I am currently a college junior; vegan for 1.5 years and vegetarian for 2.5. Prior to university life, I was a chicken nugget loving gal scared of colorful food. Obviously a lot changed in my first year at college as I started eating every vegetable or fruit in sight.
I won’t use this blog to explain my reasoning for going vegan (BUT LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT TO HEAR THIS DOPE STORY!). Instead I’ll offer some easy raw and cooked vegan meals and snacks I eat during a work day as a state park maintenance ranger with some nutritional facts (nutrient content and the beloved carbohydrate count for all of my dia-friends)!
ALSO, I must put out there that I am in no way a nutritionist and cannot recommend a diet of any sorts to y’all. HOWEVER, I have met with multiple nutritionists, some specialized in type 1 diabetic management and some associated with mental health care. With that being said, I also spent months of time researching vegan nutrients to make sure I was getting enough protein, iron, etc etc etc in my diet. I can offer top notch advice from my personal research and experiences, but I can not offer certified medical input. But please feel free to inquire more about my food journey and how I began because that is the space I intend to create with this- a beginning, an intermediate for vegan lifestyle and meal prep for daily living ❤
ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST!
So good morning!
Let’s start the day off right with a big, large glass of water and get that stove started with some boiling water for coffee. I’m somewhat of a coffee snob, thus I hand crank my whole beans and use a pour over, only pouring small doses of H2O at a time for that oh so perfect brew!
While my coffee cools to a better drinking temperature, I start my breakfast smoothie bowl. The main difference between my morning and later in the day smoothie bowls is the creaminess factor. I use nut milk in the morning and water or coconut water later in the day.
1.5-2 FROZEN bananas
1.5 cups of spinach (this is a BS measurement, I 100% keep putting spinach until I consciously remember to stop, I fill my food processor ABOUT 1/3 TO 1/2 FULL)
1 tbsp nut butter (I prefer almond over peanut butter for the flavor tang, but I am currently using a local nut butter that is a flax & chia seed peanut butter blend)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup nut milk (Again, a BS measurement, you do not want a lot of liquid if you want a more ice cream thickness of a smoothie, I tend to put in enough milk to cover the floor of my food processor; I also prefer almond or cashew milk over soy or coconut (too thin))
Now blend together all of the above! Tip: I tend to let my bananas thaw for about 10-15 min. I blend these nice cream smoothie bowls a little longer so that all of the spinach can break up.
TOPPINGS!! (the best part??!):
1 tbsp hemp seeds
berries! (right now I am using blackberries and blueberries that are in season at my local farm- Cullipher Farm); but you can totally use any fruit- peaches, mangoes, starfruit, you do you
>> Spinach: fantastic source of iron; especially for vegans, but like real talk, for any LIVING, THRIVING BODY, iron gives us a boost of sustainable energy so it perks us up in the morning
>> Chia: GREAT IRON SOURCE; also Zinc and Omega 3’s
>> Bananas: potassium source; potassium helps our bodies absorb water better so it is super good in the morning to include potassium with a high water intake after a good night’s sleep that can lead to some morning dehydration
>> Nut butter & Nut milk: nuts are a significant source of protein in a vegan diet so adding some type of nut into a food is a big boost
>> Strawberries: Vitamin C
W/O toppings —> ~32 g of carbs
WITH toppings —> ~53 g of carbs
Many of y’all might think this a pretty high carb meal, however, I have found for my body, it prefers a high carb meal in the morning so that I can get a nice dose of insulin to steady me out throughout the rest of the day. Bananas are a high carb fruit and especially adding granola as a topping provides more carbs. A good alternative to granola is a mix of nuts like walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds. I also find that a thicker meal like this can carry my hunger for a long morning of physical labor as a maintenance ranger.
With that being said, my meal portions and carbs tend to be based around my work level.
MUNCHIES FOR LUNCHIES
When I work 8-10 hour work days in the heat with long pants, boots and a button up for work, I crave hydrating foods and electrolytes for lunch.
ELECTROLYTES!!! This is something most people understand is good for us but something that many of us tend to brush past. This nutrient is so vital to our mental stability, concentration and energy levels. I love an electrolyte packed lunch while working to replenish my body mid-way through the day and into the high sun of the afternoon.
For lunch I’ll offer up 2 meals I switch back and forth between because they are both OH SO EASY AND DELICIOUS!
Step 1: buy yourself a dandy ole watermelon: a good watermelon has a white/yellow patch on one of its sides- don’t buy yourself a gross aesthetically pleasing perfectly green all the way around melon!
Step 2: get yourself a big ole knife and a cutting board
Step 3: Cut that melon right in half
Step 4: spoon and munch!
Watermelon is best digested as a mono-meal. It has a high water content and a high electrolyte content.
2. CURRY TAHINI AND CUCUMBER
2 tbsp raw tahini
turmeric powder (a dash?)
ginger powder (another dash?)
juice of half a lemon or lime
curry powder (a few dashes)
coconut aminos (multiple dashes, ~1 tbsp); also, coconut aminos is a coconut based soy sauce alternative
water as needed
Mix all of the above a small bowl. I always start with a tbsp of water and add more as needed depending on if I want a thicker or more watery sauce that day. Again, I never use measuring tools with spices, it’s just a preference ordeal, but I for sure add the most of curry and coconut aminos over turmeric and ginger.
Once that is all mixed up I put it in my to-go container and slice up a cucumber. Currently I am eating pickling cucumbers I am growing in my garden.
>> Cucumber: ELECTROYLTES!!! and a daily veggie
>> Tahini: Calcium
>> Ginger and Turmeric: promote healthy digestion and gut health
>> Lemon/Lime: citrus is good for stomach satiation and can carry your hunger for longer periods of time with a small meal
But wait, there’s more. Lunch is just full of munchie food. With whatever mono-meal or main food thang I eat, I always eat a peach or apple and a small mix of flaxseed crackers (Mary’s Gone crackers), roasted & salted pumpkin seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, walnuts and raisins. This little trail mix is nutrient packed!
>> Raisins: Iron
>> Walnuts: One of the only sources of omega 3 fatty acids for vegans; Zinc
>> Flax seeds: The other only source of omega 3 fatty acids for vegans
>> Roasted pumpkin seeds: salt content
>>Raw Pumpkin Seeds: Zinc
EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK NUTRIENT BOWL
Besides my coffee, I tend to eat a “Raw Till 4” diet. This is basically a raw vegan diet during the day and a cooked dinner.
After work, I tend to be tired and hungry, but never starving. I grab whatever bean is first in sight: lima beans, black beans or chickpeas lately. And a grain: couscous or baby red potatoes. Next I’ll see what veggies we picked from our garden: zucchini and squash: and add whatever is in the “Amanda’s vegan veggies that my dad will never touch” drawer in the fridge and grab a red onion and broccoli and cauliflower and whatever surprise my lovely mother bought for me that week.
I boil the beans and grain together with some turmeric and ginger and cinnamon and cayenne powder. Then I’ll do a simple stir-fry of all of my veggies with a mix of coconut aminos and water (OIL IS SO BAD FOR YOUR HEART!!! ESPECIALLY COCONUT OIL!!!!) and then add truly whatever spices I find first in the spice drawer. These rando’s consist of: dill, cinnamon, cayenne, mustard, onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, etc etc etc. SPICE UP YOUR LIFE! But seriously, cinnamon in a stir-fry is LIFE-CHANGING GOOD!!! Cannot recommend it more highly!
Once everything is cooked, I throw it all together over a bed of mixed greens and cut up an avocado on top.
>> Beans: Protein (main vegan source!); Iron (again, main vegan source!); Zinc; Calcium
>> Grains: Iron (main veg source); Quinoa specifically is another source of Zinc
>> Dark Leafy greens (collards, broccoli, spinach, kale): Vitamin A and Calcium
>> Cauliflower: Vitamin C
Unfortunately I cannot give a carb count for this meal because it varies oh so heavily as I gave so many options to spice up this bowl. This will probably be a higher carb meal, unless you are like me and eat genuinely 2 tbsp of grains, a singular baby potato and loads of veg on greens! It is totally possible to make this meal about 20 g of carbs 🙂
As always, let’s end this lil blog burp with some nature pics to remind you that nature is the greatest force and can heal and empower us as individuals. I am so thankful to be able to continue working in the outdoors and help keep my local state park clean and welcoming 🙂