3 Tips to Help You Ditch Your Dairy Addiction

Have you ever said, “I would love to go vegan but I just can’t give up pizza, cheese or ice cream?”

If you have, I totally get where you’re coming from. I was a vegetarian for about ten years simply because try as I might, I didn’t know how to shake the dairy demon and live without takeout pizza, ice cream, grilled cheese, mac n’ cheese, chocolate – you name it.

There’s a reason why dairy, in particular cheese, tastes so good, why we crave it. It truly is addictive. According to this LA Times article which likens cheese to actual crack, “Cheese happens to be especially addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins.”

What this means is, when you eat a fatty, salty cheese laden pizza for example, the chemicals spark off feeling (although to a lesser extent) similar to morphine. When you think about this, it makes sense. Cow’s milk is for baby cows. Biology has made cow’s milk addictive because it’s meant to help a calf grow strong and healthy, from about 60 pounds at birth to more than 500 pounds when weaned at eight to nine months.

On top of that, we are bombarded with propaganda from the dairy industry and the US government claiming milk is good for us. We are spoon fed the lie that we need cow’s milk to get calcium, grow strong bones, and to get vitamin D. The truth is we can get all of these things from plants and sunshine.

That said, breaking your cheese/dairy addiction can be done. I am living proof. Read on to learn how to shake this succubus out of your life.

1. Get Educated. Dairy is a truly disgusting industry. All those images you see on tv and in the movies of happy cows on farms, grazing on green grass with their calves next to them, living out happy lives is a bunch of bull****, no pun intended. In actuality, calves are ripped from their mothers a few days after birth. The baby girls are normally destined to become dairy cows, living the same fate as their mothers, forcibly impregnated over and over and drained of their milk before they are killed around age four. The baby boys don’t get off easy either. They will be kept in cages and fattened up before they end up on someone’s plate as veal, killed even though they are only a few months old. Knowing the horrors of the dairy industry is a huge catalyst to help you give up the stuff.

two white and black cows inside shed

There’s no such thing as a happy cow on a dairy farm. Photo by Dan Hamill on Pexels.com

2. Shop for Substitutes. There are so many vegan dairy substitutes these days, there is no reason to buy traditional ones. From soy, flax, pea protein and cashew milk – the list goes on, there’s a formula and a brand to suit your taste buds. There’s also soy and coconut milk creamers for your coffee, vegan Greek style yogurt and plant-based cheese that can even please the palate of the unsuspecting omnivore. My favs are Good Karma flax milk and old school Silk soy milk (I buy the organic, non-GMO kind). For butter, I use Earth Balance buttery spread and when I’m craving cheese (which is really infrequent now that I’ve given up the cruelty-laden stuff) I use the Daiya brand sparingly. Don’t give up if you try a product you don’t like; sample a few before you find the one that hits the spot. And if you’re really adventurous, make your own vegan nut milk, cheese and even plant-based mayonnaise!

empty gray metal shopping card near assorted plastic bottles

Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

3. Dust yourself off and try again. So you’ve gone a few days or even months without dairy and then out of the blue you accidentally (or purposefully) eat some cheese or candy with dairy in it. It happens to the best of us. A few months ago, while on a work trip I ended up eating some pasta at a hotel buffet before realizing there was cheese inside. Once, after specifically telling a take out restaurant to hold the feta, I dug into my gyro only to find it scattered inside. Not to mention the countless times I tried and failed to transition to vegan from vegetarian because I was craving a Dominos pizza or some Dairy Queen. We’re human, we all make mistakes or have accidents. It doesn’t do anyone any good to beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself of the reasons you have gone vegan in the first place (animal welfare, the environment and your health) and continue on your journey afresh, with a new resolve to cause as little harm as possible.

white and black cow during daytime

Remember, you’re doing this for the animals! Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Good luck 🙂

Sources: One Green PlanetPETALA Times

Advertisements

How to Make Awesome Avocado Ice Cream (Vegan)

Summer is almost gone, can you believe it?

I know it’s September already, but technically the last day of summer is not until near the end of the month. So you still have time to squeeze in some summer bbqs and bonfires and pretend like you’re still a teenager, without a care in the world. (Or maybe you are, in which case I hate you!)

There were so many things I had planned for this season that didn’t get done – I was supposed to get back in the gym, work on my novel novels (I have so many draft pages of projects I start and stop), and also work on this blog more. But, life as usual gets in the way and as they say, God laughs at man’s plans.

Anyway, I couldn’t let summer pass me by without making ice cream. I bought a Cuisine Art ice cream maker last year and actually used it several times (unlike my dehydrator which is sitting on top of my fridge, catching dust, waiting sadly to be donated to the Salvation Army.)

IMG_8207

Chocolate and cashews put this avocado ice cream over the top.

I also had a super ripe jumbo avocado in the fridge, too ripe to eat on its own. So, I decided I can either make guac with it or ice cream. I chose ice cream, wouldn’t you? I know what you’re thinking, avocados in ice cream? Is this bish crazy? But before you close this screen, let me school you. Avocados are actually a fruit, so it makes sense to put them in ice cream. Considered a superfood, this nutritional powerhouse has lots of healthy fat, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and a host of other vitamins. The fattiness of the avocado also adds creaminess to this non-dairy ice cream, something once lacking in my homemade attempts.

IMG_8169

Coconut cream also ups the ante on creaminess. The trick is it has to be cold and firm so make sure your can has been chilled in the fridge overnight. Whenever I go grocery shopping I normally buy a can or two of coconut cream or milk, and I always have one in the fridge since I use it so often to make vegan desserts.

A few of the problems I’ve encountered in the past is that my ice cream just comes out too hard, full of crystals. No matter what I did. Except for my first batch which was a peanut butter vanilla flavor, everything else ended up in the trash after a few bites.

To help solve that I used agave nectar instead of sugar (the liquid sweetener slows down crystal formation) and also added a special ingredient – agar agar. According, to One Green Planet, agar agar “is a mix of carbohydrates extracted from seaweed, specifically Red Sea algae.” But don’t freak out! It has no flavor, odor or color and can be used as a sub for “gelatin, to thicken soups, and make jams and jellies, ice cream, and other desserts that need to set.”

I found a packet of agar agar flakes in my local organic health store. You can also grab some from Amazon if it’s not found near you. My packet was pretty pricey, like all specialty foods imported to the Bahamas but I plan to use it later on to make cashew cheese and vegan Jello, so I think it’s worth the coins. It may be cheaper where you live. Plus a little goes a long way.

IMG_8204

Enjoy this vegan avocado ice cream poolside.

This recipe is so easy. It only has seven ingredients (one of them is water, does that even count?) and it’s totally healthier than store-bought frozen desserts with God knows what in them. It is also refined sugar-free. You will need a blender and an ice-cream maker for this recipe (I’m an appliance junkie, but honestly, how does a dessert lover live without an ice-cream maker??) and that’s it!

I hope you try this recipe out and let me know in the comments, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

7 Ingredient Avocado Ice Cream

  • Servings: Makes 2 pints
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 large ripe avocado, cut in half and pitted
  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 can coconut cream, chilled in the fridge overnight
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp agar agar flakes
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • Juice of half a lime

Directions

  1. Add agar agar flakes and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently, until flakes have dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. Once cooled, the mixture should congeal.
  2. Scoop avocado meat into a high speed blender. Add the top layer of the hardened coconut cream, being careful not to add any water that’s left at the bottom of the can. Store coconut water for a smoothie or other later use, or discard.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, including agar agar, and blend on high until smooth.
  4. Chill ice cream mix in the fridge for about 20 minutes before transferring to your ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (I ran mine for about 30 minutes).
  5. You can eat the ice cream immediately as a soft serve or transfer to an airtight freezer safe container (if using a pyrex dish, place a layer of plastic wrap over the ice cream, gently pressing out the air) and freeze for a few hours. Let ice cream defrost for a few minutes before scooping.
  6. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!


 


Bahamian-Style Corn Fritters

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you guys!

Anyone familiar with Bahamian food knows that conch is a frequent feature in our delicacies. Bahamians love it so much that it’s pretty much everywhere. Conch chowder, cracked conch (basically deep-fried, battered conch served usually with fries), conch salad (think ceviche), conch fritters and the list goes on.

Top on my list was always conch fritters. There was a time in my life when I ate them every week. My friends and I would go to the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay, where every Sunday night without fail, I would order a plate of fritters and a Miami Vice daiquiri.

IMG_8134

You can never have too much sauce!

That was years before I gave up eating animals. If you truly love conch, the best thing to do is leave it off your plate. According to this 2017 Miami Herald article, conch populations in Florida are in trouble and researchers are worried about declining young conchs in the Bahamas.

“A marine preserve in the Bahamas famed for its abundance of queen conchs and intended to help keep the country’s population thriving is missing something: young conchs. Researchers studying the no-take park off Exuma, one of hundreds throughout the Caribbean, found that over the last two decades, the number of young has sharply declined as adult conchs steadily matured and died off. The population hasn’t crashed yet like it has in the Florida Keys, but in the last five years, the number of adult conchs in one of the Bahamas’ healthiest populations dropped by 71 percent,” the article reported.

Humans are overfishing this treasured resource, and if we aren’t careful, the Bahamian conch could one day go extinct. If that isn’t reason not to eat this sea-snail, I don’t know what is.

Lately I’ve been craving a vegan version of fritters. There’s just something about deep-fried food that makes you remember your childhood right? Sweet corn is a perfect substitute for conch in this recipe, but you can also use mushrooms and I’m sure they will turn out just as delish. I added a few sheets of salty seaweed sheets (I used Annie Chun’s Seaweed Snacks, wasabi flavor) to give it more of a “fishy” taste but you can totally leave them out.

IMG_8142

I’m happy to report that these fritters hit the spot. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. But the dipping sauce is what really pushes it over the top.

IMG_8148

Look at that deep fried goodness!

If you make these, please don’t skimp out on the sauce, because that’s part of the experience!

Bahamian-Style Corn Fritters

  • Servings: About 4
  • Print

Ingredients

    For the fritters
  • 1 quart oil for frying
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 flax egg
  • ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • Old Bay seasoning or cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh sweet corn kernels
  • ½ medium white onion, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 4 small seaweed sheets, crushed (optional)
  • For the dipping sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Half a tsp to one tsp of hot pepper sauce or hot sauce

Directions

  1. Prepare flax egg by mixing one tbsp of ground flax seeds with three tbsp water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix dipping sauce ingredients together then set aside.
  3. 3. Heat oil in pot or a deep fryer.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour and spices, mix together.
  5. Add milk, flax egg and crushed seaweed sheets, if using. Mix together.
  6. Drop batter into hot oil, one rounded tablespoon at a time.
  7. Fry fritters until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce and enjoy!

Adapted from: Conch fritter recipe


Easy Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Happy Monday!

I’ve been up to so much lately, working, (binging TV shows on Netflix) and planning last-minute details for my upcoming trip to Greece with the bf. I am beyond excited as it’s a dream come true for me. I’ve been daydreaming about visiting Greece since I was about 12 or 13.

After years of dreaming and postponing, I decided to finally make it happen. My boyfriend and I saved up for a few months, set the time aside and after all this anticipation, we are nearly off!! We will be island hopping, staying in a mix of hotels and Airbnbs. From what I’ve researched, Greece is pretty vegan friendly. Lots of fresh vegetables, salads, fruits, hummus, falafel etc. So I’m not too worried about going hungry! I’m also going to take lots of pictures and put together a guide for eating vegan in Greece based on my experiences.

But in the midst of all this planning, I’ve also been cooking up (and eating) a storm. The best of the bunch has been these vegan blueberry banana muffins that came out super fluffy, tasty and are filled with fresh blueberries that turn gooey as you bake them, exploding like candy in your mouth.

IMG_8089

This recipe only calls for half a cup of sugar but the sweetness in the banana more than makes up for it. I don’t like things too sweet to be honest, and I can fool myself into thinking these are healthy because there’s not a ton of sugar in there, right? Also, the mashed banana replaces the need for oil, another win. Even without oil, these muffins came out moist (how much did that word make you cringe?) – not dry at all.

These muffins are perfect for breakfast or a quick snack.

IMG_8091

I noshed on one during my break at work yesterday.

I hope you give this recipe a try. If you do, please let me know how they turn out. This is definitely going to be my go-to muffin recipe from now on. Next time I will try them with nuts and shredded carrots. Nom, nom, nom.

IMG_8090

A quick breakfast. Veg sausage strips, avocado, muffins and fruit.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Muffins

  • Servings: 8-9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • half 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • half cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • half a cup of sugar

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare flax egg. (Mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water. Mix and set aside until it congeals, about ten minutes.)
  3. Peel banana. In a small bowl, mash it with a fork until it resembles pudding and set aside.
  4. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk together.
  5. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and then add flax egg and wet ingredients. Mix well to combine with a spoon, but do not over mix. Fold in blueberries.
  6. Line muffin tin with nine paper cups and fill each one. If you have remaining cups, fill them with one or two tablespoons of water to ensure even baking.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until tops are brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy!

Adapted from https://www.inspiredtaste.net/18982/our-favorite-easy-blueberry-muffin-recipe/


What I ate today (vegan)

So it’s hot as Hades’ undercarriage and I’m legit melting. I mean I love summer and all (July baby) but this heat wave is making it hard to live. All I want to do is stay inside with the air-conditioner cranked on high all day. But the unit in my tiny apartment can’t keep up with these demon rays Satan is sending up from hell. Normally I don’t even like a/c and can make do with a stand fan or a ceiling fan, but not this year. Fuck you climate change.

I guess the one benefit of this sweltering heat is it has me craving simple raw foods. I’m not a raw vegan though one day I aspire to live a mostly raw vegan lifestyle. But right now, me and cooked food are like Donald Trump and Twitter, can’t function without it but we definitely need less of it.

For the past few days I have incorporated more raw meals in my life. Smoothies for breakfast and lush salads with homemade dressing and avocado for lunch. Fruit and nuts for snacks. Those were fine in the daytime but after a brutal workday, I wanted rice, potatoes, cooked veggies, maybe some mock meat. Simple things really. I think I ate rawtil4 style for about four days this week including today, which is a real accomplishment. I work in a pretty cold office and I’m there for about ten hours a day sometimes, so the temptation to eat warm foods and sugary coffee is high.

But today, I’m hot, tired and fighting a cold, so I want to eat whatever takes the least amount of time to prepare.

IMG_7927

Breakfast was a kale smoothie with frozen banana and pineapple chunks, Ripple non-dairy milk and a teaspoon of my Vita Mineral super greens powder. I always buy lots of bananas, wait until they get black and speckled then store them in a glass Pyrex dish in the freezer. I was lucky to score a ripe pineapple yesterday, ate half of it and cut the rest into chunks then froze them. Cheaper than buying the frozen fruit from the store and you really can’t have a smoothie without frozen fruit. (Fight me if you don’t agree.)

IMG_7936

Lunch was two mangoes I picked up from the farmer’s market today. They were super sweet, the kind that leaves fiber stuck in your teeth and tasted like heaven. Nothing beats a Bahamian mango, let me tell you. The imported ones in the store can’t compare. The best way to eat a mango is to tear into the skin with your teeth and devour the flesh, letting the juice run down your face and hands. It may not be Instagram pretty, but it’s so satisfying.

I also had a coffee with sugar and non-dairy creamer after waking up from a nap with a headache. For some reason the coffee helped. I’m a coffee addict who normally drinks about three cups during the workweek and one or two on weekends. This week, I think I’ve only had three or four cups of coffee in total. Progress!

IMG_7949

My plating skills are horrible! 

Dinner was a vegetable roll and a sweet potato roll from this Japanese restaurant that’s down the street from me. Added a few slices of avocado. I also ate some of my boyfriend’s side of rice with some more avocado (not pictured). Here’s a tip to jazz up vegan sushi, I sprinkle Bragg’s Sea Kelp seasoning to my soy sauce to give it a “fishy” taste. I love the stuff.

I had intentions of cooking for dinner, but as the day wore on, my head cold got worse. Plus, who can say no to sushi? This is no indication of how I eat everyday, trust me I eat more than this but today I’m feeling sick and wanted what was quick and easiest. I’m hoping to go to bed early and wake up early for some yoga. I’ve slacked on my exercise the last few weeks, again, the heat has had me tuckered out and not in the mood for high intensity exercise. But yoga feeds my soul.

How are you coping in this heat?

Peace and light xox

 


6 Tips For Dating a Non-Vegan

Confession time.

I’m a vegan living with a non-vegan. My kitchen is not vegan because my boyfriend sometimes chooses to purchase meat, eggs and dairy. Although he doesn’t cook often, and actually loves most of my vegan meals, there are times when I can’t cook for him and he makes a meat or dairy laden meal for himself.

When we first started dating I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so having eggs or milk in the house was not a problem. I even cooked meat for him in the early stages of our relationship. About two years in, I transitioned to veganism. I could no longer deny the atrocities of the dairy industry and also the toll it had taken on my health. Due to my heavy consumption of dairy products, a high-stress job and lack of exercise, I was about 25 pounds overweight.

So I went vegan and never looked back. Although my boyfriend supports my lifestyle and ethics, eating vegan meals whenever I cook, he has not expressed a desire to go vegan himself. Due to my demanding job, I can’t cook all the time and he also chooses to eat meat and dairy when we go out.

It can be tricky navigating a vegan/non-vegan relationship and unless done tactfully, the differences can create a wedge. And because vegans are a minority, many of us plant-based eaters will end up dating or marrying an omnivore.

Here are my tips for making such a relationship work!

Dating

1. Be patient, not preachy
I think one of the biggest errors many new vegans (myself included) make is that we tend to evangelize our veganism to our loved ones, turning them off. While it is understandable that you will want to riddle off statistics and launch into a diatribe about the horrors of factory farming when you see your loved one eating or preparing animal products, that approach can do more harm than good when trying to win someone over to your side. What someone eats is a very personal thing and resentment can surface if they feel attacked each time they eat something they enjoy. Instead, talk up the benefits of veganism by saying how good you feel since you made the switch. Exercise and eat healthy so you can be an example even without saying a word. If they ask for advice, then explain why veganism is the best lifestyle. Remember, unless you were lucky enough to be raised vegan, you once were in their shoes and would not want to be attacked for doing what you see as normal.

2. Cook yummy traditional dishes with vegan replacements
A way I got my boyfriend to cut down on meat eating was just by using mock meats in dishes, such as meatless meatballs in spaghetti, vegan sausage with tofu scrambles for breakfast, or yummy vegan pancakes. Gardein and Field Roast make amazing mock meats. While I don’t think they should be eaten everyday, they are great to help people transition and eat less animal fat while enjoying the tastes they are familiar with. Curries are very popular in the Bahamas, but instead of chicken I use chickpeas and other veggies.

3. Offer to do more cooking and food shopping
Although I don’t have time to cook dinner every night like I would like, I do the bulk of food preparation in the house. My meals are generally healthy but tasty and that way my boyfriend is eating vegan more often than he is realizing. When shopping, I purchase vegan dairy products – the new options like Good Karma flax milk, Silk soy creamer and Daiya vegan cheeses taste so much like the real thing, they satisfy vegan and non-vegan taste buds alike. Nearly every week new vegan options are popping up in my supermarket, making it even easier for those of us outside the United States to not feel deprived.

4. Ask them to watch a documentary with you
As I said earlier, what someone eats is a personal thing. We connect food to our childhood, happy memories, our cultural identity. An omnivore may think giving up meat or dairy means changing who they are. Additionally, many people do not realize the Standard American Diet, which has spread to many other countries including mine, is detrimental to their health. By exposing your loved one to documentaries like What the Health, Earthlings or the Netlflix movie Okja, it can help open their eyes to the benefits of veganism.

5. Don’t expect change overnight
When you become vegan, it’s understandable to get angry when others around you do not become immediately enlightened and give up meat and dairy. Some people will make a connection right away once they start eating plant-based meals and see how much better they feel. They may want to eschew animal products right away after watching videos of animal cruelty. Others will be stubborn and can take years to make the switch. If you love the person, I suggest being patient and accepting them. Remember, you are planting a seed that undoubtedly will sprout someday.

6. Don’t compromise your ethics
Last but not least, do not be forced into compromising your ethics. While I understand my partner has the freedom to eat and purchase what he wants, I do not purchase animal products for him. Although he sometimes gets irritated, I just state calmly that I do not want my dollars going towards these items nor do I want to pick them up in the store. But he is free to do so if he wishes. I think the best way to cohabit with someone on a different spectrum than you is to respect their beliefs and that swings both ways. If the person you are with is frequently pushing you to do something you don’t feel comfortable with and not respecting your boundaries, then it is time to reevaluate the relationship.


One-Pot Vegan Jambalaya

IMG_7363 (1)

Louisiana flavors with a plant-based twist.

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. I’ve been careless with a delicate domain. And it’s a sad, sad world, when a girl neglects a blog just because she can.

Okay, I’ll stop! I’m showing my age with my Fiona Apple reference. But on the real, I’ve neglected this blog for so many reasons because life, laziness and general procrastination got in the way. But I’m back and determined to start anew. And I’ve got a delicious, one-pot, simple summer recipe to share with you.

Yes, it’s officially summer. And it’s HOT out. I live in the Bahamas, where it’s hot 98 percent of the year, but in the summer it is brutal let me tell you. I can barely walk my dogs without breaking into a sweat after a few minutes and craving the comfort of shade and air-conditioning! Summer is the time when we don’t want to spend hours slaving in the kitchen and sweating in front of an oven. And while we crave light meals around this time of the year, that doesn’t mean we will subsist on salad and soup!

Enter this jambalaya.

I love one-pot dishes. It makes kitchen cleanup that much easier (I detest doing dishes and usually leave them in a pile in the sink until my boyfriend can’t take it anymore and caves in!) I also love recipes that come together quickly and use what most of us have on hand.

According to Wikipedia, jambalaya is a Louisiana dish of French and Spanish influence. It’s usually rice, veggies, seafood and meat. But it can be easily veganised and you won’t miss the meat, I swear.

The result was tasty, savory, filling and oh so delicious. This is fine on its own, or you can serve it with vegan sausage on the side, some hearty mushrooms or whatever your heart desires.

Enjoy!


Vegan Jambalaya (serves four to six)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Half an onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (I used orange and green)
  • One cup of fresh or frozen okra chunks
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • One can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • One cup of long grain rice

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions, garlic and peppers and cook on medium heat for about five to six minutes until almost soft.

Add okra chunks and cook for another five minutes, stirring frequently to avoid veggies sticking to the pot. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper, Old Bay and Cajun seasoning and stir, cooking for about one to two minutes more.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, rice and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Adapted from delish.com