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Gluten Free Quaker Popped

I love trying new products. I’m always looking for the next great thing. When I find a product that is safe for my son (who is gluten-free) and delicious I jump on it.

quaker popped

Both of my boys take their lunch and a snack to school each day. I like to provide them at least one thing with a little crunch to it.

Quaker Popped 1

Quaker Popped

I recently went to Walmart and they were having a gluten-free event. Most of the time when stores have an event with samples I have to avoid it because my little guy will want to try foods that aren’t safe for him. This time I discovered Quaker Popped. We chose the Apple Cinnamon flavor because it was also dairy-free. They are little rice cakes that fit into little hands without a big mess.

quaker popped

My boys were thrilled with these crunchy little treats. I bought the big bag for less than $3!

To find some of the other great gluten-free brands at Walmart visit the Gluten-Free for Less page.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Walmart, AMP, and Sverve. All opinions are my own.

Keeping it Simple on a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet

Today we have a wonderful guest post, please welcome Emma Roche of PlantPlate.com.

When I tell people how much I enjoy the simplicity of my diet, often they look confused.

“But it’s so complicated, there’s so much that you don’t eat!”

“It must be so difficult to eat out though, right?”

“All those recipes seem so time-consuming. There’s nothing simple about making every meal yourself!”

Top 5 Tips

While I can understand these statements, and the fact that many people may view a whole foods plant-based diet as an incredibly complicated venture (even the name’s not easy to say!), this couldn’t be further from the truth. Fundamentally, this is a diet based on fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. It’s that simple. But, due to the massive volume of dietary information- and misinformation- that we are bombarded with each day, it’s easy to get caught up in over-complicating our ideas about what we should put in our shopping carts, on our plates, or in our mouths.

For this reason, I’d like to share my top 5 tips for “Keeping it Simple” on a healthy plant-based diet. My hope is that this will benefit those of you currently transitioning to this way of eating, and help experienced plant-based eaters save themselves some time and confusion too.

1. If it’s a whole, plant-based food, you can eat it


If it’s a whole grain, a legume, a starchy vegetable, a non-starchy vegetable, or a fruit, then it’s considered part of a healthy plant-based diet. If it comes from an animal, or contains oils or highly processed and refined ingredients, it’s not. It’s not really necessary, or beneficial, to spend time researching if quinoa is better for you than brown rice, or which legume is higher in protein, or which fruit has slightly more vitamin C than another. Unless you have specific dietary requirements that require you to avoid things like gluten, wheat, or legumes, your health will benefit greatly from any variety of foods you choose to eat within these five groups.

More and more diet-related issues continue to attract concern in the plant-based community, including the importance of eating organically, or avoiding GMOs, or consuming a certain amount raw foods each day, or achieving a specific macronutrient ratio. Some wonder if they should shun gluten (even in the absence of an allergy), others fret about whether they should avoid grains, and many spend hundreds of dollars on ‘superfoods’ with the belief that they are the true key to optimal health. While some of these issues may warrant your attention, don’t let them distract or overwhelm you. Many people progressing to a plant-based diet become so overwhelmed by all these additional ‘rules’ that they immediately feel like giving up because it’s too hard. My advice? Stick with the basics: eat whole, minimally processed, plant-based foods that YOU can afford, and that YOU enjoy eating.

For a full list of the foods you can enjoy freely, check out our plant-based basics guide “So, What CAN I Eat?

2. Fill the majority of your shopping cart with single-ingredient foods

The more foods you buy that contain just one ingredient, the less you’ll have to worry or think about what you’re putting in your mouth. What do I mean by single-ingredient foods? Anything you purchase in the supermarket that is what it is- with nothing else added! A banana, for example, contains just banana; much like a bunch of fresh kale, or a bag of brown rice, or a pack of dry lentils. Even whole wheat pasta generally contains just one ingredient: whole wheat.

Essentially, all fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and frozen fruits and vegetables are single-ingredient foods, and they should be taking up the vast majority of space in your shopping cart. Any remaining space can be used for additions necessary to complete meals, such as plant-based milks, seasonings, flour-based products like whole grain breads, and condiments that are free of animal products and oils (you can check out our ‘Pantry Staples and Essentials’ guide for a list of these items.)

3. Make use of “convenience” items when necessary


In an ideal world, we’d all soak and cook our own legumes, pluck and prep farm fresh vegetables, and bake our own bread from scratch. The reality, however, is that we lead incredibly busy lives nowadays, and many people find it hard to make one home cooked meal a day, let alone prepare all their ingredients from scratch. For this reason, I have found it helpful to have some frozen and canned items on hand for cooking. While some may disagree with me on this, my principle is simple: if having canned beans and frozen prepped veggies is going to help you stick with a whole foods plant-based diet (and stop you from calling for take out instead) then it’s a good thing!

When purchasing these items, however, it’s best to follow these guidelines:

  • Frozen (fruits, vegetables): No added salt, sugar, or oils
  • Canned (legumes, tomato products): No added salt or oils

Many supermarkets also sell washed and pre-sliced vegetables in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle. This usually includes things like grated carrots, shaved brussels sprouts, salad mixes, and stir-fry mixes. These items can be a real blessing when you need to cook dinner after a long work day, saving you time on washing, chopping, and cleaning up, too!

4. Eat simple food combinations, rather than relying only on recipes

This might sound contradictory coming from someone that develops new recipes on a weekly basis, but I feel that this is an important point to make. While I love nothing more that rifling through recipe books on my days off to find something delicious to shop and cook for, on busy days I find it easier to rely on basic combinations of foods. Breakfast might be plain oats with fruit; lunch a baked sweet potato with salad greens, and dinner a mix of brown rice and black beans, with steamed spinach on the side. Pick a grain, a legume, a vegetable, or a fruit, and the possibilities are endless. Season these simple combinations with herbs, spices, or your favourite condiments, and you’ve got flavourful, healthy meals in a matter of minutes.

To make life really simple, I like to batch cook a whole grain, a legume, and a starchy vegetable at the beginning of the week. You can then rotate combinations of these 3 things in the days following, adding different fruits or vegetables at each meal. While this might sound monotonous to some, remember that many of the world’s longest lived populations rely on relatively few dietary staples for the majority of their lives, such as the people of Okinawa on sweet potatoes, and the locals of Nicoya, Costa Rica on rice and beans. Variety may be the spice of life, but simplicity may just help you live longer!

5. Don’t make separate meals for everyone.

Lentil Bolognaise

This is a tip for those with families, and it’s something that I’ve learned from experience. If you’re going to go to the effort of preparing a family dinner, plan it so that you don’t end up cooking 2 or 3 or 4 separate meals to suit everyone. This is to help preserve your sanity! While I’m very understanding of parents with picky kids, or those with partners who aren’t so enthusiastic about plant-based eating, things will start to get really complicated if you try to cater to each person individually. In fact, it can make you feel as though a plant-based diet is more trouble than it’s worth. It’s for this reason that I suggest choosing meals that suit (or can be tailored to suit) everyone, at least when you are all eating together.

If you’re looking for ideas, things like tacos or baked potato stations are great. You can serve a number of different fillings and toppings and let everyone customize their meal to their liking. Pasta dishes are usually great crowd-pleasers (including our Lentil Bolognaise, pictured above), as are veggie burgers and oven-baked fries. Talk to your family about what meals they like best, and keep them on rotation, changing the vegetables or seasonings used to keep things interesting.

I do hope that some of this information was useful to you! At the end of the day, how you approach a whole foods plant-based diet will depend largely on your lifestyle. And if you’re like me- busy, on the go, but still trying to keep yourself and your family healthy- then you’ll want to keep it as simple as possible. Find a rhythm, eat foods you enjoy, and don’t sweat the small stuff.



Emma Roche founded PlantPlate.com in 2013, after attaining her certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through eCornell and the T Colin Campbell Foundation. A long-time vegan, and even longer-time cooking enthusiast, Emma uses PlantPlate as a platform to share her recipes, and to offer advice on achieving success with a healthy plant-based diet.


You can follow PlantPlate on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Lentil Tacos in the Instant Pot

It started in 2014, I would get emails asking if I could create recipes to use in the Instant Pot. My response was always, “sorry, I don’t have an Instant Pot but if you buy me one I’ll make recipes for you.” No one took me up on the offer so eventually I bought one myself. If you aren’t familiar with the Instant Pot it is an electric pressure cooker.

I’ve been slowly adapting my recipes to work in the Instant Pot and today I’m going to share my Lentil Taco’s recipe. You can use the original recipe if you are looking for a stove top version.

Vegan Gluten-Free Plant-Based Lentil Tacos

Lentil Tacos in the Instant Pot


  • 2 cups dry brown lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, chili powder and onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin


  1. Dump all of the ingredients into our Instant Pot and give it a little stir to mix everything evenly.
  2. Close the lid, make sure you move the pressure release to the sealed position.
  3. Press the Manual button and use the arrows to get to 15.
  4. Once it is done turn the Instant Pot off and release the pressure.
  5. Carefully open the lid and give it a stir. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.


These are great in crunchy or soft tacos, as part of a burrito or taco salad. If you don’t have an Instant Pot don’t worry you can use the stove top recipe, it’s just as easy and just as delicious. For a little variety try my Quinoa-Lentil Tacos! They are a family favorite!

Simplify Your Morning Routine

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. All opinions are my own.

I’m always looking for ways to simplify our morning routine. I’m usually out the door by 6:15 and my husband finishes getting our boys ready and to their schools. We don’t have enough time during the week for complicated meals or extra duties.

Simplify your morning routine with Silk

There are a few things we do to make the mornings run smoothly. If we neglect them we have a hard time getting out the door as quickly as we need to. Let’s face it, mornings are difficult enough without chaos.

Tips to Simplify Your Morning Routine

1. We pack lunches the night before

Yes, everyone gets a packed lunch. My husband and I usually have leftovers while the kids get sandwiches, fruit and kid-friendly fare. Both of the boys have to take a snack to school too. I make sure the snack is in the refrigerator right next to the lunches. I try to get these in the back packs before I leave in the morning but if I don’t it’s easy for my husband to grab.

2. Keep a Launching Pad

I don’t know about you but we travel with a lot of stuff on a daily basis. My kids have back packs, lunch bags, sweat shirts that they take to school every day. My husband and I have various things we have to grab like our phones, I have a company computer I tote around along with my purse, my husband carries his wallet, and a few things he needs for work. Let’s not forget our morning travel mug of coffee! When we don’t have all of these things in the correct spot then we forget something. Some people call this spot a launching pad but we just use the end of our counter.

3. Easy breakfasts

Simply breakfasts are really important during this season of life. I have my kids sit down for breakfast every morning while I finish things up. Gone are the days of slow cooking oatmeal in the morning, I need fast and easy. When I plan ahead I can have breakfasts prepped on the weekends.

I’m usually so busy that I just grab breakfast to eat at my office. I recently discovered Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative. It’s make from cultured soy so it’s not a traditional yogurt but it’s so good. We’ve loved every flavor that we’ve tried and with 6 grams of plant-based protein per serving and no artificial flavors or colors it’s a great option for us.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical until I had the first bite, it was smooth, creamy and delicious. My boys have always loved yogurt so I knew they would like it. It’s nice to have another product that is safe for my son with multiple-food allergies. Sign up for Silk’s newsletter here to stay in the loop about new products and join their community.

Do you have tips to help you with your morning routine? I’d love to hear them!

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Goodbye 2014, Hello New Year

Happy New Year! In addition to the holidays, we just celebrated 2 birthdays and my 3rd blogging anniversary. This is an eventful time of year for us. We have several more birthday’s coming up too.


Looking back at 2014

I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing as the new year began. A few things that come to mind include:

  • I launched my ebook, The Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide on January 1, 2014
  • Our oldest son joined the Navy
  • Our daughter graduated from high school
  • I started Fresh Focus LLC
  • Our two little guys started kindergarten and preschool.
  • My husband lost his job
  • I started working full-time
  • I started pre-selling my eCourse (that launched January 1, 2015)

All in all, it’s been a great year.


We feel extremely grateful, even though my husband lost his job, we had a little money in savings to help us out. I was able to find a job that I love, blog writing and doing social media for a faith-based non-profit. In my new job, I am so much more aware of the suffering and devastation that takes place outside of my sheltered little world but I’m also overwhelmed by the love and compassion I see every day. While we continue to pray for a job for my husband we have faith and know God is with us.

I’ve also been looking back at this blog over the last year.

Most Viewed Recipes

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole with the Crock Pot version right behind it

cheesy rice casserole

Brown Rice and Broccoli Casserole and the Crock Pot Cheezy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

sweet and tangy

Sweet and Tangy Salad Dressing (oil-free)

Quinoa-Lentil Tacos

Quinoa-Lentil Tacos

Thank you for joining me on the allergy-friendly, plant-based journey! I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of you through blog comments, on social media and in the My Plant-Based Family Facebook Group.

I don’t make resolutions but my goal for this year is to continue to create healthy recipes that your whole family will love. If you are new to the plant-based lifestyle consider joining the eCourse that recently started! It’s not too late and we have a great group participating!

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

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