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!

 

Seitan Sandwich & ChipsDSC_5871

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!

 

Hot & Spicy Mexican Rice with Avocado & MangoDSC_5937

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.

 

Savory Veggie FryDSC_6116

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.

 

Fashion Plates

Fashion Plates

Do you have a uniform?  My sister the fashionista, tells me that my uniform is always jeans or shorts,  T-shirt and flip flops.  “Its always some boring top and and some boring jeans with you, you need to wear more skirts and dresses…do something different…”

My mom had a uniform, in the 70’s, she wore kaftans at home, yes, like Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company.  When she went out, she wore polyester pants and and some type of hippie-ish top like many of the other moms.  Oh those bell bottoms.

Our neighbor had a uniform, in the 80’s, it was a matching mauve or hot pink leisure jacket with teal and white stripes and matching pants with elastic cuffs.  Her shoes of choice were white Reeboks.

My grandfather in India had a uniform.  He wore a white cotton kurtha top and matching panchi everyday, (a panchi is a South Indian sarong worn by mostly older men).   His clothes and mere presence were the stuff of legend.  His clothes always looked clean, crisp and regal.

I saw a guy the other day sporting a tank top and crazy print weight lifter balloon pants.  Wonder if that uniform is new or actually from 1989?

All the other stay at home moms I know have a uniform too.  Yoga pants or capri pants, some type of Dri-fit top and athletic shoes.  I think this getup is the modern day leisure suit.  Some of my friends admit to wearing the same clothes they slept in and not showering daily.  I know, I expressed the same mouth open outrage when I heard also.  I guess they’re saving water and leaving a smaller carbon foot print?

I like my uniform.  It is comfortable, transitions from morning carpool to Trader Joe’s to volunteering at school to coming back home to create art.

I would love to wear more dresses and dressy clothes in general.  However, as a free lance illustrator and stay at home mom, dressing  up daily doesn’t fit my schedule.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I do dress up for special occasions, parties and going out with the ladies.  I am working on moving away from my comfort zone for fun and giggles.  I may have to sport an off the shoulder top on my next girls night out!

 

 

A quick and easy recipe that never goes out of style.

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Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts

1 Bag of shaved Brussels Sprouts (mine is a 10 oz. bag)

2 t Garlic powder (I like a lot of garlic, you can cut back of course)

1/2 t Black Pepper

Salt to taste

Olive oil spray

 

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Wash and drain Brussels sprouts.

Spray olive oil spray evenly to coat a metal sheet pan.

Arrange the sprouts flat on the sheet pan.

Spray with oil spray to coat all the pieces.

Bake for 10 minutes and check them to make sure the smaller pieces aren’t burning.

With a flat spatula, turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes.  Ovens vary, so if the sprouts don’t look fully cooked, leave them in for another 3-5 minutes.

Once they are out of the oven, sprinkle garlic powder, black pepper and salt.  These come out really tasty.  Some pieces are crispier than others.

Mellow

Mellow

I am not sure when it happened to me or when it happens to others.  As I mark another birthday and shake my head at yet another mole or spot on my face, I realize that I am now mellow.   Mellow can mean:  aged, cured, developed, rounded, seasoned, cultured or smooth.  To me, it means that I am much more easy going than I was in my younger days.

As a kid, there is so much pressure on perfection and learning things properly.  Aaah, the exuberance of youth!  I see my kids always wanting things to be perfect or to be the best at something.  My 12 yr old son has to have all his electronics devices in a certain way.  My 9 yr old daughter has to have her stuffed animals in a particular order when she goes to sleep.  And both of them love organizing their backpacks in their own way.  Heaven forbid, mom puts a water bottle in the wrong place.  Their motivation makes me smile.

As teenagers, we still have all that energy, only we pretend we are too cool to care.  My room was my sanctuary during my teens.  My two younger sisters and parents were not allowed to loiter.  All my favorite bands and actors were on my wall in the coolest arrangement of course.  A mean comment from one of my friends would send me into a sad brooding spiral.  “How could she?!!”

In my twenties, it was all about eloping (that’s another post), career paths, promotions and graduate degrees. No pressure or need for perfection there…right?  What I remember about my twenties is that B and I worked really hard and played hard too.  Everything just mattered so much more.

My kids came along in my thirties.  I had to make the agonizing decision to quit working and be a stay at home mom.  Being first time parents is really hard.  I remember torturing my family when they came to see the kids as babies.

“Did you wash your hands?”

“Is this one of the sterilized bottles?”

“That is a choking hazard…!”

I went from that to “You can still eat that…we have acids in our tummies that kill germs.”

In my forties, I really just don’t care about all the things I used to obsess about.   I tell my kids that they need to relax, that other people have it much harder and to stop complaining.  By now, all my family members know each other really well.  We used to push each others buttons in our younger days.  Nowadays, we still push buttons but less frequently and then say something nice afterwards…

And my friends, many of them are still neurotic about things.  They stress about aging, botox, kids and keeping up with the neighbors.  But many of them have also mellowed just like me.  It’s funny that words of wisdom from the past can help us throughout life.  My karate teacher told me “stand tall and be proud”.  One of my uncles told me “health is wealth”. And a teacher once told me “be thankful for what you have.”  And I tell my kids “do your best, if it doesn’t work out, try again, if it still doesn’t work out, move on to something else .”

 

Mellow Drinks

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Bourbon Hot Chocolate

 

Bourbon Hot Chocolate

3 T Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate or any sweetened chocolate

6 oz Water

1 oz Bourbon

Heat water in a pan until boiling or microwave in a mug for two minutes.   Add chocolate and make sure it dissolves completely.  Add Bourbon.  Viola!

 

 

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Rum & Coconut Cooler

 

Rum & Coconut Cooler

1 C Orgain High Protein Almond Milk or nut milk of your choice.

1 T Coconut Sugar

1 t Coconut Flakes Unsweetened

1 oz Rum

This is a cold drink.  Combine all of the ingredients together, paper umbrella optional.

 

 

Unbearable Lightness of Being

Unbearable Lightness of Being

Rain is sprinkling lightly.  I am gearing up to run.  A little rain is not going to spoil my workout.  I try to run at least three days a week, usually 25+ miles a week. There are two days that I bike with my workout buddy, M.  Running has been a must for me since I was 14 years old.  It helped me lose weight as a teenager and has become a necessity like air or water.  Most people who don’t run always ask me how I run by myself and why I run so many miles.  The simple answer is “I feel like a million bucks.”  I have this “lightness” after my runs.  I like to call it an “Unbearable Lightness of Being”.  Yes, it is a runner’s high, endorphins…There is a Daniel Day Lewis movie by the same name, but that lightness is not from running!

I wish I could bottle that feeling so my friends, who always shake their heads at me, can feel it too.  If they did, I bet they too would take up running or biking.  This feeling lasts all day.  On the days that I don’t run or bike, I don’t feel light.  Unfortunately, I can’t run everyday because I have a metal plate and six screws in my left leg, (that’s another post!).

M and I have both suffered from overuse injuries this spring and summer.  These injuries are fixable through physical therapy.  Both of us are working through them and injuries are not a reason to stop moving.  When one of us could not run or bike, we walked.  Walking is a great exercise.  It certainly takes longer to walk than run, but it still moves major muscle groups and burns calories.  And the best part, it gets the heart rate up and results in that “unbearable lightness of being”.  Now, I can’t tell you at what mileage or how long it will take for you to feel “lightness”.  Each person is different and therefore, it will be a pleasant discovery for you.

According to most health experts, a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy.  In my suburbia, we don’t walk very much.  Most people drive to their gym and drive elsewhere.  Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are very sedentary.  My mom and dad were really surprised to see how many steps they got in a day.  Their inexpensive Fibit clips have motivated them to get 10,000+ steps a day.  My mom is now understanding how good it feels to walk.  She has lost a few pounds, but isn’t feeling the “lightness” yet.  It takes time and patience.  I like to encourage her everyday because it will happen and she will feel it!  I have included one of my easy post workout snacks below.

 

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

2 T Jif Peanut Butter Powder

2 T Trader Joe’s Chocolate Hemp Powder

1 T Nesquick or Cadbury’s sweetened Chocolate Powder

1.5  C So Delicious Xtra Protein Vanilla Almond Milk or your milk of choice

Based on the nutrition label on each product, I calculated about 235 calories and 16 g protein.

Combine all ingredients in an immersion blender or regular blender and enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are holding the key

You are holding the key

“How do you do it”?

“How do you have the self-control”?

These are questions I get asked all the time about not just being plant based, but portion control and staying fit.  These are not easy questions to answer.  We are all different and what works for me may not work for you.  I can however, provide you with some habits that I formed in my teens.  During my senior year in high school, I lost fifteen pounds and have kept it off using portion control and running.  This post is about eating, I will talk about fitness in my next post.

Eating a meal should be only that.  Just eat, don’t do anything else.  Don’t multi-task.  Look at your plate and pay attention to your food.  Enjoy the taste and get the satisfaction and nourishment that it provides.

Eat sitting down.  When you are eating anything,  a meal or even a snack or having a drink, sit down.  Don’t stand when you are eating or drinking.  Take the time to look at what you are eating and drinking.

When you are still craving more of what you just ate, change the taste.  For example, when I am craving more potato chips and I have already eaten two servings, I wait.  I drink some water, then eat something with a completely opposite taste like cherries, or vegan yogurt or sorbet.   I forget the taste of the salty, fatty chips because I have tasted something else.

Portion out your food.  I know this piece of advice gets such a bad rap and a bad reaction from people.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with measuring or weighing out serving sizes.   Eating snacks like chips out of a bag usually means overeating because of their small serving size.  Serving sizes for potato chips are usually around 150 calories for 28 grams or around 14 chips.  I usually lose count after 4.  I have an inexpensive food scale and measuring cups/spoons.

Eat your meals on smaller plates.  I have both 10 and 8 inch plates.  But I always use the 8 inch plates.  This optical illusion works by tricking my mind into thinking my plate has runneth over.

Not having bags of readily available junk food forces me to make my own snacks.  If I am feeling too lazy to cook, I end up eating a fruit or doing something else besides eating.  See below for an easy yet healthy smoothie bowl.

I am not perfect by any means.  We all have good days and bad days.  But starting with a health eating goal in mind everyday is really important.  Do your best and try to stick with your eating goals everyday.  It will pay off eventually.  Good eating habits and physical fitness can help with weight loss and improve health.  It won’t happen overnight, it takes time and patience to change behavior and break lifelong habits.  Next post is all about moving!

 

Easy Smoothie Bowl

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There are thousands of great smoothie bowl recipes.  This one is easy, lower in calories and high in protein.  I did not have any of my favorite berries to add when the above picture was taken, but feel free to top with blueberries or strawberries.

1 container Silk soy yogurt (or your favorite low fat yogurt)

4 T Trader Joe’s Chocolate Hemp Powder

1 T unsweetened Coconut Flakes

Around 8 Pistachios (mostly crushed or whole if you prefer)

In a bowl, mix yogurt and hemp powder together.  Top with coconut, pistachios and fruit.  Enjoy!

Using the nutrition labels provided on all the ingredients, I calculated this smoothie bowl at approximately 310 calories with 15 g of protein.

 

 

Easy Peasy

Easy Peasy

Savory Cauliflower and Channa Masala

These two dishes are favorites of mine because they are easy yet delicious.  I love Indian food, but I don’t always have the time or ingredients for “by the book”, authentic recipes.  Therefore, I make Indian inspired dishes.  Keeping meals healthy and low calorie is really important to me.  Many of my recipes could be made with additional oil for example, but I limit the oil and use oil spray.  I hope you like these simple recipes.

Savory Cauliflower

1 head of Cauliflower

1 medium Onion diced

1 t Cayenne pepper

4 cloves Garlic diced

1/4 t garlic powder

4 T Nutritional yeast

1 T Sunflower Oil

1 t Salt  or to taste

Olive Oil spray or equivalent

Green onions pieces to garnish

 

Wash and clean cauliflower.  Cut the cauliflower into 2 inch pieces.  Place cauliflower into a large pan with about an inch of water.  Cover and let cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Check to make sure that all pieces are cooked and let the cauliflower cook a few more minutes if needed.  Drain water and transfer onto a large plate.

While the cauliflower is cooking, dice onion and garlic.

I like as little cleanup as possible and like the reuse pans whenever I can.  In the same pan, on medium heat, add sunflower oil and diced onion.  Cook until the onions are soft.  Add garlic and cook for maybe two minutes until the garlic is soft, making sure the garlic is not burning or turning dark brown.

Then, add a layer of cauliflower, spray with olive oil spray.  Sprinkle half the amount of garlic, cayenne pepper and salt.  Add a second layer of cauliflower and repeat the olive oil spray, sprinkle the remaining garlic powder and salt.  Let the cauliflower cook with the spices and salt for an additional five minutes making sure that all the pieces are coated.

Add nutritional yeast and make sure the yeast coats the cauliflower evenly.  I like the yeast because it adds protein and an extra layer of taste.

Garnish with pieces of green onion and serve with your favorite bread, vegan garlic naan or parantha.

 

Channa Masala

1 Can of Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed

2 Medium Tomatoes, chopped

1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

1 t Garam masala (found in the spice section or at your local Indian grocery)

1/2 t cayenne pepper

1/2 t salt or to taste

Oil spray or equivalent

 

Cover the bottom of a medium sauce pan with oil spray.

Add garlic and ginger.  Cook for about three minutes on medium heat making sure they don’t burn.

Add tomatoes and cook until they get really soft and release a little water.

Add garam masala and cayenne and cook for another 3 three minutes or so.

Add garbanzo beans and salt, mix thoroughly.

Serve with your favorite bread, (vegan naan, pita, parantha or tortilla)

 

Please see picture above for both dishes.

 

 

Cooking?!

Cooking?!

Cooking and creating new recipes is one of my passions.  Although the experts say that eating less highly processed foods and more whole foods is healthier, its not always that easy.  Even with my nutrition and dietetics management background, it can be challenging.  Hectic schedules don’t always allow for “made from scratch” cooking.  And weekend bulk prep doesn’t always work  for all recipes.  I try to buy organic milk, meat and eggs whenever I can, but of course that rule is broken with fast food joints that my husband takes the kids to.  I try to stick with organic fruits and vegetables, but that’s not always possible.  Sometimes, the non-organic items may be fresher than the organic ones or not be available at the time.

I have managed to find a “middle of the road plan” for my family.  In our house, I make plant based food for myself, kid friendly meals for my 12 and 9 yr old and meals for my husband.  That may sound daunting, but our Venn diagrams do overlap with some foods! And, my husband does enjoy a lot of my vegan dishes.

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Seitan Sandwich with Korean BBQ Sauce, Spinach, Tomato and Black Pepper Chips

My kids have become interested in making their own food these days.  Cooking on the weekends has become a favorite activity with my 9 yr old who always bugs her older brother to help.  She always cajoles him into joining in.  Whether its Trader Joe scones or grilled cheese, they want to do it themselves.    They are allowed to make things like waffles, toast, PBJ’s and eggs with minimal supervision.  They have also acquired some knife handling skills with supervision of course.  They are not allowed to turn on any appliance unless an adult is present.  Both kids have been super picky eaters in the past, but they have opened up to salads, tomatoes and nuts from helping me cook.  I am not sure how long they will be interested in cooking.  But, here’s hoping they learn a few skills and acquire new tastes that will take them through life!

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Hot and Spicy Mexican Rice with Avocado and Mango

I have gotten many recipe requests from friends.  Therefore, I am working on a recipe gallery.  Most of them are plant based, easy and take about 30 minutes.  I hope you will find some of these dishes helpful and delicious as I do!

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Savory Veggie Fry with Spinach, Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper