I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat

Caroline Armstrong

I became a vegetarian almost 7 years ago after an unfortunate night involving too much red meat. After the worst stomach ache I have ever had, I vowed that I was going to stop eating meat all together. And that’s exactly what I did. It has been a struggle to find meals that still resemble the taste of meat. Here are some of my favorite recipes that even my meat eating friends love.

1. Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

https://www.hotforfoodblog.com/recipes/2014/02/11/cauliflower-buffalo-wings/

These buffalo wings made from battered cauliflower are the #1 requested meal from my friends. They are great for parties or barbecues and have an added bonus of being super easy to make! The recipe also includes a vegan ranch sauce for dipping.

2. Chick’n Noodle Soup

Vegetable Chik'n Noodle Soup
https://www.morningstarfarms.com/recipes/vegetable-chik-n-noodle-soup-recipe.html

There are definitely some “fake meat” products I would advise you to avoid, but luckily the chick’n from Morning Star Farms are not one of them. It is currently 4 degrees Fahrenheit where I live and sometimes I just crave a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. These chick’n strips are a great addition to soups and salads.

3. Spaghetti Squash

Learn how to make Roasted Spagehtti Squash the easy way! This method works PERFECTLY every-single-time.
https://bakerbynature.com/roast-spaghetti-squash/

Spaghetti Squash is a great alternative for pasta and they are super cheap. Add your favorite sauce or some olive oil, salt, and pepper and enjoy!

4. Loaded Nachos

Loaded Nachos
https://www.morningstarfarms.com/recipes/loaded-nachos-recipe.html

Nachos are a quick and easy snack, and these ground beef crumbles from Morning Star Farms are a great addition. My boyfriend didn’t even realize they weren’t real beef at first!

5. Sesame Cauliflower

Sweet, sticky, addictive sesame cauliflower, a healthy & delicious meatless recipe
https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2017/01/09/sticky-sesame-cauliflower/

This sesame cauliflower looks like it could be sesame chicken when you first see it. Add some rice and vegetables on the side for a delicious meal.

Top 5 Foods to ALWAYS Buy Organic

Summer Burlage

The way that your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and physical health as well as the environment. The Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DERFA) states, “Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.” Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as herbicides and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain in and on the food consumed. Organic food is often fresher because it does not contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organics have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts. Below I have listed 5 important foods that you should ALWAYS buy organic.

Meats

If you consume meat regularly, it is important to be aware of the harmful additives that conventional meat contains. Hormones, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics and pesticides are found in cows, chicken, turkey and pork. Hormones, antibiotics and additives can have negative impacts on your body which makes organic meat worth the extra money.

Organically-raised animals are given more space to move around and have access to the outdoors, which help to keep them healthy. These animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. To avoid consumption of harmful additives, always make sure to buy organic meat products.

Popcorn

Popcorn hardly seems harmful as it is a whole grain, high fiber and low calorie snack, but think again. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 92% of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered. Almost all corn is genetically modified to contain insecticides. Chemicals in the lining of microwave popcorn bags and artificial butter flavoring have been linked to lung and Alzheimer’s disease.

My advice: go organic and use an air-popper or the stovetop, then add your own flavor. There are plain, organic options to purchase that offer a decent amount of fiber and manganese within this low calorie snack – just a tip, do not cover it in sugar or pasteurized butter. Instead use coconut oil or organic butter.

Bread

In the most basic form bread is flour, water, yeast and a few pinches of salt. Most bread contains added sugars, artificial colors, GMOs and malathion. Malathion is an ingredient that can be found in shampoo which is designed to kill head lice in humans and fleas in pets. It is hard to find bread at the store that does not contain dough conditioners like the yoga mat chemical, azodicarbonamide (also found in fast food chains such as Subway, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc.). This chemical compound is banned for use as a food additive in the UK, Europe and Australia. US manufacturers use this dough conditioners as a flour bleaching agent. Does this sound appetizing to you?

The chemical used to make plastics foamy does not belong in our food. Instead, stick to organic, sprouted gain breads or gluten free options that are primarily comprised of seeds and healthy grains such as quinoa and millet. Organic breads use organic ingredients and will not contain azodicarbonamide or other questionable food additives.

Coffee

Are you a coffee addict? Conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. It is grown using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and planted in full, direct sunlight. This allows the beans to grow quicker and produce more bean per plant. Not only does the environment suffer from this chemical overload, but so do the people who live in it. These highly toxic chemicals are detrimental to human health.

Organic coffee is far more environmentally sustainable and leaves a smaller carbon footprint. An organic coffee bean prefers the shade to the sun, meaning less coffee can be made. However, it does not contain synthetic fertilizers or chemicals used in growing or production which means cleaner beans, air, land and water. Organic coffee beans are often richer in healthy antioxidants and often taste better.

Spinach

Low in calories and high in vitamins, spinach remains one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. The USDA’s samples showed more pesticides by weight on conventional spinach than any other crop.  This superfood tested positive for 48 pesticide residues and 16 different pesticide and breakdowns products on a single sample. One of them being Permethrin which is linked to ADHD in children. Conventionally grown spinach has up to four times more nitrates than organically grown varieties.

Organic spinach has more vitamin C and health-promoting properties. To assure your spinach has no pesticides, purchase organic spinach. Organic produce prohibits the use of super-toxic chemicals, such as the ones found in conventional foods. If you love eating vegetables as much as I do, I recommend to ALWAYS purchase organic no matter what veggie it is.

Final thoughts

Organic foods are often more expensive, but they are worth the extra money spent when it comes to our health. Organics offer more beneficial properties such as packed nutrients and antioxidants, rather than their conventionally-grown counterparts. I hope this post inspires you to choose organic whenever possible as an investment to your health.

Healthy Snacks for the College Budget

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Is there even such a thing as a healthy snack that isn’t bland, actually satisfies hunger, and doesn’t break your almost laughable college budget? The answer is YES! As an experienced waster of time on Pinterest, I have tried to make just about every recipe I’ve posted to my “College Food” board, and as many other Pinterest frequenters know, absolutely nothing turns out the way it looks on a pin…perhaps one of the more frustrating things in life. I would like to take a few seconds to inform you all that the following five recipes do, in fact, turn out just as beautifully simple as they appear in the pictures and won’t make you feel as though you’ve lost an arm or leg. A true blessing indeed.

ATTENTION DORM LIFE: these recipes are entirely attainable with painless modifications. Try them, I dare you.

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Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

This recipe is protein and nutrient packed and can be stored in the fridge/freezer for a convenient breakfast or on the go snack. My favorite use for these little bliss balls is as a pre-workout pick-me-up or as a cure for the infamous “hangry” hour. (serves about 16)

Prep Time: 5 min   Cook Time: 10 min   Total Time: 15 min

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1/3 c. almonds (or nut of choice), chopped
  • 1/3 c. shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 1/2 c. nut butter (peanut or almond are great)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Bake oats, nuts, and coconut in oven for 5 minutes. Stir and let cool. (If you do not have an oven, this step can be skipped)
  2. In a mixing bowl microwave nut butter for 20-30 seconds, or until runny, and add the baked mixture, honey, cranberries, and flaxseed (if desired). Form 1.5-2″ balls and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. TIP: wet hands after every 3-4 balls to help formation.

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Tuna and Avocado Bowl

This is by far the least expensive and easiest recipe consisting of only two main ingredients. Depending on the portion size, this can be used as a great protein packed, low carb lunch or snack at any time of the day. The ease of this snack makes it one of the best for on the go meal prep.

Prep Time: 5 min   Cook Time: 2 min   Total Time: 7 min

  • 1 can light chunk Tuna in water
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 chopped stalk of celery
  • 1 Tbsp. light mayo
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Strain tuna of the water, chop avocado into bite sized cubes, and finely chop celery.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a tupperware or serving bowl and enjoy.

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Chickpea Kale Salad

This simple recipe is full of great and unexpected flavor. It is easy to package and take on the go and satisfies mid morning, afternoon, and late night hunger pangs. The chickpea kale salad is another snack that takes little to no time to toss together and the cost of the ingredients is very minimal. Plate it with a full lunch or pop open that tupperware for an on-the-go treat. This snack will never disappoint!

Prep Time: 7 min   Cook Time: 1 min   Total Time: 8 min

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and strained
  • 3-4 leaves of kale, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine chickpeas, kale, parsley and garlic in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl combine lemon juice and olive oil and stir.
  3. Pour lemon juice and olive oil over the chickpea mixture and top with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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Cucumber, Avocado and Feta Salad

Quite possibly my favorite recipe to have on hand at all times is this salad. Great for pairing with a main dish or just a spoonful from the fridge on your way out the door. This is a salad that refreshes any time of year and keeps those jeans fitting the way they were meant to fit.

Prep Time: 5 min   Cook Time: 2 min   Total Time: 7 min

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 3 large avocados
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 c. crumbled feta
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Quarter the cucumber and chop into bite sized pieces. Slice avocados into bite sized cubes and juice lemon.
  2. Combine cucumber, avocado, feta, dill, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Serve and enjoy.

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Spinach and Banana Smoothie

The simplicity of this smoothie makes it a no-brainer when in need of an in between meal snack. It is packed with greens, protein and potassium, making it the perfect filler. Store this smoothie in the fridge and shake it up when in need of an energy boost.

Prep Time: 3 min   Cook Time: 2 min   Total Time: 5 min

  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 banana

Instructions

  1. Place ingredients in a personal sized or large blender and blend to desired consistency or until spinach chunks are not visible. Serve in a to-go cup or enjoy at home.

LET’S GET COOKIN!

Not only are these recipes affordable and quick, the modifications for personal preferences are endless. As a frequent sufferer of the “hangry”, I swear by these simple fixes and can say from experience that they actually look like their pictures.

DISCLAIMER: failure of recipe presentation that matches these images is probably due to user error 🙂