Organizing Your Weekly Plant-Based Meal Plan

Good afternoon friends!

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a food related post here 😱 I’ve been a little caught up in the busyness of school, work, and deciding if I should run the Chicago Marathon or not over the last few weeks. The good news is, I decided to still run the race despite a few weeks of less than ideal training! Those of you who follow me on Instagram already know this!😜 You can’t run you first marathon if you don’t start the race!😉

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During these busy days of marathon training, school, and beyond, it is so important to eat healthy and often. When I get busy or stressed, I tend to under eat, which is the opposite of a lot of people and not ideal for running some serious miles.😩 What has been key for me overcoming this over the last few weeks is planning my meals (especially lunch) ahead of time. It also helps to have most amazing husband, who makes me cashew butter and jam sandwiches on especially busy mornings to bring to school. I’m lucky, what can I say?!😍

Anyway, imagine my excitement when Meghan Harris of White Rabbit Garage Storage, reached out to me to write a guest post here about meal planning. I thought that it was perfect timing, as I am personally working on being better about meal planning!

So, without first ado, here is the first ever guest post on Black Bean Queen! 🙂

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Eating a plant-based diet is not only healthier for you but also makes you feel better and have more energy throughout the day. However, organizing and creating a meal plan to follow can be tedious and daunting. Without a solid plan in place, it is easy to fall back into old habits and to slip up more often than you’d like. Below are 3 tips to help you organize your weekly meal plan and a sample plant-based meal plan for you to try.

Look Through Your Pantry

Go through your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator to get a solid idea of what foods you have to cook with already. Starting with foods you have previously purchased allows you to not only save money, but also time when shopping. You’ll also waste less food.

Going through your pantry will give you a sense for what foods you typically eat and help you remember which ones you didn’t like when you tried them. You will also be able to free up more space and organize the shelves, so you can look through your food storage easier in the future. If you have any food that you don’t like, and it hasn’t yet expired, donate it to your local food pantry.

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Find a Place to Keep Recipes

If you prefer written recipes you will want to find a place in your kitchen that won’t get ruined by spilled oil and is easily within reach. Consider finding recipe organizers at Target or on Amazon.

If you prefer online recipes keep a file on your computer or phone to organize different websites, you have found with recipes. You can use a word doc, detailed Pinterest board, or Google files to do so. Make sure this is accessible from several devices in case one is misplaced or broken.

Choose Meals with Familiar Ingredients

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 Meal planning will help you feel less stressed during the week, so you can avoid spending money on unnecessary food purchases. However, if you are shopping for items you primarily are unfamiliar with you won’t use them either.

If you shop for black beans often, you know when they are a good deal and when you should use a different kind of bean. If you use quinoa often, you know exactly how long to cook it for before it becomes soggy. As you become more comfortable with meal planning, add in 1 or 2 new ingredients each week.

As you work on your weekly meal plan, remember that it’s okay to be flexible and that some meals may go awry. You can always pick yourself up and try again the next day!

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BONUS: Here is a simple work week meal plan for you to try!

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Monday Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Basic Tofu Stir Fry Cauliflower Fried Rice
Tuesday Vegan Waffles with Blueberry Sauce Creamy One Pot Pasta Pasta Bean Casserole
Wednesday Peanut butter and dark chocolate oatmeal Squacos Greek Goddess Bowl
Thursday Apple Buckwheat Pancakes with Coconut Caramel Apples Tomato and White Bean Salad

 

Black Bean and Quinoa Taco Bowls
Friday Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Vegan Macaroni and Cheese Hummus Pizza with Veggies

This post was written by Meghan Harris at White Rabbit Garage Storage. She enjoys hiking, playing card games, and spending time with her family.

What other tips do you have to organize your weekly meal plan?

 

Plants are cool #2: Basic Tofu Stir Fry recipe

Good afternoon! This is the 1st Saturday I have gotten off of work early in months, so I decided it was time to finally share another plant-based recipe! Today I am sharing a staple recipe in my apartment: basic tofu stir fry. My husband and I eat this at least one a week, if not more often 😛 That’s how much we love it! And it’s easy to prepare, easy to customize, and easy to clean-up,

I am sharing this as a part of my new recipe series called “plants are cool”. Because duh, plants are amazing! And because we should all be eating a lot more of them! I’m here to show you that cooking with plants can be cheap, easy, versatile, and fun! I know I am biased because I am plant based…but please be open minded, maybe try a few plant recipes and who, knows?! Maybe you too will agree that plants are cool! 😉

Basic Tofu Stir Fry recipe

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 bag of frozen stir fry vegetables OR slice up your favorite fresh vegetables (I recommend peppers, broccoli, onion, mushroom, carrots, celery, and baby corn)

Organic extra or super firm tofu (I recommend Trader Joe’s or 365 by Whole Foods)

Grapeseed or Avocado Oil (for sautéing) 

1 cup rice or grains of your choice (I used 365 by Whole Foods Organic Super Grains, but other options I’ve used include brown rice, jasmine rice, and quinoa)

Dried ginger (we never measure :P, but I’d put at least a teaspoon or two)

Tamari sauce to taste (at least a tablespoon)

Optional: red pepper flakes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or nutritional yeast. 

1. Measure and rinse your grain of choice in a mesh sieve.

2. After rinsing, prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3. Chop the vegetables if you aren’t using frozen.

4. Press your tofu. We invested in a tofu press because it significantly cuts down on the time of the recipe.  (Here’s some methods to press tofu if you don’t have a press).

5. After pressing your tofu, slice into bite-sized cubes.

6. Add the Grapeseed or Avocado oil to a sauté pan or a Wok and then add the cubed tofu.

7. Sauté the tofu on medium- high for about 5-10 minutes or until the cubes start to brown.

8. Add the fresh, sliced veggies or the frozen stir fry veggies and continue to sauté until everything is cooked thoroughly .

8. Check the grains and if they are cooked, turn off of the stove top and fluff them.

10. Once the tofu stir fry is cooked throughly, serve atop the cooked grains and add your desired mix-ins. My favorite mix in is pumpkin seeds and my husband loves red pepper flakes.  🙂

If you make my basic tofu stir fry recipe, I’d love to see your creation! E-mail me or share on social media ( InstagramFacebook, or Twitter), but make sure to tag me! I’d be happy to feature your version of basic tofu stir fry on my social media channels!

 

Plants are cool #1: “Squacos” recipe

Good afternoon! 🙂 As promised many, many months ago, I am finally sharing my butternut squash taco recipe, AKA “squacos”!🌮 I am sharing this as a part of my new recipe series called “plants are cool”. Because duh, plants are amazing! And because we should all be eating a lot more of them! I’m here to show you that cooking with plants can be cheap, easy, versatile, and fun! I know I am biased because I am plant based…but please be open minded, maybe try a few plant recipes this month, and who, knows?! Maybe you too will agree that plants are cool! 😉

Of course, today’s recipe has black beans, because I have not been living up to my namesake!😱 This is a very basic recipe that lends itself to dressing up with different toppings and serving options, because that is half the fun with taco recipes! So, without further ado let’s make some “squacos”! 😋

“Squacos”

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 bag of frozen butternut squash or 1 whole butternut squash

Grapeseed or Avocado Oil (for sautéing) 

1 cup rice or grains of your choice (I used 365 by Whole Foods Organic Super Grains, but other options I’ve used include brown rice, jasmine rice, and quinoa)

1 can of black beans drained and rinsed

Cumin (we never measure :P, but I’d put at least a teaspoon or two)

Cinnamon

Himalayan sea salt (to taste)

Optional: avocado, tomato, cilantro, shredded lettuce, red pepper flakes, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese (regular or non-dairy), and/or sour cream (if you aren’t vegan)

1. Measure and rinse your grain of choice in a mesh sieve.

2. After rinsing, prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3. Chop the butternut squash if you aren’t using frozen.

4. Add the Grapeseed or Avocado oil to a sauté pan and add the chopped fresh or the chopped frozen butternut squash.

5. Sauté the butternut squash on medium high for about 5 minutes or until warmed.

6. Add the cinnamon and cumin to the butternut squash and make sure everything gets thoroughly mixed.

7. Add the drained and rinsed black beans to the butternut squash mixture.

8. Check the grains and if they are cooked, turn off of the stove top and fluff them.

9. Sauté the black bean and butternut squash mixture for another couple of minutes.

10. Serve on tortillas or make a taco bowl. Be sure to add in any of the fun extras listed above! The optional mix-ins add flavor and depth if you eat these on a weekly basis like my husband and I do! My personal favorite is making a taco bowl with salsa and other veggies and then using tortilla chips as scoops. 🙂

If you make “squacos”, I’d love to see your creations! E-mail me or share on social media ( InstagramFacebook, or Twitter), but make sure to tag me! I’d be happy to feature your version of “squacos” on my social media channels!

Half Marathon Training Week #3: Monday August 28th- Sunday September 3rd.

Good evening friends! I hope you all had a great, long Labor Day weekend full of food, family, and friends! I can’t believe how fast this weekend flew by. 😱

My husband and I stayed busy the whole weekend, so that’s why it went quickly! On Saturday, his high school students had a cross country meet, Saturday night we went out for dinner, Sunday we drove to Wisconsin to visit my sister-in-law, and today we drove back, cleaned, and got groceries. I fit in as many runs as I could this week and weekend, but it could have been better. I’m still working on getting more sleep. :/ I’m pledging to make week #4 better for sleep and training!

Sometimes, though, all you need is an extra rest day, vegetarian treats, an impromptu road trip, wine, and some sangria to recharge after a rough week. 😉 Life isn’t all about following your training plan to a “T” and eating healthy- life is about balance! This weekend I decided to indulge a bit and go with the flow and it was 100% worth it! 🙂

Monday August 28th: REST DAY.

Tuesday August 29th: Started the morning with this delicious breakfast before work. It is old fashioned oats topped with berries, cinnamon, and Nature’s Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla Cereal.

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Then after work, I ran 2 miles at 6:53 pace. I got home from work late and ran at night, so that’s why this run was short. I followed my run with some light stretching.

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Wednesday August 30th: REST DAY

Thursday August 31st: Ran 4.3 miles after work at 7:38 pace as the sun was setting. It was extremely windy, but it felt good to get out there. The beautiful city and lake views were an added bonus!

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Friday September 1st: REST DAY. This was an unplanned rest day, but was very wiped out from my lack of sleep over the entire week. My husband encouraged me to take the extra rest day. Plus, I knew I was getting up at 6 am on Saturday for the cross country meet. I learned this week that I do not function well on 5-6 hours of sleep per night. 😂 I have no idea how I functioned on so little sleep most of college! This girl does best on 7 or more hours of sleep. 😛

Saturday September 2nd: 4-5 miles throughout the day/in between high school cross country races. It was so fun to be on the other side of a cross country meet. I definitely felt nostalgic for high school and college cross country meets on Saturday. I can’t wait to help out at more meets and see my husband’s team grow this season! 🙂

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The meet was pretty long and we did not get home until almost 4 pm. :/ My husband and I were wiped out, so we got some chai lattes and rested. It was nice! Then we went out for salad, veggie pizza, and red wine at Calo Ristorante. That is the classic combo if you know my husband and I! We love going out for pizza- I’d saying we go out for pizza once a month! It is Chicago, after all, and there are so many tasty options. Maybe one day I’ll list and review all the pizza places we’ve been to! Today is not the day for that, though. 😛

Sunday September 3rd: REST/CROSS TRAIN DAY. My husband and I traveled to Wisconsin to visit my sister- in-law. She took us to an awesome taco place- BelAir Cantina Madison. My sister-in-law and I got the roasted veggie and kale tacos. I also got white peach sangria! 😛 My husband got the veggurito bowl and a margarita.

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I highly recommend BelAir if you ever find yourself in Wisconsin (they have locations in Milwaukee and Madison). It is an excellent option for vegan/vegetarian tacos! 

That’s it for my half-marathon training week #3 recap. I hope you all have a good night! 🙂

What was your favorite thing you did over the weekend/ Labor Day (if you live in the United States)?! My favorite part of the weekend was eating those roasted veggie and kale tacos (pictured above).

Black Bean and Quinoa Taco Bowls

Good evening friends! Here in the windy city, the weather is dreadful. :/ I even got poured on my way home from work. 😦 I hope all of you are experiencing better weather, though! I thought sharing a new recipe would be just the the thing to brighten up this dreary evening. It is a black bean recipe (of course)! With a blog called Black Bean Queen, I really have not been living up to my name. 😛 This recipe makes up for my lack of black bean recipe posts, I promise!

Last night after work was one of those nights where my boyfriend and I were lazy, indecisive, and hungry.  I asked my boyfriend: “What do you want to make for dinner?”  He said: “I don’t know, what do you want to make?” Then I said “I asked you first…” Then he said “Maybe we should go out to eat”. Me: “No, we have plenty of food here and we need to save our money…” I could not take our indecisiveness any longer. I’m sure we are not the only ones!! After along day of work or class,  I often wish I could snap my fingers and have a tasty and nourishing meal appear. Last night, I took that as a challenge to make something new, fast, and simple.

I had a serious taco craving last night, so I looked around the apartment for random taco-like ingredients. This recipe is a random assortment of ingredients that, luckily, came together really nicely. These black bean and quinoa taco bowls are quick to make, simple, nourishing, and delicious. Honestly, they were the bomb.com!  My boyfriend LOVED them! He even said to me “I think these might become a regular in our meal rotation now!” I hope all of you like them too! 🙂

Black Bean and Quinoa Taco Bowls

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Yield: 2-3 servings (2 if you live with a very hungry runner  or 2 😉 )

Ingredients

1 cup of quinoa & 2 cups of water

~1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 cup frozen peppers

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 packet of taco seasoning ( I used mild)

Optional: red pepper flakes and salsa

1. Measure and rinse the quinoa with a mesh sieve. Do not skip the rinsing step as quinoa is coated in a bitter substance called saponin.

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2. Bring the rinsed quinoa to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook until all the water is absorbed and white rings are visible within the quinoa, this will be approximately 15-20 minutes.

3. Put ~1 Tablespoon of canola oil into a separate saucepan and start sautéing the frozen peppers. Once the peppers are nearly cooked, add the canned of black beans and cook for another three or so minutes.

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4. Prepare the taco seasoning  as indicated on the packet (usually you just add some water and mix). Add 0.5- 1 whole packet of taco seasoning to the quinoa, once all the water has been absorbed. (I only added half of the taco packet). Let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

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5. Serve and Eat!

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My boyfriend added red pepper flakes to his to make them spicier (I am a wimp and only like mild taco seasoning :P). I topped my bowl with salsa and it was amazing!

I am sure they would be wonderful in a whole wheat tortilla or eaten as a “dip” with tortilla chips acting as scoops. The toppings and ways to eat these bowls are endless! 🙂

Have a wonderful evening friends! Fingers crossed that tomorrow is my very last Physical Therapy appointment, so I can say I am officially over my injury!

What is your favorite quick, healthy, and easy weeknight dinner lately? I’d have to say ginger and soy tofu stir fry is my favorite, but these black bean and quinoa taco bowls may be serious contenders! 🙂

A cold day calls for some warm minestrone soup

Hello guys! Happy November…well, I guess it’s almost December. I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving and the end of the semester. I promise I have not forgotten this blog. Neglected, yes. Forgotten, no! I know it’s always the same story, but life really got in the way for the last 1.5 months and I am very sorry. 😦

My life has gone through some changes since I last blogged. Telling you guys about them will be a tale for another time. Promise! Once I get it all figured out, of course. I assure you guys, though, that the changes do not have to do with the blog, being vegetarian, or my boyfriend. I plan to continue to blog here as a space to share vegetarian recipes/insight, anything running related, and random ramblings about my life. I am still a vegetarian! Also, do not worry my boyfriend of 5.5 years and I are very much in love and going strong! 🙂

Anyway, I remembered in a previous post that I promised that I would share my favorite Minestrone recipe with you guys. Well, over a month and several batches of minestrone later, I finally remembered! Nothing warms me up or gives me strength on a chilly autumn or winter day like homemade minestrone. I’ve been craving soup after this unusually cold week (on Tuesday with the wind chill it felt like -4 degrees outside!)

Minestrone is very easy to make and relatively inexpensive! This recipe is adapted from Mighty Minestrone on pages 128-129 of The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Judy Krizmanic.

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Yield: 4-6 servings

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ingredients:

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of garlic

2-3 stalks of washed and chopped celery

28 ounce can of diced and peeled tomatoes (fire roasted tomatoes work nicely too)

6 cups of water

1 teaspoon oregano

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of basil

1 package of frozen vegetables  (16 ounces)

1 can of kidney or garbanzo beans, rinsed, and drained

0.5-1 package of whole wheat elbow or spiral pasta (16 ounces)

salt to taste

1. In a large pot mix together the canned tomatoes, 6 cups of water, 2-3 stalks of celery, and all the spices (including the garlic if you use cloves instead of garlic powder) . Bring to a boil uncovered.

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2. Once the mixture boils reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes add the frozen veggies, kidney beans, and pasta to the large pot. Cook for 20-30 more minutes. Add salt if desired.

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4. Serve. For leftovers, put the uneaten Minestrone into shallow Tupperware containers and refrigerate promptly. Enjoy, a cold day calls for some warm minestrone soup! 🙂

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What is your favorite soup to make when the weather turns cold? Although, I admit I make soup in the summer sometimes and maybe I’m not the only one…Also, is there a soup you’ve always wanted to make, but have not yet?