Meatless Mondays: Mango-Banana-Pineapple Smoothie

Meatless Mondays: Mango-Banana-Pineapple Smoothie

Hubby and I did a lot of running around today so we started off our day with one of his signature smoothies. He loves making green smoothies for us and provides smoothies for his co-workers. When we got married, we both started making smoothies and juices. We also have done a couple of juice cleanses over the years. I wanted to feature a smoothie because we decided to get back to drinking them more often for breakfast.

 

Here’s the ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup of frozen mango
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh pineapples
  • 12 oz. of coconut water

Blend and enjoy!

 

 

A Gentle Reminder

A Gentle Reminder

As I was leaving the gym last night, I passed by a sign I assume that’s been for quite some time but I was just seeing for the first time: “Eat Food, Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” Even though I subscribe to “Eat Food, Not too Much. All Plants”, it was a great reminder especially the “Not too Much” part. I had a one pound loss this week and although I am always happy to be going in the right direction, I know I have to be more aware of eating too much. I have big health goals for 2018 but I need to focus on balanced eating AND balanced thinking. There is an extreme part of my personality that is attracted to those plans that promise 30lbs in 30 days but there is nothing balanced about those plans. That is also “too much.” So while I will pause now and again at the lovely reminder at the gym, it will also remain a gentle reminder to aspire to achieve a balanced mindset, too.

Your turn:

Any reminders lately that got you back on the right track?

Meatless Mondays: Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

Meatless Mondays: Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

The days are getting longer and hotter and it’s the perfect time to try new salads. I found this recipe at the minimalistbaker.com. I was especially excited to try making another salad dressing. The fact that it includes oranges made me even more curious. Instead of mixed greens, I chose spinach leaves. I also used the sweet Cara Cara oranges in the dressing and to adorn my plate. The sweetener brand used was Truvia. We loved the combination of sweet and savory on the plate and will definitely try again!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
SALAD
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (red or white)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned corn
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (seasoned with equal pinches sea salt, cumin, chili, + garlic powder)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 orange, segmented
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped or torn
DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced (~4 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1-2 tsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, agave, cane sugar, etc.)
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
  • Healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper
  • optional: 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro
  • 3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

Instructions

  1. Begin preparing quinoa first by thoroughly rinsing 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer then bringing to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients by chopping vegetables, segmenting orange, and warming black beans and seasoning with salt, cumin, chili and garlic powder.
  3. Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added more hot sauce, orange juice and salt. TIP: if you prefer a vinaigrette, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. Either plate salad and serve with dressing on the side, or toss with dressing before serving. Pairs well with salsa, fresh lime juice and tortilla chips.
  5. Leftovers keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh.

 

Leaning In

Leaning In

Time for a wellness update. I am not sure why this one is so hard for me. I was thinking about why some weeks I work so hard to fight for my goals and others make me want to crawl under the covers and not come out for a couple of days. My couple of days was this past week. I found myself doing things I wouldn’t normally doing. I know I am not scared of success, especially if it brings me closer to my health goals so when I do things to sabotage my goals even if it only shows up as a 2 lb weight gain, what does that mean?

It may mean that I am close to a breakthrough which doesn’t happen often. And if it doesn’t happen often, the lack of familiarity makes me freeze up and want to run back to the comfort I know, even if it’s not the healthiest place.

The difference is I recognize it and want to lean into whatever breakthrough is coming, no matter the discomfort or the uncertainty that makes me feel like I am breaking apart and coming together over and over again.

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pesto Pasta with a Honeydew Lime Smoothie

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pesto Pasta with a Honeydew Lime Smoothie

Tonight, I decided to do things a little differently. Hubby and I are big smoothie lovers and I realized I’ve never featured any on my Meatless Monday posts. I decided to make pesto for the first time, too. I definitely had become a little too dependent on tomato and vegan Alfredo sauces so it was time to change things up. I got the recipe from greenevi.com and the Honeydew and Lime Smoothie was inspired by a YouTube video from Health with Kisha. I don’t remember her exact recipe but I remembered Honeydew melon and limes and I figured I could adjust according to my own taste.

We used a container of honeydew that was 1.17 lbs, the juice of 3 limes and blended it with ice.

Here’s Hubby hard at work juicing the limes for me:

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We used organic red lentil penne pasta for our vegan pesto pasta. We love the Explore Cuisine brand for red lentil and black bean spaghetti.

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Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS
  • Pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of fresh basil (tightly packed)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt, pepper
  • ½ lemon (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare your pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile roast pine nuts in a skillet until lightly toasted.
  3. Add basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix pesto into pasta and add cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
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Pine nuts toasting
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All the ingredients. I blended them instead of putting them in the food processor but the pesto still came out great!

Hubby has already said he wants to me cook everything again next week. I fell in love, too. The honeydew and lime smoothie was incredibly refreshing. I can see making that regularly especially when summer hits.

Let me know in the comments if there are any new plant-based recipes you have tried or want to try.

 

 

Meatless Mondays: Baked Buffalo Cauliflower ‘Wings’

Meatless Mondays: Baked Buffalo Cauliflower ‘Wings’

I have been craving buffalo cauliflower ‘wings’ for a few days now. I’ve made them before and this time hubby baked them. This particular recipe came from gimmedelicious.com. We decided to pair it with spinach and Yukon gold potatoes (not pictured–we have it on the side). The only things I do differently is bake for 15 minutes longer to achieve the level of crispiness I enjoy and use a Texas Pete Wing Sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower approx. 4 cups of florets
  • 1/2 cup milk for vegan: use water or almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour can sub gluten-free rice flour
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 cup Frank’s red hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp butter for vegan: use earth balance buttery spread

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Before Baking
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After baking the sauce into the ‘wings’

Instructions

  1. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or grease very well with oil. Preheat your oven to 425-450 F depending on your oven.

  2. Wash and cut cauliflower head into bite-sized pieces/florets.

  3. Mix the milk/water/flour and spices in a medium mixing bowl (set aside the hot sauce and butter for later). Mix until the batter is thick and is able to coat the cauliflower without dripping.
  4. Dip the cauliflower in the batter. You can do this one by one or in batches. shake off excess batter before placing cauliflower on the baking sheet. Lay the cauliflower single layer on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, flipping the florets over halfway through to get all sides golden brown and crispy.

  6. While the cauliflower is baking, get your buffalo wing sauce ready. In a small saucepan low heat melt butter and mix in hot sauce. Remove from the heat just as it starts to melt. Stir together and set aside.

  7. Once the cauliflower is done its first bake in the batter, remove them from the oven and put all the baked florets into a mixing bowl with the wing sauce and toss to coat evenly. Return cauliflower to the baking sheet and bake in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until reached desired crispness. Serve with ranch, blue cheese, or your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!

 

 

Teaching

Teaching

During this wellness journey, each week I feel like I am learning something new about myself. It probably helps that I am starting to write about it, too. I lost 1.6 lbs this week, which is fine because ultimately its about going in the right direction but I would be lying if  I said there isn’t some frustration.

If I don’t have a higher number, my first thoughts lean towards what I’m doing wrong  instead of trying to do more of what I am obviously doing right. So this week, I aim to begin doing that.

Focus more on what I’m doing right instead of what I’m doing wrong.

That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the mistakes. It just means I acknowledge them and direct my energy towards the habits that led towards my weight loss like an increase in exercise to include lifting. There’s a part of me that wants to wake up in a couple of months and feel and look like my best self. But the truth is my physical best self will take time and patience to arrive just as my spiritual and emotional best self will. One cannot be separated from the other.

I wish I had more to say about this week. I am learning how to slowly be more of who I am and I suspect that my frustration at the lack of speed is a teacher.

Teaching me patience.

Teaching me grace.

I hope every fiber of my being is becoming the lesson.

Meatless Mondays: Sweet Potato Quinoa & Enchilada Bake

Meatless Mondays: Sweet Potato Quinoa & Enchilada Bake

I have been holding onto this recipe from shelikesfood.com for a few weeks. I have never cooked with enchilada sauce so I was excited to try. I also have been a little rice and potato heavy so getting back to eating more quinoa seemed like a good idea. I definitely took longer than the prep time indicated but I dice vegetables slowly.

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Diced veggies: red and green peppers, onions and zucchini
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Sweet potatoes ready to bake with a little salt, pepper and olive oil
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All veggies with salt, pepper and olive oil ready to bake together
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All veggies with quinoa, black bean, corn and spices sprinkled with vegan cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  • 4 cup cubed sweet potato, about 2 large ones
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup grated cheese, divided (I used vegan cheese)
  • 2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • Black pepper
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, red onion, tomato, avocado, jalapeno

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse quinoa and place it in a small pot with 1 cup of water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.  On a large baking sheet, toss together the cubed sweet potato with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Bake sweet potato for 20 minutes.
  3. While sweet potato is baking, add all the diced bell peppers, zucchini and onion to a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Add the vegetables to the sweet potatoes, stir and make sure they’re in an even layer.  Place back into the oven 10 minutes.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Place the sweet potatoes and veggies into a large baking dish and stir in the cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, 3/4 cup of the cheese, enchilada sauce, spices, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Top with the remaining 1/4 of the cheese and place back in the oven until heated through and cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes.
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All done! I let it bake for 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

Hubby and I loved it! We chose to garnish it with avocado. It blended together well and it came out light.  While we were eating it, I thought it would be interesting to add mushrooms, too. I definitely look forward to making it again.

Belief

Belief

One of my writing goals for 2018 was to pitch an idea once a week to a publication. This week, I decided to really look at how often I was really pitching. I think I have only pitched once or twice. Instead of hanging my head low, I’ve decided to evaluate that goal. Does once a week work for me? Have I organized myself to meet this goal?

When I even take a cursory glance at it, the answer is No.

When I go deeper, I had to ask myself why I have not met the goal. I have been able to keep up with my blogging schedule, publish my first E-book journal, “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” and take writing classes. In addition to the rigor of everyday life, I am aggressively attacking my health goals.

But none of those realities are excuses. I now have more time in my schedule to see how I can start making the time to pursue freelancing opportunities. It’s been a wonderful side effect of writing in my journal every morning. In addition to writing my prayers and gratitude, I’ve also included a to-do list. Writing it down has gifted me with tremendous clarity on the parts of my life I neglect.

Part of this clarity can be attributed to belief. Before establishing a morning routine, I didn’t believe I had time to write and pray just for me. I didn’t “believe” I was a morning person or and I believed I was a night owl. My transition is not miraculous but it is a result of sticking to the habit which created my new beliefs.

  1. I believe I am the type of person who goes to bed early and wakes up early, too.
  2. I believe I am the type of person who makes time for exercise.
  3. I believe I am the type of person who schedules time to pitch editors and other blogs.
  4. I believe I am the type of person who more often than not, finishes what she starts.
  5. I believe I am a child of God who loves and works hard who intentionally makes the time to achieve her goals, has fun and gives herself a break when she needs it.

I believe all of these things.

I believe it is enough.

Meatless Mondays: Ninth Street Bakery

Meatless Mondays: Ninth Street Bakery

Today, we were on the road back home from seeing family and we decided to stop at Ninth Street Bakery for lunch. It was a few blocks from Duke University. We almost tried the Luna Living Kitchen Chapel Hill location but then we both said it was best to try something new. I was intrigued by a bakery offering several plant-based options. As soon as we walked in, we knew we were in for a feast. The smell alone was enough to buy out the store. Trying to be gluten-free saved me in this bakery. I could have walked out with a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread under each arm. Anyway, on to what we ate.

I ordered the Thai curry bowl, the savory hand pie (don’t think the flour was wheat) and a side salad. Jeff had the dal lentil soup and the savory hand pie. We loved every bit of it. The freshness and the flavor impressed us both. We left feeling satisfied and didn’t think of eating for hours afterwards. It has been incredibly encouraging to find healthy, plant-based options out on the road. It totally dispels the idea that you can’t be responsible for your health even if you travel frequently.

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Thai curry bowl for me.

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Dal lentil soup for him.

 

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Savory hand pies for both of us!

We would definitely come back again. As for next Monday, I already have a recipe in mind that I am excited to try!