Easy Chickpea Scramble

It’s funny how we idolize some foods but never think outside of the box with what can be done with those foods in a different context, or how we can use other foods to recreate the idolized foods. That was a lot to take in just now, but hear me out. Eggs. I used to love eggs. So many people love eggs. But eggs are actually one of the easiest foods to veganize. My favorite is definitely tofu scram, but there are also a few vegan egg substitutes on the market and if tofu isn’t your thing, there’s chickpeas. Yes, I said chickpeas. I get it, I was surprised when I first found out about chickpea scrambles too. I mean, they’re chickpeas. But, in keeping with one of my vegan mantra’s which states that most of eating is a psychological experience, visually, a decent chickpea scram can remind someone of eggs. Now the texture is a different story. That may not feel as “egg-like” but maybe an exact replica isn’t what you’re looking for.  And anyway, the secret to a really bomb chickpea scram (or any vegan egg sub) is one key ingredient: black salt. Also known as kala namak. This amazing Indian salt has a flavor that’s extremely reminiscent of eggs because of its sulfur content. But let’s not make this a science lesson (although the nerd in me does love a good science lesson!). Let’s just say that with this salt in hand, you hold the key to making anything taste like eggs. So vegans rejoice because yet again, animal harm: 0, plants providing a way: 1. And non-vegans who think they’re precious eggs can’t be replaced? Come at me.

chickpea scramble

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, completely drained of liquid
  • 1 tsp. oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. black salt*
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp. avocado oil (or other high-heat oil like peanut or high-oleic sunflower oil)

What to Do:

  1. Add chickpeas to a medium bowl and smash them with a fork until most of the beans have been crushed (see picture below). A few solid parts are okay and actually recommended.
    smashed chickpeas for chickpea scramble
    chickpea prep for a scramble.
  2. Add oat flour to the bowl and mix into the chickpeas until well blended.
  3. Add turmeric to the mixture and mix until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Heat a saucepan over low-medium heat with the avocado oil. (I used a spray can of avocado oil and sprayed a light layer on the pan).
  5. Once hot, add the chickpea mixture to the pan and use a (non-metal) spatula or cooking tool to spread the chickpeas in an even layer, similar to a tortilla.
  6. Let the chickpea cook for about 2 minutes, then, flip and the opposite side for another 2 minutes.
  7. Start to break apart the chickpea “tortilla” into chunks, similar to scrambled eggs, and let the scramble continue to cook.
  8. Cook the chickpeas for about 3-4 more minutes in the chunky pieces or longer to achieve some browning on the chickpeas.
  9. Transfer chickpea scramble to a bowl and mix in the black salt. Then, transfer salted scramble to serving dish and add pepper to taste OR transfer chickpea scramble straight to serving dish and sprinkle with black salt and pepper.

* You can purchase black salt from several sources online. The salt is also sold in Indian and Asian markets. At the ethnic markets, you are likely to find a bulk amount for a decent price. I found a good amount on Amazon for an amazing price. Do a little research so you aren’t overcharged because it’s definitely possible to get a good deal on this amazing seasoning.

Date posted on Instagram: 12/31/18

Keeping it Clean the Eco-friendly Way

Okay. I am going to preface this post by saying that I am single. That may seem irrelevant for the topic of eco-friendly cleaning products, but it’s actually very relevant when it comes to some of the measures I’ve been taking as I attempt to continue to lower my carbon footprint on my zero-waste journey. As I mentioned in my last zero waste post, I’ve started making my own cleaning supplies and I decided that I would no longer use products that contained chemicals or ingredients that weren’t friendly to the earth or plant-derived (except for bleach, which I still use to clean and do my laundry with). That plan has been working so far.

I created two homemade cleansers and they both work well— actually, surprisingly well, when it comes to keeping things clean. I use them for general purpose cleaning, so stuff like countertops but also to clean the less grungy stuff in the bathroom (sinks and what not). One is citrus-based and the other is soap-based. The citrus-based cleanser is better for cutting through grease because citrus oil is great for greasy and grimey stuff.

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These babies are grease-cutting machines!

I’ve been using the citrus cleanser for several months now. I started experimenting with the recipe just a few months after I went vegan. The other solution I only started using in the past few months, after I discovered the wonders of  castile soap. Here’s the recipe for each cleanser:

Citrus cleaning solution:

  • 1:1 ratio of citrus solution* to warm or room temperature water. I use my own amber spray bottles and they hold 16 oz. of liquid, so that’s about 8 oz. (or 1 cup) of solution and 8 oz. of water.

Castile cleaning solution:

  • 2-3 tablespoons of castile soap (I use Dr. Bonner’s hemp almond castile soap)
  • about 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • the rest of the bottle is filled with warm water

You might want to adjust these ratios and amounts depending on the size of bottle you’re using, but these are pretty good general measurements.

I’ve also switched to using homemade, natural stuff to clean my laundry. The result of this was probably the biggest surprise because I’ve been washing with this solution for almost two months now and I’m being 100% honest when I say that my clothes are actually coming out cleaner and fresher with this new type of detergent. What’s in it you’re wondering? Well, it’s essentially the same mixture as the castile soap cleaning solution described above, except I add about 2-3 tbsp. of baking soda to the mix. Here’s the full recipe:

Castile laundry soap:

In a 32 oz. mason jar I combine:

  • 2-3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup castile soap… then close the jar and shake!

Like I said, I love this mixture for doing laundry. My clothes smell fresh. And not the way they smell when you use those popular name brand detergents. Those smell like scented

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My castile soap laundry detergent.

chemicals — fake floral scents and mock lavender. No, my clothes actually smell clean— like this is what clean is supposed to smell like! I may sound a little obsessive but this is what happens when you start opening your mind to what can be done with natural products and not the chemical filled stuff we’ve been conditioned to use through the use of advertising and societal influences.

Keeping my home and clothes clean with no chemicals is truly refreshing. Even though they aren’t things that we notice on a daily basis, I know big changes like better air quality are occurring with the use of less chemicals. This is, of course, important for personal health, but it’s also a big deal for me because I don’t want Atreyu (my cat!) breathing in a bunch of chemicals either.

But, there’s a small catch…

… everything hasn’t been entirely lavender and roses (cleaning and natural product pun completely intended).

Another major concern when it comes to my new vegan lifestyle is affordability— and that’s been the case from the beginning. I’ve always been more of a

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Oranges are cheap year-round so a homemade citrus cleanser is a great investment.

budget girl, and that hasn’t changed since going vegan. I know I’m saving money when it comes to cleaning supplies— I mean, I could buy an entire barrel of oranges to make a billion batches of my citrus cleanser and it probably wouldn’t at all compare to the amount of money I might spend buying a bunch of bottles of a packaged, chemical cleansers over time. But even still, my other new cleaning innovations were signaling some red flags.

So, this is where me being single finally becomes relevant. I know, you probably forgot about that important little tidbit but I told you it’d be back. Currently, I’m doing a few loads of laundry as a single person. And cleaning as a single person. And cooking as a single person. Yes, I’m doing everything as a single person. So quantities haven’t been a huge problem so far. But, castile soap isn’t cheap. And using all that good soap for cleaning solutions and laundry was starting to add up.

So, I started researching cruelty-free and vegan detergents. As of the publishing of this blog post, I’ve narrowed it down to two brands that are ethical, contain vegan  ingredients and are cruelty-free. I’ll post what they are and what I decided to go with in another blog post. I figure now is the best time to make the switch so I can start saving more money but I’m also thinking practically for the future. When I have a family, what will be more likely to stick? I don’t wanna start doing things that get me closer to a zero-waste lifestyle now, then fall back a few steps— or a bunch of steps— or several staircases worth of steps because I made a few changes as a single gal that I couldn’t keep up with once more people were in the picture. I’m still using my castile detergent for now, but I’ll be switching over to a bulk detergent shortly. I hope my clothes will smell as clean as they have been while using the castile soap. The fact that the ingredients will be natural gives me some hope that they might. And anyhow, I thought of an idea; I can mix some of the castile soap (and maybe vinegar?) in with the bulk detergent to make it a “super-detergent”, able to rip through dirt in the blink of eye and tear apart soil particles with the snap of a finger! As for my cleaning solutions, those are actually doable labor and price-wise, and I’m 100% gonna keep making them to clean with. And finally, I don’t think I’m gonna give up bleach anytime soon, but as with everything else on this journey— baby steps.

So that’s where I’m at when it comes to cleaning my space and my clothes. It hasn’t all been easy-peasy, but then again, nothing that truly matters ever is. In fact, I remember the first time I heard about the “cheap, fast, good” diagram. It was on a t.v show, and although the show isn’t at all relevant, the purpose of that lil’ venn diagram remained with me for years and still resonates with me when I think of everything in life, because it’s truly applicable to everything in life.

**

If we want something to be cheap and fast, it ain’t gonna be the best quality. If we want something to be fast and good quality, it ain’t gonna be cheap, and if we want something to be cheap and good quality, it definitely ain’t gonna happen overnight. The point is, you can’t have all three; only two of those amazing things are achievable at one time and so there will always be some form of work required on our end— either patience, funds (monetary or otherwise), or acceptance. That’s how I’m approaching my zero-waste journey. I’ve invested in a few items like hand towels, and bottles of castile soap, knowing that in the long run these changes will reap great (quality) benefits when it comes to my health, my zero-waste goals and my overall moral feels. I’m already spending less money on things like paper towels (a product I believe is one of the biggest kept secrets as a “big money waster”) and cleaning products, and I know I’m making progress as I try to head into more of a zero-waste life for my current situation and my future, unknown life. I’m very proud of myself and I know future Tiffany is waiting to pat me on my low carbon footprint back too.

* To make the citrus solution: In a 32 oz. mason jar, I combine the peels of 5-6 medium to large sized oranges with vinegar. Make sure that the peels are free of any fruit, or that will make the solution sticky. You only want pure orange peel because it has the citrus oil in it. Once the peels are in the jar, fill the jar almost to the top with white vinegar. This mixture will yield you four cups of citrus solution, but as you use it you can add more vinegar and let the mixture become stronger over time. The same peels should last for a few months before you need to replace them. With a new batch, I let the solution sit for at least 24 hours before using it for cleaning. It should reach maximum potency after about a week.

[Edit:] As of January 21, 2019, I have decided to use detergent and other products from the Seventh Generation brand. This line of products is entirely vegan and cruelty-free. The parent company of Seventh Generation, Unilever, was at one point known for its animal testing. However, as of 2019, the company is pioneering the global ban on animal testing, and PETA has now classified them as a company that is “working for regulatory change”. The company will only perform animal testing where required by law.

** Venn-diagram chart photo courtesy of: pyragraph.com.

Unilver information courtesy of PETA: https://www.peta.org/blog/dove-earns-cruelty-free-stamp-of-approval-added-to-beauty-without-bunnies-list/

Spicy Asian Slaw

I’ve never been a fan of coleslaw. Before I was vegan, I hated coleslaw. After I became vegan, I hated coleslaw. There’s never really been any version of coleslaw that I’ve liked. Then, one day I realized that the main reason I didn’t like coleslaw was because every time I had it, it was always mushy. And I have texture issues with mushy food. As I dug deeper into my disdain for for this BBQ side dish staple, I realized another reason I didn’t like it was because I wasn’t crazy about the combo of veggies that was often found in it. So, I set out to make my own slaw, because that’s what food is all about. Creating new flavors; taking the old and breathing new life into it, reinventing dishes and creating entirely new flavors altogether. It’s taken some time, but I’m finally starting to break away from the limitations I put on myself with food. I’m making sweet tofu scrams, experimenting with the flavor of veggies and just doing whatever I want because that’s usually how the best dishes are created. A little bit of creativity, a little bit of science, and in my case, a whole lotta crazy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup beets, spiralized (you can buy them pre-spiralized or spiralize them yourself)
  • 1/2 cup Bosc pear, diced
  • 3-4 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • Additional cilantro for garnish
  • 1/4 cup wasabi mayo*

What to Do:

  1. on a cutting board, slice the spiralized beets roughly to create smaller shreds and spirals. Leave some different lengths but try not to have any pieces that are more than 2-3 inches in length.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beet spirals, red cabbage, scallion and pear.
  3. Mix until well blended.
  4. Add the wasabi mayo and mix again until mayo is well blended into the slaw.
  5. Add cilantro and mix into the slaw.
  6. Transfer slaw to a serving dish and garnish with more fresh cilantro; you can enjoy alone or as a side with another meal. I also used this slaw as a filling for some delicious summer rolls!**

* To make the wasabi mayo, combine 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Trader Joe’s vegan spread and dressing) and 1 heaping tbsp. of wasabi paste. Mix the two items together vigorously until well blended. You can find wasabi paste in the Asian or international foods section of your local grocery, or go to an Asian market.

** This recipe is for a small batch of slaw that will yield about 2-3 servings. The dressing measurements also allow for the slaw to remain crunchy and not become soggy, even after sitting overnight. To make a larger batch, simply double the amounts of everything, but try to keep the ratios of dry and wet ingredients the same so you do not make the slaw too wet.

 

Date posted on Instagram: 12/16/18

“Earth” Oatmeal

Oatmeal is such a classic dish. It’s literally one of the oldest grains in the history of food, and not only that but it’s one versatile beast of food and you all know how I feel about food versatility. You can have it sweet or savory. You can have it for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. I mean, you can literally do whatever you want with oatmeal. But instead of fitting it into just one of the many options, why not mash it up some? This quick and easy oatmeal recipe creates a fun sweet and salty (or savory) bite. It’s funny because so many of my recipes are born out of last-minute epiphanies. I originally planned on making this only a sweet bowl. But toward the end I felt like it need something– I saw it was starting to look like a bunch of dirt (that’s where the “earth” name came from) and then I realized the salt crystals would work perfectly with the dirt effect and make it sweet and salty, another classic combo. This is one of the more delicious and comfty bowls I’ve had in awhile and I was eating a lot of oatmeal for a hot minute recently. Who knew something so simple could be so nourishing for the soul?

earth oatmeal

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup steel-cut dry oats (cheaper if you purchase them in bulk!)
  • 1/8 cup blueberries (about one handful)
  • 3-4 pitted dates, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 medium-sized ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. nutmeg
  • 1 heaping tbsp. brown sugar*
  • 1 tsp. whole pink Himalayan sea salt crystals
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice; I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk for this recipe)
  • 1 cup water

What to Do:

  1. Heat a small to medium  pot over high heat with 1 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the oats and boil for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Reduce heat to a low to medium heat and stir oats.
  3. Cover pot with a lid and let oats simmer for 5-10 minutes or until all (or at least most) water has been absorbed by the oats.
  4. Let the oats sit for about 2 minutes, then, remove oats from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
  5. Pour almond milk over oats (but do not stir milk into oats yet!).
  6. Slice the into several, even-sized slices and place them on top of the oatmeal on one side.
  7. Now, start adding the toppings; place the blueberries on top of the banana slices.
  8. Place the date pieces on top of the other fruit.
  9. Carefully sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg along the line of fruit (as pictured) one at a time.
  10. Carefully sprinkle the heaping amount of brown sugar on top of the other spices.
  11. Sprinkle the chia seeds over the other spices and sugar.
  12. Finally, sprinkle the pink sea salt crystals over everything else. Serve and enjoy!

* Most brown sugar (and all sugar for that matter) is not vegan, unless marked otherwise. The brown sugar I used in this recipe wasn’t vegan– I already had a bulk amount of brown sugar since before going vegan and because I don’t use brown sugar that often, that is what I’ve been using because I planned on going through all products I currently have and then purchasing vegan products after those are finished (this is for financial as well as waste reasons). If you would like to make sure that you are using vegan sugar, you can use this easy recipe for brown sugar.

Date posted on Instagram: 12/6/18

I’ve Been Vegan for ONE YEAR!

So this is it. In my first update post, I had made it to the six-month mark and was so excited about it. As with most joyful events that occur in my life, I celebrated with food. I went to get some grub with a pal. My plan for this year-one anniversary was to go get some food with a pal again– but this time, I wanted to up the ante and go to a nicer, swankier spot. One where a server comes to the table and brings us all our vegan goodies. But life had different plans. I was a little disappointed at first, but instead of wallowing, I decided to hit up a slew of vegan spots and focus on my triumph of making it through the first year.

So, here are a few things I’ve done over the past year along with the emotions, revelations, realizations, and successes that have occurred.

I Went Vegan? Yes! I Went Vegan!

Only after spending countless hours (maybe more than I should) on vegan Instagram did I realize that doing week-long vegan challenges before going vegan was more of a common thing than I thought. Well, that’s how my vegan journey started. I randomly decided to do a vegan challenge but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would

curry ginger carrot soup
A curry ginger carrot soup I made during my week-long vegan challenge.

actually become a vegan. I was one of those people. You know, those people: “But bacon!” “Oh my goodness, I loooove cheese!” But I made it through most of that week okay. And along the way, something inside changed a bit. I wasn’t vegan for the trilogy of reasons yet (health, the environment and the animals) — it started out solely as a way to improve my health. When I told my then only vegan pal that I went vegan she sounded excited and happy for me, but also a bit skeptical. Maybe she sounded skeptical subconsciously, and at the time it didn’t feel great but now I totally understand it. I decided to go vegan pretty much overnight and that vegan pal is well aware that I originally wasn’t even thinking about going vegan. When we got in contact with each other, I wanted to do yoga not change my entire lifestyle. But the universe and the powers that be take us in the direction that’s best for us, so there I was– a new vegan!

To Food Blog or Not to Food Blog?

Next came the idea to take food blogging more seriously– but this idea was not without some… okay a lot of hesitation. The blog I currently have was born out of two things. The vegan Instagram page I had already been operating, but really my love of blogging. I had started a blog in the past and didn’t keep up with it because I wasn’t passionate about what I was blogging about. When I started my Instagram page, I wasn’t yet sure if blogging was in the future. I had thought about it, but as with most new ventures in my life, I

Instagram screenshot of my page
My Instagram page in all its vegan food glory and goodness.

was terrified of actually starting it (even though things are never really that scary after the fact). But eventually I decided to take the leap and start blogging about this new passion of mine– living a vegan lifestyle. And of course, once I started blogging, it wasn’t that bad. As a matter of fact, it was amazing. And even though I was a blogging novice, I realized that wouldn’t hinder me because I loved writing and I loved being vegan. And those that saw my blog would be able to feel that genuine emotion of a new vegan fumbling and figuring it all out along the way. Also, being able to look back at the collection of photos on my Insta page and my recipe posts and writings on my blog make me feel great about the progression of my vegan journey. And even better is knowing that I’m actually able to reach people, whether through Instagram or the blog, helping to spread the vegan message even more. I never imagined that I could inspire anyone by way of my own vegan journey, and to be honest, it’s still a little intimidating. But It’s a good sort of intimidation because everyone on the planet is meant to inspire everyone else in some way. When we use our talents and focus on our passions, those actions will serve as inspiration for others to do the same and that’s exactly how it should be. And I’ll admit that it feels even greater to have a passion that can lead to inspiring others to focus on bettering their health, being a voice for animals and all living creatures, and protecting the planet we all share.

I Made Vegan Food, I Bought Vegan Food — I ate A LOT of Vegan Food.

Real talk. I didn’t know how to cook before going vegan. I knew how to make basic things like spaghetti with some pasta sauce, or how to scramble eggs (pre-vegan of course). The most labor intensive thing I could make was lasagna and my specialty was actually veggie lasagna, because I preferred veggie lasagna to meat lasagna even before going vegan. But being vegan forced me to learn how to start cooking more to sustain myself and get the nutrients I needed on a vegan diet. And so I did that. And again, being able to look at my Instagram collection of photos with all the food I’ve made over the past year, it makes me really proud that I started appreciating the kitchen and what I could do in it. And yeah, a lot of my recipes included those basic ingredients I’ve always used, because I wasn’t a pro yet. I’ve even written about that. But I am slowly starting to expand my cooking repertoire, learning how to make more intricate things and cooking from scratch and it’s been so fun and such an amazing learning experience. And then there’s going out to eat. I won’t lie, if I could afford to, I would probably go out to eat everyday because I enjoy the experience of dining out. And what do ya know, I happen to live in one of the vegan food restaurant capitals of the world, having tons of vegan spots at my disposal. Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of money at my disposal. But that didn’t stop me. I created a food budget and used that to go out so I could have the opportunity to start experiencing the vegan food scene of NYC. Everyone has their vices. For some, it’s shopping for clothes and shoes. Others enjoy going out to clubs and partaking of the nightlife. While even more others spend their money on things like traveling or collecting special things. For me, it’s food. I love buying food and I’m not ashamed to say it. So I was determined to start exploring all the NYC vegan food scene had to offer. I tried mostly fast-causal spots and that’s still where I’m at, with the latest spots I’ve hit up being Hartbreakers in Bushwick, and Rip’s Malt Shop in Fort Greene, also in Brooklyn. I enjoyed those meals for my one-year vegan anniversary, along with a trip to Dunwell Donuts in Brooklyn for some delicious doughnuts. I’ve tried some scrumptious food and have been amazed at what is being done with vegan fare. It’s insane and innovative and I know I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. I can’t wait to see and experience so much more vegan goodness.

I Went Raw Vegan for a Week!

I also tried going raw for a week. I already knew I was doing my health a tremendous service by going vegan, but raw veganism was like the epitome of veganism, so I thought I’d try it out. It was a fun and interesting week for sure. You can read about how it went here on my blog. I definitely want to try it again and for much longer than my original challenge which was only a week long. I had planned to do another raw vegan challenge before 2018 was finished but it didn’t pan out that way. So maybe early in the year or right before I leave for my vegan food tour I’ll do it again.

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I drank a lot of homemade juice during raw vegan week.

I Went to Not One, but Two Vegan Food Festivals!

I also had the amazing opportunity to go to two vegan food festivals this summer. First, I went to Black Vegfest. This was awesome for two reasons: 1) It was my first ever vegan food festival and 2) It was the first ever Black Vegfest, so it was great to be able to take part in the first installment of what would no doubt become a staple festival for vegans but particularly Black vegans and vegans of color (myself falling into both categories). The food was great and I even met some awesome folks that I kept in contact with after the festival.

Black Vegfest Shirt pic
Some of the swag I got from Black Vegfest.

Next, I went to Vegandale — based on a real location in Toronto. Tons of vegan food vendors from all over the country and even the world. I went in with a specific goal in mind: get food that wasn’t local to New York City because I could try that anytime. I wanted to try some nationwide and global fare. So I hit up those vendors, trying food all the way from Switzerland, to Chicago, to Texas, to right next door in Jersey and more. It was so fun and exciting. I could barely eat all the food I got which I chronicled over on my Instagram page, but one of my Insta-pals gave me a heads up that I should bring some takeout containers with me so that’s what I did. But even then I didn’t have food for a week like I thought I would– a couple of days was more like it because I ate continuously for both days of the festival and thereafter. I have a big appetite okay? Not that I’m apologizing for it, because my grande appetite was extremely helpful when it came to trying to eat so much food in one day. Both festivals were satisfying to say the least– for my soul, my belly and my happiness. I was thrilled to have been able to attend two major festivals in the vegan world on my first year out. Kudos to me!

Me at Vegandale
Me at the Vegandale food festival in summer of ’18

I Improved My Health Drastically, But Wasn’t Invincible.

My health improved so much after going vegan. The biggest change was in my nasal passages, which previously had been constantly blocked. Not so much like when you’re sick and badly congested, but definitely at a constant level– and I thought that was my “normal”. It wasn’t until I went vegan and more specifically I believe until I cut out dairy that my breathing passages fully opened up. I also lost weight and experienced a major decrease in the chronic headaches I once had and the colds I always used to get. Whether it was the elimination of animal derived foods or my increased intake of vitamin rich and nutritious whole foods that caused these changes, I am not sure– honestly, it was probably a combination of both. But either way, I’m certain that going vegan is the reason I feel and actually am so much healthier. But even with these major health improvements, I wasn’t invincible like I thought I was or would be after going vegan. I didn’t get sick for a long while after going vegan. I had a history of getting sick and catching colds very easily. I also went vegan in the beginning of winter. And I didn’t get sick at all that winter. The immediate rise in fruits and veggies likely did have something to do with that fateful, illness-free winter, haha. But eventually, I became human again and experienced colds and headaches. However, the fact that they came in so few and far between was still evidence enough for me that veganism was indeed my route to becoming a semi-superhero.

The Learning Continues and I’m Ready for Another Year!

After this first year I’ve learned so much about myself, my personal health, the food I eat, the products I buy and the impact that I have on those around me, the planet I live on and other living beings. Growing in perspective has been life-changing — like, it has literally changed my life. I don’t dislike or judge anyone who isn’t vegan because I was there just a year ago, but I do view life from a different perspective that I wish everyone could see life from. Still, I know that the world is purposely an ever-evolving place; one where change is indeed a constant. I’ve spoken to so many vegans who are amazed at how far vegan options have come and that gives me hope that this lifestyle and movement will continue to grow because as we all know, supply must meet demand. And if we keep demanding products that will lead to a world that is more cruelty-free and better for our health and the environment, we’ll keep getting more options that will help us achieve those things.

I love being vegan and although saying that I’ve been vegan for a year is still a little surreal knowing my history with food, I can’t wait until I am fully at peace with my own personal transformation and don’t have that surreal feeling any longer, knowing that change can also be a constant for every individual on this planet, myself included. And that even for me, someone who once, at times, ate bacon derived from pigs everyday and survived on so much unhealthy crap– starting a new life full of fresh, whole foods, and decadent, cruelty-free eats is completely possible. I’m so looking forward to year two, and three and four and beyond!

Autumn Tofu Scramble

Tofu scramble is my jam. I’ve had it every which way I can think of at this point, with every type of mix-in possible. That was until I was eating brekkie one day recently and as I was enjoying my yummy Fieldroast apple maple links I had an epiphany. I actually haven’t had tofu scram every way I can think of, and I haven’t had all the mix-ins either. Could tofu scram be enjoyed seasonally? What about sweet? My mind was spinning with such crazy ideas, but a couple of days later I made it over to the kitchen to test my theory out. The result? A delicious new take on tofu scram that my taste buds were pleasantly surprised by. It’s 50% savory, 50% sweet, and 100% bomb vegan protein.

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What You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 block of organic firm tofu, drained
  • 1/2 cup brussel sprouts, chopped (finely or roughly depending on the texture you want!)
  • 2 small to medium carrot sticks, diced
  • 1/4 green apple, diced
  • 2-3 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan pink sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)*

What to Do:

  1. Heat a medium to large skillet over low-medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Once hot, add the chopped brussel sprouts and carrots to the skillet and saute them approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Add the green apples to the skillet and continue the saute for another minute, stirring the veggies and fruit until well mixed.
  4. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add agave syrup to veggie and fruit mix.
  5. Stir syrup into mix continuously for approximately 10 seconds then let sit and simmer.
  6. Crumbled drained tofu over the top of the veggie and fruit mix to create the scram.
  7. Sprinkle turmeric over the top of the crumbled tofu, then, mix everything together until turmeric is well blended into the tofu and it is completely yellow.
  8. Return the heat to low/medium and add pink Himalayan sea salt and black pepper. Stir until well mixed into scram.
  9. Continue to saute scram until veggies and apple are slightly tender, approximately another 2-3 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish. Enjoy alone or with some of your favorite breakfast sides.

 

 * Also, feel free to add about a teaspoon of black salt, also known as “kala namak”. This salt can give your egg substitutes a more “egg-like” taste! I recently got some and have tried adding it to some of my vegan eggs, although I still love tofu scram without it. This salt can be found in Asian or Indian markets but I found a decent size bulk amount on Amazon for a great price. Do a little research to price check!

Date posted on Instagram: 11/23/18

*Product Review*: Daiya Boxed Mac ‘n’ Cheeze

Macaroni and cheese is definitely up there when it comes to foods I love to eat. I wouldn’t necessarily call it one of my favorite foods in general, but it is absolutely in an even more specific category: one of my favorite holiday foods. When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, I am not a happy camper if I don’t have some mac on my plate. And to take it a step further, culturally speaking, I’m used to a very specific type of mac and cheese. B A K E D. African-American households are no strangers to mac and cheese, and to offer us anything other than a tray of baked mac might get you some funny looks (or even a few unkind words), especially at a holiday meal. All the nostalgic memories come flying back to my head of my mom taking the elbow macaroni noodles and tossing them in a huge bowl with tons of cheese and seasoning and them placing it in a few deep dish pans, then, popping them in the oven (with more cheese slathered on top!) for almost an hour — one of the most hunger-inducing hours ever, with the result being a crunchy, soft, smooth, cheesy masterpiece being revealed as part of the rest of the dinner feast.

When you have memories of homemade mac and cheese being as insanely good as I do, it’s kind of hard imagining a ready-made style, boxed mac and cheese that you don’t even bake could be as good as anything I’ve just described. Well, that’s not entirely true. Because there’s one brand of boxed mac and cheese that has stood the test of time. It’s from that really popular brand that we all know– it starts with a “K” and I have many memories of seeing their commercials on TV as a kid. They promoted the heck out of that boxed mac. And it worked because I know it was a popular product for kids across America– maybe even a staple in their childhood diets. It’s also a staple in the poor college student’s diet, the can’t be bothered to cook bachelor’s diet, and maybe even sometimes the single woman in the city’s (or country?) diet. But believe it or not, I’ve only had that mac and cheese maybe twice in my whole life. Pre-vegan of course. And I am not unhappy about it, because even before I had the more refined foodie palate I currently have, I always knew that homemade baked mac was where it’s at.

Then I became vegan. And I started learning about the world of supermarket vegan food. Not the fresh, whole foods I love talking about on this blog and on my Instagram, but the fast-growing variety of ready-made, easily prepped, frozen, and packaged convenience vegan foods. Most long-term vegans are in awe of the products they see today, because several years ago, most of these easy-to-make products didn’t exist yet! But being vegan today has never been so easy. Even though it may not be the healthiest way to live, if you can’t cook or don’t want to cook, there’s still no excuse for you to harm animals or the planet for your meal when you can stock your cabinets and freezer with tons of microwavable and ready-made vegan options (you also don’t have to do much cooking on a vegan diet that’s based in mostly whole foods but that’s another blog post for another time!). And you also don’t have to give up childhood favorites like ready-made mac and cheese!

That’s where Daiya’s Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac comes in. This boxed, quick mac IMG_8285and cheeze is prepared like any other quick macaroni with cheeze sauce product: you boil the noodles, drain them, then add the cheeze sauce. And within minutes you have a hearty, cheezy pasta dish to have alone or to accompany the rest of your meal. So why am I doing a review on this product when several vegan options like it exist already? Well, there are a few reasons. Vegan cheese has come a looong way. I became vegan at the tail end of it’s growth, but I had already heard many of the rumors. Vegan cheese has sometimes gotten a bad rep. There’s been issues with it not melting easily. Issues with texture. And most importantly, there have been issues with taste and flavor. Some just aren’t feelin’ the flavor of vegan cheeses.

So when trying this product, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve tried Daiya‘s cream cheeze and I must admit, I wasn’t a fan. This was toward the beginning of my vegan journey and it wasn’t the best introduction into vegan cream cheese options. So I wondered if this cheeze sauce would follow suit with the cream cheeze debacle.

It absolutely did not.

Not only is this mac and cheeze amazing when it comes to flavor, but the texture is mind-blowing! The noods are basic elbow noodles. Oh, and it’s also worth mentioning that the noodles this mac comes with are gluten-free which is a plus for the gluten-free folks out there! But the cheeze brings in all the punch and glitz; it’s thick and creamy and there was actually an overabundance of the delicious saucy-goodness. The noodles were well-coated when I was only about 3/4 of the way through the sauce pack!

And let’s get more into the flavor. This cheeze sauce is SO similar to dairy-tasting cheese! If you are trying to ease into a vegan lifestyle (or get a non-vegan to try a vegan dish), this is perfect because your taste buds won’t know the difference! I can’t put enough emphasis on how much it tasted like the dairy-cheese I used to eat — it reminded me of hearing about folks on vegan Instagram complain that some meat substitutes tasted too

Daiya boxed mac components
Noodles + cheeze sauce = happy belly.

much like animal meat and it freaked them out. That was my experience here. This tasted so much like dairy cheese that it was a bit weird! But knowing that it wasn’t actually made from dairy was all the comfort I needed to continue to enjoy my mac. And again, the sauce is thick a.f! No need to worry about the sauce being too runny or not cheezy enough. There is also the perfect amount of saltiness to it. I jazzed mine up by adding some pepper to the finished product– if you check out the pic of my mac below, I also added some bacon to it because even as a vegan, I still believe that bacon makes everything better 🙂 But I didn’t add any salt because it didn’t need it! If you do add salt, do so sparingly– every palate is different so maybe you’ll think it needs some but enjoying it “as is” is perfect. And honestly, I’m considering trying my hand at baking this mac– with a few additions like some milk, shredded cheeze, and breadcrumbs, this can easily become a baked mac and cheeze masterpiece suitable for a spot on any holiday feast table. When I do bake it, I’ll be sure to update you all on how it went, and more importantly, how it tasted! 😀

So that’s it! If you’re looking to add a boxed food to your kitchen arsenal for quick meals or those times where you don’t feel like cooking (or don’t have the time to cook a more elaborate meal). Or if you actually just prefer to eat mac and cheeze that isn’t baked, or boxed mac because it brings back some childhood nostalgia, you need to get this product! I know there are a few other vegan boxed mac and cheeze’s out there– although I haven’t tried them yet, that won’t take away from how good this Daiya one is. Maybe I’ll do a taste test on a few of them down the line. But comparing to the taste, texture, ease of preparation, and overall deliciousness of this Daiya mac is not gonna be easy. Thanks for keeping us vegans going strong Daiya!

Daiya boxed mac closeup
Daiya boxed mac. Cheesy goodness with bacon crumbles on top. Yes, please.