Vegan Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash

Some more comfort food for y’all in this chili weather. Get it? Chili! Haha. Alright, alright, I know. My jokes are terrible, but at least my food is tasty! Right?

ANYWAY, when I was a kid, my mom made the BEST chili. I know, I talk about my mom a lot. She was an amazing cook and is the person who got me interested in cooking. Before I was vegan I would prepare a lot of her recipes like jambalaya, chili mac, cabbage and noodles, and more. Since going vegan I’ve missed her food, so I have veganized a lot of it. My chili is no exception.

This simple and super easy chili recipe is a serious crowd pleaser. All you need to do for this killer recipe is toss everything but the squash in the crock pot before you head to work, or before you get busy with the kids, and 50 min before dinner time, pop the squash in the oven. And presto! A yummy meal the whole family will love.

Materials

Crockpot

Cutting board

Knives

Strainer

Ingredients

2 acorn squashes

Chili

1 cup dried black beans

1/2 cup dried lentils

1/2 cup dried chickpeas

1 15oz can crushed tomatoes

1 small yellow onion

1 Serrano chili, seeded and minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small carrot, diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

1 cup chopped kale

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp lime juice

Vegetable broth

1 tbsp salt, plus more to taste

Toppings

Vegan cheese

Cilantro

Sliced cherry tomatoes

Green onions

Plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt (optional)

Instruction

Measure out your legumes and place in a strainer. Rinse thoroughly and place in your crock pot. Mix in all the veggies, EXCEPT THE KALE, spices, and tomato sauce then fill the crock pot the rest of the way with the vegetable broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Preheat over to 400° F.

Wash the acorn squash then slice them lengthwise (from stem to end) and remove all seeds. Drizzle or brush with olive oik and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack for 50-60 minutes, or until soft.

While the squash is baking, chop the kale and place it i the crock pot. Prepare all other toppings.

Fill each squash with chili then cover with toppings. Enjoy hot!

Tips

To avoid having to wait an hour for your squash to cook, try cooking it the night before and warm it up in the oven before you plan to serve it.

Conclusion

This is one of my favorite cold weather meals! My partner loved it so much, he didn’t even realize it was 100% vegan, and was downright shocked when he found out. He claims that he won’t go vegan, but he sure isn’t complaining when I feed him all my yummy vegan dishes.

Thanks for reading another recipe by The Vegan Mom. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and tag @theveganmom1 in your posts!

Sweet Potato Tofu Scramble

After making my vegan jambalaya for dinner last night, I had a bunch of leftover sweet potato I had cooked, but not used in the dish. Because I hate throwing anything out, I popped it in the fridge planning to use it in something the next day. I wasn’t sure what that would be at the time, but when I woke up this morning and saw that sweet potato, I was inspired. A couple of days I week I like to make a big tofu scramble with lots of veggies and oftentimes potatoes. But I had never used sweet potato before.

So, I pulled out the sweet potato, and a few other veggies I had in the fridge, and the experiment commenced. One of my favorite dishes is candies yams with walnuts, so I thought, why not throw some chopped walnuts in there too? I also had some vegan maple breakfast sausages to toss in there.

I wasn’t quite sure if this would be any good, but I had a really stong feeling that it just might be a hit.

Serves 4 or 5

Sweet Potato Tofu Scramble

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil or vegan butter

1 sweet potato, cooked and cut into bite-sized squares

1 cup fresh spinach

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped vegan sausage (optional)

4 large crimini mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 tsp turmeric

1 16oz package extra firm tofu

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro

Instructions

In a large skillet, warm the butter or oil over a medium high heat. Place the sweet potatoes, garlic, sausage, and mushrooms in the pan. Cook for 5-7 minuted, or until crispy. Add 2 tbsp of the nutritional yeast and 1 tsp of the turmeric to the mixture. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add in the chopped walnuts and spinach. Once the spinach has wilted, remove from skillet and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Drain the liquid from tofu, then break into small pieces with a fork. Toss into the skillet and cook out all the water. This will take about three minutes. Once all the water is cooked out add the rest of the nutritional yeast and turmeric. Mix thoroughly and toss in the sweet potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with avocado toast and fresh fruit.

Tips

Prepare your sweet potatoes ahead of time by peeling, chopping, and boiling them the night before. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Leftover scramble can also be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

Conclusion

This scramble turned out even better than I imagined. And now, I have lots of leftover that I will happily eat for breakfast tomorrow and the next day. I am so excited to try some different variations of this yummy tofu scramble.

Stay tuned for more, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @theveganmom1 for more!

 

 

Grocery Shopping Hacks: Save Time & Money

As parents, we’re always trying to save money and conserve energy whenever and wherever we can. After having my baby, grocery shopping soon became my least favorite thing. In my last blog post I talked about a produce delivery service I use called Imperfect Produce (IP). This helps me save a ton of money. If you’re interested, you can click here to learn all about it. But, and this is a big but, IP doesn’t deliver everywhere. Yet… So, I have come up with some shopping tips for you busy parents to help you save money and, of course, time.

This week, to give you a better representation of what the cost would be if I didn’t have access to it, I skipped my Imperfect Produce delivery. These hacks are a no brainer and include smart meal planning (we’ll go into detail below), using coupons and promo codes, and taking advantage of your local grocery store’s delivery service. For this experiment I shopped at Safeway, since there is a location less than a mile from where I live, and I often shop there for most items I don’t get from IP. To see if you have a Safeway location near you, click here.

How To Get The Biggest Bang for Your Buck

Smart Meal Planning

It’s one thing to plan your meals for the week, it’s another to do so smartly.  Let me explain.

1. Plan meals based around seasonal produce

Using seasonal fruits and veggies can help you save a ton of money. For example, in December here in California we are growing squash, root veggies, citrus, pomegranates, broccoli, and more. Use as many of these items as possible in your dishes since they will be cheaper than imprted produce. If you’re not sure what’s in season, a Google search will tell you all you need to know. Just make sure you take your region into account.

2. Keep It Simple

Choose a handful of fruits and veggies and plan all of your meals around those. No need to make things complicated. Because I’m a busy mom and no longer have the time or energy to prepare gourmet dishes, I like to come up with a few meals that are easy to throw together throughout the week. Here are five meals that I chose for this week, and their ingredients.

MONDAY: Acorn Squash Chili Bowl

INGREDIENTS:

Chilies, beans, lentils, corn, crushed tomatoes, spices, garlic, kale, carrots, onion, bell pepper, okra, cilantro, acorn squash, vegan cheese, green onions, hot chilies

ABOUT:

Chili is easy, delicious, and perfect for cold weather. Toss all the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and let it cook while you’re out running errands. Toss the squash in the oven when you get home and in 30 minutes you’ll be enjoying an amazing dinner. I decided to throw frozen corn into this recipe, and a couple others as well, since I already had some in my freezer that needed to be used up. Making use of what you already have is another great way to save money. I’ll talk about that more later.

TUESDAY: Jambalaya

INGREDIENTS:

Frozen corn, okra, yams, spices, tofu, vegan sausage, bell peppers, chilies, crushed tomatoes, rice, onions, celery, carrots, veggie stock, garlic, hot chilies, cilantro

ABOUT:

This is another great cold weather meal. Prep it early in the week, and store it in a casserole dish in the fridge for a quick and easy meal later on.

WEDNESDAY: Chickpea Pasta & Steamed Veggies

INGREDIENTS:

Chickpea noodles, vegan pasta sauce, mushrooms, vegan meatballs, spinach, carrots, vegan cheese, broccoli

ABOUT:

Everyone loves pasta! This meal is so easy to throw together, and cheap too. Before having my baby I would make all my pasta sauces from scratch, but now I simply don’t have the time. So I just pair my favorite vegan noodles ( I usually keep my pantry stocked in case I need to makea quick meal) and sauce with some vegan meatballs and steamed veggies. I also like to add more veggies into the store bought sauce to spice it up a bit, hence the mushrooms, carrots, and spinach (which I toss in at the very end).

THURSDAY: Miso Ramen

INGREDIENTS:

Noodles, miso, veggie stock, frozen corn, tofu, yams, carrots, spinach, broccoli, cilantro, green onions, mushrooms

ABOUT:

Before I was vegan, ramen was one of my all time favorites. It’s super easy to make, especially if you use miso paste for the broth. When I make ramen, I add whatever veggies and proteins I have left over from other meals. In this case, I have frozen corn, broccoli, yams, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu. You can add whatever veggies you want, which makes this super fun and different each time.

FRIDAY: Vegan Sausage, Garlic Herb Quinoa & Roasted Root Veggies

INGREDIENTS:

Vegan sausage, quinoa, carrots, onion, garlic, veggie stock, beats, turnip, potatoes, broccoli, spices, sweet potatoes, mushrooms

ABOUT:

Another easy meal. Cook your quinoa in veggie stock with garlic, herbs, and serve it with baked or pan seared vegan sausage and roasted root veggies. Yum!

As you can see, I used the same ingredients in most of my meals. But don’t worry, changing it up by using different spices and bases will keep it from becoming boring and monotonous. Just look at the variety I was able to produce with the same simple ingredients!

3. Stay Fresh

Try to avoid purchasing too many pre-made or packaged items. I know how hard it can be! Tofu and other vegan meats are okay, as long as you don’t overdo it. To save money you want to stick with grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and veggies as much as possible.

4. Stock Up

One of the best ways to save money is by stocking up on grains, seeds, nuts, flour, and legumes. Buy in bulk! It may cost you a pretty penny at first, but once you make that purchase, you won’t have to do so again for at least a couple of months.

Avoid purchasing canned goods since it’s a lot more expensive than purchasing dried legumes and such. My pantry is constantly stocked with dried goods that I store in glass containers. You don’t have to store them this way, but I find that it’s convenient, reduces clutter, and is a lot more efficient.

5. Use What You Have

Try to utilize the ingredients you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. If you have frozen veggies and dried black beans, plan to make black bean soup! You may need to purchase only a few ingredients.

6. Eliminate Waste

Instead of throwing out the rubbery carrot in your fridge, or the half eaten squash you know you won’t eat, make your own vegetable stock! Take all of your vegetable trimmings (yes, even those garlic and onion peels) and store them in your freezer. Once a week, toss all of the trimmings in your crockpot with some water and salt, and let it cook all day. Once it’s done, strain it and store the stock in either your fridge or freezer to use with your meals.

Use Coupon, Deals, & More

Go on the store’s website and take advantage of all of their offers! Safeway, for example, offers customers a club card. With it you get items for the club price, can upload coupons to your card, and get rewards points every time you make a purchase.

1. Coupons & Club Card

There is no shame in clipping coupons. Especially since these days you can do it online and don’t have to wait in the checkout line while the cashier scans them, all while trying to avoid making eye contact with the angry customers waiting in line behind you. With Safeway, you simply go onto their website and clip the coupons you want. They are then automatically uploaded onto your card and all you have to do is swipe it or enter your phone number at checkout. And BAM! Instant savings. And don’t forget to pay attention to the Club card prices as well. You can save a bunch just from that.

2. Deals

Stores often have BOGO deals, so make sure you keep an eye out for deals on products you often use and stock up if you can! It will save you money in the long run. You can often find these deals on the store’s website and add them onto your club card along with the coupons.

3. Delivery

You may have to pay a little extra, but shopping at a store that offers delivery will save you so much time! And we all know time is money. Especially for you mamas who have a new baby. I do 100% of my shopping while I’m nursing my 2 and a half month old baby. Talk about multitasking and being productive!

4. Promo Codes

The advantage to shopping online is that you can use promo codes. Before placing your order, always check to see what promos they are offering at the time. Sometimes you get free delivery, others you’ll get free items. Below is a screenshot of the order I just placed with Safeway. And before you guys get upset and say I’m a fake vegan, the honey is for my partner who is omni. Don’t worry, I’ll convert him someday!! Now, keep in mind that this is the cost of groceries for 2 people for the week. One who is a big muscular man, and the other (me) a breastfeeding mama.

 

Conclusion

As you can see from the screen shot, I saved over $30 on this purchase, and this is the price BEFORE all my coupons have been taken into account. I’m guessing I saved closer to $45, which is over 1/3 of the entire cost before coupons, promos, and other deals. Now, if I had used Imperfect Produce to get my fruits and veggies delivered this week, I would have saved even more since a 13 pound box only costs me $20 including shipping. Not bad eh?

As always my lovely readers, if you have any questions, please ask them below in the comment section. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @theveganmom1 for more tips and tricks. Ciao!

Imperfect Produce: Save Time, Money & The Environment

Hey moms (and dads)!

So, recently I’ve been looking for ways to make life just a little easier. When my car broke down and I was stuck at home with no way to get to the grocery store, I found a great solution!

Many years ago I worked for a company called Farm Fresh To You (FFTY). They specialized in delivering fresh, organic produce right to your door. While working for FFTY I also began to use their services.

It was pretty nice, but kind of pricey for the amount of produce the box contained. Still, it was convenient. At least that’s what I thought before moving into an apartment. The FFTY drivers would often not even try getting in the gate to deliver my box, even though I had left the code in the delivery instructions. After experiencing this a few times, I decided to ditch FFTY.

I was so bummed that FFTY didn’t work for me, and did a Google search to find other companies who offered a similar service. I had lost all hope until I discovered Imperfect Produce (IP). IP is very much akin to FFTY, but the boxes were so much cheaper and delivered at much more convenient times. Also, they had no problem getting into the gate. And now, with Amazon and IP, I barely need to leave the house to go shopping. Seriously, who knew shopping with a baby would be so nerve wracking? So much respect for you super moms out there who shop with three or four kids! I honestly have no idea how you do it.

Alright, let’s talk a bit about Imperfect Produce since I’m sure you have tons of questions.

Imperfect Produce

How Does It Work?

Every week, produce that is too “ugly” to be put on display in grocery stores is brought to IP and packed right into your box! Since what’s available will be different each week, a few days before your box is delivered you will receive an email to customize your box. My box, for example, is delivered on Monday, so I am able to customize it from 3pm on Thursday-11:59 on Friday the week before my scheduled delivery. You can choose what, and how much of each item, goes in your box. But make sure to read the quantity because you don’t want to accidentally order too much or too little of a particular item.

In addition to the amount, it will also show why the produce is not being sold in stores, and whether or not it is organic and non GMO.

If you’re not picky, or just like to be surprised, you don’t have to customize your box. It will arrive on your doorstep full of hand-picked goodies just for you. Most of the time I like to customize mine, but occasionally I decide to just be surprised and get to try things I normally wouldn’t buy.

The day of your delivery you will recieve a text with a link to track where your box is, and it’s approximate ETA.

You will also be texted when your box is dropped delivered. I wanted mine to be delivered at my front door, but if you want it dropped off somewhere else, you can specify in the delivery instructions.

And inside your box will be a beautiful assortment of fruits and veggies. BUT you can also get other items such as bread, flour, cereal, nuts, and so much more. In my next box I decided to add a bag of poppy seeds to put in my vegan breads and cakes.

Why Is It So Cheap?

1. The produce is often times locally sourced. Local seasonal fruits and veggies are always less expensive since they don’t need to be shipped from across the country, or imported from foreign countries.

2. It’s “ugly”. What I mean by this is that the produce you receive, though perfectly good, was deemed ugly, too big, too small, misshapen, in surplus, or not in high demand.

3. Did I mention that you’ll get $10 with your first purchase by clicking right  here?! You will also make another $10 each time someone makes a purchase using your referral link. Sounds like a killer deal to me!

Why Do I Use This Service?

1. It’s convenient! With a needy, breastfed three month old baby to care for, most days I can barely get off the couch to feed myself, let alone go grocery shopping. Getting a box from IP each week ensures that I will have delicious, nutritious snacks on hand every day.

2. It’s healthy! We all know that it is so much healthier to eat seasonal fruits and veggies. When customizing your box, each item will state where it came from. If buying locally sourced produce isn’t a concern for you, no need to even look. IP also has an option for an Organic box. Of course, that will cost a little more than one with non-organic produce. But hey, if cost isn’t an issue, go for it!

3. It’s cheap! Because I’m currently cooking for two adults, I get the medium-sized fruits and veggies box, which contains 11-13 pounds of produce. Including shipping, this only costs me about $20 for all my produce for the entire week. That’s a steal, especially considering you don’t even have to go outside!

4. It’s good for the environment! Because IP sends customers produce that grocery stores refuse to sell, using this service reduces food waste, thus is good for the environment.

What I Don’t Like

Not much really!

Last week I decided to try adding a few non produce items to my box such as poppy seeds, okara flour, dates, and almond milk. The poppy seeds and four were a great deal, but I wasn’t too impressed with the almond milk and dates. I only got a handful of dates. But that was my fault for not taking a closer look at the quantity. As for the almond milk, I payed three dollars for one quart. I could get twice that for the same price in the grocery store.

My advice? Do your research before buying any of the non produce items. Some of them are a really great deal, others not so much.

How Can I Get My Box?

The IP online platform is so easy to use! Just click here to head to the site. Once there, enter your zip code to see if they deliver in your area. If they do you can then create an account, choose your box and delivery frequency, and enter your payment info. It seriously can’t get any easier than that!

In Conclusion

I would recommend this service to everyone, vegan or not! So far, it has saved me so much time and money. Nust pay attention to the prices and quantity before adding items to your box. The only regret I have is that I didn’t discover this company sooner. So please, do your part in saving the environment and ending food waste. I promise you won’t regret it!

As always my wonderful readers, feel free to drop any questions you have into the comments section. If you purchase a surprise box and need some recipe ideas for some of the more odd items, comment below or email me to request some recipes. Another way to reach me is through my Instagram @theveganmom1