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…
Last night I went bowling with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We bowled 4 games, which took 2 hours and it was enough to make me warm. Not to sweat or anything but it was definitely good to move and kept my heart rate just above resting. I bowled most of the night with a 12 pound ball, which is a pretty good size too. I actually threw a few strikes in the first two games…I got a 125 and a 109 or something, which is decent for not having bowled in a while. And I picked up a 7-9-10 split which was sexy as all hell, to be quite honest. But over the night, I did have a few drinks (Jack and Coke’s) and got a bit buzzed. I had a late-night bagel when I got home to help soak a bit of the alcohol. Then I started chugging water. I woke up parched several times and downed an entire Mason jar full each time, and never even had to pee! So dehydrated. (Note to self: get some coconut water!)
This morning, all I could think about was easy food or something made with Daiya cheese. I debated back and forth about takeout (no, keep your goals in mind) OR walking to the store (it’ll be a little exercise and be okay to eat the junk for, ha) but decided in the end that I had plenty of food here and that I should really get creative and try to find something that would still meet my cravings. My mind came to tofu eggs since I had a block of sprouted tofu in the fridge that I’d yet to try. I came across this Vegan Hollandaise Sauce recipe and decided that would be my inspiration.
My pledge in yesterday’s post included a high protein and high fiber meal to start the day. With the sprouted tofu and the sprouted bagel I had, I’d be having 28 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, once you count the protein that would be added from nutritional yeast. (I liked this overview on nutritional yeast if you’re unfamiliar.)
So I grabbed a banana for a little energy and hit the shower. I forget how nice it is sometimes to take a long hot shower… It feels so energizing and renewing to let the hot water and steam cleanse you out completely. On the days that I have extra time, I like to use a body brush to exfoliate and then apply coconut oil or lotion. I’ll work the leftover into the ends of my dreads for moisturizing too. I feel extra refreshed after taking the time to do this, and always feel ready to start the day a bit better.
I tend to ravage for snacks or eat handfuls of raw nuts while I’m prepping a time-consuming meal. I knew the tofu egg sandwich would probably take an hour including the cleaning I had to do before hand to get the kitchen ready. There are a few steps involved in making the sandwich too. To avoid the extra calories and fat that those handfuls of nuts add to my day, I decided to make a juice! Kill two birds with one stone. There’s no better cure for a hangover, juice would be very hydrated, nourishing, and healing and a great way to start the day. I made a juice from celery, cucumber, bokchoy, parsley, carrot, apple, and ginger.
Then I started in on prepping the tofu. I’d be trying this Nasoya brand sprouted super firm tofu for the first time. PS- I’m sorry I don’t have an actual recipe and I just have a collection of my steps. I didn’t really measure anything when making the sauce and it wasn’t really perfect anyway. I’ll work on it and get a recipe for you someday. 😉
The package has a tab and is very easy to open, no knife or scissors required. And it was less mess, contained just a little tiny bit of liquid but hardly needed any pressing whatsoever. I cut off a sliver and put it into a container to marinade with Bragg’s amino acids (3-4Tbsp) and rice wine vinegar (1-2Tbsp) and a little ground black pepper. I made sure to continue flipping it over and soaking the liquid into the tofu. It absorbed rather quickly and sponge like, more so than regular extra firm tofu. And just so you know, for storage it says to put in a container with a little water and change the water every day and use within 3 days. That’s a reminder to myself too ha.
As the tofu was finishing marinading, I started in on the sauce. I began inspired by the link I found above, but then I kind of just went on my own, haha. I melted about 4 Tbsp of Earth Balance in a small sauce pan, whisked in a little whole wheat flour, turmeric, cayenne pepper, 1/2 an avocado, and a bunch of nutritional yeast. I crushed up the avocado with the whisk as I went. I added a little salt and pepper, and some unsweetened almond milk. I simmered and whisked until it got a consistency I like. Toasted a sprouted grain bagel and topped with a slice of tomato, fresh spinach, the tofu slices, and the sauce.
Overall, it was pretty healthy, but I would like to find a sauce that had less Earth Balance in it some day. For now, I’ll allow myself just a little indulgence if it made me eat such a healthy breakfast otherwise. I think a pine nut or walnut sauce would work great in this recipe. Perhaps similar to this one that I used to top veggies last month?
Hmm… that gave me an idea and later on in the day I used the leftover sauce from the tofu egg sandwich to coat some steamed cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli. Delicious! I had a big salad too with spring mix, spinach, bean sprouts, avocado, mango, cilantro, and oil-free balsamic vinagrette. For dessert, I had a smoothie made from frozen banana, raw cacao powder, peanut butter, raw agave, and almond milk.
I did eat more than just what I’ve talked about but I don’t want to write all of it. I know we’re talking transparency and everything from the last blog post but let’s just suffice it to say that out of the goals I set in my last post…
No takeout when alone(I don’t know what my addiction is to sushi but I got 3 rolls delivered, only one tempura though. I am going to teach myself to make my own sushi next week to start saving money and so I can use brown rice instead.) No eating in bed(I didn’t eat laying down or anything but I sat on the edge of my bed watching Netflix on my computer while I drank my milkshake. Still not great.)
- Eat 3 meals and 3 snacks each day
- Start each day with a high-protein, high-fiber meal
- Eat a large green salad every day
- Accomplish at least 1 form of exercise every day (walk, bike, gym, yoga, etc)
- Journal all food intake, exercise, and emotions dealing with food/eating daily
Meditate for at least 30 minutes a day(I fell asleep listening early when I usually do some meditation before bed to chase away bad dreams.)
My exercise for the day was about 90 minutes total spread throughout the day of stretching, calisthenics, and hand weights. I really need to get some stronger hand weights because the 5 pound weights are not offering enough challenge for me anymore.
Despite the fact that I didn’t do quite as well as I was hoping with food for the first day of my new beginning, I did incorporate a LOT of nutrient dense foods and more protein into my day, and I look at that as a WIN. I also got back some exercise in, which also felt good. My arms muscles are feeling pretty strong. My VitaMix is supposed to come in the mail tomorrow so that’ll be a huge motivation to play and make really healthy raw foods and smoothies and all kinds of fun stuff. 🙂
Oh by the way – here’s a photo of the raised cinderblock garden bed I’m working on in my backyard! I have a small layer of soil covered with compostable goods that I’ve been collecting for a month (especially there’s a TON of juice pulp which will absorb quickly into the soil.) Then there’s more soil on top. I plan to turn it quite often and then in about 2 weeks add more soil and start my first vegetable garden ever!
After a gross hiatus from exercise, I am getting back on track officially today. That means at least 1 hour of physical activity each day and also a protein smoothie to add nutrition and help build fitness. I got rid of my vehicle lately, which has forced me to start walking everywhere. I have done this before, and every time I’m in a pattern of walking, I tend to get more and more motivated to work out and get stronger and be able to zip around town on my own two feet. I will be biking again soon, but feel not strong enough quite yet. I need to exercise for a week or so and then hop back on. My plan is to gain energy and confidence in myself again before my 1 month vacation in January (heading back to my hometown in California – 29 palms! I’m even doing a 10 day silent meditation retreat, but I’ll have to write about that later.) I do feel pretty good most of the time, but I’m getting a bit squishy after this hiatus from real exercise. So yea, time to step it up again.
Today’s workout was 45 minutes on the Cross Ramp, interval setting, alternating between resistance 1 and 8. I hovered around 115-125 strides per minute. (This is my first attempt at actually tracking progress with speed, resistance, and when it comes to strength training, the weight that I’m using.) I also walked 4 miles total, as it’s 1.5 miles each way to the gym and then another mile to the grocery store.
I feel GREAT right now. Remember that! Note to self: you feel GREAT right now. I can’t wait to go sweat it out some more.
That’s how it’s really been my entire weight loss journey. I’ll begin by really buckling down and keeping a food log and exercise log. Then eventually I get into the rhythm of how good it feels to maintain health, and I stop tracking it, but then that leads to me cheating here and there and falling a bit off track. My “off track” days used to mean slices of vegan carrot cake and 300 calorie vegan cookies and chocolate bars and salt and pepper potato chips and fried buffalo seitan and popcorn drenched in Earth Balance (all former cravings even after lifestyle change!) I don’t crave most of those things too often now. My cravings tend to centralize around savory foods and not sweet ones. I do have a very fond attachment to Daiya Cheese and like to use it in several dishes. I had been using a lot of Earth Balance and Daiya lately, and that’s my “off track” cheat now. But today? Right now? After hitting the gym and sipping on this smoothie? I don’t feel cravings for ANY of that. I think this really the key in weight loss or any type of struggle really. Remember, make a mental note (or physical – write it down!) about how good you feel, your energy level, your confidence level. If you feel sexy, remember that! It will help motivate you on the days when its a bit harder to get your workout in. And another thing to remember, that food that nourishes, such as this protein smoothie, will taste even better the more your body needs the nutrients to refuel. The more you feed your body the fuel it needs, the more you’ll actually feel like working out. And the more you feed your body nutrient-dense foods, the less you’ll crave empty calories. Your body won’t want that crap anymore, trust me. It’s a positive cycle.
So, I’m going to make a protein smoothie with baby spinach. The reason I specifically start any kind of reset or “back on track” period of time with a smoothie is because of how much nutrition it packs in for not a lot of calories or really energy to digest. It’s already liquid!
OKAY – so what’s in my smoothie today??
- 2 cups organic unsweetened soymilk
- 1 large organic banana
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 heaping scoop Lifetime Life’s Basics Plant Protein (hemp, chia, rice, and pea)*
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil**
*This protein is my absolute favorite. It tastes GREAT just even on its own. Even to someone not used to protein powders. It’s soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free. And it packs a great nutritional punch. Find it on Amazon.com for the best deal. They have a Subscribe & Save program where you can get it on autoship each month (or however often) and you get free shipping and 15% off too. Crazy!
**In a recent post, I explained the benefits of getting healthy fats from whole foods and how I’m a supporter of limiting (or eliminating, ideally) all refined oils. I have never cooked with or consumed coconut oil. I have heard through the grapevine that it is extremely healthy for you, even from people who generally don’t consume extracted oils. (Must be virgin coconut oil – unrefined.) The consensus seems to be that coconut, flax, and hemp seed oils are still very beneficial to our bodies. The big difference being that these oils are often just extracted and not refined. Since they haven’t gone through that processing, many of the healthy fats are still intact and have not been destroyed through heating.
The benefits of coconut oil that I’m interested in gaining include nicer hair and skin, healthier digestion and metabolism, effective weight loss, and increased immune support. Before beginning to consume an oil like this on a regular basis, I want to make sure I understand WHY it is so beneficial. The knowledge behind the healthy benefits of certain foods is really what motivates me to try new things and increase the nutritional density of every meal.
So let’s start with the benefits to hair and skin. I have been using coconut oil externally for approximately 6 months now (on and off) as both a deodorant and moisturizer. What I’ve noticed is that my skin feels smoother for longer, it tends to have a nicer overall hue, and just looks generally more healthy and less blemished. Coconut oil is also antimicrobial. Using it as a deodorant helps kill the bacteria which cause bad body odor. (Of course, body odor is affected by what we eat as well. A clean diet will definitely result in less of a toxic smell from your pits.) And since its moisturizing and antimicrobial, it works great to help heal cuts or skin abrasions or other problems. It also makes sense that if coconut oil has these properties, that consumed internally, it would help boost the immune system in fighting free radicals. Also, the healthy fats will help increase skin elasticity and keep it looking healthy from inside too!
As far as metabolism and weight loss are concerned, it seems to be that coconut oil behaves differently than other oils due to medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). When fat is consumed, the fat is broken down and sent into the bloodstream and directly to the cells. The MCFAs in coconut oil are actually sent to the liver instead, where they convert to energy the same way that carbohydrates would. This quick efficient boost of energy speeds the metabolism, which could help boost weight loss!
And now that I’m way off track… how about a photo of that smoothie I’m sipping on? And then I’m off to work on some sprouted grain breads!
Approximate Nutrition Facts
Calories from fat: 211
Total fat: 23.6 g
Saturated fat: 13.7 g
Sodium: 384 mg
Potassium: 1356 mg
Carbohydrates: 67.4 g
Fiber: 13.2 g
Sugar: 36.57 g
Protein: 42.8 g