Only on the weekends

Only on the weekends

My kids told me the that their Dad makes better grilled cheese and better chocolate milk than I do.  How can that be possible?  Well, he adds extra cheese and butter on the sandwich and extra chocolate in the milk of course!  As a family, our diet is mostly healthy and we eat out only once or twice a week.  However, I often find Oreos, Doritos, premixed chocolate milk, yogurt with candy pieces and ice cream of all varieties when my husband B. goes shopping.  I can’t even go on about the secret weekend donut/dessert runs.  These take place early in the morning on weekends when I am still asleep or out for a run.

I have told B. that taste is acquired for healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits.  While sugar is readily accepted by kids.  Kids have more taste buds and their taste buds are more sensitive.  Taste involves not just physical signals but sensory ones too. (Accounting for Taste)  We find food to be tastier if it is plated nicely on pretty dish or a fancy spoon.  Food appears attractive when it it is presented with garnishes.  We are already bombarded with images of unhealthy foods that are loaded in fat, calories and sugar.  And those images are not of fresh, whole foods that are unprocessed fruits, vegetables or grains.

With each meal, I try to include a fresh fruit or vegetable.  I would like my kids to be exposed to these tastes everyday.  Taste can be changed.  For example, people with health issues that are forced to cut back or sugar or salt, find the foods they used to eat previously taste too salty or too sugary after a few months.  The more we eat certain foods, the more we get used to the taste.

While I can’t stop B. from buying junk food, I do have solace in the fact that taste changes with age.  (Taste changes with age)  As we get older, the number of taste buds adults have decreases.  Adults have around 10,000 taste buds and kids have 30,000.  And, we are more inclined as adults to try new foods and new tastes.  Grown ups look at food not only from a taste perspective, but a health perspective also.  I am confident that my kids will eat better as they get older.  Both of them now eat tomatoes, lettuce, onions, olives, broccoli and green beans which was unheard of just a few years ago.

I can assure you that I am not the food police in our house.  With a Dietetics and Nutrition background and I know how to counter the unhealthy food.  I let them eat the unhealthy food, but in limited quantities.  Big desserts in our house are for the weekends only.  I adopted this rule from one of my daughter’s classmates who was lamenting how horrible her life was without weekday desserts.  Before you think I am a mean and awful Mom…during the weekdays, my kids drink chocolate milk for breakfast and lunch.  I pack a little something sweet in their lunch like a small cookie or chocolate.  And they eat a PB&J for lunch everyday at school (their favorite).  I know they will remember the “dessert on weekends only” with great fondness…hardship makes us stronger…right?!

The following recipe is a vegan Hot Artichoke Dip that even my kids love.  It is low in calories and big on taste.  I hope you like it.

 

Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip

2 cans of quartered Artichoke Hearts (14 oz cans)

2 T Vegan Mayonnaise (I use “Follow Your Heart” Veganaise)

2 T Nutritional Yeast

1 t Garlic Powder

1 t Salt

Drain the artichokes and add them to a food processor.  Add the Veganaise, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and blend until smooth.  If your dip is too thick, try adding a tablespoon of water or several as needed.  Empty into a serving bowl and microwave for one minute or empty into a pan and heat until hot.  I like to eat mine with veggies, toasted baguette slices or toasted pita/chapati/naan.

 

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Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip with Veggie & Baguette slices
Not Organic?

Not Organic?

A friend of mine assumed that I only consume organic food made from scratch. That is very far from the truth.  Unless you grow your own food, you are eating processed food.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are minimally processed and meat substitutes and nut milks are heavily processed.  Most of us don’t have the means or the knowledge to grow our own food.  Although I eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and whole grains,  I certainly do consume my fair share of seitan, pea protein, nut cheese and some soy based products.  I just don’t have to time to make my own.  With an active family and schedule, I don’t feel bad about that.

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Grilled Eggplant, Red Pepper & Red Onions

Fruits and vegetables do not have to be organic.  I used to follow the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) Dirty 15 rule  because it ranked produce with a percentage of pesticides found after harvesting.  But, according to the Journal of Toxicology (article), some pesticides are more toxic than others and they are not all equal.  So, I try to buy organic when possible.  But, sometimes stores are low in organic inventory or the non-organic produce looks fresher than the organic.  A good washing of non-organic fruits and veggies removes most pesticides.  Simply eating more fruits and vegetables is beneficial along with a balanced diet.

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Orgain Vanilla Almond Milk

My husband and my kids are not vegan.  They consume mostly organic eggs, milk, chicken and fish at home.  But, the kids get fast food when they are out with friends and we go to restaurants that do not serve organic meat and dairy.

According to the Washington Post, there are two main differences between organic and conventional animal products.  One is what the animals are eating and the other is the level of Omega 3’s.  I do care what the animals are eating and not so much about the Omega 3 levels.  (article)

Organic milk, eggs and meat come from cows that are pasture raised and grass fed and free range chickens that are not fed animal or poultry by-prodcuts.  I just feel better buying organic animal products, but when we go out…

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Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burger Salad.  See below for recipe.

As long as you are eating a diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruit and grains with some protein (animal or plant based), you are on the right track.  If that diet includes organic foods, even better!  I would love to be the perfect, puritanical, organic, and unprocessed vegan but I’m not and I’m okay with that!

Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burger Salad

1 package Morningstar Farms Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burgers (4 patties)

2 C Mushrooms, washed

2 Medium Tomatoes, washed

1 Medium Yellow or Red Pepper, washed and deseeded

2 T Garden Gourmet Basil Paste (or fresh basil if available)

2 T Olive Oil

1/2 t garlic powder

Salt to taste

Cook burgers according to the package.  While they are cooking, add olive oil, basil paste, garlic powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Chop mushrooms, peppers and tomato into one inch pieces.  When burgers are done cooking, cut them into one inch pieces and add them and the veggies to the mixture in the bowl.  Mix well so the dressing coats all the pieces and serve. This recipe serves two.

As Requested

As Requested

A lot of you have asked for my easy Veggie Chili recipe.  I have been making this Chili for years.  When I became a vegan three years ago, I switched to vegan meat crumbles.  The Morningstar crumbles contain egg whites and are not vegan.  I have also done a variation of this chili with onions too.  Saute the onions first before following the recipe.  This recipe is very simple and very delicious.  I hope you like it!

Veggie Chili

1 package Morningstar “Meat” Crumbles or Beyond Meat Vegan Crumbles

1 red or orange red pepper diced

1 can red bean kidney beans (washed and drained)

1 can tomato sauce

1 large tomato cut into half-inch pieces

1 tsp garlic powder

1tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Juice of half a lime

Red chili flakes to garnish

Salt to taste

Spray a medium pan with oil spray.  Add meat crumbles to the pan, on medium heat, saute the crumbles until soft and slightly browner, about 5-6 minutes.  Add diced peppers to the pan, let peppers cook with crumbles for about two minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, tomato, garlic, chili, cumin, lime juice and salt.  Stir the chili well.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about ten minutes.  Garnish with red pepper flakes  and serve with tortilla chips or warm tortillas.  If you are vegetarian, add some grated sharp cheddar or monetery jack cheese.  If you are vegan, add grated Chao vegan cheddar cheese.

 

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Small Steps

Small Steps

It is the middle of January.  While I haven’t been perfect in checking off everything in my New Year’s to do list, I am on the right track.

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On getting enough sleep:  I have made it to bed at 10:30 only once in the past two weeks.  My bed times have been between 11 pm and 11:30 pm.

On managing my time:  I am doing better on this one.  I have been finishing about 90% off my daily to do list.  However, I haven’t started meditation yet.  I did download several apps to help me do this.

On getting back to my usual running pace and mileage:  This one is going well.  I have managed to get back to doing physical therapy.   I am back to my usual mileage and the physical therapy is going to get me back to my usual pace.

Trying to improve my habits is going to take time and won’t happen overnight.  Small steps will lead to my goals.  I have to remember that each day is a fresh start and a chance to improve.  It’s funny that I am so disciplined in certain areas of my life such as my Vegan diet, exercising and managing the household.  But I slack off with sleep, time management and physical therapy.

I am entering everything I need to do into my calendar.  This way, my schedule is on every device:  iPhone, iPad and Mac.  I have got reminders and alerts on items that involve others.  The calendar will help me become more mindful of what needs to get done.  Hope your New Year plans are going in the right direction also!

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A Brand New Year

A Brand New Year

The New Year is just days away.  Every year, I have friends and family who make resolutions.  Resolutions to change habits, lose weight, do more of something…the list goes on.  Many of them achieve success but many of them don’t make it past March.

I have never made New Year resolutions in the past.  But this year, I plan on improving myself.  The path to change is not easy right?  It is not enough to say “I want to change…”.  There needs to be a plan with details for change to happen.  Writing down the changes you want to make, may or may not help you.  This year, I am writing them down.

Change 1:  Get enough sleep.  Shut everything off and be in bed by 10:30 pm.

Change 2:  Manage my time better.  Write down a schedule for each day of the week because everyday is different.  I will use my calendar to help me from missing events and scramble last minute.

Change 3:  Get back to my usual running pace and mileage.  I have been plagued with injuries and simply need to do my physical therapy in order to improve certain muscles.  I have been blowing off my exercises and it has really affected the way I feel and how I run.

It is a brand new year and I want to make it count.  I want to make it an awesome year for me, my family and my friends.  Will keep you posted on how it is going!  (Pun intended…)

Are you planning on improving yourself this year?  How will you do it?

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Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Florida

 

 

 

Cauliflower Crush

Cauliflower Crush

 

I love cauliflower.  It tastes good, its satisfying and its low in calories.  This dish keeps me happy and keeps me from snacking after dinner.  I am always looking for new ways to make cauliflower.  Most of my recipes are unintentional.  Meaning, they come about because of what I have in my fridge or pantry!  This dish was accidental, but it is really good if you like spicy Buffalo sauce.  Other vegan buffalo cauliflower dishes have breading, but my version is tasty without the extra calories.  I may try a breaded version after I am back to running my usual mileage and injury free!

 

Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head of Cauliflower, washed and cut into 2 inch florets

2 T olive oil

1/4 C Buffalo sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot, mine is a grocery store brand)

4 T Nutritional yeast

1/2 t garlic powder

2-3 T water

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, coat cauliflower florets in the olive oil until all pieces are coated.

Roast cauliflower for about 20 minutes until they turn soft and have a little color on the tops. Turning them over once halfway, after 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as oven temperatures vary.

In a small bowl, mix together buffalo sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, water and salt.  If your sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon of water.

Pour the mixture on the hot cauliflower and serve with your favorite bread, grains or legumes.

This dish serves around 4 people.  And has approximately 130 calories per serving.

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Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

 

 

Holiday Greeting Cards

Holiday Greeting Cards

My Holiday 2016 Greeting Card collection is on deep discount at Zazzle!  Click on the cards below.

Thankful

Thankful

final.jpgHappy Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for:

My health.   Two weeks ago while running, I slipped on some leaves, twisted my ankle and fell.  It all happened in slow motion.  I didn’t just fall, I slid on my knees like it was third base.  Luckily I didn’t need stitches.  So, I am thankful that it wasn’t worse.

My mental health.  I am glad to be mellowing with age.  Those who are unkind are not my problem.  I know who I am, they have to reckon with themselves.

My family.  As much as they drive me bonkers, they are my everything.

My friends.  Goodness how they can be vexing!  I don’t always agree with their views or tastes, but they do entertain me.  And, I am thankful to those friends who listen to me and laugh at my jokes.

My followers.  Thank you for reading my thoughts, recipes and appreciating my art.

What are you thankful for?

 

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Already November?

Already November?

Hello November!  I can’t believe the year is almost over.  I have finally gotten around to writing down recipes from my previous blog post “Cooking”.  For those of you asking for those recipes…so sorry for the delay.

I cook by the seat of my pants.  Whatever is in the vegetable drawer or is close to expiring, dictates the meal!  When I was a Food Service Director, we operated very differently.  The menu drove inventory purchases.  We had a 4 week menu and usually didn’t deviate unless something was going bad.  Then of course, we had a daily special!  Why don’t I do the same thing at home?  Well, I guess I like the spontaneity and I may be a little lazy.  I hope these recipes help you.

I am always looking for ways to cut calories.  Feel free to substitute your favorite option.  You can get creative from one little idea which can turn into something quite delicious!

 

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This is my go to easy option for lunch.

2 slices of Nature’s Own 40 calorie Bread

3 slices of Field Roast Wild Mushroom Deli slices

1 medium Tomato sliced

Handfull of washed Spinach leaves

2 T House of Tsang Korean BBQ sauce

1 oz Kettle Black Pepper Potato chips

Spread BBQ sauce on both slices of bread, one tablespoon each.  Assemble seitan slices, tomato slices and spinach.  Devour with chips.  I like to stick the chips in my sandwich.  It doesn’t always look so pretty when I am eating the sandwich, but I really love the chips in the sammie!

 

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2 C cooked rice (I use Basmati, but any cooked white rice will do)

1 can Black Beans wash and drained

4 Medium Tomatoes chopped

1/4 C Green onions sliced thin

1/2 Mango cut into long slices

1/2 Avocado cut into long slices

1/2 large Lime juiced

1 t Garlic powder (adjust to your taste)

1 t Cayenne Pepper (adjust to your taste)

Salt to taste

In a large saute or frying pan, add rice, beans, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.  Mix well and heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add tomato and green onions, heat an additional two minutes.  Add salt, serve with mango and avocado slices.  I like to sprinkle the fruit with a dash of garlic, cayenne pepper, lime juice and salt also.  This recipe serves 1-2 people depending on their appetite.

 

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1 C Chickpea flour

4 C Baby Spinach leaves

1/2 Red Pepper diced

1 1/2 C Water

2 T Roasted garlic chunks or 1 t garlic powder

2 T Nutritional yeast

1/2 t cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Oil spray

Spray a medium frying pan with cooking spray.  On medium flame, add diced red pepper to the heated pan.  Cook peppers until soft.  Add spinach and let wilt.

While spinach is wilting, in a small bowl, add chickpea flour, water, cayenne pepper, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt.  Mix well, the batter should resemble thin pancake batter, however this batter will be gritty, not smooth.

Once the spinach has wilted, add flour mixture into pan, pouring evenly and let the mixture cook until solid.  Spray the top with oil spray.  The veggie fry will need to be turned over for both sides to cook.  With your spatula, quarter the fry and turn all four pieces over and spray with oil spray again.  Chickpea flour cooks quickly, I like to let mine form a slight crust.  This veggie fry is a nice alternative to scrambled eggs because chickpea flour is high in protein.  This recipe serves 2-3 people.