Saturday, November 9, 2013

Original Recipe: Lick The Spoon Golden Gravy

So, mashed potatoes and gravy.. 

is there anything more amazing and perfect? 

No, no there isn't.

I apologize for the photo .. the time change makes it much darker at dinner time now and my indoor pics aren't that great .. however this gravy is great!

This is so good that I licked the spoon. Seriously.

This is a golden gravy you can use with any sort of chik'n type meal. 
Think Tofurky roast or on mashed potatoes. 

I'd really like for you to get your hands on 'Gravy Master' as it really makes it good. I also use the Better Than Bouillon No Chicken flavor in this and Rapunzel vegetable bouillon. 

Lick The Spoon Golden Gravy

2 Tbsp Earth Balance
2 Tbsp flour

8 oz vegetable broth
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp No Chicken bouillon paste
1/2 tsp Gravy Master
1/2 tsp bouillon powder (or more of the No Chicken)
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
salt to taste (at the end)

First.. make a roux! Melt the Earth Balance in a medium sized sauce pan and add the flour. Using a whisk, cook over medium heat it until it is smooth and slightly thickened and browns a little. While whisking, slowly add the vegetable broth and incorporate it into the roux until smooth and thickened. Add the rest of the ingredients, making sure to whisk after each addition to keep it smooth. Once everything is in there, taste it and add salt to your liking.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Recipe - Cheesy Garlic Quick Sticks

I love garlic bread... all buttery and garlic-y and cheesy! Crusty on the outside and tender on the inside? 

Yes, please! 

Here is a quick way to make garlic sticks for one or two or a whole group! Be aware of the salt content in the spices you use here otherwise things can get too salty! 

You can make these as an appetizer or with pasta, soup or a side salad. Figure a half roll (4 sticks) for each person. I like using ciabatta bread for this because it's chewy and tender but feel free to use any bread you like. 

Shelly's Cheesy Garlic Quick Sticks

Ciabatta rolls 
Earth Balance 
Nutritional yeast
Garlic seasoning

Olive oil
Dipping seasonings of your choice

Slice each ciabbata roll in half horizontally and spread each half with softened Earth Balance.

Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and garlic seasoning
(I used Weber brand Roasted Garlic & Herb)

Slice each half into 4 'sticks'.

Place them on a small baking sheet and broil until they are crispy and done to your liking.

Arrange on a plate and serve with a small dish with olive oil topped with your choice of seasonings. (I used Trader Joe's South African Smoke Seasoning here). You may want to try flavored olive oils too! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Original Recipe - Onion Chip Dip

I used to love eating wavy potato chips and onion dip! 

You could buy it already made or buy some sour cream and add an envelope of Lipton Onion Soup Mix and make it that way. 

Well, guess what? Dairy sour cream is bad, bad, bad and that soup mix is nothing but gross chemicals. including MSG.. no thanks! 

Onion Chip Dip

1 cup diced onion (I recommend a sweet onion)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup Vegenaise (or other vegan mayo)
2 tsp nutritional yeast
3/4 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp onion granules/powder
1/2 tsp No Beef bouillon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch citric acid (or a little lemon juice  you want it a little tangy)

Saute the onions in the olive oil over a low to medium heat. You want them lightly carmelized, mostly brown, not burnt. 

Place the rest of the ingredients into a food processor along with half the onions* and puree until smooth. Fold in the other half of the onions and chill for an hour. 

* if you want a completely smooth dip, add all the onions at once to the food processor.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Trip to Aldi

I've been shopping at Aldi for over 20 years. 
I don't go as often as I should. 
There seems to be a weird stigma about shopping at Aldi and 
it's unfortunate because they have great stuff!

A few things you should know before venturing into Aldi:

1. Be Prepared. 

Aldi doesn't look like a traditional grocery store. They stack the boxes, do very little 'merchandising' and it's all bare bones... it's more like a warehouse store.

2. Take a Quarter

If you need a cart, you will need to place a quarter deposit in your cart. This is so people don't leave the carts standing in the parking lot and their employees won't need to go and gather those carts.  You may think a quarter is no big deal but I've never seen a rogue cart in the parking lot so it works.

3. Take cash, a debit card or EBT card.  

Aldi doesn't take checks or credit cards.

4. Be Flexible.

Understand that Aldi has the basics and some odd 'limited time only' things so you won't find everything you're looking for there and you may not find something you got there the next time you go. I still need to go to my large grocery store for the specialty items I buy, but they have most everything I want for a basic gathering of items. They mostly have their brand of products which are name brands with a private label. They also have brand name items that change each week. 

The have a decent variety of  chips, candy, crackers, cookies, spices, condiments, cereals, baking items, dairy and meat products, household items, diapers, paper and plastic goods, frozen convenience foods, veggies, fruits, pet food, breads, snacks, boxed goods, pasta, jarred and canned goods. 

5. Bring Your Own Bags... 

... or you have to buy them there. 
You will be bagging your own groceries.

The Trip

The haul shown in the photo was about $68 plus an additional $15 I spent for the cat scratching post.. I also bought some items not pictured but I subtracted those out. They have very odd things each week at Aldi. You just never know what you'll find! 

(3) bags of spring mix at $1.99 each
(2) cucumbers at 39 cents each
(2) pineapples at $1.29 ea
(1) corn tortillas at 99 cents
(1) carton almond milk at $2.49
(1) bag of crinkle cut fries at $1.89
(1) bunch bananas at $1.03
(1) pkg green grapes at $2.99
(1) 4 lb bag of sugar at $1.89
(1) bottle of extra virgin olive oil at $2.99
(1) sandwich cream cookies, double stuff at $1.49
(1) fresh squeezed orange juice (not concentrate) at $2.49
(2) pkgs of zucchini (came out to be 5 total) for $1.39 each pkg)
(1) 10 lb of russet potatoes at $1.99
(1) kumato tomato sleeve at $1.29
(1) bag wavy potato chips at $1.49
(1) 3 lb bag of gala apples at $1.99
(1) pkg mushrooms at $1.49
(1) carafe of lemonade at $1.69
(1) huge loaf of pane italian bread at $3.79
(1) bag of green onions at 99 cents
(1) pkg brussels sprouts at $2.39
(1) bag of waffle fries at $1.79
(1) 40 oz jar peanut butter (for my dogs!) at $3.99
(1) steak sauce at 99 cents
(1) large can pinto beans at $1.19
(1) bag of red onions (4 in the bag) at $1.99
(1) can olive oil spray at $1.69
(2) cans of whole kernel corn at 48 cents each
(1) can diced green chiles at 69 cents
(2) cans black beans at 59 cents each
(2) cans tomato paste at 39 cents each
(1) bottle of lemon juice at $1.89

Aldi has some great prices and you can get a lot of food for the money here. 

They also have a double guarantee on their Aldi brand products... if you aren't satisfied, they will replace the item AND refund your money! So.. give them a try!!

You can check out their weekly specials on their website and find the closest location to you. They are all over the world!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Original Recipe - Fire Roasted Tomato Marinara with Whole Clove Roasted Garlic

Super simple and super delicious marinara that only uses a few ingredients! 

Plus, it has so much garlic that you will be safe from vampires. 

Please don't skip the tomato paste and no beef bouillon.. it gives the sauce it's depth. 

First, you need to get some garlic roasting. 

You can do it the 'hard' way, not really hard but more involved.

Click HERE to do it with whole heads of garlic or you can make it the easy way and use the prepped garlic cloves you can find in most supermarkets.

Easy Roasted Garlic

one container of large pre-peeled garlic cloves
olive oil
mixed italian herbs, dry

Place the cloves in a small oven safe dish and use enough olive oil to coat the cloves lightly. Sprinkle with salt and Italian herbs. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cloves need to soften and lightly brown. It's done when you can smash the clove and spread it like warm butter.

Fire Roasted Tomato Marinara

(2) 15 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp No Beef bouillon dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (or 1/4 cup veggie broth)


1. Place the tomatoes in the food processor and 'pulse' just enough to break apart the chunks but not make it too thin or pureed. You want thick and smooth vs chunky. I pulsed 20 times.

3. Place the tomatoes in a dutch oven with the olive oil and add the remaining ingredients. Let simmer for 30 minutes so it reduces some. If you want to, you can toss the roasted garlic into the sauce and let it cook with it or just toss a few cloves on top when you plate it up. The roasted garlic can also be smashed up and used on bread. 

Serve over well drained fettuccine or linguine. Seriously... otherwise it's all watery and sad. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tips For Going Plant Based - Embrace Internet Ordering

Ah, the internet.

How did we ever live without you?

Internet shopping for someone like me is from the heavens. I don't drive, I'm an introvert, I don't live on a coast where the good stuff is and I love to save money. I'm all about free or discount. I'm really good at finding a way to get it for less!

I often hear people complain about not being able to afford to eat in a healthy way or not being able to afford the extras in a plant based lifestyle. It's easy to be plant based on a budget if you eat beans, rice and veggies but if you want to include the fun stuff like raw nuts to make cheese, nutritional yeast, protein powders, supplements and specialty ingredients that cost more than the average 'shit' ingredients we can all get at our local supermarket, then you need to get creative.

If you live in a place where it's an hour drive (if you're lucky) to find specialty stores that carry these products then you need to find your inner Sherlock and take to the web!

Luckily the internet is a wondrous place where you can find pretty much anything you want and if you dig a little, you can usually find some great bargains. I've saved a ton of cash on things like beauty products, pet meds, clothes, shoes, beads and jewelry supplies, electronics, appliances, you name it.

Some people protest and say 'well, if you have to pay shipping then it isn't a deal'.

It depends.

Think about what an item costs locally, add in sales tax, your time and the gas to go and get it, the energy to get it home. Even if you have to pay a little shipping, (and many places have free shipping on minimum orders) you might not pay any sales tax, you might not have to pay for the gas to go and get it (for example, my nearest Whole Foods is an hour way so if my only choice is to drive an hour or order it online... ordering online makes sense), you won't have to haul it home (I got my Treadmill online!) and where else can you shop in your PJ's at midnight? (ok, Wal-Mart but you have to get up and actually go there)

Now, that said... I do try and shop locally if I can and if it works with my budget but I will not compromise my beliefs to save a buck... I won't set foot in a Wal-Mart and I wouldn't even if they were giving away 50 lb bags of nutritional yeast. I love nutritional yeast so you need to understand my convictions about Wal-Mart. I despise that place.

Anywho ... I've found some great places and great tricks to get what I want and save money. By saving money on certain things, I have more money to spend on fresh produce, convenience foods like Tofurky or Field Roast and eating out a few times a month. It's only as hard as you make it and if you want to find a way to get what you want, you will. Trust me.

Get another e-mail address

Shopping online will bring you email. You'll get order confirmations, order shipping info, newsletters and offers from the companies you buy from. I recommend setting up a side e-mail thru G-mail or thru your current service provider if you have slots available to do so. Use that e-mail account when you shop online.

If you do that, you aren't clogging up your personal email. I also recommend signing up for newsletters from any company you might want offers from. Companies send out special offers like free shipping codes, coupons for their brick and mortar stores, percent off deals, deluxe freebies and more. Some companies also do special birthday discounts or gifts. Some stores send you welcome offers that can be used on your first order. I've gotten $10 off, 20% off, free bread sticks with a pizza order,  free shipping. It's worth it to see if a site has a 'first order' discount before ordering. I've even had websites give me a pop up with a discount if I tried to leave without placing an order!

Brick and mortar stores sometimes send catalogs via snail mail with coupons too!

Find a Friend

You may know a local friend or family member that would like to combine orders with you so ask around. You can combine orders to split shipping (if it's charged) or get free shipping. You can buy in bulk and split the items (like nuts or case lots of products) or help someone out that doesn't have the internet (like my Grams!) and can't order online.

Internet Payment Options

Credit Cards - obviously, using credit cards is usually the preferred payment for most people. I recommend having at least one card for emergencies and for things like renting a car or securing a hotel room. I have no idea what happens with those things if you don't have a credit card. One thing you should never use online is a debit card. If your card number is stolen, they are getting your real, actual cash and it could take time to get it back. Some businesses will 'capture' funds on your card to guarantee payment and that means it can put a hold on your cash for a few days. Also, sometimes glitches happen and your transaction could get interrupted or you could accidentally get charged twice. You do not want that happening with your cash!

You could even get a credit card just for online purchases. They are damn handy. Plus, if you choose one with reward points or cash back, you can get more freebies!

Pay Pal - You can tie your Pay Pal account to your bank account and/or your credit card. You could even set up a special bank account just for Pay Pal if you are weirded out by having it attached to your main account. Either way, Pay Pal works as the middle man in a transaction. Pay Pal has your credit card or bank account info but whoever you do business with, doesn't. There are fees involved in using Pay Pal, of course but it's a secure venue. I've used them for years without any issue. You can also get paid thru Pay Pal should anyone owe you money. You can choose to use your Pay Pal 'cash' balance, your bank account or your credit card to pay thru Pay Pal. The majority of websites I come across now take Pay Pal so it's really convenient.

Bill Me Later - This company is a sort of credit account. If a business takes BML then you can order, bill yourself and pay the bill when it comes. Another great feature is that BML can be tied to your Pay Pal account so if a business takes Pay Pal, you can use BML to pay even if they don't have BML as a payment option at checkout. I've been using BML for years. The interest is high but if you pay it off every month then it's a moot point. This is the best option if you don't have a credit card.

Cash Back Sites

If you are shopping, why not get some cash back for doing so? It's one small extra step when online shopping and if you can remember to do it, you can get back some significant cash. I don't always remember to use these sites (which makes me mad) but it does pay off to check them whenever you shop to see if they have a cash back offer.

I have put my referral links here so if you sign up, please consider doing it thru the link so I get the credit. These sites do not cost you money to use them so go sign up! You have nothing to lose!

Ebates - I've been using Ebates since 2003 and I've gotten back $400 in cash. I remember about half the time to go thru Ebates so it could have been more. Once you open your account you just need to go thru and search to see if the store you want to buy from is there... if it is, you click thru and Ebates is 'tracking' the purchase and you'll get a percentage back in cash. They range from 1% to 30%. They also have special coupons codes for some stores. If you have $5 or more each quarter, you can have a check sent or a deposit made to your Pay Pal account. Super simple! If you refer people to the site, you ear $10 for each person that signs up and makes a purchase thru your link.

Mr. Rebates - Mr Rebates works much like Ebates with percentage back, and coupon codes but it also has a residual payment system as well. You will get a percentage off your own purchase and when friends and family use your link to sign up, you will earn up to 20% of their percentage long term! Pretty cool.

Googling for Codes

When I shop anywhere, I look for deals and discounts. You can simply Google for specific stores (google the store name and codes) or you can go to dedicated code/coupon sites like Retail Me Not. There are hundreds of code sites so I won't link them all here.. just keep trying them until you find one that works. It's really worth the few minutes if you can get free shipping, a percentage off or some other little freebie. You can use codes even if you went thru the cash back links so it's a double discount!


Now that you have the basics, lets talk shopping! I'll give you my tips and tricks for the major categories when it comes to plant based eating. If you're looking for other items in general like beauty products, pet items and such.. shoot me a message. I'd be happy to help if I can. The basic rule when shopping online is to google whatever you are wanting and you'll eventually find some great prices!


I am a book whore. I admit it. I have well over 100 books about plant based nutrition and plant based cooking. I want to get them at the best price possible so I almost always buy books online.

Amazon usually has books for 30% to 45% off the publisher price. They have free shipping on orders of $25 or more and if you pay for their 'Prime' service you can get 2 day delivery on orders. If you have a Kindle you can get e-books. They even offer down loadable Kindle apps for smart phones and your computer so you can read them for free once you buy them in e-book form without having to buy the Kindle device.

Barnes & Noble also offers books less than the publisher price but they seldom honor those prices at their stores. They offer a members club for $25 a year that gets you store discounts and special shipping deals online. If you sign up for their emails you can also get coupons and discount codes for use in the store and online. They offer the Nook device for e-books. I have a Nook and while I'm fine getting a nutrition book in e-book form, I won't do it with cookbooks. If you are someone that can have your Nook out while you're cooking, more power to you! I'm a messy cook so I don't want my Nook tablet anywhere neat the kitchen!

Ebay - someone might be selling that slightly used book for cheap!

The Library - now, you won't own it but using the library to test out cookbooks or if you just want to read that plant based nutrition book and not own it .. it makes sense. Some even have a way to check out e-books from your computer!

Supplements & Ingredients

Protein powders, vitamins, supplements, Spirulina, nutritional yeast, raw nuts, flax seed, gluten flour, garbanzo bean flour, special pastas,  .. the list goes on! There are certain products that are plant based basics and you'll find that you'll want to have them on hand. You might need to do a few searches when you're looking for something and multiple sites may have what you're looking for so you need to compare prices shipping costs, wait times and discounts to determine what your best choice is. You can even combine orders with friends and family to meet free shipping minimums. I even buy products online that I can find locally because I can usually get a better price online.

Remember to consider bulk buying. It's usually less if you buy more and if it is something that keeps well or you can share, then it makes sense! I buy raw cashews in 5 or 10 pound bags. I store a couple pounds in my pantry and the rest in the freezer. I also buy the broken pieces instead of the whole nut. I can save as much as $3 a pound that way! I'm just going to toss it into my Vitamix anyway so who cares if they are whole or in pieces?

These are the places I shop at quite a bit:

Amazon - they have everything. They also have a Subscribe & Save program that will save you even more if you commit to auto delivery of certain items. If it's something you are using a lot of, it might be the way to go if the prices fall into line. The program is simple and easy to edit. You can set it to ship every month or as far as every 6 months. You do need to pay attention tho or you could end up with a shipment when you don't need it.

VitaCost - they have supplements, vitamins, food, product for my dogs, beauty products.. tons of things. Free shipping on orders of $49 or more and they ship pretty quickly. They also offer your choice of free samples. They have a Set & Save auto delivery program. They have tons of deals and buy one get one offers every week, discount codes and their prices are almost always the lowest I can find. Use the link here and you can get $10 off your first order of $30 or more!

iHerb - Iherb has some great prices as well and they carry much of the same things as VitaCost does. They offer free 1 to 3 day shipping on orders over $20 and you can choose freebies with your order.

Use my Rewards Code AWE648 at You'll get $10 off your first order of $40 or more; or $5 off orders less than $40!

Anuts - They have nuts, dried fruits and seeds at decent prices. Even when I factored in the shipping cost it was less per pound than locally. They are in Illinois so if you are in the midwest, you'll have your order within a day or two. - They have nuts, dried fruits, psices, candy and more. They had the lowest price of raw cashews and nutritional yeast (5 lb quantities) I have been able to find as of this blog posting.  They offer $5 shipping on orders of $75 or more. They are based in Ohio so Midwesterners get quick delivery.

Vegan Essentials - based in Wisconsin, if it's vegan, this company probably has it.. including refrigerated products. They offer shipment with cold packs and since they are so close to me and I can get a delivery pretty much overnight, I have ordered cold items from them but it's your call if you live further away.

Fake Meats - based in Illinois and independently owned, this fun website has all types of fake meats. Not everything is vegan, some are just vegetarian so pay attention! This is where I get my Soy Curls and they also have The Vegg if you've been wanting to try that!  - this company is actually Amazon! They have 10 different stores with specific categories. The cool thing is that you can order from all the stores with one cart.. they give free shipping on a low minimum order and it comes in 2 days or less. Each item will tell you when you can expect it! Plus, you can get 20% off on every first order from every store... so, 20% off at Casa, 20% off at Wag, 20% off at Soap ... all ten stores! They have amazing customer service and their prices are pretty good. They also send emails out with codes for 15% off at various times.

Note about brick & mortar stores and the internet - some stores will price match even if you find the prices online. If you have a store you prefer shopping at but another store has it for less, it won't hurt to ask your preferred store if they can beat the price. It also helps if you'd rather not have an item shipped (like a TV) or need it right away. We've gotten a car stereo from Best Buy at a New price. We got our washer and dryer from Sears but they price matched another store and when they found the washer we wanted was out of stock, they upgraded us to a better model for the same price. All they can do it say no.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Drink 80 Ounces of Water Each Day

Water... it's important and yet so many of us barely drink any at all. Water helps keep us hydrated and cool. It helps with digestion and bodily functions. It helps with weight loss and detoxification.

Most of us should aim to get 80 ounces of plain water a day. Lemon is fine to add in but you cannot count soda, coffee, fruit juice or any other liquid as 'water'.

Here is my little game to get my water in.

First, go buy yourself a 32 oz water mug. Any kind will do. It just needs to be 32 oz.. no smaller, no bigger.

First thing in the morning, fill your mug to the top with ice. That should leave room for about 20 ounces of water.

Now, you just need to drink 4 of those thru the day!

Of course, the ice melts and you end up with more water but that isn't gonna hurt you. Just don't refill the water part until you are done with the original mug of water. Otherwise you'll lose count.

Altho, drinking more isn't a bad thing.

This is how I do it... I break my day down into 4 blocks of time:

6 am to 10 am

10 am to 2 pm

2 pm to 6 pm

6 pm to 10 pm

Then, I make sure I drink one mug full during each 4 hour period... that's 20 ounces in 4 hours.. 5 ounces an hour. That's pretty damn simple, huh? You can adjust it for your own personal schedule. I'm usually up by 5 am and eating breakfast by 5:30 and in bed by 10 pm

Now, if you drink coffee or soda.. you should make a deal with yourself to get your water in before you have it... be it 5 oz of water and then coffee/soda or a full 20 ounces and then a coffee/soda.

If you have trouble remembering how many you've had... put four rubber bands around the mug and move them up or down to help you keep track.

Original recipe - FMD Chickpea Salad for One

I recently decided to do a sort of reboot of my metabolism by following The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy. I created this recipe that is allowed for Phases 1 and 3 on the program. It's meant for one serving but it could make a couple sandwiches off program. It has a full 1/2 cup of beans and that is one serving.

When I was first planning out my meals for week one, I thought.. oh, chickpea salad on bread.. super easy, super simple .... then I realized I couldn't use mayo! Uh oh... how do I get it to stick together?

Well... veggie broth helped. If you want it more spread like.. just process the beans more ,, you can even go for a hummus texture but I like the texture with the flaky beans and veggies mixed in.

What I did with it was serve part of it on one slice of sprouted grain bread and the rest I used as a dip for carrots and cucumbers within the same meal. You can also put it in a sprouted grain tortilla or use it as a salad topper over mixed greens. You can also just straight up eat it! It's delicious.

FMD Chickpea Salad for One

1/2 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup baby carrots
2 tbsp chopped onion or green onion
1 tbsp dill relish or chopped dill pickles
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp veggie broth
1 or 2 tsp dijon mustard (do this to taste)
1 tsp vegetable broth powder*
1/2 tsp Bragg's or Tamari
1/4 tsp garlic powder

In a food processor (or with a potato masher or fork) process the chickpeas until they are broken up and flaky but not pureed. Place them in a bowl. Place the baby carrots in the processor and process until they are diced. Add those to the bowl and mix. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

* I like Rapunzel powder - however, it has a little oil in it but I didn't think it was enough to really make this a 'bad' choice. Happy Herbivore has a great recipe for No Chicken Broth in one of her books. You can make that and use that instead. It would be great too. I just forgot I had that and used the Rapunzel.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review - Follow Your Heart Vegan Shreds

I decided to give these a try  .... 

The Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds in the Fiesta Blend. This is a flavor with some spice and heat to it, much like you'd get in a 'taco cheese'.  This also comes in mozzarella and cheddar flavors.

It is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-gmo, and soy-free.

Here is the company statement regarding their source of palm oil.

I should give you a point of reference for this review. I can tell you that if you ask 10 vegans their fave vegan cheese, you'll get ten answers and what one vegan loves, another loathes so you have to take reviews as they are - the opinion of one person.

That said, I will tell you my taste profile when it comes to vegan cheese. I love the Daiya Jalapeno Garlic Havarti wedges but I very much dislike the Daiya shreds. I like the Teese Cheddar Sauce for mac & cheese but the other flavors are just 'meh' to me. I didn't like the FYH blocks of cheese. I thought they lacked flavor. I tried the Trader Joe's Mozzarella shreds and while it was 'ok', I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. I really do prefer pizza without cheese now so taste testing mozzarella flavors isn't really a fair test with me because I'd just rather have it without it.

So, trying a Mexican flavor is better because I love Mexican food and while I can certainly live without a cheese in my Mexican food, it very often can punch it up a level.

Vegan cheeses tend to have a powdery flavor. I'm not sure what that ingredient is but they all seem to have it in common. This one does as well.

My grocery store had it for $5.39 but I had a $2 coupon from Veg News Magazine. The Daiya Wedges I buy are the same price at this store so while it's pricey, I feel like it's reasonable in a certain way since I use small amounts and I can get quite a few servings out of a package. The truth is that it's still an all fat ingredient so it isn't something you should eat large amounts of anyway.

Out of the bag, it isn't horrible. It's probably the first vegan cheese I've tried that I didn't make a face when I tried it raw. I probably wouldn't toss it raw on a salad tho. It has cheddar orange and cream color shreds but the cream colored ones have maybe a pepper or spice in them that honestly, makes it look like blue cheese/mold so I'd be very aware of that so you don't mistake it for having gone bad. It has a bit of a tanginess to it that I've not really had in vegan cheese before.. a flavor very much expected in a cow cheese so that was interesting.

I decided to try it on nachos. I did some with just the Fiesta blend and some with some leftover enchilada filling of black beans, corn, tofu and black olives.

I put it in my toaster oven and it melted ok. I probably should have let it go longer than I did but I just have no patience.  It melted better on the plain chip, of course. It tasted mostly the same melted as it did raw. A little more mellow. Pleasant and with a slight spicy kick so you know it's a 'taco' cheese. Besides the normal powdery flavor, it didn't have any lasting aftertaste that I noticed. 

I will be trying this in my enchiladas, quesadillas and burritos for sure. I'm curious to see the meltability in those items. I do think it pairs well with other ingredients rather than on it's own. I don't know that I'd make a grilled cheese out of it.

So.. bottom line .....  Would I buy it again?  

Possibly, if I felt like I wanted that fiesta type flavor but given a choice, I'd always choose the Daiya Jalapeno Garlic Havarti over this. That can be sliced for use in a grilled cheese or grated.  This is a clear second tho. I like knowing I have an alternative to Daiya wedges if I can't find it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Favorite Things - Supplement Products

People are always asking me what products I use so I thought I'd do a few posts of my recommendations. First up.. supplement type products. 

I research everything and I search for the best product I can find that I can afford and has the benefits and requirements I'm looking for. I try to keep it vegan and no artificial sweeteners. I'm not a Stevia fan either so I look to avoid that as well but Stevia is ok if you don't mind it.

I recommend researching products for yourself and not just taking my word for it. You may want to talk to your doctor before adding in supplement products to make sure they are ok for you to take. Consider any medications you are taking and your lifestyle. 

This isn't every single thing I use.. but these are my faves. I take other things like calcium and a multi vitamin.. but those are pretty boring. 

I don't take every supplement every day. Some are daily, some I take when I think I need them, like the B12 and some I take a couple times a week. 

There are some supplements that I take that are not vegan (they have a gelatin capsule) so I won't mention those here but I do the best I can and I try to find vegan products but sometimes the best product and most affordable product is one that isn't available in a vegan capsule and I just have to deal with it.

I'm linking to the products but it doesn't necessarily mean that link is to the best price.. make sure you check places like VitaCost, iHerb, Amazon, and various online vitamin stores to locate the best deal.

I encourage you to research each ingredient to see why you might consider adding it to your diet. 

Blender Bottle

I love these. I have a few and I prefer the 28 oz size. Every morning, my first glass of water for the day is mixed in this bottle with 1 tsp of Spirulina, and 1/2 tsp each of Just Barley and Wheat Grass powder. I have a 32 oz mug that I fill up with ice and then I use 20 oz water in my blender ball and it fills it to the top!

In order to be able to drink this, you need to like the green flavor .. if you don't, then mix the powders into a shake or smoothie instead but I love the fresh, green flavor first thing in the morning! The wheat grass is the strongest of the flavors.

Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina

I researched and researched to find the best spirulina .... here is the info from the brand website:

"Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica® is a unique superior strain of Spirulina with the highest known nutritional content in the world. It’s all natural, 100% vegetarian, Kosher Certified, and Non-GMO. It’s the only Spirulina cultured in a Biosecure Zone free of herbicides and pesticides on the sunny Kona coast of Hawaii. Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica thrives in ponds fed with 100% fresh potable water from Hawaiian aquifers and pure, deep ocean water drawn from 2000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. This ultra-pure, deep ocean water enriches Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica with 94 trace minerals and is a unique natural resource used in our patented Ocean Chill Drying™ technology which ensures maximum nutrient potency."
Amazon is usually the best price.

Pure Planet Just Barley

When I'm searching for a product, I want the least amount of ingredients as possible and when it comes to these types of powders, you really want one that is just the ingredient, no fillers and you want organic.

Read about the benefits of barley grass juice powder at the Just Barley website.

NOW Wheat Grass Powder

Organic juice powders, like NOW® Wheat Grass Juice, feature high concentrations of valuable nutrients, including chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and natural enzymes.

Natural Factors Jungle Juice Vitamin C

If I can avoid swallowing a pill, I will .... when it comes to vitamins, I'm a kid at heart... give me something I can chew! These are hard wafers even tho they call them 'chews' .. it makes it sound like they are gummies.. they aren't. They have a fruity, tangy, tropical flavor that I really enjoy. Some chewables can have a weird 'medicinal' flavor, these don't. It's sort of like a piece of candy! I just let it dissolve in my mouth. I think they offer other flavors in the Vitamin C and they have other supplements. These are sweetened with natural fruit sugars.

Jarrow Methyl B12 1000

Methylcobalamin is better absorbed and retained than cyanocobalamin. I take one of these meltable wafers a couple times a week to make sure my B12 levels are maintained. They don't taste great but they aren't horrible.. kind of a lemon flavor.

NOW Glucosamine 1000 VCaps

This glucosamine is made from a plant source and not shellfish. My joints aren't what they used to be and I figure this can't hurt. 

My favorite protein shake

I shared our favorite shake in a previous blog posting. (click the title above) I am now having this almost every morning and I really notice a difference in how I feel. I think it has to do with the Amazing Grass powder as it has probiotics.

I'm sharing this here because I add supplement powders to it so it kind of falls into this blog.  I talk about most of the ingredients in that blog except the Amazing Grass Superfood, which is below. 

One thing I like to do is to make up powder packets in small containers so they are ready to go every morning. I just have to grab the almond or soy milk and the powder and then blend that.. and then add a frozen banana. Super fast. It tastes like a thick and yummy milkshake. 

Amazing Grass Superfood (chocolate)

** Amazon usually has the best price on this.  I can get the 60 serving jar for $25 to $30 .. shop around!

I love this because it's probiotics! We all need probiotics.. plus, it has a fabulous grass blend! This comes in a variety of flavors. I also have the Orange Dreamsicle flavor for my husband. It has stevia in it tho so I don't like it. I am very sensitive to that fake sweet flavor. The berry is stevia free .. I want to try that one next!  They also have Energy (lemon lime), Pineapple Lemongrass, Original, and a couple other types.

Spotlight on Cruelty - Fois Gras

One of the cruelest things you can consume is Fois Gras, or duck liver pate. I am aghast at the ways in which humans have thought of to torture animals for their pleasure. 
Fois Gras is illegal in many countries and in California - for good reason. 
"These intelligent, gentle birds are condemned to spend their lives in small, barren pens, where they are forced to stand 24 hours a day on metal grating as their urine and feces build up underneath. The geese panic and struggle as they are roughly grabbed by the throat and a metal pipe is forced down their throats so that huge amounts of grain (up to 4 pounds!) can be pumped into their stomachs. This cruel process happens three to four times a day – every day. On some farms, a single worker may be expected to force-feed 500 birds three times each day. Because of this rush, animals are often treated roughly and left injured and suffering with injuries to their throats and wings. Many die from their liver rupturing.
Their distended and diseased livers swell to 10 times their normal size and press against their lungs, causing them to pant constantly. Some of the birds can no longer stand because their legs can't support the weight of their livers, resulting in possible leg fractures." ~ PETA

Look at these photos... humans have actually designed and manufactured specialized equipment to torture these beautiful birds... special cages, special holders, special throat pipes.... I am routinely disgusted to call myself a human.

Guess what? You can make delicious pate using plant ingredients that are healthy and no one has to die for your pleasure. The really good news is that I rounded up recipes that can please everyone... if you don't like mushrooms, try the one with tempeh. If you can't find tempeh, try the lentil one. If you're allergic to something.. odds are you can find a pate recipe that will work for you .... No excuses!

Veggie Pate (sunflower, potato and quinoa) 

Oh, wait... one last excuse... you don't cook, right? Well.. guess what? You can BUY vegan pate. So there. Sorry... no good reason to eat tortured duck liver. Ever.

Here is just one.. but I know many exist .... so go google!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Will You Do Today?

Just because you can't do everything doesn't mean you should do nothing.. do something!

For some people, small changes can lead to big results.

Every single day you make dozens of choices ... make choices that can impact your health and life positively.

You can also make choices that impact the lives of animals.

Make one choice a day that is different.

Here are a few to get you started ....

At a restaurant/fast food place:

- order spaghetti with just marinara, no meat or cheese sauce.

- order your pizza with lots of veggies and no cheese.

- search for any local vegan restaurants and try it out!

- choose the eggplant parm instead of the chicken parm

- choose the fruit & yogurt parfait instead of the egg mcmuffin

- take the fruit or veggie side option instead of the fries.

- Get brown rice and black beans at Chipotle. Skip the cheese and sour cream.

- get the veggie burger

- order the smallest size they have of everything.

- order iced tea instead of soda

- get the baked sweet potato and just put the sugar/cinnamon on it, no butter. You won't miss it, trust me.

- get the minestrone

- skip the appetizer and the dessert.

- sub tofu in for the chicken at the Thai or Chinese place or just ask that the meat be left out.

- go out for veggie sushi. It's just rice and veggies. Stop being so dramatic. If you hate seaweed, tell them you want 'Soy Wrap' instead.

- get a waffle or pancakes instead of bacon and eggs.

- sub beans for the beef at Taco Bell

- choose sorbet or Italian ice over ice cream, sherbet or yogurt.

- tell them to leave out the egg in your fried rice.

At home:

- have one plant based meal a day or one plant based day, once a week.

- if you can't manage 3.0 mph on the treadmill, walk at 1.0 mph for as long as you can.

- make a cake without eggs and see how great it is. I can give you a recipe (or 100)

- keep fruit around. if you aren't hungry enough to eat fruit, you aren't hungry.

- eat your breakfast or lunch outside.

- keep a set of hand weights in the living room. use them during the commercials.

- buy or make some fresh juice and mix in seltzer water. It's like a healthier soda.

- make these brownies and use all the chocolate chips, grind the oats into a flour first and don't tell anyone they are made with beans.

- watch the movie 'Forks Over Knives'. Free on Netflix streaming. Get a free trial.

- have oatmeal with a tbsp of flax seed, a tbsp of brown sugar and a few chopped walnuts as a meal or snack.

- make a pot of soup and you'll have a quick meal all week. Try this one.

At the grocery store:

- buy a carton of almond milk. It's $2 .. give it a try. Try the chocolate.

- don't buy soda this week. You can't drink it if you don't buy it.

- buy a veggie you've always disliked and roast it. (drizzle olive oil over it, salt lightly, bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes) Almost all veggies are awesome roasted.

- if you can't resist adding junky food to your cart at the store ... don't go down those aisles! Just don't.

- don't buy bacon or cheese. Just this one week. You'll live. I promise.

- buy a box of Post lightly frosted shredded wheat. It has two ingredients. It's good as a snack as well as a traditional cereal.

- buy a box of Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice. Make it with water and olive oil. Super easy. Super tasty.

- buy your dogs the peanut butter biscuits instead of the chicken ones.

- get your kids involved with trying new veggies. Research the veggie, find a recipe to try.

- buy a loaf of whole wheat bread and tell the household that if they want bread, they'll eat that or nothing.

- buy Earth Balance sticks or a tub and use that instead of butter/margarine.

- go down that crazy 'health' aisle and just look around.

- buy a can of chickpeas. Add them to a salad.

- buy a package of Field Roast Wild Mushroom Deli slices and/or Frankfurters.

- buy a fruit or veggie you haven't tried before.

- choose products that do not contain high fructose corn syrup.

- buy a package of tempeh and make tempeh bacon. It runs about $2

At the mall or out shopping:

- buy 'Everyday Happy Herbivore' cookbook by Lindsay Nixon and then try the recipes. They are simple  and use ingredients you probably have already.

- indulge in one piece of fabulous dark chocolate from a local candy store.

- buy shoes or a purse that are man made materials instead of leather.

- find your local oil and vinegar store and go try some samples.

- check out your local health food store. Just browse. Buy a vegan dark chocolate bar.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Original Recipe - Roasted Carrots

I love roasted carrots.. they get all sweet and tasty!

Roasted Carrots

2 lbs baby carrots (cut them in half if they are big)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried dill

Toss carrots with the oil and set aside.
Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over the carrots, tossing well.

Bake at 400 degrees on a large baking sheet until they are done to your taste. Make sure you flip them a few times to prevent burning.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Original Recipe - Twice Baked Potatoes

Feel free to share but please link back to this blog. Thank you.

Twice baked potatoes! Twice the fun, twice the servings, twice the carb overload!

um, yea .... well.... anyway.

Twice baked potatoes are essentially just a mound of loaded mashed potatoes presented in a potato shell.

It's all about presentation.

For the shell part, you will want to find the big, jumbo baking potatoes that you'd see in steakhouses. The bigger they are, the more impressive they are to company.... plus, if they are big, they make a perfectly lovely meal on their own!

If you are serving these to kids, cut them in half or allow time for a serious nap afterwards.

Just a note... the photo shows an uncooked potato. These were for a friend of mine so she'll be doing the twice baked part on her end when she gets ready to serve them up!

First off, you'll want to make a batch of my tempeh bacon because you'll need some of it for this recipe.

If you'd rather not make it, you can sub in something like Bac-o's but.. I'll be disappointed and the potatoes will be less fabulous. Just sayin'

Feel free to add other yummy stuff into the potato mixture like chopped green onions, vegan cheese or vegan sour cream. You can also use fresh chives and parsley instead of the dried.

Shelly's Twice Baked Potatoes

Makes 6 large potatoes

3 very large baking potatoes
5 medium russet potatoes
2 tbsp Earth Balance
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp dried chives
1 tbsp dried parsely
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp onion granules or powder
1/2 tsp garlic granules or powder
1/8 tsp citric acid (you can sub in 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
6 slices tempeh bacon, cooked crispy and chopped

1. Place the 3 very large potatoes into a crockpot and bake on high for 2 to 3 hours until fork tender (or bake them however you want)

2. Peel the 5 potatoes, wash and chop into small pieces and boil until fork tender like you're making mashed potatoes (because you are!) Drain and place in a large bowl.

3. When the 3 large potatoes are done, slice them in half and let cool until they can be handled.. still warm tho. It's easier to remove the middle if they are warm.

4. Carefully scoop out the middle of each potato half , leaving a small layer of the potato behind and set aside. Place the scooped out potato middles into the bowl with the boiled potatoes.

5. Melt the Earth Balance and pour into the potatoes and mash them until smooth.

6. Add the other ingredients (except the tempeh bacon) into the mashed potatoes and mix well.

7. Carefully fill in potato shell with the mashed potato mixture, leveling it off and then mound more of the mixture on top, smoothing out the sides. You may not use all of the filling. If not, you have leftover loaded mashed potatoes!

8. Once you are finished, press the chopped pieces of the temeph bacon into the top.

9. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until the potato is heated thru and slightly toasted on the top.

10. I like to serve them with a little pat of earth balance on top.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Original Recipe - Peanut Butter Cup Protein Shake

This is the shake I make every morning for my husband before he heads off to work. I have it almost every day as well.

I didn't get a couple ingredients in my photo but I included them in  he recipe.

I use a product called PB2, which is a product made from slow roasted peanuts that are pressed to remove the fat and oil which results in a lower calorie product with all the yummy peanut butter flavor and it's all-natural. It has roasted peanuts, sugar and salt. You can get it in jars or in bulk packages of 1 lb.

A two tablespoon serving is 45 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 2 grams fiber, 5 grams carbs, 1 gram sugars, and 5 grams of protein! Compare that to regular JIF peanut butter, which is 190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams carbs, 2 grams sugars and 7 grams of protein.

However, I use 1 tbsp in this recipe. If you use the recommended ingredients shown here, your shake comes in around 300 calories with 27 grams of protein! (of course it depends on your non-dairy milk calories)

Make sure you freeze some ripe bananas. I usually buy bananas, eat them until they are too ripe and then peel them and toss them in the freezer for smoothies. Using a frozen banana (or any frozen fruit) in a smoothie thickens it up and gives you a nice shake texture!

Westsoy Soy Milk is just soybeans and water so I recommend it over other brands that have added chemicals, sweeteners and fillers.  It's about $2 a carton.  Aldi has great almond milk in sweetened and unsweetened or pick up the silk Pure Almond.

I did research to find the best brown rice protein and I am very happy with the NutriBiotic brand. It's straight up brown rice protein.. nothing added.. not even artificial sweetener! It's also affordable. It comes in plain, vanilla or chocolate. The chocolate has rice syrup in it so I recommend just buying the plain or vanilla and adding your own cocoa or cocoa powder. It is available in a 1 lb container but I buy it in the 3 lb container for less.

You can also use hemp protein powder here or your other fave vegan protein powder. I don't recommend soy isolate tho and keep in mind it may have less protein and more fillers or ingredients. Just be aware.

I am linking to Vitacost for some products. If you haven't ordered from them before, use my referral link to save $10 .... click HERE and get $10 off your first order with Vitacost

Also, iHerb carries the products too, but at a higher price but with the first time customer discount, it might be ok..  New to iHerb? Use coupon code AWE648 for up to $10.00 off your first order.

Lastly, Amazon has the ingredients as well .. and free shipping on $25 so that is an option too! They also also their auto-delivery plan so you could save a little more by setting that up.

The WestSoy website has $1.00 coupon offer. My store carries it for $1.99 so you can probably try it for half price!

Peanut Butter Cup Protein Shake

Serves 1 (I recommend making these one at a time. If  you try to make 2 servings, you'll use more soy milk trying to thin it out .. it gets too thick)

1 cup unsweetened WestSoy Soy Milk (or other non-dairy milk, like almond)
I TBSP NutriBiotic Brown Rice Protein powder
1 TBSP Amazing Grass Green Superfood Powder
1 TBSP PB2 powder
1 tsp to 1 TBSP Nutiva Cacao or cocoa powder (this is by taste)
1/2 tsp Maca powder (optional)
1 frozen banana (broken into a few pieces)

Optional: toss in a handful of fresh spinach or 1/2 tsp servings of spirulina, barley grass juice and/or wheatgrass powders to up the nutrients.

Combine ingredients in a high powered blender until completely smooth. If you want it thinned out, add water or more non-dairy milk. Adding additional non-dairy milk will change the calories.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guest Blogger - Cole Millen

Check out Cole's article on Staying Healthy on Vacation and pop on over to his blog for more great articles!

Staying Healthy on a Vacation

Your vacation is something you have likely been looking forward to for months. In fact, in preparation for the fun and excitement, you may have dieted and worked out more than normal to make sure you could shed that extra weight and look fabulous for your trip. However, it is often a bit more challenging to continue with the good eating habits and lifestyle changes while vacationing. There are a few ways for you to keep the weight off while having a good time.

Remain Healthy While Flying

The foods offered on a plane are not necessarily the healthiest selections. If at all possible, avoid eating food while on the plane. You can do this by eating a nutritious and filling meal before you board your flight. You may also consider carrying some healthy snacks for your flight so that you do not have to eat junk food on the plane.

After getting off of the plane, you can carry your luggage down the flights of stairs instead of relying on the airport elevator to get you from one place to another. This will allow you to burn off a few calories even if you spent most of the day sitting down while on the plane.

Keep Active at the Hotel

Your vacation is a time to relax. It does not mean that you have to completely forget about your healthy lifestyle habits. Prior to even booking a hotel room, check to see that the hotel has important features that promote healthy lifestyle. For example, try booking a hotel that features a fitness center and a swimming pool. You can get plenty of exercise swimming in the pool and working out in the fitness center. Often time’s hotels can be misleading when looking for information. For this reason I have found reviews from other travelers to be extremely helpful. I recently took a trip out west and found a great site that listed reviews for hotels in Las Vegas regarding not only their amenities and services but also the restaurants in the surrounding area. This made is easier than ever to maintain my healthy lifestyle both in the hotel and out.

If your hotel room comes with an optional mini bar, save yourself from temptation and simply say no. The mini bar costs more money and is loaded with empty calories and snacks that are most likely no good for you anyway. Stop at a grocery store within the area to find prepared meals that will be easy to make from your hotel room that will also be healthy, such as instant oatmeal, healthy soups, and fresh fruits.

Healthy Restaurant Options

Most people do not want to cook while they are on their vacation, which is completely acceptable. If you are planning to try different restaurants in the area, you should find out more about them before you even enter through their front doors. Restaurants will often have their own website with a list of food items on their menu. You can decide which restaurant you will go to for your meals based upon what is available on the menu. Check for healthy selections and low-calorie meal made with fresh and flavorful ingredients. Avoid the need to stuff yourself and simply take your extras to go if need be. Try to stay away from foods that are obviously deep-fried or double battered because they have tons of calories and lack nutrition.These are just some of the ways to stay healthy when vacationing. You can still eat healthy and properly while exercising regularly while you are on an enjoyable vacation.