Sunday, October 13, 2013

Apple Quinoa Stuffed Delicata Squash

The leaves are changing colors and the nights are getting colder. Fall is officially here, which means it's time for a squash recipe!

I've tried many types of squash, but delicata squash hasn't made its way into my kitchen until today. Delicata squash is much easier to work with because they're smaller and the skin is thin and edible.

I made an apple quinoa stuffed delicata squash for lunch today.

  • 2 small delicata squash
  • 1/3 cup quinoa  
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 kale leaves 
  • garlic powder or fresh garlic
  • fresh thyme
  • rosemary
  • cardamom
  • sliced almonds


Cut each squash in half and remove the seeds. Place the squash upside down on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

While the squash is roasting, cook the quinoa. Cut the apple into very small cubes. Add to a large mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Saute the kale for a minute or two. Add the kale and quinoa to the mixing bowl with the apple. Add fresh thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and a dash of cardamom.

Add a spoonful of the mix to each squash half, top with a few sliced almonds, and return to the oven for approximately 5 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte

I discovered the Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte at Starbucks about a year ago. I tried it a few times at Starbucks before realizing I can make it just as easy (and much cheaper) at home. Using my stainless steel tea ball infuser, loose-leaf rooibos tea, milk, and vanilla syrup, I created a warm drink to keep me cozy and relaxed in the evening.

I haven't made the Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte since becoming vegan, so I decided to make a healthier version this morning and it is amazing! Just heat up some almond milk, steep the rooibos tea in the almond milk, and add a little agave nectar. This will definitely be my go-to evening drink this winter. It's so flavorful, yet mild and sweet.

Breakfast was a zucchini, mushroom, and spinach chickpea scramble (just a few chickpeas this time) with avocado, sesame seeds, turmeric, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. This is definitely my lazy weekend breakfast.

I know I've been a bit quiet lately. I've been busy with work, school, pet-sitting, and HOA meetings. I've been making much of the same meals, so I need to check out Pinterest and other websites to get a kick start again. Breakfast each day has been a smoothie with almond milk, peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, ground flax seed, and chia seeds. Lunch has been either a salad or stir-fry and dinner has usually been soup or some kind of squash recipe. I definitely need to branch out! I'd like to incorporate more raw foods, so I've started reading a bit about raw diets as time allows. Facebook and Pinterest have been great resources. Since I check Facebook several times a day, I've "liked" many vegan and raw pages to keep me updated on news, events, and recipes. I'm looking forward to getting back to all the fun reading after the semester ends! :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto

I absolutely love spaghetti squash! It's so easy to make and the recipe ideas are endless.

Tonight's dinner was spaghetti squash with an avocado pesto sauce. I made the sauce using 1 small avocado, plenty of fresh basil, lemon juice, and a small handful of cashews. Arugula, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, and a tomato medley finished off the dish. This was so good. :)

On another note, I had blood work done today to check my B12 levels after taking a supplement for 6 months and to check all my other levels. Everything is better than ever! I'm so happy to see such an impressive change in my overall health.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cosmetics Update

I want to write a quick update on the foundation I purchased and told you about yesterday. It turns out I didn't like Dr. Hauschka's Translucent Makeup foundation on me at all. The foundation really didn't cover any of the natural redness I have on my face. I knew it would be a lighter cover due to its "translucent" factor, but I didn't quite realize how light that would be! Luckily, I was told I could return the makeup if I really didn't like it. Rather than drive back to Novato, I stopped by the Santa Rosa Whole Foods and they were more than helpful and returned the item for me.

I do want to mention that the Gabriel Cosmetics mascara and lip gloss that I purchased yesterday are both great and I won't be returning them!

Since I'm very low on my current (flammable!) foundation, I headed to Ulta to try the popular vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free cosmetic line, Tarte. The Amazonian Clay 12-hour full coverage foundation in fair beige is perfect for me and I feel much better about the products I'm using. I probably stood in the Tarte section for about 30 minutes to be absolutely certain the color was an exact match and that it would cover my redness. If I'm at all unhappy with the product within the next 60 days, Ulta will return the item.

I also found a really great "Seashell Pink" cream eyeshadow by Tarte. I've never used a cream eyeshadow, but this particular one looks and feels like a regular pressed eyeshadow when it's on. I also received a free gift which includes a sample of the Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-hour Primer and the Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder.

I was also eyeing the "Shades of Clay" Bambeautiful Amazonian Clay Eye Shadow Palette (that's a mouthful!), but I'll wait on that for now. I'm very happy with my purchases and I'm so glad I did my research! I tried everything again when I got home and all the products are great. I also have some flexibility because both Ulta and Sephora sell this popular brand. Oh, and I noticed Tarte is having some great sales on their website!

parabens • mineral oil • phthalates • triclosan • sodium lauryl sulfate • gluten

Now on to making dinner! :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fresh Garbanzo Beans, Cosmetics, and a Hot Pumpkin Beverage

I'm a bean making machine. I woke up thinking about the amazing fresh garbanzo beans I saw yesterday. The beans were still in their pods, attached to the leafy plant. I thought it was quite funny and almost naive of me to not know about fresh beans since I'm always trying new and different things. Then again, you rarely see fresh beans in grocery stores and at farmers markets (according to a quick Google search). I may try to grow these babies myself next May.

Fresh garbanzo beans

Since I couldn't get my hands on some fresh garbanzo beans/chickpeas, I decided it was about time to cook the dried black beans and garbanzo beans that I had on hand. They soaked all day and I'm cooking them now to freeze.

While I wasn't messing around with beans, I was cooking lentils! My lunch was a mix of lentils and barley with sauteed vegetables. I headed to Sonoma after lunch for a walk around the square and to check out my two favorite shops in that area - Baksheesh and Sign of the Bear Kitchenware.

My plan was to stop by the Whole Foods in Sonoma afterward to check out their makeup, but it's one of the smaller stores. Since the way back home led me to South Petaluma anyway, I drove to my favorite Whole Foods in Novato instead! Seriously, this particular store is huge and the lady who manages the cosmetics/personal care/supplement aisle is SO helpful. She really knows her stuff, so why waste time fumbling around on my own in another store? I've done some research on the makeup brands sold at Whole Foods and most of the brands are vegan. Gabriel Cosmetics and Zuzu Luxe are very popular. I purchased the Gabriel Cosmetics navy eye shadow a few weeks ago to use as my eyeliner. I love it and that's what brought me back to look at what else Whole Foods has to offer.


The world of vegan, toxic-free, cruelty-free, etc... cosmetics is complicated and I haven't been willing to jump right in only to waste my money on junk. With that said, I've been keeping my eyes and ears open for many months and I've spent several hours researching online. I've switched to a few great products, but I still have a few more products that I'd like to replace with healthier alternatives. Not only do I want healthy makeup, but I also want to use brands that are easy to find, that I can try on in person, and that won't be discontinued. That is what brought me to Whole Foods.

My current Lancome foundation looks and works great, but it scares me. The bottle even says the foundation is flammable. Yikes! After talking with my favorite lady at Whole Foods (I really should find out her name), I decided to go with a non-vegan foundation for now because it is the best color match. Dr. Hauschka's Translucent Makeup foundation will still be a huge step up from what I've been using. What makes the line non-vegan is the use of insects for color (this is nothing new in the world of cosmetics). Although it's not vegan, Dr. Hauschka’s Translucent Makeup is botanical, free of animal testing, and apparently healthier due to high quality natural ingredients. It's not cheap, so that is a concern if I go through it quickly. SEE UPDATE ON 9/15/13 (I returned the foundation)

I also picked up mascara and lip gloss from Gabriel Cosmetics. The lip gloss is an exact match to what I've been using, so I'm very happy about that. I'll try out the mascara tomorrow. Apparently it is the most popular mascara sold at Whole Foods.

If these products all work well for me, then I just need to find a couple great eye shadows and eventually a vegan foundation. I didn't see any eye shadows I particularly liked today, but I know I'll find something great soon. I think I'll finish using what I currently have and maybe head over to Bare Escentuals. Nearly all Bare Escentuals products are vegan (although not all are paraben-free), with the exception of a few items that are colored with insects. 

A few other healthy and vegan companies worth mentioning are Tarte (available at Ulta & Sephora), 100% Pure, and Juice Beauty (also available at Ulta & Sephora).


I mentioned in a previous post that I ordered deodorant from North Coast Organics after listening to a recommendation from Eco-Vegan Gal on YouTube. I used the deodorant yesterday and today. If you've followed my blog for a while now, you probably know I don't care for lavender-scented anything. Well, since lavender was my only option (they're currently sold out of the alternative, "Naked"), I went for it. It's actually not too bad because lavender essential oils were used. The effectiveness is okay, but not amazing. I think I'll use this as an everyday deodorant and occasionally use Tom's Long-Lasting Fresh Apricot deodorant. You can't beat the ingredients in the North Coast Organics deodorant, though.

NCO's Death By Lavender:
  • Coconut oil
  • Carnauba wax
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Essential oils

Tom's Long-Lasting, Aluminum-Free Fresh Apricot:
  • Propylene glycol (Not good - see 9/13 blog post)
  • Water
  • Sodium stearate 
  • Organic Aloe barbadensis leaf juice
  • Zinc ricinoleate
  • Glyceryl laurate
  • Natural fragrance
  • Humulus lupulus (hops) extract
  • Organic Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Organic Cymbopogon flexuosis oil

Hot Pumpkin Mug

I typically drink tea in the evening. I like Yogi's Detox and Skin Detox herbal teas, but I decided to switch it up tonight and try a hot pumpkin beverage!

I made Kathy Patalsky's Hot Pumpkin Mug recipe that she posted on her blog today. What a fun, healthy alternative to the refined sugar, who-knows-what-else-is-in-it pumpkin drinks that are popping up in all the coffee shops. ;)

The recipe calls for blending, boiling, and then blending the ingredients again. I followed Kathy's instructions, but I think next time I'll just whisk the ingredients by hand, heat, and drink!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Food Matters

Food Matters just posted this article on Facebook. It ties in so well with my last post. Check it out!

What In The World Are You Putting On Your Skin?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Most Frequently Asked Question and More

I'm surprised I haven't written in the last week, but I've been busy with school, pet-sitting, and making plenty of salads and yellow soup! I'm a woman of my word, so I made sure to give you all a break from the amazing yellow soup. :) 

Let me start off by saying that I love when people ask questions about my whole foods, plant-based vegan diet. Whether someone is thinking about going plant-based or just curious, I love to offer the information I’ve learned.

So what is the most frequently asked question of vegans? Where do you get your protein?

The reason I haven’t written about protein before is because I don’t need to even think about where I get protein! Not only that, but the Standard American Diet (SAD) is protein obsessed and most Americans consume far more than what is recommended. The meat and dairy industries have brainwashed everyone to believe that we must consume enormous amounts of meat and dairy to be healthy. No wonder so many people have irregular bowel movements and experience such discomfort! If anyone gives me a hard time, I should respond with “Well, where do you get your fiber?” Not only is life in the bathroom rough, but cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are at an all time high! Most of which can be avoided or reversed with a plant-based diet.

In Forks Over Knives, T. Colin Campbell, a biochemist and author of The China Study, wisely said “you can’t be protein deficient unless you are calorie deficient.” Protein deficiency, also known as kwashiorkor (Google it!), just isn't an issue in the US.

Only 10-35% of the calories we eat should come from protein. The higher range is for pregnant women and athletes. About 47 grams of protein is recommended for a 130 lb female and about 62 grams for a 170 lb male. Check out this article for more information: 3 Myths About Protein and a Plant-Based Diet

Many plant foods have more protein per calorie than meat. My entire diet is full of protein-rich foods like beans, lentils, edamame, tofu, nuts, nut butters, seeds (especially chia, flax, hemp, and sunflower), whole grains (oats, quinoa, rice, barley, buckwheat, etc), almond milk, fruit, avocados, leafy greens, and vegetables.

Yesterday’s meals alone were jam-packed with protein. I had protein in almond milk, a banana, ground flax seeds, cashews, fruit, leafy greens, avocado, edamame, a wide variety of vegetables, and barley. It’s just too easy!

A Few Things You May Not Know

I've found many common themes and much of the same information in all my reading over summer. Here are a few things I've learned.

Tea bags: Tea is heavily sprayed with chemicals. Always choose organic. Many tea bags are made of plastic these days and multiple studies have shown that the plastic can melt and leach into your tea. This particular article mentions that paper and plastic tea bags are both bad and choosing loose-leaf tea is your best bet.

Coffee: Coffee is dehydrating and can cause havoc on your system. If you're looking for an alternative, try herbal teas or even Teeccino, which is a caffeine-free, herbal coffee.

Cookware: Non-stick coating can leach toxins into your food and the air. Choose stainless steel, glass, or cast iron cookware to avoid all the toxins from non-stick pots and pans.

Vitamin D: The best way to get your vitamin D is to spend about 15-20 minutes in the sun each day without sunscreen (which is full of chemicals anyway!). If you're sensitive to the sun, you can always try a vitamin D supplement or drink vitamin D fortified plant milks.

Enzymes: Having a hard time digesting your food? Try enzymes! I've started taking Papaya digestive enzymes so my body doesn't have to work so hard which may lead to increased energy. The papain from Papaya is renowned for its anti-cancer and skin-cleansing properties. 

Deodorant: Nearly all deodorants are made up of multiple chemicals and harmful parabens. I've known this for years, but ignored the issue. I recently learned that parabens are often found in the tissue and tumors of breast cancer patients, so I'm on the search for an effective, paraben-free deodorant. Eco-Vegan Gal raves about North Coast Organics, so I ordered their deodorant. I'll let you know if it's any good!

Water Filter:  We all know about water filters for our drinking water, but what about for the shower? Our skin is our largest organ and we not only absorb toxins through our skin in the shower, but we breathe toxins directly into our lungs from the steam. Do yourself a favor and get a filter. I bought a new shower head a few months back for $27 and it came with two filters. You can also just buy the filter which connects in between your current shower head and pipe. When I told my mom about all this, she said her doctor told her to get a shower filter 5 years ago and she's had one this entire time. Geez, thanks for telling me!

Perfume: I never really thought about this until I read Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr, but perfume is straight-up chemicals that we enjoy spraying all over ourselves. Yikes! Goodbye perfume. I don't need to absorb any more nasty chemicals into my skin. Kris Carr recommended using natural essential oils instead. Whole Foods has a great selection!

Dry Brushing: When I first heard about dry brushing, I thought it must be for hippies! Yes, I should know better. After hearing and reading about the benefits of dry brushing over and over again, I finally decided to try it. I've used my brush for only a few days now, so I'll have to report back in a few weeks. Dry brushing buffs away dead skin, reduces cellulite, and more importantly, it improves circulation and lymphatic drainage which removes toxins from the body. 

Here are a few articles on dry brushing:

That's it for now! I'll have more tips, tricks, and information coming soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Best Ever Yam, Parsnip, and Plantain Soup

I made the most amazing soup tonight! I had one plantain leftover from the last soup I made that only got sweeter from hanging out on my kitchen counter. This Yam, Parsnip, and Plantain Soup is to-die-for!

  • 1 can light coconut milk + 1 can water
  • 1 small yam
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 ripe plantain
  • 1/2 a small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • bay leaf
  • coriander
  • turmeric


Add the coconut milk and water to a large pot. Chop the yam, parsnip, plantain, onion, and garlic and add to the pot. Add the bay leaf, coriander, turmeric, and salt (optional).

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for approximately 15 minutes. For extra sweetness, throw in 1/4 cup corn. Puree approximately 1/3 of the soup. Return the puree to the pot. Stir and serve.

I definitely ate too much because it was that good! The picture really doesn't do it justice. Good thing I'm walking to and from work tomorrow. I'll need to walk this off!

Don't worry, my next few posts won't be more yellow soup! :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Original Plantain Potato Soup

Guess who has plantains?? My local grocery store and I do!

I made the original Plantain Potato Soup tonight. The turmeric really does make a difference with the color. I have to say, though, that I preferred my parsnip potato soup! Tonight's soup just wasn't flavorful enough and I didn't want to add a load of salt and seasonings. I used fresh dill again and a little garlic powder, but it wasn't quite doing it for me. I will definitely use the recipe again, but I'll be sure to add parsnip or corn and use a sweeter onion (I just used an onion I had on hand).

The best part about making the soup tonight was...

My new Cuisinart Enameled Cast Iron 3-quart pot! I love it!! I will be using this so much. Who knew I could be so excited over kitchen appliances and cookware? I really didn't know or care to know much about cooking before I became vegan in February. Boy, what a transformation! I love to cook now!

I was a bit hesitant about the green color, but it seems to go very well in my kitchen. This particular enameled cast iron pot goes for $70-$80, but I got it for $35 at Home Goods. I think this was a great investment!

I headed to Bodega Bay earlier today to enjoy lunch and a short hike. I'm overdue for some exercise. It's about time I start walking, hiking, and maybe even do a bit of yoga (which I tried this afternoon!). The lunch I put together is a typical lunch for me during the week. I usually eat fruit mid-morning, then a salad at lunch.

Today's salad was arugula, spinach, sprouts, green beans, corn, kidney beans, cucumber, and avocado. Oh, and fresh dill! I'm loving dill right now!

Bodega Head was sunny and beautiful. The fog only just started rolling in as I was leaving. I loved the hike!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Plantain Potato Soup

It all started with this...

In this video, Whitney Lauritsen from Eco-Vegan Gal is making a Plantain Potato Soup from Allyson Kramer's Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats From Around the World.

After planning to make the Plantain Potato Soup, I soon discovered my local grocery store was out of plantains. They always have plantains, but not when I want them! To substitute, I used a banana and a parsnip to create my own twist on the soup. I will definitely try the original recipe when I can get my hands on some plantains.

This soup is crazy easy to put together and cheap! After watching the video, I cut the recipe in half and still had far too much soup!

Ingredients for 1/2 of the original Plantain Potato Soup recipe:

  • 1 plantain
  • 1 yellow potato
  • 1/2 or 1 small vidalia onion (or other sweet onion)
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves
  • turmeric for color
  • 2-3 cups water
  • salt (optional)

Peel and chop the plantain into thick coins. Chop the potato, onion, and garlic. Add all ingredients to a large pot. Add the turmeric, water, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Once cooked, puree half the soup and return the puree to the pot. Stir and serve.

My version of the soup was a bit different because I substituted the plantain with a banana and a parsnip. Since I was pet-sitting and cooking in someone else's kitchen, I didn't have my blender and I forgot my turmeric. I ended up mashing my soup instead and it still turned out great!! The best part was the fresh dill I sprinkled on top.

Soup is so easy. You can't mess it up! Just use what you have and get creative!

Speaking of creativity, can I just say how much I love chickpea scrambles? Well, you already know that about me! My latest adventure with these beautiful beans was a chickpea scramble with clover and alfalfa sprouts over arugula.

The scramble is mashed chickpeas with zucchini, spinach, onion, and garlic with cayenne, turmeric, fresh parsley and dill.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Raw Zucchini Pasta with Tomato Sauce


Well, I did it! I made a raw dinner! I know my salads are usually raw, but this was a pasta-like dish using all raw ingredients. I realized how cheap and filling this meal can be. AND I saved electricity and time!

The ingredients were so simple.
  • 1 zucchini
  • A large handful of arugula and spinach
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 very small garlic clove
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Oregano and black pepper 

I also threw in one sliced cremini mushroom and about 6 green beans because I needed to use them up! I certainly like my hot foods, but there are definitely benefits to incorporating raw meals into my diet.

Rather than a tomato sauce, you could make an avocado-pesto sauce or a peanut sauce to make pad thai. If you don't own a spiralizer, then the easiest way to make zucchini noodles or ribbons is to use a vegetable peeler like I did.

I threw together another cost-effective meal the other night. You can call them Fajita Pitas! Don't you love the name? I had pita bread in my freezer, so why not make fajitas? :) I sauteed bell peppers, onion, zucchini, and corn with oregano and the smallest (and I mean smallest!) amount of oil and red wine vinegar. I filled the pitas with avocado, plenty of fresh cilantro, and the grilled veggies. I actually really enjoyed them!

When I'm not in the kitchen or at work, I'm often found reading, researching, or watching YouTube videos lately. I know...I should focus on school. I will! We have a three-day weekend, so I can enjoy a little "me time" first. :)

I have to share a few great finds lately. First, check out Eco-Vegan Gal on YouTube, Facebook, and/or on Whitney Lauritsen has a passion for learning, as do I, about everything healthy and vegan. I've watched many of her videos and I feel she's giving out some solid information.

While on the topic of YouTube, there are so many great videos worth checking out. Just search "vegan" or "whole foods plant based" and you will find so many great videos. 

I also discovered Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. I'm not very far into the book yet, but I love it! Kris Carr provides a fun and very informative perspective on nutrition despite her challenges with cancer. Here is a description of the book from Kris Carr's website:

"Crazy Sexy Diet comes on the heels of Kris Carr’s best-selling cancer survival guidebooks and her acclaimed TLC documentary. Infused with her signature sass, wit and advice-from-the-trenches style, Crazy Sexy Diet is a beautifully illustrated resource that puts you on the fast track to vibrant health, happiness and a great ass!

Along with help from her posse of experts, Kris Carr lays out the fundamentals of her Crazy Sexy Diet: a low-glycemic, vegetarian program that emphasizes balancing the pH of the body with lush whole and raw foods, nourishing organic green drinks, and scrumptious smoothies. Plus, she shares the steps of her own twenty-one-day cleanse, and simple but delectable sample recipes.
In ten chapters with titles such as, “pHabulous,” “Coffee, Cupcakes and Cocktails,” “Make Juice Not War,” and “God-Pod Glow,” Kris empowers readers to move from a state of constant bodily damage control to one of renewal and repair. In addition to debunking common diet myths and sharing vital tips on detoxifying our bodies and psyches—advice that draws both on her personal experience as a cancer survivor and that of experts—she provides helpful hints on natural personal care, how to stretch a dollar, navigate the grocery store, eating well on the run, and working through the inevitable pangs and cravings for your old not-so-healthy life. Crazy Sexy Diet is a must for anyone who seeks to be a confident and sexy wellness warrior."

I think an evening of reading Crazy Sexy Diet sounds like a good idea to me. I hope to get up early tomorrow, make a chickpea scramble, maybe head to the beach, and take care of a happy puppy in the afternoon. Then on to school work on Sunday! I'm glad I've had two productive weekends the last couple weeks cleaning my patios, selling books, giving away clothes, and focusing on maintaining a simple, happy, healthy, minimalist lifestyle.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Recipe Ideas

I'm officially 23 lbs lighter than I was in October 2012. I feel great and what I'm doing lately seems to be really working. I'm kicking up the vegetables and greens, eating smaller and more reasonable portions of grains and proteins, cutting out unnecessary fats, eating proteins and starches at separate meals (food combining!), and listening to my body.

In my efforts to be as healthy as I can be, I have been using variations of the recipes I've already posted on my blog. If you're looking for fresh ideas for vegan dinners, definitely check out Going Home to Roost which has a compilation of original recipes and recipes from other websites. I found the blog through Pinterest. Pinterest is another great tool worth checking out. I'm all about pictures and I use it all the time to get home and recipe ideas.

I might try a lighter version of this Summer Vegetable Curry from 101 Cookbooks tonight. Going Home to Roost recently featured this recipe and it's a perfect way to end the summer. I'll leave out the tofu since the starchy potato sounds really good!

Summer Vegetable Curry

Another great website worth checking out is My New Roots. The recipes and photos are incredible!

I've been reading so many nutrition books before school starts again (tomorrow!). Some of my favorite books as of late are:
  1. Whole by T. Colin Campbell
  2. The Starch Solution by John A. McDougall
  3. Healthy Eating, Healthy World by J. Morris Hicks
I've read several free books on my Kindle, but of course all the ones I really want to read have a price tag! Luckily, I can read a sample first to decide if I want to purchase the book or just go to the library. :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Roasted Beet Salad

Mixed greens with roasted beets and thyme.

Sweet potato with zucchini, onions, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, and micro greens.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tips and Tricks

The more I continue to educate myself on nutrition and food combining, the more I realize I need to treat my body well and refine my eating habits.

My latest trick to eat more greens is to fill my plate with arugula or any other green leaf and then put vegetables and either pasta, rice, or tofu on top. My favorite is whole-wheat pasta with an avocado pesto sauce and arugula. By doing this, I have the volume I'm used to, but with more greens and vegetables. I'm also eating a nice balance between cooked and raw food. 

Step 1: Add your greens to the plate. I like arugula and micro greens.

Step 2: Add your veggies and your protein or starch.

I'm already starting to feel better and thinner. I was at a plateau for many weeks and now it's time to kick start my health and weight loss again.

I've really enjoyed reading about food combining and I've had better luck finding information from Kindle books than websites. I realize I've been following nearly all of the food combining rules already, which is great! I recently read Kathryn Marsden's The Food Combining 2-Day Detox. I definitely recommend it. Kathryn Marsden talks about so much more than the detox. She also talks about reducing your exposure to toxins, getting rid of cellulite, how to be diet-wise, the rules of food combining, dealing with too much acidity in the body, how to look after your liver, taking care of your colon, food tips for traveling, and the benefits of pure essential oils. 

If you haven't watched the videos or checked out the food combining charts I posted in the last few days, I'll tell you the two major rules of food combining right now.
  1. Don't mix any major protein with starch (grains, potatoes, bread, etc) in the same meal
  2. Don't eat fruit in the middle of - or immediately after - a main meal. Enjoy it either as a between-meal snack or as a starter - in other words, on an empty stomach. Fruit passes through the system more quickly than protein or starch and is digested more efficiently if taken without other foods. - Marsden
 Other food combining tips:
  • Due to the water content, eat melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc) on their own and preferably first thing in the morning
  • Allow fruit to digest for 15 minutes before eating main meals
  • Wait 3 hours after eating a grain-based meal before you eat a protein-based meal
  • Allow 4 hours to digest a protein-based meal
  • Greens digest well with everything 
  • Try to keep meals simple for better digestion
  • Desserts can interrupt digestion and cause fermentation in the stomach. Try to wait a few hours (yes, a few hours!) before indulging yourself with a dessert.
  • Be sure to thoroughly chew your food
  • Try to incorporate chia or ground flax seeds into your diet each day for extra fiber and omega-3s. I add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of chia or flax seeds to smoothies or oatmeal each morning.  

That's it on food combining. I often eat fruit after a meal if I want something sweet, so I will definitely try to eat it before or on its own now! Being vegan, I don't often mix proteins with starches, so that won't be difficult. 

Happy Sunday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Food Combining

I keep hearing and reading about the benefits of food combining, but I'm often left with more questions than answers. So what is food combining? Why is it beneficial? Is food combining just for people who experience stomach problems? What are the worst food combinations? Does it really improve digestive health?

I have always considered my digestive system quite healthy and happy. I assumed food combining wasn't for me, but wait! Proper food combining can actually increase the body's absorption of essential nutrients, improve digestive health, and increase energy.

Below are a few resources that answer some of my questions. These resources are intended to get you thinking, but are not backed by medical studies. I can say, however, that the food combining "rules" seem fairly consistent in all the articles I've read and the videos I've watched.

The Ten Rules of the Food Combining Diet
7 Food Combinations That WON'T Wreak Havoc on Your Health
Food Combining Chart

I guess that means I should have eaten the figs before the tofu scramble...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Red Wine Stew with Mashed Potatoes

What started off as an idea to make shepherd's pie, turned into a stew using plenty of red wine!

As soon as I could smell the red wine cooking away with the onions, mushrooms, and plenty of garlic, I knew where I was going. The recipe still needs tweaking since I was just winging it last night and very hungry, but it was really good and I have PLENTY of leftovers!

This stew is packed with onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, corn, peas, kidney beans, and a great Malbec I had on hand. Topped over mashed potatoes and served with a nice glass of red wine. 

I have a newfound love of freshly ground black peppercorns and I made sure to use plenty on this red potato and spinach dinner I made the other night. I can't remember the name of the red potatoes I picked up at the farmer's market last week, but these potatoes carry their reddish color throughout.

I was craving spinach, so I threw together red potatoes and black beans on one side of the plate and spinach, zucchini, and corn on the other. I topped the dish with avocado, cilantro, parsley, a little salt, and plenty of freshly ground pepper!

I'm pet-sitting for a couple weeks, so blog posts will be infrequent for a little while. Just when I really wanted to post a few things last night, I couldn't. Instead I read and skimmed some parts of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. I definitely recommend the book!

Not to make this a dear diary moment, but the last couple weeks haven't been easy for me and I'm finally feeling like myself again. I think I lost my way for a short while and I felt like I was just waiting for things to happen (to be financially stable, meet the right guy, be healthy, happy, and naturally slimmer) when in reality I need to make these things happen.

So I've come to a few conclusions:
  1. The importance of creating limits and boundaries is key to becoming financially comfortable. I need to stick to my tight budget, stop splurging on things like coffee, and I need to live simply.
  2. This is my life and I need to stop waiting for something different or better to come along. Enjoy today.
  3. I need to set goals that I actively pursue and take steps now to achieve them.
I've written down many goals for myself and I will share some here in the event it inspires someone else who may be stuck in a rut.
  1. Be financially comfortable - In particular, I want to get rid of debt and save 15% of every paycheck (and don't touch again unless it's an emergency!)
  2. Expand pet-sitting business
  3. Complain less
  4. Be open to all positive opportunities 
  5. Be a minimalist
  6. Finish school
  7. Learn and create new recipes
  8. Travel even if it's just local
  9. Nurture my friendships
  10. Eat well now to be healthy, happy, and naturally slimmer 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Better Than The First Chickpea Scramble

I made a chickpea scramble for breakfast this morning and I have to say, it was better than the first one! I sauteed onion, garlic, and cubed red potatoes for approximately 15 minutes. I then added zucchini, kale, spinach, and diced heirloom tomatoes to the pan. The smashed chickpeas went in last after the vegetables were cooked. I threw in some fresh parsley and topped the dish with avocado and cayenne pepper.

Creamy Polenta with Fresh Vegetables

My first try at making creamy polenta was a success. How can you mess it up, really? I boiled 2 cups of water, slowly poured in 1 cup of polenta, reduced the heat to low and whisked the polenta until it thickened. I covered the pot and let it continue to cook for approximately 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. The polenta was basic with little seasoning, but I think I'll try vegetable stock instead of water next time to give it a bit more flavor.

Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

If you haven't noticed already, I like to incorporate a variety of vegetables in my dishes. I made a vegetable pasta sauce last week that turned out great. I sauteed onion and garlic, then added zucchini, green beans, carrots, kale, spinach, tomatoes, and a little white wine. I let the sauce simmer for approximately 20 minutes before serving with whole wheat pasta, fresh parsley, and basil.

Taco salad was on the menu last week as well. I used ingredients I had on hand, so it's not your traditional taco salad! I mixed cooked rice with pinto beans, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. The next layer was cooked spinach and zucchini. The last layer was lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, and lime juice.

And what better way to enjoy an evening than with a little tequila and limeade? :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Raspberry Coconut Ice Cream

Success! I made raspberry coconut ice cream tonight and it turned out great. I used one can of coconut milk, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, a little less than 1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. With such a small batch, my ice cream was ready in no time!

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod (pictured).