veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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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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