Readers, a quick update: Crunchy, Hip, and Broke is still up and running and will return to regular updates soon. Unfortunately, my family has experienced some difficulties recently. Don’t worry, we’re fine, but it’s been a very stressful and trying time, on top of the new transitions we were already making. I had to cut all non essential functions in order for us to make it through the past few weeks. Things are calming down nicely though and regular updates will begin shortly, promise! Have a lovely day, readers! Take care!
Howdy readers! Did you have a good Memorial Day? Mine was excellent, momentarily reverent, and full of delicious vegan grillables! Fun fact, my black bean burgers stand up to grilling pretty well, which is good because I was concerned they wouldn’t.
Anyway, the long weekend is over, I’m back to the grind, and desperately in need of some direction. Readers, I don’t know what you want from me. I don’t mean that in an existential, “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAAAAAAAAAAAAAN???” kind of way. I mean that in a, “Hey, could you tell me what kind of recipes you’d like me to work on?” kind of way. Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few more followers, and if likes on my posts are any indication, some of you guys have bookmarked me. I’m pretty darn excited about this, though I have my suspicions that this has more to do with my recent cake escapades than any of my soup recipes. (Just teasing, you guys are awesome!)
So, I have some followers now, people who either like what I’m reading, think I’m funny, or like my recipe ideas. Hooray! That’s SO COOL! You guys are amazing, thank you so much! That being said, I’d like to know what you want. I’ve been asking on facebook and twitter for suggestions, and so far I’ve only been asked about what one should do with an obscene amount of beets (I’m on it Emily!). Guys, I’m going to tell you now that there is not a single vegetable, fruit, or other plant that I will not tentatively approach and do my best to prepare and there is not a single dish that I am not completely willing to try to veganize (though I’m going to have some trouble if you ask me to take on a Porterhouse Steak).
The thing is, I really, legitimately want to help you guys eat a little better and answer any questions you might have (or point you in the direction of someone qualified to answer it. I am NOT a nutritionist!). I want everyone to be able to prepare themselves a yummy, plant based meal, snack, or dessert, regardless of economic status, dietary concerns, or access to ingredients. So if you could please, please, pretty please either shoot me an email, something in the comments section, a wall post on facebook, or whatever you call the equivalent of those things on twitter (I’m ON twitter, but I’m not down with the lingo), I would really appreciate it and will get to work on it as soon as I can.
Seriously, I’m here to help. Just let me know what you need, ok?
Now, I’m sure you’d all like to know what the hell it is I want you to make that involves coffee grounds, the leftover asparagus stumps from dinner, and one past it’s prim blackberry. You’re in luck readers! We’re going to make smoothies!!
Ok, that’s actually a bowl where we put stuff before we have a chance to take it outside to the compost bin. Do you feel better, now? Did you actually think I would put you through something so disgusting?
Anyway, for those that know me personally, it’s no secret that I’ve recently become obsessed with composting…and wedding planning, but that’s another post entirely. As an avid gardener (yes, you will be forced to see pictures of my seedlings before the month is over, and yes, I refer to them as “my babies” when I show those pictures to strangers on the bus, and yes, no one likes to sit next to me on the bus anymore) who started out with a yard full of horrible, horrible clay, I appreciate compost for everything it’s done to my garden. Last year it took every muscle in my body to dig up a vegetable plot and flower beds. It was like trying to dig through solid rock, our soil was so bad. A year, some compost, a little topsoil, and lots and lots of earthworms later and my flower and vegetable beds are soft and fluffy bits of heaven (dirt). This year, I have a feeling I will be able to pull my carrots out of the ground without breaking them in half. I might actually get to eat my carrots!
Compost makes everything possible.
While compost isn’t the absolute most expensive gardening supply in the world, if your soil is especially bad, or you’re just a very conscientious gardener, the price starts to add up. When you consider that it’s really just someones rotted plants, the fact that you have to pay them to take it off their hands is a little silly. So what is a crunchy, hip, gardener to do?
You could always start a compost pile, which is just a spot on your property designated for compost. You’ll have access to all the lovely compost you could ever want, and you and your neighbors have the added benefit of getting to smell your compost! If the smell doesn’t appeal to you, however, you could drop $80 on something like this Or, you could save yourself the cash, and make your own.
This helpful guide will show you everything you need to know about turning a simple plastic storage container, one you might even already have, into your very own composter. Yes, you will need to manually turn it every so often, but it’s really not bad. I use a shovel and just turn it whenever I add new materials, which is actually quite a few times a day. Apparently, we eat more plant matter than we had originally suspected, so it seems I’m constantly throwing in kale stems, apple cores, Olive’s leftovers, tea leaves, etc. I can already see some decomposition happening and I am so excited about it I could scream!
Composting also helps you take joy in the simple things, such as stuff actively rotting in your back yard.
Does it attract bugs? I see flies hanging out in there, but they really don’t bother me. Do they attract raccoons? Even our city raccoons, which are the savviest of raccoons, can’t figure out how to open the latch. (Ask me again in a month, though.) Do I feel a bit smug knowing I’ve decreased my waste and bettered my local environment in the process? I’m writing an entire blog post about how much I love composting.
Seriously guys, if you garden, give this a chance. Eight bucks and you’ve got your own compost container and after about a month you have your very own compost. You’ll feel good knowing the table scraps and yard wastes aren’t going into the garbage, and you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your soil. I can’t think of anything crunchier OR hipper than that, can you?
Happy Monday, readers!
**Helpful Tip: If you’re thinking of gardening this year, for most regions of the US right now is the perfect time to get some vegetable (or flower, but you can’t eat those) seeds in the ground. The danger of frost is over so all you’ll need to give your own batch of “babies” is plenty of water, good soil, love, and, of course, compost. 🙂 **
Adele (who totally reads this guys, don’t judge me!), you’re beautiful. I’m serious, you’re gorgeous, and I’m not saying that because you’re the “curvy, real woman” the tabloids are talking about. You’re beautiful because you just ARE. It has nothing to do with your curves, your face, your anything, you’re just beautiful, and I wish everyone would be more ok with that, because you make music for my ears, and I’m so sick of everyone describing you for my eyes.
Adele, I heard you had started following a strict vegetarian diet recently, and I met this with cautious enthusiasm. Adele, I am a vegetarian, too, and whenever someone I respect so highly takes up my cause, I get very excited. Then I read that you were losing a lot of weight and my optimism dimmed a bit. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re trying to get healthy I’m proud of you, and I wish you the absolute best, I do, but I hope, really hope, you aren’t doing this for the wrong reasons.
Here are some wrong reasons for becoming a vegetarian:
1. To lose weight
2. To become the stereotypical twig vegan
3. To cave into the pressure that people in your life have put on you about your size.
If you’ll notice, those things have a theme. I actually considered putting in “4. to impress a guy” but I doubt that applies here.
Adele, you’re beautiful the way you are, and if you want to go vegetarian, please, please do! The more exposure we get the less like freaks we look, and I really appreciate that. If you want to get healthy you should do that as well, and not worry about all the other curvy women of the world complaining that you’ve sold out. Unfortunately, in you they found a way to feel beautiful about themselves, when in reality they should have been searching themselves for their own, particular beauty.
But Adele, I’m going to be honest here because I’m pretending we’re friends (don’t judge me!), you don’t NEED to do anything that doesn’t make you feel good. If you drop a few pounds, hey, that’s great, and if you don’t that’s fine, too! If you get down to a size ten, well that’s lovely, if you get to a six…well…I guess that’s ok so long as you’re still eating and feeling ok, but you have no pressure to do either of those things. The only thing I really want from you is for you to keep singing songs that make me feel good, and you can stop doing that if you want because I have the CD.
Some do, but not all. Some vegans look like this:
You know what though? Vegans aren’t all old men and models. Vegans look like this, too:
That was me on my 24th birthday. At the time, I was completely vegan. I had a vegan birthday cake, vegan food, vegan snacks, and vegan booze. This is a stark contrast from who I am now, because now, sometimes, you’ll catch me eating a cage free (local!) egg (rare, but delicious!), or *gasp!* ice cream (still, totally rare, but we have a place called Jeni’s that is magical and damn it I’m human)! But, that picture up there is what I looked like when I was completely, 100%, uncompromisingly vegan.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to wager a bet that you look more like that last picture than the first one. And you know what? Both are FINE. I’ve spent too long trying too hard to get as skinny as that first picture and the truth of the matter is that if I hope to have any kind of quality of life, I just can’t. Every single day I have to tell myself that that’s ok. Some people are naturally slimmer than others. Me? I’m a curvy lady and you just can’t vegan these hips out of me. That’s not what veganism is about anyway.
You know what it’s about? It varies from person to person. Some people can not exploit animals, be it for milk, eggs, honey, meat, wool, anything. Others won’t eat meat for moral reasons and try to avoid the dairy and eggs because of the increased risk of cancer (and milk’s direct link to the veal industry). Then there are some who follow a vegan diet because it makes them feel good (Bill Clinton). These are all great reasons to become a vegan, and I’m sure some of you can come up with more reasons. (And please feel free to share these with me! I love hearing them!) But to lose weight? To be thin? That’s just silly.
So Adele, I applaud you trying to get healthy, but because I adore you, I just want to ask you, as a vegan talking to a potential vegetarian, to ask yourself if you’re doing this for the right reasons. And for everyone reading this who isn’t Adele, I want you guys to ask yourself that question too.
That includes me.
Readers, I planned on blogging Thursday. Instead, I passed out cold at 9:30. Then, I planned on blogging Friday, and passed out cold right after I got home at 10. They’ve been busy days, and it’s been a busy week. Sometimes, early sleep happens and I don’t get tasty recipes and bad jokes out to you. Sorry. 😦
I suppose it’s fine, because I definitely never gave you a set update schedule (yes, there is a good reason for that!) but I do feel a bit obligated to the people who have subscribed to me, or who have clearly bookmarked me. I’m grateful that people read my ramblings and try my food, so I want to get more of those out to you! Still, I’ve learned some important lessons in the past few years, in which I’ve transitioned from my unhealthy, depressed, and stagnant self into the healthy person who is working hard to maintain her life, family, and education today.
This was me three years ago.
It took me a long time to find ANY picture of me from then, and even fewer that showed me below a fake smile. I was the most depressed in my entire life at that point. Many of you probably assume this is because I weighed 240 lbs. The truth of the matter is though, I weighed that much BECAUSE I was depressed. It was the symptom, not the cause. Let’s take a look at her life, that twenty-three year old mother.
She had dropped out of college, twice. She had accepted that she was not the smart kid anymore, and had instead become the screw up who got knocked up unexpectedly. She was working full time at a Payless making almost nothing. She was living with her father. She had stopped playing music. She was lonely, tired, and sad. She didn’t take care of herself, she didn’t care enough to do so, and she felt like crap about herself. That’s the girl who weighed 240 lbs.
This is the same woman last August:
You’ll notice that she weighs less and has considerably less hair. She’s since grown it back out, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. You’ll notice she looks pretty pleased with life…and her ridiculous pants. Let’s look at the life of that twenty-five year old mother.
She was recently accepted to a four year institution after a few years at community college. She was working with people she actually liked, still making almost nothing, but more than she had and feeling much better about it. She was starting to get the hang of this “mom” thing, and enjoying the summer with her daughter. She was living with her father, but school made her feel better about that. She had been involved in two bands in the past few years. She had friends who came over for dinner sometimes, slept enough, exercised regularly, and ate well, and was a month away from becoming engaged to the mman of her dreams. That girl treated herself with the respect she had deserved at 240 lbs. That girl weighed roughly 150 lbs.
The biggest differences between me “before” and me “after” have little to do with the weight. The difference lied in how good I felt about myself. I want to say that I had this magical epiphany that changed everything, but I didn’t. I changed completely by accident.
When I was twenty-three, Olive completely stopped eating any kind of meat that wasn’t a chicken nugget. She was only about 18 months old, and this made me really nervous, because I had ALWAYS been overweight, a fact I knew was in part due to never learning how to eat properly as a child. I did not want her growing up with the same problems I had when I was small, but she needed protein and iron, right? So I did what any mom with a basic education behind her would do, I searched the internet.
My reasoning was that vegetarian children grow just fine, so maybe I could try a few of their recipes instead. The internet was full of them, and I was willing to try anything at that point (I mean, it’s not like I had anything else going on, or anything). My first recipe was some sort of curried greens with potatoes. As I was making it, I felt really cool for a minute. I stirred up these flavors that were foreign to me and imagined myself as a hip, young college student, cooking veggie meals for herself. I thought, “I could do this. I really could.” So I did.
As time went on, obviously I became really concerned with animal rights and the quality of meat. I went vegan for awhile about a year later and quit when I met Mike, then started again more recently, with less rigid rules about my veganism (for instance, if I’m at an Indian restaurant and they have Kofta, it’s ON). I started caring about how many veggies I was eating and the environment, and the health and well being of my family. I quit smoking–I smoked a pack a day or more for five years–and took up running. Suddenly, I cared whether or not I was healthy.
For good reason too, I was happy! Being unhealthy meant that at some point that happiness would end because I would either get sick or die early. I didn’t want that! I was a student, I was a mother, I was someone’s fiance, I was a musician, and I was becoming everything I finally wanted to be.
I kept it up, and I’ve been healthy ever since. Recently, I’ve stopped stepping on a scale. I don’t want to count calories or worry about a few pounds here or there anymore, that’s no way to live. I need to have my mind available for my studies and my family, not worrying about what that baked potato might have cost me!
Do I have a few tips for those trying to be healthy? Well, a few.
1. Stop worrying about your weight–I’m serious. The more I freaked out about how thin I was the worse I began to feel. I started losing the weight by accident when I went vegetarian. I was planning whole meals to make sure I got everything I needed, so the first forty pounds or so came off on their own. I lost another thirty by running and switching to an almost completely plant based diet. I only lost ten pounds counting calories. Besides, if you feel good, your weight doesn’t matter. Your healthy weight is where your body sits when you’re exercising regularly and eating well, not when you’re depriving yourself and feeling exhausted.
2. Eat breakfast. Always.–If I didn’t eat breakfast, and regular meals, I would feel like butt all day. I don’t care how late I’m running, I always have breakfast. It sets the tone for my day and gives me what I need to not feel like a zombie. Eat breakfast.
3. Eat when you’re hungry.–Don’t bother telling yourself to wait. If you’re actually hungry, you need to eat something. And eat something you actually enjoy, too. I don’t want to hear you’re suffering through plain celery (get some hummus for Pete’s sake!) just to fill your belly until dinner time.
4. Do something you like, simply because you like to do it.–For me, this meant going back to school and singing publicly again. I love doing those things, but stopped doing them because I didn’t feel like I deserved either. I did, and you deserve what you like to do, too. Get a hobby, or take up an old one. As my therapist says, “Find your bliss.”
5. Get therapy.–It couldn’t hurt.
6. Get plenty of sleep.–If you’re tired, sleep, even if you’re worried that your blog’s readers will be mad at you. 🙂
Take care of yourself, guys. Thanks for letting me do the same.
Readers, you may have noticed I don’t usually post on Tuesdays. I have a large number of excuses for this, as Tuesday, without fail, seems to be the busiest day of my week. My last quarter as a Classics student, Tuesday was the day I had class until four (language classes, no less) then came home to a “No Mike” house where I needed to do mom stuff and cook dinner. Also, Tuesday has always been the day my band rehearses. So yeah, you’re not always going to get a post on Tuesday. My apologies.
The one thing Tuesday has taught me to appreciate however, is the beauty of a slow cooker (and which pizza places have friendly drivers). You see, with a crock pot you can just throw a bunch of crap into your pot and come out with very, very tasty food without any supervision. After a long, horrible day, it’s really nice to come home to a heavenly smelling kitchen, knowing you put in absolutely no effort for it to get there.
Crock Pots have kind of a weird place in the vegetarian world. Almost all of us own one, and typically it’s a throwback from the days when we used to buy crappy cheap meat that the crock pot would turn into moist, tender, fall off the bone flesh. These are weird memories for me, because now the previous sentence makes me gag a bit. At any rate, when we were meat eaters our crock pots were our best friends.
This guy is my crock pot. When I got him, I was most excited that I could fit an entire chicken inside. When I stopped eating anything that used to move of it’s own volition I stopped using my crock pot. That is, until I realized that beans are a lot easier to cook when you don’t have to watch them all day.
So, for Gluten Free/Weight Watchers/Ashley Week, I bring you my favorite bean soup, cooked for six hours while I went about my day and gobbled up by my family when I got home.
Pinto Bean Soup–Slow Cooker Edition
2 cups dry pinto beans
6 cups veggie stock
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 cups brown rice, cooked (optional)
hot sauce to taste (optional)
Throw everything but the rice in your slow cooker. Set the slow cooker for about six hours. You may notice I didn’t presoak the beans. That is because I am so lazy it causes people physical pain to look at me. If you DO soak those bad boys you’ll cut the cooking time down quite a bit, but it really doesn’t matter. Also, I usually chop up half a sweet onion and chuck that in, too. You can totally do that, but onions make one person in my home and at least one person in Ashley’s home kind of gassy, so I decided not to tempt fate (not that all those beans are going to help matters, any). You could also throw in a few bell peppers as well, but I only like to do that for the last hour so they don’t become mushy beyond all recognition, so if you don’t have time, leave them out.
At the end of six hours it will be soupy, mushy, and so ridiculously yummy. You can eat it as a soup with some cornbread or the “cheese” biscuits I’m this close to perfecting and it will be wonderful.
That’s how Ollie ate it, and she downed the entire bowl. Point–Mommy.
But for Ashley, and how we usually eat it out of sheer laziness and ability to conjure brown rice at will (or rather, we keep some in our fridge for emergencies/bouts of ravenous hunger), I suggest ladling it over a half a cup of rice.
That’s what it looks like after you eat half of it and go, “Oh crap, I have to post that to my blog!” You’ll also notice that I favor hot sauce on my soups.
Either way you eat it, pair it with a steamed veggie or salad and you have yourself a meal!
Mike had seconds, again, and I took an extra bowl to Ashley at her work for her to have for lunch the next day. She loved it! How do I know? Because she sent me back a picture of a completely empty container. I’d say that’s a win!
Prep Time: Five Minutes
Cook time: Six hours in a slow cooker
Points Plus (for one serving with rice): 7
Hey Ashley, I’m gonna need you to clean that container.
Sorry guys, no witty banter today. One of my dogs went in for a spay and she is nooooot happy. But, since I promised, and since I love you, I give you tacos.
Tempeh Tacos an Idiot Could Probably Make
1 tsp Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz block Tempeh
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2-3 tsp chilli powder (or to taste, I almost always add more)
a few dashes liquid smoke
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbs green chiles (you’ll find these canned)
Whole Wheat Tortillas or Taco Shells
Ok, I’m going to level with you–even if you’ve never cooked before you can make this. So give it a try. Everyone likes these. 🙂
Take a skillet and heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for one minute. Crumble the tempeh like I showed you yesterday (hold the block and crumble until you’re no longer holding a block) and add it to the pan with the other ingredients. Simmer it for at least ten minutes (I usually let it go for twenty so the tempeh can absorb loads of flavor).
Get your fixin’s ready!
We don’t usually have fake cheese, but that time we did! We do, however, always have salsa and guac, because if you don’t, you are not actually eating a taco. You should be ashamed of yourself! You can also add other stuff (some ideas include diced peppers or onions). A taco is pretty much whatever fixin’s you put on the “meat.”
Assemble and enjoy!
See, a kid could do that. In fact, one did!
Your helper will probably want to assemble some of these, too. The newspaper hat, however, is optional.
Good night loves!