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My New Favorite Place to Shop!

Eggplant and Bok Choy Tikka Masala Simmer

I live on Long Island and am not sure where most of this chain's stores are located, but if you are near one do yourself a favor and try shopping at ALDI. The first time I stepped into one of these stores was a few days ago and I can"t say enough good things. First, the prices are great, the selection is wonderful and they are "green". No bags, so bring your own. I found unique items at fantastic prices, My cart was full when I left the store but I still had money in my pocket.

This store has a German history and still goes by the same principles that it had when the business
was started in 1913. They believe that great quality shouldn't come at a high price, rather, great quality should come with everyday low prices. The no-frills shopping experience focuses on delivering high quality food items displayed in shipping boxes. Don't look for national brands here though, 90 percent of their items are sold under ALDI exclusive brands. All the ALDI brands are guaranteed and if you are not 100% satisfied, bring it back and they will replace the item AND refund your money.

There are ALDI locations throughout the United States and they even have some in other countries. So if you are lucky enough to be near one, check it out. It is definitely worth the trip.

While I was shopping at ALDI, I came across a Tikka Masala simmer sauce. For those of you that are not familiar with this it is basically a coconut and tomato based sauce with various spices. The spices are quite complex so I was excited to find this on the shelf. By the way they had other varieties that I will be sure to try in the future.

One of my recipes this week will include the simmer sauce but the main ingredient of this week's recipes is white rice. You may ask yourself why? The reason behind this is that everyone always has white rice either in their cupboard or leftover from Chinese takeout in their refrigerator. My idea is to show you how to throw together some quick. easy meals.

Meal 1

Spanish Rice

Leftover rice ( steam in pan with some water) if you don't have enough left, it is easy to make more depending on the desired amount of servings.
From this..... this

And then add the following:

1 can of diced tomatoes with mild green chiles
1 medium onion
1 red and one green pepper diced
1 small can of tomato sauce
Sazon seasoning  (you can use pre-made or make your own (just google the recipe for it)
Other great additions are black beans and corn! you can even use this in the second recipe.

Meal 2

This is just as good in a wrap or a tortilla shell.

Rice (either leftover or make fresh
Lettuce (I used leftover salad)
Black beans
Sauteed vegetables of your choice (I used leftovers with peppers, broccoli and onions)
I topped mine with balsamic vinegar but salsa is great too
Sour cream and hot sauce is optional

This can be served two ways either in a wrap or a tortilla bowl. My friend has these great pans to make the bowls or you can buy them ready made in your supermarket.

Meal 3

1 jar of Tikka Masala simmer sauce
i can coconut milk
1 eggplant cubed
4 small baby bok choy sliced
1 medium onion sliced
Fresh cilantro to taste

I put everything in a pan and simmered until all the vegetables were tender and served on a bed of rice.
This not only looked and smelled amazing but was delicious.

Hope you try out these quick, easy meals and come up with a few variations of your own.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

Until next time,

With Gratitude,


Eating Healthy Meals at Chain Restaurants (Part 1)

(photos by Danielle)

A lot of people feel like transitioning to a healthier lifestyle will make it more difficult to be in situations like eating out. Going on to eat does not have to be difficult and there are so many articles and youtube videos showing you how to eat healthier/vegan/vegetarian when going to chain restaurants, even when there are not a lot of options. For a while, when I was going out to eat I was eating plant based at home, but struggled to stay that way when I went out. However, this does not have to be the case. You can still go out with friends and family and join in while still staying true to your morals and personal health goals. 

I will be naming some restaurants that I frequently go to and also tell you what I got along with some pictures. I will let you guys know how I navigate the menu when I go out to eat. First of all, I am unable to eat dairy to begin with and get very sick if I happen to have it. To combat this issue, many restaurants have an allergy menu on their website so that you are aware of everything that could be in your good along with possible cross contamination.

One of the places that has some good vegan options is Olive Garden. When you go there, there will be salad, spaghetti, and minestrone soup. Also, the best part, the breadsticks, happen to be vegan because guess what? Its garlic and oil, not butter! This is great for people who want to avoid dairy because of allergies or health reasons. 

When I go to the restaurant I usually do vinegar on the salad instead of the house dressing. In the picture below I have my leftovers pictured. I added some vegan ranch to the dressing on the salad and you can also add some vegan croutons and cheese. You can break up some Follow Your Heart or Chao cheese slices on your salad if you would like. 

(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

I have also been to Chilis and there is a caribbean salad. If you are avoiding egg you can change the dressing it comes with for another one like the citrus balsamic vinaigrette.

Also, another option at Chili's is to get a bowl. It comes with rice, beans, tomato chunks, salsa, lettuce, onion, corn, and avocado. I will ask them to leave the meat and cheese off. If you want an alternative for meat and cheese, you can always do take out and bring it home to add the vegan meat and cheese. This is delicious and healthy!

(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)

At Bonefish, I like to order a bowl. They have one on the menu that I order and just ask them to leave the tuna off. It comes with rice, mango salsa, and avocado. You can also order the house salad and there are other vegetables you can get on the side if you want a bigger meal. 

(photos by Danielle)

When eating out, I love going to an Asian restaurant because I find there are always a decent amount of options there. My favorites include avocado, cucumber, and sweet potato rolls. If you are trying to be plant based, you can ask for it without the fish sauce if any of the veggie rolls come with it on. 

(photos by Danielle)

My family also likes to go to On the Border a lot. There is a portobello mushroom bowl and the texture is very meaty from there. It also comes with a cilantro lime rice, black beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and avocados. I ask them to leavethe dairy off and its good to go! I also love the chips and salsa from there as well. 

(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

What are some plant based meals that you order at chain restaurants? 

Are You At Your Wit's End?

Quick and Easy Stuffed Artichoke

First, let me apologize for not posting last week but I was literally at my wit's end. What does that even mean? To be at your wit's end means that you are so worried, confused or annoyed that you don't know what to do next. I am sure everyone has felt this way from time to time. Have you ever wondered what to do when you are in this state or where you can turn to that you won't be judged? Many times you feel like you are alone and although you will get through it. It would definitely be easier if you had supportive people around you during the journey.

Could you sit with a group of women and be totally honest?  

Would you feel totally confident that anything you said would not be repeated or discussed outside the group?

 Do you have a place where you can freely speak your mind and not be judged? 

Not many people have this type of outlet but you can have it if you create it.

Two of my very best friends were sitting on a beach a couple of years ago and had just this discussion. There are a lot of recovery programs out there but was none that helps you to recover from the day to day things that life throws at you. This is how W.I.T.S. was formed. The thought was to create it and they will come and they do every Monday evening at 7 PM. No invitation is necessary. 

What does W.I.T.S. mean?  The initials stand for Women In The Solution. This is not an opportunity to complain, it is however an opportunity to share anything you are challenged with. I would not call this a meeting, I would call it a group if I had to categorize it. The ages range from women in their twenties to women in their eighties.  The group size varies depending who shows up, there are regulars, newcomers, some people that come when their schedule permits. I will warn you that this type of group is not for everyone since it is based on trust and honesty and you will find yourself being more open than you ever thought possible.

There is a preamble that is read prior to each  meeting of the group. There is also a topic which is pulled that each woman will share their thoughts or experience about. Shares are typically 2-3 minutes and there is no obligation to share your thoughts if you don't want to. If you have something on your mind that is not related to the topic, that is alright too. Everyone is there to support each other.

If you want more information on how to set this up in your town, please comment and I will ensure you receive the outlines. At some point it would be great to have this type of resource for women all over the country and take what was once an idea on the beach and turn it into a national movement with W.I.T.S. chapters throughout the United States and eventually abroad.

I wanted to share my personal experience, I went a couple of times and confided in my friends who actually started this group that I really didn't feel comfortable sharing things because I thought my issues and struggles were unique. I quickly came to find out that they weren't, we all struggle with the same things from time to time and it is a great feeling to know that you are not alone. It is truly time with the most extraordinary women you ever would want to meet. You will be amazed at the friendships you will forge.

If you have interest in starting a W.I.T.S. chapter in your area, please let me know in the comments section and I will be happy to facilitate getting you started. Sorry guys this is for ladies only however, if anyone wants to pioneer a men's group, that is always an option!

For my recipe this week, I did something very simple. When you are shopping int he supermarket and you pass the artichokes they can look very intimidating however they are much easier to make then you thought.

Stuffed Artichokes

2 Artichokes
1/2 - 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs depending on size of the artichokes (if breadcrumbs are not seasoned add your favorite spices, basil, oregano,garlic powder etc)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

First I washed and cut the stems and tops off the artichokes. If you notice the leaves and sharp on the edges so I took a scissor and snipped the top off each of the leaves. I then pulled the artichoke open to give me plenty of room for the stuffing. You can get elaborate with your stuffing but for this
recipe I kept it basic.

 Saute the breadcrumbs in the olive oil adding oil until it is the consistency of damp sand. I stuff the leaves with the mixture and then place in a pot to steam the artichokes until tender.

When they are done you can just pull the leaves off . To quote my husband" it seems like a lot of effort for nothing". That being said I love them!

For those of you that may not be familiar with how to eat an artichoke:

They can be served either hot or cold
To eat, pull the petals off one at a time pulling the bottom of the petal through your teeth to get the stuffing and pulpy art of the petal
Discard the remaining portion of the petal
Discard the fuzzy center at the base to uncover the heart of the artichoke, this part is entirely edible.

Hope you enjoy!

With Gratitude,