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Healthy, Busy and Creative - Veggie Edition with Hope Monaco

There seems to be this idea about being so busy that you have absolutely no time to eat healthy, let alone eat full balanced meals. It seems as just grabbing fast food and grabbing snacks that are already wrapped up is the way to go in this crazy busy go, go, go, world we all live in.

What if someone told you that you CAN eat healthy and eat a full balanced meal while spinning around on your tippy toes all the time? Coming from a full time University student who gets up at 5:30AM every day to have time for a morning routine to start my day, working a part time job, working on my 200 Hour Yoga Certification, taking parts in clubs on campus, maintaining a social life, having time to meditate, do the things I love that make me feel good and STILL be able to eat well balanced meals and food that make me feel good—trust me I hear you!

I used to stay away from vegetables and eat the rare fruit here and there and I was such a picky eater. I would eat the same things all the time. I decided to start a plant-based journey 3 years ago and that expanded my taste buds. I now eat things that I never would have even considered before. I am not saying to eat healthy you have to go plant based, but it made me come out of my ‘food comfort zone’ as I had to find new alternatives to eat. I became more experimental in the kitchen and all of a sudden just became this veggie and fruit vacuum. I always loved to bake and cook but I recently just started to become much more creative with food. I loved the idea of making foods that no one would really know was vegan or would ever guess. I make baked goods and meals for friends and family and after they are done eating, I would say that’s vegan! They couldn’t believe it and told me if I didn’t tell them, they would have had no clue! My creatives juices kept flowing and I started an Instagram page called “Local Plant Eater” to share recipes and great findings of foods that are plant based, and easy to make.

I am a strong believer of eating foods that make you feel good. I had some stomach and skin issues within in my life and found the more I cared about what I was putting into my body, the better I felt. I think we all can agree to this. When we eat things that are good for us, we feel so good. When we eat things that aren’t very good for us, your body reacts and lets you know. I suggest and love to eat foods that have many healing properties and benefits. I do have a very large sweet tooth so I am always trying to eat chocolate in any way I can. I share many sweet treats on my Instagram page that satisfy the sweet tooth and are still made with great ingredients.

Now coming from a busy and active person, when I am at school for hours a day, there aren’t many food options for me to be eating from, let alone being a student we are all on budgets here! My lunch pail at school is just about as big as my actual backpack (can you imagine?) To be able to feel good and energized throughout my day, I have to pack a full lunch with snacks in between. I came up with some tips on how to keep up with a healthy/plant-based diet while being busy, and one of my favourite go to recipes!

1. Set priorities

I know the classic, *meal prep one Sunday of the month, then does it again once six months later* I was that! I don’t like meal prepping for my personal preference because I want to be creative everyday with what I’m eating. If this is something you really want to stick to, then put it as one of your top priorities. Set time for 10-15 minutes a day that is just about preparing foods. Cutting up things to go like veggies and washing your fruits. A great idea is when you get your groceries, cut everything up and wash it all and place it in containers so it won’t go to waste, as it actually lasts longer if you do that, and you’ll eat it because it is already ready for you.

2. Expand your taste buds

I suggest when getting groceries, shopping on the outside of the grocery store is the best! Grab all the fruits and veggies that you can, even in the frozen aisles. These foods are all so easy to eat and whip up into something delicious. A great idea is to grab a bunch of greens such as spinach, kale, or lettuce. You can clean it all up at once and then always have a different kind of salad. One with different dressings, different veggies, some fruits, & nuts. Be creative and find what feels right! This is one of my favourite things to do because it is so easy, inexpensive and it tastes so good.

3. Follow accounts on social media that inspire you and motivate you

I get my inspiration from Pinterest, other Instagram accounts and podcasts I listen to! I’ll see a satisfying bowl of oatmeal and then feel inspired to make my own. I have so many recipes saved that I am so excited to try out and create my own. Following not only just Instagram pages with posts of food, but also any hashtag of foods that you love! There are so many new types of food creations to make that your taste buds are waiting to try.

4. Don’t think about it too much

Sometimes when I don’t plan on making such a delicious meal, or I’m short on time and just throw it together, that sometimes ends up being the best meal! Keep in mind that all meals do not have to be an “Instagram Worthy Meal.” People believe that eating a plant-based diet takes a lot of work. It takes time because it is something you are passionate about, and love to do. It is obviously going to take a bit to also create something that is healthy rather than grabbing a microwavable pizza. Sometimes just grabbing your favourite snacks together makes a perfect meal. For example, I love to have a tortilla wrap loaded with veggies and hummus. I grab a handful of mixed nuts, and some fruit! It doesn’t have to be cauliflower BBQ “chicken wings,” or a stir fry curry with loaded protein balls. That is pressure! The stress you put on yourself trying to eat all the perfect things is more detrimental to yourself, physically and mentally. So, enjoy the journey.

5. Have Fun!

Allow yourself to be creative with it. If you want to eat healthier on your busy schedule, you can do it! Eating healthier and being more creative with your foods may even give you the energy you need to help you with your busy schedule. Have fun when creating and thinking of foods to make yourself. You’re preparing food to feed to your temple - how awesome is that. If you are a picky eater that is okay there is always alternatives to your foods!

Here is one of my favourite go to recipes for breakfast and lunch when I have to take them to go:

Green Machine Smoothie

This is a filling breakfast that is an easy way to get your greens, good fats and proteins all into your belly by 8AM!

You will need:

½ a banana (you may use a frozen one)

½ an avocado

1 big handful of spinach

¼ cup of coconut water or regular filtered water

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Blend all your ingredients in your blender. You may need to add more water depending on how thick you would like it. Feel free to add ice to blend into it as well. Enjoy!

Veggie Galore Sandwich

This is a filling lunch stuffed with proteins and greens! It is easy to bring on the go and can even be used as a dinner recipe, snack or even a savoury breakfast.

You will need:

2 pieces of your favorite bread. (I love multi grain with all the seeds on it) Cucumbers chopped up

¼ cup of canned black beans (rinsed and drained)

Handful of lettuce or kale

1 tbsp of hummus

On your pieces of bread, spread the hummus and add your cucumbers. In a separate bowl, add your black beans and mash them up. Add them onto your bread and then place your choice of greens on top. Create your sandwich and enjoy!


This is Hope Monaco! You can find her on instagram as 'Local Plant Eater'.

Hope is in her second year of University studying Communications and Psychology. 3 years ago she decided to take on a plant based diet and has continued with it since. A plant based diet has changed her life. She is so much more open with trying new foods and has felt an amazing switch in her health and overall energy and happiness. A plant based diet has helped Hope to come out of her comfort zone with food and to try new things. This caused her creative juices to flow and she got much more into baking and cooking. She loves being in the kitchen and created an Instagram account in hopes to share her love for plant based foods, and how tasty and easy it is to make the switch.


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