Thursday, April 27, 2017

Vegan Coconut Curried Vegetables

You know, you'd think that since I've lived in Missouri my entire life I'd be used to this 80 to 40 degree nonsense that's been happening for the last few weeks. But geez, it gets me every. single. year. But that's ok, colder weather just means that I can keep putting warm soups and curries on my weekly meal plans.

Vegan Coconut Curried Vegetables

I'm a huge fan of curry. I'm an even bigger fan of one pot meals. You all know I'm a minimalist - a minimalist at doing the dishes that is. All of the ingredients get thrown into one big pot, simmered for about 20 or so minutes, and then it's ready for your bellies. Eloquently simple. It's fantastic to sit down to a meal that tastes and looks like it took you all evening to make but in reality it only took about a half an hour. We could eat this curry dish every week - it's that good. It's also one of those dishes we fix for friends and family who are no quite sure about meatless meals. We never tell them that there is no meat or dairy until they say how good it is. It always surprises them. But then again, why is it that when people here the word "vegan" they think it tastes bad. Seriously, peanut butter is vegan....everyone like that! But I guarantee if someone labeled it vegan, they'd stop buying it. I don't get it!

Vegan Coconut Curried Vegetables

Anyway, I'll get off of my rant. If you love curries but are too intimidated to give it a try, seriously add this to your weekly meal plan. I promise you it is SO EASY! It's creamy, sweet, savory, with a hint of heat all in one. Curl up on the couch with a bowl of this on those cold, rainy days or eat it on a sunny day, I don't care.

This also freezes really well if you find that it makes more than you can finish. I will also say that this is Oliver approved (he's 11 months old). The complex flavors and soft veggies makes it perfect for little appetites and as a way to develop their tastes.

Vegan Coconut Curried Vegetables


Author: Megean Weldon
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serving Size: Feeds 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 6 small red potatoes or 2 large russets, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced **I omit this when I feed this to Ollie as it already as a hint of spice without the jalapeno**
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of powdered ginger or fresh ginger
  • 2 T of yellow curry powder
  • 1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk **do not use lite**
  • 2 T tomato paste **you can add more or less to thicken**
  • Cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Add diced potatoes, carrots, onion, red bell pepper, and jalapeno to a heated pot with 2 T of olive oil.
  2. Saute, covered, until potatoes and carrots are soft and onions are translucent.
  3. Add garlic, salt, pepper, ginger, and curry. Saute for another few minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, and tomato paste.
  5. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes and has reduced slightly. It will thicken up.
  6. Serve on top of fluffy rice and garnish with cilantro.
  7. Optional: Add chopped cashews for a crunchy garnish.
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Zero Waste Nerd


Vegan Coconut Curried Vegetables

Monday, April 24, 2017

Meal Plan and Grocery Haul #4: Banana Pie and Chowder!

Happy belated Earth Day, everyone! I know I was absent this past weekend but I swear I had a good reason! Do you ever just get to a point where you need to restart? Brace yourselves, IT analogy coming your way. You know when your PC gets really bogged down from too many processes operating in the background and you restart it to make it faster and to stop those unnecessary processes? Good gracious, congrats if you were able to follow along with that! Anyway - my point is - I decided to unplug. Relax, disconnect, and spend time with the ones I care for the most. I reflected, slept in, explored new places, and just - well - restarted. Things were getting a little overwhelming there for a bit so I apologize for my absence, even though I know you all completely understand and do not need an apology. 💗 


Despite my social media hiatus, I still had to get groceries this week. I guess I like to eat. The weather got a little colder than normal so that set the mood for my meal planning. Warmer, comfort dishes like curry and soup with some spring banana-y flair for dessert.

Some quick tips for those of you who are reading my grocery haul posts for the first time. Welcome!! I shop for items that I can get either completely package free, or come in non-plastic packaging like glass, paper, or metal. This allows for me to compost and recycle rather than send packaging to the landfill. I choose packaging that the Earth can digest - unlike plastic. So, here are a few past posts I've done explaining the process of shopping zero waste.




As you can see, I primarily eat a plant based diet, but you can alter these dishes for your meat loving friends and family if you need to. I spend the majority of my time in the produce aisle. I shop weekly because I find this to be better for me to avoid food waste. Now, I do buy my bulk staples in larger amounts since the shelf lives of pastas, rice, beans, and other bulk goodness is considerably longer than produce.




Tuesday: Spaghetti Squash with Canned Marinara and Toasted Garlic Rolls (Recipe coming soon!)

Wednesday: Seasoned Roasted Veggies with Quinoa

Lunch: Leftovers

Breakfast: Banana Muffins (Recipe coming soon!)

Baby: steamed squash, steamed broccoli, bananas, and what ever we are having.


And that's a wrap and all for $81.03. The biggest expenditures were the components for the banana pie. Cashews and Walnuts are very expensive totaling about $14 together. The pie isn't completely necessary but sometimes you just want to treat yourself.

As for the waste, the rubber bands and twisty ties I take to work for cable management, the glass jar from the coconut oil I'll reuse for gifts, and the cans from the coconut milk are going to be reused for Oliver's first birthday next month. That means that the only waste I'll be sending to the landfill is the plastic seal around the coconut oil, produce stickers, and the receipt.

What are you having for dinner?

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Zero Waste Nerd

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stocking a Zero Waste Pantry

Zero Waste Pantry


One of the first things I learned when I started experimenting with zero waste living was that I had to change the way I ate. I didn't have the best diet. A lot of food that my husband and I ate was either fast food, processed, and of course, overly and excessively packaged.

Keeping an essential list of pantry goods was key to keeping my grocery shopping easy and cheap, my meals simple, and food waste minimized. I keep a pretty minimalist pantry considering that's the only way it will all fit (my pantry is teeny tiny) and because most meals we have use pretty much the same ingredients. Most or all of my zero waste pantry items can be purchased in bulk where I live so keep that in mind when I say "Zero Waste" Pantry.

I found that when I chose elaborate meals calling for proprietary ingredients I ended up with a stuffed pantry with items that I never used that ended up going bad. The pantry turned into my closet at the time. hundreds of choices but nothing to wear - or in this case - eat. That's another great thing about shopping in the bulk sections because if you do want to try some thing new, you won't end up with a giant package and instead just the amount you need - and trust me - we love trying new things!

So, first things first, when I bring my items home from the store, they are in my reusable cloth produce bags. Check out my post "5 Steps to Zero Waste Bulk Shopping" for a more detailed look at how I shop and if you don't have bulk check out my article "No Bulk, No Problem!". I then transfer them in to glass storage jars to keep them fresh. That allows me to visually see what I have and what I need to replace or fill up. Another bonus to zero waste shopping, right?! Another key component to a zero waste pantry is stocking up on items that have longer shelf lives. This allows for you to purchase in larger quantities to store for meals later.

So what's in my pantry?

Zero Waste Pantry






Grains

Grains are the base to many meals in our household. We love stir fried veggies, Indian food, and a good bowl of pasta. Quinoa is also great for making veggie "meats".



Baking

Baking is such an important part of my life that I gave it its own category on my shopping list. Everything from cupcakes, pancakes, breads, pies, and more come out of my kitchen quite regularly. And of course baking soda is used in many natural cleaning recipes throughout the house.


Legumes

Beans are so versatile. They can be used in about any dish - even dessert! I use lentils in a lot of dishes as a meat substitute like chili and pasta sauce.


Natural Sweeteners

Maple syrup is good for more than just pancakes. It can be used as a honey substitute and replace a lot of refined sugar in dishes. Dates are great for binding ingredients together like in pie crusts or energy bites.


Nuts and Seeds

Almonds get used for almond milk, peanuts get turned into peanut butter, cashews are used in a lot of vegan cheese substitutes like Parmesan, and popcorn is just fantastic - right?!


Oils and Vinegars

Olive oil is my go to cooking oil. I use it when I am sauteing veggies or need to lubricate a pan in place of cooking spray. Coconut oil is used in everything from baking to toiletries. And vinegar is the primary ingredient in my cleaning spray.


Spices

This can be more of a guide to you than anything. Just stock up on your favorite spices. I do have to say, though, nutritional yeast is a great Parmesan cheese substitute if you're looking to cut dairy from your diet. 


Again, very minimalist. But it works more me and my family. Use this as a guideline, add or subtract items, or just use it as inspiration.

Photo credit: shutterbean via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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Zero Waste Nerd

Monday, April 10, 2017

Moisturizing Zero Waste Shaving Cream

How could I just post about how to use a safety razor without following it with how to make some luscious, soothing shaving cream to protect your legs from irritation? Shaving cream is ridiculously easy to make - just 3 ingredients!



So now that the sun has finally decided to pop out after being MIA for 15 days, I have shorts and capris on the brain. In the cold months, I'm a little hit or miss when it comes to shaving. I mean, why? It's just an added layer of warmth, I say. Don't judge.....

My lizard-like dry legs HAVE to have some type of moisture applied to them every single day so using a moisturizing, soothing shaving cream is important.


This shaving cream will not only leave your skin silky smooth all day but will also soothe, nourish, and protect your skin from the harshness of the safety razor blade. Aloe vera is a miracle worker! My husband walked around all day asking everyone to feel how smooth his face was the first time he used it - it was hilarious. He did give it a pretty good review from a man's perspective:
In comparison to the conditioner bar I use now, the cream requires you to be a little more attentive to cleaning the razor after use and using a warm towel to wipe your face clean is a must after since it is heavily moisturizing. That being said, the cream allowed for me to get a closer, more effective shave and left my face very smooth all day.
To make this shaving cream you just need Shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, and any essential oils if you choose to add them. To keep this zero to low waste, either purchase your items in bulk or in recyclable packaging like glass. I am able to get bulk Shea butter at the farmer's market and the local grocery store sells aloe vera stalks.

Moisturizing Zero Waste Shaving Cream


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Shea Butter
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 cup Aloe Vera
  • optional: essential oils (about 15-20 drops) **I used lavender.

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients, minus the essential oils, to a double boiler (A double boiler is a bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. This keeps the mixture from scorching from the direct heat of the stove.)
  2. Heat up the ingredients until the mixture has completely melted and combined.
  3. Strain the mixture to remove any lumps from the aloe vera plant.
  4. Add essential oils and mix together.
  5. Put the mixture into the refrigerator until completely solidified.
  6. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whip the shaving cream into white, fluffy peaks (about 2-3 minutes)
  7. Use and enjoy!
  8. I would put about 3-4 months on the shelf life of this shaving cream but I assure you, you'll use it all up in under that amount of time.

Note

  • This shaving cream is meant to be incredibly moisturizing so it may be slightly greasier than you are use to. Just rinse your legs after use and wipe with a towel to remove excess.
  • The composition of the cream may react differently to where you live - depending on climate.
  • Though the shaving cream is made of all edible ingredients, I do not recommend eating it.
  • You might have to hide this from your spouse because when they see how wonderful it is, they'll steal it.


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Zero Waste Nerd

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Grocery Haul and Meal Plan #3

So the sun finally decided to come out this weekend and it couldn't be more beautiful! With the temperature in the high 70s, droves of people flocked to City Market. Farmers and small businesses filled the market stalls, delicious food smells permeated the air, and blue grass bands played all day. Could it have been more perfect?


And I just have to say - spring flowers > any other season's flowers. I can't even handle how gorgeous the tulips were! I wanted to buy them all and fill my house. They have to be the most awkwardly beautiful flower.


All in all, it was a great day that I got to spend with my mother, who lives hundreds of miles away in KY, and my brother who got to spend some quality time with his nephew who, by the way, ADORES his uncle. They are so alike it's scary sometimes.


The farmer's market was brimming with root veggies like potatoes and parsnips and beautiful leafy veggies like romaine, arugula, and spinach. There were also a few stalls selling micro greens which I'm excited about. Have you tried radish micro greens? They are SO delicious! Also, this is the perfect time of the year to pick up young herb plants as many farmers sell those in early spring.

Sadly though, I still have in season veggies from last week that I need to use up so I left the market empty handed. I know, right?! Our meals from last week made a lot more leftovers that I anticipated.



This doesn't look like a lot but if you maintain a stocked pantry with the essentials which I'll blog about real soon, it doesn't take a whole lot of extra groceries to put together simple, healthy, plant based meals.

Meal Plan

  • Veggie Burgers with cauliflower mash and corn on the cob (we love our veggie burgers)
  • Veggie Tacos with homemade tortillas
  • Eggplant Parmigiana (Vegan)
  • Veggie Stir Fry with leftover veggies from last week
  • Lunches - we use leftovers for lunches
  • Snacks - Making chocolate chip cookies this week and I got plenty of trail mix.
  • Breakfast - chocolate and peanut butter overnight oats and banana bread
  • Baby Food - We have lots of frozen ready made baby food like carrots, cucumber and avocado guacamole, beets, and butternut squash. We also give him bananas and banana bread for snacks and for dinners we feed him what ever we are having.

And all for roughly $36

Yet again, simple, and each meal is put together with very few ingredients making it super easy to get on the table after a busy work day. And as you can see, we don't have an elaborate meal plan every week - that just over complicates things. Minimalism applies to this part of my life, too.

What do you have planned for the week?

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Zero Waste Nerd

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Shaving with a Safety Razor

The hardest part of shaving with a safety razor is getting over the fear of cutting yourself. You won't - I promise, at least not as much as you do with disposables. I mean why else would it be called a "SAFETY" razor? I waited for the longest time before I finally committed to one. I would turn my house upside down, looking in every bathroom drawer and old suitcase to find a straggling disposable razor since I was terrified of using the safety razor. I look back and laugh at myself because now, I have a pretty deep love affair with my reusable safety razor.


But lets talk about the environmental ramifications of disposable razors for a second. According to the EPA, about 2 billion disposable razors are discarded every. single. year. Necessary? No. A waste of our hard earned money? Yes.

So to help you get over your fear of ending up in the ER, I'll give you my tips on how to ease into shaving with a safety razor and make you a pro in no time! Trust me, you'll never want to buy another disposable again after this. Wink - wink!

Turn off the Water

Because you want to take your time while you shave, I recommend plugging the drain while you wash your hair and using that water to shave your legs. We have to save water, too ya know. I keep a cup in the shower to rinse off my legs. A good use of old plastic containers if you're looking for other uses for them around your home.

Lather Up

Get your legs good and moistened with some homemade shaving cream, shaving bar, or a conditioner bar - I use the conditioner bar. And I'm not going to lie, I shave without anything most of the time. I live dangerously I know - I don't recommend that.

Go............Slowly...

It's not a race, seriously. Especially for your first couple of shaves, slow it down to get a feel for how it is. You'll notice that you don't have to press down like you did before with disposables. Let the weight of the razor and gravity do the work, that's all you'll need. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to go faster and shave places that you'd rather not think about during your first tries. Aren't I just a hoot?!

Shave in Sections

I find it easier to shave in sections. I don't really like pulling the blade all of the way up my leg as that can cause irritation so I shave half way up my shin - all of the way around, then the rest. But I basically divvy my leg up into 3 sections each. That's probably way more detailed than this needs to be but I thought, hey, why not. I'll throw this in here.

Clean the Razor

Once your done and rinsed, I highly suggest cleaning the razor thoroughly - not with your fingers - but with a rag and keeping it upright to dry. I just rinse mine with water - nothing special. This will keep the blade in tip top shape, prevent it from rusting, and extend the life of the blade dramatically. If you need a stylish, wooden razor stand for your bathroom I have them in my shop!

Recycle the Blade

Yes, the steel blade is made from recyclable material but being able to recycle blades is a different story - of course, like a said above, if you take care of your blades, they will last a long time. Blades are considered to be hazardous waste so check with your local recycling facilities to be sure you can recycle them there. If not, take them to a local scrap metal facility.

Convince your Friends to Switch

Probably the most important tip, right? Show your friends and family that shaving with a safety razor is not only more environmentally friendly but better for their wallets, easy, and probably the BEST shave they'll ever have. The next time they look at a disposable their noses will turn up!


And that's it my friends! See, I told you it wasn't that bad. I would not recommend any zero waste swaps that were so difficult no one could do it. If you're still not completely on board, that's fine. No worries. There are other options! Sugar waxing can be done in replace of shaving or if you just want to stick it to stereotypical assumptions of how women should look - stop shaving entirely. The decision is completely up to you.

I hope this helps! What are your favorite safety razor brands?

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Zero Waste Nerd


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Grocery Haul and Menu #2

Here's another week's worth of groceries and what we're having for meals. I was really wondering if we'd have time this weekend to go shopping. Do you ever wish life would just slow down a bit? On top of a crazy work schedule, the online store, the blog, home renovations, new home shopping, and a sick baby - again, I have barely enough time to sleep - and even then that's tiring considering last night I dreamt I saved a bunch of babies from a burning building and landed a space shuttle. I don't know but my dreams are weird. Well luckily, we made it to good ole Hy-Vee before the sun set. One of the things I love about zero waste grocery shopping is that it takes next to no time to get in and to get out. Because we only shop the perimeters of the store, we don't have to fight a bunch of people or spend all day hunting for things down random aisles - it also helps that I always have our Zero Waste Shopping Kit in the car and ready to go.

So what did we get?



A lot of produce as usual since we eat heavily plant based - I forgot to photograph the bread. Most of the components to our meals we already have in our pantry and fridge since we always do a quick inventory before meal planning. This saves food waste, too. And as you can see, I buy pasta in packaging since I don't have access to bulk pasta. For those of you who do - you're lucky and I'm jealous. The best we can do is to buy the pasta in cardboard, recycle that, and then discard the plastic window. 

Meal Plan

  • Veggie burgers with roasted yellow squash, zucchini squash, and potato wedges
  • Creamy roasted red pepper and tomato soup with canned tomatoes from our garden with toasted bread and kale pesto that we have in our freezer - I'm also using a can of coconut milk that we already had
  • Garlic and white wine pasta with brussel sprouts
  • Stir fry with Napa cabbage, broccoli, and garlic
  • Lunches - we use leftovers from dinners
  • Snacks - oranges, bananas, hummus with bulk chickpeas we already had, and homemade crackers
  • Breakfasts - oatmeal with homemade almond milk, and homemade banana muffins (It ended up becoming banana bread) made with bananas we had in the freezer
And that's it. Simple, yummy, healthy, and practically trash free. Also, it only cost us about $44 so I'd say that's a win.

What deliciousness are you having this week?