Not Yo Mama’s Happy Meals

Those who know me know that I strongly believe that being vegan is a snap if you plan and are adequately prepared on any given day. Even so, in the midst of busy lives, work schedules, and obligations to family, friends, and significant others, true preparation can be a lofty goal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22 I find that every aspect of my life runs so much more smoothly when I am on top of my food and eating. Recently, I did a 3-day Detox Cleanse from Maria Guadagno at Bombshell Blueprint (more information here). The cleanse was awesome of course, but what it really showed me was that having a true plan and schedule for what I’m going to eat, when I’m going to eat it, and maybe most importantly when I’m going to prep it, is the key to my feeling happy, productive, and in control of my life and health.

So today I present some of the “happy meals” that I have been eating of late. These are meals that, with a little advance preparation, can be thrown together super-quickly at any given time, whether it’s the usual early-morning-packing-lunch-for-the-workday grind or a getting-home-after-Zumba-and-have-no-time-to-cook-dinner situation.

Ever since my cleanse I have been wild about cooking up a pot of brown rice with shiitake mushrooms at the beginning of the week and using the rice in all sorts of meals. All you do is add the sliced mushrooms to the rice about 10 minutes before the cooking time is up.  You get a whole lot of extra texture and nutrition with little to no extra effort. Best of all, you can eat this rice with basically anything.

For example, here we have shiitake brown rice packed alongside lentils (which my mother-in-law cooked up with a little onion and carrot and gave to me), ready to take to work.

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I stirred some turmeric and cayenne into the lentils and it was absolutely delicious, hearty and filling, not to mention healthy!

I tried the shiitake mushroom trick with soba noodles as well. Scroll down for shiitake soba noodles three ways:

1) with stir-fried green beans and red pepper (also a gift from my mother-in-law):

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2) with sauteed sugar snap peas:

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I topped and tailed these babies the night before, then sauteed them with toasted sesame oil (my LOVE), garlic, ginger, and a little fresh cilantro in the morning and packed it all up to take to work.

3) with the remaining sauteed sugar snap peas, with Sticky Maple Tempeh by Happy. Healthy. Life (recipe here) for dinner:

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Another big reason that meal planning is mentally refreshing for me is that it allows me to actually use up the ingredients I have in my constantly overpacked fridge and pantry, which is especially important this time of year when fresh produce is everywhere. Planning also allows me to utilize a handful of the several thousand recipes I have stored in my email (never mind the ones in all my cookbooks) that I want to try which use those ingredients.

I especially love to make a recipe that leaves leftovers that I can repurpose in another way. One night I made Summer Slaw from Happy. Healthy. Life (recipe here) and used it as a base for jackfruit carnitas tacos (look out for those in an upcoming post).

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The slaw recipe made a TON! So the next day I ate some of it with the leftover Sticky Maple Tempeh. The rest of the week I had it as a side with pretty much everything else that I ate. (I highly recommend both the slaw and the tempeh recipes, but especially the tempeh, by the way. I have had mixed results with tempeh in the past but making this gave me more confidence to try other things with it in the future.)

With a block of extra-firm tofu that was on sale, I made Curried Tofu from Veganomicon. That one block of tofu lasted me more than a week, and was delicious chopped up over salads or used in sandwiches like this one:

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I also recently made Curried Chickpea Salad from Fettle Vegan (recipe here) one night and used it on sandwiches and wraps for days.

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I only used 2/3 of the amount of mayo called for and still found the recipe a little too rich/creamy for my tastes. I’m not sure I would make this specific recipe again but I would definitely tweak it and/or use other chickpea salad recipes (Lord knows there are thousands) because I love the idea of having something like that available for quick meals, snacks, or sides.

Finally, since it’s berry season, I’ve been all about fresh strawberries and blueberries (organic because the other ones scare me). I made Strawberry Mint Salad by Maria Guadagno (recipe here) and ate that over organic baby spinach and oh my.

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For breakfast, some blueberries mixed up with So Delicious strawberry coconut-milk yogurt and hemp seeds.

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Or cherry vanilla smoothies that I made for H and me after finding cherries for $1.99/lb (yay!).

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Each smoothie had about 2/3 cup of pitted cherries, 1 cup of unsweetened almond-coconut milk, 1/4 of an avocado, 1/2 a frozen banana, 1 tbsp of hemp seeds, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. They were really tasty but strangely turned a nasty-looking gray/steel color after 2-3 minutes (?!). Not sure what that was about.  I didn’t take a picture because it was disgusting.

Another popular and quick breakfast has been a sprouted whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, hemp seeds and banana slices (this breakfast idea came from H, my little hemp seed convert).

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Those are just a few of the happy meals that, along with the beautiful summery weather, have been keeping a smile on my face!

What are your happy meals made of?

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One thought on “Not Yo Mama’s Happy Meals

  1. love the title of the post! true that.. just a bit of planning actually its like any normal meal planning to get all good food everyday. that sticky tempeh, curry chickpea salad and the strawberry salad look awesome!

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