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!

 

4th Annual Soup Swap

The fall has been a whirlwind, so much so that I almost let it slip by without hosting my annual soup swap! But, alas, I got my act together on December 2, when 9 fabulous friends gathered with plant-based soup in tow to do some swapping.

It was my biggest gathering to date (although last years annual soup swap was fabulous as well!) and think the most tasty! If you’re thinking of hosting your own swap, direction are below – it’s a great way to get together with friends, try some new, healthy recipes, and go home with 6 delicious soups.

This year’s guests brought tortilla soup, quinoa green chili, cauliflower potato leek soup, black bean, veggie dumpling, quinoa veggie, sweet potato chowder, corn chowder, Thai butternut squash….to name a few. A delicious gathering indeed!

 

What you need to do to participate:

Pick a plant-based soup to make (you’ll need to double the recipe) and come to the party with 6 containers full of 1 quart of your soup – we swap them, so make sure it’s in a container you can give away (dollar store has cheap containers!) The idea here is that everyone leaves with a variety of soups they can freeze!

What Does Plant-Based Soup mean?

Using veggie broth, tomato/based, or beans, create a soup that is animal & animal product free (no chicken, turkey, pork, cow, dairy, cheese, butter). It’s not hard! Earth balance has a vegan butter that is super cheap, there are nut milks & veggie broth is found everywhere! Be creative – plants are so versatile and delicious!!!

Chick Pea & Cauliflower Masala

Happy November!!!

Meal prep

I’ve been ramping up my work-out game in preparation for ski season, so have been in a healthy mindset lately and have been better at meal prepping on the weekends. This past weekend was extremely busy – last week was nuts at work, we went on a big hike, had a Halloween party to go to, and went down to Colorado Springs to visit a girlfriend and watch the Broncos. Not a ton of time to prep for the week!

When you don’t have a ton of time, use it effectively and realistically – and soup, chili or stews are great ways to maximize the food prep! While Mike made chili (he makes the best chili!), I  made a Chick Pea & Cauliflower Masala. We had a ton of garden grown tomatoes to use up too, so it was a win win!

Both chili and masala can be slow cooked, allowing for other chores around the house to be done while you wait. Below is the recipe I used for the masala – super easy, super delicious – and I actually prepped this for a weeknight meal, allowing the flavors to marinate before diving in. We ate this last night and it was amazing – so much so, I didn’t even get a picture of the finished product!

Enjoy!

Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons Curry Powder
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of minced ginger (fresh)
1 teaspoon of paprika
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1 handful of small tomatoes & two medium tomatoes, blended together (I used a little mixer with an immersion blender attachment – Cuisinart or a blender would work too!)

1 onion cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 small head of cauliflower
1 can of chick peas
1/2 cup of water

1 can coconut milk (I used a can of Sprouts organic full fat)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Directions

  1. Add oil to a big pot, heat, then add onion. Saute on medium heat for 5-8 minutes
  2. Mix first 7 ingredients in a bowl, making sure it’s mixed as a paste.
  3. Add chickpeas to the paste, coating thoroughly.
  4. Add the cauliflower into the pot with the sauteed onions, mix thoroughly and cook for 2-4 minutes.
  5. Add the chickpea mixture to the pot. Stir so onions and cauliflower are coated. Cover and cook for another 5-8 minutes.
  6. Mix together the can of coconut milk with the tablespoon of cornstarch. Then add to the vegetable mixture.
  7. Stir the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Serve over rice!

I meal prepped this on a Sunday, then re-heated and ate on a Tuesday night. The flavors were amazing, having soaked for two nights, so I recommend prepping and letting sit for sure!

 

Happy Cooking!