It’s World Vegan Month!!

I may have missed VeganMoFo (Vegan Month of Food) but that doesn’t mean I have to miss out on World Vegan Month!! This month I’m challenging myself to talking to you beautiful people EVERY DAY! That may mean blogging, making a video, or even trying my hand at a podcast (we can all dream, right?) but no matter the form I am here to help walk with you on this plant-based journey! So tell me- what would you most like to hear about this month? Meal planning? Eating healthy on a budget? Fun vegan treats? Feeding vegan kids? You name it and I’ll line it up! So excited to be back with all of you! Keep it kind, friends!

Going back to the mat

My fitness practice has been…challenging…over the past few months. Those who know me, know I go pretty hard at fitness. I love to challenge myself and go for the rush of endorphins that comes by completing something hard. This wasn’t always the case, but it has become my habit over the past 2 years. So when I found out I was pregnant, I became paralyzed with fear. I looked around and was overwhelmed by everything that I loved and COULDN’T do any more. No more heavy lifting, no more MMA, no more kickboxing, no more Insanity…I realized that I had filled my life with practices I loved, but that were not SO great for my current state. Don’t get me wrong- people continue some of these activities throughout their pregnancy and they’re happy and healthy and it’s a beautiful thing. But me? I was SCARED. I didn’t want to risk hurting my baby for ANY program. So I did the only thing I knew how to do- I stopped working out. I kept active- taking the stairs, walking, etc. but I stopped following any kind of fitness program. Before I knew it, I was spiraling. I was depressed and anxious, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t seem to stick to any form of healthy eating, I just couldn’t keep my shit together. Mind you, some of this is just the hormones of the first trimester (paired with some big life changes) but some of it…some of it was just feeling what it was like to live in fear of my body. Constant fear that I wasn’t strong enough. That I was going to hurt myself. That I was going to hurt my baby. I’ve had to spend a few weeks in the spiritual gym to push through that and really come to a place where I’m ready to begin again.

So today, I went back to the yoga mat. Today, I began a NEW fitness practice. One that is challenging (I AM prepping for birth in 6 months) but gentle. One that focuses on my CURRENT body and honors how it is changing. And one that will connect me to my precious little babe and remind me WHY I’m letting go of my death-grip on the Pop Tarts and picking up a smoothie.

If anyone would be interested in joining me in this, I’d absolutely adore your company! New beginnings aren’t easy, and they’re always better with friends ❤️

That hunk of metal is not your friend

I was led down a rabbit hole last night. It started when a friend asked me if I had heard about the newest diet going around. I hadn’t. Or at least not in depth. So I decided to research it. But I can’t casually research things. It’s not in my DNA (#dramaturg). So before I knew it I was neck-deep in articles, testimonials, websites, TV specials. My mind raced to absorb the information and decipher if this diet was TRULY the key to weight loss that I had been searching for for so long. And then I came face to face with some demons that I had put to rest over this past year. Or so I thought. 

For as long as I can remember I have focused on the scale dictating my self-worth. If I could lose weight trying a new diet, whether it was juicing, Atkins, calorie-counting, green tea pills, you name it, if it would work I would try it. The problem is EVERYTHING worked up until the point that it didn’t anymore. I was continually on a quest for the next quick fix. Hell, that was my mindset when I bought 21 Day Fix!! It was only after I opened the package that I realized it WASN’T selling a quick solution. I had to drag my ass out of bed each morning, workout, and learn a portion control system that helped me re-visit what I put in my body. And guess what? After 21 Days I had to KEEP GOING!

By the end of that first round I had formed a habit and I started to get addicted to the way I felt. I saw results and I didn’t want to stop! I learned to stop looking at the damn scale and to measure my progress on my actions and not just the results. If I needed indicators that I was on the right path, I reviewed whether I had more energy, whether I felt stronger, whether my clothes were fitting better. This program (and the ones that followed) helped me push past letting a number dictate whether I was ready to be happy with where I was in my health journey. That doesn’t mean that I’m not tempted by the siren call of a low number on that scale (as last night proved to me)! But it does mean that I question my motives now. Am I leaning into a new diet/workout plan/ lifestyle because it promises quick rewards or because I think it’s truly right for me?

I say tweak your diet, change your workouts, find what works for you, but don’t jump into things just because you want to see quick weight loss. Do it for your health and not your pant size! If you need help on your journey I would be THRILLED to see you through this! But whatever you do, go with your gut, pick a path, and stay the course. And for God’s sake, ditch the scale ?

Attention Vegan Couponers!!

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Just wanted to pop in and offer a quick update on an AWESOME deal I got on vegan groceries today!! Thanks to a $3 sale on Silk soymilk combined with a $1 coupon (which you can find here) which doubled to $2 at my local King Kullen, I was able to get a container of soymilk for $1!!! As if that’s not great enough, Naked juices were on sale for $2.99 and I found a coupon for $1 (which you can find here), which also doubled to $2! That means I got 3 juices and 2 quarts of soymilk for 5 bucks! Happy dance!!

Also not pictured here I got 4 cans of Progresso soup for $.50 a can (on sale for $1.00 a can before coupons) for quick vegan lunches to stash in my desk! Interested? Grab the coupon here!

Near a King Kullen? Definitely pop in for these great deals! Happy couponing everyone!!!

A Very Vegan Easter

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Easter is one of those holidays that I have always struggled to “veganize”. Easter in my family has always meant spiral cut ham, egg hunts, and the consumption of a grotesque amount of egg-shaped chocolate candies. And jelly beans. But that goes without saying, right?

So what’s a vegan girl to do to pass on all of the joy of Easter morning without all of the animal products? My 17-month old son is now old enough that I want him to enjoy the fun of an Easter egg hunt and baskets of goodies with a clean conscience (and without spending a million dollars on Amazon). So I devised a little plan!

Step 1: Create a family Easter basket rather than individual ones. That way, I don’t have to worry about filling everyone’s baskets to the brim with vegan goodies- a few for each of us will do.

Step 2: Think outside the box. I finally had to let go of Easter bunny shaped chocolates (though you can find them online) and dying Easter eggs (though I’ve seen some clever substitutes) and decided to focus on making a gift basket of fun items for the family. The one pictured above has edible Easter basket grass (I found it at CVS! How cool is that??), jelly beans that happened to be made without gelatin, cotton candy, Primal “beef” jerky, Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, Sahale Sing Buri nut blend, Glee gum, organic sour gummy worms, homemade seed bombs (you can’t celebrate Spring without flowers!), a loaf of tofu banana bread, and a few toys for Cedric (Dollar Tree has the BEST random toys for toddlers!). It’s different but still pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself!

Step 3: Give your Easter egg hunt a little makeover. I bought plastic eggs from the Dollar Tree and, rather than filling them up with sugar and additive laden candies (we’ll save those for mommy!) I decided to fill them with things I’d like my little guy to snack on. We now have a dozen organic blueberry filled eggs and another half dozen organic raisin filled eggs. I also found a few carrot shaped “eggs” at the Dollar Tree that I couldn’t pass up, so those have been filled with organic blackberries. I have to be honest, I’m really looking forward to this hunt!!

As for Easter dinner, we’ll be dining on a Celebration loaf, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and a fresh strawberry pie. Overall, I am really excited for this year’s Easter celebration!

So tell me, what are you doing for Easter? Any cool tricks/tips you’d like to pass along?

Happy holidays everyone!!

(Not So) Extreme vegan couponing!

Always one to fall in love with shows years after they were popular, I finally became addicted to TLC’s Extreme Couponing. Perhaps it appeals to my hoarder tendencies, but something about building a stockpile makes me just a little bit giddy. I’ve resisted writing about my adventures because (as you all can guess by now) I have a tendency to fall off the band wagon with things that excite me initially 🙁 BUT I have now been couponing (in a not-so extreme) capacity for about 3 months now so I thought it MIGHT be safe to start writing about it. So here we go!

The first thing I decided to do was to pretty much ignore everything on the show that got me hooked in the first place. As a vegan I can’t buy 98% of the things that are shown on that show, and as someone who actually cares about her health and the health of her family, I choose not to buy at least another 1% of the things I actually can buy. We’re dealing with very limited space here on the range so that takes out the possibility of a stockpile of 900+ tubes of toothpaste, and as a working mom I don’t have the luxury of dedicating a bajillion hours to this enterprise, so forget spending 30 hours clipping and 4 hours checking out! So here’s what I did:

1. I decided to start by making a list of all the things I already buy: almond milk, toilet paper, tofu, etc. etc. I chose, for the start of this experiment, to go with the brands I love and take it from there. I have since let brand loyalty slip a bit, but there’s no need if you really really love Tom’s toothpaste!

2. I set up a “dummy” email account that would be used for any site where I had to enter my email address to get a coupon. It keeps my personal email pristine and also allows me to get coupon emails (like for sites I follow such as couponmom.com or krazycouponlady.com) to all be filtered there.

3. I started Googling. I specifically focused on coupons.com (you can search by brand) and visited websites to see if they listed coupons. Then, if they didn’t, I would visit their Facebook pages and see if I “liked” them, if they would give me a coupon (which they usually did). Within about 30 minutes of searching I had a coupon for Nasoya tofu (you can get one each week sent to you if you do their Tofu-U Pledge!), Blue Diamond almond milk, Silk soy milk (my mother-in-law loves this stuff), and Driscoll’s berries(.50 coupon for signing up and more coupons for every survey)!

4. I went to my two go-to grocery store’s websites and looked at their coupon policies. I was specifically looking for stores that doubled coupons as I knew that was how I would get the best deals. So for me, I chose Stop & Shop (they double up to $1 coupons) and King Kullen (they double up to AND including $1 coupons) as the two stores I would frequent.

5. Now every week I only look for deals at those two grocery stores. Type in something like “x store coupon matchup” into Google and let the games begin! It only takes me about 20-30 minutes each week to go to a matchup post and see what’s on sale, organize my coupons, and take off for my weekly shopping trip and the savings have been awesome! If I told you that each month you would need to work for approximately 6 hours (including shopping time) and I would give you a check for $300 or more, would you do it? Of course you would!! That’s how much I am averaging on savings each month.

So start small, but start. If you’d like to see more in-depth posts about what I’m buying or how I’m saving, just ask! Some weeks I’m a little more gung-ho than others but I am always couponing now. What can I say? I love to save money 😉

Spending Freeze

I read an article recently about someone who decided to spend nothing for a month. Always intrigued by the frugal tactics of other bloggers, I read on (and on) determined to see how it worked for them. The funny thing is, it wasn’t that they were spending nothing but, rather, it was that they were actually sticking to a pre-determined budget and not spending extra. For some readers it seemed this was too easy. For others, it seemed as though it wasn’t sustainable. Just how long can one human being go without purchasing a double decaf soy latte? For the month of September, I’m determined to find out.

We’re going to call this a spending freeze (I think that name has a more positive connotation) and for one month my husband and I are committed to only paying out of pocket for bills, food, or things we’ve already budgeted for (i.e. warm clothes for the baby if it continues to think it’s Fall around here and one nice meal after we run our first half marathon). I’m setting a food budget for the month (which is lower than usual), meal planning in advance for the entire month, and setting weekly financial reviews as a family so we can see how we’re doing. As an iced coffee addict I can already tell you this is going to be more tricky than making it out to be, but we’re determined!

The first step? Determining what our saved money will go towards. It’s always easier to make sacrifices if you have a goal in mind 😉 For us, it’s going to go towards our trip to see my family in November!!

Now that that’s out of the way, onto the monthly meal plan 🙂

Meal Plan #2

00051Well, we succeeded in our first official week of meal planning! Coming in under $125 for the week with lots of yummy food in our bellies (and in our freezer), I came into this week feeling pretty optimistic! Hell, I even added another sweet potato meal! For me, this is a huge thing. Am I the only person alive that doesn’t love sweet potatoes?!

I should note that I expect this week to be a bit on the pricier side. My husband’s birthday is on Tuesday and I do love to shower those I love in culinary treats…We shall see!

Here’s the plan for the week of May 5, 2013: Continue reading “Meal Plan #2”

My go-to diner breakfast

AvocadoFor me, breakfast at a restaurant was always one of the toughest situations to find myself in. Everything I used to enjoy eating: omelettes, egg sandwiches, pancakes, french toast, etc. was off the list of options and without a new list of what to look for, I found myself hungry and frustrated.

I found that the best way to handle dining out was to come up with a list of consistently vegan options I could look for at every restaurant I went to. Not the fancy vegan breakfast joints (yes, they do exist!), but your typical mom-and-pop type establishments. This is what I look for: Continue reading “My go-to diner breakfast”

Meal Plan #1

PlanningSo. It looks like we officially went waaayyy over budget on food last month 🙁 Honestly, I blame this mostly on my lack of time. Whenever I find myself getting burned out the first thing that goes are my weekly meal plans, followed shortly by my food budget…Within a month I always manage to pull myself back on track, but it’s a painful lesson every time it happens.

I’ve never actually posted about my weekly meal plans but I thought I’d give it a try this week! Let me know if this is something that interests you out there in cyber-land and I’d be happy to keep doing it! Sometimes it’s just nice to see how other people are managing to eat vegan while simultaneously making ends meet 😉 I’m also happy to post recipes if anything sounds interesting! Just shoot me a request in the comments below. Continue reading “Meal Plan #1”