Jumping In

So now my refrigerator was cleansed from all the tempting unhealthy foods and was filled with nutritious foods. I had dusted off my steamer and had purchased an amazing new blender. I had talked about the “Eat to Live” diet for two weeks now and my start date, July 1, 2012, had finally arrived. There were no more time outs left. It was time to jump in and do it.

Day One

That morning, Pam and I prepared a fruit and spinach smoothie like the one Pam blogged about earlier.

I was afraid that the smoothie would not fill me up or leave me satisfied, however I was pleasantly surprised. Now the smoothie did not leave me stuffed like I normally feel after eating a stack of pancakes, a couple of eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast and orange juice, but it did leave me satisfied. I did not feel bloated, groggy, or out of breath. It was like eating just the right amount. My hunger was gone and I felt nourished and energetic. It was enough but not overdone.

By the time lunch time rolled around I was getting hungry, so I pulled out my salad. It was HUGE!

It completely filled my large plate and was piled high. I had made a special dressing for it since I was now off oil. No more oil and vinegar dressings. Also, no more added salt (it took me a few weeks to realize that I should cut out the salt from diet.) I experimented quite a bit to come up with a good dressing without the oil or salt and I think I have come up with some pretty good ones.

This one has my dressing on it.

I will have to share some of these recipes in a future post. Yes, the dressing was a little more runny but it flavors the salad wonderfully. This is significant because I have always taken my salad dressings seriously. Basically, my dressings involve my favorite vinegar for the day, a little water, one squeezed lemon, all mixed with a pretty good dose of onion powder and garlic powder, and a dose of freshly ground black pepper, ground thyme, basil, oregano, and, for a bit of a kick, crushed red pepper flakes. My last batch also included a little bit of sage (this turned out to be a pretty potent dressing and I have quit using the sage in my dressing.) I put a little more of these spices (particularly the onion and garlic) than what you might find in the commercial brands, but I have to do SOMETHING to boost the flavor since I cut out the salt. Believe it or not, these dressings are filled with zest and do not have that bland no-salt flavor. By the way, I found that onion powder and garlic powder can remedy blandness on a variety of no-salt recipes.

In addition to the salad, I had a large bowl of fresh fruit.

This included a mango, blue berries, strawberries, and fresh pineapple. I also had a few Clementine or Mandarin oranges on standby just in case I started to get hungry. The combination of the large green salad and the assortment of fresh fruits left me feeling nourished and very satisfied, for a while at least.

After a few days of this, I began to feel some of what I have always felt in the past – cravings. But that will have to wait until my next post. 🙂

Green and Lean

They say that the more colorful your plate is, the healthier it is. Excepting skittles and M&Ms (as my clever J.D. husband never fails to remind me) I have found this to be very consistent.

Here are some of my favorite green staples that I always have in my fridge:

I usually steam the broccoli and green beans in my electric steamer that my dad so eloquently depicted for you all.

In addition to maintaining a hefty supply of raw kale for my salads, I love to bake kale chips. They taste kind of like potato chips, and would probably be a great way to introduce this health-packed vegetable to children.

I encourage everyone to eat more GREEN FOODS.

Delicious Marinara Sauce

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I just had the best experience with this sauce. I read a couple of recipes, combined them, added a few of my own ideas and came up with this marvelous dish.  It had to be the best dinner I’ve had in a long while.  First I will list the ingredients (trying to remember the proper proportions).

  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup red cooking wine
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red peppers
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed basil
  • 1 quart (or 28 oz. can) tomatoes

First, thinly slice the garlic and place in a skillet with 2 Tlbs. vegetable broth.  Cook over medium heat.  Stir, adding more broth as it dries up.  Once the garlic cooks, add the onions and the remaining 2 Tlbs. vegetable broth.  Stir and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft.

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Add the mushrooms.  Cook a little longer to soften the mushrooms.  Add the cooking wine.  Cook until the wine condenses down.  Add the spices and the tomatoes.  Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens up.

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Serve over whole wheat pasta and zucchini.  Mmmmmmm sooo good!

Weight Loss Update

Today I can’t believe it!  I weighed in and it showed a total loss (since July 1) of 27.0 pounds.  We are just beginning week 6 of Eat to Live and I feel phenomenal!  I have way more natural energy than I’ve ever had.  I can’t say that my cravings are 100% gone, but they can be overcome.  I have a GREAT coach with my daughter Amber, and a wonderful teammate in my husband Steve.

This also marks the beginning of the 4th week of exercise. I  am so much stronger than I have been in a while and my body is actually craving a good workout.  I am doing things I never thought possible.  Let me give you an example.  Before, I would go to the gym and do water aerobics because with my weight, that is all that I thought I was capable of.  Amber talked me into trying out the elliptical machine.  First day, I set the timer for 20 minutes and thought I was going TO DIE!  Now… I set the timer for 35 minutes and breeze through it. I  actually had to move up the resistance a notch or two.  This makes me feel so great in both mind and body.

I am thrilled with my new health journey.  Not only am I physically able to do more things, but my mind is also more clear and focused on things that I need to accomplish.  I would encourage everyone who is interested in improving their health, to give Eat To Live a try.  It will change your life!  It has mine 🙂

Tools for Success – Steamer (Food Quality)

While a microwave oven can heat up foods quite fast, it does so at a cost. The food heats up unevenly and sometimes dries up or even explodes. I usually have to cover my food with a plastic dome or a paper towel to shield the microwave from exploding beans or other foods. Sometimes my microwave looks like a battlefield by the time I finish preparing my meal. And when I eat the food, it is often dry in places, almost crunchy, and barely warm in other places. This is particularly true when I try to heat up beans or rice.

With my steamer, however, I have noticed that my foods heat up evenly and retain their moisture. This is especially helpful when preparing beans, rice, or the more delicate asparagus, green beans, or broccoli. Additionally, I don’t have to worry about burning my foods in the steamer; it just does not happen, although I guess I could over steam something, but even that has not happened yet for me. Sometimes when I am busy, I just set the steamer for an overkill 20 minutes and let it go until I can come back. If I make it back before the 20 minutes is completed, great. If not, still great. The electric steamer has a “keep warm” mode that kicks in after the cooking time has finished. It keeps the foods warm by periodically releasing a puff of steam onto the food to keep it nice and hot but not overdone.

I was initially afraid to steam multiple courses simultaneously with the same steam. I thought that the steam would mix flavors, but they don’t seem to do that, at least not that I have noticed. I have seen posts on the internet stating likewise with their steaming.

I must admit that a steamer would not be my choice if I were trying to brown some meat, cook some bacon, or otherwise caramelize my food. For that task, a microwave would not fare that well either (though I have cooked bacon in the microwave.) I would use a pan on the stove for that and then reheat the leftover food with the steamer. But with my current vegan lifestyle, I only rarely need to caramelize my food. I say rarely, as opposed to never, because recently I made an amazing pot of vegan chili in which I caramelized my onions and peppers slightly prior to combining them with the tomatoes, beans and spices. I will have to share my recipe for that on another post.  🙂