Howdy y’all!!! Hope you had a great weekend and your Monday is playing nice!!!

Soooo it has been quite a while since my last plant-based update on here. Like forever. I’m gonna get real honest right now.  I made a big deal about going plant-based because it was something really important to me. But I’m going to keep it real, living a full 100% plant-based life only lasted about two months. I started in February and then started integrating organic lean meats, cheese, and alcohol every now and then in April. I’m not saying living plant-based is any less important to me now (because it’s still something I constantly strive for and I still want to live as plant-based as possible), so let me explain further. This might sound like a lame excuse BUT it was incredibly difficult to sustain a plant-based life solo while cooking for my family. (Blame the family haha) My hubby and son would want something completelyyyy different, and I’d be in the kitchen for what seemed like an eternity every day prepping and cooking. That’s just not feasible for me on a day to day basis no matter how prepared and organized I was with my meals. I have NO idea how people do it 100%. I commend them, because I feel like I gave it a really valiant effort.

I will say this: I learned A TON about food in general from making that switch. From my research, the documentaries, and the recipes from the plant-based cookbooks (which are fantastic by the way: Clean Eating and Forks Over Knives), I have a better understanding of healthy fats and (for lack of a better way to say it) fatty fats, how to steer clear of most refined sugar, added steroids, chemicals, and preservatives in our foods, and how to prepare healthy meals in their raw form without excess oils. Keeping those few things out of our diet and still centering everything around fruits and vegetables is my plan now, and so far, it is definitely a better system for our family and daily routine. I’ve adopted several changes from the plant-based experience that I’m going to continue to use in everyday life. For example, I still cook with coconut oil instead of olive oil/butter, I use unsweetened almond milk and a drop of raw honey in my coffee instead of creamer, I opt for fresh instead of frozen products, and I’m really trying hard to be conscious of snacking on food with preservatives like chips and junky stuff and substitute for healthier alternatives like fruit, hummus, or granola. (Although the struggle is so real sometimes since Haribo gummy bears are my ultimate weakness!) Another example is that I make my own salad dressings now (kitchen mixologist status) instead of using store-bought dressing. Small changes like that really make a big difference in how you feel. This experience has truly changed the way I see food now and has given me a deeper understanding about food prep. I’d say I’m about 80% plant-based, and I’m at peace with that. I’ll still continue to share healthy recipes with you because I really do enjoy it! I may even starting posting one recipe a week…let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in! I also want to integrate more food and home decor/organizing posts in Styled Sugarplum, so be on the lookout! So, now that I have updated you about food life… here is one of my favorite salad recipes EVER!

I’m ALL about that salad life in the summertime! This apple walnut one has been on constant repeat. It would be perfect to build in a mason jar for an on-the-go meal too! I originally found this on Pinterest and have made a few modifications. Sometimes I add grilled chicken or blackened shrimp, but it is delish solo sans meat as well! Recipe below!

*Quick side note…how cute are the Rex brothers? Best salt and pepper shakers EVER! I have a raging dinosaur obsession and when I saw these a while back in Target, I just had to have them. My son loves them, too (he obviously inherited my dino-mania gene!)

 

 

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do! (Which to be honest right now… is almost daily!)

I’ll be back later this week with a look into my home with my home office reveal! I’ll be talking about my tips for staying organized and maximizing your workspace! I’m also going to try to squeeze a Fab 5 fashion post in the mix! Make sure to subscribe to my blog and I post daily on Instagram, so if you aren’t following me there- holla at ya girl… @styledsugarplum

Hope you have a fantasmic week!

 

Hey y’all! Happy Thursday eve! 🙌 I thought I’d share a really quick and easy Veggie Wrap recipe with you that’s healthy and great for on-the-go! Since I’ve been on my plant-based food journey, I sometimes struggle with feeling full and completely satisfied after meals. When I say struggle, I mean struggle.Okay okay, confession time: I’ve cheated a few times and eaten outside the parameters for a plant-based lifestyle, BUT it leaves me feeling extremely bloated and sluggish. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat! Since it’s such an extreme lifestyle change from how I’ve eaten in the past, I do doubt myself at times and question if I can even do it! This wrap is a more hearty and filling lunch option that will give you the energy to conquer your day and your evil food demons! Stay back!  It’ll definitely be a weekly staple for me now, especially considering it took a total of mayyyyyybe 5 minutes to prepare. I’ve been pinning like a maniac on Pinterest for recipes (find me here) and this was a discovery from my all too familiar late night pinning sessions… oh, the joys of insomnia!

In my opinion, hummus and avocado make the world a better place. That’s probably another reason why I’m raving about this veggie wrap… it has very simple ingredients, but is packed with so much flavor!

The full recipe is located below the pictures! Bon appetit!

 

VEGGIE WRAP RECIPE
Ingredients: (Makes two)
1 package microwavable rice *I used Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Medley with brown and wild rice
whole wheat or gluten free tortillas
2 tbsp hummus
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 medium carrot *thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper *thinly sliced
1/2 english cucumber *thinly sliced
1/2 avocado *sliced

To Make:
-Cook rice according to package instructions.
-Warm tortilla in microwave (10-15 seconds)
-Spread hummus on entire tortilla (one tbsp per wrap)
-Layer spinach in a single layer to cover hummus
-Line up the rice and black beans in the center and then do the same on top of that with the avocado, peppers, carrots, and cucumbers
-Fold the edges of the tortilla and roll to make a burrito. If taking on-the-go, wrap in foil.

Told you it was easy! I’ll admit though…it’s not the prettiest thing to photograph after you’ve started eating it and on another note, I also realized I’m absolutely terrible at wrapping burritos. #selfdiscovery #burritofail I definitely have subpar wrapping skills and could never work at Moe’s…not that I could anyway because I’d lose all self control and drown myself to death eating queso all day. SO.GOOD. Amiright? But anyway, let me know if you make this or if you have any suggestions so I can further master my burrito skills! Practice makes perfect! Stay healthy, sugarplum! (and I’ll stay away from Moe’s queso!) Also, don’t forget to check out the Monthly Edit for March in the Menu! Lots of cute trends!

 

Hey y’all! BIG NEWS: I survived week 2 of plant-based living!!! HOLLLLLA! Sooooo if you follow me on Instagram (@styledsugarplum), I mentioned yesterday that this week was a bit more of a struggle than week one. Cravings crept in and I had to use some serious willpower to not lose my mind cave and eat snacks or candy. I mostly craved sweets and cheese, which were deterred by eating fruits for my sweet tooth (like apples and peanut butter) and then also more savory, flavorful dishes for the cheesehead in me. My new “thing” when these cravings begin is to drop and do 30 crunches and chug 8 oz of water. These abs ain’t gonna magically appear on their own! As far as my fitness routine, I’ve been walking three miles, three times per week (my knees are shot, so I can’t run like I once could…#grannystatus) and also alternating strength training/cardio videos at home from the 21 Day Fix program by Beachbody. The intermittent “craving crunches” can only aid in the quest to be a lean, green health machine!
So far, I still FEEL amazing. The long-term health benefits far outweigh the alternative, with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and heart attack prevention, and all around improvement in cardiovascular health. Plant-based living is also known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and also one of the obvious effects: weight loss. Without meat or dairy, you’re basically enriching your diet with fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that the average person may not receive as often as they should. I have also noticed a difference in my skin. I’m drinking more water (which I know is helping), but I’m also not having the random weekly breakouts like I was before. In just a two week time span, I’m shocked at how drastically it has changed. I’m not going to write a novel like my first update, so let’s get to the recipes!
Early in the week, I made Asian tofu and mushroom lettuce wraps from a recipe I found on Pinterest (follow me on there- username: styledsugarplum)… SO GOOD. Flavor was BOMB on these and I had enough for leftovers the next day.

Asian Tofu and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps
-3 tbsp hoisin sauce (I made my own with 4tbsp soy sauce, 2tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp honey, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp siracha, 1/8tsp black pepper…you’ll have more than you need but save it to drizzle over the wraps)
-3tbsp soy sauce
-2tbsp rice vinegar
-2tsp canola or grapeseed oil
-1 (12-14oz) package of extra firm tofu
-2 cloves minced garlic
-2 tsp ginger
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-4 green onions, finely sliced
-romaine lettuce or butter lettuce leaves
-8 oz baby bella mushrooms (chopped)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, stir together the hoison, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Set aside.
2. Press the tofu between paper towels to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Refresh the paper towels adn press again. heat the 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, crumble in the tofu, breaking it into very small pieces as it cooks. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms. Continue cooking until any remaining tofu liquid cooks off and the tofu start to turn golden (about 3 minutes more.) Stir in garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and half of the green onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. (I cooked mine a little longer because I wanted to make sure the consistency wasn’t quite so “squishy” for the tofu haha)
3. Pour the sauce over the top of the tofu mixture and stir to coat. Cook until you hear bubbling and the sauce is warmed through, 30-60 seconds.
4. Spoon the tofu mix into the lettuce leaves. Top with remaining green onions, hoisin, OR grated carrots (definitely adding that to mine next time), and additional red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Next up is a recipe from my Eating Clean Cookbook by Amie Valpone. This recipe was delish and filling (and provided leftover cashews for next-day snacking #winning) This was a winning meal for the hubs and me, although sadly not a winning meal for my three year old since he is convinced that quinoa= bugs. Tastiest bugs I’ve ever eaten!

Beaming Quinoa Tabbouleh

Coconut Chili Cashews:
2 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Quinoa Tabbouleh:
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely chopped fresh curly parsley (I only used 1/3 of a cup and that seemed like plenty)
1/3 cup cilantro (I omitted this one because the hubs thinks cilantro tastes like dirty dish water…where did he even come up with that? haha!)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

Make the cashews:
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the cashews, shredded coconut, maple syrup, lime juice, chili powder, and salt; mix well to coat the cashews. Arrange the cashews in a single layer on the pepared baking sheet. Bake for about 20 min (I only needed it for 15, so watch it when it gets close…they will burn quickly!) Stir after the first 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make the Tabbouleh:
While the cashews are baking, cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the bag. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Fluff with a fork.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Add the cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro (if using) and chives to the quinoa. Mix well. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat. Serve with one cup on the coconut chili cashews on top. The remaining cashews can be stored in a sealed container up to five days. BOOM. Straight flavor parade.

Lastly, I made a Chickpea Chopped Salad over the weekend that BLEW MY MIND. I couldn’t get enough and will definitely be making this on repeat.



Chickpea Chopped Salad
1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1/2 small red onion
20 or so grape tomatoes
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 English cucumber

For the dressing:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Chop all ingredients and place in a large bowl- toss to combine. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and pour onto salad. Toss again to combine. Salt and Pepper to taste.
This salad was AMAZING the next day also, so it would be perfect for meal prep or quick lunch on the go!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s update and have a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Stay styled, sugarplum!

Happy Monday y’all! I hope you had a fabulous start to your week and aren’t riding the struggle bus after staying up late last night watching the Super Bowl. I’ll tell you one thing, the only hangover I have today is from lack of sleep…no better reminder of your old lady status than a late night with your threenager! (He was a trooper, but me? Not so much.) It was waaaayyyy past our bedtime, BUT I’m SO glad I saw Lady Gaga slay the halftime show… she’s the best isn’t she? (Total #girlcrush ) I’m also glad I didn’t call it a night after the 3rd quarter- my how quickly things can change! Am I right?
Speaking of change, this post is going to focus on a serious change I’ve made in my life over the past week.  A change that I’ve been thinking about for a while, but didn’t know where to start or how to manage it. I’m starting a new weekly series on Styled Sugarplum that will focus on a clean eating, plant-based lifestyle. Whether you’re on the plant-based train or just interested in healthy recipes, this series will document my journey in the search for a healthier life. Gather ’round y’all…I’m going to give you a quick little backstory.

So, I wouldn’t say that I necessarily struggle with my weight. I held on to my baby weight a little longer than I’d like to admit after having my son and I roller-coastered the “Freshman 15” a few times long after my Freshman year, but overall…I’m a pretty healthy person. But that’s just it. What was holding me back from living the healthiest lifestyle possible? I don’t want to be pretty healthy…I want to be healthy. Working out (in any way, shape, or form) is a great way to maintain balance and I would say that I exercise semi-regularly. I’m actively working to make it a more frequent weekly habit, but I needed to work on my diet. With this new change to plant-based living, I’m not saying that I won’t have wine and cheese from time to time or that I won’t splurge and eat fries or order dessert (what am I, insane?) I’m simply talking about sustaining a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis. A life change…enough with the yo-yo effect.
Over the past few months, I felt as though I “let it go”. Our move caused us to live out of boxes for an extended period of time and we had a ton of travel time back and forth from city to city. Kitchen items weren’t as accessible for meal prep and daily cooking use, which then led us to take advantage of the convenience of fast food and take out. January hit hard after the holidays and I felt like I was in a serious physical rut. I would get a good work out in, even a few consecutive days of being active here and there, only to find myself bouncing back to my binge snacking ways and making poor choices. I needed to reconnect with REAL food.
Two weekends ago, our besties visited us from Charleston and we had a BLAST. We drank champagne, beer and ate authentic Italian pizza on Friday night, catching up on life and laughs. Saturday, we took our kiddos bowling and ate mozzarella sticks and fries (hangover food), then went out to dinner that night at one of our favorite spots (I had a chicken and shrimp alfredo pasta dish). When we got home and put the kids to bed, we indulged in Skittles and chocolates while watching TV. Now, this was not normally what I would eat on a day to day basis before, but on top of already not feeling my best…these two days of carb loading and being a serious junk food junkie had me feeling like TOTAL SHIT. Yeah, ooooo I said a bad word. Because well, that’s exactly how I felt. Something had to change.
My friend mentioned that she was interested in a plant-based diet. I was familiar with being a vegetarian (another friend of mine has been a vegetarian for years) and also familiar with the term vegan…but I was very intrigued by this plant-based life. We watched a documentary on Netflix called Food Choices and it was a serious game changer for me. It made me reflect on my daily choices and shed a new light on food prep, nutrition, and the food industry itself. Living plant-based means you can eat anything that is grown from the Earth in its most natural form (if it doesn’t have a mother or a face, it’s fair game.) This means cutting refined sugars, all processed foods, foods with unnecessary additives or preservatives, meat, fish,  dairy, and most oils. We began eating clean on Sunday and in the span of just one week, I already feel less bloated, shed several pounds, and have less fatigue with more energy. I’m not kidding when I say that I already feel like a different person. My plan is to sustain this type of lifestyle to the best of my ability. This is bigger than just me, there are some really important environmental benefits to this type of lifestyle that you may not realize. One huge one (that I’m the most passionate about) is the animal agriculture that leads to deforestation. (90’s kid reference: it’s Ferngully all over again…childhood scarred me with that one!) If you’re interested in learning more about the environmental benefits, check out this quick list: 5 Ways Eating Plants Benefits the Environment
I’m going to give you a few starter tips that have helped me throughout this first week and share some resources and standout recipes that I enjoyed (and were even hubby and kid approved!) I’m not saying this is for everyone, but small changes can make a huge impact!

Tip 1:
Gather resources and meal plan. I purchased two cookbooks that I use for meal planning and have been pinning on Pinterest like a maniac (follow me- username: styledsugarplum // I have a board called Plant Power dedicated to plant-based recipes). I bookmark recipes that spark my interest and make a grocery list on Sunday based on what I’ve researched that week for meals the following week.

These two cookbooks have been my new food Bibles. Forks over Knives gives you recipes along with a fantastic synopsis of this lifestyle, while “schooling” you on the benefits of living plant-based (based off the Netflix documentary which I also recommend.) Eating Clean provides a TON of delicious recipes. There is a breakfast recipe that I can’t WAIT to make and share with you (that’ll be included in next week’s update.)

Tip 2:
Start a food journal and document your meals. This has helped me tremendously to hold myself accountable. It’s not like the paper is going to judge me for eating something that I shouldn’t, but this definitely keeps me on track. Also, check in with a buddy. Having my besite along on this journey makes it fun and we check in with each other daily about our progress. It’s also nice to share recipes and as you become more comfortable with clean cooking, you’ll find that a ton of regular recipes can be altered slightly to fit in with this lifestyle.

Tip 3:
Obtain the tools you need. One night last week, I made black bean burgers and sweet potato chips from scratch. After crying my mascara off while chopping onions and practically slicing my fingers off attempting to slice skinny sweet potato slivers, I knew a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond was necessary. I purchased the OXO Chopper ($19.99) and the Cuisinart Mandoline ($49.99) to make my chopping and slicing woes a thing of the past. I cannot express to you how much time this has saved me. It also makes it more fun and I feel like Gordon Ramsey could seriously benefit from having a chef of my caliber in one of his restaurants…potential career change? HA Those of you who know me understand that I’m far from a master chef, although I have come a long way! You will make everything from scratch, so don’t be intimidated by that if you happen to lack kitchen confidence. Definitely make sure you have the proper tools for this type of intense food prep, otherwise you won’t be motivated to sustain it!

Tip 4:
Don’t forget the power of water. Drink lots and lots of it. I literally have my water bottle within three feet of me at all times. And EAT! That’s the beauty of this lifestyle- you can literally snack and eat all the veggies and fruit that you want! This is one of the biggest changes that I’ve noticed…I love food again, not regret it!

Here are a few standout recipes from last week. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me! I’ll be happy to answer any specific questions you may have!

BLACK BEAN BURGERS- don’t those look delish!? I topped these with avocado and then made sweet potato chips as a side.
Burger recipe here: Black Bean Burgers

Roasted Teriyaki Mushrooms and Broccolini Soba Noodles
With this one, I just used regular broccoli and also substituted the soba noodles for brown rice noodles. Recipe here: Roasted Teriyaki Mushrooms and Broccolini Soba Noodles


This Mexican Quinoa Pepper recipe is amazing! This picture is from the pin on Pinterest (I was at my mother-in-law’s house when I made it and didn’t get any pictures), but this was a serious winner in our book. I used the same ingredients for my hubby except I substituted the quinoa for ground beef. It was very simple to set aside some of the mix to accommodate both of us and these were great leftovers the next day. Recipe here (scroll about half-way down for this particular one): Quinoa Stuffed Peppers


I can’t function without coffee. Every morning, 2 full cups. I was using a store-bought creamer before and always used waaaayyy more than the recommended serving, to the point that I didn’t even really taste the coffee. The ratio was so off. Since I can no longer use creamer, I’m using unsweetened almond milk and a few drops of pure honey. It’s refreshing to being able to really taste the coffee bean flavor with just a hint of sweetness from the honey. Also, I’ve switched to Ezekiel Bread (made from sprouted grains with no added sugars) and as shown in the picture above, topped it off with almond butter and strawberries. (Naturally sweet and filling!) This is a quick go-to breakfast for me. I’ve also been eating avocado toast topped with tomatoes and a few drops of balsamic vinegar and sea salt. YUM!

One thing I’m learning through all this so far is that to achieve a healthy lifestyle: it takes work… AND time. It will not all magically happen in one day.  This is the case with any sort of health and lifestyle change…it’s about taking baby steps and making conscious efforts to sustain and conquer every single day. I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to check out some of the resources that have truly transformed my way of thinking about food! Thank you for reading and stay styled, sugarplum!

This is without a doubt my signature go-to spring/summer salad. Whether it’s for a quick and healthy meal, or as a side with burgers when we grill out with friends, it’s always a hit.  It’s incredibly light and fresh with so much flavor and zest. I found the recipe on a foodie blogger’s website last summer, but had to share since I’m making for lunch today with a grilled chicken quesadilla. *cue stomach rumble* My favorite thing about it is the simplicity. You don’t have to be a master chef or culinary wizard to whip up this delish dish. There are three steps: chop, mix, and serve- Fini!  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend 30 min on meal prep for lunch- I want something super easy that I know I’m going to enjoy. The flavors in this are so bold, and it’s very filling despite being so light. Not to mention, avocados are one of the best nutrient rich power foods you can possibly eat! There are so many health benefits to eating them regularly in your diet, such as the heart-healthy fatty acids, capabilities to lower cholesterol, and a huge dose of vitamins! Okay so you get it- I love this salad! Here’s the recipe and make sure to check out her website (link under recipe)- SOOO many other goodies you’re sure to love!

pic via www.natashaskitchen.com


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