I’m lowkey obsessed with this.

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve prepared any food together on the blog, and tonight, I decided to take it upon myself to try a recipe I’ve been meaning to make for a while: vegan tuna fish!

How does one make “vegan” tuna fish, you may ask? Turns out, it’s surprisingly easy, and it doesn’t require too many ingredients. I’ll link the original recipe I used here in case you want to take a look for yourself. According to the nutritional information on this recipe, it appears to have quite a bit of fiber, and nine grams of protein! On top of that, it’s absolutely delicious and I enjoyed every bite of it.

The base ingredient for vegan tuna fish is chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans. I used one drained can and mashed the contents up with a fork until they were mushy and close to the consistency of tuna fish. I noticed while I was doing so that chickpeas actually sort of have a “fishy” smell- has anyone else noticed this?

After I mashed up the chickpeas, I threw in ¼ of chopped celery, ¼ cup of red onion, ¼ cup of vegan mayo, and the juice of half a lemon. You could use regular mayonnaise if you’d like, but I personally just think that egg-free mayo tastes a lot better. The last ingredient I used was a bit of crush nori- a seaweed that is commonly used in the preparation of sushi. Because the seaweed had a classic “ocean” taste, it really added to the overall illusion of the vegan tuna.

I was a little apprehensive to try it at first, because I’m not exactly what you’d call an “adventurous” eater, but I surprisingly LOVED this recipe. It obviously did not have the exact consistency of tuna fish, but the taste was fairly spot-on, and the nori in particular was not as stinky as I expected it to be. Another thing I really enjoyed about this recipe was how cheap all of the ingredients were; like I said, all you really need is a can of chickpeas, a couple of vegetables, mayonnaise, and some seaweed if you’re feeling fancy. The recipe also included lots of other suggestions for additions you could throw in, such as pickles or leafy greens.

The recipe yielded enough for me to make three servings, so I’m definitely going to be bringing it to work tomorrow for lunch on some white bread. What do you guys think about this recipe? Would you try it for yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

Every now and again, I like to post some sort of an update on the foods I’m buying and how I’m preparing dishes for the week ahead. This past weekend has been a great opportunity for me to cook some delicious things, and Nathaniel even helped me to cook as well! I hope you find some inspiration from this article and enjoy these fall-themed food ideas.

Breakfast: Overnight Oats

It’s hard to go wrong with overnight oats, and whenever I prepare them, I feel like I really have my life together. I love everything from brainstorming the different ideas for customizations, prepping them, and of course, eating them! I’ve been sticking with strawberry banana overnight oats this week because that’s what I picked up at the grocery store, but next week I’d like to try pumpkin oats and PB & J oats. Ellie Krieger has a great recipe on her website for the pumpkin oats, so I’ll have to think about giving those a go! 

Bread: Soft ‘N’ Sweet Dinner Rolls

Like I said, Nathaniel and I did some cooking together last weekend, and one of the things we made were soft ‘n’ sweet dinner rolls. I have to say, this bread baking experience was a lot different than my other bread experiences because this one required activating the yeast and kneading the dough. Our rolls were delicious, but they were definitely much denser and biscuit-like than the recipe intended them to be. I’ve been pairing them with my dinner soup, which I’ll get to soon. I’m really happy with how they came out, and I hope they come out even better the next time.

Lunch: Fall Apple Salad

Keeping with the seasons, lately I’ve been enjoying prepping this easy fall salad. It’s a common variation of a salad I’ve made a lot and talked about on my blog: sweet kale base, apples, walnuts, craisins, and poppy seed dressing. I really like crunchy, fruity salads, and this dish definitely offers me the perfect combination of both. It’s super easy to whip up in big batches, and several of the ingredients are fairly cheap and easy to find (if not all of them.) My favorite poppy seed dressing to use is the Panera variety, as I find the creamier versions don’t quite pair as well with the other ingredients.

Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup

Lastly, I’ve been burning through my homemade butternut squash soup all week, and there’s still a ton left in my fridge! This was the other dish Nathaniel and I made together, and I think it was an absolutely perfect choice. I was surprised because the recipe called for two cups of apple cider, but once it was incorporated into the actual dish, it actually tasted really good. I think this is one of those dishes that tastes better as a leftover, too, so I’ve been really enjoying eating a little bit every day and observing different notes in the flavors. 

So, that’s everything I’ve meal prepped to eat for this week! I really wanted to choose dishes that I felt celebrated the fall season, and I also made sure I picked ingredients that are cheap (and fresh) as well. I already have a lot of ideas for what I want to cook next week, so I’m looking forward to sharing that with you guys. I’ve been meaning to make pumpkin bread for forever now, so maybe that will be on my agenda next.

Since emerging into ∼adulthood∼ and learning how to cook various dishes, I’ve certainly come across my fair share of food blogs. Several of them I discovered through Pinterest (another milestone of adulthood?) but others are blogs I’ve known and loved for years, such as Budget Bytes and Ellie Krieger. I was drawn to several of these blogs because of their delicious vegetarian recipe selections, but trust me, you definitely don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to fall in love with these recipes. 

Supper with Michelle

Vegetable Ramen Noodle Soup - Supper With Michelle
Source: Supper with Michelle

As I said, learning how to cook dinner and shop for groceries responsibly is like a pinnacle of adulthood. Particularly being a vegetarian, it can be difficult to find yummy recipes that are easy, cost effective, and nutritious, since most of us find ourselves resorting to boiling pasta or toast to save money.

What I like about Supper with Michelle is her site’s incredible organization: there are separate pages for vegetarian, vegan, and pescitarian meals. She also has a tab specifically dedicated to soup, which I’m sure I will be frequenting as the months begin to cool down. Right now, I have my horizons set on making the Vegetable Ramen Noodle Soup. What could be a better cheap dinner meal for September? 

Nora Cooks

Vegan Stuffed Jumbo Shells with Spinach: Stuffed jumbo shells with cashew tofu ricotta and spinach.
Source: Nora Cooks

If you are looking for delicious, affordable vegan meals that everyone will love (vegan or not,) Nora Cooks is the place to start. I love that so many of her recipes are classic, simple recipes- just vegan. So many times, people assume that if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you must only enjoy eating vegetables. That’s simply not true; plant-based love desserts, pasta dishes, and classic American dishes just as much as the next person. If you’re looking for a place to start, I highly recommend trying her jumbo stuffed shells with spinach– they’re incredible and worth every minute of prep!

Julia’s Album

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta
Source: Julia’s Album

Ironically, a lot of the recipes on Julia’s Album are actually not specifically vegetarian or plant-based (several of them are pasta or chicken dinner meals.) However, I love this blog because chicken meals are actually extremely easy to substitute with plant-based alternatives. Tofu is a great replacement for chicken, of course, but there are also several believable vegan “chicken” products you can buy at the grocery store (particularly those from Gardein.) I’m really looking forward to making her Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Pasta next week and subbing it out with vegan chicken strips instead. I’ll be sure to let you guys know how it turns out!

Budget Bytes

Beth Moncel of Budget Bytes - My Story - BudgetBytes.com
Source: Budget Bytes

I’ve been a huge fan of Budget Bytes and Beth Moncel, its creator, for as long as I can remember. My mom originally bought the cookbook, and after I read that so many times it started to fall apart at the seams, I began checking out her blog. What I love about Beth and Budget Bytes is her affordable yet healthy recipes, as the name “Budget” Bytes may imply. As a recent college grad who lives off food stamps, being able to find cheap, delicious recipes has been invaluable to me. I’m looking forward to making her soft ‘n’ sweet dinner rolls next, with a side of butternut squash soup. Unfortunately, I do not have a link for her dinner roll recipe because I’m using it straight from the cookbook. 

Ellie Krieger

Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats 
Source: Ellie Krieger

Ellie Krieger is yet another OG cookbook author from my childhood, and although her recipes aren’t particularly vegan/plant-based oriented, you can easily sub out the meat recipes with your favorite vegan ingredients (similarly to Julia’s Album.) As a nutritionist, Ellie Krieger is an expert about how to make recipes that are both yummy and healthy, which definitely takes tons of practice and knowledge to learn. I am so excited to try these Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats– don’t they look absolutely incredible and perfect for fall? 

Anyway, those are all of my favorite food blogs! I am super excited to try some of these recipes and tell you guys how they turn out. I think I’m most excited for the pumpkin spice overnight oats and the dinner rolls- what do you think sounds the tastiest? Let me know down below!

Since I went to college in Boston and now actually live there full-time, I like to think I have a pretty good handle on the food scene! Obviously being a vegetarian can make it trickier to eat out, but through plenty of trial and error, I have come across tons of unique, accommodating restaurants. Whether or not you’re a vegan or vegetarian, consider giving these restaurants a try during your next visit to Boston!


Los Amigos Taqueria | Coolidge Corner, Brighton Center, Newtonville, West Roxbury, and Somerville

Los Amigos Taqueria Expands to Somerville's Davis Square - Eater ...
Image Source: Eater Boston

If you’ve been following my food blogs for a while, you probably know that I am a big, big fan of Los Amigos Taqueria. I discovered them when I was living as a vegan a few years back, and to this day, I still order from their Brighton Center location all the time (at least 3 times per month.) My boyfriend also loves Los Amigos, which is a huge compliment coming from him since he can be quite critical of burritos. My favorite thing to order is a 12-inch rice and bean burrito with tons of pico de gallo and sour cream, and maybe a churro on the side if I’m feeling extra. Trust me, if you’re in the Boston area and you love Mexican food, this is a must!


Grasshopper | Allston 

Grasshopper Restaurant - Allston Massachusetts Restaurant - HappyCow
Image Source: Happy Cow

Grasshopper is an incredible restaurant. It’s your typical classic Chinese restaurant with all the normal dishes, but the twist is that everything is vegan. Yes, they even have vegan “chicken” fingers and “seafood” flavored dishes! I know this may sound suspish or gross to someone who isn’t vegan, but please trust me on this one- the food is phenomenal. Even my own mom, who isn’t anywhere near being vegan or vegetarian, was pleasantly surprised when I let her have a few bites of my broccoli sesame “chicken.” Grasshopper offers inside seating, takeout, and delivery via uber eats, and if you’re looking for a great dish, I highly recommend “The No Name.”


The Scoop N Scootery | Allston, Arlington

Scoop N Scootery extends its ice creamy reach to Allston area ...
Image Source: Boston Globe

Of course I had to throw in an ice cream shop for when you need a sweet treat. The Scoop N Scootery offers customizable sundaes and ice creams, along with plenty of frozen yogurt as well. The sizes also range from normal to monstrous, so when my housemate orders her ice cream, the container literally lasts her all week. My favorite customizations to add are the cannoli filling and the cannoli shell pieces- how many ice cream shops do you know that offer cannoli sundaes? It’s an all-around delicious experience, and there are so many unique flavors and combinations to try. 


Energize | Brighton, Back Bay

ENERGIZE, Boston - 265 Massachusetts Ave, Symphony - Menu & Prices ...
Image Source: Trip Advisor

On the topic of sweet things, I also got really into Energize back when I was in college. Energize offers tons of colorful, delicious salads, but they also have the most amazing smoothie bowls I’ve ever tried. My personal favorite bowl is the Cashew Cheesecake- it’s made with bananas, dates, cinnamon, and garnished with berries and chia seeds. It tastes a lot like ice cream to me, but there’s less guilt associated with a smoothie bowl, if that makes sense. I also really enjoy their blends and their juices, such as the post-workout shake and the power-up shake. If I lived next to an Energize, there’s no doubt I’d be stopping in several times per week. 


Playa Bowls | Brighton, Northeastern

Order Playa Bowls (Rowan) Delivery Online | New Jersey | Menu ...
Image Source: Uber Eats

Playa Bowls, as the name implies, is another healthy smoothie shop where you can find tons of vibrant juices, smoothie bowls, and smoothies. What I love the most about Playa Bowls is the wide variety of smoothie bowl bases you can choose from: oatmeal bowls, banana bowls (my favorite,) chia bowls, green bowls, coconut bowls, pitaya bowls, and acai bowls. My go to is the Nica- it’s a banana bowl topped with slices of banana, granola, cocoa nibs, strawberries, and peanut butter. Similarly to Energize, Playa Bowls enables me to feel like I can have a sweet treat without all the guilt. It’s noteworthy to add that there are Playa Bowls locations all over the US, so even if you don’t live in Massachusetts, you may still be able to find one nearby!


The Friendly Toast | Back Bay, Cambridge

Order The Friendly Toast - Cambridge Delivery Online | Boston ...
Image Source: Uber Eats

Last but not least, The Friendly Toast is a breakfast, tex-mex diner with plenty of options for everybody- vegetarian, vegan, or neither! Seriously, the menu is huge and it ranges from sweet and savory breakfast items to sandwiches, burgers, shakes, and dinner entrees. You could easily order a different item every time you go- in fact, I rarely repeat the same dish at The Friendly Toast because I always trust that it will be delicious. However, per many other diner-themed American restaurants, one of my favorite items is an impossible burger with fries.


I hope you guys found this article helpful and interesting! Let me know if you tried out any of these restaurants and what you thought of them, too! Remember to stay safe and responsible, especially when you are ordering out or considering visiting a restaurant in the current pandemic.

As much as I like to jokingly refer to myself as one, I am not a “health guru” by any means. However, I do think I make a pretty good salad. I used to not be a fan of salads at all, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that making salad doesn’t have to be a dull experience. And thus, my fruity, crunchy salad was born through lots of trial and error. It’s super easy to find ingredients for and whip together, and it’s great for you, too!

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Another thing I enjoy about this salad is that it is easy on my wallet. I buy canned pineapple and frozen strawberries, which really brings down the price of items without compromising nutrition. There are several yummy elements to this salad, but here are the key ingredients:

Kale, as I’m sure many of you are tired of hearing, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. I used to admittedly not be a fan of it, until I decided to buy a sweet kale salad mix and I absolutely loved it. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, which is perfect for the summertime, and it can also help to lower your cholesterol. 

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables, so I was really happy to find a salad mix that has both broccoli and kale. Not only is broccoli crunchy and delicious, it’s also a great source of calcium and vitamin K. Both of those are important for supporting healthy bones, so you can feel good about incorporating it into this salad.

Pineapple adds a punch of sweetness to this salad, and it makes the salad look absolutely beautiful as well. I’m a strong believer that food tastes better when it’s pleasing to look at. While pineapple is very high in sugar, it also has several nutritional benefits as well. It contains disease-fighting antioxidants, and some people say it can even aid in a speedy recovery after a workout! I’ve been trying to work out more frequently, so I’ll have to let you know if I see any difference.

Strawberries are my favorite fruit, so of course I knew I wanted to add them to my salad as well. Normally I buy frozen strawberries because they are cheaper, but since the DTA has started increasing SNAP funds due to the pandemic, I’ve been able to splurge a bit and buy fresh strawberries. And what a beautiful treat it is! I love how shiny and vibrant they are, and they’re truly my favorite element of the meal. Just like kale and pineapple, strawberries also have lots of healthy antioxidants! 

Pecans are one of the few nuts I actually like, so that was my topping of choice for this salad. They compliment the crunchiness of the broccoli and kale very nicely, and even though nuts are relatively expensive, I felt like they were worth it for this meal. Also, pecans have loads of health benefits for you! They improve digestion, aid in weight loss, prevent skin problems, and boost your immunity. All good things that I would love to carry with me in 2020. 

The complete list of everything I use in this salad is the Taylor Farms Sweet Kale salad mix, a small container of canned pineapple, 4-5 strawberries, a sprinkling of pecans, and I finish it off with the Panera Poppyseed dressing. It’s sweet and vibrant, and it all mixes together beautifully! I’ve been enjoying this salad a lot lately, and I’m sure you guys will love it too. It’s also vegan and gluten-free, which means it’s also a very inclusive salad.

Thanks for tuning into Recipie of the Season! I’ll see you guys for another installment in the fall.

Admittedly, my collection of clean makeup is not as large as my collection of “regular” makeup, so I’m hoping that writing this article will boost my inspiration to explore even more new brands. Be sure to drop your suggestions for me down below as well!


Bite Beauty

Bite Beauty Lip Crayons Go Viral After Fans Discover They Have a ...
Source: Allure

Bite Beauty is a cosmetic company founded in 2011 by Susanne Langmuir. I received a small Bite Beauty lipstick as a birthday gift from Sephora, which makes sense because Bite is exclusively sold at Sephora. Their products are a little bit on the pricier side, but it’s surprisingly outrageous (usually unheard of for Sephora.) My mom tried the lipstick as well, and she was so impressed by the color payoff and the creaminess, she decided to go buy some of their makeup for herself! Bite Beauty more or less specializes in lip products, so if you’re looking for a new shade to rock on your pout, I highly suggest checking out Bite Beauty. You can also order from their website, if you’re not near a Sephora (and really, who needs to go to the mall in a pandemic?)


Lawless

Lawless Beauty Launch | POPSUGAR Beauty
Source: Popsugar

Lawless is another brand I came across while browsing Sephora a few months ago, so apparently, Sephora is a new hot spot for clean beauty brands! According to the website, Lawless beauty products are always free from potential carcinogens (cancer-causing bad stuff,) health-damaging ingredients, and their products are always cruelty free and vegan! I own one of their soft matte liquid lipsticks, and it’s genuinely one of my favorite liquid lipsticks I’ve ever used. It’s soft and luscious, and it smells amazing, like fresh berries and juice. That being said, their selection is not just limited to lip products: you can shop bronzers, blushes, eyeshadows and more! Their products are a little pricier than Bite Beauty, but it makes sense, considering you’re buying such a high-quality product. 


Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant Has Been Purchased by Shiseido for $845 Million ...
Source: Allure

According to their website, Drunk Elephant prides itself on creating “biocompatible” products. Basically, their hair care and skincare products are natural, fragrance-free, and avoid all toxins commonly found in other makeup brands. I own a small pot of their Protini™ Polypeptide Cream, which promises to strengthen and moisturize your skin. It’s a five-star product to both me and the general public, and I would highly recommend it if you’re okay with dropping a lot of money on skincare. One full-sized pot costs $68 (gasp), which is way, WAY out of my budget. I must have gotten this little pot as another free gift from Sephora or the like, because I know for a fact I wouldn’t spend $68 on a singular makeup item. Nonetheless, it’s a totally gorgeous moisturizer, and it works wonders for my skin.


Love Beauty and Planet

New personal care brand, packaging fit Unilever's sustainable ...
Source: PlasticsToday

Definitely the most inexpensive of the bunch, I’ve been really loving Love Beauty and Planet lately. This company creates cruelty-free hair care and skin care products, and you can find them in grocery stores and drug stores everywhere! All of their products are naturally derived, making them a safe and healthy alternative for your hair. Particularly since my hair is color-treated, I rely on their shampoo to keep my locks looking as fresh and vibrant as possible. I use the coconut-scented shampoo, and it smells absolutely amazing once I scrub it into my hair. Not only are the products cruelty-free and vegan, they are also great for the planet, hence the name! All of the products are packed in recycled bottles, and their fragrances are ethically sourced.


I hope you guys found this article helpful and informative! Let me know if you’ve tried these brands before and what you think about them, too. You can also leave me recommendations for other clean beauty brands you think I’d love to try! Stay safe and healthy out there.

Now that I’ve been living on my own for about a month, I’ve learned that there’s one element of adulting that I love more than any other: meal prepping.

I’ve always been such a planner and I love discovering new recipes to try, so it’s no surprise I look forward to meal prepping every week! Grocery shopping can be kind of a *fun* challenge for me, since I’m living off savings until I get a job and I need to find the best ways to stretch my grocery money. What I’ve learned is that non-perishable items are usually the way to go, so that’s why you’ll see I buy a lot of frozen fruit, canned fruit, nuts, granola, etc. I enjoy shopping at Target and BJ’s the most; Target carries a lot of the vegetarian products I like, and BJ’s enables me to buy in bulk for super cheap. 


Here is everything on my grocery list this week:

Individual yogurt containers – $1.50 each

Granola – $4

Almond milk – $3

Frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries) – $5

Canned fruit (oranges, pineapple) – $20 for 32 cups

Romaine lettuce (this is safe again, right?) – $2

Sweet kale salad base mix – $2

Pecans – $8 (whyyy are nuts so expensive?)

Apples – $2

Poppyseed dressing – $5

Vegan ‘Chicken’ Scallopini – $5

Broccoli – $2

Total: $61


Meal 1: Overnight Oats

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Overnight Oats are a super simple recipe that makes for a healthy, filling, and easy breakfast. What I like most about this recipe is that it is extremely customizable, so you are bound to find a flavor that works best for you. For the basics, you’ll simply need quick oats (I buy a giant container for a couple of bucks, and it lasts me for months,) and the milk of your choice. From there, you can flavor your overnight oats however you want! Today I’m going to prepare the flavors blueberry muffin, strawberries and creme, mint chocolate chip, and s’mores. I also really like banana bread flavored overnight oats, but I didn’t buy any bananas on this past grocery trip. For the ‘blueberry muffin’ oats, I tossed in about a quarter of a cup of oats, a handful of frozen blueberries, a dash of cinnamon, a quarter of a cup of blueberry granola, and then I filled about half of the jar with almond milk. The rest of the oats have the same ratio of oats and milk, but different toppings. For strawberries and creme, I added about 2-3 large frozen strawberries and a hearty dollop of strawberry Greek yogurt. For the mint chocolate chip and s’mores flavors, I used those individual yogurt cups that come with the dry toppings included, and just mixed those all in with the oats and the milk. After you lid your oats, give them a good shake, and you can keep them in your fridge for up to four days! As you can probably infer, they’re called ‘overnight oats’ because you’re ideally supposed to prepare them the night before to let them chill and mix together. Side note: you can also add chia seeds to your overnight oats for an extra health boost, but I didn’t have any on hand this time.


Meal 2: Autumn Salad

IMG_3834 (1)

The salad I am going to prepare this week is an ‘autumn salad’ that I found on pinterest. This salad also calls for pears, but I couldn’t find any at the store because they’re not in season yet. For salad, I like to make about 3-4 servings in advance and then stack them in my fridge, in tupperware, for when I’m ready to use them. First I add a thin layer of romaine lettuce, then I mix that in with this delicious sweet kale salad base I found at Target. I honestly was never really a kale person until I tried this mix- it’s so crunchy and sweet, and the broccoli adds such a delicious touch. After I mix those two bases together, I’ll throw in my toppings: sliced apples, craisins, and pecans. When I’m ready to unpack it and eat it, I add my dressing, which is the Panera brand strawberry poppyseed dressing. I’m really picky about the dressings I like, but this poppyseed dressing goes great on everything and it doesn’t completely overpower the salad. I’ve been enjoying this salad for about two weeks now, and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. It’s also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin A. 


Meal 3: Lemon ‘Chicken’ Scallopini with Broccoli

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I’m honestly not really a cooking expert, so even though this recipe sounds fancy, it’s actually really easy to make! On my last shopping trip, I found Gardein vegan ‘chicken’ scallopini, and I decided to give it a try. I cooked it on my stove with about a cup of broccoli, some garlic salt, parsley, oregano, and a squeeze of lemon, and of my god, it tasted amazing. It’s also super easy to make, considering it basically only consists of two main ingredients, and then a few spices. I know vegan chicken isn’t for everybody, but I actually really like the way this tastes and I’m looking forward to making it again! The lemon really added a juicy, zesty kick to the fake chicken. I have a lot of microwavable Tupperware containers that I’ve saved from restaurants, so I think I’m going to make a large batch of this ahead of time and then stash it away in my freezer. 


I hope you guys enjoyed this article and found some food inspiration, particularly for you fellow vegetarians! Let me know if you try any of these recipes, and what you think of them yourself.

I’ve been a strict vegetarian for about two and a half years, and in that time, I can honestly say I have never regretted that decision. The reason I went vegetarian in the first place was actually not because I dislike the taste of meat- it was because the suffering of animals in the food industry is upsetting to me. If you’re in a similar boat or if you’re thinking about becoming vegetarian, then this is the article for you!


Beef Patties – Beyond Meat

Beyond Burger® - Beyond Meat - Go Beyond®

Regardless of if you’re a vegetarian or not, you’ve probably heard of the meat-replacement burger called the Impossible Burger. The Impossible Burger is a great burger replacement that tastes almost exactly like meat, but company ethics-wise, they’re not my favorite. That’s why I tend to choose Beyond Meat burgers over Impossible Burgers. For one thing, you can buy Beyond Meat burgers at the grocery store, while you can only order Impossible Burgers at a restaurant or a food chain, such as Burger King. Beyond Meat burgers have 20g of plant protein per serving, and in my opinion, they taste extremely similar to a regular burger (although I admittedly don’t really remember what most meat tastes like.) Beyond Meat offers lots of other meat replacements as well, such as Italian ‘sausage’ and breakfast patties.


Beef Crumble – Lightlife

Lightlife Smart Ground Meatless Original Crumbles - Shop Tofu ...

The next few items are all from Lightlife, a company I love and have been buying from for years. If you’re looking for a beef crumble as opposed to a beef patty (for cooking purposes, for example,) their ‘beef’ tastes delicious, juicy, and extremely convincing. When Eli and I made garbage plates last winter, this was the brand of ground ‘beef’ I used to make that spicy red sauce. In the beef replacement department, Lightlife also sells plant-based beef in a ground form, which you could use to mold your own burgers, such as you would with regular ground beef. Just like Beyond Meat, the Lightlife beef substitute offers 20g of protein per serving. 


Hot Dogs – Lightlife

Lightlife Smart Dogs Meatless Veggie Hot Dogs, 12 oz (1 Pack, 8 ...

I feel like enjoying hot dogs is kind of an unpopular opinion, but nonetheless, I do. There’s something about the taste that reminds me of the summers of my childhood, so of course, I was really happy to learn that Lightlife offers a hot dog substitute as well. The taste of hot dogs is pretty easy to replicate, I think, because a normal hot dog is already so highly processed and fake. They don’t taste exactly the same, but they’re close enough, and you can grill them or boil them just like you would with any other hot dog. According to the Lightlife website, these dogs contain 8g of protein each, as opposed to only 5g of protein in a normal hot dog. 


Deli Meat – Lightlife

Smart Deli® Ham | Lightlife

When I was in college (I feel so old saying that,) the Lightlife deli meat was really a huge staple of my food journey. Obviously, my dining hall didn’t offer any fancy meat replacements like vegan turkey or vegan bologna, but the Star Market down the street had a wide variety! I used to buy it and keep it in my mini fridge, and whenever I wanted to make a deli sandwich at the dining hall, I would just bring a few pieces with me in a ziploc bag. Now that I’m out of college, I don’t have to go through that hassle, but I still really love buying the Lightlife deli meat and making sandwiches with it. It’s surprisingly realistic tasting, particularly the sliced ‘turkey.’ 


Bacon – Morning Star Farms

MorningStar Farms Veggie Breakfast Bacon Strips 5.25 oz. Box ...

Last but certainly not least, Morning Star is a company that makes tons of delicious meat replacements. My personal favorite is their bacon, though it’s important to note it contains eggs, so it is not vegan. Even my non-vegetarian friends agree that this veggie bacon is absolutely amazing and convincing! Additionally, these veggie bacon strips contain 36% less fat than normal pork bacon, making them a healthy alternative as well. If you’re trying to encourage a friend to consider going vegetarian, the Morning Star bacon strips are a great place to start.


Those are all my favorite vegetarian/vegan meat replacements! I feel like there’s still such a stereotype that vegetarians only eat salads and nuts, so hopefully this inclusive list will help spread the word that vegetarians love juicy, fulfilling, ‘meaty’ meals too! 

Spring has sprung, and now that I’m gearing up and getting ready for my first apartment, I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to learning new recipes. One of my current favorite recipes at the moment is loaded enchilada pasta, and yes, it’s just as extra and fantastic as it sounds! If you’re a fan of comfort food, I promise absolutely nothing beats this cheesy, goopy concoction. It’s also relatively cheap to make, as it mostly requires kitchen staples such as beans, noodles, and canned goods. I’m not even a huge fan of Mexican food, and I absolutely LOVED this recipe. All of my close friends and family know I’m a notoriously picky eater, so the fact that I was willing to try the very elusive loaded enchilada pasta really says something about this dish.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta | The Recipe Critic
I couldn’t find an exact picture for the recipe I make, but this is more or less what it looks like!

Although hot dishes are typically not associated with the spring and summer months, I think that this is a great recipe to enjoy during the transitional months. It’s interesting, it’s creative, and it’s bound to delight your friends and family! Just like spring, it’s bursting with colors and smells, and furthermore, it’s a perfect Mexican dish to serve on Cinco de Mayo on May 5th. 

Here are the quick facts about this recipe:

-It’s super easy to make, because it only requires one pot to throw everything into. It usually only takes a half hour for us to prepare, so it’s super speedy as well! It also produces about six servings.

-Black beans are a fantastic source of plant-based protein, so if you’re trying to get away from eating meat, this is a perfect, flavorful dish to start with. Beans are also a great source of iron, calcium, and magnesium.

-Like I said before, this recipe is totally economical as well because it mostly uses pantry staples. Particularly with COVID-19 forcing people to cut down on their spending, loaded enchilada pasta is a great meal to prepare and feed your family for under $10.

I came across this recipe in the Budget Bytes cookbook by Beth Moncel, and since I can’t find a copy of the recipe online, I’ll go ahead and insert Google Books link below so you can make it yourself! The recipe is located on page 104. Let me know if you make this recipe and what you guys think about it! It’s such a hidden gem for pasta lovers such as myself.

Recipe Here

PS: Budget Bytes in general is such a great cookbook, especially for fresh college students who want to cook on a budget. I highly recommend buying the full text!

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Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi on Pexels.com

Even though I consider myself fairly healthy and conscious of what I put in my body, there are still positive steps I can continue to make in my life, diet-wise. One particular aspect that I’ve been thinking about often is “brain fogginess,” and the lack of having a sharp focus. In a nutshell, some foods just really mess up our memory and our mentality.

Obviously I’m not a doctor, and I’m also not saying nobody should ever eat these foods, but these are the things that I (and many others) have discovered cause brain fogginess when consumed too frequently. There is a scientific reason for why this can happen, so I’m going to go into that in more detail as well. 


Soda & Sugary Drinks

Now, I’m not saying I think people should never enjoy these foods (in fact, I definitely eat at least half of them,) but they have given me something to think about in regards to my own health and how I can cut back in moderation. Unsurprisingly, soda, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks are linked to dementia and the reduction of brain function, even with people without diabetes. I’ve personally never been a huge soda drinker myself, but I would agree that I tend to feel sluggish after consuming too much sugar (particularly in sports drinks and fruit juices.) One way I like to incorporate fruity tastes into my drinks is to make my own low-sugar smoothies, or, even easier, just add raw fruit to your water. Strawberry water is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s a great health alternative to artificial fruit drinks. 


Refined Carbs

Again unsurprisingly, refined carbs are yet another culprit of brain fogginess and sluggishness. Similarly to sugary drinks, refined carbs (such as white flour) can spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash shortly after consuming them. Conducted studies have shown that refined carbs can indeed have a poor effect on your memory, and long-term, it can even increase your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That doesn’t mean I intend on cutting pizza out of my diet any time soon (nor would I expect anyone else too,) but it is inspiring me to think more critically about the alterations I can make. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are all healthier alternatives to refined carbs, and honestly, I think whole grain bread tastes pretty damn good. 


Artificial Trans Fat

You’re probably noticing a trend here; foods that are highly processed or full of sugar and carbs are probably not the most brain-healthy foods. This includes all the typical junk foods; chips, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, etc. Even ready-made meals that market themselves as being natural and full of wholesome ingredients can be highly processed and full of trans fat, so just keep that in mind when grocery shopping. I still enjoy a Lean Cuisine from time to time, especially since they’re cheap and easy to prepare, but I still try to remain mindful of how eating these foods will mess with my focus in the days that follow.


Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, often found in food and beverages under the brand names “NutraSweet” and “Equal.” Even though the market likes to push artificial sweeteners as a weight loss aid, this particular sweetener is actually extremely controversial. Consumption of aspartame has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, although there’s no conclusive research on this product. Nonetheless, unless you have a pressing medical treatment such as diabetes (which forces one to utilize artificial sweeteners,) consider opting for natural, raw sugar instead. 


Dairy

Unfortunately, but probably unsurprisingly, dairy is one of the most notorious foods to cause brain fogginess, tiredness, and inattentiveness. While many of us are not allergic to us, there’s a fairly good chance you may be sensitive to it. I definitely think I am sensitive to dairy products, especially cheese, since I completely cut it out of my diet for a full year and then suddenly resumed eating it again. While I still love cheese and plan on continuing to eat it, it’s a good idea to remember that there are healthy alternatives, too. Little switches, such as drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk, can make a huge difference in how you feel and how you sustain your energy.


What can I do about brain fog?

Even though you’re bound to experience brain fogginess from time to time, there are still steps you can take to keep yourself sharp and happy. One important thing I like to utilize is my intake of vitamin B12. Because it’s predominantly found in meats and eggs, us vegetarians have to ensure that we are still maintaining a healthy B12 intake to sustain or energy and focus levels. Another way to keep your mind feeling sharp is to eat dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale. And, of course, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and keeping your brain stimulated!

Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/worst-foods-for-your-brain