making the transition: 8 easy vegetarian recipes to get you started

In an earlier post, I shared my story about my journey as a vegetarian/vegan.

I know that it is not easy to make this transition, especially if you’ve been living off of meat & potatoes. One of the first questions asked about the vegetarian lifestyle is “what do you eat?”

Every vegetarian meal you craft will take thought and planning. When you first begin this transition, it will be challenging but it will get easier as you practice and become familiar with your new options.

Check out the recipes below. They are some of my favorites, AND they are simple, delicious, and require few ingredients.

The more skilled you become at creating veg meals, the more ingredients/spices you will add and the more creative you will become in the meal-making process.

What you see below my friends, is what vegans eat.

smashed chickpea avocado salad sandwich

1. Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich

garlicky kale + white bean stew2. Garlicky Kale + White Bean Stew

vegan boil3. Vegan Boil

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burrito Recipe with Kale, Mushrooms4. Sweet Potato Black Bean Burrito Recipe with Kale, Mushrooms

Roasted Potatoes and Lemon With Dill 5. Roasted Potatoes with Lemon & Dill

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino6. Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino

skillet gardeners pie7. Skillet Gardener’s Pie

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Walnuts 8. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Walnuts

If you are making the transition in to a vegetarian lifestyle, read THIS POST.


cancer is evil

Recently, my grandmother was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. As you can imagine, this was not easy for anyone to hear. I have spent the last few days on the verge of tears. I cry for my grandma who is still young, and active, and full of joy. I cry for my grandfather who sounds stressed, anxious, and lost. I cry for the hope that grandpa has. I cry because I still have plans for grandma. She is going to be a part of my wedding someday. She will get to meet my kids someday.

I’m freaking out right now.

My grandma is an ultra-cool chick. She enjoys fashion, gossip, and shopping. She keeps her hair colored and her nails polished. (Grandpa colors her hair) Grandma frequents a fashion boutique in her neighborhood, and this is where she purchases her fancy clothing. If grandma likes your handbag or your newest pair of Rocket Dogs, she may go out and purchase a look-alike for herself. Grandma is very popular, she has a lot of friends. She is hip to modern day technology, she owns an iPod, texts regularly, and keeps up with her Facebook page.

Grandma is also very thoughtful, and spiritual. With everything that she is going through, Can you believe that grandma & grandpa made and sent me a card of Sympathy when I lost (other) grandfather last week? Grandma & grandpa have been married for 55+ years and are a true role model couple.

Whenever I get the opportunity to hang out with my grandparents, we like to try new foods together. I introduced them to a few vegan restaurants, and they introduced me to Cherry Pockets. Grandma & Grandpa both ate their first bites of sushi while out with me. Grandma ate a whole ball of wasabi and Grandpa thought the ginger was salmon. hehe :) Hey, they’ll try anything even if it’s only once!

Grandma & Grandpa

Every time I talk about my grandma, my friends beg to meet her. (if only she didn’t live so far away!!) A few of my friends have never had a set of grandparents like I have. I understand how lucky I am to have these amazing grandparents.

Dandelion Vegan

Years ago, I remember talking to a friend whose mother had been diagnosed with a deadly disease (may have been cancer, I do not remember) and I recommended that he talk to her about changing what she eats, which could have possibly saved or at least prolonged her life. He declined, said she wouldn’t be willing. I was taken aback by his ignorance and lack of faith. Sad.

Although I’m unsure of the response I’ll get, I’m going to make the same recommendation to my grandma. I do not lack faith. I expect that grandma will be willing to try something out-of-the-ordinary based on my recommendation EVEN THOUGH I am no professional. I am flying down to Florida on Monday and I will be there until Thursday. I have two goals to accomplish on my trip:

  1. Help grandma change her eating habits.
  2. Create & indulge in moments of joy.


Here are a few resources I am referring to during this tough time:

For the remainder of the day, I’ll be busy reading books and blogs and putting together recipes that I can recommend grandma & grandpa use. If you have any reading suggestions for me, please share in the comments.


my quick 5 day raw/juice cleanse

I did not mention on any social media site that I was doing a quick 5-day juice/raw diet, but after speaking with several friends who are doing cleanses of various types, I decided to test my ability. My ability to say no, to walk away from junk food, to overcome cravings. Overall, I’m happy with my results. I got through it with no problems (although there were many temptations) and I believe I could have gone longer.

I did not follow a particular cleanse, or a particular prescription of what I should and shouldn’t eat. I simply lived off the juice of fresh fruit and veggies, and I ate one small raw meal daily. I did not spend a lot of money doing this cleanse, I really didn’t eat much over the 5 days. I did drink a LOT of water.

Noted: I did choose a week to do this when I was mostly working from home.

Here are a few notes I took throughout the 5 days:

Day 1:

  • My juice of the day consisted of: beets, carrots, ginger, lemon, apple, spinach, kale
  • My one meal: homemade hummus, an avocado, and an apricot, and a raw kale salad
  • I did one hour of Crossfit this day
  • I’m hungry. I’m craving. I’d die for a piece of bread. or a cupcake. or cake. or a brownie. or pasta.
  • I keep reading blogs and emails about good food which is only feeding my cravings.
  • I stumbled upon two websites for motivation to push through Day 1&2 which seemed to be the hardest days to get through: 10 Life Lessons From My 14 Day Detox & My 5 Day Juice Cleanse Story
  • I actually received a surprise e-mail from Josh from The Happy Family Movement that provided words of encouragement (how nice of him!!)

Day 2:

  • My juice of the day: kale, beet, apple, pear, cucumber, lemon
  • I didn’t get hungry until 4:30-5PM but then I was very hungry the remainder of the evening.
  • I drank 2 glasses of juice: one before my workout and one after.
  • I did one hour of Crossfit and had a really good workout
  • I drank a LOT of water this day.
  • I went to the grocery store in the evening which was a bad idea – the trip caused me to crave carbs & sugar (and EVERYTHING else sitting on the shelves) …it was such a bad idea to walk down the pasta aisle.
  • My one small meal of the day consisted of a Larabar, a handful of nuts, a handful of olives, and 1/2 piece of a raw lemon tart

Day 3:

  • Surprisingly, I felt good this day despite the lack of food in my system.
  • I drank a lot of water
  • I did not document my juice this day – I know it was beet & carrot based, so it was bright red :)
  • My small meal of the day consisted of pomegranate seeds, a handful of nuts, & homemade guacamole with a bell pepper. Oh, and I had another half of raw dessert, this time chocolate.
  • I learned to avoid reading blogs this day, all of the recipes made me hungry so I just stopped looking at them!
  • I took the day off of working out, my body was sore and needed a rest.

Day 4:

  • My juice of the day: apple, pear, celery, cucumber, cilantro, kale, beet, lemon, ginger, orange
  • I started the day off early with juice and drank plenty of it this day.
  • I wasn’t having as many cravings this day as I was the first 3 days, and I was feeling much more “satisfied”
  • I started to feel drowsy and fatigued in the afternoon (around the 3:00 hour) and I almost skipped my workout. I ended up going to Crossfit and I kicked ASS. I had energy the rest of the day after that workout.
  • I noticed that I was sleeping REALLY GOOD at night and not having any dreams.
  • My small meal of the day was homemade raw applesauce

Day 5:

  • My juices of the day: I drank 2 heaping glasses full of green juice and 1 small glass of sweet fruit juice
  • I worked in the salon all day which kept my mind off of food
  • My small meal of the day was a raw kale salad for dinner and it was DELICIOUS

Overall, here are a few things I learned about myself:

  • I CAN stay committed to a raw food diet despite temptation
  • I did cheat and eat a tiny piece of bread and a few M&M’s while on this “cleanse” – taking miniscule bites of foods that I was craving allowed me to get the taste and then move on. For the most part, the small taste would satisfy the majority of my craving.
  • The 6th day I woke up and my body was ready to eat more raw food. I never really craved a big meal but I treated myself to a big meal that evening.
  • I have lost bloating that I didn’t even realize I had.
  • I never realized how many temptations are in my pathway on a daily basis, and I never realized how often I give in to those temptations. It is so hard not to just take a bite or two of whatever everyone else is having for dinner (even if I knew it’s completely unhealthy and just wrong)
  • For the most part, I had a lot of energy and my workouts kicked butt during thee 5 days even though I wasn’t eating big meals. Big meals tend to drag you down… I was only feeding my body small amounts of food, but my body was very happy with what it was getting.
  • Had I gone longer, I would have eventually kicked the craving for carbs & sugars completely.
  • I never weighed myself during this entire process so I don’t know if I lost any weight. I do know that my body looks better but I have no measurement of that.
  • I learned patience.
  • I learned to eat much slower than I ever have. I knew that my food was limited for the day, so I had to make it last!


link up – what inspires me lately

Every day I open my laptop and every day I look through a few web pages over and over and over again.
These blog posts that I can’t stop reading are inspiring, motivating, and well-written.
The pictures are lovely and depict things I would like to create and/or experience one day.

I remember when Heather Crosby at Yum Universe launched her website. Somehow I ended up at her launch party, which was held in an old lofty building in the Pilsen neighborhood. Heather does not know me, but I have learned a lot about this Chicago-based clean eater through her twitter feed and her blog. Although many of her blog posts have caught my eye, here are the two that I can’t stop reading through.

Forget About New Year’s Resolutions! Think Bigger.
Heather’s take on the New Years Resolution (this may be one of the best posts I’ve ever read)

Stop Cheating Yourself: Success Takes a Pinch of Planning and a Pound of Accountability
this blog post is a great follow-up to the New Years Resolution.
the topic at hand: planning & prepping for a healthy lifestyle

I am absolutely in love with the beautiful photos in this blog post at DAYDREAM LILY.
Leisurely and undisturbed, these photos give me a sense of peace and quiet.

When I lived in Minneapolis, I was very social and ran around with a large circle of friends. Since I’ve moved back to Chicago, I don’t see these people anymore but I do keep up with a lot of them via social media. One friend of mine was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a little over a year ago and he had been blogging ever since then. His story is full of hope, laughter, tears, and heartache. For a new perspective on life, read his entire story.

Birthday Boy
One of my favorite posts that Eric has written in his blog was for his 28th birthday. I am taken aback by his positive outlook despite all of the challenges he faces on a daily basis.

I am often times guilty of snubbing the meat-eater and/or turning my nose up to those people who are eating things that I consider to be nasty. This blog post on MindBodyGreen focuses on acceptance and community.

Promote what you love, not what you hate.