Newsflash: You’re an adult.

Can we get real here for a minute? You are an adult. (Really. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.) Part of being a grown up human being with a body is taking care of said body.

“I don’t like exercise.”

“Working out is boring.”

“I don’t have time to cook.”

“I don’t like the gym.”

“Meal planning? Ugh. I hate grocery shopping. I hate prepping food.”

“I don’t like water. Unless it’s coffee flavored.”

Ha. ha. ha.

Grow up. Do you find brushing your teeth exciting? Probably not. But you do it, right? It’s called hygiene. It’s taking care of your body. (My dentist says that you only have to floss the teeth you wish to keep.) Who wants to kiss you with your nasty horrid breath? So, as human beings with a body, we bathe, we brush our teeth, we wash our hair, etc. You wouldn’t drive a car without maintenance, right? No oil changes, no new tires, no washing, no tune ups – no problem, right?

Wrong.

Take care of a vehicle, it takes you where you need to go.

Guess what? Eating nutritious foods and moving around and lifting heavy things is part of maintaining a body. It’s REQUIRED if we want it to operate as desired and for a long time.

I get it. Crap like this gives many undo anxiety and just feels overwhelming. (Unless you are super nerdy and love food prep. Yes, there are a few):

If you hate cooking, hate food prep, etc. – these kinds of posts and pictures do nothing for you but make you feel inadequate, uninspired, and like you can’t adult. It becomes a big ‘ole shame fest. But that doesn’t give you a pass on taking care of your body. You don’t have to be a polished food prep pro. If your goal is to eat healthfully, develop a strategy. It doesn’t need to be uber complicated.

It does require being an adult and making choices that benefit you long term.

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Now that you have your big girl or boy pants on, here’s a couple of my weekly adulting food tasks that take zero time. (Okay, not zero time, but definitely not as much time as the crazies with 52 containers of Tupperware that are simultaneously cooking 7 different meals.)

Make a big salad for the week

It’s not that hard. Grab some lettuces you like. Romaine is nice and crunchy, green and red leaf are great, too. Don’t like kale? Don’t eat it. It’s fine. Just because some one wrote an article claiming the wonders of a food doesn’t mean you have to like it. Find what you do like. Super lazy and have some extra cash? They have prewashed and trimmed spring mix, spinach, and every other lettuce you can think of. Get over boring iceberg and change it up! Add some shredded carrot and some cabbage, throw it in a big bowl with a lid and you’ve got a greens base to be used through the week. Taco salad, sandwich/wrap ingredient, Buddha bowl – grab your greens and go!

Tip: If you buy the plastic containers of pre-washed greens, take them out of the container to extend shelf life. They get pretty slimy in the original container. Conversely, if you buy actual heads of lettuces and bunches of greens and chop and rinse yourself, you not only save money, but the produce lasts longer.

Portion out food as you go, rough meal planning

I don’t portion/prep and spend hours on a Sunday mapping out every breakfast lunch and dinner. I just don’t. (If that is your thing – cool. Do you.) Instead, I have a rough idea of what meals we’re going to eat that week, and shop for those ingredients. If we don’t feel like tacos on Tuesday, that’s cool. Just switch it around and have them on Friday because all ingredients needed are there.

For things like mushrooms, bell peppers, or onions etc. that will be used each week for more than one dish, prep those. Being able to quickly grab that diced onion for a recipe makes cooking time go much easier. Younger kids can pack their own lunches with ease when all they have to do is open a container and grab some slices of bell peppers or carrot sticks. Older kids? Cool – make them your food prep labor force! Why we do not teach our kids to cook and properly feed themselves is crazy to me. Life skills, people. Teach them how to take care of their bodies by modeling it yourself.

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Make fruit ‘grab and go’ ready

When buying apples, pears, peaches, grapes, etc., I throw them all in the sink with some water and a 1/2 cup or so of vinegar. Let them soak while prepping a big bowl o’ greens. It makes packing lunches that much easier in the morning, and only takes a few minutes.

Grocery plastic produce bags

Grocery shopping done, check. Produce purchased, check. Turning over a new leaf, check. Proud of yourself for avoiding the junk food aisle, check. Flash forward a week and you’ve got a veggie drawer filled with slimy, rotting veggies in individual plastic produce bags. Sound familiar? Ditch those thin plastic sacks pronto. Like as soon as you get home from the store. (Better yet, try these reusable drawstring bags for produce! No, I don’t get paid for that link, but I DO love and use them every tine I shop!) Those plastic sacks from the store will make your produce wilt faster. Unwrap and unband any fruits and veg and place them in drawers or in prepped in reusable containers.

You don’t have to be a neurotic food freak to be healthy. Feeding yourself and your loved ones doesn’t need to be meltdown-inducing. You do have to make a choice. Drink water. Move your body. Eat fruits and vegetables. Ditch the junk. Lift heavy things. Make the decisions that get you to your goals…or don’t.

It’s entirely up to you.

You’re an adult.

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Culinary Escapades

This week we tried a vegan pulled “pork” sandwich that was featured on Tasty Vegetarian’s facebook page. WOW. The flavors did not disappoint, however the jackfruit, was …messy. (To put it mildly.)

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This thing was a beast!

Here’s the video, if you are interested:

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So weird, but fun! Side note: super glue is likely manufactured from jackfruit. This is the stickiest substance on the planet! Sheesh! I had it everywhere and had to wash my hands with a scrub brush multiple times to get it off!
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The house smelled AH. MAZING at this point, regardless of how this pile of fruit looks.

It was very tasty, but sadly, we were missing an ingredient so a trip to the store resulted in a longer cooking time. Ours came out mushy. We will be trying again, however – but this time with canned jackfruit. Once was enough of an experience for this cook!

Later I whipped up this little experiment of my own. I love tacos. LOVE them. For these, I used cauliflower for the crumbly “meat”, (sounds weird, but seriously, cauliflower is amazing in its ability to take on different flavors.) With the cauliflower seasoned and sautéed with homemade taco seasonings, I topped the tacos with some brown rice and black beans that I had left over, some fresh salsa and sliced avocado. They were divine!

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Even hubby said they were good, and he’s not a fan of tacos!

I picked up a cookbook and tried this slaw made with veganaise, a mayonnaise substitute. It was not my favorite. At all.

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May look pretty, but the dressing was gross! Veganaise gets a thumbs down from this girl.

I had made some red lentil chili the other day and it made a bazillion servings. (Recipe in the link.) It was delicious, but a bit spicy even for me – and I dig heat! I had a numb mouth and a ready glass of ice water while eating! Using the leftovers, I topped it on some mixed salad greens and added avocado and tomato to dial down the heat just a notch. Turned out pretty good!

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Gotta get those greens in!

One thing I miss with our veggie tray is ranch. Hummus is okay, and it’s growing on me – but sometimes I just prefer ranch dressing. Attempting to make a completely vegan/plant-based version and perhaps dial up the nutrition factor, I found a recipe for one here. Made with tofu and seasonings, I thought it might work well….

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…I don’t know if it was because I used more potent red onions, or the silken tofu instead of regular, but I just did not like this. Thumbs down. It didn’t taste like ranch.

I’m still experimenting with different ranch versions and am excited to find one I like! Going to try one that uses almond milk this week! Fingers crossed because I need ranch for these beautiful veggie trays!

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This $2 divided tray has been key in getting my kiddos to snack on veggies this summer. Best two bucks ever spent! I just keep it filled with whatever veggies I have on hand and set it out. It gets eaten!

And finally, made this quick lo mein last night. Super easy and came together in a flash. I added in my tofu crumbles that I like. They have the texture of mushrooms and even my hardcore carnivore hubby likes it!

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Lo mein! YUM!

I have quite a few recipes printed up for next week. I tend to gravitate toward stir fries and tacos, so we will be venturing out a bit and trying something different!

If you have a favorite plant-based recipe – share in the comments!

Food. ALL. THE. FOOD.

I love cooking and I love food. One thing that this venture into meatless eating has provided is the opportunity and motivation to find new yummy dishes! This last week did not disappoint! (Just try not to lick your screen!)

My version of a Freebirds salad bowl. LOVE.

 

Basic stir fry with Tofu. This one was sort of so-so. Okay, but not really anything to write home about.

 

A great place to eat veggie is Freebirds. They aren’t everywhere, but if you are lucky enough to live near one – oh man they are tasty, fresh and super quick when you are on the go!
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This one happens to be a “side” dish. Basic with some rosemary and roasted in the oven, but delicious!
This soup is my current obsession – and it’s really very simple. It’s different every time I make it because I never follow a recipe, and use what I have on hand. I could live on soup forever!
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Not really much to look at but it was tasty! Brown rice, black beans, diced tomatoes and seasonings made this a yummy quick lunch!

 

These Tacos were so flavorful. The “meat” was cauliflower crumbled and sautéed with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and a few diced onions. Topped with brown rice and black beans, sliced avocado and a few tomatoes.
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Heat from the red lentil chili was high, but could easily be modified!

I have finally given up on turmeric. I have tried (about 10 times) to like it. I’m not a fan of curry, either.  It’s not something I think I’m going to continue to force myself to keep trying to like. No matter how yellow it makes the tofu, its simply not the same as scrambled eggs. I do like both saffron and turmeric in tea, however! So tea it is!

With all of these food pics, it may seem like I spend countless hours slaving in the kitchen. Not so! I do love to cook and experiment, so that definitely helps – but I’m not standing in the kitchen all day long. (Who would want to stand over a hot stove when it’s over 100 degrees outside right now in South Texas!? Blegh!) Other than figuring out a few new recipes and trying some new things, it doesn’t seem to take that much more time in the kitchen. (More often than not while eating meat I would forget to defrost something and it would take twice as long anyway!)

These last weeks have been one food adventure after another! One thing that has surprised me is how good everything tastes – and I’m not just bragging on my own cooking skills. I feel like my taste buds have been awakened, as corny as that sounds. Everything just seems to have way more flavor. (Side note: with this much fiber, you can imagine that bathroom habits have also changed. WOW! TMI, yes, but a fact of life.) More importantly, through this process – the past two weeks have been shocking in the increase in the level of energy I have. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. (Early last week, even my hubby noticed my increased energy!) I was astonished at just how yucky I was feeling. As good as I feel now, I really don’t see how I could go back to eating any other way.

What is your favorite meatless meal?

Food Adventuring

A question I got was “So, what are you going to actually EAT if you go vegetarian?”

All of the things. You know, except for things with a face. In cattle country (aka Texas), it seems like going vegetarian is just crazy. Seriously, though – there are SO many whole food, plant-based items to eat – that are truly delicious.

My breakfast this morning was a yummy chocolate banana smoothie!
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Dear daughter had a banana, pineapple, strawberry, and mango smoothie with flaxseed and soymilk. It’s the first smoothie that she’s actually finished all gone! (She’s a soy milk convert!)

I was turned on to Dr. Greger from his appearance in the documentary films Forks over Knives and What the Health. (Check them out if you haven’t!) He also has a fabulous app for plant based diets to ensure you hit all your markers for a complete veggie diet. Super helpful!

A little light reading while dear daughter was in gymnastics. Uplifting title, no?!

I will say I’m about halfway through the book and enthralled. There is SO much info about food that I thought I knew. Love learning new (and healthy) information! The book is broken down into chapters by category: How not to die from Heart Disease, How not to Die from Diabetes, etc. Then they go into why each of the categories of food are recommended, then the how to. I think that’s the key for most of us, myself included. It’s great to read all this info, but then what do you do with that knowledge? Practical application is key!

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Part of dinner last night! Cucumber, tomato, avocado salad, garlic toast (no butter), Spanish rice. We also had chickpea barbecue sandwiches. They aren’t pictured because 1. they were ugly, and 2. no one liked them.

I think that’s the thing that I love about food and cooking: there’s always another meal to try again. There’s so many flavors to experiment with and food combinations with which to fall in love. Who cares if you don’t like one particular dish? It’s okay!

The one thing that I do find challenging is to feel like the meal is “complete”. The food pyramid/my plate influence runs deep. It’s definitely a shift to looking at veggies as the main meal instead of a side dish.

Are you a vegetarian? Flexitarian? Vegan? What do you love about veggies? Do you feel better by eating plant-based foods?

Anticipation

I’ve always been afraid of it. I don’t really know why. Frequently maligned and mocked things can come across as scary. It was with great trepidation I even gathered the courage to…

put it in my grocery cart.

But I did it.


Steeling myself as I reached for what I assumed was gelatinous goo, I set it on the counter to open the packaging. The label said “extra firm” but I could hear the sloshing of liquid inside. Frustratingly, the label offered no window with which to peek.

“Deep breath,” I told myself.

Gently peeling back the label, I was greeted with nothing more than a simple white rectangular prism sitting in its own nice little pool of water. No mold, no worms, no other disgusting materials of which nightmares are made. Just a rectangle of white.

I poked at it with my finger, curiosity overcoming my trepidation. “Hmm, it IS firm,” I thought, and proceeded to follow the directions for my breakfast scramble.

The white rectangle stared silently as the other vegetation warmed itself by the fire.


I crumbled it in, added garlic and tuneric, cooked and stirred. “It really resembles scrambled eggs,” I told the kids who really couldn’t care less.


Bottom line: It really DOES take on the flavors it is cooked in. With a bit of salsa and in a tortilla, it could easily be a delicious breakfast taco. Ahhh, the possibilities are endless. Like most scary things, the anticipation was far worse than the thing itself.

One thing I did learn through this recipe is that I’m not a huge fan of turmeric. I don’t mind it in tea, but in my scramble it wasn’t my fave…..but I’m excited to experiment more!

What is your favorite way to make tofu? Were you ever scared to try it? Tell me and share your favorite recipes!

via Daily Prompt: Impression

Veggietales

I’m not a big fan of sticking a toe in the water. With most things, I’m a jump right in kind of gal. Over the years I’ve played around with various levels of vegetarianism, and was for a solid year shortly after high school. (Going to Mexico and seeing open air meat markets the summer after reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle really clinched it.)

Through my fitness journey, countless documentaries, Michael Pollan-type books and a love of cooking, I’ve played with the idea of once again returning to a whole foods plant-based diet. When I look at my dogs – and know the connection to them that we have – it’s not hard to make the leap that other animals have a similar capacity.

In addition to being animal-lover, a proponent of reducing our carbon footprint, embracing a plant based lifestyle can help us not only live longer, but thrive while doing so. I have long been skeptical of eliminating entire food groups, demonizing carbs etc. I will always come back to one question: Can what I am doing now be sustained when I am 90?  I definitely hope to still be eating my veggies and telling tales at 90!

I have found some great resources that will ensure vitamins and minerals needed will be obtained, such as this great app Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen:

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The other major factor(s) to consider are my minions and hubby. My husband is a meat eater. We both found our text exchange hilarious!

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My poor husband! (Luckily for him, deployment is on the horizon so he can eat whatever he wants.) What I adore about him (among many things) is his willingness to be supportive and try new things, even if it scares him. (And yep, adopting a veggie diet will be an adjustment for sure!)

My first experiment got the thumbs up from everyone, however! I tweaked a banana bread recipe and made it vegan and it ROCKED! Couldn’t even tell the difference!

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Super picky son said that it tasted different but I think he was pulling my leg because he totally ate it. Stinker! The kids are very low-meat eaters anyway, so it’s not a hard sell for them. It’s mostly the grown ups that have a learning curve to navigate.

Finally, with the pre-diabetes diagnosis last year, and struggling with depression – refocusing on diet and exercise seems like a step in the right direction!

 

 

Inspiration

Feeling a little blah after the holidays I’ve been not so inspired to write lately, about food, fitness or anything else. I have officially stopped working at the gym (my choice, all good) and have been getting into the new routine working out and doing the mom thing.

A friend of mine started a blog Fiftytwoin2017 in which she posts recipes she makes for her family – but adds her take with humor and practicality! I thought it was a great idea, but still not enough to get me off of Netflix to put some ideas down.

Last week our son had a multi-cultural lunch where each student brought a native dish from their country of origin, wrapping up a 6 week unit studying their heritage. I made Irish soda bread and brought it to the party, and of course Jacob tried one bite and said nope, and refused to try any of the the other dishes, not so shockingly. I picked the bread for it’s plain flavor and relative ease, but also knowing that there was no way my son would ever get near corned beef and cabbage. (For the record, anyone who has no taste/texture issues – the bread was delicious!)

At lunch with my husband today, we tried out a new restaurant. He is not a huge fan of Mexican food, but can usually find something he likes, mainly enchiladas. While he likes many foods I do not care for, he is often hesitant to try new things. (It’s really a miracle that our family ever eats at the same time as we are all food incompatible with each other!) Chuy’s, based out of Austin, was our lunch spot and it was delicious! His enchiladas came and had a tomatillo sauce on top. The look on his face was one of apprehension and worry. (Gah! Green! The horror!) Reluctantly he tried it – and liked it, even saying he would order it again! Win win!

Looking at the Facebook “On this day” feed, I saw that a friend had posted a recipe that I simply HAD to try – 2 years ago. It was a recipe for borscht, the Russian beet stew stuff. Hmm. I suppose after razzing Eric about trying new things, I should probably buck up and do the same. I scanned the ingredients and had most of them…all this cooking and different cultures swirling in my mind I decided to give it a go! Better late than never, right!?

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

454 g ground pork (optional)

I used the pork. Delish. Bonus – Protein!

3 medium beets, peeled and shredded

Shredding was a pain. But worth it. You could also dice them, but cooking time would need to be extended.

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1-6 ounce can tomato paste

¾ c water

½ head of cabbage, shredded

1-8 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste I recommend more than you might think, approximately 1 1/2 tsp each. I ended up wanting a tad more on my serving. 

Raw sugar to taste, approximately 1 tsp

I skipped this ingredient. Don’t need more sugar, but for as much as this recipe yields, it seemed insignificant. 

Sour cream and fresh parsley for garnish

This would have been nice, but I’m not a huge sour cream fan. I would make these optional.

Directions:

Brown ground pork over medium heat until no longer pink, drain and set aside. In a large soup pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add sausage and beets – cook until the beets have lost their colour. Add carrots and potatoes, cook until tender. Add cabbage and canned tomatoes.

2 liters = about 8 cups.

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Pretty beets. Pain in the butt to peel, but worth it!
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Looks like I slaughtered something – oh! It’s beets. (Notice that the last one is diced instead of shredded? Yeah, I’m not into shredding and neither are my knuckles!)
In a skillet, heat oil and cook onion until tender. Stir in tomato paste and ¾ c water until smooth. Add to soup. Add garlic, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes then season with salt, pepper and sugar. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and parsley if desired.

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Regular white potatoes about to turn red!
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Getting there!
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And kid approved!
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Delicious!
We ate it with mini saltine crackers (classy, I know). This would be amazing with some toasted french bread. (Of course, french bread is always good, I’ve never met a loaf I didn’t like.)

Tex-Mex for lunch and Ukraine for dinner! How’s that for around the world cuisine?!