It’s been one week! And Meatless Monday: sprouted bean burritos with tofu sour cream

Wow, so the past week came and went and I haven’t even been on here to post and say what’s going on with life. Especially after I just stated my commitment to it! Gah! But now I’m back, and the past week has been good in a lot of ways. I’ve spent some time hanging with some good friends, worked on some sprouting stuff (a separate post later), got some good recipes tested (included in this post), gotten good exercise, and started gaining serious motivation. So, I’ve just been working on myself. Now it’s time to catch up here and record the ups and downs of the past week to continue moving forward.

I’ll just recap my week with whatever I can remember according to the photos I took…

This was a big meal for dinner, I know. It was last Monday, after my crazy productive/busy day and I went without eating the whole day. So I loaded up for dinner. I prepared the tofu just with some Bragg’s, rice vinegar, and garlic, then pan grilled it. The veggies were just sauteed with some herbs and butter. The soup was made from potatoes and other veggies that I had boiled during my juice fast and then froze. I defrosted them, added some fresh parsley and almond milk, and then blended in the Vitamix to make soup.

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The wrap: grilled sprouted tofu wrap with heirloom tomatoes, spinach, and hummus.

On the side: sauteed shiitake and zucchini.

In the bowl: homemade cream of potato soup.

I’m regretful that I don’t have photos of the process just to illuminate the description but it’s very very easy to make homemade broth AND cream of veggie soup at the same time, reusing the ingredients for the broth for the soup. For the quantity you make of both things, you bet you’ll be saving money. And both of these are typically high sodium items in the market, and in this recipe, there’s NO salt added. Yay! You can store both of these items in the fridge for 3-4 days and they also can be packaged into individual serving sizes and frozen to extend shelf life.

When making the soup, you will need a Vitamix or other blender (an immersion blender would work well too.) This will fill the Vitamix pretty much to the top, or as safely as you want to get to the top. Feel free to split into two batches for a smaller blender or to avoid creamy soup explosions. 🙂

Homemade vegetable broth and cream of potato soup (made with one set of ingredients)

Ingredients:

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 yellow onions
  • 2 1/2 cups broccoli
  • 3 carrots
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp fresh minced garlic (to taste)
  • handful of chopped fresh herbs of choice
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Method:

Part One: Vegetable broth

  • Chop vegetables. Add to pot and cover with filtered water. Add enough water so there is approximately 2″ of water above the veggie line.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring often.
  • Lower to a simmer, cover. Allow to simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  • Remove from heat. Let cool completely. (To speed up cooling time, I would stop by the stove every few minutes between doing other things and give the broth a good stir to release heat.)
  • Once cool, strain broth away from vegetables. Save veggies!

Part Two: Cream of potato soup

  • Combine vegetables and almond milk in blender or large pot, if using immersion blender.
  • Blend on low to medium speed until mostly smooth with some small lumps.

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Tuesday, I worked on my sprouting setup because my new half gallon mason jars came in. I love them! Jars are my lifeline now in the kitchen, for drinking out of and for food storage. I got this little crate from Benny’s and rigged it with some duct tape tied to create a “ridge” for the lip of the jar to rest on so it wouldn’t slide. It fits 3 of the half-gallon sizes on bottom and 4 of the regular quart size jars on top. I put a thin towel underneath to collect water drainage. A pan or something else would work nicely too. You wouldn’t want a fluffy towel to prevent air flow to the opening of the lids on the bottom level.

This picture still has some of the sprouts in the soaking stage, but you get the idea. (Garbanzo beans, split green peas, wheatberries, quinoa, kidney beans, brown rice, and sunflower seeds.)

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I’ll go into more separately with sprouting details in another post as I begin to write recipes for each type of sprout and the entire process including soaking and sprouting times and details.

We had chili for dinner that night. I used onion, garlic, celery, butternut squash, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, spices, and fresh parsley and cilantro (added towards the end to preserve dinner.) I absolutely LOVE butternut squash in chili.

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And then, instead of cheese or sour cream, top with 1/2 an avocado and some toasted sesame seeds. This chili is vegan, gluten-free, and free of refined oils and sugars.

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Wednesday and Thursday I deemed my “days off” and didn’t honestly do too much except keep an eye on the sprouts, go bowling, and… well I’m sure I did other stuff around the house and regular errands and such, but nothing important to remember.

Friday I went with Bryan and our friend Hal to play disc golf in Easton, MA. (On a side note, Bryan’s mono seems to have just about fully subsided after a miserable 2 months. So happy to have him back and feeling healthy and himself again!) This is great exercise, it’s an 18-hole course plotted in the woods, so there’s a fair amount of tromping around. If you’ve never played before, it’s basically just golf with a frisbee like disc. It’s a bit more sturdy than a frisbee though. Anyway, it’s a very fun, active day out. About halfway in, I ran and chucked the disc at the opening of a field and totally threw my right shoulder out of socket. It was close to the worst pain I’ve ever felt, up there with dry socket and broken tailbone. I barely – BARELY – held my tears in and then made the guys go ahead so I could try to pop it back in, if that’s what needed to be done. A little stretching and it was too sore to move, so it must have been inflamed. I didn’t play a hole or two, and then attempted some left handed. Honestly, I was kind of better with my left hand, surprisingly. I gotta look into that more. Over the past few days, I’ve been taking care of the shoulder including heat compresses and gentle stretching and now it’s almost back to normal. It does feel slightly pushed forward, but I expect it to slide back during a good yoga session.

The weather was beautiful again on Saturday (love it!) I drank pretty late on Friday night, so I did wake up a little hungover, but I knew that I wasn’t going to waste that sunshine. I drank some water and wandered off for what I goaled to be a 6 hour walk around Providence. It was going to be like a “city hike” since I don’t have a car. There are some good hills here! Providence is kind of tiny and boring to walk for 6 hours though, you’d be surprised at how quickly you’ll get from end to end. I hadn’t been over to India Point Park, so I ventured that way and then walked up and down the water for a while, there was great sun exposure here. Then I decided to walk the East Bay Bike Path! Brilliant! It’s close enough to get out of the city, it’s sunny for your Vitamin D, and it feels a little more secluded. Unfortunately, not too far into the actual path, it’s under construction and closed for a 3 mile strip. So I had to turn around and head back to Providence. If it had been open, I would have easily reached the 6 hour mark, but after heading back over the bridge again and back into the city, I just felt exhausted. It gets hard to breathe for a while with the stuffy heat and car exhaust of the city, at least on the bike path there are some trees and fresh air. I think that’s the real main reason I want it so badly! I got a teeny bit of a sunburn just on the very tops of my shoulders and an overall tan. Why does being tan make me feel so much more motivated and healthy?? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I know being tan means I’ve been outside in the sun soaking it in. I feel miles better in the sunshine. I’m an addict.

And I was in for more sunshine on Sunday! I started the day early, getting to the grocery store at 8 a.m. right when they opened. I did my shopping, and per usual, bought more than I intended. But I strapped the heavy stuff on my back and divided the rest into two reusable bags and got ready for the trek home. It’s not far, less than a mile, but there’s a pretty big hill to climb. I definitely felt the burn in my back and shoulders carrying all the weight. When I got home – 42 pounds! (Jeez that’s a lot of groceries, haha. The more raw and really healthy foods, you get to eat a LOT.)

I started the day with an open-faced tofu egg sandwich. This is a recipe I’m working on perfecting because it’s something I crave quite often and I know it can be made very healthy. It’s also one of the foods that I long for when I’m hungover. They serve it vegan at two places in Providence, but I can make it for cheaper and healthier. 🙂 I tried out a cashew hollandaise sauce this time, and I actually liked it. It was the first one I’ve made without vegan mayonnaise or Earth Balance, so it didn’t have any refined oils, and of course, is way less processed and nutritious. It had a ‘brightness’ to the flavor. The thing with Hollandaise is that I never had it traditionally made, only the vegan version. So I don’t really know what it ACTUALLY tastes like. But whatever, it was good, and the brightness of the lemon came through nicely which I read is how it’s supposed to taste, so. We’ll see.

Then I kicked my backyard’s ASS! I spent about 5 1/2-6 hours doing yardwork (weeding and raking leaves) and then fiercely pressure washing the whole backyard. There are two separate patio areas, a side cement lot where the garden bed is set up, and two brick pathways. It was a big, muddy, wet mess. I had to keep unplugging the pressure washer (very heavy!) and carrying it to plug in near the other area while one side dried and then returning to continue with all the dirt and mud. I couldn’t believe it. This is a dangerous job for someone like me with a touch of OCD. Once I started one area, everything had to get done. This is the wall, and the difference one stroke over with the pressure washer made. It didn’t LOOK dirty for some reason before hand, but when you see it like that, whoa.

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I figure I burned about 300 calories an hour. I felt so tired after but I felt so accomplished. I remembered it was Sunday and booked it to the liquor store with just 3 minutes to spare. The one closest to me was closed and I had to hustle up Hope St to make it to a different one, haha. Cracking open that beer when I got home was such a reward, and I got takeout veggie nime chow when I was out too. My roommates and I sat outside that night and it was glorious. I felt sore, tired, exhausted, accomplished, and everything smelled fresh and clean and watered down and the weather was perfect.

I drunkenly ate popcorn and almonds kind of late and very close to the time I actually fell asleep last night, and this morning my stomach was very mad at me from the late food and alcohol. I drank a bunch of water and ate a mango and was going to get my day started but I decided to just sit for a little and drink more water. I did some internet work. Then I finally felt right and got walking around 10:45. I did some errands on foot and then went to Old Navy to use a coupon and return a couple of things. I also specifically wanted to get a strapless dress for tanning purposes. I needed something that I could wear without a bra in my backyard without looking ridiculous and that was short so my legs could tan too. Trying on clothes at Old Navy was a mixed back. There were a few things on sale that I really loved that just didn’t fit. Specifically, there were two dresses with buttons. I can’t do anything button up and fitted, and it’s a look that I absolutely love. It’s all about the hips. Two pairs of jeans I tried on were bloody ridiculous. Oh well. I found a few nice things after a good hunt. Ended up with pants, yoga pants, belt, t-shirt, 2 dresses, sunglasses… for $42! Not so bad. I am going to build my wardrobe back up by watching for sales and shopping smart. I’ve also gotten better at keeping receipts and staying organized. Oh, and I started entering those customer service surveys that print on the bottom of receipts. I figure if the paper is already wasted, and someone’s gotta win, why not me? Come on, baby!

I ended up finding a cute polka dot dress at Forever 21, of all places. I can’t believe I can fit into their clothes. I worked there when I was at my heaviest, and when you’re fat like that, you view clothing stores completely different. I forget that I can just walk into most stores and find clothes! Granted, I’m on the edge still, depending on how the clothes run. I can usually do okay with tops and dresses. Pants are still at a 16 but it’s a bulbous butt 16 so that makes it much more tricky. My waist is easily a 12 or 14 but my hips and thighs will have none of that.

You can see the remnants of my sunburn if you look closely for the ghost white imprint of a tank top.

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The sun felt great again today, but I was smart about exposure and kept my shoulders hidden. Well at least until I got home and settled into my backyard. I did put on the “tanning” dress for back there. The sun isn’t quite as hot as it is walking around the city because the trees and all the brick really cool it down. In fact, today it was kind of not very hot at all. It was the last time it was 80 degrees, but there were just a few too many clouds this afternoon to really get the sun in on you back there. But I sat outside for a few hours and did some research and planning and ate some lunch. I made a smoothie with fresh almond milk (I’ll be writing a post all about this soon – value in both nutrition and cost), banana, blueberry, vanilla protein, and kale. Then I cut up a bunch of veggies and gobbled those up with a sprouted chickpea hummus (again, I’ll write all about the sprouts soon! Promise!) The hummus is just sprouted chickpeas, lemon juice, water, cayenne, cumin, and boatloads of garlic. It took me about 2 hours to get through the whole meal and the whole smoothie, and as I was eating it, I really took my time to taste the different veggies and chew them and think about how they were nourishing me. I felt very full and satisfied after all of it. I also felt very hydrated and refreshed after having been out in the sun. My body LOVES the sun and loves the heat, but it hates to feel fatigued and gross during the summer. I gravitate towards raw when I’m outside. Last summer especially, I found myself eating entire days full of raw food just by chance. The rehydrating properties of fresh foods, my gosh! Plus, your body doesn’t have to expend energy and heat digesting food and can save that energy for crazy hikes and climbing mountains. omg.

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Every time I eat something that’s really healthy, I try to consciously focus on how I feel connected to that food and to engage with it and understand why I’m eating it. It’s not mindless eating. I’m eating to live. That’s what they say right? Sure, the meal above may not appear appetizing to a lot of people. But that’s the trick. Don’t take out the junk or processed foods you love. Begin your transition by adding a meal like this in. Maybe once a week? Three times a week? Every day? Because what will happen is you will end up filling up on the good stuff and the nourishment you receive will outweigh the appeal of that junk food. Everywhere I read, the change to a clean, more organic plant-based diet is recommended to be attacked in the same way. Don’t give up everything all at once! It’s about what you add in, not what you take out. And pretty soon, the good will crowd out the bad. You will lose hunger for these foods and they will even begin to look foreign to you. Did you ever notice the most beautiful foods are fresh fruits and vegetables? Look at all the color. There’s a reason they look beautiful to us: your body is screaming, “EAT ME!”

So it’s true that not every bite of those fresh veggies or smoothie tasted amazing and I didn’t want to scarf it down like an insatiable vulture. But the more I ate it, the more I realized that I was making a good decision and that the more I choose these foods, the more my body really will crave them. I try to think about things like cucumbers being good for skin health, and as I eat the cucumber, picture my skin feeling smooth and hydrated and blemish free. Visualization can be a powerful tool, ya know.

And then it was happy Monday to me when my new knives and cutting board came in! For someone who cooks, and prepares a LOT of vegetables and fruits every. single. day, I’ve never owned a nice knife set. This is a Ginsu set, I guess like medium range? At least they cut awesome right out of the box. Preparing dinner was a treat!

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Tonight’s dinner was excellent. I’m excited to share the recipe for two reasons: 1) it’s my first time cooking sprouted kidney beans and they were awesome! 2) the tofu sour cream is also a new recipe that I’m trying.

 

Sprouted Red Bean Burritos with Tofu Sour Cream

Ingredients:

For the bean filling:

  • 2 cups sprouted kidney beans
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp garlic, to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • hot sauce to taste

For the tofu sour cream:

  • 1/2 pound sprouted extra firm tofu (any firm or extra firm will work, start with less water if using a softer tofu)
  • 3 Tbsp filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice,
  • 3 Tbsp chives

For the burrito:

  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Mixed leafy greens
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • …anything else you want!

 

Method:

  1. Sprout kidney beans (soak for 8 hours, rinse and drain every 8-12 hours for 2-3 days).

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2. Add kidney beans to sauce pan with filtered water going 1-2″ past bean line.

3. Bring beans to a boil.

4. Beans will produce a white foam from excess gas being released. Skim this foam off.

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5. Cover and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes, checking softness after 30 minutes.

6. Remove from heat and drain.

7. Preheat a separate pan over medium-high heat until warm enough to make water droplets dance.

8. Add onion. Make sure to keep onion moving to prevent burning. Don’t use oil! Motion and heat are all you need.

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(Beautiful caramelized onions – NO OIL!)

9. Add garlic after cooking onions 4-5 minutes and sautee with constant motion for 1-2 more minutes. Finish when golden brown.

10. Add caramelized onions and all spices to the pot with the beans in it.

11. Heat over medium heat, stirring and mashing with a wooden spoon. Add a little vegetable broth if beans are sticking to pot or burning, or are not mushy enough to create a refried beans like texture.

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12. To prepare tofu sour cream, add all ingredients into blender and puree until very smooth.

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I doubled the chives because I was craving that flavor and the sour cream came out with a nice mint green hue, haha.

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When I went vegan, I stopped eating sour cream, of course, but I never adapted into the substitute. It was the same with cream cheese and shredded cheeses – until Daiya. I love the originals, but since the flavor and texture in the vegan substitutes was never quite right and honestly I really never liked it. I have dabbled with some nut based replacements for sour cream, but with no success really. But here! This is the winner by far. Creamy, tangy, sour. If you taste it on its own, it tastes like exactly what it is – sour cream made from tofu. You can taste the tofu. But once wrapped in the burrito, it blends in AWESOME and just tastes creamy sour creamy deliciousness.

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After dinner, I took a fireball shot to wash it all down. That’s fresh squeezed lemon juice, with cayenne pepper and ginger. I’m working on incorporating 2 of these every day as well as 2 “shots” of straight up cherry juice to help work on inflammation while I drastically up my exercise routine. They both have a ton of antiflammatory and cleansing properties. Yay!

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This shot kicks you in the sinuses, the stomach, the forehead, the muscles, and you feel totally energized and amazing in literally 3 seconds!

I might go have another one right now….

 

Sorry for the very long post. It’s taken me over 2 hours to recap all this! I will definitely start doing a better job keeping up with my daily postings as I throw myself into food and exercise in the best way possible. Here’s to a happy and healthy week!


Juice feast day 4 (including a “V17” juice!)

Down another pound today, 6 pounds total in the first 3 days.

I woke up with a bit of a headache today, and I think it’s due to the fact that I really didn’t drink enough juice yesterday (only 3 juices). I also didn’t drink enough water overall, although I tried to make up for it before bed. That led to me getting up a lot to pee, so the headache could also have been from a lack of good rest. However, despite the slight headache, I am starting to feel that boost in clarity and mental energy that I remember comes after the detox symptoms start to subside.

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Juice #1:

  • 5 small apples
  • 3 kiwis
  • 1/2 large bulb fennel

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I had this juice after an hour massage and it was crisp, clean, light and refreshing. It was very sweet and almost a little sour. I normally wouldn’t have made a juice like this without any greens but I didn’t have anything on hang today and I was meeting someone to go grocery shopping later on.

The massage, by the way, was fantastic. I felt very invigorated, loose, and refreshed after. I took a guess at timing the massage on day 4 because I figured the initial release of toxins is usually done during a juice fast by day 3. Massage helps stimulate further detoxification of our body tissues, so this would help get some deeper toxins out which the juicing can help continue flush through. I might try acupuncture later this week or next as I heard its also supposed to be very cleansing. I just need to remember to be drinking a WAY lot more water. Gah! I’m usually so good at this.

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Juice #2:

“V17”

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cucumber
  • 5 small tomatoes
  • 1/4 head red cabbage
  • 1 red pepper
  • 5 small brussel sprouts
  • 2 radishes
  • jalapeno pepper
  • serrano pepper
  • large handful green beans
  • handful parsley
  • approx 1 1/2 cups broccoli
  • handful bean sprouts
  • 2 bokchoy stalks
  • 2 celery stalks
  • chunk of horseradish (approx 3/4″ x 2″)
  • chunk of ginger (approx 1/2″ x 1″)

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Okay, let me explain the massive quantity of this juice. After not juicing all day, except for one small one this afternoon, I was feeling very very hungry. The temperature also dropped quite a bit today from the unseasonably warm summerlike weather we had last week. It’s only about 32 degrees out now. As I’ve been juicing for the past few days, my body temperature has also been on the low side. This happens because one of the ways our body heats up is due to toxins and the digestive process. Digestion takes energy, energy is heat. Without heavy digestion, our body temperature remains on the low side.

Anyway, I was feeling hungry and was even doubting I’d make it, so I figured a HUGE juice with some spice and substance was the way to go for dinner. This produced about 64 oz, which would be the equivalent of about 3 juices I should have had by now. This huge serving plus the one from earlier brings me to a good solid 4 juices for the day. Granted, it’ll take me an hour or two to actually get all this juice down but it’s worth it!

NOTE: This juice, as my Dad would have said, WILL put hair on your chest. Not for the meak stomached or sweet tongued. It’s a very heavy, dense flavor with a lot of spice from the hot peppers. Follow this recipe and divide into 2 or 3 for normal size servings during a juice fast, or this recipe could make about 6-8 cups of juice if used to supplement a meal.

It cost me about $110 to stock up for the next 5 days for just me, but I’m pretty sure I bought too much and will end up with a huge pot of vegetable soup and probably some frozen fruit after. I just wanted to ensure that I  had enough variety to keep me interested in juicing until the end. Like I mentioned yesterday, I find that one of the most difficult parts of juicing is that eventually they all either taste sweet like fruit or earthy like vegetables. The challenge is to find nice blends that offer variety. With a fully stocked fridge and pantry of fruit, I’ll be able to cater to my tastes and then use the leftovers for regular cooking after. Again, it sounds like a lot to spend, $20 a day on juicing. But the benefits are worth it!


Meatless Monday: Quinoa stirfry with broccoli, mango, cashews and spicy ginger sauce

Meatless Monday!

Let’s talk quinoa, a great addition to any meatless diet. Pronounced KEEN-wah, in case you were wondering. But what is it? It’s actually a seed, but is considered a whole grain. Most importantly, quinoa is the only plant-based source of complete protein. Whoa, what’s that? Yes – there is a plant that contains all 9 essential amino acids: quinoa! And it packs 7g of protein per serving compared to brown rice’s 4g. So it’s got more of a better quality protein. I love it. I will admit it took me a little while to come around to it. I’m much more of a fan of a hot quinoa dish than a cold quinoa salad, though. (Quinoa can replace other grains in soups, stirfries, or Mexican dishes, OR try it in place of oatmeal for breakfast.)

One particular amino acid that quinoa is high in is lysine, which is missing from wheat and rice. Lysine aids in tissue growth and repair, aiding the immune system. (Lysine is often used as a supplement to quickly banish cold sores.) Quinoa also is packed with fiber and minerals. It’s gluten-free, and considered an easily digested grain. Win-win-win.

This dish is vegan, gluten-free*,with no added salt, no added refined sugars, no extracted oils. It’s packed with fiber and healthy fats.

*contains no added gluten ingredients, but make sure you double check all brands of products like vegetable broth or soy sauce that you are using, as many will contain gluten or wheat ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups water or reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups frozen mango chunks (this would work well with pineapple too)
  • 6 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 cups frozen diced pepper/onion mix
  • 1 cup raw cashews

Sauce:

  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup raw agave nectar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 ½ Tbsp Bragg’s (or reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • ½ Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch

Method:

  1. Prepare quinoa according to package. (Typically, add 2 cups water or reduced-sodium vegetable broth and 1 cup quinoa. Bring to boil. Cover, and lower for a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Quinoa will be done when grain is translucent and has little spirals coming out of it.)
  2. While quinoa is simmering, steam broccoli in covered pot for approx 10 minutes.
  3. Add mango and pepper/onion mix to broccoli and steam for approx 5-7 minutes until heated thoroughly.
  4. Stir in cashews and remove from heat.
  5. To prepare sauce, add all ingredients except corn starch to a small sauce pan and bring to low boil.
  6. Whisk in corn starch until thickened and thoroughly dissolved.
  7. Once quinoa is finished, add quinoa to broccoli/mango/cashew mixture and stir in sauce.
  8. Simmer all ingredients together above medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes to reduce sauce slightly and meld flavors.

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Other quinoa recipe posts you might like:

Sopa de Quinua or Quinoa Soup (vegetarianirvana.wordpress.com)

Quinoa: breakfast of champions (mostlyfood.org)

Thai Fried Quinoa (feastyoureyesonmyveg.wordpress.com)


3-day healthy eating reboot: how to remind your palette what your body really loves!

So, over the past few days, I’ve found myself eating an incredible amount of food. Quite seriously, I’ve been insatiable. I dabbled in some Chinese takeout, vegan pizza, homemade stirfry, PB&J, bean and cheese and avocado burritos, honey mustard peanuts, tofu benedict*, and more….

*The tofu ‘eggs’ benedict was from this place Doherty’s East Avenue Irish Pub, which sounds about the last place you’d be able to get vegan breakfast at. HOWEVER, they had many options, the portions were huge, the prices were low, and the service was good too. It’s definitely a ‘foodie’ brunch (see the brunch menu here) – with vegan options including French toast, pancakes, tofu scrambles, white bean and tempeh sausage patties, and like I said, tofu eggs benedict. Beyond their vegan options, I was also astounded that their side of fresh fruit was the FRESHEST I’ve ever had at a breakfast place, and even included plump juicy blackberries and succulent strawberries and a perfectly ripe-but-not-mushy banana. Honestly, I’m not even sure where they got that awesome of fruit this time of year. But if you’re anywhere near the Providence area, you should definitely make it a point to check out this cafe for brunch on the weekend.

Anyway, back to my main point. I’ve been a bottomless pit over the past few days, scouring for some kind of craving that I just can’t quite fulfill. It’s an endless cycle, because the more empty calories you eat (like white flour, sugar, oil), the more you crave them because your body is searching for more energy. These types of foods are so high on the gylcemic index because they are so quickly converted into sugars, that your body experiences a surge, and then a crash. To compensate for the crash, your body craves more of these high sugar, quick energy foods, and it’s a vicious circle which leads to many of the problems that America is facing now from diabetes to obesity and the list goes on…

So, several times in the past, I’ve realized that the quickest way to curb my cravings for these unhealthy foods is to force a 2-3 day nutrient-dense binge, doing the exact opposite. The influx of nourishment will help your body realize what it was really craving was nutrition, and not empty carbs, sugar, or oil. The more you notice as you do these kinds of changes, the more it will be easier for you to repeat them in the future. We all know that the first 2-3 days of a ‘diet’ are the easiest. Our willpower is usually strong enough to get through those. To get back on the wagon, I’m taking it “food-easy” for 3 days, and only consuming water, herbal tea, fruit smoothies made alfalfa/barley/wheatgrass powder, and steamed vegetables. Water is so important as many times cravings for junk food are actually cravings for hydration. It also helps flush out the heavy foods that are sitting in my stomach and cleanse out my digestive tract, which is another way to promote healthier cravings. This combination of foods, for just 3 days, will realign my taste buds and allow me to realize what kind of food I really love. In fact, even as I was gorging myself this past weekend, I found myself actually thinking, “Why am I eating this? It doesn’t even taste that good!” I’m currently steaming an entire bag of frozen cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli, and as it cooks, I’m getting more and more excited at the delicious smell of steamed veggies, knowing they are going to taste even better.

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I bet there are a lot of people who might read this and think I’m crazy. Let me explain. It has taken me 3 years to develop a craving for steamed vegetables. It’s not something you should expect to achieve overnight. Rather, what you should aim to do is increase your intake of nutrient dense foods, like a fruit smoothie with greens or a huge bowl of steamed vegetables. Your palette, I PROMISE you, will begin to shift. It’s your body’s way of thanking and rewarding you for feeding it the proper nutrition, I like to think. Eating vegetables will someday no longer be a chore. Don’t cut out the chocolate cake or the potato chips – at first. Just add in a few servings of fruit, a few servings of vegetables, and see what happens. Eventually (remember, I said it took me 3 years to reach this place), your body will actually say, YUCK to the stuff that makes it feel bad and feel unhealthy.

My Meatless Monday has consisted of a mango/pineapple/coconut oil smoothie made with greens and almond milk, this bag of steamed veggies, and water and lots of detoxifying teas. I might end up making another smoothie or another bag of vegetables, but that’s okay. You can eat all you want of the good things!

Okay, my veggies are done, so I’m done. Time for some yum!

These cookies taste good, but they make you feel nasty,

So keep your body happy through exercise.

Drink water and juice with a little slice of lemon,

Eat a raw slice of garlic every once a while.

Meditate, appreciate, learn a foreign language.

And understand that immigrants have the hardest lives.

Jonny Corndawg, “Exercise”


Vegan low-fat, low-sodium apple pecan oatmeal cookies (YUM!)

So, I don’t cook sweets that often, especially not cookies, but every now and again it strikes my fancy. I checked out my pantry to see what I had and decided that I’d Google pecan cookies and see what kinds of combinations came up. I came across this Low Fat Apple-Pecan Oatmeal Cookie recipe on yummly.com. I decided to adapt it to be vegan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick oats!)
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice (I used almond)
  • 1 chopped apple (I used organic Fuji)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp luke warm water
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps apple pie spice –OR– 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp ginger

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix together oats, milk, chopped apple, and pecans in a bowl and set aside.

3. Whisk together flax seed and water until slightly frothy (similar to what an egg would be like.)

4. Mix together brown sugar, flax seed mixture, apple sauce, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.

5. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir well to combine.

6. Drop batter by Tbsp full onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten each cookie slightly with fork.

7. Bake for 12 minutes. You will know cookies are done when they can be lifted from parchment without gushing apart in your hands or sticking to the paper. They will be soft, almost spongy. Cookies do not really firm after cooling, this is definitely a soft vs. crisp oatmeal cookie recipe – which I like better anyway!

This recipe yielded 39 cookies for me, and a bunch got eaten by my roommates and I before I could take a photo. 🙂 They tasted GREAT. Not too sweet, these would make an awesome, wholesome breakfast. No dairy, no eggs, no added fat, minimal sugar. Brown sugar may sub out easily for maple syrup to reduce the recipe to no refined sugars. Oh yea, and trust me on this – you’re gonna wanna scoop up a couple while they’re still warm.

A little bit on the nutrition….

For 4 cookies (That’s right – you get to eat FOUR of these bad boys for probably what one traditional chocolate chip cookie might be….)

 

Calories: 232

Calories from fat: 53

Fat: 6 g

Sodium: 132 mg

Potassium: 62 mg

Carbohydrates: 41 g

Fiber: 5 g

Sugar: 15 g

Protein: 5 g

 

So these cookies are not only cholesterol free (vegan!), low fat, low in sodium, but they also offer a nutritional punch of fiber and protein! 5 grams each per serving!

In conclusion, I guess I impressed myself tonight…


Pat Myself on the Back Tuesday: Eating more organic and saving money??

So, when I think about a week, I think of Monday as being a really fresh start. It’s almost ALWAYS easy to stay on track for Mondays, usually because the weekend may have been indulgent. Monday is a great day to just start over, screw your head back on straight, and move forward with your week. That’s one of the theories behind Meatless Monday, I think, is that Mondays are usually a day that people use to eat healthy and start their week off right. A meatless meal is certainly one of the healthiest ways you can go (depending, of course – white pasta and white garlic bread drowned in processed vegan cheeses is certainly not a healthy meatless meal.) So Mondays are easy.

But then Tuesday comes, and its one of the weirdest days to me. Tuesday usually disappears between Monday’s reset switch and Wednesday’s mid-week insanity (Wednesdays are always O.O.C. for me, I don’t know why.) But what if Tuesday had a whole new meaning behind it?

I’m going to start patting myself on the back on Tuesdays for things that I did well the week before. A lot of the times, if I am tempted to eat poorly, I am more likely to ‘relapse’ into bad eating habits if the previous week was not perfect either. When I have a good full week, it motivates me to continue moving forward through another one. I figure that a pat on the back is a great way to recognize positive things and focus on the things that I did for myself that resulted in a gain rather than the things that I may not have done as well as I wanted. Recognition = motivation to do more things better. So, on Tuesdays, I’m going to Pat Myself on the Back.

So this week, I’m going to pat myself on the back for eating more organic foods AND saving money in the process.

Is it really possible? You bet your bottom dollar it is.

Let me tell you how I did it. When I worked at a grocery store full time, it was very easy to NEVER grocery shop. You get into a rhythm of buying both breakfast and lunch at the store, grabbing something processed and easy to heat for dinner (especially if your job at the store is to cook for the public, it really turned me off on cooking at home.) On your days off, since the cupboards are bare from ‘forgetting’ to grocery shop, you get takeout or go out to eat. By the end of the week, your food bill is through the roof. And its not an easy cycle to break because meal planning and grocery shopping and cooking all take time. Once you’re in that groove, its hard to make time because you’re so used to having the free time to do what you want. It’s not necessarily as important to take time to cook or stock your pantry. I also can’t tell you how many times I attempted to make a plan and then did a big shop and then got sucked back into the rhythm of work and hurry and eat on the go and don’t cook. Unfortunately, this wasted even more money.

Now, I’m cooking almost every single meal at home, and often I will cook something that I reuse in different ways for 3-4 days. Sometimes I’ll even just make a big one-pot meal and eat it for lunch and dinner for a couple days. My cooking is that good. 😉

So now I’m using a lot of whole foods instead of processed foods. And the interesting thing is that in whole foods, the cost of organic for the quality that you’re receiving is ACTUALLY worth it. If you were to compare 3 different processed chocolate cookies – 1 organic, 1 all-natural, and 1 conventional AKA chemical-ridden –  I am sure you would taste a difference in the conventional cookie. However, I’m not convinced how much difference would be in the organic vs. all-natural. At that level of processing, the extra freshness that I think organically grown whole foods have beforehand is lost. That extra freshness is what makes it worth the little bit of extra money for organic whole foods. Have you ever taste-tested two strawberries? Organic vs. conventional, even in peak season. The difference is mind-blowing. Peanut butter is another one that I recently noticed a difference in. And bananas. Even peppers and potatoes. The list goes on. Here’s where I wonder about the connection between how delicious a whole food tastes and the quality of nutrition it offers. Could organic taste better because its more nutritious? I really think so. The plants usually look healthier (more nourished!) and are more vibrant in color, which almost always translate to more nutritious.

The reason our palettes cry out for certain flavors or why colorful food is so pleasing to the eye is linked to what our body is craving for nutrition. In the world of processed foods that we live in, many people misinterpret the signal for, “Hey, we need nutrition to have energy and feel better.” We’re reaching for coffee, white bread, sugar; foods that when eaten will cause a blood sugar spike or caffeine rush. Yea, there will be a rush of energy, but inevitably there will be more of a metabolic stress when one’s body has to regulate back to normal levels quickly. And then, the stress of regulation will then cause a deficit, and the body cries out again for help… It’s a neverending cycle that has resulted in millions of people sick with diabetes, obesity, heart control, and more.

Anyway, I guess I’ve gotten a bit off topic. Bottom line is that now that I’m preparing my own meals at home from more ORGANIC whole foods (meaning fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables, beans and grains bought in bulk, nuts, etc), I’m spending much much less money than when I was purchasing all-natural, vegan food that was prepared for ‘on the go.” I’m choosing everything organic that I can and feeling good about where my food dollars are being spent. It’s worth the extra X% that it costs for the quality, nutritious, delicious food that I am now cooking in my own home. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to stop by the Wintertime Farmer’s Market at the Hope Artiste Village. I would like to buy more local as well. And then maybe by next year, have enough knowledge and resources to grow some of my own food! Goals!

By the way, dinner tonight was a grilled cheese (Daiya cheddar) with avocado and a bowl of Dr. McDougall’s lower-sodium organic garden vegetable soup.

 


Meatless Monday: Portobello burger and red kale

 

Every day is meatless for me, but in an effort to promote and spread the Meatless Monday movement, I’ll share my dinners with you from now on!

 

Tonight is portobello burger and red kale with onions and garlic.

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grab a portobello mushroom.

Cut off the stem (don’t throw it away – you can either roast it with the top or cut it up and sautee with your greens.)

Line a pan with parchment paper just to prevent stickage.

Cover mushroom with 2 Tbsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce and 2 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (or more as you see fit!)

I also sprinkled some dried herbs on there (fresh would be much better, but I used rosemary, basil, and parsley.)

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(If you remember early enough you can also marinate the mushroom, but I don’t find it necessary to get great flavor.)

Then you just throw it on a bun or some whole wheat toast (my personal favorite).

Tonight I topped with heirloom tomato slices, broccosprouts, and a little ketchup.

I made some garlicky greens to go along with it as well.

Heat pan until water ‘dances’ on surface. Don’t use oil! You do not need oil to caramelize onions!

Steam fry 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion and as much garlic as you’d like. Make sure to have constant movement to prevent burning/sticking. Add a splash of vegetable broth when onions begin to become translucent.

 

Before…

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…after!

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Add handfuls of your favorite green and stir, cooking down to desired tenderness.

 

Enjoy a Meatless Monday – for your health, for your wallet, for your environment!

 

 

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