Easy Steps to Health in 2013

Hi All,

So, this morning I couldn’t find my son. He was supposed to be getting his shoes on for school. We live with my mom and she likes to keep special treats for the kids in her closet. I found him sitting in her closet, in the dark, elbow deep in Cheeto’s!!!! I literally caught him orange handed:) I share this to say that I am not, by any means, perfect in my food choices or in nourishing my kids. We all have “cheat”o moments!!! My goal is to do my best on a daily basis to eat and live as healthy as I possibly can. This way, when these moments happen, I don’t feel guilty, shamed or un-prepared to move on with wise and intentional choices.

Last week I promised a post of easy steps to health in 2013, so here we go! I know that we are all inundated on a daily basis with confusing information. Food we thought was healthy isn’t, don’t eat that, eat more this, but not with this, don’t shop here etc…It can be so overwhelming that it’s easier to just do what we’ve always done.

My best advice is to KISS (keep it simple stupid), I am not calling you stupid:) It is just a way to remember that we, as human’s tend to overcomplicate things. The simpler we can keep our diet the better.

At least 70-80% of your health and the way your body looks has to do with what you eat. We can work our little behinds off at the gym and still see little to no change if we are fueling with the wrong food.

Watermelon, rasberry & lime smoothie...My smoothie version of a Sonic Limeaide.

Watermelon, raspberry & lime smoothie…My smoothie version of a Sonic Limeaide.

Breakfast: Smoothie or Oatmeal
You cannot go wrong with either choice and there are endless combinations of each. Fruit, greens, flax seeds, soy, almond and rice milk, nut butters, cocoa powder, canned pumpkin…google smoothie recipes and I guarantee you will find an abundance of choice.

My Basic Smoothie Recipe (serves 4, 2 kid portions, 2 adult portions)

2 handfuls of spinach
2 Cups of frozen fruit
1 banana (optional)
1 apple (optional)
2 TBSP flax seeds

Blend until smooth. My kids go crazy for these, don’t get sick of them and leave for school with a few servings of fruits and veggies under their belt. This keeps me full and energized through my morning workout.

As for oatmeal, go crazy! Add nuts, blueberries, pure maple syrup, raisins, flax or chia seeds, nut butters, dark chocolate chips,  pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, soy or almond milk, coconut. Oatmeal is such a bland base that you really can flavor it any way you choose.

I cooked my oatmeal in apple cider in the fall and added fresh sliced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little almond milk and had apple pie oatmeal. Delicious!!!

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Everyday at around 10am, I am ready for a snack. The trick is not to let yourself get too hungry ever. Have snacks at the ready. I seem to have pistachio’s everywhere, in my car, my purse, my pantry…I even left some in a friend’s car on accident and then snacked on them the next time we rode together:) Obviously, you should consult with your friends first, should you decide to stash snacks around their house or vehicles!!

Nuts, apples with peanut butter, rice cakes with raw almond butter and a dash of cinnamon, carrots and hummus, banana’s, celery and on and on and on! Just make a healthy snack choice to keep you satisfied until lunch.

Lunch: Salad

My Huge Salad

My Huge Salad

My rule of thumb is one huge salad per day. If I don’t eat one for lunch I have it at dinner. I don’t eat small side salads. I eat Papa Bear sized portions. I eat everything but the kitchen sink and then some salads. I commit to the salad.

Nothing boring here. Load it up. Add a protein such as chickpeas, beans, baked tofu, veggie burgers, falafel. Add a carb, brown rice pasta, brown rice, quinoa, sliced potatoes. Add olives, pickles (sounds weird but so delicious), beets, banana peppers. Roast or grill some of the vegetables, be creative. The more you eat it, the more you will crave it. If I go a few days without a big salad I actually miss it. Your body will crave what you train it to crave. Eat crap, crave more crap, eat salad, well?:)

Also, make your own dressings. Simple dressings, lemon or lime juice with some garlic salt is one of my faves. Balsamic vinegar with some Dijon mustard and chopped garlic, heaven. You control the ingredients and the fat/calorie content when you make your own dressing. The possibilities are endless here and practice makes perfect.

I am telling you, if you decide to simply adopt my breakfast/snack/lunch plan, you will be well on your way to a healthier and thinner you.

After lunch, around 3pm or so, I usually have another snack, although sometimes I don’t need one. A cup of green tea and some dark chocolate, air popped popcorn (spray with some non-stick cooking oil so that salt will stick), or a piece of fruit.

Dinner: Lest you think I eat like a bird or that my food is bland and boring…

Lentil Stew with Brown Rice Pasta and Garlicky Kale

Lentil Stew with Brown Rice Pasta and Garlicky Kale

Grilled Portobello Mushroom "Burger" with oven fries and roasted red pepper sauce.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom “Burger” with oven fries and roasted red pepper sauce.

Cashew Cream "Alfredo" Pasta with grilled asparagus and peas

Cashew Cream “Alfredo” Pasta with grilled asparagus and peas

Easy Chili with Baked Potato Fries and fresh toppings

Easy Chili with Baked Potato Fries and fresh toppings

Enchilada Bake with simple salad

Enchilada Bake with simple salad

Tempeh Stir Fry with Tri-Colored Quinoa

Tempeh Stir Fry with Tri-Colored Quinoa

Anyone who thinks they will run out of food options on a plant-based diet obviously does not have a Pinterest account! The meals pictured above all happened within a week and a half of each other. They are all low in calories(all of the dinners pictured contain 600 calories or far less), contain little fat and absolutely no cholesterol. Not to mention, all of the meals pictured took me 30 minutes or less to prepare.

My rule of thumb with meal planning is this: A pasta night, a burger night, a mexican night, a stir fy night and a soup night. It makes my meal planning easy and there are so many different variations on all of these choices. I can serve taco’s every week with a different variation. We can have a pasta or make your own pizza bar, homemade veggie burgers and oven fries thrill my kids and husband and soup is easy, comforting and almost always leaves me with weekend leftovers.

Here is my lentil stew recipe:

Sautee an onion, 2 stalks of celery chopped, a few chopped carrots and 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped until onion is translucent.

Add a cup of dry lentils and 4-6 cups of water. Season with salt, a tsp of turmeric and a dash of cayenne pepper. Bring to a rapid boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add a TBSP of Balsamic Vinegar and a TSP of Dijon mustard. Adjust seasoning to your tastes and serve over brown rice, quinoa, whole grain or gluten-free pasta and a side of greens.

Kale: tear the kale into tiny pieces and leave out the thick, tough center rib

Chop 5 cloves of garlic and saute in deep skillet with 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes until garlic is fragrant (15-20 seconds)

Add Kale, salt and 1/4 cup of water to skillet, turn heat to high and cover. Let the kale begin to steam, stir as necessary so the top pieces are cooked and bottom don’t get over cooked. Steam no longer than 3-5 minutes until bright green. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Food is important because it fuels our bodies and we only have one. Be intentional about your food choices, it is worth the chopping, planning and discipline.

My final tip: Move!!!

Our bodies must move, daily. This is not an easy thing to start if you have fallen off the wagon. Read my previous blog post, Ganas, if you need some inspiration. If you have a difficult time staying motivated (shameless self-plug coming), hire a personal trainer. We find money for the things that are important to us, if you need accountability there is no shame in getting that help! Hire me, if you live far away, let me be your Skype coach and I can develop personalized workouts to meet your needs.  Sometimes even if we know what we need to do, having someone to lean on and walk with through the journey is necessary. Email me for more information: yourveganfriend@gmail.com , I am also available for food consulations, cooking demo’s and group workouts. If you can motivate yourself, wonderful, figure out what it will take to get you moving and start now!

Change is possible, health is attainable, simple and dare I say, enjoyable!

Much Love,

Your Vegan Friend



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