Q & A with Zoe Sand of Planted Blissfully

June 3, 2019

Q & A with Zoe Sand of Planted Blissfully

zoe

Hi, I’m Zoe! I’m originally from Los Angeles County, but I’ve lived in Tucson for about a year and a half now. I work at the University of Arizona as a research specialist studying diabetes, obesity and metabolism. My days in the kitchen started early on as a kid, watching my mom bake cookies, muffins and cakes frequently and cook a delicious homemade meal for us almost every night. I really got into cooking for myself during college. Since then, I only seem to spend more and more time in the kitchen. See what plant-based meals I’m cooking up on my blog, plantedblissfully.com, and follow me on Instagram @PlantedBlissfully.

What inspired you to adopt a plant-based diet?

I’ve struggled for years to figure out what it means to “eat healthy.” I had a friend who was doing a two-week plant-based challenge and it sparked my interest. After some searching, I did Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s 30 Day Vegan challenge. Just a couple weeks in, I realized that this was a lifestyle change I wanted to make for good. I educated myself more about plant-based eating and veganism as a whole through documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, What The Health, and Cowspiracy. Initially, I made the switch because plant-based eating made me feel the healthiest I’ve ever felt. I’ve been able to stick to with it for ethical reasons as well, both for the animals and for helping the environment.

How has being a Tucson CSA member fit into your plant-based lifestyle?

Tucson CSA is the perfect complement to a plant-based lifestyle. I rely on the CSA for the majority of my weekly produce. Sometimes I go through burnout buying the same veggies at the store, so being surprised by different produce from one week to the next is a great way to mix things up. Plus, having access to delicious bread shares, dried beans available in the CSA Shop, and mushroom shares make it that much easier for me to access plant-based foods when picking up my produce.

How do you incorporate the produce in your CSA share into your meals?

I typically meal prep my lunches for work during the week, which I like to use the sturdier vegetables for that so they’ll last several days in the fridge. I don’t always plan my dinners ahead of time, so usually I throw something together like a veggie stir-fry or burrito bowl.

What is the most challenging thing about being a Tucson CSA member? How have you overcome it?

The most challenging thing about the CSA is trying to use up a bunch of one ingredient! I’ve had to get pretty creative with all my cabbages in the last couple weeks! Another challenge is trying to use every part of my vegetables, like carrot tops and beet greens. I’ve learned you can make just about anything into pesto!

What are some of your favorite go-to recipes that use up a lot of veggies at once?

Definitely soups! I got the idea from the Tucson CSA newsletter when I started to throw whatever I have left from the previous week’s share into a soup, and it has worked really well for me! Plus a big, hearty bowl of veggie soup goes wonderfully with some Barrio Bread.

What 5 pantry staples do you have on hand at all times?

  1. Brown rice noodles – cook these and stir fry with any veggies for a quick and easy dinner.
  2. Shelf-stable soy milk – I use this in baking, coffee, and making creamy dishes.
  3. Canned chickpeas – makes for quick protein and whipping up some hummus.
  4. Rolled oats – I love to meal prep overnight oats.
  5. Peanut butter – no explanation needed!

Do you have any favorite plant-based blogs that you go to for recipes?

Most of the plant-based blogs I love I found on Instagram or Pinterest. These are great ways to find plant-based recipes and blogs!  My favorite blogs include Sweet Simple Vegan, From My Bowl, Veggiekins, Minimalist Baker, Chocolate Covered Katie, just to name a few. You can also check out my new blog, Planted Blissfully.

What recommendations do you have for people who want to start eating more plant-based meals? 

Take small steps to incorporate more plant foods into your diet. Try having at least one meatless meal per week. If you’re up to a bigger challenge, try one meatless meal per day. The best way to shift to a healthy plant-based diet is to focus on eating whole foods – fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, seeds. If you need help with meal planning ideas, check out forksmealplanner.com for some easy and healthy recipes. Lastly, try making your Tucson CSA produce the star of your meal!

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