Plant-Based On A Budget

I am happy to say that in May it will have been two years since I stopped eating meat. It’s truly been one of the best decisions I made for myself and I can honestly say that I don’t believe I will go back to eating meat. Before I became a vegetarian (I’m not vegan and I’m not sure whether or not I will eventually go that route) I would go through phases of cutting out meat before declaring it to be too difficult, giving up and stuffing my face with some sort of underwhelming meat-filled sandwich. After watching Earthlings it all clicked for me (if you want to weep for humanity, watch that documentary) and I decided that I was going to figure out how to do this right. In the last couple of years I have realized that eating a plant-based diet is actually super easy, delicious, healthy and, wait for it, CHEAPER. People always complain that being a veggie is so expensive, but if you skip some of the gimmicky vegetarian foods and do it right, it’s actually more affordable than eating meat! Don’t believe me? Read on.


1 // FROZEN IS YOUR FRIEND

Frozen is not a dirty word and buying several bags of frozen vegetables is not only way cheaper than buying all of the individual components of the bag’s contents fresh, they are also nutritionally just as healthy, if not more so, because they are picked and harvested at their optimal time (unlike other produce which is often picked when it is still unripe and left to ripen artificially). Frozen veggies are a staple on my grocery list and I use them to make stir-fries, curries, roasted vegetables, taco bowls – you name it. Scoop up a few bags on your next grocery trip and I promise you will be amazed at how versatile they are and how fresh the veggies taste.

2 // NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE ORGANIC

Sure, if your name is Gisele Bündchen or Miranda Kerr then you can afford to make sure that everything in your fridge was grown completely organically, watered with unicorn tears and harvested on a new moon at peak ripeness for optimum nutrition. If not, don’t worry, not everything you eat needs to be organic to be healthy. There are certain foods (the dirty dozen), like strawberries, tomatoes and apples, that you should try and buy organic. But you don’t need to exclusively buy your produce from the organic section of the store. There are lots of vegetables and fruit – like avocados, asparagus, onions and cauliflower – that are considered to be clean. The cost of buying organic does quickly add up and if you’re going to shell out, make sure it’s worth it. Sometimes a good wash is all your veggies and fruit need.

3 // BUY IN BULK

Before switching to a vegetarian diet, I always thought the bulk food section of the grocery store was overwhelming. Those big containers filled with beans, nuts and lentils just seemed to not correlate with food to me (they looked more like what you would use as filling for sandbags or pillows). The thing is, you can make a million dishes with beans, nuts and lentils and you can buy bags of them without breaking over $10-$15. Try it and be amazing at how long it will be before you have to grocery shop (although you might want to anyways because you’ll be inspired by all the creative vegetarian dishes you can make).

4 // THE FEWER INGREDIENTS, THE BETTER

Honestly, one of the best parts about eating vegetarian is that it forced me to expand my cooking skills. My family are all omnivores and my boyfriend loves nothing more than a plate of ribs so I knew I couldn’t rely on there being vegetarian food available in the house. My need to cook led me to love cooking and become passionate about vegetarian food! While at first daunting, I have since discovered that the world of vegetarian cuisine is diverse, delicious and so creative. I’ve learned that meat is so not necessary for a meal to be filling and tasty, lots of veggies can stand in for meat (mushrooms, artichokes, eggplant, jackfruit, etc.), and the simpler your meals, the better. You don’t need to go ham with your meals (pun obviously intended). For example, one of my favourite dishes is a marinated tofu bowl. Tofu, sticky rice, carrot, cucumber, seaweed and avocado. Boom. So good and so healthy. Keeping it simple also helps you ensure that your groceries last you longer which saves you money in the long run.

A few of my favourite vegetarian meals.

5 // GET CREATIVE WITH CANNED VEGGIES

Here’s another aisle I never visited before becoming a herbivore! Allow me to let you in on a little secret. You can find almost every vegetable in a can and they only cost a couple of bucks. Tomatoes? Check. Potatoes? Yup. Corn, artichokes, olives, beans, lentils, beets, carrots, peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms? Oh, yeah. You can stock up on an armload of inexpensive vegetables that are full of nutrients and last longer than fresh produce. Wins all around.

6 // FREQUENT FARMER’S MARKETS

There’s nothing more reassuring than meeting the people who are growing your food. The people who have planted the seeds, watered the roots and nurtured the soil to ensure that the food you’re buying is top quality and optimally nutritious. Farmer’s markets are a great way to find new vegetables, fruits and spices you’ve never tried before, all the while conversing with those who are the most knowledgeable about produce. Prices are usually reasonable and you also get the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting local farmers. It’s really a fun experience shopping at the farmer’s market!

I hope you find these tips to be helpful! Are any of you transitioning to a more plant-based diet? How are you finding it? Let’s talk veggie stuff in the comments!

xoxo,

Alicia

Advertisements

Healthy Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I, like most normal human beings, love indulging in a frosty bowl of ice cream. Unfortunately it has been harder for me to enjoy my favorite treat as I have recently become a vegetarian and I’ve learned about all of the horrors that animals endure within the dairy industry. While there are quite a few great vegan ice cream brands and shops out there, I took it upon myself to create my own version – one that is healthy, delicious and free of sketchy preservatives.

This recipe is ridiculously easy. Seriously, it requires 9 ingredients and you don’t even need an ice cream maker. It also has the creamiest most decadent texture that is pretty much identical to the real thing. I chose to make mint chocolate chip ice cream because it’s my favorite, but you could totally customize this depending on your tastes. For example, you could swap out the banana for strawberry, add more vanilla and forgo the mint to make classic strawberries and cream! The options are endless and oh-so delicious. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Can Sweetened Coconut Cream
  • 2 Cups Coconut or Cashew Milk (I find that almond milk has too strong of a flavour that distracts from the mint and chocolate.)
  • 1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tbsp Mint Extract
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 tsp Stevia 
  • 3 tbsp Matcha Powder
  • A Few Drops of Green Food Colouring


DIRECTIONS

1 // Measure out all of your ingredients apart from the chocolate chips, vanilla and mint extract, and food colouring.

2 // Blend the avocado, banana, coconut cream, coconut milk, stevia and matcha powder until the consistency is rich and creamy – the avocado should make the consistency similar to whipped cream.

3 // Pour the contents of the blender into a mixing bowl and add the extracts, food colouring and chocolate chips. Stir until the ice cream is a pale mint colour and the chocolate chips are evenly distributed.

4 // Pour the ice cream mixture into a freeze-safe container and freeze it uncovered for 6 hours. The ice cream should be firm but easy to scoop.

5 // Scoop, top with sprinkles, shredded coconut, chocolate flakes or whatever you feel like. Enjoy your cruelty/dairy/guilt free frozen treat! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out! 

xoxo,

Alicia

Cheap & Easy | Protein-Packed Vegetable ‘Noodle’ Stir-fry

As a student, there are times when I have to cut my grocery bill way, way down in order to afford life. When I can’t afford to splurge on the more exotic items I want (hello Coconut Bliss Naked Coconut Ice Cream and bubbly wine), I have a couple of go-to recipes that I turn to throughout the week to make sure that I’m not, quite literally, eating through my money. One delightful perk of my new-found vegetarianism is how cheap my meals can be if I just focus on whole foods. When you’re buying nothing but fresh produce and canned lentils, you can watch your grocery bills go from $60+ to quite often less than $30 in the blink of an eye. Still, no one wants to eat nothing but plain, raw veggies all day, so a little creativity is needed to transform them into delicious and nutritious meals that will leave you totally full for hours, while still craving seconds because it’s just that tasty. This particular recipe is chock full of satiating protein which will leave you satisfied until your next meal – without the bloat that comes from gulping down a steak. It’s also delicious, free of refined carbs and can be whipped up in 20 minutes. Read on to find out how to make this plant-based plate of heaven.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 2 Large Zucchinis
  • 1/2 Can Beans (I love chickpeas, pinto beans, and black beans the most but the choice is yours!)
  • 1 Cup Extra Firm Tofu (chopped into cubes)
  • 1/2 Cup Tempeh (chopped)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Slices Vegan Cheese
  • * 1 tbsp Peanut Butter (or almond/cashew butter)
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder 
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • Chili Powder (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/3 Cup Soya Sauce 
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil

DIRECTIONS
1 // Wash and peel the carrot and zucchini. Use a spiralizer (follow the directions depending on which model you have) to cut both vegetables into long, noodle-like strands. Set aside.

2 // Grease a skillet with a little bit of coconut or olive oil and add the vegetable ‘noodles’. Cook on medium heat.

3 // Rinse your beans or lentils and add them to your noodles along with all of your chosen spices. The spices I have listed here are my favorite, but feel free to get creative with flavours of your choice – for example, curry, turmeric, cayenne etc. Toss the ingredients and turn the heat slightly down.

4 // Add the diced tomato, tofu and tempeh to the stir-fry, along with the soya sauce and sesame oil. Stir all of the ingredients together. 

5 // At this point there will be a lot of liquid in your stir-fry because all of the moisture will be cooking out of the vegetable noodles and tomato. One way to thicken it up is to add a bit of peanut butter (or any nut butter). This will also give the dish extra protein and enhance the Asian-inspired flavours. It’s totally optional but I really enjoy the creamy consistency and rich, nutty flavour it gives the stir-fry.

6 // Continue to simmer the mixture on low-heat until all of the extra juices have been reduced. Feel free to add some vegan cheese for a little extra flavour and creaminess! 

7 // Serve on its own or with some brown rice or quinoa for even more bite and protein. This dish is extremely filling (contrary to the popular belief that vegetarian and vegan meals leave you feeling hungry) and this recipe makes enough for two or three portions. Again, this recipe is totally customizable depending on your tastes. Swap out the spices and vegetables for your favorites. Don’t like carrots? Spiralize sweet potato or parsnips instead! Not a fan of tofu? Add some seitan and cut up portobello mushrooms! 

I have really enjoyed cooking vegetarian meals and I find that because they do not have meat, the extra effort and creativity that goes into creating these dishes makes them even more delicious then some of the carnivorous meals I enjoyed in the past. It’s also nice not feeling bloated or lethargic after every meal! Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a vegetarian or vegan, keeping at least some of your meals completely plant-based throughout the week will have a powerfully positive effect on your health – as well as your cooking prowess! 

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! Also, as always, I’m always snooping around for new veggie recipes, so please give me a shout my herbivore friends! 

xoxo,

Alicia

My Go-To Green Smoothie

green-smoothie-recipe
When I’m in a pinch for time or simply want a super healthy meal on the go, green smoothies are one of my favorite breakfast options. They are packed with vitamins and can be made in minutes with minimal clean-up afterwards. Packed with chlorophyll and other essential plant-based nutrients, green smoothies have been praised for their many health and beauty benefits, such as glowing skin, shinier hair, a stronger immune system, and a decreased risk of heart disease. They are also a great way to sneak in extra greens without you even noticing them (kids love them)! There are a lot of great recipes out there that I enjoy, but this is my favorite green smoothie recipe of all time. Chock-full of healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants, this rich and creamy smoothie tastes like dessert but packs a serious nutritional punch. Plus it’s vegan!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Avocado
  • 2 Handfuls of Mixed Greens
  • 1 Cup Blueberries
  • 1 Cup Frozen Strawberries, Peaches & Pineapple
  • 1 tbsp Spirulina
  • 2 tbsp Matcha Powder
  • 2 Cups of Vanilla Almond Milk

DIRECTIONS

1 // Add all of the fresh fruit and avocado into the blender and add one cup of almond milk. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

2 // Toss in the leafy greens and frozen fruit along with the almond milk, spirulina, and matcha powder. Blend on high until the smoothie is entirely mixed and has a frosty yet creamy consistency.

3 // If you prefer your smoothie to be sweeter, add a drizzle or honey or real maple syrup and blend on low to mix it in.

4 // Enjoy your delicious and super healthy green smoothie!

Have you tried green smoothies and, if so, are you a fan? If you give this recipe a try, let me know how you felt about it! It’s my fave but I’m curious about what others would think. Until next time!

xoxo,

Alicia

Healthy (And Vegan!) Pancakes


There are few things I love more than breakfast and I especially love pancakes. The lazy Saturday mornings I spend making chocolate chip pancakes with my boyfriend are something I really look forward to and cherish.  That being said, lately I’ve decided to put more effort into my health and eating right. I’ve also started eating a vegetarian diet. Although I am not vegan and do eat dairy and eggs, I try to keep portions of those foods small and so I really love the idea of making dishes vegan whenever I can. This pancake recipe came from a friend and colleague and is as delicious as it is nutritious. It leaves out all of the things that could conceivably make pancakes unhealthy (refined sugar, dairy, white flour, eggs) but keeps the flavor and fluffy texture of the pancakes you’ve grown up eating. It’s also filled with energizing vitamins so you won’t feel sluggish after eating these like you would with a stack of flour-made pancakes! They are incredibly quick and easy to make – all you need is a blender and a mere handful of ingredients. Here’s how it’s done!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Cup Apple Sauce
  • 1 Mashed Banana
  • 2 Cups Oatmeal
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • * Extras ( I like raspberries, blueberries, and matcha tea powder)

DIRECTIONS

1 // Preheat a pan or skillet on medium heat. Grease the pan with a bit of coconut oil.

2 // Measure out the ingredients and dump them into your blender or food processor.

3 // Blend on a low speed until the ingredients are blended and have a consistency that resembles batter. If the consistency is too thick, add a little bit of coconut or almond milk.

4 // Use a soup ladle or 1/2 cup to scoop up the batter and pour it onto the hot pan.

5 // Cook the one side until small bubbles start to form. Flip the pancake and cook the other side (approximately 2 minutes). 

6 // Repeat until all of the batter is used up. Garnish with fresh fruit, whipped coconut cream, and a touch of syrup!

If you give these a try let me know how they turned out for you! Also, I’m on the look out for other good vegetarian or vegan recipes so if you have a great one, please share! 

xoxo,

Alicia

Brand Spotlight | Matt & Nat

I, like many other ladies, am always on the hunt for the perfect handbag. The word ‘perfect’ in regards to purses means different things for different people, but for me it means spacious (to carry my toiletries and all of the things a nomad like myself needs), well made, durable, stylish, and made out of eco-friendly materials. Montreal-based brand Matt & Nat knocks it out of the park on all counts when it comes to their line of vegan totes, backpacks, and purses. Even their clutches fit more than some of my shoulder bags! Their aesthetic is exactly my style – timeless, streamlined, with just a touch of quirk. And just when you think that it can’t get any better, not only does this brand dish out a mean selection of arm candy, but they also design some of the cutest shoes I’ve ever seen. And that’s saying something because shoes are kind of my thing. Since 1995, founders Indi Bedi and Manny Kohli have stuck to their vision of designing gorgeous accessories that are ethically made out of vegan (and often recycled) materials like nylon, cork, and rubber. Their pieces are beautiful inside and out, both figuratively and literally. Sure, the linings are almost as pretty as the bags themselves, but they are also designed with the belief that the well being of the environment and animals should never be sacrificed for fantastic style. And as someone who has decided to forgo animal products from her diet, I hold those values close to my heart as well. It makes sense for me to support brands and to buy products as frequently as possible that do not harm our furry friends. There are a lot of great vegan brands out there and Matt & Nat is one of the best. If you haven’t yet heard of this Canadian label, get ready to drool over your screen. I know that I do every time I peruse their selection.

MATT & NAT PICKS

1 // Jasmine Bag in Glass

2 // Obe Bag in Quartz

3 // Blake Weekend Bag in Olive

4 // Abiko Clutch in Coral

5 // Chanda Backpack in Azur

6 // Drapeau Slide Sandals in Black

7 // Suave Slide Sandals in Quartz

8 // Villeray Sandals in Tan

9 // Orford Tote in Koala

10 // Griffintown Mule in Tan

xoxo,

Alicia

Photos via Matt & Nat

Brand Spotlight | BaYou with Love

If you’ve read anything about actress Nikki Reed, you’ll know that she is a busy, busy lady with an awe-inspiring collection of job titles. Not only is she a successful actress and musician, but she is also a passionate conservationist and champion of animal rights. Now she can also add ‘designer’ to her list of occupations, as she has partnered with Morgan Bogle (the founder of Freedom of Animals) to launch the eco-chic lifestyle brand BaYou With Love.

So what kind of products can you find within the label? Pretty much everything from clothing and loungewear to beauty. Everything within the line is made out of environmentally friendly materials – think organic cotton, tencel, cupro, and recycled canvas. The clothes are also gorgeous, with loose, flowy silhouettes, muted colours, and subtle details. This chambray dress is my favorite and is just the kind of effortless piece I would want as my summer uniform. Natural clothes have a reputation for looking frumpy but that is SO not the case with this line. Every piece is beautiful with a laid back California feel. 

Just like the clothes, the beauty products are also lovingly crafted out of natural materials, such as olive oil, calendula, and plant-based essential oils. I am particularly intrigued by the BYL Multi-Purpose Skin Balm which can be used anywhere on your body that needs a little extra moisture and TLC. It’s vegan, biodegradable, and scented with soothing lavender. So basically it’s just the thing you want to slather on your body after a post-yoga shower!

Aside from the fact that all of the products are beautiful and high quality, one of my favorite things about BaYou With Love is its commitment to sustainability and USA production. Every single piece is made in the United States which helps to support local artisans and ethically run factories. From the health of the planet to the health of the people who wear these items, BaYou With Love is designed for people who are mindful about what they put on their bodies and how those decisions affect the planet. It is a beautiful line with beautiful values at its core. I’m inspired by its message and believe that brands that support independent artists, local production, and sustainable practices are so important and I hope that one day those kinds of brand values aren’t selling points, but that they are the norm. If you haven’t checked this new brand out yet, you are in for a treat! 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 // Chambray Dress

2 // Canvas Button Top

3 // Button Down Jumpsuit

4 // Wide Leg Pants

5 // Plant Oil Perfume

6 // Sustainable Tea Blanket

7 // BYL Multi-Purpose Skin Balm

8 // Pajama Petal Shorts

9 // Pajama Box Top

10 // Over Sized Backpack

All Photos via Bayou With Love

xoxo,

Alicia