admits that when she was growing up, she never really thought about what happened to the cows her family raised on their farm in Oklahoma. When she finally thought to ask, and learned that they were slaughtered for meat, she decided she was done with beef
“It just freaked me out and that was that,” Underwood tells SELF. “I didn’t become vegan right away, but I quit eating beef and didn’t eat a whole lot of other meat,” she explains. She recalls trying to find tofu
in her small town so she could experiment with it, but it was in short supply. “And then when I was on American Idol
, being in California, there were all these places that had vegan food
, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is easy here!’” By the time she was 22, she had completely cut meat from her diet.
Underwood now calls Nashville home, and says the vegan options are plentiful there, too. But sometimes, she can’t stick to it 100 percent. “I want to be vegan so badly, all the way, 1,000 percent,” she says. “But traveling and stuff, it just kind of gets hard. Sometimes I may have to do some egg whites or something for breakfast
,” she says.
On a typical morning, Underwood likes to make a tofu scramble for breakfast. “I always keep chopped bell peppers and onions in the fridge so I can just throw ’em in some coconut oil
, throw some tofu in, and I love salsa and toast.” For lunch, “I love a good sandwich
,” she says. She’ll use vegetarian sandwich “meat” from brands like Tofurky
, and of course, avocado
is a staple. On the side? Veggie straws
, or something similar, she says.
“For dinner, I’m always roasting vegetables, like sweet potatoes, or spaghetti squash
—it’s easy to make, and you can make a lot of it.” Veggie burgers or “chicken” scaloppini also show up on the menu often, as does brown rice. “All my food has little air quotes around it,” Underwood jokes. She likes Gardein
for meatless chicken and beef products.
While Underwood doubts her cooking skills—“I wish I were better at it, I wish I had more time to devote to it,” she says—she really enjoys baking. “I’m always making muffins or something like that to keep around.” Some of her favorite healthy snacks include her homemade muffins (a mix of oatmeal and fruits like banana and blueberry), an English muffin with some peanut butter, pea protein bars, or cereal. “I’ve always got cereal on me,” she says, “like Kashi, because it’s healthy and my son likes it too, so if I just always have it in my purse then we’re always good. I have snacks on me all the time. I don’t ever want to be hungry, I hate being hungry
Another tip for fellow new moms out there: Wear your workout clothes all day. “I will wear my Calia
all day long and then if my son takes a nap, I’m good to go. He will take a nap, but it might not be very long. But I’m ready for it,” Underwood says. Calia is her fitness apparel line, available exclusively at Dick's Sporting Goods, that launched in 2015. She keeps basic equipment at home—like a bosu ball, a bench, and dumbbells—so that she can sneak in a quick workout
when she has time. On a nice day, her workouts may take the form of pushing her son in his stroller and running around with him at the park. Sometimes, he’ll take his nap time in the stroller, while Underwood gets a solid walk in. “He enjoys just being outside and looking around. It’s good for both of us,” she says.
Recently, Underwood has been adding weights into her routine whenever she can. “I’ve been getting more and more into doing more stuff with weights,” she says. “I’ve noticed a big difference in the past year on things just being easier, where I’m like, ‘Ooh, I can lift that!’ I love it,” she says. “I just love seeing that forward progress and I like feeling strong