We are currently back in Houston, Texas house-sitting for my sister and brother-in-law while they are on vacation in Europe! House-sitting has been such a nice way to unwind after a month of hard-core travelling through Asia. I know I have been a bit lazy with my writing... but it has been A.M.A.Z.I.N.G to just workout, cook in a big kitchen, work on my tan and binge-watch Real Housewives. With that said - I promise to get my Asia posts published soon :)
Ok, now on to my hands down favourite thing about Houston. A little (ok huge) grocery store called HEB that I swear angels actually sing when the doors swing open. Now that we have been nomadic for two months, making a grocery list and then home cooking all my own food has felt like such a luxury... but I have been so obsessed with the food that I have been able to buy here in the states that I had to share it with you.
I want to start with the fruit and veggie haul because it is super important to stress that the healthiest way to eat a vegan (or in my case - almost vegan) diet is to make sure that your meals do focus around plants. The structure I loosely try to stick to is having a fruit based breakfast, carbs at lunch, and then focus dinner around vegetables. For breakfast I prefer smoothies or smoothie bowls so a lot of the fruit that I buy is frozen - but the more you play around with plant based cooking the more you realize how freaking amazingly delicious plant based food can be. My biggest suggestions for taste are using fresh herbs wherever possible. I had never cooked with fresh herbs before, and the discovery of them always takes my food dishes to the next level. My absoloute favorite is dill, but I also already had fresh basil, cilantro and mint in the fridge. Another thing I love to cook with is garlic. I actually feel like I have a garlic addiction and I use like 6-8 cloves for almost every meal...it just always makes it taste amazing. HEB sells containers of peeled and prepped cloves that I am absoloutly dying for. Yeeeesssss
The freezer section of HEB was beyond exciting to me. Vegan Ben & Jerry's. That is all.
Ok just kidding... but for real, of COURSE I had heard that Ben & Jerry's had made three vegan ice creams flavours, but they of COURSE also didn't have them in Canada. Not to mention, I am actually not usually a fan of vegan ice cream so I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I had to try it and after trying the Peanut Butter and Cookies flavour on my last grocery haul I was blown away by how good it was. It was certainly not grainy soy ice cream... Kris had his own container of his favourite cookie dough ice cream (non-vegan) and he kept stealing my vegan PB & Cookies Ben & Jerry's... so hopefully that speaks to how bloody amazing it is. Chunky Monkey was my all time favourite ice cream before I switched to a mostly-vegan diet so I was so stoked that it is one of their non-dairy flavours and I had to try it. It is also amazing.
Beyond Meat is something new for me - but a friend back home had told me that it is supposed to be really good and had a really good reputation. I have not tried it yet, and when I do I will definitely do a post reviewing it. I am a Gardein girl through and through - I absoloutly love Gardein products and can not imagine a better plant based meat replacement - but if Beyond Meat really is better than it must be pretty good - so I was really excited to find it because I have yet to find it in Canada after quite a bit of looking.
Picking up one entree of Amy's vegan mac & cheese is just a given because its the best... but finding Amy's vegan vegetable pot pie was super exciting to me and I made it as soon as we got home from the grocery store. Sadly it wasn't very good and it made me feel like dog crap for the rest of the day... BUT that is not typical for Amy's products because they usually kill it on the flavour.
I have never tried Gardein's meatless pepperoni pizza pockets nor have I ever seen them in Canada so I had to pick it up to try it because a) who doesn't love pizza pockets and b) you sold me at Gardein because truly anything Gardein makes is usually incredible.
We had quite a bit of frozen fruit still left over, but we go through a ridiculous amount of frozen mango since one of our go-to shakes is a simple mango, kale, apple and water smoothie (so good!) so we grabbed a few more bags of that as well.
Clearly I was both hungry AND super excited going through the freezer section, and while I think its important to find treats that are cruelty free its also important to remember that processed food in general should be eaten in moderation, even if its vegan ;).
My fridge haul is a little less exciting... smart balance, hummus and almond milk are staples in my diet, I use them frequently and always need to stock up :) My favourite hummus is Jalapeno and it has been my go-to for years - but HEBs version is SO delicious and super spicy! I love it!
Silk Almond Creamer is the best dairy free coffee cream - hands down. I have tried a lot. Here in the states they have FLAVOURED Almond creamer. Like, stop. This was exciting. I got caramel and it is heavenly :)
I have switched to a 90% vegan diet, but the three things I have yet to fully give up are eggs (only as a binder), greek yogurt, and cheese (because, obviously). I picked up two different kinds of non-dairy yogurt to see if either one could make the switch from Greek Yogurt easier and I will let you know how they are.
Blue Sky Soda in Cherry Vanilla Creme is my favorite pop in the world. I bought it because I love to have a beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day - and I am attempting to eliminate it completely because its empty calories that I really only drink out of habit - so I thought having a yummy drink instead at the end of the day might make the transition a bit easier. Soda and carbonated drinks in general aren't good for you - even though they are just so amazing - but I did buy it and I have been enjoying ever last sip!
As for pantry supplies... I always have Quinoa, raisins, lentils and pine nuts around. I use a ridiculous amount of pine nuts in my cooking, I just feel like they have the best flavour and take anything from brussel sprouts to pasta to another level taste-wise... but sadly they are pretty expensive so I try to limit myself on how much I cook and buy at a time. I love to make a quinoa salad with lentils, raisins, carrots and cilantro with a curry vinaigrette... and in general quinoa is such a good grain to incorporate into a vegan diet because it has a lot of filling fiber and it also has a good amount of protein. The buns were for those Beyond Meat beast burgers! I, as promised, will let you know how those turn out. The chips were not too bad, I love nacho flavoured chips so wanted to try these out to see if they were any match and they did hit the spot for that craving!
That was it for that round at HEB....there are some diet staples that I really want to mention that I just didn't happen to need at the store and therefore didn't pick up (particularly VEGA protein powder and hemp hearts) but all in all grocery shopping at HEB was so much fun and cooking with all this good food has been even more fun! It is going to be such an adjustment moving into our small camper shortly and navigating how to maintain a plant based diet while on the road... but I can't wait to share more food with you guys!