6 Great Reasons Why Growing an Organic Garden Will Enhance Your Life and Help You Go Vegan

There is nothing better than eating food that sprouted in your backyard (or from the balcony in your apartment complex). 

I was not always a gardener. A product of a beach town in the county of Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s, I was a city girl living far from any farm. I didn’t even know how most of my food was grown, as embarrassing as that is to admit.

My family had a gorgeous garden, though. Not a single seed was sown to grow any type of food, but we had the most beautiful roses you have ever seen, an amazing backyard eating area, and large, marvelous trees that touched the California sky. I don’t know why my mother never planted tomatoes, strawberries, or a lemon tree, because I didn’t care back then.  

Now, I do care!  

As a vegan, I LOVE growing organic food. It is the best thing next to sliced bread (vegan, of course – no dairy or eggs in my bread). It is the icing on my vegan lifestyle.

I’m a city girl who started my vegetable garden four years ago from scratch. Ignorant as can be, I had to learn everything about how to prepare the land and soil, how to sow a seed (some are so tiny), how to water, feed, and maintain plants, how to compost, (still learning), and when to harvest. I read articles and watched YouTube videos from lots of gardening experts and gave it my best shot. Did I mention I was brought up a city girl?

My garden gets better every year. Soil preparation, sowing, watering, feeding, maintaining, and harvesting gets easier with time. It also becomes more satisfying and incredibly fulfilling to see the fruit of your labor (pun intended).

Are you a city person, like me, and itching to grow your own food but wondering if you should? Or, are you wondering if the effort is worth it? You might be unsure about whether you have a green thumb. Rest assured that if I can do it, you can too!  

large shovel in ground digging

Here are six reasons why growing an organic garden will enhance your life:

  1. It is economical. This is obvious. Considering how much cheaper it is to purchase seeds than a whole watermelon, it makes sense to grow your own food. If you have space, you will be able to feed your family for months (even year-round, depending on your particular climate). It is well worth it!
  2. It is healthier. Any fruit or vegetable recently plucked from the garden is much healthier than purchased from the grocery store. Since deterioration occurs immediately after harvesting, home-grown produce offers more nutrients than food that travels distances and then sits on store shelves waiting to be purchased. Growing at home is best. 
  3.  It is tastier. Have you ever tasted a watermelon that has just been harvested from the garden? How about a juicy, red tomato? I will venture to say that if you haven’t, you have not truly lived. Fruit and vegetables plucked straight from the garden are absolutely mouth-watering delicious! There is no doubt about that. There is no substitute for freshly picked fruit. This reason alone is enough to grow your own garden.
  4. It nourishes the planet’s soil.  One thing I absolutely love about growing my own food is that I contribute to improving the soil in this world, even if it’s only the soil on a small plot of land. By growing a garden and sharing my experiences, I inspire others to do the same. Our soil worldwide is depleted of nutrients due to commercial farming, population growth, urban sprawl, industrialization, and other factors. By growing a vegetable garden, you are contributing to making this world a better place. 
  5. It brings beauty to the world. Who doesn’t love beauty, and what beautiful flowers and vegetation brings, right? There is also nothing more peaceful than sitting outside in the summer sun (or shade) surrounded by exquisite, colorful foliage. It is bliss. Even if you have only a balcony, you can purchase a few pots to grow food. It will make your living space peaceful and splendid.  
  6. It is fun. Yes, believe it or not, gardening is fun! It is work, too, and you will have to take good care of your garden, but just like anything else we endeavor to do, it is fulfilling and we eventually reap the benefits. Gardening is truly a rewarding hobby. Part of the fun is eating the food you grow, of course. Here is an easy summer recipe I created using tomatoes, zucchini, and parsley from the garden: Raw Spaghetti Marinara.

Gardening is a hobby I never imagined I would do, much less love. I did not go vegan in 2011 and then decide to grow a garden, but I sure wish I had because I missed out on years of delicious, nutritious food and fun. I revamped my backyard and started my garden in 2017. Since then, I have grown a variety of different plants that have produced an abundance of nutritious food. Click here to see my harvest.

bowl of freshly watered tomatoes and basil

I started with three tomato plants in the backyard before 2011, not knowing what I was doing. After eating those delicious tomatoes, I was inspired to eat healthier, which then encouraged me to seek more healthy foods, eventually leading me to the vegan lifestyle. The decision to go vegan later sparked my desire to turn most of my backyard into a food garden.

If you are not consuming a plant-based diet, growing a garden and reaping its benefits will help you see how wonderful it is to live vegan. You will eat the healthiest and tastiest fruit and vegetables and realize how much better you will feel. Your body will naturally start to crave healthier food.

It’s your turn. Start with just a tomato seed and see how you do.

Got questions? Contact me. I am happy to help you!

Holiday Vegan Gardein Beefy Argentine Empanadas

As a child, one of my favorite appetizers to eat during the holidays were Argentine empanadas. Sometimes, my mother would make them from scratch, and at other times, we would buy them from the Argentine deli. Either way, they were delicious!

As an ethical vegan, I have missed them because they are meat-filled. Over the last few years, I have attempted to duplicate the taste that I remember from my childhood but was not able to… until now!  I have created a fantastic recipe using Gardein Beefless Ground. (A very special thank you to Gardein for making this possible!)

If you are wondering what Argentine empanadas are, here is a rundown:

A DELICIOUS PASTRY FILLED WITH MEAT. That is it!

yellow-and-red-flower-on-clear-glass-flower-vase-beside-230125.jpg

Okay, well maybe that is not all of it. Some Argentine empanadas are filled with spinach or potatoes or a combo of both. Sausage is sometimes added. Most of them are filled with meat, however.

I made these on Christmas Eve for my family this year. I just might do it again for New Year’s Day!

Behold my recipe below:

vegan / nut-free

Equipment:

Baking sheets

Parchment paper (optional)

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

8-10 Spanish green olives, chopped

½ cup small raisins

3 cups white flour

1/3 cup vegan butter

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 Tbsp. paprika

½ tsp. thyme

1 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. salt

2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil

¾-1 cup Water (depending on how dry your climate is)

Process:

Making the Dough: (can be made in advance and refrigerated up to 24 hours)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt.
  2. Add vegan butter in small pieces and some of the water.
  3. Mix with a mixing spoon until the dough forms into a ball, adding water.
  4. Knead dough for about 10 minutes until it turns into a smooth ball.
  5. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 1 hour.

Empanada Ball

Cooking the Empanada Filling: (can be made in advance and refrigerated or put in freezer)

  1. In a large frying pan, cook chopped onions in olive oil until yellow on medium heat.
  2. Add the beefless ground, all spices, and cook according to Gardein’s instructions.
  3. Add the green olives and raisins and toss.
  4. Set aside.

Empanada Meat

Making the Empanadas:

  1. Cut dough into pieces lengthwise.
  2. Roll out each cut piece with a roller into circles. (I suggest using a plate or something round as a circle tracer). You can make the pieces as small or as large as you want. If you want a lot of empanadas, then make the circles smaller. If you want only a few, make the circles bigger.
  3. Coat the circle with a small amount of olive oil.
  4. Add meat alternative into each round piece of dough. How much meat you add depends on how many empanadas you want and how large or small you want them.
  5. Cover the meat alternative with one of the sides of the dough to make a half moon. Moisten the ends with a bit of water. Then crimp the ends with a fork (see image below).
  6. Baste the top of the empanadas with olive oil.
  7. Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet on top of parchment paper (optional) and bake for 15 min at 400 degrees.
  8. Broil for 1 min and serve right out of the oven.

Empanadas 1

Empanadas 3

Empanadas 2

Tips:

  • You might have some leftover beefless ground. You can freeze for later use or refrigerate it for 48 hours.
  • You can reuse the leftover dough when making your circles; just knead the pieces again to create another empanada.
  • They are best eaten hot right out if the oven.
  • You can reheat them however they will taste a bit dry if you do.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

©2019, Vilma Reynoso, VEGoutwithVilms.com, VEG out: go Vegan. save Earth. be Good to animals

Vegan Baked Chicken, Potato, and Green Bean Casserole

Vegan Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

I am a garlic fanatic.

Being Italian and Spanish, I grew up eating many non-vegan dishes with garlic – meat sauce with spaghetti, pizza, meat stew, and garlic chicken, for example. Back then, I watched my mother create delicious garlic meals. I did not appreciate Mom’s cooking as much as I could have as a child, but now she is the inspiration behind most of my cooking – vegan style!

I also remember on a particular trip to Spain before I decided to live vegan, I discovered garlic chicken while visiting my cousins. I vowed to try that recipe once I had returned to the States, but somehow that never happened. Now, as a vegan, I have finally created my own version.

So, if you are a garlic lover like I am, and if you want a vegan version of garlic chicken and vegetables, look no further! Here is the recipe:

vegan / gluten-free / peanut-free / soy free

Ingredients:

2-3 potatoes, chopped

2-3 carrots, chopped

1 sweet potato, chopped

1 small onion, sliced

1 small green pepper, sliced

2 cups frozen green beans

5-6 garlic cloves, minced

1 package Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (9 oz.)

1 Tbsp. sea salt

1 Tbsp. Jamaican Jerk chicken seasoning (you can substitute any other spicy vegan chicken seasoning)

I Tbsp. Italian herb seasoning (oregano, parsley, thyme)

2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

Process:

  1. Prepare all vegetables. Mix all together with garlic, oil, and spices.
  2. Place in large cooking pot and bake covered for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. At 45 minutes, remove cover, stir, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered.
  3. During the last 15 minutes of baking, cook the chicken according to instructions on the package. Set aside.
  4. Once chicken and vegetables are done, add the chicken strips to the vegetable mix and stir them in. Serve over rice or noodles.

Enjoy!

© 2018, Vilma Reynoso, VEGoutwithVilms.com, VEG out: go Vegan. save Earth. be Good to animals

Creamy Walnut Vegan Cheese

Vegan Walnut Cheese

I recently concocted an amazing vegan cheese using walnuts and vegetables!

Many people who are trying to move to a fully plant-based diet have trouble with eliminating cheese. Did you know that non-vegan cheese is addicting? It contains casein, a substance that is known to be addicting, which is why people find it difficult to let cheese go. Well, here is a recipe that is delicious, cruelty-free, healthy, and does not contain any casein!

This cheese can be used for a macaroni and cheese meal, or it can be served with crackers or vegetables as a creamy appetizer. I served it over noodles and added some veggies on the side. Below is the recipe that will serve 4 people. You can double it (like I did) or freeze it, so you will have some for another time.

vegan / gluten-free

Equipment: high-speed blender

Ingredients:

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small pieces

½ cup walnuts

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. tamari

Paprika to taste

Process:

  1. Add vegetables to a large pot of boiling water. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  2. Remove vegetables from water and set aside. Save 2 cups of the boiled water.
  3. Add vegetables and all other ingredients except the paprika in a blender. Blend until desired consistency, adding the boiled water a bit at a time. Pour into a bowl and stir.
  4. Serve over noodles, vegetables, or with crackers as an appetizer and sprinkle with a dash of paprika.

Enjoy!

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, VEGoutwithVilms.com, VEG out: go Vegan. save Earth. be Good to animals

World Vegan Day

22196122_10214083927721858_4825310870662750065_n

Today is World Animal Day, and I have time for a very short blog (lol).

Animals are sentient beings, who want to live, feel emotions, have families, and love to experience life like we do. Guess what you can do to honor, respect, and help the plight of animals worldwide: GO VEGAN! It’s worth it, it will improve your health, it will save our dying planet, and it will stop the needless torture of animals worldwide. The only thing I regret about going vegan is that I did not do it sooner!

Easy Cheesy Vegan Pasta with Broccoli

Vegan Cheesy Pasta

I recently bought one of the tastiest vegan cheeses on the market: The Honest Stand Nacho Cheesy Sauce! It is absolutely delicious, is gluten-free and soy-free and can be used as a dip with chips or over chili fries, on vegan pizza, or in many other yummy dishes. Tonight, I used this cheese to make a sauce over pasta and broccoli. Below is the very easy recipe!

vegan / peanut-free

Ingredients:

½ cup Honest Stand Nacho Cheese Flavor vegan cheese

½ cup almond or soy milk

1 small onion, chopped

Any type of gluten-free or regular noodles

2 cups frozen broccoli

Salt to taste

Olive oil

Process:

  1. Prepare the pasta and the broccoli according to directions.
  2. Cook the onion in a dab of olive oil on medium heat for one minute.
  3. Add the milk and the cheese. Stir and cook on low heat for two minutes. Taste and add salt if desired. For a thinker sauce, add more cheese. For a thinner sauce, add more milk.
  4. Place cheese sauce in blender and blend for 30 seconds or until the onion is dissolved.
  5. Mix sauce with broccoli and pasta. Serve immediately.

Enjoy

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, VEGoutwithVilms.com, VEG out: go Vegan. save Earth. be Good to animals.