Monthly Archives

July 2016

Budget-friendly, Lifestyle, Shopping

Bulk Up!

Bulking up on rolled oats, "nootch," cashews, and sesame seeds.

Bulking up on rolled oats, “nootch,” cashews, and sesame seeds.

One of the most common misconceptions about eating a plant-based diet is that it is more expensive than eating a “standard” diet.  Our experience with plant-based eating has been quite the opposite. Our monthly grocery bill is lower now than ever, and buying in bulk is a huge help.  We may buy things that are uncommon and some might consider costly, like miso paste or nutritional yeast, but when you spread the price across the number of meals you can prepare with this one ingredient, you are still getting a bargain.

When we first became plant-based, we had to learn to navigate the bulk aisles of our local grocery stores and co-ops.  We had never really spent any time shopping in this section and had no idea what was available to us.  Now, there are days when we come home with nothing but twist-tied baggies and reusable containers!  Here are a few things you should know about buying in bulk:

One side of the abundant bulk aisle at Lakewinds Co-op.

One side of the abundant bulk aisle at Lakewinds Co-op.

  • The bulk aisle is the best for buying spices, grains, legumes, oats, and other dry goods.  We avoid things like trail mixes and candy.  Even pasta and rice can usually be found cheaper prepackaged.
  • You can sometimes find organic ingredients for cheaper than the conventional versions.  We have found this to be true for things like rolled oats and lentils, so be sure to compare prices.
  • Shopping the bulk aisle is great for trying new ingredients for the first time.  You can buy as much or as little as you would like.
  • Don’t forget storage!  We hate to waste things, so we save our spice jars and bring them to the co-op when we are ready for a refill.  We even save things like rubber bands and plastic bread bag closures so we can cinch our bulk bags up!  If you bring your own container, make sure to tare if before filling.  This will save you some time at the checkout.

Locally, there are a lot of choices for your bulk food shopping.  We like Lakewinds and Seward Co-op for the best variety and prices.

Budget-friendly, Pretty Quick Plant-Based Recipe Pick, Recipes

Build A Buddha Bowl

This Buddha Bowl features steamed beets, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, carrots, summer squash, corn, and fresh basil.

This Buddha Bowl features steamed beets, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, carrots, summer squash, corn, and fresh basil.

One of our favorite dishes to make any time of year is a Buddha Bowl.  It’s a quick, easy dish that can be made in an endless variety of combinations.  We have found a formula to build Buddha Bowls that works every time.  All you need to do is pick one or more ingredients from each of the following categories:

GrainsProteinRoot Veggies“Wild Card” VeggiesToppings
quinoakidney beanscarrotsmushroomsgreen onion
brown riceblack beansbeetszucchiniseaweed/nori
barleychickpeassweet potatoescorntoasted sesame seeds
bulgurtofuonionsoy sauce
couscoustempehsugar snap peasBraggs Liquid Aminos
milletgreen peassummer squashbalsamic vinegar
farrogreen beanshot sauce/sriracha sauce
fresh herbs
avocado
rice vinegar

Your choice of vegetables will need to be steamed anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes depending on the density (root vegetables will take the longest).  Prepare your choice of grains according to the package instructions.  We like to make extra rice/quinoa/etc. and have it on hand for just such an occasion.

When all the ingredients are ready, fill a bowl with your grains, veg, and your choice of toppings.  This is a great recipe to play around and experiment with– no two Buddha Bowls are alike!

This is also something that you could eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Yes, even breakfast– it’s very common in many parts of Asia to eat grains and vegetables in the morning.

We were first introduced to the Buddha Bowl through Martha Stewart’s Meatless  cookbook.  You can watch her prepare one in this video along with a few other simple dishes.

Have you tried a Buddha Bowl before?  What’s your favorite combination?  Tell us in the comments!

Breakfast, Budget-friendly, Recipes

A Quick Alternative to Cooked Oatmeal: Cold Oats

When I was a little kid, I thought I loved oatmeal cookies. It turns out I actually loved oats.

My dad would make oatmeal cookies every weekend over the winter. One night while he had his head turned, mixing the dough, I stealthily abstracted a handful of raw oats. That moment was nothing short of revelatory. Until then I thought oats could only be eaten cooked. To my surprise I liked them more plain than boiled or even in cookies.

I’ve loved raw oats ever since.

In fact, that’s what I still eat almost every morning. The recipe is simple:

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Uncle Sam cereal
1/2 cup soy milk (unsweetened, unflavored – I prefer Trader Joe’s brand)
1/2 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup  blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 small banana, fresh, sliced very thinly

Cold oats - Oatmeal

I love the smell of cold oats in the morning!

I don’t like adding sweetener, but if you do, maple syrup would probably work best.

If you’re using frozen fruit, either let it thaw on the counter for about 30 minutes or microwave briefly. One cup of frozen fruit takes 90 seconds in our microwave.

Alternatively, you can just eat a few handfuls of rolled oats raw for an even quicker breakfast! I sometimes do this, and it’s still satisfying. Food doesn’t always need embellishment.

If you are interested in something more elaborate, Rip Esselstyn has an excellent alternative at his Engine 2 website here. There is more prep time required for this one, though. I like mine because I can have it ready in just a few minutes, which is great for those busy mornings.

Are there any foods you prefer raw over cooked? Let us know in the comments!

Pretty Quick Plant-Based Recipe Pick, Recipes

Our Plant-Based Play on a Classic French Salad

Salade Nicoise

Oui, s’il vous plaît!

Summer weather means spending time outdoors, not in the kitchen.  When we’re planning our meals on warmer days, we look for recipes that require little use of the oven and have a quick prep time.  Salads are the perfect solution.

One of our favorite recipes to make this time of year is our plant-based Salade Niçoise.  We have adapted this recipe from the classic French version; ours does not include the fish or egg, but it still has all the flavor!  There is very little cooking required– you just need to steam some vegetables for a few minutes and let them cool (or prep them ahead of time).  For this recipe, you will need:

  • Mix of spring greens
  • Cucumber
  • Steamed green beans (or haricots verts, if you wanna be fancy)
  • Steamed white potatoes (red or yellow varieties with thin skins taste best in this dish)
  • Kalamata olives (black are good, too)
  • One can of cannellini beans
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Additionally, you can add a few special ingredients like radishes, hearts of palm, shredded carrots or artichoke hearts

We don’t follow a hard and fast recipe for this dish- we just make enough to feed the two of us.  To dress this salad, we whip up a super simple oil-free dressing consisting of grainy Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, a few cloves of chopped garlic, and some salt and pepper.  We haven’t bought salad dressing in years and prefer to make our own.  This link will provide you with a few more oil-free examples that are easy to make on the fly!

This really is a tried and true recipe for us, as we will often make it once a week during the summertime.  We used to eat this dish when we still ate meat and when we switched to a plant-based diet, we knew we wanted to keep this one in our repertoire.  The next time you’re feeling like dishing up some French cuisine, try it sans poisson!

Plant-Based Pantry Basics, Recipes, Shopping

Chickpeas: Not Just For Hummus

This is how much we love the mighty chickpea!

Keeping your pantry stocked with basic items can make meal preparation quick, easy, and fun!  We will regularly be featuring our favorite common pantry items (Plant-Based Pantry Basics or PB2 for short) with several recipe ideas to try.  We want to bring you out of the ordinary recipes to help you think about these ingredients in new and exciting ways.

Where better to start than the mighty chickpea (or garbanzo bean, if you’re nasty)?  A must for any plant-based pantry, it can be used in so many things besides hummus.  Here are a few of our favorite recipes that include chickpeas:

  • Chickpea Broccoli Buddha Bowl from Hummus Sapien:  We’ve made this recipe several times and have started adding onion and red pepper to give it more volume (love our leftovers!) and flavor.  Roasting chickpeas is an unexpected way to prepare them and they develop a great taste and texture.
  • Sneaky Chickpea Burger found on Forks Over Knives: Serve it with baked sweet potato fries for a fun and family-friendly dinner that’s more wholesome and delicious than anything you will find at a burger joint!
  • Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine from Whole Foods Market: Make it Moroccan!  The raisins and green olives give this dish a sweet and tangy flavor.  A favorite at our house, we like to serve this dish with couscous.
Our Moroccan Feast: Sweet Potato Tagine with Couscous

Our Moroccan Feast: Sweet Potato Tagine with Couscous

Thanks for reading our first PB2 post!  We hope you’ve been inspired to get out of your hummus rut and try a new way to prepare chickpeas!