One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Feeding the Family for only $50 a week

Sunday is grocery shopping day. Every Sunday morning I wake up and the first thing on my mind is "what are we going to eat this week?" When it comes to buying food I have very little restraint. I come from a long line of food hoarders. Well, maybe hoarding is a strong word. Let's just say if the zombie apocalypse comes I'll be just fine living off the food in my house for a couple months. Sure, by the end we might be down to sun dried tomatoes and pretzels but food is food right? So needless to say the whole $50 a week thing should be easy right? Well...not exactly. Especially not when trying to feed a toddler. If it were just me I would nix the fresh fruits and vegetables and go for frozen or live off bananas for the rest of the month. But the little one loves her fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. She loves healthy, fresh food so I can't skimp on the fresh stuff for the sake of my budget experiment. We also try to buy organic whenever possible. I acknowledge that this probably isn't going to be able to happen on $50 a week but I sure will try! One of my greatest challenges will repressing the food hoarder in me. I have a blog named Vegan Guinea Pig for crying out loud! Which basically came out of the fact that if I see something interesting at the grocery store I'm going to buy it, try it and tell you about it. Well...that can be pricey as my last trip to the grocery store will attest to.

I'll be cross blogging for the entire month of July so be sure to check out the The Lady and Seitan blog too as I will be posting all my Paula Deen inspired recipes over there. I'll also be cooking from scratch as much as possible to save money, making double batches whenever I can and freezing them for later.

First things first - the menu. My daughter will be eating morning snack and lunch at school (they have a vegan menu so I don't have to pack her lunch...yep, pretty awesome) so that takes a lot of pressure off during the week and means I can slack off at lunch a bit more than usual. So here's my plan for the week.

Monday July 1st
Breakfast: Bran Muffins, Naked Tofu Scramble (from Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food), Homemade Kombucha
Lunch: Leftover Lil Mac's (recipe coming soon) and Chickpea Fries
Dinner: Fool Your Friends Tacos on homemade wheat tortillas with salsa and maybe some vegan sour cream, Friend Cream Corn (recipe coming soon)

Tuesday July 2nd
Breakfast: Bran Muffins, Naked Tofu Scramble (from Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food), Homemade Kombucha
Lunch: Southwest Salad (a mix of lettuce from my garden, black or pinto beans, salsa, corn and a homemade chipotle vinaigrette. If I have any tortillas left over from Monday's dinner I might cut them thin, fry them up and top the salad with them)
Dinner: Chik'n Fried Steak (recipe coming soon) with Fresh green beans (from the garden), southern cornbread (recipe coming soon)

Wednesday July 3rd
Breakfast: Oatmeal Scones (made these last week and froze the leftovers), cantaloupe and breakfast sausage from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food (I made these a couple weeks ago and froze them)
Lunch and Dinner: No clue yet, crossing my fingers I'll have some leftovers from Monday and Tuesday to work through.

Thursday, July 4th
I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing for the 4th yet but I have a feeling I'll be making some black bean burgers and possibly some hot dogs from scratch depending on how much wheat gluten I have left. I made hot dog and hamburger buns from scratch on Friday and put them in the freezer so I don't have to buy buns either.

Friday-Sunday July 5th - 7th
Not exactly sure what I'm making yet. I'll have to take inventory of what I have left in the  pantry. I've already started to prepare the seitan for the chik'n fried steak (made a double batch so I can use the other half later) and I'm super low on Bragg's and getting low on vital wheat gluten. I want to make chik'n parmesan from Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food. I have some marinara sauce in my deep freezer that I made a couple months ago so that would go perfect with it and more green beans should have popped up in the garden by the end of the week to give us more fresh veggies.  I'm also thinking of making a gumbo if I have the time and vital wheat gluten left to make the andouille sausage. I didn't buy celery and the celery in my garden didn't come in so if I make it I'll probably sprinkle some celery seed in the mix instead of going out and buying a big stalk of celery just for 1 or 2 ribs.
 2013-06-30 19.15.52
And that's my plan for the week! All in all I only spent $25.56 on groceries so far this week! I didn't buy anything organic this week but perhaps I'll have a little more leeway to do so next week. My goal is to not go back to the grocery store until next Sunday but even if I have to I'm still way under my goal so I have plenty of wiggle room. Oh and in case you were inspecting the receipt above. Yes, I did make the cashier void out my onions because she rang them up wrong just to save 18 cents!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Keeping It In the Vegan Family - Hey English Graphic Design

A little over 4 years ago I saw a flyer for the 1st annual Atlanta Vegan Bake Sale. The flyer was fun, creative and above all unique. Coincidentally, I was looking for someone to design my first website for my first cookbook Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food. And so I sought out the graphic designer behind the flyer I'd seen. As it turns out that designer was Steph Timms and the icing on the cake was that she was (and still is) vegan! My preference is to keep things in the vegan family as much as possible whenever I can. The food photography and styling for all my cookbooks has always been vegan and the graphic designer I have worked with on every single one of my project is vegan as well.

Steph has done every inch of my branding since my very first cookbook. She has not only created all of my websites she is also the creative mastermind behind both of my blogs creating the logo for The Lady and Seitan blog and the reworking the Vegan Guinea Pig blog to make it seamlessly blend in with my main website The latest project Steph worked with me on is for my non-profit. Out of everything we have ever done together this was, without a doubt, our biggest undertaking. Pea Pod Nutrition and Lactation Support, Inc. is more than a cookbook, more than a website for my fans to get to know me and more than a blog - it is my passion. After I had my daughter I decided that there was no way I could justify leaving her for more than a 10 seconds if it wasn't to go out and make the world a better place. Pea Pod was a project I had been working on for years but now I had the push I needed to turn all that planning into a real organization. Of course, I turned to Steph to communicate my vision. After 4 years of working together we work like a well oiled machine. She knows my style, she knows the colors I like, she knows that I lack all creativity outside the kitchen so when I throw an idea at her she knows how to interpret that crazy idea and turn it into magic. A couple weeks ago I emailed her with no design concept, no colors, no anything and said "I need a rack card, it needs to be 3.5"x8", here's what it needs to say." Within 48 hours I had a rack card (for those who don't know what that is it is basically a medium side promotional flyer that fits a standard size envelope). Not only was it done in just 48 hours but it was perfect, yes perfect, 100% flawless on the first try. We ended up making some small tweaks to it but that's only because Steph had some more she wanted to do with it. When it comes to artist I always trust their vision and so I trusted when Steph said she wanted to add some images from the website to the card and tie everything together from a branding standpoint. I'm so glad I trust her! The 2nd draft was even more phenomenal than the first. If you're following this that means that she somehow perfected perfection - can you tell I love this girl! Well...I mean, I'm not in love with her our respective significant others might take issue with that! :)

You don't have to be in the city of Atlanta to work with Steph Timms and her team at Hey English - a creative studio. Steph and I communicated largely via email and we live within minutes of each other but I think it worked well for our crazy scheudles but she's super flexible in whatever style you like to work in. So whether you're in Atlanta, Portland, New York, LA, or Zimbabwe you must must must hire Steph Timms with Hey Englsih for your next project. There are none to big or two smal. Please contact the fine folks at Hey English at and checkout their website at Their prices are fair, the work is always done right the 1st time and they are, above all else, creative geniuses.
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