Beyond Meat Southwest Chicken-Free Wraps

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We have discovered a new yummy food that we just adore!  It’s a substitute for meat called Beyond Meat and I’d say it is yummier than I remember to be.  Much more tender and moist.  It is a soy product so if you are soy-free you won’t want to use this one.

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Recently we made a yummy lunch of Chickenless Wraps!  Here is how we did it.

  • 1 Package BeyondMeat Southwest Chicken-Free Strips
  • Southwest vegan mayo
    • 1/3 cup veganaise
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup Daiya cheddar shreds
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 onion sliced
  • 1/2 cup washed spinach
  • 1/2 cup washed kale
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas

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Heat the chicken-free strips on a skillet over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes.  While the chicken-free strips are heating, make the southwest vegan mayo and spread on the tortillas.  Add kale, spinach, onion and sundried tomatoes on top of the mayo, then top with the chicken-free strips and cheese.  Wrap it up and enjoy!

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Also try adding some avocado to change it up a little bit!

 

Banana Flax Pancakes

We LOVE pancakes at our house!  Nothing gets the kids more excited in the morning then some yummy home made pancakes.   My husband has whole bunch of different recipes he’s come up with all on his own for homemade, made from scratch, super yummy, plant-based pancakes.  Here’s a new one we had recently! Enjoy!

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Banana Flax Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup milled flax seed (we used Hodgson Mill)
  • 1/3 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk

Mix flour, milled flax seed, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl mash the ripe banana with a fork  until there are no large chunks.  Add milk and sugar and mix well.  Add the banana/milk/sugar mix to the flour and flax seed in small batches and mix well.  Add more milk if the batter becomes too thick.

Vegan Stuffed Shells

I had a craving for one my most favorite meals ever!  This is the meal my own mother would make me for birthday’s and such.  It was my go-to choice on most of your average Italian restaurants.  The idea for it popped into my head and my husband ran with it.  MAN were they good!  The kids LOVED them!  We did make a batch of sauceless ones for my non-sauce loving Noah.

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Here is what you need:

  • 24oz Jar of tomato sauce
  • 12oz box of stuffed shells
  • 14oz package of firm tofu
  • 8oz Daiya mozzerella
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp parsley

Cook the stuffed shells according to the directions on the box.  While pasta is cooking mix tofu, daiya, garlic powder, basil and parsley in a large bowl.  Line a 9×13 baking pan with a small amount of tomato sauce.  Rinse cooked shells and stuff shells with tofu mixture and place in baking pan.  Top the shells with the remainder of the tomato sauce.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Easy Plant-Based Meals: Rice and Beans and SO Much More!

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I want to share with you today one of my favorite meals.  We call it Rice and Beans but seriously, that title doesn’t do it justice.  We aren’t just eating Rice and Beans here!  How bland!  We are eating rice, and beans, and beautifuly colored vegetables.  This has to be one of the prettiest plant-based meals we eat!  While I share with you the basic ingredients we include this is really one of those meals that you can customize based on whatever you have on hand!  We like to use this one when we know we better eat up the food in the vegetable drawer before it all goes bad.

How do the kids like it? Well, it depends on who you ask.  Ezra adores it, Noah would rather not but in the end he does eat it up, and Joyanna picks through her favorite parts… which we put a lot of on her plate just to make sure she is full.

Want to know what truly makes this meal?  The avacado!  OH MAN!  That is MY favorite part and I basically insist we include that EVERY time!  Avacado just makes it so pretty and yummy! You’ll see a pouty Momma if we are missing the avacado!

  • 2 cups cooked rice (we used a basmati and wild rice blend)
  • 15oz red kidney beans
  • 1/2 onion sliced (red, yellow or white all work fine)
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 1 cup sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cucumber sliced
  • 1 avocado chopped

Cook rice in pot as directed.  On a skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms and about 1/3 of a cup of water,  garlic, onions, and peppers.  Water saute these until the peppers start to soften.  Add the beans to skillet and heat for about another 5 minutes.  Dish rice onto plates and top with cooked veggies. You can add chopped tomatoes or salsa as well.  Add cucumber and avocado on top and serve.

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What do you think, what veggie would you add to this dish?

Dairy Free Mac n’ Cheese to Die For!

So what was the hardest thing to give up when we changed our diet to plant-based?  Cheese! Oh did I crave the cheese!  And every vegi-based cheese we found either tasted like cardboard or had milk casein in it.  Daiya cheese is wonderful.  It tastes and melts just like regular cow’s milk cheese.  You want to know what I missed even more than cheese?  Macaroni and cheese!  OH MY GOODNESS I used to eat that stuff by the pound as child.  It hurt to let that one go.  We tried a few recipes we found here and there but none were good and creamy.  It was more like plain noodles with some cheese clumps spread around a bit.  Blah!

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Thankfully my very creative husband came to the rescue.  He served what might be the absolute best creamy mac n’ cheese I’ve ever had… even in all my years as a dairy consumer.  My children DEVOURED it!  Ezra had 3 bowls!  It was crazy!  I admit I was miffed… I wanted LEFT OVERS so I could enjoy again another day.  One bite and I knew I had to share it all with  you.  So here you go!  Mac N’ Cheese without all of the artery clogging cholesterol and inflammation causing cow’s milk!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup of Daiya Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 cup of Daiya Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2 tbs dairy free sour cream (Tofuti)
  • 2 tbs diary free cream cream cheese (Tofuti)
  • 1 box of pasta of your choice

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In a separate pan mix vegetable broth, cream cheese, and sour cream.  Whisk it all together.  Heat over medium and start adding the Daiya stirring frequently until thick.  You can add more broth for a thinner sauce or more cheese for a thicker sauce.  Mix with your pasta and serve.

If you do indeed whip up this recipe please share the results with me.  I want to hear if you loved it as much as I did.

 

Where Do You Get Your Protein? Or Plant Based Burger Yumminess!

For some reason no one cared where we got our protein from before we switched our diet.  But now EVERYONE cares.  It’s the number one questions we are asked.  Do you know there is plenty of protein in plants?  But more specifically a little cup of beans contains as much protein as an entire steak, minus the fat, cholesterol, calories, and horrible impact on the environment   Oh, and it is DELICIOUS!

  • 1 cup of cooked quiona
  • 15 oz black beans mashed
  • A bunch of spices like ketchup, garlic powder, onion powder, steak seasoning, and whatever else you have in your cabinet.

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Mush all of the ingredients together into patties and cook them up on a skillet.  We try very hard to avoid oils and fats so we just put a little thin layer of water in the pan.  We might use Daiya cheese on the top.  It helps the cheese melt a bit better to cover the burger’s for a minute or two.

Top them however you wish and serve them up!  It’s really that easy!  And oh man are they good!

 

 

Following Where My Children Lead… A New Series or Plant Based Enchillada’s

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I like to think of our homeschool almost as a living thing of it’s own.  It is constantly growing and changing, shifting and evolving.  What our homeschool looks like this year probably doesn’t look much like it did last year or what it will look like perhaps even next month.  I don’t want you to get the impression that we are not consistent or even unintentional in our learning.  We very much are.  There are some anchors that will never change.  For example, we will always study the Bible.  However, how we study the Bible this year will probably look different than the way we will do it next year.

On the one hand this drives me a bit nuts.  I agonize over things sometimes. With each and every change I weigh the pros and cons, pray, hem.. haw… wring my hands.  Yep, I’m a bit narcotic.  But I take this homeschooling stuff seriously.  Plus, if a change requires the spending of the family’s money, I have to be extra careful.  Every dollar can only go so far.  On the other hand, I recognize that the fluidness of our homeschool is a blessing.  It can change and evolve as our family changes and evolves.  It can be bent to meet each child’s individual needs in a way that just can’t be done in nearly any other learning setting.  The best part of all of this is we can take each child’s individual interests or passions and use them as a vehicle toward truly meaningful, engaging, and memorable learning.

Lately it’s that last part that I’ve been contemplating A LOT!  I REALLY want learning to be adventurous… and so far… there is some but not ENOUGH adventure in our homeschool.  At least not in my opinion.  I recently started reading Project Based Learning: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori McWilliam Pickert and I’ve been reading a series of blog posts all over the web by some great homeschooling Momma’s on something called Delight Directed Learning. For just a little peak click here and here.  Or simply Google ‘Delight Directed Learning’ and you’ll have enough links to keep you reading for a month! Generally, I’ve had my eyes opened to the idea that I have not been doing as much as I really can to encourage my children to learn through their passions.  Yes, I want to instill in my children strong reading, math, and writing skills.  I want them to experience great literature.  I want them to dive into fantastic science concepts.  I want a lot for them.  But really, what I want more than anything is for them to LOVE life and LOVE learning.  I know that will be most easily accomplished if I follow THEIR lead and roam where THEY want to go in THEIR learning.  It is their education after all.

We are headed into this path slowly but surely.  We began when I discovered a great company that produces some fantastic Lapbooks.  It is called A Journey Through Learning.  You can click on the link to learn more about them and what a lapbook is.  This company is so fantastic because they have SO MANY lapbooks ready to download, print, and dive into.  So… I asked my children… what do YOU want to learn about.  You should have seen the looks on their faces!  They were THRILLED!  THEY got to choose.

Ezra choose an express lapbook on cooking.  I wasn’t surprised at all.  Ezra has already shown a passion for cooking.  We call it an express lapbook because it can be completed in just one day.  After I reviewed the material I spoke to my husband as he is the real chef in our household.  I asked him if he might want to get involved.  Being the awesome Daddy that he is… he said yes of course!  This lapbook wasn’t going to be complete without a true cooking experience.  So that night, Ezra and Daddy completed the lapbook and cooked a great dinner…. Plant Based Enchillada’s.

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Ezra helped Daddy read the recipe, gather materials, measure ingredients, mix, stir, scoop, set the oven and everything else need.

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And then while it cooked the two of them completed the lapbook and Ezra wrote in detail about his experience cooking with Daddy.

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I never saw a more proud and happy boy than when that food came out of the oven and everyone gathered around the table to eat.

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Now we are on the hunt for a cooking class for Ezra.  I’d like to see him experience more cooking experiences both at home and with friends.  I think this is just the first step on a great adventure for him.  It was amazing to see him come alive for this project.  He poured his heart into the cooking and the lapbook.  He was careful with his reading, writing, spelling, and math.  He talked about it for days.  And once in a while Daddy invites him up to lend a hand with another dish.  Wonderful memories and wonderful learning.

Ok… so how about the recipe!

For our family of 5…

Ingredients:

  • 10 Whole Wheat tortillas
  • 15oz can of black beans
  • 2 cups of Daiya shredded cheese (non dairy – found at Whole Foods and some Stop & Shop Grocery Stores)
  • 1 Tablesppon of garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of chili powder (add more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 6 oz firm tofu

Mix all of the ingredients except the choose and spoon it into the tortillas.  Roll the tortillas and place into a pan lined with enchilada sauce.  Top with enchilada sauce and remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

The Enchilada Sauce comes from one of my favorite plant based chefs… The Happy Herbivore/

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Cocoa – Unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Garlic Powder, granulated
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • (8 ounces) tomato sauce

There you have it!  Plant Based Enchilada’s!

Lapbooks are the first step toward a homeschool that is more centered on my children’s interests.  In the next post in this series I hope to continue this conversation and discuss with you how I’m changing our home to give my children the space they need to dig into their passions.  Until then Happy Cooking and Homeschooling!

ps.  If you’ve gone down this road ahead of me please share with me your experience.  If you are struggling to do this in your homeschool.. I want to hear about it.  If you have any great resources for me… PLEASE share! I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

 

 

A New Recipe For Us! Stuffed Peppers!

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It’s been a year since we switched to a plant-based diet.  Our health and our life has improved tremendously in that time.  I’ll have to share more on that later.  In the meantime I wanted to share with you one of our newest meals! It’s a twist on an old tried true and recipe that I grew up with… Stuffed Peppers!  The stuffed peppers I ate as a child were definitely meat filled. Quite obviously if I’m talking about it on this blog than you can be assured there will be no meat in these puppies.  This recipe actually originally came from my friend Shannon.  She shared what she was serving her family on her Facebook page.  I took her recipe, adapted it to suit our family’s diet, and asked her if I could share it with you!  She graciously gave me permission.

So this is what you’ll need:

  • Sweet Peppers (Shannon used mini ones and we used large ones – I think the mini  ones might be more fun!).  For our family of 5, seven or eight peppers were plenty, enough for leftovers the next day.
  • A cup and a half of quinoa
  • A can of chickpeas
  • A cup of spinach
  • A cup of Daiya dairy free cheddar cheese – a little more might be even better.
  • So-Delicious Coconut Greek Yogurt – we used about 6oz. but next time we might double or even triple that.
  • Then you can add a few garlic cloves, onion powder oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and anything else you might like.

What To Do!

You’ll need to precook the quinoa then combine it with the chickpeas, spinach and anything else you decide to toss in there.  Mix all of that together and fill up those peppers.  Then stick them in the oven at 350 degrees and cook for a half an our or so.  Make sure it’s good and hot and those peppers are as soft as you like them!  Cut them up and serve!

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The Verdict!

I had 3 very very happy little children!  Every one loved it!  Plates were scraped clean and everyone cheered!  Seriously they loved it that much!  So did I!  I love that this is packed with protein and lots of very good for you vitamins.  The calorie count is low and that is good for those with that concern.  It is a bright and beautifully colored meal to serve too!  Very healthy and very tasty.   Actually I’m off to have the leftovers right now!

If you make this up please share with me how it comes out and how to change it up for your family!

 

Lunch! How to Eat and Feel GOOD!

Once upon a time I had a problem. I suffered from this problem all of my adult life. I think the first time I recognized the problem was when I was a college student. What was that problem? Every single afternoon at around 2:00 I CRASHED! I became so stinking exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open. I became useless. All true productivity ended for several hours.

In college the solution was easy. I scheduled my classes around it and took a nap! Later on when I became a teacher I just powered through it. As a mom I started hunting down a cup of coffee.

Then in February we changed our eating habits! We lost the meat and dairy products and switched to a whole-foods plant-based diet. In a few days I became like a new person. My energy level SHOT THROUGH THE ROOF! I no longer felt as if I was going just keel over every afternoon. I started to actually be able to keep my eyes open as I read to my children. I found I had the get up and go to get up and go take my children to the playground or the library or the museum. What an amazing difference. I do believe it is my lunch choices that directly impacts my afternoon energy level.

So what do I eat for lunch these days? I prefer a hot meal if I can manage it but I don’t usual have the time to make one so we often eat the leftovers from another night’s dinner. Other days I have to take the time to put something together whether I like it not. I wanted to share with you one of my favorites. I call it the kitchen sink wrap. It is pretty simple, extremely healthy, and absolutely delicious!

I begin with a big green leaf. It might be kale or perhaps chard. I use that as the outside wrap instead of bread or anything else. I fill it with everything but the kitchen sink… otherwise known as every vegetable in the house. Raw carrots, celery, peppers, lettuce, onions. broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, and of course salsa! Do you know I eat about 4 and a half pounds of salsa a week? Ask my husband. The world stops if we don’t have salsa in the house. I don’t use mayonnaise or salad dressing or butter or anything like that very much at all any more. I use SALSA! YUM!

So I encourage you to stop and think about how your food choices are impacting you all day! I challenge you to make some changes and see if you can tell a difference.  In the end it is all YUM so how can you go wrong?

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No More Dairy Equals No More Pain!

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Toward the end of last year I was dealing with a problem. I was developing chronic pain in my neck. I woke up daily with what was becoming pretty severe pain running down my neck and into my back. Turning my head was becoming increasingly difficult. I was beginning to dread simple things like backing my van down my driveway. I couldn’t decide what to do about it! Warm compresses helped some, sometimes. Would a better pillow help at all? Did I need a chiropractor or some other kind of doctor? What to do what to do? I procrastinated because I am just not a fan of the doctor’s office! Who is right? Besides, maybe it’s not treatable! You don’t know how many people I know who live with chronic pain every day of their lives. It seems those that do not suffer are few and far between. I figured my day for pain might finally have come. Some days were better than others. I counted my blessings on the good days.

We began our new way of eating in early February. One morning toward the end of the month I woke up and realized I was free of pain. Later in the day it dawned on me…I actually hadn’t experienced any pain at all for several days! Now almost three months later the pain has yet to return!

Since then I’ve read countless articles, blog posts, and websites that proclaim that eliminating dairy can virtually cure you of chronic joint pain and arthritis. A very quick Google search of “dairy and pain” will give you more information than you can process. Simply put, and I’m far from an expert and if I have it wrong I’m SURE someone will correct me, dairy raises the acidic level of your body which can then cause joint inflammation and pain. WHO KNEW! I’ve read articles detailing how children and adults who were absolutely crippled with rheumatoid arthritis were cured when they eliminated all dairy from their diets. Praise God! Now if I’m even slightly tempted to indulge in something containing dairy I just remind myself of the pain I was suffering and all of sudden I’m not so tempted any more.

Do you suffer in pain? What would happen if you eliminated dairy from your diet for 40 days? If anyone takes me up on this challenge I’d love to hear about it.

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