Vegetable ‘pasta’ with raw walnut basil pesto

The past couple of days I have been fighting a teeny tiny respiratory infection. Yesterday I fasted, except for water and lemon/ginger/cayenne shots.

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The three combined are a powerful healing concoction. If you can’t stomach the intense flavor in one shot, you can cook it into a tea too. I did 4 of these yesterday and felt good most of the day. Last night was rough again though, with coughing, and my fever kept lingering at the breaking point so it was impossible to stay asleep for more than a half hour at a time. The stinks! I allowed myself to stay in bed a bit later until it felt right to get up.

Before bed and after waking up, I worked on some healing meditations. If you’re ever looking for guided meditations, there’s a ton out there on Google and Youtube – including ones for things as specific as fertility and flying for the first time. I will definitely be using that second one, as I’ve booked a flight (for the first time in my life!) for June to visit my mom in North Carolina. I have an intense anxiety related to public transportation, and don’t even take the bus. So, for me to book this flight, and be willing to go through the process alone, is a big step. I’ve talked through the worry about it with myself. It’s not a fear of the plane crashing. For some reason, I’m afraid of doing it wrong. Getting lost, getting on the wrong plane, looking stupid. That’s the same fear as with even the public bus system. But it’s something I’m working through. I bet once I get on a plane, taking the bus will seem like no sweat at all. 🙂 One meditation I completed for healing involved imagining the production of white blood cells and using these to “go to war” against the infection. That was a funny visual.

Beyond the physical healing, I’ve been working on some serious emotional healing. Again, I’ve been utilizing meditation quite a bit. Last night, I used one on Youtube designed to reduce night terrors. At one point, I vividly visualized caricatures of the words Panic, Anxiety, Paranoia, Stress, Worry, and Fear. I placed these words in jail cells locked behind a big wooden closed door. I also put a collection of images that cause me these feelings, including recent fights and worries and past traumas. I sealed the door shut and put Conan and Thor (my childhood rottweilers) guarding the door. The word-people were also gagged and knocked unconscious with ether. Because hey, why not. It was a funny image that really put things into perspective and honestly made me feel pretty good. I didn’t have any night terrors last night, but it was still a restless night because I’m sick. I’m excited to see what kind of results I get with this process when I’m feeling physically healthy as well. I’ve also spent time just reading and looking at motivational and inspiration quotes online that are reassuring and build strength. My favorite one at the moment which I keep reminding myself of: “Don’t let your struggle become your identity.”

The funny thing about all of these meditations and visualizations that I’ve been doing is that the more I do them, the sillier the anxiety and fear and worry is becoming. What a powerful tool. The goal is to be able to relax on command in tough situations. Today, I had some drama, and I actually got through it and didn’t freak out! Yay!

This morning I had a fresh made juice from carrots, local asparagus, apples, and ginger. It was all I had on hand but I knew I needed the nutrients. Then I had a big bowl of steamed broccoli with a little Earth Balance and Daiya cheese. I wanted to use that up as I’m working on my transition to a mostly raw diet for the summer. I want to do July entirely raw. So I’m building up to it.

I ordered this neat little tool through Groupon Goods a few weeks ago and it finally came in.

You can use it for rings of veggies for salads, curly fries, etc. I was most excited to use it for raw veggie ‘pasta’ and things like dehydrated fruit rings. It will make it very easy to slice thin slices for the dehydrator, which is helpful since I don’t have a good working mandoline at the moment.

So today, I ALMOST decided to just cook pasta with roasted veggies on the side because I wanted something warm, but I decided to give this a go instead. I rarely eat pasta and it seemed too heavy anyway. You can combine the ‘pasta’ mixture and pesto raw and eat as is. I chose to steam the ‘pasta’ for just about 3 minutes just to heat it up. Like I said, I wanted something warm.

Vegetable ‘pasta’ with raw walnut basil pesto

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp filtered water (more as needed)
  • 1 small heirloom tomato
  1. Begin by cutting the zucchini and summer squash. If you have a spiral slicer, feel free to make some spaghetti style pieces. If not, cut into small pieces about the same size as pasta.

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2. Combine the walnuts, basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and water in Vitamix or food processor. Add more water as needed to reach desired consistency.

3. If you are choosing to eat the meal raw, combine ‘pasta’, pesto, and tomato in a bowl and enjoy.

4. If you want the meal warm, steam veggie ‘pasta’ for just 2-3 minutes. Don’t overcook or it will become mush. Combine with pesto and tomatoes and enjoy!

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I love new kitchen toys! And THIS- was delicious. I know this will be something I use a bunch this summer to create raw dishes. Mmm sundried tomato sauce.

PS- I’ve got radishes, broccoli, and spinach sprouting in my garden!


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!


I FINALLY got a Vitamix!…and “You are what you eat.”

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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…