Food

10 Vegan Recipes to Get You in the Mood for Autumn!

It’s Fall, y’all! 

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Okay, not really for another few weeks but I got your attention, didn’t I?

This morning when I woke up it was in the 40’s outside! While its only just the first week of September, the air is already full of that crisp, autumnal air that I crave each and every year. I know its not Fall (or Autumn if you’re fancy) yet, but when the temperature starts to drop I just can’t help the intense desire to curl up on the couch with a warm, pumpkin-y beverage or a thick and hearty chili. I always try my best to prolong these desires until the season actually changes, but I rarely can wait that long! So, if you’re like me, a total Fall-obsessed, pumpkin spice fanatic, then settle in for some seriously tasty recipes from a few of my absolute food idols. Their recipes are top notch and have yet to fail me! I hope you find something that scratches your Autumn itch. For a truly magical experience, pair any of these recipes with Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown. Who cares that you’ve seen them each 100 times. That’s irrelevant.  Now, let’s get into it!


1.) Vegan Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Broccoli Soup

Photo Courtesy of Angela of Oh She Glows

Broccoli and cheese soup is such a comfort food of mine! Finding this recipe after making the switch to a plant-based diet was absolutely game-changing! Creamy, cheesy, full of yummy broccoli, and perfectly topped with deliciously soft yet crispy croutons, this soup will surely get you in the mood for Fall.


2.) Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins

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Photo Courtesy of Oh She Glows

Another Oh She Glows work of art, these muffins are light, fluffy, and a classic Autumn treat! I use all-purpose flour in these instead of spelt because it; always what I have on hand, so feel free to do the same if you don’t have spelt flour. These are so good warmed up for breakfast, even more so if you cut them open and put on a little vegan butter. Maybe not the healthiest breakfast but it’ll hit the spot paired with the next recipe, on a chilly October (or now, let’s be honest) morning.


3.) Vegan Chai Latte

Dana from Minimalist Baker creates wonderful recipes that are always easy to make, require typically only 10 ingredients or less, and are typically vegan because Dana is lactose intolerant. Score!

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Photo Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Chai tea is seriously my favorite tea of all time. I love it year round but honestly there’s nothing better than a warm chai latte when the leaves start changing colors and people start putting up their Halloween decorations. To me, chai is a classic Autumn flavor and deserves to make an appearance during the greatest part of the year! This latte is simple to make, not overly sweet (like the ones you get from Starbucks, blech!) and seriously creamy.


4.) Emeril Lagasse’s Vegetarian Chili

This chili itself is vegan, however it suggests a few non-vegan toppings such as cheese and sour cream. Feel free to sub for vegan alternatives or top with any other vegan toppings you like! I enjoy this chili with brown rice; they really go well together and its so filling and satisfying. I swear by this chili recipe! Why, you ask? Well the trophy on my desk at work is all the explanation I need! That’s right, this girl right here won her company’s annual chili cook-off (AND costume contest, might I add) with this very chili. Beating out several meat chilis in the process. How’s that for plant power!

There isn’t a good picture of this chili for reference but maybe you’ll enjoy a picture of me after winning instead. (Totally not tooting my own horn here or anything. Not much, anyway.)

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Yes, I was Wednesday Addams, and yes that chili trophy skull is holding Tums. And yes it has a crocheted pink brain. I love my company! That huge smile say it all.


5.) Pumpkin Pie Truffles

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Photo Courtesy of Connoisseurus Veg

I’ve followed Connoisseurus Veg on Facebook for a while now and I love everything she posts! It all looks so good and she often shares other talented people’s recipes as well! Take a look at these luscious pumpkin truffles. If these babies don’t make your mouth water then get outta my way! I’m diving head first into a big plate of these. Sweet, cinnamon-y pumpkin covered with rich, dark chocolate? Yes, please! If you are having trouble finding vegan chocolate chips, check out these. They’re great for all your chocolate needs but feel free to drench these bad boys in your favorite melted dark chocolate bar. If you can manage to make it that far without eating all the chocolate first. Not that I’ve been there….


6.) Vegan Chicken and Dumplings

These dumplings are truly Autumn in a bowl. The first time I made them I actually exclaimed to my husband, “These taste just like Thanksgiving!” And if you didn’t know, that’s a good thing. A very good thing. I always make one huge alteration to this recipe and that’s leaving out the seitan. I don’t have anything against seitan I just never feel like making any, if we are being honest. I know you can buy pre-packaged seitan but I typically refrain from buying them and would rather make my own if and when I want to. I’m sure it would take this meal over the top, so if you’re feeling frisky have at it!

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Photo Courtesy of Brand New Vegan

These dumplings, oh boy. They are so hearty and warm and inviting. The ultimate comfort food! I foresee a lot of dumplings in the not-so-distant future in my home.


7.) Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

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Photo Courtesy of Alexis of Hummusapien

Pasta. Boy do I love pasta. My husband and I eat some form of pasta multiple nights a week, every week, and even then sometimes we find ourselves craving a huge bowl of carbs to fill our stomachs and put a smile on our faces. Seriously, pasta is the best. And this pasta right here is next level! Every holiday party I go to has a spinach and artichoke dip that, since going vegan, I can no longer eat. Sure, sure, I can bring my own, and I have, but there’s just something super satisfying about other people making the food, right? Less work for me is a winner in my book. But I digress, spinach and artichoke is a quintessential cold-weather flavor combination classic. Wow, try saying that five times fast!

Alexis calls this pasta decadent and oof, she isn’t kidding. Creamy cashew, cauliflower sauce mixed into warm spinach, artichoke, and perfectly cooked penne? *Drool* And what’s even better is that this pasta is totally guilt free at less than 200 calories a serving! I mean, that just means I can eat the whole pot without feeling too bad about it, but if you’re watching your waistline then this is a must! Warning: I am not responsible for any carb comas this may induce.


8.) Rustic Winter Stew Over Polenta

I know, I know, you’re probably sitting there at your computer and thinking, “Devyn, you told me you’d get me in the mood for Fall, not Winter!” And then I’d tell you to calm the eff down because let’s be real, once September hits the stores are crammed with little Santas and snowglobes already so it’s all one in the same. Plus, stew is GREAT for the fall months. It’s warm and hearty and when you pair it with polenta you’re sure to have a hit. Especially if the recipe is one of Isa Chandra’s. She is an absolute wizard in the kitchen and if you don’t have her cookbooks then you’re not living your life right. Remedy that, stat!

This meal, oh my, is a bowl of perfection. Just look at it!

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Photo Courtesy Isa Chandra

In her recipe, Isa says you can use mashed potatoes, rice, or any starch you want with this stew, but being an immense lover of polenta, it’s my top choice! After making this I promise you’ll be in the mood….for Autumn, that is.


9.) Vegan Pumpkin Spice Waffles

So, we have made it to nine already and you’re probably wondering where the pumpkin spice lattes are, right? Well, I didn’t want to be too predictable but since you asked so politely, here are some AMAZING waffles. Perfect for a chilly weekend breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Because there’s no bad time for a waffle, am I right or am I right?

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Photo Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Dana knocks it out of the park once again! These waffles are so good with loads of maple syrup but topping them with candied pecans and coconut whipped cream would be to die for! Talk about breakfast of champions!


10.) Vegan Snickers Bars

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Photo Courtesy of Detoxinista

My final recipe isn’t really a Fall-inspired recipe, but nothing screams Fall like October. And nothing screams October like Halloween. And nothing screams Halloween like candy bars. Growing up Snickers were always my absolute favorites so being able to replicate them now is such a wonderful thing! Megan, the Detoxinista, has created her take on a Snickers, and they’re vegan! Date caramel, almond butter, peanuts, and dark chocolate. Those are literally what dreams are made of! Now you can have your candy bars and be vegan, too! Dana, over at Minimalist Baker, also makes some vegan Snickers alternatives so go check those out, too. Now’s probably a good time to let you know she also has a Snickers cheesecake, because, ya know, you can never have too many Snickers recipes. Proven fact.


 

So there you have it! Ten, mouth-watering vegan recipes to make you leave your flip flops behind and throw your over-sized scarf on. I hope you love these just as much as I do and I hope you savor each and every day of our upcoming Autumn months. I know I will!  May your days be blessed with lattes and pumpkins and those cute little hand turkeys kids make in school.

 

Until next time,

Devynheart-3

go green

How Can You Save the Planet?

This past year has been a whirlwind for the United States, and the entire world, if we are being honest. In times like these, when turmoil is high and climate change is more evident than ever —and climate change denial among leading officials is strong— it gets people thinking about what they can do to help. At least, it gets me thinking. What got me worked up all over again about the state of our planet was something called Earth Overshoot Day. We hit it the second day of August. Yet, not many people even seemed to care. At least, not the people I know. But for those who do care, this is for you.

Today, I’d like to delve into ways in which we can help our Earth. Some things we have no control over, but there are little things we can do every day that can go a long way. A long way to bettering ourselves and our environment. It’s a win-win. So, let’s stop wasting time and get into it, shall we?


  1. You Can’t Be an Environmentalist and Eat Animal Productscarbon footprint
Image courtesy of GreenMonday.org

That may sound harsh but I have good reason for feeling this way. The first way in which you can save the planet is a big one. Cut down on meat and dairy in your diet. I know, I know, this is scary to a lot of people but hear me out. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation of the Amazon, and pollution to our oceans. There have been several studies done on livestock production and roughly 18-30% of greenhouse emissions are directly attributable to animal agriculture. That’s more than the entire transportation sector combined! And as populations increase, this will only get worse.

Earth is finite and there is only so much usable land. Clearing out the rain forests to raise livestock for consumption strips away native animal habitats and completely devastates the forest biodiversity. Factory farms also create a lot of waste. This waste runs off into water supplies and creates dead zones. This in turn wipes out fish populations. Those factory farms also use A LOT of water. We are talking about nearly half of the water used in the U.S. That’s right. If you want to save water, don’t skip showering, skip the cheeseburger! A vegan diet alone requires only 300 gallons of water whereas a meat and dairy filled diet requires 4,000 gallons.

If none of the above has persuaded you, then maybe consider this:

It takes roughly 10 pounds of wheat to produce 1 pound of beef. So much viable energy is lost to produce meat that would not be lost if we ate the wheat itself instead of trying to convert it to a less efficient food source. Think about it. We need land to raise the animals. We need land for crops to feed the animals. We also need land to grow crops for human consumption. That’s a lot of land that could be used solely for crops for human consumption. So why is that important? Well, as populations increase, less and less space will be available. This means that the more meat we eat the less room for other foods. Figured the problem out yet? That’s right, this means many people will starve.

Here’s a nice infographic showing just how much of our nation is devoted to crops for animals over humans.

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Image courtesy of The Huffington Post, created by Joe Satran using USDA, NASS, and HuffPost Calculations

I could go on and on about the devastating effects of animal agriculture but I won’t. Instead I will provide some interesting links for you in case you feel strongly enough about the environment to start acting. Feel free to do your own research as well.


2. You’ve Ditched Meat and Dairy, What Next?

Now, I’m not telling you to completely wipe out all animal products overnight. If you can, then great! But, for most people its not that simple. Starting with one meal a week and then working from there is a GREAT start. From personal experience I can say that cutting out meat and dairy have been life changing in such wonderful ways and I urge everyone, especially those with particular interest in saving the world, to give it a shot.

But, what can you do after that?

The other leading contributor to greenhouse emissions is of course transportation. We all know that. So cutting down on your car usage by carpooling or combining trips is a fantastic way to lessen your impact. Walk when you can (its also great exercise and a nice way to relax!) or bike if you have one. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new car, look into more fuel efficient models. Many manufacturers are making them these days so they’re more affordable than ever.


3. Other Small Ways to Make an Impact

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Reduce your consumption, buy used when you can, re-purpose your old stuff, learn to fix your broken toaster instead of tossing it. Recycle as much as you can. Even your cellphone can be recycled. These are small steps in the right direction. If you can’t recycle it but it’s still in good condition, try donating!
  • Turn off lights when you leave rooms, reduce the water you use when showering or washing dishes, shop online. (Yep, your Amazon Prime addiction is good for the environment. Okay, maybe not good, but it does actually help.)
  • Use eco-friendly chemicals to clean your home, opt for paperless billing, use reusable cups, plates, silverware, and straws. Seriously, those plastic water bottles and disposable straws are atrocious. Get rid of them!
  • Use your own reusable bags at the grocery store and buy more fruits and vegetables that aren’t sealed in plastic. Buy in bulk and bring your own glass jars to fill. Most stores will let you bring your own containers for purchasing bulk items like rice and beans and nuts.
  • Learn to garden and compost or at least support your local farmer’s markets, shop local, plant trees, and don’t waste napkins. Wash your clothes on the cold or warm cycle, turn your thermostat down, and shut off your computer at night.

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Image courtesy of easyfinance.com

For the full inforgraphic, click here.


Our ultimate goal is to reduce our carbon footprint. Think before you buy. Learn how your food and consumables are made. Decide whether those are companies you wish to continue funding. Chances are, they’re not. There are plenty of ways to save the planet and the biggest of all is to share information. The more people are aware of their consumption and what it does to the planet and the people (and animals) on it, the more likely we are to fight global warming and planet devastation. It’s better for the planet, the animals, and us!

I hope you found this informational and inspirational. Go out and do something today that betters the planet. Make that first step and the rest comes easily.

Before I end this, I’d like to share one more thing:

Calculate Your Footprint

Click that link above and find out what your impact is. Then play around and see what real differences you can make.

Now, go on, and be the super hero the world needs!

Until next time,

Devynheart-3

 

 

Health & Wellness

What It Means To Be Healthy

Warning: This could be triggering for those suffering with disordered eating.

As I am sitting here at work during a lull in activity, I started thinking about something I feel we all struggle with—whether it be all the time or just in spurts every few months or even years. And that’s what it means to be healthy. What does it mean? Some days I haven’t a clue what being “healthy” even is. And that’s because there is no single meaning. What it means to me might not be the way you define it for yourself. Furthermore, what it means to me today might not be what it means in 10 years. And that’s okay. The point and the goal is that you find your own way of living a healthy life. And adapting when that way needs to change. You might be wondering why I am even thinking about this. So let me provide some background.

February 2016 was a turning point in my life. Jacob and I decided that we, because of a seemingly innocent little weight loss challenge at his place of work, were going to lose weight. Up until that point we were fairly sedentary (read: completely sedentary). We were eating whatever and whenever we wanted and didn’t really care about what we were putting into our bodies. We felt terrible, rundown, and generally unhealthy ALL THE TIME. However, it was so normal for us that we didn’t even see it as a problem. Until we started this little competition…

Jacob started the challenge off better than I did because of his iron clad will power. When he sets a goal nothing can stop him. Call it stubbornness, call it pride, call it whatever you want but the boy gets it done. I wasn’t as speedy in my lifestyle overhaul. I was reluctant to exercise and eating smaller portions seemed terrible….at first. But, my scientific background took over almost subconsciously and I started researching.

I researched tracking calories and read up on how to lose weight as much as I could. I discovered the idea of eating whatever you want as long as it doesn’t exceed your daily allotment of calories. This was called CICO, or calories in versus calories out. The very basic principle was that as long as you ate less than what your body required then you would lose weight. Simple as that. No fads, no excessive exercise. Just simply tracking calories and eating less than my body expended. So the analytical part of me saw it as a numbers game. It became a simple math equation and the rest is history. For the first time in my whole life I saw dieting as something that was attainable. No cutting out whole food groups or crazy weight loss pills or shakes. Just numbers. It seemed healthy.

Jacob and I used the concept of CICO to still eat what we wanted (in moderation and often swapping out higher calorie options for lower calorie substitutions, but still we ate burgers and pizza and sweets) and we walked every day. Nothing strenuous for quite a long time. Quickly the weight fell off and a year later he was down over 70 pounds and me over 40. We were no longer overweight and were able to run a 5K multiple times a week. We felt great. We felt healthy.

Flash forward to recently. I’m still down all that weight and so is Jacob. We eat what we want when we want it now, but in lesser quantities than before. We also try to stay active and eat balanced, healthy meals most of the time. Our lives are drastically different than a year ago but they feel sustainable. Let’s face it, if you love sweets and you followed a diet that made you completely cut them out, once you lost all the weight you’d have a hard time maintaining that weight loss if you reintroduced those sweets. That’s why diets often fail. Sustainable lifestyle changes are what I feel are healthy.

So, my body is healthier than it was a year and half ago because it isn’t carrying around so much extra weight. My joints feel better, my heart isn’t as stressed, and my stamina is great. I feel strong and lean (most days). But this story isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Unfortunately, there can be a darker side to weight loss that not many people address. It’s a part of my weight loss journey that I feel would be a disservice if I omitted. Most people see Jacob and me as success stories. The perfect examples of how to lose weight and keep it off. But no one knows the problems that came along with it. My body might be healthier but my mind isn’t.

The first problem I encountered along my journey was that I replaced one obsession with another. I replaced my food addiction with a calorie counting addiction. I logged everything. When I finally broke my logging streak it was over 415 days of logging. I couldn’t go a day without doing it. And it made it hard for me to relax and enjoy nights out with friends. I felt like I couldn’t live a normal life. One bad night of eating wasn’t a big deal and I would indulge but I HAD to log it. Logging it made me feel better. Seeing the calories was almost a way for me to shame myself into eating better the next day. I could tell my thinking wasn’t healthy but this kept up for a long time.

Once I stopped losing weight and decided to maintain it, I had a hard time adjusting (I still am adjusting, actually). I thought even eating a cookie would make me gain all the weight back. It was absurd but getting “fat” again was my literal nightmare. Jacob wasn’t having these problems. He would go out for pizza and beers and not feel the least bit of shame. He knew he had worked hard and the occasional day wouldn’t derail that. You can neither lose excessive amounts of weight overnight nor gain it. Deep down I knew that but on the surface I couldn’t get my brain to agree.

Things got worse the longer we maintained. My body goals changed. No longer did I need to get smaller. Now I wanted to lean up and put on some muscle. Yet every time I tried, the small weight gain from water, extra food, and muscle scared me. So I stopped. Reducing my body fat and replacing it with muscle was healthy, but the “weight gain” was too much to handle after months of seeing the scale go down. The mirror was showing me that my body was looking better but since the scale was up all I could see was all the ways in which I still disliked my body. It was mentally taxing. I wanted the scale to keep going down or I wasn’t happy. So I quit working out and worked on just eating less. Nothing drastic but always below my maintenance. Anything above made me nervous and I’d feel so guilty that it would make me sick. Sometimes actually sick.

This brings us to today. I’ve stopped working out save walking my dogs but instead of eating below maintenance I’m eating more and more. I gave up pretty much completely. I used to tell people it’s not motivation that gets you to your goal, it’s discipline. And I see that in myself 100% right now. When my motivation left my discipline didn’t pick up the slack. Leaving me sedentary and unable to care. Binging and restricting in vicious cycles. The guilt I feel is strong but not strong enough to change what I’ve been doing. I can see that I have put on a few pounds and my mental state is becoming exceedingly fragile (similar to how it was before I lost weight to begin with). I know that soon there will be a breaking point that will get me back on track and I think writing this down might be the push I need. I know what makes logical sense but sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of us.

People should know that losing weight isn’t the only aspect to a healthier life. If you lose the weight in a dangerous way you can potentially make yourself less healthy. If you replace one obsession or addiction with another you aren’t helping yourself, either. It’s a journey. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s waking up every day making the conscious effort to be better and to do better. Being healthy, to me, is not just about physical health but mental well-being, as well. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone when you’re struggling. Don’t be afraid to take time off from your goals if it seems like you’re too tired to continue. At the end of the day you have your whole life to keep improving. A few days or even a few months isn’t going to change that. If you fall down get back up. It sounds cliché but it’s true. We all need to practice self-love in all its forms.

If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate it. I know I am not alone when it comes to this and I want others to know they’re also not alone. We are but human. Though we be but little, we are fierce.

Whatever it means to be healthy, I know I am still searching for the definition. And you might be, too. But that’s quite alright. Love yourself and love the journey. Even the bad parts. Because what’s life without the good and the bad, right?

Until next time.

Best,

Devynheart-3

Life

Welcome to my Blog!

Hello, there! My name is Devyn and this is my first blog post. Yep, I’ve hopped on the train. That’s what people say, right? Are blogs even still a train to hop on? Well, anyway, here I am regardless.

I decided to create a blog because while my regular 9 to 5 job may pay the bills, it does little for my soul. You know, that fulfilling satisfaction you get from a hobby or activity that just can’t be achieved pushing paper at your standing desk eight or more hours a day? We can’t all be lucky enough to travel the world and get paid doing it! So, I wanted a place to share my love of good, healthy (not always healthy because let’s be real) foods and my passion for trying new things (even when they don’t always work out). To cultivate a space where I could share my stories and my thoughts and my life in hopes of keeping me motivated, healthy, and inspired while maybe inspiring others along the way. And ultimately to keep me happy. It’s my modern day scrapbook. It’s the new age Lisa Frank trapper keeper full of all my best times. A window into my life that I hope others like peering into on occasion.

To get started I should probably spend a little time telling you who I am, as if it’s that easy, right?! I’ll try not to bore you….too much. I’m not making any promises, though.

I’m a twenty-something living in Central Kentucky.

Here’s a peak into my neighborhood.

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I’ve lived in Kentucky most of my life, despite having moved a lot as a child. My parents settled in Eastern Kentucky eventually and that’s where I made my home. Moving to Lexington happened naturally after college as it was where all the jobs were. If you left Eastern Kentucky you pretty much ended up in Lexington somewhere. That’s just the way it goes in small places. Speaking of jobs, I work in the science industry, bouncing around from working in animal and human drug testing and genetics to performing quality control for a veterinary lab. I haven’t quite found my niche, as it were, and I haven’t quite made use of my master’s degree (in Forensic DNA) yet either. But that’s okay. I am quickly learning that life isn’t set in stone or something that needs to be determined when you’re 18, fresh out of high school. The pressure to choose your future right then and there is strong and we often choose incorrectly. Maybe I did that. Or maybe I just haven’t found the career in my field that speaks to me! Which is also okay. I’ve learned, with the help of my husband, that I am still young. Too young to think my future is set in place, that’s for sure! And that carries me to try new things all the time. Never be scared to start something new or try a new hobby! If you don’t you miss too many opportunities to learn and grow as a person. Cultivate your sense of self any way you can!

As I mentioned, I have a wonderful husband, Jacob. He cannot be summed up quickly and words could never do justice to how truly remarkable he is. His love for me and for our little family is immense and unconditional. He is one of a kind in every way. He tries my failed baking attempts and smiles through the particularly bad recipes I set forth for dinner. He supports my recent switch to a plant-based diet just as he supports everything I do. He’s the best. And quite the looker, too.

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Okay, I will stop with that mushy stuff now.

As far as our family goes, we have two furry children, Ghost and Evelyn. Furry because they’re dogs, not because they have any sort of condition. But, still, even if they were furry human children we’d love them all the same. But I think I’m getting off topic.

Ghost is a three year old Samoyed who is quite possibly the most rambunctious pup alive. As lively as he is hairy, he towers over his sister—her protector, her pal, her sometimes arch-nemesis. Evie is a rat terrier mutt around three years old and if ever there was a dog that loved belly rubs, this girl’s it. She refuses to fetch, run around, or so much as look at a toy sideways. But crawl up on the couch with a blanket and she’s down to snuggle. For hours. Until your legs go numb and you really have to use the restroom but she’s too cute and she’s snoring and WHO WOULD DISTURB THAT PRECIOUS ANGEL?! A monster that’s who. Just look at that tummy. It’s begging to be scratched.

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These two pups are the perfect yin and yang and they keep mine and Jacob’s hearts full and our schedules packed. Not to mention our floors covered in hair. I mean, come on, have you seen a Samoyed?! In case you haven’t…

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Little cloud pup and his little cloud clumps

Jacob and I have been married six months but together almost seven years. We’ve pretty much grown into adults together (okay, we try most days to be adults) and I love thinking where the future will take us. For now we are saving for a home of our own. But in the meantime I am perfecting my cooking skills and learning to garden all while keeping my home in order, my pups taken care of, and myself taken care of as well. It’s a simple life but it’s a good one. Stop by from time to time and check in. All you’ve got to do is knock! Until then, keep an optimistic mind and a compassionate heart. Maybe go out and try something new. 😉

Best,

    Devynheart-3