Change. Whether we like it or not, change tends to be on people’s minds at this time of year. I’ve already shared my intentions for 2017, and they don’t involve any big lifestyle changes–just a few subtle shifts in perspective, which have been underway for some time already.
Still, I’m thinking about change because I’ve just gotten started with my nutrition counseling course. The course is dedicated to giving us the tools we’ll need to empower people to change the way they eat, and this begins with acknowledgment of the fact that lifestyle change is hard. Part of this is the power of habit: we become so entrenched in certain ways of being that changing them starts to feel inaccessible. But I don’t think that we resist change simply because we’re stuck in our ways.
So far as I can tell, change is hard because life is hard. Many of us face enormous daily challenges. They might be practical, like financial constraints, busy work schedules, or the demands of care taking. They might include management of an illness, depression, or chronic stress. Lots of things stand in the way of our changing the way we eat, no matter how much we might want to. Time and again, clients tell me that they know what they need to do to eat healthier, and it’s true. The issue isn’t a lack of knowledge or motivation. It’s the fact that life is complicated, and food is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.
When I’m working with a new client, I try to identify areas of his or her life in which healthful eating can be made just a little easier. If a client has gotten carried away with trying to make everything from scratch, I might suggest a few frozen meals or products to help ease the cooking burden. I might recommend simpler recipes or investment in a time-saving kitchen tool. Sometimes I encourage someone to make “upgrades” to her favorite foods, rather than seeking out a brand new style of eating.
Small shifts that take practicality into consideration can make a huge difference, whether someone is simply trying to eat more healthfully or considering a big dietary change, like going vegan. And that’s why I love brands that are working to make healthful eating easier. Veestro is one of them.
I first met Monica and Mark Klausner–the co-founders of Veestro–in 2013, when I reviewed some of the vegan start-up’s meal delivery options. I was immediately struck by Monica’s passion for making veganism more accessible for the busy person, which had clearly grown out of her own experience.
Monica and Mark grew up in Costa Rica, raised on a diet of freshly cooked foods. When they moved to the US for college, they found themselves relying on processed and convenience foods that were less than optimal, and their health suffered as a result. When they discovered plant-based eating, they became inspired to create ready-to-eat, vegan meals that were delicious, nutritious, and convenient.
Today, Veestro delivers organic, preservative free, and non-GMO vegan meals to customers around the country. The company offers tons of subscription or ordering options, which means that customers can explore the meals in a way that fits their individual needs. Maybe you work long hours and need dinner waiting for you when you get home. Maybe you need a few lunches each week that you can defrost and bring to the office with you. Maybe you’re traveling, unpacking, or managing a difficult time in your life, and you need all of your meals taken care of. Veestro offers options that fit all of these circumstances, and more.
Right now, in acknowledgment of a new year, the folks at Veestro are hosting a “21-days of yes” program that’s designed to nourish mind, body, and soul. The program can be customized to include either 1 or 2 meals daily, and it comes with 6 juices to enjoy with the meals or as snacks (or however you like). There’s a gluten-free option, and of course, all of the meals are 100% vegan.
What I love about the program is that the emphasis isn’t just on food. It’s designed to help make healthful eating and lifestyle change feel like a reality. Many folks who are trying to go plant-based don’t know where to start, and these vibrant, tasty meals can help to inspire them and provide future recipe ideas. The program also comes with recipes and ideas from the awesome ladies behind So Buddhalicious, who help to make vegan meal-planning (in bowl form!) feel easy and fun, and guidance from a vegan nutritionist.
In other words, the program helps provide tools for lasting change at home, as well as some meals to help kick-start the process easily.
I’ve had a chance to savor Veestro’s meals in the past, and I’m impressed with how the options have continued to grow. There’s so much to choose from, ranging from super familiar, comfort food dishes to global fare. A sampling of meals from the “yes I can” program includes savory croquettes, Spanish torta, veggie lasagna, red curry, and Southwest BBQ chicken. There’s something for everyone, from people who are looking for plant-based alternatives to mainstream fare to folks who are already vegan and have adventurous taste buds.
So far, a personal highlight has been the oatmeal breakfast pie, which is made with gluten free oats, sweet potato, apple, and chia seeds. It’s hearty and delicious, and it has kept me surprisingly full, in spite of my morning tendency to get snacky. I’m not big on juices these days, but they’ve been a great compliment to the morning meals. I’m particularly digging the Johnny Appleseed, which is a tart, sweet green juice with apple.
One of my favorite lunches so far is the golden chickpea stew. It’s a fragrant mixture of chickpeas, cauliflower, spinach, quinoa, and potatoes, enhanced with warming spices like ginger and curry. This meal is light on its own–the Veestro meals vary in size and density, which means that it’s important to customize them as needed–so I enjoyed it with extra quinoa, and I threw in some arugula that I had left in my fridge for texture.
For midday comfort food, I recently loved the enchilada casserole, which is packed with plant protein, thanks to tofu and veggies. Steven has been enjoying the meals right along with me, and he gave this one two big thumbs up.
I loved the creativity of the adzuki bean spaghetti entree. It’s topped with garbanzo veggie balls, summer squash and mushrooms, and a flavorful marinara sauce. I think it’s cool that it’s made with a bean pasta for extra protein power, and that it’s a suitable dish for both GF and non-GF folks.
Finally, one of the dishes I remember most fondly from the first time I sampled Veestro was a kale salad with quinoa, cranberries, tempeh, and a tahini dressing. It was a great combination of sweet and savory flavors, and I thought that the quinoa and tempeh pieces gave it really nice texture contrast. This meal has stood the test of time, and it’s still on the Veestro menu. And I still love it.
For me, personally, experiencing the 21-day kick-start comes at a really nice time–a period of rest after cookbook writing, a really busy month of coursework, and the start to a new year. I mentioned that change is on my mind because of my studies, but the challenge of self-care hits home for personal reasons, too.
Last spring, maybe for the first time I can remember, I felt overwhelmed by cooking. For years, I’d listened to folks tell me how daunting the task of food preparation seemed, and while I understood, I’m not sure how directly I could empathize. I’d always taken comfort in cooking, no matter how busy life got. Even during my post-bacc, when I had practically no free time, I got it done.
Then depression hit, and everything changed. Small tasks, chores, and errands started to feel overwhelming. I was less interested in socializing, and with that came a disinterest in sharing food with others. Cooking, which usually gives me so much a pleasure and satisfaction, started to feel joyless and exhausting.
Things shifted, and I happily found my way back to the kitchen this summer. But I have a new perspective now. I know exactly how it can be that nourishment falls by the wayside in the face of a personal struggle. I know that there are many circumstances in which cooking is anything but straightforward or simple. And I appreciate any resource, tool, or service that can step in, offer support, and provide practical solutions.
If meal delivery is something you’ve considered, and you’d like to explore it through a vegan brand that’s focused on food that’s both accessible and wholesome, the Veestro 21-day kickstart is an awesome place to begin. In addition to the vegan meals, you’ll get weekly fitness challenges and wellness checklists. These are optional, of course (I’m just using the wellness checklists myself), but the resources are there if you want them, and they’re a great reminder that wellness goes beyond food.
Thinking about it? Or maybe you’d like to suggest it to a loved one who’s trying to go vegan or eat healthier in the new year? Right now all readers of this blog can sign up for the 21-day Yes I Can program at a 20% discount, using the code 21daysTFH at checkout. You can also explore the program offerings, see a list of sample meals, read FAQs, and learn much more over at the Veestro website.
There’s more cool news: the Veestro team will be offering one of my readers a chance to get a free 21-day kickstart package in a giveaway that I’ll be sharing next weekend–along with more meal reviews, and some thoughts on food and nutrition as a part of the self-care process.
As always, I’m starting this new year totally committed to helping all readers of this blog feel empowered and inspired. If you’re just stumbling on this space, and you’d like to sign up for email updates, you’ll get my free plant-based starter kit delivered to your inbox. It includes easy recipes, tips for making the transition to veganism, a sample grocery list, and more. And of course, you can always check out my recipe page for meals that suit your dietary needs.
I’m excited to tell you more about my experience with the “Yes I Can” challenge–and how it’s helping me to think about self-care–next week. For now, happy Friday, and I’ll see you for weekend reading.
This post is sponsored by Veestro and its 21-day “Yes I Can” challenge. All opinions are my own, and I think this wellness initiative rocks. Thanks for your support!
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This was so well written and inspiring to read Gena <3. So grateful for services like this helping to empower people in their own kitchen. I've found that each meal is only hard to make once, its all about the muscle memory – and it is nice when things like this company can help that "first time" seem a bit more approachable. Thanks for sharing about it here! And now I want to go make that tempeh salad ;). xx
Happy New Year Jenna! Hope your year is off to a positive and nourishing start! I can often feel overwhelmed by cooking as well, even though I take immense joy in it. I will often fill up my schedule with making things in the kitchen, other than taking time for myself or my loved ones. My intention for this year is to be intentional with my time in the kitchen. I can’t be a good wife, friend or even cook if I don’t take care of myself first. Thank you for this post and for sharing your words. All the best to you and happy Sunday x
I love Veestro! My husband and I ordered a large order from Veestro (to justify the shipping cost — and believe me I understand that shipping cost! It is very well packaged!). It came about because I had just read something about Veestro and we were eating take out pizza with cheese, even though we are both practicing vegans. And I was like how can we avoid this? Aside from having a vegan takeout restaurant in our small town which truthfully, would probably never make it. Because there are nights when the day has just been too long to coax one into the kitchen to cook. And I was like I should make extra when I cook and then we can freeze it and then on a “tired” night we can just take something healthy out of the freezer and that led to “Bingo, Veestro!” We enjoyed every meal we ate and would also bring meals out to our little lake camp to heat in a skillet over the propane stove because that’s another “weakness” cooking at camp in limited conditions – that outdoor air also makes you very tired come darkness. I would recommend Veestro to anyone! It is a healthy vegan option to take out and busyness.
What perfect timing!! I fractured my tibia lad weekend skiing, and am on crutches for the next 6 weeks. I am going to have a rough time feeding myself once the kids go back to school Monday.
Love your approach to help others to change their habits. small changes one step at the time.
btw, where did you get the bowl? I really like its earthy look.
Coco @8mala 🙂