East Plants

Eat more Plants: A Beginners Guide

I love when people reach out and let me know that what I’m cooking and posting to instagram has inspired them to want to eat more plants (and in turn, less meat!). This is literally the best, most flattering compliment I can hear! So keep it coming.

Mushroom Stirfry

I thought I would put together a beginners guide that will help you eat more meals that are plant-based and incorporate more plants into your diet in a delicious way.  It can be overwhelming when you decide to make a change to your diet, especially when you’re eliminating something that is typically the staple of your meal (meat). When I first went vegetarian, I was honestly worried I’d be left hungry, not satisfied with a bowl full of vegetables, or turn into a carb-loading, pasta eating blob. I am a CARB girl! And don’t get me wrong – there is NOTHING wrong with eating carbs, not at all. But, you have to make sure they’re the ‘right’ Carbs and not loafs of baguettes and bowls of pasta every night….which sounds amazing!

Vegan Pizza

The purpose of this blog is to put, in one place, recipes, resources, tips and blogs to follow to get you pumped about eating more plants, trying new recipes, and getting some science behind the benefits of eating less meat. In no way do I want to judge, shame or preach – that’s not my style. I feel this lifestyle (and I truly believe it is a lifestyle) works really well for me and if you can come away with some tips that will help you feel better, than I’m all for it. Here we go!

East Plants

Easy Recipes

I’ve written countless blogs about recipes I’ve created, altered or tried. I like to cook things that use whole, plant-based ingredients, that can be found in a regular grocery store (where the hell do you get halloumi!?) and don’t take hours to make (I’ll buy my almond milk, thanks!).Here are a list of some of my favorites, plus some Pinterest recipes I’ve tried that have been spot on!

Lentil Loaf

Basil Chickpea Balls 

Ski Envy Bowl 

Soups

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings 

Buffalo Chickpea Dip

Lentil, Mushroom & Spinach Wontons  

Mushroom & Broccoli Stirfry over rice noodles 

Sauces

Soups 

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

Vegan Crack Broccoli Tacos 

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

*To note, I often alter recipes a bit based on what I have on hand….I know a lot of people like to follow a recipe to a T, but the more you cook, the braver you’ll get about knowing the tastes that go well together. Feel free to follow me on Pinterest where my Work Hard Cook Hard board has all kinds of plant goodness.

Wontons

Tips & Pantry Essentials 

Eating this way is definitely an adjustment at first. It can seem that things take a bit longer to prep – with all the chopping, dicing, roasting. But once you get the hang of it, set some time aside for meal prep, it becomes easier and more fun! Here are a few tips I’d suggest as well as some pantry essentials that make cooking easier.

  • Homemade sauces are the way to go – less salt, sugar, weird stuff! Use fresh, simple ingredients to spice up your dishes.
  • Drain your tofu! Use a plate with a heavy book on it, a cast iron skillet, anything to get the water out.
  • On nights you have time, meal prep. I’ve written a number of blogs about meal prep and it truly makes a difference. Batch cook, cut veggies, roast a few things you can throw in the fridge for a meal later that week.
  • Best ‘faux meat’ I’ve found: Mornignstar black bean crumble, Tofurkey Sausages (great for BBQs), Field Roast Sausages, Sweet Earth Protein Breakfast Burritos,

A few pantry essentials (some affiliate links below on products I’ve bought):

  • Spices: cumin, red pepper flakes, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder
  • Bragg Natural Liquid Aminos 16oz
  • Bragg Organic Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, 4.5 Ounce
  • Sriracha & Chili Garlic Paste
  • Full fat coconut milk (in a can)
  • Coconut Oil – high heat index!
  • Flax seed – you can make flax eggs!
  • Raw pumpkin & sesame seeds – spices up salads and are so good for you
  • Almonds, Cashews and walnuts – these are expensive, but I try to have at least one on hand
  • Vegan mayo – not the most healthy thing for you, but makes a great aioli for chickpea tacos!
  • Rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar

Grilled Tofurkey

Resources & Blogs I follow 

There are so many resources out there, it’s truly awesome the amount of information and people on board the veggie train. Below are some I follow and find inspiration from!

  • Rich Roll – great podcast!
  • Dr. Michael Gregor – an amazing resource for a scientific look at how plants and nutrition affect us in a positive way. He runs Nutritionfacts.org
  • Dr.Mark Hyman – another Dr. who’s spreading the veggie love & truly believes in the power of transforming you health with nutrition
  • The First Mess – a beautiful blog full of gorgeous pictures & recipes
  • Forks over knives – a great website with recipes, positive success stories and resources to inform ya on the plants – there’s also a great documentary you should check out
  • What the Health – a documentary that looks at our food and how it’s making us sick
  • Cowspiracy – dives into the sustainability of eating plants

 

These are just a few tidbits of how you can ease into (or jump straight in) to the plant-based lifestyle. I would love to hear your story, if you’ve tried any recipes, or where you are in your nutritional journey. Hope you find this guide helpful – happy cooking!

 

Spring into Health: #eatplants

Spring has sprung in Colorado and things are turning green, we’re thinking about our garden, and I’m starting a 30-day Plant based Challenge! Lately, a number of people have been interested in how I eat, asking why, if it’s difficult, sending me awesome articles about restaurants getting more veggie-fied, celebrities going vegan, and snap-chatting me pictures of their all veggie dinners. It’s awesome!

So, why not start an official challenge!

veggies

What is this all about?

  • Starting April 2nd, I’m kicking off a plant-based, wellness challenge – the #eatplants challenge.
    • For 4 weeks, the goal is health, wellness and nourishing your body with more whole, plant-based foods!
    • I’ll provide 3 recipes/grocery lists per week – each packed with tons of plant-based, whole food goodness. Goal is to eat as whole, healthy, unprocessed as possible! I’ll post breakfast/lunch  ideas as well! During the challenge, try to move as much as possible, get 7+ hours a sleep a night & drink lots of water during the day – a holistic approach!)
  • What is plant-based? Here’s a definition – the recipes I’ll include will fit this definition (although don’t be intimidated!)
    • Plantbased eating isn’t just about the addition of whole, plant foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, but also the elimination of ALL animal products including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, gelatin and other animal byproducts from one’s diet.
  • WHY Participate!? Believe in Better Health!! Your Health is by far your biggest asset, the most important priority you have. If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live? By incorporating more plants, you’ll have more energy, get more fiber, nutrients and possibly even lose weight (although that is not the goal!).
  • How do you participate?! Follow my blog Happyandweknowit.com to receive notifications, recipes, meal prep tips, grocery lists, videos of me in the kitchen prepping meals, and healthy tips! I’ll post each weeks’ recipes/grocery lists on Fridays.

I truly believe your health and happiness are intertwined  – and your health is tied to the food you eat! (Did you know 70% of your immune system lies in your gut!!!???) This spring, join me in a 30 day challenge of plant-based goodness!

Cheers!

Adventures in Belize: Day 3

We awoke early to the sound of birds chirping loudly and the howlers off in the distance. Today we were going to Che Chem Ha, the Cave of the poison wood. Lucy’s cousin William had discovered the cave when he was just 18 when he was hiking for palm leaves with his dog. He wanted to get high atop a hill, where people rarely went, so he climbed up the valley and his dog ended up chasing a critter into a hole. This had behind it the cave!

Excited for our Mayan jungle cave experience, we headed into the jungle, leaving Williams house and small restaurant behind us. It was blazing hot, despite it being only 9:30 am, and we were drenched in sweat before we even descended into the jungle. The hike plummeted into a valley, then rose switchback style up the mountain. Thirty five blistering minutes later, we arrived at the mouth of the cave. Before entering, William retold the tale of discovery and had us on the edge of our seats. We were prepped and ready, so William unlocked the gate that kept wild animals out, and plunged into the cave.

Pre classic pottery was found, dating back almost 3,000 years, and the cave had plenty of it scattered without. William explained that the cave was used for ceremonial gatherings, to offer up things to the gods and ancestors ho had left the world for the under world.

As we traveled deeper and deeper into the mouth of the cave, light became scarce and we were glad to have brought our headlamps. William let us know when the archeologists came to inspect his discoveries, he helped them and learned much about what they used the caves for. Remnants of grain were found around the mouths of pots and carbon was discovered within the holes of the cave walls, allowing torches to be placed upright, shedding light in the cave. We crept deeper and deeper into the cave.

It was cool in Che Chem Ha, and there was an earthy dampness smell. Around each bend there were nooks and crannies, more broken pots, and a sticky clay floor that clutched onto your shoes. It was wide enough in the cave so we all stood upright and with much room around us. At some points in the cave, the ceiling stretched 30 feet above us and looking up, our headlamps cast shadows on the opposing walls.

After about 25 minutes, we reached the end of the cave and climbed down into a huge cavernous room. There was a ceremonial rock in the center, where rituals and offerings had been found. A small hole in one of the sides of the cave led to another room and Mike felt compelled (and brave enough!) to go through it. His 6ft 4′ frame barely made it, but he slid through then climbed up into the upper levels and back down to meet us. There was no way in HELL I was squeezing through, so we got ready to ascend into the light. William asked that we shut our lights off, just for a moment to truly feel the darkness. It was as if our eyes were closed and black filled everything. It was time to head into the fresh air!

When we hiked up to Williams, his dogs close at our heels, we all raved about the experience we had just had. Our guide books had explained the awesomeness but nothing can prepare you for the real thing. We paid and thanked him for the wonderful tour. Having sweated profusely (I mean, we were drenched) we opted for a shower break, since the cave was only a few miles from the house. Although I say that, so you’d ink it took us a few minutes to travel….well, the bumpy road was unpaved and extremely undulating, so a few short miles took 20 minutes!

Showers refreshed us, so we headed out to the Belize botanical gardens which were relatively close by and said to have a nice cafe. The guidebook told us to go to Duplooys jungle lodge and we’d find ourselves at the Botanical gardens. Down another extremely bumpy road and we were there!

The cafe was just beyond the main office for the jungle lodge, so we meandered back and ordered a delicious lunch amidst a tropical paradise. There was a back patio that had a long walkway that overlooked the jungle where we were able to see a number of birds flying about. The collared Aracari and the plain chachalaca were among the bunch and their coloring was gorgeous! The shade felt nice and while we ate we were thankful for the fans that blew overhead. We finished lunch and moseyed through the gardens; Mike was fascinated by all of the citrus, avocado and fruit trees. He plucked two lemons, the biggest I had ever seen by far, smelling the goodness of the sun kissed fruit, then putting them in our backpack.

With over 45 acres of plants, there was quite a lot to see and in the heat, we knew we wouldn’t last long, so we chose the medicine trail to follow, which led us to a replica of a Mayan dwelling, where there was a palm bed, what looked like a clay stove and handmade tools. The Mayans were a crafty people and they knew how to make use of nature. Pretty cool!

 

We wrapped up the botanical garden and headed back to Casa Santa Maria. Mike and I ventured out onto the river on the canoe that came with the house, hoping to catch sight of a crocodile. At dusk, the river was calm, quiet, full of bird songs and soft breezes. We paddled quietly hoping to catch glimpse of wild life enjoying the same breezes. Although no crocs were spotted, it was a lovely trip down the Macal with the sun setting and the jungle surrounding us.

Back up the switchbacks, we came to the house, where dinner of fish wrapped in grape leaves, coconut rice, and a zucchini medley awaited us. Scrumptious beyond words!!!