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31 Days Raw

In July, I am embracing a raw vegan diet which is fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. I have tried it before but could never make it stick long-term. I am not interested in adopting it long-term but hoping this challenge will springboard me into incorporating more raw foods. Over the past year, I realized I depend on vegan processed food a bit too much. That has been harder to let go of than meat and dairy by far.

This past week, I lost 2.8 lbs. I still ate a mixture of raw, cooked and processed food. And it was all great–the vegetarian festival, the vegan potluck with friends and our regular meals at home.

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At the veg fest this past weekend

However, I know if I don’t cut back on processed foods I may never heal the conditions I sought to in the first place. I am excited to see what this month brings–one raw meal at a time.

Your turn:

Have you ever tried a raw vegan diet? If so, what did you think?

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Meatless Mondays: Pho with Mushroom Broth and Broccoli

I came home from the movies yesterday and decided it was high time we cooked the Pho waiting for us in the cabinet. Any kind of soup or stew is Hubby’s specialty so I let him have at it. It wasn’t a traditional Vietnamese Pho although he did use the rice noodles and the seasoning packet that came with it.

He started by using a little oil in the pot. He then added onions, hot sauce, minced garlic, red pepper and celery with Himalayan sea salt and peppers. After they caramelized, he added 4 cups of mushroom broth and then 4 cups of water. He brought it to a boil and then added  3/4 cup of broccoli. Three to five minutes later, he added the rice noodles and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Cilantro was added to garnish the dish. The spice combination was fantastic! We are excited to eat it again, tonight. Sometimes, leftovers is what’s best for dinner and that is always alright with me!

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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.

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Meatless Mondays: Easy Vegan Taco Bake

In our effort to do more gluten-free vegan dishes, I chose a vegan taco bake dish from buildyourbite.com. It was a relatively easy recipe that also did not use oil which I am also trying to get away from cooking with so often. Outside of the flavor of the dish, squeezing half a lime over it provided just the right amount of acid. I am so glad the recipe called for it. I would definitely bring this to our next vegan potluck. We also ate some broccoli to make sure we got our greens in tonight. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 large bag of tortilla chips (13 oz)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika (see notes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 of a lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups of salsa
  • sliced lime, for serving

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Directions

  1. In a bowl, add drained black beans, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and the juice of ½ of a lime
  2. Stir ingredients until well combined
  3. Get out a 9 X 13 casserole dish and lay down an even layer of tortilla chips
  4. Spoon evenly half of the bean mixture over the tortilla chips
  5. Cover with ¼ cup of nutritional yeast
  6. Add 1 cup of salsa, spreading out evenly
  7. Repeat steps of chips, beans, nutritional yeast, and salsa
  8. Top with remaining tortilla chips, crushed into small pieces
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until browned
  10. Serve hot with fresh lime juice squeezed on top
  11. Be sure to reheat any leftovers in the oven for best results

This was such a life-saver tonight as allergies are currently sapping my energy. I am going to have to look into more recipes from buildyourbite.com.

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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.

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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.

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Meatless Mondays: No Chicken (Vegan) Pot Pie

Today, hubby took over and cooked a no chicken vegetarian (we made it vegan) pot pie. The recipe came from genius kitchen.

READY IN:

55mins

SERVES:

4

UNITS:

US

INGREDIENTSNutrition

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Ready to be baked!

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.
  3. Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well Cook one minute stirring constantly.
  4. Combine broth and half and half.
  5. Gradually stir into vegetable mixture.
  6. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
  7. Stir in salt and pepper and tyme; add tofu and stir well.
  8. Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with pie shells.
  9. Cut slits to allow steam to escape.
  10. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and cooked through.
 He added broccoli, mushrooms and cilantro, replaced the onion broth with vegetable broth and the half and half with almond milk (to make it vegan) but forgot to add carrots. We are trying to stay away from soy so tofu didn’t make it into our veggie pot pie. It didn’t matter. It was tasty..we probably should have let it sit a while longer before cutting into it but the flavor was all there. Definitely would try again!
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Meatless Mondays: Luna’s Living Kitchen

I was out of town, specifically in Charlotte this past weekend visiting family. We knew we would be leaving in the afternoon and wanted to stop by a raw vegan restaurant I found online: Luna’s Living Kitchen.

Since we are just getting home, I knew I would be in no mood to cook a meal and eat late so I thought I would share our meal at Luna’s Living Kitchen located in the South Bend of Charlotte. Even though I prefer to cook these meals, it’s good to know there are options everywhere to eat plant-based and even raw vegan!

We started off by sharing a sweet potato sushi roll. I decide to get a cacao smoothie and Jeff chose a Mango Tango. It had a kick of cayenne which we both enjoyed!

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Jeff had been eager to try the raw manicotti made with zucchini and cashew cream and tomato sauce. He added the lentil soup for warmth. The coolness of the manicotti threw him a little even though he was warned about it but neither of us could deny how tasty the cashew cream was and how well it mimicked the taste of ricotta cheese. I chose one of the warmer entree options: BBQ sliders. That was our favorite dish! The oyster mushrooms was such an amazing filler compared to mock meats like tofu, tempeh or jackfruit. When we come back to Charlotte, we are definitely coming back!

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The cashew cream was incredible!
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Our favorite dish topped with jalapeno slaw!
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Freedom

We have been back from San Diego for four days now.  While I was talking to a friend about the trip yesterday, I found myself romanticizing San Diego. Not that there isn’t anything to romanticize-gorgeous beaches, delectable food, picturesque views and a vibrant arts scene. Plenty of material, right?

However, I believe I was crushing on the freedom of living there if I wanted to. When we were walking hand in hand in Little Italy, hubby peered up at an apartment and said “I could live right there.” As we walked through the harbor afterwards, I started to feel the same way.

As a writer, I know my imagination has a life of its own. It will pack up a suitcase, book a flight and go on its merry way. Even as I am writing this, I know it’s the freedom I crave–freedom to travel as we please, live where we want when we want with the stability we need. Since I am well aware we are not there yet, those romantic notions are put on hold-not forever or even indefinitely but until all of our goals are met.

I know this will take being more with steadfast with my efforts with my writing and wellness goals. When I see the rest of my life, I not only envision this level of freedom but a healthy person exercising it.

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I think San Diego gave me the gift of this vision and an extra incentive to see it fully realized.