Many of you are just moving your diet toward a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. I've received lots of questions from you, so I thought I might add some of the things that make my life, along with my family's life easier.
-Oh, buy organic or local whenever possible. That way you know you're actually getting what you pay for. Also, be sure to rinse things really well. Even when it says "triple wash," I wash it again. Also, rinse your beans. This removes all of the sodium that comes along w/ the canned beans.
*The Vitamix. I've had this for a while now, and I use it at least once a day. It's an awesome blender, along w/ food processor. You can blend up frozen fruit in seconds. You can also make a soup in 6 or 7 minutes. The speed gets so high, it actually cooks the soup right in the canister. This thing also has a 5 year warranty. Something I'm sure I'll be needing, given the amount of time I use it. For me, the best part is actually cleaning it. All you do is rinse it, add a little hot water, along w/ a drop of dish soap, turn it on for about 30 seconds and it becomes its own dishwasher. Way cool. Love, love, love it. It's spendy (I think between $400-500). QVC run it every once in a while for 379 I think, and you can make 5 payments on it. Costco also has a good deal, when they promo it.
*Garlic Press. I love garlic and I use this thing every single day. My friend Katrena gave it to me a couple of years ago, and I'll never for forget it. It's an inexpensive kitchen gadget that makes life so much easier.
Food: *Peruse some vegan cookbooks, and see what spices and herbs they call for. Buy as many as you can. I can't believe how quickly I go through these things. Also, Mrs. Dash is great. I especially love the Spicy flavor. I usually use it on my steamed veggies.
*Hershey's Raw Cocoa Powder. This only has 10 calories per tbs, and you use it in almost every chocolate recipe. I may be wrong, but I believe it's also healthy for you.
*Morning Star Farms Protein Crumbles. Essentially these are hamburger crumbles. I use them in anything that would require ground hamburger. The boys have no idea they aren't eating meat when I make tacos, sloppy joes, spaghetti, etc. I always have these on hand.
*Morning Star Farms Breakfast Biscuits (egg, cheese, and "sausage") These are new, and are so freaking good. I'm not eating them now, since they're processed, but the boys LOVE them. They are 270 calories each. If you're really jonesing for a fast food sandwich, this quenches that desire. Also, perfect hangover food :)
*Herbal tea. This is new to me, but I love it. Green tea is so healthy for you, and it appears to help suppress the appetite a bit. There's also great flavors out there. I keep at least a few boxes of different types on hand. Also, there are also lots of non-caffeinated herbal teas out there, that are fantastic. I use one to help me go to bed sometimes, called: Sweet Dreams.
*Fruits and Veggies. I know this is totally obvious, but you can't survive on a vegetarian or vegan diet (at least in a healthy way) without eating these every single day. Before going vegetarian, I rarely ate these things. Now, they've opened up a whole new world of awesome foods to me. I really do love them. I couldn't function (properly) without my morning smoothie. Oh, frozen is totally fine, too. A lot of times they are better than fresh, b/c once they are picked they are immediately frozen before losing their nutrients (as fruits and veggies do the longer they off the tree or out of the ground).
*Beans. Any and all kinds. I've got tons of canned along w/ bagged beans on hand at all times. Making bean soup is the easiest thing ever, and it is way filling. Plus, beans are one of the healthiest things you can eat. You should eat at least 1/2 cup a day. Don't worry, I haven't noticed a gas issue with them.
*Potatoes. I know there's a ton of bad press out there about potatoes, but if you don't fry them, they can be really healthy. I don't eat them every day, but I love them. A baked potato is one of my favorite things. It's hard for me to believe anything bad comes from something that comes out of the ground or off a tree (same goes for avocados).
*Black bean patties. What a treat these things are....Costco has the best spicy black bean burger. I eat them without the bun, and I love them w/ tomato and avocado.
*Oatmeal. Mmmm..... I use a little brown sugar or Stevia.
*Stevia in the Raw. This is a healthy sugar substitute. It doesn't spike the blood sugar, and it's 0 calories. I use it w/ cereal or any baking.
*Medjool Dates. These are in a bunch of the recipes I use. They grind up to nothing in the Vitamix.
*Vegetarian fed, free range eggs. I know this isn't technically vegetarian, but I still eat egg whites every once in a while, and I feed eggs to my kids. I think if you buy them right, there's nothing wrong with them. In buying free range, you're assuring that you're not eating eggs from chickens that have been brutally abused, lived their whole lives in a cage, and have never seen the light of day. Nothing healthy can come from that.
*Canned tomatoes. I find myself using these at least a couple of times a week. I also love the fire roasted type. Always buy organic and low sodium when available.
*Rice Milk. This was the first milk I started using after I went off of the moo juice. It's perfect in cereal. It's really sweet. When I switched over, the kids had no idea.
*Soy Milk. Make sure it's not GMO. Soy milk was an acquired taste for me. Now, I prefer it over rice milk. It's thicker, too, so use it whenever you are needing "milk" in a recipe.
*Morning Star Farms "Chicken Nuggets." When you're craving nuggets this does the trick. McDonald's nuggets were Cal's favorite food on earth, until I started buying these things. Again, he has no idea they aren't meat. This is now his favorite thing.
*If you must use salt, use sea salt. A million times better for you than table salt.
*Agave Nectar. This is sweetener that doesn't spike the blood surgar. Brian uses it in his coffee, and I use it when baking as a sugar substitute.
*Use juice very sparingly. There is so much sugar in juice, it's truly not worth it. You're better off getting your nutrients from the real fruit or veggie.