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!

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Juice feast day 3

Day 3 today. Still going pretty strong although I had a few significant hunger pains throughout the day. My guy is still feeling pretty store and stiff. I woke up actually pretty cranky and lethargic today, with some aches and pains myself. My throat was the biggest, very sore with a bit of congestion. I think most of these things will be feeling better by tomorrow.

My weight today was 195, down 5 pounds since starting. Hurrah!

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Juice #1:

  • 2 kiwi
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 honeydew melon
  • 2 apples
  • 1/2 large fennel bulb and greens
  • 3 bokchoy stalks

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Fennel is a crazy ingredient in juice. I was so skeptical at first, I’m not a big anise or licorice flavor fan and the thought of drinking it in juice is even less appealing. But it does something crazy when blended with fruits, it makes this crisp refreshing flavor which I’ve never had before. My boyfriend really liked it too.

Juice #2:

  • 1/4 large red cabbage
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • 2 celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 3 brussel sprouts

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Red cabbage juice is very intriguing to me, one of those flavors that I don’t necessarily like or dislike and it intrigues me the more I drink it. (Salt and vinegar potato chips is another food that does it!) This juice though, blended with the other veggies, didn’t have that strong red cabbage flavor in it really. I downed this juice very quickly because I was super hungry and I felt extremely bloated and full after. I realized at this point I hadn’t had any water yet today even after 2 large juices. I keep bugging Bryan to drink more water to help flush out his joint and muscle pains, and here I am doing the same thing. I had about 16 oz of water and planned to drink a lot more after my dinner time juice.

We went to Target in between this juice and being in the food aisles was definitely tricky and I had significant hunger again at the store. But it didn’t feel like real hunger, just psychological hunger. There was some discussion about rice crispy treats, and I’ll definitely be working on a vegan version when this juice fast is done.

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Juice #3:

  • approx 1 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 5 brussel sprouts
  • 5 asparagus stalks
  • 3 apples
  • handful parsley
  • lemon
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 celery stalks

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This juice came out extremely tasty and I was surprised at how prevalent the lime flavor was with just half a lime throughout the whole juice! Once I stated sipping in on it, my psychological hunger was gone. By this time of night, my crankiness has dissipated as has my sore throat and congestion. Now it’s time to get some serious water consumption going.

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The broth is cooking as I write this… made from chopped celery, carrots, potato and onion, with some sprigs of fresh parsley. Added thyme, salt, and pepper, and of course garlic. Used the greens pulp from last night and the juice from tonight. It smells, like, heaven in here, and I can’t wait to get down on some broth.

As of right now, I feel that I will have zero problems carrying on until day 10. I feel tired but I am really not craving food all that much. The juice has been keeping me satisfied enough. I do think its important to point out that this is the first juice fast that I’ve done that I had this kind of complete confidence and lack of cravings (I’ve done about 5-6 juice fasts plus 3 Master Cleanse). I definitely am not craving any junk food, and the kinds of things I am craving are fresh salads or vegetable soup. I don’t think it’ll be too hard to maintain a really nice healthy diet when this is done. I managed to drink 2 jars full of water tonight (that’s equal to 8 cups, pounded it down) and definitely feel a lot better and less weighed down. I think the sugars in the juice combined with the toxins releasing do that unless you wash them out. I also had 2 cups of some herbal red tea with some ginger spice flavor that was fantastic and increased my mood and feeling of clean/lightness.

Spring cleaning for your body. Super score.


Vegan grown-up pepperjack mac n’ cheese with mushrooms, broccoli, and red bell pepper.

Normally, I wouldn’t be posting so many recipes using Daiya cheese. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s actually quite delicious and low in calories. I also love that it’s cholesterol free (vegan!) and it’s free of soy and gluten too. The ingredients are actually clean and not terribly over processed. Butstill very high in refined oils, and total fat content is 6g for 90 calories. I like to try to average 2.5 g for every 100 calories in processed foods. So even though it’s actually a great alternative, it’s not necessarily a nutrient-dense addition to my meal.

But this week, I’ve been feeling rich and savory, starting with the patty melt with the Daiya cheddar a few days ago, and this afternoon I wanted to make a pepperjack mac n cheese, grown up style with red bell peppers, broccoli, and shiitake mushrooms. It’s a little bit of a cheat week, but I’m keeping it within reason. It’d be very easy to choose white macaroni and discard the veggies to just make a vegan version of mac and cheese. Instead, I’ll keep it whole grain and add colorful veggies in to up the nutritional content of the meal. It’s all about balance! The sauce will also have some healthy perks too – using almond milk and nutritional yeast.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 10-12 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 8 oz whole wheat pasta of your choice
  • 1 ½ cups almond milk
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1 cup Daiya pepperjack cheese shreds

 Method:

  1. Steam veggies until tender.

  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

  3. To prepare sauce, whisk almond (or other dairy-free) milk, nutritional yeast, garlic and spices together in small sauce pan over medium low heat.

  4. Sprinkle in Daiya cheese, stirring continuously until cheese has melted and sauce has evenly thickened. Be careful, as this milk/cheese combination will easily thicken and burn to the pan if you’re not careful.

  5. Combine pasta, veggies, and sauce. Enjoy!

 

(Sorry no photos! I broke my phone yesterday and am waiting on a replacement! Boo.)


I Used to be Fat(ter)

This is going to be my story. Not my complete story. But the story of my battle with food, obesity, exercise, and clean living. I think I intend for this to someday become an actual work of writing somehow, but in the meantime I’ll just collect my thoughts.

(This will be a long post, I have kept these notes in a Word document until now.)

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I decided that I needed to start remembering my journey to a healthier being on the comment of a coworker. We were discussing some of the thoughts I used to have as a fat(ter) girl, and saying them out loud, was comical and almost whimsical. Sure, it was funny now to think about, but I also felt sad. I know that what I was doing to myself seemed normal, and I just had no idea that there was a different way to live. I figured I would always be fat, that I would face the same struggle that my family and so many other Americans are facing right now, that that was the norm. It never even crossed my mind that I could change, I just assumed I wasn’t like other people. “It’s genetic.” And there are so many teenagers and young women and men and even older women and men that are having these same feelings and thoughts.There’s this whole “obese sub-culture.” Fat people marry fat people and have fat kids. By nature, fat people even associate with other fat people because its more comfortable, less judgmental.

Someone I know who is only 18 years old is gaining weight like crazy, ending up at near the weight I was before I started losing. It makes me sad to hear she is on THREE medications already for high blood pressure and cholesterol. It makes me want to help her.

I visited with my mom and grandparents last year. They were kind of dumbfounded when I said I don’t eat meat, dairy, or anything artificial, and really little oil. My grandma commented that it doesn’t leave me with many choices. But really, what I have found is that you explore the possibilities of what real and whole foods can give you instead of staying limited to meat and potatoes or grilled chicken and steamed vegetables, and all of the snack foods and candy, etc that are so prevelant. Sure you have a lot of options if you eat the standard American diet but there’s no nourishment or really, variety of flavor in anything. Everything tastes like bread, or oil, or sugar. There’s no real pizazz or flavor. Nothing even close that the natural flavors of vegetables and enhancers like date sugar or fresh herbs give a dish.

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Last night, though, I got into a few heated conversations (political, social, relationships.) One that did come up was the sustainability of a plant-based diet. Gosh, I love talking about that. I am so passionate about it, it just makes so much sense. Honestly, and people may not like that I say this, but animal welfare is not even in my top 3 reasons for choosing a vegan diet. (Okay, I feel a rant coming on, and I’m sure if this were in person, it would cause some heated debate as well. My views are ever evolving and this is kind of just me working it out.)

1) Health – eliminating excessive cholesterol and calories, being able to fuel workouts better, feeling lighter and not bogged down, feeling nourished instead of bloated or sick after eating, and the proof that a plant-based diet allows us to live longer and healthier with less of these American self-induced diseases.

2) Sustainability – do I really need to get into details? With diminishing land and diminishing resources, it’s only logical that a field growing plants that are going to be fed directly to humans is less detrimental than a field being consumed by livestock. I learned on the farm last week that certain foods need a more nourished soil to grow heartier (which makes completely logical sense since foods like kale are so high in nutrients and phytonutrients, and foods like garlic and onions are not.) So the crops are able to be rotated to sustain and make the most of the soil. I’ll admit I don’t know everything about raising animals for food, I don’t know all that much, but I have pretty good deductive reasoning. If plants contain energy from the soil and from the sun, and a cow consumes that grass, breaks it down and uses the energy to exist, what nourishment (besides a huge hunk of unnecessary and hard to assimilate protein) is left for us to consume when eating that meat? I think it’s unreasonable to expect a meat-free, dairy-free country, I understand that you’re taking a really big industry out. But there’s obviously changes that need to be made. And this whole 2012 “End of the World” debate is hopefully a shift in our consciousness which will bring about some of these changes. Enough people, hopefully, are finally going to realize that we can’t continue living this way.

3) Food advocacy – wrap those 2 thoughts all together to kind of be summed up with food advocacy. For health, for sustainability, for clean eating, for a better earth, for more support of local, for taking the time to appreciate food again. Maybe this shouldn’t count as its own reason since its kind of a summation.

But that’s the ultimate bottom line. I don’t care if you eat meat or dairy, I really don’t. Because honestly, I feel like the joke’s on you if you can’t at least understand the cold hard facts. I would be hard pressed to find a health professional, or any moderately-educated professional, who would advocate a meat-strong diet. There’s no nourishment, and obviously cholesterol enough to kill. But that’s part of the problem is that we LOVE meat as a country. The cheaper, the better. And so many people don’t have a choice. With families to feed, you can’t expect to compete with a $1 double cheeseburger. That’s why I am really excited about the Farm Fresh RI project “Healthy Foods, Healthy Families” to bring education and better, nutritious foods to lower-income areas and families. And that’s what’s important: not just the food, but the education. You don’t have to be college-educated to grasp eating healthy. You just have to be willing to not conform to the standards that meat is the center of every meal.

And just as a side note: why are we selling a TWENTY piece chicken mcnugget anyway? Who needs that many? Why do we have sandwiches made from two pieces of fried chicken with more chicken in between? If we want to get this country out of debt, we need to get rid of these disgusting options. Maybe it’s time for the FDA to swoop in and make some limits on caloric and fat content. They regulate everything else, but let these chains get away with slow murder. And the opposite side is, of course, no one is forcing you to eat that fast food. But with the ever-increasing amounts of pressure and stress that we’re all faced to endure, with limited time and limited money, we lose our options. We need more education on eating well on a time and financial budget. Hopefully, I can do that with this blog eventually. That’s where I would like to see it head.
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I’m watching a cooking show right now on the natural or healthy channel or whatever it is. She just said tempeh has more protein than beef! I had no idea. I need to use more marinades and make more marinaded tofu, veggies, and tempeh. Even seitan once in a while. But I’ll probably only use those dense kind of meat substitute-y things a couple times a week. I feel much better and energetic and light with a more produce, nuts, and beans-centered diet and much less of that and grains too.

While watching TV also there was a commercial for a diet pill, with tons of claims about FDA approved and scientific studies that show that this pill allows you to lose a pound of fat without changing your current lifestyle whatsoever. These commercials are so ridiculous, and give people such false hope. I honestly think that we should get to the point where these diet aids and diet pills are not legal and are not allowed! Anyone can lose weight by changing their lifestyle, ANYONE. It doesn’t have to be an immediate change, it can be slow, subtle, and you can have ups and downs. But the journey is the BEST part. And these products will only provide temporary weight loss and continue causing damage to your metabolism.

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I’ve finally sat down to continue reading “Thrive: A Guide to Vegan Nutrition” by the creator of Vega. It’s so interesting. It’s so exactly how I used to feel. He explains about the pH balance of your body and how the foods you eat will contribute to acidic or alkaline levels. It makes sense when you think about it.

Something that always comes up when you explain a vegan diet to someone who has only known a standard conventional diet is CALCIUM. It really sat with me what the author had to say in this book. Tell me this doesn’t make sense to you: “The blood will always remain neutral – this is imperative for survival – so if the body is consistently fed acid-forming, dentaured foods and supplements, or encounters stress from other sources, it must take measures to ensure the a neutral pH is maintained. In doing so, the body pull calcium, the mineral in our body is that is most alkaline, from the bones. Over time, the bones weaken as a result of this survival mechanism.”

Now guess which foods are highly acid forming? Refined flour, white rice, almost all meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, white sugar, coffee, synthetic supplements, protein isolates, rX drugs, etc. And guess which ones are alkaline-forming? I won’t bother listing, you know where this is going. And essentially, all these acid-forming foods are causing the tissues in our bodies to swell, which is where the joint pain, fatigue, and other common health issues associated with the standard American diet come in. Claimed in the book, it’s “impossible” for cancer cells to grow or thrive in an alkaline environment. (I’m not doubting this fact, but I want to double check for scientific proof.)

After reading all this and really getting an understanding of it a little deeper. (I feel that pH is not a commonly understood topic when it comes to health, and I’m only barely scratching the surface on what it means myself.)  I realize how intimidating finding your path to this nutritarian lifestyle must be if you’re not submerged in it. Working where I work, especially having my particular job as a Healthy Eating Specialist, I basically spend all my time talking about food. But when I think about trying to explain this to someone who works a 9 to 5 in an office building surrounded with nothing but coffee and pastries, it seems like teaching rocket science to a poodle.

So I think the best advice I could say is that make slow, gradual changes. It’s taken me almost 2 years to get where I am. If I had buckled down, I probably could have reached this place in 9 months to a year. But, I still wanted to enjoy life too. I think the key is finding balance. The more your daily routine fluctuates around health and well-being, the more “off” the days that are filled with glutton and laziness will feel. You will find it more difficult to recover and get back to speed when you do nothing with a day and overeat than you will if you are productive and following a good nutrition schedule. Eventually, you’ll tilt where this lifestyle IS your lifestyle and it feels good. I’m almost there, but I still have a bit of my journey to go.