Feelin' Chalky

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Celebrate Good Times, C'mon!

Hmmm...should I start things off like this?

Or this?

Anyway you slice it...it's big news...I hit my big goal today!!!  I lost 3 pounds this week bringing my grand total up and over the 100 pound mark (101.6 to be exact!).  I am so overwhelmed with emotion that I am speechless.  Well, almost...

And by the way...the products I reviewed are from a company called WayFare and you can check out all of their products on their website here.  I promise you won't be disappointed!

This morning at my WW meeting there were so many things I wanted to say about the last year and a month (and 5 days...but who's counting really?).  Looking back on all the changes I have made it is hard to consolidate everything into a short little "speech."  The biggest thing I wanted to convey is that YOU are the only one responsible for your success.  It has to be a personal journey.  God gives you the strength and places the right people and information in your path, but YOU have to be willing to take it all and run with it.  I think we all rely a little bit too much on other people and things to carry us through...and even though other people are SO incredibly important for support and motivation...you are the one that has to face the scale each week.

For so long I refused to take responsibility for my health.  I fooled myself into believing that I was just destined to be overweight my whole life - that it wasn't my fault.  I believed that somehow I was flawed or broken and that I couldn't be fixed.  I think we all tell ourselves things like this from time to time.

Once I erased all memory of what I thought I knew about weight and diet and food I was able to soak in the truth.  I broke off the unhealthy relationship I had with food and was able to see things clearer than I ever have.  The information is truly out there we just have to be willing to search for it.  Food is the ONE true "medicine" we all need.  It is the only proactive approach to health.  Medication and surgery are just ineffective solutions to a bigger issue - simply put, they are bandaids.  

The biggest thing I have learned from WW is how to turn my need for control into a healthy habit.  Before when I would "diet" I would restrict what I put into my mouth.  I would keep myself away from things I love the most in an effort to get through a 6 month program.  That was my form of control.  Now I control my lifestyle by writing down (or tracking) what I eat and by keeping track of things like water intake, fruit and veggie intake, protein, whole grains, and dairy (or in my case non-dairy alternatives).  I try to also exercise control when it comes to portion size (most of the time).  It is not difficult or time-consuming to grab a measuring cup or a tablespoon and make sure I am not overeating.  A food scale has become one of my greatest allies.

Don't underestimate the power of eating fresh, whole foods.  Fruits and vegetables have such amazing power locked up inside.  That power is transferred to us when we consume them. Food isn't meant to be in a box.  Food in a box isn't healthy either.  Make an effort to eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains everyday.  That was the very first step I took.    I think that is the foundation of success when it comes to living a healthy life.

My best bud, Jaime, shared a fabulous cookbook with me the other day and I wanted to pass along a couple of recipes I tried out this week.  the book is called, "Appetite for Reduction," by Chandra Moskowitz.  You can check it out on amazon by clicking the link below!  

Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce

3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp garlic (I used fresh she called for powder)
2 tsp onion flakes (again, I used fresh)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
2 T broth powder (I used Better Than Bouillon Veggie Soup Base)
2 cups water
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

Place everything but the water and mustard in a bowl and stir to combine.  Add water and whisk or use the back of a fork to mix and make smooth.  Pour into a 2-quart saucepot and cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.  When the mixture comes to a boil, bring down the heat and cook for another 5 minutes while stirring constantly until it has a thick and smooth, cheese-like consistency.  Mix in the mustard and add salt to taste.  Serve over macaroni noodle or as a sauce over veggies.  (My verdict: YUM!  This one is a keeper!)

This next recipe is a mind-blowing salad with a dressing that would taste good on anything - including a shoe...right, Jaim?

Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red miso
1-2 cups roughly chopped green onions (white and green parts)
3 T rice vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar
2 tsp chopped, fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Toss everything into a blender and blend until smooth.  Use only 1/2 cup of the water to start with and then gradually add the last 1/4 cup to your desired thinness.  Chill until ready to use. (My verdict: There aren't words to describe this delicious concoction.)  P.S. this makes a lot of dressing - at least 4-5 servings.

And here is the salad...

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad
Serves 4

1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed
1 T rice vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups cooked and cooled short-grain brown rice
1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 medium sized carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cup thinly sliced green onion
4 tsp sesame seeds
1 sheet nori, chiffonaded (this can be found in the Asian section)
4 ounces sliced avocado
Green Onion-Miso Dressing

Basically...add the vinegar and agave to the edamame and toss.  Chop your veggies.  Place the lettuce in a big bowl and drizzle with a little dressing.  Scoop the rice over the lettuce.  Top with cucumber, carrot, green onion, sesame seeds, nori, and avocado.  Serve the dressing on the side.  (My verdict: You will want to keep this recipe very close at all times)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mid-Week Pick-Me-Up!

So I can't remember which one you eat when you "feel like a nut" and which one you eat when "you don't," but I made some Vegan cupcakes today that had me singing that song.  If you like chocolate and coconut you need to try these out.  I adapted a recipe that I found online a) because I can and b) because no matter how many trips to the grocery and how many times I read the recipe...something always goes wrong.  Today it was my oil.  I sniffed two oils from my pantry and they both smelled rancid.  I hate that. Such a waste of moolah! Anyway, despite my concerns about the cupcakes being a "complete disaster" this little alteration worked in my favor and gave these cupcakes their catchy name! ;-)

Little MOUNDS of Vegan JOY Cupcakes
3/4 c. Organic Raw Cane Sugar
1/4 c. Soy Yogurt (SILK Vanilla Live is good)
1/4 c. Coconut Oil (make sure it is really good quality)
1/4 c. Unsweetened Applesauce
1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 t. Baking Soda
1/4 t. Sea Salt
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)
2/3 c. Plain, Unsweetened Soy Milk
1/3 c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)

Combine sugar, yogurt, oil, and applesauce with a hand mixer until smooth. (Tip: preheat your oven to 350 and set your jar of coconut oil on the stovetop to melt...it makes it MUCH easier to measure and mix).  Add in vanilla, baking soda, and salt.  Combine the apple cider vinegar with the plain soy milk and stir until it curdles.  Add to the rest of the wet ingredients.  Add cocoa powder, mix until smooth.  Finally, add the flour and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes or until tops are cracked and a toothpick comes out clean.  This recipe makes exactly 12 perfect cupcakes.

If you're feeling frisky and want to try out a dairy-free frosting - this one is super-simple!  It is adapted from my "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch" cookbook.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (make sure it's plain b/c french onion might taste a little funny - true story)
2 c. Ideal Confectionary Sweetener (the Xylitol powdered sugar alternative)
1/2 T. Vanilla
pinch of salt

Combine and ENJOY!

By the way...last week I lost 0.6 pounds bringing my total to 98.2 - only 1.8 to 100!!! *Crossing fingers!*

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Roses Are Red...

As promised I am going to start a series of blog posts that I am lovingly naming, "The Skittles Series."  Hehe.  It will be an homage to one of my new favorite cookbooks, "Color Me Vegan," by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau which encourages us to eat more fruits and veggies in an array of colors.  Basically I will be pushing my readers (and myself) to "taste the rainbow' - hence the name. ;-)

This week is all about the color RED!  We are going to amp up our red-food power this week!  Red is such sexy color!  So to start things off, let's name some common red foods.  Pick a few items from this list to incorporate into your weekly menu:

Fruits: strawberries, cherries, red pears, red grapes, grapefruit, red apples, cranberries, raspberries, pomegranates, watermelon, and tomatoes are technically also a fruit...

Veggies: I'll add tomatoes here too b/c most of us eat them like a veggie, red potatoes, beets, red beans, red lentils, red cabbage, red onion, red peppers (bell and hot)...

Some other less common but delicious "reds" are red quinoa, elderberry, rhubarb, red miso, guava, papaya, and red okra (which I haven't seen around here).

So what is the deal with red foods?  Why are they red and why should we eat them?  First of all, let's start off with this: all plants contain substances called phytochemicals/phytonutrients (which is the basis behind this book).  Phytochemicals are created inside the plant to protect them from the elements and from animals and insects.  These "protective substances" are transferred to us when we consume them!  Would you believe that there are over 100 different phytochemicals in just ONE serving of vegetables?  Wow!

You've probably heard of antioxidants, right?  Most of us have.  They are ALSO present in large amounts in plants.  There are a lot of similarities between phytochemicals and antioxidants.  For the purpose of this blog, let's just say that we need them both because they help protect our bodies from the inside out.  They help build our defenses against diseases and even slow the aging process!

So what is unique about red foods?  There are several dominant phytochemicals in red foods that are worth looking at.  We will focus on two.  The first, and probably most commonly known phytochemical is lycopene.  Lycopene is responsible for making tomatoes red and watermelon, grapefruit, guava, and papaya pink.  Lycopene concentrates itself in certain organs of the body - mostly in the lungs and prostate gland (pay attention and tell your hubby!).  Its super-power is the ability to treat and prevent prostate cancer, heart disease, breast cancer, and various eye ailments (like cataracts).  Let's all cheer for lycopene!  Tip: to unleash lycopene's full potential - cook lycopene-rich foods before eating them...let's all eat some spaghetti (with whole wheat noodles of course) to celebrate! (p.s. ketchup doesn't count...unless you make your own OR buy organic ketchup sans HFCS!)

Another phytochemical found in red foods are betacyanins.  Betacyanins are found in foods like beets, red carrots (who knew!), red grape skins, red chard, elderberry, and red cabbage.  They, like lycopene, boast protective powers in the area of cancer-prevention and treatment!

To give you a couple of ideas to try this week and up your red ante...I chose two recipes from the red chapter (which was very tough because they all look SO good)!

Harvard Beets

3 pounds (about 5 medium) fresh beets, scrubbed
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. non-dairy butter (like Earth Balance)
Salt, to taste
1 T minced, fresh parsley

She gives several ideas for preparing the beets, but here is the method I am going to use: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Trim the greens from the beets leaving at least 1 inch of the stems attached so that the pigment won't run out during the cooking process.  Place the unpeeled, whole beets in a large casserole dish, adding some water to the bottom of the dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover the dish with foil and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the beets are fork-tender.  When they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off, cut the stem off, and slice into bite-size chunks.

While your beets are cooking, in a medium-sized pot over medium heat, whisk together the orange juice, sugar, cornstarch, and vinegar.  Make sure the cornstarch dissolves completely.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, whisking constantly.  Once it's thickened a bit, remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted.

Stir the cooked, diced beets into the sauce.  Serve either hot or at room temperature.  Salt to taste and garnish with fresh parsley.

And for a yummy dessert?  I've gotcha covered!

Watermelon Granita

1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
Juice of 1 lime
Mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a pan over high heat and stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside and cool.  Add the cooled syrup, lime juice, and watermelon chunks to a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Pour into a shallow, wide pan and freeze for one hour.  Rake with a fork and freeze for another hour.  The whole process takes three hours total - you get the idea. Rake again before serving.  It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 days (but who wants to wait?).  Serve in margarita glasses or large wine goblets and garnish with mint and watermelon rind.  Easy, peasy.  :-)  It looks like a slushy or Italian ice when finished.  I wish I could get a good picture to show you...I guess you'll just have to buy the book...hehe.  Actually if you click on the link above and then click, "look inside this book" you can see for yourself!  Purty!

This week I lost another 1.4 pounds!  That brings my total loss to 97.6 pounds!  Is it just me or is this 100 thing taking FOR-EV-ER??  Haha.

Have a SUPER-sexy RED kind of week!  Muah!