Monthly Archives: March 2011

Vegan Chili Mac

I had to share this recipe because not only was it super quick and easy, but it was also good enough to make the bf go back for seconds saying, “My second bowl’s bigger than my first bowl, because now I know how it tastes!”

I got home from work at about 10:00 pm and was ravenous and craving mac and cheese.  I busted out one of my giant vegan cookbooks and found a mac and cheese recipe.  However, we ended up using the recipe as more of a basic guideline to get some flavor ideas and kind of just created as we went.  (I say we because it was kind of a partner cooking project for the bf and me; we took turns stirring and throwing ingredients in as we saw fit.)  Our version actually turned out pretty amazing as you can see from the quote above.

Vegan Chili Mac

12 oz pasta (we combined half a box of whole wheat rigatoni with a box of quinoa elbows, because it’s what we had on hand)

sea salt to taste

about 1/2 cup almond milk

2T Earth Balance natural buttery spread

1 scallion

1T olive oil

garlic powder to taste (or 1 clove fresh garlic)

1 squirt Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)

1t yellow mustard

2T dijon mustard

1 can kidney beans

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup Daiya “cheddar cheese”

Hot sauce to taste (we used a TON)


1.  Cook the macaroni with the sea salt, drain and return to the pot.

2. Caramelize the scallions in olive oil in a separate pan.

3.  Add all ingredients, including scallions to the macaroni.

4. Stir until well mixed.

5. Serve and enjoy!

I took the pic of the leftovers, because I was too hungry to stop as shoot pics as I was cooking. Sorry!!

The primary flavor in this recipe ended up being the dijon, which we thought was fantastic.  It has a slightly cheesy flavor, but do not expect it to taste like macaroni and cheese or you will be disappointed.  This is also a recipe that would take to adaptation really well.  You could throw pretty much anything in and it would taste good.  We just used what we happened to have in the house at the time.  I think a can of diced tomatoes would have been an excellent addition, or chopped greens, peppers, jalapenos, corn, etc. etc. etc…

I hope you love this recipe as much as we did! :]


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Eating Vegan on the Go

One major lifestyle change that I made when I became vegan was that I began packing food to take with me to work everyday. I am usually gone for 10 to 12 hours a day because of my long commute from my teeny peninsula to Seattle.

Before I would simply buy food in the hospital cafeteria on each of my breaks.  Once I was vegan that simply wasn’t an option unless I wanted to live on a constant diet of spinach salad, a tiny bit of fruit, maybe a side of veggies or a taco, some French fries, or, on the really lucky days, a vegan soup of some sort.  Even the veggie burgers contain cheese. Obviously, this wasn’t going to cut it for my wallet or my stomach.

These days, I bring all my own food with me, and you can typically find me toting my ancient North Face backpack, that I have had since 10th grade, full of food containers.

Probably one of my favorite things to take to work is a ginormous salad full of all sorts of veggies, usually along with some beans and seeds thrown in for an extra protein boost. Around Christmas time I was lucky enough to receive a portable salad container from my mom.
What I love about it is that it has a little container in the top part that you can fill with dressing so that it stays separate from the rest of your salad until you are ready to eat.

You just twist the lid around and the dressing falls through the bottom into the salad, then just shake vigorously and devour!

It even has it’s own ice pack that fits nicely in the top to keep your salad cool and fresh.

I seriously don’t know how I would live without this container!

Another item on my biggest hits list are green smoothies. I drink these for breakfast almost everyday. They usually contain something along the lines of:
– a base of water, coconut water or almond milk
– banana for creaminess (you can also use avocado, but I avoid it cause the bf hates it with a passion)
– hemp seeds or ground flax seeds for omega-3’s
– other assorted fruit (often frozen strawberries or blueberries, orange, pear, mango, pineapple, kiwi, or whatever happen to be on hand…the possibilities are endless!)
– a ton of spinach, or another leafy green to provide a ton of vitamins, minerals, and fiber
– just blend it all up in the blender until smooth, then drink
I PROMISE they taste good! You can’t taste the greens, just the fruit, so it’s definitely a sweet, but not overly sweet treat. Plus it’s deliciously good for you!

The rest of my on-the-go food usually consists of leftovers or something easy to throw in a container, like a can of  soup. This varies from day to day, as you will see from my future blog posts.  I’ve usually also got a couple of bars of some sort and a piece or fruit or two to snack on.  Right now I’ve got the Mrs. Mays bars from Costco, but I don’t think I will be buying them again.  They’re tasty and healthy and the ingredients list is great, but they’re very hard and crunchy and I can’t eat them without making a huge mess!  Larabars are favorite, and there are many other options out there that are super yum and good for you.

As you can see, it is sooo easy to eat healthy as a vegan, even if you have a crazy on-the-go lifestyle!  :]

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Why I Became a Vegan

As a vegan, one of the questions you get the most, besides “where do you get your protein?”, is “what made you decide to become a vegan.”

I became a vegan in January 2011 (yup, I’m a newbie), but the process started 5 years ago when I decided to test out vegetarianism. It didn’t stick then, but it got the ball rolling in the right direction. In my upper-level nutrition classes in college I learned more about food and began to play around with more plant-based foods. I also began reading healthy-living blogs about a year and a half ago, which has had a major impact on my knowledge of food and health.

Initially, eliminating animal products was a decision fueled by health concerns. However, the more I have learned from reading books, articles and blogs, the more reasons I have discovered to help me maintain my motivation. Here are some of them:

1. Health Benefits. I am of the belief (and studies have also supported) that if everyone stopped eating animal products we would drastically reduce incidences of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many inflammatory diseases. An excellent resource that details the health impacts of the Standard American Diet is The China Study by Thomas M. Campbell II, PhD.

A well-balanced vegan diet is also an important way to help your body thrive. You may not be sick, but you may not usually feel well. Reducing or eliminating animal products can provide such benefits as clearer skin, less GI troubles, reduced mucus production, and give you more energy, among many other things. For those of you worried about your weight, also know that I dropped 10 lbs almost immediately after becoming vegan.  Unfortunately, on my frame that was weight I didn’t need to lose so I had to make myself eat more, and eat more calorically dense foods, such as avocados and other healthy fats to make sure I was taking in as many calories as I was burning everyday. My favorite “how-to” vegan book is Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet.  It’s a life-changing book full of inspiration.  Check Kris out at

2. Environmental Effects. Did you know that the majority of the industrially grown corn in America goes to feed the billions of factory farm animals? This corn is sprayed with tons of carcinogenic fertilizers and pesticides that make their way into our air and water supply, as well as the meat. In fact, there is a dead-zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey caused by run-off from the Mississippi River. Not to mention, that cows aren’t even meant to eat grain in the first place. Their stomachs are designed to digest the grass that they eat in nature and the grain makes them bloated and sick. This is one of reasons that factory farms use antibiotics on their cows, contributing to the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Also, factory farms are the number one producer of methane gas from animal farts and poop. Methane is an important greenhouse gas that is a major contributed to global climate change. Check out The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan for more info on the environmental impacts of your food.

3. Animal Cruelty. There is too much information out there on the cruelty of factory farming for me to go into major detail on this. I often consider it a scare tactic to try to guilt people into veganism. I don’t think that is right or fair, but I will say this: when I look at my chihuahua, Arlo, and how smart and human-like he can be sometimes, I don’t see how I could possibly bare being responsible for the torture and death of another animal like him. Farm animals have personalities and can feel pain just like any of the rest of us. Don’t let their lack of human language-speaking abilities fool you. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin has a great chapter on the horrible treatment of food animals, as well as a ton of other great info on becoming vegan. It’s also a fun read for you ladies out there because those girls pack a lot of sass into those pages. For the gentlemen, they have also now come out with Skinny Bastard, with the same concept as Skinny Bitch, but with the tone and content aimed more towards the interests of men.

4. It’s Really Not That Hard! Armed with the right resources, I had a really easy transition to veganism. There is tons of information out there on healthily adopting a vegan diet. Nutrition info, recipes, support and much more can be found everywhere. Online there are blogs, resources like, and tons of recipe sharing sites. In your library and bookstores you can find vegan diet books and cookbooks. Theres even a Veganism for Dummies, though I cant say I’ve picked that one up yet. Even your local health food store can be a great place to get information about products. I’m always amazed at the fun vegan foods I can find when I explore health food stores and alternative grocery stores. I also plan on providing lots of more information about living vegan on my blog in the future.

What are your reasons for becoming a vegan? If you aren’t a vegan then what are your reasons for not making the change?


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