Friday, June 23, 2017

Deals and Dogs!

Yesterday was a hot, tiring day. I was walking in the heat so much that I have an actual heat rash on my calves, no joke. It looks hideous. I looked it up online and apparently it's sometimes called Disney rash because people often get it on hot days walking around amusement parks. I've never in my life had anything like this. UUGGGHHH. I say all of that to say that I couldn't be bothered to think much about dinner. I stopped at Smith's, and luckily they had this quinoa pasta and also the sun dried tomato tapenade both on clearance for $1.50 each!! Along with the tofu I got a quick and easy meal and came in way under my budget for the week. The tapenade is really delicious, rich and tomato-y. They had a green olive tapenade on sale too if they still have it today I will pick it up for sure. It's such a nice easy thing to toss with pasta for a quick meal.

I topped the pasta with some crushed red pepper and nooch and had a side of baked tofu and it really hit the spot! I love finding great sales, especially on days were you really need them!
I thought I would introduce these two ladies who are new in my life. This is Daisy and Ivory. They are two new dogs that I walk. I just met them on Monday, and they are gorgeous and sweet.
Happy Daisy

Happy Ivory
It's been a tough week for walks. We've only been able to take two walks, the other days we've had to just play in the backyard because of the extreme heat. Their mom wants me to walk them midday when the heat is at it's worst, so I have to look out for these gals. Anyway, don't tell my ladies that I'm featuring dogs today instead of them. I will get a picture of another little guy in my life today. SLC is having an art festival, and an artist from Austin, Texas is having me walk his dog while he's in town. Louie is the dogs name and he is also the cutest.
Wish me luck coping with the heat today. I will be wearing long pants because I'm afraid my legs will scare small children. This reminds me of when I was a kid and would get eaten up by mosquitoes and then refuse to wear shorts because I was so embarrassed. Luckily the webz tells me the rash will heal itself in three to ten days. Let's hope I'm more on the three day end of the spectrum.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Don't Stop Believing!

The temperatures are crazy here in SLC. It was over one hundred degrees yesterday and they say today too. Although I love warm and can handle the heat this is a bit much. I am definitely no acclimated to it at all. I'm also not used to the dryness. I know people say it's easier to handle than heat plus humidity, but being from the Midwest, and living in Seattle so long I guess I'm used to humidity. I'm struggling, and walking and waiting for buses with no shade is doing me in to be honest. I had plans to make a new recipe last night, but I just couldn't be bothered. I wanted a big salad. I don't have all the veggies and add ins that I really craved, so I had to get creative. I ended up making roasted potato "croutons" and decided to cook up some quinoa that's been taunting me from my pantry. I do not have the talent for cooking quinoa, and had decided that I was done trying. But, because I was desperate I decided to try one more time, and I made PERFECT FLUFFY quinoa! All I did was boil the quinoa like pasta in a lot of water for about twelve minutes, then I strained it and let it sit in the pot and steam for twenty minutes. When I lifted the lid I seriously almost cried. It was fluffy and just so beautiful! I can't believe I didn't take a picture! I was just so busy stirring and staring in amazement!
I always see perfect looking quinoa, so I don't know if anyone who reads this will find this helpful, but I figured I would share in case anyone else struggles with quinoa. I'm going to try this method one more time to make sure it really is a quinoa miracle and not a fluke.
This was just iceberg lettuce, fluffy quinoa tossed with an Italian vinaigrette (Thanks for the tip Blake!) and topped with nooch-y garlic-y roasted potatoes. It was super easy, filling and refreshing on such a hot day.
Here's to light and fluffy quinoa for everyone!
Here's Etta in her new favorite spot. I know she feels safe because she stayed under the chair when I vacuumed! Normally she runs for cover in another room.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

More Vegan Budget Meals!

I showed my haul yesterday, so today I figured I'd show a few more meals I've eaten while on this budget challenge. Like I mentioned yesterday, my food might be simple but I feel satisfied and happy with my meals, and I definitely am not hungry or feeling deprived.
I made this Sunday night. First I made lentil taco filling, and when that was done I had decided I wanted a snack-y, dip-y type of meal.So, I just took my corn tortillas and baked them into chips. Then I just pot the lentils in the bottom of the bowl, And then topped it with the lettuce, green onion, sliced serrano pepper and avocado that were the toppers for my tacos that never were. It was really tasty and also fun. Dip-y meals are the best!
This was my Sunday morning breakfast. I made some roasted breakfast potatoes that were roasted with onion and garlic, seasonings, nooch and also kale. Topped with sliced green onion, sriracha and a tiny amount of ketchup. Something I've learned to really make you  feel like you're not eating on a budget is making sure you have green onion, or fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley on hand to throw on your meal after cooking adds great flavor and a beautiful green appearance to your meal. It makes a really big difference in my opinion. Cilantro and green onions are super cheap this time of year and it's really worth it.

This is my daily smoothie. Strawberries, banana, maca powder and hemp seeds. I also added a small amount of shredded coconut and man was that delicious! Like a strawberry colada!

 These were delicious oven fries with curry and onion powder, salt and pepper dipped in a spicy sauce I made by mixing ketchup and sambal olek. The sauce was so good the potatoes were just the vessel to eat the spicy ketchup. Condiments are one of your best friends when on a budget. It really helps when you can switch things up and get some different flavors going on.
This was my dinner last night. I got iceberg lettuce this week instead of Romaine because it is much cheaper. But I know it's not okay to say, but I have always loved iceberg. I like the crisp texture and the crunch. Also the mellow flavor. My grandparents had a garden, and although I remember other vegetables like tomatoes, and carrots I vividly remember iceberg lettuce and radishes. Those were my grandpas favorite and I loved eating these things with him. We would have iceberg salads and have the radishes whole, dipped in little mounds of salt. And we would always have blue cheese dressing on our salads. So, I walked down memory lane and had an iceberg salad with daiya blue cheeze and wedges seasoned with salt, pepper and Rosemary. Dipped in horseradish mustard. Super delicious and also soul satisfying. So, while these meals might not be super fancy or exciting, they are filling, delicious and healthy. And I'm still getting fresh fruits and veg every day too.
Check out these two loving nap time on the red chair. Joan loves that she can lounge while keeping track of any squirrel or bird shenanigans going on in the tree. And Kanye is just happy to cuddle!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Budget Week Take Two!

Week two of the Budget Week challenge is off without a hitch. Well, I had one small issue that was easily fixed. Sprouts had a seventy two hour sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. One of the amazing deals was four red mangoes for one dollar. Insane right? Well, I went there on Saturday morning, and apparently all of Salt Lake City thought so too because there wasn't a mango in sight! Totally sold out. Those mangoes were a big part of my budget, I had big smoothie dreams. Luckily they were handing out rain checks so I will get my mango deal later in the week. I spent fifteen and some change so I have a little over fourteen to spend later in the week!
Potatoes, bulk nooch, sunflower seeds and spices,lentils,frozen strawberries, Sambal Olek, and chocolate
Kale, Iceberg lettuce, lemons,avocado, onion,lemons, bananas, corn tortillas, Jasmine and Brown bulk rice
Sprouts store brand kombucha
This was my haul from Sprouts and Trader Joe's with a few random Smith's items thrown in. I was a sweaty mess and couldn't be bothered to separate.Sprouts had their own brand of kombucha on sale for two for three, so I tried one. This raspberry lemon ginger was really tasty. So refreshing on a hot day.
So, my food might not be uber exciting, but I feel like I'm still eating well with a few treats thrown in for fun. I definitely don't feel deprived. And I feel like it's getting easier and easier to eat like this. I'm getting better at hunting deals, and my taste buds are getting used to simpler meals and craving simple foods. I definitely have my eye on a few treats and splurges though.
This was one of my favorite meals I've made in awhile. Last week I made the BBQ chickpea bowl, and it was so good I wanted it again. Only this time I used Tapatio and made Buffalo style chickpeas. Delicious. With the daiya blue cheeze on top it was just so good. Spicy and creamy and delicious! Definitely not bad for a budget meal!

My neighbor gave me this red chair and also a Chaise lounge yesterday, and the girls are seriously loving life so much right now! Joan has kind of taken the chair as her own. Etta likes to sleep under it!
I put it by the window and as you can see the shreds are right there so it's like a kitty playground!
And here's Roxy being the Queen that she is on the Chaise. It's like this was meant for her! This is in their room so they can lounge. Life has been pretty great lately!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Simple Pleasures

So I went yesterday and spent my remaining fifteen dollars for the week. I was near Harmon's and although they are much pricier than Trader Joe's and Smith's, I just didn't feel like taking an extra bus so I dealt with it. I still did pretty okay, and since the challenge ends tomorrow, (Saturday) it wasn't too hard.
Potatoes, bulk spices, bananas,tomato paste, garlic,tapatio,strawberries,bulk lentils,bulk brown rice,red potatoes,lime
Ice cream treat on sale for one dollar!!
I was actually a little under budget and Harmon's had live kombucha on sale so I treated myself. I had been having a stressful day so I needed a treat.
I will be doing this challenge again this week. To be honest it really isn't a challenge for me since this is pretty much my budget most of the time. Sprouts is having an amazing seventy two hour sale starting today so I'm going to definitely take advantage. I think it's important to acknowledge and appreciate privilege whenever you have it, and I know that it's so much easier to eat on thirty dollars a week when it's just me. A lot of people have to feed whole families on that. I also have the luxury of being able to shop at Trader Joe's and Sprouts. It is much harder to shop for healthy vegan food at regular groceries. I wouldn't have been able to have the amount of produce I had from other stores.
Here are some meals I had Wednesday and Thursday, and also my breakfast this morning. I had something other than kitchari!
Avocado and tofu sushi burrito

Cajun spiced oven fries with Chipotle Just Mayo and ketchup. Amazing combo!
This morning I made a huge batch of my favorite tomato-y nooch-y lentil and brown rice soup. With potatoes of course. Now I have soup for the next few days of breakfast. Dried fennel seed is the secret ingredient to this soup. Yum.
My girls are living their best possible lives right now. My landlord is a bit of a hands off lady, she doesn't like to fix things, but she finally had someone come and replace all the screens that have been missing from the tenants windows. I had three screens missing, and one was ripped. When I moved in I noticed that they were super duper old and very flimsy flamsy, and all ended up falling out. So now with brand new screens my little ladies can get fresh air and they couldn't be more excited!! The birds and squirrels have been very active so the timing is perfect!
Here's Afro with her little floof hanging over the sill! She has a perfect curvy, girlish figure!!
I hope we all have a day filled with Joy from simple pleasures just like these girls!
I'll be back with my Sprouts budget haul this weekend. It's going to be another delicious budget week!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday Stuff

Here's another delicious smoothie. Apricot, mango, frozen banana, maca powder and hemp seeds. I'm really enjoying fresh apricots this summer!
And here is more kitchari, but with some tofu croutons. The Yves tofu I got on sale at Smith's is the really firm tofu with hardly any water in it, and it's really nice to work with. Lots of extra sriracha and green dragon sauce. I need more green dragon sauce stat, this was the last of mine and that is a scary time!!
For dinner I whipped up this tofu veggie bowl with cucumber, avocado and cilantro. I made a spicy gochujang sauce and this was perfect. I love different temperatures and textures in my food!
Yesterday morning at like three thirty in the morning my cats wok me up by jumping on and off of me continuously. I've been feeding stray kitties so I looked outside to see if any of them were outside waiting for food. There was a strange man sitting on the steps of my building very close to the apartments. He was smoking something and acting very sketch. I got scared and called the police. Not 911, just the regular police. I reported this, and they said they'd send someone out. A minute later a police officer called and said he couldn't come and check unless this person was doing something illegal! I said, well he's loitering on private property, and the officer said there was nothing he could do because apartments are apparently considered public property! I didn't want the cops to arrest the person or anything, but just a little like what are you doing at three thirty in the morning sitting here! It was very scary and I'm just grateful I didn't have to leave to walk down the stairs because I would have been scared. I've seen cops questioning people for loitering in public spaces all the time, it seems weird that someone can loiter at an apartment building at three thirty in the morning. Anyway, I just had to share that because it was scary and I was quite surprised by the cop's response.
Happy Wednesday, be safe!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Budget Goes Marching On

Here's another delicious smoothie I enjoyed yesterday. This was blueberries, apricot, banana and mango with hemp seeds and maca powder. If you're wondering why my smoothies haven't been that blue it's because I was using my blueberries sparingly to stretch them out. I've been enjoying the apricots in my smoothies. I don't know if I've ever had fresh apricots before.  It's been so nice being able to enjoy smoothies with fresh fruit.
For dinner I made Lemon-y garlic Greek potatoes with added herbs. I used some Italian seasoning and lots of dried rosemary. I don't use rosemary nearly enough, it's a really delicious herb! Yesterday was a blustery, gloomy day so this was a nice, cozy meal.
I had kitchari for breakfast but didn't feel a need to show a picture again. It'll be much more interesting when I have something different for breakfast! I'm definitely not feeling bored yet. I plan on spending my remaining fifteen dollars tomorrow. The sale at Sprouts will still be going on so I'll take advantage of that, and get a few things at Trader Joe's.
I saw on Instagram today that Susan's cat from Kittens Gone Lentil is sick. I'm sure you've all seen the adorable pictures of Dim Sim. She has cystitis. She will be getting some more tests tomorrow, but poor Susan is understandably scared and upset, especially so soon after losing Sahara. I just wanted to share so we can flood she and Dim Sim with love and super powerful positive thoughts and prayers if prayer is your thing.
Here is a very irritated Kanye. She was sound asleep in her favorite box, and I was sneaking in to take a picture, and Etta and Afro twisted around my feet making me trip and rudely wake her up. Poor girl! Afro is constantly trying to steer me towards the front door because she is obsessed with being on the deck and trying to sneak down the stairs!

Monday, June 12, 2017

More Budget Vegan Meals

I thought the clouds looked pretty and fluffy when I was at the playground reading yesterday. As a kid I used to spend hours staring at the clouds. And when I would go on road trips with my grandparents we would always try to find animal shapes in the clouds. I've also been accused of having my head in the clouds pretty much my whole life!
Day two of my thirty dollars in one week challenge went really well. I am so grateful that Sprouts had such a great sale on produce because sometimes it can be hard to buy a lot of fresh fruit and veg when on a strict budget.
For breakfast I had my normal kitchari, although this time I had it with brown rice just for something different. Still not even close to being tired of this. This is definitely one of the best cheap meals you can eat.
I also had this smoothie with banana, blueberries, mango, hemp seed and maca. The mangoes I got on sale for three for a dollar are sweet and perfect!
I also whipped up this hummus and added a small handful of edamame I had in my fridge that needed to be used. I am using pantry ingredients like spices and such, and I wasn't going to let the edamame go bad, that's not very budget friendly. This has tahini, green onion, garlic, cilantro and crushed red pepper. Oil free and so delicious! I made this to go with my dinner.
For dinner I had some potatoes that I cut long board style and seasoned with chili lime seasoning and onion powder and cucumber slices all dipped in my homemade hummus. This was a delicious and very satisfying dinner. English cucumbers are my favorite cucumber, and to get one for sixty eight cents is pretty unreal!!
I'm going to keep saying this until the day I die, but any diet can be expensive. There are pricey vegan foods just like there are pricey non vegan foods. Once you start appreciating the taste of simple meals it becomes much easier to eat on a budget. And sales flyers, bulk bins and clearance sales are your best friends when on a budget. It does take a little more planning and scouring and all of that, and sometimes if you're like me whipping out the calculator at the grocery, but it can be done. And in the end it's worth it to be able to still have healthy, delicious foods that nourish your body. You don't have to live on Top Ramen if you're on a budget!
Here's a big pile of grey floof. They were getting the most out of their Sunday morning! Kitty cuddle piles are one of my favorite things!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Budget Vegan Haul

There is a YouTube channel I discovered in the last few months and I really, really enjoy it. It's No Egg Craig and he and his family are just so nice, and funny and warm. It's become one of my favorite channels, and I want to be part of the family if I'm being honest. He does quite a few vegan budget challenges which I love because I'm on a budget so it's so relatable. And it's so helpful because so many people think vegan food is expensive. I've mentioned it before, but I get asked about the expense more than protein. So, I'm doing a thirty dollar a week challenge myself. I will be eating all my meals for seven days on thirty dollars. That works out to around four dollars and some change a day for food. I've lived on much, much less to be honest.
I did some shopping yesterday and spent around fifteen dollars, and I will spend my other fifteen later in the week. I don't like to meal plan, as soon as I do I all of a sudden I  don't want any of the food I planned on so this leaves me some room to be the spontaneous person that I am.
I went to Sprouts first because they were having some amazing sales on produce. I have to chuckle at myself because when I was a kid I used to roll my eyes so hard at adults who scoured the sale flyers and made lists for groceries, and now here I am doing the same thing! But I don't go to Sprouts that often because they can be more on the Whole Foods price range, but if you check their flyers they can have some really amazing deals too.
Cilantro, blueberries, brown rice,avocado,apricots, ataulfo mangoes,English cucumber, limes, Jasmine rice, ten pounds of potatoes!
I got all this stuff for nine dollars! If you have a Sprouts near you and need some produce you should go! I'm super happy to be able to have all this produce on a budget!
I didn't buy these of course, but I saw them at Sprouts. I didn't realize Hilary's made breakfast sausages. Has anyone tried them? I have to admit Hilary's burgers aren't my favorite, I find them to be a little dry but the sausages look pretty good.
Bananas, lemons, red lentils, 1 onion, bulk garbanzo beans, bulk spices

I picked up a few things at Trader Joe's and Smith's. The Garbanzo beans in the bulk section were on a crazy sale so that was a total score.
Smith's also had this Yves tofu on sale for $.99 and the chipotle Just Mayo on sale for $1.99! I had to get it. Since I'm going to be eating a lot of potatoes I really enjoy dipping my fries in this and what a great, budget friendly price!
I also saw this at Trader Joe's! They are getting in on the kombucha trend! Decent price too. I can't wait to try it. I do wish it were in bottles and not cans because I reuse the bottles but at least it isn't more plastic I guess. And ginger is one of my favorite flavors too!
So, I think I did pretty dang well for fifteen dollars, and I think I'll be able to make some tasty food.
Yesterday I had the usual kitchari for breakfast, and oven fries for dinner, along with this tasty banana, apricot, blueberry, maca powder and hemp seed smoothie. Check me out even having superfoods on a budget!
I know this post is getting long, but before I go I have to show this delicious dinner I had on Friday night. It was another thrown together meal that turned out to be one of my favorite things I've eaten in a very long time!
I cubed some potatoes and seasoned them with garlic and onion powder, and topped them with some chickpeas I simmered in BBQ sauce, and topped it all with green onion and a dollop of the daiya blue cheeze. This was seriously so, so amazing! The BBQ sauce got all absorbed by the potatoes and it was just a delicious flavor bomb! I can't wait to try it with spicy buffalo chickpeas!
Here's Kanye living and lounging to the fullest! She loves to show off her belly, and it's so cute it's easy to understand why!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Budget Vegan

I figured I'd show some more budget friendly vegan meals today. Budget meals are pretty much all I eat, but still it's nice to share. And I like to show that vegan food can be very budget friendly and also delicious and not bland or boring.
This is one of my favorite easy meals. Red lentil and potato curry with Jasmine rice. Sometimes I use green lentils, but this week all I have are red. Red lentils cook faster than green so you get to eat even sooner! And the leftovers are always so tasty the next day.
When I was at Smith's the other day, I scored organic blackberries on sale for $1.50 a pint! I was so excited about my other finds I forget to show them. So I had this blackberry, hemp seed, banana and maca powder smoothie. Since I got such a great deal I really loaded it up with blackberries. I love the color.
Last night I made a rice bowl with tofu and avocado with a sauce I made with my sale gochujang and coconut aminos. The coconut aminos worked so well with the gochujang because of the sweetness. This was a really simple and delicious dinner that was also very inexpensive. Tofu rice bowls are one of my favorite meals because you can throw different veggies in for variety, and also switch up the sauce.
And of course I have kitchari almost every morning for breakfast. I'm still not tired of it. I like how it makes me feel in the morning, and it really fuels me up on the days where I do lots of walking. And it's easy to make a big batch and then just reheat in the mornings. And it's a great vehicle for me to get in my daily green dragon sauce which is seriously my biggest addiction.

And I can't leave out potatoes. The food I eat several times a week and love so much. They don't get the credit they deserve for their nutritional value, and their ability to be so filling and satisfying. They can be prepared so many different ways, and always make me happy. Spud love is strong in this kitchen!

Here's Joan deep in sleep. Her little tail was flicking away. She was dreaming of getting the squirrels and birds and bugs oh my!