Planning Ahead: a Plant-based Plan

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Happy Tuesday everyone!  Has it really been 4 months since my last post?  I sincerely apologize; with a full time job and a full time class schedule, life can definitely get in the way of everything else sometimes.  And I won’t lie to you: these next four months are going to be even more hectic and insane than ever, so bear with me.  We will make it out alive; I promise!  

Classes officially began yesterday, though I was in and out of meetings last week as well.  Some exciting changes in my life since last we spoke:

  • I will finally be getting out of this horrendously-lit apartment at the beginning of February!  Goodbye outskirts, hello downtown!  I can’t wait to be in the heart of this great city and take part in all it has to offer!
  • I adopted a kitten!  What’s crazy is that I’m a self-proclaimed “dog-lover” to a fault, and one day at work my heart just told my head that this little guy was mine.  His name is Bran (after the character on Game of Thrones).  I figured since Bran Stark is in a wheelchair and my little one is missing a leg, they had a bit in common!  My Instagram feed (Khaleesi_Kate) is now all food/health photos and tons of pictures of Bran.  Hashtag “crazy cat lady”!

Okay, now to the good stuff!  Balancing work, school, and a life are going to be more challenging than ever in these next few months, and I know that in order to succeed, I need to make sure I make things like meals and shopping as organized as possible.  I created a meal plan for the week and hung the clipboard next to my stove.  Now I don’t have to stress about “What do I bring to campus for lunch today?” or “What the heck am I having for dinner?”  It only took me about a half hour to write it all down, and that made the shopping trip 100x easier.  With a few staples already in my kitchen, I managed to keep the bill under 30$… not bad it I do say so myself!

The menu for this morning included my hot lemon water (as always) and a kale-banana smoothie with the almond milk I made last night.  I’m a creature of habit, and I always know it’s going to be a good day when I am able to stick to my routine in the mornings.  Again, planning is key.  My morning routine looks something like this:

Stumble out of bed and wander blindly to the kitchen to turn on the stove and heat my water.  glance at my meal chart and see that a banana-kale smoothie is what’s happening this morning.  Wash 1000 mg Vitamin C and 1000 mg niacin down with a full glass of water while I pull out everything I will need from the fridge.  My counter looks something like this:

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Bran wanted to help photograph the food this morning.  He’s hiding in most of my pictures now, so be on the lookout!  As you can see, I’ve already cut up lemon slices, and everything has been prepared (I did chop the kale this morning though).  If you look in the right corner of the picture, you can see the edge of my clipboard hanging on the wall!  I sip my hot lemon water while checking emails and once I finish, I head to the kitchen to make breakfast.  If I make something like an oatmeal bake or roasted apples, I take that oven time to get my yoga on. This banana was not nearly as ripe as I prefer (the browner the better!) but the smoothie was still delicious and I always feel good about making a meal from ingredients I have prepared myself.  The jar of brown stuff in the back is almond meal.  If you remember my post about making almond milk (refresh your memory here)  I talk about making almond meal from the leftover almond “pulp”.  It’s quick, easy, and I added it to my kale-banana smoothie to up the fiber content, which is never a bad thing!  Feel free to omit this if you are using store-bought almond milk, since prices of almond meal at the grocery store are a bit outrageous.  

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1 ripe banana
3-4 leaves kale, chopped
2 tbsp almond meal (optional)
1 cup almond milk

To reiterate what I said in my previous post about almond milk, I can’t stress enough how easy and effortless this process is!  Yes, the almonds need to soak beforehand, but I did that while I was in class.  And the almond meal has to go in the oven for an hour or two… which I just read and did work for my classes while that was happening.  All in all, you probably only will spend about 10-15 minutes doing actual work.

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Today’s menu includes brown rice & broccoli for lunch, mashed sweet potatoes and steamed kale for dinner, and some carrots and hummus as a mid-day snack.  I’ll try and post as often as I can this semester, so let me know if there’s a certain health topic you want covered or an ingredient/recipe you’d like to see on here!

Clean Eating Cleanse + My First Turnip!

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Where has the summer gone?  It’s already August and that means school, sweaters, and squash season are all right around the corner!  I can’t wait.  Autumn is my favorite time of year, and pumpkins are sort of a small obsession of mine. Pumpkin pies, roasted pumpkin seeds, and, of course, pumpkin smoothies! Yummm.  Okay, my mouth is watering now.  Point is, summer will be drawing to a close, and to quote one of my favorite books, “Winter is coming.”  Fasting and cleanses are pretty much non-existent in the winter thanks to a busy school schedule and cold weather, not to mention the fact that many of the yummy foods I eat during cleanses like cantaloupe, berries, and bell peppers won’t be in season.  Sad face.  Even though summer technically draws to a close in mid-September, us students must wave goodbye early, at the end of August, when classes begin and life gets put on hold until December.  So while I’m definitely excited for my kitchen to transition with the seasons, I’ll be gearing up for another cleanse starting next week in order to get my body one final reboot before my sweater-wearing, snow boot-loving, hibernation instincts take over!

One part of winter I won't be looking forward to is not being able to sit out on the river and enjoy my morning bagel!

One part of winter I won’t be looking forward to is not being able to sit out on the river and enjoy my morning bagel!

I’m still in the process of piecing together the “rules” for this Clean Eating Cleanse, partly because I think rules are silly.  For those that know me, I’m not a believer in mass-produced diet schemes, rather finding healthy alternatives that work for my lifestyle in particular.  That’s what I encourage everyone to do.  I obviously love my juice, but it’s not like I tell my followers “You HAVE to substitute 2 meals a day with juice” or “If you don’t do a juice fast for 10 whole days, you’ll never be healthy.”  That’s just ridiculous!  In my book, every health-conscious decision you make, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction!  Do you make fresh juice every day? Every couple weeks? Once a month?  Good for you!  I won’t lie, some nights I’m just too exhausted after working 10 or 11 hours to make a home cooked meal, and I’ll admit that I DO reach up to the tippy top shelf of my pantry for the Ramen noodles I tried to hide from myself.  It happens.  Health isn’t about perfection, people; it’s about progress.  Baby steps in the right direction eventually turn into miles and miles in the right direction! That all being said, I would like this cleanse to be yet another stepping stone in the right direction.

So what’s the general idea behind this Clean Eating Cleanse I’m about to embark on?  It’s exactly what it sounds like: 10 days of eating nothing but whole, fresh, unprocessed foods.  This means no Ramen (my heart is breaking a little).  This means no Franks Red Hot (I put that s*** on everything!).  This means no Oreos or tortilla chips or Earth Balance.  For a week and a half, I want to attempt a few raw recipes, as well as focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and seeds exclusively.  Oh, and juice of course!  Substituting one meal for a green juice every day is good practice to begin with, so I definitely want to stick to that whilst on this cleanse!  It took me 6 months to fully transition to veganism, and though I’ve been a full-fledged veganista for 5 months and 16 days, I’ve still only scratched the surface when it comes to finding new foods.  Cleanses and special goals like this help expand my world, and I’ve never been one to stand stationary for too long; I love trying and experiencing new things, no matter what realm of life they’re in!

Take tonight for example.  Tonight, I had my first turnip.  Did you know turnips are little white radish-looking things?  I had no idea (says the girl who learned how to cook rice at 22)!  I made broccoli soup for dinner using the recipe my mother has sworn by since before I was born, and threw in some cubed turnips.  I don’t know anyone else’s take on cooked turnips, especially in soups, but in my opinion they almost had a meaty texture, and added some much-appreciated bulk.  I know most people are probably used to the traditional, cream-based, broccoli-cheese soup, but my mother always made us a water-based broccoli soup growing up, and that is what I made tonight. Ahhhh, mother’s cooking.  That’s a blog post all its own though.  For now, I’ll just say that turnips are now about to be a staple during grocery trips and I’m positively delighted about that!

What new foods have you tried lately?  What did you think?

6 cups water 2 tbsp olive oil 3 cloves garlic 2 small stalks broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces) 5 turnips, peeled & cubed 1 bay leaf 1.5 tsp Old Bay 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper 1/2 onion, chopped Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. (pasta optional for a bulkier meal.  I like ancine di pepe noodles) Enjoy!

6 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 small stalks broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces)
5 turnips, peeled & cubed
1 bay leaf
1.5 tsp Old Bay
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. (pasta optional for a bulkier meal. I like ancine di pepe noodles) Enjoy!