Earth Day Musings

Oh, my lovely earthlings. How I adore this day when all eyes turn to Pachamama and we give just a little (or a lot) back for all we have.

If you’re wondering what you can do today, just remember that every effort counts no matter how small it may seem. The butterfly effect, as many call it, began just a few years ago and is responsible for shaping who I am today. Before I watched Cowspiracy, before the courses on sustainability, and even before my undying urge to save this planet, I started off small. By eating vegan for one day. Just one day.

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Never in a million years did I think I could give up meat. I craved the catharsis found from eating the many forms of animals. Besides, it was so ingrained in my culture and upbringing.

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The behavior that changed within me was not sudden. It was and still is a learning process that is motivated by a deep empathy for other beings and life itself. While yoga, meditation, plant-based eating, and other spiritual practices have expanded my understanding of the union between body, mind, and soul, it’s the desire to help others and preserve natural resources that have kept this flame alive.

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You don’t have to be a vegan to participate in Earth Day. You can plant a tree, go on a walk, move your yoga practice outdoors, join in community events, or simply smile and express gratitude for the sun. But once you start, that one day can be stretched into weeks, months, years, and even generations catalyzed by one seemingly minuscule decision you made forever ago.

Love to all, to all, to all,

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How To NOT Go Broke In NYC

Buy versatile groceries and try cooking with friends.

Cooking is probably the best way to save a few bucks in the concrete jungle. Yes, you probably want to try all the food options available, but it’s best to save eating out for the weekend or other special occasions (like Valentine’s Day).

After I arrived in Manhattan, I hit up the local Whole Foods with my sister and purchased:

  • A huge bag of greens (spinach usually)
  • Beans beans beans (black and garbanzo)
  • Bell peppers
  • Lemons (or limes)
  • Rice
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries (or any other fruit since bloobs can get pricey)
  • Bananas
  • Tofu

There are a ridiculous amount of meals you can make with these simple ingredients. And feel free to substitute fruits or vegetables for what’s in season or on sale at the time!

Bring your own food.

Oh yes, you know I packed a whole bag full of snacks to keep my vegan-self happy and satisfied. Plus, these are all easy to transport in containers or bags. Since I had a bit of a routine going back home, I wanted to ensure I wasn’t too out of my element. I can’t go too long without superfoods:

  • Hemp seeds (and/or chia seeds)
  • Cacao nibs (and/or powder)
  • Clif bars
  • Dried fruit (bananas, dates, prunes)
  • Tea bags

Look for deals on Yelp, Groupon, Postmates, and Grubhub. Use coupons.

Whole Foods has a new app that lets you browse coupons now! And food ordering apps always have discounts for new customers.

Sign up for fitness classes with free trials, or ask friends for guest passes.

Besides using my sister’s Equinox guest pass on two separate occasions, I’ve scoured the city for affordable fitness classes (less than the normal $25 drop-in rate… I know, cray). Today, I signed up for a free month trial of Classpass and was able to take a yoga class at Sky Ting in Chinatown. You get five classes a month and are allowed to visit each location a max of two times. Plus, walking 20 minutes to/from class was a great cardio warm up. Next up, I’m trying Crunch Gym.

Walk and take public transportation.

Ubers and Lyfts are obviously way more convenient than leaving 20+ minutes early to a dinner reservation, but those charges can add up fast. I hate waking up to email notifications that I spent $30 on transportation the night before. Sigh.

The NY subway system is fairly easy to navigate and a single ride is around $3. However, you can always check Uber Pool and Lyft Line ahead of time to see if those rates are comparable to a subway ticket.

Don’t drink the alcohol.

Pregaming isn’t just for college students! If you’re not interested in dropping half your paycheck on watered down drinks at bougie bars/clubs, stock up on your favorite beer or liquor at home. A solid game plan would be to limit your drink-spending to ONE drink while out ($10-$18).

Let friends know in advance about your finances. Set a budget.

When I first visited NY as a vegan, my friends and family would take me out to ALL the cool spots: byChloe (burgers and shakes), Hangawi (vegan Korean BBQ), Juice Generation (açaí bowls), Candle79 (bistro cuisine), and so much more. Yes, the food was incredible and I was properly inspired to create similar dishes, but it always left a dent in my bank account.

As mentioned before, special events and weekends can warrant a fun dinner out. But having supportive friends can make a drastic difference in your conscience. You don’t have to let them know outright what your financial standing is, but you can always let them know that you’d prefer to spend your money in other places. I’m sure they’ll even thank you in the end.

Research creative past times like visiting museums, exhibits, parks, etc.

I’ve been rather busy during my visits to NY mainly due to classes, but when I have some free time I’d love to see some local museums. I know a few honor free passes on the first Sunday of each month (might have to look into that on a case by base basis) and even discounts for Bank of America customers. Either way, there are always alternatives to dropping major $$$ around SoHo.

Love to all, to all, to all,

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Vegan Cookies

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Okay guys, I promise you this is the easiest vegan cookie recipe ever.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Oats (any kind)
  • A banana (mashed)
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Any sweetener (coconut sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc).

Mix everything up in a bowl and spoon small chunks onto a baking sheet. I topped mine off with walnut pieces and baked it for about 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees with a little bit of coconut oil on the foil until brown and crispy. These weren’t too sweet, but I’ll definitely be adding more sugar in next time.

Love to all, to all, to all,

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Strawberry Nana Nice Cream

With the sun shining and only a few days left of my Senior year, I have a bunch of ripe bananas just waiting to be eaten! This is strawberry PB2 nana nice cream with even MORE peanut butter on top.

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Want to make some? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Frozen ripe bananas
  • Frozen strawberries
  • PB2 (peanut butter powder)
  • Almond milk

And… a powerful blender! So, since the blender I have at school kiiiinda s u c k s, it takes me forever to get the right consistently. I find that adding a little bit of almond milk and blending a few chunks at a time helps. I added berries and PB2 powder to make my nice cream flavored, but you can literally put anything in your bananas: vanilla, mango, coconut, mint chocolate!
Another tip: pop this in the freezer for 5-10 minutes after blending to make sure the texture stays like ice cream.

Enjoy!

Love to all, to all, to all,
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What I Eat In A Day As A Vegan

After what seems like only a few short weeks, I’m proud to announce I’ve transitioned gracefully into the vegan lifestyle. And questions I hear too often than not are: “What does the vegan lifestyle entail?”or “So, what can you eat?” and “Wait, are eggs vegan?” 

So, I’m here to put some curiosities to rest and shed some light on the abundance of a plant-based diet. Yes, I eat lots and lots of fresh (sometimes frozen) fruits and vegetables. But I also eat BREAD and natural SUGAR and a whole lot of carbohydrates.

I’ve also done a lot of research on vegan diets: HCLF vegan, label-free vegan, plant-based, raw till four, and so on. YouTube has been an awesome resource for me in addition to various published articles and blog posts. Not only are you able to SEE what and how other vegans prepare their food, but you can also build up some dope recipes to try later.

Today, I listed out everything I ate for you. I did actually go grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s this day too, so a few meals were purchased from the store. Keep in mind–I don’t eat out all the time. Actually, I eat out at restaurants very rarely… As a college student, I get that not everyone can afford a green smoothie or kale salad on the reg. If you guys like this post, I’ll hopefully be able to post more “What I Eat In A Day’s” with intricate delicious recipes in the future.

But for now, enjoy! And please leave me a comment if you have any questions!

  • Lemon water

I always start my morning with lemon water: a big glass (sometimes two) of a freshly squeezed lemon wedge in plain water. This is great for detoxing your body and really infiltrating your intestines early on. I continue to drink from my refillable water bottle throughout the day. But actually though, I can’t stress this enough… drink more water guys!

  • Green tea

If you know me, you know I love my tea: green, matcha green, yerba mate, ginger. I stopped drinking coffee a while back, so tea is a wonderful alternative caffeine source filled with antioxidants.

  • Black Strap Molasses

Molasses is a thick tar-like goo that is usually added to breads, syrups, or anything that needs sweetening. Naturally, it contains a lot of sugar, but it’s also packed with potassium and iron (something I need more of because I’ve always been iron deficient). So, one spoonful in the morning is just what I need.

  • Apple

Not too sure why I grabbed an apple, but I guess I wanted something fresh. To be honest, I used to really dislike apples… something about the acidity and bite. Now, I love them! I think you just have to choose the right kind. And always go organic (I can usually tell the difference).

  • Banana, Mango Smoothie Bowl

My pre-workout smoothie bowls are a must. I’ve posted several different smoothie bowl recipes on this blog, but essentially, you can throw any type of fruit or vegetables that you have on hand into the blender. It makes for a satisfying breakfast AND you can decorate it gorgeously with coconut or cacao nibs.

  • Potato Fries with Hummus Guac

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Oil-free, guilt-free fries are life. Check out my previous post on how to make fries without all those nasty oils. And the hummus guac is literally everything.

  • Whole Foods Smoothie

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I ended up going to Whole Foods mid-day, so I grabbed a green smoothie since I was hungry. My advice is, if you’re hungry, EAT. It’s so important to listen to our bodies and to nourish it whenever possible. This was the “Garden City Greens” with almond milk, blueberries, bananas, kale, avocado, spirulina, and spinach. It was super thick and wasn’t really sweet, but delicious nonetheless.

  • Trader Joe’s Tofu Spring Rolls

A stop at Trader Joe’s warranted these tofu spring rolls for dinner. They were ok! Not too bad, but not filled to the brim like I was hoping for. Spring rolls are actually super easy to make at home. I can definitely put up a recipe if you guys want to see that.

  • Dark Chocolate

Because everyone needs a little dark chocolate in their lives. Yes, I have developed a deep love for dark chocolate mMMmmM. Besides the various health benefits of eating a bit of dark chocolate from time to time, it’s totally free of milk and cream: hence, still vegan.

  • Dates in Oat Flour, Carrots, Sourdough Bread

I purchased some dates rolled in oat flour a little while back from Whole Foods, and I enjoy reaching for them as a snack or on top of a smoothie bowl. As you can see I was craving a variety of late night foods, so I ate some of that, some carrots, and some sourdough bread. My roommates think it’s funny that I snack of carrots and hummus, but I LOVE it. The crunch of carrots really do satisfy me, and who doesn’t love their beta carotenes??

  • Sleepytime Tea

As a ritual, I always end my day with some Sleepytime Tea. Herbal tea is great for tuning down after a long and eventful day. Plus, it warms the belly and prepares you for a good night’s rest.

And that’s it! Hope you guys enjoyed this blog post of “What I Eat In A Day As A Vegan“. I’m hoping to do a lot more of these in the future and really drive home the message that veganism is easy. I’ve personally been a vegetarian since November of last year, so meat hasn’t been an option for me at all. There are so many ways you can avoid dairy and eggs… you really just have to be a little more mindful in your daily choices.

Follow my Instagram @namastapasta for daily goodies!

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Health Foods Haul

While staying consistent by cooking a vegan diet in my college dorm room has its perks, splurging a bit at health foods stores is undoubtedly my guilty pleasure.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not going out and purchasing these items on the reg (more like a weekly treat depending on how I’m feeling). I fully understand that everyone has a budget and can’t necessarily buy Kombucha or green juice every day. But if you are considering switching to a vegan diet, I hope you enjoy reading these reviews in order to keep your options open.

Here are a few VEGAN items I recently tried and what I think of them:

1. Health-Ade Kombucha (Pink Lady Apple, Plum)

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Not your average Kombucha? If you haven’t heard, Kombucha is a natural fermented probiotic beverage (think hard cider). If you’re into the tangy-yet-sweet-and-carbonated taste, you’ll probably end up liking Kombucha. Although Health-Ade is a bit pricier than GT’s Kombucha, you do get a full 16 ounces of probiotic goodness in a fancy UV-protected bottle. Overall, flavor isn’t a huge factor in my purchases just because the tanginess is so overpowering (in a good way).

2. So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Yogurt (Chocolate)

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If you’re looking for a dairy free yogurt, I’d actually suggest trying an almond or cashew milk yogurt. Don’t get me wrong, I love coconut… but the consistency usually does end up a little more watery. This chocolate flavor was So Delicious (haha) though and I topped it with bananas, strawberries, and chia seeds. I guess it really depends on what you’re looking for in a yogurt.

3. Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt (Vanilla)

8/10 

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Solid almond milk yogurt. I really enjoyed this Kite Hill yogurt because it wasn’t sour or too tangy. And to be honest, I may be a little biased because their packaging is incredible. Not only do they have a removable paper label that explains (almost) everything it means to go vegan, but they also carry all sorts of vegan cheeses, cakes, and desserts. Definitely check out Kite Hill the next time you’re at a health food store!

4. Kreation Charcoalade

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Charcoalade is an activated charcoal drink that essentially coats your digestive tract and absorbs any harmful materials from the night or day before (aka alcohol). It’s recommended to drink this in order to “cure a hangover” because charcoal does a great job in clearing out your intestines. I’d give it a 10/10 solely based on taste, BUT I did some research on activated charcoal and found out it’s not that healthy to consume it regularly. So, big ugh, but regardless it was super tasty. (Ignore the labeling because it tastes more like plum juice than anything)

5. Hail Merry Macaroons (Caramel Sea Salt)

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Yes. Just yes. These babies are completely vegan, dehydrated, and made out of coconut oil. They are fantastic and they come in so many different flavors (lemon, chocolate, caramel sea salt, etc.) The fat content is a bit high because they are made out of coconut oil, but they make for perfect occasional vegan treats.

6. Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola

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This granola from Nature’s Path is probably my new favorite granola. It’s a bit looser than most granolas but every once in a while, you find a nice big cluster in the package. Sweetened with molasses, the flavors mesh well with the pumpkin and flax. So overall, super yummy.

7. 2 Degrees All Natural Snack Bar (Chocolate Peanut)

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I bought this bar at the airport before my flight out to Boston, so it was a bit overpriced BUT it was really good. I checked the label and didn’t see any dairy or honey, so I’m pretty sure it’s vegan (but for some reason they didn’t list it on the packaging). Regardless, it hit the spot. A portion of their proceeds also go to feeding starving children around the world, so bonus points for buying this bar!

8. GoMacro Macro Bar (Morning Harvest: Apples & Walnuts)

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I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a granola bar like this before. I got the Morning Harvest flavor with apples and walnuts, and it tasted like an apple pie. The consistency was definitely more sticky and tacky–kind of like a fruit leather. So good, so good.

9. ProBar Meal Bar (Superfood Slam)

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If you’re in a rush and need a meal replacement on the go, I highly suggest ProBar Meal Bars. They have a ton of protein and fiber in them and are jam packed with amazing fruits, nuts, and seeds. As expected, they run about $3 to $4 per bar, but I guess that’s okay because they are very filling.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my Instagram @namastapasta for daily goodies!

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Cacao Banana Nice Cream

What do you do when you have a bunch of frozen fruit and cacao? You make cacao banana nice cream!

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Nice cream‘ is basically just blended frozen bananas–vegans go crazy for that shit. The great part about this recipe is that you can substitute any fruit in or out. For this particular breakfast, you’ll need:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • A few frozen strawberries
  • A few frozen mango chunks
  • Cacao (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on how chocolatey you want it)
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut sugar (to taste)
  • Almond milk (just enough to make the consistency creamy)

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender. I’d advise using a powerful blender because this janky one that I have at school is terrible. Basically, I’m constantly removing the lid to spoon the contents around…

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I topped everything off with some fresh banana slices and this seed mix from Trader Joe’s. (Basically chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and amaranth). I also made this breakfast extra pretty, because who doesn’t love spending ten minutes organizing their food to the point that it starts to melt. Ha! Gotta do it for the gram…

Follow my Instagram @namastapasta for daily goodies!

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Guiltless Oil-Free Fries

Do you love potatoes but fear the fatty frying oil?

We’ve been programmed to believe that fries mean oil, fat, and an overall unhealthy choice that threatens to sabotage your diet. But what if I told you, you could still eat fries without all the extra oil?

Your solution: Baked Oil-Free Fries

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I began by slicing up some potatoes and baking them at 375 degrees for 45 minutes on parchment paper with salt, pepper, and oregano (or fresh rosemary sprigs). Keeping the spices simple will ensure that you don’t overwhelm your taste buds. Besides, less is more, people. Don’t forget to flip your potatoes halfway through to allow for even cooking.

The parchment paper is great if you want your potatoes extra crispy without the slimy surface. Your potatoes won’t stick onto the paper or burn as long as you keep an eye on them.

Avocado Tahini Dipping Sauce:

On the side, I made an avocado tahini sauce by combining half a ripe avocado, a tablespoon of Trader Joe’s tahini sauce (blended up sesame seeds), lemon juice, salt, pepper, and paprika! Mix it up and dip your potatoes in.

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This is an awesome snack for those that are really craving wedge cut fries. It’s so vegan, so noms, and so filling. Overall, happy belly. Can you tell I LOVE my carbs?

Follow my Instagram @namastapasta for daily goodies!

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Spaghetti Squash Pasta

This past winter, I discovered the magical abilities of the spaghetti squash. It tastes like a squash and it looks like a squash, but it’s not your average squash.

The spaghetti squash’s magic lies in its ability to form stringy pasta-like tendrils that can be coaxed out with a fork post-bake. Sounds a little freaky, I know, but I assure you it’s perfectly delicious.

How To Cook Your Squash:

I like to cut my squash length-wise down the middle. Be sure to use a knife both strong and long enough to accurately slice between the thick skin. BE CAREFUL (I’m saying this from personal experience)… you don’t want to chop off any fingers. The skin makes the squash pretty difficult to cut into, so you might need a bit of help.

Next, scoop out the seeds and extra stringy stuff with an ice cream scooper.

Once cleaned, drizzle a bit of olive oil and sea salt into the inside of the squash, flip it over face-down on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake in a 425-degree oven for about 35 minutes.

You’ll know your squash is ready if you can stick a fork through its skin with little effort.

Then, flip the squash back over and just use a fork to peel away the many layers of spaghetti meat!

What To Top Your Squash With:

Since I love the spaghetti squash flavor, I try not to dilute that by adding too much sauce. In this dish, I sauteéd onion, red bell pepper, and mushroom, then added pesto and chickpeas for garnish. The result: a satisfying meal that’s made almost entirely of vegetables!

If you want to avoid oils, skip the pesto altogether and just season with salt and pepper.

I’m so happy I learned how to make spaghetti squash since the oven is basically bae to college students… you put your food in there, prepare the rest of your meal, come back, and it’s done! I really hope you enjoyed this post and that it inspires you to get creative with your next meal. I’d love to see how you guys top off your spaghetti squash dishes!

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Vegan. Chocolate. Pudding.

Just wow. Dessert for breakfast, anyone?

If you’re craving the sweetness of pudding, but don’t want to consume those processed fats and sugars, this is the perfect solution for you. And it’s only made out of four ingredients!

  • 1 Banana: Make sure it’s a ripe RIPE banana. I stress the word ripe because bananas should be eaten when they’re all spotty, not when they’re perfectly yellow. Although there have been recent articles advocating for the consumption of green bananas, that’s not what we want for this recipe. The riper and softer the banana, the more creamy your pudding will be.
  • 1 Avocado: Depending on your preference, half an avocado could be sufficient. The main purpose of the avocado is to aid in the emulsion process and add a bit more texture to the pudding. Avocados generally don’t have much noticeable flavor to them either… so don’t be afraid!
  • Cacao Powder: Cacao is an ancient plant that has been used by South Americans for thousands of years. It comes from the cacao bean and is reminiscent of chocolate. Super pungent, super pure, super chocolatey.
  • Coconut Sugar: I’m using coconut sugar in this recipe because I didn’t want to water down the pudding with maple syrup. Coconut sugar, as opposed to honey or basic sugar, is lower in fructose and has a lower glycemic index (won’t spike your blood sugar).

Blend all these ingredients together, and there you have it! Vegan chocolate avocado pudding! Bet you didn’t guess there was avocado in it…

I topped my pudding off with some oats, Trader Joe’s Super Seed Blend, and frozen raspberries. Hope you enjoy this tasty and easy recipe!