Summer Harvest Soup

I’m finally experiencing it! Hard-core Nutritarians always talk about what it’s like when you start craving the right foods..how your taste buds change, your sensitivity to processed materials drastically increases, and you feel just wonderful! I guess I had always been waiting for that moment because I was never 100% committed. Now that I am about 90% in, I can definitely see what they’re talking about.

I won’t say that this lifestyle change was immediate for me, or easy, for that matter. And I won’t say that I have been perfect at it. But I will say that I definitely want to eat this way for the rest of my life! Also, the more I do it, the more I want to do it.

There will be days when I feel obligated (or even really really want) to eat junk that’s bad for me. And maybe I’ll cave. But that’s doesn’t mean I blew it! The next time I put something in my mouth, let it be something that my body (and my taste buds) will thank me for. That’s what I have to keep telling myself.

Here is a summer-y soup recipe inspired from the Forks-Over-Knives cookbook I treated myself with for graduation. It was soooooooo tasty, and leftovers are great!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced to desired consistency
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped/minced
  • 6 on-the-vine tomatoes, chopped (you can use any kind, but these were so flavorful and delicious!)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 yellow squash, diced
  • 2 cups frozen corn*
  • 6 cups veggie stock, or low-sodium veggie broth
  • 2-3 dashes of dried basil
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (AFTER it’s cooked–it’ll taste stronger that way, and you won’t need as much)

* The original recipe calls for 3 ears of corn, kernels removed, but my husband and I got a little impatient with the fresh corn in the fridge. We ate it as a side for a meal previously throughout the week. Oops. ūüėČ

DIRECTIONS:

  • Saut√©¬†onion with some of the veggie stock or some water for about 4 minutes.
  • Add in the garlic and saut√© for 60 seconds.
  • Drop the tomatoes in and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down.
  • Add the zucchini, yellow squash, corn, and veggie stock. Bring the soup to a boil, and then let it simmer at medium for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the basil and lemon.
  • Enjoy!

Tasty Tofu Vegan Lasagna

I know what you’re thinking. “Tofu + vegan + lasagna = oxymoron a.k.a. can’t be good.” I will admit, I did avoid this recipe for longer than I probably should have because I was worried about wasting a lot of ingredients if I didn’t like it. Luckily, some of my brothers-in-law were over at our house when the finished product was concluded and decided to give it a try. They kept going back for more! So I know that the good taste wasn’t just me. It’s possible that I downplayed it a lot before they tried it, so their expectations were low, but it’s always nice to know that your efforts weren’t a waste.

Instead of “meat” this recipe incorporates tofu, and instead of “cheese”, I used ground cashews. Surprisingly a wonderful combination!

I found the recipe on engine2diet.com, and I will always recommend checking out this site!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package Silken Lite tofu
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 jars Engine 2 approved pasta sauce
  • 2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 cup raw cashews, ground

PROCEDURE:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Saut√© the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid.
  • Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon.
  • Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan.
  • Saut√© the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl.
  • Saut√© the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl.
  • Drain the silken tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl.
  • Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.
  • To assemble the vegetable lasagna :
  • Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce.
  • Add a layer of noodles.
  • Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy.
  • Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles.
  • Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce.
  • Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles.
  • Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.
  • Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let lasagna sit for 15 minutes before serving.

I followed this recipe exactly, and it turned out wonderfully. When I do this again, however, I would probably not cook the broccoli too long. I saw this done on an instructional video and the broccoli looked a lot more green than I mine did. But it tasted just fine.

If you try this, please let me know what you think!!!

Bowl Food

I’m a sucker for “bowl food.” This can include salads, soups, oatmeal…basically anything that can (and should!) include lots of different toppings with competing textures and flavors that complement each other perfectly! Here is a wonderful concoction that I found … Continue reading

Romaine! The Better Burger…

OK, so I know this might seem weird at first. My dad, who is really good at finding great on-the-go healthy methods, has introduced a simple, yet profound snacking technique to me that I would not have guessed to be this brilliant. One of my brothers does this, and he loves it!

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If you rinse a head of lettuce thoroughly first, you don’t even have to chop it up to enjoy a great snack/meal! It’s tasty, healthy, and convenient. Be prepared for some strange looks around work/school/wherever you eat in public if you do choose to follow this particular grab-and-go method, but give it some time. Before you know it, you’ll most likely have gotten through to your friends who just may have needed that extra inspirational boost to get them back on the health wagon. They’ll probably be leaving the house with a head of romaine soon. ūüėČ Be a trend setter! Or at least give it a try…

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Just keep the leaves intact and bon appétit!

Stir Fry!

The thing I love most about stir-fry is how creative you can be! Here’s what I used: yellow onions green onions garlic broccoli carrots celery jalape√Īo pepper mushrooms bean sprouts bok choy …and I sauteed some chicken that was marinated … Continue reading

To fail to plan is to plan to fail.

Superior health is definitely a “lifestyle change” in many different ways.

A healthy lifestyle requires constant learning and research about different cooking methods and open-mindedness about different styles of preparing the food that you might like only one way. Giving healthy food a fair chance is crucial to adapting this change into your way of eating. We must be willing to explore new tastes and methods if we are going to live a long and happy life away from the hospital as much as possible. The good news is that this stuff tastes INCREDIBLE, especially once you stop eating so much of that desensitizing garbage that dulls your taste buds. Healthy food is also beautiful. There are so many different shapes and colors to enjoy as you prepare plant-based/whole foods.

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If all you have time in your schedule for is take-out or pre-packaged freezer meals, being as healthy as you wish you could be will just not happen.  Unfortunately, there are times in all of our lives that we may stretch ourselves too thin. It is through wisdom by experience and through prayer that we can learn how to make health a priority in our lives, and begin with decisions that lead us to good health, even when times get busy. If that means taking a little easier of a load in school or work for a period of time, then by all means! We live in a fast-paced world, and it is our responsibility to fight against the current and stand up for our health, because the world is not going to make it convenient for us to do so.

To fail to plan is to plan to fail. Healthy eating is not just going to make itself available to you as easily as fast-food will. One thing that I like to do is to plan a half-day just for preparing food.

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Romaine lettuce, once chopped, keeps well in an insulated bag for about 4-5 days. I’ve read that by putting a paper towel in the bag with the lettuce can prolong the life of the lettuce, so I’ll have to give that a try.

Here I have chopped romaine mixed with baby spinach, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and green onions mixed with sunflower seeds in separate Ziploc baggies. For those of you who are worried about the environment, I recycled these bags when I was finished with them. You can get generic versions of these bags for really cheap at any grocery store. By separating these veggies, I prevent them from getting soggy, and my salad is fresh, crisp, and ready right when I want it!

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To save room in the refrigerator, I put the smaller bags inside of the lettuce bag for a grab-and-go-friendly method.

ENJOY!

Checked in!

Hello!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. ¬†School inservice began (school BEFORE school, for the teachers) and then of course, school itself began. ¬†Let me just throw in here, I have great classes this year! ¬†It’s going to be a SUPERB year (I can tell already).

Exercise has become a challenge with the lack of time and sleep that I have been getting.  I am bound and determined to find a way to fit it in better this coming week!

Also, I wanted to check in and let everyone know that I (in fact) have NOT fallen off the wagon. ¬†Actually, I’m more checked in than ever. ¬†We just watched “Forks Over Knives” last night and WOW! ¬†Can I just recommend that to EVERYONE who reads this? ¬†Today (Saturday) has been spent canning black beans for the upcoming week, making A TON of marinara sauce for canning later today, and also putting together an okra dish. ¬†My dear friend at school Collette Berry surprised me on Friday with a box full of fresh okra and purple hull peas. ¬†YUM! ¬†She went on to say that she was thinking of us, and brought us some “meat” I had lunch with my dear friend and co-teacher Margaret George who said that she loved to eat okra steamed with fresh tomatoes (skinned). ¬†Also, cooked along with some diced boiled red potatoes. ¬†I am working on that right now. ¬†I intend to water saute (sweat) some onions and garlic, carmelizing them and adding vegetable broth if needed. ¬†Then I will add sliced okra, chopped tomatoes (skinned) and diced potatoes. ¬†I will season that with some Tony Chatcheres (salt free!) that we found earlier. ¬†I hope it turns out as good as it sounds right now!

Meanwhile, I need to keep up with the laundry, clean the kitchen, and grade papers.  Tonight I will drive to the stake dance (in Louisiana!) and chaperone that.  Tomorrow, teaching the Young Women lesson.  Pfew.  Does it ever slow down?

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. ūüôā