Monday Menu Planning: Fresh Start February

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Over at The Vegan Weigh Facebook group, we’ve begun a Fresh Start February challenge to help us recover from the holidays and refocus on our health & fitness goals. Some of us gained a few pounds, others maintained or even lost weight but want a little support and camaraderie as they move forward into the new year.

I personally gained about 4.5 pounds due to holiday indulgences and lack of exercise. I had a little accident in late December which banged up my foot and prevented me from walking regularly, but that’s all healed up now and I’m ready to get moving again! I’ll also be meal planning & prepping on a regular basis, have a bunch of new recipes I’m excited to try.  If you’d like to join our group, please leave a comment here or email me directly (link in my profile). We’d love to have new members!

Before I chat about the coming week’s menu, here are a few highlights from last week’s meal plan.

We’ll be on the road for a few days so my menu plan reflects that. I’m choosing several tote-able, reheatable dishes that won’t take up much space in the motorhome. There’s a lovely mix of flavors and cultures in this week’s recipes, can’t wait to start cooking!

What’s cookin’ at your house this week?

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Monday Menu Planning: Autumn Pantry Challenge!

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I don’t know about you guys, but this year is really flying by for me! I can’t believe it’s mid-October, seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on the beach soaking up the summer sunshine! Now, even in Florida, it’s windy and the leaves are falling off our northern trees. They look so funny, little naked branches in between the green palms!

Along with cravings for warm comfort food, Autumn also brings a tightening of the budget around here. I’m looking at the calendar and counting down ’til Christmas (9 weeks, 4 days), starting to think about the expense that goes along with all of that Yuletide joy! I’m sure many of you are feeling the pinch as well, maybe still recovering from back-to-school expenses and/or saving for holiday travel. With that in mind, I’m going to be cooking more from my pantry and freezer over the next few weeks, relying on what I have on hand and supplementing with whatever fresh produce is available and on sale. I know that most folks do this sort of challenge in the summer, but I’m suggesting a Fall version. Not only will we put aside a little money, but we’ll be making room for those inevitable holiday goodies!

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I have two pantries, the everyday one shown above along with another in my laundry room. I also have a large stand-up freezer in the garage in addition to the refrigerator version. All of these are chock-full of odds & ends – veggies, beans, grains & canned tomatoes. It’s time to bring all of these ingredients together for some yummy meals!

This week is a hodgepodge of recipes, a little of this & that. We have some traditional southern fare mixed in with international dishes, a little culinary trip around the world! I hope that by the end of the week my pantry and freezer will be as empty as my wallet is full!

How about you? What’s cookin’ at your house this week? Would you like to take the pantry challenge with me?

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. At the moment I am also following the Maximum Weight Loss Diet by John McDougall, M.D.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

The Daily Dish: Rainy Day Chili

2013 Asheville NC

Asheville, North Carolina ~ October 2013

It doesn’t have to be rainy to enjoy this dish, it just seems that I crave chili when it’s dreary outside, or when I’m feeling a bit under the weather and want something warm & familiar. It’s so nice to curl up on the couch with a favorite tv show, book or movie, and a big bowl of cozy comfort food! Or maybe you want to grab a cup and gobble it up while enjoying the gorgeous autumn weather.

Rainy Day Chili

I’ve been making this “recipe” for many years now, and despite it’s simplicity it always gets rave reviews.  I basically toss a couple cans of drained, rinsed beans (kidney, chili, black bean, whatever you like) and a couple cans of diced tomatoes (Ro*tel brand if you want a little extra kick) into my Crock-pot along with a chopped onion and a packet of chili seasoning. If I’m cooking for non-vegans who prefer a meatier chili, I’ll add some veggie crumbles. Turn on low to cook all day, or high for a few hours, or if you’re in a big hurry you can cook it on the stovetop for an hour or so. Like lots of veggies? Chop up some green peppers, mushrooms, etc. and toss them in. Corn? Sure, add a can or bag of frozen. Want to make your own chili seasoning? Even better! This recipe really is infallible! I usually top with a dollop of vegan sour cream and soy cheese, maybe some scallions if I have them.  Chip is a big fan of oyster crackers so he often adds those as well.

To round out the meal, I will either serve over brown rice or just with some bread or cornbread on the side, as you can see in this pic from my old blog.

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What about you? Do you have some favorite recipes that you turn to when you’re craving comfort food?

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. At the moment I am also following the Maximum Weight Loss Diet by John McDougall, M.D.

Menu Planning Monday: On the Road Again!

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Good morning and Happy Menu Planning Monday! Once again, we’re packing up the motor home and headed back to the Gainesville area. It was such a treat to spend time with my daughters, I can’t wait to see them again!  I loved being able to kick back and share a relaxing lunch  at Kristyn’s house instead of a restaurant; there’s just nothing like a home-cooked meal! (In case you missed it, I posted pics of our feast on last week’s Wordless Wednesday post). So, I’m hoping to do the same this week, and in preparation I’ve chosen some recipes that travel well and which I know my daughters will enjoy.

We had a nice quiet weekend at home, so while Chip was plopped in front of the TV watching football, I did some advance cooking. I’ll be sharing the pics and reviews over the course of the week, hope you’ll stop back by because there are some real winners on this week’s menu!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate.  Sometimes the exact recipe I’m using is not published online so I will share a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Menu Planning Monday

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Wow,  I can’t believe it’s the last day of August! Where did the summer go? School has been back in session for a week, yet I’m still surprised to hear the school bus roll down my block each morning.

We had a busy weekend here, but in between chores and fun I was able to put together my menu plan and also do a bit of advance cooking. I roasted up a bunch of  vegetables – eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, asparagus with lemon, tomatoes and, of course, garlic. Boy, did my house smell good!

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I’ll be using up some ingredients I have on hand, hoping that will make for a small grocery bill like last week. Even purchasing mostly organic, my total came to just over fifty dollars!

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Here’s what I’ll be cooking; clicking on the links will take you to the author’s original recipes where you can print if you’d like.

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate.  Sometimes the exact recipe I’m using is not published online so I will share a similar recipe.

So, what’s cookin’ at your house? Are you menu planning?

Michele

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Thrifty Thursday: Homemade Vegetable Broth

I became an avid nutrition label reader after going vegan, and even more so when I went oil-free. I was shocked to discover just how much oil is sneaked into the most unlikely of places! Vegetable broth, for example. Many of us rely on pre-packaged cans or boxes of broth, or we use those bouillon cubes. They’re convenient, right? Well, that convenience comes at a cost, not just monetarily but also nutritionally. So many of those innocent-looking cubes contain oil, corn syrup and other scary ingredients. 

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Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but I see no reason to put up with that when I can make my own fat-free, sugar-free broth with minimal effort and expense. Guess what? You can, too!

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First, you’re gonna want to gather up your veggie scraps. You know, the little bits & pieces of fresh vegetables that would normally get tossed in the trash. Carrot & onion peels, celery leaves, pepper tops, etc. Whatever is left over after preparing your meal, with the exception of salad greens because they don’t freeze well. I also avoid cabbage, kale, broccoli and other strong-tasting (and smelling) vegetables, but that’s just me. Dump these into your container, pop in the freezer and keep adding until it’s full. Now you’re ready to make broth!

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I rely on my Instant Pot for this purpose because it’s fast and easy, but you can also use a slow cooker or even stovetop method. The process is the same: dump the veggies into the pot, cover with water and cook until a nice rich broth appears.  (Times vary, but I did forty minutes in my Instant Pot because I wanted a very rich, dark broth. I’ve read that it can be made in as little as five!) If you want to get fancy, you can add some seasonings but since I’m using this as a base for future recipes, I don’t want any conflicting spices.

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Once it’s cooled down enough to handle, strain your vegetables over a large pot. (Some people put pasta strainers right into the Instant Pot, gonna try that next time!)

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Discard or compost the vegetables, then pour broth into jars or containers for storage. I got about 8 cups of broth.

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I used some immediately for a soup recipe, and the rest I poured into ice cube trays and froze. When I need a little bit of liquid for sauteing vegetables, I just pop one of these out and use in place of oil! So much healthier, right?!

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So, there you have it. Gorgeous, fat-free vegetable broth made from plain old water and stuff  you’d have tossed out into the trash. Frugal, eco-friendly and much tastier than anything you’d find on the grocer’s shelf.  Don’t you feel proud of yourself? I sure do!

Michele

Plan to Succeed

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As I mentioned in my last post, meal planning is an integral part of my homemaking routine. Not only does it save time and money, but it also helps me with my fitness goals. I’ve found that I’m most successful on my “diet” when I plan ahead; the more planning, the more in control I feel which leads to better eating and ultimate weight loss.

I like to dedicate one morning per week for meal planning & shopping. I peruse the grocery sale ads, check my fridge and pantry for what I have on hand, working with what’s fresh and in season whenever possible.  Since I don’t work outside the home, I usually spend Monday mornings on this task. I combine it with laundry day and general tidying-up-after-the-weekend.  Of course, you can choose whichever day works best for you; Sunday afternoon is popular with some folks.

I’ve just completed this week’s meal plan and shopping list, thought I’d share here and perhaps make this a regular weekly blog feature. I’ve featured mostly dinners for now since I tend to eat simple breakfasts and lunch often consists of leftovers from the night before, but did include one lunch-friendly salad and one sweet treat for fun. There are five dinners planned, allowing for dining out or one lazy night when we just throw something quick together.

Michele zucchini

Since I bought a giant zucchini at the farmer’s market yesterday, I’ll be looking for ways to use it up! I also have some overripe bananas which will be baked into bread for a special friend, and a head of red cabbage begging to be cooked. Oh, and a gorgeous pineapple (my favorite fruit) is sitting on my counter, tempting me with it’s sweetness!

Here’s what I’ll be cooking this week; clicking on the links will take you to the author’s original recipes where you can print if you’d like.

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a little oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. Most of the recipes posted are perfect “as is,” no modification required, but in the case of baked goods I just allow myself that bit of fat and move on. (Life’s too short to live without  an occasional bite of chocolate, for goodness’ sake!)

Sending good luck and best wishes to the students and families returning to school today! I hope the 2015 – 2016 school year is your best yet.

Michele