Thursday, October 27, 2011

It can be done!

Usually when I make my pureed roasted sauce I toss the veg with olive oil, salt & pepper.  This time I created my roasted veg puree without the oil.  It worked.  I found it can be done!  
So I did the same as always.  In my baking dish I put a tub of cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 onion cut in large chunks, 2 red peppers cut in large chucks, about 8 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper.  Tossed them about and baked them at 475 degrees until a little charred on top.  Placed the roasted goodness in my processor and blended with some crushed red pepper, added a little veg broth and more salt & pepper as needed.

Seems the natural sugars and water in the vegetables prevent them from just turning into charcoal bits as I thought they would have without the oil.  After I had removed the roasted veg from my baking pan, I added some sliced Field Roast seitan frankfurters and baked them for a bit while my wheat pasta boiled.  When my pasta was done, I threw in some frozen chopped kale in with the pasta and water to heat it up.  I then strained the pasta with kale then put that back into the pot, added my puree and baked frankfurters and served topped with some toasted pine nuts.

Chris really loves seitan now.  I was told by my Engine2 instructor and coach last Monday that even vegan processed meats are a processed food. And to only eat them occasionally (mostly because of added salt, sugar and oil found in most processed foods).  Makes sense. A processed food no matter meat based or not, is still processed.  The goal is to eat a whole foods plant based diet.

We have been eating a certain way for some 40 years.  To change to something different takes work and time.  We still like the tastes and texture of what used to be meat in our diets.  These meat substitutes have the same texture like their animal counterparts and also (if you get the right thing) taste like them.  Adding them in dishes every now and then seem to help our cravings for that texture and taste.  What I need to do is make my own seitan.  Then I can make my own sausage.

I have to be happy with the progress we are making here.  I'm going to keep and open and reasonable mind about all of this.

My instructor also hit my heart where it would hurt the most and mentioned that agave nectar is considered a processed sugar.  Damn it man! Dude, you're killing me here!  I just can't handle that one.  I don't plan on omitting it from my tea.  I'll reduce my serving, but I won't give it up.  Sorry....

We have been plant based for six weeks now.  I myself feel awesome!  I mean, aside from my allergies, I feel so much lighter and cleaner.  I have more energy now and can even notice it at my workouts. Oh, and something else I have noticed.  My fingernails are thick and hard now.  They were always so thin and brittle before. Crazy cool.

To summarize:  You can roast vegetables without oil.  Eat processed meat substitutes only occasionally.  I love my agave nectar!  I have the nails of a vampire.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cute things little people say

A little Hokusai

Thought I would share some of Hokusai's artwork.  Chris especially likes his work.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Eri Kamijo

Counting down!

24 days and counting! Yes, I am a complete nerd. Almost forty and giddy like a school girl over an upcoming teen movie. I really don't care. I love this saga. I've been re-reading all of the books (will be my fourth time I believe) so I'll be primed and ready! I'll be watching Breaking Dawn when up in Tennessee next month along side my fellow Twihard sister Caroline. I can't wait!

Nerd out.

Thanks Monique!

Part of the Engine2 diet and challenge is to omit all oils. I have to say, dropping the meat and dairy was a snap. Changing the way you cook without oil takes more work. The main problem is that eating out is even harder as oil or butter is used to prepare just about everything. Even ordering a salad is an issue unless you bring your own dressing. Luckily I don't eat out much; but when we do, we'll just have to deal with it or bring items - which seems meaningless since the whole purpose behind eating out is to experience new tastes and food combinations, not bringing your own foods. Might as well eat that salad at home!

Then again, the other reason to eat out is to be able to sit, be served and not do the dishes! I am reading several books at once (weird, I know) and one of them is a vegan book. They talk about BPO or Best Possible Option. Not to freak out if you fail or forget to prepare. Just go with the BPO at the time.

I'm not going to kill myself on this new way of life. I don't imagine that if I eat a salad while out on that rare occasion and there is oil in the dressing, the world will implode and on my birthday if I want to eat anything my little heart desires....I believe I will do so.

The whole point of this ramble (as I get carried away again...) is that I did find this awesome recipe called "No oil no fat crispy roast potatoes" thanks to my friend Monique who is participating with me on the Engine2 Challenge. She sent me this link and I gave them a try.
I had to share this! They totally rock! Thank you Monique for the link to this wonderful recipe. I've made these bad boys twice now and we all love them. They are super crunchy on the outside and nice and creamy light on the inside. Best of all, no oil or fat is used to make them and they don't stick to the baking sheet! You can pop as many of these babies into your mouth as you want. You are only eating potatoes, a little flour, salt and pepper. That's it.

I chuckled to myself when I put this picture up as it lacks any plating design. Looks very militant and boring. Here we have those rockin potatoes served with some steamed edamame and a Field Roast Italian seitan sausage. This sausage is made from wheat gluten (the protein portion of wheat) and all the herbs commonly associated with meat sausage but without the fat and cholesterol. They also have more PROTEIN than their animal based counterparts. Interesting...

I did put a squeeze of ketchup for my taters and some stone ground mustard for my sausage after the pic was taken.

Just a note. These Field Roast sausages are good..... So good Chris can never only eat one of them.

Doing what they do best

Playing of course! For us Floridians we love those cool dry days with low humidity. It's a must to open the windows and head outside. Summers are brutal, so any cold snaps are awesome.Back in his favorite spot. Bella blowing bubbles.
Kris chasing the bubbles.
More bubbles!
Now some posing from his pirate ship (actually the fort on the swing set).
I didn't tell him to do that pose. Watch out GQ magazine.

Mr. Green thumb

Our resident green thumb Chris picked up a sprout growing kit from the Vegfest the other weekend. We selected sunflower sprouts as we've eaten those before and loved them. I have a feeling he will be ordering more seed and kits because it was a fantastic success! You can grow wheat grass, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts etc. Without any fear of E-coli!
Look at these babies! It cost us $10 for a complete kit with seeds, soil and container. To buy a small bag of grown sprouts costs more than that! They are almost ready for clipping and it took no time at all!
Bella suggested we let a few mature so that we can gather more seeds from the flowers verses ordering more seed.
I made another miso soup. This time I added wakame seaweed and used udon noodles instead of soba noodles. It was so very good! Lukily a little dried wakame goes a long way.

Miso soup with wakame and udon noodles

1 package udon noodles
2 tablespoon dried wakame seaweed
1 package sliced mushrooms
2 carrots sliced diagonally
5 scallions sliced
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons tamari
8 cups water or veg broth
salt & pepper

In a bowl soak the seaweed in cold water until re hydrated. Will more than double in size. Then drain, set aside. In your stock pot, spray a tiny amount of Pam and saute' the carrots and mushrooms together. If they begin to stick, add a little broth and continue to cook. When carrots are soft, add the broth/water and tamari. Once the liquid comes to a boil add the seaweed and udon noodles. Use a little of the hot liquid in a small bowl and add miso paste and combine. Once the noodle are tender, remove from heat and add the miso liquid. Serve topped with scallions and season well with salt & pepper.

Jazzercise and 5k event

Saturday morning I put on my running and walking gear and headed to the mall to attend the breast cancer 5k. I met up with my Jazzercise group. We had a lot of fun. Some of my Jazzercise ladies here posing for pics. I completed the 5k and felt awesome. I then rushed to this little Juicing/Smoothie place and picked up a grilled mushroom and veggie wrap (sans the cheese of course) and downed that before heading home. I was starving! ;)

No school, make it work

Friday was a teacher's planning day and daycare also decided it would be fun to be closed leaving all us worker bees scrambling to find a solution. I used this day of no school to my advantage and took Bella to her yearly dermatologist visit then after she came in to work with me for the day.

Chris had to take time off work and watched Weeman at home. It was a good thing really as Chris was coming down with a cold and didn't need to be working.
My pal Neil's son Brendan also came in to work. Neil set them up in our conference room with movies and a comfy couch. They only sat there a few minutes at a time (both seemed to have the same short attention span). They helped pick up printed copies, played on the computer, played on the DS, colored and also played hide and seek. Both of them ended up having a blast. It helped that they seemed a lot alike. Energy squared.

I somehow got my work done and then headed home. Bella had a great time and even made a new friend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm a firefighter!

This Monday I went to the first meeting and officially started my Engine2 - 28 day challenge. Chris is also on board. I'm just relaying the meeting info and cooking up all the cool food for him since he volunteered to stay home with the kids while I attend the meetings. We've actually been on this diet for almost three weeks now, so we have a bit of a head start. There were about 70 of us that attended and the speaker was very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and inspiring. Even more inspiring were the few people that came up to speak in regards as to how this diet changed their lives. One woman had her diabetes cured while another lost weight and no longer battles with arthritis. Completely cured. It gave me the chills.

All of this from feeding the body proper nutrition for it to heal itself. No drugs.

The event manager and speaker, Curtis also referenced all of the giants that I have been following all this time. - Rip Esselstyn, his father Caldwell Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. McDougall, Joel Furhman, Jeff Novick, etc. I knew I was in the right place and was so glad I participated.

Not sure if you can read the above, but it's just a page from our little program guide. This program has two options. Fire Cadet or Firefighter. We aren't going to fiddle around with phasing this and that out one by one....we're firefighters! I know it can be done. All it takes is self control.

Fire Cadets: (Week 1 - No Dairy and no refined or processed foods. Week 2 - No meat, chicken, eggs, fish, along with dairy & processed foods. Week 3 - No extracted oils.)

Firefighters: (Jump right in and exclude all.)

We've been having fun experimenting these past three weeks. We have slipped and added oil here and there as I'm almost having to learn how to cook again without it. Starting as of Monday, no more oils. They mentioned in the meeting, especially those that had dramatic health benefits and change that omitting the oil was the true fix all.

I'll be keeping a food log and also sharing my recipes and foods on here. Wish us luck! ;o)

Extreme science

Earlier this week I stumbled upon an article "Why a personal trainer is making himself obese...on purpose" and had to share it. Drew here gained 70 pounds on purpose. The purpose being so that he could
experience first hand what it's like to be overweight and how much work it would take to get fit again. This way he would have a better understanding on teaching others. Seems pretty crazy huh?

He first experienced the withdrawals of his previous healthy diet and regimen when taking on the perils of the standard American diet. He's enjoying the taste of the unhealthy processed foods but feels like crap and is lethargic after and quickly craves more of these foods. The foods he's consuming to gain the weight primarily are from sugary cereals, granola bars, juices, white breads, white pastas, sodas, crackers chips, frozen dinners, boxed foods, etc. You know...the standard American fare.

He now seems to understand the massive cravings and addiction these processed foods create that people have to struggle to free themselves of in order to regain their proper weight and health back. It's an interesting read. Please read the full article linked above if you want the details. You can follow his progress if you're interested here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Feeling better

Someone is feeling much better now. She's still on her meds and will finish them as directed. Bella is 100% better than last week and knows now that Motrin is no longer a friend.

We had some time in the evening to get out and play a bit. She loves to throw a football with dad. She's really good too! I mean, she has an amazing arm! Too bad football is such a brutal sport that is left to the men. Bella wouldn't dig it anyway. She's not into pain.

So happy, she's happy. ;o)
Look at Weeman!

This picture does not do the actual sunset any justice, but I thought to share it anyway. I have always loved the morning and evening sky. I just want to float up there where it seems so quiet and peaceful.

Prepping for a busy week

October is booming. Both at work and at home. I won't mention my work stress as it only seems to upset me. I'm much more inclined to share my off work schedule! This Monday I am attending my first Engine2, 28 day challenge meeting after work. I'll miss my workout, but I only have to attend each Monday for five weeks. No big deal. I'll be meeting other people dealing with the same issues so that we can share experiences, recipes and maybe even become friends. Who knows...

I can't wait to learn the recipes and any more information I can gather outside of the book itself.

Since I'll be coming home late Monday I made extra food Sunday for a few nights this week. This will also help out on my work out evenings when I come home late. This way Chris only has to heat and eat or maybe just boil some pasta or rice. He can handle that...right? ;o)

I made a huge batch of yellow split pea soup with kale, rosemary and potatoes. This is just heat, and eat! I was able to freeze some for later!I roasted up some eggplant, garlic, onion, tomatoes and red pepper. After this picture was taken I added some crushed red pepper and blended it into a sauce. That is ready to be heated up with some pasta and topped with some toasted pine nuts.
Here is me heating up some onion, black beans, chopped red chilies, seitan, cumin and chili powder. This was used as a filling for my black bean enchiladas! Rolled them up then topped them with salsa and baked.

Ended up being dinner. They were great, even without the cheese. I did for a split second miss my dollop of Greek yogurt, but I quickly got over it.

Yummy seaweed salad and a new snack!

I'll start with an awesome snack to share! I had heard about this from Martha Stewart about a year ago and just never tried it myself. I'm not sure why since it's a breeze to pull together. Now that I made it myself, it will be a regular visitor! It's not Engine2 approved since I had to use some olive oil; but hell, I can't deny myself some crunchy kale! It's so good. A little olive oil has to be better than a bag of Doritos.

Kale chips

Remove stems, clean and dry, then tear the leaves of the kale into small (not too small) pieces. Place some kale on a baking sheet, do not over fill or crowd. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Key is you only need enough to coat, not floating in oil. Bake at about 425-450 for about 6 minutes then check on them. You want them dark green and crunchy. Enjoy!

On our little grown up trip on Friday, Chris and I ran into the problem of not being able to find food that didn't contain meat or dairy. I didn't realize how hard it was outside of home. For lunch we ended up in Epcot's Morocco where we enjoyed a lentil salad, couscous and falafel wraps. Dinner we had more of an issue. Either all restaurants were booked or the only offering meat free would be to order a salad sans the chicken and cheese. Boring...

So we ended up at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant where we ordered some vegetable sushi, edamame and then a seaweed salad. Chris was blown away by the salad and ordered another bowl for himself.

This is what the seaweed salad looked like. It was so delish! It had a cool texture and definitely seasoned with sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce and ginger. We are still trying to get a hold of the fresh Wakame seaweed to make the above salad.

While at Whole Foods I picked up some dried Wakame seaweed so that we could try and make our own version. It didn't look the same since we had to rehydrate it but it tasted the same.

Our Wakame salad had wakame seaweed, carrots, ginger, tamari and sesame oil. Yummers.

We have been doing more research on seaweed. It is more nutrient dense than any land plants making it a super food. There are a couple of reasons we won't be eating it all the time though. First, the price. It's expensive. Second, it's high in iodine, so we don't want to over kill on that. But a great salad to make once a week or every two weeks or so. I am still searching for more varieties and recipes though.

My next miso soup will contain a seaweed called kombu, which is a variety of kelp. I'll also be using some udon noodles which I have never used before. More of a traditional Japanese version of the soup. I can't wait to try it and share it with you.

Vegfest 2011

It was a busy weekend all in all. Friday Chris and I escaped to Disney alone to use up our final day on the passes we had. Use it or lose it and for Disney prices, use it! We had fun. We met up with Janet and her lovely daughters while we were over there. It was great to see them.

Featured below are some pics from the second annual Vegfest. It was a much larger event than last year with many more vendors, info, food and entertainment. The kids had a great time petting all of the many dogs.
Bella enjoying a vegan hot dog. She really liked it. I need to find out what brand that was.

Kristjan running around on the little bridge.

Kristjan losing his shoe on the bridge. Daddy helping to put it back on.

Vegfest was great. The kids love going to the "big city" for any reason and to be able to run around and goof off. It's all worth it. I was able to get some great info and picked up a great book. Chris picked up a sprout growing kit.

Can't wait for next year!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just a bit darker

I had enough of managing and paying for highlights. My natural color was getting boring. Dirty blonde, almost brown....whatever and those grays were starting to creep in. No! So I decided to go dark.
I love it. I am having a ball freaking people out. :o)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Little excerpts

I love my Engine2 book! I can't wait to try all of the recipes. I wanted to share a few excerpts and little quizzes with you direct from the book (I hope that's ok).

E2 pop quiz:

Q. What percentage of heart attacks occur with people who have supposedly heart-healthy cholesterol levels?

A. Thirty-five percent of all heart attacks occur in people with a total cholesterol between 150 and 199 mg/dl, numbers most physicians and the American Heart Association consider desirable.

My cholesterol on my last check up was 280...


Myth: You can't get enough protein eating a plant-based diet.

Reality: Ample amounts of protein are found in whole, natural plant-based foods. For example, spinach is 51 protein, mushrooms, 35 percent; beans 26 percent; oatmeal, 16 percent; whole wheat pasta, 15 percent; corn, 12 percent and potatoes, 11 percent.


E2 pop quiz:

Q. If there are 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon, and 39 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola, how many teaspoons of sugar are in one can?

A. Each can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar, or about 10 teaspoons full.


Myth: You can't get enough calcium eating a plant-based diet.

Reality: A diverse, plant-based diet is one of the best available sources of calcium and lets you avoid the deleterious effects associated with dairy products. Great sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, oranges, kidney beans, lima beans, whole grains, Swiss chard, lentils, raisins, broccoli, kale, celery, tofu and romaine lettuce.

Dairy products actually leach calcium from bones, contrary to what you have heard.


E2 pop quiz:

Q. Which of these foods has the highest percentage of saturated fat: butter, ice cream, steak or cheese?

A. Cheese has the most saturated fat, at almost 20 grams of saturated fat per pound.


Myth: You can't get enough fat eating a plant-based diet.

Reality: Trace amounts of fat are present in all fruits, vegetables and other plant foods. Strawberries are 5 percent fat, bell peppers, 6 percent; broccoli, 8 percent; spinach, 11 percent; and soybeans, 41 percent. There are several high-fat plant foods that contain an excess of 80 percent fat , including certain nuts and seeds, as well as avocados, olives and coconuts.


E2 pop quiz:

Q. Which has more cholesterol, a 3-ounce piece of red meat, or a 3-ounce piece of chicken breast, or a 3-ounce piece of tuna?

A. The red meat, chicken and fish all have the same amount of cholesterol - 80 milligrams.


There are many other facts and great information in this lovely book. I can't wait to try all of the recipes and attend the first challenge meeting on Monday. I'll make sure to share them with you as I go along.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scary stuff

Poor little Bellabean is recovering from strep throat right now. She started experiencing a scratchy throat on Saturday then on Sunday she really started to feel pain. We used a flashlight to see her throat and saw deep red coloration along with large red spots. We knew it must be strep only from remembering what Kris's looked like when he had it in the past.

We had a plan. Chris would stay home from work Monday to take her to the doctor first thing and Ninnie; who is visiting, would watch her Tuesday and I would take over Wednesday if needed. Plans changed.

As her pain progressed we were giving her Sucrets and Children's Tylenol to ease the pain. We tried warm tea as well, but she didn't like it. Sunday evening at 8pm she really was experiencing pain, so I decided to give her ibuprofen as it always works better and lasts longer. The Children's Motrin has not been on the store shelves for months. Not sure the reason, so I had a new bottle of Publix brand ibuprofen - the equivalent of Motrin.

Two hours later she commented that her throat was a little numb. I told her the medicine must be working - not thinking about any allergic reaction. She had been taking ibuprofen since she was very little. A few minutes after that her eyes began swelling. We made sure her breathing was ok and called poison control. After giving them all of the information regarding the medicine, dose and her weight they informed us to give her Benedryl and keep an eye on her. By midnight, her eyes and lips were swollen. It luckily didn't get any worse than that.

Bella was so scared. Mommy and daddy were so scared, but she didn't know that. We knew that as long as her breathing was fine and the swelling halted progression, she would be ok. We also have a hospital right across the street. I stayed up with her all night. She slept.

The alarm went off at 5am in hopes I would still go to work as planned. When I saw that her face was still swollen, I could not leave her. The duties and obligations of work vanished. The only thing that mattered was getting her to the doctor and getting her well.

And that she is doing now. Getting better. We know now that Ibuprofen will never pass her lips again. That was a warning, next time would be worse. Scary stuff. I am just happy she is doing better now and that I can see her beautiful brown eyes again!

Now, if I can just keep Kristjan from playing with bees and wasps and constantly getting stung and today (just got a call from daycare) standing in fire ant beds. Maybe someday he will realize that standing in a fire ant mound equals pain. I can't wait to go home and see what his legs look like. Seven bites on one and one on the other.

Mommy needs a beer....

Engine 2 Three Bean Chili recipe

We had a a very rainy Saturday and someone in the house mentioned how a warm bowl of chili would be perfect for a cool rainy day. Well, I just happened to have my handy dandy Engine2 book nearby and found a recipe for three bean chili.

The ingredients for this chili:

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 bay leaves2 green or red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups water
2 28 oz cans sodium free diced tomatoes, with juice
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 1-lb block tofu, drained and crumbled
1 can corn or 1 cup frozen niblets
1 apple, chopped
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. coriander
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

I made a few adjustments. I didn't have a jalapeno pepper so I used cayenne and instead of molasses I used maple syrup. I also had about 3 cups of vegetable broth in the frig I needed to use up, so I used that instead of the water.
The chopped green pepper, celery, carrots, garlic and onion.
Here we have the crumbled tofu, tomato paste, mushrooms, canned tomatoes, veg broth and bowl of varied beans and corn that were rinsed and drained.

I simply cooked up the trilogy with garlic in a smidgen of oil, then added the mushrooms, then added the other ingredients above with the spices and herbs and let simmer. Could not be any easier than that!

Chili simmering away....yum!

Turned out really yummy! I served the chili over brown rice and also made some corn chips by baking some corn tortillas sprayed with a little Pam and some sea salt instead of processed saltine crackers. I now am addicted to these things. I'll be making corn chips now for my guacamole, soups, salsas or any other need for some crunch.

It made a giant pot! I had plenty left over for lunch, dinner again and lunch again! That helps the old pocket book right along with my cholesterol! I like that. I'll be making this chili again.

Just a side note: It tastes better the second time. Just like lasagna does.

Funny graph to share

A friend shared this on facebook and I had to borrow it. I thought it was pretty funny and very true. You can't really read all of the items under the actual but they are fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. You get the idea. ;o)

Friday, October 7, 2011

I was having a sandwich fix! Last night I made some BLT whole wheat pita pockets filled with Smart Bacon, watercress, cilantro, onion, cucumber, mustard, little salt, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. I need to remember to pick up some Vegenaise or Nayonaise for those occasions when I want to make a sandwich. The mustard and balsamic combo worked out good though.

That tiny bowl in the background is white hominy. We LOVE hominy. It has a sweet and savory flavor all in one. I just popped open a can, drained added some salt, pepper, small bit of Earth Balance heated in the microwave until hot. Dude! I think that's my first "nuke it in the microwave" instruction on a recipe so far! Really, the only cooking that took place last night for this was for the "bacon".

I suppose I should try the hominy again with lime juice or something like a little veg broth as the Earth Balance is comprised mostly from vegetable oils and we're trying to stay clear of those these days.

Work in progress! Chris goes in for blood work for the fun of it to see if his cholesterol has started to go down yet. Since we've started this plant strong way of eating (about two weeks now) he's already lost about 5 pounds! We'll both go for blood work right before Thanksgiving, which would give us about 8 weeks of animal free eating to see what the cholesterol levels are. I am so curious to find out!

It just has to be better. It has to get lower. I mean, we are both feeling lighter and have more energy. It's almost like the dairy and meat weigh you down. I'm not complaining, it's hard to explain, but it makes you feel cleaner.