Why A Whole Foods Plant Based Diet?

What does it mean to eat WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based Diet)?  Primarily it means choosing to only eat foods that are unprocessed (or whole) and come from plant sources.  It means choosing not to eat anything provided by animals.  Eating WFPB means eliminating all meats and fish, dairy or all kinds including cheese and yogurt, as well as eggs. That sounds pretty crazy to most people I’m sure.  Once upon a time it sounded absolutely LUDICROUS to even myself!  I mean… how do you get your protein?  Well that is a post for another day.  So why did we choose a WFPB way of life?

WFPB

We do it for our health!  Individuals who choose a WFPB diet often enjoy better health including fewer battles with typical diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity and the range of problems that brings, and heart disease.  Eating like this is not a magic bullet to avoiding disease but it certainly is a pretty darn good one.

To read more of this post please visit http://livingabundantly.com/2016/09/why-a-whole-food-plant-based-diet/

Cooking with the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

I bought myself a new kitchen toy!  It is called an Instant Pot and it is a pressure cooker.  If you’ve been following my series about batch cooking using the Happy Herbivore meal plans than you’ll know that I cook a week’s worth of lunches and dinners all at once.  I love the convenience of that however I was running into a problem. I really don’t have as many pans or burners as I’d like to have.  Especially if I’m making up a big batch of rice or beans!  So I bought a pressure cooker to help alleviate that issue a bit.IMG_20150904_144820

Can I tell you that I love this thing.  I’ve only just scratched the surface of what it can do.  The first thing I tried was steamed sweet potatoes.  I just poured some water in the pot, place the potatoes on a wrack, closed it up and hit the steam button and set the time for about 20 minutes.  I had the BEST sweet potatoes ever!  Some people will roast them in the oven for a bit but I don’t bother.

How about cooking up your own dried beans?  I can buy them in bulk now and save so much money.  And no standing over the stove.  The only take about a half hour!  The same story with rice!  Pour in the rice and water, hit the rice button, walk away.  25 minutes later you have perfect rice!

This is all I’ve tried so far!  I’m anxious to make some soups and things.  There are a million recipes out there.  I’ll keep you updated.

 

My Experiment With Batch Cooking and The Happy Herbivore Meal Plans… The Food!

MealPlanSeriesFoodSo far I’ve shared with you what shopping with this meal plan is like.  I’ve also discussed how easy batch cooking is.  However, none of that matters much if the food isn’t any good.  So how IS the food?

DELICIOUS!

The end!

So I really could end this post right there.  How many ways can I tell you how absolutely yummy all of the meals are?  Sure I have my favorites.  And yes there are a couple I wasn’t overly thrilled with.  To like some foods more than others is to be human.  However, I think it is safe to say I LOVE 7 out of 10 meals and probably don’t care for maybe just 1 meal out of the same 10.

I LOVE THIS FOOD!

The meal plans are geared for the season.  For the summer months there were so many light salads, barbecue, and everything used all of the fresh in season produce.  I think our favorite were the watermelon tacos.  There were tacos made from beans with a for die for watermelon salsa.  I would have NEVER thought of it on my own.  IT IS SO GOOD!

We are now headed into the fall and we are starting to see more squash, soups, stews and all things that make you think of this time of year. I wish I had a million photos for you.  Truth is, I’m too busy eating to take them.  You’ll have to trust me.  Even my children agree.

Pita Pizza

Pita Pizza

Some of my favorite meals so far…

  • Smoked Corn Chowder
  • BBQ Nachos
  • Samosa Lettuce Cups
  • BBQ Peach Sliders
  • Watermelon Tacos
  • Vegetable Paella
  • Zucchini Bruschetta
  • Mac Attack Burgers
  • “Lobster” Rolls

The meal plans are delivered to my email box ever Wednesday around 1 in the morning.  When I wake up I am so excited to see what in in store for me for the next week.  There are always at least 4 recipes that have never been in the meal plan before.

I’ve never been this excited about food before!

One last note before I wrap up this post.  I just want to make it clear since I often write reviews about products that I get for free.  These meals plans I pay for monthly out of my own pocket.  I just thought you might want to know.

My next and probably final post in this series will talk about the differences we’ve seen in our health since we started these meal plans!  Stay tuned!

My Experiment With Batch Cooking and The Happy Herbivore Meal Plans…Batch Cooking

MealPlanSeriesBatch Cooking

I recently wrote about what shopping for these meal plans is like and what happened to my grocery bill the first time we went out.  If you recall it shot up about $100!  You can read all about that here.  I’m happy to report that after a few more weeks we are now saving money!  Before we began the meal plans, even though we ate a plant based whole foods diet, we struggled to keep our grocery bill under $200 a week.  Now we are averaging about $150 a week.  What is amazing too is we are now actually cooking for one extra adult and still our grocery bill is lower than it was.  So for 3 adults, 3 children and an infant we now spend just $150 most weeks.  We shop at Trader Joe’s.  Most of our produce is fresh and much, though not all, is organic.  Can I tell you I love the savings?

On to this week’s topic!  The actual batch cooking!  The beautiful thing about these meal plans is that they come with a set of directions to help you organize yourself to cook up everything in one day.  This is making me actually enjoy cooking.  I’m not much of a cook.  I just don’t enjoy making the mess, cleaning it up, or all of the hassle.  However, I LOVE batch cooking!  All of the kitchen craziness happens all in one day for just a couple of hours.  I heat the oven just once.  I clean up as I go along.  I can really get into cooking like this!  It is FUN!  Plus the directions for each recipe are so easy to follow.  I feel like I could grow into becoming a real chef!  Ok, I won’t get crazy but you get the idea.

What is really nice is all week long I just pull food from the fridge, eat it up, and set it on the table.  It makes every day a lot less stressful.  We have more time to eat and enjoy each other as a family before we race off to some crazy activity.  I love it.

So how does the batch cooking work?  The batch cooking instructions are laid out so that as you cook things make sense.  You are putting things into the oven relatively at the same time.  You’ve go some things simmering while you are blending something else.  It is a lot to juggle at once but it works.

It does take me about 3 hours to cook for the week.  If I were able to do the chopping of vegetables and that sort of thing ahead of time the actual cooking would take probably an hour.  I’m a slow chopper.  My knife skills are poor.  So I’m slow.  But I’d rather be slow on Sunday then stressing about being slow on Monday when I’ve got to get my kids to karate.

We invested in some extra glass storage.  After batch cooking my fridge is FULL!  Ok, both of my fridges are FULL!  It is a lot of food to put away.  I use blue painter’s tape as I call it, the stuff that doesn’t permanently adhere to anything, to write labels on everything.  Sometimes I have 3 or 4 containers for one meal.  The labels help me keep it all straight.

I’m a fan of batch cooking!  I hope I can get faster at it some day.  I would never batch cook without the directions from the meal plans.  I’d be too overwhelmed.  This system works!

My Experiment With Batch Cooking and The Happy Herbivore Meal Plans – The Shopping List

MealPlanSeriesGroceryList

For the last several months my family has been ordering groceries from a local grocery store through an app.  It was pretty convenient because the app saved our most frequent purchases.  I could have groceries ordered in a matter of moments.  A day or two later I’d drive to the store where my whole order would be waiting for me to just load up in my van.  As a person who really detests grocery shopping this was heavenly.

However our very first week with the meal plans I knew I couldn’t order my groceries and have them ready in time for me to do this batch cooking thing.  So to the grocery store we went!  My whole family including my husband and all 4 children.  Yippee!!  I have to say, my kids are fine grocery shopping, it is Mom that has the fits!  That’s how much I despise this chore.

Here comes the kick in the gut.  Our grocery bill shot up $100!!!  There is some explanation.  First off, impulse shopping will get you every time!  There is none of that when you order over an app.  Plus we needed some rarely bought items, like that super huge box of garbage bags that costs an arm and leg!  Then there were definitely some spices and things that we didn’t have on hand that this plan called for.  I want to make it clear, I estimate the first week on the meal plan probably raised our grocery budget $30 dollars or so.

Shopping however was a breeze! Before we left I printed out all of the pages with the grocery list.  I went through my cupboards and crossed off anything we already had.  Since we knew we’d be doubling a lot of the recipes for our larger family I adjusted the quantity of many of the items we’d need.  Once in the store the shopping list is laid out via store section.  All of the produce is listed together, so are the things you’ll likely find in the ethnic isle, canned items are listed together, and so are breads etc.  I moved from one part of the store to the next checking things off with ease.  I have NEVER had a more put together shopping list!  This thing is all neat and color coded too.  I had a few people make comments about how “organized” I am or that I am obviously a “serious shopper.”

I give the shopping list a huge thumbs up!  My normal grocery store had everything we needed too.  No need to store hop.  All an all I was thrilled with that trip. Yes my grocery bill jumped! That was a shocker.  However, and I’ll touch on this more in future posts, we over did it a bit.  I discovered don’t need to double all of the recipes for my family.  Some I can up by maybe 1/4.  Some are fine as they are. Others just need an extra side dish.  We also now have a lot of the staple spices on hand so we won’t need to purchase those every week.  As you can see I am learning as I go!

My Experiment With Batch Cooking and The Happy Herbivore Meal Plans…a multi part series

*Post may contain affiliate links.

My family has been at this Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) way of eating for at least 3 and half years now. Switching up our diet was one of the better decisions we’ve ever made.  I talked about our reasons in a former blog post Why A Whole Foods Plant Based Diet a while back.  To sum it up for you I can say this… WFPB gives us greater health, more money in my pocket, it save’s God’s animal creatures, and it has a positive impact on the environment.  It feels a bit irresponsible to me to eat any other way.

MealPlanSeries

All of that said I’m just like any other mom.  I’ve got four crazy kiddos, a hectic schedule, and more commitments than I probably should have.  I’m also not all that crazy about cooking.  My husband is the real chef of the family.  Our 7 year old son is following in his foot steps.  In our house it is usually my husband’s responsibility to do the meal planning, food shopping, and a good deal of the cooking.  Lately though it has made more sense for me to take on more of these responsibilities.  Evenings are simply easier if I can get dinner on the table as my husband is arriving home instead of sitting down to eat an hour later as is typical if he cooks.

The problem is that I’m not that great of a cook.  I just don’t have the experience.  Creating meal plans and shopping lists is time consuming and overwhelming for me because these are not things I’m used to doing.  Who has TIME for all of this!  Not me!  Set me loose in a grocery store and I’m likely to break the budget by hundreds of dollars and come home with nothing that we can actually make a meal out of.  That’s where The Happy Herbivore comes in. The Happy Herbivore, also known as Lindsay S. Nixon, is a fantastic lady and fabulous chef.   I love her cookbooks.  ALL OF THEM!  Which is ironic because cooking just isn’t that exciting to me.  My family has been using her recipes since we began our plant-based journey so I know her meals to be simple to make and totally delicious.  That makes me excited buy her meal plans.

Over the next several weeks I’ll share with you how these meal plans work, especially for someone like me who has limited grocery shopping and cooking experience.  We hope to cook most of a week’s worth of meals at once so cooking each night is a snap.  Plus then my hubby can lend me a hand.  Heading into this I have some goals.  I’d like to clean up our diet a little.  We aren’t perfect.  I’ve fallen back into a potato chip habit and we are using a lot more oil than we once did.  I’d like to see if we can shave our grocery budget a bit.  I’d like to try some new recipes as I feel like we’ve fallen into a bit of rut with our meals.  I also would love to finally understand the joy that others find in the kitchen.  That’d be amazing!

 

 

A New Super Easy Dairy Free, Soy Free Mac N’ Cheese

I have a bit of an obssession with Mac N Cheese.  It’s probably my most favorite thing in the whole world to eat!  So I decided it was time to update you all on our current recipe.  LOVE this!  I take it to pretty much ever pot luck and Mom’s with dairy free kids are always amazed.  It is so creamy and the cheese evenly coats the macaroni.  This one is a winner!  Italian pasta isolated

Dairy Free, Soy Free Mac N’ Cheese (I used gluten free elbows too)

1 Package of Sam Mills Gluten Free Pasta
1 Package Daiya cheddar shreds
1.25 cups of water
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder
2 Tablespoons soy free Earth Balance (You can use coconut oil too!) 

Cook the pasta in one pan and everything else in another pan. Once the cheese sauce is melted and the pasta is cooked drain the pasta and mix the two together.

Then end!

Easy Freezer Meal: Allergy Free Stuffed Shells!

Are you expecting a baby again soon and hoping to stock your freezer with ready to heat meals?  Or maybe you are just super busy and know there are days you just won’t have time to cook? Here is a great prepare-ahead-of-time meal that can be just popped in the oven.  Bonus… it tastes amazing yet it is a great stuffed shells freezer meal recipe that is dairy free, soy free, and allergy free.

StuffedShells

I posted this recipe over at Fruitful Families! Click HERE to get it for yourself!

Fruitful Families

Veggie Fajita’s From the Crockpot!

Our homelife is in a state of transition right now.  My husband, who honestly does most of the cooking, just accepted a new job that requires him to work later than we are used to.  This means I’ve got to get into the kitchen more often.  That’d be all well and good, except I don’t always have the time!  Quite simply there just aren’t always enough minutes in between the kid’s evening activities to COOK a real meal!  But I refuse to give up our family meals and healthy dishes.  So I’ve decided to become better acquainted with our crockpot, which has sat largely unused since we gave up meat.

DCIM100MEDIA

Last night I tried veggie fajitas.  I got the idea from a blog called The Pieper Life but the general idea is very simple. Chop up your veggies, add your spices, spray the pot with a little oil and cook on low for 4 hours.  The results were fantastic!  Yes, even my children enjoyed our dinner.  It worked perfectly too as I was able to walk in from one activity, dish out the food to eat up, toss everything in the dishwasher and race off to the next activity.  Plus I have leftovers for lunch later in the week.

So I’m on the hunt for plant-based crockpot recipes!  Anyone have any links to share with me?

 

Plant Based Breakfasts! Salad!

PlantBasedBreakfastSalad

You can never have to many leafy greens in your diet.  Kale can help with digestion, lower cholesterol, decrease your risk of cancer, detox your body, reduce inflammation, and many other benefits. Spinach is no slouch either.  It is full of vitamin C and it also boasts anti-cancer and anti-inflammation benefits.  Why not add these foods to your breakfast routine?  That’s what I’ve done recently.  A simple salad with kale, spinach, a little fruit, and some nuts and I get an awesome boost to start my day!  Other times of year I’ll toss in some carrot shreds, a bit a cucumber, or whatever I can find that’s fresh and if I can… in season.  Let me know if you give a breakfast salad a try!

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