Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Four Favorite Chia Drinks

Aside from drinking green juice daily, another drink I have almost daily is a chia seed drink. I came upon these at the health food store a few years back and thought they were so cool. Granted they were expensive, at $4-5 a bottle, but it seemed worth it for the flavor and nutrition. But it didn't take me long to say, "Wait a minute, I can make this myself!" And not long after I was making my own chia seed drinks as you can find in this post: "My Daily Chia Seed Drink" but as time went on I got a little bored with the same chia drink each day and so I started trying some new recipes. Here's my four favorite chia recipes right now that are quick, easy, delicious, and good for you too!

The four drinks are: a lemonade chia drink, an orange juice drink, a coconut drink, and even a chocolate milk one. Yum!

Why drink chia seeds?
Chia seeds are little nutrition rock stars! The drinks below contain 3 Tablespoons of chia seeds. This brings the nutrition facts to: 15g of fiber (5g per Tbs.) and 9g of protein (3g per Tbs.).  They also contain more potassium than bananas, more omega 3s than salmon, and more antioxidants than blueberries! Convinced? Here's some recipes to get you started:

1. Healthy Chocolate Chia Milk
  • 2 cups organic rice milk or non dairy milk of choice
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. organic stevia
  • 3 Tbs. chia seeds 

1. In a small sauce pan, combine the rice milk, cocoa powder and stevia.

2. Warm until all the ingredients have combined and it looks like hot chocolate.

3. Remove and from the heat and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.

4. Add in 3 Tbs. of chia seeds and stir it up.

5. Pour into a glass or mason jar with a lid.

6. Refrigerate for an hour or until it's cold.

7. When you are ready to drink it, just shake it up to get it mixed up once again and drink up!

2. Coconut Chia Drink
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup Coconut Water (I like this C20 brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia
  • 3 Tbs. chia seeds

1. Add 1 cup of filtered water to your jar
2. Followed by 1 cup of coconut water
3. Then add the stevia and chia seeds
4. Put on your lid and shake it up
5. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes to gel up

3. Orange Juice Chia Drink
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup Orange Juice (I like this organic, no-sugar added, Trader Joe's brand)
  • 3 Tbs. chia seeds

1. Add 1 cup of water to a jar
2. Followed by 1 cup of orange juice
3. And last the chia seeds
4. Put on your lid and shake it up
5. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes to gel up.

*For this recipe you can use any type of juice you would like, it doesn't have to just be orange juice. Just use the 1 cup of juice + 1 cup of water ratio.*

4. Lemonade Chia Drink
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia
  • 3 Tbs. chia seeds

1. Juice your lemon and pour it into the jar
2. Add your 2 cups of filtered water
3. Followed by the stevia and chia seeds
4. Put on your lid and shake it up
5. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes to gel up.

So there you have it, my four favorite chia seed drinks!

Hope this helps add some variety to your chia seed drink routine! Post below if you've tried one of these recipes before or if you have a favorite chia recipe of your own.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vegan Grocery Haul: Winter 2016 & Collab with Healthy Grocery Girl

Maybe I'm just nosy, but I love seeing what other people buy at the grocery store. Something about it makes me interested to see what their favorites are and sometimes I can learn about new products I hadn't heard of or seen before. So since I posted my last "Grocery Haul" video back in July of 2015,  thought it was time for an update. So today I'll be sharing my vegan groceries for one week. Let's get started with that grocery haul!

Special Collab: This month's collab will be a little different from the past in how I am teaming up with my fellow YouTuber, Megan from the channel "Healthy Grocery Girl" to share our Grocery Hauls.  So not just one grocery haul, but two!

Be sure to check out her YouTube channel here as well as her website: Healthy Grocery Girl for some yummy healthy recipes and other healthy living tips.

Frequently Asked Questions: Before I start the haul, here's some of the commonly asked questions I get about my groceries.

How I do it...
Right now my grocery shopping consists of two stores, which you'll see below, on a weekly basis. On Saturday I go to one store and on Sunday, I go to another. A few years ago I used to do them all in one day, but now that I've got two kids, I like to divide and conquer them one day at a time. Then as the week goes on, we eat the food and when we weekend comes I repeat the stores once again.

How I budget...
Personally I budget about $290 a week for groceries. This may seem high or low to you, but for me it's just right. We only eat out about once or twice a month to Chipotle, so the food I get has to get us through every meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as well as snacks for everyone. In case you're wondering, we usually have leftovers for lunches to save money as well.

On top of this, no one in my family is on any type of prescription medication,  I see the food I buy as my pharmacy (thanks to my idol Kris Carr for sharing that nugget of wisdom). When I buy healthy, organic foods that I can cook with, juice with, and eat to give me energy not a headache, I feel great and so do my kids. So although it's a higher price to eat this way, I don't have to spend money on co-pays, over the counter, or even prescription medication, so I'll take that.

Last husband.
As you'll see below on the Trader Joe's grocery haul, my husband is vegetarian, while the girls and I are vegan, and he is not as hardcore into the whole no-sugar, no-food colorings, no-GMO thing. So the way we've worked it out is that I get him most of the basics of what he needs that happen to be at my health food stores, and if he wants his "other food" then he has a small weekly budget that he pays for to buy that additional food (such as Pop Tarts, sugary cereal, and ice cream...not the vegan kind). Personally I had a hard time spending my money to buy these things for him, so we worked out a happy medium where he buys it, eats it, and does his thing and I don't have to be involved with it. So if it seems like I'm missing snacks for him that's why.  ( :

So let's get started with my grocery shopping for one week for my family of four...

No time for the video? Here's a picture breakdown...
Store #1:
First up I go to Terra: Health & Wellness Market in Independence, Missouri. This my favorite local health food store, they're a small business that combines healthy and organic food with a fun shopping experience. This is where I go to stock up on my favorite gluten-free and vegan products that I can't find at other traditional grocery stores. Even better they have free membership cards that allow you to earn 5% daily, and 10% on Super Days (once a month), back as points that you can use to earn money on future purchases. On top of this they have a beautiful and unique looking store with excellent customer service that really makes you feel comfortable when you shop there, not like just one more customer walking around at Whole Foods.

My Terra food for the week.

From left to right:

Starting with the marshmallows in the middle:
My favorite new dessert treat: Mom's Munchies Skinny Mint Cookie!
These are gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar free. Think of them as a healthier
version of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. Yum! You do have to keep them in
the refrigerator though, just a head's up. 

Starting with the blue box in the back:

Total Cost at Terra: around $115. 

Store #2:
Next up I go to Trader Joe's. What takes me to Trader Joe's is their prices on organic produce. Once I discovered GMOs a few years back I switched so many products over to organic, and it really hit my budget hard. But when I started shopping at Trader Joe's my budget went back down to it's normal level...thank goodness! Trader Joe's also has a fun atmosphere, and my husband's favorite products are their new or seasonal products that you can't find at any other store. The one downside of Trader Joe's for me is their small selection of gluten-free and vegan foods. Yes they have gluten-free and yes they have vegan, but getting the two together is not always easy. So that's why I continue to go to both Terra and Trader Joe's.

My Trader Joe's food for the week.

From left to right at the top then below:
  • 1 bag organic russet potatoes for making "potato rounds" for us to have when we have veggie burgers as well as in soups and snacks
  • 4 bunches of bananas for smoothies and snacks
  • 1 pkg. organic celery for soup and green juice
  • 1 bag of organic spinach for smoothies
  • 1 bag of organic sweet potatoes for a creamy sweet potato pasta dish and sweet potato fries
  • 1 green pepper and 2 hidden red peppers for a soup and a burrito meal
  • 1 bag of organic carrots
  • 2 bags of lemons for green juice, lemon water every morning (click here to learn how and why I have that), and cooking
  • 2 bunches of cauliflower for roasting and my new favorite snack: "Buffalo Cauliflower Wings"!
  • 1 bunch of cauliflower for "Vegan Cheesy Casserole"

Starting in the middle at the back with the rice milk...
  • 3 cartons of Organic Rice Drink, or rice milk as we call it for all our non-dairy milk needs.
  • Apple Strawberry Crushers- I like these to give the girls for when we're on the go! Yes, I could probably make my own, but it's nice to have some healthy, pre-packaged snacks from time to time. 
  • 2 cartons of organic blueberries and 1 carton of organic blackberries for snacks
  • 1 pkg. of baby bella mushrooms for pizza
  • 2 bags of organic Gala apples for snacks and green juice
  • 4 Frozen Organic Strawberries- for smoothies, love the cost of these $2.49 at Trader Joe's as opposed to $4-5 sometimes at other health food stores.
  • 1 pkg. of organic frozen blueberries

Starting at the top by the jelly:
  • Organic Strawberry Fruit Spread (no sugar added)
  • 2 cans of organic black beans for burritos meals and a soup
  • 1 can organic creamy peanut butter, just 2 ingredients: peanuts and sea salt!
  • 1 bag of organic Popcorn with Olive Oil for the girls, we were planning a family movie date!
  • 1 pkg. of White Corn Tortillas for the girls and I when we have burritos
  • 1 pkg. of organic extra firm tofu 
  • 1 pkg. raw whole cashews for making vegan cheese and my "Vegan Ranch Dip"
  • 1 bag organic corn tortilla chips for our "Burrito Night"

Starting with the strawberry cereal bars...

  • Items for Brandon: (some are not gluten-free or vegan, but he's just vegetarian and doesn't have a wheat allergy)
    • 1 box of strawberry cereal bars
    • 1 box of Golden Round Crackers
    • 2 organic pizza crusts
    • 2 frozen dinners...for Brandon
  • 2 bags of Gluten-Free Whole Grain bread (for the girls and me, it does contain egg whites, so strict vegans won't agree, but I got so burnt out on my old gluten-free, vegan bread I needed a break and this one tastes like real bread...well kind of! )
Total Cost at Trader Joe's: around $150. Bringing my store total for the week to $265. I usually budget $290, so this was a lower week for me, sometimes it's higher on weeks when I stock up, but with weeks that are low like this it usually balances out.

So there you have one week of grocery food for me and my little green family. Did you see anything that you also get or that you want to try? Share it below! Happy Shopping.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Vegan Grocery List + Meal Plan

When it comes to grocery planning, I have to admit I enjoy it. I know some people dread it or have their spouse take care of it, but for me I started going to the grocery store with my Dad when I was little and I've loved it ever since. Maybe it's the control freak in me that likes to pick out and plan the food for the week, or maybe I just love the challenge of trying to get good tasting, healthy food within a budget. Since starting my blog years ago and diving into the world of green and healthy living, grocery shopping and meal planning has taken on a whole new level of intensity and I've come to learn the saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

I see my grocery shopping/list and meal planning as a way to prepare myself to succeed with a healthy diet. The more I can fill my house with healthy, vegan snacks and plan meals that taste great and give my family energy and taste great then we'll all be better for it.

So given this passion plus the fact that I'm a pretty "type A" personality, I've got a pretty structured and routine list that I use and meal plan that I stick to.

Here's my grocery list template:

I have listed under each store box all the items I could potentially buy from there. I've chose to get some items from one store and not the other sometimes due to prices being cheaper, as well as availability, some things I can only find at one store.

I also have them organized in order by how I would pick them up around the store. So the things I would get in the first aisle or two of the store are listed at the top, and then further down on the list means they are last in the way I shop at the store.

Here's a visual look at how I make my grocery list and plan my meals in this week's video:

As you can see the two boxes I have are for the two stores I go to: Terra: Health & Wellness Market and Trader Joe's.
Click here to see my video tour.

When it comes time to make my new grocery list, I take a look at my old grocery list and note the items I wrote down during the previous week that we need. Things that come up while you're baking a recipe, or cooking dinner that you don't want to forget you're out of. I make note of these on my grocery lists and then transfer them to the new list. 

From there I then start taking inventory of my kitchen. I check my pantry, fridge, freezer, baking cabinet (where I store all my gluten-free flours, and last my spice cabinet. Here I check for common staples that we always keep on hand and that I can tell might be running low.

After this I then start going through my Recipe Binder. I keep all my printed recipes in a binder with page protectors for each recipe (I can fit two in one page protector) and they are organized by meal type (pasta, burritos, tofu, desserts, etc.).  

Then as I see a meal I like or that my family has requested for the upcoming week I make note of the ingredients needed on my list by either circling the item or writing a number next to it to note how many are needed. Also, if something is not need on my list I just cross it out. 

From there I end up with a list of meals at the top, one for each night of the week. 

As well as a little list of other items that need to be made. Usually I have some type of a breakfast snack (pancakes or biscuits), a healthier dessert, and a snack (Buffalo Cauliflower Wings are my favorite!).

This brings me to the seven types of vegan meals I plan for each week. I find that this helps make meal planning so much easier because the categories are already in place, I just choose a different recipe to go for that week.  My seven meals are:
  1. Soup
  2. Cheesy Pasta or Rice Dish
  3. Veggie Burgers and Roasted Potatoes
  4. Tofu Dish
  5. Sandwiches
  6. Burritos
  7. Spaghetti

So when I'm planning my meals I go to each category of my Recipe Binder, flip through till I see a recipe in that category that sounds good and then choose that one to have. We try to rotate the recipes out so we don't get bored. 

Here's a visual look at each of the seven categories:

1. Soup: Here's one of our favorite vegetable soup recipes (I'll post it soon!)
2. Cheesy Pasta or Rice Dish: "Cheesy Mushroom & Broccoli Skillet"
3. Veggie Burger and Roasted Potatoes (usually with another vegetable on the side).

4. Tofu Dish: "Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ"
5. Sandwiches: "Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup and Roasted Veggies"

I include our "Homemade Vegan Pizza" in this sandwich category as well.
6. Burritos: With sautéed veggies, corn, black beans, guacamole, salsa, vegan
cheese and a gluten-free tortilla shell.
7. Spaghetti: Our go-to is a simple plain spaghetti with gluten-free noodles,
a vegan spaghetti sauce, and organic green beans. 

So there you have it, how I meal plan and make my grocery list. Post below, what's your grocery list like and how do you plan your meals? Happy shopping!

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