On Friday morning, I was feeling blah and bored and was going to spend the morning doing a whole lot of nothing since I’d be meeting up with my friend in the early afternoon to go out for a walk anyway. But then – I checked the mail and *BOOM!* My Vitamix was sitting there, in all its glory on my front porch, and I felt this crazy burst of energy. I literally jumped up and down and clapped and squealed. It’s been my dream to own one since I started using one at my old job and experienced the quality foods that are produced in the Vitamix. Yes, it’s crazy expensive for a countertop kitchen appliance – but it’s worth every penny in quality, time-saving, health, and longevity.
Already since Friday, I’ve had a greens smoothie with protein powder every day, and made homemade salad dressing with no refined oils.
My first smoothie was frozen blueberry, banana, spinach, almond milk and protein powder. I use the Lifetime Basics Vanilla flavored, it’s made from hemp, chia, pea, and brown rice protein. It’s got Stevia in it, which I’m not crazy about the flavor. (Amazon.com now offers the unsweetened vanilla, which I placed on order today. It’s about half price as it as at Whole Foods, and you get free shipping with the “Subscribe & Save” feature, which automatically sends it every month!)
My old blender would have taken 20 minutes of cycling on and off and opening and stirring to blend everything down. And even then, it would have been chunky and full of seeds. The biggest, nicest difference about a smoothie like this from the Vitamix is that it keeps its smooth consistency. In a normal jar of smoothie or juice, I have to stop and shake it up over and over and the smoothness is hard to find. Separation is inevitable and ruins the smoothie. But this one was smooth as ever and I drank it over a couple hours.
My goal has been to eat a nice big salad every day, and to help the transition, I’ve decided to start making nice homemade dressings in the Vitamix using nuts or avocado to add a filling, healthy fat. I’ll also be adding a warm protein to every salad. My first try was an avocado/orange/cilantro dressing.
Orange Avocado Dressing
- 1 avocado
- juice of 2 oranges
- 3/4 cup cilantro
- 1-2 tsp garlic
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. I like the dressing very thick, but if you want it thinner, add more orange juice (will create stronger orange flavor), water, or unsweetened milk substitute to get to desired consistency.
I didn’t take a photo of the dressing on its own, but it was absolutely delicious. Of course, lime would be a great substitute in this for the orange juice too. I pan seared some sprouted tofu that I had marinaded in Braggs’, rice vinegar, cumin and chili powder. The salad was spinach, spring mix, green bell pepper, plum tomato, the tofu, and the dressing. Delicious and crazy filling! One thing I’m learning about eating salads every day is that a huge salad is okay, duh! Use a huge mixing bowl to toss the salad first and then compact it into a regular size bowl to eat. You’ll feel like you’re eating forever and the different textures and flavors will be spread throughout the salad, making sure you’re not left with half a salad that’s nothing but lettuce in the bottom of your bowl. Oh, and the neat thing is that since the orange juice contains natural acid, it prevents the avocado from oxidizing and the dressing stays a nice bright green even days later. In fact, I’d recommend preparing the dressing a day or two ahead of time because the flavors really melded and the dressing was more “full” flavored when I finished it a couple days later.
Until maybe two weeks ago, cilantro was never an ingredient I sought out. Then I saw “Hungry for Change,” in which they mentioned that cilantro and parsley are extremely cleansing. So, I decided to try and work on incorporating it in. The taste is still very odd to me, I’m on the fence if I like it. But I can’t stop craving it now! I don’t know if it’s subconscious because of what I learned, or what, but every time I eat it, I like it more and more and I crave it more and more. Perhaps it’s got a specific vitamin, mineral, or antioxidant that I am in low supply of and my body just keeps saying, “MORE!” I noticed an increase in my cilantro cravings at the same time as I started to incorporate parsley into my daily juices. They must go hand in hand. Either way, I’m excited to have them more into my diet.
Don’t forget when storing parsley or cilantro, a clean paper towel dampened with some filtered water and rubber banded to the bottom will make a HUGE difference in keeping them fresh and crisp for longer.
So Friday ended up being a pretty good day for food overall. I had the smoothie, the salad, a peanut butter and jelly whole wheat tortilla wrap, and some veggie bee bong and veggie nime chow. For takeout, both good options, as there are much more fresh ingredients than fried anything or even pad thai. We did drink some wine and other alcohol, so there were some calories there.
Saturday morning, for breakfast: pumpkin chocolate chunk pancakes! Mmmm…. I know it’s not fall, and we’re not really in pumpkin-flavored-season, but it was the only thing on hand that can sub in for oil/egg. And it’s delicious and nutritious anyway. I make pancakes without any refined oils or sugars, even though I still top with Earth Balance and 100% organic maple syrup. It decreases unwanted fat/sugar/calories in the dish overall because either way, those pancakes are getting butter and syrup! 😀
As we’re gathering the ingredients, I asked my boyfriend what he had for milk substitute. He usually has hemp milk, and he has made fresh almond milk a couple times since purchasing his new Hurom juicer, but I haven’t tried any and certainly didn’t think there was time or ingredients to make some that morning. I thought for sure we’d be using boxed milk, but he pulled out almonds soaking from the fridge and whipped up a batch of raw almond milk in minutes. *SWOON* I don’t know what’s more adorable – the fact that he made raw almond milk for our pancakes, or the fact that HE was so excited about it. 🙂 We threw in a couple dates to add just a hint of natural sweetness. The amazing thing about this fresh, raw almond milk was the FLAVOR. Holy cow – it tasted divine. Such a clean, crisp almond flavor. I really have to make some in the Vitamix now and compare the two. And in general, I need to have more raw almond milk on hand. I priced it out and it’s cheaper or equivalent to purchasing it in a box and you’re gaining an incredible amount of nutrition by not using cooked almonds. Hurrah!
Vegan Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Pancakes (found here, and slightly adapted to as follows)
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- scant 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp raw agave nectar or 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
- coconut oil, for preventing sticking to pan
Mix everything together. Preheat pan until water drops dance on top. Use just a tiny bit of coconut oil on the pan to non-stick-ify it. A very little goes a long way! Whole wheat pancakes tend to cook better if you’re patient since they are so dense.
Oh yea, and while I was making the pancakes, Bryan made fresh green juice. I don’t know what he put in it, but I know for sure that was red kale because he was exclaiming how he liked the dark red/purple color the juice came out. I’m sooo jealous of his juicer!
We spent a good amount of the rest of the day on Saturday doing some heavy duty cleaning, about 4-5 hours which adds up to some calories burned.
We had leftover takeout for dinner, and had a few drinks afterwards too. I actually drank some coffee, which I haven’t had in FOREVER. It was delicious, but I got ahead of myself and drank too much black coffee and got extremely jittery and shaky and felt terrible. It subsided in an okay amount of time, I just focused the energy into knitting. (If this ever happens and you have Theanine on hand, it cuts the jitters immediately! He has some, but it was in a gelatin capsule so I didn’t take any and just waited it out.) I had a good conversation about food and health and weight loss with his roommate. She and her boyfriend have recently gone gluten-free, which is something I’m considering (not entirely right away, but working towards it and beginning to substitute other flours and ingredients for gluten.) I don’t necessarily have a problem with eating wheat, but after the juice fast, I definitely notice that I’m not as crazy about it as I used to be. When I do eat it, it feels heavy and hard to digest. I’ll be trying out alternatives soon as I begin my sprouting adventure and work on making all my own homemade sprouted baking flours!
Sunday, I started the day with another huge protein/greens smoothie exactly like the one above. Then I used the leftover dressing to make another salad. The same, again, but if it’s not broke don’t fix it! That’s the biggest challenge with eating healthy is finding things that actually satisfy all your cravings. The tofu particularly in the salad is nice and dense, and the marinade makes it salty. The sprouted tofu has a firmer texture that holds together and crisps up nicely. I’ll definitely be getting it again and using it on the regular.
My goal right now is to increase protein to increase energy and the potential of building muscle and recovering from workouts. On Sunday, it worked because after the protein smoothie and the salad, I felt extremely energized and went out for a speed walk. I walked for about an hour, and absolutely loved it. This time of year, the key is to go out late afternoon. Sure, there’s only a couple hours that you can actually feel the sun, but those couple of hours just feel so good. Once I feel the warmth of the sun, I don’t care what I’m doing, all my other troubles go away and I just feel happy, positive, charged, and ready to go. So, I’ll be restructuring my exercise to the afternoons instead of trying to go out in the morning. I’ll give the sun a chance to warm up the world first. 😉
After the walk, I still felt like I wanted more activity, so I worked out while watching TV for about 3 hours! I did some really deep stretching, focusing on my right hip and quad which have been having weakness/stiffness. I lifted hand weights, did some calisthenics, and also did 2 segments on 10 Minute Target Toning on Netflix Watch Instantly. I even held the hand weights while I did the workout, which adds a degree of difficulty and engages more muscle across the whole body. For the first time in a while, I got that really good feeling of your heart pumping fast and sweat pouring down. It’s been a while since I got that much of a workout going, and it felt FANTASTIC. The endorphins were surely raging. The feeling of drinking down water in between gasping for breaths – I forgot how much I missed it.
Bottom line, and what I need to remember: you are what you eat. Over the past few days (thanks to the Vitamix and a little planning), I’ve increased my raw greens and protein intake substantially. What I’ve already noticed is a decrease in my cravings, and a HUGE increase in my energy (but not just mental, physical energy, strength, and stamina). Smoothies especially are my number one favorite thing, so much nutrition and so easily absorbed. I definitely think adding the protein powder back into my diet has done wonders in just a few days.
Today, I ordered more mason jars for working on my sprouting projects, a new knife set, cutting board, and dry erase labels for the jars. My roomate is probably going to wonder what the hell all the packages are coming into the house. Haha, price I pay for not having a car. Luckily, you can find almost anything online these days for the same prices as in stores, and its easy to find free shipping too.
It’s actually been a very accomplishing day overall. I woke up at 5:15 a.m. for no reason (OR because of my increase in nutrition!) didn’t feel tired after only about 4 hours of sleep. So I watched a little Netflix, and then actually got up and out of bed and walked to do my errands. Total I walked about 5 miles. On the way back from the supermarket, I took the way home that had a bigger hill to climb just to burn more calories. When I got home, I weighed the groceries – 30 pounds! I hadn’t even really gotten winded going up the hill. I used to climb the same hill at 265 pounds and would be so defeated afterwards that I would literally collapse on the couch and be too tired to even go get a cold beer. Now, it was hardly anything. It’s hard to imagine I used to carry around all that weight. I would have had to have two backpacks on to equate to what I used to weigh. And now, my muscles are stronger and more able. Particularly, my heart feels stronger and can handle the strain of an additional bag like that.
After errands, I started in on the rest of the spring cleaning: the walk-in pantry and the bathroom! Total, all the cleaning took about 5 hours, burning a nice chunk of calories as well. I bet you’re wondering where all this cleaning has come from. Well, I’m doing the whole, empty every shelf and wipe off every food item and actually account for what’s there and what I need. Making those decisions to let go of food that you haven’t even thought of or craved, or half empty bags that have been open for months and months. Condensing. Cleaning. Starting fresh.
I watered the soil in the garden bed I’m construction, giving it a thorough soak and stirring the soil/produce scraps quite thoroughly. I then mixed in some dry leaves and twigs to aid in the composting process. I plan on planting next week, I’ll be going to check out the Farmer’s Market on Saturday to pick up some local seeds and seedlings. Overall, I got through almost all of this crazy to-do list I made for myself throughout the weekend. I expected it to take a few days to gradually chip away at, but there are only two big things left to do: organize & back up computer files, and then setup my new printer & work on vision board. Once those last things are done, my time can all be focused on researching, cooking, blogging, sprouting, and all those fun things. I put some things on to sprout, too. I’ll be posting photos and more information as I go and as I start using them in recipes. Right now, I have kidney beans, sunflower seeds, and brown rice sprouting. Follow my progress on Facebook.
Phew! What a day and what a post! I think I might just go to sleep now… oh, but wait! I got a new disc of The Sopranos in the mail today. Time to unwind…
Tonight I’m cooking inspired this recipe from the Whole Foods Market “Health Starts Here” program: Italian Chowder with Cod.
I admit that I’m a bit biased towards this program because I was paid for almost 2 years to represent it in-store. However, the program ROCKS. It’s all about Whole Foods, Plant-strong, Nutrient Dense and Healthy Fats (I talk a little bit about whole foods and healthy fats in a previous post.)
- 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Tbsp dried basil*
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley*
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano*
- Crushed red pepper (as desired for taste)*
- 1 pound baby potatoes, quartered
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 – 15 oz can no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 – 15 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1 cup diced butternut squash*
- 1 1/2 cups organic frozen yellow corn*
- 1 – 16 oz bag frozen leafy greens*
- 1/2 pound seitan, cut into chunks*
* means I changed from the original recipe. I decided to up the almond milk, potatoes, and onion since I’m adding in squash and corn so the chowder will be a bit bigger. I also upped the spices and added crushed red pepper per reviews in the comment section on the recipe page. And of course, subbing seitan for cod to make vegetarian.
1. Bring almond milk and spices to a boil in a large pot.
2. Add potatoes and onions, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes.
3. Using a blender or immersion blender, carefully purée contents of pot. Don’t burn yo-self!
4. Whisk in tomato paste, add beans, tomatoes and squash. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until squash is tender. Make sure to scrape bottom of pot often, almond milk will act the same as milk or cream and will burn on the bottom if not!
5. Stir in kale, corn, and seitan, cover and simmer until kale is tender and seitan is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes more. When you first add these, it may look like there’s not enough liquid in the soup but the frozen greens and corn will cook out a bit of liquid and balance it out. Don’t add more!
(Note: the only thing I would change is to add some GARLIC. I forgot I wanted to do that.)