Our Life Changing Vegucation and The Casual Veggie Cookbook

Tim and Brie toasterovenlove.com
December 2011

Surrounded by fad diets and extreme fitness trying to lose weight, eat well and figure out what “healthy” means can be a frustrating struggle.  If it is for you, you’re not alone it was for us too.

The picture above is from 2011.  At the time Tim and I were about a year into changing our eating habits.  I had lost almost 25 pounds eating low-calorie frozen meals and Tim was following a popular low-carbohydrate diet.

We were happy but our weight loss had stalled out.  After reading Food Rules by Michael Pollan we decided our values and priorities needed adjusting.  The diets we were on had jump-started our excitement about getting healthier but they weren’t a sustainable way of eating for the long term.

It was great that our meals no longer came from a Drive-thru window but getting them from a box in the freezer was only replacing unhealthy convenience food with something less void of nutrition but not by much.

Brussels Sprouts and Beets
So…how do I cook you?

Worse yet, we were denying ourselves any connection to the food we consumed and an understanding of how to naturally nourish our bodies.  Instead we were counting calories, protein grams and carbohydrates…statistically analyzing your food does not make for an exciting lunch.

Fingers crossed (once you’ve lost any weight you are always worried one change and it will all come back) we attempted to simplify.  Our first step was to toss the diets and instead set a goal of making our lunches and dinners at least 50% vegetables.

To accomplish this we knew an expansion of our veggie cooking skills and go-to recipes were in order.  Outside of baking our skills had not moved far beyond microwaved frozen vegetables or salads smothered with ranch dressing.

Stack of Cookbooks
Our Teachers

Fortunately, books like Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and the internet existed.  Through a lot of reading and recipe searching we learned how to Roast Beets, AsparagusSpaghetti Squash, Brussels Sprouts and Bake Potatoes in our toaster oven.  We are still getting our Vegucation and have so much to learn, explore and of course eat.

Educating ourselves about different vegetables and how to prepare them has changed our lives.  After we stopped counting nutrients the weight slowly came off and for over 2 years has stayed off.

Tim and Brie ToasterOvenLove.com
August 2015

Today we are both over 60 pounds lighter than our heaviest weights, get to enjoy learning how to cook and we have Toaster Oven Love to share our healthier small-batch food adventures with you!

I only wish getting the knowledge we have today had been a little easier to find and consume which is why I’m super excited to share with you The Casual Veggie Cookbook.  The book is a compilation of 166 recipes from 48 veggie loving bloggers including Toaster Oven Love.

The Casual Veggie is more than just a cookbook though it’s a full veggie resource.  Each of its 29 chapters focuses on a single veggie detailing how it’s grown, what to look for when purchasing, storage tips and recipes from a long list of talented bloggers.

Every recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photo that’s on a separate page making it simple to print the recipe without using ink for a picture.  As an electronic cookbook it’s filled with internal linking to help you easily navigate the 400+ pages.  Even better, say you find a recipe you love and want to visit the author’s website well there’s a direct hyperlink with each tasty recipe.

This valuable vegetable resource will be available October 19, 2015 is available for purchase now!!!  To celebrate Toaster Oven Love along with the other contributors will be hosting a Virtual Cookbook Launch Party that day.  It will be filled with delicious Autumn themed drink and appetizer recipes.  We hope you’ll stop by!

Until then, you can meet the other hosts of #TheCasualVeggieCookbook Launch Party by visiting their sites using the links below:

A Southern Grace      Cooking Up Clean       Family Food on the Table

Hola Jalapeno     Jeanie and Lulu’s Kitchen     Key Ingredients

Parsley and Pumpkins   Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

Real Simple Good     Stupid Good   Vermilion Roots

Will Cook For Friends    A Tasty Mess

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  1. You two are amazing! It’s so great to hear stories like this. It’s another reason I’m so proud to be part of this cookbook! I hope we can inspire others to cook/eat healthy just like you 🙂

    1. You’re so sweet Nicole. I’m inspired to pick up my kettlebell just looking at your strong & fit pic! I hope the book helps people step out of their veggie cooking comfort zones and enjoy some healthier meals too.

  2. Congratulations on your weight loss!!! You guys look awesome! So nice to “meet” you and I can’t wait to try your recipes in the book.

    1. Thanks Kate! I’m so glad we had the chance to “meet” too, I’m sort of in love with all of your recipes and can’t decide what to make first Zucchini Avocado Bread or Butternut Maple Empanadas they all look so delicious.

  3. What an inspiring story! I totally relate to feeling like your frozen dinners weren’t a sustainable way to feed yourself. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to cook when I was younger, I wanted to be able to feed myself no matter where I lived, how much money I had, or what kind of grocery store I could access. I’m so glad to have you in the cookbook!

    1. We are honored Mollie to be a part of this awesome book you worked so hard to put together. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute!

    1. Thanks Tara, those are just a small handful of our cookbooks I might be a cookbook horder 🙂 I started doing your stretches for after a long run (after my long walks) and my hips are thanking you big time!

  4. What an inspirational story!! It’s SO true that those fad diets and low calorie freezer meals aren’t the real way to give your body what it needs. I’m a firm believer, like you, in using whole, natural ingredients to create a healthy lifestyle. So glad to be collaborating with you on such an amazing project 🙂

    1. Thanks Liz, I get the appeal of the diets and freezer meals when you don’t know how to cook or what else to eat it seems like the best option. That’s why I’m so glad awesome sites like yours and the other bloggers who are contributing recipes to this veggie cookbook exist, hopefully it will help someone looking to change their eating habits see more options than we did initially.

    1. That’s so true Kari 🙂 You hear people say it all the time but changing our diets really did improve our overall well-being. Life’s not without its regular challenges but man do we sleep better and wake up easier these days.

  5. I love your story! I’m so glad you and your husband found a sustainable way to keep the weight off and be healthy! I’m so excited to have “met” you through our collaboration on the cookbook!

    1. Thanks Rachel, it’s been such a fantastic opportunity to meet so many other veggie lovers and enjoy their tasty recipes. I loved your weekly farmer’s market staples list…I also find myself “obsessed with stuffing squash with all sorts of yummy fillings” lately 😉

  6. Hi Brie! It has been so great connecting with you through this cookbook. So loved reading about your journey. My hubby and I are going through a similar one ourselves and you are an inspiration. Cheers and Happy Cooking 🙂

    1. You’re so sweet Leigh. It’s been a learning experience as I’m sure you know. Congrats to you and your husband for making healthy changes in your lives! That picture of both of you at your culinary school graduation on the website is adorable 🙂

    1. Thanks Adina! I really enjoyed learning about your time growing up in Romania and seeing the fresh market pics.

    1. It’s great to meet you too. I can’t wait to see more of your beautiful farm photos and hear about the lion conservation project in Africa on the 19th!

    1. Thanks Grace! We’ll always be works in progress but fortunately there are websites like yours to show us that eating well can be delicious and convenient.

  7. Hi Brie — so great getting to “meet” you through working on this cookbook! Your story is so inspiring. I feel like I had a similar journey when learning to cook for myself and not rely on convenience or packaged foods, but there were so many ups and downs figuring things out on my own. I wish I’d had a partner to go through it all with me back then. It’s so wonderful that you were able to discover a healthier lifestyle together!

    1. Awesome to meet you too Willow! We’ve been super lucky to have each other through our healthful eating journey and remember daily not to take it for granted. It looks like you have a pretty great partner and adorable dog in your corner now 🙂