Veganism for Cheap-Asses Like Me!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I’ve had many friends and co-workers who have questioned me about my vegan lifestyle…whether or not I feel left out, hungry, if I crave certain things, how I plan meals, etc. I actually love when people come up and ask me these things, because I know that they are genuinely interested, and I’m not “preaching” if they come to me, right?! Well, the two biggest questions I get are:

“Where do your nutrients come from?” (Discussed in an earlier post)


“Isn’t being vegan super expensive?”

Now, in all honesty, I have no idea where that second question comes from. I mean, I get the first question. As a society who grew up with the Meat and Dairy industries funding our Government and the Food Commissions, many people believe we cannot survive without red meat and cow milk in our diets, so obviously, that question is understood by me. But the thought of our “diet” as expensive boggles my mind! Now, maybe it’s because I’m probably one of the cheapest people you’ll ever meet…or maybe it’s because I hate seeing things go to waste, but in all honesty, switching to a vegan diet has done wonders for my cashflow!

When Julian and I were eating meat, dairy, and processed food (although very little, but we did have an occasional processed package of food see our pantry), our grocery bill totaled around $200 every two weeks. For two people, we had friends that were very impressed with how little we could spend, but I still felt like this was a lot of money. Our groceries would consist of large bags of chicken breasts, cheeses, milk (for Julian, not me…I was never a milk drinker…I don’t even like drinking soy or rice milk!), ground turkey, eggs, pastas, rice, and various other completely unnecessary things. Now that our home is meat and dairy free (aside from occasional fish that Julian buys since he eats it about once a week), our grocery bill has dropped to less than HALF of what it was before! Just to show you that you most certainly CAN feed two people on $40 a week, I did a little online grocery shopping to show what we buy and how we do it. I don’t know of any grocery stores that deliver here in Wisconsin, so I went to, which was a grocery store we shopped at in Los Angeles. Now, their foods were a little pricier, and they incorporated a “delivery fee” in this, so it’s actually still a little more than what we pay now, but only by a couple of dollars. Now, this is what we buy every two weeks or so at the grocery store. Keep in mind, that all the beans and grains typically last longer than 2 weeks, so sometimes we can stretch this to last an entire month, or else we’ll replenish one or two items at a time for less than five bucks.

Our total for these groceries is around $45 for two weeks. Then, each week, we pull out a $20 bill and use this for produce. We only use $20 because it’s only the two of us, and limiting what is in the fridge makes you more aware of everything you have, and more likely to use it up before it goes bad. We can usually find everything we need at the weekly Farmer’s Market, but if not, we’ll take our leftover money to the grocery store produce and get what we need there. So:

$15-45 every two weeks at the grocery store
$20 every week for produce
$28-42.50 a week for groceries
$112 to $170 a month for groceries for TWO PEOPLE!!!

Okay folks, we went from spending around $200 bi-weekly, which is around $400 a month to less than $200 a MONTH!!! And we eat well (if you don’t believe me, just look at our recipes!)!!!

So there you have it. Next time someone tells you that being vegan is way too expensive, have them check this out! The fact that two people can eat tons of food and eat healthy and nutritious for $112-170 a month is something I would have never believed myself, but it’s totally possible! So not only is veganism good for your health, but it’s good for your wallet, too!

What I mock-ordered from to show what we buy at the grocery store every 2 weeks or so:
2 bags Stacy’s Naked Pita Chips - $3.99 each
2 packs Boca Vegan Burgers - $3.00 each
Whole Wheat Pita Bread - $1.79
16 oz. bag of pearled barley - .81
16 oz bag of pinto beans - $1.74
16 oz. bag of black beans - $2.45
2 – 16 oz. bags of navy beans - $1.25 each
2 – 16 oz. bags of red beans - $1.65 each
10 lb. bag of rice – $14.79
42 oz. box of Quaker Rolled Oats - $5.29

Total - $46.63 for 2 weeks

Filling up on your veggies at the Farmers Market is usually much more cost-effective than the grocery store, and you get to see exactly where your food is coming from!

As always, every ad clicked on this blog is a donation to a local animal shelter!! I am going to donate any money made from clicking ads to our local shelters here in Madison, so please, click away!

Is my Tattoo Vegan?!?!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tattoos. One of the oldest art forms known to man. Tattoos have had many stigmas through the centuries, and even change with the decade/year! Once used as a symbol of greatness, then to mark prisoners, then only seen on the derelicts and gypsies and such, the patterns of tattoo stigmas span centuries. Currently, it seems as though the stigmas have finally disappeared from tattoos…everyone from Punk Rockers to Famous Athletes to Soccer Moms are sporting ink, and the mainstream has become more and more acceptable each day.

I’ve been drawn to tattoos ever since I was little. I specifically remember the first time I noticed a female with a tattoo. It was Thanksgiving, and I was 6 years old. We were going to our Thanksgiving movie, a family tradition, and I specifically remember the girl working at the box office had her eyebrow pierced and a bracelet tattooed on her wrist. To this day, 20 years later, I can still remember every single detail in that tattoo as vivid as if I saw it yesterday. And from that day on, I knew that I wanted them. Now, I don’t get them for shock value or for making statements. My tattoos are all very significant and mean a great deal to me, and for the most part, are completely covered by my everyday clothing (with the exception of a small one on my forearm). Not meant to shock or draw attention to myself, but more or less to mark milestones in my life, and I see my body as my canvas.

Now, when I went vegan, I began to question everything…and I mean everything! From the liquor I drank to the jewelry I wore to the types of tools the dentists used on my teeth. And then I got that itch. That one I get every so often where I crave…body art. And then I got to thinking…is tattooing vegan?!?! Well, I did my research, and sadly, it turns out that most tattoos are not vegan, and although I couldn’t exactly go back in time to see what types of ink and dye were used in my tattoos, I was fairly certain that they probably weren’t. The fact of the matter, is that most tattoo inks (black especially) are made from burning animal bones,crushing and liquefying them…lovely, I know. What makes matters worse, is that most tattoo artists don’t even know what is always in the ink, because ink suppliers are not required by any laws or restrictions to list ingredients. Now, these dyes are the easiest to come by and are also the cheapest, but as it turns out, not a lot of tattoo artists use them anymore mainly because the pigment fades quick and as an artist, they want their work to last. Many artists have begun mixing their own dyes, so they should very well know everything that is in them if that is the case, and there is also a very popular brand (which is a little more expensive) of tattoo ink called “Stable” ink. It is vegan, and completely plant based. Most tattoo artists that use it don’t even realize it’s vegan, but use it because it really is one of the best inks on the market.

Once discovering these options for vegan tattoos, I was on the hunt to find an artist that could give me a vegan tattoo for my newest piece. Luckily, “Stable” inks are extremely popular in the Madison area, and I had a great many artists to choose from! I got really lucky in finding a great vegan tattoo artist, and I just wanted to give my inked followers a heads up for your next work of art, to call ahead, ask if the tattoo artist uses Stable Ink or mixes their own, and if you have an artist that you love that uses questionable ink…by all means ask if they can order Stable Ink for your next tattoo! You might get charged a little extra for the ink, but most places won’t have a problem doing this for you, and not only will you get a tattoo with better pigmentation, but you’ll have a truly kind piece of artwork!

My first (that I know of) 100% Cruelty-Free tattoo...honoring my heritage and worn proudly on my ribcage...isn't she beautiful?!

"Rock Me, Baby" Stuffed Squash

Monday, September 27, 2010

The other day I wanted to make some stuffed peppers for a quick and fun lunch, but being a dual-minded Gemini, by the time that I rinsed my beautiful peppers, I had completely changed my mind! I wanted to "stuff" something still, but I just didn't know what. So, I got a little creative, yanked some squash out of the fridge, and decided to "stuff" them as best as possible! Because the "Freaking Amazing Cheese Sauce" is now a junk-food-alternative staple in our house, and super simple to whip up, I splooged that into some hollowed out squash, popped it in the oven, and topped with some fresh diced tomatoes in the end...and now I'm pretty sure that this will be a staple from this day forward in our house!

Rock Me Baby Stuffed Squash

2 Summer Squash, halved and hollowed out with a spoon
1 Medium-sized tomato, diced
"Freaking Amazing Cheese Sauce" (recipe below)

Freaking Amazing Cheese Sauce¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
¼ cup flour
1 cup water
2 tblsp. Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (if you're not so much into wreaking havok on your taste buds as I am, this can be reduced/omitted completely)
1 can of RoTel Diced Tomatoes and green chiles, drained

Put nutritional yeast, flour, salt, garlic, and pepper in a saucepan. Add in water and stir constantly over medium heat until mixture becomes thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add vegan butter. Stir until melted. Add tomatoes/salsa and lime juice and return to heat, stirring until tomatoes are warm.

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly spray/oil a glass oven dish and lay the squash in, hollowed sides up. Fill squash with Freaking Amazing Cheese Sauce and enjoy the leftovers with some carrots and pita while this cooks in the oven for about 20 minutes, until squash is tender. Remove from oven, top with diced tomatoes, and enjoy!

Now THAT's what I call a tasty freaking lunch!

How perfect is this tomato?!

Squash Boats!

Still trying to figure out if these are organic? I know they are vegan, and they sell them at Whole Foods, so does that label them organic automatically?? They're tasty regardless!

Right before heading to the hot and toasty oven!

Quick photo before they were devoured in record time!

And don't forget, every ad that you click on this page will be a donation to a local Madison animal rescue! That's it! All you have to do is click them! Easy as that!

For all the Broke-Ass, Cheap-Ass Spenders....

Are you someone who wants to cut down on their meat consumption, but doesn’t know how? Perhaps you are looking for options with just as much protein as meat, but without the cholesterol or saturated fat. Maybe you’re a vegetarian/vegan who is looking for something to cook up that will wow your meat-eating friends? Regardless, I found the deal of the day today!!! Gardein has an e-coupon on their website (heads up, I was able to print it twice, so I have two coupons, woohoo!!) for a dollar off any one Gardein product! I don’t use it too often, but I have made it for three people who literally made me get the package out because they did not believe me when I said that it wasn’t really meat! My favorites are the Chik’n Scallopini and the Breaded Chick’n Tenders tossed in my homemade buffalo sauce. The latter is especially delicious chopped up and tossed in a fresh salad! So, if you’ve been wanting to experiment with a meat-substitution, or are a cheap-ass vegan, or just a plain ole’ broke ass vegan like myself, I suggest clicking on over to their link and printing the coupon off!

Peanut Butter Mexican Wedding Cakes

Friday, September 24, 2010

One of my favorite treats ever since I was young have been the traditional Mexican Wedding Cakes…even though they are Russian… but if you don’t know what I’m talking about, they are those biscuit-style cookies drowned in powdered sugar….oh so tasty! Well, last weekend, I had a really obnoxious visitor who likes to irritate me about once a month, and the only way I can keep from going postal on her is by drowning myself in sweets…so that is EXACTLY what I did!

I really wanted peanut butter…but I also had a nostalgic craving for these cookies I remember oh so well from Holiday cookie platters. So, I attempted in my best effort, to combine the two, and the results were a pretty freaking awesome twist on the traditional cake cookie!

Peanut Butter Mexican Wedding Cakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a bowl (because of how thick and dry the dough is, it’s easiest to knead it together with your hands). Roll the dough into 2-inch balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Okay seriously, can it get any easier than that?!?!

Now, for half of these, I made my own powdered sugar from some organic and vegan cane sugar by throwing half a cup into the blender and blending until it was powder. I then rolled half the cookie balls in this powdered sugar.

For the other half, because this didn’t make me feel like a big enough cow, I drizzled them in Vanilla Agave Nectar for another new twist on the traditional cookie. These ones turned out to be my favorite, and with how easy they are, they may become a new Holiday staple! Also, in comparison with traditional cookies, they really aren’t all that bad for you, considering there are no eggs, and very little oil, so you don’t have to feel as guilty when you eat, say, ten of them!

On a side note, I’ve been looking into incorporating ads on my blog. Supposedly, each time someone clicks on an ad, it adds up. I’m in no way trying to make money off this blog…it’s all for fun. However, I was thinking that any money I could make off of it, be it a couple bucks or so, I could donate to my local animal charities…make my blog even kinder! So, I’d love some feedback…if I had ads, and you knew that each click meant money for animal rescues, would you click them?? It would essentially be like you’re donating money without having to spend a buck…input?

Rosemary-Infused Spaghetti Squash

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This weekend, while I was at the grocery store, I couldn’t help but get giddy when walking through the produce section…all the squashes, apples, and all my favorite fall things were in abundance!! One thing I have discovered about grocery stores in Wisconsin which is unlike grocery stores in California, is that they try to have as much local and seasonal produce as possible, which is awesome, but I do start to miss certain things when they aren’t in season and aren’t being sold. So you can imagine my excitement when I was there on Saturday and saw an entire box of organic spaghetti squash!!! Woohooo!!!! My life was complete once again! I picked up a couple of these bad boys and immediately started planning in my head what I wanted to do with them. I used the first one last night, in celebration of Autumn, and couldn’t have been more satisfied! AND, at only 112 calories per serving, this was by far a low-cal and hearty meal that kept me full the remainder of the night! For those of you watching your waistline, this is definitely a recipe to add to your kitchen repertoire!

Rosemary-Roasted Spaghetti Squash

1 Spaghetti Squash, about 3-5 pounds, cut in half and seeded
1 ½ cups of Vegetable broth
2 large sprigs of Rosemary
2 large sprigs of Sage
2 Tblsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tblsp Parsley
2 Cups chopped broccoli florets
1 diced tomato
S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Pour broth into a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Bruise rosemary and sage sprigs with the back of a knife and toss into broth. Arrange squash in dish, hollow sides down, and roast until rind gives easily when pressed and flesh is just tender, 35 to 45 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook squash since it will become too soft and soggy.) While squash is in the oven, lightly steam the broccoli. Set aside. Transfer squash to a large plate, hollow sides up, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Using a fork, scrape squash out of rinds and transfer to a large bowl. Add oil, parsley, broccoli, tomatoes, salt and pepper and toss gently. Serve immediately.

The hint of rosemary that the squash soaks up is seriously perfect, and I don’t think I’ll ever cook spaghetti squash without it now!

Bill Clinton...Eating Plants? There's a Dirty Joke in there Somewhere!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The other day, I read in the paper a little blip about Former President Bill Clinton being on a “plant-based diet.” I immediately turned the paper to the front cover to make sure that I wasn’t reading The Onion, because everything about this man screams CARNIVORE!!! Growing up while he was the President, it was almost daily they would show him on the morning news, taking his jog around DC and stopping each morning after his run at MCDONALDS for breakfast!!! On many occasions you would hear him refer to himself as a Southern boy who loved his steak and fried chicken…so you can imagine my initial disbelief that this was even true! I mean, I worked at Hard Rock Café when he came and donated one of his Saxophones to our restaurant, and he had a giant steak when he was there just a few short years ago! I decided I had to research this further, because now I was very intrigued!

It turns out, he was a total skeptic who has changed his life through a plant-based diet! Although he says he is eating fish on occasion, although rarely, he has cut out all other flesh foods, as well as dairy products, and has already lost 24 pounds on top of feeling tremendously better, which is amazing considering all of his health problems as of late. He even gives credit to one of my favorite books, The China Study, which I strongly believe is a must-read for anybody trying to reach optimum health, no matter what your current eating habits are. Check out the following video of him…and congrats, Mr. President, for setting such an awesome example of health and self-healing!

Last-Ditch Effort

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not gonna lie, some days I’m all about being super creative in the kitchen. Most days, I just want something quick and easy. And if it was a day like yesterday, not only did I want something quick and easy, but due to the fact that we don’t grocery shop until we have used everything we have so as not to waste anything, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel when it came to putting something together! I came home, opened the fridge, and this is what stared back at me:

*half a red pepper
*one tomato
*about 1/8 of an onion
*2 stalks of celery
*about 1 cup of rice milk
*Homemade vinaigrette

Now, my first thought was “well, there’s some wine…I could just have a liquid dinner and call it a night.” However, I knew I needed something to sustain me, so I went to the pantry to see what kind of grain I could use to supplement the meager vegetable offerings in the fridge, and this is what I came up with, which was not only completely satisfying but delicious and nutritious to boot. There’s not really a recipe, but feel free to follow what I did. I also knew I’d feel lazy this morning when it came to lunch (damn PMS!) so I made a lot so I could bring it:

Quinoa Pilaf-Stuffed Pitas

I took 1.5 cups of rinsed quinoa and put it in 4 cups of boiling vegetable stock. Added some onion seasoning, dill weed, cayenne pepper, basil, and garlic powder. I started dicing up veggies and threw in some diced celery while it was cooking over medium heat in a nice simmer. Then I added some diced red pepper and while I was at it, I threw in about a cup of chopped broccoli that was hiding in the freezer for a little color. I let this mixture simmer down for about 30-35 minutes until most of the water was soaked up, then removed from the heat. While it soaked up the remaining liquid, I put a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small skillet and put a whole wheat pita in, flipping until hot and just slightly crisp. Fluffed the quinoa, scooped some onto my toasty pita, topped it with tomato slices and drizzled with a little more balsamic vinegar and presto!! A super filling, super nutritious, super easy meal!! Now it’s time to get some dang groceries up in this joint!!!

Poor quality...I was hungry and too lazy to grab the camera, so this was taken with my phone...yeah, it was one of those lazy nights!!!

Problem Solved!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It was brought to my attention by a few people that they were not able to leave comments on my blog. It seemed that when I re-formatted my layout, I caused a little bug that was making it hard to figure out how to comment. Well, thank you for bringing it up, because I have now fixed the comment away!!!

Make the World a Better Place...One Purse at a Time

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hello blogosphere! Sorry it’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated, but it’s just one of those weeks where you’re pulled in 500 different directions, ya dig?! Anyway, I wanted to share a pretty rad story with all of you, while letting you know about a freaking amazing vegan product. If you haven’t heard of her already, than now you will, and I would HIGHLY suggest getting up close and personal with the amazing products of Susan Nichole. Susan Nichole is your one-stop shop for all things stylish and trendy when it comes to handbags a la couture…and cruelty-free to boot! I mean seriously, does it get much better?! Not only are her bags of the finest quality, but this is definitely one of the most “kind” businesses I have ever come across…not only to the customers, but to the world. From purses full of essential supplies shipped to Haiti by the boatload after the earthquake, to using sustainable kind materials in her purses, to her WEEKLY FACEBOOK GIVEAWAYS just for being a fan…this company is truly one of a kind. Following is a guest blog by one of the coolest people I know…my mom. Take a look at what she has to say about Susan Nichole, and afterward, definitely check out her website, and “like” her on Facebook

I clearly remember a Saturday in Oak Harbor, Washington in 1970 when I was 9 years old walking to the dime store to buy my weekly 45 record (3-Dog Night…just sayin), when I stopped dead in my tracks at a display window in our only shoe store in town. There was a light brown suede purse, with colored suede appliqué of a desert scene. The sky opened and I literally heard angels sing. A week later, after many odd jobs…it belonged to me. That purse started my love affair with bags that has never wavered in the 40 years since that day.

My closet’s built-in shelves hold one of a kind Dior, Choo, Gucci, and Furla bags to name a few. I hold more equity in these bags than I do in my home. I can spot a cheap bag or a fake at 500 feet.

I am not a Vegan or Vegetarian. (Had to look up how to spell vegetarian….) But, this year I have started paying more attention to the amounts and source of the meat and fish I choose to consume. My daughter, a Vegan, has educated me on the importance of locally and humanly raised meat. I only shop at markets where meats are locally and organically grown. No factory farms. I buy fish after checking the Sustainable Fish List (which changes weekly, btw.) No fish farms where fish are fed dangerous corn pellets, breaking every law of nature.

I feel good. I feel proud, until I wander into my Mecca. My Church. The Versace Store. As I lovingly hold (hug) a bag that literally brings tears to my eyes, the genetically altered (because she’s impossibly beautiful and airbrushed) shop girl says, “Isn’t that leather just like butter?” I stopped in my tracks. All the arguments of leather being a bi-product of the meat industry, ie.; factory farms, roared in my head. By purchasing this bag…I am still supporting factory farms. Even though the farm was Italian…it was still a factory farm. I could not guarantee that the animals were humanely raised and killed. I felt sick.

My daughter had once told me about Susan Nichole Handbags. A grassroots, cottage based company that designs, creates and sells 100% vegan bags. I “friended” them on Facebook to support my daughter, but never really paid attention. But after this experience, I ordered one. $65? Are you serious? If I didn’t like it, I would put it in the Christmas closet for Danielle. (sorry honey). I also ordered a bag from Shoe Dazzle, claiming all man made materials. ($39.95) The Shoe Dazzle came first, and I looked and looked at it. Not bad. Took it to Starbucks on a weekend…I was asked if it was the new Jimmy Choo! My real Jimmy Choo ($2795.00)…never gets attention like that! When my Susan Nichole bag arrived….I kept it near me for three days. Talk about butta? This is a gorgeous, gorgeous bag! I have a few SN Bags now and they sit proudly next to their Italian, less humane cousins.

In my research of vegan friendly bags, I’ve found many mainstream companies and designers have started vegan lines of business. My daughter and I agree to disagree on the merits of these companies. Susan Nichole ventured out to make humane and fashionable bags as their core line of business. Not a side line, but the life line of this integrity and quality driven company. My daughter, Danielle and this company have changed my philosophy not only on my food consumerism, but my fashion consumerism. There are many companies like Susan Nichole Handbags who are out there doing the right things, for the right reasons. I’m honored to carry their bags and to support them.

Photo Credit for all photos: Susan Nichole Facebook Page

Doesn’t my mom totally rock?!

Recipe Blast from the 21-Day Kickstart!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Today marks day 5 of PCRM’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart…and I’m LOVING it!! Every single recipe, even the ones that I honestly thought I’d hate (especially never particularly enjoying Black Eyed Peas) have all been fabulous! Now, some people do the program to get into veganism for the first time, and others do it for new recipe ideas but not to really follow the plan. I’m doing this to see if this plan really does “kickstart” my weight loss as I have heard that it can. Well, I haven’t done a weigh-in yet, but I did slide my “skinny” jeans on with ease today…and to think, I haven’t even been able to pull them over my ass for over a year now! It’s like going shopping in my own closet! So anyway, I’m linking to all of the fabulous recipes that I’ve tried so far this week so you can all give them a shot. Also, if you want to have the recipes sent to you, it’s not too late to join up on the PCRM website!!

Cous Cous Confetti Salad
I'm not a fan of raw veggies in a hot dish like this calls for, but this was suprisingly delicious! As I type this, I'm currently eating the last of it in a hot pita for lunch...yummm....

Hoppin' John Salad
I was hesitant to try this one, considering I've always had an aversion to black eyed peas...but it was really good as well! And super filling! I couldn't even finish one serving size!

Carrot and Red Pepper Soup
I didn't take a picture because just looked like a bowl of tomato soup...and we all know what that looks like! This soup was so yummy and warmed me to the core...did just the job a soup was supposed to do. It was a perfect pairing with the Confetti Cous Cous, too!

Southern Beans and Greens
I made this recipe with the leftover Hoppin' John Salad (just threw it all in!), Kidney Beans and Navy Beans. It was perfect! The perfect savory dish on a day that seemed all too chilly for early September!

All in all, I highly recommend all the recipes so far...give them a try, and let me know how you like them!

The Taste of Madison, Vegan Approved!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This weekend was the annual “Taste of Madison”. Now, if you don’t live in Madison, this is set up just like the other “Tastes” held around the country. It’s a weekend-long event where the majority of the local restaurants will set up food tents along an area in the city, and sell samplings of their foods for super cheap. Everything at the Taste of Madison is between 1-4 bucks and over 200 restaurants participated this year. I was a little apprehensive, because I assumed that this was going to be a meat and cheese lover’s haven (it is Wisconsin, after all!), but I was pleasantly surprised!

The very first booth that we walked up to was a southern-style catering company that had their food items listed and the first thing on their menu were *Vegan* Red Beans and Rice (and yes, vegan was highlighted!). Hell yeah! Of course, I jumped on this opportunity, because I was still unsure of what else I’d be able to have. And they were honestly the best red beans and rice I have ever had! And a massive cup full for $2…you can’t beat it!

Don't they look delicious?!

Our next stop was at a Saloon’s tent, where they were advertising their Fried Pickles. Now, I know it isn’t exactly diet food, but I asked what they were cooked in and what they were breaded in. They assured me they were vegan (I even watched them cook some…totally safe!), and of course, I had to try those, too! I mean honestly, what’s better than deep fried pickles?! Nothing! They drizzled them in Hot Sauce, and I was in heaven!

As soon as I finished my 3 massive fried pickles ($3 bucks, folks!), we ended up at a tent for a Santa Fe-style restaurant. On their sign, next to a few items, they had these little leaves. At the bottom, the sign said that the leaves signified items that could be made vegan…hallelujah! I tried the vegan style gazpacho, and Julian got the vegan bean tostada and we shared…both were amazing, but the gazpacho was second to none! Seriously delish!

Now, you’re probably thinking that I couldn’t possibly shove any more food down my tubby tummy, but you’d be wrong!! Julian and I both got these delicious spritzers from a company that specializes in specialty oils, vinegars, and spices. Mine was a Pineapple-Mango-Peppermint-Oregano (don’t knock it til’ you try it…it was seriously amazing!) and Julian’s was a cranberry-lingonberry blend. Now, we were planning on hitting up some of the dessert tents now, but then we came across an Italian place that was serving Eggplant Fries drizzled in a paprika-garlic olive oil…now seriously, for $3, how can you pass that up?! They’re usually $12 at this restaurant, so I wasn’t going to say no! And I’m glad I didn’t, because they were superb!

For dessert, I had a mango Italian Ice, which was absolutely perfect. Not super sugary and clearly made with real mango and not that syrupy crap. Delicious ending! After listening to a couple of the bands on the various stages, we headed home, with full bellies and not an ounce of disappointment!

Julian enjoying his tiramisu (not vegan). I'm not a fan of this stuff, but he sure enjoyed it!

All in all, I have to give the Taste of Madison high rankings, because it did NOT disappoint in the least! I’m already looking forward to next year!

Kick-Start Your Life...Do It Now!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I do have a few recipes that I am excited to share with you, but at the moment, I have some super cool news that I think would be totally awesome to get some of you involved in! Whether you’re a long-time vegan, a vegan “flirt”, or not vegan at all and just come here to cyber stalk me or for alternative recipes, this is something that we can all get up on and involved in! It’s called the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, and vegans and non-vegans alike can definitely learn some things and get some crazy awesome advice from this!

Now, what is it?

The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart is a program that was started by the PCRM (the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). Now what it is, is a 21-day program (duh!) that is completely health-based. I have heard success stories from longtime vegans who have done this, and have lost up to 15 pounds in three weeks, just by following the meal plan! I’m an email buddy with someone who did this last time they offered the program who is not vegan and she lost 25 pounds in the three-week program through the plan that has been created by some of the top medical doctors and nutritionists in the business. Now, if that doesn’t say something for this program, then I don’t know what will! From those who I know have done this before, they all say that the recipes are super easy, super fast, super filling, super delicious, and super inexpensive! It’s not like one of those plans that make you buy obscenely expensive processed foods and crap like that. And for you omnivores out there, from what I have heard, you won’t miss meat at all on this plan.

Now, the best part…IT’S COMPLETELY FREE!!! How is that even possible, you ask? Simple. This is a program that was created to help counteract the Obesity Epidemic that has struck this country. Nobody is trying to make a profit off of this, because it is about education and educating people on how good food decisions can also taste good and be good for your waistline and overall health.

Now, they only do the kickstart a few times a year, and the next one is starting next week on September 6, so you should sign up for it now! Even if you don’t want to follow it exactly, it’s an opportunity to get some awesome recipes sent to you daily. I plan on following it for the 21 days, and I’ll be sharing my opinions on it, but I’d love to hear from you guys as well! So head on over to the PCRM website and sign up now! Do it!

Creamy, Cheesy Mexicali Chick'n Bake

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alright, I'm not gonna lie. I'm not a big fan of cooking with processed foods (fake cheese, fake meat, etc.). I tend to use them to excentuate a meal for someone who doesn't normally eat vegan, and who wants cheese, or meat or the like. HOWEVER, sometimes I am feeling exceptionally lazy, and just don't feel like taking time to perfectly chop veggies and rinse grains and la-di-freakin'-da. Like last night. I wanted a quick, easy meal that would be filling, and that my now nearly veg fiance (meat-free for over 2 months, with a few seafood exceptions!) would also enjoy. So, I raided his stash of Gardein and Galaxy Vegan Cheese, and re-created one of our old, carniverous favorite meals. And let me tell you, this was just as good as the real thing! Not only that, but it tastes like there is no possible way that it can be good for you, but it's super low cal, low fat, and high in nutrients. So squeeze some lime in my tequila, throw on your fiesta jams, and enjoy this recipe!!

Creamy, Cheesy Mexicali Chick'n Bake

1-4 pieces of Gardein Chickn' Scallopini (depending on how many are eating)

Taco or Enchilada Sauce of your choosing

Tofutti Non-Hydrogenated "Better Than Cream Cheese" (Plain flavor)

Shredded Vegan Cheese (I used Galaxy Rice Vegan Cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350. In a glass baking dish, line the bottom with your taco or enchilada sauce (thin layer). Take your cream cheese, and spread on each piece of Scallopini. Place the scallopini cream cheese side up in the baking dish. Cover with additional taco/enchilada sauce. Cover dish with tinfoil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese (as little or as much as you like) and put back in the oven (no foil this time) for an additional 15 minutes.

I served this with some quick homemade spanish rice, a can of organic non-fat refried beans, and drizzled the remaining sauce over all three. Quick, easy, and to die for. Now THAT'S what I call dinner success!!

(Camera Phone shot...not the greatest, but you get the idea!)

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