Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup

Ramble On

Soup is seriously one of my favorite foods! There are so many different kinds and variations that I could go crazy trying to make them all every night for dinner. This particular recipe I realize now probably isn’t so vegan since I used egg noodles – DUH, new vegan eater over here. BUT you could totally replace with vegan egg noodles if you have an issue with it. I’m not as weird about eggs as most people who eat vegan because I buy cage free organic and cruelty free eggs. I actually prefer eggs from backyard chickens and am even considering getting my own chickens in the spring so that will make it even less of an issue. ANYWAY – this soup is bomb no matter what noodles you use, heck you could even use rice! It’s super duper fricking easy and only requires 5 ingredients plus a TON of spices.

I fully suggest letting the broth simmer for a while before adding your noodles – the smell is DIVINE. It also makes for great leftovers. Isn’t leftover soup at work the best? It’s like being transported home for a little bit with all the yummy comforting warmth. Did I mention I love soup?

Easy Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup

4 carrots, sliced

4 celery stalked, sliced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 15oz can chickpeas, drained

7 cups vegetable broth

1 cup water

2 small bay leaves

1 tsp thyme (or herb de Provence is super yummy too!)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cup egg noodles, vegan if desired (or any pasta)

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add olive oil, onion, carrots and celery to a large pot over medium heat and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add spices, broth and water and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  3. 5-10 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the noodles and chickpeas and remove the bay leaves. Let noodles simmer for 5-10 minutes or until they reach desired firmness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

How to Arrange Market Style Flowers

Ramble On

I absolutely love having fresh flowers in the house. Something about them makes everything feel brighter. The last few years, I’ve started buying the market style bunches of flowers and greenery instead of buying prearranged bouquets. This may seem like a daunting task, but once you get the hang of arranging your own flowers it’s actually cheaper and more fun to do it yourself. For example, my grocery store sells bouquets for around $15. These are the smaller bouquets with a few different kinds of flowers but not in a large quantity. Or I can get three larger bunches of flowers, which I get to pick, for only $12. This makes for a much larger bouquet made out of whatever flowers I choose. Once you start creating your own bouquets, you’ll realize how easy it is and you’ll never go back!

When buying fresh market bunches of flowers make sure to get at least one greenery bunch and a variety of sizes of flowers. In this bouquet, I only purchased three bunches – ferns, daisies and large yellow mums – but it still made for quite a full bouquet. Having a variety of sizes will make it so that the bouquet is balanced. To begin, fill a vase with water and pour in the flower food that comes with the flowers. If you don’t have flower food, you can also take some aspirin and grind it up in the water.

Start with the largest flowers first and place them in the vase. Make sure to remove all leaves that may reach the water line so that they don’t dirty the water. To figure out how much stem to cut off, I like to set my vase on the edge of the counter, then hold the flower next to the vase allowing the stem to go below the counter if necessary. Once the height of the flower has been determined, you can cut the stem to length. Place the largest flowers in the center. You can vary the heights of the stems slightly so that they aren’t all leaning up against each other. Next, prepare the smaller flowers. The smaller flowers can be arranged around the larger ones, again varying the height of the stems so that the bouquet is balanced but rounded, placing the the shorter cuts on the outside near the edge and the taller cuts closer to the center. If you have more than one variety of small flowers, you can treat these the same way. Use the smaller flowers like fillers to work around the larger flowers and fill in any gaps. You still want the largest flowers to be the focal point so make sure not to overpower them with smaller bunches of flowers (like I did in the photo below LOL).

Lastly, add the greenery. I usually like to add these in a triangular pattern. I had 5 fern stalks in my bunch this time so I put two stalks at 4 o’clock, two at 8 o’clock and one at noon. I made sure the largest flowers were still the most prominent and in the front. Take a step back and look at the bouquet fully. At this point, you can always pull stems out and rearrange if you’re not happy with the way things look. I think it’s always prettier when bouquets look a little bit more on the wild side, but to each their own 🙂 In the photos below you can see I broke my own rule on the left by adding too many of the smaller flowers to the center. This ruined the appearance of the larger flowers making them look squished into the bottom edge of the vase. The photo on the right is after I rearranged the larger flowers into the middle. I think it gives it a much more professional look and makes the mums look fuller and brighter.

So that’s pretty much it! I love how this bouquet turned out and also love that making my own arrangements means I can have flowers in the house more often. It really is the best way to brighten a room or a mood and for only $12 and about 15 minutes it’s totally worth the extra work!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Best Meal Kits for a Vegetarian

Ramble On

Within the last few years, it seems like new meal kit subscriptions have been popping up all over the place. Each one offering full sets of ingredients delivered to your door with planned out recipes – making it easier than ever to cook your meals at home. They boast convenience and ease, eliminating the need for grocery store trips, menu planning and overall inspiration. All in all, they are a great concept. I personally enjoy trying them when I feel less inspired to cook or when I feel I’ve hit a wall with new recipes to try. I mean, let’s be real, you can only pin so many pins on Pinterest before you start to just feel like it’s hopeless. As a vegetarian (or in my case occasionally pescatarian), it can be difficult to figure out which meal kit might be best for you. This post walks you through my experience with several of the different meal kit subscriptions as a vegetarian. We’ll discuss the menu options, pricing, portion sizing and more. So if you’re vegetarian and have been thinking about trying out one of these subscriptions for yourself, then keep on reading.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron was one of the first subscription boxes I tried. I believe when I set up my account the whole meal kit thing was still a relatively new idea, and so there weren’t many other companies out there doing it. Blue Apron worked for my house because they offered vegetarian meals as well as meals with a meat focus. Recently, I received an email from them stating that they were even now offering Beyond Meat products as substitutes for certain menus. This makes Blue Apron a great choice for anyone looking to try out vegetarian options or someone already eating this way. Unfortunately, my biggest issue with Blue Apron ended up being that the meals all started to taste the same. This is likely due to the fact that many of the same spices and ingredients were used in their vegetarian options (ie. repetitive pasta dishes with oregano and red chili pepper). This isn’t to say that the meals weren’t tasty, just that the flavors began to feel a bit monotonous as time went on. This may have been fine if this wasn’t exactly why I was trying out meal kits in the first place. Pricing for Blue Apron was extremely reasonable as a new subscriber with coupon codes. My first two orders (which were 3 meals of 2 servings each) were only $35.00 per box. Later on however, the price almost doubled and the boxes were right around $60 each. This still might be a great deal to someone not wanting to go to the grocery store or menu plan, but for me it didn’t seem justifiable with the meals and ingredients I was being given (ie. all vegetarian, no fish or meat of any kind). If you’re looking to try out meal kits, I’d definitely give them a try using the introductory offer if only for the costs savings.

Every Plate

Every Plate was sort of an accidental try-out for me. A friend had sent me a referral link for basically a free box for my first order – which is awesome! However, I didn’t realize that when I signed up to view their menu that I was automatically subscribing to their meal kits. I was unable to view their menu before signing up which put me in a bit of a pickle since I soon realized that they did not offer vegetarian options. Once I realized a box had shipped out to me, I contacted customer service through their chat function on their website. Every Plate’s customer service was amazing. They refunded the $1 I paid when I signed up and still let me have the box for free. Now granted, I could not eat much of what was inside the meal kit, or use the recipes that went with it, but all of the ingredients were basically sent to me for free. If you’re a meat-eater, I would definitely check them out as their prices are reasonable and you can’t beat great service. They do have a sister-site that is vegetarian called GreenChef.com. I have not tried that service yet, but may have to at some point in the future.

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh was the second meal kit I tried (after the Every Plate snafu) and I was actually pretty impressed with their options. Although they don’t regularly offer vegan options, I was able to make their options work in our vegetarian/pescaratian household. The ingredients arrived super fresh which is always a bonus. My favorite part about Hello Fresh was, again, the introductory pricing. I paid only $21 for my first box which included 3 meals with 2 servings each. The portions were super generous as well which is always nice since I like to be able to pack leftovers as lunches when possible. The leftovers didn’t happen with every meal, but there were a couple that were incredibly filling and worked out that way. The second box was just over $30 which is still a great deal for the amount of food and the quality of ingredients. I also appreciated the variety in their menu. I was able to try a few things that I had never even heard of before such as grilling cheese and even eating raw dressed squash on top of a delicious farro salad. The flavors of each recipe varied greatly too which I love because, again, I’m usually using these meal kits to try and get out of a cooking slump. All in all, I would definitely recommend Hello Fresh, and may even use them again in the future to get more kitchen inspiration.

Sun Basket

Sun Basket is one of the first subscriptions I tried that boasted having vegetarian and vegan options. However, I had expected to see many more options than what was offered. Basically if you’re doing 3 meals a week you were stuck with the three vegetarian option in that weeks menu, and vegan options were even less available. This isn’t to say that the food wasn’t good, because it was, but I feel that if a company is going to boast a specific offering it should be more in focus than it was. The pricing for Sun Basket was reasonable at first (again, as a first time customer with an introductory offer), but once the coupon was used up the price skyrocketed. To sign up for a “vegetarian” plan for 3 meals, 2 servings, it’s $72. I believe the main reason for this is that you pay $7 for shipping when many of the other meal kits will offer free shipping if you’re doing a large enough plan. My only other complaint with them would also be the serving size. Typically with vegetarian and vegan food I find myself needing a little larger portion size than usual. I found Sun Baskets servings to be somewhat small, and even had to make disproportionate servings for my husband and I so that he would feel satisfied after dinner. The menu items were tasty though, I just wish there would have been a little bit more food especially for the price.

Home Chef

Home Chef has been my most recent subscription and possibly my favorite so far. The first thing I love about Home Chef is their range of menu options. Granted, they don’t offer vegan so if you’re looking for that it won’t work, but they do offer at least 3 vegetarian options per week as well as plenty of seafood options. I also love the additional smoothies that you can purchase. They make a great and convenient breakfast or snack and have healthy ingredients such as coconut milk or greek yogurt and, of course, fruit. They offer a wide range of flavors as well. My most recent menu included a sun dried tomato pasta, a sweet-chili shrimp bowl, as well as a panko crusted salmon. I also added their peanut butter banana smoothie, which was amazing! I think that Home Chef was the best for me because of the inspirational menus. It really got my wheels turning about cooking and mixing ingredients in new ways, and gave me several great recipes that I will definitely make on my own in the future. These boxes were a little bit pricier – the first two were right around $50 – however, I feel that if I’m receiving a box with seafood items that $50 really isn’t that much (at least compared to $50 with all vegetables and grains). This is their introductory offer and I believe the boxes are right around $70 after the first three. This includes 3 meals, 2 servings each (with decently sized portions, sometimes with leftovers) and one smoothie recipe of 2 servings. So overall, yes, a little pricey, but decent if you eat seafood.

Overall, meal subscription kits are a fun way to get out of a cooking cycle of using the same recipes over and over and over. They are also a convenient way to avoid eating out and maybe even learn some new techniques along the way. Unfortunately, I think they are a bit pricey for someone looking for a strictly vegetarian menu. When you aren’t adding meat or seafood to a meal it shouldn’t cost the same as if you were. There are a couple other meal kits I haven’t tried yet that claim to be more veg-life focused, such as Green Chef and Purple Carrot. I may try those on my next round of inspiration searching, but until then I’m happy to take the recipes I’ve gotten so far and try some new things (here’s looking at you shrimp tostadas!). Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever tried a meal kit subscription or if you would. If you have, let me know what your favorites are and if there are any not mentioned above that I should try.

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Half Way Through 2019 – Resolutions Check-In

2019 Resolutions, Ramble On

We are half way through 2019 already – can you believe it? It seems like the years go by faster and faster every year and this one is no exception. It’s been fun though having real attainable goals and trying to achieve them, and stick to them, throughout the last 6 months. I wanted to do a post today to tell you all about how my resolutions are going, what I’ve been able to do to stay on target and what my plans are for the remaining half of the year. Let’s get into it! If you want more details and specifics about my resolutions go check out my other posts here.

Resolution #1 – Keep Blogging – so far so good! I’ve had a couple lapses where I didn’t post for a while, but overall I think I’ve stayed fairly dedicated. I’ve had to switch my focus from time to time in order to keep myself excited and into blogging, but I think that’s also kept the site more interesting. I mean, does anyone really want to just read about the same thing all the time? I know I don’t want to write like that. I plan on continuing to use this blog as sort of a personal journal to include my resolution accountability, culinary experiments, pop-up camping adventures and overall life lessons. Stay tuned for travel posts about Nashville, some awesome vegan recipes I tried out this weekend for my Mom’s 60th birthday and many more pop-up camping posts!

Resolution #2 – Two Week Detox, January 2019 – okay, so this one has been completed, but I’ve been having some thoughts on it. I think I want to do another detox here fairly soon and this time for 3 weeks. I’m just trying to figure out the optimal date to do it which during the summer and wedding season can be tough, because hello, champagne toasts, camping trips, bbqs and every other excuse for a cold one. However, I really enjoyed the way my body felt after the detox and think it may be time for another. This is something I think I’d like to do more regularly just in general, this way it will get easier every time and hopefully have lasting effects on how often I drink and smoke regularly. So more on that to come…

Resolution #3 – 2019, The Year of No New Things – I have been killing it at this one! I have mentioned this in previous posts but now that we are at the 6 month mark I think it’s an incredibly important check-in. I have been able to go 6 whole months without really buying anything new. Okay so, some exception – first, I bought a vacuum cleaner. Our vacuum died and with having 5 animals in the house it’s not really something I can live without, nor is it something I want to buy used. Our vacuum has to be beastly when it comes to animal hair and I just don’t think a thrifted vacuum would cut it, so I bought it new. Second, I rewarded myself a little early. I had decided in January when I made this resolution that I would allow myself two slips – one at 6 months and one at the end of the year. Well, I went to Nashville in May, and really wanted to buy a new hat – like a nice hat, a really nice hat. I did just that. I bumped my reward up a couple months and bought myself a hat in Nashville. It’s super awesome and I’m in love with it and it’s really the only fun thing I’ve purchased new (unless you think lotions and toothpaste and stuff like that is fun, which hey, you do you.) Every other items I’ve purchased this year has been from the thrift store or somehow secondhand. I’ve also gotten lucky enough to receive some pretty sweet hand-me-down items (hello, new overalls) and I think have been distracted enough by my other resolutions that this goal has not been difficult to accomplish so far. I definitely think it’s something I will continue to do for years to come.

Resolution #4 – Sustainability Through Food – this resolution has been a little tougher, but hey I’m still here and doing it! Mostly this resolution started as a ploy to get myself to garden, but it’s also about cooking at home, meal-prepping and saving money along the way. The gardening has been going great. My garden is finally producing and the harvest is not only delicious but fun and rewarding. If you want to see my recent post on my Garden Check-In you can read it here. The other facets to this resolution have been tougher for sure and have started to slip even more now that we’re in the middle of the year. I’m cooking less and eating out more it feels like, but still not eating out as much as before. I’ve continued to actually pick my groceries up at the store versus having them delivered – Except the occasional Costco delivery, because let’s face it that place can be hell. I’ve been trying a couple different subscription boxes lately to see if that helps with the urge to be lazy. I’m not super duper disappointed in myself, but I know I need to get better. This week I have some meals from HelloFresh that I need to try out. I think it’s just been so busy these past few months that sometimes it’s just easier to grab a pizza or tacos from somewhere else. I’m determined to get back into the swing of meal prepping and making my own food though, so I’ll check back in a few weeks and let you know how that’s going.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Resolution #5 – Take Better Care of Your Body – this one has been great, but of course with up and downs. The downs are more due to just being busy and either not having time to hit the gym or not having the energy. I have gotten better about doing exercises at home even if I can’t get to the gym though, and that’s something I was never good with before. Today is a new day, and the beginning of a new month, so I plan on hitting the gym after work for some cycling. The big bummer about this resolution is that the gym was super clean and empty in the beginning since it was brand new. As it’s been open longer it’s gotten more and more crowded which in turn makes it more annoying for me to go. I’ve thought about maybe cancelling the membership and working out more at home instead, but I do enjoy the stationary bike and just can’t see myself purchasing one right now. Overall, I can see a difference in my body since working out more often which is what the goal was. I have definitely lost some weight as well and I am back on the intermittent fasting regiment. Basically what this means is I’m allowing myself to eat between the hours of noon and 8pm and fasting for a full 16 hours in between. Sometimes this time range fluctuates a bit but is always a 16 hour fasting period. I’ve seen big differences in my body and in my mental capacity by fasting this way. The hardest part is the weekends which I do sometimes cheat for. I love a good breakfast and sometimes it’s more fun to do breakfast earlier in the day on a Saturday then to wait for a brunch. I’m also looking forward to more walks in the fall as it’s too hot to take the doggies right now. I know they miss walking but don’t want to risk burning their paws on the asphalt. Luckily, I’m more active in the summertime in general so I think I’m doing fairly well on this resolution so far.

So there you have it – my half-way through the year check in. Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself and can’t wait to stick through it to the end of the year. I’ll continue to keep this blog updated. Let me know in the comments below how your resolutions are going. Are you still staying committed or have the months made you fall off the wagon?

Until next time,

MelissaRose

All Natural Deodorant

Ramble On, Sustainability

A few years ago, I decided to make the move to all natural deodorant. After learning about the ingredients of my usual antiperspirant, I wanted to give something else a try to avoid putting unnecessary chemicals into my body. I won’t go too much into depth about the effects of typical antiperspirants. Unfortunately, not much research has been done on the subject to clearly address whether or not there are seriously adverse affects on the body. However, I will say that I have noticed an improvement in the quality of my underarm skin as well as an improvement in coloration. All in all, I tried four different all natural deodorants, giving them all time to settle in and see if they would mesh well with my body. And here is what I learned…

Starting out using natural deodorant can be a little uncomfortable in the beginning, especially if you’ve been using antiperspirant for a long time. You’ll sweat ALOT and probably notice that you smell worse than usual. A quick Google search told me that my underarms were actually detoxing the chemicals that I had been inserting into my pores for so long. It took several days for the detox to complete, however I found that using a charcoal mask on my underarms helped to speed along the process. The charcoal in the mask helped to draw out the impurities and made my skin feel pretty nice too! Another thing to keep in mind with natural deodorant versus antiperspirant, is that antiperspirant actually blocks your pores to keep you from sweating. Deodorant is made to simply mask the smell throughout the day, not to necessarily keep your pits dry. This took some getting used to as I was noticing that I was actually sweating, but after a while it no longer bothered me and I felt better about not stuffing unmentionables into my pores.

The first all natural deodorant that I tried was from Tom’s of Maine. I purchased their coconut lavender scent stick since I am a fan of lavender and though the coconut properties may be good for my skin. Unfortunately, I did not find that this one gave me enough coverage. Thinking back now, it may be an unfair review since I was using it through my detox period, but the scent was a bit overwhelming for me. I did enjoy the stick application. There are different types of natural deodorant from sticks, to pots, to rollers, but I found the stick to be the cleanest and most convenient way to apply. I ended up moving away from Tom’s for the scent factor alone, but would be open to trying some of their other scents, now that I know I am out of the detox phase. The price is relatively cheap at about $5 per stick – so around the same as conventional deodorants and antiperspirants and was easy to find at my local Target or drugstores.

The second brand of deodorant I tried was from Schmidt’s. This brand gets rave reviews online and costs right around the $5 mark, and are available in most drugstores. They offer a wide range of scents, and even sell mini-packs so you can try different scents on different days. I went with the charcoal magnesium scent since I knew I was down with the charcoal ingredient and it had more of a musky scent versus a flowery scent which I prefer. However!! This deodorant gave me a horrible underarm rash. I only used the stick for a couple of days, but I soon found little red itchy bumps growing all on my armpit and surrounding arm and side areas. This was so incredibly uncomfortable! I quickly learned that I may be allergic or have an adverse reaction to applying Sodium Bicarbonate (otherwise known as Baking Soda) to this sensitive area of skin. The stick I bought from Tom’s did not contain this ingredient and so did not produce a rash. The difference in consistency between the two was also plain to see and feel. The Schmidt’s felt much rougher against my skin, and took some warming and coercing to get it to spread evenly on my underarm area. Even so, since producing a rash, I decided it was time to find some alternatives that did not contain baking soda. Sorry Schmidt’s – I wanted to love you, I really did!

The third all natural deodorant I tested is called Meow Meow Tweet. I was instantly attracted to the name, the bright colors in their packaging and the fact that their product does not contain baking soda. Another cool factor is that the tubes the stick come in are completely biodegradable which eliminates any of the plastic waste found with most stick deodorants. This product worked great for me for many months. I loved the lemon eucalyptus scent and the tiny stick it came in since I could carry it in my purse and reapply later. However, at $14 a stick (even for the tiny one – 1.8 oz) it was beginning to feel like I was spending way too much for way too little. Sure, it felt like a cute little boutique item made just for me, but it is still going on my armpits after all. They do however offer a cream version in a 2 oz pot for $11 at Target. If I was a fan of applying my deodorant with my fingers I may have tried this cheaper route, but alas, I enjoy my stick too much. If you think you can hang with the price or the pot version I would definitely recommend their product. I just didn’t feel like it was enough product for me to spend so much money on, especially when I was reapplying throughout the day in the summer.

My fourth and final choice for a deodorant stick came from an Instagram story from a cousin of mine in Texas. She was telling her followers about this new website she found with a $10 trial offer for all natural, baking soda free deodorant. It comes in a reusable plastic case and the pods the stick deliver in are also recyclable. The website was MyMyro.com. This has been my favorite find so far! You get to pick the color of your plastic holder, which is great because if you live in a hot place like I do, it’s important to be able to bring your stick with you just in case you get sweatier than normal. They offer a wide range of scents from flowery to fresh to a little manly. And the packaging you get with your first order is just the cutest ever! They even send a cute enamel pin with your first order. I’ve been using this stick for about 4 months and couldn’t be happier. The other cool part about this is that it’s a subscription based service, so you sign up, pay $10 and then you can set delivery preferences for the next time you’ll need a new one. They allow you to adjust your shipment times, and then send you three refills at once, either all the same scent or in a variety. I’m currently using their scent called Cabin No. 5 and just love how it smells. On the hottest days, or gym days, I may have to reapply once or twice, but I’m finding that even with the heat the deodorant does a great job of releasing the scent throughout the day to keep me smelling great.

So that’s it! Those are the deodorants I’ve tried so far. Right now, I’m pretty happy with Myro, but would love to know if there are other brands I should try. I should also mention that all four brands above are cruelty free, however Tom’s is owned by Colgate Palmolive who does test on animals with their other products. The last three are also vegan products and do not use any animal products or byproducts in their products. This is pretty important to me, so I’m happy to say that the two I liked most also align well with my values. It’s cool to see companies becoming more aware of that these days!

Let me know in the comments below if there are any deodorants that you like or have had experience with. I love hearing about how people are making the switch to living more naturally and healthy not only for ourselves but for our planet!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Fast Food Options for Vegetarians

Ramble On

Fast food isn’t ever a great life choice. It’s generally unhealthy, creates a ton of waste and usually doesn’t taste too great either (compared to home-cooked meals). But sometimes ish happens. Sometimes you need a quick meal for cheap. Sometimes you have to ignore your better instincts and simply put some food in your belly. In this post, I hope to be able to give you some options for when you’re stuck in a fast food pinch. It’s exciting to see more and more options becoming available for vegetarians (technically I’m a pescatarian but would NEVER EVER eat fish from a fast food restaurant). Here are some of my favorites for when I find myself needing a little sustenance without alot of time or money.

Taco Bell

This option may not seem very surprising considering the variety of menu options at Taco Bell. But let me tell you something you may not have known before – you can substitute the beef in other items for beans. For example, that Crunch Wrap you used to love so much? Substitute the beef for extra refried beans. My personal favorite is to order the crunchy tacos and substitute the beef for black beans. This gives you a taco with a similar consistency without all the, ya know, meat. Taco Bell is also great because of all the items they offer that have beans in them. Beans are a great source of protein and are a major staple in a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet. They also offer a complete vegetarian menu on their website and are probably one of the more healthy (and cheap!) fast food options out there.

Carls Jr. Beyond Famous Star

Starting in 2019, Carl’s Jr. began offering their Beyond Famous Star with the Beyond Meat patty. I used to like their Famous Star burgers so I was incredibly excited when I learned that they are now offering a meat-free version. I’ve loved all of the Beyond Meat products I’ve tried so far, and this patty (also available in grocery stores to cook at home) is no exception. The texture is very similar to a traditional meat patty, and it doesn’t have any of the dryness or blandness sometimes found in other “veggie patties”. Not a fan of the Famous Star? You can substitute the Beyond Meat patty into any burger on their menu. You can also order their Beyond Burger without cheese and mayo for a vegan option (or so I’m told).

In N Out

In N Out is an exclusively west coast (and maybe Texas and Utah?) fast food chain that prides itself on the quality of their ingredients and the freshness of their made to order menu items. But, their main menu item is a hamburger. They don’t offer a veggie option (yet?), but you can order off of their not-so-secret menu to get your meat-free fix. Order a grilled cheese with grilled onions – seriously it’s so good. It comes with all the same fixings as a cheeseburger just without the meat patty. Another great option are their addicting animal style fries – french fries topped with melted cheese, grilled onions and their famous In N Out spread. If you don’t have an In N Out near you, my sincerest apologies. If you ever get a chance to make it to the west coast, be sure to try their cheesy meat-free options and their delectable milkshakes.

Burger King

Before Carl’s Jr. came on the scene with their Beyond Burger, the only other veggie burger I could find from a fast food place was the MorningStar Veggie burger from Burger King. In my opinion, it’s not as delicious as the Beyond Burger, but I think the difference is in the veggie patty. I’m not as big of a fan of the MorningStar patties, even when I purchase them separately from the grocery store. In any case, it’s a cheaper alternative to the Carl’s burger and is a good simple burger for when you need one in a pinch. Order it with a side of fries, and you have a classic fast food burger meal that’s meat-free.

Del Taco

Carl’s Jr. isn’t the only fast food joint to hop on the Beyond Meat train. Del Taco is testing the success of using the Beyond Meat crumbles in their tacos as well. Unfortunately, this option is only currently available in certain locations in Southern California and Oklahoma (does anyone else think that’s random?). I hope they are successful in this new offering and decide to expand it to all of their locations. If you are in the area that serves them, be sure to go get one and tell me what you think.

Chipotle

Some people may not consider Chipotle fast food, but I thought I’d include their options anyway since it is in fact a fast and relatively inexpensive place to get a quick bite. I used to love their chicken burrito bowls with a bag of chips. Once I stopped eating meat, I tried their Sofritas (which is their staple vegetarian/vegan soy-based option), but wasn’t really a fan of the flavors. Instead, I now substitute the chicken for guacamole. This is great because without meat they don’t charge you the extra fee for the guac. Make your bowl or burrito with brown rice and black beans (I also love their corn salsa) and you have a mostly nutritious meal with a protein punch. They also offer fajita veggies if you’re looking to add more substance to your veggie bowl. I’d imagine you could probably order their tacos this way as well.

Overall, it’s encouraging to see how many fast food restaurants are embracing change and trying to offer items that coincide with their customers values. I hope this list is helpful to you when you have to settle for fast food. Hopefully more places continue to follow suit by offering more meat-free options. Let me know in the comments below if you know of any other fast food menu items that are being offered for vegetarian customers.

I should also note that not all options are available at all locations. Check with your local restaurants to see what’s available in your area. All images used above are the property of the respective restaurants and were taken from their websites.

Until next time!

MelissaRose

Getting Better Sleep

Ramble On
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One of my resolutions for this year is to take better care of my physical body. To me, this means a myriad of things – better diet, more exercise, less bad things like sweets, alcohol and cigarettes, but also, more sleep. Well, maybe more sleep isn’t the right way to say it, what I mean is better sleep. Falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, waking up earlier. There are many, many articles on the internet about how to get better sleep. Some say to turn off your television or to make sure your room is completely dark and quiet, other say to listen to sound machines or charge your phone in another room. But I don’t think it’s a cookie cutter solve for everyone. In this post, I’m going to tell you what I do to get better sleep. And again, this may not work for you, but it works for me and so I thought I would share it, even if it doesn’t align with what you normally read.

Background Noise

I love background noise when I sleep. Whether it’s a movie, some music playing or a weird playlist of rain and whale sounds, I enjoy having noise droning in the background as I fall asleep. For me, this makes sense. I have three dogs and two cats, all of whom sleep in my room (as well as my husband, obviously). I am very sensitive to sound when I’m trying to fall asleep. Listening to breathing patterns, snoring, mouth noises, all of it can keep me awake at night. To make matters worse, I think everyone except for my german shepherd (who is quite a bit younger than all the other animals) snores. To drown this out, I enjoy having a movie playing in the background, but if not a movie than music. For the movie, I turn the brightness on our bedroom television pretty much all the way down and try to pick movies I’ve seen several times so that I’m not kept up by the fear of missing something important. Some of my main go to movies are The Lord of the Rings series, Star Wars and numerous animated family films such as Megamind, Shrek, or anything Pixar to name a few. I’m able to fall asleep to these quickly as I already know what’s going to happen and the dialogue and music drown out the sleepy snoring sounds of my beloveds. Most articles will tell you to turn off the TV before bed, but I say let it play.

Relaxing Drinks

I absolutely love tea before bed. The warm feeling I get while sipping tea in bed is so relaxing and comforting to me. Not only that, but I drink teas with herbs and mixtures in them that promote healthy sleep. My current favorite is from Yogi Teas and is their Honey Lavender Stress Relief Tea. The sweetness of the honey and lavender is delicious, but I also love the calming smell of the lavender before trying to fall asleep. They also have Bedtime Tea that I haven’t tried yet but need to. Another brand that I learned of from my mom years and years ago is Celestial Seasons Sleepytime Tea. It’s a delicious herbal blend that has been around for over 40 years, and I just love the cute little bear on the packaging. Lastly, a new drink I tried recently is the Mushroom Hot Cacao from Four Sigmatic. I received a sample from a recent Sephora order and was surprised to see mushroom and hot cocoa in the same label. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. The chocolate was rich with a hint of cinnamon and not a lick of mushroom could be detected. What intrigued me even more was upon reading their website I learned that the reishi mushroom used in the hot chocolate promotes restful sleep as well as stress release. I could feel my body relaxing almost instantly after trying this, and while I’m not big on hot chocolate or chocolate in general, I would consider subbing this into my routine once in a while for a sweet treat before bed.

Stretching

Sometimes when I lay in bed, I can feel my legs and arms becoming restless from the motion of the day. The blood pumping through my veins feels as if it’s trying to slow down and relax, but is having difficulty resting without some coercion. This is where stretching helps me tremendously. Sometimes I stretch outside of bed, doing a few light yoga moves such as downward dog or child’s pose. Other times, I forget and stretch in bed. This usually involves grabbing my feet and raising my legs over my body, or sitting up and doing a butterfly stretch under the covers. I’m no expert on this, so definitely do what’s right for your body. Youtube is a great reference for sleeping stretches that you can do before bed. I suggest you look into them and see what works best for you. (You can find some good out of bed stretches from Fitness Magazine here.) Ultimately, this helps relax my body a great deal before calling it for the night. I think it’s important to give your body a cool down period before just plopping into bed. I know for me it is helpful and can also help to calm my mind as well because of the overall relaxing nature of stretching out tired muscles.

Just Breathe

Similar to stretching, finding an even and calm breathing routine before trying to sleep helps me to regulate my body and prepare it for relaxation mode. One routine that works well for me is this: inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds. I will do this cycle of breathing several times, or until I feel like my heart has stopped pounding with the stress of the day. It’s incredibly relaxing and when done after stretching and a cup of tea makes my body feel like it’s almost instantly ready for sleep.

Turn Down the Heat

This is more of a wintertime tip, but I think is important to mention. During the colder months, turn down your thermostat instead of cranking it up to keep you warm. This is because your body actually sleeps better when it’s cooler. It’s true! Did you know your body temperature actually starts dropping when it’s time for you to sleep? This is why it feels so energizing to exercise, because you are feeling warm. And don’t worry about getting cold in the middle of the night (I mean, sleep with blankets obviously) because your body is actually expelling heat while you sleep. If you’ve ever woken up because you’re too hot, you’ll know what I mean. I turn my thermostat to 64° and sleep with a down alternative comforter. I stay warm throughout the night and even wake up too warm sometimes in the mornings. The worst part about this tip is getting up in the morning, but I usually just run to the thermostat to turn it up a few degrees before jumping in a hot shower. You can read more about sleep and body temperature here.

I think that’s all the tips I have for you today. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks for getting better sleep. Until then, sweet dreams!

MelissaRose

Ramble On // Cruelty Free is the Way to Be

Ramble On

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I have been pescatarian for about 3 years now. The decision came because of inspiration from a dear friend who is a hardcore vegan who was always so sweet and encouraging about her ideals – not pushy and preachy like some can be. I grew up on a ranch, so hearing her claims about animals being “friends not food” was not alien to me. I had grown up feeding drop calves and pigs, I hung out with goats and full grown holstein cows and could not argue that they have personalities. Much of their personalities, in fact, reminded me of one of the most common household pets – dogs. I wouldn’t eat a dog, so why am I okay with eating other animals? Once I gave myself this perspective, I knew it was time for a change. And I love it! It’s not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, and I really truly feel like I am making a difference for animals. Now, I do still eat fish, I left this in my diet because I felt like it gave me one last source of meat-based protein, and to be honest, I guess I just don’t feel that emotional connection with fish. Maybe someday I will venture down the vegan road, but for now, I am happy with my mostly vegetarian lifestyle with the occasional sushi roll.

BUT, another area of my life that I realized was still not completely cruelty-free was my cosmetics. I had never really thought about the “tested on animals” factor until I recently started getting back into purchasing makeup. Why would I cut meat out of my diet only to allow animals to still be tortured through cosmetic and chemical testing?

Ramble On // Being Grateful

Ramble On

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So I’m sitting here scrolling through Facebook (which I actually hate doing, and I have no idea why I get sucked into it – WHY?!) and I CONSTANTLY see people complaining. Whether it be passive aggressive complaining with the vague posts about how “someone” is feeling like they don’t matter because they aren’t getting enough attention (I wonder who that could be…) or just straight up “i hate my life” complaining. You would think this would give me one more reason to stay out of this life-suck of an app, but no. WHY does everyone feel the need to post these sentiments on their Facebook for the whole world to see?? That could actually be another post entirely, but what I always seem to ask myself is why are all these people so dang unhappy? Why do they have so much to complain about? And personally, I think it all goes back to one simple truth – You will NEVER find happiness until you learn to be grateful.

MelissaRose Rambles On

Ramble On

Hey all,

So I’ve decided to start a new lifestyle blog. In the past, I’ve tried to make very specific blogs about food, design, fashion etc, but because my interests have grown so far and wide, I’ve decided to make a blog which encompasses them all. This blog will contain my weekly recipes and meal plans, my thrift store adventures and fashion styling, my musical interests as well as anything else that might be on my mind – hence the name Melissa Rose Rambles On. I will post anything and everything that I feel like at the time and hope that you all enjoy reading my thoughts and rambles.

Have a great week!

-MelissaRose