Tag: weight loss

Epic Fail – Redux

Epic Fail – Redux

A while back a shared a post about my  utter failure with making Healthy Chocolate Cake. If you have forgotten, please let me remind you…img_3749.pngWow, just wow. I thought I would give them a try again, this time using an ingredient more in line with the original recipe. Einkorn wheat. “Wait,” you’re probably thinking, “but you are gluten free!”

I have been doing some reading and something I discovered is that most people aren’t actually gluten intolerant. Yes, there are people with Celiac’s, which is a very real, very serious disease that makes you unable to process gluten. Recent studies, however, have shown that most people have trouble with wheat due to the chemical glyphosate, (also commonly known as Roundup) that is sprayed on most wheat crops a week or two before harvest. Sadly, even most organic wheat receives the same treatment. See this article about toxic wheat. It recommended a wheat product that I purchased from Amazon and this is my first wheat in almost 4 months. I will let you know how it goes…

Anyway, on to the recipe. This time they came out of the oven really nicely.  If you want the recipe, see my post from May 10, 2017 “Fail Level… EPIC!”They looked like cupcakes this time! They smelled amazing. Last time I didn’t even bother making the “frosting” since they were such an abysmal failure. This time, I was really hopeful!I followed the recipe exactly. I used a mix of macadamias, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts, as well as almond milk.

Here is the final product:The verdict? Meh

They are moist, and cakey, but not the most delicious thing ever. Yes, they are refined sugar free (they are made with dates, beets, carrots, applesauce and banana as the sweetener), so they are definitely better for you than processed, sugar filled dessert. The frosting is a bit bitter and not very creamy. It was a bit of a disappointment. I think next time I will stick with nice cream when I am in the mood for dessert.

Back to the drawing board.

Dinner 911

It’s happened to everyone: you arrive home late after a long day. Traffic, appointments gone long, poor planning…whatever the reason, you need to get dinner on the table ASAP! Gone are the days are driving through on the way home or dialing for delivery. What to do in a pinch? Quick, tasty and healthy are all non-negotiable.

It has taken me 3 months to slip into a more comfortable place with dinner planning. I won’t lie, at the beginning of this vegan journey, I felt panicky and overwhelmed. I even found myself feeling resentful. “This way of eating is hard enough, why can’t they all just figure out their own food!” I now know that was just the toxic hunger making me one nasty lady for a while. Sorry, family, LOVE YOU!

I keep a few staples stocked in my kitchen at all times, ready at a moment’s notice for those nights when people INSIST on being fed even though I have had a busy day. Haha.

Chili. This is a super simple version. Just throw the following ingredients into a sauce pan and heat for 15 minutes. Done and delicious.

  • 3 cans of assorted beans, drained and rinsed. (My favorites are black beans, garbanzo beans and lima beans)
  • one can of tomato sauce
  • one can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 bag of frozen corn
  • a sprinkle each of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder and Zydeco Chop Chop
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste

Pasta and steamed broccoli with Marinara. This comfort food is a weekly favorite at our house.

I use red lentil and chickpea noodles, instead of traditional pasta, since I am gluten free and the bean based pastas are FILLED with protein. They are actually quite tasty and extremely filling. My son gives them a “thumbs mostly up ” and that is amazing, considering he loves traditional pasta.

For the sauce, I recommend Victoria White Linen Marinara sauce. You can find it at Costco here in California. Simple ingredients, no sugar, and quite simply, the most delicious Marinara I have ever had. img_3655.png

For the broccoli, don’t just throw it in the microwave, steam it! Here is a recipe for perfect steamed broccoli. It’s so simple! Be sure to remove from the steaming basket while it is still tender crisp and bright green. It retains more of the nutrients and flavor that way.

Also, try adding the Marinara over the broccoli, too.  It is amazing. If you have time, water sauté a few mushrooms or zucchinis with garlic and add them to the fun.  The more colorful, the better.

Taco Salad. This one is always a crowd pleaser, especially on a hot evening. I chop up romaine lettuce and spinach (or any other dark leafy greens) for the base, then put out anything and everything I have that even remotely sounds like it might be good on a salad and let everyone build their own. My favorite salad fixings:

  • Tomatoes
  • Black olives
  • Chopped green or red onion
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Quinoa taco “meat”
  • Guacamole or chopped avocado
  • Salsa
  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Jalapeños
  • Chopped bell peppers
  • Chopped raw zucchini
  • Lightly sautéed mushrooms
  • Vegan ranch
  • Tortilla chips (none for me, though)img_3292.jpg

Chopped veggies and hummus. This is my Sunday night, go-to dinner.  I almost always have baby bell peppers, celery sticks and baby carrots in my veggie drawer, ready to eat.  It is fast, easy and satisfying.  No excuses for not eating healthy with this stuff on hand.

What are your favorite quick and easy meals? I would love to know.

A losing battle, in the best possible sense.

A losing battle, in the best possible sense.

The beginning is always the hardest.  Breaking old habits, creating new ones, changing mind sets. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Does it still suck? Yep.

The last three months have been rough. I’m not going to sugar coat it…Mmmm, sugar…. In truth, the first two months made me want to quit entirely.  Fatigue, brain fog and mad food cravings all worked against me to make me feel like throwing in the towel.  I may have given up if not for the fact that I really didn’t have a choice.  The pain I was  experiencing was a direct result of what I was  eating and I knew I couldn’t go back. 

For the first month or so my nights were plagued by crazy dreams. In them, I was always binging on something that I wasn’t allowed to have in real life.  Three nights in a row I dreamed I was eating cheese quesadillas. I had more than a few dreams about hamburgers. It was glorious and awful all at the same time! I remember waking up feeling like I had ruined everything, only to realize it was just a dream. It was equal parts hope and despair.

Three months in and my brain fog is finally lifting, my fatigue is gone and my cravings are gone, too.  I actually sniffed pizza the other day and it wasn’t even tempting, just greasy smelling! I am dangerously close to having lost 30 pounds and my pain is almost completely gone. 

The longer I stick with it, the easier it becomes.  Shopping is faster and easier because I am familiar with what I can and can’t eat.  I don’t spend my time pouring over labels anymore.  If it has a label, I usually can’t eat it! Ok, while that might be a slight exaggeration, it’s not that far off!

I still do a lot of experimenting, trying to turn my limited options into taste sensations. I am having moderate success. I am also having fun…usually.  The clean up stinks.

This weekend was wet and chilly, so I cranked up the oven and spent most of it trying out new recipes. Here is my favorite by far: Vegetable Fritters.  Basically, savory chickpea flour pancakes packed with vegetables.

I served them with Vegan Ranch Dip, which is just Vegan Sour Cream mixed with a tablespoon or so of Home Made Ranch Seasoning. (Don’t add the salt called for in the Seasoning, though, leave it out entirely.  The sour cream is salty enough.)

To begin making the fritters, I made my own chickpea flour.  Just pulse dry chickpeas (found with the other dried beans at most markets) in the blender until it is a fine flour.  Make plenty! (I love to use it as “breading” on cauliflower, but that’s another post for another day.)

Season the flour and add the veggies of your choice. My first batch was riced (AKA finely minced) sweet potato and cauliflower, diced yellow squash and fresh parsley.

I added almond milk (instead of water) and mixed gently to form a sticky batter.  I placed on a hot griddle and cooked until golden brown, just a couple of minutes per side.
While that batch was cooking, I whipped up second batch, this time adding chopped red onion and yellow bell pepper in addition to the other ingredients. 


I didn’t oil the griddle, but I didn’t have a problem with sticking.  So long as I waited until they were browned, they flipped nicely.  Rushing them does not make for pretty fritters. 

My family gave them the thumbs up (my son a little less enthusiastically than the rest, but what else do I expect? Haha)

I love that I was able to add a quick, easy and delicious week night meal to my rotation. 

I also wanted to say thank you to those of you who have commented or shared with me about your own inspiring journeys to good health.  You are so encouraging! We all have our own paths, our own choices, our own perfect fit.

So whether you are Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, “just trying to get rid of some of the junk” or working up the courage to make a change, you can do it! We are all in this together. ❤️

A New Cookbook

A New Cookbook

My family should be afraid, very afraid…I got an new cookbook. In years past, a new cookbook for me meant fun new recipes to try and delicious meals for everyone for days on end. Now, it is different. My new cookbook embraces my new eating style. My son is ready to stay with friends, permanently.

img_3435.jpgTonight I made my first recipe.

Better Burgers

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They actually came out really well. Not as good as a big, juicy, charbroiled beef burger, but if that’s what you want, well, this blog is NOT for you. They did have a slightly meaty texture from the mushrooms and the walnuts added a little crunch.

Here is the recipe.  If you look closely you can see that I have already wrinkled the page by getting it wet. All my cookbooks are like that. I consider it a testament to the fact that they are used. *sigh*

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To begin, I used the food processor to chop 24 oz of mushrooms, which came out to roughly 6 cups when done.

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Then I mixed the oats, chopped walnuts and the seasoned tomato paste mixture in a separate bowl.

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It smelled a bit like traditional meatloaf while I was mixing it up.

I used fresh spinach (about 1/2 a bag) instead of frozen, then rough chopped it and added in at the end of cooking the mushrooms.

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Then, I combined everything.

IMG_3428One thing that still trips me out, when cooking vegan, you can sample as you go and adjust as needed. Not something you can do when cooking with raw eggs and meat! I found the mixture to be a bit bland so I added an additional teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, Himilayan Pink salt and black pepper in addition to the spices called for.

When forming the patties, I followed the directions exactly, and using 1/3 cup mix to form the patties I actually came out with 12, not 8.

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Haha, the little guy in the top left corner got a little short changed, but I digress.  They held together nicely, although I have to say the initial flip (half way through baking) was a little precarious. I almost ruined the first one trying to flip carefully. The second one I jabbed the spatula under it like a short order cook at the dinner rush and it behaved perfectly.

While I would not say it was the best thing ever, it WAS good. I served mine as a lettuce wrap, smothered in guacamole, with fresh tomato, red onion, a liberal sprinkle of Mrs. Dash Table Blend, and some spicy mustard.

A very acceptable dinner and I will be making it again.

Now I’m tempted to try one of the desserts…

 

 

The Gift of Friendship

I know I have said before how important friendship is, especially when it comes to support during big changes. May I just say again, my friends rock!

We just got home from our end of year potluck with our small group at church. Oh, how I love our group! We sat together and laughed, talked, shared stories and Pinterest Pins, and some amazing food.

All 3 of the vegans in the group actually had some great food to choose from. I made the Vegan Nachos. They seemed to be a hit, even with the carnivores in the group.  My friends Stacy made baked veggie chips. The fact that they didn’t turn out and she had to throw them away doesn’t detract, even slightly, from the fact that she made them to include those of us eating vegan.

Then, there was Melinda. My dear, wonderful friend, Melinda. My vegan buddy.  She made the most bomb chili and she brought dessert. For me. *insert contented sigh here*

I immediately went into fits of rapture, followed by bouts of euphoria as I nibbled on the decadent sweet treat. (No, really. I may or may not have danced a little as I ate it.)

What was this heaven on earth?

Banana bread!

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You don’t realize how much you miss sweet, baked goodies until the are gone. I have tried to make a few things, but with my current list of restrictions, it is difficult to find good recipes. Make that almost impossible.

Melinda found this recipe and baked a loaf, hoping against hope it would be good. It was. Epically so.  The texture is moist and bready and not too dense. It tasted like banana bread!

My friend, Deanna, brought home made date butter and gifted some to our pastor’s wife, who then opened and shared the love. Oh, the bliss of spreading the caramelly sweetness onto a second piece of banana bread.  Thanks for sharing, Sabina.

I am home tonight with my tummy full of happiness and love, courtesy of my awesome friends. Thanks to them, I successfully navigated my first potluck.  And I won’t hate myself tomorrow!

❤️

 

Winning at Losing

Winning at Losing

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This evening, I hosted an appetizer party at my house. I served Potstickers with Hoisin Sauce, Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara and Ranch, a Sushi platter, Mini Quiche and Virgin Mojitos. I didn’t eat any of it. I wasn’t even tempted!

 

In a nod to my newfound veganism, I also made cucumber, hummus and tomato hors d’oeuvres and a fresh fruit tray. Those I enjoyed heartily!

What a change for me! Usually, I would have nibbled and snacked my way through the preparations, fueled by coffee and little else. Then, I would have had a plate with my guests and then snacked on the leftovers during clean up. Especially because I am an emotional eater and this week has been busy and a little overwhelming. I would have eaten my feelings into oblivion.

Instead, I had plenty of energy all day, even though I never went near a cup of coffee. I cooked for others and, for the first time, didn’t feel sad that I wasn’t going to be eating any of it. I did not feel deprived. I am starting to rock this vegan thing.

My palate has completely changed. What I used to find slightly bland and tasteless, I now find bursting with fresh, clean flavors. Fruit tastes sweeter, savory items have more depth of flavor.  I have to say, I am surprised at how completely delicious simple things can be.

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I enjoyed these simple little hors d’oeuvres so much I will be making them for quick, cool dinners this summer. They are so easy! All you need is:

1 package grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 small tub hummus

1 large cucumber

Using a potato peeler, shave long strips of skin off the cucumber, leaving it striped. Slice cucumber into 1/4″ thick rounds. Place on serving plate or tray.

Spoon hummus into a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip of your choice or spoon into a sandwich bag and cut one corner off.  Squeeze about a quarter size amount of hummus onto cucumber rounds.

Top with halved grape tomatoes.

Boom. Done. Amazing.

PS – 24.5 pounds gone and my pain continues to diminish. I can get used to this winning at losing.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Nachos – AKA The Potluck Conundrum

It’s the end of the school year. Things are beginning to wrap up and the end of the year parties are upon us. Cue the potlucks (and the anxiety!) Don’t get me wrong; who doesn’t love tables laden with naughty no-nos?

So, how do I traverse this rocky road of social pressure and temptation with grace? Everyone will be offering me bites of Aunt Martha’s famous chocolate cream pie or a scoop of 7-layer dip. And almost invariably there will be Doritos. Mmmm, Doritos… but I digress.

I will need to bring something that translates well to the non-vegan crowd, yet still works for me.

Time to hit Pinterest!

*scrolling through hundreds of recipes*

OK, so this is what I have come up with…

Nachos!

VEGAN nachos to be precise.

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Of course, I have to make adjustments. This recipe has turkey meat. Healthy for some, just not for me. I think I will sub out the turkey and replace it with a mixture of Quinoa Taco Meat and black beans. I will garnish with guacamole and probably take the grated sharp cheddar on the side.

I do have to say, though, the potluck I am going to on Sunday is for my small group at church, and my friend, Melinda (also a no-to-pretty-much-everything vegan like myself) will be there. We get to coordinate so both of us will actually have more than one legal and delicious thing to eat. Yay!

Have I mentioned how important friends are in this process!?!?!?

So, go, friends, enjoy your potlucks. I know I will.