Tag Archive | recipe

Overrated

The dreaded question of anyone who eats a plant based diet in any form (vegetarian, vegan, WFPBNO) is “where do you get your protein?” I was having this conversation with my son just today as he was eating the leftover tofu with sesame seeds from yesterday. Both the seeds and the tofu are great sources of protein!

Somewhere along the line, protein got elevated to this superior position in the world of nutrition. Not that protein isn’t an important macronutrient; it obviously is. But I think it’s been overrated in terms of its focus. I know so many people who are all about getting more and more protein in their diets, even drinking protein shakes and eating protein bars. As if more is better.

But there is such a thing as “too much”. Excessive protein can lead to a number of health conditions, including weight gain (I saw this first hand with my husband), constipation, and kidney damage. Depending on the source of your protein, other risks are cancer and heart disease.

So how much protein should you have in a day? On average, it’s 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. (A calculation I found online said .36 grams per pound of body weight.) If you are working out, it’s slightly higher.

Most foods contain all 3 macronutrients — protein, fat and carbohydrates — in varying degrees. You are probably getting enough protein, without supplementation, if you are eating a decent diet. If you aren’t sure, use cronometer.com to track your meals for a few days to see where you are at. Too much protein could be a reason you are struggling to lose weight.

Even if you are eating a plant based diet, it’s easy to hit your protein targets. I tracked my meals from yesterday in cronometer.com, and I ate 54.9 grams of protein. It was more than targeted, but over time, it balances out, as I’m sure there are a few days I’m slightly below that number. I wouldn’t want to be any higher, though. I did want to illustrate how easy it is to get your protein, though.

Great sources of protein for plant-based diet include: soy products like tofu and tempeh, nuts and seeds, lentils, beans, quinoa, and oats.

Protein IS important; I’m not downplaying that it is critical. Not getting enough is also an issue. Protein is important in building bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. It helps oxygenate your blood and repair cells, and more. I just think the push for more and more protein can be damaging and you should really look at how much you are getting in your diet before trying to supplement and/or adding more protein foods to your diet.

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As a mentioned, a great source of plant protein is tempeh. I have shared a number of recipes with you previously using tempeh, a great meat substitute. One serving of this recipe (Tempeh Satay with Peanut Sauce) is about 30 grams of protein! That includes 4 oz of tempeh, 1 cup of rice, and 1/8 cup of peanut sauce. (A cup of broccoli is another 2.6 grams!)

Enjoy!

IMDb: Overrated (2016)

Hit and Miss

I am always on the hunt for new recipes. Some people like to shop for clothes; I like to shop for yummy meals!

I have a large supply of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks (having donated my meat-containing cookbooks to the library). My favorites include “Isa Does It” and “Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskovitz, “Oh She Glows” by Angela Liddon, and “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli. But there are probably 20 more cookbooks on my shelves. I love to flip through the cookbooks, looking for new recipes I haven’t tried, or reacquainting myself with a recipe I haven’t made in a while.

I do spend more time, I think, searching the internet for recipes. It doesn’t cost any money, and you only print or save what you actually want. Let’s face it, we’ve all spent money on a cookbook only to really like one or two recipes. There are thousands of places on the internet to find recipes, and let’s not forget social media. Just search on the hashtag #veganrecipes (or whatever kind of recipe you are looking for) and have a ball!

I have many go-to recipes, most of which are on my website, but I like to throw in a new recipe or two every week. I don’t want to get bored eating, or bored cooking. I am willing to try new ingredients, new seasonings, new cooking methods. It’s a great way to learn and explore.

My family, especially my son, is quick to note if it’s a new dish being served and we always have conversations about what’s in it. I can always tell, without anyone saying a word, if a dish is a hit – or a miss!

For a recipe to continue “in the rotation”, there are certain requirements. First, everyone has to like it. Really like it. If David and I like a recipe and Ethan doesn’t, why would I make that again? Ethan is actually really good about expressing if he thinks a dish belongs in the rotation.

Secondly, the taste has to be worth the effort. If it’s something that takes a lot of time (I do try to spend 30 minutes or less in preparing dinner), a lot of chopping, and a lot of pots, or uses expensive ingredients, it needs to be amazing. If it’s only “good”, I’m not willing to spend that time, energy, and money again. We’ve had every combination possible of who liked and who didn’t like the recipes that got sent to the trash.

Tonight was a dish that David and I both enjoyed. It was “really good” but not “amazing”. Ethan was unimpressed (I think it was a texture thing… maybe if the sauce was a little thinner…). And so this recipe goes to the recycling bin. White Bean Fettuccine Alfredo with Peas and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Forks Over Knives.

Doesn’t it look like a hit, though? 🙂

IMDb: Hit and Miss (2013)

Curls Just Want to Have Fun

As a vegan, sometimes I still want a nice sloppy barbecue sandwich. Something like a pork bbq, minus the pork, of course! That’s why I was so happy to discover soy curls a few years ago.

Soy curls are an excellent meat substitute. Made from non-GMO soybeans, soy curls have a meaty, chewy texture (very different from tofu, which is what most people think of when you mention soy). They come in a dry form and must be rehydrated through soaking before cooking. I am only aware of the Butler brand of soy curls, and I order them through Amazon.

Today was a lazy Sunday and a perfect day for a bbq sandwich. I love this recipe from Shane & Simple: Soy Curls BBQ Sandwich, which includes this homemade bbq sauce. It’s better than bottled, but if you have a favorite store-bought, you can use that instead for an even speedier meal.

Since I never got a round to making my black-eyed peas on New Years Day, I threw together this yummy salad: Black-Eyed Peas Salad. You could add whatever veggies in it you would like!

A perfect combo for a lazy football kind of day!

Enjoy!

IMDb: Curls Just Want to Have Fun (2015)

A Creative Life

As long as I can remember, I have been involved in some form of creativity.

In my school days, it was dance and music. I played my flute for hours on end (which I’m sure delighted my family)! In high school, my aunt taught me how to crochet, and I did ceramics (mostly painting) with my mom. For many years, I was addicted to counted cross-stitch. I have so many beautiful pieces in my house that took me hundreds of hours each. Writing became a creative outlet for me, as you all know, and now I am learning all I can about crafting with my Cricut!

One of the things I love about the creative process is the ability to get out of my head for a while. All you can do is focus on the task at hand; it’s a meditation of sorts. Creating is also a great mood elevator! Who can possibly be in a bad mood while playing music, dancing, or crafting? I love learning new things and the sense of accomplishment when it’s all done.

I know many of you are thinking “but I’m not creative”. But creativity comes in so many forms. Creating is not limited to musicians, painters, dancers, or writers. Are you enjoy photography? Are you a creative problem solver? Do you enjoy painting/decorating your home? Do you like to build things? Are you a creative conversationalist? Do you bake fabulous cakes? I think anything you can immerse yourself in and enjoy fully is probably a creative avenue for you.

The benefits of a creative outlet are numerous. Doing something you love can actually lower your blood pressure, lower the stress hormones in your body, and even help you to lose weight. (I know personally I’m not eating when I’m creating!) When we are finally allowed to move about the world again, hobbies are great ways to connect with new people or old friends. Finding time for yourself is an important part of self-care since it gets you away from the stressors in your life, even if just for a few minutes.

So what’s your creative outlet? What hobby brings you joy? If you don’t have one, what’s your plan to carve out a little creative time for yourself?

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If you are looking for a healthy snack this weekend, check out this (Vegan) Buffalo Wing Hummus recipe!

IMDb: A Creative Life (2010)

Mystic Pizza

Looking for a delicious pizza without the dairy? Then look no more.

This pizza was the brain-child of my son. I had made a modified version of a recipe from the cook book, Isa Does It. (I love her cookbooks, but she uses oil in everything, so I do a lot of modifications.) It was originally made to be a pizza bowl, with everything served over brown rice. The sauce is a creamy roasted red pepper sauce that is just fabulous and Ethan decided that it would be amazing on a pizza.

So that’s what we did.

You can use your preferred pizza crust, but we like to use naan breads. It’s an easy way to create personal sized pizzas, allowing everyone to customize their toppings.

The sauce is a blend of roasted red peppers, tomato paste, cashews, and a few other ingredients. I throw it all into my food processor (my favorite kitchen appliance), and blend for 3-5 minutes until really smooth. If you don’t have a high powered food processor, you can soak the cashews for a few hours to ensure smoothness.

I prepare all the toppings first, and then line everything up on the counter for each family member to do their own assembly.

  • Roasted red pepper sauce
  • Field Roast Italian sausage, sliced and browned on both sides. (You can use any vegan Italian sausage.)
  • Sliced garlic, fried in a non-stick skillet (no added oil). We like LOTS of this!
  • Red onion, sliced thin and sautéed in a non-stick pan (no added oil).
  • Kale, chopped and sautéed or steamed. Generally, I cook the red onions first, then move them to one side and throw the kale in the same pan. You can throw in a splash of water to quickly steam the kale.
  • Black olives, sliced. Please note that olive “oil” in its natural form (i.e., in an olive!) is healthy. Squeezing all the oil out of the olive, throwing away the nutrients and fiber, and eating only the oil is not.

I love to pile up the onions, garlic and kale! Lots of nutrients without many calories!

Once assembled on the naan breads, they only need to go in the oven for 5-10 minutes to heat up. If using another type of pizza crust, follow the instructions given.

This is Ethan’s second favorite vegan meal, right behind a Tempeh BLT (stay tuned)!

Here’s the recipe for the Roasted Red Pepper Pizza Bowl, which includes instructions for making it into an actual pizza.

Enjoy!

IMDb: Mystic Pizza (1988)

Cheese It

Circling back to my last two posts regarding dairy and starch, I thought I’d share one of our family’s favorite recipes. Whenever I ask my husband for help in menu planning, when I’m just stuck, my Macaroni and Cheese recipe is the one he always asks for.

Now, I know you are thinking, “but Michele, you said no cheese…” But I’m here to tell you that cheese can be made of ingredients other than dairy. Admittedly, it is with different results, and I don’t think you’ll find something that exactly mimics real cheese, but you can find many acceptable alternatives.

You can purchase many vegan cheeses, and you can even find recipes to make them yourself. Most are made from plant milks, seeds, nuts, soy, and more.

For my Macaroni and Cheese recipe, however, my “cheese” is actually made from vegetables. Shallots, onion, carrot, and red potatoes are cooked and combined, with the cooking water, with raw cashews and a few other ingredients.

One of those ingredients in nutritional yeast. While made from the same species of yeast as brewer’s and baker’s yeast, it’s a very different product. Nutritional yeast is grown and processed differently, and has a cheesy / nutty flavor. I think it can be an acquired taste for some, but my family loves it. (Maybe because we have acquired the taste…)

Nutritional yeast (aka “nooch”) can be fortified with additional B vitamins, but even non-fortified nooch contains B vitamins. It also contains protein, all nine essential amino acids, and many trace minerals. You can purchase nutritional yeast in most grocery stores or order it online.

So here’s the recipe for my Mac & “Cheese”, dairy-free and very starchy, served with a bit of salsa on the side. Enjoy!

IMDb: Cheese It (1926)

Starch Reality

The other day I briefly mentioned the Starch Solution Diet and I thought I should write a bit more about that.

Whenever people tell me they are giving up carbs, I always have to ask them to be more specific. All carbs? Or only “bad” carbs? I think a lot of people don’t realize that fruits and vegetables are mostly carbs. So if you’re giving up cookies, cake, and potato chips, that’s great. But if you’re giving up carrots, corn, and peas, that’s another story.

I remember hearing Dr. McDougall (of Starch Solution fame) speak a few years back and he said he was intentional about calling it the “starch” diet, rather than a “carbs” diet, because everyone knows what a starches are. In addition to the partial list of starchy vegetables below, starch also includes rice, pasta, whole grains, and roots. See Dr. McDougall’s full list of starchy foods here.

  • Beans (kidney, navy, pinto, black, cannellini)
  • Butternut squash
  • Chickpeas
  • Corn
  • Lentils
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Potatoes & yams

Starches are super important as a source of energy for us, and they provide an abundance of nutrients. They are full of protein (yes, protein), healthy fat, vitamins and minerals. Starches do a great job of filling you up so and your body will efficiently burn them off as energy.

Most “McDougallers” (followers of Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution) that you meet will profess to eating large quantities of potatoes (red, yellow, purple, sweet…). I am able to regulate my weight much more easily when I eat LOTS of potatoes. I like to say they are “magical”. That may be surprising to many of you, because the potato has been much maligned over the years. But the potato isn’t really the problem; what we do to it IS. We fry them, and we douse them with butter, gravy, bacon bits, sour cream, cheese, and more. And then we have the nerve to blame the potato, which is actually a very nutritious food.

The trick is learning how to eat these foods (and any vegetables, really) without all the toppings. There are many really healthy options. Some of my favorite toppings for a baked potato are mustard and sauerkraut, ketchup, these yummy mushrooms, salsa, or hummus.

So be careful when you give up the carbs. You may be giving up some super nutrition in the process.

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Here’s a recipe for a very starchy and nutritious chili for the cold winter days: Pumpkin Chili.

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For more information on the Starch Solution, check out the Dr. McDougall “color picture book” or his book, The Starch Solution.

IMDb: Starch Reality (2011)

Milk Money

Today is National Milk Day (not to be confused with World Milk Day which is in June).

According to nationaltoday.com, this day acknowledges the first time milk was delivered in sterilized glass bottles, allowing for a more safe method of distribution. The site lists some activities for celebrating this day like visiting a dairy or trying a new milk product. But the first suggestion is to learn something new about milk, so here are some facts you may not know.

  • Countries with the highest consumption of milk/dairy also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. Get your calcium from green leafy vegetables.
  • 65-70% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. When people say “I’m lactose intolerant”, that’s actually normal.
  • Casein is the protein found in milk which can cause the proliferation of cancer cells. Dr. Campbell of the Center for Nutritional Studies actually considers casein to be a carcinogen.
  • Cows are often pumped full of antibiotics because of the horrid conditions in which they are forced to live. This impacts humans because bugs become more and more resistant to antibiotics.
  • Cows eat 100 pounds of food and drink up to 50 gallons of water every day! Think of the impacts on the environment.

My personal enlightenment regarding milk came when I switched to a whole food, plant based diet. We switched over from cow’s milk to almond milk at that time. Prior to the switch, my son often had ear infections, a runny nose, and 5-6 episodes of strep throat per year. Since the switch (8 years ago), he has not had a single episode of strep, nor any other illness. Coincidence, or something else…?

If you can give up or reduce one thing in your diet, I recommend that it be dairy. I know, I know… but cheese! Cheese is highly addictive and SO hard to give up. I get it! When I make lapses in my diet, it’s usually the cheese that gets me. But the more you can give it up, the better you will be. Cheese is high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt.

So remember, progress not perfection as we start out this new year. Reduce or eliminate cheese wherever you can. And if you can give it up completely, even better! Your body will thank you!

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You can actually have creamy taste without the dairy! This is one of my favorite recipes, using cashew cream! Check out: Cashew Cream of Potato Soup

IMDb: Milk Money (1994)

The Tortoise and the Hare

I’ve always been a believer that “slow and steady wins the race”.

Jumping in 100%, all gung ho, might yield great short term results, but it often leads to longer term burnout. Making changes to our diets and LIFEstyle is for a LIFEtime. We didn’t become unhealthy or overweight in a week or a month, or even a year. It took time to get here, and it will take time to reverse course.

I am happy to report that I am down 2 1/2 pounds since the New Year. In a period of 9 days, that’s a good, steady pace. In general, losing 1-2 pounds a week should be the goal to do it safely. To do that, you need to eat 500-1000 fewer calories, OR burn more than 500-1000 calories, a day. (Eat less or exercise more, or some combination thereof.)

I found when I was eating a whole food, plant based, no oil diet (WFPBNO), I never needed to count calories because I was eating healthy food, with low calorie density (meaning you get a lot more food for fewer calories). Here’s a diagram from Forks Over Knives for an illustration:

But if you do need to track calories to be successful, do it. Track a normal day or two and then take a look at where you can lose 500 calories a day. For example, one tablespoon of olive oil is 119 calories. Do you cook with olive oil? How much do you use? Do you measure it? Imagine you are using more than one tablespoon… Also look at liquid calories, as they are an easy way to eliminate calories; just swap out with water.

If you are looking to burn some calories, check out this nifty calculator to see how many calories you can burn, at your current weight, just walking for 10 minutes a day.

My 2 1/2 pounds came from the elimination of calories from wine and late night snacks. (One 5 ounce serving of wine is 100-150 calories. So just eliminating the two glasses of wine with dinner is 200-300 calories right off the bat. Plus, who really pours a FIVE OUNCE glass of wine…?) It adds up quickly.

I have also added 15 minutes of yoga to my daily workout. All pretty easy, and I’m not feeling deprived. You can do this. Start where you are at in this moment and take a step forward. It doesn’t have to be a big step; it just needs to be forward.

Slow and steady wins the race.

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Here’s a nice low calorie density soup recipe from my friend at Klunker’s Kitchen: Tomato, Spinach, Orzo Soup. Super easy, quick, and delicious! And you probably already have all the ingredients on hand.

IMDb: The Tortoise and the Hare (1935)

On the Right Track

Accountability is an important aspect of successful lifestyle changes. Whether you hold yourself accountable, or work with a partner, having to answer to someone is an effective strategy for keeping yourself on the right track.

As I refocus on my health this new year, I am employing both strategies. First, I believe my writing this blog is a form of accountability. As I write about my challenges, my approaches, my successes, I am sharing those goals with all of you and I want to be a good example. I also have an accountability partner for the whole “drink less wine” thing! That one seems to need a lot more support!

Holding yourself accountable is a little harder, since we tend to be more forgiving of ourselves when we lapse. But one of the things that works for keeping me on the right track is, yep, “tracking”! (See what I did there?) 🙂 I use a number of different tools, which I’ll share here, but you can use whatever works for you.

  • I weigh myself every day, and then I write that number down. Sometimes I just track it on a piece of paper in my bathroom, and other times I track it on a spreadsheet. (I do love Excel.) You can write it on your daily planner, calendar, or tracking app, just write it down. This does a few things: holds you to account when your memory gets fuzzy on all those numbers, allows you to a chance to reflect on your decisions from the prior day, and shows your progress.
  • When I have a specific nutritional goal, like eat 30-40 grams of fiber a day, I use a chronometer. (https://cronometer.com/) This tool allows you to really get into the details of your nutrition. It can track fiber way better than I can, but it tracks so much more than that. Think you aren’t getting enough potassium, or iron, or whatever? This app tracks calories, carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. I may not use it every day, but it’s my go-to when I need to hold myself accountable for a period of time.
  • Another fitness tool I use is My Fitness Pal. It does similar things to the Cronometer, although I find the latter more detailed/specific. However, My Fitness Pal will calculate the calories (and other nutritional info) per serving of a recipe that might be missing that info. I often modify recipes and need to recalculate. I don’t do this every day, but might track calories for a period of time to get back on track.
  • If I have multiple goals, I will create a weekly checklist for myself to keep my goals in the forefront of my mind, to track my water intake, or to track whatever habit I’m trying to establish. At the end of the week, I’ll review my successes and challenges to think about what new approaches I might need to take the following week.

How do YOU keep yourself accountable? I’d love to hear what works for you!

Today’s recipe is one of my favorite soups. With onions, garlic, ginger, and lemon, it is a pot full of immunity-boosting deliciousness! The cumin and cayenne give it slight kick. SO good! Four Corners Lentil Soup

IMDb: On the Right Track (1981)