By Sara Stevens
Fall is here and we start going into hibernation mode by starting to grab for heavier food that makes us feel warm and happy but can often times lead to our clothes fitting a little more snug. Now instead of turning all grizzly, we can still eat the comfort foods of fall that we are used to, but the healthier versions of them that won't make our waistlines expand as much.
There are so many diets out there that it is hard to figure out and determine which one you want to move forward with to maintain a healthy lifestyle that is best for you. What we are going to focus on is going to be the vegan diet.
Veganism is often misunderstood as too expensive or too much work and that there is no way that it can be maintainable or enjoyable, because it is so limiting. But... that is not true, because with any diet and lifestyle, you just have to know how to shop smart and do your research on what you can and can't have and then just be prepared ahead of time. In this blog, there will be a few tips and tricks to be a money savvy vegan and a few recipes that can get you through the fall season so you don't feel like you are missing out!
There are many reasons that people decide to go vegan. One of the main reasons that people usually say right off the bat is "for the animals." A lot of people feel much better knowing that they are not contributing to animal cruelty. The more widespread answer though is that people decide to go vegan for their health. With a vegan diet, when it is done healthily, your energy levels increase (who doesn't want that), your skin clears up because you are no longer eating or drinking dairy, which causes inflammation often showing up as acne, and often you lose weight on a vegan diet. Also, future you will be very happy because Vegans have a less likely chance of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure so not only are you saving the animals, you are saving yourself! If you are not already leading a vegan lifestyle, maybe give it a go for a month and see what differences it makes in your life.
Saving Money on a Vegan Diet
Fancy Packaging - I don't know about you, but when it comes to pretty packaging, I am a complete sucker. There is nothing wrong with choosing a more fancy packaged product that is pretty much exactly the same as the plain one on the shelf right next to it, but if you want to save a few dollars then I advise you put the pretty package down and go for the one right next to. There is no other reason than you will pay extra money for packaging that you are just going to end up throwing away anyway, you aren't necessarily getting a better product.
Organic Produce - It can be quite expensive to shop organic, but it doesn't have to be. There are a few ways that you can get your organic goods without spending too much money, the trick is where to go. You may not know this, but you could try places like Target, Walmart, and Costco to get a good deal. They are known for their low prices and a lot of people don't think to look there, but "warehouse" type of stores are a hidden gem. Obviously you need to make sure that quality is good, but you will more than likely get a great deal in these stores. Costco is awesome because you can also buy in bulk, which in the long run will save you more money! You can also check out Trader Joe's, they have an amazing selection of organic products at a smaller cost. One of the best options though is to go to your local farmer's market and make a day of it! Farmer's markets are a ton of fun, with so many different things to see and try and it is also great because you are helping support local farmers and going local is one of the best options when you are buying fruits and vegetables.
Bulking up - One of the best tips for saving some money is to buy in bulk. This is going to save you so much more in the long run, and you also won't have to go shopping for some key pantry items as often. Now, not all goods can be bought in bulk but there are a lot that can be. You can get nuts and seeds in the bulk Isle, they take forever to go bad and also they are very good on the go snacks. (A DIY tip: if yo ego pumpkin picking, take the pumpkin seeds and roast them yourself... can't get more savvy than that!). Also, spices are a great thing topic up in bulk as well as herbs if you don't grow your own. Different kinds of flours are great to stock up on and also grains such as rice, oatmeal, and barley as these will probably be a staple in your diet. Also, buy dried fruit in bulk, it won't go bad for a long time and it is also a good on the go kind of snack. You could make your own dried fruit, but often times it is just easier to buy it since it can be a long process.
A Couple of Tips
When you decide to go vegan, it isn't going to be an overnight success story, you are more than likely going to hit a few bumps along the way which is normal when trying anything new. With that being said, here are a couple of tips to help you keep going:
Stay Positive - If you are feeling like you are about to give up, just refocus and remember why you started your journey in the first place, something as simple as that can keep you going and re-motivate you. Also, don't think of it as all of the foods that you are missing out on but all of the new foods that you get to try... and remember there are sooooo many plant-based versions of the non-vegan dishes that you love. You really aren't missing out!
Meal Planning - It is not always possible to be able to cook all of your meals at home, but the more you plan them out and cook at home, the less you have to worry. When going out to eat, unless at a vegan restaurant, there can be some things that you order that have sneaky animal products in them but if you cook and prep at home, you have control and know exactly what is going into your food. There is nothing wrong with going out to eat, other than it can get expensive if you do it everyday but f it something that you often do, you can still plan! An easy way is to look at the menu before hand and know what is there that you can order that is healthy and vegan, when going out it is easy to be swayed by the more indulgent choices, but try and save those for special occasions... remember just because it is vegan doesn't always mean that it is healthy! Another option that is a little more pricey but super convenient is using a meal delivery service, there are plenty that are out there that will portion your foods and make sure you are getting what you need and they will cater to your plant-based diet. Never fear, there are options!!
Don't get Discouraged - You are more than likely going to mess up in the beginning and throughout your vegan lifetime, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Everyone has to start somewhere and learn along the way. If you eat something that had butter in it, it won't be the end of the world. The best thing to do is just accept it and move on and maybe ask the next time someone has made something or is going to make something if there is anything in it that is not vegan friendly. You don't want to miss out on anything but still want to remain as close to your diet as possible.
Fun Fall Recipes
Pumpkin Spice Latte
What you'll need:
2 tbs Pumpkin Purée
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups of non-dairy milk (almond, soy or coconut)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat and whisk until it starts to steam.
-When steaming, slowly transfer the ingredients into a blender and blend for about 20 seconds.
- When finished, pour a half cup of coffee of your choice and then pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it.
- Enjoy every basic fall moment of your PSL!!
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
What you'll need:
1 cup oats
1/2 cup Ground Buckwheat
2 cups apple juice
2 cups water
1/2 apple diced
Ground cinnamon to taste
-Put dry oats and Buckwheat in medium pot over medium heat for about 6 minutes, you want them toasted.
-Meanwhile, combine liquids and cinnamon in a separate sauce pan and heat until hot.
-When hot, pour mixture into pot with the oats and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally.
-Wait until liquid is absorbed and then serve.
-Feel free to add the diced apple on top and more cinnamon!
Fall Couscous Salad
What you'll need:
1 1/2 couscous
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 diced shallot
1 fennel bulb, diced
2 1/2 cups butternut squash (peeled, seeded and diced)
3/4 cup cried cranberries
1 1/2 cups apple juice, reserve 1/4 cup of cooked juice
1/4 cups canola oil
3 tablespoons red wine vingegar
salt and pepper
-In a medium pan, bring water to a boil and add couscous. Bring back to a boil and then lower heat to medium, cook for around 8 minutes or until tender.
-Drain in colander, set aside to cool in a mixing bowl.
-In a large sauté pan, set to medium heat and add the shallot for 1 minute.
-Add diced fennel and cook until soft.
-Add butternut squash, cranberries and apple juice and cook for 15 minutes or until butternut squash is soft and the most of the apple juice has cooked down.
-Season with salt and pepper, transfer mixture to bowl with couscous, and reserve the rest of the apple juice for the vinaigrette.
-In small bowl, mix apple juice, canola oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to tast. Add to the couscous and add parsley.
-Let couscous sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving. This allows the flavors to combine.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
What you'll need:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt to taste
1 15oz can back beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chopped spinach
3 cups quinoa
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
4 bell peppers, cut in half down the center.
-Preheat oven to 375
-Add oil to large sauté pan, add onions and cook until soft over medium heat
-Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika and add salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
-Add black beans, spinach, quinoa, and tomatoes and mix together. Cook until heated through.
-FIll peppers with the stuffing. Put in baking dish and cover with tinfoil.
-Bake for 25 minutes.
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