I am as human as the next person, probably more-so than most, which means I don’t eat a perfect meal every single day. I mean, come on, did you really think that after treating my body so poorly for so many years that I would miraculously stop struggling all of the time?! Of course not, life happens and with it, so does the occasional bad food choice. Last night my hubs and I went out for dinner to an Italian place. Typically, Italian restaurants are great for vegans, as long as they have pasta that is animal free. Dinner proved to be less than fabulous last night, as the small place we tried didn’t live up to the hopes I had for it. I ended up consuming about a loaf of bread with some tasty dipping oil, a few bites of pasta with almost no veggies (what part of dump every veggie you got in it did they not understand?), and a pretty decent salad. Some might think that sounds like a great meal, but if you could see it, it was way to low on the veggie/fruit side and way to high on the carb side. This may be different for others, but for me, I need to consume almost all my daily intake from fruits, veggies, and beans and legumes, and only a small amount from starchy, carb-loaded grains. Not sure what my system thinks of them, but I know it lives better on the whole stuff.
So anyway, that means today I need to be a little cleaner than yesterday to help make up for it, and because I should anyway. Duh…

So you ask…what’s in the bag?!

I get it, I get it, we all have crazy busy lives, but it is totally possible to live day to day busy lives and still maintain a super healthy, nutrient-dense diet. Myself, I have two kids involved in all sorts of activities, weekly events with family and friends, and a full-time wonderful job in a cubicle, so like the rest of you, I have to think on my feet a lot too! That means there is no excuse. Oh, I know you are sitting there with rationalization and excuse after excuse running through your head and out your mouth, but I’ve tried them all, and you know what? They don’t hold up to the truth. So, here is a break-down of what my day looks like (typically), a few answers to the excuses I used to have, and some great resources for those weak moments you feel you just can’t keep it up.
Oh, and a recipe because I love ya!

My Typical Day:

Breakfast
I learned a long time ago that breakfast is essential to a healthy diet. Back when I ate everything animal, this would consist of whatever sounded good and I could stuff down my gullet, but these days it consists of a lot more healthy goodness.

  • Smoothie of some kind (whatever frozen fruit I have on hand, about a cup of almond milk, a splash of extract of peppermint, vanilla, or coconut, and GO) I also have been known to throw in a handful or two of fresh baby spinach, which when added to smoothies has no flavor but lots of nutrients.
  • fresh fruit, fresh veggies, or sometimes if I’m feeling the need for comfort food, I’ll toast a piece of Udi’s whole grain bread and add a tiny bit of almond butter.
Lunch
     For lunch I love to bring leftovers and use up dinners that would otherwise waste. It’s far cheaper than the high-sodium, frozen vegan meals (although 1 or 2 on hand is always a good idea).
  • Today I have leftover Southwest Cowboy Pie (see previous post for recipe)
  • green pepper strips
  • apple
  • cantaloupe
  • homemade guacamole with just a few tortilla chips
  • rainier cherries
Dinner
     Dinners are my favorite part of the day. Its a chance for me to show my family that being vegan and eating healthy is easy and taste good too. They still eat some animal products, and that’s their choice, but to get around it being more work and hard I plan ahead.
  • Usually some main dish (vegan of course)
  • fruit for dessert

Some tips to make it easier!

  • Plan ahead-I sit-down for a bit every week the day before grocery day and plan my dinners for the week. This gives my family a chance to input what sounds good, as well as me a chance to figure out how to make things I eat along with whatever animal products they want. Do I agree with eating animal products? Hell NO! But I learned long ago it’s not my choice to make for them. It needs to be theirs, and so if I’m making spaghetti with tons of veggies and sauce, I’ll throw a few meatballs in a bowl and heat them for the murders I call my children and hubs (just kidding, they know the approx. 300 animals that die every year don’t blame them).
  • Planning ahead saves BIG money at the store. I hear this excuse a lot, and I thought it too before I tried it. Being vegan is not more expensive. I actually spend way less (typically 40+ a week less) on groceries. Uh, in case you live under a rock, meat and other animal products are expensive, so being vegan can be a penny-pincher’s wet-dream. I’m an accountant, so I’m cheap by nature, and that means spending extra on only some things. In my neck of the woods, I get the vast majority of my weekly groceries at Kroger grocery store, and the few items they don’t carry, I pick up at the Earth Fare down the road. As an example, I typically spend well below $100/week on groceries for a family of 4. Try to do that buying processed, animal-loaded crap!
  • Exercise is important, but doesn’t have to rule your life.  Right now is an exception for me because I’m doing P90X3, which consists of 6 days a week workouts that are 30 minutes each, and since I’m a lunatic, I’ve added additional cycling rides with the hubs because its good for me (trust me I need the cardio) and I love the quality time with him. BUT, think of it this way, 30 minutes is quick. It doesn’t take much to get some exercise. It could be as easy as going for a short walk after a meal, walk around a store during your lunch hour, walk in place during an episode of your favorite show. The point is this, exercise is great, but if your starting out, don’t make it a big-deal. If you get some in, great, that’s ideal, but if not, so-what?! How can you enjoy life if you’re spending your time freaking out about what you’re doing wrong. Live life and eat right, the exercise will happen naturally.
Obviously these are just a few very small things, so if you have some other reason you think I haven’t used myself, message me, or post a comment. I’ll help you learn how to overcome it. Remember we’re in this together.
Great resources of inspiration are videos for me. Check out these channels on YouTube for viewing and inspirational pleasure. Keep in mind, though, that these people can be far more extreme than myself or you want to be, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have great information, and killers bodies to help inspire!
And since it’s the middle of summer here in Indiana, and July 4th is this weekend, I’m going to share a totally out-of-place (but delicious) tortilla soup recipe because it makes no sense to do but taste soooo good!

Tortilla Soup Thursdays!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup carrot, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 sweet, yellow onion, medium dice
  • 32 oz. veggie broth
  • 1 (10oz) can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chili’s
  • 1/2 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 2-3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2-3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3-4 cloves of minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • cold water
  • tortilla strips
*I like to use low-sodium products for canned goods, veggie broths, and juices

Directions:

  1. In medium stock pot, on medium heat, cook carrot, celery, onion, and garlic until veggies just start to soften and garlic becomes fragrant; about 3-5 minutes max.
  2. Add tomato juice, Rotel tomatoes, veggie broth, seasonings, and sour cream, stirring to combine. Bring this to a rolling boil, and then reduce to simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes to meld flavors.
  3. Mix the thickening agent with cold water (just enough to make a creamy paste out of it) and then stir this completely into soup.
  4. Allow to simmer a bit longer until desired thickness.
  5. Dish into a bowl, top with a sprinkling of tortilla strips, and enjoy!