Admit it mama, it’s hard to make meal plans.

We’ve all been there at some point: staring at a blank piece of paper, trying to conjure up meal ideas like they are some sort of magic spell, scanning…scanning…scanning pinterest or exhausting google search engines until our brain feels like liquid mush, only to space out for 20 minutes before zoning back to THE SAME BLANK PIECE OF PAPER!?!? (anger rising) , until FINALLY scribbling a passable list of what you hope is both cost effective and actually edible?

I’m tired just thinking about it. Seriously, grab me a hand fan.

When I’m in this sort of pickle (it happens!), I try to remember my best ally in meal planning world, which is: “simplicity”, followed by “Mexican” as a close second. Which is why today I’m sharing these EASY Yam & Lentil Vegan Enchiladas *cue spotlight!*.

EASY vegan enchiladas
Make your weeknight meal plan a snap with these fool-proof vegan enchiladas.

With a dinner like this, not only are you checking off “EASY” on your meal planning requirements, but you are also hitting your mark on COST. Yams, lentils, tortillas, and tomato sauce are all things that can be purchased for practically pennies when compared to “healthy” processed dinners, fleshy and dairy ingredients, and/or takeout.

The best part? They are ACTUALLY HEALTHY: Yams are a good source of vitamin B6, rich in antioxidants, plus are great for your skin, hair, digestion, blood flow, and even bowel movements (no shame here yo!). Lentils on the other hand, are low in calories, high in fiber, and contain minerals that are good for your heart, muscle generation, digestion, and your nervous system.

Easy Yam and Lentil Vegan Enchiladas
Get healthy while saving money at the same time: yams and lentils do your body good while keeping the cost down.

Basically, in not so many words, lentils and yams are the power couple you should be taking advantage of.

So back to solving that meal plan crisis. When these two make an appearance on your weekly meal plan, aim to make a couple meals during the week that incorporate their powers, since you can buy both in bulk and get the most bang for your buck.

(Psst! And while you’re at it on the lentils, go ahead and add these simple Lentil Sloppy Joes to your meal plan for the week.)

So mama, seriously, stop beating yourself in the face with your grocery list (turns out it doesn’t make your brain work faster). Instead, hop on board the yam and lentil express and ride it all the way to GET IN MUH BELLY town. *ahem*

You’re welcome.

Yam & Lentil Vegan Enchiladas

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Homemade Healthy Dairy-Free Butter

Are you tired of the battle of the butters? What’s “healthy” and what’s not (and what’s edible plastic in a tub)?

Well wait no longer mama. Instead of listening to commercials about the butter you should be buying, I want you to think about the butter you should be making.

Yup, that’s right.

No more hesitating and debating over which butter is best at the supermarket, while your 4-year-old hounds you about buying *insert sugary crap here*…again. No more reading butter labels, or feeling guilty about scooping another dab on your bread at dinner. Because at the end of the day, we should all be eating something we can feel good about, pleasing our personal ethics as well as our taste buds.

dairy-free butter- easy to make!
Now you can have the best of both worlds with this EASY to make, mostly raw, healthy homemade dairy-free butter spread!

With only a few simple ingredients, and your kitchen blender (this recipe fits perfectly into one of the Nutri Ninja Cups!), you can make your own butter without potentially harming your health (or baby cows yo!) in the process. This butter is not only dairy-free, cholesterol-free, and unrefined, but it also contains zero of those scary additives and preservatives that you find in all that crazy margarine.

Related: Why You Don’t Need to Eat Dairy (Plus Cheese Alternatives!)

It takes less than 5 minutes, is SUPER EASY to whip up, and makes approximately 16 oz. That’s a good “tub” of butter that lasts my family 2-3 weeks. As for the cost- it really depends on how much your local grocery is selling the ingredients for, but remember to try and buy organic/unrefined if you can.

dairy-free butter3

By using unrefined coconut oil, you will be providing your body with HEALTHY fatty acids, which can help kill harmful pathogens and boost brain function. Coconut oil is also great for your blood cholesterol levels, and can help aid you in weight loss.

With extra virgin olive oil, you’re keeping your butter heart healthy, while also helping prevent osteoporosis (which btw, typically occurs in patients who consume high amounts of dairy products). EVOO contains healthy fatty acids too, as well as several bio-active compounds (like antioxidants!).

In other words, this is definitely a healthier choice than any of the processed vegan or dairy-laced butters you will find on the shelf at the grocery store.

easy to make dairy-free butter!
By using unheated oils, you are keeping their healthy properties IN TACT, making it a win-win for your morning toast.

I love this butter because:

  • It spreads WONDERFULLY on toast or pancakes.
  • It MELTS on roasted or steamed veg.
  • It’s a great SUBSTITUTE for any baking recipe you have.
  • And it tastes AMAZING.

If you want to go super cute with it, you can even get your own butter stick mold. This comes in handy if you’re a mom like me, and you don’t want your tub of butter to look like it died tragically in a knife fight, because your 4-year-old has not mastered his butter skills yet.

I think this butter is so good, that even Homer J. Simpson would use it in his classic moon waffles:

And yes, while this butter is definitely a “healthy fat”, I don’t think I’d recommend eating it a stick at a time lol. #DOH!

Homemade Healthy Dairy-Free Butter

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Will you go meatless with me for vegweek 2017

It’s that time of the year again folks! Yup, I’m talking about VegWeek (starts next Monday!), the seven day veg-pledge to help you, the animals, and the planet live a healthier, happier life!! Woo Hoo!

This is the perfect opportunity to “get your feet wet” in the world of vegan living, while also getting the SUPPORT you need through daily emails from VegWeek.com. As an added bonus, all week long, big time vegan companies will be offering coupons for some of the leading brands in plant-based foods.

I get really excited about this because it can be such an empowering week for you to take back your health and “just say no” to factory farming, which is a growing problem that is impacting our planet and causing harm to millions of animals every. single. second.

baby chicks

I know that’s pretty heavy material for some people, and most don’t want to hear about what is really going on with the animals behind closed doors. However, the GOOD NEWS is that the more educated you become as a consumer and compassionate human being, the more YOU will be able to make informed choices, and that is where the real magic begins.

Related: Cheese Alternatives & Why You Don’t Need to Eat Dairy

This year, I want to do something a little different- on top of sharing recipes (below) to prepare you for an entire week of VEGAN LOVE, I also want to give you pointers to some really important books and documentaries that I find valuable, if you are willing to take the next step to becoming aware of the severity of this issue. I personally believe that as time goes on, many people will start to look at meat-eating as the new smoking, which is something that impacts more than just the smoker, but the quality of life AROUND the smoker as well.

eat fresh for vegweek 2017!

And if right now you’re thinking, “Well, that’s easy for YOU to say Randi, you KNOW how to cook without animal products already!”, I just want to reassure you that once upon a time, I too was on the COMPLETE opposite side of the veggie fence. I’m an ex-smoker, ex-addict, and ex-fast-food-enthusiast. My idea of a good breakfast was an over easy egg or a BLT, and pretty much every dinner was insert-fast-food-establishment-here. I KNOW what it is like to start from ground zero, and I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it!

The Benefits of Doing a Week of Veg:

  • Increased energy as you eat a variety of vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Sense of connection to your food and what it does for your body.
  • Awareness of the state of our food system.
  • Growth of compassion for the animals in the system.
  • Mental clarity for how your body can transform through a week of veg!

My VegWeek Tips:

  • Choose recipes that do not rely on heavily processed ingredients (I have the MASTER LIST of recipes below!)
  • Take it step by step: if you’re new to plant-based living, begin by going meatless, and work towards cutting out animal products throughout the week.
  • Pack plenty of vegan snacks/lunches for on the go (think homemade hummus, loaded veggie sandwiches, smoothies, and loaded veggie salads) .
  • Watch plant-based documentaries (list provided below) on Netflix or through Amazon, to inform you about this growing issue and to inspire you to keep going.

If you’re new to vegan living and plant-based foods, I’d love to hear from you btw. What is your biggest struggle when it comes to going veg? You can let me know in the contact form here.

Now, onward to the recommendations!

VegWeek 2017 Resources:

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The Ultimate Vegan Sloppy Joe

It’s almost April, and that means VegWeek 2017 is coming up on the 17th! To celebrate this, I’m going to start with a trip down to  ♫ “Lunch Lady Laaaaaaand” ♫ for an updated version of the classic Sloppy Joe.

Oh yes.

Honestly, I can’t imagine making Sloppy Joes WITHOUT singing an ode of Adam Sandler: “SLOPPY JOE, SLOP, SLOPPY JOE YEEAAAH”. To do so would be sacrilegious and bad parenting on my part. Seriously, my kids would probably think something is wrong with me because it’s always been physically impossible to serve them SJ and not sing at least a line or two.

Vegan Sloppy Joes
“Now me and Sloppy Joe got married…we got six kids and we’re doin’ just fine.”

Did I mention how awesome it is when your kids are old enough to enjoy a good joke AND participate in a family SNL sing-along? #proudmama

Unlike the song though, yesterday’s meatloaf is NOT today’s Sloppy Joes. You won’t find any ♫ navy beans, navy beans, navy beans ♫ here, just good old fashioned lentils, which is ALWAYS a better option than cafeteria mystery meat.

In fact, today’s Sloppy Joes is the ULTIMATE vegan comfort sandwich!

The Making of the Ultimate Vegan Sloppy Joe
Making the Ultimate Sloppy Joe is like having your own personal delicious ritual.

Loaded down with BBQ lentils, red cabbage slaw, oven-baked fries, and topped with a generous portion of smashed avocado on a toasted bun, this sandwich is totally moan-worthy and not limited to children (just the young at heart!).

Pretty soon, I’m sure you’ll be dancing around the kitchen just like Chris Farley in a hair net, only (I hope) much sexier *wink*.

Enjoy this one on me, and don’t forget to sing…LOUDLY:)

The Ultimate Vegan Sloppy Joe

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