I just finished up watching Queer Eye, and it really inspired me to get in the kitchen! Antony (the chef) and I would be best friends if he knew me! He would probably be annoyed with my veganism and allergies, but love me as a person. Or that is what I’m telling myself! Anyway, I have really gotten into trying to branch out on what we eat. With a 12 week old baby, preparing dinner is hard enough! Trying to be fresh and healthy is an additional challenge.
In the beginning of my pregnancy, the guilt of being a vegetarian pushed me into a vegan. In a small southern town, there are VERY few places with vegan options or willingness to accommodate. Some people don’t even know what “vegan” means. Shock. As I became more pregnant, I craved cheese. Despite my decision to be animal-product free, I gave into the cravings 1-2 times a week while feeling immense guilt and shame. When Lucca arrived, I drove back into veganism full fledge. There is no going back, no giving in, no compromising.
With that said, I’m back in the boat of pretty much eating every meal at home. My husband has decided to be 99% vegan, all because our son encourages us to be our best selves. Not even 15 pounds and changing the world! With us on the same eating wavelength, it is much easier to prepare dinners.
I am someone who can eat the same thing every single day and not get tired of it for months. John is not like that. He tends to need more variety. So thanks to his vegan habits and motivation from the “Fab 5,” I have pulled out some cooking books and am working on widening our choices in our diets.
Since my days are pretty full with feeding the baby, barely getting in lunch, taking care of the puppy, running errands if we’re lucky, and teaching yoga three evenings a week, we need quick preparations and short cooking times! Our simple, quick fixes are vegan veggie burgers, vegan “chicken strips,” and wraps. But, fresh is best! Salads are easy, don’t require any temperature settings, and are one of the foods I have craved since childhood! Don’t drown it in dressing, especially ranch, and you’re making a wholesome choice!
Here is a recent salad mix: Mixed greens, shredded carrots, cut avocado, apple, red peppers, onions, cashews, dried cranberries, and topped with goddess dressing (sesame seed based). The dressing is Annie’s; we don’t have time to make our own yet. The salad is DELICIOUS and almost completely organic!
Last week, I baked sweet potatoes, cooked quinoa, boiled russet potatoes to add to the baked zucchini, squash, carrots, and apples, and tossed salads. I try to think of things I can prepare for a few meals so I don’t waste anything.
We love veggie burgers and don’t have time [now] to make them from scratch so we do buy those frozen. The only affordable vegan ones in our town are “Gardenburger Quiona and Garlic.” We will throw a patty on a wrap with fresh veggies or salad, eat it plain, or eat it as a burger with fresh veggies. Earlier this week we had a veggie burger with sliced avocado, tomato, red pepper, and onion. As sides, I baked sweet potatoes with a little vegan butter and snap green peas with basil, oregano, and olive oil. It so was yummy!
We enjoy pastas too! A way to stay on track with pasta is make your own or if you do not have tons of time, buy organic whole wheat pasta. Pasta is very cheap and makes for an easy meal! Throw in some zucchini, squash, eggplant, and top it with olive oil, basil (I love basil, fresh or sprinkled), vegan parmesan. Buon appetito!
Juices are seriously one of my favorite snacks or addition to a meal. Banana or avocado is a good base, pineapple keeps it sweet, and always use a green or two! Lately I have been doing what’s simple: spinach, banana, pineapple, and chia seeds. To make juices for a couple days: 2 cups of spinach or kale, 1 whole banana, 1 and 1/2 cups pineapple, 1 tablespoon chia seeds. Add water, blend, and refrigerate! Now you have a quick snack while you breastfeed or work on emails. PLUS you get your fruits and vegetables in while cooling down.
It helps to make a grocery list before heading to the store. It’s even better to make meal plans or decide on recipes beforehand. Always stay around the perimeter — produce, almond milks, and fresh options. Choose whole wheat or whole grain instead of white bread or grains with egg. Buy what you can use in a few meals (onion, tomato, etc.). Don’t buy more than you’ll eat!