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.
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)
- 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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
- Sprout kidney beans (soak for 8 hours, rinse and drain every 8-12 hours for 2-3 days).
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.
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.
(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.
12. To prepare tofu sour cream, add all ingredients into blender and puree until very smooth.
I doubled the chives because I was craving that flavor and the sour cream came out with a nice mint green hue, haha.
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.
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!
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!
One of the biggest myths associated to any vegetarian or vegan diet is that people will grow frail and weak from lack of protein. You can’t get protein from plants! Gah! This breakfast is a perfect way to show that you can get protein – lots of it – from a delicious, vegan breakfast. This one is extremely healthy too. I made 5 servings even though it’s just me. Tofu scrambles actually freeze and reheat quite nicely. Just remove from freezer and defrost in the refrigerator over night and reheat over medium flame. If tofu scramble is dry on reheating, add a little vegetable broth to prevent burning or sticking to pan. This particular breakfast is great to fuel a busy day, as it is packed with fiber and very filling and will keep you sustained for a bit.
Serve the tofu scramble with a sprouted grain bagel, english muffin, or toast, and fresh fruit juice.
Oh, and this recipe is free of any refined oils too. Score!
Black bean tofu scramble
- 1 block extra firm tofu, drained well
- 15-oz can black beans
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 Tbsp Bragg’s amino acids
- 5 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 5 cups spinach
- 1 yellow onion
- 1-2 Tbsp minced garlic, to taste
- Make sure tofu is very well drained and pressed so it crumbles easily without extra liquid.
- Add all ingredients except spinach, onion, and garlic to large sauce pan. Combine well.
- Allow tofu mixture to cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occassionally. (Depending on pan and how well your tofu is drained, add 1-2 Tbsp of vegetable broth IF NECESSARY to prevent sticking/burning)
- Caramelize onions and garlic in preheated skillet. (View steps on caramelizing onions without oil.)
- Add onions and garlic to tofu mixture.
- Fold in spinach, continuing to stir until spinach is cooked tender.
I served this tofu scramble with a sprouted wheat bagel, dry, (specifically the 365 Sprouted Wheat Berry Fiber Bagel) and a fresh juice with apple, pear, orange, celery, and fennel.
Approximate nutrition info per serving (including bagel but not juice):
Calories from fat: 27
Fat: 10 g
Potassium: 420 mg
Carbs: 28 g
Fiber: 18 g
Sugar: 5 g
Protein: 27 g
Some numbers I watch:
Fat: <2.5 g/100 calories
Sodium: <1 mg/1 calorie (ex. 2000 calories per day, no more than 2000 mg sodium)
Protein: ~0.36 g/1 pound of body weight (ex. 175 pounds x .36 g = 68.4 g – increase this if you work out to 0.6 g/#)
Fiber: >25 g per day
Carbs: I honestly don’t watch carbs. Carbs = energy. I just stay aware that if I’m consuming a lot of carb-heavy foods that I should be expending more energy.
Sugar: I don’t watch sugar intake either. I rarely consume processed sugar and instead use sweeteners like maple syrup, raw agave and honey (yes, I know most people consider honey a non-vegan food, but I do consume it.) If I’m eating a lot of foods high in natural sugars, I up my water intake to help flush it through. Otherwise, my skin tends to break out.
A note on fiber: If you currently do not consume enough fiber, make sure to increase gradually, as a sudden increase in fiber can lead to constipation and gas. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Also consider digestive enzymes as you build up to the correct amount of fiber. The benefits of consuming enough fiber include weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar maintenance, as well as regulation of digestion and prevention of constipation. I consume probably 30 grams of fiber a day and am as regular as clockwork. Someone I know recently commented that they only use the bathroom once a week, and this completely blew my mind. How I could be comfortable without daily morning elimination is beyond me. It’s a great feeling when your body is working the way its supposed to! This also prevents toxins from sitting in our intestines which can lead to health problems such as a weakened immune system. Many skin conditions, like eczema and acne, are related to an abundance of toxins as well. Drink plenty of water to help the fiber flush toxins out of your system regularly. Regular – yay!