veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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Work Late. Eat Great.

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It’s all in the planning. Taking a little extra time to plan and prep one day a week will help save time later and ensure that you still eat delicious healthy meals for lunch and dinner. Time and convenience may be one of our biggest enemies when it comes to eating well.

Trust me, I completely understand what it feels like to get home from work late and be completely unmotivated to cook (or do anything you need to do). I’ve been known to chow down on bowls of cereal (notice I said bowls not bowl) instead of nutritious meals because I simply can’t bear the idea of having to cook and clean after a meal! Not to mention that I’m usually famished when I walk in the door.

So, I’ve come up with a few ideas that seem to help keep me on track and have provided for about of month so far of home-cooked meals.

Menu Planning – Think of your kitchen as your family Café. Plan a menu for the week and try your best to stick to it. Make sure to be realistic with the amount of time you want to spend prepping and cooking for the week. Also, we like to include a date night (or night eating out) so that we can have a break from the cooking and dishes.

Menu planning also helps with staying creative and finding new recipes. If you don’t know what to make each night and you simply go by the ingredients on-hand, you’re likely to fall into making the same old thing, week after week.

Strategic Recipes – When making your weekly menu, try and keep prep and cook time in mind. Save the extravagant gourmet meals for the weekend and look for quick, easy and healthy meals for during the week. Found a recipe that requires rice? Make the rice the night before you plan on eating that meal. Then you can prepare the rest of it right when you get home from work instead of having to wait on the rice for 40 minutes.

Leftovers – I’m not a huge fan of leftovers, but I’m willing to make enough for leftovers if its a meal that I really enjoy.  During my husband’s busy season (he’s an accountant) I would usually cook one night that way he could bring dinner with him instead of ordering food every night. The important thing with this tip is to find recipes that keep well – rice w/ beans, baked potato w/ grilled veggies or one pot pasta dishes. The simpler the better. You definitely don’t want a meal that makes a point of it to “serve immediately.” It’ll probably lose its luster if reheated the next day, yuck! Also, avoid things that should be crispy, as they will likely be soggy leftovers.

Afternoon Snacking -This is a big one for both my husband and me… and I’m assuming lots of other people. When I walk through the door with a growling stomach I’m very short sited and can’t envision how great it will be to eat a healthy home cooked meal. Instead I have the “I want it and I want it now” mentality. That’s when take out, cereal, or binge snacking occurs.

The way to combat this issue is to either eat a small snack (apple, small handful of nuts, larabar, etc) on your way home from work or to have “appetizers” planned to munch on while you cook. Having Mexican? Make some quick and easy guacamole (see our recipe at the bottom). Asian? How about defrosting some frozen edamame?

The trick is to make sure your snacks or appetizers are healthy nutritious options. That way if you do accidentally fill up on snacks and appetizers at least it was still nutritious.

Walk in and start – The number one trick I can think of is to start right away. Don’t change, don’t sit down. Walk in and turn on the oven (if it needs to preheat), or pick out all the ingredients that you need from the fridge and pantry. Then change into comfy clothes and continue cooking. Too many times I’ve become a prisoner of my couch; it usually goes hand-in-hand with my bowls of cereal. As exhausted as I am when I walk in, I’m always happy and proud of myself when I stay strong and cook anyways.

Unfortunately these tricks may only be useful if you enjoy cooking in the first place. If you despise cooking, you may require a little more motivation. It might be helpful to buy portions of your meal pre-prepared and cook part of the meal at home. Whole Foods has all their hot bar foods available in large or small portions in the refrigerators. You could always pick up some rice and beans and roast some veggies at home or make yourself a green salad. Start small and hopefully when you see the benefits of eating home cooked meals you’ll start to change your mind about cooking!

If you’re not quite as organized or a planner like myself, then maybe you’d be interested in having someone else plan your meals each week. So I figure, why don’t I share? I’m going to plan my meals each week anyways, how hard would it be to send you my file with the recipes, menu and grocery shopping list!

So here’s my offer: Send me an email at veggiefueledblog@gmail.com with your name and email address and I’ll send you my file each week. Feel free to rearrange when you cook particular meals, how many days you choose to cook, the serving size of the meal and when/whether you have a date night or family night out – but it should be helpful to have a general guideline of dinner ideas. I’ll try and have the list out by Friday night for you Saturday morning grocery shoppers.

What’s that? You think that’s such a nice offer that you’d like to do something for me in return? Aww shucks, you don’t have to do anyth… ok well since you offered. In return for those weekly menus I would love a follow on instragram and twitter @veggiefueled, on my blog http://www.veggiefueled.wordpress.com and to share my blog with friends who might be interested! Thanks!

Have any ideas that would help you stay motivated to make home cooked meals? Let us know!

Dylan’s Quick and Easy Guacamole

Serving size: 2 people (as a snack or appetizer for dinner) You may want to double, triple or quadruple for a party sized portion!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe haas avocado
  • 1 large spoonful of Green Mountain Gringo salsa
  • Green Mountain Gringo Sesame Blues Tortilla Chips

Directions:

Mash avocado. Mix in salsa. Enjoy!

*Note: Dylan wanted me to add that I was in fact very against the creation of this recipe. I had always made my own guacamole, with lime juice, spices, etc… and didn’t think there was any way mixing some salsa in with avocado would be any good. So here, on this day, I will put in writing… He was right. IT’S AMAZING!

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That’s entirely too much produce.

Forgive my reference to Comedy Central’s Kroll Show. Really not all that funny, but for some reason the “Oh, Hello – Too Much Tuna” prank show sketch just cracks me up.

photoHere’s a link for a snippet of the sketch: http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clips/0hxb8c/kroll-show-oh–hello—too-much-tuna

Now we can get to the real point of my post… Too much produce. We’ve all done it, gone grocery shopping (with or without a set list in mind) and have gotten mesmerized with the beautiful greens, yellows, oranges, and reds of the produce department. “Ohh look ______ are in season, I’m sure I can find something to do with them!”

Well I’m a sucker… every damn time. I always buy too much produce. Some weeks I’ll intentionally buy less because I bought too much and wasted the week before, but I always end up running out too soon and fall into the same trap the following week. 

So here are some tricks I’ve learned when you’ve bought entirely too much produce: 

Drink It

Whether you juice or make smoothies (or make hybrids like me), drinking your produce is a great way to use too much produce. The last day before grocery shopping day I take inventory – whatever produce is still good, but at the end of its life will go into either the juicer or the blender. Dylan and I make an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink smoothie once a week. Usually it will substitute one of our meals on the weekend and surprisingly it has led to some of our most tasty concoctions.

Hybrid Recipe: Juice your produce (ex: carrots, cucumbers, lemons, apples, peppers, etc) and then put the juice in the blender with your greens (ex: Kale, Spinach, Chard) and fruit or unjuice-able produce (ex: bananas, pineapple, mango). Add ice and blend!

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Roast It

Have cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, peppers, etc etc etc? Throw it on a roasting pan, drizzle with a little oil, salt, pepper and spices (or leftover herbs you haven’t used up) and stick in a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Look at that, another quick, easy and money/produce saving meal.

You could also toss the roasted veggies into a blender and make a vegetable soup puree. Leave some bigger pieces for more texture.

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Freeze It

So you don’t want to use it all right now? That’s fine, let’s freeze it! Got ripe bananas, make ice cream? Or freeze the peeled bananas whole to make into ice cream or banana bread later. Herbs or greens that are about to go bad? Blend or juice them and then freeze in ice cube trays for later use. Love making tomato sauces? Boil, peel and puree your ripe tomatoes and then freeze in tupperware. The possibilities are endless!

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Chop It

This one may be a better tip for when you first purchase the produce to prevent from wasting – take the time to prepare it for the week. I’ve found that if I have a date with my mandolin (food slicer) once a week and slice up radishes, peppers, onions, and other delicious veggies that I’m much more likely to throw together a healthy, nutritious and exciting side salad. Have a salad bar in your fridge, it’s much easier than preparing the vegetables every day.

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Unfortunately the stuff that’s good for you has an expiration date and doesn’t last forever *cough cough*, twinkies. But that doesn’t mean you should be scared away from making the healthy decisions at the grocery store. You just have to make an effort to do more planning (coming soon in a new post: how to plan your grocery list) and get more creative (another soon to come post: breaking the recipe mold).

Do you have any tips on how to use up too much produce? I’d love to know!


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My First Marathon

Such a terrible story about the Boston Marathon. My heart goes out to the family of those who lost their lives and those who were injured.

Here’s a link to the news: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/15/17764747-explosions-rock-finish-of-boston-marathon-2-killed-and-scores-injured?lite

In honor of those affected by today’s events at the Boston Marathon:

My First Marathon

Charlene Kurth

 

The decision’s been made, registration complete

Most think I’m crazy to attempt this feat.

 

It won’t be too easy, to train and to run

It won’t be too easy, but it’ll be fun.

 

I’ve got some time to get myself ready

Breathe in and out, keep those legs steady.

 

Water bottles, iPods, sneakers and Gu

Bodyglide and chafing, this is all so new.

 

Race day is coming and I’m getting so scared

What do I do if I’m not prepared?

 

Thirteen point one wasn’t quite all that bad

At the halfway point now and I’m so glad

 

It’s starting to get hard, really getting rough

“Keep on going” they yell, “You can do it, be tough!”

 

My knees are in pain and feet swollen large

Please stay strong brain; you’re the one that’s in charge.

 

I’m not going to make it; I’m gonna collapse right here

“You’re almost there, so close, the finish line is near”

 

Never again, what the hell was I thinking?

I should be with my friends, at the bar drinking.

 

Wait, what is that? Only a mile to go

Pick up the pace, you’re running too slow!

 

I cross the finish, clock shows 4:43

Eyes well up with tears, my heart fills with glee.

 

I actually did it, I finished the race

My medal hangs proudly with a grin on my face.


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Tricked ya! It’s vegan.

 

So I just had a genius (okay maybe that’s subjective) idea today!

I brought some leftovers of my Asian veggie stir fry with spicy peanut sauce to work today. Apparently, my eyes were bigger than my stomach so I decided to share with a coworker. I didn’t really give him much detail about the meal (except for the peanut sauce – in case of allergies) and he welcomed my offer of free food.IMG_1316

This coworker of mine is very much a meat eater, a regular ‘ole “man’s man” if you will… not someone that would be welcoming, at least not without mocking comments, of a vegan meal. So after I handed him the food I wondered what he would think of this dairy free, meat free, no salt, little oil and plant strong meal. He handed me back a completely empty (and surprisingly, clean) container and said he enjoyed it!

I’ve often wondered, as I chow down on my self-proclaimed amazing dishes, if others would find it as tasty. Not sure if I’ve just trained my taste buds to enjoy a particular style of food or if it would be considered good to outsiders.

This got me thinking, can I get other people interested in a meat free lifestyle by showing them that vegan food can be both nutrition and delicious?!

Here’s what I’m going to do – every few weeks I’m going to bring leftovers into work to share with different people. I won’t put too much emphasis on the vegan aspect of the meal, only offering information about potential allergies. I’ll let you know what they think…

And by the way, I’ve been sneaking loads of spinach and kale into my little brothers’ smoothies when they spend the night. Not only do the suck it down, they ask for refills! Maybe I can figure out how to get them to enjoy other vegan meals as well!

Let me know if you share your vegan food with unsuspecting patrons and what they think about it. You can share your stories or pictures with me on instagram and twitter: @veggiefueled, #veggiefueled, #TYIVegan

(Remember: Allergies are serious – make sure they don’t have allergies to any odd ingredients you may include).

Cauliflower: The Ninja Food

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I can honestly say that before becoming a vegetarian the only time I really ever saw cauliflower was on those vegetable party platters, the ones that no one ever likes but for some reason someone always brings… Not sure if I actually ever tried it before deeming it broccoli’s albino cousin and deciding that I didn’t like it?

But now this veggie holds a special place in my heart; oftentimes the MVP of my weekly grocery lists. When I first cut meat of out of my diet I thought I was doomed to a life of texture-less vegan “mush-mush.” My first homemade vegan burrito made me feel like I was eating baby food wrapped in a tortilla. Meat seemed to offer some texture, something I was desperately missing as a new veggie.  I mean sure, you could add other veggies but none of them really stood up to my expectations.

That is… until I discovered cauliflower. When roasted it has a nice sturdy texture and mild flavor. It seems to absorb seasonings and flavor, matching well with any cuisine. I started experimenting and came up with a few different recipes for my beloved cauliflower: Cauliflower Stir-fry, Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers, Cauliflower Picadillo and my favorite, Cauliflower Tacos.

Here’s the recipe for my yummy Cauliflower Tacos:

Cauliflower Tacos with Grilled Veggies and Black Bean Corn Salsa

Serves: 4 people

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Cauliflower (see directions for prep)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced in thin strips)
  • 1 bell pepper any color (sliced in thin strips)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (cut in quarters)
  • 1 cup non-GMO frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (minced)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Taco Seasoning (see homemade recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 corn/flour tortillas or taco shells

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, cut cauliflower into large pieces separating the top pieces from the stalk. Roast cauliflower for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut and prepare onion and peppers for grilling. If you don’t have a grill or don’t want to make a mess grilling just a few veggies, you can sauté the peppers and onions in a small pan with a little oil (you can start grilling/sautéing when the cauliflower is almost done in the oven).

Prepare the black bean corn salsa by mixing the beans, tomatoes, corn, cilantro and juice from 1 lime. Set aside to marinade.

When the cauliflower is done, remove from oven and let sit to cool for 5 minutes. Leave the oven on to heat the tortillas.

While cauliflower is cooling, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high, mince the garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until light brown and fragrant. Crumble (for “ground beef” texture) or chop (for “chicken” texture) the cauliflower into small pieces and toss in with the garlic. Cook the cauliflower and garlic for a minute, stirring to prevent sticking. Stir in taco seasoning and water to coat (adding more water if necessary). Bring mixture to a simmer and then turn the heat to low and cover pan. Let sit covered for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the toppings.

Warm tortillas in oven. Mash avocado, leaving some chunks in a medium sized bowl.

For the perfect taco construction:

  1. Put avocado mash on tortilla
  2. Load up with cauliflower mixture
  3. Top with onions and peppers
  4. Don’t be shy with the black bean corn salsa

Taco Seasoning

Serves: who knows? Makes enough for a couple times of taco cooking

Prep Time: 5 minutes, if that

Cook Time: NONE!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store leftover seasoning in an airtight container in the pantry.

IngredientsChopping onions and orange bell pepper Squeezing Lime Chopping Cauliflower IMG_1269 IMG_1273 IMG_1287

Get creative with your cauliflower mixture – burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos… the sky’s the limit! Bon Appétit!

Oh and I can’t leave you without this… If you’re in the South Florida area, you have to check out Sublime’s Frito Misto (fried breaded cauliflower with a asian orange sauce). Uh-may-zing! Not necessarily healthy, but it’s good vegan cheat food. http://www.sublimerestaurant.com

Let me know what you think of the tacos! Do you have any suggestions? Questions? Ideas? Let me have it… I’m here to learn while sharing what I know…

 

*Update*

Check out my recipe on the veggie nook’s Healthy Vegan Friday post.

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What?! You can’t eat meat?

What is with this question?

I mean, I know as veggies we all get the “But where do you get your protein?” Q&A sesh. But really, is there anything more annoying than being interrogated by patronizing people who are not actually concerned about your well-being and nutrition?

Here are my Top 5 annoying questions or comments from meat-eaters: 

1. What?! You can’t eat meat? No, I’m not unable to eat meat. I choose not to eat meat. As crazy as it sounds to you, while you chow down on your hamburger, I’m actually enjoying my roasted veggies, baked potato and dark leafy greens. Really, I like it.

2. But where do you get your protein? Ahh, the typical protein question. We’ve all heard it. The provoking question masked as concern. I understand that some people may have a genuine concern for your health (like my mother, who really does care). But others… well others, they’re just trying to prove your lifestyle wrong. (And most likely make themselves feel better while they’re at it.)

3. I could never give up (insert non vegan item here). Um, yes. Yes you could give it up. You choose not to… and that’s fine and dandy. But quit making excuses. I’m not braver, crazier, stonger-willed… I have just made the decision and worked hard to stick to it. If you don’t want to… that’s fine, I’m not on a crusade to convert you. But don’t make excuses.

4. I’d rather enjoy my life than be restricted with what I can eat. Otherwise said as YOLO. Hmmmm. Is that cheeseburger really going to help you have a meaningful, exciting and fulfilling life? Is it so damn good that you’ll still be talking about it years from now? This really goes for vegans and non-vegans alike, a healthy lifestyle is key to having that YOLO experience. Healthy and happy, and not bound by medications, limitations and disease.

5. What do you eat? Salads? Yep, that’s about right. Salad is the only food item approved for vegans (note the extreme sarcasm). Cutting out animal products should be viewed as expanding your horizons instead of limiting your options. After going vegetarian I was forced to find new recipes which lead to a plethora of new and exciting cuisines.

6. [Your experience HERE]What’s the most annoying or most frequent question/comment you receive about being vegan/vegetarian?

YOLO

Don’t get me wrong – I love to share my knowledge, experience and passion for health, fitness and becoming vegan. And if you’re genuinely interested, I have no problem defending my decisions. But if I don’t comment on your dinner plate, don’t comment on mine.


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10 reasons you should follow me (online of course).

Hello there, welcome to my blog! After spending some time as a minor foodie and major annoyance posting all my food on instagram, I was convinced to start a blog. And as I have more to say than the proverbial “1000 words” or 140 characters, I thought it wasn’t too bad of an idea. But here’s the thing, I never really get past the first paragraph when reading a blog and almost ALWAYS head straight to the list of bullet points. So I figure, if I’m gonna hook ya… why not try a list?

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Reasons you should follow my blog:

1. I love cooking and experimenting with new recipes. As long as I don’t have to do the dishes (luckily my hubby and I have a great deal where I cook and he cleans!). I have always loved to cook, maybe it comes from having both parents as great cooks? I’m not really what you’d describe as the creative type, but when I’m in the kitchen something just clicks and the creative juices start flowing.

2. I’m a new vegan/vegetarian, so I haven’t forgotten the struggles. Sometimes the blogs I read about veganism/vegetarianism seem like the authors forget what its like in the beginning; When you’re still new to the struggle of giving up meat, dairy and eggs. When you’re still learning how to deal with people who don’t understand. When you’re still figuring out what seitan, tofu and tempeh are and whether or not you even want to eat it. I haven’t forgotten, because I’m still learning. So learn with me…

3. I’m passionate about my healthy lifestyle. Although I grew up with a fairly healthy diet, snacking on fruits and eating mainly home-cooked meals, I wasn’t always a “health nut.” But now that I’ve seen the light there’s no going back and I feel better than ever. I’d love to inspire people to cross that line, never look back and enjoy their lives to the fullest!

4. I love being fit, but hate working out. I know it seems inconsistent but it’s oh so true. I was never one to work out or visit a gym. From a young age I played sports and had an active lifestyle. When I stopped playing organized sports in college, there was a time where regular exercise was a rare occurrence. But I can let you in on my secret… training ≠ working out.

5. I am limited on time. I am not a professional athlete and I am not a professional blogger. I am a 9 to 5er (I wish it was just till 5) who drives 30 miles each way to work. I am tired and unmotivated when I get home from work and the last thing I want to do is cook a delicious, healthy, home-cooked meal or get in a workout that I missed in the morning… but I do… and I can share my tips and tricks!

7. I am concise and efficient. I guess this could be re-worded as “I don’t like to read long, wordy blogs.” I plan on having TONS of lists, bullet points, pictures, and get-to-the-point posts.

8. I am funny. Ok this point may be debatable depending on your source. My mother thinks I’m hilarious, a regular ‘ole stand up comedian. My friends think I’m a hoot, I can entertain the lunch table for hours on end. My husband, not so much. I am told regularly that I am not funny at all. (Although every now and then I catch a laugh).*

9. It would make me happy. I don’t know what it would do for your emotional state, but it would make me so happy to have people reading my blog, learning from my trial and error and just simply sharing my passion for a healthy, fit and fulfilling lifestyle.

10. I am slightly OCD. I could only think of 9 reasons, racked my brain for 10. But to no avail I am left with only nine. But because I am slightly OCD, I only listen to music on volume intervals of 5, have the most organized pantry you’ve ever seen and just HAD to leave it as a list of 10. Nine would just not work.

So there’s my plea to get you to follow my blog and join me on my journey. You can also follow me on Instagram: @veggiefueled.

*I had my husband proof read the post, not a single chuckle.  -__-