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!

 

What I ate last week (and why you should care)

“If you cooked for me, I’d definitely be plant-based!”

“Do you spend hours in the kitchen!?”

“What the hell is that? And can I get the recipe?”

These are a few of the questions and comments I’ve heard recently from friends of mine who follow my overly food-saturated instagram stories feed.  These are extremely flattering comments and I take pride in people taking notice of something I’m passionate about. The not-so-sexy truth of the matter is the way I cook doesn’t take me long in the moment, but does take practice, planning, and patience. And a husband who will eat just about anything.

To tackle all of these questions, I thought I’d write about what I ate this past week, how I come up with the ideas, and the process I use to make healthy, interesting, yet simple recipes that fit into the work week. Why should you care about what I eat or how I get the ingredients to turn into the instagram worthy photos? Because the meals I make are chock-full of vegetables (which you need to be eating more of, don’t you?) don’t use crazy ingredients, so you can find them in a regular grocery store, and they are cost effective, so you aren’t going to break the bank. I believe weeknight meals should be delicious, exciting, and help you spend more time with your loved ones. I use the time in the kitchen to get creative, decompress from my day, and put effort into something I know is good for me. So, if you want to do the same, then read on. And that’s why you should care.

Last Week’s Meals: The Thought-Process

When planning out my meals for the week, I typically take into consideration the extra-curricular activities (on top of work) I have. Will I need to meal-plan on nights I don’t have much going on to compensate for the nights I have hike club, dinner with friends or a jam session with the chuggers (a rad musical trio I’m in with my buddies Ryan & Mark. We rock)? If there are nights that will require a quick dinner, I choose tried-and-true meals I have made before, so there’s no guess work in the kitchen. Everyone has a meal or two that they can put together without batting an eye or opening a recipe on their browser. An example of a meal like that for me? Chick pea tacos, all day. Sliced onions & peppers in a skillet. Can of chickpeas tossed with cumin in the toaster oven. Put that in a spinach wrap, with a side of beans and voila!

For the nights I know I have some extra time, I’ll choose a newer dish that I can get creative with or perhaps a dish that has a sauce (which adds time/extra dirty dishes). How do I choose these meals? By scrolling through Pinterest choosing something that looks delicious, then altering the recipes in my head based on ingredients I know I have or can get at the store easily. Simple is the name of the game here, so picking those exotic dishes don’t work and the ones that take 45 steps to complete aren’t for me either.  For example, I knew I had a jam session last Tuesday, a hike scheduled for Wednesday, and an outdoor movie night scheduled on Thursday. Plus, Mike and I are home for lunch everyday, as he’s in-between projects (we just sold our 5th Happy Homes investment property!) and I work from home. So planning meals that will leave left-overs or buying ingredients that will work for multiple meals, is key. Below are the meals I planned last week – and we ate 18 meals in from Monday to Sunday, two meals were at friends houses and we’re going out tonight!)

Meals

  • Korean BBQ cauliflower wings with spring rolls and veggie wontons
  • Grilled Zucchini Pitas with a vegan dill sauce & sliced Cucumbers
  • Veggie Tacos with peppers and onions and a side of spicy navy beans
  • Lentil Meatballs (I used them for Mediterranean pitas & a spicy peanut ramen dish)
  • Tofu Broccoli wraps with garlic sweet & sour sauce
  • Black bean crumble (from Morning Star) tacos with a chipotle mayo & brown rice
  • Homemade pasta with basil pesto & sun-dried tomatoes

The Plan

I like to pick a day to meal-plan, batch-cook for the week (meaning cook a few of  the more time-consuming recipes) and possibly even grocery shop. Often, I can’t do all of this in one day, especially if it’s nice out. As much as I love to cook, I do like to prioritize my outdoor-time, especially on the weekends.  Last Sunday was Easter and we headed to my sisters in the early evening, giving me all morning/afternoon to prep food for the week. I ended up making the lentil meatballs, as they were a bit more involved, and were something I could heat up all week, in a pinch. Below are some of the sauces, tips and ways I prepared the above. If you take anything away from this post, know that simple ingredients make the best meals and you can save so much money by planning your meals before grocery shopping and sticking to the list.

Homemade pasta with basil & sun-dried tomatoes 

I use the simple recipe from The Ultimate Pasta and Noodle Cookbook. Three ingredients, plus the actual pasta maker. This takes some time, but Mike and I love making it together. And it makes a ton, so we had it for our outdoor movie night and everyone loved it! I purchased the basil sauce & sun-dried tomatoes at the Dollar Store. Yup, both of those items were a total of $2.14. Anyone who typically buys sauces in a groccery store should know that is a KILLER deal.

Vegan Dill sauce

Vegan Mayo

1-2 tablespoons of water

Dried DIll

  1. Mix all together until you have a saucey consistency.

Chipotle Mayo

Vegan Mayo

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1-2 tablespoons of water

  1. Mix it all together until you have a saucey consistency.

Korean BBQ Sauce 

1/2 cup of water

3 tablespoons of sugar free ketchup

1 tablespoon of sriracha

1 tablespoon of soy sauce or amino acids

1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil

  1. Heat oil & garlic for a minute (until melted)
  2. Add ketchup, soy sauce, and water and stir till mixed well.
  3. Add cornstarch mixture and stir till thick. Keep on low heat.

What are you eating this week? Happy cooking!

South Carolina Plant-Based Cookin’

Mike and I are visiting our South Carolina family this weekend and I decided to cook up some plant-based goodness they can eat in the week to come. My sister in law just had a beautiful new baby girl and with her first child, Nora, being in the full toddler swing, I thought cooking some meals they can throw in the oven would be a good way for me to lend a helping hand.

Saturday morning was spent hanging with the babies, taking a walk around the block, then heading back to make a lite lunch. Since I had prepped a Lentil Loaf  yesterday for them to eat this week, I thought I would make some Lentil, Mushroom & Spinach wontons for lunch then prep the cauliflower manicotti (I looked for shells to stuff in the grocery store & they only had manicotti – which works!).

Here are the ingredients for these delicious wontons.

Lentil, Mushroom & Spinach Wontons

  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils (I had leftovers from the lentil loaf!)
  • 1 1/2 cups of spinach
  • 6-8 medium button mushrooms (or baby bella mushrooms)
  • 2 tablespoons white rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons amino acids (or light soy sauce)
  • Chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (this is optional!)
  • Package of wonton wrappers

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all veggies. Stir and mash the lentils a bit.
  3. Add spices & oils and stir.
  4. Add a big heaping spoonful onto a wonton wrapper – positioning the wrapper like a diamond, fold up the bottom, then the right corner, then the left, and wrap tight.
  5. Put onto lightly sprayed cookie sheet.
  6. Put into oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway.
  7. Serve with a sweet chili sauce

For the cauliflower manicotti, I followed that recipe (adding 1 cup of spinach to the cuisine art/blender) to a tee. If you don’t have nutritional yeast, don’t worry about it. Will turn out great!

Did you make any of the #eatplants meals yet? Let me know how they turned out!