What’s the deal with subscription boxes anyways?

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I’m assuming most of you have heard of subscription boxes by now. There’s a good chance they’re inundating your Facebook newsfeed ads, and your blog-obsessed friends (guilty) have been posting about them on Instagram. So, what’s the deal?

Who
Subscription boxes are put together by third parties, not the brands themselves.

What
The boxes contain a variety of samples, and are usually food, makeup, or skincare themed. The food boxes (like my Urthbox pictured above) often allow customization. We’re talking about gluten-free, vegan or diet options. Picky eaters are welcome here.

When
Urthbox delivers monthly, but some services have a weekly option.

Where
They’re delivered wherever you want them to be. Your apartment, your office— the world is your oyster.

Why
Exploring new products, especially for special diets, is very hit or miss. Nothing’s more disappointing then dropping money on a bag of snacks at Whole Foods, only to discover you don’t like them. Ordering an Urthbox allowed me to try out 15 new snacks in a cost-effective way. (My favorites were the Beanitos chips and Svelte Cappuccino Protein Shake!)

I got a deal on a three-month subscription from Gilt City, so keep an eye out on other discount services, like Groupon or Living Social.

Cherry Smoothie Bowl

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Sundays are for smoothie bowls. Never had a smoothie bowl? It’s basically your chance to have ice cream for breakfast. Make a very thick smoothie, then top with seeds, fresh fruit and shredded coocnut.

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2C frozen cherries
  • 1/2C almond milk
  • dried cranberries
  • pepitas
  • chia seeds
  • raspberries
  • shredded coconut

Slice some of the banana to save for garnish. Blend the rest of the banana, frozen cherries and almond milk— it should be a thick consistency. Pour into a bowl and top with cranberries, pepitas, chia seeds, raspberries and shredded coconut.

Hey Madde! Love your blog! I recently made the switch to veganism (and am loving it!) I read the book the Kind Diet, and was wondering if you had any other recommendations?

- Asked by perpetual-feelings

The Kind Diet was actually the first book I read when I made the switch too! It’s still one of my favorites. Here are some other great reads:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
This is his only nonfiction book, and it’s a fascinating read. Although it’s disclosed that he’s chosen a vegetarian diet, he addresses the history of humans eating animals objectively. 

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman
This book is a slap in the face, but in the best way. It’s aggressive and abrasive, but sometimes you need someone to give you the facts straight and shove you in the right direction.

Cooked by Michael Pollan
Although not about plant foods, this book makes a simple and striking statement about processed versus whole, cooked foods. “Taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable.” 

Everyday Happy Herbivore and Happy Herbivore Abroad by Lindsay Nixon
Lindsay’s cookbooks are favorites, no questions asked. Her blog and weekly meal plans are also lifesavers. ‘Abroad’ is a gem. She tells stories from all of the time she’s spent overseas and how it inspires her cooking.

Introducing TCV | Five & Under

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I’m excited to announce a new resource for anyone who considers themselves extremely busy, extremely lazy, or just extremely hungry. TCV Five & Under is a collection of 50+ recipes that are all five ingredients or less, which usually take less than 30 minutes to make. 

So instead of spaghetti with sauce from a jar, you can just as easily make my signature Avocado Alfredo. Or mashed cauliflower with chives instead of potatoes from a box. Take any number of smoothies to go instead of skipping breakfast!

I know how hard it is to eat healthy on a budget, especially when you’re strapped for time. But these recipes have all been life savers for me, and I hope they help you too.

Check out all of the recipes here.

Love and veggies,
Madde

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is my new best friend, and it should be yours. Why? Because it is lower in acid than traditionally brewed coffee, is easy to make in large batches, and won’t go stale like hot coffee so I can keep a pitcher in my fridge at all times. And believe me, I mean ALL times.

There are three ways to make it, but I went the french press route:

Method One - French Press

Add one cup ground coffee and three cups cold water to a french press. Let sit in the fridge for twelve hours. Slowly push down the plunger and pour cold brew coffee into a pitcher. This is a concentrate, so add equal parts water or milk and enjoy!

Method Two - Nut Milk Bag

Pour one cup coffee grounds into a nut milk bag, and add to a pitcher full of water. Let sit in the fridge four twelve hours. Remove nut milk bag, empty the grounds, wash and save for next time. Enjoy your coffee to your liking!

Method Three - Coffee Filter

Combine one cup of coffee grounds in a pitcher of water. Let sit in the fridge for twelve hours. Slowly pour the pitcher through a traditional coffee filter. Enjoy your coffee to your liking!

Note: Pour COFFEE into an ice cube tray to make coffeecubes. This way, the ice won’t water down your delicious cup of cold brew beauty.

Individual Flatbread Hummus Pizza

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Sunday night is pizza night. This week, I went the Mediterranean route choosing hummus, spinach, tomatoes, red onion and olives. I used naan bread, but any kind of premade flatbread or even pitabread will work well for a crust.

  • Naan bread
  • 2T hummus
  • 1 chopped roma tomato
  • chopped red onion, to taste
  • 5 kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • a handful of baby spinach

Spread hummus over the flatbread and cover with a layer of spinach. Top with chopped tomato, onion and olives. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and enjoy!

I got to school in Boston too! and I applied to Northeastern as a transfer for next year (just thought it was cool and I'd let you know!) I've been a vegetarian for years now and reading your blog and your story motivated me to become a vegan so I wanted to thank you! I was always so scared to become vegan, I wasn't aware there were so many delicious things you could eat!

- Asked by v0lacious

No, thank YOU! It means the world to me when people reach out about reading my blog. But I’m glad I could offer a little inspiration!

And I’m so glad you mentioned this. It’s funny, I always tell people I’m not a picky eater, and they look at me dumbfounded. Since vegans don’t eat meat, eggs or dairy, people always assume we have very limited options. But there’s a whole WORLD of food out there that’s plant-based, if only we change our perspective a little bit. In most instances, I have a more varied diet than my omnivore friends and family. I think you’ll enjoy the change :)

I hope you get accepted by Northeastern! It’s a wonderful place, I absolutely love it, and I’m sure you would too.

Madde

Tapas: Skillet Chickpeas

Let me start by saying that I have gotten VERY into tapas lately. I mean, a socially acceptable reason to eat six different dishes for dinner? It doesn’t get much better than that. So here’s my recreation of Espinacas con Garbanzos.

  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1t cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 

Heat the oil and garlic over high heat for two minutes. Add the spinach, chickpeas and cumin to the skillet. Stir constantly until the spinach fully wilts and the chickpeas cook through. Top with salt and pepper. Enjoy on its own, or serve with crusty bread!

Green Goddess Bowl

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It’s no surprise that green food is naturally the healthiest (Don’t believe me? Ask Oprah!) but it can be challenging to enough servings throughout the week. So every now and then, I make myself a fit-all-the-green-things-I-can-in-a-bowl dinner.

So, here’s the drill— put some grains in a bowl (quinoa, rice, pasta, cous cous, etc.) then add all the green things in your fridge. Steam fresh veggies, and heat up the frozen ones. Add some sauce (soy sauce, salad dressing, whatever suits your fancy). And that’s it! This recipe changes every time I make it, but here’s what I made tonight:

  • 1 serving quinoa (or other grain)
  • 1/2C frozen peas
  • 1/2 edamame
  • 4 asparagus spears
  • handful of broccoli florets
  • a few kale leaves
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1T soy sauce
  • 1t rice vinegar
  • 1t toasted sesame oil

Cook your quinoa on the stove, and in the meantime heat up your frozen veggies. Once the quinoa’s done, set aside, and steam your fresh veggies. Toss everything in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil, then toss everything together. Enjoy!

Hey, your blog is so great! I love it, and I'm really happy I found it just before the heatwaves started-your smooties are amazing :) I wanted to ask if I can use regular soy milk for coffee? I never really had it, going from vegetarian to vegan.

- Asked by comicsanshater

Thank you so much! I’m jealous of these ‘heat-waves’ coming your way, right now in Boston it’s a balmy 10 degrees.

But you can definitely use soy milk with coffee. A lot of my non-vegan friends actually use soy milk in their coffee since it’s sweeter. Some grocery stores will also have non-dairy coffee creamers that are soy or coconut based. My personal favorite is the So Delicious brand of coconut milk creamer.

Hope that helps!

Do you know of any other good vegan blogs? Maybe ones that cook more sodium free? Btw, I just started following and I'm already in love with the blog. You've made becoming a vegan seem way less scared cx

- Asked by sex-drugs-andtroll2

Thank you so much for reading! While I’m not sure about any blogs that specifically cook without sodium, here are some of my favorite vegan blogs, both on Tumblr and beyond!

Hope that helps!

Turmeric Ginger Tea

For those who don’t know, I live in Boston, and it’s been a freaking cold winter. I’m not going to call it the ‘Polar Vortex’ because that sounds like a bad sci-fi novel. Anyways, I deal with the cold by wearing a coat that makes me look like a marshmallow and drinking LOTS of tea. Specifically, this homemade turmeric ginger tea. If this doesn’t warm you up, I don’t know what will.

  • 1/2t turmeric powder
  • 1/4t ginger powder
  • 1-2t liquid sweetener, like maple syrup, agave, or honey

Mix together the spices and sweetener at the bottom of a mug, forming a paste. Stir in very hot (but not boiling water) until the paste as dissolved. Enjoy!

Note: Alternatively, you can mix the spices in hot water and then add sweetener to taste. But I’ve found they dissolve better using the paste method.

Warm Butternut Salad

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I never crave salad in the winter, it’s too cold out for raw food! But adding warm veggies to kale and quinoa are a great way to still get in all your vegetables.

  • 2C steamed kale
  • 1C steamed or roasted butternut squash (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2C quinoa, cooked
  • pumpkin seeds to taste

Cook a single serving of quinoa (here’s how!) and while that’s on the stove, steam your kale and prepare your squash. I used frozen squash, so I heated it up with water on a stove pan. If you’re using fresh squash, you’ll want to roast it in the oven. Top with pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!

Mexican Polenta Casserole

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I can tell this dish is going to become a new staple for me. The ingredients are simple, it has a ton of flavor, is very customizable, and of course is easy to make and super healthy.

  • 1 package of polenta, sliced (my slices were 1/2” thick)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 small jar of salsa (a whole jar isn’t necessary, but I really love salsa)
  • 1C corn (I used frozen)
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced thin
  • avocado, to garnish

Lay your polenta slices to cover the bottom of a casserole dish, then spread on refried beans and salsa to make the base of your casserole. Then sprinkle with veggies. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, top with avocado and enjoy!

Note: I used corn, green pepper, and jalapenos for my veggies but this part is very customizable! Daiya shreds would also make a great addition.