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The Art of Snacking

So here’s the deal. Initially, my reasoning for becoming vegetarian and then vegan was for ethical reasons-flat out. As long as there wasn’t an animal product on my plate or involved in the food I was eating, I was good. Check! No worries! Health, as a perk to this lifestyle, came in second to me. But I also knew that as long as I wasn’t consuming animals or too too many crappy processed foods, my health-odds were automatically better. After learning more and more, though, I realized that there was a lot more to be said for the health aspect of it if I reduced out most processed foods and added in even more whole plant foods. I could cut my odds of heart disease, cancer and stroke (along with so many other illnesses and diseases) by alarming percentages! I could possibly inspire others to take control of their health and reverse and prevent diseases as well. I realized now that creating my own vibrant health actually played a huge role in my advocacy for animals. I needed to be an example of how a plant-based vegan diet can not only end some unnecessary animal suffering in this world but also end a lot of human suffering as well. So now, along with my concerns for the environment related to this topic (and there are so many to consider), health also plays a huge factor in deciding what I put into my body every time I sit down to eat. It’s a very empowering thing to know that my health is my choice, and my example is a potential voice of inspiration to someone.

…which brings me to my weakness when it comes to eating a vegan diet. Snacking! There are tons of processed foods out there that are and are not intentionally vegan that have called my name. And I’ve happily obliged! If you put an unassuming bag of chips (especially kettle-baked) or a box of Oreo’s in front of me, don’t expect them to last very long. You can even hold your breath because, guess what? You’ll still be alive by the time I’m finished with them!

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I don’t buy unhealthy processed snack foods for our house because of this. Once I pop I simply cannot stop! They weren’t kidding around with with that slogan. It’s almost like I have no self control around these things-but these foods weren’t made with self-control in mind. They were made to create an addiction. There are chemicals and additives and such a concentrated amount of sugar/salt in these products that they actually trick your tongue and brain into wanting more. I can go for months without eating refined sugar or salty chips, but the minute I take one bite of a cookie or have a chip, I’m done. Hooked. Craving more. And this is exactly what the food companies want of course. They want you and me addicted to their products so we continue to crave them and buy them and become a part of the heard of unhealthy consumers ringing in the big bucks for the heads of the company.

When I’m out at restaurant that serves free chips or at a party where chips are available-I do have some, don’t get me wrong. But here’s the dealio-when I’m at home without the judgments of others, who’s to ever know I’d eat THAT many cookies? No one would-except for myself when I break out on my face or when I feel puffy or bloated later on from it. Gross. What kind of example of a health and animal advocate am I then?  Not a very good one. And it never feels worth it afterwards-but that damn taste on my tongue just knows how to seal the deal. So I have found that what works best for me personally is keeping things like this out of easy convenience-out of my house. I try to keep healthy snacks around and that truly works to satisfy my cravings for salty or sweet whenever they arise. I am by no means perfect when it comes to my plant-based diet and I’m not even suggesting that you try to be perfect in your diet and lifestyle. Everyone has to figure their path out on their own. I’m just sharing my struggles and hopefully offering you some suggestions in case you struggle with the same things.

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So here’s my suggestion to you: Clean out your fridge and pantry. Like, right now. Even if you have to have a “last meal” with the junk food in your house, that’s fine-but make it quick and get it out of your convenience. Then replace it with healthy, whole food items for when the time comes around that you just have to have something sweet or salty. Get creative with snacks! Snacking can be so fun and colorful! Dunk veggies in fun dips that you create from plant foods! Blend frozen fruit to create sorbets and ice creams! I’ve listed below some snacks that I keep around to get you started!

  • Apples and freshly ground almond butter/peanut butter (no oil or salt added)
  • homemade hummus and whole grain pita bread or vegetables for dipping
  • frozen banana ice cream (there are way too many fun concoctions you can make with this-or if you want simple-all you need are frozen bananas!)
  • dates
  • homemade date balls/energy bites or granola bars
  • crunchy baked chickpeas (you can make these sweet or salty!)
  • kale chips
  • edamame (Thx Stacy for reminding me of this one!)
  • Freshly popped popcorn  (not the kind you buy and microwave-that stuff is laced with chemicals…)
  • tofu pudding
  • chia pudding
  • nuts and seeds
  • guacamole or kale butter with veggies for dipping
  • green smoothie
  • fruit smoothie
  • frozen fruit sorbet (blend frozen fruit in a high speed blender until its smooth)
  • homemade fruit popsicles
  • dehydrated veggies or fruit (if you have a dehydrator)
  • fresh fruit (bananas, grapes, apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, mandarins, pears, mangoes, cherries etc!)

Do you have this issue as well? What are your favorite go-to healthy snack foods?

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Easy Mango Salsa!

Mangos are delicious right?! Can a get a hell yeah?! Well, in our household of Jason and I and the pups, mangos are a typical food that we eat. They’re sweet and creamy and juicy and everything perfect in a fruit! And usually, we buy them and eat them within the next day or so-not really leaving much to be played with in recipes or anything. But they’re great on salads or as the base of a dressing or blended into a sorbet; But, like I said, they usually don’t make it beyond us cutting them up and eating it right then and there. Last weekend though, we went to a party and there was a fresh mango salsa that we went crazy over! (I’m always game for Southwestern and Mexican flavors) So fresh and perfect for summer. So yesterday, before my 10 year high school reunion (eek…can that really be true?!) we had over our friends Jenny and Pete. They hadn’t seen our new house yet, so, trying to be a good hostess, I figured it’d be fun to throw together some mango salsa to munch on after the tour. It was delicious!! And just now, for this evening, when the first pre-season Saints football game comes on, I made this again for whoever shows up to watch it! I just kind of Googled it and threw something together based on a few of the recipes I found-and, as usual, my ingredient amounts are kind of eye-balled until I find the right mix. So here’s how I did it!

Easy Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and chopped

1/2 large cucumber, skinned and chopped

1/3 cup red onion, chopped

1 tbsp jalapeno, finely chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, very roughly chopped (I threw mine in the mini processor, I also got rid of the hard stems, but left the thin ones in between leaves)

Directions:

Throw it also together and mix up and enjoy!

Tips and Ideas!

*Add this to a salad or wrap!

*Double or triple this recipe if you’re feeding a bunch of people or bringing it to a party

*Save the cilantro stems for juicing

*Do NOT touch your eyes before seriously scrubbing your hands after handing the jalapeno…as I sit here, typing through tears…

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Cilantro Hummus and Mexican Dip!

Hey guys and gals! We hope y’all had a good Easter weekend! For ours, my mom and step-dad threw together a last minute family gathering at their house. It was really fun and full of flavorful food! Since my mom and step-dad decided to go plant-based over 2 months ago, most of the food we served was vegan-and scrumptious :). My mom made her famous red beans and brown rice, a veggie pad thai, vegan spinach “cream cheese” dip, vegan potato salad, and a vegan seven-layer dip, among other things like veggie dogs with veggie chili. I added to the mix by making Cilantro Hummus and a Mexican Corn and Bean Dip. Everything was so good! A few other members of our family even brought over a veggie dish or 2! While not everyone may understand or is very keen on this lifestyle and way of eating, most people really enjoyed all the dishes.

I got the idea for cilantro hummus from the New Orleans Farmer’s Market on Saturday. My mom and I went early that morning to get some fresh produce and one vendor, a Lebanese woman who we always see there, made a cilantro hummus dip that she was selling. We tasted it and thought it had such a fun, flavorful kick! So I decided I’d try to replicate the idea. This makes a yummy dip for chips or carrots and veggies. Also, I think it would be a great addition to a veggie sandwich! Nix the mayo-add the hummus! Here’s what I sorta did!

Cilantro Hummus Dip (serves 6-10)

I am approximating a bit here, as I added and tasted as I blended-which I recommend you do as well.

3 cans garbonzo beans
half an avocado
1 tsp ground cumin
2 lemons squeezed
3 large garlic cloves
fresh cilantro leaves torn off the stems-I’d add this as you go to see how much you want. I added then blended then tasted a lot so I don’t know how much I really used.
olive oil-as needed but I wouldn’t use a lot since it’s fatty…
water as needed for whatever consistency you want

Blend all together!

Also, below I am giving you the recipe for an easy, tasty, affordable dip that you can bring to any party and people will love you for it!

Mexican Bean & Corn Dip (serves 6-10)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can rotel (I used lime & cilantro-but any should work fine)

1 can shoepeg corn, drained

1 avocado, chopped up

1/3 purple onion

2-3 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all together! Ole!


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Yummus Hummus!

Who here loves hummus? Everyone does, right? How can you not?! It’s healthy and tasty and making it at home from scratch couldn’t be easier! Seriously-once you make it at home you won’t want to spend $4-$8 on the pre-packaged ones at the grocery store! Plus almost any brand that you buy at the grocery is filled with oil which adds so much saturated fat! I’m not anti-oil, but I do try to avoid it when I can.

Hummus is always great to have in your fridge to use as a mayo-substitute. It’s great on sandwiches or with veggies for a quick lunch or snack! This would also be a great addition to your SuperBowl spread this weekend! But beware, garlic breath is possible here so take the garlic down a notch if you’re concerned about that. Anyways, last night I was craving hummus so I decided to whip some up with ingredients I had on hand. The recipe that I’m posting below was sort of thrown together and unmeasured-but I can approximate! (Is that a verb?)

Yummus Hummus! (makes a decent bowl-size for 2-4 people to pick on)

1 can garbonzo beans-drained and rinsed.

2-3 T fresh lemon juice (start small and add as you taste)

1-2 tsp. cumin (start small and add as you taste)

1 tsp minced garlic (if you’re serving this in a social setting, consider using less garlic due to lovely garlic breath!)

a little water or vegetable broth or olive oil (most recipes use tahini-but I didn’t have any on-hand)

a small handful of sunflower seeds (my secret ingredient that adds a little extra umph!)

kalamata olives (a few to thrown in to process with the dip, and however many you want to garish on top)

Whole wheat pita bread and/or fresh veggies to dip!

Directions

Add the garbonzo beans to your food processor. Add the lemon juice, garlic, sunflower seeds, olives, and a little of whichever liquid ingredient you choose and blend. Start small with all the ingredients and blend and taste as you go.  Add the water/veg. broth/oil as you need it to get it to the consistency you want.  After your dip is made, throw a few kalamata olives in the processor and throw on top of your dip! Toast/warm your pita bread and eat up! Enjoy!

Hummus is one of those things that you can totally make your own! Try throwing in some sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, fresh basil, fresh parsley, coriander, pepper, you name it! Let me know how you guys make your hummus!

 

Love & chick-peas, Kelli 🙂