Losing Weight on a Plant Based Diet – Enjoy your food!

I think this is key. Key to resisting cravings and not feeling deprived. When we eat things that feel like a luxury or an indulgence, but are also healthy, it’s possible to lose weight without a constant internal struggle with food.

Additionally, this strategy makes lifelong change much more attractive and do-able.

So, what types of food fall into the healthy indulgence category? I’m sure that depends on who you are, what your childhood foods were like, how you feel about spending money on food, etc.

Personally, Pomegranate seeds fall into the indulgence category for me. I don’t happen to live anywhere they grow (although I did at one time), and so they tend to be on the expensive side. So, buying and enjoying a few (or more 🙂 ) pomegranates in season definitely falls into the healthy indulgence category for me.

The same could be said for any fruit or vegetable that you enjoy, but for some reason tend to feel is too expensive, or whatever your personal road block is.

Kumquats are another fruit that I feel this same way about. I’d really like to grow some in a greenhouse or something because these are just plain hard to come by, but I love eating them!

Additional examples are: Artichokes, French sorrel, fresh off the vine tomatoes, and in general – picked at it’s prime produce.

Aside from eating our favorite fruits and veggies straight up, what else can make a healthy diet feel indulgent?

Main courses that we love! These of course will vary a bit depending on who you are. I love crunchy raw salads with great dressings. Like my favorite salad, and The Seasoned Chickpeas over Kale & Avocado Salad from the OhSheGlows blog (which, try as I might, I cannot find the link to).

And of course, fun desserts that are as healthy as can be. What works for you will depend on your particular dietary demons, but one recipe that I found enjoyable was Raw Chocolate-Swirl Cheesecake Bars. I used honey instead of agave in the filling, and found that blending really well was key, but these turned out to be delicious.

This is my new approach. In the past I’ve focused more on strict discipline, but at this time in my life I find the need for a better motivation to a healthy diet. I’ve realized that I, at least, need a positive approach that focuses on the good things still available rather than what I need to cut out.

Have you noticed this in your own life?

C

31 Days of Menus: Tomatoes and a Dinner Plan

I had planned a completely different post for today, but my garden had other plans.

So, I’ve been preserving tomatoes, and plotting about how to use gargantuan zucchini’s.

First, prepping the tomatoes to dry. Just slice them in 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. I usually cut large Roma’s into 1/3 and if any of them are really small I cut them in 1/2.

That’s it. Place them in the dehydrator and turn it on. I’m not even sure how long it takes, but when they’re done they will be leathery with very little moisture left.

Next, my top secret tomato storage technique ;-).
O.k., maybe you’re heard of it before.

Wash the tomatoes. Let them dry, and label your freezer bag.

Then, place the tomatoes in the bag, seal it and pop them in the freezer. Tricky, huh? The beauty of this method really comes out when it’s time to use the tomatoes. The freezing process cracks the skins so when you’re ready to use them, just run them under warm water and the skins slip right off.

Now, for tonight’s dinner plan.

Fresh corn fritters from Vegan with a Vengeance
Zucchini Soup (scroll down for the zucchini soup video)
and hmmm, maybe sliced tomatoes 😉

If you want to watch a demo of the soup prep., click on the photo above the recipe. Which is helpful, because in the recipe she neglects to mention that the cashews are to be blended with water in a 1 to 3 ratio (so use 1 1/2 cups water for this recipe). And that it is about 2 cups of fresh basil that she’s throwing in. I’m planning on cutting this recipe in half.

C

Ode to Blendtec

O.K. I’ve only had it for 1 day, not even a whole 24 hours. And I’ve only made a smoothy and soup, but I love it! Clean up is super easy, and if only my family was happy eating soup 24/7 we’d be set.
I just dumped in roughly chopped tomatoes, avocado, carrots, cucumber, some onion, vegetable broth powder, black pepper and 2 cups of hot water. And instantly, 4 cups of hot and tasty raw soup! My dh commented on how great he felt after eating it. And he’s not generally a soup fan. In fact, you’ll notice he commented on how he felt and not how the soup tasted, lol.
My favorite part is that it took me about 6 minutes total, start to finish including cleanup.

C

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

I’m loving the wide variety of fruits and veggies available during the summer. My niece and I enjoy eating green beans straight from the garden. We also eat them cooked with corn on the cob and ripe cantelope for dinner. Yum! Just thinking about it is making my mouth water. If you want sweeter corn on the cob, buy it when it has been picked that morning and cook it that same day. As soon as corn is picked, the sugars start changing into starches. Last week I froze a bushel of peaches to use for smoothies during the winter. Peaches are one of my top 5 favorite fruits. I love taking that first bite of sweet juiciness. This summer I’ve eaten ripe tomatoes and bell peppers on sandwiches, bean burritos, and chips with bean dip. I’ve made pad thai with zucchini and yellow squash, sliced cucumbers to roll into vegetarian sushi, feasted on watermelon, eaten pancakes smothered in fruit salad, and scarfed down strawberries and raspberries.

Food tastes better and I eat more of it plain and raw when I either grow it myself or buy it from a local farmer. You can purchase from local farms and orchards through CSA food co-ops, farmers’ markets, some roadside stands, or directly from the farmer. If you want a large quantity to freeze, dry, or can, you can watch the local classifieds to know when the crop you want is ripe, where to get it, and who has the best price.

Just a few days ago, I noticed the mountains have spots of fall colors and I realized my summer food revel is coming to an end. It’s almost time to transition to fall fruits and veggies. I’ve already planted peas and they are growing nicely, as are my onions. My spinach seeds never sprouted. So disappointing! I’m looking forward to mashed potatoes, apple crisp, sweet potato fries, grapes, raw peas, and so on. I have favorites in every season and it’s great to be able to rotate before I get tired of something.

M

Convenience Food without the convenience food

Say, it’s been awhile since you went on a major grocery shopping trip, say June. And let’s just say that there is no quick convienience food option available in your house. And you wait until 6 p.m. to think about fixing dinner, because that is the smart thing to do when everything in the house needs to be made from scratch, right?
So, you start to think about dinner. And fast food sounds like the only option, except it’s not an option. What do you do? Well, I’ll tell you what I did, I mean what I would do if such an unplanned crazy thing ever happened in my life. 🙂
Quinoa to the rescue! That’s right, I happened to remember my trusty-cooks in only 15 minutes- stash of quinoa. So, I washed some and popped it onto the stove to cook. Then started chopping the vegetables I would need to add towards the end of the cook time, yellow squash (wouldn’t be summer without it) and carrots. Once that was done, I got out a bowl and started adding the veggies that don’t need to cook, onion slices, cherry tomato halves, and a bit of diced garlic (of course). The rest of the garlic went into a jar, so I could mix up my Standard Viniagrette to toss onto this creation. I added the zucchini and carrots to the quinoa, when there were 7 minutes left on the timer. Then I grabbed a cup of frozen peas from the freezer and set that aside until the quinoa was done, and finished mixing up the dressing.
When the veggie/quinoa mix was done to my satisfaction (it took a few extra minutes to get the carrots softened up a bit), I added it to the bowl and stirred in the frozen peas and dressing. This took about 1/2 hour, start to finish. Of course, our dinner was delayed another 15 min. or so while I scavenged in the backyard for some fresh fruit. It was a successful trip out back, I came in with ripe Asian pears to serve with our quinoa salad. Which by the way, had a confetti-like appearance with the tomatoes, carrots, yellow squash, and peas popping up all over the quinoa. It was pretty tasty, and definitely better than a pre-packaged dinner!

C

Pizza

Using up the piles of summer produce on the counter has become a bit of a challenge, especially since it involves so many tomatoes and quite a few zucchini. I’m sure I can do it though, between the tomato rice soup (that uses 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes per batch), and making “sun” dried tomatoes most of the tomatoes should be accounted for. And if not, I can always go for my traditional tomato preservation method – wash and dry them and then shove them in a freezer bag and freeze them whole.
However, tonight focused on zucchini and cherry tomatoes.
First, I started a batch of bread dough. Then I sliced up half of a medium zucchini and put it in a bowl with a few Tablespoons of Olive oil, fresh basil & oregano (dry would work too), salt, and pepper, and red pepper flakes. I rubbed that into the zucchini and it marinate while the bread dough was coming together. I divided the dough into threes, which makes two large pizzas and one loaf of bread. Or three large pizzas if you need that many. Each pizza consisted of a layer of tomato sauce, zucchini slices, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced onions, and sliced peppers. I topped this with a bit of mozzarella style Daiya, but it would have been fine without too. Then I tossed them (one at a time) into a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes each. Yumm!
As far as the loaf of bread, I just let that dough raise while the pizza’s were cooking, then shaped it free form and threw it in on the pizza stone for 40 minutes. Impressive, huh? Too bad it didn’t occur to me to turn the oven down to 350 degrees. I think the bread will still be edible though. So, my advice to anyone attempting to replicate this, is remember to let the loaf of bread raise before you bake it, and after it’s been shaped (yep, almost missed that step too). I should have shaped the bread dough earlier so it could be raising while the pizza baked, even if it was just the last pizza. And remember to turn the oven down when the last pizza comes out.

C