Thursday, April 14, 2016

Secret's in the sauce.....

Quick, quick... what movie?? 

Our family plays this little game where we quote a famous line from a movie and the others have to guess it.  Can you guess what movie this title is from?  You should know it!   And if you don't know it.... well, you should know it!  I might post the answer in the comments below. 

As I've mentioned before, I am discovering a lot about myself through this vegan journey.  Recently, I realized just how much I love to put sauce on my dishes or salads.  I've been trying a lot of Anja's recipes because I love her food!  I haven't decided which is my favorite but there are a few that stand out. 

Today, I wanted to post about some of the yummy sauces I've come across while discovering new foods.  Most of these can be poured over rice and any type of veggie or perhaps over a salad.  Here's a couple of my faves so far  (I believe all of these came from Anja's recipes but it's been a while since I've written them down so I can't be sure.):

Orange Tahini Dressing  (Anja's recipe)

1/2 c. orange juice (I've used both freshly squeezed and store bought.  Good both ways.)
2 T Tahini
1 T Miso paste
1 T Tamari
1 t Coconut sugar

Blend everything in a blender and voila!  This literally takes less than 5 minutes.  I poured this over her broccoli salad and it was GOOOOOD!!!  I could have bathed in this stuff! 

Here's Anja's video:

Cucumber Tahini Dressing

(I think this one came from the Forks Over Knives menu plan)
Use this one salads or drizzle over veggies. 

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1/3 c. Tahini
1/4 c. Lemon juice
2 Garlic cloves
Sea salt, to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper

Blend it all together until smooth and creamy.  Add water a little at a time until pourable consistency.

Basil Dressing

I used this one over veggies but it would be good on salad, too. 

3/4 c. Soy milk, or other plant based milk
2 c. chopped fresh basil.  (I didn't have fresh basil so I used dried.  Still good!)
2 T. Lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 c. White beans (I used cannellini beans)
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1/4 c. nutritional yeast

Blend it all up and voila! 

I hope you'll try one or all of these!  Let me know how you like them!

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sensory overload + my meals + weight loss update

I've been battling a horrendous head cold for the past week and am on the downhill slide now.  Thank goodness!  I haven't had a spring cold in several years and I don't miss them!  I've continued on my vegan diet, though, and despite my head feeling like a bowling ball all week I've discovered other amazing changes in my body.

For the past year or so, I've been suffering from a couple of different ailments.  One, I've had severe pain in my knees for a while now, especially when I go up or down stairs.  It's been so bad a few times, that we had to get the crutches out so I could hobble over to the stairs.  The second ailment was my foot.  Every time I stood up or walked on it for too long, it would hurt something fierce!  I finally went to the doctor who took x-rays of both my knees and foot.  No arthritis!  Yay.  She wasn't sure what was going on with my knees but said that my foot pain could be plantar fasciitis.  She gave me some exercises to do, which I did sporadically. 

It's been about four weeks since my doctor visit (I did the exercises for about the first two weeks, off and on) and about six weeks since I started this vegan lifestyle change.  I noticed this week that, while my head was pounding, I had no pain in my knees or my foot!  <<Happy dance!!!>>  I don't know if this has anything to do with my new diet, but it's the only thing I've changed in my life up to this point.  I will keep on....

Sensory Overload

I've been doing a LOT of research this past week on the vegan diet and lifestyle.  What else did I have to do while dealing with my bowling ball head?  I went to YouTube and found a LOT of information about veganism and the different ways you should do it.  It seems that everyone has a different opinion about this (probably a good topic for another post).   I discovered there are many different ways to "do" veganism....
  • High Carb Low Fat
  • Raw Till Four
  • Fully Raw
  • 80/10/10
  • Fruitarian
  • Junk Food vegan
  • Plant-based
Wow! Who knew?!!

I'm just a simple girl who likes simple things.  I've been trying to compute all of this information to figure out what is best for me.  And then, it hit me.

"Everything in moderation!"

Over the last few weeks, I've discovered (or just re-affirmed) that I DO love food!  However, I am completely fine with eating healthy foods!  I really enjoy the plant-based diet and the high carb low fat.  I'm still learning this second one.  So, taking a little bit of advice from several of these, I think this is my plan:

  • Eat low fat
  • Eat whole food, plant based foods
  • Cut out refined sugars, oils, and processed foods
  • Drink more lemon water (to help with my digestion)
  • Move more - simple exercise
That's it!  That's all!  At least for now.

My Meals

So, I've been trying some new recipes to see how I like them.  I'm definitely discovering what I like and don't like. 

I love bowls!!!

I love one dish meals where I can mix everything together. 


But.... here's a dish I made yesterday - eggplant pizzas.


May I just say - I don't like eggplant!!!  While this may look delish..... I threw out most of it. 

But, in case you want to try it.....   I found the recipe on Cherie Tu's YouTube channel but modified it slightly by adding mushrooms and eliminating the bell pepper (only because I didn't have it).  I'm sure her version tasted absolutely yummy!!


Now, this was good!  I got this recipe from Anja's website (I love her!).  You can't see the dressing in this photo (I'm not a professional foodie photographer!  I just take my pics with my cell phone!) but it's on there and it was GOOD!  I could have bathed in it. 

The dressing literally took 2 minutes to make.  I steamed the broccoli and put everything on a bed of mixed greens with some kale microgreens that I got from Whole Foods.  This is what they look like:

This will probably become one of my staple dishes!

Weight Loss Update

I've been doing some research on losing weight with this lifestyle change.  I'm the type of person that wants what I want yesterday and not a minute later!  So, it's difficult for me to slow down and do it right.  Like most people, I want quick results.  But, I DO want to do it right, so..... I am consciously and deliberately being ok with only seeing small drops in weight.

That said... over the last couple of weeks I've seen a drop of about 2 pounds.  I think this is on track.  As long as I don't see the scale going up....

During this time, I haven't been exercising much.  We are typically so busy we have a hard time fitting it in.   We went walking once or twice and that's about it.

Thanks for sticking with me - long post, I know!

Till next time, Happy (Vegan) Eating!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sweet Potato Bowl and a New Discovery

So far, I am loving this new dietary journey.  I have not missed meat in the least.  In fact, I find myself being a little repulsed when I look at a piece of meat, cooked or uncooked.  That's another story.....

I discovered another dish that I wanted to make and I must say, I'm in love with it!  It is so amazingly good!  I continue to be shock and amazed at the abundance of natural foods God has provided us with.  I feel like I'm coming out of a cocoon into a whole new world of beauty and abundance.  I know that sounds pretty cheesy.....  but, it is what it is.

Sweet Potato Bowl

This is an incredibly easy recipe.  I've seen it from several sources online.  Most of the recipes I found state to bake the sweet potato until it's tender.  I put mine in a brown paper bag and microwaved it for about 8 - 10 minutes.  Same results.

After the sweet potato is done, peel off the skin.  Careful!  It's hot.
Chop it up and put it in a blender with some plant based milk.  I probably used about a 1/2 cup of coconut milk.  I might try almond milk next time to see what the difference in flavor is.  I think both would be good!

Once the sweet potato and milk is blended, spoon it into a bowl.  I topped with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, banana, shredded coconut, and hemp seeds.  It was.....
AH - MAZ - ING!!!

I made this during lunch time because we had skipped breakfast.  Not intentionally, but we just had a busy morning.  I wanted to include a green salad, too, so I mixed up some greens I had with a chopped avocado and added some hummus on top. 
Needless to say, this ended up being way too much food for me in one sitting.  I ate the salad and about 1/4 of the sweet pot bowl.   I saved the rest of that for breakfast the next morning.  The leftover bananas in it were a little browned, but otherwise, it was just as tasty!

My new discovery!

So, I've seen Cheri use what she calls "Buckinis" in a lot of her dishes.  I wanted to try it so I went on a search for it.  I wasn't sure exactly what it was, though.  I went to the Sprouts market near me.  They didn't know what Buckinis were either!  They looked it up on their cell phone - guess I should have done that!  Turns out, Buckinis are buckwheat.  Buckwheat is a whole grain. 

It looks a little like chopped peanuts in this form.  They have a crunch to them, which I love.  So far, I've used them on my cereal and on a few salads.  I love them!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lunch Experiment

Hello, peeps!  I hope today finds you happy and healthy.  Today's post is about experimentation.  Nothing science-y.... just something new that I'm trying based on some vegan videos I found during my research.

It's simple enough and I've discovered that I absolutely love eating this way.  I've posted the video that inspired me at the end of this post.

I've heard over and over again that in order to be truly healthy, you should eat a rainbow everyday.  I love the sound of this!  And the look of it!  You simply can't deny that this is beautiful.

So, in keeping with this, I tried something new today for lunch.  I bought a big steamer pot because I love steamed veggies.  I prefer to steam them because they come out less soggy than when I boil them.  I probably boil them for too long, but....

I chopped up a bunch of veggies that I needed to use.  Here, I have purple cabbage, onion, mushrooms, and broccoli.  I put them all in the steamer basket.

 I used simple spices:  Cumin (because I love it), turmeric (because it's good for you), some garlic salt, regular salt, pepper.


All of this went into the steamer pot. 
Note:  I tend to make a lot of food!  This was meant for one person - me - but I ended up with enough to feed myself for lunch, dinner, and lunch the next day.
I discovered some spinach in my fridge so I put that on top.  I love fresh spinach!

Next, I put some rice on.  Rice is becoming a staple for me.  Hey, rice has been a staple in Asian communities for centuries and I don't see any fat Asians.  And from what I've seen so far, many vegans swear by it.
The colorful herbs are something I picked up in a little shop in Savannah, GA.  The owner said he and his wife mix it up in their rice.   I like to try new things so I thought, "Why not!"  I'm not sure if I just didn't use enough of it or what, but there I couldn't taste any difference.  Maybe I'll try more of it next time.

I've discovered that I like my dishes with a lot of variety.  So, I decided to add some canned red kidney beans and canned chopped tomatoes, both drained. 
This was the result!  I added some extra salt and some tamari which gave it a great flavor.  The next day, instead of tamari I added a couple of teaspoons of hummus on the top.  I love hummus anyway but I discovered this little trick from the Edgy Veg.  She mentioned this in one of her videos and I thought it was a great idea.  It was yummy!!!

I loved this so much, it will be one of my staple dishes. 
The takeaway from this:  chop up any veggies, throw them in a steamer, mix them with rice and beans, throw a little of your favorite spices, and voila!
Happy Eating!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why I'm choosing Vegan

In doing my research of the vegan diet, I've come across those on both sides of the fence.....those who are die hard vegans and those who are adamantly against it.  In my own humble opinion, I believe it is an individual lifestyle choice.  I think people choose it for different reasons.

As a disclaimer, I must admit that I am not totally vegan yet.  The first week I tried it, I had some vegan sour cream and thought it was completely nasty!!!  We were having tacos that night and I thought, "I'll be a good vegan and have the vegan stuff."  Holy cow - gag!!!  And if I'm honest.... I do NOT think I like tofu.  Ok, ok.... I admit I haven't actually had it yet.  My non-vegan mother has eaten it and said it's pretty good.   Hmmmm... well, the jury's still out on that one.

So, I figured I was going to have to wean myself off of certain things.  Like dairy.... see my post about the Cheese!!

I felt guilty about not being able to go "cold turkey" until I came across this video from the Edgy Veg.  God bless her, I know she was speaking directly to me!  In this video, she gives us 10 step on how to transition to veganism.  And, trust me.... it IS a transition.

My reasons for going vegan are purely for health reasons.  The fact that it saves the animals and is easier on the environment is a huge side benefit for me.  I am nearing the age of 50 and I was still eating like a 20 year old.  I finally had enough.  I know I have to make a change in lifestyle, not just diet.  Typically, I tend to jump in with both feet when I take on something new, but I want this to last.  So, I'm forcing myself to take baby steps so that each one becomes a new positive habit.  I'm trying not to focus so much on the numbers but more on overall health. 

I'm sure I'll make mistakes along the way.  I'm only human, after all.  If I can just get past the cheese thing.....

Next week, I'll be trying to cut out oil.  I've been reading that oil is bad for you and many vegans cook without it.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Until then....  check out my latest post on a new recipe I tried.

Happy Eating!


Cabbage & Cashews

I am often searching for and saving recipes that I might want to try.  Today, I needed something fairly quick and after a quick search of my Vegan Vegetarian board on my Pinterest, I came across this recipe.

I had all the ingredients and needed to use my cabbage so I thought it was the perfect dish.  Here's the recipe in its original form (see Washington's Green Grocer):

1/4 cup butter or olive oil

1/3 cup raw (unroasted, unsalted) cashews

3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon cumin seed

1 small (about 11/4-pound) cabbage, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large (12- to 14-inch) frying pan over medium heat, melt butter (or warm oil). Add cashews, ginger, and cumin; cook, stirring often, until cashews and ginger are golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add cabbage and turmeric; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

I am typically one who will take a recipe and modify it.  I did that today and it turned out really delicious.  Here's what I did:
  • I used red/purple cabbage because that's what I had
  • I added sliced mushrooms
  • I added pearl couscous
  • I added a touch of veggie broth and let it cook down.  I had added too much salt because I typically don't measure.  The broth cut the saltiness.
Also, I didn't use fresh ginger or cumin seed.  I simply used ground ginger and cumin.  Still tasted great!

Note:  I didn't take a picture of my completed dish..... ate it too quickly!  Guess I'll have to make it again!

But seriously, if you like cabbage, you MUST try this dish!

Happy Eating!

Monday, March 7, 2016

It's the CHEESE!

About a month ago, I decided to take on a Vegan Challenge on Instagram.  About 20 years ago, I went for a full year as a vegetarian and never missed meat so I thought this would be fairly easy for me.  It was.... but with a couple of exceptions.  I.... LOVE... CHEESE!

I do... I love cheese.  I love sour cream.  I love creamy things. 

For the most part, the Vegan Challenge wasn't challenging at all for me.  It was pretty easy for me to cut out meat and I didn't miss it.  But, here was my challenge....

I found I have a very hard time cutting the cheese..... ok, I know how that sounds!!! 

To be true to the Vegan Challenge, I did try the vegan cheese and the vegan sour cream - but, not wanting to scare my family with projectile vomiting, I opted to put that aside after the first try.  I think it must be an acquired taste.  This is something I'll have to work on.  ....Or maybe not.....

Anja, from Cooking With Plants, says you don't need cheese!  However, for those of us who LOVE cheese, she provides us with several cheesy vegan options.  I love her!

10 vegan cheese alternatives

After my week of the Vegan Challenge, I thought, "I can do this pretty easily."  So, I began to do some research on recipes.  I didn't want to eat just lettuce, you know?! 

[Let me just set this straight right here - Vegans do NOT eat just lettuce.]

I actually found Anja (Cooking with Plants) after my Vegan Challenge.  I loved her recipes so much that I began to follow her on Instagram and YouTube.  I also found a little gem with Cherie Tu with Thriving On Plants, who I also found on Instagram and YouTube.  I was captured by the fact that Cherie was a teenager and choosing a vegan lifestyle.  I was also enthralled by her beautiful photos and videos of the food she makes.  Even as young as she is, I believe she is a food artist! Check out her breakfast oatmeal in the video below. 


And you know what?  I don't see a lot of cheesy things in Cherie's food either!

So, I think my own challenge is to begin to eliminate the cheese and sour cream from my diet.  I'll let you know how that goes.