Open to New Possibilities

I still haven’t decided on dinner. It’s probably going to be a smoothie, with spinach, banana, frozen berries, a little frozen mango, and almond milk. (LOL I guess I’ve decided.) I’ve had potatoes the last couple of days, so I want something different.

Today was an interesting food day. I didn’t have any oats prepared, so I brought four energy balls and a jar of soup. I ate three of the energy balls for breakfast. Then for lunch I had the soup, but I realized I forgot the huge bowl I usually bring to heat it up. I used a paper bowl from the work kitchen instead, so I ended up only having a small amount and saving the rest. The after lunch I had the last energy ball. Except I wasn’t feeling great. Like, I said before, I think the soup has too much sodium, and it’s not sitting well. I add water, because it’s very thick, but that doesn’t help much. So it wasn’t the best meal.

But what I want to talk about is the Salad I had (capital S intentional). My co-worker (she calls me “neighbor” because we sit next to each other), was eating a salad and I could see chickpeas, so I asked her about it. She was also cutting up an avocado to put in it. The one thing (ok, two things) I haven’t been able to incorporate in my plant based diet is avocados and raw tomatoes. I think avocados are tasteless and tomatoes are just gross (yeah I’m one of those people.) This salad had both. But she said she dressed the salad with vinegar and I should try it, so I did. And it was AMAZING! But first let me give you the complete rundown of what was in it, because I will be making it very soon:

The salad was mixed spring greens, chickpeas, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, capers and black olives, dressed with vinegar, no oil. Sounds amazing, right? It was! It’s like it was made especially for my diet! And it was delicious. I have quinoa in the pantry, waiting to be used somehow, and I love black olives, and I’ve experimented with capers (my mom used to love them). So I am going to make this salad in a jar for next week. After I ate it, it was like it made up for the salty soup. I felt amazing! I’m sad I have to wait until I go the store this weekend to get all the stuff.

The thing is with this diet, is I am not very creative when it comes to food. I don’t make up a lot of stuff. I have a large repertoire of omni food, but I learned it all at different points in my life. And I get discouraged, because like I said, I am not a big fan of tomatoes, or avocado, and those seem to be everywhere in plant-based recipes. I’m still in the “cheeseburger” mindset where nothing sounds appetizing except grease and meat. But I’m working on changing my cravings and taste buds. And this salad just opened up my mind! So yay for new experiences!

 

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Setting Goals

My diet goals:

1. To cut out all animal products from my diet
2. To cut out all processed fats and oils from my diet
3. To greatly reduce the amount of sodium I consume
4. To eliminate processed sugars and sweeteners from my diet

How’s it going so far:

No animals? Check.

Fats and oils? Well I have used coconut oil in the last few things I’ve cooked. And I have a tub of (vegan) Earth Balance margarine. I’m more trying to use them up, because I can’t throw it away that would be wasteful.

Sodium? I stopped adding pure table salt to the food I’m cooking a long time ago. It is in the cajun seasoning I use often, and I do add it on top of food I’m about to eat. I’d like to reduce it to just (maybe) adding it on top of foods.

Sugar: Well I still eat processed ketchup and peanut butter. I’ve stopped using jarred spaghetti sauce. I don’t use table sugar in anything. I still use Stevia (because I’m trying to use up a box) and I eat things like chocolate chips (using them up) in the energy balls. I don’t drink processed juices, but I do make smoothies, which some would argue turns whole fruit and vegetables into sugar. I’ve thought about it, and I’d like to see some more research. A lot of people rely on smoothies to get their daily greens, myself included.

This is obviously a work in progress. I don’t have the time or money or spoons to just empty out my fridge and pantry, and start over. Plus (full disclosure), I live with and support an omnivore, so I will be purchasing and preparing animal products. When I was vegan back in 2011, besides the fact that my diet was mostly processed, I had no issues keeping the menus separate. I just would be a hypocrite if I got political about it at this point. But I am fully invested in this diet as a way of life, and a way to lose weight and improve heath measurements.

I don’t have a scale, but I plan on taking baseline physical body measurements soon and I’ll post them for posterity. I also need to schedule a visit to the doctor for cholesterol and blood pressure and glucose levels (and the scale!) I also need to take some pictures.

Getting A Little Off Track

I forgot to mention that at work yesterday, I also brought four energy balls. I thought I’d OD’d on chocolate with the overnight oats, but the balls weren’t so rich I couldn’t eat them.

Today I stayed home, so my meals weren’t as planned out. I had a glass of lemonade (from a fresh lemon) with Stevia, and then I made white and sweet potatoes again. That was it for the day until this evening when I made white rice in the Instant Pot and ate that with Earth Balance spread. I’m so square that one of my favorite meals is white rice with butter. So I ate a big bowl of that. Then I had three energy balls. That was just a couple minutes ago, so maybe I’ll eat again?

I am trying desparately to get off processed oils. As you can see I’ve used coconut oil and margerine. I’m not really into just throwing away good food, so I’m trying to use it up and just not buy it again. I need to buy some silicone mats for the oven so I can leave the oil off the potatoes when making fries. I like the salty flavor and richness of butter, though. I haven’t found anything to replace it yet except more salt. Like in oatmeal, which I eat with [margerine] and [almond milk] (butter and milk are easier to spell, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea). If you had or have this same problem, please let me know in a comment. Maybe you can suggest something or we can figure it out together.

I’m drinking a big glass of water right now. I really slacked; it’s all I’ve had since the lemonade. When I finish it, I’ll decide if I’m still hungry, full, or too tired to eat.

What I Ate Today:

Breakfast was a cup of overnight oats (oatmeal, almond milk, cocoa powder, cinnamon, maple syrup). It was very rich and I could not finish it. Tomorrow I’m going to make it with fruit.

Lunch was a liter jar (in my previous post I said quart, but nope, it’s a liter) of the lentil soup I made yesterday. It has absorbed all the liquid so I added about a half a cup of water. I could not finish that, either. I’m spotting a trend.

Dinner was two small russet potatoes and two small sweet potatoes cut into fry shapes and tossed in coconut oil and baked. I ate those with highly processed ketchup. Please forgive.

And for dessert/snacky snack I am drinking a smoothie with frozen mixed berries, a banana (not even that ripe) and a ton of spinach. I felt I needed some greenery in my diet today.

Ok last food post, I promise!

LOL If you’re looking for a concise recipe food blog you’re looking in the wrong place. I rarely follow recipes. I read them a couple of times, then wing it. The pea soup I followed, only because I happen to have most of the ingredients on hand. So when I tell you about something I cook, take everything as a suggestion, rather than a rule.

The last thing (hopefully) I will make today (oh no – that’s already I lie, I want to make some overnight oats, and sh*t, I’ll probably post about that) is energy balls. The kind with dates. A cool thing I’ve been able to find at Aldi is Medjool dates. I’ve been adding them to smoothies. I kind of got off that, so I had a whole container sitting in the pantry. Now that I’m off sugar, I’ve been trying to curb my sweet tooth, not to a lot of success. Friday night I bought coconut milk icecream (pb and chocolate). It was so rich and decadent! I used to eat that a lot when I was a ‘junk food vegan’ back in 2011. But that’s not what I want to be now. Anyway, onto the “energy balls”:

All of this goes in a food processor:

8-10 dates, pitted
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp ground flax (feel free to omit or use some other seed, like chia)
1 cup oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla extract
(I forgot cinnamon but you can add that too)
1 tbsp oil (I used cococut oil – feel free to omit – I used it as a binder and for moistness)
(I also didn’t have any chopped nuts, so throw those in if you want)

Take for a spin in the processor. Shape into 1 inch balls. Put on a baking tray and stick into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Stores up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.

One day I’ll start taking photos of all this, but today is not that day.

 

 

A recipe for Split Pea Soup

Disovered and adaped from here:
https://www.budgetbytes.com/2016/10/pressure-cooker-split-pea-soup/

(these all equal about a cup of each)
1 medium yellow onion
3 carrots (I used pre-sliced)
3 stalks of celery

all the garlic you can handle

1lb of split peas (don’t pre-soak)

6 cups of water or veggie broth

1 tbsp vegetable Better than Boullion (omit if you use veggie broth. Or don’t. I’m not your boss. I like tons of flavor. I’m just thinking about sodium.)

1 tbsp oil (it says coconut oil, which I had. Use any or omit if you don’t want fat. The coconut did give a nice aroma, though)

I kind of use the same spices in everything, because that’s what I have and that’s what I like. I try not to add salt, becasue the boullion has sodium and the Tony Charchare’s has salt.

1 tbsp Tony Charchare’s (“sa-sher-ees” a Cajun spice blend that is a Louisiana staple you can get it in most stores, or whatever blend you like)
1 tbsp garlic powder (yes, in addition to the buttload of raw garlic, thank you)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp chipolte powder or smoked paprika (depending if you like a little heat, both are smoked, only one is spicy)
1 tbsp paprika (I use it in addition to the chipotle, mainly for color, omit if you already used smoked)
1 tbsp basil or oregano or parsley (I don’t have a ton of dried green herbs, just this and an Italian blend, feel free to add what you want, or omit)

So add all these to a quart pot. Never fill the Instant Pot to the top. Seal, and cook on Manual for 15 minutes, and let the pressure naturally release, which takes about an additional 30 minutes. When you open the lid, everything will look lumpy, but give it a stir, and turns into a creamy soup! I can fill about 4- 5 quart jars with this and it will last me the whole week.

split pea soup
the finished split pea soup

 

A recipe for veggie lentil stew

Ok I just put a mess of vegetables in the Instant Pot. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. I stuck pretty close to the pea soup recipe I did last week (which I can post momentarily). I’ve just found a huge pot of soup split into quart mason jars can set me up for lunches for just about the whole week. Before I was doing this plant-based eating, I made a few batches of beef stew. Anyway, here’s what I put in this thing:

I eyeballed all of this. I filled up at 6qt pot little over 3/4 of the way.

All of these diced:

2 smallish yellow onions
4 smallish russet pototatoes
3 large stalks of celery
3 large carrots
8oz white mushrooms
a sh*tload of garlic (2 heaping tbsp minced?)

12oz bag of green lentils (feel free to omit, but they help add bulk and fill you up)

(About a level tablespoon of each, but I go heavy on seasonings becasue flavor but use your best judgement)

Tony Charchere’s (cajun seasoning + salt)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Basil
Parsley
Bay leaves (2 large)
Chipolte powder (just a teaspoon bc spicy)
Paprika (not smoked but if you have that omit the chipotle, unless you want a little heat)
Black pepper

Almost 2 large tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon veggie boullion (I just emptied the jar, usually I’ll only put about a tablespoon in)

7 cups of water (to cover the stuff)

I set on high pressure for 30 minutes and since it’s the middle of the day I’ll probably just leave it on natural release and let it sit on warm until I’m hungry again.