My experience with using VeganEgg

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I saw VeganEgg at the grocery store a few weeks ago and was SO curious about it, so I picked one up. I thought it was funny how it came in an egg box considering there probably aren’t egg-shaped balls inside — or maybe there were? I had to know.

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Inside is actually a plastic bag with this yellow powder. I guess they wanted the box to be egg-shaped to help people associate it more closely with real eggs?

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The powder is composed mainly of something called Algal:

“Algal” simply means an ingredient is derived from algae. Whole algal flour and algal protein are plant-based ingredients, produced from native microalgae originally found in the Netherlands. This algal flour and protein naturally contain high levels of healthy lipids, carbohydrates, and micronutrients. These nutrient-dense microalgae also contain all essential amino acids and are a great source of dietary fiber.

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2 tablespoons of the VeganEgg powder + 1/2 cup of water is the equivalent of 1 egg.

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It actually smells like eggs, but with a much stronger egg smell. When I was baking with it, the batter smelled really egg-y and I was worried that the final baked product would still have the egg smell, but it actually went away.

I made pancakes, which turned out well, and I also made mini muffins, which did not cook all the way.

The muffin recipe called for 2 eggs, which meant 1 cup of water + 4 tablespoons of VeganEgg. The volume of liquid in 2 eggs is WAY LESS than 1 cup, so the batter was too liquidy and the muffins never cooked all the way through.

I learned afterward in a forum that you have to actually REDUCE the amount of water if you’re subbing for more than 1 egg.

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I also tried making scrambled eggs as suggested on the box. They didn’t really have a flavor but the texture was quite rubbery. I don’t know if I would eat it again by itself, although it seems like other people have had positive experiences.

Overall I think VeganEgg is a really neat invention and I’m going to continue experimenting with using it in baked goods now that I know what I was doing wrong.

Lori’s Kitchen Nightmares

Project Meal Prep | Lori's kitchen nightmares
A terribly edited photo of my face superimposed onto Gordon Ramsey’s face

We’ve all had mishaps in the kitchen:

using the wrong ingredient

burning food

burning our fingers

cutting our fingers

Here are some that were particularly memorable for me:

1. Rubbing chili peppers into my face

I didn’t rub actual peppers into my face… it’s more like I was cutting peppers, washed my hands once, and then rubbed my face. It burned so much, I might as well have rubbed the seeds directly onto my face.

Washing your hands once is definitely NOT ENOUGH to get the spice off. Really, I should have been wearing gloves.

This happened to me twice, which shows how much I learned my lesson.

The first and worst time was with a Scotch Bonnet pepper, which is on the 3rd highest level of spice (on the same range as Habanero peppers). The second time was with a Serrano pepper.

I went crazy both times and tried anything to make the pain stop. I found the most relief in submerging my face into a bowl of iced milk and sticking my face under the tap running cold water for like 20 minutes.

Moral of the story: Wear gloves when handling hot peppers.

2. That time my mixer broke

“That mixer” being my Kitchenaid standing mixer, which is a couple of hundred dollars.

I forgot what I was making, but it required me to knead or mix for a while, so I left the mixer on and suddenly it stops. The motor feels hot, and when I try to turn it on again, it just makes a weird noise and doesn’t move.

I called Kitchenaid and they said you aren’t supposed to leave the mixer running for more than 4 minutes or something. I had to buy a new mixer, and was kicking myself about what I did.

Moral of the story: Don’t leave your mixer running for too long.

3. Melting a plastic spatula in the toaster oven

I pre-heated my toaster oven and walked away. Several minutes later, there’s a lot of smoke and a strong chemical smell coming from the kitchen. I had just moved, and for some reason there was a plastic spatula in the toaster oven!

There’s melted plastic inside the oven, and I’m worried I’m going to get cancer from inhaling all the fumes. To add to the chaos, my fire alarm also went off.

Moral of the story: Check if the oven is empty before turning it on.

4. Dropping one layer of a cake

Not too long ago, I had a second attempt at baking a layer cake. I was too impatient to wait for the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, so the frosting was melting a little.

I was carrying the frosted cake across the kitchen, and suddenly the top layer slid off the cake — due to the slickness of the melted frosting — and fell onto the floor.

Baking a layered cake requires quite a lot of time and effort, so I was on the verge of freaking out.

Moral of the story: Just freaking wait for the cake to cool completely before frosting.

5. Eating a rotten watermelon

One time I ordered groceries from a grocery delivery service called Instacart. In the “special instructions”, to make sure I got a good watermelon, I asked the shopper to pick the heaviest one.

Well, she did. It was really heavy. However, when I cut it open, it looked weird. I took a small spoonful of the juice, and it was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted. I could have thrown up. The watermelon was rotten! I had temporary watermelon trauma afterward, where even thinking about watermelon made me feel sick.

Moral of the story: The heaviest watermelon is not always a good one!

6. Butter, butter, everywhere

This happened before I became a vegan. I was making pretzels by hand, because my mixer broke (see nightmare #2).

The recipe for the dough required you to blend a stick of butter with the dry ingredients, using your hands.

For the first few minutes, I was freaking out because there was just butter all over my hands and everywhere, and it seemed like it wasn’t ever going to become incorporated into dough. I told myself to just keep kneading and to believe in the recipe. Eventually, after 10-15 minutes, I actually had a smooth dough.

Moral of the story: Just keep kneading. And sometimes you don’t need a mixer. I mean, what did they do in the olden days, before electricity?

Do you have any particularly memorable kitchen mishaps?

Salvaging a bland meal

How to salvage a bland meal | Project Meal Prep

Sometimes I make healthy dishes that end up being incredibly bland, or after a few days I start to get sick of eating the same thing. Here are some of my favorite healthy ways to jazz up my food:

lemon juice. I love the flavor combo of something acidic with something salty. Lemon is a great, calorie-free way to brighten up a lot of foods.

shredded vegan cheese. A little sprinkle of cheese goes a long way to adding a little saltiness and creaminess to your meal. I love it melted on tofu scrambles and burrito bowls.

minced garlic. Garlic salt is also a nice alternative if you don’t feel like getting out the garlic press.

hot sauce. Adding a heat makes food a little more interesting. You can also try adding cayenne pepper or chili flakes! Lemon + minced garlic + salt + chili flakes are a really yummy combo.

Himalayan pink salt / sea salt. Himalayan pink salt is supposed to have minerals in it that regular salt doesn’t, but it’s questionable whether the amount is actually significant or not. Either way, a tiny sprinkle of salt is usually a good idea, just don’t overdo it.

liquid aminos. It’s made from soybeans and tastes kinda like tamari or soy sauce, but it has a bunch of amino acids in it. I like this one because it comes in a spray bottle, so you can get a good, evenly-distributed amount with just one spray.

avocado. Sometimes when a meal is really dry, I mash up 1/2 or 1/4 of an avocado with lemon and mix it in with the food. I find that it can make something that’s bordering on unappetizing become really delicious.

What kind of things do YOU like to add??

How to organize your kitchen

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Hey guys, I’m alive. I know haven’t posted in a while!

Ok, after I saw a video of Khloe Kardashian’s hyper-organized pantry, I had a sudden urge to re-organize my kitchen (I don’t have an actual pantry). Most of it was already kind of organized, but there were a bunch of things scattered around in bags. I thought I’d write a post on how to actually go about the process of organizing since I just did it recently.

Organizing can be a pretty overwhelming, multi-day process, but it’s all the worth it in the end when you know EXACTLY where everything is and you can see what you have, and in the end, food prepping becomes that much quicker and easier. It also helps prevent you from buying too much food because you won’t forget what you have.

Let’s admit, it’s also really satisfying to look at.

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Spices
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My main food cabinet
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All my containers and jars
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My food drawer
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Some random stuff

So, here are the steps:

1. Purge

Take EVERYTHING out of your shelves, cabinets, fridge, freezer, and drawers and throw away anything that’s expired and anything you know you won’t eat. Yes, it’s a waste of food, so let it be a lesson learned not to re-buy that stuff or to buy smaller quantities (try shopping from the bulk section).

2. Clean, a little

Give the shelves a wipe since they’re probably full of crumbs and dried liquids that have leaked.

3. Measure

Now you’ll need to buy some bins, racks, containers, etc. but first you need to measure out all your cabinets and drawers. It seems crazy but it’s better than buying a bunch of stuff, realizing it doesn’t fit, and having to go return it all.

Get some measuring tape or a ruler and measure out the dimensions of each cabinet and drawer. Write down the width, length, and height on a piece of paper. Take photos just in case you need a visual of your kitchen while you’re in the store.

4. Assess the situation

Figure out what kinds of containers and how many of each you need. You’ll need to think about the quantities of each food: for things like flour and oatmeal, I got big jars because that stuff gets used up quickly. For everything else, I have either plastic containers that stack up, or mason jars.

You’ll also need to think of where to place the foods, depending on how often you use them. Foods you reach for often should be in easy-to-access places.

Write it all down so you know how many containers and labels to get.

5. Back to normal, for now

Put back all the food you took out for now, until you have time to go shopping.

6. Go shopping

Buy your containers and organizational tools. Some stores you might want to visit are the dollar store, Amazon, Walmart, the Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target.

Aside from containers, some additional tools I’d recommend:

  • a lazy susan: sometimes you can’t see what’s in the back of your shelf if items in the front are blocking your view; a lazy susan is basically a spinnable plate that lets you see everything
  • a tiered shelf rack: this serves the same purpose as a lazy susan, except it doesn’t move — items in the back are just elevated
  • removable labels

7. Organize

Once you get all your stuff, you can start putting all the food in containers and setting them up in their shelves. Don’t forget to label all the containers.

As you can see, this is a long process, so just be mentally prepared to spend a few days doing this. As I said before, it’s really worth it in the end, and not at all hard to maintain.

Additional resources:

Dollar store pantry organization video

Organizing a Pantry that Looks AMAZING video

My kitchen organization Pinterest board

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I hope this has helped you or inspired you to do your own kitchen. It’s so worth it in the end!

 

Make your meal prepping eco-friendly

I started thinking about this topic during that week where I ate mostly raw. I came home with so many plastic bags of produce, which I crammed into my cupboard that was already full of them.

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Some of them are actually compostable, but the ones from my grocery store are not. Here are a few ways you can be a little more environmentally-friendly at the grocery store and in the kitchen.

Reusable produce bags

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I looked into reusable grocery bags, and I found a bunch on Amazon, but ended up getting these ones, which cost $11.92 for five. I used them the other day, and they were great (this post is not sponsored BTW).

Reusable zip-lock bags

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I also got these Re-Zip Seal Reusable Storage Bags to use instead of plastic Ziplock baggies. I did hesitate a bit because they’re almost $20 for five bags, but they feel nice and sturdy and so far I’m a fan.

Use less water when making pasta

Usually when people make pasta, they first fill up a pot with an arbitrary amount of water, which will often be way more water than actually needed. Instead, add the pasta FIRST, then add cold water until it just covers the pasta. This way you are using exactly the amount of water you need.

Freeze leftovers to avoid wasting food

Sometimes life gets in the way and you realize you’re not going to be home to eat all the food in your kitchen. I love freezing food I can’t eat in time, particularly breads, baked goods, fruits, and soups. A surprising number of foods can be frozen and still taste fine when re-heated, look it up!

P.S. Did you know about edible cutlery?

There’s an innovative company from India called Bakies that came up with edible spoons and forks that you can eat WITH, and then EAT when you’re done, so your meal can be waste-free. You can also compost them if you don’t want to eat them. They’re made from grains and come in a bunch of different flavors!

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I hope one day we can replace plastic cutlery and wooden chopsticks in restaurants with edible alternatives.

What are your tips for making grocery shopping, cooking, or packing food eco-friendly?

6 tips for keeping salads fresh for a whole week

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A common complaint or misconception about making salad in advance is that it will get soggy or not taste as good as when it’s fresh. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way! Here’s how you can keep your salads fresh for a full 7 days:

1. Instead of lettuce, choose heartier leafy greens

Lettuce is like a frail old lady compared to kale, collard greens, and swiss chard. I feel like lettuce becomes wilted if you so much as look at it for too long. Opt for these other leafy greens, or don’t even include leafy vegetables; there’s no rule that salads have to have them. P.S. Brussels sprouts taste great as their own salad when shredded up.

2. Leave water-based dressings on the side

Oil-based dressings make the salad taste even better when it marinates (like a massaged kale salad, for example). But because excess moisture is one of the main reasons that veggies become soggy, dressings that are mostly water should be put on just before eating.

3. Don’t use ingredients that produce a lot of water

Again, excess moisture is the enemy. Certain produce, like tomatoes and cucumbers, start leeching water when they’re cut up, so leave them out of your salad. You can use cherry tomatoes instead, however, and leave them whole.

4. Dry your ingredients

Did I mention excess moisture yet? Pretty obvious, but after washing your produce, make sure to dry it in a salad spinner or pat it with a clean kitchen towel.

5. Squeeze lemon juice on fruits that turn brown

Some produce turns brown when exposed to oxygen, like apples and avocados. Although I think eating browned produce is ok, but it can be pretty unappealing to look at! Squeezing some lemon juice on sliced avocados, apples, and other fruits to prevent browning is an age-old trick.

6. Keep your food cold

If your salad is out of the fridge and sitting at room temperature, it’s going to get ugly pretty fast. If you have a fridge at work, immediately put your salad in there when you get into the office, and don’t forget about it being in your bag (I’ve done this, because my bag is often like a black hole). You can also consider bringing it in an insulated lunch bag or a cooler.

Brothers Green Eats – Live Like a Vegan King on $50 a Week Video Series Recap

I came across this Live Like a Vegan King on $50 a Week video series the other day and I HAD to write about it. The videos are co-created by these 2 brothers whose channel is called Brothers Green Eats, and they do all sorts of really creative cooking videos that are kind of no-frills.

One of them (Mike) took on a challenge to eat vegan for a week while only spending $50 on groceries. I was blown away and inspired by his creativity and resourcefulness. I recommend you watch it, but also here’s a summary of all the things he made:

Day 1

  • Zucchini oat muffins with chocolate
  • Vegetable fried rice

The recipes for these are in the video description!

Day 2

  • Vegan burger with:
    • beet ketchup
    • purple cabbage and carrot slaw
    • a home-made bun
    • a black bean, rice, and sweet potato patty
  • Banana slices dipped in chocolate and frozen

He used aluminum foil to shape the bun and patty into circles, which I thought was brilliant.

Day 3

  • Pan pizza with:
    • beet ketchup (instead of tomato sauce)
    • sauteed caramelized onions
    • pieces of the leftover burger patty from Day 2
  • Ramen with:
    • home-made ramen noodles (you need a noodle maker)
    • broth made with soy sauce, grated apple, coconut cream and leftover veggie scraps that he saved from the previous days of cooking
    • scrambled/fried tofu
    • zucchini, carrot, raddish

Day 4

  • Chickpea pancakes with a caramelized banana and apple sauce. He said these were the favorite dish he made out of everything in the series.

Pancake recipe

I wrote down the recipe because I want to try and make them, but there aren’t any measurements for the batter.

Pancake batter:

  • Oat flour
  • Baking powder
  • Coconut cream
  • Chickpeas
  • Grated ginger
  • Salt
  • Almond milk

Caramelized banana and apple sauce:

  • 1 banana
  • a squeeze lemon juice
  • 1/2 apple
  • liquid from the coconut milk can (not the cream part)

Directions:

  • Fry the bananas until browned
  • Put everything in the food processor and process until it becomes smooth
  • Put pancake batter on frying pan to form pancakes and cook for 3-4 mins per side

Day 5

  • Chickpea pancakes (using leftover batter from the previous day) this time made savory with sauteed cabbage and onion
  • Vegan mac and cheese
  • Coconut Almond Banana Ice Cream

Mac and cheese recipe

Again there aren’t any measurements because he was able to just eyeball everything:

“Cheese” sauce:

  1. Boil potato, onion and carrot until soft. DON’T THROW OUT THE WATER. Strain and blend in a food processor or blender with grated ginger, coconut cream, salt and pepper. Make sure you add enough salt. The carrot turns the sauce a cheesy orange color!
  2. Boil pasta noodles in the water from the previous step, but leave the noodles slightly undercooked so they soak up the sauce.
  3. Sautee some zucchini, radish, and purple cabbage.
  4. Toss everything together.

Coconut almond banana ice cream recipe

  1. Put frozen banana, coconut cream, and almond milk in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Grate some chocolate on top

Some tips I learned about cooking frugally:

  • Never buy light coconut milk — it’s the same price as regular coconut milk but just contains more water and less coconut milk. You can buy full-fat coconut milk and thin it out with water instead.
  • You can try sweetening foods with grated apple instead of normal sweeteners
  • If you don’t have enough lemon juice, try adding the rind for more lemon flavor
  • You can make all kinds of sauces with blended up veggies

The entire series isn’t out yet, as of writing they have only released day 5. I’ll try to keep updating this when 6 and 7 come out.