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!

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Wellness Wednesday: Blue

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Conflicted.  That pretty much sums up my entire Wednesday.  This morning, I got up to go for a run (after my hot lemon water and some stretching of course!).  I got less than a mile into my run before I turned around unexpectedly, deciding I just wasn’t feeling that particular trail.  So then I run all the way back to the beginning and set out in an entirely different direction, thinking that would solve everything.  It didn’t.  Over a mile into that route, that path wasn’t right either.  Exasperated with indecision, I ended up running over to the high school and doing laps around the football field until I was good and spent.  My pace was decent according to my Nike app, but my mentality wasn’t.

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Then came time to decide which delicious blue food recipe I was going to feature today, and again I was met with conflicting emotions and indecision.  Since only one “blue” food really exists in the natural food world (with the exception of some very rare blue potatoes), blueberries were the obvious food choice.  There’s no variety in the blue category, and I hate when I’m left without a choice!  Blueberries are super delicious, though.  But what to make with them?  I usually just eat them raw, or I add them to juice and use the pulp in popsicles.  I didn’t want to juice them since I was in too much of a hurry to really be able to preserve the pulp today, so I went for a smoothie.  I don’t have a specific recipe for this one, but basically a few (like 3 or 4) heaping handfuls of spinach went into my blender, followed by my pint of blueberries from the market and some silken tofu (about half a brick).  I added about a cup and a half of unsweetened almond milk and blended that sucker till it was creamy and totally liquid.

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Man was that just what the doctor ordered after an hour of running!  Feel free to add your own sweetener to this blend (agave, honey, stevia, etc.).  A lot of people don’ t think my smoothies or juices are sweet enough, but I personally am not huge on super-sweet concoctions (I understand I’m pretty much alone in this!).  Since my first juice fast in July 2011, my cravings for sugar have gone down significantly, and I don’t always use sweeteners. Currently, I don’t even have any type of sweeteners in my home.  Like I said though, a couple tablespoons of agave may be just the key to making this smoothie your new go-to breakfast concoction!

If you head over to my good friend Allison’s Allison in Wellness Land, you’ll find some rockin’ info about blueberry nutrition on top of another awesome blueberry recipe with only two ingredients!  Allison shows how to make Blueberry-Chia Jam, and it’s crazy good! Can’t get more simple/healthy/delicious than that!

Not every day is perfect.  I’m not always a 100% up-and-at-em, vegany power superhero (as some of my friends would put it).  Some days, I wanna say screw it, just like you do, crank up Alanis Morisette, and scream at every car I see on the road, even though I know they can’t hear me.  We all have those days. While I can’t say I got a whole lot of emotional satisfaction from today, I am able to reflect on the fact that despite my moodiness, I was able to run over five miles, contribute to a very satisfying inter-professional meeting at Case, and eat some very healthy meals.  Being able to see those accomplishments in print makes my day a bit more satisfying than I thought it was!

What do you do when you’re having an off day?  Are you able to see positive actions even in the midst of conflict and indecision?  Comment below and let me know how you get over your less-than-perfect moments.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow holds less conflict and more clarity.

Stay happy, stay healthy!

Day 2- Clean Eating Cleanse: Banana Shake + Green Juice

Let’s hear it for Day 2 of the Clean Eating Cleanse!  Things are going great!  I started the day off right with a mug of hot lemon water and a solid half hour of yoga.  I swear, that combo is better than coffee.  It never fails to leave me energized, invigorated, and ready to get the day started! Breakfast was out of this world.  I made a banana-oat smoothie, one of my go-to recipes.  Only 3 ingredients!

bananaoatshake

  • 3 bananas, sliced & frozen
  • ¾ cup water (or almond milk if you prefer)
  • ½ cup oats

Blend and enjoy!

What I love about this breakfast recipe is that it is so simple, and yet so satisfying!  It’s become a favorite of mine, and has become very popular with friends and other followers I have recommended it to.  Packed with protein and carbohydrates, this ice cream-like concoction seems more like dessert than a satisfying breakfast.  Seeing as I work in a job which requires a decent amount of physical labor, you can believe me when I tell you that it filled me up and carried me through my morning’s work demands.

Sticking with my goal to substitute one meal per day with a fresh juice, I brought a tasty green juice to work with me as my lunch.  I love not having to pack a lunch in the mornings, and instead just throw a jar of juice into my bag and know I’m good to go!  I like to eat lunch in a lounge with free-roaming cats meandering around, and little Emma found her way over to me and my juice.  I guess even cats love my juicing!

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Fresh vegetable juice is so full of micronutrients, I can almost feel the rush of nutrition as my body absorbs it!  Kale is, well, a superfood, and I can say I really do feel amazing after eating it or juicing it!

Dinner was a water-based vegetable soup full of carrots, onions, turnips, garlic, celery, and lentils.  SO deliciously filling, and with fresh rosemary and thyme from my herb garden, my apartment smelled AMAZING.  Yeah, you’re welcome neighbors!

Once I let this dinner digest a bit, it’ll be back to the kitchen to prep veggies for tomorrow’s meals.  I can’t wait to share more great juicing and recipe finds with you all! Tomorrow may be a bit more of a struggle since I won’t have work to occupy me; I’ll probably be eyeing the Earth Balance and Vegenaise like no other in my fridge.  I can do this, though!  Honestly, I’m really excited for another banana breakfast shake tomorrow morning!

 

Stay clean, stay healthy!  Happy juicing!

 

 

Kale Chickpea Curry & Tropical Smooth Dessert Smoothie

I started off my day right this morning with one EXTREMELY green juice!  Celery, cucumbers, kale, spinach, lemon, ginger, and an apricot.  Holy yum!  I felt great and was ready to take on the day!

No amount of juice could have prepared me for the weather though.  The weather today has been absolutely insane.  Most businesses in the area shut down around 3:00 due to a tornado warning AND a flash flood alert.  The sky turned an eerie green almost instantaneously and torrential downpour stranded me as well as the rest of the city.  Hail pelted relentlessly at my windows and I thought to myself “I had better cook some food while the power’s still on!”  The only question was what to make?

I don’t know about you all, but lately I seem to be on a Middle Eastern/Indian food kick.  Curry powder, cumin, and paprika have been my go-to spice trio for the past few months (My Italian mother is not at all thrilled by my lack of basil, oregano, and thyme).  I ended up throwing together a kale and chickpea curry, served over a bed of brown rice, and what’s better to wash down that tastiness with than a mango-papaya smoothie?  Enjoy both of these recipes.  Whether you make them together or separate, they will taste amazing!

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Kale Chickpea Curry on Brown Rice

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, undrained
  • 1/2 bunch kale (4-6 stems), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • Unsweetened coconut shavings, for garnish (optional)

Start cooking the rice while you work on the rest of the dish on another burner.  Once your rice is simmering, pour the olive oil into a separate pan and cook the garlic and onion on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add in the tomatoes after the onions have become translucent, and add in your seasonings as well (curry paste, paprika, cumin, coriander).  Let simmer for another 5 minutes.  Then add your can of undrained chickpeas.  The liquid should give the mixture a stew-like consistency.  Simmer the mixture for 10-15 minutes.  

Right before taking the mixture off the heat, add the kale.  Cook just until it wilts.  

Serve over a bed of brown rice.  Add coconut shavings for garnish.

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Tropical Smooth Dessert

  • 1 cup frozen mango, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen papaya, cubed
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk

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Add all ingredients into your high-powered blender and blend on high until the consistency reaches that of ice cream.  You must freeze the fruit thoroughly prior to blending for this recipe to work properly.  

Enjoy!

Cheezy Cauliflower Soup (Vegan)

Thank goodness for this beautiful weather!  Now that the rain has stopped (for the most part anyway) I can officially resume walking to work again!  I’m so lucky to live in a town where everything is reasonably close together.  Just the simple act of walking to work and back adds 5 miles of walking to my day!  I love it!  

My college roommates got married last weekend, so I was out of town to celebrate with them!  The wedding was beautiful, and the reception was awesome… Especially the bride and groom’s late night trip to Taco Bell, wedding dress and all!  Monday meant back to reality, though, and I was way too wiped to head to the grocery store.  I didn’t even have fruit to juice 😦 sad day. I guess it was the perfect time for a little kitchen experimentation!  The result was pretty delicious, and I can say I will definitely be making it again!  

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Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

  • 4 tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
  • 6-7 cups water
  • 1 can Full Fat UNSWEETENED Coconut Milk (drain liquid from can and save for later)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 9 or 10 stems fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Throw everything but the parsley in a pot and bring to a boil! Simmer for 30 minutes and top with fresh parsley. Voila! 

As for the liquid from the can of coconut milk, I threw it into the blender along with a couple frozen bananas and had a very creamy dessert!

What kinds of healthy meals do you throw together when your cupboards are less than stocked?

Juicing vs. Blending

On a juicing note, my grandmother laughed at me this morning as I carted in the beets from my grocery excursion.  She can’t believe how many of those darn things I’m eating (or drinking), since before juicing, I wouldn’t touch a beet with a 20-foot pole!

After her amusement wore off, she told me about her latest impulse-buy.  While watching infomercials last night, she caved and bought something called a NutriBullet.  It’s supposed to be this revolutionary juice extractor that holds in more nutrients than a juicer can.  There are also a bunch of other non-beverage recipes for it, but basically granny told me that the infomercial put down juicing in an attempt to sell their product.  Now, do I love Joey (my juicer)? YES! But I also think that there might be something to the NutriBullet or VitaMix thing, too. This made me curious, so I did a little research about the two different methods.  Basically, I found that a VitaMix or NutriBullet can make juice, but the juice needs to go through a strainer.  Also, these blender-type things are more versatile appliances that can make things like salsa, peanut butter, and soups.  I think both juicers and blenders have their benefits, and I am really excited to try out the NutriBullet when it gets here! I want to make my own peanut butter so bad!

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Okay, so we just picked up our NutriBullet and stopped on the way home to pick up some fruits to test it out!  We decided to make the natural anti-inflammatory drink which consisted of half spinach, and the other half lemons, limes, grapefruit, flax seeds, and turmeric.  We couldn’t find our flax seeds, so we substituted chia seeds instead, which I don’t think hurt anything.  The taste was… umm… interesting.  It was citrus-y to the point of making our mouths pucker, so I threw in a gala apple and re-blended the concoction.  This time the citrus was a little dulled by the apple, and we could actually stand to drink the thing.  Granny cleaned the bullet (which was surprisingly simple) and we went into the living room to watch American Ninja Warrior.  As we were watching, we both realized that the juice/smoothie/whatever this thing was, was growing on us.  It actually got better the more we got used to it, and I think granny is gonna make more for breakfast tomorrow. I’m really excited to have the two machines in the house, since the NutriBullet can give me more of the fiber that the juicer takes out!  Granny wants to reorganize the whole kitchen on Wednesday so that we can juice and blend to our heart’s content, and I can’t wait to help her! The kitchen smells great with all the fresh fruits and vegetables being used, and Ethan and I have very noticeable increases in energy and metabolism changes! We wake up, and we are instantly hungry, which is awesome compared to a few months ago when we were waiting 3 or 4 hours before feeding ourselves.  I am very interested to know whether or not the anti-inflammation cocktail that Granny drank tonight will produce a noticeable effect on her.  She says that her goal is to juice and blend to get enough nutrients so that she can a) cut out refined sugars completely from her diet, and b) significantly lower, if not eliminate, the amount of her current medications.  I will keep you updated on her progress!