July 06, 2017

The Joy of Reading

When I was in 9th grade, my now husband, gave me his favorite book to read. This started my love for reading. Until that point in time, I had never really enjoyed it because I struggled to read quickly and hadn't found a book that really hooked my attention. To this day (nearly 10 years later) I am thankful for the encouragement of a sweet boy and The Thief Lord.

There is nothing better than settling into the sofa with a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, a cuddly puppy, and a good book. I want to encouraging you to loose yourself in a great story. Being able to to let yourself get sucked into another world is a great skill to have. I have been to Venice stealing from the rich to give to the poor, I have been a student at Hogwarts and battled against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, I have cried as Bailey found his true purpose in life, and I have laughed as Amy Poehler told stories about her time on Parcs & Rec. If you haven't found that special book, the one that makes you crave reading, I hope you do soon.

Harry Potter transported me to a new world and made me feel like a true wizard. [I am currently waiting on an Amazon order to arrive with the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.]

A Dog's Purpose made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made my squeeze my sweet Amora girl (Australian shepherd) a little tighter.

Yes Please encouraged me to chase my dreams.

Kira Kira made me look for the beauty in every situation and every person.

March 05, 2017

Feeding Everyone at the Table

Planning meals when you are feeding people with a variety of dietary needs at the same table can be tricky. Hopefully I can help.

In June 2016 I started learning about plant based diets and the effects the meat industry has on the environment. After learning more about it, I decided that the best thing I could do for my health and the planet's health was to eat a mostly plant based diet. (I do not consider myself to be vegan) I do strive to be completely plant based but sometimes it just isn't possible for me. I didn't want to force my husband or to change his diet so I cook both, vegan and meat based meals. I thought it might be helpful to share five meal ideas to show how simple it can be to keep everyone at the table happy.

Meal 1
Spicy Vegetable Soup

what you'll need:
1 box vegetable stock
1 can pureed tomato
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 large potatoes, diced
1 bag frozen mixed veg
2 cans spicy hot v8 veg juice
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp chili powder
-mix all ingredients in large pot and cook for 1 hour. after cooking, Separate the soup into 2 pots. Add 1 can kidney beans to one pot for the vegans and add cooked ground beef to the other pot for the omnivores.

Meal 2
Stir Fry

what you'll need:
rice of your choice (we use steamed white rice)
vegetables of your choice (broccoli, zucchini, carrots, onions, bell peppers, etc.)
seasoning or sauce of your choice (we like soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sriracha)
-for the vegan option add pan fried tofu and for the omnivore use chicken. 

Meal 3

This one is super simple! Use all your favorite toppings but have beef or chicken available for the meat eaters and plenty of beans for the non-meat eaters (black beans are my favorite).

Meal 4

Make spaghetti how ever you normally do but instead of meat, make half of it with cooked lentils. Have cheese on the side for those who eat dairy and make garlic bread with olive oil or vegan butter. You could serve this with a side of green beans or steamed vegetables or try mixing sauteed veg into the pasta sauce.

Meal 5
Green Goddess Rice Bowl with Tahini Dressing

what you'll need:
cooked brown rice
2 cups kale, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup edamame, shelled
1/2 onion, diced
Dressing: This is a basic Tahini dressing from minimalistbaker.com. I like to add a little bit of soy sauce and siracha to this recipe.
-saute onion, kale, zucchini, and edamame. Grill chicken for the meat eaters and tofu for the vegans. Add rice, protein, and veg to a bowl and top with tahini dressing

January 08, 2017

Dairy Free Cooking

Dairy free cooking is something I have been doing since I really started cooking. You see, when I lived at home I have ZERO interest in cooking and then I moved into my own apartment (3 hours away from my mom) and realized that if I ever wanted to eat anything besides taco bell and frozen meals I was going to have to learn to cook. Unfortunately, I never took the opportunity to learn from my mom or nana when I lived at home so I had do figure it out on my own. So kids, when you parent or grandparent offers to teach you how to cook, say YES!

Anyway, I had to learn to cook and since I was cooking for both myself and my then boyfriend (now husband) who is severely lactose intolerant, all the food had to be dairy free. Over the last few years I would like to think I have masted the art of dairy free cooking and I want to share some of the things I have learned.

First of all, it isn't nearly as difficult as everyone thinks.

Simple Substitutions

Milk: Soy Milk or any nut milk
Butter: Earth Balance Butter (tastes like real butter but is made from vegatble oils)
Condensed Milk: Cashew Milk
Heavy Whipping Cream (for baking): pureed tofu
Yogurt: Coconut Milk Yogurt or Soy Yogurt

There are also a lot great cookbooks to help you if you are just beginning the dairy free life.

Go Dairy Free is a great book full of helpful tips and recipes for dairy free lifestyles.
The Healthy Gluten-Free Life cookbook is great for simple dairy free meals.
The Thailand cookbook is not advertised as being dairy free but if you like Thai food it is perfect because it doesn't have dairy in any recipes! (this is my husband's favorite)

Finally, if you are looking for dairy free recipes it is always great to search vegan food blogs and recipes. Just try it! If you or the people you are cooking for really insist on having meat in their meals you can easily substitute your favorite for whatever the protein source in the vegan recipe is. 

I hope this was helpful to anyone wanting or needing to limit their dairy intake!

Happy Cooking!