Smoothies Galore

That’s what I’ve been eating. Especially for the first three days of “Ani’s 15 Day Fat Blast”. She calls that Phase 1, and it’s meant to be a detox. So, a few words about that, in case anyone is interested or thinking about trying it out.

Like I said, it’s all smoothies. Sweet and savory. A lot of them are really good. Surprisingly (to me) even some of the savory smoothies, AKA soups.

The only thing I had a really hard time with was Day 3. I’ve read about others’ experiences on this diet and heard problems with Day 3 attributed to being tired of just smoothies, etc. But, I don’t think that’s it. Remember I came to this from a week of fasting, and light food, mostly smoothies already. I think I just don’t like those recipes. So, I marked the ones I really like, the ones that are O.k., and then left those that I didn’t like at all blank. So that if I do this again, it will be an even better experience.

Apparently, detox symptoms could be experienced during these first three days. I didn’t really notice anything, but my diet is generally pretty clean anyway. Other thoughts on detoxing though – are that years ago when I attempted a juice fast it was really rough and I just didn’t make it. At that time I ate dairy regularly and even meat occasionally (especially bacon, the healthiest meat 😉 – yes, I am kidding about the healthy part, and yes I have actually been asked if it really is. Yikes). I did not eat refined flours or sugars that I recall, but I’m sure the animal products I consumed contributed to the rough experience. Just a thought, in case it applies to anyone reading this. I suspect a more gradual transition involving a few days to a week of whole foods vegan eating before starting a cleanse would help.

So, about cravings. Or other types of temptation to eat less than healthy foods. What I’ve noticed is a need to treat myself in ways that don’t involve food. It’s too easy and tempting to feel the need for a cookie or something and eat it without realizing why. In thinking about what it is I want to eat and why, along with taking Ani’s suggestion of a long bath during Phase 1, I realized that for me, why can sometimes be a need to be kind to myself, and maybe a little pampering can replace that snack in a healthier way.

I mentioned marking the recipes I really liked. I’ve also put some thought into recipes I would substitute that aren’t in the book.

One of them is my Blueberry Ginger Juice, which I thought I had posted before, but apparently I was waiting for a picture. (I think if I were to use this on the fat blast I would sub out the juice for water, possibly using some apple too.) Here it is, still without the photo.

Blueberry Ginger Juice

1 medium ripe banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon fresh/frozen ginger root
Apple juice to fill the blender to just under the 3 cup line.

Blend well, on the Juice setting if you’re using a Blendtec.

I’m also working on perfecting a Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie, and I’ll post that when it’s ready. 🙂

C

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True Confessions

True Confession #1:

I have reached a time in my life when I am just sick of cooking. I think it’s the constant demand, every day, at least three times a day (or 400 if you have a starving, growing child on your hands) you need to come up with healthy, filling food. Food that hopefully everyone will enjoy. Some days you just hope they’ll eat it without complaining, who cares if they like it. Fast food is not an option for me. Frozen dinners are for the most part, not an option, and those that are quickly become cost prohibitive on a regular basis. What to do, what to do? What have you done? I know it’s not just me.

True Confession #2:

This one is a little more complex. But it boils down to the fact that I am frustrated with my weight and feeling like I should weigh less considering my diet. Whether or not this is actually true, is another story. But, that’s how I feel.
I suspect that it is a combination of not enough exercise, and too many snacks/treats, occasional emotional eating, and hormonal changes that come with age.

So, what to do?

Well, I’ll tell you what I did.

Last week I started a juice fast. I have tried this in the past fairly unsuccessfully, but I think all the years of improved dietary habits have stabilized my blood sugar to the point that I could handle it. I still cheated. But, overall I would call it a success.

The sad thing is that I was so thrilled not to be cooking that I didn’t really care that I wasn’t eating much either. I hope by the time I’m done with all this I will have recovered my ability to enjoy the kitchen.

So, how did I solve the problem of feeding my family? I told the 10 year old that he was in charge. It worked.

No, he does not really know how to cook, so really I just have a kitchen helper and I am still involved in meals to some extent. But….he is learning and it has been a really good thing.

Now for a little more detail about my plan. I had some digestive issues which triggered the decision to do the juice fast, and when I finished I just didn’t feel ready to go back to my regular diet. So I decided I would transition to “Ani’s 15 Day Fat Blast” because it is raw and involves a lot of smoothies. It took me a few days to get my supplies and in the interim I waffled between fasting, juice, and smoothies. Which really gave me a smoother transition, but went on a few days longer than I would have liked. So really, I ended up eating some pizza on the second to last day of this. I think it was a good thing.

It’s been interesting. I’ve realized a few things about cravings and overcoming them, and since this is my first experience with fasting for a non-religious reason it’s also been interesting to see the difference when your focus is introspection instead.

C

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

Losing Weight on a Plant Based Diet – and Lindsay Nixon’s new book

Once again as Lindsay releases her newest masterpiece the opportunity to participate in a blog tour has arrived.

HappyHerbivoreLight&Lean_FrontCover

I had the opportunity to ask a few questions. I feel they were really all answered with the first one, but here they are for your enlightenment also.

Me – From what I understand this book is a bit of a departure from your other cookbooks in that it contains advice and exercises to assist in weight loss in addition to the recipes. Where did the idea for this come from?

Lindsay – I’m not sure I’d say it’s a departure. Happy Herbivore Light & Lean is still a lot like her sister books in my series. I continue to embrace my healthy, fuss-free, everyday ingredient cooking style. I’m still focusing on whole, plant foods, vegan recipes, keeping it low fat and super healthy. Each book I’ve written has had a theme and this book’s theme brings in a wholistic look at health. Making it about the whole body, not just what we put in our mouth 😉

I was very much inspired by my meals plans. While the recipes in this cookbook are different than the recipes I provide my clients through my meal plan service, I used the same approach: caloric density. More food, less calories. Focusing on ingredients that are satiating, and so forth.

One of my missions with Happy Herbivore is to disprove all the myths that eating healthy is hard, complicated or expensive. It’s actually delicious, easy, affordable and beautiful. I think the same misconceptions exist around exercise and fitness. You don’t need a lot of time, or fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships. You can do it all in your home, in minutes a day, no matter what your starting point. I’m showing that—celebrating it—in my new book.

Me – Are these techniques you used initially in your own weight loss, or based on routines you have developed over time/input from others?

Lindsay – I was a personal trainer for many years.

Me – And lastly, all of your books focus on no-oil, no added fat, plant based cooking, which of course is great for health. Do the recipes in this book differ in any significant way, and if so, how?

Lindsay – I’m using the same cooking style, but this time I was very focused on calorie density, as well as total calories.

Now, this is a pre-release interview and I haven’t seen an actual copy of the book yet. But, judging from her past books and from what I know about this one, I expect it to be an excellent resource for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle (not always the same thing). Here’s a sample recipe, straight from the new book, which looks delicious to me.

thai-crunch-salad-7323_CMYK

Thai Crunch
Single serving
Gluten-free, Quick, Budget, Single Serving

Before I was plant-based, I loved the Thai Crunch salad at California Pizza Kitchen. I finally decided to re-create a lighter vegan version of it for this cookbook. It’s easy, fresh, fast, and satisfying. (I also loved their Original BBQ Chicken Chopped salad, hence my BBQ Salad [in full cookbook] recipe!) By the way, CPK is one of the vegan-friendliest restaurant chains in the US. They have a PDF online indicating which menu items are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

4 c napa cabbage, red cabbage, or lettuce (or a combination)
1 carrot, julienned
2 green onions, sliced
¼ – ½ c edamame
½ cucumber, sliced or diced
Thai Peanut Dressing
crushed peanuts (optional garnish)
cilantro (optional)
lime wedges (garnish)

Toss cabbage/lettuce, carrot, green onions, edamame, and cucumber together in a salad bowl, then top with Thai Peanut Dressing, crushed peanuts, and cilantro (if using), and garnish with a lime wedge. (I also love squeezing fresh lime juice over the salad.)

Chef’s Note: For a soy-free version, substitute chickpeas for the edamame.Per Serving

Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.7g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39.4g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.7g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.3g
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.3g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Thai Peanut Dressing
Makes ¼ cup
Gluten-free, Quick, Budget, Pantry

Creamy, delicious—here’s a lower fat and lower calorie DIY peanut sauce.

1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce
juice of 1 lime wedge
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
1 ¼ tsp rice vinegar
garlic powder
ground ginger
1–2 drops Asian hot sauce (e.g., Sriracha)
1 tbsp nondairy milk

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, add peanut butter with water, chili sauce, lime juice, soy sauce or
tamari, rice vinegar, a few dashes of garlic powder and ground ginger, plus hot sauce. Microwave for
10–20 seconds (so peanut butter is melty), whisk into a sauce, and then whisk in nondairy milk. Taste, adding more hot sauce as desired.

Chef’s Note: For a richer sauce, substitute coconut milk for the nondairy.

Per Serving
Thai Peanut Dressing (1 tbsp)
Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.4g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0g
Protein. . . . . . . . . . .0.9g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Losing Weight On a Plant Based Diet – Part 2

What really got me thinking about making changes was reading Chef AJ’s story (here). (For a story with more detail, try this) I started debating about whether or not I should be cutting out nuts, and then reality hit, ;-). Umm, shouldn’t I worry about the excessive sugar (see previous post), or the oils I cook with first?

I have since read a few things that have tweaked my ideas on the changes I need to make in my life. The first was some advice from a French doctor specializing in nutrition. (In “Forever Chic” by Tish Jett) He, Denis Lamboley points out to the author that there are only two reasons to eat, “hunger and pleasure”. Well, yeah, duh! But, wait. Is that always why I am eating? Or, more to the point, do I eat unhealthy, fatty foods when I am hungry rather than the nutritious foods my body needs. And so, when I am eating these things that should be treats, am I really enjoying them? No, often I am not.

Back to a basic premise I had when I very first started to cut sugar out. I was cutting it down, not out. And my rule was, if I ate sugar I should enjoy it. Desserts only, nothing hidden in the main course, etc.

I kind of modified his statement in my thoughts. It became, “there are only two reasons for eating, nutrition and pleasure”. And again, that made me think. If I am eating for hunger, it should also be for nutrition. If I am eating for pleasure, well then, I should be enjoying my food, right?

Perhaps this isn’t helpful if you feel you enjoy EVERYTHING you eat, but I think for most of us, focusing on why we make the food choices we do is extremely helpful. In the long and short run.

IMG_2367

So, as a second step, I need to make sure I have healthy options available so that when I get hungry I can eat those instead of looking for a quick snack. Right now I have a big bowl of my favorite salad in the fridge and the dressing to accompany it right there too.

C

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