veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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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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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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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.  -__-