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Movin’ On Up!

8 Aug

Thanks to all of the success and wonderful subscribers that we’ve had, it is time for Adventures with Veggies to move on up to bigger and brighter things! Our blog has been given a new coat of paint and a new name, as well as a new address – but we are still posting healthy vegan recipes, stories, and tips! I am so grateful for all of the support that I’ve had here and I hope that you will join us at our new home, The Singin’ Vegan.

The Singin' Vegan

 

Thank you, and I hope to see you soon!

Awww, Shucks…Now You’ve Made Me Blush!

22 Jul

I have only been at this blogging thing for a short time now – I write two blogs, this one and a blog about my adventures as a music educator. Both are just starting out, with around 10 posts each, and each has very modest statistics. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Facetious Firecracker (freakin’ hilarious blog – go read it now!!) nominated Adventures with Veggies for the “One Lovely Blog Award” and the “Sunshine Award” – THANK YOU!

Of course, there are rules that go along with these things! Check it out:

One Lovely Blog Award

  • Rules are as follows:
    • Link back to the blogger who nominated you
    • Paste the award image on your blog
    • Tell 7 Facts About Yourself
    • Nominate 15 other blogs that you would like to give the award to.
    • Contact the bloggers that you have chosen and let them know about the award.

Here are my facts:

  1. I hate roller coasters. In fact, I hate all things that give me that feeling of your stomach jumping into your throat. Not cool.
  2. I can’t swim. I grew up in a place where I didn’t have to know how and just never got around to learning. If you threw me in the deep end of a pool, there’s a 50/50 chance that I wouldn’t make it!
  3. My entire apartment could be in shambles, but I cannot stand to have a dirty kitchen. I will often neglect other chores to make sure that the dishes are done and all of my food and cabinets are organized.
  4. I WILL NOT do laundry if it’s raining. My reasoning is that I should not have to pay to dry my clothes (I have to go to a laundromat) for them to just get wet again when I walk outside! Weird, I know.
  5. I did not make my first lasagna until after I became a vegan – weird because of my Italian heritage (half). I liked it just as much, if not better than regular lasagna!
  6. I have to sleep with something over me at night, even if it’s just a sheet over one of my limbs. When I get warm, the first part of me to come out from the blanket is a my feet!
  7. I have been singing since before I can remember. My very first solo song that I sang in front of an audience was “The Rainbow Connection” from the Muppets at my Kindergarten end-of-the-year assembly. Awesome song, even now!

The Sunshine Award

  • Rules are as follows:
    • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog. 
    • Answer 10 questions about yourself.
    • Nominate other fabulous bloggers.
    • Link your nominees to this post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.
    • Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

Here are my questions/answers:

What is your favorite childhood memory? Playing games with my two sisters – we didn’t need board games or cards, we kept ourselves amused with our own made up world in which we got to be Disney movie characters!

What is a real fear you have? Failure. I have nightmares about forgetting something at school, screwing up concerts, letting people in my life down – it’s definitely one of the biggest fears that I have.

How would you describe yourself? Hmmm. I am a vegan music educator that enjoys working out, eating, cooking, reading, and staying in for a quiet night at home. When I am with people that I know, I am outgoing but I get a bit introverted when I am around large groups of strangers.

What countries have you lived in? Just this one! I have visited Costa Rica but that’s about it! I would love to go to Europe (Italy and Spain mainly) when I get the chance.

What is your style? I feel like I have two – my “teacher style” and my “Julie style.”

What is your favorite breakfast food? The vegan Bike Shop Special from Satellite Cafe in Philadelphia

What are some of your hobbies? Singing, playing the piano, blogging, cooking, reading, yoga, running

If you could tell people anything, what would be the most important thing to say? Stay positive – I always try to find the brighter side of things, and keeping that sort of attitude has helped me through a lot of not-so-great situations.

What is one of your passions? Music – it has been a lifelong passion. I built my career around music and I love that I get to call teaching music my job!

What is the one truth you have learned? You’re never given more than you can handle. It may seem that things are horrible and impossible, but they will always look up. You will always find a way, and there is always a silver lining.

Because I blog about two very different topics, my 15 nominations will be a bit all over the place as far as genre. I have also taken Facetious Firecracker’s lead and combined my nominations – all of these blogs have influenced me in some way, and deserve to receive both rewards. In no particular order, they are:

Once again, thank you for the honor! Thank you, also, to the bloggers mentioned above – keep writing and posting that awesome material of yours!

Who are your favorite bloggers? Name some in the comments section below!

Juice Cleansing for the First Time – My Story

16 Jul

This past week was a first for me – I made the decision and went through with a 3-day juice cleanse!

In a previous post, I talked why I chose to do a cleanse; suffice it to say that I am always looking to improve my health and wellness and I thought that doing a cleanse would be a great way to accomplish that. I wound up choosing the Long Weekend Cleanse from the Reboot Your Life website. They laid out all of the ingredients and recipes that I would be using so that planning was a cinch. I made a giant Whole Foods run the night before and had to pick up a few extra items on Day 2.

The night before, I separated out all of the ingredients that I would need for the first 3 juices of Day 1. I did this so that I was scrambling in the morning before work  – I’m a bit of a planning freak! I also made sure that my kitchen was nice and clean (clean kitchen for a clean body!) and that I labeled jars for each “meal” since I would be taking them to work.

My clean kitchen!

Day 1

The morning of Day 1, I got up bright and early and started my morning off with the recommended glass of hot water with lemon. I grabbed all of my stuff out of the refrigerator and juiced up a storm, making 3 batches for the beginning of my day. I was super excited to get started and loved the variation of colors in all of the juices. I appreciated that I wouldn’t have to drink the same thing for 3 days straight.

Day 1 Morning Juices

I dove into my first juice (carrot, apple, and ginger) and was able to enjoy that with some light reading before work. I was hungry when I woke up, and this definitely took the edge off. It was a small batch (picture above), so it went down pretty quickly and I started to feel hunger again in about an hour and a half. The morning snack of cucumber, celery, apple, kale, lemon and ginger juice was also pretty palatable and I was able to drink it while I was working. Lunch was called a gazpacho juice and it was pretty true to it’s name!

I noticed right away that all of these “meals” added up to quite a liquid intake – something I am definitely NOT used to! My boyfriend, who would carry a gallon of water with him everywhere if he could, constantly nags me to drink more water but I have never been one to chug anything. I was sipping on these juices at a fairly slow pace and had not finished my lunch juice by the time I got home after 3 that day. By the time I finished lunch, did some cleaning, exercised, and prepped for Day 2, I had only finished 4 out of the 5 prescribed juices for the day. Instead of forcing myself to make and drink a 5th jar, I decided that as long as I was sticking to a juice-only regiment, I should be ok with being a little short. I was thankful to end the night with some green tea with Stevia as my reward.

My new favorite mug!

My energy throughout the day was pretty great – I normally sneak in a midday nap if I am dragging, but I didn’t feel like I needed it at all. I was able to run in the morning, do laundry, go to work, run errands, attend a yoga class, and do some household stuff without even feeling it! Woohoo! You never really realize how much time you spend cooking and eating food – I had so much extra time on my hands!

Day 2

I woke up hungry on Day 1, but I was surprised to notice that I really was not hungry on Day 2. I had done the same prepping, so I was ready to get started as soon as I got up! I made 3 batches again and was super excited to try my breakfast juice – blackberry, grape, and apple juice with ginger. Best juice of all 3 days!

Day 2 Juices

I woke up not really wanting anything, but the breakfast juice got me back into the groove again. I had about the same timing with Day 2 as I did with Day 1 – it took me a while to get the Lunch juice down because it was my least favorite of the bunch. Something about juicing beets just doesn’t sit well with me! As the recipes went on, I found that they had less and less fruit in them, which made them harder and harder to drink for me. By the time the Afternoon Snack juice came around, I knew I had to start adding some citrus or other fruits to make it through the end of the day and the next. The snack juice was supposed to contain fennel, cucumber, spinach, and celery, but I went ahead and added some lemon and jalapeno – MUCH better! 🙂

I was up pretty late that night doing various things -my energy was CRAZY high and I had so much time on my hands that I just couldn’t sit still! I wound up having a late dinner that night – cabbage, broccoli, lemon, green apple and ginger. It was actually pretty darn good except for one small oversight – I didn’t clean out the juicer well enough from the earlier juice and wound up with jalapeno in my dinner! I definitely wasn’t expecting that kick!

I wound up skipping the tea on Day 2 – I was full when I went to sleep and slept really great throughout the night!

Day 3

Surprisingly, I woke up hungry on Day 3! I started out with water with lemon while I juiced 2 batches – I was only going to be out of the house for a short while, so I didn’t want to make too much in advance. I drank some of my morning juice while I got ready for work. When I got in, I had a 2 hour rehearsal/performance and I got distracted from my drinking. I also had an audience of 40+ people, so I did not want to whip out a massive mason jar and start swigging green elixir in front of them! I stuck with water until I was done, which meant I hadn’t finished my first jar by the time 2:15 rolled around. Needless to say, I was hungry! I wasn’t really enjoying the breakfast juice anymore, so I switched over to the morning snack without finishing it.

Day 3 Juices

I made it home around 3:30 and continued to finish my morning snack. I left the house again around 4:45 to go to yoga (5:30-6:45) and did not take a juice with me – I only carried a large water bottle. After class I took a small detour to do some shopping (couldn’t resist!) and was home around 8:00. That’s a LONG time to go without anything! I made a small batch of the dinner juice – it was named “tabbouleh juice” and had tomato, red onion, parsley, lemon, and cucumber – and finished that while I relaxed. By the time I went to bed that night, I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I thought it would be best to end my night with some more tea and water.

Breaking the Cleanse

Because of all the exercising I had been doing throughout the week, my body decided that it would be a great idea to sleep for 10 hours that night – great idea, right? Wrong! Because of how little I actually drank the day before and how long I had slept without taking in anything, I woke up feeling shaky and a bit strange. Of course, I do not fault the cleanse at all for that; my juice intake the day before was my own doing and this was the consequence! I had read that you need to ease back into eating solid foods, even with a cleanse as short as mine, so I cut up an apple and slowly ate a quarter of it at a time until the shakes stopped. Apple had never tasted so good! I waited an hour or so before having a morning snack of orange slices – they were so pretty that I had to snap a picture!

LOVE that color!

For the rest of the day, I kept my portions small and my food on the raw side (I did have some wheat toast with my peanut butter and banana sandwich later in the day). I tried to eat slowly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat as much as I had a week before. I had a spinach salad for dinner and when I got hungry a couple of hours later, I had half of an avocado. My body reacted really well to all of the food that I put in it, and I was feeling good again!

Wrap-up

Would I do a juice cleanse again? Yes, I think so. Would I do it the same way? Definitely not. Here’s what I would do differently:

  • I wouldn’t stick solely to the recipes. I know they are there to guide you, but certain things make me feel just a bit ill (like beets). Definitely stick with more veggies than fruit, but don’t be afraid to add something sweet or sour to make it more palatable.
  • I would make smaller batches that were less formidable for my small little self to drink. I would also try to set my drinking and batches to a schedule – if I know when I should be finished, I will avoid the chance of getting hungry or dizzy.
  • I would try to schedule it so that I wouldn’t have to juice so much ahead of time – to me, everything tastes so much better when it is fresh. Leaving those veggie juices to sit in the fridge for a few hours before getting them definitely changed the flavor. I’ve also read that it reduces the nutrients, and we don’t want that!

There were so many benefits to the cleanse – ridiculous energy (two work outs a day and then some), feeling cleaner and lighter, knowing I’m doing something good for my body – that I would definitely recommend trying it. As always, do your research and consult a physician if you have any medical problems or concerns.

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? What was your experience? Please share in the comments section!

My Decision to Do a Juice Cleanse

14 Jul

As a new vegan (I just had my 2-month anniversary on the 25th of June), I have rediscovered my love of food and cooking. My eating is so much cleaner and healthier since my transition and I have definitely noticed a difference in myself. However, I’m the type of person that always wants to do better and I believe that there is always room for improvement. That’s how the idea of a juice cleanse crept into my mind; I wanted a chance to restart my body by using clean produce and a healthy method to continue on my journey with veganism.

I started doing some research and asking around (particularly on the Power To The Veg! Facebook group), and found the cleanse that suited me the best – the “Long Weekend Cleanse” from the ReBoot Your Life website.

I wanted something that was short (no longer than 3 days), contained only juicing, and laid out a plan for me ahead of time – the Long Weekend Cleanse fit all of those criteria. When you go to the site and click on “Plans,” you can actually download a PDF with 5 juice recipes a day for the length of the cleanse. I was able to do all of my shopping and prep ahead of time thanks to that system.

Deciding to do a juice cleanse can be a bit of a commitment. Because I am a teacher, I have a lot of free time now and only work a couple of hours a day teaching summer school. Without that extra time, I think it would have been difficult to maintain the cleanse correctly.

Doing a cleanse can also mean spending some extra money on produce that you wouldn’t normally spend – the picture below shows all of the produce that I bought at Whole Foods to start myself off. I was able to get all of that for around $65, but I did need to make another run after the first day. For the three day cleanse, the cost of produce came in around $100 – and a large majority of that was organic. For someone that lives alone (like myself), that may not seem like a lot, especially if you don’t need to buy much else for the week, but that may be a significant sacrifice for someone that needs to also feed a family.

Produce for 3-Day Cleanse

Lastly, there is a bit of a social aspect to doing a cleanse. Since I was still teaching, I had to bring my large jars of juice to school with me and students/colleagues were very inquisitive. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, some people may not want to deal with that. Personally, I love answering questions that people have about my dietary choices and hopefully, I’m helping to educate them along the way. I also found myself staying in from a weekly Thursday night outing because I was worried about my body’s reaction to the cleanse and being out late enough to make myself hungry.

In another post, I will detail my experience with the juice cleanse – how it effected me mentally and physically, whether I would do it again, and my tips. As with anything, if you have serious health issues or take prescription meds, you should consult a doctor before beginning a juice cleanse. Do your research! Know what your getting into and whether you can take on something like this. Overall, I am pleased with my decision and have ultimately gained some insight about my body and my health!

Are you considering doing a juice cleanse? If so, what made you decide to? If not, what is holding you back?

Preparation and Organization

9 Apr

My journey towards a vegan lifestyle has made one thing very clear: PREPARATION IS KEY! From doing your research before beginning a new diet, to planning your grocery shopping trips and weekly meals, being prepared and planning ahead can make the difference between a healthy, tasty meal and a processed dinner from a box.

Here are a few tips for keeping things organized for the week:

Set a day to grocery shop

For me, I always head to Whole Foods on Monday after work. I choose to travel a bit out of the way to this particular store because of the beautiful organic fruits and veggies that they offer. The employees are always super friendly and extremely helpful when you have questions and concerns. The first time I picked up a bag of Daiya cheese, I asked the checkout clerk if he had ever tried it and what it tasted like – I explained that it was my first time and I was nervous about the difference. He was nice enough to comp the entire bag for me so that I could give it a try without any worries. Such a great company model!

Whole Foods in Reno, NV

Once it begins again, I will also be grabbing some items at the weekly Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood. Even though it’s not the biggest, i love walking through the stands and seeing the same familiar faces each week. It makes me feel good to support local farmers while also getting quality ingredients for myself!

Depending on what you plan to make each week, you may need to make more than one trip to the grocery store in order to have the freshest produce possible. I tend to plan meals that use veggies that stay fresh in the fridge the longest for the end of the week since it’s tough to find time to head to Whole Foods twice a week.

Plan your meals ahead of time

Because my shopping day is Monday, I use about an hour or so on Sunday to plan my meals for the week. I try to try a few new recipes each week, but I take into account what I already have in the kitchen so that I am not overspending. I also think about portion sizes – I’m cooking for myself during the week, but I also like to pack my lunch for work so that my diet doesn’t suffer. So, I typically make between two and four portions of everything so that it lasts. Things like soup and pasta sauce get frozen and saved for a later, busier week.

One of the biggest assets to my dietary change has been AllRecipes.com. Not only have I been able to find a ton of vegan recipes, but I have found vegetarian recipes that I have been able to adapt and other recipes that contain meat that have inspired some of my veggie dishes. One of the features that I like the most is the ability to create your own virtual “Recipe Box” and create a “Shopping List” from those recipes. I use the shopping list feature to add ingredients from other recipes not found on the site so that I can work from one list instead of multiples. It only takes a second to create a free account and all of these great tools are at your disposal (I will be writing a more detailed AllRecipes post soon).

My Vegan Deliciousness Pinterest Board

Pinterest has also been a HUGE help with finding new vegan recipes and recipes that cabe adapted. I follow other vegans that I know in real life and from other social media sites (like Twitter) and I am able to see the recipes that they pin and re-pin. About once a week, I also do my own search for recipes with the #vegan label on them and pin accordingly. Whenever I am browsing the web on my own, I use the “Pin It” feature in my browser to add great recipes to the Pinterest world. Using Pinterest helps me to keep all of the recipes I find from different blogs in one set place – I never have to wonder where a link is when I need it!

Here’s a link to my board called “Vegan Deliciousness” – it has images of vegan recipes that I’ve pinned (just click on the board name). I’ve tried some and I’m looking forward to making others!

Organize your fridge

When I made the decision to begin phasing out animal products, I set aside a couple of hours to really clean out my fridge. I tossed everything that might have been out of date (healthy or not) and everything that was chock full of sugar, preservatives, and animal products. I took everything out that was left and gave the fridge a thorough cleaning and then organized the food into new, easier to handle sections – things like citrus fruit, which tends to give more juice when it’s room temp, got moved to the fruit bowl outside. Instead of stacking layers of veggies on top of each other in the drawers, bruising them easily, I use trays and containers to lay them out. It also makes everything easier to see – I love all of the awesome colors that wind up in the fridge after shopping day!

I found a great list of ways to organize and store specific fruits and veggies on a blog called “My Thirty Spot” – click here to read about the various ways you can maximize the life of your produce!

Organized and Healthy Fridge

Have a plan

I like to try to prep certain food items ahead of time, if at all possible. Things like cutting hulling strawberries and chopping celery for smoothies can be done days in advance. If I buy something like a whole pineapple, I will cut it up whenever I have a free few minutes so that it is ready for recipes and a healthy snack. I also try to group recipes together that have a common ingredient – something like fresh garbanzo beans. Fresh beans need to be soaked before being cooked, so I will make a ton of them and then use them in various recipes for the week. By doing small prep ahead of time, you will save yourself some hassle and work later in the week when you may not have the extra time.

These are just a few tips for staying organized and being prepared. Without preparation, we often wind up spending unnecessary money on meals out or we compromise by eating something fast but not as nutritional as something we could have prepared. Think ahead – the worst feeling to have, in my opinion, is being unprepared!

What are some of your tips and tricks for staying on top of a healthy, plant-based diet? Please share them in the comments below!

The Beginning

10 Mar

I was not a typical kid when it came to eating – I LOVED my vegetables! I would turn my nose up at the sight of steak, I would pick apart my pork chops and would utterly refuse to eat sausage. As I got older, I got a little less picky but would always take something green over a piece of meat. I was never a huge milk drinker, either – the only time you could find me with a glass would be if there was a stack of Oreos with it. Cheese, however, was my weakness!

It was for that reason that I decided to give up all cheese products for Lent in 2011. I’m not particularly religious, but I decided to participate as a practice in self control and as a show of support for my boyfriend who also gave something up. I did well with it, but was ready to go back to eating cheese when the time was up. I went back to my old diet, but started to notice that certain foods were bothering me. It wasn’t until I had a big bowl of cereal with a large amount of whole milk in it, and my body’s reaction that followed, that I realized the dairy products were the ones bothering me. After doing some reading online, I diagnosed myself with an intolerance to lactose. I’m not a huge fan of going to the doctor, so I decided to cut the dairy out of my diet to test my theory and my symptoms went away. Since then, I have been sticking with almond milk instead of regular, and much smaller amounts of cheese (it has a lower lactose level than milk). Though I personally did not go, I would recommend getting formally diagnosed by a doctor if you are experiencing any sort of reaction to dairy or other food products.

About a month and a half ago, I started to notice the same sorts of symptoms that I had with the milk when I ate things like yogurt and cheese, as well as my beloved drinks from Starbucks that have syrups with a dairy base. When I removed those things from my diet, the symptoms went away again, leading me to believe that my intolerance has worsened. I know, I know – it’s on my ever growing to-do list to see a doctor! I swear the cheese aisle calls to me when I walk through the grocery store, but I’ve had to cut it out of my diet for my health’s sake.

When Lent rolled around again this year, I decided that I was going to try cutting beef, pork, and chicken out of my diet and become a pescetarian. Just a couple of days before the start of Lent, my boyfriend and I sat down to watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives” on the recommendation of a friend. This documentary “examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.” Some of the findings shared in the documentary (I will write a more in depth post about it later) scared  the %$@# out of me and helped me to realize that I made the right decision in cutting out meat. In fact, it helped me to realize that the decision was just a stepping stone to a more permanent change.

Forks Over Knives (2011)

Since then, I have stuck true to my word, cutting out all meat products and only having fish twice. I have also been making a conscious effort to cut out ALL animal products, including items that contain milk, eggs and all cheeses. I have not been perfect in this area (I used a little bit of butter to cook with), but I am aware of where I can improve. I am happy with my choice to move towards this type of diet and I have been enjoying myself immensely when finding recipes and planning my meals.

I am excited to document my journey here – my ups and downs, my great finds, my inspirations. I would love any advice and input you can offer, and look forward to engaging with new people!

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