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

5 Tips for Sustainable Gardening

Sustainability

Gardening is sustainable. You are growing your own food, thus eliminating the use of plastic or other packaging that is often used in the grocery store, the fuel that is used to transport said food to the grocery store, as well as all the pesticides and other chemicals used to grow that food commercially. But have you ever thought about how you might save other items while boasting a home garden? I’m going to give you 5 ideas for making your garden and your process more sustainable, and in many cases, cheaper too!

1. Reusable Containers

This is by far the easiest way and cheapest way to be more sustainable when starting your garden from seeds. I’ve mentioned this in a couple of my more gardening process centric posts if you want to check those out. Basically, this step is reusing items that otherwise may be thrown out as garden containers. This can mean using them for seeds, seedlings, small plants (or I guess big plants if you have large containers) or storage. The first reusable container I used for my garden was egg cartons. I used old egg cartons to start my seeds in. This was extremely cost effective and reduced my waste. Other items you can use are old plastic containers, such as for yogurt, spread, cheeses, old solo cups, or even plastic containers from previous plant projects. I’ve seen posts online using old roasted chicken containers as greenhouses, which looked and seemed like a good idea, but since we don’t eat chicken we don’t have those containers. There are also ways to make origami cups out of old newspapers to start seedlings in. For all of these versions, just make sure that when you water your plants, that there will be adequate drainage otherwise you could kill your plants.

2. Secondhand Supplies

 

I am a huge believer in buying secondhand. Most of the items I own are pre-owned and purchased from a thrift store. The same can be said for many of plant pots. I have several terra cotta pots, a few larger plastic pots and other clay pots that were all purchased at the thrift store at a fraction of the cost of my local hardware store. The big breakable pots are usually an especially good deal in comparison, so be sure to always look for those! This not only saves you loads of money but keeps these beautiful and non-biodegradable items out of our landfills. Another tip if you’re using planters that are less than gorgeous is to place the plastic planter inside of a cool basket. This hides the boring plastic container and can also be purchased for super cheap at the thrift store.

I’ve already mentioned buying pots from the thrift store, but have you ever thought about buying other larger supplies secondhand? Believe it or not, some thrift stores have outdoor areas where you can buy other gardening supplies. You could also visit your local flea market where you can sometimes find used tools such as shovels, wheelbarrows and other useful supplies. This cuts way down on cost and you can save these items from making it into our landfills. Other items to consider are reclaimed wood for planter boxes, leftover bricks and pavers for paths and borders, I’ve even seen old trellis and support pieces that you could pick up for cheap. Another great place to look is garage/yard sales. I think many people would rather be able to make a buck off of an old rake they no longer use than to dump it in the trash. You may even find old potting shelves or storage options for your stored seeds and other supplies. 

 

3. Composting

Composting is a more complicated way to be more sustainable with your gardening process. It allows you to discard your plant based kitchen waste into containers to compost for use in your garden. There are several different methods you can use depending on the size of your yard, the time you have available and the effort you want to put into it. The Farmer’s Almanac online has great info on composting if you want to learn more and start implementing this process in your own garden. The EPA also has a site that outlines the benefits versus letting your scraps go to the landfill.

4. Seed Sustainability

Swapping seeds with friends, family or neighbors is a great way to save money and be more sustainable. Check your local online sites for local gatherings of like-minded plant lovers – usually Facebook or NextDoor has groups with these interests. I’ve even seen these take place online – maybe someone who lives in the same zone, but a different area would be fun! You could send the seeds through the mail without too much trouble. You could also speak to people you work with or go to school with to find out if they share the same hobbies of planting and growing their own food. Luckily for me, many of my friends and family like to garden so I’m able to swap with them. Swapping seeds not only saves money and time wasted on going to the store, but helps to eliminate waste caused by over-buying seeds. This includes the packaging that the seeds come in, the transportation, the trip to the store, etc. I also like to save my seeds from year to year. Seeds don’t really go bad, unless stored improperly. I am storing my leftover seeds from this year to try and sprout for my garden next year as well. This will also give me the ability to log what seeds were successful, which ones were the tastiest and which ones I wouldn’t mind swapping next season. In the end, I’m saving money and finding like-minded individuals that share the same passion for growing their own food.

agriculture-crop-cultivation-95215.jpg

 

5. Water Conservation

The last sustainable tip I have for you is something that has become a huge issue here in California – water conservation. It may not seem like a big change, but adding a drip irrigation system to your garden or something similar can save big when it comes to water and your water bill. Watering the conventional way with a hose or a watering can can actually waste water. Instead of the water being concentrated in the right areas, like you can with a drip system, the entire bed gets watered when it really doesn’t need to be. An irrigation system can also be set on a time to ensure you water at the right times, whether you’re available or not and make it so that your water is being used in the best way. Installing a system may require an upfront investment, especially if you have someone else install it for you. But the investment is worth the cost when you think about the time, effort and precious resource it saves in the long run.

Those are all the tips I have for you today. Let me know if you have any additional tips for a more sustainable garden or if you are using any of these practices currently.

Until next time! 

MelissaRose

 

Getting Better Sleep

Ramble On
bed with textures and orchid

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