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Whos with me?

Why did I go from eating junk food, fast food, fried stuff, lots of red meats, too-large portion sizes, cookies, cheese on everything, and other naughty things all of the time. Well isnt that apparent? No.one. can eat junk like that all the time and be healthy. Its just not possible. I got tired of it. Enough. You know? Time for something drastic and long-lasting. Time for a new me! May 2012 I became a vegetarian and enter a whole lifestyle change.

Since then I’ve learned a lot. I’m still learning and progressing, for me that’s what it is all about .. Progress not perfection! Progressing towards a completely plant based diet, towards someone who uses food as fuel not therapy, towards a mom who is confident and fierce. I’ve been feeling like it’s placed on my heart to start a new blog series, that’s also tied to my other social media accounts, which highlights the plant based/meat free diet. Starting in November each month will have a different theme and once a week I’ll post topics related to that. Themes like: 1) How to eat meat free on the cheap! 2) How to get all your protein from a plant based diet. 3) How to eat out while sticking to a veggie meal…

I get told a lot from people that they want to cut back on how much meat they are eating but are not sure where to start. Or even if its possible. I want to say – “Yes it is totally possible and here is a little info on how to do just that.” Maybe one day Ill get my ducks in a row and become a PiYo instructor and get a weight loss management certification. Become truly too legit to quit and all… But, admittedly I am not a personal trainer, Im not a nutritionist, I am not a size 2, and I dont have some body building 6 pack. So why am I even qualified to talk on this subject?

Well I am passionate about it and Ive stuck to it even through some struggles. Ive had many many people attempt to talk me out of not eating meat. It makes some people uncomfortable. Im not sure why but it does so they make it their goal to bring my diet up in conversations whenever they can, to persuade me to “go back”. No one cared enough to talk to me when I was 230 lbs, eating fast food multiple times a week, and clearly making bad choices all of the time! No one gently sat me down to have a heart to heart about what effect my diet and lack of exercise played on my health. None of these people seemed all that concerned when my choices lead me to getting gestational diabetes; while they saw me testing my blood sugars 4 times a day and restricting my foods to make sure I was staying within safe ranges for baby. Nope not a word to my face. However, after I decided I don’t want to eat any animals, limit the animal products (milk/eggs/cheese), and focus on eating more plant-based foods – that’s when people wanted to say something. Go figure? I know what its like to face opposition and my passion for my diet has helped me to not stop.

My passion drives me to learn more about the nutrition side. I love finding new foods and nutrition programs that will help me get closer to my goals. When I started out in 2012 I knew nothing. Not a single thing! I joined private Facebook groups, I scoured Pinterest, blogs and Instagram, I connected with like minded people, and I discovered some fantastic professional foodies/chefs. I honestly like looking stuff up! So if I didnt know an answer I’d dig around until I found it. Those all have been what has helped me stay on this path, but it did take some time. There are so very many different resources out there for vegan and vegetarians that it can get a little overwhelming, which is the exact opposite of what a newbie needs. Ive found some great resources from experts and the opportunity to have a forum where they can all be compiled together would be amazing.

While I know some would disagree with the method (meat free eating) I do feel led by the Lord to share my passion with others. He has given me a heart for helping people. I can feel that so clearly. The pull to want to come along side the person I was back in 2012 and help her see that there is a better way. To tell that frazzled mom: You don’t have to live in the prison of obesity, there is a better way, you can become comfortable in your skin, you can find happiness through exercise, and you can work at getting victory over the struggle of being overweight. As I am working for those things myself, I feel the Lord asking me to step out in faith because He has placed this passion in my heart for a reason. So my goal during this veggie series is to help others while honoring God. 

Check back on Mondays for the new blog posts that correlate to the monthly topic. You can also leave your email address to be added to the subscription list. Today was an introduction. I wanted to put my heart out there about why Im starting this in the first place. Next Monday Ill cover the main reason why I changed my diet to vegetarian – What are the health benefits of a plant based diet? (This wont be me ranting over eating animals. I wont go all crazy lady on ya. Lol. 😛 Nor will I be talking out of my butt. Ill give info from various professionals on the positive sides to a plant based diet and you can make the decision yourself about how you feel.)

Im excited! Who’s with me? 

Plant based vegetarian blog series trystea

Plan my what..?

Today in my Fall into Fitness PiYo Challenge I did the Core workout. One of my favorite in the PiYo series because I know I have a bit of a mommy tummy to deal with and I want some abs! I’ve never had them before. However, along with the core exercise, diet is key to leaning out and getting those abs to show through. When I hear experts and trainers talk they consistently agree that you cant out exercise a bad diet.

I like to meal plan on Sundays, keeping in mind I need to use whats already in my kitchen … because I’m cheap and I want to go ahead and use what I already have. Here is my meal planning menu for this week. Its all animal-free, I cook enough for myself and my family and then my hubby will cook the meat for every one else (Im the soul vegetarian). For some of the meals I’m using the Beachbody Fixate cook book (so if you want a review of that particular meal or curious about ordering it ($15), shoot me a comment and I can walk you through that). I also find a lot of recipes on Pinterest! Its flooded with healthy options but you do have to pay attention to the ingredients because not all are meat free.
Breakfast
  • Shakeology with unsweetened coconut milk and banana
Lunch
  • M- Spicy tofu and cabbage, baked sweet potato, broccoli
  • T- Fixate Zoodles with veggie tomato sauce
  • W- Cauliflower steaks with mushroom gravy and roasted sweet potatoes
  • T- Leftovers
  • F- Veggie burger, baked beans, and slaw
  • S- PB&J (lol)
Dinner
  • M- Fixate chili over wheat pasta
  • T- Leftovers
  • W- Fixate stuffed bell peppers and peas
  • T- Burgers, baked beans, corn
  • F- Tofu, carrots, and green beans
  • S- Grilled veggies with brown rice
As a busy, homeschooling mom I really do not have the time or energy to cook some over the top meals but all of these are very do-able. Plus with a little prep work (cleaning and chopping veggies, batch cooking the tofu) I dont actually have to spend very much time cooking it because a lot of the work is already done. Score!
meal planning menu
Meal planning Sunday, join me! I found this super cute Meal Planning template on Pinterest to make it even easier to keep track of grocery store items and daily menu.

Whats for dinner? Caribbean Jerk spices

Its Tasty Tuesday! I’m going to make it my goal to post a new recipe or cooking tip every Tuesday, I have several new ones I want to try so yall are going to be my guinea pig. Usually my kids are the ones I have as guinea pigs, like that time I made black bean brownies and not even my toddler would touch it. (Not all brownies are created equal and these were horrible, that was defiantly a recipe that went into the Never Try Again pile!)

Tasty Tuesday

Cooking no meat dishes, its important to use spices to add flavor to the dish & make it complete. While we were on vacation this summer I discovered a new spice. Its my new favorite! Caribbean Jerk by McCormick

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Took me a little hunting to find it but I bought it from Walmart. Its got a spicy flavor without lighting your face on fire, is a little smoky, and it does give a little Caribbean feel. Ive used it with temped and tofu (in place of meat) as well as various roasted veggies. Add a little sweet pineapple – oh yass! I plan on doing Island Jerk skewers this weekend, veggie for me and shrimp for everyone else. Delish!

Are you hungry? Baked Tofu Bites

Yep, this post is about baked tofu. Let that sink in for a minute. Baked tofu… 

Sounds good? No? Lol. I think most people would turn their nose up at such a thing, especially if they have never had it! But Ive found a several ways to prepare it and I think its actually pretty good. (Why tofu? You can read about the benefits here.) Baked like this gave a brown crust, paprika added a smoky flavor and it reminded me of nuggets. So hey, dont knock it until you try it. 😉

Baked Tofu Bites

Baked Tofu

I dont know that this will be much of a typical recipe because I didn’t measure the spices. If you’re the kind of cook that needs exact measurements, go ahead and use your favorite store bought spice mix – it’ll be ok!)

Package extra firm tofu
Favorite spices (I used sea salt, paprika, ground cumin, and chili powder.)
Olive oil

Prepare the tofu by removing it from the package and pressing it in between two plates to remove the excess water. Cut into cubes. Whisk together spices and olive oil, coat the tofu cubes. Place in a single layer on a backing sheet. Bake at 425 for 30 mins, flipping half way through, or until nice and brown!

I topped mine with hot sauce and parsley, dipped in mustard. This was one package of tofu and according to the 21 Day Fit Extreme program that Im on, it served 2. Cut in sticks, like french fries, and places in a zip lock bag, these would make for a really easy on-the-go snack.

Are You Hungry? Carrot and Sweet Pea Salad

Look whos writing again! I had some inspiration today, in the form of a sweet friend asking me to post this recipe from an Instagram lunch post. {HEY girl!!} Lunch was pretty basic, I havent gone to the grocery store this week so I have very little in my kitchen to choose from. I guess that makes for some super simple, yet creative meals. Lol.

carrot and pea salad

Carrot and Sweet Pea Salad
2 large carrot sticks
1/2 frozen sweet peas
3 Tbsp Hemp seeds
Balsamic Drizzle

Using a vegetable peeler, shred the carrots being careful to not nick your fingers! (Or use a vegetable spiralizer, that would make life a lot easier). Cook the sweet peas per the bag instructions (I heated mine up for 4 mins). Mix peas and carrots. Sprinkle with hemp seeds (I use Manitoba Harvest, it adds 10g of protein!). Squirt the balsamic drizzle on top, using a delicate touch because its concentrated and comes out fast. Eat and enjoy!

carrot and pea salad

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Are You Hungry? Weekly Meal Prep

Hey there! I haven’t felt too inspired to write lately but as Im currently trying to search through recipes for this next week’s meals I thought Id share! You know, in case any of yall wanted to do a meatless Monday or even a meatless Monday-Sunday with me! 😉 (Hey, a veggie girl can hope.)

Anyways, Im kind of in a bit of a food rut so instead of trying to come up with something of my own, Im searching through foodie blogs for inspiration. My absolute favorite vegan (no animal products as all) foodie is Happy Herbivore, I have several of her cook books and have found most everything Ive made from hers is delish.. Plus, unlike a lot of other vegan cookbooks I have from different authors, HH is really easy to follow with not a lot of odd ingredients. Easy and fast is exactly what Im looking for.

Breakfast
Chocolate Vegan Shakeology with Unsweetened Coconut Milk

Lunch
Caribbean Peas & Rice
Cassoulet

Dinner
Crockpot 3 Bean and Corn Chili
Chickpea Cacciatore with Italian Veggies

I know cooking all that sounds like a lot at first but Ive found that if I don’t, I end up ordering a cheese, tomato, and jalapeño pizza for dinner. (Ugh!) Ill get too busy with my day and then by the time dinner rolls around, the last thing I want to do is to think of something healthy to cook & actually fix it. To remedy that problem – today is planning the meals and tomorrow is making the meals, then Ill be all set for the rest of the week. It is a lot of work up front but it really does help me stay on track.

healthy eating

Give it a try?

News flash, it’s almost April. You know what that means? Summer is nearing! This summer I will have a child who turns 10 and will then be in the double digits for age. The baby will turn 1 and will be on his way to walking and talking. Insane! And we will be celebrating these birthdays in the Florida Keys! Key Largo, here I come! … Bathing suit season … Here. I. Come.

I know I’m not the only one trying to get that sexy summer bod! 😉 Hows it going out there? It’s way too easy for me to give into ordering take out or eating out so my diet got a little wonky the past two weeks. Planning and preparing meals in advance solves that problem completely! (Along with observing a little self-control and actually eating what you plan.)

Last week I ordered some food trays to use for meal prep, they come divided into 3 sections but there are other variations you can get as well (I might order the bowl style for stir fries). I ordered them from Amazon, here. It’s kind of a thoughtless meal, like a frozen TV dinner kind of thing, but hopefully you don’t fill it with crappy food. I like that there’s room for everything – all your protein, carbs, and veggies.

The packaging says you can also freeze them so cook in bulk, divide meals up in the trays, freeze, and take out for a quick meal later on. Pretty darn helpful for example, a pregnant lady wanting to eat healthy meals after the baby comes. Or if you have to go out of town and leave your hubby at home, he will be able to survive without suffering through whole days of nothing but coffee, Hot Pockets, and Ramen Noodles (YEP, my poor husband).

Yesterday I had some free time while the baby was napping and the other 2 kids were playing, to tackle this task. It was pretty simple but did require a chunk of time to get it all done. Beans, veggies, and sweet potatoes. That’s it! Im still learning but I hope to get pretty good at this meal prep business. If you don’t already, you should give it a try!

What I wish my meal prep looks like…

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… What my mealprep really looks like!

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