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Inspiration and Motivation

If Only…

June 11, 2019

If only I was a better mother…

If only I was a better wife…

If only I was a better person…

If only I had more money…

If only I made better decisions with the time allotted to me…

The ‘If Only’s” in life can be very daunting and stressful on one’s state of mind.  I have made a conscious decision to stop living in the “If Only’s” and “What Could Be’s”. I have decided to live in my present truth.  This is not an easy thing to do, and in fact, writing this article is taking a great deal of courage.  I sit here pulling in slow deep breaths, as I try to prevent myself from becoming overly anxious.  My truth isn’t easy to share, especially when so many viewed my life as nearly perfect. However, I choose to stand in my truth, which is my reality; so that my experiences can help strengthen others as they tread the waters of life.

My initial truth was happily ever after. 

That is what I envisioned my life to be after I said “I do” at the tender age of 21.  Unfortunately, life does whatever it wants, despite our hardest efforts to plan it all out.  My life has not been an easy road and abuse seemed to have laced the pathways of my life, taking on various forms.  Masking its ugly self, sometimes in the subtlest of ways.  

If only I loved him more… 

If only I gave more of my time…

 If only I was a better wife/mother…

If only I stayed in line and did what I was told…  

I can easily get lost in the ‘If Onlys”, but I have made a prayerful and conscious decision to stop this downward spiral of self-worth.  I thank God for the strength given to me to stay sane amidst the chaos and for the drive that He gave me to be resilient and victorious.

Today, I choose to accept my reality as a divorced mother of 3 beautiful children. I choose me! I choose to rise! I choose to love regardless of how many people choose to hate or hurt me.  I choose to embrace my story and tell it. I want to uplift others and help them discover their true self-worth.    

Yes, there are times when I am so afraid, but I have vowed to forge ahead anyway! The late Carrie Fisher puts it best: 

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually, the confidence will follow.” 

Life rarely gives us do-overs, but hey don’t wait for life to give it to you…take it! Don’t let fear stop you, nor the “If Only’s” of life. I challenge you to: Bebold, Be brave, Be the best version of you that you can be every day!  Know that you are strong and resilient enough to rise above the pain that seems so unbearable. You are great and victorious! 

~Contessa  Thomas

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Inspiration and Motivation

Crock-Pot Split Pea Soup

May 31, 2018

This soup is one of my all-time favorites!

Ingredients:

1 Pound Bag (16 Ounces) of Yellow Split Peas

6-8 Cups of Water

1 Large Idaho Potato

1 Yellow Onion

½ Yellow Pepper

½ Red Pepper

2-3 Garlic Cloves

½ Bag of Baby Carrots or 2 Carrot Stalks

2 Stalks of Celery

Lowry’s Seasoning Salt or Any Seasoning Salt of Choice

Grace Cock or Chicken Soup Mix *Does not contain animal products*

4 Pimento balls

1 stalk of Thyme (dried or fresh)

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

 

Directions:

  1. Open 1 package of yellow split peas and pour in cooking bowl and rinse 3 times.
  2. Drain off any excess water after the third rinse and pour peas into crock pot.
  3. Pour 6-8 cups of water into crock-pot with the peas. The amount of water required depends on the size of your crock-pot.
  4. Dice onion, peppers, potato, and celery and put them into the pot.
  5. Peel and crush garlic and place in the pot.
  6. Rinse baby carrots with water and place in the pot. If using whole carrots, rinse, cut up big and place in the pot.
  7. Turn on crock-pot to LOW if you would like the soup to cook at slower extended time and HIGH if you would like the soup to took in about 4 hours (The point of the crock pot is to set it up and go).
  8. Soup should take anywhere between 4-8 hours to cook depending on the crock pot setting chosen. Keep an eye on it towards the end of the cooking time.
  9. Once the peas have mashed out and the other ingredients cooked, add all the dry seasonings and stir: Seasoning salt, Cock or Chicken soup seasoning, Onion powder, Garlic powder, Pimentos, and Thyme.  More hot water can be added to the soup at this time for a thinner consistency.
  10. Let it cook for about another half hour.
  11. Taste and add any additional seasoning that is required.

Enjoy!

~Contessa Thomas

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Vegan Lasanga

May 27, 2018

One of my most favorite meals to cook is Vegan Lasagna. Not only does it taste good, it is super easy to make! Many people have been asking me to put this together, so here it is!!!

Enjoy!

Ingredients: 

  • Spinach
  • Non-GMO Tofu
  • Pasta Sauce (2 Jars)
  • Oven Ready Lasanga
  • Vegan Sausage (Tofurky)
  • Chao Cheese
  • Seasonings of your choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. *Tofu Ricotta* Drain water from the packaged tofu. Place tofu into a large bowl and mash it up. Season it to taste. I used Himalayan pink sea salt, nutritional yeast flakes, onion powder, and parsley flakes.
  3. Cut up vegan “sausage” into the tofu ricotta and mix thoroughly.
  4. * Layering*
  • 1st layer: Spaghetti Sauce
  • 2nd layer: Oven ready lasagna noodles
  • 3rd layer: Spinach
  • 4th layer: Tofu ricotta. Place some Chao cheese on top of the tofu ricotta.

*Repeat cycle (omitting the cheese)*

  1. After the 2nd cycle, place spaghetti sauce on top of the spinach and finish it off by placing the oven ready lasagna noodles on top.
  2. Spread spaghetti sauce on top of noodles.
  3. Add vegan cheese as well as other seasonings (nutritional yeast flakes, parsley…etc.).
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and place lasagna tray in the oven for 1 hr and 30 minutes.
  5. Once cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes, serve and enjoy!

The END!

~Candace Mezetin

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Inspiration and Motivation

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Shake

May 24, 2018

Here is a delicious, quick, and easy smoothie recipe.  It comes in very handy especially when time is limited.

Ingredients

Frozen Strawberries

Frozen Bananas

Almond or Soy Milk

Vanilla Plant Protein Powder

 

  1. Place the desired amount of frozen strawberries, frozen bananas, milk, and protein powder in the blender.
  2. Blend it.
  3. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Black Bean Burger Vegan Panini

May 20, 2018

Ingredients
Tortilla wrap
Chao Vegan cheese (or any other vegan cheese of your choice)
Spinach
Hummus
Salsa
Black Bean Vegan Burger (or any vegan burger of your choice)

1. Place vegan burger in toaster oven or conventional oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked to desired consistency.

2. Lay out tortilla wrap and spread hummus across the entire surface 

3. Spread a layer of salsa on top of the hummus across the tortilla

4. Place spinach leaves on one half of the wrap.

5. Once the vegan burger is cooked, cut it into strips and place it on top of the spinach.

6. Take a slice of vegan cheese (2 slices if you want a cheesier panini) and cut it into strips. 

7. Lay the strips of cheese on top of the vegan burger strips.

8. Fold the side of the tortilla wrap without the ingredients over the side with the fillings and gently press it close.  

9. Place the panini in the oven for 10 minutes, flipping it over at the half way mark.

10. Serve the vegan panini with any side of your choice. 

The end. Enjoy!!

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Inspiration and Motivation

Amy’s Burrito—Quick Meal

May 17, 2018

As a mother of 3, I must admit things can get pretty hectic at times. However, I have learned in my quest to eat a predominately plant-based diet, that it is okay to buy pre-made meals or items.  It does help to save some of the precious commodity that we commonly know as “TIME”. My lovely co-worker actually suggested Amy’s Burritos a few weeks back to me.  At first, I was a little like “Meh” when she told me to try it, but she was so excited about it that she won me over.  So on my next Wal-Mart trip following our discussion I saw them in the freezer aisle and decided to give them a try— Amy’s Burrito (Non-Diary).  

On the day I decided to actually eat one, I used the microwave heating method (you can use a toaster oven or stove if you prefer) and allowed it to cool for about a minute before taking my first bite.  Oh my, my mouth was like “WOW!”  The burrito was very tasty and I thoroughly enjoyed it.   I loved it so much that they are actually now a staple on my shopping list.  It truly makes a nice, quick, and easy plant-based meal.  You can even pair it with a nice salad or some salsa and tortilla chips.  Again…YUMMY!

Disclaimer—they cost about 3 dollars a piece at Wal-Mart.  However, as the saying goes “You get what you pay for!”  This is definitely a great investment.  I encourage our readers to definitely give them a try.  

Please leave a comment below, letting us know whether or not you agree. We would love to read your feedback.

Bon Appetite!

~Contessa Thomas 

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Inspiration and Motivation

Jerk Stir Fry Tofu- Vegan Recipe

May 13, 2018

This has become one of my favorite go to dishes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!! The recipe can be found after the video.

Check it out!!!

 

Jerk Stir Fry Tofu

  1. Drain water from the packaged tofu. To remove excess water, place tofu on a plate and cover it. Put something heavy on top of the covered tofu to squeeze out remaining water. (Give this process 30 minutes)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain off excess water and cut tofu into squared cubes.
  3. Place cubed tofu on a baking pan and season it to taste. I use Himalayan pink sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, and nutritional yeast flakes.
  4. Place tofu in the oven and set to bake for 15 minutes. This process will help to firm up the tofu as well as allow the seasonings to become saturated into the tofu.
  5. Place 2 tablespoons of avocado oil (or oil of your choice) in a frying pan and place stir fry vegetables in the pan. Put 1 table spoon of Jamaican jerk seasoning into the frying pan. (If you like a spicy kick you can add more, or if too much spice isn’t your thing add ½ tablespoon). Sauté the vegetables adding your favorite seasonings, which can include salt, onion powder, garlic powder…etc.
  6. Place the cubed tofu into the frying pan of sautéed vegetables and stir gently, mixing in the tofu.
  7. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes ensuring that your vegetables are cooked to desired texture.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

The END!

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Inspiration and Motivation

Florentine Tofu Scramble – Inspired by The Vegan Nest

May 10, 2018

Ingredients: 

1 block of extra firm tofu 
2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided 
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ cup of organic sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer the one that is in olive oil) 
2 handfuls of fresh spinach (approximately 1 cup), thoroughly washed 
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (if using dried then approx. 1 teaspoon)
2-3 cloves of minced garlic (if using dried then approx. 1 teaspoon) 
½ teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt 
2 tablespoons turmeric 

Directions: 

Drain tofu and remove access moisture with a paper towel by gently pressing down. Roughly chop the tofu and place into a large bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, thyme, minced garlic, sea salt, and turmeric. Use a masher or form to “scramble” the tofu and other ingredients.  Use additional olive if necessary in order to ensure that seasonings are thoroughly mixed in. Add additional turmeric for more vibrant color. Cover and set aside to marinate while you prepare the veggies. 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once Oil is warmed, add chopped onion and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute until the onion is translucent and slightly tender (approximately 5-7 minutes). Add tofu mixture and stir to mix ingredients all the way through.  Turn heat down to medium-low and let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the tofu from sticking to the skillet. Add spinach and mix thoroughly, stirring frequently. 

Take a test bite! How does it taste? Add a little bit more seasoning if needed.  

Cook the tofu scramble until the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving.

 

ENJOY!

Please check out The Vegan Nest at the website below:

http://www.vegannest.com/index.php

Recipe Credit: The Vegan Nest

Photo Credit: http://www.recipesbnb.com/tofu-egg-scramble/86726

 

~Contessa Thomas

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Inspiration and Motivation

Overnight Oats

May 6, 2018

Check out the video at the end!!!

  1. Place ½ cup of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats in a 16oz Mason jar (Or any jar of your choice).
  2. Cut ½ of an apple into small pieces. Cut to the size of your personal preference. Place the cut up apple in the jar for your next layer.
  3. Cut 3 strawberries, 3 pieces of mango, and 3 peach slices into small pieces. (Mine were frozen, but feel free to use fresh fruits). Place the cut up fruit in the jar for your 3rd layer.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top of your oatmeal (season to taste).
  5. Add ¼ tsp of vanilla (season to taste) and ½ tsp of organic coconut syrup (season to taste). Feel free to use maple syrup or any other sweetener of your choice.
  6. Pour ¾ cup of almond milk (or any other milk of your choice) into the jar of oats.
  7. Shake your mixture and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
  8. In the morning, stir, and serve chilled or feel free to slightly warm.

 

The END! Enjoy!

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