Keeping a clean kitchen- Vegan Style

As an adult, I am ‘creatively cluttered’ and living in ‘organized disarray’.  As a child, it was more characterized as ‘messy’ and ‘chaotic’.

I remember when I was a ‘tween’ and all I wanted was a dish-washer.  You see we were raised pretty normally – with chores.  One of my many MANY chores (yes, Mom, you were totally into child slave-labor 😉 ) was to wash the dishes.   And I HATED washing dishes.  I still hate washing dishes.

But it is time to get past that.  Unless you have been blessed by the ‘giant kitchen’ god (and we have not), you are never going to have a kitchen big enough to satisfy me.  My biggest two problems are dishes (have I told you that I hate washing dishes?) and storage (rather, lack-there-of).   You can’t exactly experiment and cook all whole foods and chop & store veggies, yada yada yada – without ROOM.   And who wants to cook in a messy kitchen anyways?

I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I do enjoy waking up in the morning to a sparkling sink and a clear counter.  So- how to get there?

I’ve actually STOPPED using my dish-washer.  I know. I know.  Tween Kassie is kicking me in my shins right now.  But, I learned that it was much like my ‘laundry skills’.  I tend to start a load, get distracted, and leave them in there until I remember that I don’t have any clean underwear.  I did the same with dishes.  So, we stopped living out of the cupboards and started living out of the dishwasher.  Which is great – except some days we don’t have enough dishes to run a load and some days we have way too many- it’s just hard to keep up with and the sink or dishwasher is always full of dirty dishes.  So… we did what I haven’t done since I was in my first cheap apartment over 9 years ago…  We bought a drying rack.  Now, we cook and then hand wash our dishes.  Then we fold up the drying rack and put that away.  Voila- no dirty dishes overnight.  No dirty dishes EVAH.  Cabinets are full.  Sinks are clean.  It really makes me want to cook when I get home instead of order-out.

I’ve also gotten into a habit of cleaning out the fridge and mopping the floor every weekend.  We can see what we have, what we need, and you don’t step on that damn piece of rice that fell three days ago and I never found until it manage to stick up into my toe this morning.  Yeah- that happens.

So- in an odd, round-a-bout way: Veganism has made me a cleaner person.  At least, in the Kitchen.  And, I am more motivated to keep cooking when my kitchen is clean.  Ah- the circle of life.


I’m not dead!

Sorry all- I am way behind with my blogging.  I’ve had a week of busyness (decorating for the holidays & getting caught up with work & working on my crafty X-mas presents) and sickness.  I think I got a cold from… Mitch (one of my best friends in Iowa), Danie (one of my best friends in KC), or one of the hundreds of cute little munchkins at ‘Disney On Ice’.  In fact- while I feel 80% better than I did 2-3 days ago- it will still take me twice as long to write this article because I keep having to stop to cough.  Rick’s dad, Ray, keeps telling me that if I would go have a big mac- I would feel all better :).  I think I’ll stick with my vegan food 🙂

This week- we’ve been back on the Vegan train.  I haven’t had any meat since Thanksgiving and no dairy since the Friday after.  Rick still hasn’t had any at all.  Even being sick- I’ve manage to get all of my work done this week- so while I HAVE been sick- I have still had more energy than I used to.  The week of food has been relatively boring (sickness and busyness has led to a week of my chipotle veggie soup and pb&j sandwiches)- and I’m itching to get back to making something interesting.

I have about 20 recipes that I need to blog- and then new ones to be added this week.  Just don’t give up on me- I’m back! 🙂


We made 30 days.  Easy peasy.  We are definitely keeping this up.  Rick still hasn’t had any animal products- but I have tried a small amount of turkey and oyster stuffing (tasted good but will be rare to eat) and some dairy.  The dairy- I don’t think I want to ever eat again.  Both times I’ve had dairy this weekend- I have had an upset stomach.

Other than the upset stomach – we enjoyed Thanksgiving.  Good food (some of it vegan- provided by yours truly), family time, dinner & movie with friends, black friday deals, and enjoying Disney on ice with the nieces. A really great weekend.  I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday!

Dealing with cravings- Vegan Style

Dealing with cravings.  One of the questions I have gotten most often- “how bad are the cravings?”

Well- they haven’t been bad at all!  My worst craving has been wanting eggs.  I love eggs.  I want eggs.  Other than that- as long as I’m not extremely hungry and walking through a bbq joint- my life is pretty easy.  But look at it this way- most things that you eat that are full of meat by-products: you can copy and create a vegan version.  I was craving mac & cheese so I made macaroni & ‘cheese’.  I was craving cupcakes- I have cupcakes.  We want lasagna- we make lasagna.  Pizza- yes pizza.  They might be a little off- but it’s close enough that we haven’t really been lacking at all.

Chocolate Almond Milk

Now- when I do get a craving that I can’t shake, I’m learning to rely on two things.  Zucchini & Chocolate.  Really.  When I’m craving some salt or something with salt- but don’t want to fall off the wagon OR eat unhealthy- I cut a zucchini and make some quick, easy & yummy zucchini chips.  When I’m craving sweet and it’s not a junk food day (meaning no cupcakes just lying around)- I have some dark chocolate almond milk (they come in single servings and are awesome and really healthy).

Oh- and sushi- turns out that veggie sushi tastes about the same as tuna sushi once you add all of the soy sauce & wasabi (and about half the price).

Almost to the INITIAL Finish Line

I have been so busy the past two weeks- that I’ve barely posted.  So, tonight and over the thanksgiving weekend- be prepared.  Posts galore coming.

Anyways- we are almost to our finish line.  Line up the steaks.  Just kidding.  We actually have decided to be mostly vegan.  It’s not nearly as hard as we thought it would be, I’m becoming an awesome cook, we’re eating a lot of new and different foods (vs our normal fallback to chicken breast & broccoli), we feel better, I’m down 10 lbs in a month, we have more energy, AND we get to eat pizza without worrying about all of the extra sodium and grease from butter, cheese, salt, & meat.  Why not keep doing it?? 🙂

Now- we’re not going to be those crazy vegan fanatics that you can no-longer invite to dinner because you have to worry about where we can eat or get an earful about what your steak went through before getting to your plate.  We’re not those types of vegans.  I’m not sure what we can even classify ourselves as…  except- ‘Mostly Vegan’.  We try not to eat animal by-products or animal flesh- but if we don’t have a choice or we’re really craving ____ (enter food here- ex. Eggs, Steak, Burger, Fish, etc)- we will make an exception and go have a bit.  But for the most part- we will continue to avoid.  Why?  Well- it’s not that hard and we see the benefits.  It’s not for everyone- but we’re pretty sure it is for us.

Now bring on Thanksgiving!  Perfect example- I will probably have a bit of turkey, a bit of stuffing, and a bite of a deviled egg- and then the rest of my plate will be filled with Thanksgiving Casserole, Scalloped Corn, Champagne/Mushroom Gravy, Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, Rolls, Sweet Potatoes- all vegan.

Now we haven’t gotten there yet- so who knows how this will all go down…  Stay tuned.


Two Weeks Down!

Two weeks down!  We feel great!  Just awesome! I’m down 7lbs- Rick is down 8lbs.

So far- we seem to have more energy & motivation.

We are having a blast cooking and trying new things.  This past week, the new things we tried were: Stuffed Peppers, Black Bean Soup, Black Bean Hummus, Snickerdoodle Cookies, Cupcakes, Popcorn, Chili, Zucchini Bread, Mac & ‘Cheese’ & Zucchini Chips.  Not bad 🙂

This week is easy so far- we’re eating mostly leftovers.  Thanks to soups & casseroles making enough food for 10 people, we are still eating Black Bean Soup & Mac & ‘Cheese’ for a few more days.

So far, it has been easy to say ‘We’re Vegan!’ ;)…  There have been fewer cravings on my part.  I still think none on Ricks (minus the sugar cookies at the Indianola Hy-Vee).

So far- it’s an awesome journey.

What Is A Vegan

Since we’ve started this journey- we’ve gotten a lot of support.  We’ve also gotten a lot of jeers.    We’ve had people invite themselves to dinner.  We’ve been teased.  We’ve made new friends.  It’s been an interesting a fun ride already.  However- one question that I received (a few times) is: ‘What exactly IS a vegan?’.  I’ve also gotten: ‘Wait!  You can’t have cheese?!?’ and ‘Where do you get your protein?!?’.  The protein question I’ll answer later.  But for now- I’ll answer the question on What Exactly IS A Vegan.  While a lot of people know- lets be serious, not everyone knows.   Even doing the research- every once in a while I run into an article telling me something not to eat- something that I didn’t even think about.  So here it is- in basic terms:

What Is A Vegan:

Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as some refined white sugar and some wines. Most vegans also avoid the use of all products tested on animals, as well as animal-derived non-food products, such as leather, fur and wool.

Vegan refers to either a person who follows this way of eating, or to the diet itself.

What Can’t Vegans Eat:

  • Meat. Topping the list, of course, are all meats — from hamburgers and pork chops to chicken wings and the Thanksgiving turkey.
  • Fish and shellfish. Whether it’s a lowly shrimp, a fried fish stick, or salmon, it’s not part of a vegan diet.
  • Dairy products. Off the vegan menu: everything from milk and yogurt to cheese and butter.
  • Eggs. That means mayonnaise and anything else made with eggs (yes, most brownies and cakes, too!).
  • Most beer. Guinness is filtered using tiny amounts of gelatin derived from fish bladders.  And it’s not alone. While some beers are vegan, others are filtered using egg whites or sea shells, according to barnivore, a vegan beer and wine guide.
  • Some breads. While many simple breads are a-OK, containing just four ingredients (flour, yeast, water, and salt) many breads and baked goods are made with whey (a dairy product) or with butter, eggs, or sugar.
  • Marshmallows. These and other foods, like gummy candies and Frosted Mini Wheats, are made with gelatin — a protein made from boiling skin, bones, and other animal parts.
  • Salad dressing. Salads are great for vegans, but not necessarily the dressing. Scan the ingredient list, and you’ll often find lecithin, which helps keep oil and vinegar from separating, and can be derived from animal tissues or egg yolk (both no-no’s for vegans) or from soy (OK).

Really- We just have to read every label and make a lot of things ourselves.  You’d be surprised, for instance, how many foods contain gelatin or whey or fish sauce

What Vegans Can Eat:

  • Vegetables. Buy a wide variety of vegetables, preferably the deep green and yellow-orange ones. White and sweet potatoes are excellent foods. Avocados are high in oil content; therefore, use them sparingly. Fresh vegetables are the best, frozen would be an acceptable second choice, with canned vegetables your last choice. Be sure to read the labels.
  • Fruit. Buy a variety of fresh, ripe fruits to use at breakfast with your whole grain cereals or at supper time. Apples are one of the best fruits. Citrus fruits are good, too.
  • Grains. Eat many different types of whole grains, such as whole wheat, rye, oats, rolled oats, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, 100% cornmeal, and whole barley. Cook whole by themselves or in a mixture with other grains. For variety, grind them.
  • Pasta. Buy whole grain products, such as spaghetti and macaroni made from whole wheat, corn, spinach, artichokes, or soy flours. Check labels carefully.
  • Legumes. Legumes are dry beans and peas. For economy, buy these in bulk. Use a variety throughout the week or month. Good choices include pinto and red beans, garbanzos (chick peas), lentils, black beans, split peas (green or yellow), great northern, navy or white beans, and lima beans. Soybeans are high in fat and protein; thus, they should be used sparingly.
  • Nuts & Seeds. Use very sparingly. Nuts and seeds are classed as concentrated foods because of their high fat content. Limit nuts to 1/6 to 1/10 of the ingredients in loaves and casseroles. Almonds are the king of nuts for nutritional value.
  • Bread.  Make your own bread if at all possible. Read labels very carefully and choose whole grain breads and bread products as much as possible. Remember that the term “wheat flour” refers to white, refined flour.
  • Crackers.  Some good choices are Norwegian Ideal whole grain flat bread, crispbread wafers, Ryquita crisp, rye bread, Hol-Grain Waferets, Finn Crisp, Rye Krisp. Some stores carry 100 percent whole wheat matzos – look for the variety made without eggs. Also, read labels carefully as some companies make product variations that may not be the best choices for a healthy diet.
  • Herbs.  Sweet herbs often enhance the natural flavor of food. Most sweet herbs are available in supermarkets; however, natural foods stores often carry them in bulk at much lower prices.

Really- we can eat just about anything we want- as long as we make it.  We’ve had cupcakes, cookies, pizza, pasta, soup, chili, oatmeal, Mac & ‘Cheese’, popcorn, hummus, pb&j, zucchini bread, etc- which is a better selection of food than we usually eat.

Pluses For Eating Vegan:

  • Conservation of Fossil fuel. It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein; 35 calories for 1 calorie of pork; 22 calories for 1 of poultry; but just 1 calorie of fossil fuel for 1 calorie of soybeans. B
  • Water Conservation. It takes 3 to 15 times as much water to produce animal protein as it does plant protein.
  • Efficient use of grains. It takes up to 16 pounds of soybeans and grains to produce 1 lb. of beef and 3 to 6 lbs. to produce 1 lb of turkey & egg.
  • Soil conservation. When grains & legumes are used more efficiently, our precious topsoil is automatically made more efficient in its use. We use less agricultural resources to provide for the same number of people.
  • Saving our forests. Tropical forests in Brazil and other tropic regions are destroyed daily, in part, to create more acreage to raise livestock.  Since the forest land “filters” our air supply and contains botanical sources for new medicines, this destruction is irreversable.
  • Asthetics. Decaying animal parts, whether in a freezer case or served in restaurants, can never be as asthetically pleasing to the senses as the same foods made from wholesome vegetable sources. Only habit can allow one not to perceive this: a change in diet makes this self evident.
  • Lower fat plus no cholesterol. Animal foods are higher in fat than most plant foods, particularly saturated fats. Plants do not contain cholesterol.
  • Fewer Agricultural Chemicals. Being higher on the food chain, animal foods contain far higher concentrations of agricultural chemicals than plant foods, including pesticides, herbicides, etc.
  • Lower Exposure to livestock drugs. There are over 20,000 different drugs, including sterols, antibiotics, growth hormones and other veterinary drugs that are given to livestock animals. These drugs are consumed when animal foods are consumed. The dangers herein, in secondary consumption of antibiotics, are well documented.
  • Shelf life differential. Plant foods last longer than animal foods. Try this experiment: Leave out a head of lettuce and a pound of hamburger for 1 day, which will make you sick?
  • Organoleptic Indications of Pathenogens. Plant foods give tell-tale signs of “going bad”. Ever hear of someone getting sick from “bad broccoli”?
  • Lower rate in Obesity. Studies confirm that vegetarians tend to be thinner than meat eaters. Obesity is considered by doctors to be a disease within itself.
  • No excess protein. The average American eats 400% of the RDA for protein. This causes excess nitrogen in the blood that creates a host of long-term health problems.
  • Well Being. I just feel better since “giving up” meat and becoming vegetarian.
  • Food costs. Vegetarian foods tend to cost less than meat based items.
  • Love of animals. I love animals as I love myself. I have no desire to kill them or cause them harm.
  • Stance against Factory Farming.  I cannot make a statement against factory farming if I myself eat their animals.
  • Natural diet. Our hands, teeth, feet, intestinal tract…even our body chemistry is that of an herbivore.
  • Clear conscience. I know what I’m doing is right. When we saw a truck full of little baby pigs the other day, I had a hard time not crying.  Now knowing what lies in store for those sweet little fuzzy pigs- I was almost devastated to see a whole truckload of them- with their little snouts sticking out of the air vent.  At least I knew- that I wouldn’t be backing the killing of those sweethearts and I wouldn’t be un-knowingly eating one of them in the future.
  • Example. To live this way is to protect the underlying values of those around me.
  • Easy substitutes. There are vegetable based substitutes for every meat product imaginable.
  • Fun in the Kitchen! We have made more unique stuff in the past two weeks- than I think we ever have.

Read more about the health benefits of becoming a vegan- HERE

Parents & Pesto

To start with- I have awesome awesome awesome parents.  They might tease me- and my dad might call me a ‘vegan hippie’- but really they are just awesome.  My dad- who will is a picky veggie eater- managed to make and eat a full vegan meal while we were visiting last weekend.

My grandmother came over and my dad made Pesto & Pasta (using all vegan ingredients), Mom & I made salads (thanks to her awesome garden & herbs), and I made a healthier version of Garlic Bread. So delish! And we got to spend some time with the family. 🙂

Dad giving the peace sign to the 'hippie' 😉

Making Vegan Pesto Sauce



Garlic Bread

Veggie Pasta

One Week Down!

What a week.  It’s been a week of emotions and events.  We went out to eat 4 times this week- and spent some time in Iowa- and yet we still managed to stick with our Vegan plan!  Between cooking some new great things, the easiness of PB&J sandwiches, the luck of eating at places that had Veg options, and the awesomeness of my parents and grandmother- for going along with a Vegan dinner (and enjoying it :))- we have managed to make it through ONE WEEK!

The best part… We’re not really having any cravings!  I had some along the week- but none that bad at all.  I am feeling energized and lighter.  Rick and I have each gone down 4+ lbs this week, as well!  I am more regular (I know- way too much information- but if I’m not honest, you may not see all of what we experience…) 😉

The week:

  • Monday– Fruit Shake, Apple & Natural PB, Ginger & Pineapple Rice (eh), Roasted Red Pepper Hummus & Pita Bread, Bruschetta (without cheese) and Marinara and Pasta at Buca Di Beppo (Birthday Dinner for one of my closest friends- Genese)
  • Tuesday– Fruit Shake, Celery & Natural PB, PB Sandwich, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus & Pita Bread, Veggie Soup
  • Wednesday– Oatmeal, Celery & Natural PB, Veggie Soup, Roasted Almonds & Banana, PB&Jelly Sandwich
  • Thursday– Oatmeal, Apple & Natural PB, Veggie Soup, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus & Pita Bread, PB&J Sandwich (Rick had Chipotle- all vegan)
  • Friday– Fruit Shake, Veggie Stuffed Sweet Potato & Side Salad (Rick had a black bean burger), Snack Crackers & Almond ‘Cheese’ & Tomato slices, Veggie Sushi at Nara (Dinner with our close friends- Brad & Ebeth)
  • Saturday– Toast w/PB &J, Nuts & Plum, PB&J Sandwich, PB&J Sandwich, Vegan Pesto Pasta w/ Garlic Bread & Side Salad(Dad & I cooking w/ the help of mom’s veggies & herbs)
  • Sunday (So Far)- Toast w/ PB&J, Nuts, Vegan Chocolate Bar, Pizza (Awesome Homemade with Fresh Veggies- from my mom’s garden), Snicker-doodle cookies

Three days down- 27 to go!

So far- I’m feeling… well… like normal :).  Not really feeling a difference- except I am not bloated.  I don’t think I realized before- just how much salt I eat at night.  It’s always pretty normal to wake up with fingers a bit swollen.  This morning- I woke up feeling not salty or blechy (medical term) at all.

The hardest thing so far- is trying to come up with a quick easy something to eat on the go.  And it has already been solved with the easiest meal so far- a PB&J (just with fresh pb & and jam with no animal byproducts (most has it)- and bread with no animal byproducts (again- most has it- especially white bread)).  I can just make a few and stick in my purse and be off.  Also- making soup in bulk is going to come in really handy.  Cheap- and the recipe we used made us 8 bowls that are just sitting in the fridge waiting to be eaten (after today- 4 bowls)

Cravings were bad last night.  I tend to be a stress or emotional snacker and emotions have run high the past week or so.  Luckily- I was prepared with some nuts, some pineapple, and lots of water.