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so snowed in

Hello from snowy Massachusetts and happy February! Once again, I didn’t have class yesterday due to another snowstorm, but after a very late Super Bowl celebration (yay, Patriots!), it was much appreciated.  Who else is snowed in? We got over 3 feet early last week, and yesterday another foot (at least) was added to the pile…yuck!
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Clearly, I’m not impressed. Even though I’ve lived through these snowy, frigid New England winters my whole life, it doesn’t mean I have to like them! Anyway, being snowed in has its perks…I’ve gotten a little extra sleep, had some time to catch-up on homework and wedding to-do’s, and have had some extra time in the kitchen, which I never mind at all. However, on the flipside, the freezing cold temperatures outside always lead me to crave comfort foods, so lately I’ve been on the search for a few lightened-up versions of my favorites.

Last week, we were craving soup, so I made this corn chowder from one of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats (the only changes I made were substituting-in unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk, cutting the potatoes down to 3 cups, and using turkey bacon in place of regular). This did NOT disappoint. It’s gluten & dairy-free, but full-of flavor. The cauliflower-based broth is genius, and using bagged hash-browns helps cut down on the preparation time!
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After the soup was devoured (and we froze some!) we got even more snow. Naturally, more snow meant more comfort food cravings, so a bowl of pasta did the trick.
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Contrary to belief, pasta doesn’t have to be considered a “cheat meal” or a “bad option”. It’s all about portions and choices. I’m hooked on brown rice pasta; it’s a good source of protein, fiber, it’s wheat-free, comes in a bunch of different shapes, and lastly it’s not mushy at all. I’ve found it in nearly every grocery store (recently I bought Tinkyada brand and I’d recommend it), and I’d chose it over white pasta in a heartbeat. My favorite thing to do when I am craving pasta is to steam or roast a bunch of broccoli and/or cauliflower (or any vegetable you prefer) and add it to my bowl as my “base”. Then, once cooked, I add my pasta, parmesan, and sauce/toppings. Adding an ample amount of vegetables to the base of the bowl helps fill me up without having to go overboard on the pasta, yet I still end up feeling completely satisfied when the meal is done.
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Lastly, for the Superbowl, I made these mini-garlic monkey breads (I made them on New Year’s, too). They were a hit at both parties, and are incredibly addicting. If you need a simple party recipe, make these! I altered the recipe only by using a different method for cooking the dough: I cut each biscuit into quarters, and then added the dough into muffin tins by pressing 5-6 pieces into each tin and then placing one additional piece of dough in the middle on top. (I did this instead of tying them into knots). Either way will work!

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I’m off to class; I hope you all have a terrific start to February!

What’s your favorite comfort-food?
Anyone else snowed in?
What’s your favorite way to spend your day if you’re stuck inside?
I love lounging in pj’s and baking!

meatless monday, mostly meatless meredith

Hey friends! Happy Monday/MLK Day. Today is my last day of “winter break” and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in shock about it. Where did January go? I am happy that I feel like I accomplished a lot of my wedding to-do list in my time off from classes, however, it’s still shocking how fast time goes by as we age. While I’m sad to see vacation end, I’m also excited to get back into a daily routine and get this show on the road with classes. I can’t wait to be done already!!

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hehehe!
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Anyway, since I haven’t blogged much at all in the last couple of months, I haven’t had the chance to share what I’ve been eating lately. Since this has always first-and-foremost been a food blog to me, I want to stay honest about it. Ever since December, I’ve been dabbling with eating a (mostly) plant-based diet. Brandon and I actually declared December as a “Meatless Month”, with the exception of a few pieces of bacon here-and-there (whoops), and seafood. I’m just not interested in cutting out seafood…life is too short and I love it too much! Anyway, to me, this isn’t a diet. It’s a lifestyle. This diagram does a good job of explaining what exactly what a plant-based diet consists of:

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There’s been a few reasons behind this switch, one because I’ve never been a huge “meat” person, and two because I’ve always generally felt better (on the inside and out)when I’m eating mostly plant-based foods.Truthfully though, my entire mind-set shifted entirely after seeing the movies Forks Over Knives and Food Inc. in one of my classes this semester. (Watch these movies!!!) I am so happy to now have more awareness and knowledge surrounding the prevalent health issues linked to animal-based diets, and after learning about the secrets behind the meat industry, I now feel that eating meat and most other animal-based foods just isn’t for me. Trust me, I know this isn’t for everyone, and I’d never push this on anyone! In fact, I can and will still cook  with some animal products, be around it, and serve it; it’s just not something that I, personally, want to eat anymore.

I think my main concern (and my family’s main concern) was where I would get my protein from. I stopped eating dairy a few months ago (with the exception of cheese pizza and ice cream now-and-then because like I said, life is too short!), so that hasn’t been too difficult for me. Vanilla almond milk=my favorite! However, it’s astonishing how many people believe that if we don’t eat meat, we will be protein deficient. That couldn’t be more false! Instead of meat protein, I’ve been focusing on getting my protein from other things: like grains, seeds, seafood, nuts and legumes. Here’s some of the things I’ve been making/eating:

2-bean taco salads
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Roasted vegetables
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Shrimp, quinoa, and vegetables
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Broccoli slaw quinoa salad
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Flourless blueberry pancakes with walnuts and gluten-free granola
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Rice pasta, grilled shrimp, and roasted cauliflower

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Arugula quinoa salad with peanut-butter rice cakes
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Peanut butter protein bites
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Anyway, I’m not preaching anything here, I simply wanted to share this with all of you in hopes to show that eating a mostly plant-based diet can still be delicious and nutritious, and maybe some of you will want to go “meatless” once and a while, too. I’ll be back this week with a recipe; talk to you soon, friends!

What is your favorite meatless meal?
Lately, mine is a big salad with quinoa and vegetables, and I’m loving experimenting with more cauliflower-based dishes.
Would you ever switch to a mostly-plant-based diet?