Why A Meat Lover Went Veggie…

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This post is for the meat eaters, I understand you and I want to make a connection that is not often made with these two sides. I loved meat, all my life, up until I made big changes in my lifestyle. I don’t attempt to force or persuade anyone to change what they are doing, they have to make that choice for themselves. However, I think its worth a discussion. I was that person who made fun of vegans, I proudly stated that the way they lived was unhealthy and un-necessary. I had no information that backed up my view I just said it. I am certain I posted things and said things about vegans that were very hurtful and harsh. I feel badly about that especially since I am now in the position of the people I made fun of. I now know that people who are vegan and vegetarian most of the time are only trying to do the best they can for themselves, their families and their environment.

So why? Why would I change my opinion on something so crucial? What made me think that what I had always been taught and believed to be true was suddenly wrong? The answer to this question is… I was searching myself because of my own motivation and found the true facts. I can tell you even to this day I am as surprised as you are that I am vegan, but I’m never going back.

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So it all started when I was reunited with the love of my life. Things change when you are a couple, you start eating together, merging your lives together and in turn making life decisions together. We had tried going “vegetarian” once before, but we didn’t do it properly and ended up always been tired, exhausted and hungry. We mostly ate what we liked to call “lettuce wraps” which you can imagine were not filled with any sort of nutrients and did not keep our bodies satisfied. We went from a full meat dairy diet to cutting several of those things immediately. Knowing what i know now, our bodies were freaking out. I can see why it didn’t work then. So maybe about two months in, we quit. That little false representation of vegetarian lifestyle convinced us “we just needed meat.” However we did decide that we needed more real fruits & veggies in our diet. So we started just slowly incorporating more plant foods into our meals. I truly believe this was the spark that ignited the transition that took several years to complete, but was the right way to do things.

So after telling our friends and family that we tried being vegetarian but it “simply was not practical” and “did not work for us”, we set back on a more “regular” diet as we knew it. We did eat meat again, but we were more selective. We choose our meat carefully and we paired it with salads and veggie dishes. Slowly but surely we began to really enjoy some of our vegetable sides, we got more creative and better at cooking.

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Little by little we began to learn more about food in general. We learned what health benefits came from which foods, we tried new recipes. We watched documentaries and read books about different effects of certain lifestyles. The more we learned, the more concern we began to have about the way we were eating. This led to realizations that we really needed to change the way we lived more drastically, if we were going to protect our health in the future. Many of our family members were shocked to hear we were considering going vegetarian again because they knew how it did not work for us in the past and they thought this was just another phase we would be in and out of quickly.

A key moment in our lifestyle transition was when a close family member developed cancer and began treatment. Seeing that person go through what they did. Seeing what it did to our entire family, learning what they went through to attempt fighting the disease. Eventually saying goodbye loosing them to the fight. We wanted to know where this disease came from, what fueled it and what seemed to stop it. Many books and studies on experimental treatments with organic and raw vegan diets seemed to suggest that diet could have a strong effect in the growth or deterioration of the cancer cells that can take over your body. This information linked plants to possibly stopping or preventing cancer cell duplication and processed foods, meats and dairy contributing or fueling the disease. More and more we began to dive deep into information and research.

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The trick was, how do you know that something you read or learn is right and what exactly to change? We checked and double checked all the information we could find on healthy living and the relations or links to disease. Of course there were doubts. However, from all the information we went through there did not seem to be any negative effects from incorporating more plants into your diet so we started there. We learned about studies that showed organic food being far less toxic without those pesticides and chemicals all over them. So we started shopping organic, we bought at local farmers markets as much as possible.

It was then that we really discovered the facts about meat and dairy that we had never seen before. We learned that in a Harvard study, cutting out red meats and processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, cold cuts) lowered risk of death by 20%. That was ONLY cutting out red meat. This information floored us and we decided to make some changes. We cut red meat out right away. Little by little we began focusing on plant based meals and avoiding red meat and as much meat products as we could. Then we learned more about dairy, about how the animals are treated with harsh antibiotics and they end up in the milk, how puss and other substances end up in milk and we ingest it. We learned about the biology of our bodies and why many humans have digestive problems as a result of these substances. We were thoroughly disgusted and this was all before the ethical information came to us about the treatment of animals who produce milk. The forced insemination and taking baby cow calves away from their mothers the moment they are born. It was heartbreaking and we could not stomach being part of this industry any more for the sake of our own health, our future family and environment.

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We sought out all of this information ourselves so I know my explanation in this blog post will not change the minds of others who are meat and dairy lovers. It was really hard to learn this was the way things were. It was really hard, at first, to give up things we thought we really liked. However there was light at the end of this transition and I truly believe the reason we completed it and feel so great about it, is because we saw the potential. The true reason for the transformation in our lifestyle was health. If we could lower a risk of death by disease by 20% by just cutting red meat, what else could we do? If the only thing standing in our way was making vegetarian and vegan food replacements as delicious as the meals we had come to love, then that was a challenge we would gladly accept. The more we cut out the questionable things and replaced them with quality healthy produce, the better we felt. The proof was in the results. We scoured the internet for amazing vegan and vegetarian takes on “traditional meals.” Some we liked and others we didn’t, we even made some of our own and they are now staples in our home. We prefer our vegan nachos or tacos recipes to going out any night!

We are not doctors obviously, I am finishing a certification on nutrition and health, but I do not have a masters degree. I only know what I have read and heard and seen, and of course how I now feel having changed my entire lifestyle. What all this information is telling me, is that we are meant to eat plants. The science and the facts show that we need plants for optimal survival. Eating more plants and becoming vegan, I have eradicated any trace of my asthma I suffered from as a child, I can concentrate better, sleep better, have more energy and remember more accurately. We feel amazing and we only started feeling this way when we found the perfect balance and truly started giving our bodies what they needed to thrive.

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It is so easy to look at vegans and vegetarians and poke holes in their lifestyle because many of them truly, are doing it wrong and depriving their bodies of what they need. They are not eating enough, they are still counting calories and depriving themselves of essential nutrients. The facts are clear you do need to eat more when you have this lifestyle, but focusing on the right things. This lifestyle is not taught when you grow up, its not explained and sometimes its unclear how to do it right. We are not “meatless product” vegans, we do not live on processed foods and vegetarian products. A yummy veggie burger is fine once in a while but its real food from the earth, grown on trees, bushes, in the ground, on vines that is going to sustain true health and that is what we live by.

Until we made sure we were eating enough, plenty of fruits and veggies, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, we did not feel the best we could. Getting good sources of proteins, (beans, avocado, tofu & tempeh, nuts) and healthy carbs (rices, grains, oats) and all the nutrients the human body needs (iron, vitamin c, vitamin K, calcium, and more) is essential to satisfying your body. It is totally possible to do this as a vegan, meats and dairy are not essential to health. Those products may even inhibit your body from being as healthy as it can be.

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Again we know we will not change the minds of others, but if you are curious or asking yourself why vegans and vegetarians are always talking about food and it seems like they are always trying to convince you that this is the way to go, its not because they think they are superior, despite what many people say. The reason they want to share so much is because they care about you, your health, and the environment too. It takes dedication to your health, your family’s health, and the environment to make these changes and live this way. We have a great deal of difficulty going out to dinner because everything is covered in dairy or served on meat. Believe me, we wish it was not so hard, but we do it because its the right thing for us. Not everyone is ready, not everyone will be able to do this now, or as soon as we did, it takes time. We only share because we believe with proper information people can make changes for the better. Its true just like Maya Angelou said “I did then what I knew how to do, Now that I know better, I do better.”

The world is slowly waking up to the reality of food, the harsh realities of the meat and dairy industries. People are choosing organic, they are choosing sustainable they are choosing life and color in their food. I encourage you to choose for yourself, to discover and find out what is in the foods you are eating. I know there is a chance I could be wrong about many of the things I believe about food. However, when I think about it, adding more fruits and veggies into peoples meals everywhere really can’t hurt right? So if you don’t want to give up meat, then don’t! If you want to keep your glass of milk then do so! You can still make changes without giving things up day one. Maybe choose some organic milk next time you are at the store, or buy a smaller carton. Maybe be mindful about drinking more water. You could choose more responsibly raised meats, learn about grass fed, cage free, antibiotic and hormone free. Maybe visit your local farm and see what they have to offer? Then you are not giving up something you really like but instead fueling your local economy. Just making these small changes and adding more fresh foods into our diets can make a great deal difference. I hope this article does not offend you but helps you, I hope its relate-able. I truly only wish to give information to those searching for it like I once was and I only wish to help those who want the help I offer.

Tofu, Mango, Spinach Salad

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Sometimes it’s hard to make just the right salad. Sometimes salads get boring. My goal is to inspire people to love their greens, love their salads. My photos aren’t the best this evening, I’m dealing with a teething baby, but I plan to take better quality images later on. I wanted to share this amazing salad that I threw together in less than ten minutes.

We were hungry this evening dinner time was here but we had a long day and didn’t feel like making a huge mess in the kitchen. I knew we needed something healthy, something delicious, something easy.

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I decided to make a healthy delicious, filling, fun salad. I started with a few different types of greens. Baby kale, romaine, spinach and arugula, I find mixing different greens makes it more interesting. After arranging my bed of greens, I chopped some veggies for my salad. I also decided that I wanted a sweet taste in my salad too. I chopped some mango, red pepper, onion, radish, and tomato. After arranging the veggies on my salad I chopped some firm organic tofu and lightly cooked it in some olive oil on an iron skillet. I seasoned my tofu with cayenne pepper, paprika, and black pepper. I cooked the tofu lightly and then tossed it on top of the salad. Lastly I added some avocado halves and walnut pieces to my salad.

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Most dressings are filled with sugar and additives so I’m always careful which dressings I use on my healthy salads. I used an organic, sesame ginger dressing on my salad. I only drizzled a small amount on top of it.

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This bright salad was fresh, delicious, filling and healthy. The flavors of the sweet mango, the avocado and the spice on the cooked tofu went perfectly together. We devoured these salads, big smiles on our faces. The best part was it was easy quick and didn’t dirty too many dishes! We were even able to share our salads with our little guy, he enjoys crawling around from one of us to the other begging for another slice of mango or avocado hehe! There are so many ways we can make eating our greens and veggies more interesting and fun! Hope you enjoyed this recipe more to come soon!

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Berry, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Salad | A Summer Fall Fusion

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We all could stand to eat more greens right? However it’s not always easy. Sometimes we need a little excitement, a little motivation to urge us to eat those greens. I like to make interesting unexpected salads to motivate me to make a salad at least once a day. This salad is a delicious combo of sweet berries, fresh veggies, and the unexpected twist of soft sweet potato as well! Of course as always you can experiment and add different veggies or other ingredients you love.

For my greens I started with baby kale, and spinach. On top of that I chopped some mushroom, radish and onion. I also added some raspberries, strawberries, almonds and some cooked sweet potato chunks. I was already cooking the sweet potato for my little guy so I just added some extra for myself! This recipe is so quick and delicious. The sweet berries mixed with the crispy greens, and the soft sweet potatoes on top, make an amazing fusion of flavor.

This salad is interesting and delicious. Fall is on our doorstep and we are going to be ready for all our favorite fall foods! Let’s get ready for it and put a spin on our green salads!! I challenge you to make yourself an interesting salad this week! How do you liven up your salad? We would love to hear about it!

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Hanging on to the last moments of summer | Mango Tempeh Taco Boat Recipe

 

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So I don’t know about you (for those of you who are on the same season cycle as we are) but I’m trying desperately to hold on to those last moments of summer. It’s been an amazing summer, probably one of the best I have ever had. This was our first summer with our precious boy.

I apologize for not posting in a while, I am sure some of you are dying for more recipes!! Well I have a great one for you today!! However, before that, let me talk a little about what’s been keeping me from posting and how I have been staying healthy on the go.

Augustus and I went to Nantucket, it was his first trip, we have family over on the island. We were in great need for a break and some time with our toes in the sand and our hearts by the ocean. Sadly daddy couldn’t join us because he was busy at home. So Augustus and I packed up and headed to the ferry to go to the beloved island. I had some preparation to do in order to stay healthy on the trip for Augustus and I. I packed some peaches, bananas, apples, sliced watermelon, blueberries, almond butter, clif bars, coconut yogurt, and some organic baby food pouches for baby. We snacked on some fruit on the two hour boat ride and then most of our snacks were for the rest of our time on Nantucket. When you’re visiting family you can’t always count on them having the healthy snacks you like nor do I ever expect that my family eats the way I do and can provide those items. I always bring my own food.

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We did make one stop at the grocery store for more bananas, peaches and coconut yogurt! How did I end up with these children in my cart? So the other huge part of staying healthy on the island was when we went out to eat. I focused on making healthy choices for myself and bringing healthy foods for Augustus. I always chose a healthy green salad with my meals and let Augustus have some chopped tomatoes and other veggies. I made good choices like at one restaurant I had an arugula feta pizza, another night we all had roasted vegetable tapas, delicious yet nutritious!! So I’ll do another post on eating healthy when eating out but I just wanted to share a little about how we did it on our trip. Needless to say we had a wonderful time and were sad to leave. Until next time Nantucket ❤️

So here is an amazing recipe that I have been making to grasp on to the last days of warmth and summer feelings! Mango Tempeh Taco Boats!

 

This new take on tacos is healthy, fresh and delicious! The tempeh veggie stir fry mixed with the spicy sweet tangy mango salsa, is an amazing combo! You can also innovate this recipe with some improvisations. I used romaine for the taco boats but you could use collard greens, lettuce, kale or cabbage even. The veggie stir fry could be made with a variety of your favorite vegetables, and also the salsa could be improvised as well! Maybe add mushrooms to your stir fry or pineapple to your salsa.

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This meal is so satisfying! The tempeh fills you up and the delicious combination of other flavors keeps you wanting another helping! What an excellent alternative to the usual tacos filled with meat and cheese in cased in greasy taco shells. You can get the same delicious idea with a healthy twist! Hope you will try this recipe and I would love to hear about how you changed it to incorporate your favorite foods!!

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Starting healthy habits early | How to raise a healthy baby

 

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When it comes to health, I feel like one of the biggest questions is, “How do I get my kids to eat veggies” or “How do I make sure my kids are eating healthy enough?” I made it my personal mission even during my pregnancy to be healthy and when my son was born to start him on a super healthy lifestyle.

My fiancé and I decided that we would implement an extremely healthy eating pattern for him right away. When Augustus turned the appropriate age for eating purée foods we started immediately. Here is a list breakdown of his first few months of eating, what we did and why.

First Food: So other than breastmilk Augustus’ first food was avocados. We used to blend them with breastmilk and feed that mixture to him! Huge hit! We chose this as his first food because we didn’t want to choose a sweet fruit and ignite that sweet tooth right away, we deliberately set out to create a taste for veggies for him. He still LOVES avocados and eats them regularly.

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Teething: When we knew our little guy’s teeth were hurting we did use some frozen fruit in a mesh teether to help soothe him. He wasn’t quite sure how to use it at first but with a little help he grew to really enjoy the teether and it gave him much relief from his sore gums.

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Fruit Purée: As Augustus began to get used to swallowing something besides breastmilk and he enjoyed the eating experience, we began experimenting with other foods! We thought we would try some fruit. So after avocados we tried bananas. We blended banana with breastmilk, avocado and breastmilk, really any combination we tried was a hit!! After that we got more adventurous trying berry purée and other fruits.

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Variety: Something we kept in mind while starting Augustus’ food experience was that we wanted him to find fruits and veggies delicious and exciting. Sure this is easy for his age because they pretty much eat what you give them not having a preference yet and not using words to ask for something else. Already other mommies with babies his same age have asked “how do you get your son to eat veggies?? My baby won’t touch them” and basically my trick is, offering a variety of veggies for him to try. I always offer veggies first except for breakfast.

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Avoid Processed Foods: So this rule we have set has really helped us expand Augustus’ pallet for fruits and vegetables. We don’t give Augustus any processed foods. So before introducing him to foods we did not give him rice cereal, and as he began to try foods we didn’t let him have any of those baby cookies or any processed treats like that. It is very tempting to let him have things that are easy like that but we have not done it once. We really believe it has helped him gain a great taste for all the fruits or veggies he loves! Augustus has not had anything but breastmilk, fruits and vegetables and a little rice so far at eight months.

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Consistency: Since Augustus has started to really eat solid meals and breastfeeding has been restricted to evenings and sometimes before nap times, we have had to be consistent. We routinely give him a variety of fruits and vegetables and introduce new things here and there. He has developed favorites and hardly dislikes any of the things he has tried.

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Practice what we preach: The last way we have given our son a healthy start to life is through our own healthy habits as well. Augustus is now getting to the age where he only wants what mommy and daddy are eating. Luckily aside from maybe being too spicy our meals are something he can have. He can share bananas and almond butter in the morning with me and have some tomatoes and avocado off of daddy’s salad in the evening. Staying healthy ourselves makes it easier to show our son how to be healthy too. If he is surrounded by healthy natural foods and doesn’t have a taste for sugary or salty processed food products, he only wants what we give him. Our thought is, why give him cookies or muffins or things like that if he doesn’t need them? Why let him even taste those things, and why tempt him by eating them ourselves? This is serious motivation to stay healthy ourselves so that we are setting a good example for him.

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You might be wondering, how do we know these tips are useful? Our son is only eight months old. Well, before being a mommy I was a nanny for many years and was very helpful in getting kids to eat veggies that they typically denied. So sure, we are only at the beginning with his food journey, it might get more challenging as he gets older and develops more preferences but we are still going to use these tips and avoid giving him anything that will start a bad habit. So far it’s working really well and we have a happy healthy baby boy that has not been sick one time and enjoys his food very much!

Below are some of Augustus’ typical meals and how I prepare them!

Breakfast: 

 

Baby breakfast smoothie-I love to blend up fruits and almond milk to make an easy smoothie that he can drink himself. He loves strawberry & banana, mixed berry, and spinach banana.

Chopped bananas and blueberries: I chop up these fruits into bit size pieces and feed them to my little guy who gobbles them right up!

Lunch:

Guacamole-Mommy and baby can enjoy some fresh home made guacamole! I blend up avocados, tomatoes, onion and cilantro with a little lemon juice and voila! A healthy lunch for baby and snack for me!

Veggie blend combos- Many veggies can be blended together to make delicious meals for baby! My favorites are sweet potato, avocado, beets, greens, carrot, etc!

Dinner:

We love to try new things and dinner is a great time to do that! We live to let baby try black beans, chickpeas, different veggies and sometimes rices or quinoa. Augustus loves sitting in his high chair and trying new tastes!

Good luck with your healthy journey for your baby! I would love to hear what you do to help your baby try new healthy foods and love them! Comment below and tell me more!!

Interesting food facts that make you want to eat healthy!

 

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Something I love to do is learn about the different health benefits of my favorite foods! Once I learn about a new benefit there is to eating a certain food I am so motivated to incorporate it into my next meal! I thought maybe I would share some interesting food facts that you might not know that will make you excited to eat healthier!!

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Arugula: 

Arugula is a nutrient rich green that will add an amazing amount of flavor to any dish you use it in! We love to add arugula to a sandwich or our vegan tacos! Arugula is a tangy delicious healthy food! Rich in calcium, cancer preventing nutrients and vitamins A and K there isn’t a reason not to use this amazing plant in your meals! Arugula has been proven to aid in eye health too! Next time you’re at the store grab yourself some arugula to make a salad or garnish your sandwiches for lunch!!

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Mango

Mangos are such a delicious way to be healthy! High in potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A and K mangos are great for your immune system to prevent colds and flus! Mangos are also a pre-biotic, meaning they provide good bacteria for your gut to prevent digestive problems. Mangos are great in smoothies, fruit salads and even added on green salads for a burst of flavor! There really isn’t any reason not to get yourself a mango and start incorporating them into your meals this week!!

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Cilantro

Cilantro is a delicious herb used for many great recipes!! We use cilantro the most for guacamole! Cilantro is proven to have more vitamin C than even oranges!! Adding some fresh cilantro to a salad is sure to boost the flavor and nutrient value!!

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Peaches 

This beautiful fruit is an excellent addition to any regular diet! Peaches have been shown to benefit the body in many ways. The aroma of peaches is said to have calming effects on the body, reducing pain, lifting depression and creating an overall sense of well-being. They are also a great snack that’s easy to bring on the go!!

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Asparagus: 

Who doesn’t love some beautiful asparagus with dinner? Well asparagus is rich in vitamin K, and is proven to help the digestive tract. It’s so easy to chop some asparagus and add it to a stir fry or as a side dish to any meal!!

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Raspberries

Did you know raspberries can be white? These nutrient dense little beauties whether white red or any other color are great defense against colds and flu. They prevent respiratory infections and are full of phytonutrients which lower the risk of chronic disease! This fruit is one of the highest in fiber content. I love to add some raspberries to oatmeal or even a green salad!

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Its not surprising to find out that such a beautiful fruit is also packed with so many awesome beneficial nutrients! Kiwis are packed with vitamin C and yet another choice that contains even more than oranges! They can also be beneficial in preventing symptoms of asthma when eated regularly. Kiwis look gorgeous garnishing a fruit salad or as a side to your breakfast dish!

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Bananas

I know I keep using this photo in my posts but just love it! We LOVE bananas in our home!! We always get funny looks at the grocery store during checkout because we buy like 3-5 bundles a week! Did you know that ripe banana with brown spots are full of cancer fighting nutrients (TNF). Basically the riper your banana the better it is for you, which is amazing because super ripe bananas are so sweet! They are excellent in smoothies! Bananas are also full of a nutrient called (FOS) Fructooligosaccharide that helps your body absorb calcium properly! Bananas are a no brained staple for our family and my little one’s favorite fruit!

I hope these tips and facts inspire you and encourage you to make healthy choices! What food facts do you know? I would LOVE to know more facts about the healthy foods we love!! Share and comment below!! Thanks for following! -Alexa-

 

 

What’s on my grocery list | How to make your own grocery list on a budget

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Many people ask me “well you are a vegetarian, and mostly vegan, what do you even eat?” Sometimes they say “what do you eat for snacks?” or “How do you get any protein?” It’s difficult to explain sometimes in a simple answer. So I thought I would write a post about what is on my grocery list. This would show everyone what I typically get in one week for my fiance, our baby (who is now eating solids) and myself. We typically shop at Trader Joes or Whole foods because we feel we can get the best quality produce and everything we need there. Now my list varies each time I shop, it depends on season, and there are some times when you go to the store and get those things you don’t need every time you shop. I am not going to cover those things like olive oil, sriracha sauce, spices etc… Those items we don’t get every week so I am just going to go over the items we get weekly.

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We like to mix it up week to week sometimes getting different fruits then the previous week and sometimes if we have a special recipe in mind then our grocery list will be different. However we have the usual weekly staples. We eat LOTS of fruits and vegetables, we stay mostly in the produce area of the store. I’m just going to give an example of a typical grocery list for my family and also give an example of another grocery list that keeps under a budget of $100.

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To start incorporating healthier foods into your diet you can use these lists as a guide. Start with a typical list you use for your grocery shop and eliminate some of those processed foods like we discussed before (eight tips for starting a healthier lifestyle) and replace with some of the items from these lists. We do a large shop because both my fiancé and I pack lunches and we eat breakfast and dinner at home as well. We also juice which requires more produce. I am not recommending that someone who doesn’t eat this way go out and purchase this exact list. It’s much better to slowly transition into this new lifestyle. So here are the grocery lists!!

Our typical grocery list: 

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Our typical grocery shop falls around $150. This might sound expensive but to me, there is nothing better to invest my money in than the fuel for my body. But honestly with the amount of food we get and the meals we are able to make its totally worth it. We buy most everything organic also which I would highly recommend doing.

Budget under $100 starter list: 

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So I calculated this budget friendly list to be about $80 give or take depending on where you shop and how many of each item you get. This should be a good start with enough food for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Now, of course if you are not a vegetarian or vegan this list will be different. You will have meats on the list or possibly cheeses or eggs. That’s totally fine too! We did not start out as vegetarians, in face we tried it a few years ago and we were so nutrient deficient and tired we couldn’t do it. We were not doing it correctly. We weren’t eating enough food in general. Now we are supplementing with tofu and tempeh as our meat substitutes and eating lots of nuts in our trail mix like almonds and walnuts. I will say making the (totally accidental) transition into vegetarian/vegan eating has made it much cheaper. A container of tofu at Trader Joes can cost about $2 compared to meat that costs around $5-$10 for a small decent cut of chicken. Also a brick of tempeh is $1.99 at trader joes which is just way less expensive than meats.

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Money shouldn’t be the reason you switch to a vegetarian diet in my opinion. However I just wanted to de-bunk the thought that to be healthy you have to spend twice as much. I also like to stay aware of where and when my local farmers markets are, I can get excellent quality food for even less expense there!

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You might look at this list and think it’s completely different from how you shop now which is totally okay. You might think to yourself “three bunches of bananas?? Why on earth would I do that??” Bananas are one if those staples that you can bring anywhere and are delicious yet satisfying. We use them for breakfast, snacks on the go and we peel, chop and freeze atleast one bundle to make our own healthy ice cream in the evenings! You might think a bag of oranges is WAY TOO MUCH oranges for you. That is totally fine, as I mentioned above, we juice so half of those oranges are going into our healthy juices. Same with half our pineapple and sometimes celery and carrots. I hope this post gives you a little insight and inspiration for your next grocery shop! I personally LOVE the grocery store! Here is our little Augustus at Trader Joe’s, as you can see he LOVES to shop!!

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We cook many different types of meals and we typically have no waste from our shop. We like to try and use everything we bought before we return to the store so that way we are not buying double of things by accident and we find it saves money. If we reach the end of the week and say we went out to dinner because of a special occasion, maybe some of our food is going to go back if we don’t use it, we will cook up a stir-fry to take for lunch, or make a healthy juice to drink in the morning. Its going to take some practice and some trial and error. You are going to have to experiment with what you like and what foods work for your typical week of eating. We have had to be really aware of what foods work for our busy summer work weeks and what foods work for our cold snowy weeks in the winter as well. We like to take advantage of what is in season, eating lots of watermelon and berries in the summer, and taking advantage of cold crops in the winter like spaghetti squash, kale and root plants like potatoes. We would love to hear what your grocery shop is like! What are your secrets for staying healthy when you shop? Please let me know if you have any questions about these lists and how to shop under budget! Thanks for following!

 

Iced Coffee | A weakness for many, how to do your coffee in a healthier way!

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Iced Coffee. Most of us love it, some of us cannot function without it, but it can be really unhealthy if we are getting it on the go. I have given up coffee multiple times but being a photographer, late night editing, also having a little baby, sometimes its just necessary. In the photo above this is where you can usually find my coffee right next to me on my desk!

We all know a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee is loaded with heavy cream and sugars, same with most places that serve coffee beverages on the go. Many people have the misconception that coffee itself is bad for your health. Its not the coffee that is the problem, its the dairy and sugars that they add.

There have actually been proven benefits to drinking just plain black coffee in moderation. Read about benefits of coffee here!

What I want to talk about though is how to make a better coffee. Most of us know that making coffee at home is not only better for you but better for your wallet too! Buying a decent bag of ground coffee is less than buying a small cup of coffee every day of the work week. But how do we make a hot or iced coffee that is not only delicious but good for your body?

Tip #1 Make coffee at home: So if you have a busy morning and you think you might not be able to make a coffee in the morning you could always brew some the night before and chill it over night, especially during these hot summer months! Whatever you have to do, like we discussed its cheaper and better for you!

Tip#2 Choose a better coffee: It all starts with the coffee you choose. First of all I would definitely recommend choosing organic if that is possible for you, this way you don’t have to worry about chemicals from how it was grown. Also fair trade coffee is a good way to go also, read more about why fair trade is so important here! I shop at trader joes, they have a few great selections of organic coffee. Click the link if you want to see another brand of coffee I recommend! Organic Coffee

Tip#3 Ditch the heavy cream and white granulated sugar: So this is a big one. Most creams and milks used at these fast coffee places, is filled with hormones and chemicals. There really is no nutritional value in the dairy at all. Try finding a dairy alternative that you like in your coffee. I know some of you might be skeptical about not using the traditional dairy products but this is coming from someone who used to drink milk every day and now is DAIRY FREE. If you give some of the alternative dairy products a try they are much easier on your digestive system and you may even find you like them better! Most are also cheaper than a gallon of milk! I personally like a little organic almond milk in mine, or even organic coconut milk! If you purchase a “vanilla” flavored almond or coconut milk then you might not need any sugar, but if you do at least try and use an Organic Cane Sugar (click the link to find organic cane sugar) and cut down significantly how much sugar you are using. If you use a little less sugar every day you will find you hardly need any after a few weeks. Like we have discussed before, your body will adjust and not want coffee that sugary anymore.

Tip#4 If you do get coffee out, order a better coffee: If I do breakdown and need a coffee while I am out, I always ask for an alternative milk (almond, soy or coconut) and I try and use as little sugar as possible.

Tip#5 Try black coffee: I know many people who tried it and now love it. The healthiest way to enjoy coffee is black. Personally I had trouble liking it that way but every once in a while I try again. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do black coffee, I know I can’t as of right now.

So I hope these tips help! My usual coffee now at home is an organic dark roast coffee with organic vanilla almond milk and no sugar. It is delicious! It took me some time to tinker with what I like the best but you should experiment and give some new things a try! What works for you? I would love to hear about your coffee tricks!! Thank you for following! -Alexa-

My Breakfast Staple | Bananas and dates with almond butter

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Are you trying to incorporate more healthy foods into your meals? Do you often skip breakfast? Do you crave things like muffins, pancakes, danish etc? This breakfast tip is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and get you ready for your day with a boost of energy!

So this is so simple, if you like bananas, you DON’T have a nut allergy, and you enjoy gooey caramel tasting dates then this is for you!

I literally buy 3-5 bunches of bananas at the store (for many different recipes you will find out) because I eat this particular snack sometimes multiple times a day! Bananas are so inexpensive, so delicious. so filling, there are so many reasons to love bananas! If you are not buying at least one bunch at the store ask yourself WHY!!

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FIRST! What you will need:

    1. Nut Butter of your choice: (I choose almond, but peanut, hazelnut, any kind works!) I get mine at Trader Joes, but you can get it most anywhere, click the links below to see the brands I suggest and where you can get yours! Choose a good brand, preferably organic, Raw if you can, without added sugars or preservatives. This is one of the only packaged foods I do suggest buying!
    2. Bananas: I slice my bananas into a bowl to drizzle my other delicious             ingredients on top! Want to slice bananas easily, try a Banana Slicer !
    3. Dates: These tasty treats are amazing in so many ways! (Click HERE to read about the health benefits of dates!) These dates taste gooey and caramely and delicious and you dont have to feel guilty about gobbling them up in your breakfast! I like to pit and chop my dates to add to my banana almond butter amazingness! You can buy organic sundried dates in many grocery stores but click the link above or this link that says “Dates” to purchase the ones I recommend! Sometimes you can find them already pitted which is very convenient! (always try and find organic sun dried dates if you can)
    4. Options: There are also other things I add to this dish on occasion! Sometimes I will add Almond Slices or even fresh blueberries, strawberries, you could even add some Figs! Experiment with your own healthy ingredients, click on the links above to find where to purchase any of the suggestions I have discussed here!

Almond Butter
Peanut Butter
Hazelnut Butter

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Now! The process!

First chop your bananas, arrange them in a size appropriate dish. Then I drizzle the almond butter on top, however much you like depending on the mood you are in, I usually use about two spoon-fulls. Lastly I scatter my chopped dates on the top to complete my delicious breakfast!

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I mean seriously look at that! Are you not drooling already?? I promise you, cereal will just never feel the same after you have had this!!

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Here is your closeup shot. I am getting hungry just writing about this. First thing I am going to do once this is posted is go make this for myself! This breakfast is GUILT FREE!! Bananas are such a healthy fruit, great for your digestive health and containing nutrients that regulate blood pressure and aid in your heart health. Dates are an amazing fruit that contains calcium, potassium, iron and so much more, helping bone health, preventing anemia the list goes on. Almonds and natural almond butters are an amazing energy source containing healthy fat and fiber that keeps you going throughout the day and regulates blood cholesterol levels. Eating almond butter regularly in moderation can help to prevent high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease. If these aren’t enough reasons to try this breakfast out then I don’t know what is!!

Sometimes If I am on the go, I will prepare this in a to go Container so that I can eat it while at work, or in between doing errands, there isn’t any excuse really not to enjoy this healthy energy boosting breakfast! (click the link above for some awesome glass to-go containers I use for my healthy eating on the go!)

I hope you will try this and let me know if you like it! I will be posting this recipe on the “Recipe” page so its easily accessible! As always, if you have any questions concerns or comments do not hesitate to comment below or contact me! Thank you so much for following -Alexa-