Earth Day

Today is Earth Day! My Facebook feed has been full of people and pages trying to spread the Earth Day message. Today I thought I share a few things we do all the time to do our part and make the world a better place.

earth day

Plant a Garden

I have a small garden that I love. Getting it set up was quite a bit of work but after that it was very easy. I just water it occasionally, shade it in the summer ( I live in Arizona, this is necessary), and enjoy its bounty. My garden doesn’t produce year round but that is mostly because I don’t have a lot of experience gardening and I tend to neglect it by the middle of summer when it’s 115° outside. I stick to a spring garden but I want to keep it up this fall too.

Cloth Napkins

Years ago when we only had 3 kids we would go through a roll of paper towels at least once per week. We would use them for napkins at each meal, for spills and general cleaning. I decided to give cloth napkins a try and bought a pack of 12. They worked great! We were already doing a load of laundry everyday so they didn’t require much extra effort. I know have about four sets and buy them when they are on sale. We still use paper towels but not as often, a roll lasts about a month now.

Cleaning Rags

I mentioned above that we used to use paper towels for cleaning and we still do occasionally but mostly we use old rags. I keep them in a drawer next to the “cloth napkin” drawer in the kitchen. We have lots of spills but these do the trick. Most are old wash cloths made from terry cloth and some are crocheted. They save us a ton of money.

Recycle

Our city prioritizes recycling. We have a special bin for recyclables that is picked up every week. I don’t know if I’d recycle as much if it were more difficult. You can also recycle by reusing or gifting things. Hand-me-downs aren’t just for kids. Some friends of mine have organized Swap events were we would bring clothes, shoes, and accessories that were gently worn and trade.

There are also groups that facilitate selling household items that are still useful but of no use to you. Even if you old couch as seen better days and young couple or college student may love to give it a good home, and keep it out of a landfill. My first few apartments almost completely furnished by hand-me-downs.

Reusable Water Bottles

Everyone in our family carries Reuseable Water Bottles. This keeps us from buying plastic disposable bottles all the time. You can find them everywhere. I prefer bottles with a loop handle so I can hang it on my pinky when my hand are full and a flip top straw but find one that works for you.

Energy Saver Curtains

I had never thought of spending money on curtains until I moved to Arizona. Our living room would get so hot with the sun shining though our large sliding glass door every day. I discovered Energy Saver Curtains, sometimes called Blackout Window Curtain, that blocked the sun light and left our whole downstairs much cooler. We don’t need the air conditioning set quite so high, that saves energy and money.

Our Food

Our choice to eat a plant-based diet helps the earth by decreasing our dependence on the meat and dairy industry. You can read some mind-blowing facts about what the meat industry is doing to the environment. I also try to avoid products that lead to deforestation like palm oil.

There are many other ways to help the environment, some I’ve been too scared to try like the DivaCup. Other things like composting just didn’t work for us.

I’d love to hear your tips for making the world around you a better place.

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Plant-Based Mexican Food Meal Plan

You may think it is silly of me to have a Mexican Food Meal Plan. You would be right since we eat Mexican food most of the time. It’s just who we are. Our fresh fool supply is also extremely low since we haven’t been to the store in a while but I still have beans and grains along with a few tomatoes and jalapenos so all is well.

By the way, I hope you all had a great Easter! My husband and teen son were both out of town so our weekend wasn’t typical. We are all trying to get back into the swing of things.

Mexican Food Meal Plan

Breakfast

Some of these items don’t quite fit with out Mexican food theme but that is ok. I usually prefer a quick breakfast but I don’t mind combining a few things that are already cooked.

Lunch

You’ll notice most of these recipes use black beans. I cook a large batch to use in multiple recipes to save time.

Dinner

If I have enough leftovers I may not make all of these dishes. I’ll definitely make the first two because they make great leftovers and I can use them in other meals.

I may even try to work in my Taco Muffins!

Does a Mexican Food Meal Plan look like something you can get behind or do you have a different set of favorites? If you’ve tried some of these recipes I’d love to hear which are your favorites!

custom meal plan

Vegan and Gluten-Free Taco Muffins

I love Tacos! There, I said it. I’m willing to bet that you love tacos too. What I don’t like is the mess my kids make every time they eat them. These Vegan and Gluten-Free Taco Muffins may just be the solution we’ve all be looking for.

If you’ve ever tried my Lentil Tacos then you will see where I’m going with these delicious, hearty muffins. Before you start doubting Taco Muffins let me ask you, have you ever had meat loaf or a faux beanie loaf? Taco Muffins are not that far of a stretch. You can even use a mini loaf or a full loaf pan but I haven’t tried it, yet.

Vegan Taco Muffins

I want to make sure you understand from the beginning that these are savory, taco flavored muffins. My teenage son that I was just being clever and had quite a shock when he took the first bite. I don’t know what he was expecting but he couldn’t stop eating them. My 3 year old devoured most of them over 2 days. I had to cut him off. I got a couple and put one in the freezer to experiment.

taco muffins gluten free and vegan

Taco Muffins (gluten-free and vegan)

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Potato Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, sea salt, onion powder and cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plant milk
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • Lentil Mix (1 1/2 cup cooked lentils; 1 tsp each of garlic powder, sea salt, onion powder; and 1/2 tsp cumin)

Do

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and prepare muffin pan. I spray with a light coat of spray oil.
  2. In a small/medium bowl make Lentil Mix by combining lentils and spices together then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix flours, xanthum gum, spices, baking soda and baking powder and mix.
  4. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup mix liquids.
  5. Pour liquids into dry ingredients and stir with a sturdy spoon. Add more liquid as needed. Mine was clumpy so I used a potato masher to help.
  6. Spoon in a small amount of batter into muffin tin, just enough to cover the bottom.
  7. Then dump the Lentil Mix into the remaining batter in the mixing bowl and stir well. Continue filling muffin cups.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.

Serve these muffins while slightly warm, or straight out of the fridge if you have leftovers. They are equally good the next day and don’t need anything added. These are perfect for lunch boxes or to take to soccer games.

I haven’t tried making wheat versions yet but it’s not my list. I think you could also use a gluten-free flour mix if you don’t have these flours available.

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A Plant-Based Meal Plan using Basic Pantry Staples

Last week I shared my list of Basic Pantry Staples, as well as Refrigerated Staples, for Plant-Based living. This week I wanted to share an easy Meal Plan that could be made using those staples. Truthfully, most of my Meal Plans can be made with basic pantry staples but this plan will be extra easy.

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast

We usually opt of easy breakfasts most days but even the longer cooking items on this list can be made ahead and reheated in the mornings.

Lunch

I love having leftovers for lunch. Some days I use leftovers to create a whole new meal. Having basics like potatoes, beans and chopped veggies can bring lunch together quickly.

Dinner

I’m willing to spend more time on dinner but that doesn’t mean I want to spend an hour in the kitchen. Most of these choices can come together quickly, especially if you batch cook beans and grains on the weekend.

This is definitely more food than we would eat in a week. I offer this menu as a guide, pick and choose what you would like to try. I prefer to cook larger portions less often.  Some weeks I eat Baked Potatoes everyday with different toppings. Last week for example, I ate baked potatoes with Steamed Broccoli, Pico de Gallo, Black beans and Pico, Barbecue sauce, well you get the idea.

What does your Meal Plan look like this week? Did you get the Basic Staples for a Plant-Based Diet yet?

Basic Fridge/Freezer Staples for a Plant-Based Diet

Yesterday I shared my list of Basic Pantry Staples for a Plant-Based Diet. Today I want to share my list of staples that need to be kept cold in the refrigerator or freezer with a few exceptions for fresh produce. Making changes to a healthier lifestyle can be difficult. Use this guide to make your journey toward a plant-based diet a little easier.

basic refrigerator freezer staples

Basic Staples for the Refrigerator and Freezer

Freezer 

  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • breads
  • broccoli
  • cherries
  • corn
  • herbs
  • mixed veggies
  • stir fry veggies
  • strawberries
  • whole wheat pastry flour

I also like to freeze leftover soups and baked goods like muffins and breads. If I chop too many veggies I’ll store them in the freezer to use in a quick stir fry or soup.

 Refrigerator

  • applesauce
  • Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • chia seeds
  • coconut milk coffee creamer
  • fat-free balsamic vinaigrette
  • flax seeds
  • jelly (with no added sugar)
  • lemon/lime juice
  • milk (we use rice milk)
  • mustard
  • natural nut butters
  • nutritional yeast
  • dates
  • maple syrup
  • salsa
  • sunflower seed butter

Many of these items are more like add on’s or condiments. I often feel like our fridge is full of things that aren’t really food. Some of these items could be stored in the pantry instead of the fridge but I live in the desert so it is typically hotter here so I store them in the fridge.

Fresh Produce 

  • apples
  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • garlic
  • onions
  • oranges
  • peppers (jalapenos, bell peppers and sweet peppers)
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • spinach and other lettuces
  • tomatoes
  • other seasonal produce (cucumbers, pears, peaches, melons, etc.)

These are our basic produce picks. We buy these regularly and at any given time you will find them in our fridge. We try to stick to seasonal produce so you’ll rarely find asparagus in our fridge. We don’t store all of our produce in the fridge. Some things like potatoes and onions are stored in the pantry. Broccoli and spinach are always in the refrigerator. Other items like apples and peppers could be stored at room temperature or refrigerated.

I’m about to make this even easier! Here is a printer-friendly compilation of all my Basic Staples for a Plant-Based Diet! <<Click on the link for a PDF!

What are your top picks for Basic Pantry (and fridge staples)?  I’d love to see how they differ.

For more helpful information about getting started on a plant-based diet check out my ebook, The Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide: How to Cook, Shop and Eat Well.

Plant-Based Diet Ebook

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