Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Veggie Minestrone Recipe

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
3/4 cup chopped onion 
3 cups water 
2 cups diced zucchini 
1 cup diced carrot, peeled
 1 cup canned cannellini beans 
3/4 cup diced celery
 1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil 
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper 
28 fluid ounces canned plum tomatoes, dice and include liquid
 2 garlic cloves, minced 
1/4 cup uncooked ditalini or 1/4 cup elbow macaroni

 Directions: 1 Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. 2 Add chopped onion and sauté for 4 minutes or until just lightly browned. 3 Add water, zucchini, carrots, canellini beans, celery, basil, oregano salt, pepper, canned tomatoes and garlic. 4 Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. 5 Add macaroni, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. 6 Adjust spices to suit your taste. 7 Serve hot.

***This was excellent!  We actually ate it all before I remembered to take pics! LOL  Served with warm french bread from the bakery!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meal Plan: July 10th-14th (short week!)

Tuesday:  Snobby Joes, Corn, Tater Tots, Pickles, Tomatoes
Wednesday:  Mushroom Pasta Bake, Salad, Corn
Thursday:  Minestrone Soup, Wheat Rolls, Salad
Friday:  Grilled Salmon, Steamed Veggies(broc,cauliflower,carrots,red potatoes)Mac n  
              cheeze (salmon is VERY small, wild-caught portion...trying out my new cajun
              seasoning.  Kyle will be skipping the fish)
Saturday:  Red beans and Rice (no sausage), Cornbread

Lunches will be is too hot to cook, and i'm still easing into the "not sick anymore" phase :)

Snobby Joes (from Veganomicon)

After many food discussions with my good friend Hollee, she introduced me to this recipe.  Her husband and my husband are both meat free for health reasons.  This was one recipe she promised would go over well :)  And she was right!  I have always said "ew" to Sloppy Joe know, the normal kind with a pound of fat laden ground beef and a can of "seasoned sauce".  Yeah-ew!

This recipe, in my opinion, was not even comparable!!  It was a great, homemade low-fat vegan dish that now has a place in my recipe card recipebook! :)  It was super easy, and took about 30 minutes to prep/cook.  Served with typical bbq type sides, and you have an easy summer meal.  We had corn, pickle spears, cherry tomatoes, and (organic, baked) tater tots!

Snobby Joes Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked green lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard

4-6 whole wheat buns for serving
Condiments for topping (mustard, relish, KETCHUP!, etc)


Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld. 
This recipe can also be frozen/microwaved, and from what I have heard, gets better each day!  Like I said, definitely a keeper!  I spooned the snobby joe mix on my bun, then topped with a thick layer of organic ketchup.  This gave it a tad more sweetness, and a lot of extra flavor!  

Summer Snack: Peanut Butter and Berry Rice Cakes

Finally started reaching for this quick snack instead of a Pop Tart :P  Very easy and filling!  Kids also LOVE them...

All you need:
Rice cakes (I used a low sodium store brand)
Natural peanut butter (2T or so)
Berries-lots of fresh summer berries.  Blackberries were a hit today, but a friend of mine used blueberries too..

I'm Back! (for real this time...)

Ok-so morning sickness totally kicked my butt!  I went from plant strong to not being able to stand the smell or sight of beans/peppers/herbs/rice.  Yeah, not great while you are trying to veganize your life!  :)

So-6 weeks of eating what "sounds good" have finally ended.  I am still a little queasy here and there, but I'm actually starting to crave something other than Poptarts,  and plain chicken.  I did splurge on a Mommy's Weekend Out to New Orleans, where I ate local seafood.  It was AMAZING, but now it's time to buckle down.  A splurge is just that:  something occasional :)

This was the first week that i've been able to sit down and meal plan.  It's hard to do when  NOTHING sounds appetizing!  So-that will be up shortly, along with a few other additions to our meal and snack list!

Monday, June 11, 2012

We Are Here!

Between vacation and morning sickness, I haven't been feeling very creative in the kitchen!  Will be updating soon with a couple soup recipes!  I love soups in warm or cool weather.  In winter, they are great with roasted veggies and crusty, homemade bread.  In summer, they are perfect paired with a gigantic salad and fruit! Plus-you don't have to heat the whole house! :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Black Bean Extravaganza


2 cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained 
1 to 1 1/2 cups water or reduced-sodium vegetable broth 
1 tablespoon liquid aminos 
1 teaspoon salt-free chili powder 
2 to 3 tomatoes, chopped 
1 bunch green onions, chopped 
1 can water chestnuts, drained (We didn't use water chesnuts...not a fan!)
1 cup corn, fresh, frozen, or canned 
2 bell peppers, any color, seeded and chopped (We used red...)
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and chopped 
1 avocado, peeled and sliced 
3 cups cooked brown rice 
Salsa or tamari to taste 


Heat the beans with water or broth, liquid aminos and chili powder. Place the chopped vegetables and cilantro in individual bowls. To serve, place several big spoonfuls of brown rice onto large plates and ladle beans on top. Add generous handfuls of chopped vegetables, cilantro, and avocado on top of the beans. Add salsa or tamari to taste.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Engine 2 Recipe Video

This has probably been one of the most helpful books in our switch to a plant based diet.  This video is a good "intro" to some of the amazing foods that can be prepared!  It was also inspiring to watch as I meal plan for the week!

No Oil: Not Even Olive Oil!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Recipe: Plant Strong Potatoes

I used:
2 large baking potatoes

1 chopped yellow squash
1/2 c chopped broccoli florets
1/2 diced onion
1/2 diced red bellpepper
8-10 large baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup veggie broth
2T white wine
Seasonings:  I used Mrs. Dash, garlic powder, Tony's, tsp of Roux mix to thicken it...

Sauté veggies until they start to soften.  Add seasonings, stir.  Add veggie broth to saturate vegetables, and make the whole pot "liquidy".  Add wine and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Bake potatoes in 350*oven for an hour, wrapped in aluminum foil.  Slice potatoes, and stuff with veggie mix.  These were so filling!  I added salt at the end, so it wouldn't be too salty. I also sprinkled mine with about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and mixed it up.  Will make these again soon :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Recipe: Fluffy Pancakes

McDougall's Starch Solution:  "Fluffy Pancakes"


1.5 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
Dash of Salt
1 T Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 C mashed ripe bananas (2-3 bananas)
1 C soy milk or rice milk
1/2 C sparkling water (I omitted this)
1 T Sunsweet Lighter Bake (I used 1/4 c applesauce here)
1 T fresh lemon juice

Mix together the whole wheat flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the Egg Replacer with 1/4 c warm water until frothy.  Add the bananas, mixing well.  Add the milk, sparkling water, Lighter Bake, and lemon juice until well mixed.  Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat.  When it is hot, ladle pancakes onto the griddle. When bubbles form on the surface, use a spatula to flip them over.  Cook until lightly browned.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Serve immediately.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Plant Strong Pitas

-3 Ezekiel brand pitas
-Cannellini bean spread (process 1 can of NSA beans, garlic powder, celtic sea salt, lemon          juice, sprinkle of cayenne pepper, and a few splashes of veggie broth to thin!)
-Sauteed red bellpepper/onion/mushroom
-Chopped baby spinach, green onions, and cilantro

Preheat oven to 375*.  Lightly toast pita bread and remove from oven.  Keep oven on! Spread hummus, or any other homemade bean spread over pitas.  Be generous!

Top with cooked veggies, and place pitas back in oven to heat the beans/veggies.  When warmed, top with greens!  Fold pita over and enjoy :)  This would also be great with guacamole and freshly chopped tomato!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Meal Plan: May 19-25

Lunch:  Out!  (Mexican-bean/rice burrito with salsa, guacamole salad)
Dinner:  Curry couscous, sauteed mushrooms, roasted potatoes

Lunch:  Red Beans and Rice
Dinner:  Veggie Wraps, Roasted squash/zucchini, and Fruit Salad (grapes, pineapple, berries)

Lunch:  Mini Ezekiel English Muffin Pizzas, corn
Dinner:  LO Red Beans and Rice

Lunch:  Boca Nuggets; Fruit, Salad, Mac N Cheese (with nutritional yeast)
Dinner:  Breakfast!  (hashbrowns, sauteed mushrooms, FF muffins, fruit salad, buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup)

Lunch:  Edamame, Miso Soup, Ginger Salad
Dinner:  California Quinoa Salad, Roasted Veggies

Lunch:  Veggie Lasagna, Kale Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Dinner:  Veggie Alphabet Soup with homemade bread

Lunch:  LO Lasagna, Salad
Dinner:  Fruit/Veggie Tray with PB and J Sandwiches (easy!)

At some point over the weekend, I will be grocery shopping (no Whole Foods trip this time!  Boooo)  and I plan to try to make this soup!  A "Peasant Style Kale and Potato Soup".  Will veganize and omit oil!  Can't wait to try it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Meal Plan: May 13-May 20

-Lunch:  mini English Muffin Pizzas; kale salad; berries
-Dinner:  Miso Soup, roasted veggies, sliced apples/pears, WF bread

-Lunch:  Buffalo Mock Chicken; WW crackers, berries
-Dinner:  crock pot Pinto beans, Mexican rice, Guacamole Salad

-Lunch:  Plant Strong Veggie Wrap, California quinoa salad, banana
-Dinner:  Mandarin Chicken and brown rice(Gardein), steamed broccoli, edamame

-Lunch:  LO Mandarin Chicken, Brown Rice, Broccoli, Edamame
-Dinner:  Veggie Burger on WW bun, roasted potato wedges

-Lunch:  Riblet, Sweet Potato, Carrot/Apple Salad
-Dinner:  Red Beans and Rice, Veggies and Fruit

-Lunch:  LO Red Beans and Rice
-Dinner:  Garden Veggie Lasagna, salad

-Lunch:  Gardein Chicken Strips, Nutritional Yeast Mac N Cheese, Sweet Potato
-Dinner:  LO Lasagna and Salad

-Lunch:  Veggie Minestrone Soup, bakery bread
-Dinner:  Veggie Pizza, Salad

Easy Lunch Idea: Mini Veggie Pizzas


Ezekial brand English Muffins, cut in half
1 can of fat free (or  low fat) pizza sauce
Nutritional Yeast

If muffins are frozen, defrost in microwave until they are thawed.  Add a layer of sauce, and then let your taste buds do the rest.  If your kids are like mine, they are more likely to eat foods if THEY help make it!  So-have the kiddos top their pizza with topping of their choice.  Top the pizzas with nutritional yeast to get your B12 in :)

Bake for 15-20 minutes until veggies are hot and slightly cooked.
These were a great Plan B lunch.  Paired with a big kale salad and fruit, it left me very full and I got my veggies in!

Yay for no cooking!
Happy Mother's Day :)

Kids=corn and mushroom
Ours=Mushroom, red bellpepper, baby spinach
All topped with nutritional yeast!

My Lunch :)  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What I'm Reading Now

Ok...I am ABOUT to be reading it! LOL  As soon as I am done with Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease...I am thinking I will do one post after I read both of them.

I am really excited about this book!  I am a huge believer in carbohydrates and starches.  It makes me sad to see friends go "low carb" in an effort to lose weight.  When eaten correctly (simple vs complex) they can fuel your body, keep you full, and help you shed pounds.  

Also, after the new Paleo hoopla, i'm excited to see something that backs eating starches/carbs/grains.  Rice, potatoes, beans, corn, sweet potatoes...Yes Please!

ANNNNNND....a video :)

Easy School Lunch

Field Day Lunch!
Granola bar, blackberries, carrots/yellow pear tomatoes, applesauce, lemonade

Whole Foods Grocery Haul

Instead of cheese=nutritional yeast!  Also gets B12 in :)

Love these individual containers!  Perfect for when you only need a splash or two for sautéing!

Finally found a baked tortilla chip that is wonderful!  

Kombucha!  Love this for times when I feel my digestive tract is lagging or if i've eaten junky.  It is a fermented tea.

LOVING Ezekial brand foods!  They are made from sprouted grains, and found in the frozen section.  

This was suggested in one of the Engine 2 recipes (the sausage one, breakfast tacos)
This is a soy-based substitute product, but is low fat, so it fits the "plant strong" bill :)

Ok-not "plant strong"...has Veganaise, but is so delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I love it on crackers for lunch.

Love my produce drawers!  

I have been missing my salad dressing with EVOO :(  Found this at  WFM, and was hoping it would taste decent.  It is awesome!!!!!  No added oils!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Plant Strong Cinco de Mayo ;)

Whole Wheat fajita sized tortilla
Sauteed Mushrooms
Roasted red bellpepper
Baby kale
cilantro and guacamole (underneath all that! LOL)

Holy cow-this was awesome!  Kept me full, and was so tasty!  I think cilantro is my new favorite herb!

Because People Have Asked :)

How did we go from being a fast food dependent family, to one who eats a grocery cart full of produce every week?  I've been thinking back and making a mental "timeline" of my weight loss journey, and how i've changed my diet slowly...Where I am now was not part of my original intentions, but I am so glad that my course was veered in this direction :)

I know I should eat better, but do not care...I weigh nearly 200 lbs!  Kyle and the kids eat what I cook.  Usually meat at EVERY meat, chicken, turkey, fish, shrimp...yeah :/

January 1st-June 2011
Make the decision that I am tired of carrying my "baby weight", and begin changing my diet.  I cut back red meat to 1x a week, lean meats 3-5x a week, and limit my dairy (especially cheese).  I cut processed foods/fast foods to about 3x a week.  I go from weighing 180(size 14/16) to 138 (size 6/8).  Early June, Kyle was hospitalized with a "cardiac event", complete with lots of meds and a catheterization to check out his arteries (which were clean-yay!  Diagnosed with Prinzmetal's Angina)

July 2011-February 2012
Decide to cut out red meat, and eat less chicken.  Eat more seafood and begin juicing to get nitric oxide from veggies...Begin eating more plants, but still eating some processed and restaurant food.  Holding steady between 135-138 lbs, but weight does not budge. I am stuck at this weight for about 6 months!  Begin a "Biggest Loser Challenge" at the jr. high that I work at.  Kyle begins working out to strengthen his heart, and ups his intake of protein (because-don't you know, you NEED eggs and whey protein to bulk up!  and I need to eat low-fat yogurt and egg whites to lose weight...NOT!  So glad we learned our lesson :)

February 2012-April 2012
Watch the documentary "Forks Over Knives", and it is like a slap in the face!  (A good one! LOL)  Begin to read more about Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell, Dr. McDougall and how a plant based diet and prevent major diseases)  Load the iPad with vegan cookbooks, and change our shopping habits yet again!
Consume no meat (red meat, turkey, chicken, nothing)  Kyle and I occasionally eat sushi.  Begin to phase out dairy.  Have not eaten cow's milk or cheese, butter, or yogurt.  (Miranda is still addicted to plain biscuits, chocolate and ice cream, but has cut WAAAAAY back :)  1-2x week or so)  Weight drops from 135 to 125, and is holding steady.  I eat constantly, too! :)

May 2012
Read "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" and the "Engine 2 Diet", and make the decision to cut oils from our diet.  Learning that olive oil, coconut oil, pecan oil is NOT what we need for healthy hearts!  It also made me realize that I need to quit kidding myself and thinking that "everything in moderation" is ok.  We use vegetable broth and lots of seasonings on our foods, and saute them in their own natural juices.  Phasing out ALL dairy (even the yummy caramel chocolate bars that are my favorite...oh-and chocolate ice cream from Dairy Queen...and the plain McDonalds biscuits that I love)

As Kyle and I were talking today, we asked ourselves "how are we doing?".  My response was that we aren't perfect, but we are doing better than we were yesterday.  And next week, we will be better than today :)  I am so thankful to be married to someone who thinks like me in so many ways.  I am thankful he supports me (in my diet, and so many other areas)  I am happy to try my hardest to provide plant based meals to my family, because after all the studies and research i've seen, I can't NOT do it!!!

John McDougall MD on the Perils of Dairy Products

Over the last few weeks, it has been so tempting to slide back into eating small portions of dairy and lean meat.  I came across this video today on the Engine 2 Diet Facebook Page.  Dr. McDougall is amazing!  I was glued to the presentation (it is about an hour long!)  He is such an excellent speaker.  He makes this research easy to understand and his visual aids are very helpful.

It was a great reminder of what I knew and what i've read over the last few months.  Dairy is NOT is just another reminder that we are responsible for our own health.  Our government health organizations and the medical community for the most part are not presenting us with accurate information.  It is infuriating to see the "3 a Day" dairy posters plastered all over my school (I am a teacher), and see that strawberry/chocolate/vanilla milk are the only *free* options available to our students.  (Water is $1 a bottle, and when we have about 50% receiving free or reduced lunch, well you get the picture)

Anyway-great video, great speaker, great information!!!

Meal Plan: May 6-12

Lunch: Whole Wheat Wraps (guacamole or homemade hummus, baby kale, cilantro, roasted red bellpepper, sauteed mushrooms) and roasted garden veggies (squash/zucchini) 
Dinner: Whole Wheat penne pasta bake with sun dried tomatoes and side kale salad
Lunch:  Rip's Big Bowl (yes-i'm craving this and plan to bring it to work with me LOL)  I think this meal will be a "whatever I feel like" kind of meal :)
Dinner:  Black Beans and Rice, Guacamole Salad
Lunch:  Leftover beans/rice, fruit

Dinner: Stuffed bell-peppers, salad, baked beans
Lunch:  Peanut Butter Sandwich, banana, and baby carrots
Dinner: BBQ vegan riblet, baked sweet potato, and Cali Quinoa Salad

Lunch:  Baked Sweet potato and LO Quinoa Salad
Dinner: Mushroom and Herb Couscous, roasted garden veggies
Lunch:  Fajita Veggie Baked Potato
Dinner: Baked Tofu Nuggets, roasted potatoes 

Whole Foods trip!  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My New Favorite Cookbook!

I got this on my iPad for $4.99 at Amazon, and was so excited to see SO MANY recipes that looked good and easy to make.  Some of the major downfalls that I have found with buying vegan cookbooks is A-they are vegan, but not always healthy (ie-lots of oils, meat substitutes, etc).  B-they call for crazy ingredients that I have never heard of..i'm new to this game! LOL and C-they take for-e-ver to prep/fix/cook.

This cookbook avoids all of those!  The recipes are all "low fat, whole food, plant based" ingredients, and the cover claims that the recipes can be "on the table in 30 minutes or less".  It also covers all aspects of cooking (breakfast, lunch, dinner, smoothies, dressings, salads, soups, etc)  I am so excited to meal plan for next week!  Stay tuned for recipes and pictures :)

Engine 2 Breakfast Tacos


Fajita size whole wheat tortillas
2 cups of frozen, shredded hashbrowns
1/2c Gimme Lean sausage, crumbled and browned
Jarred organic salsa (we used mild)

Heat tortillas in microwave until warm.  In a skillet, heat Gimme Lean brand sausage until browned.  In a second skillet, lightly spray with cooking spray, and heat hash browns.  Top tortillas with hash browns, sausage, and spoon salsa.  Wrap and eat :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Engine 2 Veggie Paninis

WARNING!  Blurry picture alert! LOL

Was in the mood for a sandwich, and this hit the spot!  It was different, but very filling and yummy!  We don't have a panini maker, but a griddle pan and 10 lb weight do the trick :)


2T homemade hummus (recipe coming soon!)
2 pieces whole wheat bread (the denser, the better!)
1/4c baby spinach
1/4c sauteed mushrooms (used no oil)
diced avocado
thin strips of red bellpepper
green onions 
small handful of cilantro
fresh lime juice, squeezed over greens

On stovetop, heat a panini griddle pan.  Spread hummus on one slice of whole wheat bread.  Layer remaining ingredients and top with other slice of bread.  Place a dinner plate on top of the sandwich, and use the handweight to press the sandwich. Your sandwich will be thick, but the hand weight will help press it evenly!  
Heat sandwich until grill marks show up and the bread is toasted to a nice, brown color.  Flip sandwich and heat on grill pan.

I thought this was a great addition to our mealplan (the kids would not agree...*sigh*)  Took a couple minutes to whip up the hummus, but took no time to assemble the sandwich!  We will be making this again...excited to try some different variations.  

Engine 2 Diet!

LOVE this book!!!  This clip from the Today Show is very helpful for anyone just starting out :)

Meal Plan for April 29-May 5

Lunch: Engine 2 Paninis with pita chips and berries
Dinner: Easy Meatless Chili 
Lunch:  Almond Butter and Blueberry Jam Sandwiches, yellow grape tomatoes, soy yogurt
Dinner:  Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles with Ginger Dressing Salad
Lunch:  LO Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles
Dinner: Quinoa Pilaf with Diced Veggies, Steamed cauliflower, Roasted Squash

Lunch:  PB Crackers, baby carrots, berries
Dinner: Gardein Mandarin Chicken with Brown Rice and Green Onions, Steamed broccoli and edamame; diced pineapple 
Lunch:  LO Mandarin Chicken
Dinner: veggie fajitas (red bellpepper, green bellpepper, Portobello mushrooms, onions) with guacamole salad and spanish rice
Lunch:  vegan BBQ Riblet, pasta salad, green beans
Dinner: Red Beans and Rice, Cornbread
Lunch:  Boca Burgers with 2x baked potatoes and carrot/raisin/apple salad
Dinner:  Red Beans and Rice (LO)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What I'm Reading Now: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

I love seeing all the medical facts, rates, and percentages!  If you have seen Forks Over Knives, you are familiar with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (his son is Rip, who heads the Engine 2 Diet plan books and dvds) This is definitely a good book for those interested in stopping and reversing any heart damage.  While we DEFINITELY want to eat and prevents cancer/disease, heart health is kind of at the top of our list at the moment after our episode last summer!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just a General Health Update :)

We are approaching 9 weeks of a total diet, lifestyle turn-around.  Yes-there have been days that I want to go back to and smack myself, and ask "what are you thinking?!".  Overall, it has been a fun adventure for Kyle and me to rethink our way of eating.  It has been exciting to teach the kids the value of good food choices, and how we can eat our way to a healthy lifestyle.

These are just some ideas and thoughts that I have had over the last few weeks :)

1.  My horrible, excruciating seasonal allergies and eczema are 99% gone.  At this time last year, I was on 3 pills, a prescription eye-drop, a steroid cream, and also had one cortisone shot to keep my eyes and lips from swelling.  This year-I used a $3 bottle of Clear Eyes from Walgreens to help the tiny bit of itching I experienced.  Totally blaming it on a change of what i'm putting in my body

2.  After working diligently for 1 year to lose weight, I am proud to say that I have lost 55 lbs and 30% of my total body weight.  Went from 179 to 124 in 15 months.  The thing that sucks?  You have to work at maintaining.  Just hitting your goal weight isn't enough, you have to keep at it.  Eating plant strong has allowed me to fill fuller, for longer.  I actually eat WAY more calories, yet maintain my weight beautifully!  It has been awesome :)

3.  I taste my food!  I mean-really taste it!  My taste buds have matured over the last few months as well...I have gone from hating certain foods to CRAVING them!  Bellpeppers are probably the one food I notice the them now!  I tried some non-dairy coffee creamer (in a pinch) and was disgusted at how "chemical" it tasted!  Yuck!

4.  My bowels regular! :)

5.  I see my kids making good choices and thinking about WHY we should or should not eat something...That should probably be #1.  I was not raised on a healthy diet.  I don't want to raise my kids on a typical, American diet.  It scared me to read obesity rates in children; to see the instances of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure is terrifying!

6.  I don't crave coke!  Anyone that knows me (Ahem-Shelly...) knows that I was horribly addicted to Coke.  Any kind-pepsi, coke, dr pepper, cherry coke was my favorite!  I have done without and have no cravings for it anymore.  I tried to take a small sip about a month ago, and it hurt SO bad to swallow the *fizziness* of it.  Water or tea, please!

7.  I just *feel* good.  I had some recent health issues and found our that my iron levels were extremely low.  My doctor threatened a blood transfusion if it got one point worse.  I had all the typical symptoms:  fatigue, sleepiness, feeling tired right after waking, difficulty swallowing, headaches, heavy cycles, and mild forgetfulness.  All this was attributed to low iron, even though I ate lots of lean meats.  When deciding to go veggie, I was really nervous about it.  Without meat, we were forced to look at what we ate, and make each bite count.  I eat waaaaay more green leafy veggies than before, which contain lots of iron.  I feel a million times better, and have so much more energy than before!

8.  The cost is worth it.  Yes-we do spend more at the grocery store to eat like this.  But-I have had to remind myself that it is either A-spend money on plant strong food now, or B-pay out the wazoooo for health procedures and medicines later on in life.  I don't want my husband laying on that hospital bed, waiting for his next heart cath anytime soon.  It was a real wake up call to us.  Worth. Every. Penny.

9.  Don't fret over bad choices.  This is so much easier for Kyle than me.  I am a total junk food lover.  I admit-the Cadbury eggs were just too tempting this Easter.  I ate my fill, and got back in line afterwards.  Going into this not as a "diet", but a change of our lifestyle has made it easier to get back up, dust off, and try harder.  I have not eaten meat or straight milk/eggs, but have snuck in bits of ice cream and cheese.  Instead of beating myself up, I strive to do better.  My dairy episodes are less and less frequent as we learn to replace our meals and snacks.  A "horrible day" now is still better than a "good day" one year ago!

What I'm Reading Now: Engine 2 Diet

Kyle and I are both reading this now...I am loving it!  It has a wealth of information, not just on the plant based diet, but fitness and overall health.  The first half of the book is the background information.  The rest is made up of (awesome) recipes!  If you are familiar with the documentary Forks Over Knives, you are familiar with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his approach to a cancer free, disease free way of living that is based on eating plants.  No meat, no dairy, little to no oil.  Rip Esselstyn is the son of the famous doctor, and shows you that real people can live a normal life and still eat "plant strong".

My sister in law, Pam, is also reading the book and embarking on this veggie filled journey with us.  Her blog, Honez Fam, has an EXCELLENT review of the book and some info to go along with it.  Feel free to check it out!  She wrote out everything I wanted to say, but didn't have time to think about! LOL

If you are vegan leaning and concerned about health, I would suggest this book.  I like how they don't claim to be "vegan" or "vegetarian".  Yes-they do avoid meat, dairy, and seafood, but don't replace it with many soy meat substitutes that are out there today.  It is a great read!  I am glad I added it to my collection.

Dinner Review: Gardein Mandarin Chicken

While following this diet (which I still can't figure out what to call...not quite vegan?  vegan leaning vegetarian?  95% Plant-Based?), one of the harder things for us has been those nights when you need a "quick fix".  Before, ordering fast food or take out would have been a simple solution.  I still have every take out place on my cell phone speed dial!

These days?  Not so much.  Take out options are severely limited.  We do occasionally eat sushi (crab/shrimp) but try to only go once a month or so for the time being.  We can get vegetarian options at the Mexican restaurant down the road (beans, rice, veggie fajitas) but it is so darn SALTY!  I do order a cheese free pizza loaded with veggies, but once again-not something I want to depend on.

We ended up switching around 2 dinners from the meal plan, and decided to try this.  It was around $4 at Whole Foods.  It is a package of thin sliced frozen "chick'n" that you saute and add a sweet Chinese sauce.  We served it over brown rice and topped it with green onions.  Also added edamame and broccoli (steamed).  It was amazing.  The kids loved it, which is always our big test.

Like I said earlier-we try to eat as "plant based" as possible, and I don't like to add a whole lot of processed foods, but there are just nights that it helps out SOOOO much to have things like this on hand.  It makes me feel better to think that it is still better than a Happy Meal from McDonalds.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meal Plan (April 23-27)

Lunch:  LO Squash Casserole, Sweet Potato, Green Peas
Dinner:  Corn Chowder from Skinny Bitch Everyday cookbook, Salad 
Lunch:  Peanut Butter Sandwich on WW bread, fruit, yogurt
Dinner: Veggie Lasagna, roasted petite Brussels sprouts, salad

Lunch:  Chickpea Mock Tuna with crackers and Romaine lettuce
Dinner: Mandarin Chicken (Gardein brand) with brown rice and steamed broccoli 
Lunch:  Baby Carrots & Guacamole, Sliced Pear, Pita Chips
Dinner:  Mushroom and Herb couscous with sauteed mushrooms, roasted veggies 

Lunch:  Veggie Pizza with no cheese, applesauce
Dinner: Star Pasta with veggies, kale salad
Grocery Shopping Day!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Cure for a Cheesecake Craving!

1/2 clamshell of fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced

In food processor, blend:
1/4 c Tofutti "Better than Cream Cheese"
1/2 c organic powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 c crushed Graham Cracker sticks

Separate berries into small bowls.  Pour 1T sauce over the berries, and top with crushed graham cracker crumbs.  This made 6 little cups. Was really sweet and kept me from breaking down and ordering Copeland's cheesecake! LOL

Meal Plan: April 16-22

Lunch:  Mock Chikn Salad (Whole Foods deli) with crackers and romaine, fruit salad
Dinner:  Whole Wheat Alphabet Veggie Soup, Side Salad, Roasted Asparagus

Lunch:  LO Alphabet Soup, crackers, berries
Dinner: Herbed White Beans over Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Veggies
Lunch:  LO White Beans and Rice
Dinner:  Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles, Salad with Ginger Dressing
Lunch:  Veggie Fajitas with WW Tortilla, Guacamole, Mexican Rice
Dinner: Chicken Parmesan, salad, corn
Lunch:  Pasta Salad with veggies and seeds, organic fruit strip
Dinner: Boca Burgers with Potato Salad and Baked Beans
Lunch:  ???
Dinner:  ???
Lunch: Veggie Lasagna, Salad
Dinner: PB/J or Cereal :)

Veggie Burgers?

I have always loooooved a good hamburger.  Like-really loved them.  I never ate a whole lot of other red meat, but I do love burgers.  I decided to try the Boca Vegan burger the other day, and was really surprised at how good it was.  It has a different texture, but the flavor itself is really good!  I paired it with Alexa onion rings, EEK! non-Vegan Annie's bunny macaroni, and Tofutti sour cream topped red potatoes.  It was a filling, easy meal that let me use up some of our "old diet" foods that were still in the pantry :)

So-if you are hesitant to try the Boca burgers, don't worry!  They are really good :)  Just make sure to check that they are "Vegan" on the box.  Some often use eggs to bind the ingredients, and can also include meat.

I topped mine with Veganaise, romaine lettuce, and about a tablespoon of Daiya cheddar cheese shreds (soy).  Very tasty!

Recipe: Spinach Stuffed Shells

This was really easy, really yummy, and a different way to get in a pasta dish.  It reminded me a little bit of lasagna...

1 box of large pasta shells
1 large jar organic pasta sauce
1 cup of frozen spinach, lightly steamed
"ricotta" cheese

Preheat oven to 350*

Bring 20 pasta shells to a boil in lightly salted water.

In a food processor, add 8 oz firm tofu, 1 tsp agave nectar, 1 tsp cider vinegar, and 3-4T nutritional yeast.  Blend until smooth.  Add steamed spinach and blend until creamy.

When pasta is al dente, pour into strainer, and rinse with cool water.  Pour 1/2 c pasta sauce into a glass casserole dish and cover the bottom.  Stuff spinach mixture into the shells.  I scooped my ricotta/spinach blend into a gallon Ziploc with the corner snipped to help fill the shells easily.

Layer the shells side-by-side.  Cover with the remaining pasta sauce (not pictured)  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, covered.

School Lunch: Peanut Butter Wrap

Easy peasy lunch for Taylor!  Whole wheat tortilla with natural peanut butter, coconut milk, yellow pear tomatoes, berries/raisins for "dessert".

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Meal Plan: April 7-13

Lunch:  Spinach and "Ricotta" stuffed shells, salad, homemade bread
Dinner:  Mock Chicken Salad, baby carrots, crackers
Lunch:  Squash Casserole (vegetarian-contains organic cream of mushroom soup)roasted Brussels sprouts, organic macaroni and cheese (vegetarian), baked sweet   potato
Dinner:  PB/J, fruit, Leftovers
Lunch:  Minestrone and salad
Dinner:  Boca Spicy Chikn Patty on Bun, Cheezy Potatoes, Asparagus
Lunch:  Mock Chikn Salad with crackers and romaine, fruit salad
Dinner:  "Breakfast for Dinner"  Whole-wheat pancakes with muscadine syrup, biscuits and  veggie sausage,smoothies, hashbrowns
Lunch:  Pasta Salad with veggies and seeds, organic fruit strip
Dinner:  Red beans and rice, cornbread
Lunch:  Leftover RB and Rice
Dinner:  Burritos with vegan taco meat, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, guac, tofutti sour cream, pico de gallo, Mexican rice
Lunch:  Leftover taco salad
Dinner:  Fants OR couscous, roasted red potatoes, onion rings, squash
Grocery Shopping Day!  Usually meal plan in the morning over coffee and pick up something for lunch.  I'm thinking pizza or sushi :)

What I'm Currently Reading