Monday, January 26, 2015

"Chipotle Makes Me Smile" Song by Avery

While waiting for her dad to come home with Chipotle one night, Avery broke out her Frozen guitar and created a song about how much Chipotle "makes her smile" and then she makes sure her little sister feels the same way!



Okay, now we're off to eat our Chipotle!

Yum! Happy Sofritas Monday!
What do you like to get at Chipotle? Share below!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Peek Inside My Vegan Pantry

Welcome back to the tour of my kitchen! As I mentioned before, I love seeing what's in everyone's fridge and pantry, so after several requests I'm showing you mine. Today we're going to look inside my vegan pantry...as well as my baking shelf and spices shelf (two other locations I have in my kitchen for storing food since my pantry is a bit small).


As I mentioned above, this is a two-part post, click below to see the first part of my tour: "A Peek Inside My Vegan Fridge."

Click here to tour my fridge.
If you read yesterday's post, you can skip this intro section and get right to the tour....

But if you're new to my blog I'll let you know that I feed four people in my family: my 2 daughters (Avery 3, Mila 1), my husband, and myself. My girls and I are gluten-free vegans. My husband is vegetarian and can eat wheat. We try to avoid GMOs when possible (click here to read why), and I try to get organic as much as possible especially for my fruits and veggies. I use the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen to help guide my priorities when it comes to choosing which foods to buy organic and which to buy conventional.


Another thing to note is that several months ago I cut sugar from my diet in nearly all forms (sugar, evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, date syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.). The only sweeteners I use now are stevia, a new sweeter called Lakanto (you'll see more in this post), and fruit. I've always been really sensitive to the effects of sugar in how I get instant headaches and really tired when I eat it, so I've been feeling much better since I've cut it out of my diet. With that said, you will still find a few products in my fridge and pantry that contain sugar, but they are mainly for Brandon and Avery (I do let her have sugar occasionally).


I've also been reducing my soy intake lately. As a vegan it's easy to go soy-crazy, since so many meat, cheese, and dairy alternatives are made from soy. But for me, I've found that if I eat too much soy, too often and in a more processed form (like soy veggie burgers, soy yogurt, soy "chicken" strips, etc.) I end up with an upset stomach. So lately I've reduced my soy intake to 2-3 times a week, and only in a less processed form like tofu. For example, we'll have tofu for dinner one night, followed by leftovers the next day, and then I'll maybe have tofu for one other meal that week= 3 times a week. This is a reduction for me because I used to have it daily, and sometimes twice a day. I'm not anti-soy by any means, but I think that I feel better when I have it more in moderation and in a more whole form, not so processed.

Last, I mention several things about green juice in this post, which I try to have daily and if not, at least several times a week. If you're interested in learning more about my favorite green juice recipe and why I juice, click here to read: "My Daily Green Juice" post.

With all that said, let's get the pantry tour started!

No time for the video? Follow along for a picture tour!

Welcome to my pantry, as you can see it's a bit
small (and narrow) but I make it work for us
and I take advantage of other spots around my kitchen
as you'll see below.


Top Shelf/Bulk:
 I usually get these in the bulk bins at my
favorite local health food stores.
My Sunwarrior Protein Powder.




Canned goods shelf (see more specifics below)...



From the left:
        • Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce : I love this one because there is no sugar added, great for homemade pizzas.
        • Bionature Organic Diced Tomatoes: I like this brand because the can lining is BPA-free. 
        • Eden Organic Garbanzo Beans: Back before I had two kids, I used to get my beans in bulk and pressure cook them myself, but once I had Mila, this just wasn't working for me. I'd forget to soak them, have spend the time cooking them, and it was throwing my dinner schedule off. So for now I'm back to canned beans, and it's working for me. Sometimes in your green journey, not every thing is perfect...and that's okay! I like this brand Eden Organic because it contains kombu seaweed, which is helpful for decreasing gas associated with eating beans, and their can lining is also BPA-free.
        • Eden Organic Black Beans
        • Westbrae Naturals Organic Green Beans: Although somewhat high in sodium, we do love canned green beans in our house! I try to rinse them as much as possible before cooking and cook them in fresh water (not the canned juice/water) too. What can I say, I grew up on Green Giant canned green beans, so I'm conditioned to the texture of canned (versus fresh)...some day I'll get to liking those. 
        • Farmer's Market Organic Sweet Potato Puree and Organic Pumpkin: I use these for making muffins and biscuits. I like this brand especially because of their BPA-free can linings. 
        • Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk: I use this from time to time for stir-frys and vegan desserts.
        • Sneaky Chef Smooth Red Spaghetti Sauce: As you may have read in this post about my "Soy-Free, Vegan Lasagna" this is my favorite spaghetti sauce because not only does it contain 8 types of veggies that have been blended in, but it also has no added sugars. Who knew it was so hard to find a spaghetti sauce without sugar? But this is literally the only one I've been able to find. Sometimes I'll make my own spaghetti sauce, but most of the time, I turn to this yummy sauce!


Right side of the shelf:
        • Lundberg Organic Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup: So I mentioned above that I've cut nearly all sugar from my diet except for stevia and Lakanto, but sometimes I have recipes that need a liquid sweater and with maple syrup and agave out of the equation, this brown rice syrup has been my new go-to. I use it sparingly, but it's a very mellow sweetener so it doesn't tend to spike my blood sugar too much if at all, so I don't feel to bad using it from time to time. Here my favorite recipe to make with it: "Nicer Krispie Squares" from Plant-Powered Kitchen.
        • Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Molasses: I use this occasionally in my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe, "Gluten-Free, Vegan Pumpkin Chia Muffins" from HailMerry.com.
        • Artisana Coconut Butter: I don't use this often, but it sometimes makes for a good vegan frosting alternative (if you don't mind the coconut flavor).
        • Republic of Tea Peppermint Chocolate Tea: I don't drink tea often (I blame my girls for it) but when I do I like this tea, it's kind of like a healthy dessert you get to drink!



Oils and Vinegars:


Soup/Broth:
        • Trader Joe's Organic Vegetable Broth-back in the day (pre-kids) I used to make my own vegetable broth, boy was I green and fancy then! These days I use this Trader Joe's Vegetable Broth. It's organic, gluten-free and has a short, veggie-filled ingredient list it works as a great base for nearly all of my soups/stews.
        • Imagine Organic Creamy Tomato Soup- We recently discovered this soup and have fallen in love with it! I can't believe it's vegan as it tastes so rich and creamy. Brandon makes a mean gluten-free vegan grilled cheese and with this soup on the side we all end up licking our bowls clean! 


Chips:
 I'm not one for crackers, instead I love chips...no ordinary chips of course!
        • Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks Chips (Blue Corn, Sweet Potato, Simply Sunny) These are one of my favorite brand of chips because they are sprouted (helps increase the vitamin and mineral content and digestibility) and they taste good! I get these flavors because they don't contain sugar (some of their others do). 
        • Maya Kaimal Chickpea Chips. While the Sprouted chips may be higher in nutrients, my flavor vote goes to these Chickpea Chips! Maybe it's their unique flavor or filling nature, but I have to get at least 2 bags of these a week...yum!


Snack Basket:
        • Peanut Butter Cookie Larabars: I love Larabars for their short and natural ingredient list and I have them almost daily. Peanut Butter Cookie is clearly my favorite! 
        • Trader Joe's Organic Fruit Wraps- Avery loves these fruit wraps for a quick and fruity (and sugar-free) snack.


Snacks/Treats:
Here are some of the girl's favorite snacks that I keep in large jars so that I can keep the girls out (so they are constantly snacking) and to keep the snacks from getting stale.  Here's their favorites:

        • In the corner you may be able to spot a container of brownies, these are a batch of my "Gluten-free, Sugar-free Vegan Brownies".  Usually I try to make some type of homemade dessert on the weekend to eat throughout the week. This helps me save money (since gluten-free, vegan desserts are a bit expensive) and it allows me to control the ingredients. 
My homemade dessert for this week.



Cereal:


Pasta:
        • Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Pasta This is my new favorite pasta that is made completely from red lentils. A cooked 6 oz. portion contains 21g of protein and 13g of fiber! Whoa! They are a bit pricey though, costing about $7 a box, so we just have it occasionally. 
        • Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta (Spirals) My favorite gluten-free brand of noodles, never mushy!
        • Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice Penne Pasta- These hold up pretty well too and are a bit cheaper than the Tinkyada brand. 
        • Annie Chun's Brown Rice Maifun Noodles These are great for stir-frys!


Onion/Potato Baskets:
I love storing my onions and potatoes in these baskets so I can keep them organized and prevent them from rolling all around my shelves and pantry. 
        • Organic Yellow and Red Onions
        • Trader Joe's Organic Russet Potatoes, Organic Sweet Potatoes, and Organic  Gold Potatoes. Avery loves her potatoes but only the "white ones" she will tell you. Me on the other hand, I love sweet potatoes!


Baking Shelf:
So since I ran out of room in my pantry, I started storing my baking flours and supplies a little closer to where I do my cooking and in a place where I could organize them a little better. So after purchasing some large jars from Target I transferred all the gluten-free flours often required to do gluten-free baking. Since you can't see their original bag, I often buy Bob's Red Mill brand. So here they are (starting at the bottom)...
Now to the top shelf...


As I shared above, here are my top 3 favorite alternative sweeteners right now:
      • SweetLeaf Stevia packets (good flavor and price, but tricky to work with since it's in such a concentrated form)
      • Lakanto (derived from a highly concentrated monk fruit extract, easy to work with  as it replaces sugar 1:1, tastes great, doesn't raise blood sugar, but does cost $30 per bag!)
      • Steviva Blend (cheaper granulated alternative, decent flavor, but is still somewhat difficult to use in recipes because it has a 1:2 cup ratio so if 2 cups of sugar are required you use 1 cup of Stevia)


When I cut sugar from my diet, I had to also give up chocolate chips...until I found these!
Lily's Dark Chocolate Premium Baking Chips, they are vegan, gluten-free
and sweetened with stevia! 



Spices/Baking Shelf:
Right by my sink where I do a lot of my cooking is where I store all my spices and flavorings, here's some more close ups....



On the bottom there you can see all my spices and some flavorings. When it comes to spices I always get organic and I love these brands:

You can also see some Body Ecology Liquid Stevia Concentrate there, which is my favorite liquid stevia sweetener that i like to add to my "Daily Chia Seed Drink" instead of maple syrup. 


I also have some guar gum, baking powder, and baking soda.

This is my favorite salt: Selina Celtic Sea Salt because it's tested to ensure
it has the highest mineral content.


Last up is Brandon's Shelf:
So I showed you in the fridge post how he has a drawer in the freezer for all of his goodies, and you can bet he has one in the pantry too! To keep his not-so-healthy treats away from the girls, and because I sort-of kicked him out of the main pantry, he uses this cabinet above our very-vintage looking microwave. He's tall, so he doesn't mind the reach for his treats.


Usually I do the grocery shopping at my health food stores and while I do pick him up some things, he will occasionally head to the grocery store himself to pick up treats like these that I wouldn't really want to be seen putting in my cart:
      • Cap'n Crunch Oops! All Berries Cereal
      • Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts 
      • Trader Joe's Just the Clusters Vanilla Almond Granola & Cereal (I did get him that)
      • Keebler Fudge Stripes Red Velvet Cookies
      • TastyKake Reese's Kandy Bar Cakes 

And as I've said before, I'd love it if he was as green and health-inclined as I am, but he's not.  Do I think he's eating toxic food colorings, GMOs, and other preservatives? Yes, but as long as he doesn't eat meat or give these treats to the girls, I've learned to let it go.  You can only control yourself, right?  Does your spouse or significant other eat differently than you? Share below how you make it work.

Well, I think that wraps up my pantry and all the other interesting places I store food in my kitchen. Did you see any food that you currently buy that we both have? How about a new product your interested in? Post it below! Got any questions? Post those too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Peek Inside My Vegan Fridge

One of my favorite types of posts to read other than what someone eats in a day, is what's inside their fridge and pantry.  Not only to see what they buy, eat, and love but also how they organize and store it. So after several of you requested to see mine, I'm excited to share it with you today!


This will be a two part post where I will first share what's inside my fridge, and in the next post we'll tour my pantry.

If you're new to my blog I'll let you know that I feed four people in my family: my 2 daughters (Avery 3, Mila 1), my husband, and myself. My girls and I are gluten-free vegans. My husband is vegetarian and can eat wheat. We try to avoid GMOs when possible (click here to read why), and I try to get organic as much as possible especially for my fruits and veggies. I use the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen to help guide my priorities when it comes to choosing which foods to buy organic and which to buy conventional.


Another thing to note is that several months ago I cut sugar from my diet in nearly all forms (sugar, evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, date syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.). The only sweeteners I use now are stevia, a new sweeter called Lakanto (you'll see more about this in my "pantry" post), and fruit. I've always been really sensitive to the effects of sugar in how I get instant headaches and really tired when I eat it, so I've been feeling much better since I've cut it out of my diet. With that said, you will still find a few products in my fridge and pantry that contain sugar, but they are mainly for Brandon and Avery (I do let her have sugar occasionally).

My go-to sweeteners these days.

I've also been reducing my soy intake lately. As a vegan it's easy to go soy-crazy, since so many meat, cheese, and dairy alternatives are made from soy. But for me, I've found that if I eat too much soy, too often and in a more processed form (like soy veggie burgers, soy yogurt, soy "chicken" strips, etc.) I end up with an upset stomach. So lately I've reduced my soy intake to 2-3 times a week, and only in a less processed form like tofu. For example, we'll have tofu for dinner one night, followed by leftovers the next day, and then I'll maybe have tofu for one other meal that week= my 3 servings a week. This is a reduction for me because I used to have it daily, and sometimes twice a day. I'm not anti-soy by any means, but I think that I feel better when I have it more in moderation and in a more whole form, not so processed.

Last, I mention several things about green juice in this post, which I try to have daily and if not, at least several times a week. If you're interested in learning more about my favorite green juice recipe and why I juice, click here to read: "My Daily Green Juice" post.


Okay, now that we've got all that out of the way, let's get to the tour!


No time for the video? Here's a picture tour...

Let's enter my vegan fridge...


Top shelf: 
          • leftover pineaple spears for green juice
          • leftover Trader Joe's Vegetable Broth
          • Trader Joe's Organic Rice Drink, this is our go-to non-dairy milk as we use it for baking, drinking, and in cereal. Even better, there's no carrageenan in it!
          • Trader Joe's Organic Orange Juice (only ingredient: organic orange juice) Now it's been years since I've had soda and Avery has never even tasted it, so the only "fun drink" we have other than green juice and rice milk is this organic orange juice...I know, we're living on the edge right?!) 


Bread and Fruit Shelf:
Here's the rest of my fruit, I usually get 3-4 bunches of bananas each week
for snacks and the rest go in the freezer for smoothies. Oh and I've
got a tomato there too!


Snack Shelf:
        • Almond Dream Strawberry Yogurt This is a favorite of the girls!
        • Trader Joe's Organic Applesauce I use this applesauce a lot in my vegan baking and it's a great "dinner extender" as I call it when Mila says, "All done!" after just 5 minutes of eating. 
        • Muir Glen Organic Mild Salsa This is my go-to salsa, as it does not contain any sugar and is mild in flavor. Sometimes I'll mix some fresh cilantro in to freshen it up.
        • Engine 2 Plant Strong Traditional Hummus. Hummus is one of our favorite afternoon snacks to have with some baby carrots or sprouted chips. 
        • So Delicious Dairy-Free CocoWhip I just recently discovered this at Whole Foods and Avery is more than impressed! It does contain sugar, but she loves it on top of some frozen fruit. 


Leftover Shelf:
        • (in the back) breastmilk I've pumped for Mila, learn more about how I go green with my pumping and baby bottle routine in this post.
        • Leftovers- gluten-free rice noodles on top and quinoa and black beans on the bottom
        • 2 containers of gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan pancakes (I always make a double batch on the weekend for us to eat throughout the week) 
        • Flax seed hair gel, click the title to learn how to make it and why I have to keep it in the fridge
        • Leftover cucumber for green juice
        • Earth Balance Soy-Free Natural Buttery Spread
        • Applesauce/Fruit Pouches for the girls, I use Santa Cruz Organic's Apple Strawberry Sauce and Ella's Kitchen Smoothie Fruits. I used to think these were not very green, but then I had 2 kids and realized how great they are for a healthy snack on the go!
A double batch of pancakes I made on the weekend to
have throughout the week...keep reading to find my new
favorite pancake topping (that's not maple syrup!).


Cheese/Tofu Drawer:
        • Daiya Cheese (Cheddar Style Block, Mozzarella Style Shreds, Smoked Gouda Style Block) This is the only brand of vegan cheese we will ever buy, it melts great, tastes great, and is soy-free! Avery is a big fan of this stuff.
        • Tofurky Deli Slices (contains wheat) Brandon loves making sandwiches with these.
        • Beyond Meat's Beyond Chicken Strips Although I've been trying to reduce my processed soy, both girls love these strips so they have them occasionally. 
        • Nasoya Extra Firm Organic Tofu I've tried a lot of tofus, and this is by far my favorite. Other brands can be dry or have an after taste, but not this one. Perfect tofu every time! 


Veggie Drawer: (almost all from Trader Joe's) I love to get almost all of my fruits and veggies from Trader Joe's because they have some of the lowest prices on organic produce)
        • 2 bags of cauliflower florets, one of our favorite veggies to roast in the oven with a little garlic and salt. We all eat it like it's candy! 
        • 1 bag of organic baby carrots 
        • 1 bag of organic carrots
        • 1 bag of organic broccoli florets
        • 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper
        • 4 organic cucumbers (for green juice)
        • 1 organic celery stalk
        • 1 bunch of cilantro


Greens Drawer (also all from Trader Joe's):
        • 1 bag of organic baby romaine lettuce (for salads that I don't eat...I actually can't tolerate the texture of lettuce, I only like it in smoothies or green juice, but Brandon and Avery love salads!)
        • 1 bag of organic Tuscan kale (for green juice)
        • 2-3 bags of organic baby spinach (for smoothies)

Moving on to the door of the fridge...


 Top shelf:


Sauces and Condiment Shelf: 

Here's a closer look at the Trinity Hill Farms condiments I love.
As you can imagine, it's impossible to find a ketchup or Barbecue
sauce without sugar, but then I found Trinity Hill Farms.
They use stevia to sweeten their sauces, and they are gluten-free and vegan.
At this time they are only available online.

And here's a close up of my other favorite sauces the Coconut Secret Aminos.
I use the Raw Coconut Aminos in place of Bragg's Liquid Aminos (a soy-based sauce
that I used to use in place of wheat-based soy sauce). We also make delicious stir-fry
with the Garlic Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce. I love that these sauces have no sugar
added and are sweetened instead by coconut sap. They have a super short ingredient
list too! Win win!


Smoothie/Chocolate Shelf:

Spreads:
      • Trader Joe's Organic Salted Valencia Peanut Butter: Since I've decreased my soy, I've turned to peanut butter on occasion to give me a little protein pick me up if I need it. One of my favorite snacks is just this peanut butter on a slice of gluten-free toast.
      • East Wind Organic Tahini: We use this for vegan cheese as well as homemade hummus.
      • East Wind Organic Cashew Butter: I love using this to make homemade vegan rice krispies.
      • Trader Joe's Super Fruit Spread: Avery's favorite "jelly" that has no added sugar.
      • Trader Joe's Organic Strawberry Fruit Spread: My favorite "jelly" and my new favorite pancake topping (with a little vegan butter) since I stopped using maple syrup. This takes the sugar content from 25g (for 2 Tbs. maple syrup) to 8g (1 Tbs. jelly), which I love. 



Bulk Shelf:
        • Almond flour I don't cook too often with this flour, but I do have a couple vegan desserts call for it. 
        • Brown flax seeds For making flax seed hair gel as you saw above.
        • Ground flax seeds A must for vegan baking, and replacing eggs (aka "Flax Egg")
        • Trader Joe's cashew meal/flour. Sometimes I will use this for making vegan cheeses that call for cashews to be finely ground. 

Now moving on to the freezer...


Top shelf:
      • Frozen bananas (aka our "Banana Bank" which we use for smoothies, click here to learn more about how I freeze fruit for smoothies). I don't cover them because they are used up within a couple of days and don't seem to go bad.
      • Popsicles with Metro 18/8 Stainless Steel 6 pc. Popsicle Molds. So it figures that it's the middle of winter and my girls are obsessed with popsicles! But I've got a post coming soon where I show how we make them (basically just make a smoothie, pour it into the stainless steel molds), and why I chose this cool eco-friendly mold!
Avery loves her smoothie popsicles...even on the go!



Frozen Fruit Shelf (all from Trader Joe's because they have the lowest prices for organic frozen fruit that I have found):
        • 4 Organic Frozen Strawberries
        • 2 Frozen Pineapple Tidbits
        • Frozen Organic Blueberries
        • Frozen Organic Raspberries (We primarily use all of this frozen fruit for smoothies, but my girls also just love to eat them for snacks. So instead of reaching for chips or snack bars, they are often content just to eat frozen fruit...not always, but sometimes!)


Nuts/Seeds/Bread Shelf (I store them in here to keep them fresh for longer):
        • Almonds
        • Walnuts
        • Cashews-I go through the cashews the most since they are often the base of my vegan, soy-free cheeses such as in this "Soy-Free Lasagna" recipe.
        • Sunflower Seeds
        • Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas. This is the tortillas the girls and I use, and the only one we've been able to find that's gluten-free and vegan. 
        • Food for Life Gluten-Free Brown Rice English Muffins. I love these English Muffins because they don't contain sugar, gluten, or eggs. I like to have them with vegan butter and organic, no-sugar added jelly. 


Brandon's Drawer: 
Many of you have asked me if my husband eats like me, and the answer is no...and that's okay! If there's one this I've learned in my green journey it is that the only person you can change is yourself. So as much as I would love it if my hubby was on board with all my crazy health antics, he does have a sweet tooth and a dairy tooth...and a caffeine tooth, so I let him choose how green/healthy he wants to be. With that said, he does have drawer in the freezer where he keeps some of his snacks, treats and  frozen dinners, such as:
        • Trader Joe's Mac 'n Cheese
        • Trader Joe's Bean & Rice Burritos
        • Trader Joe's Egg Nog Ice Cream (Ha! Probably not what you were thinking you would see in my vegan fridge, but it's what works for him so I've learned to let it go.) 

Now onto the door of the freezer...


Veggie Burger Shelf:
        • Sunshine Burger Barbecue
        • Hilary's Eat Well The World's Best Veggie Burger: This is my favorite veggie burger right now, and as I said earlier, I've been trying to reduce my soy intake so although I loved a tofu veggie burger from Trader Joe's in the past, this quinoa-based burger is my new go-to. It's very unique, and delicious especially with some Trinity Hill Farm's Barbecue Sauce!


Frozen Veggies (all Cascadian Farms):
        • Organic Green Beans
        • Organic Peas
        • Organic Corn (I use these mainly for soups and stews)


Avery's Shelf:
        • Trader Joe's Gone Bananas (Chocolate-Covered Bananas) these do contain sugar, but she loves them and when she's only eating two per serving I think it's a pretty decent sweet treat. Adults beware...it's impossible to eat just two little chocolate-covered bananas!
        • Ice Packs for if the girls get hurt. (  :
So there you have it, my vegan fridge and freezer. Did you see any food that you currently buy that we both have? How about a new product your interested in? Post it below! Got any questions? Post those too.

Be sure to check out "A Peek Inside My Vegan Pantry" which will be posted tomorrow...



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