veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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So we meet again, Cauliflower.

Ok, so I know it’s been a while… I’ve really been a slacker when it comes to my veggiefueled obligations. I know I shouldn’t make excuses, but I’m going to anyways:

  1. We’re in the process of packing up our apartment
  2. We have some big life plans in the making (no, I’m not pregnant)
  3. I was employing the quality over quantity method…
  4. …Because I had writer’s block

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Proof of the craziness in my life, extra stressful because I thrive on neatness and order and shrivel up into a stressball in chaos

But enough with the excuses! Hopefully you can forgive me and we can reignite the flames of our reader/writer relationship.

For my “comeback” post I’m going to bring back an old favorite: Cauliflower! In my first recipe post, Cauliflower: The Ninja Food, I explained how cauliflower was the answer to my texture prayers. How it was the perfect “ground beef” alternative, providing great texture and flavor versatility.

Here is another Latin dish recipe, but this time a Cuban (rather than Mexican) favorite! I present to you… Cauliflower Picadillo. I came up with this one a while back (after I figured out that Cauliflower makes great taco filling). I wanted to figure out ways to incorporate the traditional Cuban dishes my mother made growing up into my new plant-based diet – and the result was a great success!

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Ingredients, missing the cauliflower because I had already started cooking before I remembered to take pictures.

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Yummy roasted cauliflower!

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Looks just like the real deal! But veggiefueled…

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Look at the crispiness on that thing… oh ya!

Cauliflower Picadillo

Preparation & Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Serving Size: 4-6 people

Ingredients*:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 large potato (diced)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped fine)
  • 1 small green pepper (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Oil for roasting & sautéing

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut cauliflower into small pieces and coat LIGHTLY with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until tender.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare vegetables (potato, onion, green pepper and garlic).
  4. When the cauliflower is done, crumble into smaller (ground beef size) pieces, place in bowl and combine with the oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
  5. In a large pan sauté the onion, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft (about 5-7 min)
  6. Add the cauliflower mixture, vegetable broth, and tomato sauce. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the diced potato. Cover and cook another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are done.
  8. Remove the cover. Cook uncovered around 15 minutes or until the liquid is fully evaporated but the mixture is still moist.

*Note: I do not like olives AT ALL; however they are a big part of the traditional recipe. Feel free to add green olives during step 7.

This last time I actually ended up making empanadas after letting the mixture cool. I just used store-bought (vegan-friendly) pastry dough, but will make my own dough next time. Unfortunately, while the dough was “vegan-friendly,” the ingredients listed looked more like a science experiment rather than something I should be eating. Definitely not something I would want to eat all the time. BUT to make things a little better, I did bake the empanadas instead of fry and they came out super crispy and delicious.

But honestly, the best way to serve picadilllo is over some freshly made rice (brown is healthier, but white tastes so much better), with a side of sliced bananas. I like to pair it with a delicious Haas Avocado & Heirloom Tomato salad. Super simple recipe, and so delicious!

Avocado & Heirloom Tomato Salad

 Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 Haas avocado
  • 1 medium / large heirloom tomato (or regular tomato)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop tomatoes into bite size pieces
  2. Chop avocado into bite size pieces
  3. Combine tomatoes, avocado, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper in a bowl
  4. Let sit to marinade while the rest of dinner is being prepared

Hopefully this really simple and delicious recipe makes up for me being M.I.A. for the last couple months. There are some big events coming up that will provide for some awesome blog posts… but until then I’ll have to settle for boring ‘ole recipes. ;-)

Enjoy.


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Recap of my Reboot: 3 day Juice Cleanse

After seeing the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead my husband and I just HAD to start juicing! It was so obvious that at the end of the documentary we just turned to each other with that knowing look, you know that one that says “we’re getting a juicer, right?!” So of course, like every other kitchen gadget we become fixated on, we purchased the Juice Fountain® Elite Breville Juicer. We were excited to try the thing out and get started on our first juice cleanse…

Fast forward to more than a year later… I just finished my first 3 day cleanse. Don’t get me wrong, we used the juicer somewhat regularly during the past year but never found the “right” time to give up eating. Every time we would consider starting a juice cleanse there was something in the way… like a pre-planned family dinner, or half marathon training, or just the fact that we didn’t really want to give up our beloved food for three days. You can say we dabbled in juicing, but it was until this past Monday that I really understood the benefits of juicing.

As I mentioned in my last post I got my wisdom teeth out last Thursday and already had to cut out solid foods. So after I decided to wean off the pain medication I decided to look into a juice cleanse. There was one tiny problem; I was on antibiotics for another 4 days. Internet to the rescue: I found multiple sources (here’s one) that actually claimed that a juice cleanse was a good supplement to antibiotics! So it had been settled, I was going to finally do that juice cleanse I had been talking about for over a year.

Sunday, June 9 (pre-cleanse)

Sunday was shopping and preparation day. I decided to do the Reboot with Joe: 3 day Reboot Quick Start plan. He includes all the information you need, including: why you should juice, how to get ready, calorie information, daily reboot guide, recipes, shopping list, exercise and possible side effects or symptoms.

It really is juicing made easy. Now for me I didn’t feel I needed to do the week long transition to prepare for juicing because I already follow a vegan, whole foods diet and therefore did not need to cut out processed foods, dairy or meat. If you don’t already follow this kind of diet I would suggest following his instructions to prepare. Otherwise, it may be a shock to your system and possibly a hindrance to successful completion.

Because I wanted to make juicing as easy as possible I decided to prepare all the juices ahead of time by putting the ingredients needed for each juice into a WholeFoods produce bag and labeling with the color of the juice. (You’ll see what I mean by “color” if you look at the reboot plan). Then I put together the bags for each day’s worth of juice.

I decided the best way to go about this plan was to juice a day’s worth of juices one night ahead of time. This would prevent me from having to juice in the morning which could get hectic quickly! I juiced the first day’s breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner juices on Sunday night. I would leave Monday’s dessert juice to be prepared on Monday night with Tuesday’s juices.

One quick note: I cheaped out on the coconut water because getting my typical Harmless Harvest brand coconut water would’ve cost me $15 total for the 3 days. The Naked brand ended up costing me $10 for two 33 oz containers, but it didn’t taste very good so I doubt I’ll drink the leftovers. I would say for future juice cleanses: if you’re not going to eat for 3 days, go ahead and splurge on your favorite coconut water!

So… juices made and my refrigerator full of “juice bags” for the next three days… I was excited to start my journey!

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Monday, June 10 (1st day of cleanse)

Weight: 113 lbs., Body Fat: 20.5%

Exercise: Stationary Bicycle

  • Was feeling great and excited to start the juice cleanse. Spent 35 minutes at high resistance, low speed and burned around 200 calories. Sweat my a$$ off, but it felt great after almost 4 days with no physical activity.

Emotional State: Excited

  • At this point in the juice cleanse I was really excited that I had actually started (and so far stuck with it). I knew that I couldn’t really eat much solid foods anyways so I was proud of myself for starting this plan. All the juices on this day ranged from “ok” to “amazing,” so I had a pretty good first day experience. Didn’t feel too bad at any point in the day and my stomach felt fine.

Tuesday, June 11 (2nd day of cleanse)

Weight: 110.8 lbs., Body Fat: 19.9%

Exercise: Yoga for flexibility

  • I was a little tired this morning. The night before I started to have a little bit of a stomach ache and headache. This kept me tossing and turning, unfortunately not the best night of sleep. I was too pooped to do the bicycle again so I opted for a short yoga routine found on YouTube.

Emotional State: Optimistic

  • I had lost the weight gained from eating ungodly amounts of almond butter after my surgery. I was starting to feel more firm and “cleansed.” After just a mild stomach ache the night before, I was still feeling great physically. But I was also starting to feel very tired and lethargic.

Wednesday, June 12 (3rd and final day of cleanse)

Weight: 109.2 lbs., Body Fat: 19.5%

Exercise: Haha

  • By this point in the juice fast I was exhausted. It felt like I was dragging along legs that were 100 lbs. each when I walked. I slept in and let my body recover.

Emotional State: Ugh, can this be over.

  • Well it was a mix of that and excitement that the juice cleanse seemed to be working. I lost more weight (will discuss in the very end). I was feeling very firm and tight. I’m pretty sure I had cleared out my system…  But the worst part was knowing that the very next day I could eat solid food again and the anticipation was killing me!

Thursday, June 13 (post-cleanse)

Weight: 108.2 lbs., Body Fat: 19.2%

Exercise: again, no… I got my beauty sleep. I’ll start tomorrow.

Emotional State: Excited

  • Now that I’ve done the juice cleanse I feel like I have a fresh new starting ground. I followed a 100% raw vegan diet for the past 3 days and am excited to keep the healthy going…

Along with the physical benefits from the juice cleanse I found that I had a few mental benefits as well. Here’s what I learned on the juice cleanse:

Often, “hunger” is mental - I found that after drinking a juice I was completely satisfied for a good 2 hours. Because I knew I couldn’t snack on other things I focused my attention away from food. On a typical day at work I usually feel that I am “hungry” every 10 minutes. Now, this could been that I wasn’t nourishing my body correctly (though I doubt it since my snacks were mostly fruits, vegetables and other healthy options). But my guess is that it was my mind wouldn’t stop thinking about the delicious food I had in my lunch box.

Weight & Such - I know that a lot of people (especially those who know me and know my size) will probably read this post and think it’s absolutely ridiculous that I lost 4.8 lbs. in three days.  I assure you, I have a healthy relationship with my weight, body and self-image.  Because of this relationship and confidence in myself I know my physical and athletic potential. The purpose of this juice cleanse was not to lose weight but to reset my body and give it a rest. I am well aware that the number on the scale does not define who I am nor does it give a true picture of one’s health. I know that almost 5 lbs. of weight loss is a lot in a small girl my size. But did YOU know that an average person holds about 5 lbs. of digesting food and waste in their body at a time (an unhealthy person 10 lbs. or more). So hopefully you can put two and two together…

Cravings are a signal - A lot of people view a vegan diet as restrictive (something I’ve discussed in my previous post Preaching to the Choir). So when I started to get cravings I fear that it’s due to this “restrictive” diet. That when you tell yourself you can’t have something you want it even more. For some reason a couple of weeks before my surgery I was starting to get lax with my typical healthy eating. Everything was still vegan, but I wasn’t getting as many vegetables, and therefore nutrients, as normal. After this juice cleanse all my cravings have gone away. In fact, I have an intensified desire to eat a very healthy, nutritious vegan diet. What I realized was that those cravings weren’t my body/mind acting out because of “restrictions” but rather my body’s cry for help that it needed certain nutrients. With juicing (an even further “restrictive” diet) I was able to restore my body’s nutritional needs. The next time I’m craving anything… I think I might make myself a nice big juice (or two).

I am strong - Somehow my husband’s discipline to work out is just crazy strong. No matter how late he stayed up the night before watching his Heat play, he still finds the strength to get himself out of bed the next morning. I seem to really struggle with this discipline. It’s not a lack of motivation or will. I am totally committed. But sometimes it’s hard for me to dig deep and have the mental toughness to get me through an early morning workout when I’m feeling sluggish. After finishing this juice cleanse (mind you, I did it alone) I realized that I do have mental strength and I can have the discipline I desperately seek. While my hubby was munching on delicious smelling, looking and knowingly tasty food… I drank my juice. I didn’t falter once. I’m proud to learn that I am strong.

Hopefully after reading this recap of my experience you’ll be inspired to try your own juice cleanse. Please know that I am in no way advocating it as a quick weight loss method, but instead a way to cleanse your body and start fresh. It’s a good way to clean out the toxins that build up through the years. I know that I plan on doing more juice cleanses in the future just to reset.

*Disclaimer - Everybody’s experiences with a juice cleanse may be different. I am not a doctor or medical professional. Please read all warnings and preparation guides when/if starting your own juice cleanse.*

Here’s a little extra for you if you’re curious about the different juice recipes. Below is a detailed juice review by color.

Orange

Carrot-Apple-Lemon - This one was quite tasty! In fact, delicious!! I would totally drink this as my “orange” juice in the mornings. In fact I told my husband that if I am ever a stay at home mom I promise to make this juice for our family every morning… it was that good…

Carrot-Apple-Ginger - Good, but I prefer the lemon. But if you’re a ginger person… this just might be your favorite morning juice.

Sunrise - I love beets, but I definitely wasn’t a fan of beets first thing in the morning, but it was tasty and filling. Not nearly as good (or sweet) as the other two “orange” juices

Green

Garden Variety - I’m already used to drinking green juices, so it wasn’t that bad. But I will say this one definitely wasn’t my favorite green juice.

Green Lemonade - Mmm mmm mmm! Move over mean green… this just might be my new favorite green juice! Nice and fresh. The spinach is a little bit hard to juice so I wrapped it in a kale leave and paired with celery when sticking in the juicer.

Joe’s Mean Green - This was the first juice recipe I had ever tried. It takes a little getting used to when you first start juicing, but I actually really enjoy the taste of this green juice.

Red

Un-beet-able - This one was pretty good. Somehow made an ungodly amount of juice (around 20 oz. instead of the typical 10-12 oz.). Also, I guess I should have mentioned this in the first beet juice recap, but to get rid of the “dirt” taste that often comes with beets I suggest cutting the ends and peeling off the skin.

Sporty Spice - Again, love beet juices… but this one not so much. However, might’ve been my fault entirely. I wanted to use up some leftover radishes and read that you can substitute radishes for beets in a juicing recipe. So instead of two beets I made it with 1 beet and a bunch of radishes. Oh ya, and I ran out of celery so I used a couple slices of yellow bell pepper instead (which isn’t a substitute for celery). I’ll definitely try again with the right ingredients.

Watermelon Crush - This just can’t be healthy… it tastes way too good. This juice of watermelon and basil I would serve to friends on a hot summer day. This was a pure treat to drink. No need to be strong for this one.

Purple

Peach Pie Delight - Oh. My. God. I think I can safely say that this was my absolute favorite juice throughout the entire plan. I don’t know if it was the perfectly ripened peaches or the dash of cinnamon. But I swear to you it tasted like I was drinking peach pie.

Purple Passion - This one was so good. Something I would make for my children for lunch instead of giving them juice boxes or juicy juice. But that might be a little odd of a statement since I don’t have any children. Hahaha

Red, White, Blue (& Green!) - This was my least favorite of the dessert (purple) juices. Again, might’ve been my fault… I used rainbow Swiss chard instead of kale (ran out).  Maybe I’ll give it another shot with kale, but I don’t know what business kale and watermelon have doing together.

Juice Cleanse Plans:

Reboot with Joe

BluePrint


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Drop and give me 20!

Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. – I got my wisdom teeth out last Thursday and have been kind of loopy. Other than not being able to eat any food that wasn’t pre-mushed or liquified, I’ve been bummed that I had to postpone my insanity workout schedule. I’m hoping I’ll be able to bounce back into the groove of things pretty quickly!

All this got me thinking: it’s really quite a recent development that I actually want to sweat and push myself to exhaustion. I was never really the “work-out” kind of girl. I played sports and stayed fit through activities, no gym in my routine. In fact, the typical things I associate with working out (push-ups, jumping jacks, running, etc.) were used as punishments by coaches.

“Drop and give me 20” something I’m sure many young athletes have been told while participating in their high school sport’s teams. I still remember running laps around the track when our softball team did something wrong. Unfortunately, I think it’s engraved in people’s minds at a young age that physical exhaustion is a negative thing, a form of punishment. When in reality, it can offer some of the best satisfaction, both physically and mentally.

Luckily, nowadays it seems the running world has embraced this concept, “My sport is your sport’s punishment.” It seems there is a certain pride that goes along with running. Maybe it’s the sense of awe you experience when people question you about your training and distance races. Or maybe it’s that feeling you get at the end of your new longest or fastest run. Either way… it’s an awesome feeling to be able to call yourself a runner, an athlete.

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After I ran my first half-marathon I was so incredibly proud of myself. At that point I had developed a willingness to “work-out.” I was skipping Saturday night parties with friends for early Sunday morning runs alone, and really I couldn’t have been happier. I was running in the cold, running in the heat, running in between class. I didn’t want to skip a training run because I had a goal that I wanted to accomplish… finish my very first half-marathon. The best part is that with all this training I also started to get into great shape. I lost some weight, built muscle in my legs, and would later-on incorporate weight training to tone my upper body. Then as a I got healthier through physical activity, I started to eat better so that I could fuel my body for runs (which eventually transitioned to a vegan diet). It also lead to me training for my first full marathon and a 2:02:18 half-marathon in my future.

Now, what I didn’t mention earlier was that not only did I not “work-out,” but I despised running. When I first started the half training I could barely run a mile without walking. It was miserable. I would never choose running as my first option to get into shape. I think what made the difference was running to accomplish a goal. When you change running from a work out to a sport you will unlock the key to success.

So my number one tip on getting yourself into shape is to make it fun! Find an activity you enjoy like yoga, boxing, cycling, running, etc. For me the best activities are those that have some kind of culminating event, like a race, for which I can train. But find out what works for you and stick with it.

If you want to start running, here are some tips I either would have or did, find useful when I started out as an endurance runner:

Start smart, start small - So we’ve all heard of “go big or go home” but that’s the wrong advice when it comes to distance running. Running a marathon is an incredible accomplishment, one I will always encourage. However, while your ultimate goal may be to finish a marathon you may want to consider adding smaller goals in between to help you attain your main goal. If you can’t run 3 miles, you may want to make a goal to finish a 5K or two before that first marathon. And I would strongly encourage a half-marathon before attempting a full. Not only is this a good way to build up your endurance, but competing in 5Ks and shorter races will help you get used to the running community!

Follow a training plan - If you’re not a schedule-follower, now is the time to change. If you’re a more advanced runner you may know your body and abilities enough to create your own training schedule (you’re also not likely reading this post, hehe). But as a new runner it’s probably best to use someone else’s “tried and true” plan. For both my half and full marathons I used Hal Higdon’s training schedule. A training schedule helps to ensure that you’ll be prepared for your race, as well as keep you motivated.

Know the difference No pain, no gain, right? Well… sometimes. Be prepared, training will be tough. Sometimes even hell. It’s not easy to train for a 26.2 mile run (especially with that thing called life in the way). You’ll want to quit and skip runs, but you need to push through and stay motivated. But what you shouldn’t do is push through injury. It might be difficult, but try to learn the difference between true pain and just extreme discomfort. Forcing yourself to run with an injury will do more harm than good, possibly preventing you from finishing (or even starting) your race.

Fuel Right - When you start distance running you’ll find that there’s more to it than just lacing up sneakers and heading out the door (although sometimes those are the best runs). During marathon training there will be some long distance runs that will take more than an hour to finish. This is when you need to start thinking about fueling and hydrating. There are many different energy gels on the market: Hammer Gel, Clif Shot, Powerbar and Gu. You can get more information on energy gels here. But in my opinion the best option is a bag of raisins. I swear by it! It gives you energy without the upset stomach! Whatever you choose it’s important to fuel and hydrate your body!

Learn the lingo - So you want to run a 13.1 mile marathon? WRONG! When you use the term “marathon” incorrectly you’ll find that some people are very sensitive about it, myself included. It’s not that the 5K/10K/Half you ran (or are planning to run) isn’t impressive, I’m proud and happy for you (sincerely). But I worked my damn ass off to run those 26.2 miles, it’s a badge I’ve earned to be able to say that I finished a marathon.

And just a side note: if you don’t know the distance of a marathon, you most likely aren’t ready to start training for one… But that doesn’t mean you CAN’T start to get ready!!!!

So that last one might be just a little pet peeve of mine… hehe. Hopefully you’ve been inspired to run your first race! If you’re interested in finding a race in your area you can find a good list here, at Active.com.

Happy racing!


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Two Hot Tamales

I was a strange kid. I guess you could say “creative” but I think I was probably just weird. One of the funniest things I remember is playing pretend. I used to keep my mom’s old school paperwork and play school with my little sister. It wasn’t just any pretend school; I took attendance, made lesson plans and even assigned homework to my 5 year old sister (who did not enjoy being my student.)

My cousin and I had a few pretend games we would play too – we made up our own TV shows. By far the best one was New York, New York; a show about two teenage twins growing up in New York City. Again, not just any kind of pretend play, we had a theme song. We would come out of the bathroom in my room the exact same way every time and sing the exact same theme song dancing around like we were being filmed. And, just to make sure I embarrass myself entirely, we had a progressive plot and story line. Ya, that’s right…

From Little Kid’s Bedroom Studios, in association with

What a Weirdo Productions…

New York, New York

Starring: two very odd little girls

Guest starring: the annoying little sister

This wasn’t our only TV show though; my mom’s favorite was probably Two Hot Tamales, our cooking show. Unfortunately, we never got too creative with the meals… it was always the same ‘ole dinner side salad with romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese and croutons. But boy did we do an excellent job of chopping those veggies and entertaining our studio audience! We’d set up the entire kitchen table with all the ingredients and tools. Then it was lights, camera, action

“Welcome to Two Hot Tamales! Today we’re going to show you how to make… you guessed it, another delicious side salad.”

There’s a reason for all the reminiscing and self-embarrassment. From a very young age, I have LOVED to cook! I loved to cook with my mom, cook with my dad, cook on my own (when I was old enough). I just really loved creating “masterpieces” in the kitchen. It was a place for me to experiment, sometimes they it horrible and sometimes it was just pure culinary genius.

Here’s my latest creation. It all started with a pre-made can of chili and two poblano peppers. I was doing quick grocery shopping on a late Sunday afternoon after our trip to Colorado. I saw a can of Amy’s Organic Mild Vegetable chili. I was intrigued and still in a “tex-mex” mood. “Hmm, let me inspect that label… vegan, all whole ingredients, low-ish sodium… looks good to me!” Then as I was perusing the produce department I saw some beautiful looking poblanos… “I can definitely do something with those!” It hadn’t clicked just yet… it would still be a few hours before the idea for my masterpiece formed in my mind, most likely in the middle of the night when I’m tossing, turning and desperately trying to sleep.

So I’ve built it up enough… *drum roll please*….

Chili and Quinoa Poblano Stacks

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Disclaimer: There are no specific measurements for this recipe. It’s an easy one, but maybe best attempted by a somewhat more “experienced” cook – someone who can guestimate and taste test through to a finished product. I’ll try and make it again in the near future to put together a more traditional recipe.

Serving Size: 2 people (add 1 poblano per person – or more if you eat a lot)

Ingredients:

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • Red quinoa (1 cup dry)
  • Vegetable broth (read quinoa directions)
  • Non GMO frozen corn (about 1 cup)
  • 1 can of Amy’s Organic Medium Vegetable Chili
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 Haas avocado
  • 1 lime

Directions: 

Cook the quinoa according to direction (I made one cup dry quinoa – and cooked it in vegetable broth).

While the quinoa is cooking (usually takes about 20 minutes), I sliced the poblanos in half, seeded and cut the onions into large slices. Then put on a Cuisinart Griddler (so grill however you can).

As everything is cooking, heat up the Amy’s Organic Chili in a pot. Also, in the last 3 or 4 minutes that the quinoa is cooking throw the frozen corn in with the quinoa to cook.

Once everything is ready (onion and peppers will be somewhat soft and have grill marks), begin your stack…

Place the peppers on the plate first, then a little bit of quinoa/corn mixture, then the chili, then grilled onions. Garnish with diced avocado and a squeeze of lime.

Voila! Gourmet meal in 20 minutes!

Hope you enjoy! If you try the recipe, post a picture on instagram and #veggiefueled! And feel free to get creative with it… just make sure to let me know so I can try it too!


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Preaching to the Choir

Not sure this is something to admit… but I was actually shocked to find out that people I know are reading my blog! I mean if you put something out there to be read you should expect that people are going to read it, right?! I guess the shock wasn’t in the fact that people are reading it, but that people who are not vegetarians or vegans are reading it, and continue to read it.

Like my experience with most events, blogs, social media pages, etc, I assumed that I was just preaching to the choir; that I would only be sought out by people who have that one (very big) thing in common with the theme of my blog. Myself included, I tend to gravitate towards sites that share my interests.

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And that brings me to my second admission: I’m kinda, sorta, just a little bit, a “closet vegan.” It’s not that I won’t admit to others (not sure if that’s really the right word) that I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs or any animal products… I’m not going to eat a steak because I wan’t to keep it a secret… but I tend to keep to myself about it. That’s why I decided to use the blog and instagram as an outlet to share my thoughts, ideas and questions with the veggie community.

But I do try and let people know that I’m vegan (when necessary) with as little detail as possible. I typically will just avoid certain foods, then if asked I’ll say that I don’t eat [insert particular animal product here]. I usually don’t blurt out “I’m vegan.” I’d have to say that its mainly done to avoid the barrage of questions and comments that always come after that kind of statement. To avoid the feeling that I’m some kind of specimen in a petri dish or an alien from Mars.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly LOVE my healthy and athletic lifestyle. The second I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon I was hooked and knew I should share the benefits of health and fitness with the world. So I suppose that I should embrace the questioning as a chance to share the reasons behind my choice to follow a vegan diet. Just like I am willing to share all I know and love about running, I am now going to willingly share the same about vegan diets. (No worries – I won’t come knocking on your door).

Typical questions/comments I get about being vegan

*Disclaimer – These answers are all personal feelings and opinions. Please see my reference page to find better scientific and nutritional support for a vegan diet.*

“What do/don’t you eat?” - I don’t eat meat (that includes chicken, pork and fish*), eggs, dairy or any other product that comes from an animal. I also try to avoid things that are made using animal products (examples include certain types/brands of sugars, beers, wines and candies). Click here for the reasons why these items aren’t vegan. I do eat whole foods: mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts/seeds. I also eat the occasional sweets and unhealthy, but still vegan, foods (think vegan cookies or vegan breaded/fried zucchini!).

*Some people don’t understand that “meat” applies to ALL animals, not just beef.

“How long have you eaten like this? Do you miss meat?” - I stopped eating meat in September 2012 and cut out all other animal products January 2013 (can you say New Year’s Resolution? hehe). No, I do not miss meat. I was never really a big meat eater, from the time I was young I was more of a rice, bread, pasta kind of girl. I never really liked the taste of meat and pretty much only enjoyed it when it was breaded and fried. So no, I don’t miss it and I couldn’t imagine eating it again at this point.

“Hmm, that’s great… but I could never give up the cheese.” - My response, ditto. I loved cheese. Like, love love looovvveeeed cheese. Food I’d eat if I was trapped on deserted island: three way tie between cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwich. I could down half a block of cheddar with some crackers in one sitting. One of my favorite parts of grocery shopping was the free slice of provolone at the deli.

But I learned how cheese affects my health and decided that the short-term enjoyment was not worth the long-term detriments. Not to mention, my body doesn’t digest dairy very well… so…

After giving up cheese I started to feel better in many different ways. At this point, I have lost my taste and desire for cheese and it’s no longer an issue.

“Why do you deprive yourself of the things you like?” – I don’t look at a vegan diet as one of deprivation. Since I’ve changed my eating habits I have expanded the foods and cuisines that I consume. I have become a better cook and more creative in my meal planning. Yes, I like cake and cookies. Yes, it’s hard to stay strong. And fortunately, YES there are vegan dessert options that taste amazing! I often “live a little” but see no need to eat things that have animal products in them when I can eat things that are just as good without them.

“You can’t tell me those fake meats/vegan cookies/alternative milks taste good or like the real thing!?” - Ok about the faux meats, I really just try and avoid things that are processed and not whole foods. Fake meats with chemicals and fillers are not good for you, vegan or not. I have made meals with cauliflower as my taco “meat” and recently enjoyed a jackfruit cuban sandwich and veggie bacon B.L.T. in Colorado that were amazing… but those are made using whole foods (check out this recipe from No Meat alternative milks – delicious, I love them, they’re just as good, probably better… case closed! I think as you start to eat healthier your taste buds really start to adjust. I GENUINELY enjoy the foods I eat and don’t feel shitty after eating them.

“Ok, but it’s not about the animals, right? You’re not some hippie?” - When I first decided to stop eating meat I didn’t really consider how it would affect the animals. But is it not an added benefit that I’m saving innocent animal lives (and the environment) by cutting animal products out of my diet? If that makes me a hippie, so be it. Just do me one favor… watch the documentaries and really educate yourself before you accuse me of being a “hippie” for caring about the animals. I’ve heard too many times that people don’t want to see it because then they won’t want to eat meat anymore… I guess “ignorance is bliss.”

“You think you’re better than me?” – No one has actually ever asked me this question, but I always get this feeling that people think, that I think, that I’m better than them. Or that I’m judging them because they eat meat. No, I don’t think I’m better. I’m not judging you for your decisions. I do advocate a vegan diet. I do think that it has provided me and others with better health. I have seen the benefits first hand. It would be awesome if you adopted a vegan diet. BUT, you don’t judge my food and I won’t judge yours.

I have so much more to say about this new vegan lifestyle and from now on I will be more comfortable with sharing with those that are interested. If they’re being antagonistic about it… oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Have more questions for me? Put them in the comment box below – If I get enough I’ll write another post with answers. If not, I’ll just answer below.


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You’re having WHAT for dinner?!

Sometime throughout history it was determined that dinner should consist of a meat, a grain/starch and a vegetable (or at least that was my impression). In fact, growing up I was a huge fan of those divided plates… you know, the one’s that ensured none of my food would touch any of my other food because THAT would be disgusting and I couldn’t possibly eat my potatoes after they were contaminated with vegetable juice…but I digress… Even when you google images of “what should your dinner plate look like” you’ll see an array of divided plates.

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Unfortunately, this rule of how a dinner should be served causes some problems for new vegetarians/vegans. I remember when we first started our meat-free lifestyle it was very difficult to find recipes that I felt were appropriate dinners. I was desperately searching for a main course in a world of what seemed like side dishes. The most ironic part was that I was determined to have my plate look a certain way because I felt it was healthier. Oh and don’t get me started on how worried I was to make sure we had a replacement protein source… *slaps hand to the forehead*

Luckily, it didn’t take too long to breakaway from this dinner plate stereotype. Thanks to the wonderful, delicious and nutritious brussels sprout… the vegetable that saved the day (or more so the dinner plate). We had a great brussels sprouts dish at a restaurant and decided to try them out at home. (Check out the recipe here, just leave out the parmesan cheese to make it vegan – it rocks!) We planned on the sprouts being a side dish for our dinner, but they were done a little earlier than expected. We started to munch on them until dinner was ready and next thing you know… we ate them all, the entire 1lb. bag between the two of us! We topped it off with a little green juice and we were good to go for the night.

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And that, my friends, was the start of the random “whatever we’re in the mood for” dinners. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a typical divided plate meal every now and then, but we no longer stress to have a traditional plate planned. Here are some things we’ve been known to chow down on for dinners:

  • Bowl of roasted brussels sprouts
  • Roasted cauliflower with buffalo or barbecue sauce
  • Just juice
  • Guacamole, taco seasoned veggies and chips
  • “Tapas” style leftovers
  • Random vegetables (either in salad or non salad form)
  • Cereal (not too proud of that one…)

Just remember, a dinner (or any meal for that matter) can be anything you want it to be as long as it consists of whole, natural and plant strong foods!

Speaking of stereotypes… My husband was at WholeFoods the other day purchasing The Complete Vegan Kitchen when the cashier said to him “You’re not a vegan, are you?” Well, maybe he’s vegan, maybe he’s not… but what exactly does a vegan look like? Can we break that mold too? By the way, he was surprising me with a new cook book! Isn’t he wonderful! :)

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veggiefueled, a testimonial.

Every year Mercedes Benz puts on a 5K for the corporate world. It’s called the Mercedes Benz Corporate Run. There is one in West Palm, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The Miami race is huge; there were about 25,000 runners last Thursday night! (That’s a lot for a 5K!)

I had a great run and was the second place female and 13th overall in my company with a 25:40 minute time. I set a new personal record! That always feels great…

But I can’t take all the credit. So I wanted to explain how I got to this point in my running “career.”

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(Ok so not from the Corporate Run – but they haven’t posted the pictures yet.)

Running has really been the catalyst for my current healthy vegan lifestyle. I decided to train for the Disney Princess half-marathon a few years ago and…long story short… here I am.

Hehe just kidding, what kind of blog would this be if I didn’t tell the whole story?!

Because of running and training, my husband (then boyfriend) and I started to transition to healthier eating habits. First it was learning about trans fats, eating organic, counting calories, and eliminating processed foods. The full transition to veganism really has taken about 3 years. That’s not to say it can’t happen faster, we just weren’t really aware or considering it at the beginning.

But the main points I want to get across in THIS post are what I believe to be some of the results/benefits of my newly vegan diet in relation to running. (I’ll post later about the transition to veganism!)

Injury

Since high school I have had lower back and knee pain. So bad that I missed a season of cheerleading and had to go to physical therapy to help alleviate the pain. Then when I started running, the pain returned. After my first half marathon I couldn’t run for months. I had a horrible pain in both knees and was on prescription NSAIDs to help suppress the inflammation. I went in and out of physical therapy trying to figure out how to run without pain. Unfortunately, because I had to wait so long to start running again I wasn’t able to stay in peak shape. I figured it was the cost you pay to be a runner. Then I injured my foot right before my full marathon but luckily recuperated in time for the race. Where again after the race, I was out of commission for months. I thought that was the way it was going to be… race… recovery…start all over.

Since cutting meat, dairy and eggs out of my diet I have competed in a half marathon and two 5Ks without injury or discomfort. (KNOCK ON WOOD!!). After I completed the half marathon I was able to run within 2 days (only because I decided to rest, not because I wasn’t capable). The whole time during training I hadn’t had a single issue with my back or knees. I felt and feel great!

Speed

My fastest half marathon before going vegan was 2:12, about 10:04 min/mile. My fastest 5K before going vegan was 26:39, about 8:34 min/mile (mind you this was in the midst of my FULL marathon training). My typical 5K time was closer to 28 minutes. If I ran my training run at a 10 min/mi pace I was happy… that was a great run!

After becoming vegan, I set a P.R. with my last half marathon 2:02, about 9:18 min/mile and past two 5K’s at 25:43 and 25:40, about 8:16 min/mile (without major training – 1 to 2 runs per week, slacker I know…). All you runners out there will know that a 10 minute improvement on a half marathon is HUGE! And the best part is that I know I haven’t yet reached my peak speed. I feel it in me… I know that I can hit the under 2 hour mark for the half and run a 24 minute 5K!

Before keeping a vegan diet I swore I was a 10 minute/mile girl… now I start my training runs at a 9 min/mile pace and that’s taking it easy!

I know that the above has not been scientifically proven to be a result of changing to a vegan diet. But it’s an awfully big coincidence. And really, the point is that I feel better than ever, stronger than ever and happier than ever with my new eating habits. I feel like a true athlete and am so glad that I’ve learned how to properly fuel my body… veggiefueled.

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