served with sliced pears in the morning or as a side to tomato-sauced pasta in the evening.

I made them by simply simmering 1 can of white beans, the juices, 1 cup vegetable broth, and fresh cut herbs in a sauce pan for 10 minutes, until thick and creamy.

Organic Vegan Herbed White Bean Toast

One of my favorites and a tea-time classic: cream cheese with cucumber. I took it a step further and added fresh cut garlic chives to the vegan cream cheese, then topped it all off with sliced radishes.

Organic Vegan Cucumber Radish Garlic Chive Cream Cheese Toast

Say hi to the fresh cut garlic chives! They are so good. I can never get enough fresh herbs.

Organic Vegan Cucumber Radish Garlic Chive Cream Cheese Toast

It was a superbly fun morning in the kitchen, and now I have delicious food to eat throughout the day. That’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one.

While I was photographing the toast, someone jumped up onto the chair to take a peek…

Bengal Tabby Cat Organic Vegan Toast

He tried to pretend like he wasn’t looking…

Bengal Tabby Cat Organic Vegan Toast

But I knew better.

Bengal Tabby Cat Organic Vegan Toast

I’ve always got to watch out, especially when mango is involved. Fred will snatch a piece without hesitation and get his filthy little kitty paws all over my food. He’s cute, though, so it’s okay. I blame myself, anyway – I’m the one who introduced him to mango.

Organic Vegan Fruit Vegetable Toast Spreads

I tend to be a planner-aheader, so although we have this potluck coming up on Saturday, I’m kind of already scheming a toast-themed brunch party in my head… Hm, the possibilities…

What is your favorite way to enjoy toast? Would you try any of these or are they too wacky for you? Let me know your thoughts and tell me if I’m missing any incredible toast toppings!