I don’t know why I didn’t think about a pumpkin spice almond butter recipe sooner. I’ve been getting REALLY into pumpkin spice this season, and still going strong in December. I’ve basically been trying to add pumpkin spice to everything and seeing if it works, and it certainly works in almond butter too!

roasted almonds

what you’ll need for this pumpkin spice almond butter recipe

  • almonds – of course!
  • pumpkin spice – this adds a little extra something special this season
  • vanilla – for added flavor
  • cinnamon – for added flavor
  • agave or maple syrup – for a little sweetness

food processor almonds

how to make almond butter

First you will roast the almonds. Roasting them first adds more depth and flavor to the almond butter end product. Next, you’ll toss the almonds into the food processor and turn it on…for a while. I had to take multiple breaks throughout the processing so my food processor didn’t overheat. It took about 30 minutes. Once the almonds are all nice and creamy, then go ahead and add the spices, vanilla and agave or maple syrup. Once you add these extras, blend a bit more until your desired creaminess! Scrape down the food processor sides as needed.

pumpkin spice almond butter

ingredients

  • 3 cups almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon agave

directions

  1. Roast the 3 cups of almonds at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.
  2. Cream the almonds in the food processor for…a long time. Mine took about 30 minutes until creamy consistency, taking breaks to not overheat the processor.
  3. Once fairly creamy, add in the vanilla, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and agave. Process again until desired creaminess
  4. Voila!

I love the extra special pumpkin spice flavor in this recipe. I use regular almond butter so often, this has been a welcome treat in my smoothies, smoothie bowls, and toppers on toast!

Other sweets you may like:

Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies

Vegan Apple Crisp

pumpkin spice almond butter on toast

Nothing truly beats a homemade pesto. So here’s my easy pesto recipe that anyone can do at home. All you need is a food processor to blend it all up. Making your own pesto is the easiest way to fancy up some regular old pasta and add some extra veggies.

vegan pesto pasta

what you’ll need for this easy pesto recipe

  • food processor or professional blender – you’ll blend everything up in this
  • basil – this will be where all the tasty freshness comes in.
  • garlic – I’m a big garlic lover, and you can’t have pesto without lots of garlic in my opinion
  • lemon juice and zest – for some fresh acidity
  • olive oil – to cream it all up and get the food processor moving
  • avocado – extra creaminess and added nutrition and good fats
  • pine nuts
  • pepper + salt
  • hemp hearts – get in those omegas and some added protein (optional)
  • pea shoots (optional)
  • fresh or frozen peas (optional)
  • arugula or baby kale (optional)
easy pesto pasta

how to make this homemade easy pesto recipe

You will literally just toss it all in the food processor or professional blender! Add more olive oil as needed to get the processor going to cream it all up, and scrape down the sides as needed.

why you’ll love making homemade pesto

It’s WAY easier to do than it initially seems, and basically any ratios still yield a delicious pesto product. For example, if you don’t have a ton of basil, toss in a bit more arugula. Or missing pine nuts? No problem, you can easily substitute for plain walnuts or cashews. Maybe you have some leftover zucchini? Great, toss some of that in as well! It makes your pasta seem super fancy, especially if you serve it with something else green like steamed broccoli or fresh peas. Plus, homemade pesto on top of a standard pasta adds really nice healthy fats and great vitamins and aminos.

vegan pesto pasta

ingredients

makes 4 servings

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped, or minced
  • 1 cup packed basil
  • juice of half a lemon (~1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (more as needed to get the processor going)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • lemon zest to garnish
  • optional add ons: 1/4 cup peashoots, 1/4 cup fresh peas, 1/2 cup arugula or baby kale

directions

  1. Pile it all into the food processor (minus the lemon zest) and blend
  2. Put your cooked pasta back into the large pot, or a large bowl and top with dollops of the pesto and stir.
  3. Serve pasta into individual bowls and top with a garnish of lemon zest
  4. Bonus to make it all green and serve with some peas, broccoli, zucchini or broccolini!

easy pesto recipe

What’s better this season than vegan pumpkin cookies? One with chocolate chips! This pumpkin cookie remains perfectly soft throughout the week, which I personally love!

vegan pumpkin cookies

What you’ll need for vegan pumpkin cookies

  • vegan butter – I love the brand Miyokos, and they come in square block form!
  • sugar – I used regular sugar, but you could use coconut sugar, it yields a darker cookie
  • pumpkin puree – for obvious reasons! canned is great.
  • flax egg – this is 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 2-3 tbsp water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before using so it can get that egg-like texture.
  • medjool dates – I love the addition of the dates in these for an extra suprise
  • walnuts – they add a perfect crunch in an otherwise soft cookie
  • pantry items – vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar cinnamon, salt, flour
  • chocolate chips – if you like the addition
vegan pumpkin cookies

How to make vegan pumpkin cookies

First, you’ll begin by softening the butter. I leave this on the counter for about 30 minutes until I can easily press with my index finger. After that, mix together the butter and sugar. Once those are thoroughly mixed, add in the pumpkin puree, continuing to mix, and then the flax egg. Keep mixing well.

Next, you’ll drop in the chopped dates, walnuts, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, cinnamon and salt. Then add the flour and keep on mixing! Wipe off the paddle as you need to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Finally, add the chocolate chips.

Once the dough is mixed, I like to let it chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. The pumpkin is quite tacky, so chilling makes it a little bit easier to work with.

baking your vegan pumpkin cookies

Meanwhile, when your dough chills, you can preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and prepare your baking sheet. I use a silpat mat, but you could also use parchment paper, or a greased sheet. After the dough has chilled, I scoop out using a soup spoon and roll into a ball. Place the ball on the cookie sheet, and gently press down to be more in a cookie shape (ie. flattened and less ball shape!) Cook these for 13-15 minutes, and let them cool on the cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack!

vegan pumpkin cookies bite

tips for your cookies

Since these are a soft cookie, I’ve got a few tips for ya!

  • Make SURE to let them cool on the cookie sheet at least 10 minutes before moving them to the cooling rack after taking them out of the oven
  • Most importantly, Don’t forget to press your cookies from the ball into a flatter cookie shape
  • Feel free to make them your own! Ditch the nuts, or remove the chocolate chips. Skip the dates, or add pumpkin spice!
vegan pumpkin cookies

ingredients

yields 16 cookies

  • 1/4 cup softened vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 flax egg {1 tbsp ground flaxseed, stirred with 2-3 tbsp water}
  • 1/2 cup chopped medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

directions

  1. Cream together softened butter and sugar in a mixer or with a handheld mixer.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree and flax egg. Mix well.
  3. Add dates and the balance of ingredients in the order listed. I keep the mixer going as I add the ingredients.
  4. Place the dough into the refrigerator, covered, for about 30 minutes – 1 hour
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  6. Roll 1.5-2 tbsp size balls of dough and place on the cookie sheet
  7. Press the dough balls flat so they resemble more of a cookie shape
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes
  9. LET COOL ON THE BAKING SHEET AFTER REMOVING FROM OVEN
  10. After they have cooled, place them to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way

Looking for a different sweet treat, check out these:

Vegan Apple Crisp

pumpkin cookies

These vegan chocolate crinkle cookies are adapted from my grandmother’s recipe and are a Christmas staple in our household. It’s been so fun to make her recipe vegan and still maintain the full integrity of the fudgey centers!

If you haven’t tried these cookies before, I promise they are SO easy and are definitely going to be a hit. Seriously, my husband and I can’t stop eating them over here.

chocolate crinkle cookie

what you’ll need for vegan chocolate crinkle cookies

  • vegan butter melted {I’ve also done with melted coconut oil, and if you do use that, then don’t put in the fridge after as the oil hardens too much}
  • sugar – I have only tried with regular granulated sugar but you could test out coconut sugar
  • flaxeggs – my grandmother’s recipe called for 4 eggs, so I just made the swap to flaxeggs and seriously the flavor did not change
  • pantry items of vanilla, flour, salt, baking soda

tips for making your vegan chocolate crinkle cookies

  • Firstly, get your flaxseed eggs going. You’ll do 4 tbsp of ground flaxseeds mixed with 8 tbsp of water. Stir it up so all of the ground flaxseed gets mixed in with the water and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Secondly, you’ll have to double boil melt the unsweetened chocolate. I think the melted unsweetened chocolate yields a better result than recipes that use cocoa powder. If you haven’t double boiled, it just prevents the chocolate from burning, so you’ll get two equal sized pots, and fill the bottom one fairly full with water and let it boil. Then place the second pot on top of the one with boiling water, and add the chocolate to this one. The boiling water from below will gently melt the chocolate squares.
  • Let the dough refrigerate and chill. I think this helps them spread out further while cooking.
  • Most importantly, let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet before placing them gently onto a cooling rack.

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup melted vegan butter or melted refined coconut oil (make sure it is refined so it doesn’t have the coconut flavor)
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted over a double boiler
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 flaxseed eggs (4 tbsp of ground flaxseeds, stirred with 8 tbsp of water) Let sit for 10 minutes to marinate and coagulate
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

directions

  1. Get the flaxseed eggs going. Mix 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds with 8 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir to make sure all the flaxseed is exposed to water. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Melt 1/2 cup of vegan butter (I love Miyokos) I just melt it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Or melt 1/2 cup refined coconut oil if you don’t have the vegan butter. You can also use canola oil.
  3. Then melt 6 oz of unsweetened chocolate over a double boiler
  4. Pour the vegan butter into a mixing bowl. Add the melted chocolate and sugar.
  5. Mix the three ingredients well.
  6. With the mixer still going, add a scoop of the flaxseed eggs 1 at a time (as if you’re adding 1 egg at at time). Let each scoop mix into the batter before adding the next. Keep mixing well!
  7. Add the vanilla
  8. Once the wet ingredients are well mixed, add the 2 cups of flour with the mixer still running.
  9. Follow with the salt and baking soda.
  10. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 2 hours
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet, or use a silpat mat on a cookie sheet like I do
  12. Put the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl
  13. The dough will be pretty hard! Just do your best to scoop about 2 tablespoons worth of dough and form into a ball. You’ll be using your hands to shape it into this ball form, since it won’t scoop into a ball.
  14. once shaped into a ball, roll the dough into the powdered sugar and coat very thoroughly and fairly thickly.
  15. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes
  16. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet before putting them on the cooling rack. Top with additional powdered sugar as you’d like!

Looking for other vegan treats, check these out:

Vegan Apple Crisp

I love the push to be a conscious consumer, so please know none of this is meant to encourage unnecessary spending. Being realistic, I know we’ll be buying gifts this season, so here are my picks for more sustainable holiday gifts for everyone!

Cooking and Home

This KITCHEN BUNDLE or this FARMER’S MARKET BAG are great options for someone just beginning their sustainability journey. Who doesn’t love some cozy ORGANIC COTTON TOWELS for their bathroom? A home isn’t complete without some natural earthware CERAMIC MUGS.

Workout and Activeware

I love this STYLISH BLUETOOTH SPEAKER that also supports reforestation and ocean preservation with every purchase. Or what about an upgrade on those WORKOUT LEGGINGS that are made from recycled bottles AND donate to charity with every purchase. Use my code “EXPANSIVE” for 15% off! If she needs more equipment, what about NATURAL LATEX BOOTY BANDS that won’t wear out. And if my husband is reading this, I’ll take this MONTHLY WORKOUT SUBSCRIPTION.

Wellness

I love the idea of unique gifts for your meditation loving friends like this RELAXING DRUM. Or you can give the gift that keeps giving by enhancing their air with a low maintenance POTHOS PLANT. What about a JOURNAL made from 100% recycled stone, and from a completely carbon neutral company that plants a tree with every book purchase? Lastly, NATURAL BATH SALTS will always be a hit for the friend who needs some help relaxing.

Skincare + Beauty

What about encouraging them to ditch the plastic and give the gift of salon quality SHAMPOO + CONDITIONER BARS. Or check out my favorite RETINOL SERUM that will leave your recipients skin so soft and smooth. Any skincare junkie would also love a GUA SHA to help their products absorb more deeply, and reduce inflammation. And finally, a totally CLEAN FRAGRANCE PERFUME that is from sustainable sources and natural.

Fashion

Look no further than this all VEGAN LEATHER JACKET from one of my favorite brands. Or go for a VEGAN LEATHER CROSSBODY that is sure to get some use for years to come. Another great gift if you’re looking for jewelry are these LAYERING NECKLACES that are sustainably sourced and from a brand that gives back. Lastly, if your recipient is a summer lover, why not give them something to look forward to with this ECO CHIC SWIMSUIT made from recycled plastic bottles.

Gifts that keep giving

Choose Love is a wonderful organization that allows you to gift a variety of items to refugees. They will send the products to where they are most in need. Another one of my favorite non-profits is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which I had the privilege of visiting in Kenya. They have so many projects in support of their mission of wildlife conservation and habitat protection, most famous for their hand-raising of elephants orphaned from poaching. Another great place to donate this season is Feeding America. The numbers of households that experience food insecurity in this country are staggering. Finally, The Trevor Project is another fantastic non-profit to give to that provides crisis intervention to LGBTQ+ youth, who are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. They work on important advocacy campaigns like ending conversion therapy, and have expanded into 100 other nations.

Do you have other sustainable holiday gifts you love? Add them in the comments below!

sustainable vegan leather gifts

Traditional and stuffy is just not my jam. So today I’m going to walk you through how to Design A Modern Thanksgiving Table of your own!

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, you’ll likely have a table of some sort for everyone to gather around. Normally, food tends to be the first thing we think of when it comes to Thanksgiving, but your tabletop design should not be forgotten! Your table setting has the power to give a huge amount of atmosphere and vibes to your thanksgiving. So be prepared to give it the time and attention it deserves!

modern thanksgiving table design

Components of a modern table design

  • You don’t need to have ALL.OF.THE.THINGS. Remember, less is sometimes more and let each item stand on its own.
  • Add Texture! Since we are scaling back on the volume of items, texture is really helpful to add complexity and interest.
  • Be thoughtful with color. There isn’t a rule about how many colors you can use, but what colorful or monochromatic tables have in common is how they bring the color to life. Be thoughtful about where and how you use the colors you’ve selected.
  • Include height variation. When your flowers and candles are all the same height, things can fall flat, so instead you should create layers and depth with height.
  • Incorporate uniformity. This doesn’t mean things can’t get a little funky. But ideally you keep everything tidy and intentionally placed. As a result, every item should feel like it has a purpose and reason for being there. Take the time to straighten the flatware, evenly fold the napkins, and place the glassware.
modern thanksgiving tabletop

How I brought a modern table to life

The main textures I used to execute my modern thanksgiving table design are these ceramic plates, gold flatware and other golden details, these velvet napkins, linen, and vintage crystal cut glass. The menus from Bourne Paper Co and have a vellum wrap with golden stripes to help add a little more *umph* to each place setting. The florals by Amanda Vidmar Design help keep us in the color palette and add both texture and height variation. I also include these pillar candles which add height variation, and help set a beautiful ambiance. The “cafe au lait” color is my favorite and very universal. Finally, I finish the design with some pears that were both on color theme, add a beautiful texture, and help fill the table so it isn’t too sparse. Most importantly, editing is typically the key to pulling off a cohesive table!

thanksgiving candle lighting

Step by step how to design a modern thanksgiving table:

finding inspiration and picking a theme

1. Firstly, find your color inspiration. This can be anything really. I would suggest starting with something fall related, or you can pick out a certain piece (like a beautiful serving bowl or platter) and base the colors off of that! For my table, I found inspiration in California’s beautiful golden fall tones and opted to use that as my color theme.

planning color execution

2. Secondly, decide how you’ll execute the palette. Will you keep the settings all white and just bring the color through the florals? Are you going to bring out the palette in the plates and the serveware? Or will you keep everything within a few shades of each other? As you can see, I opted to keep the color fairly monochromatic. I primarily used shades from caramel to golden, with a lighter linen base.

gather inspiration and begin creating cohesion

3. Thirdly, Create a Pinterest board of your ideas. Or get out your serving pieces and flatware and start playing around! Seeing everything all together can be a really great way to test it out beforehand and maybe you see there’s an opportunity to add a really unique piece you’ve had your eye on. I always take this opportunity to browse some of my go-to stores online for any unique inventory that I might want to include.

wrap it together with the small details

4. Finally, Select the little details. Maybe you already own all of the serving pieces, and place setting pieces – that’s awesome! You can still spice up your everyday pieces by investing in some new candle holders, or candles themselves. Candles are a fun way to bring in your color or play with shades of a color. What about cute salt and pepper shakers, or the centerpiece vessel? You can also spice up your table by adding some stationery – maybe a unique placecard (or names painted on pears if you’re feeling artsy!?), or a menu for everyone.

Table setting tips

  • Use one thumb distance from the edge of the table to your charger or plate. This keeps the chargers all uniform around the table, and from creeping too high on the table, or hanging over the edge.
  • Line up the bottom of your flatware with the bottom of your plate or charger. This again keeps everything more uniform and straight.
  • Line up your chairs evenly. if you are using a linen, you want the front edges of the chairs to just *kiss* the linen, rather than be pushed all the way in.
  • Polish your flatware! Keep it free from fingerprints.
  • Set the table the day before you use it! This one is a biggie. It can take me anywhere from 30-40 minutes to actually get everything on the table from start to finish, especially depending on how many place setting you have. But this does NOT include any last minute rewashing of flatware that wasn’t clean, steaming the linen if it hasn’t been used in a while, taking down the glassware from all of it’s hiding places, and making last minute swaps. Give yourself more time so the day of Thanksgiving you can just focus on cooking and hosting!

There are really so many possibilities to design a modern Thanksgiving table, but I hope you got something out of this to bring to your own!

If you’re looking for an easy but delicious dessert to serve at Thanksgiving, check out my favorite vegan apple crisp!

modern thanksgiving table

Apple crisp is a staple dessert I had growing up, so I set out to do my own vegan apple crisp recipe on this classic.. and definitely made sure there was enough of the delicious topping to go around!

vegan apple crisp
The Ganeys

what you’ll need for vegan apple crisp

  • Apples – I use Granny Smith; I love the sour yet sweet flavor they lend
  • Lemon – To help keep the apples from browning
  • Coconut Sugar – or regular sugar
  • Brown Sugar – for richness
  • Cinnamon – Because everyone needs a little spice in their crisp
  • Rolled Oats – For the topping
  • Almond Flour – This is what I use, but regular would be fine too
  • Melted Coconut Oil – For the topping to meld together
vegan apple crisp
The Ganeys

how to make the vegan apple crisp filling

Firstly, peel your Granny Smith apples. Once you have them all peeled, core the apples and then thinly slice them for even cooking. Then you will place them in a bowl. After they’re in the bowl, you’ll add the lemon juice, sugars and cinnamon. Finally, mix everything well.

how to make the vegan apple crisp topping

The topping is always my most coveted piece of the crisp, so I made sure we have enough to fully cover the *entirety* of the apples. Beginning in a new bowl, add the old fashioned rolled oats, the sugar, almond flour, salt and cinnamon. Then, you’ll melt the coconut oil. I guess-timate when I’m scooping out the coconut oil and put it in a liquid measuring cup and then pop it in the microwave for 10 second increments to melt. Once you have the coconut oil melted, add it in and toss everything together.

baking your vegan apple crisp

I use this casserole dish, but you could opt for a cast iron skillet, or a brownie pan as well. First, spread the apple layer directly into the dish. I always like to give it a few more tosses once it’s in the baking dish to make sure the apples are all evenly coated. After that, add the topping evenly over the apples. Finally, pop it in the preheated 350 degree oven for about 55 minutes and let it cool 10-15 minutes before devouring!

serving apple crisp at thanksgiving
The Ganeys

Tips for your vegan apple crisp

  • Most importantly, try to slice the apples as evenly as you can to ensure they all cook the same. You can also chop the apples into blocks if you prefer, just make sure those are also generally even
  • I recommend using refined coconut oil so you don’t get a coconut flavor

I hope you enjoy this vegan apple crisp recipe as much as I do! I’d love to know, how do you make your apple crisp?

vegan apple crisp
The Ganeys

INGREDIENTS

for the filling:

  • 6 Granny Smith Apples, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 Cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

for the topping:

  • 1 Cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup almond flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 Cup melted coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the Granny Smith apples. Place them in a large bowl.
  3. Next, add the lemon juice, coconut sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon to the apples and toss to coat apples evenly. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, add the oats, brown sugar, almond flour, salt, cinnamon.
  5. Melt the coconut oil. Add to the rest of the toppings and mix
  6. Pour the apples into an 11″x7″ pan, and evenly distribute
  7. Spread the topping over the apples evenly
  8. Bake for 55 minutes and remove. Let cool 10-15 minutes.

This is a hit year round, but it also makes a great Thanksgiving dessert! You may also want to see it in action here

vegan apple crisp

Reusable grocery bags are one of the easiest and quickest ways for individuals and households to reduce their plastic consumption.

Most families grocery shop at least once a week, and most grocery stores only offer plastic bags for your produce and bulk items. This can add up…FAST.

reusable produce bag

Filt Reusable Grocery Bag

My favorite reusable grocery bag for produce is from Filt. It comes in a variety of colors and two sizes and they expand like crazy! I can usually always fit all of my fresh produce into one small bag.

I typically use this bag for fruits like apples, avocados, mangos and veggie items that are more durable like onions and eggplant.

veggie reusable grocery bag

Eco Bag reusable grocery bag

I have loved using these from The Earthling Co. They come in different sizes. Shopping for a family of 2 that is plant based, the vast majority of my shopping is in the veggie section. I usually use at least 5 of these bags every time. I love these for more delicate vegetables like mushrooms (and they’re breathable bags perfect in the fridge once I get home!). They’re also great for putting any loose leafy greens or loose green beans that you purchase.

There are SO many options to choose from. My advice would be to get at least 6 of these, and you could get different sizes as well.

bulk reusable grocery bags

Food 52 bulk grocery bag

It’s always better to buy from the bulk grocery section as it’s often more affordable than buying the same items pre-packaged, and it’s much more environmentally friendly! Again, most grocery stores offer plastic bags here. Instead, bring your own cotton, canvas or paper bags. I’m loving this option from Food 52 that gives you both produce and bulk bag options. These bags from Uashmama are another great option that you’ll feel good about using, and I love how many color options they offer.

grocery tote bags

Veno Insulated reusable grocery bag

Lastly, after you’ve put all of your individual grocery items into their reusable bags, you have to pack it all up in the larger bags to bring home! For a quick, mid-week trip, I love this option. But as a more regular use item, these organic cotton bags are my pick. If you want to have a few insulated options which I use, I love these Veno bags. They are super sturdy and will last years.

Becoming a vegan or eating plant-based can seem daunting at first if you’ve never done it before! What are vegan pantry staples? Why do you need them? Why is it different than my normal pantry?

what makes a vegan pantry?

Vegan pantry staples are a little different than a normal pantry. In my plant-based diet I am making a lot more of my sauces and toppings than in a vegetarian diet. For example, you may make your own nut milks, your own ‘parmesan‘ cheese, your own ‘yogurt’ based sauces, etc. Because of this, you go through some items a lot faster than you may normally. Also, some ingredients are relied upon more heavily for their nutrients and vitamins so they get used more often.

My favorite vegan pantry: grains

I always make sure to have quinoa, couscous, farro, freekeh, and bulgar. I also love wild rice, jasmine rice, and brown rice. Grains are often the base of many vegan bowls, and I love cooking with ancient grains because of their nutrient density. For example, 1 serving of freekeh has 20% of your daily iron intake and farro has a lot of great fiber. Vegan bowls are also one of the easiest meals to make. Simply pick a grain, add some veggies and tempeh, and top with a sauce of your choosing. Voila!

Spices

Cooking with a vegan pantry, you’ll be utilizing a lot of delicious spices to infuse flavor. The spices I use the most are cumin, coriander, curry powder, cayenne, paprika and cinnamon. I also love cardamom, garlic powder, onion powder, saffron and turmeric. Many of the cusine from India and much of Asia for that matter is vegan already, so I find I use a lot of flavor profiles that tend to lend themselves to those regions.

Sauces and oils

I always keep refined coconut oil on hand! This is such a versatile oil. Buying it refined (vs virgin) means that it won’t have a coconut flavor. Other great ones to always keep stocked are olive oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, liquid aminos (great nutrient value and is a fish sauce substitute), tahini, and rice vinegar. Also, canned coconut milk is a must — it’s great for tons of sauces. And finally, vegetable broth.

Refrigerator

Always keep some tofu (usually firm), tempeh, miso, almond butter, peanut butter and vegan butter (I love Miyokos!) Also, asian chile garlic sauce, and hoisin sauce will become your best friend for all of the Asian inspired meals you make.

Legumes and Nuts

There are a ton of vegan pantry staples in this category. I use a lot of chickpeas, cannellini beans and black beans but pick your favorites! Lentils are another great item to keep stocked in your pantry, they’re so easy to cook and are very versatile. I personally cook a lot with red and green lentils, but pick your favorite! Ffor nuts, raw cashews are my top pick. I cannot emphasize enough how much cashews are a vegan pantry staple. I use them to make vegan mac’n’cheese, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, a mozzarella-ish cheese, etc. you get the picture. Any other favorite nuts like almonds, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts and pine nuts are also great. I use them all both in cooking (walnuts and pine nuts always go in my pesto), and as toppings (hello peanuts!) and for snacks with dried fruit.

vegan pantry

There are a ton of Yosemite activities to take advantage of on your visit! We’ll show you what to do in Yosemite on your 5 day visit.

what to do in yosemite

Yosemite National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful national parks in our nation. Having gotten married in the park, I’m a little biased, but there are few places in the world that can hold a candle to it!

I grew up going to Yosemite many summers, so I was excited to share this beautiful place with my husband. It’s become one of our favorite places to escape to. It’s hard to narrow down what to do in Yosemite, so we’ve put together the best 5 day Yosemite itinerary.

5 days is an optimum amount of time to experience the park if you can. It allows you to see many of the highlights, and still get to less-trafficked trails.

There is a general store in the park for any food or outdoor needs. But, if you are within driving distance to the park, we recommend packing your own cooler with all of the food items you need. As a result, you’ll save valuable time so you can get on the trails sooner! All of the campsites and tent cabins have bear lockers for any food you bring, very convenient.

We have still only seen a small portion of what the entire park has to offer, but here are our recommendations for what to do in Yosemite.

our 5 day guide to what to do in yosemite

day 1

Arrive to Curry Village and check in to your tent cabin. Pack up your backpacks with a to-go dinner. We love bringing this brand, and pack our Jet Boil. Head to Tunnel View for some quintessential Yosemite photos. After that, continue up to park at Sentinel Dome/Taft Point parking area. We love Taft Point for it’s iconic rock, but we’re going to recommend taking the Sentinel Dome trail instead! Sentinel Dome is an easy hike and allows you to see both El Capitan and Half Dome (Taft Point you can only see El Capitan). Enjoy the sunset on top of the dome as it sets over these iconic rock formations. Sentinel Dome is also much less crowded than Glacier Point, and still gives you essentially the same view!

sentinel dome yosemite
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day 2

Wake up early and pack your lunch. We often bring pb+j and bread to make for our on the go meals. Eat a quick breakfast at Curry Village and head up to the lesser trafficked High Country! Drive along Tioga Pass to Tuolomne Meadows, stop and hike along the way. A must stop is the view from Olmsted Point. You’ll experience the opposite view from Tunnel View, looking down at the valley from the other side! Head back to the valley for dinner. If you plan on eating at The Ahwanhee, be sure to make your reservations WELL in advance of your trip for any dinners.

day 3

We love this day for a big hike! For instance, we recommend planning this day for Half Dome, if you got your lottery date. Otherwise, we love the long hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, or Vernal and Nevada Falls. If you are visiting July-October, be aware that the falls are not going to be as large and powerful as they are in the springtime, and by September are usually mostly dried up. The hikes are still lovely no matter the water content though, but the Mist Trail is definitely a different experience in the springtime 😉

day 4

Take it easy after your big hike and plan a day of bike riding and river rafting! The Merced River runs through the valley, and you can rent rafts at Curry Village when the river is high enough (before late summer). If you can’t rent rafts, you can rent bikes for either a half or a full day and explore the area. Bike down to Swinging Bridge and up to Mirror Lake (again, only a mirror of Half Dome in the Spring when it’s full of water). Stop along the way and eat lunch by the river and take off your shoes and wade through the ice-cold water! You can also pack your own intertube and float down the chilly river!

day 5

We love to take a leisurely morning and have breakfast at The Ahwanhee. Depending on what time you have to get on the road again, you could do your half-day of bike riding here. In the same vein, you could have time for a 2-3 hour hike, so you could finish up with Vernal Falls!

Have any other recommendations I missed? Have any questions about your trip in particular or the best times to visit? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you! Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth, even if you can’t stay for our 5 day Yosemite itinerary, I highly recommend taking the time you can!

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