Vegan 101: Tips, pantry staples, recipe sources, more…


The most frequently asked questions I receive are about my vegan diet. I know not everyone agrees with the lifestyle and it’s been known to make people very defensive about their own nutrition and food choices, so please keep in mind I’m writing this for those who are interested and who have asked about it. I’m not trying to make any enemies, talk down to those who eat meat or win over any converts! Eat what you want, yo, and I’ll do the same.

(We’re annoying, I get it.)

With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s do this thang.

It’s not just about weight loss

I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a little over a year now. You guys know I’ve had a lot of success with it as far as weight loss goes, and as much as that was a selling point for me back then, it has become way more about the nutrition. Having to eat more fruits and vegetables was a huge challenge at first. HUGE. I was never a big meal eater to begin with (I should belong to Snackaholics Anonymous) and all of a sudden I had to fit in all these servings of stuff I didn’t really enjoy eating. I was not diggin’ it. When I realized vegans eat more than just lettuce and carrot sticks, things changed big time.

Also, so much of what you eat and why you’re eating it is mental. I know I snack like crazy when I’m stressed out and I don’t eat at all when I’m depressed. I would go for comforting, heavy, fattening foods to satisfy myself and just keep eating and eating without even considering what damage it was doing to my body and mind. I’m not trying to be all hippy kale goddess, but it’s true! You’ll notice when you start filling yourself with whole foods, you will not only start dropping weight, but you’ll start breaking free of those mind games food was playing with you. You’re truly going to feel better in every way.

You won’t be deprived of the yummy stuff

Okay, If you’re going to do this, don’t go into it being all depressed that you’re depriving yourself of all the foods you love. You’re not going to die, I promise. There are SO many healthy alternatives and meat free/dairy free substitutions for your favorite dishes, it’s just going to take a little bit of thinking and effort on your part to learn what to eat and most importantly, WHY you’re eating it. That’s the key to sticking with this long term.

It’s not about dousing everything in ranch dressing or melted cheese anymore (though there are amazing recipes for non-dairy ranch dressing and cheese sauces, Google it)… it’s about making a serious effort to change your health and letting go of the hold unhealthy food has on you. I’m still working on that too, don’t get me wrong. When my period is coming, all I want is nasty gas station nachos with jalapenos.

It just takes time and dedication. And you have to want to do this.

You will be harassed about protein

Read about how vegans absolutely do get enough protein and read it from unbiased sources, please. It’s the most frequently asked question you will receive and you will be treated like you are an idiot for not considering the all-hailed “complete animal proteins”. Protein is in almost everything we eat, if we’re eating the right way. I am not withering away and neither will you, I promise! Sorry to be defensive about this.

But really, I should show you my muscles. I could win a fight with a cow right now.

Also important: B-12.

Do your nutritional research so you’re ready for these conversations! You don’t want to be caught with your pants down. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Okay, Dr. Phil wannabe over here is stepping down from the stage. On to the fun and much less boring stuff…

In My Pantry

These are staples I always have on hand. I didn’t know what half of these things were when I started, but now I can’t live without them and they’re essential in making those alternative dishes I was talking about.


Note: I buy and eat plenty of other things as well. Be sure you’re eating a well-rounded and varied diet of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.

  • Raw almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Black beans and garbanzo beans
  • Nut butters – cashew butter, almond butter and sunflower seed butter… all fabulous
  • Coconut oil
  • Nutritional yeast – NOT Brewer’s Yeast. I know it sounds disgusto, but it’s great stuff
  • Agave nectar
  • Dates (for a natural sweetener)
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole wheat pita bread – great for veggie sandwiches and for dipping
  • Kale – for my favorite kale chips
  • Hummus & Pita chips/veggie sticks
  • Edamame – from the freezer section at Trader Joe’s
  • Olives
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Frozen bananas – When bananas just start turning brown and I don’t have time to eat them, I break them in half, throw them in plastic baggies and freeze them. These are a great base for non-dairy ice cream and to toss in smoothies.

Oh She Glows – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard (THE BEST. And made with frozen bananas!)

Non dairy alternatives:

  • Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • Tofutti Better than Sour Cream (they have a cream cheese too)
  • Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips are accidentally vegan
  • As are… OREOS!

Tips for eating in restaurants

Some of these might be “DUH” to you, but I’ve been stuck and confused in restaurants too many times to not include this.

  • Look up the menu online beforehand. It helps to be prepared before you walk in there.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them to leave the chicken/shrimp/cheese off the salads.
  • Vinegar-based dressings are your BFF
  • Substitute! If you don’t want the side of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy, opt for steamed veggies or a baked potato.
  • Minestrone soup plus a side salad is perfect for lunch
  • Veggie sandwiches usually come with cream cheese, so just have them leave it off and use mustard, oil/vinegar or whatever condiment you prefer.
  • Pasta with marinara sauce, leave off the parmesan cheese
  • Get the veggie burger
  • If all else fails and you’re out of options, eat the stupid thing. No one’s perfect!

Sources for great recipes

Carrie On Vegan

Oh She Glows

Healthy Happy Life

Amy’s Nutritarian Kitchen

FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Healthy Bitch Daily

Search Pinterest as well!

Hopefully I answered some questions for you in this novel of a post. If you all have anything else to ask or add, feel free to do so in the comments. – Fun, frilly and affordable accessories for girls!

One of the best things about having a little girl is getting to play dress up. Maddie has been in this ultra-girly-tutu-princess-fairy phase for the past few months and I just love it. Every morning before I can even make it out of my room, she’s already put on some sort of fluffy, frilly thing, complete with at least 3 random accessories that don’t match whatsoever. One day, the Cinderella dress was accompanied by a scarf, sparkly red Toms and a pink beanie. It’s a surprise each time.

I was beyond excited when sent a rather generous package of goodies for Maddie and I. Moms, LISTEN. If you have a little girl, this is your one stop shop for all the essentials. They offer the most adorable flower hair clips, headbands, tutus, fairy wings, hats, leg warmers… seriously, you name it, they have it. Everything is incredibly affordable and just plain cute!

Maddie has been wearing this purple Petti Skirt and refuses to take it off. She absolutely loves it and spins and twirls nonstop.

Isn’t it adorable?? And the flower hair clip just kills me.

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Day 7 of Reboot Juice Cleanse – An update, what I’ve learned so far & a few helpful tips

So, it’s day 7 of the Reboot juice cleanse. I wanted to give you guys an update at the halfway point to let you know how things are going and also to keep myself in check. It’s been one of the most challenging weeks of my life, without a doubt. You think, “Oh, juice tastes good, I can handle that for a few weeks!” and then by noon on the first day, you would give your left boob to eat the bark off a tree. Gosh, I don’t even know where to start explaining everything that has happened and all I’ve learned so far. Forgive the disorganization of this post!

Day 1 through 3, I wanted to punch the face of all things. I would love to tell you how amazing you’ll feel the entire time and how you’ll be a little Energizer Bunny, ready to conquer the world. But those, my friend? Those would be lies from the pit of hell. Something I wasn’t aware of before I started this fast was how intense your crashes are and how quickly they happen when you’re drinking so much juice. You know the feeling of a sugar crash? Exhaustion, moodiness, hopelessness, hunger for something that will stick to your bones? Well, it’s basically that, except NO FOOD FOR YOU. And YAY, you get to drink more juice and experience it all over again! -_- I would say the crash happens about an hour and a half after you finish drinking, so yeah. It’s a pretty vicious cycle, those first few days.

Struggles I experienced:

  • Watching TV was painful. The Food Network is just pure torture. Characters on your favorite shows eat meals together every 2 minutes. BEGGIN STRIPS COMMERCIALS. I kid you not, I was so desperate to chew on something solid, those Beggin Strips were looking mighty tasty. SICK.
  • I’ve never been a big breakfast person, so this is totally weird to me, but I would wake up each morning and be like, CINNAMON ROLLS. The next day: FRENCH TOAST. The next day: BANANA NUTELLA SOMETHING. It was a huge disappointment when I realized I couldn’t eat what I was craving. It would seriously put me in the most cranky mood.
  • I realized how much focus I put on meal time and how excited I get about the act of eating a meal. I was made aware of the bad habits I have surrounding food and eating. For example, I eat some sort of snack every night while watching TV. BAD MORGAN. While reading blogs, I usually have something crunchy to snack on. While I watch the kids play outside, I have something sweet to snack on. While taking a shower, I have… kidding. But really, are we seeing a trend? I am a serial snacker.
  • Food plays tricks on your brain. There is so much psychological mumbo jumbo tied to it and when you can break yourself free of the hold it has on you, you’ll be much happier and healthier. I’m still working on that.
  • Cleaning the juicer several times a day is just a pain in the butt.

It’s not ALL bad though, I promise!

That angry, grumpy, cranky feeling goes away after a few days. I know all those yucky feelings meant my body was going through a major detox. Plus, psychological issues are surfacing. At least, they did for me. I just kept visualizing everything nasty and gross being kicked out by all the nutrients I was shoving into my body. By Day 4, I was feeling great and had the mental and physical energy to do a legit workout. The next day, I did it again. My old happy, ALIVE self was coming back. I was feeling pretty proud and was eager to keep at it for the next week.

Pros I experienced:

  • 7 pounds down on the scale (in a week)
  • Normally bloated belly is flattening
  • High energy levels after those initial detox days passed
  • Much brighter and clearer skin
  • Slept like a baby every single night and wasn’t groggy in the morning, as I normally am.
  • Sense of pride and motivation to see this thing through to the end!

Tricks of the trade (from myself and other juicing veterans):

  • The first day (as I said before), you will want to chew on something. You’re so used to the physical act of eating and it’s a tough habit to break. If you can’t stand it anymore, take a bite of an apple, carrot or other raw fruit or vegetable. Take that ONE bite and refocus. Remember why you’re doing this cleanse and stay strong!
  • Prepare your fruits and vegetables the night before for your morning juice. Chop the ends off of carrots, cut up your apples, rinse off your kale. Make it easier on yourself so you don’t chop off a finger in a fit of hungry morning rage.
  • The ideal combination of juice is 80% veggie and 20% fruit. If you have a sweeter palate, it won’t hurt you to go 60% veggie and 40% fruit.
  • Drink A TON OF JUICE. This is not a starvation cleanse. You don’t need to count calories. You need raw juice and you need enough to fill you up! Take a sealed container to work that you can sip on all day. If you work in an office, it will be easier to ward off temptation if you have your juice nearby.
  • Get a good reusable, sturdy cup with a lid and a straw. Take that baby in the car with you, to the grocery store, to the restaurant where your family plans to eat in front of you, WHEREVER. That cup is your new best friend and you will get very close.
  • Don’t forget your water! Drink up!

If anyone is interested, here are some helpful fruit and vegetable juice recipes.

Questions, comments? Ask away! I’ll do my best to get back to you quickly!

Immature things I find hilarious

Justin thinks I’m corny and have an extremely immature sense of humor. While this may be true in some cases (see: my love for Spongebob), there are some things that are so hilarious and I can’t understand why everyone in the universe wouldn’t pee a little in agreement.

There’s this AT&T commercial with the flash mob guy who busts out dancing too early and it freaking KILLS ME every time. I’ve seen the thing at least 50 times and it still has the same effect. I’ll be cracking up when he does the bent over backwards-swimming arms-shuffle thing and look over to Justin on the couch, expecting him to be laughing alongside me. Yeah… he’s never laughing. He just looks at me with a disapproving stare and slowly shakes his head. Watch it.


Back to Spongebob. There was a time when I absolutely loathed the show and wanted to beat myself over the head with something large and heavy anytime it was on tv. SO MUCH GOING ON. SO MUCH NOISE. And then there’s that thing about how it’s bad for the brain and causes learning problems of some sort. The show is just bad. The thing is, I don’t let Maddie watch it, but I will on occasion. WHAT IS IMMATURE ABOUT THAT, JUSTIN?! There’s this episode where Spongebob is so scared that his eyeballs start screaming. It sounds ridiculous and disgusting, and it IS… BUT I STILL DIE.

Now, movies that remind me of my childhood will always hold a special place in my heart. My brother and I watched Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York all year round. Nothing beyond the first two movies though because they just started getting stupid. The originals, though? Comedy gold! Kevin beating up on The Wet Bandits still gets me every time. Apparently, my brother and I reference Home Alone often in everyday conversations because Justin is always saying how obsessed my family is with the franchise. Maybe we are… and MAYBE WE ARE.

Harry getting his head torched right before he jumps into the snow headfirst. heeeeeee

Marv trying to break in the house through the doggy door. He just saw Kevin sitting there with a bb gun. lawls


Don’t even get me started on Dennis the Menace, guys.

  • Chiclets to replace the two front teeth in Mr. Wilson’s dentures
  • “G.D. garden lanterns!”
  • “Tastes like paint… and wood.”
  • The little cross-eyed kid, Gunther
I’ve always felt a sort of kinship with Gunther, being that I had crossed eyes as a kid. Okay, and I still do occasionally, but only when I’m sleepy. :)
Anyway, that’s the reason I don’t feel guilty for laughing when he makes this face:
I  giggled a little too much while writing this post.
Oh my gosh, you guys. I have a problem.

Jewelry Review: T+J Designs

You may remember the super adorable pink teardrop earrings I was wearing in the Drugstore Beauty Love post. A few of you have already perused T+J Designs and picked up a pair for yourselves, but for the rest of you who haven’t, GET READY. You’re about to have a steamy love affair with your computer screen.

(Meaning, with the JEWELRY. Not me, sickos.)

-- wearing the Pink & Gold Layered Necklace --

T+J is owned by the sweet and gorgeous Tiffany from one of my all-time favorite fashion blogs, I Am Style-ish. Tiffany and her sister Jen have serious style and an obvious talent in designing jewelry. I’m incredibly thrilled I was able to get my little grubby paws on three pieces from their collection.

-- wearing the Light Blue Pyramid Bracelet --
-- wearing Pink Teardrop earrings --

For someone who is accustomed to the poostank grade Forever21 stuff, I have to say what a thrill it is to wear truly nice jewelry. Nothing is falling apart, chipping or fading and you can just feel the difference in the quality. On top of everything else I love about T+J, their prices are incredibly reasonable. You guys will love their stuff, trust me.

Go check them out!

Interested in owning your own fabulous jewelry from T+J Designs? My readers get 15% off non-sale items by using the code MRSPRISS