If I am being totally honest, my favourite part about running this blog is when I have people writing guest posts. It brings such unique experiences to all of us, and I am so thankful for that. Our guest poster this week is Danielle Chimenti who is a friend of a friend from Calgary, Alberta. She is the first person I have on the blog who I don’t know in real life! She will walk you through a typical day of her meals and share some recipes with us all. You’ll notice I didn’t title this post “A Day in the Life of a Vegan” because I knew it might scare certain readers away. This post is simply showing all of the gorgeous, healthy, and easy food that Danielle eats in a typical day. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did.
Approximately 20 years ago I decided I wanted to become vegetarian (yes I was only 6 years old) and 4 years ago I transitioned to a vegan diet. You can imagine the horrified look on my parents’ face as their Half Italian, Half Scottish daughter is looking up at them declaring that animals have feelings too. I’m sure that was the first of many times they wondered if their first born got mixed up at the hospital for some hippie couple’s baby. Needless to say, they decided to keep me and so my food journey as a vegetarian (now Vegan) Italian Scottish hybrid began.
Being that I’m half Italian, I like to believe that there is a passion for food practically engraved in my DNA. The memorable smells, the calmness that comes with watching food slowly take form and the heart warming moments that unfold at the dinner table. Yes, not every meal has such luster but I do love the way that food brings people together. There is also nothing quite like sitting down with a comforting meal and taking those few moments to breathe out the stress of the day and just relax. My love for food and my passion for nourishing the body is a constant journey that I’m always tweaking and changing. Food not only brings joy and comfort to our day, but it can also heal our body and prepare it to carry out all the incredible, creative and ginormous goals that we were set out to complete. All this being said, while I partake in a vegan diet, I am still able to carry these emotions into my daily meals.
The two most common questions I get asked when someone finds out I’m vegan is “Where do you get your protein?” and “So what do you eat exactly?”. Followed with my most favourite comment “You can’t live without meat”. Well oddly enough, I’m still standing here living and breathing. So today I am going to take you on a little food journey to see what I eat in a day! As a little early disclaimer, I am no nutritionist and my diet is not perfect. This is just to show you a little peek into the foods I get to enjoy and maybe spark a little food creativity. The most important thing in the end is that you enjoy what you’re eating while fueling your body.
Breakfast: Banana Nice Cream
Today is Monday and so that automatically calls for chocolate. I started off today with a guilt-free pleasure which is banana ice cream (or nice cream as the cool kids call it).
-2 cups frozen banana
-2 tbs cocoa powder (or cacao if you’re fancy)
-a dash of vanilla extract
-1/2 cup almond milk (may need more depending on blender)
- Throw all ingredients in the blender and blend until you have a soft serve consistency
- Top with any fixings you fancy. Today I added raspberries and some peanut butter.
*You may need to start by pulsing the ingredients a few times to get things moving. It should take approx. 5 minutes to get everything blended. You can add more milk to help things along but be careful not to add too much.
Lunch- Buddha Bowls
Buddha bowls are my favourite quick and easy meal. Starting with a grain for the base, some sautéed or roasted veggies and followed with a delicious sauce. Today’s buddha bowl looked as follows:
-2 cups buckwheat noodles
– ½ cup broccoli
-1/2 cup mushrooms
– 5-6 cherry tomatoes
-1 tbs peanut butter
– ½ tsp lime juice
-1/2 tsp soy sauce
-hot sauce (optional)
- Cook your grain of choice as per package instructions (today was buckwheat noodles).
- Steam, roast, or sauté your broccoli and mushrooms. Today I sautéed them in a little bit of water and soy sauce until tender.
- To make the sauce combine the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and hot sauce with a little bit of water until you get your desired consistency.
- Assemble your bowl with grains on top, followed by the vegetables and drizzle on your sauce. Add tomatoes at the end.
*Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand or that you prefer.
Dinner- Shepherd’s Pie
For dinner I decided to follow a recipe from one of my favourite blogs Minimalist Baker. Her recipes are beginner friendly and often have minimal ingredients. I cut out the vegan butter and the oil for myself but for a creamier finish I would recommend using them. I also changed some of the vegetables added to use what I had in the fridge.
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 1/2 cups uncooked brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
-4 cups vegetable stock
-2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme (I used fresh sage instead)
-1 10-ounce bag frozen mixed veggies: peas, carrots, green beans and corn (I used carrots and celery instead)
-3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, thoroughly washed
-3-4 Tbsp vegan butter
1. Slice any large potatoes in half, place in a large pot and fill with water until they’re just covered. Bring to a low boil on medium high heat, then generously salt, cover and cook until tender.
2.Once cooked, drain, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Use a masher to mash until smooth. Add desired amount of vegan butter (2-4 Tbsp), and season with salt and pepper to taste. Loosely cover and set aside.
3.While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 425 degrees F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish (or comparable sized dish, such as a 9×13 pan. An 8×8 won’t fit it all but close!).
4. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil until lightly browned and caramelized.
5. Add a pinch each salt and pepper. Then add lentils, stock, thyme and stir. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking until lentils are tender (35-40min).
6. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the frozen veggies, stir, and cover to meld the flavors together.
7. Transfer lentils and veggies to your prepared oven-safe baking dish.
8. Carefully top with mashed potatoes. Smooth down with a spoon or fork.
9. Place on a baking sheet to catch overflow and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes, or until the mashers are lightly browned on top.
Wow, thanks so much for sharing Danielle. You can really see how much she loves food through how passionately she writes about it and the care that goes into her cooking. All of these meals are super easy and good for you too!
Please let us know if you try any of these recipes. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook.
Bio: Danielle Chimenti
I am a 26-year-old girl living in Calgary while constantly daydreaming of what the future holds. I currently work as a nurse at the Alberta Children’s Hospital on a cardiac, respiratory, and gastrointestinal unit. I feel so blessed to get to be a part of the miracles that happen every day and to witness milestones that the families and children achieve.
Outside of my role as a nurse I have a large passion for food, nutrition, and natural healing. I love to cook and could spend hours walking through the grocery stores looking at new ingredients and thinking about how I could turn a meat and dairy recipe into something vegan-friendly. I love to throw parties for my friends with thoughtful decorations and delicious food paired with lots of laughs and meaningful conversations. My dream would be to open an event planning company one day or a vegan restaurant. This year I am planning on moving to Miami to be with a special someone, so who knows what opportunities may be waiting out there for me!
Thanks to the Minimalist Baker for the recipe. All photos by Danielle Chimenti except where indicated.