Tips for a Vegan Newbie

The Vegan Experience: Top 10 Tips For a First-Time Vegan

So I am pretty much a #glutenfree #vegan (UPDATE: I did not mean to offend any true vegans. I have so much respect for those of you who truly are vegan. The technical term for my diet is Ovo-Pescatarian since I eat eggs and seafood. The dairy free and gluten free are in place due to intolerances. Hope this clears things up!! <3).

However, I think these tips can help anyone going #dairyfree or even just looking to eat #healthy and incorporate more fruits, veggies and plant based #protein into your #diet!

The Vegan Experience: Top 10 Tips For a First-Time Vegan
Source: Serious Eats

Real Scoop Sundae: Shakedown on Shakeology

If you missed part 1 of my Shakeology review last Sunday, be sure to check it out now!

shakeology vs other foods

In my pre-review last week I filled you all know in on my past exposure to Shakeology, as well as my opinion of most other protein powders on the market. This week I anxiously awaited the arrival of my Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla Shakeology samples from an awesome Beachbody coach that was willing to part ways with a few of hers. Thank you Juli! Thursday I received an awesome little package in the mail with my samples (how freaking adorable is the bow!?) and a super sweet note. I was so excited to wake up Friday morning to get my shake on!

Get your own taste sampler!

Shakeology Samples Shakeology Samples

And then this happened…

Shakeology Spill

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that instead of crying over spilt milk I slurped it up! That’s right. I drank half of my first Shakeology shake straight off my desk. As Juli said… “it’s liquid gold!” I couldn’t waste a drop especially after tasting it and knowing how delicious it was! I used my Magic Bullet to mix up a delicious concoction of Vanilla Shakeology, banana, strawberries, blueberries and unsweetened almond milk! Before adding all this deliciousness to the blender I tried about 1/6 of the mix in about 2oz of water and blended them together to make it thick and creamy. It wasn’t half bad! Personally, I preferred it spruced up with fruits and almond milk but would definitely drink it with just water or almond milk in a pinch!
NOTE: Someday I will own a Vitamix but until then my Magic Bullet does the trick! I use it for everything!

Magic Bullet Vitamix

Things I look for in a smoothie or shake are thickness (needs to at least stick to the spoon… best way to achieve this is frozen fruits), creaminess (I prefer some sort of milk in mine versus juice or water), nutritional value (I try to have lots of protein in my first meal of the day… and I do prefer to keep it under 400 calories so I can have room for two more meals and snacks throughout my day) and of course flavor (I actually love the taste of health foods… adding spinach, flax, chia and other supplements are part of my daily routine. As my boyfriend would say… “earthy flavors” lol). This shake hit all four qualifications for a good shake right on the head!

Vanilla ShakeologyI was able to easily get a spoonful of this shake without worrying about it dripping on the way to my mouth but was thin enough to drink through a straw. I used unsweetened almond milk and frozen bananas to add the perfect level of creaminess. This shake contained 1 serving of Vanilla Shakeology, 3/4 a frozen banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup fresh blueberries and 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. The nutritional value is as follows: 318 calories, 6 grams fat, 10 grams fiber, 388 grams potassium ANDD most importantly 18 grams protein! I don’t know too many vegetarian breakfast foods out there that can make that kind of nutrition into such a low calorie meal! (I know eggs and bacon and many other meats can get you that much protein but guess what… they are also loaded with cholesterol!)

shakeologyAnimated-white wide

Chocolate ShakeologyMy second and third Shakeology were made with the Chocolate flavor. OMG! They have a slogan: “Hate eating veggies? Acts like a salad, tastes like a dessert!” Well it is true! I really thought I would like the Vanilla best, but I was way wrong. The chocolate was the perfect combo of milk and dark chocolate when I tried it with just water. Creamy like the vanilla but not to sweet or too tart and tasted like a chocolate milk shake! I mentioned above that I like my smoothies to be thick enough to eat with a spoon, but thin enough to drink with a straw. The picture to the left is an attempt to capture that in my chocolate, banana, strawberry smoothie this morning. Not sure if you can tell, but the spoon had to be tipped a fair amount before it would spill. And I had no problem slurping every last drop with a straw.


So I know lots of you are wondering about the value of this product. Yes, it is more expensive than most other protein powders on the market. But check out this comparison chart of Shakeology versus other breakfast and lunch options. Turns out the regular price is cheaper than almost every other option in this comparison… and if you get the club or coach price… it is WAY cheaper! Saving even a dollar a day adds up! Ask me how to get a discounted price!!

Shakeology NutritionPossibly more important than anything (to me at least!) is the nutritional value of these shakes. I took a picture of the Vanilla sample package to share the ingredients with you, which can also be found on their website. These shakes pack an amazing punch into each and every scoop of the product! Each scoop contains a blend of: protein, antioxidant superfoods, adaptogen herbs, pre- and probiotics, a fiber & enzyme blend and last, but not least, phytonutrient super-greens!

I know that sounds like a lot of big words but here are a few you might know: high nutrient fruits & veggies, flax, chia, quinoa, green tea, ginkgo biloba and antioxidants… ALL IN ONE GLASS!!

Shakeology Has It All!

And don’t forget that you are in charge! You can not only choose your Shakeology flavor (they even have VEGAN!), you can also mix it up everyday with your own add ins. So far I haven’t ventured too far from my standards but I did test out adding greens, I added spinach, to see if the mix covered the flavor. As you may or may not know, spinach is a pretty mild green, but the chocolate completely masked the flavor! Which is great to know if you have picky eaters at home, especially little ones that need the extra nutrition and are hesitant to eat the greens on their plates. This is the perfect way to sneak in extra nutrients in a delicious “dessert”.

Green Chocolate Shakeology Green Chocolate Shakeology

So are you ready to reduce your cravings for processed, nutrient deficient foods and stave off hunger? Shakeology will help satisfy your appetite! Do you want to protect your body from damaging free radicals? The essential Amino Acids found in Shakeology can improve your immunity and assist in reducing inflammation. Could you benefit from a product that can aid in repairing your stressed, worn tissues with the Antioxidants and Phytonutrients? Shakeology can help with that too!

And with all those benefits… wanna know the best part for a crazy saver like me?!

shakeology guarantee

Here is the BeachBody Guarantee, right from the website:

Enjoy healthy nutrition RISK FREE for 30 days with our Bottom-of-the-Bag Guarantee

  • If you don’t feel healthier, more energized, and simply amazing, you won’t pay. You can return Shakeology for any reason and get your money back (less s&h)—even if the bag is empty!
  • To return, simply make a short call to our friendly Customer Service team, rated “A” by the better Business Bureau®.

So on that note… what is there to lose? Other than those extra pounds… I mean if you have them 😉Shakedown on Shakeology

Real Scoop Sundae: Beyond “Chicken” & Veggies with a Kick! (VEGAN + GF) – Part 2

Beyond Chicken and VeggiesWelcome to week three of Real Scoop Sundaes! This week is a flash back to week one of a New Gluten Free, Meat Free Product (part 1). BeyondMeat’s Chicken-Free Strips turn out to taste so much like chicken it almost freaked me out! I haven’t tasted real chicken in over 12 years and I honestly don’t think I have had a chicken substitute since then either. I am had non-meat beef and eat veggie burgers and tofu and tempeh but I usually avoid products actually made to taste like their real meat counterparts.

3set bikram class

The incredible yogis who showed up for yesterday’s class! I love them!

Two weeks ago I promised to finish my review of the BeyondMeat product and today is the first time I had a chance to actually try out the Chicken-Free Strips.

I am 6 days into a 30 day Bikram challenge and was in desperate need of extra protein to keep my energy up.

Yesterday I took part in a 3-set fundraiser for a fellow yogi to help her with funds for teach training. It was amazing!

However, I could feel my muscles crying for help after this morning’s class. Which lead me to tonight’s feast with a kick!


I honestly did not even know where to start with flavors that went well with chicken. My awesome meat eating boyfriend suggested the onion and peppers and I opted for the cauliflower and broccoli combo to make it extra hearty.

Spicy Southwestern Chicken and Veggies_1

I chopped 1/2 a head of cauliflower and 1/2 a head of broccoli and placed them in a 9×11 glass baking pan (PYREX is my favorite).

Spicy Southwestern Chicken and Veggies

I added one small red onion…

Spicy Southwestern Chicken and Veggies

And one large red bell pepper. I seasoned it simply with sea salt, pepper and House of Tsang Mongolian Fire Oil. Ever heard of it? It combines the flavors of chili peppers, garlic, onion and ginger into a delicious oil and adds the perfect kick to veggies, salad and sauces!

Spicy Southwestern Chicken and Veggies

After baking for 35 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, it was time for the real star to join the show:

BeyondMeat’s Chicken-Free Strips!

Spicy Southwestern Chicken and Veggies

I added 1/2 a bag (9 strips) of the Southwestern style strips to a hot pan over medium heat with a little bit of coconut oil to avoid sticking. In 3-5 minutes these little bad boys went from frozen strips that LOOKED like chicken to strips that literally had my very meat eating boyfriend asking for a second piece to evaluate the taste and texture because he couldn’t believe how real it tasted! Apparently our taste buds have a memory like our sense of smell because the second I tasted the chicken strips I was struck with flash backs of my childhood and all sort of chicken dinners.

I had no idea what to expect but I literally checked the package to make sure it really wasn’t actual chicken and I had some how grabbed the wrong product!

BeyondMeat at Publix

WOW! The texture was there: not to soft, not to tough! The flavor was there: no tofu flavor or strange wanna be chicken flavor! The consistency was there: didn’t take forever to chew, didn’t fall apart in you mouth! And the aftertaste WAS NOT there!!

Texture? Check! Flavor? Check! Consistency? Check! Aftertaste? NO check!

IbottaAs I mentioned last week I found this awesome product via the Ibotta app! It’s free, fun and so easy to use! Click Here to download it to your smartphone in less than 3 minutes! When I found it, the $1 rebate offer expired on 4/4/14 but it has been extended to 4/24/14 at 1:59pm exclusive to Publix! “The best part about Ibotta is that you earn real money, not points or other made-up currencies. What you see is what you get. 100% of your earnings can be transferred…”


So if you are vegan or vegetarian and are missing meat in your diet or need an extra boost of protein I highly suggest you check this company’s products out. They are working on a full line of “protein” products. According to the founder, Ethan Brown, his goal is to completely “redefine the category” of meat free products, not just create another substitute. I can get on board with this! Can you?

You can read more about them on their website: Beyond Meat.

Beyond “Chicken” & Veggies with a Kick! (VEGAN + GF)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1/4 total batch

Calories per serving: 118

Fat per serving: 2.8; Protein 11.8 grams

Beyond “Chicken” & Veggies with a Kick! (VEGAN + GF)


  • 1/2 bag (9 strips) Beyond Meat Chicken Free Strips (I used the Southwestern Flavored ones for extra spice)
  • 1/2 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/2 medium head broccoli
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 5 - 10 dashes House of Tsang Mongolian Fire Oil if you haven't tried this stuff you need too!!
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • NEED:
  • 9x11 glass baking pan - PYREX is my favorite!


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Chop cauliflower, broccoli, red onion and red bell pepper.
  3. Spread evenly in a 9x11 glass pan. I LOVE MY PYREX PANS! They cook evenly and clean up easily and stack neatly under my oven!
  4. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper to your liking over the chopped veggies.
  5. Use 5-10 dashes House of Tsang Mongolian Fire Oil over the veggies. this stuff has a definite kick! if you are not a fan of spice you will want to use less or possibly sub gluten-free soy sauce * or another seasoning of you liking*
  6. Cover in tin foil and bake for 35 minutes.
  7. With 5 minutes left, place frozen Beyond Meat Chicken Free Strips in a hot pan over medium heat with either a little cooking spray or coconut oil and cook until heated through (about 3-5 minutes).
  8. Remove veggies from the oven and toss with chicken strips (you can chop them up if you would like).
  9. Serve as a main dish or a side... but if you eat it as a side save room for more! I am betting you will want some!



Spicy Southwestern Chicken and Veggies

Reader Response:

24 Calorie Banana Cocoa-Nut Bites (No Milk Monday)

Banana Cocoa-Nut Bites


Gluten Free, Dairy Free, 24 Calories!!!

Banana Cocoa Nut Bites
You did it! Thanks for your patience! Yesterday was crazy. Sorry I didn’t get this recipe up until today but I promise it is worth the wait. Anyone else put off taxes and just realize they are due in three weeks? Oh or even worse.. put off getting health insurance and realize they only have a week left to get it from the MarketPlace? Well you can put me down for both of those and I decided to try and conquer both yesterday. NOT FUN AT ALL! Thankfully I knocked the insurance off the list and am working on the taxes.

*Need help with yours? Check out some of this great stuff on Amazon to prepare, organize and knock your taxes out fast!*

I will be so excited when they are done so I can focus on getting some yoga info up here and some more saving advice 🙂

So I woke up yesterday craving chocolate and staring at a browning bunch of bananas. I told you this happens every time! Thankfully they were perfectly sweet and worked wonderfully in this recipe. I froze the rest for smoothies this week. Yum!

Banana Cocoa Nut Bites Banana Cocoa Nut Bites Banana Cocoa Nut Bites

Maybe I am the only one who lays in bed for hours falls asleep looking at Pinterest but that’s what I did again Sunday night. I found this awesome blog that reminded me of my Paleo, CrossFit crazy sister (love you Lainey!). Paleo recipes are a great place to start when you are looking for gluten free, dairy free and sugar free recipes. You can sometimes even find great vegan recipes which seems counter intuitive due to the large quantities of meat that many people following the Paleo lifestyle consume, but they also eat a lot of nuts and whole foods and are great at finding natural protein sources as well as natural sweeteners.

Banana Cocoa Nut Bites Banana Cocoa Nut Bites

Anyways, not only does she share my love for frozen yogurt, but she also finds and creates great healthy recipes. She inspired my Banana Cocoa-Nut Bites with her Simple Flour-less Protein Cake. I am kinda obsessed with making things small and bite size so I can eat more. If you have ever read my about me page you know that I tend to choose quantity over quality. Not sure what that says about me. When I am making my own food though… I CHOOSE BOTH!
Banana Cocoa Nut Bites
These Banana Cocoa-Nut Bites fit the bill! They taste amazing, have only 24 calories and 2.1 grams protein each ANDDDD you can indulge in 5 for a measly 120 calories and 10.5 grams protein!

Banana Cocoa Nut Bites Banana Cocoa Nut Bites

I was so happy with the way these turned out. I had two yesterday and today before yoga and they gave me the perfect amount of energy without being too filling or causing my blood sugar to spike and crash. I normally have an apple or coconut water before class but I think these might be my new go too!

So I have a confession. Well it’s sort of a confession.. I made these today for No Milk Monday, but the protein powder I used does have whey in it. They are completely lactose free, but if you are trying to avoid ALL dairy and dairy products then you will need to find a protein powder that is completely dairy free. Here are some ideas: Dairy Free Protein Powders.Banana Cocoa Nut Bites
The protein powder seriously adds an amazing flavor so I highly recommend finding one you like! You could also try this with a Vanilla Protein Powder! I bet it would be super yummy! If you do, let me know! I would also love to hear about what dairy free protein powders you like. I would love to try a new one. I really need to switch to a plant based protein powder but haven’t found one I like yet!
Banana Cocoa Nut Bites
The little bites will make you happy you have 24 of them! Once you pop I can promise you won’t wanna stop!

Also check out last week’s No Milk Monday recipe: St. Paddy’s Protein Smoothie

24 Calorie Banana Cocoa-Nut Bites (No Milk Monday)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 24 mini muffins/12 regular muffins

Serving Size: 1... or 5 🙂

Calories per serving: 24... or 120 (for 5)

Fat per serving: 0.7... or 3.5 (for 5), 2.1... or 10.5 protein (for

24 Calorie Banana Cocoa-Nut Bites (No Milk Monday)



  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Peel and mash up your banana really well in a bowl. (I used my mixer after I mashed them to get them extra nice and creamy)
  3. Mix all dry ingredients (chocolate protein powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, Pumpkin Pie Spice, and baking soda. Stir well to remove all clumps.
  4. Whip the egg and egg white in a separate bowl until like and airy.
  5. With a fork, combine the egg mixture and the beaten bananas.
  6. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until well mixed but not over beaten.
  7. Spray your muffin pan with a baking oil spray or line pan with baking cups
  8. With a pour spout mixing bowl or a large spoon, pour the mixture into the muffin pan (preferably not as messily as I did)
  9. Sprinkle your chopped nuts... or chocolate chips or banana chunks or whatever else your heart desires that you think would be yummy!
  10. Bake in the middle rack for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in the pan till you can carefully pop each one out onto a cooling rack.


You can definitely make these in a regular muffin pan. They will probably need to bake slightly longer and of course just double the nutrition facts to calculate the nutrition for each one.

You could also make this is a glass or metal pan almost like cake or brownies and cut into desired size. Just be careful to watch cooking length if you change the pan size.

Banana Cocoa Nut Bites

Reader Response:

  • What is you favorite protein powder? Is it plant based?
  • Are you a quality over quantity kinda person?
  • How do you feel about chocolate for breakfast?

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