Losing Weight on a Plant Based Diet – Part 1

Sounds like a no brainer, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Many years ago, I gave up sugar. I really cut it out, everything except fruit sugars, and milk sugars (because at the time dairy was a regular part of my diet). I tried stevia and concentrated fruit sweeteners, and I lost weight. It was pretty simple and straight forward. Then it started to creep back into my diet. Honey was fine. Meaning, I noticed no ill effects adding that in, I may have even added in in while still losing weight. And I know that a good friend of mine ate a ton of honey in her weight loss journey. (Read her story here.) This aided her in cutting out other sweeteners.

However, adding other options in has not been a good plan for me. I have for years bought into the idea that natural sweeteners are fine and not harmful. And I suspect that for a lot of people that is true. But, in my case the weight has crept back on, and even more telling, sometime subtle hints of the problems I used to have with blood sugar. Needing to eat right away, or even every few hours. Getting shaky, etc. Nothing huge, not as bad as it was, but obviously there is a problem there.

So, I am going back to my stricter regimen, cutting out sucanat, and agave. And for the most part maple syrup, because as great as this is supposed to be, I have always been able to tell that this affects my blood sugar almost as badly as refined sugar. (I should say that even with my sensitivity to sugar, there is a difference when cutting out refined sweeteners. Whether that is in volume eaten, or affect on the body is harder to say and probably individualized to some extent.)

This will be my first step towards getting back to a weight where I am comfortable.

C

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Pancakes

Is there really more to be said on this subject? I wouldn’t even write about it except for the fact that most pancake recipes call for milk and eggs. So, when you don’t eat those things, maybe pancakes seem a bit out of reach.

Today I made pancakes again, but first I read what Mark Bittman had to say on the subject in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. In addition to three basic recipes, there were a zillion (o.k. maybe not exactly a zillion) options for jazzing up your pancake experience and the handy information that the batter will keep just fine in the fridge for a few days. So, go ahead and make up a large batch and you’ll be covered for breakfast over the weekend. Or, at least the pancake portion of it. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea for your meal to consist of just bread products (sometimes mine do, I just don’t think it’s ideal). Today for instance our pancakes were accompanied by a green smoothie.

So, now for the recipe. After realizing that really I hadn’t made the same thing I was reading (not uncommon), I decided to go ahead and post what we did eat for breakfast.

Basic Whole Grain Pancakes

4 cups freshly ground Spelt Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon Redmond’s sea salt
1 to 2 Tablespoons Agave (opt)
3 cups Rice milk
1 to 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup water as needed to adjust the consistency

Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients.

In a 2 cup measure (or another bowl) combine 2 cups of the milk with the agave and oil if using. Whisk together well with a fork and add to the flour mixture. Only slightly incorporate this into the flour, then measure out the other cup of milk and add that too. You want to mix as minimally as possible, but I still use a whisk, just larger motions and less speed. A few lumps when you are done are fine.

Let the batter sit for 5 or 10 minutes and then add water as needed to obtain an pourable, but not watery, consistency.

Heat a skillet on Medium (honestly I don’t know, I just use gas and heat until it’s the right temp., water dances). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet go buy one, but in the meantime add a bit of oil or something to the pan, about 1 teaspoon. It’s my understanding that if you don’t have non-stick (I think these are scary) or cast iron you’ll need to do this with each pan full of pancakes. With my cast iron skillet I just grease it once (since after all I do wash it with soap) and then it’s good to go for the entire batch.

Pour your desired size pancakes into the pan. (I used the same two cup measure, not per pancake just for ease of pouring, mentioned earlier in the recipe). Watch for them to bubble up in the middle, the edges will cook first since they’re thinner. Flip the pancakes, cook on the other side for a few minutes, remove from the pan and repeat. If you are making the whole batch in one day, or possibly even half a batch depending on the size of your pan, you might want to have a warm oven handy to keep the first pancakes warm in while you cook the rest.

I served these with warmed (on the stove-top) Maple Syrup. But, homemade fruit syrups are of course good too.

C

Green Smoothies

I’m thinking of posting menus soon. I’ve been reluctant to do so, since many of the items on our menus are not my recipes or available free as links. However, I’ve decided that maybe they would be beneficial anyway, and I’ll link up as many items as possible.
With that in mind, breakfast lately is almost always a green smoothie.
So, for your enlightenment, here is a visual guide to our typical green smoothie.

Step 1:

Fill your blender with just over 2 cups of water and then cram in a bunch of spinach and kale, also at this stage I either add a chunk of lemon (peel and all) or 1/2 a vanilla bean pod (I use the seeds for something else). And most days I put in some chia seeds, as you can see in this photo, or flax works too. This is a good time to add stevia to the mix also. If I’m using the fresh leaves, I just throw in several clippings, otherwise about 1/16 of a teaspoon of the refined powder works well.

Step 2:

Blend it all together well.

Step 3:

Add the fruit. In this case, 2 frozen bananas (halved) and a bunch of strawberries and cherries. And if you need it sweeter, go ahead and add in a Tablespoon or two of agave nectar.

Step 4:

Drink up!

It’s worth mentioning that if you’re just starting out with green smoothies you may want to make what is essentially a fruit smoothie and add a handful or two of spinach. Also, unless you have a high-powered blender, you’ll want to stick to spinach rather than other greens, while you save up for one. Lumps of partially blended greens are not a pleasant smoothie addition.

If you make more than you can drink in one sitting, this will keep well in the fridge for a day, just shake it up when you’re ready for more. Other options are freezing the leftovers as popsicles, or freezing them in a jar (just avoid filling the jar up all the way to prevent breakage) to defrost and drink later. When we travel I make up a bunch ahead of time and freeze it for use on our trip.

If you haven’t heard of green smoothies, check out greensmoothiegirl.com for more information.

Also, her book The Green Smoothies Diet, goes into much more detail.

C

Asian Style Salad Dressing

1/4 cup agave nectar (preferably raw)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (or Nama Shoyu)
1 /2 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cloves of finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger (I keep ginger root in the freezer to have it on hand all the time)

Mix together well by whisking, shaking in a jar (with lid), etc.
That’s it.

This is great on cabbage. In fact, that’s what we’ve used it for, thinly sliced cabbage salad. Optional additions include matchstick carrots and sesame seeds (unhulled).

C