Learning Mindfulness

 

I have been eating a plant based diet for two and a half years now, so I feel like I take good care of my physical health as far as my diet goes. My mental health is another story. I have struggled with anxiety for twelve years now and I have never had success with using medication to help manage it. I started practicing yoga hoping it would help, and while I love the benefits of practicing yoga, it has not particularly helped with my anxiety. The next step I wanted to take was trying to establish a daily meditation practice. But I really struggled with this, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and I just could not do it “right.” 

To help myself establish a better meditation practice, I started using The Little Book of Mindfulness, and I love it! This book offers different activities and exercises to help increase mindfulness and meditation practice. The different activities only take 5-10 minutes each and are so easy to follow. My favorite aspect about this book is that it helps you step out of auto-pilot and helps you find joy in your daily activities. Their are entire chapters on mindful eating and gratitude, plus many other chapters that offer different breathing exercises, mindful movement activities, and meditation techniques. I have found that I can take different practices from the book during times of high anxiety and help calm myself down. 

Happy Cheese Pizza Day!

Today is national cheese pizza day, and I plan on celebrating! To do so, I did some research for the holiday, or rather some taste testing. I went to the grocery store and bought the two vegan pizzas I found. One was a cheese pizza from the brand Daiya. The second was a spinach and cheese pizza from the brand Amy’s. 


This is the Amy’s pizza. Does not look the most appetizing but it was delicious. Of the two, this is the one I would serve to a non-vegan. This one was more expensive in my area, but by a very insignificant amount. This exact pizza is also much more difficult for me to find in my area, but it was worth the hunt!


This is the Daiya cheese pizza, which is much easier for me to find. This pizza has a very destinctive Daiya cheese flavor, which I am very used to at this point and do not really notice anymore. Of the two cheese pizzas, this was my least favorite of the two. But in general, national cheese pizza day aside, the Daiya margherita pizza is by far my favorite vegan pizza! 

More pizza tips I can offer on this lovely holiday include getting a pizza at Whole Foods if you have one near by. You can special order a pizza with vegan cheese on it! I don’t go to Whole Foods often, but when I do, I celebrate with a vegan pizza. Another tip I like to offer people new to the vegan lifestyle is to not give up on pizza delivery. I’ve often heard people complain that they could never be vegan because they love pizza too much. And it’s so convenient to just have a pizza delivered to your door! Guess what?! You can still order pizza, just ask for no cheese! I usually order mine with pineapple, onions, jalapeños, and banana peppers. The point is, you have so many pizza options as a vegan, enjoy!

Yoga Obsession: oneoeight

Rachel Brathen has done it again! It’s no secret that I am a big fan of hers. I love the way she is using her presence in social media to help improve the world, in big ways and small ways. One of the many ways she is making an impact is with her wonderful web community at oneoeight.com. Joining the community gives you access to yoga classes, meditation and life coaching, and even wellness and cooking classes. The website also allows you to learn about and from amazing, influential people in the world of yoga and wellness that you may never otherwise have come into contact with. 


This web community is a monthly subscription, for 14 dollars a month, you have access to so many resources. You can even try the community out for free for 10 days! I was hooked immediately when I gave it a go. And the website is often updated with new classes and resources. One of my favorite things about the website is how simple it is to use. The yoga class videos are divided into so many categories, you can always find something you are looking for. You can filter the videos by time, style, instructor, and so much more. And you can save your favorite videos to your “mat”, making it so convenient to always find your favorite lessons. 


I have been using this website for a month now and it has become my favorite resource for yoga practice. And I’m really looking forward to exploring the meditation and life coaching lessons more deeply in the near future. I highly suggest you give it a try! I’m so excited to be apart of the community and see what happens next..

Be sure to visit http://www.oneoeight.com

Vegan “Chicken” and Gravy

My fiancé was really craving a traditional American meal.. Not always the easiest thing to do on a vegan diet. More specifically, he requested a meal with some sort of gravy. Determined to make it work, I dug through my cookbooks to find a recipe for gravy that would work. Most vegan recipes for gravy that I find involve mushrooms. While they may be good recipes, mushroom gravy is not the traditional gravy flavor I crave. 

Luckily I was able to find a gravy recipe involving no mushrooms! It was a very simple recipe based on flour, nutritional yeast, dairy free milk, seasoning, and the star of the show, Better Than Bouilon vegan beef flavoring. The gravy turned out creamy, flavorful, and just down right perfect. Using the other food we found in the fridge, we made a wonderful meal to enjoy our gravy with!

We baked a sweet potato, cooked up some green beans, and baked some vegan chicken tenders from Trader Joe’s. It was very reminiscent of chicken fried steak, minus the cruelty! The gravy was so good, we ended up topping everything on the plate with it! Making meals like this gives me so much hope. Every time I recreate a meal from my childhood, meals traditionally not very vegan friendly, I know it is possible for everyone to adopt a plant based diet.

M.I.A.

Shortly after finally starting this blog that I’ve been thinking about for years, many changes happened in my life. The most disruptive to this blog being a move followed by starting a new job. I planned to start up again with new posts after things in life got settled again, but of course that never happens! Life never settles! And so I just kept pushing off starting up again, becoming more and more discouraged about the whole process. 

A few days ago I was sitting in the parking garage at work, waiting to go in and start my shift, scrolling through Instagram. I was quite anxious, as I’ve started working a nursing job at a hospital again. I remember texting my fiancé about the anxiety I was feeling and then looking at the beautiful pictures and inspiring post from all the accounts I follow related to Rachel Brathen, AKA @yoga_girl on Instagram. I sat there at thought, I want to live like this. I know her life isn’t perfect, but she has purpose and she is making changes and help improving this planet, all while living in a beautiful environment and working closely with friends. I don’t want to live her life, I just want to live my own version of what she has.

I want to wake up  every day excited about what I’m contributing to the world. I want to live in my own definition of paradise. I want to help improve the world I’m here sharing with every other living creature. But it won’t happen just sitting around dreaming about it. I have to put in the effort. If I want my life to change, I have to do something to make that happen. And right now, the best way I feel like I can do that is to use this blog I started. 

Going back through my original post, it’s funny to me that Rachel Brathen was my inspiration and motivation the first time around. In my opinion, Rachel is using social media in such a meaningful and powerful way. It inspires me so much, so I’m not surprised that many of my “ah-ha” moments have been due to her social media post. I’m more dedicated and excited then ever to start using this blog again to share the amazing things I know about a plant based lifestyle and hopefully inspire some of you!

Thug Kitchen

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Today I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite cookbooks, the Thug Kitchen cookbook. I will start by saying this is not your typical cookbook. In explaining how important it is to put real, quality, plant based food in your body, “Eat like you give a fuck” is often used to help get the point across. Some folks may be offended by this, I find it real and relatable. This cookbook starts with a lot of basics, such as an explanation of the book, recommended tools for a Thug Kitchen, and how  to cook basics. The cookbook also includes breakfast, salad, soup, mini meals, soups and stews, snacks, main dishes and desserts. Flipping through the book, every single meal looks fucking delicious!

I have personally created many of these recipes and I enjoyed every single one. Most recently I used the recipe for “Almond Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons”. First of all, the croutons are wonderful. But the dressing is even better. Creamy and tangy, it really reminds me of the caesar dressing I used to enjoy. I have also made “Warm the Fuck Up Minestrone” soup and “Potato Leek” soup using Thug Kitchen. Both are phenomenal. By fiancé has also used this cookbook to make a tortilla soup that was so spicy and satisfying. I am also obsessed with pad thai so creating a vegan version was very important to me. The recipe for pad thai in Thug Kitchen is by far the best vegan pad thai I have tried. I have also recreated the “Sweet Potato, Squash, and Black Bean Enchiladas” and “Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos” for my non-vegan family. Both recipes blew them away, especially the tacos.

Besides all the amazing recipes I have tried, every other recipe in the book looks delicious. This was the second vegan cookbook I added to my collection and it was so fucking worth it! I highly suggest you go to a library or bookstore and flip through it. I don’t think you will be able to leave without it. This book does not only offer up recipes, it educates you about food and cooking technique in a very understandable and relatable way. I love everything about the Thug Kitchen cookbook, and I hope you will too. If you have used this cookbook before, I would love to know what you thought about it in the comments!

Caesar Salad Sandwich

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A few weeks ago, I used the Thug Kitchen cookbook to make vegan Caesar dressing and homemade croutons for a delicious salad. While my fiancé and I were enjoying a delicious meal, he said something that inspired me to turn this salad into a sandwich. The croutons would become the bread, the dressing would become a sauce, and the lettuce, tomato, and onion of the salad would become toppings (of course you can add whatever you want). While I don’t mind a veggie sandwich, some people are not too fond of that, so I decided to add some Gardein crispy chick’n tenders to complete the sandwich.

This was such a success! My fiancé loved it and I really enjoyed it too. I’m not much of a sandwich eater, so next time I am going to use the romain lettuce to make a Caesar salad sandwich wrap. I sliced a ciabatta loaf into individual sandwiches and then used the Thug Kitchen recipe for croutons to flavor the bread. We tossed the bread in to oven with the Gardein tenders for about 7 minutes. I made the Thug Kitchen Caesar dressing recipe as well. It is delicious! Once everything was ready we pilled it all on a sandwich and enjoyed!

 

Is Your Alcohol Vegan?

I recently spent a long weekend visiting family friends in Indiana. We watched sports, played cards, and even went to Indianapolis for a Pacer basketball game and barhopped after. Before I left for this trip I was really concerned about not knowing for sure which alcoholic drinks were vegan. I know this may sound crazy, what could possibly be in my beer to make it not vegan? The ingredients to make beer are quite simple, and vegan friendly. Unfortunately, some beer and alcohol producers use animal products to filter their final products of impurities.

Luckily, I found an amazing website, barnivore.com, to help me figure out what drinks were safe! The website has a list of beer, wine, and liquor and tells you whether the drinks are vegan friendly, or if they are not. You can also input the name of a drink and search the database to make better use of your time. If you don’t find the product you are looking for the website has an amazing feature. They have a section titled Ask a Company, with instructions for emailing companies to inquire about their product. This information is provided in many different languages and they instruct you to forward the response you receive. This way you can make sure the product you verify is added to their list.

Websites like this make being a responsible vegan so easy, I love it! Check it out and help add your favorite drink if you cannot find it!

Barnivore link: http://www.barnivore.com

French Onion Soup

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Last night I made some vegan French onion soup. This is an item I could never pass up if I saw it on a menu before going vegan. I made this soup in a crockpot, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. I love tossing all the ingredients in, letting it cook for a while, and coming home to a meal ready  to eat. The recipe I used was very simple and this is something I have made before. I really enjoy it, and it fills my craving for one of my favorite food items, but I do think the recipe needs just a little tweak. The soup is not quite as salty as I remember the non-vegan version being. Next time I make it, I plan to add some Better Than Bouillon to hopefully amp up the flavor, but overall this dish is so satisfying.

The recipe calls for:

  • 4 sweet onions sliced
  • 4 gloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Baguette
  • Vegan cheese shredded, such as mozzarella

Cook the onions and garlic in some olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat, then add them to the crockpot. Add the other ingredients to the crockpot, besides the bread and cheese, and cook on low for 4 hours. When you are ready to eat, if you have oven safe bowls, place soup in a bowl, place sliced bread on top, and cover with cheese. Place in oven under broiler to melt cheese and crisp up bread a little. I do not have oven safe bowls, so I sliced up my bread, covered it with cheese, and broiled it on a baking sheet. When the cheese was melted, I removed the bread from the oven and placed it on top of my bowl of soup. Such a satisfying meal on a cold snowy day!

Happy Mail

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January Happy Mail Part 1

Just shy of a year ago, I signed up for Happy Mail from the wonderful team behind A Beautiful Mess, a blog I adore. The blog is full of fun and creative ideas, crafts, tips, and tricks, among many things. They also offer a few subscription services, including Happy Mail. This subscription service sends you cards with envelopes, a postcard,  a sticker sheet, a print, and some other fun stationary item every month. You get twelve items every month, nine of them usually being cards. I love to send cards and surprise my friends with cards every once in a while, but I am not a fan of the typical cards you find at the store. I wanted pretty, creative, and unique cards. This subscription service was exactly what I was looking for.

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January Happy Mail Part 2

This month I received an adorable postcard meant to look like stamps, a thank you card with a beautiful pineapple print, a congratulations card with a decorative envelope, a card with gold foil decoration, a birthday card with a sweet pun, a congratulations card for someone having a baby, plus many more cards, a beautiful print inspired by Amy Poehler, stickers to decorate or seal cards with shaped like cassette tapes, and a daily notepad. The quality is so good and the cards are better then anything I have ever seen in stores. They are a little funky, very creative, and down right beautiful.

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Birthday card..
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..with a sweet pun

Here are some photos of a few of my favorite cards and prints from previous months.

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I will link the blog and the shop below. If you sign up for Happy Mail for an entire year, it cost 15 dollars every month. It will cost 18 dollars every month if you sign up for 6 months, and if you just buy it monthly it will cost 20 dollars. I signed up for the year long commitment and it is totally worth it to me. Whenever someone in my family needs a card they just come sort through my stack and save themselves some money. And I love that people are receiving these beautiful cards! If you are interested in this service make sure to check out the links below.

Happy Mail: http://shop.abeautifulmess.com/happy-mail

A Beautiful Mess blog: http://abeautifulmess.com