Recipe-A-Rama

Since coming back from the Lomilomi retreat, I’ve been trying to cook more vegetarian meals for dinner.  My goal is eating vegetarian 3-4 times per week.  This is challenging since I really enjoy getting a lot of protein and don’t enjoy the gassiness from most legumes but I’m giving it a go.  Since I’m also dairy-free, most of my veg meals are vegan, though I do use ghee or eggs in some of my dishes.  It is not my intent to become vegetarian or vegan, both due to how my system does well with meat and that I have access to local meats from small farms that I trust.  BUT, the American diet has definitely become a meat-fest and I think I’ll both be healthier and will eat more sustainably for our planet if don’t eat meat in every meal and eat it in smaller portions when I do.

Last night I was particularly pleased with the concoction I made up.  I bought some great organic veggies at Sweet Pea in Waitsfield, VT, which included tomatillos, a veggie I’ve had in Mexican dishes but hadn’t really cooked with.  I decided to see if they worked in a Coconut Curry, and holy crap I think tomatillos might be a perfect pairing for Indian food.  I can’t wait to try them in my bhindi masala once my okra is ready to pick!  This is an easy recipe with a lot of warmth and a good mix of tart and sweet.

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Tomatillo Coconut Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard seed
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-7 sliced baby bella mushrooms (or 3 portobello mushrooms)
  • 6-7 tomatillos, sliced thin
  • 1 handful of snap peas
  • 3/4 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1.5 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp. red curry powder
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • dash of cardamom powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: toasted coconut flake (throw some coconut flake under the broiler or in the toaster oven for just a few minutes, watch it, it burns fast!)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the flax and mustard seeds, once they are starting to pop add the chopped onion and cook for just a minute or two.
  3. Before the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms (this is if you like your mushrooms well done, like I do, otherwise wait until the onions are translucent).
  4. Cook mushrooms to desired doneness, then add tomatillos, garlic and all spices.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until tomatillos have softened and there’s some juice in the pan.
  5. Add snap peas and broccoli, cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Add coconut milk and stir well.  Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring, then reduce heat to low.  Adjust spices as desired.  Simmer covered on low 5-7 minutes or until veggies have softened a bit but snap peas still have some crunch to them.
  7. Serve over rice or quinoa, optionally top with coconut flake.  Enjoy!

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This morning I finally tried making almond milk from scratch.  It was not only incredibly creamy and delicious, but it was also SUPER easy!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked 8-12 hours and rinsed (optional: remove skins by pinching then after they’ve soaked*)
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp. honey (or sweetener of your choice, or 3-4 large dates)
  1. Toss all ingredients in a Vitamix or high-powered blender.  Blend on high for two-minutes (if you’re not using a Vitamix you may need to blend longer and also may need to strain the final result for optimum creaminess).  
  2. Enjoy!  

Now, wasn’t that easy?  Why have I been buying pre-made almond milk with preservatives and cane sugar?!  Well, now I know. 😉  I also have to brag and say that I’ve found many store-bought brands are watery and either too sweet or flavorless.  This was a nice mild nuttiness, very rich and creamy, and for me it was just the right sweetness.  

Next up, making my own coconut milk!  Now that I know how easy it is, the sky’s the limit!

Workouts, Strawberries and a Positive Body Image

Another week, another workout!  Yesterday I had the day off for the US Independence Day.  In preparation of a few extra drinks I crafted a high-intensity full-body workout.  I was really happy with this one and felt it was pretty well-balanced.  It was also the first time I tried doing double kettlebell step-ups and I was surprised how much the 50lbs slowed me down.  It was a great exercise for legs, abs and balance; probably my favorite and the hardest of the whole workout.  Want to give it a try?

7/4/13 – Set interval timer to 3 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest.  I used 25lb kettlebells and a 20lb free-weight for the ab twists.

  Buy-In: 1 min high knees
  1. Sumo Jumps
  2. Double KB step-ups
  3. KB Lunge-Row
  4. Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout
  5. Pull-Ups
  6. Weighted Seated Ab Twists 
  7. Hanging leg-lifts
  Buy-Out: 1 min high knees
 
After that brutal workout (especially in the 90ºF weather we were having) I was ready for a reward.  I found this amazing recipe for vegan, gluten free, grain free strawberry icebox pie.  I grabbed two pints of local strawberries and gave it a go!  I added some raw chocolate to the crust but other than that I used the recipe as written, it is so delicious!  And so healthy!  You have to try it:
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I was really inspired by this blog post from Marianne at myomytv.com.  As someone who follows both her and Zuzka’s workouts it was interesting to see both in the same forum.  I didn’t agree with all of Marianne’s points but I absolutely loved her sentiments about improving our bodies:
 
What do you LOVE? While achieving your strength goals, focus on what you love, not what you want to fix.”
 
THIS.  Thisthisthis.  I’ve mentioned before that I gained respect for exercise late in life, while attending school for Massage Therapy.  I spent my childhood trying to feign illnesses to get out of gym class, and saying “I only run if someone’s chasing me.”  
 
While I dabbled in sports in school, overall I had a very negative view of them.  When I look at the reason for that it really came down to my values not seeming to fit in with the values being thrown on my in gym and on teams.  For one thing, I never understood why people get so brutally invested in sporting events.  I’m all for having fun and rooting for a team, but I can’t connect with the devastation feel when “my” team doesn’t win and how even when a team does win the reaction can be expressed by rioting.  I also don’t understand the amount of corruption in sports with athletes drugging themselves up, dramatically altering their diets to either gain or lose weight, and the perpetuated idea that if you don’t win you’re worthless.  There seems to be a lot of shaming and negative reinforcement in our athletic fields.  I could write a whole entry on this but this is not what’s really goading me right now.  This is about body image.
 
The other issue that really bothers me in the athletic arena is the idea that people should exercise to lose weight, gain muscle, look like that trainer they’ve been ogling over, and basically that they have to change their body to fit some universal image of what “in shape” looks like.  Now let me say right now, I’m not dissing the idea of exercising to lose weight or gain muscle, but I don’t think it should be the predominant driving factor.  I believe that if we all took a more positive approach to diet and exercise as lifestyle choices that there would be higher success rates.
 
I work out and eat right because I love how it makes me feel.  I love the increase in energy.  I love feeling strong and flexible.  I love seeing my body change in ways I didn’t know it could.  It’s also AWESOME that weight loss and more muscle mass comes along with that but if I looked at those two as the defining factors of what makes me fit then I’d always be disappointed.
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Zuzka is gorgeous.  But, if my goal was to look like Zuzka, I would be fighting an uphill battle that I can’t win. I heard a story on VPR recently that discussed a research study done with about 100 women.  They were asked to record their daily diet in a notebook.  Half were given a notebook with a slender woman on the cover and on each page, the other half were given a notebook with just a tape-measure on the cover and each page.  The women given the notebook with the tape-measure lost weight on average.  The women with the notebook with the slender woman GAINED weight on average.  The group conducting the research study said that the women who gained weight just gave up when they realized they could never look like the slender woman.  It actually caused them to over-eat.  Body-shaming does not work.
 
I will never look like Zuzka.  I frankly don’t have the bone structure for it, let alone the genetics to get my body fat percentage that low without working out 5-6 hours per day.  And you know what?  That’s totally ok!!  I look like ME and the more I work out the more I get to discover how my body feels when it’s strong.  I get to explore what I look like when I’m in shape and I get to push my own limits to see what I can physically do.  
 
The line that I’m sure all of you have heard before is Love Your Body.  That’s really it.  If you love your body then you’re going to want to keep it in shape.  You’re going to want to exercise.  You’re going to want to eat right.  LOVE YOUR BODY.  No one else will ever look just like you.  You have the privilege of exploring what your body can do when it’s well taken care of.
 
We all have an inner critic and I know it can be really hard to see past that.  But remember you have a choice.  It doesn’t have to be hard.  It can be really easy.  And it’s a choice you can continue to make.  Did you decide to have a Philly cheesesteak and now you feel like crap?  That’s ok, you can make a different choice tomorrow.  Did you skip your workout for a day?  A week?  A month?  THAT’S OK, because you can choose to work out RIGHT NOW. 😉  
 
Just do me a favor and don’t let your main motivation to be out of shame.  If you work you for YOU there’s a good chance You WILL lose weight and you WILL gain muscle but the bigger point is feeling good in your own skin and letting the pride that you take in yourself be your motivator.  If you truly want to get out of the cycle of working out for a few months and then giving up for the next six months then you need to get past the “90-Day Challenges” and the quick-fix instant-gratification crash courses and really think about the positive effects eating well and exercising have on your body.  Love your body and you won’t have to think about short-term goals, you will find yourself in a healthy long-lasting fitness routine not because society is telling you that’s what you should want, but because that’s what YOU want.

1200 down, 6900 to go & Warrior Food is not my friend

I finally did the math.  It’s not like it was hard, I just didn’t want it staring me in the face.  So far I’ve done 1200 burpees (60 more to do today), which means I have 6900 to go and will have completed 8100 burpees by the end of my 90 day challenge.  That’s assuming, of course, that I finish.  But I BETTER finish!  

I finally gave Warrior Food another try today and I’m sticking with my “C” rating.  At this point I’d gladly give the rest of the bottle away.  Today I tried mixing it with some of the strongest flavors I could:

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Ingredients:

  • handfull Spinach
  • 1c Cranberry Pomegranate juice (100% juice, no added sugar)
  • 1 banana
  • handful frozen strawberries
  • handful frozen peaches
  • 1tbsp spirulina
  • 1tbsp flax seeds
  • 1tbsp flax seed oil
  • 2tbsp Warrior Food

I’ve found that the cranberry pomegranate juice is a really nice base and makes smoothies a little thinner and sweeter.  I will say for me it’s not the best choice for a morning drink.  I have acid reflux and I think that on top of all the fruit is just too acidic.  I’ll stick with my unsweetened coconut milk in the mornings but will keep using the juice for afternoon smoothies.  

The big bummer is that even with all this flavor I can still taste whatever it is in the Warrior Food that’s making me cringe.  I’m still not sure if it’s the cactus or the stevia.  I know I don’t like most things with stevia but it doesn’t have the normal stevia taste.  I’ve never eaten cactus by itself so that could definitely be it.  Regardless, Warrior Food is not for me. It’s also thicker and mealier than the other powders I’ve tried.

I ordered a jar of the Fat Flush Body Protein I reviewed over here.  While I wasn’t 100% keen on it the first time I tried it, comparatively it’s one of the best.  I really like the minimal ingredients and it’s the only powder I tried that stays white so on the few days that I’d like a smoothie that’s neutral-colored I’ll go with that.  I’m also going to continue using the Supreme Meal powder.  I like the idea of rotating protein powders, just like I like the idea of rotating all of my smoothie ingredients.  I had a nutritionist tell me once that the body likes [healthy] surprises.  She recommended switching up supplements as well.  That idea seems to work for me so I’ll keep rocking it.

I’m still looking for more protein powder ideas.  Let me know if you have a favorite!

1080 Burpees in 12 Days, Green is GOOD

1080 burpees down, more than I care to count to go!  I’m hurting but not enough to complain about it here just yet.  This is a quickie entry to share my latest Vitamix creation:

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Vegan Spinach “Cheese” dip.  I swear, that might not look delicious but it TASTES delicious.  Since I’m new to the world of Vitamix vegan cheeses I didn’t alter the recipe at all so you can find it in all it’s glory right over here.  Next time I’d definitely blend it less so it’s chunkier and not quite all-over-green.  I will say that neither my boyfriend nor I are vegan but we both thoroughly enjoyed this accompanied by lentil crackers, carrots, celery and snap peas.  I’m also a huge fan with how much of this recipe is raw.

I also made a raw cashew “cheese” dip directly from the Vitamix Create recipe book but I have to say I wasn’t impressed.  So unimpressed that I’m not even bothering to write about it here.  My boyfriend liked it, I thought it was…funky.  Like, ear funk funky.  So tell me, blogosphere, what raw nut cheese recipes do you love?  I’m on a quest!

 

810 Burpees in 9 Days. Let’s celebrate with ice cream!

I made something so delicious last night that I just had to blog about it!

ImageBlackberry Peach Nicecream (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s “Secretly Healthy Red Velvet Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup frozen blackberries
  • 3/4 cup frozen peaches
  • Just under a 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1-2 tbsp raw cacao powder (note, I used a full two and it was STRONG)
  • A few drops of vanilla

The directions are easy, you throw it all in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender until it turns to the consistency of creamy ice-cream (about 1 minute in a Vitamix using the tamper). So a couple differences here between the recipe I made and the one from Katie’s blog.  The biggest thing is the raw chocolate.  Raw chocolate has a much stronger flavor than cocoa powder (what the original recipe calls for) which is why I ended up adding in some agave nectar.  The agave cuts the bitter of the chocolate without making it overly sweet.  The benefits of the raw chocolate are plentiful.  It’s a killer antioxidant.  It also has a big punch of nutrients:

  • Magnesium, and other essential minerals including calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese
  • Polyphenols called flavonoids, with antioxidant properties
  • Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, E
  • Essential heart-healthy fat: oleic acid a monounsaturated fat
  • Protein
  • Fiber

I’m a fan!  This low-calorie nutrient-rich snack is also so healthy that I had some for breakfast. 😛

The one caveat I’ll admit is that this is no sissy’s ice cream.  The flavor is STRONG, especially if you use the full 2tbs.  Tone it down by using less raw chocolate, and add a little more agave if you’d like it to be sweeter.  It was too much for my boyfriend but that just means more for me!

Before I leave you, I did try the Warrior Food protein powder in my smoothie this morning.  I mentioned Warrior Food in yesterday’s post.  I was really excited to try it since it has high reviews online and it’s the protein powder of choice of my favorite local raw foodie.  I’ve got to say, I was not impressed but I’m going to give it another chance.  Here was the recipe I used:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • handful of frozen pineapple
  • handful of frozen mango
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs flax seed oil
  • 2 tbs Warrior Food

Since I left out the spirulina and didn’t use much spinach I was surprised the drink was green.  Green drinks don’t bother me one bit, I was just wondering where the color came from and my current hypothesis is the cactus, but perhaps hemp turns green?  The thing that got me was the flavor.  I can’t quite put my finger on it but there was something odd.  I want to try it in one of my strawberry recipes because it’s possible the pineapple-mango just wasn’t a good partner for the mix.  It was also grittier than the other powders I’ve tried.  I will say I couldn’t taste the stevia at all and despite the not-so-great initial taste there was no aftertaste.  That was enough to get me to keep drinking it but in full disclosure I winced on each gulp.  So far I’m giving it a C, but if I change my mind I’ll let you know!