Tag Archives: Vegetarian

This Week’s Small Haul


Happiest of Fridays to you, blends! The reason I’m so peppy this morning is because (1) I get to see my handsome fiancĂ© tonight, and (2) I completed — and absolutely loved — my first full week of Internship and third-year classes!

In the midst of all the hubbub this week, I still needed to replenish a few grocery items. I’ve decided that I really like doing these line-item grocery haul posts, so indulge me! 😉

From the produce section, I didn’t need much. In fact, I’m glad I remembered to only get two bananas, since I like them “crunchy,” as my mom says. I’m leaving for Richmond this morning and won’t be back until Sunday evening. By then, any leftover bananas wouldn’t be A.K.-approved.


Kroger brand bananas, $0.59

As far as “splurge” purchases go, I had a few of those today. As soon as I left my apartment, I could feel my blood sugar dropping. I still needed to run to the post office, which was in the opposite direction of Kroger. I loathe grocery-shopping on an empty stomach, but I couldn’t understand why I felt so yucky after a leftovers lunch of brown rice and chicken stir fry. I grabbed the first thing I saw, and the natural sugar brought me right back up!



As I was perusing the mixed-up aisles of Kroger (which is being heavily renovated), I happened across these beauties. I liked their ingredient lists, and they were on sale, so into the cart they went! I also picked up an impromptu sandwich for dinner, since I have class from 4:30-9:30 on Thursdays.

London Broil and leaf lettuce on focaccia, $5.29; Quaker single-serving oatmeal, $1.67 each

London Broil and leaf lettuce on focaccia, $5.29; Quaker single-serving oatmeal, $1.67 each

The purchase I was most excited about? Cho, of course! 😉

Chobani Flip and Chobani 2% Greek yogurt, 10/$10

Chobani Flip and Chobani 2% Greek yogurt, 10/$10

As far as dairy products and breakfast go, I didn’t need much. I found that I really like Simple Truth organic milk because of the size and because of the reeeeally long expiration date (October 12 on this carton). I also decided to try buying brown eggs for the first time.

Simple Truth organic milk carton, $3.49; Kroger brand brown eggs, $1.99/dozen; Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon, $3.99

Simple Truth organic milk carton, $3.49; Kroger brand brown eggs, $1.99/dozen; Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon, $3.99

Lastly, I needed just a few household items. Normally, I don’t purchase school supplies at the grocery store because they are much cheaper elsewhere. Being that the kids in this area have already started school, most of the school supplies had been marked way down.


Kroger brand kitchen trash bags, $5.99/50; small spiral notebook, $2.99; Huggies baby wipes, $1.99

When my mom came with me to the ‘Burg a few weeks ago to check on my apartment and to conduct some pre-Internship housekeeping business, she insisted that I have a few Kroger grocery bags. Today was the first opportunity I’ve had to use them, and let me tell you — they are absolutely wonderful. I’m completely unashamed to admit that I use Kroger grocery bags to line my bathroom, bedroom, and laundry room trash cans, so I’m always happy to have an endless supply. However, I hate when my groceries roll around in the back of my car, spill out of those flimsy bags, and when my groceries take up approximately 546 bags that I must carry up a flight of stairs. My haul today only required two of these bags, as opposed to probably eight plastic bags.

Now I have four of them, and I plan to use them every time I run to Kroger!

Now I have four of them, and I plan to use them every time I run to Kroger!

Mom, when you read this, feel free to cheer aloud and dance around and pump your arms in the air, but don’t feel obligated to text me, “See?!?!” 😉

This week’s total haul: $49.24

Have a wonderful day, blends!

P.S. Do you carry reusable bags to the grocery store, or do you prefer paper/plastic? I’m on the campaign trail to recruit more reusable bag buddies!


Veggie Delight Dinner


This morning, Mom and I were trying to decide what we should have for dinner tonight before she and Dad headed out to VCU’s winter concert. Oh, what am I up to, you ask? Well, I stayed home tonight to complete my very last assignment of the semester — a take-home exam. It enthralls me to no end to miss family events in order to complete schoolwork. Please note my sarcasm here. Truth be told, the exam will be available today through next Friday; I’m just that type-A nerd who can’t wait to get it over with!


We decided on roasted brussels sprouts, baked sweet potato “chips,” and popcorn shrimp! The shrimp required zero effort, but I’m excited to tell you about the special way we prepared the sprouts and the sweet potatoes.

Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1. Rinse brussels sprouts and remove tough stems.
2. Slice “thinly.”
3. Toss sprouts with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/8 tsp. thyme, 1 clove minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread the sprouts evenly throughout a large glass baking dish.
5. Roast for 20 minutes on 450°.
6. Toss with 2 tsp. red wine vinegar and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.
7. Serve!
Baked Sweet Potato Chips
1. Rinse and peel two large sweet potatoes.
2. Slice thinly.
3. Melt margarine and whisk thoroughly with brown sugar to form a thin sauce.
4. Drizzle potatoes with sauce.
5. Bake on 425° for 20 minutes.
6. Serve!
As my mom and I were meandering through Ukrop’s today, I said to her, “You know, I think I’m more interested in vegetables now than when I was a vegetarian.” Thankfully, my immediate family is very into eating well. One of my cardinal meal rules is to try to fill my plate with fifty percent veggies. I’d say tonight’s dinner fit the bill 🙂 Man, am I stuffed!


Iris’s Chicken Casserole


Whenever I mention my godparents, there’s always someone who goes, “What are GODparents?” (Don’t even get me started on trying to explain godsiblings.) My sister, Caroline, and I are fortunate enough to have two sets of godparents: Kathy and Dave, and Iris and Bill-Bill. Dave is a long-time friend of my dad’s; they met at University of Richmond and were frat bros. They’re godparents to each other’s children, hence my godsister and -brother, Mallory and Taylor. Mallory and I were even fortunate enough to go to Longwood together! Iris passed away before I graduated high school, but she and Bill-Bill were long-time members of our church. Bill-Bill still comes as regularly as possible, but he’s in his 90s now and he lives about 30 minutes from our church. It’s truly a blessing to live as close as we do to both sets of godparents, and to be able to spend time with them regularly.

Both Kathy and Iris were/are magnificent cooks. One of my favorite recipes Iris used to make was a chicken casserole. My mom adapted it for me when I became a vegetarian, but last night, I made it for myself for the first time with real chicken. I’m partially recycling this post. Check it out:

Iris’s Chicken Casserole
1 large chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 C olive oil mayonnaise (or plain fat-free yogurt — note: doesn’t make casserole as creamy)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 can condensed cream of mushroom (or cream of chicken) soup
1/2 C chopped celery
1-2 tbsp diced vidalia onion
1/3 C slivered or sliced almonds
1 small can of mushrooms (pieces and stems fine)
1 C Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 C brown rice

1. Mix all ingredients except stuffing crumbs and rice.
2. Put in casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
3. Top with crumbs (may need to be crushed more finely).
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
5. Serve over rice.
Serves two people heartily, or one with plenty of leftovers.

I’m a pretty sentimental person. Whenever I make this casserole — which isn’t very often, because it’s so filling and it requires a fair number of ingredients — I feel like I’m paying tribute to Iris’s memory. Like I said, this recipe isn’t hers exactly, but it still reminds me of her when I eat it. It’s one of my favorite cold weather recipes (even though yesterday could practically have been described as warm) because it “sticks to your ribs,” as my mom would say.

P.S. My apologies for the lack of photographic evidence. I was wayyy too hungry when I started cooking, and I don’t like handling my camera while I’m preparing food. I *may* have a new toy come Christmas time, so there *may* be pictures galore! 😉

Question: Do you have a favorite cold weather recipe? I’m always looking to expand my horizons!

Recipe Borrowing: Sweet Potato Chili


This year marked the second annual Thanksgiving weekend chili supper among the Lew Crew, the Andersons, and the Jenkinses — three families who have known each other since before their adult children were born. Last year, I brought my own Crock Pot of vegan chili; this year, I provided Brittany’s sweet potato chili I’ve read so much about. [Praise be to the Blog Gods who make so many delicious, healthy recipes available to the masses.]

I was really excited about this get-together for many reasons. For starters, I hadn’t seen any of my dear old friends since last New Year’s. There’s Kaitlynn, who is a year older than I; Scott, who is my age; Shannon, who is a sophomore in college; and Bethany, who is a junior in high school. As we’ve gotten older, even as we’ve spread out across the state, we’ve become a much more cohesive — if not albeit less mature — group. It’s nice to see everybody after the hubbub of Thanksgiving has passed but the families are still all together.

For another reason, I love trying new recipes and experimenting with new eats with my fam. Perhaps against my better judgment, I cooked and served a brand-new recipe on the same day. Normally, if I’m not the only one trying a new recipe, I like to taste-test it first to make sure it’s fit to serve people. Ya dig? This year, my family was hosting the chili supper, so my chili had to be extra-incredible!

For another reason, this is the first chili “season” I’ve eaten meat since I was in 8th grade, so it’s been quite awhile since I savored various chilis. And finally, it’s really meaningful to see all of these almost-family members, because our family moved five years ago out of the neighborhood block we all shared for so many years. Scott works in Northern Virginia, Kaitlynn works in Richmond, Caroline and Shannon and I are in school in totally different parts of the state, and Bethany is still too young to rage 😉 I kid. But it’s getting harder and harder for the three families to pull off lengthy gatherings and then drive our separate ways. These days, no one seems as gung-ho to either host or attend a late-night fiesta, so it’s a real treat when we can pull off something like this with everyone in attendance.

And now, for your dining pleasure…

Here’s what you’ll need to make (my edited version of) Brittany’s sweet potato chili:
Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 90 minutes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper — cored, seeded, and chopped
1 red pepper — cored, seeded, and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers — seeded and diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
3 2 large cloves garlic, minced
2-3 1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1-2 1 tsp basil
1 bay leaf
14.5 oz. diced tomatoes
28 oz. vegetable broth
30 oz. black beans — washed, rinsed, and drained
juice of one 1/2 lime
garnish: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped scallions

1. Heat oil in large pot on medium-high.
2. Add onion. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until tender.3. Add bell pepper and sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in garlic and cook one minute.
5. Add chili powder and next 6 ingredients. Stir and cook one minute.
6. Add tomatoes and broth. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
7. Stir in beans and continue to cook for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
8. Remove bay leaf and stir in lime juice.
9. Add garnish.I’m not super-hype on spiciness, so I toned down some of Brittany’s spice factors. I also try not to add sodium to anything, so I eliminated the sea salt element.

I got rave reviews about this recipe, so my thanks go out to Brittany, as well as all those brave souls who were willing to be guinea pigs to test this incredible vegan chili! I told everyone that it was a new recipe, and that I am no longer a strict vegetarian, but I did not tell everyone that the recipe was vegan. As disappointing as it is, I’ve found that telling people something is vegan automatically turns some people off, when what they don’t know won’t hurt them. A few of our guests simply were not interested in meatless chili, or were more interested in my mom’s seafood chowder. Some of our guests were a bit wary of my chili, but they tried it anyway out of politeness. And most of our guests dove right in without hesitation! Hey, at least our old family friends were willing to try it 😉Question: Do you have a chili recipe you’re willing to share? I’m trying to expand my repertoire, though I always give credit to the original chef!

Amy and Her Soup


When I was still an undergrad, I went home for a holiday break and my mom surprised me with some vegetarian soups she had found for me. (In case you didn’t know, I was a vegetarian — technically a lacto-ovo-pescetarian — for nearly 10 years until fairly recently.) I was always really excited about new vegetarian products; I still am, in fact. My personal favorite was my mom’s find of meatless hotdogs! Anyway, she told me about an entire line of organic, vegetarian soups called Amy’s. Well, I tried a few of the varieties, but none of the soups really appealed to me. See, even though I wasn’t eating meat, I was eating plenty of French bread pizza, Doritos, Ben & Jerry’s, and Pop-Tarts. Pure collegiate nutrition. I didn’t like Amy’s soups because they didn’t fill me up as completely as fatty, carb-y foods did. Basically, I let the cans collect dust on the back row of the pantry. Probably the best thing I ever did with those soups was donate them to a women’s shelter in Farmville as part of the admission cost of getting into an a capella concert at Ian’s school. Don’t get me wrong — I felt guilty for readily handing over the soups my mom had located specifically for me, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to eat them.

However, on one of my massive and unnecessary shopping sprees trips to Wal-Mart, I ran across Amy’s frozen entrĂ©es a few months later. I grew particularly fond of the tofu stir-fry bowls (Teriyaki Bowl) and the dairy-free microwaveable burritos. I tried some of the more exotic dishes, like the Indian Mattar Paneer entrĂ©e and the Mexican Casserole Bowl, but they didn’t sit very well with me. To be honest, I wasn’t too open to trying foods I had never heard of.

It’s strange how things come full-circle sometimes.

Here I am, two or three years later, glad for Amy’s soups in my pantry. When I picked these up on a whim last week at Kroger, I wasn’t even sure why. I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy meal options with as few processed ingredients as possible. In fact, the fewer ingredients the better. For example, this is the skinny on Amy’s Organic Light in Sodium Low-Fat Butternut Squash Soup:


Still not knowing fully why I chose to purchase the very soups I claimed not to have been able to swallow a few years ago, I decided to do some research. The company, “Amy’s,” was begun in 1987 when Amy, the daughter of Andy and Rachel, was born. Both Andy and Rachel had been long invested in natural and organic family farming. Rachel is the company’s official “taster,” as well as the design artist for the company’s logos and product packaging, while Andy helps manage the marketing and sales aspects. I found that what began as a way for two new parents to fuel their daughter with fresh, local, organic foods has grown into a worldwide company known for its commitment to quality ingredients, personal relationships with customers and the Amy’s team, and health-conscious foods consumers can trust (source). Amy’s is committed to purchasing the freshest local ingredients possible (including hormone-free dairy from grass-fed cows), and cooking them as you would in your own home. Everything is made by hand, prepared in stages, and allowed to cook slowly until it reaches its fullest flavor (source).

I may have mentioned just a few times before that I’m not into calorie-counting or restricting, so by doing a little research on Amy’s, I found out several awesome things: I’m getting a tremendous amount of bang for my buck. Amy’s products are a little more pricey than some of the big-name soup companies, but the ingredient list makes my insides smile 😉 I also feel like I’m investing in a company that has its customers’ best interests at heart (and stomach!). After playing around for awhile on the very user-friendly company website, I realized that my lifestyle and my general diet are in line with what Amy’s aspires to do. I’m definitely going to give Amy’s products another try. Why not?

Have you ever tried any Amy’s products? I really encourage you to check out the site!

Anniversary Weekend Treats


Sometimes, it’s really hard to believe Ian and I have been together for three years. It seems much shorter some days, but often I feel as though I’ve known him all my life. Three years have absolutely flown by and so much has happened in the interim, so it was extra exciting to celebrate in Richmond this weekend.

We accidentally dressed exactly the same — down to brown leather footwear.

As it turns out, P.F. Chang’s makes special arrangements for couples celebrating their anniversary. The second we walked in the door, two hostesses and two waitresses wished us a happy anniversary and asked us how many years. They seated us in a special part of the restaurant, and they even brought us a complimentary bottle of champagne to toast.

I know I always say I would have taken pictures, but… but on Friday, I just wanted to soak in every moment.

We ordered my favorite appetizer — vegetarian spring rolls — and Ian’s favorite appetizer, lettuce wraps. I got my absolute Chang’s favorite entrĂ©e: the Ma Po Tofu. It’s crispy silken tofu surrounded by fresh steamed broccoli and served with white rice. I can’t even explain the perfection. Plus, most people don’t swoon over tofu. I really wanted to order my favorite dessert, the Chocolate Dome, but we were just too stuffed!

Because we had a 5:30 reservation, we got back to my house around 7:00. We decided to rent The Campaign, which was absolutely hilarious. Obscene and ridiculous, of course, but just what we needed to top off our evening. Accompanied by some Strawberry Cheesecake Skinny Cow 😉

At 7 a.m. on Saturday, I was rudely awakened by my alarm. Yes, Ian had us up at the crack of dawn (or so it felt) to head to Hampden-Sydney with some of our couple friends and his med school buddies.

Armed with secret-ingredient brownies which I borrowed from Colleen, camp chairs, buffalo chicken dip, and enough beer for a small army, we set out while there was still frost on the grass. I always love a road trip 😉

Even though my parents couldn’t make it, Ian’s parents set up one of the most fun and well-attended tailgates we’ve had in 4 seasons of Tiger Ball. HSC was playing their top rival, Randolph-Macon College. Unfortunately, they lost at home yesterday, which was a tough loss to watch. In fact, my sister and some of our friends and I didn’t return to the stadium after halftime. We checked the live stats from the Tiger Athletics website, which is something I don’t normally care about, but the Macon game is a big deal at Hampden-Sydney.

After the game, we tailgated for a few more hours before finally packing it up. Some of us even shared dance moves…

We were supposed to attend VCU’s Med Ball ’12 with some of the friends we’d brought to the game, but frankly, we were exhausted. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to wear the beautiful dress I had spent weeks picking out, but there will be other opportunities. Actually, I enjoyed watching Parks and Recreation with Ian at his apartment, simply talking and spending time together, and hitting the hay before midnight.

Today, after brunch and a little more R & R, I’m headed back to my apartment. Guess it’s time to get my head back into Work Mode. T-minus 24 days until my much-needed Christmas break!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Chilly? Chili!


Hurricane Sandy and her shitty attitude inspired me to make my favorite vegetarian Crock Pot chili for dinner Tuesday night. It has more canned ingredients than it does fresh, but it’s simple and delicious, and as my mom would say, “it sticks to your ribs!”

Here’s what you’ll need if you’d like to make the recipe my mom created:

about 1 C Boca burger crumbles
1/3 C diced vidalia onion
8.5 oz. can of whole kernel yellow corn
8 oz. can of tomato soup
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream and “sprinkly cheese,” if desired

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

I’m a big fan of the designated Healthy Request soups and veggies because they have much lower sodium content.

Spray Crock Pot with non-stick cooking spray. I’m also a huge fan of my Crock Pot because it makes meals so easy!

Allow chili to cook on “warm” or “low” setting for 3 hours or so. Serves 2 people, or one heartily with leftovers. Enjoy! 🙂

P.S. Do you like to try out recipes from different types of diets (e.g. vegan, PALEO, gluten-free)?
P.P.S. Happy Halloween! 🙂