Tag: weight loss

Protein Monster Vegan Enchiladas

Protein Monster Vegan Enchiladas

It has been a full five months and I am still amazed at the power of food over our bodies. I am so grateful that we have stuck with it and allowed ourselves to experience the awesome side affects that come with this way of life.

5 months ago, my first day of Veganism also coincided with the day I took my daughter to LA for a campus tour. I have shared that story before. To sum up, it was awful. I was riddled with pain, and I had a hard time walking. I barely made it up the single flight of stairs to see the upper level of the school

Last Friday was student orientation, so I accompanied my daughter, once again, to school. What a difference. We ended up walking a total of 6 miles and took a total of 18 flight of stairs.  I did it with NO PAIN!  My usually painful knees didn’t even protest a little bit, even as I was climbing. I am so in love with the energy and lack of pain!

That being said, the food is still pretty boring sometimes. I occasionally need something new.

I decided I was in the mood for enchiladas tonight. I sighed as I perused Pinterest, trying to find something that would work. I wasn’t excited about baking, since it has been hot and uncharacteristicly humid here in SoCal but I really wanted some!

Cue Protein Monster Vegan Enchaladas.

The picture was totally enticing and they seemed like something that would taste really good.

img_4030.png They also seemed easy to modify. Gluten free corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas and leave out the oil and we are good to go.

The enchalada sauce was amazingly easy to make and equally amazing in the taste department. Win!

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I bloomed the spices (sautéing them in a bit of broth instead of oil to release the flavors), then mixed in the tomato paste and oat flour to form a thick paste before thinning it out with veggie broth and simmering for about 8 minutes. So easy!
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The filling was a snap, too.  Beans, veggies, hemp seeds (which are a great source of protein) and seasonings made up the bulk of it.

img_4031-2img_4032-1I sautéed the onion and red pepper while I rinsed the beans and got together all my other ingredients.I cheated and used canned organic Roma tomatoes because I was totally out of fresh and since I was in pajama pants and did not wish to alter this highly comfortable state of affairs, running to the store was out of the question. Everything went into the pan together and I warmed it through for about 5 minutes.

I put a ladle of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, then spooned in the filling. I used about 5 corn tortillas to cover the top and then spooned over all the rest of the sauce over the top.

I covered mine with foil before baking for 1/2 hour, since I didn’t want them to dry out and there was no cheese to seal in the moisture.

I didn’t even bother to take a picture of the final product. It wasn’t NEARLY as pretty as the Pinterest picture. I believe I have mentioned before, I go for taste, not presentation.

We enjoyed them. Some of us more than others. I felt the filling was a little on the bland side. I try not to use too much salt, though, so I guess that goes with the territory. I covered mine with an obscene amount of jalapeños and garnished with fresh avocado. That made them awesome.

I think I might make them again.

I will definitely be making the sauce again. It was delicious! I kept sticking my finger in the pan, stealing taste after taste.

I may even make some up to use on our bean and rice bowls, just to kick them up.

Even though I find myself getting bored, occasionally, I really wouldn’t change this style of eating for the world.

If you have been considering a change in your diet for health reasons, I have three words for you.

Just do it.

Taking on Comfort Food

I miss comfort foods. I have Southern roots and nothing says happiness to me like fried chicken with mashed potatoes, homemade mac ‘n cheese and biscuits dripping with real butter. Yeah, since that’s not going to happen (I don’t care HOW BIG of a food magician you are, you are not replicating fried chicken deliciousness into oil-free vegan food in any meaningful way.)

I did take a stab at the mac ‘n cheese tonight and was very pleasantly surprised. It was actually really creamy and tasted close enough to the real thing that I got positive responses all the way around the table.


Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese by Veggie Inspired was exactly what I was looking for. It has NO nutritional yeast (hooray!) and I had all the ingredients (including the butternut squash) already in my pantry, so I was excited to try it.
It was actually pretty simple, too!I peeled my squash, scraped out the seeds and cut it into 1″ chunks. I then cut up some sweet onion and threw them in a pot with water to boil until tender. It look close to 20 minutes since I chose to double the recipe. While those were simmering I placed blanched almonds into a bowl and covered with boiling water to soften.IMG_3955The recipe actually calls for cashews, but since my daughter is allergic I substituted it out.I loved the spices that’s this recipe called for. Garlic powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, pepper, salt and citrus (I used lime instead of lemon.) img_3957The recipe also called for nutmeg. My family usually isn’t a fan of nutmeg in savory dishes, but I usually try and follow the recipe the first time out the gate, so I did add 1/2 of the called for nutmeg. Fresh is best, but very potent, which is why I didn’t use the whole amount. I’m glad I did. It was perfect! I wouldn’t change it a bit. img_3966Once the squash and onions were soft, everything went into the blender. I blended it for quite a while, probably a good 3 minutes or so to get it light, fluffy and perfectly smooth.

I had pre-cooked the quinoa macaroni so once the sauce was creamy enough for my liking, I blended it all together.

Awesome!

The tangy zing from the citrus and mustard was just the thing my taste buds have been missing. I made a double recipe and we only have one small serving left! I served it with steamed broccoli and fresh fruit.

Everyone agreed this is going into the dinner rotation.

I also loved that this was ready in around 40 minutes, start to finish.

Also, I just busted out the size 12 pants last night. Can I get a woot woot?!?!

All I Wanted Was Pizza

Ah, Pizza. Filled with gluten, cheese and meat. So lucious… So NOT a part of my healthy eating plan.

Last week I was craving pizza something fierce, but actual pizza smells gross to me now. The greasy cheese smell actually turns my stomach a bit. Such a sad state of affairs. I went to my trusted standby, Pinterest, and pulled a couple of different recipes to come up with something that fit the bill. The result was actually very tasty!


I combined several recipes to come up with the finished product. The first recipe was for the crust. Vie de La Vegan’s Lentil Pizza Crust.  It was actually very simple and delicious.

I placed 2 cups of dry red lentils in my VitaMix and blended to form a fine flour. I sifted the final results to keep the bigger, unground pieces out of the crust.

I seasoned the flour with 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp Italian seasoning…

… although my lovely glass bottle of Organic Italian Seasoning shattered on the floor, because I am awesome like that. *sigh* I had to use a leftover plastic bottle of Walmart brand I had left in the back of my cupboard. Not ideal, but whatever!
I mixed up the dry ingredients with 2 cups of water.I placed the batter on a hot griddle and swirled it flat with the back of a spoon.

3 minutes on one side and another 2 on the other until they were done.I set them aside and made some Pumpkin Seed Pesto. Pulse 1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) with 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast, and salt and pepper to taste, in the blender. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup olive oil, but I only used about one Tablespoon and the rest water. Blend but don’t liquefy.

Be sure to use fresh basil. You won’t get the same flavor using dried. I had to strip my little kitchen garden plant bare. Poor little thing!

Once it is blended you will have a nice creamy pesto. It is actually much more delicious than I had hoped!  Spoon directly onto the pre-cooked lentil pizza dough. I topped mine with fresh, thinly sliced tomatoes and sliced olives. I wasn’t sure how everyone would feel about the pesto, and since I had some leftover marinara sauce with sautéed mushrooms from the night before, I got a little creative and made a second batch with Cashew Cheese and olives.

The cashew cheese does require a bit of forethought, since the cashews need to be soaked overnight (or at least two hours) before you blend them, but I usually have cashews presoaked in my fridge since I use them so often.  The recipe says you can also boil them for 10 minutes to soften them, but it seems like that might kill some of the nutrients and I am all about the nutrients! To each his own.

Blend 1/2 cup soaked cashews (drained), 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I prefer the vinegar and in fact used 1 Tbsp.), 1 1/2 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. garlic and 1/2 tsp pepper in a high speed blender until smooth. You can add a bit of water if needed to get it to blend properly. Pour the mixture into a pan and place over medium heat. Stir until mixture becomes a sticky, cheese-like texture. It doesn’t take long. 

Assemble the pizzas.


Place the pizzas in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until heated through.

We actually found the best way to eat them was a combination of the red sauce and the pesto with the cheese and toppings. It was really tasty!

A small side note that really isn’t so small for me; the end of this month marks 5 months of healthy eating. I am down 43 pounds and feeling great.

I know how much this has helped me and I sincerely hope it has been some encouragement to you, too.

Here’s to health!

Party Time

Party Time

Wow, 19 days since my last post. I have been a little busy I guess. I had a house full of family visiting and it was amazing, but didn’t leave me much time for extracurricular activities. My sister, nephew and mom were all visiting from out of state and my dad stayed the weekend to join in the fun. My house was bursting at the seams, and so was my heart.

During the nearly 2 weeks of fun, we had a chance to jointly celebrate FOUR birthdays and my daughter’s graduation from high school. It was quite a party.

I tried quite a few recipes and most were fairly successful.

We have varying degrees of veganism/healthy eating in my family now. Everybody has their own needs which makes for interesting planning. My daughter is vegan, but doesn’t mind eating sugar, wheat and soy.  My mom was treating her visit like a vegan spa week, so she was eating along with us for the most part. She, however, has soy sensitivity. My sister has wheat sensitivity and eats very healthy, but includes animal products. My daughter’s boyfriend is a full on carnivore with an abhorrence for most of our vegan treats. Hahaha. My dad loves raw vegan but doesn’t have the same restrictions we do. We all know my son would be happy to binge on Cheezits and Oreos with a big glass of milk.  What’s a girl to do???

Get creative, of course! Behold my cupcake spread! Top left: Vegan organic double chocolate cupcakes with sweet potato fudge frosting Top right: vegan strawberry cupcakes with vegan “buttercream” Bottom: raw vegan chocolate avocado mousse tarts.

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This was the vegan side of the table. Notice my beautiful, go-to party appetizer, cucumber hummus and heirloom tomato bites. Mmmmmmm. I won’t even bother showing you the other side of the table. It was a train wreck of processed crackers, sweets and animal products.

I will provide links to the Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes and the Vegan Double Chocolate Cake with Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting. None of them were things I can eat, however. The only one I could eat was the Chocolate Avacado Mousse Tarts.  I modified them but I still wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome. Here is what I did:

The tart crust consisted of oats, raisens, almonds and cocoa powder. I ended up adding a bit of almond butter to help is stick together. 

I pulsed it until it was nice and sticky. I pressed it firmly into the bottom of cupcake liners and stuck it into the fridge to firm up.


While those were chilling, I made the mousse. It was simple to make. Avadado, dates, cacao powder, vanilla, water and coconut oil.

Even though I am usually oil free, I did use one teaspoon of the called for 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil to help it have the proper consistency.

Once it was ready, I spooned the mousse on top of the crust.I chose to forgo the lemon cashew cream (we eat something very similar on a weekly basis in the form of vegan sour cream and vegan ranch, basically savory versions of the same recipe) and went with unsweetened Whipped Coconut Cream instead. I used Trader Joe’s 100% coconut cream. The brand at Walmart had added ingredients that I did not want.

Top tip for Whipped Coconut Cream, make sure you have NO coconut milk mixed in with the the solid cream. Mine would not whip until I blotted the last of the liquid out of the bowl, then it worked. I only used a bit on top of each tart.

The verdict? Meh.

For next time I would actually use my Almond Joy Bites recipe for the crust. I was not a fan of the raisen crust.

I would also tone down the dates in the mousse. 1 full cup was a bit too sweet for me. All in all, not bad. Next time will be better.

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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. ❤️