Swish and Spit/ Get a jump on Monday

Just a quick self-care idea…Have you ever tried Oil Pulling? Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique. You simply take (about) a tablespoon of oil (traditionally coconut or sesame) and swish it around your mouth (first thing in the morning) for about 20 minutes, and then you spit it out. Oil pulling is said to help draw out the toxins in your mouth and body. There are also other benefits, such as whiter teeth, fresher breath, and jaw strengthening.

I use coconut oil when I pull (it’s antiviral and antifungal), and I don’t do it every day. Sometimes I just forget. But when I do do it, I cater it to my needs: I don’t bother measuring, and I doubt I make it to 20 minutes (I don’t time it). At first, putting a blob of oil in your mouth feels weird, but it’s really not a big deal. If anything, it’s a reason to put off speaking to anyone first thing in the morning. Anyway, begin slowly…your jaw might get tired; that’s normal. Just swish like it’s mouthwash, and try and get a couple of morning chores done. Be sure to spit the oil out into the trash can and not your sink or toilet when you’re finished. Then, brush you teeth like you normally do. Your mouth will feel fresh-from-the-dentist clean.

***There’s a recipe that I want to make for Monday, but it requires fermentation, so I need to begin on Saturday. If you’re interested in making some delicious lentil wraps…here’s the recipe:

Dosas: Indian Lentil Wraps

All you’re going to have to do is get two bowls and soak your brown rice and lentils (separately) with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. This is going to ferment the rice and lentils, which will make them easier to digest and will add some healthy bacteria to your gut. This recipe makes 24 dosas, so you can eat them all week. They also hold up well in the freezer. It’s actually a very easy recipe. Try it!

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Well that weekend went by way too quickly! Maybe not for some of my East Coast peeps. I was so happy that we didn’t have rain or frigid temps, and were able to get outside for a bit. We enjoyed a fun night with some dear friends, and watched the Patriots lose….that in itself would have made for a successful weekend.

Back at it, y’all. Last week of January! I began January with an experiment…that had 0 results. I didn’t even know that was possible. Anyway, my plan was to not eat meat for the month. Not because I’m thinking of becoming vegetarian; I wanted to give my GI tract a break for a little while and see if I could notice any other differences. I made it 23 days, and after seeing absolutely no change in my weight; skin; mental clarity; stamina; happiness; or bodily functions (Sorry; TMI?) I decided to end my experiment. And boy…did I end it. We went out on Saturday and ordered a mixed platter for 2. Little did we know that it could have served 6; easily. And the centerpiece was a whole pineapple with a candle shoved in the top and sparklers. I mean. Aaaaaaand our friends ordered one for themselves too. Aaaaaaaand their presentation was staggered by about 30 seconds, so we thought the first platter was for the 4 of us, which would have been more than enough. Nothing like an entire restaurant staring and commenting on the amount of food on your table. But, I understand the owner’s motives for not telling us to share one platter…he made an extra €45.

Alright. These dishes will fill you up, without making people stare. And just because I’m eating meat again, doesn’t mean I plan to every day. Healing the world, the only way I know how…

Monday: Sweet Potato Gnocchi– Don’t be afraid of this! I think it sounds exciting to make homemade gnocchi, but you can buy it pre-made too. This is a gluten free recipe, it’s vegetarian (Hello?! Meatless Monday), and can easily be vegan if you use a butter substitute like Earth Balance.

Tuesday: Sticky Chicken and Veggie bowl– I love a good bowl! I’ll serve this atop quinoa to get some more protein and carbs. This could easily be made vegan…just add more vegetables, and cook them the way the chicken is supposed to be cooked. Hopefully that made sense. I think I’ll multiply this recipe to have leftovers for lunch, too.

Wednesday: Chicken Pho–  I think I’m going with shrimp instead of chicken. But, you can leave out all of the meat, and add vegetables. There are many steps in this recipe, that I’m skipping…not sure why I’d cook chicken and then rinse it. Not sure why I’d skim broth as I’m letting it simmer, either. Definitely not getting out another pot to prepare the rice noodles- put the noodles in with the soup at the very end. Rice noodles soften in seconds. It’s soup. Throw it in a pot, and walk away.

Thursday: Jumbo chickpea pancake– This recipe states that it’s perfect for breakfast or lunch….apparently you croak if you have it for dinner. I’m risking it. This is g-free and vegan. It’s a single serve recipe, so bust out the calculator and multiply. These will be dense.

Friday: Paleo Thai Chicken– Gluten free, paleo, whole 30- I won’t be using ground chicken for this…I dislike the texture. I plan to put chicken in the crock pot, and then shred it. Don’t fear the anchovies! You will never know they’re in the recipe. Bless their little hearts…they’re so tiny, they will disintegrate. If you don’t have any, you can just add fish sauce (which is just anchovies and water).

Saturday: Tea Smoked 5 Spice Salmon– This dish is so good. So good. There are a lot of steps that I don’t follow. I never make the bok choy that goes with it. I don’t make my own Chinese 5 Spice…buy it. The marinade makes a lot of marinade…more than enough for 4 pieces of salmon. SO, you can cut the recipe in half, or make it all and maybe you feel like making this recipe again soon. You do need a steamer basket, though. The first time I made this recipe I was so feelin’ myself. It turns out perfectly, and I had never thought of putting spices under my steamer. Try it.

Sunday: Butternut Squash Alfredo– Sometimes you just need pasta. Use gluten free pasta for a g-free dish. To make vegan: leave out the bacon, use Earth Balance, use plant based milk, and use vegetable broth.

 

I’ve got no answers

Me RN:

Silly old bear, I feel like you’re speaking directly to me. I have been so hungry all week. There is no good reason for this. I’m eating the same amount, exercising the same amount, drinking water, no unwanted visitors…I feel like I’ve spent the week staring at a clock, waiting for appropriate times to eat.

Thankfully, I know exactly why this is happening. It’s called: Life. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. Trust me…I’ve Googled this ad nauseum. Who knows? Maybe I’m going through a growth spurt, and will finally reach my lifelong dream of being 5’10”. I really don’t think that’s realistic, though. So, I’m just going to try and be nice to myself, eat when I’m hungry, and eat foods that have nutritional value. Sometimes this is harder than it should be, and I don’t know the reason for that, either!

I suppose what I’d like you to glean from my blah-ness and lack of focus is that it’s all ok. You are fine. You are normal. Listen to your body. Tell your mind to shut up. Try. Take 5. You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

If you bend over and bust out of your pants, maybe take it a little more seriously than Pooh. But if you’re not at risk for that, exhale completely and have a lovely weekend.

Short week! Who doesn’t love staving off responsibilities for another day? Hopefully you had a relaxing, restorative long weekend. You can get through four days. Here are some tasty recipes to give you something to look forward to while you’re listening to your co-workers/children/randos tell you long, exhaustive stories about things you could not care less about. Serenity now.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday- Any kind you want…veggie, chicken, ground beef, shrimp…just don’t go crazy on the cheese, and maybe sub full fat Greek Yogurt for sour cream. Consider using whole lettuce leaves instead of tortillas. And please…don’t buy taco seasoning anymore. I bet you have all of the spices to make up your own blend, and then you don’t have to deal with all of the added sodium and fillers: Homemade Taco Seasoning.

Wednesday: Immunity Boosting Miso Soup and Pan Fried Rice Balls. I think these sound so good. The soup is vegan and gluten free. But, you could add chicken. Wakami flakes? No idea what that is…not buying a special ingredient for one recipe…skipping it. For the rice balls, scroll down for a bit to get the recipe in English. I also think there is some wasted time in this recipe. Just grab a bit of rice, put some veggies on it, and smoosh some more rice on top. If you’re feeling on top of things, make some extra rice and keep it for Sunday’s dinner.

Thursday: Salmon and Baked Potato Pakoras with Cilantro Sauce. Non meat eaters can pair these Pakoras with a nice, big salad- and more of that cilantro sauce.

Friday: Avocado Quinoa Cakes with Avocado Crema and Salsa Fresca– Naturally gluten free. I’m assuming in the recipe that, “rice powder,” is rice flour. Not sure this ingredient is necessary. To make dairy free, use a plant based milk, non dairy cheese, non dairy yogurt, or coconut cream instead of yogurt. To make vegan, make all of the changes above, plus sub chia eggs, flax eggs, or Ener-G egg replacer.

Saturday: Reader’s Choice. You’re on your own 🙂 You can do it!

Sunday: Coconut Curry Chicken Tacos with Pomegranate Rice– To make vegan, try sauteing a bunch of veggies, and using those instead of chicken. This is another instance where you can use lettuce wraps instead of tortillas.  Can’t find a pomegranate? Skip it! You could try a handful of raisins instead.

Plump it Up + Monday’s Recipe + PSA

I love food. I seriously get sad when it’s time for the last bite of a meal. So, obviously, I like to eat as much as I can without adding thousands of extra calories. The key to being able to eat mass quantities of food is Volumetrics. Volumetrics is a dietary theory that focuses on eating lots of nutrient dense food. Essentially, bulk up your diet with “free”foods (like veggies and fruit), and eat less “empty” foods (fried foods and cookies). An example would be having a giant salad with loads of vegetables, some protein, and a little olive oil and vinegar for dressing; or having a handful of chips. These two choice have about the same amount of calories, but the salad is full of nutrition, and the chips (while delicious) aren’t doing you any favors.

There are ways to add nutrient dense foods into your diet, without even knowing (or tasting) them. I like to add spinach to my oatmeal. Yea. Sounds weird. I take the liquid that I’m using to make the oatmeal, and put it into a blender with the spinach (a good handful). Then, make your oatmeal as usual. I promise you can’t taste it, but you’ve added some protein, iron, and tons of other vitamins and minerals. Sure, your oatmeal will be green, but if that bothers you, eat in the dark. Spinach is also very easily added to smoothies, because any fruit you use will overpower the spinach’s flavor.

If you’re making pasta you can add pureed vegetables to your sauce- and no one will ever know. Carrots and red peppers are good choices, because they won’t change the color or the flavor.

Do you like ice cream? I think I could win an ice cream eating contest. I love making what the Vegans call, “Nice Cream.” First you need bananas….buy a ton of bananas and let them get brown. Peel them and freeze them. I typically just break them in half and freeze them, but you could slice them if you felt like it. Then, throw a bunch in a food processor or Vitamix (maybe other blenders would work as well, but I’ve only used these two appliances and can vouch for them), you can add raw cacao, peanut butter, cinnamon….or just use the bananas. Once the bananas start breaking down, the pectin in them is released, and you are left with a voluminous bowl full of “ice cream.” *Don’t make this in advance and re-freeze. The texture will change!* If you desire ice cream as much as I do, this is your friend. Who wants a 1/2 cup serving of sugar and GMO laden dairy garbage, when you can eat unlimited quantities of Nice Cream?

If you want a savory snack, consider popcorn. You can easily make popcorn with a microwave and a brown paper bag. 2 Tbsp corn goes into the bag, fold the top of the bag so it’s closed, and microwave until you don’t hear the corn popping anymore. You can also buy SkinnyPop, or Boom Chicka Pop. The point is, for the same amount of calories, you can have 3+ cups of popcorn or 14 chips. And, non GMO popcorn provides you will whole grain, fiber, and antioxidants.

In summation, just do it. Be sneaky. Eat more-smartly.

 

Monday’s Recipe:

Hopefully you have Monday off, and if you do, I’m sure you won’t feel like grocery shopping. So, here you go….you may have everything already…and you can totally use any and all vegetables you have on hand for this. You can also add chicken for extra protein.

Sweet and Spicy Power Bowl

 

PSA:

So, I’m thinking of changes careers. I’m thinking of creating software, that will allow me to spell and grammar check Facebook posts (in red ink- duh). This PSA has absolutely nothing to do with health. I don’t care. I can not deal with the misuse of the pronouns, “I” and “me.” Daily, I see people use these words incorrectly (some of these people are elementary school teachers). I just had a rage attack. Despite what you may have been taught, using ,”I” after another subject is not always correct.  So, how do you know when to use each word? EASY. If you are discussing yourself with another person/object- pretend that the person/object isn’t there…Example: You post a pic of yourself and your dog at a park. Pretend it’s a pic of only you at the park. Would you say, “I at the park?” Never. You would say, “Me at the park.” So, it is 100% grammatically correct to say, “Sugar Pie and ME at the park.” “Sugar Pie and I at the park, ” is WRONG. Big red line going through that sentence. Something else that grinds my gears is, “I’s.” What in the hell? “Bob and I’s new car!” Yo. Use, “our,” like you weren’t raised in a cave. Our new car. Our new car. OUR NEW CAR.

I had to get this out. It’s been a week. And, maybe my husband will be proud that the lovely Master’s degree in English he bought me is getting some use. I am a one stop shop.

 

 

 

I’m faced with a pretty grim forecast this week. I’m trying to remain positive. As of now, I’ll have one day without precipitation, so I’ll try to make up for my decreased movement by preparing some lighter meals. All of this week’s meals are vegetarian. But, you know by now that you can add/take away whatever ingredients suit you and your needs.

Monday: Greek Bean Burgers

Tuesday: Creamy Thai Sweet Potatoes and Lentils

Wednesday: Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Sauce

Thursday: Sweet Potato Sushi Rolls with Wild Rice and Cinnamon

Friday: Sloppy Lentil Sandwiches

Saturday: Spicy Kale and Coconut Stir Fry

Sunday: One Pot Tandoori Quinoa

I hope you’re off to a great start to this week. I can’t tell you how nice it was to wake up Saturday and Sunday and not need Motrin, if you know what I mean…

Shake it, shake it

Normally, I’m not a shake/smoothie person. For me, I like chewing my food. It makes me feel like I’m eating more and it takes longer to consume a meal. When I have shakes I tend to take one, long sip…pausing occasionally to swallow. Classy and not gross at all; I know. But, I know that many love liquid meals, because they’re so fast and easy Moreover, I know that a lot of people love Shakeology, specifically. I’ve never had Shakeology, for one reason: the cost. “Cheap,” is not a word that would ever describe me, but I’m not willing to pay $129.95 for a 30 day bag of the mix- that’s $4.33 every time you have a scoop. My friend (Hi!!!) is a Shakeology lover, and inspired me to find a copycat recipe. So, I did. And I made it. And I ate it. And it tasted good.

Truth be told, even though there are a lot of great ingredients in actual Shakeology (How many times will I have to type that word?), there are some suspect ones as well. Vegan Shakeology contains 4 types of grains, which for many, would wreak havoc on your GI tract due to the lectins and phytic acid found in grains (gut irritants and enzyme inhibitors). Phytic acid binds to calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium and other minerals (all Shakeology ingredients), preventing them from being absorbed. Non-vegan Shakeology contains whey protein, and there seems to be a lot of controversy as to the source. Meaning, are the cows that this whey protein comes from, eating GMO corn and soy, as opposed to grass that cows are meant to eat? According to Shakeology, they don’t use GMO ingredients, and the non-organic ingredients they do use are just not certified, “organic.” Hmm….pretty sure anyone can say that, but, ok.

Take a look at this article for more information, and for a full list of ingredients: http://www.ancestral-nutrition.com/unbiased-review-shakeology/

So, anyway on to the recipe…

I based my recipe off of this: Shakeology Recipe

I’m wondering if this guy is Italian, based on the lack of clarity in his directions and measurements…there’s definitely a key ingredient he’s holding out on (Joking…but if you get a recipe from an Italian, there is a missing ingredient that will sabotage the recipe when you make it. Just sayin.)

I had everything to make this, so for me…minimal cost. If you’re starting from having none of these, it’s going to be an investment. But, for the price of one bag of Shakeology, you can have 100 servings of this. I used Pumpkin Protein for this recipe. I don’t do dairy, and I’m not a big fan of protein powder, in general. With pumpkin protein, there is one ingredient: Pumpkin Seeds. No fillers, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. I also skipped the Hemp Seeds, because I don’t like them. I just dumped these ingredients into a container…until it, “looked right.” Sorry…I didn’t measure.

I don’t have a reference level to compare the taste to Shakeology, but this tasted really good. The taste of the Super Greens was completely masked (I detest Super Greens). If you plan to drink this from a Blender Bottle, I recommend grinding the chia seeds first…I get confused when I have to chew a drink.  I added 2 scoops to a blender with some almond milk, coconut water, spinach, frozen banana, peanut butter, and stevia (remember, this recipe has no sweeteners in it).

Well, that was a lot of rambling for a recipe you probably will never use! The point is, be aware of what you’re consuming. There is no magic food out there that will solve all of your problems. And my biggest take-home from this is: You can always make a homemade version!

Have a great weekend, people! I hope your January is off to a great start. Don’t un-do all of the hard work you did this week! Have a drink or two, have a homemade treat, take a rest day…try not to have the whole bottle, the whole pan, the whole bag. But, if you do; do better the next day. That’s it!

It’s the most terrible day of the year!

Terrible? I guess not. Saddest day of the year? Perhaps. Back to work and school. Decorations begin coming down. It’s frowned upon to eat cookies and wine at every meal. On the other hand, there are 11 months to get your life together, before it falls apart again at Thanksgiving.

I’m excited to get back in the kitchen after a short hiatus. Here we go…all healthy choices, with many options for adding/subbing to meet your needs.

Monday: One Pot Spicy Thai Noodles– Vegetarian; to make gluten free use g-free pasta and liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or tamari instead of soy sauce; dairy free; can be vegan if you leave out the eggs. Chicken or shrimp could also be added.

Tuesday: Salad Bar- No recipe needed. Just load up that plate with veggies (and maybe some fruit and some lean protein). Vegetables are “free” foods…eat as much as you like! “Wow, she’s really put on the pounds.” “Must be all of that zucchini and tomatoes.”

I like to mix raw and cooked veggies, as it’s easier for my body to handle. Be careful not to load up on extras like sugar coated nuts, cheese, dried fruit (like Craisins, which all have added oil and sugar), and store bought dressings. Make your own dressing. Play around with recipes to find what you like. I like a mix of olive oil, pure Grade B maple syrup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and spices. An avocado mixed with some greek yogurt, lactose free yogurt, or coconut cream (put a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for at least a day…open the can, and the solid stuff on top is the “cream”), some lemon juice, and spices all blended up is good too…if you need a creamy dressing.

Wednesday: Spicy Vegan Lentil Cakes with a side salad– Want to make a bunch of food? Great! This recipe is for you! Gluten free and vegan.

Thursday: “Thanksgiving” Salad– This is  my favorite. I made it for Thanksgiving, so these two will always be linked. Gluten free and vegetarian. Vegan if you leave out the brie, or use a vegan substitute. Feel free to use goat cheese instead, use a pear instead of an apple, use a sweet potato if you can find a squash, add chicken…I use dates instead of Craisins to avoid the extra junk. I also like to add roasted beets.

Friday: Paleo Empanadas with Guacamole – Gluten free and paleo. Can be vegan if you leave out the ground beef and add more veggies &/or beans/lentils/tofu for protein.

Saturday: Quinoa White Chicken Chili– Gluten free; can be vegan if you leave out the chicken and use veggie stock. This recipe uses homemade Salsa Verde, but you may be able to buy this already made.

Sunday: Sweet Potato, Beet, and Goat Cheese Galette– Gluten free and vegetarian, can be vegan if you leave out the cheese. Feel free to use your own crust recipe. Since this is a galette, you only need one crust (saves some calories), and galettes are supposed to look rustic, so don’t stress. If you can’t find fresh beets, buy a can of whole beets (make sure only water and salt are added), drain, rinse like crazy, and let them dry before you slice and add them. Serve this with a side salad to add more veggies and to make a whole meal.

 

I’m feeling this menu for the week. Remember: it’s not about restriction; it’s about filling yourself with healthy food. Eat food, not products. There is nothing here that comes out of a package…ok, pasta and quinoa do, but you know what I mean.