Spinach Melon Green Smoothie

Happy Friday to everyone!  I spent the morning cleaning, the afternoon with my mom going around town, the early evening shopping with Kevin, then a quick workout before my dinner smoothie (see recipe below) and watching the Mariners while relaxing on the couch. First, is my daily log, and stay tuned for my super simple green smoothie recipe after!

Food Log:

  • Breakfast: lots of water
  • Lunch: Ethiopian Vegetarian Combo Split with my mom... (check out the pictures below too!)
    • Veggie Sambussa Appitizer: delicate pastry filled with lentils, onions, and spices
    • Vegetarian Combo: Yatakilt alicha (potatoes, carrots, and cabbage delicately sauteed with onions, garlic, ginger, and tumeric), Yemisher kik we-t (split red lentils cooked in berere sauce), Shiro (ground chickpeas mildly spiced and slow cooked with chopped onions and tomatoes), Yaterkik alicha (yellow split peas cooked with tumeric, garlic, and onions), with a bunch of Injera (spongey fermented flatbread) to dip and scoop
  • Dinner: Spinach Melon Green Smoothie
  • Extras: drinks with my friend in celebration of his grandma's life (she passed away peacefully today)
Exercise Log: Jogged for 20 minutes, abs, squats, stretching

How I felt:  Today was a fun day, and definitely a different food schedule than usual, but in the end, I think I did fairly well.  I didn't get in a true salad, but after my evening workout, I wan't in the mood for making a salad, let alone eating and having one sit heavy in my stomach.  My solution to that... this awesome new smoothie!

Spinach Melon Green Smoothie
Amy's Notes:  Feel free to use whatever melon you prefer for this recipe.  I used cantelope (rock melon) because I needed to use mine up, but I bet honeydew melon would go wonderfully as well!

  • 2 huge bunches of spinach
  • 1 cup fresh melon
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 dates
  • splash of non-dairy milk to thin
Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add more non-dairy milk to thin to your desired consistency.

Have you ever tried putting melons in a smoothie?  Crazy right!?


Day 4, Week 4

Another short post today since it seems to have been a long long day!

Food Log:

  • Breakfast: 1 banana, 1 apple
  • Lunch: Qdoba beans, rice, and veggies
  • Dinner: Mac n cheese sauce over noodles and rice, leftover salad from yesterday
  • Extras: 2 beers
Exercise Log: Nope, skipped that today. Let's shoot for being better tomorrow. 

How I feel:  Exhausted and feeling like my progress has slowed. It's been almost 4 weeks and I still feel like I haven't made much progress. I have gained back a pound or two from losing my initial 9 pounds. Not very encouraging :(. I probably have been not eating enough veggies and definitely not having enough salads.  

Ever feel like this some days?


Chive Hummus

& Days 1 & 2, Week 4

Hello my lovely readers!  Are you getting a bit tired of my daily logs?  Honestly, I am too.  While I have been taking less time to edit photos (and proof read, sorry!), it still takes a good chunk of time out of my day to write them.  As of right now, I am halfway through my 6-week Eat to Live Challenge.  I'll be blogging a bit less after it is over.  Have I done perfectly on my challenge?  No, but I am getting better and better at making the right choices, and resisting my old ways.  I'd say an improvement is better than nothing.  Anyways, thanks to anyone who is following along, and remember to check out the new recipe that I have been promising, below my daily logs....

Monday, Day 1 of Week 4
Food Log:
  • Breakfast: 1 apple
  • Lunch: black bean mexican stir fry with peppers and onions in lettuce wraps, 5 small apricots
  • Dinner: side salad, corn on the cob, sauted potatoes and onion
  • Extras: afternoon snack of crackers and hummus, dessert after dinner of Dr. Fuhrman's no-bake Key Lime Pie (recipe here if you have a membership)
Exercise Log:  Engine 2 beginner/intermediate work out with my mom, walk to a nearby cemetery with my family to see my grandparent's graves for Memorial Day

How I felt:  This day I still felt like I was detoxing from my bad choices of the weekend (not eating enough food, not having enough fruits and vegetables, and drinking too much), but I'm happy my mom was able to get me to get my heart pumping with some exercises from the Engine 2 book I had "let her borrow" by sharing my Kindle password.  Overall, it was a fun day, but I was ready to get back to work and back to my regular eating routine (weird, I know).

Tuesday, Day 2 of Week 4
Food Log:
  • Breakfast: 1 apple, 2 bananas
  • Lunch: curry red lentils with kale and onion over brown rice, 1 apple
  • Dinner: homemade bean burger on a thin bun with fixins, side salad
  • Extras: 1 beer with dinner, 1 beer with friends watching the Mariner's game

I think this is my best bean burger yet!
Exercise Log: Stretching before bedtime

How I felt:  I felt happy to get back to work today and have a more structured eating schedule.  I feel like my eating schedule is often something to worry about on the weekends.  I find that if I am going out in the evening and want to look and feel good in my outfit, I tend to eat less throughout the day.  I know that is a no-no, but it stems from my days in college when I paid more attention to calories and would do the same thing.  Now I know that eating the right foods is never going to make me gain weight, and acquiring the right nutrients during the day is key to my health on the cellular level.  Tonight I made bean burgers (one to eat, the others to freeze) out of the mexican black bean mix I had yesterday with lettuce wraps.  I have been making bean based dishes into bean burgers more and more often lately.  Since I am the only one in my household that eats the Nutritarian way, this is a great way to use up too many leftovers, and to be able to save them for way longer in the freezer.

Now on to my promised recipe that I have been raving about:

Chive Hummus
Amy's Notes:  I made this hummus for the first time a few weeks ago when I had gone to the farmer's market (first one of the season, yay!) with my friend Stephanie before she was to host a BBQ at her house.  At the farmer's market, there were a plethora of seed starts and baked goods, but not too much in the fresh produce department.  I did find some fresh herbs that looked divine, so I decided to get a big bunch of chives for $1.  After putting them in the nutritarian potato salad I had made for the party and barely made a dent in my supply, I decided to make a hummus with it.  After all, I don't think it's a real party until hummus is involved!

  • 1 can chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked) drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup tahini (homemade tahini recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped (extra to top)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2-4+ Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

  1. Place all ingredients except for water in a food processor, and process until smooth, but there will still be whole chive pieces.
  2. Add in water and process, tablespoon by tablespoon until you have reached the desired consistency.
  3. Top with extra chives and serve with chips, crackers, and veggies.  Enjoy!

Have farmer's markets in your area started for the season yet?


Memorial Weekend

Days 5, 6, and 7 of Week 3

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend whether it included camping, BBQs, or picnics while remembering the men and women who have died for everything we have today.  My weekend included 2 birthday parties, 1 BBQ, and a few more drinks than I would like to admit.  Let's start with my daily log from the weekend:

Friday, Day 5 of Week 3
Food Log:

  • Breakfast: watermelon
  • Lunch: spinach salad with broccoli, chickpeas, and hummus
  • Dinner: veggie burger and fries
  • Extras: a few drinks out
Exercise: couples dancing at a the Iron Horse
From right: my high school friend April, Marley the birthday girl, Kevin being creepy, and me :)
How I felt:  On Friday, our friend Marley came into town to celebrate her 21st birthday with us.  We ended up starting the evening at a close by martini bar, then made our way into Idaho to go around in downtown Coeur d'Alene.  Overall, it was a pretty decent day of eating, other than I waited to eat dinner till very very late in the evening, and I'm sure that the drinks I had that night didn't help me with my health/weight loss goals.  Although I am not perfect in that regard, I still have to remind myself that I am ahead of the game with eating for health when it comes to comparing myself to others my age.  Eventually, we will get older and drinking with friends will be less and less of our social focus.  Till then, I'm going to say cheers every now and then, and enjoy myself.... While eating a bunch of salads during the day!

Saturday, Day 6 of Week 3
Food log:

  • Breakfast: none, we slept in
  • Lunch: slice of Dave's Killer Bread and celery with hummus
  • Dinner: hummus dip with chips, crackers, and veggies
  • Extras: beers throughout the evening
Exercise log: very little :(

How I felt:  During the day on Saturday, I took some me time while Kevin was visiting with a friend who was in town.   I learned how to better apply makeup for a "flawless face" with this video, and I dyed my hair dark brown.  I generally jump between dark brown and light brown throughout the seasons, and I was getting a bit sick of my grow out from my last dye, so dark it goes!  I also spent the afternoon making two different types of hummus for a BBQ/party for our friend, Danielle's birthday that evening.  I made my usual Sabre mock hummus as well as my new favorite Chive Hummus (recipe coming later today or tomorrow, I promise!).  When we arrived at the party, there were the usual burgers, so I stuck to my hummus with a few veggies and chips over the night.  I got quite a few compliments on them from hummus lovers and even some newbies to hummus.  Yum, it is my favorite!   Overall, I don't think that I ate enough in the day, let alone enough veggies or any fruit.  Not the best day, but at least I didn't go for the grilled meats (never again!). 

Sunday, Day 7 of Week 3
Food log:

  • Breakfast: potato, broccoli, and pepper breakfast skillet with a bit of hollandaise sauce
  • Lunch: whole grain chips with hummus
  • Dinner: sweet veggie curry with brown rice
  • Extras: 2 Dr. Fuhrman brownies
Exercise: Helping my parents put in their new door. Does that count?

How I felt:  Yep, just about all day Sunday was my body being angry with me for how I ate and drank over the weekend.  I felt severely dehydrated and lethargic.  It really made me realize how great eating healthy makes me feel, and how terrible deviating from the Nutritarian lifestyle makes me feel.  In the end, it was ok that I was on the couch all day nursing my food and drink hangover since Kevin and I were watching the new episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix (and other Bluth family fans out there?).  Today (Monday) I am ready to get back to it and to keep progressing with my health transformation.  My goals for this upcoming week (#4 of my 6 week challenge) are to get in some form of exercise daily, to get in raw and cooked greens daily, and to cut out processed chips and breads. 

Do you feel like you have to reset your goals every week? What do you do to assure that you achieve what you set out to do?


Day 4, Week 3

It has been a long long day, so will make my daily log short:
A progress pic, down 9 pounds in less than 3 weeks!

Food log:
Breakfast: watermelon
Linner: corn on the cob, baked beans, broccoli, BBQ potato chips
Dinner: beans and potatoes, watermelon
Extras: 3 beers

Exercise log: Yeah right! Maybe tomorrow :)
See some corn on the cob there?
Look at that view!
How I feel: Today was my big work BBQ that I put together and planned... And cleaned up after.  Let's just say, it was a long day.  I did still stick to my guns and did not eat any grilled meats (never again!), and even avoided the cookies that were for dessert.  I did reach for a bit of the BBQ potato chips to have with the canned baked beans, but I found that those items gave me stomach cramps and I needed a bunch of water to make me feel better.  When I got home from work, Kevin was out with his Big Brothers Big Sisters kid, so I was able to sit on the back porch and relax and meditate by myself for a while.  This is almost never the case, so part of the evening alone was much appreciated. 

How often do you get time to yourself to just BE and relax?


Homemade Tahini

& Day 3, Week 3 
*Homemade Tahini recipe below

Happy hump day to everyone!  I feel like this week has been going by rather slowly.  Probably because we have such a fun weekend coming up.  On Friday, our good friend Marley is coming into Spokane from our college town of Pullman to go out for her 21st Birthday.  Then, on Saturday, our couple friends, Ian and Danielle are having a BBQ at their new house and a party through the evening for Dannielle's Birthday.  One other thing that is quite eventful this weekend is.... Arrested Development coming out on Netflix!!!!!  Kevin and I will, probably spend any second we get watching all of the new episodes.

Tonight for dinner, I ended up going to my parent's house to catch up with my mom and help her make dinner since she has been working all week.  We ended up making a sweet Thai curry with a bunch of veggies and a spice mix I got this weekend from this great local spice store.  All I can say is, YUM!  Check out the picture in my daily log below. 

Food log:
  • Breakfast: 2 bananas, 1 apple
  • Lunch: mixed greens with broccoli and chive hummus, 1 apple
  • Dinner: sweet Thai curry over brown rice, sugar snap peas
  • Extras: my Mom's homemade guacamole with whole grain chips as an afternoon snack, (1-2) beers in the evening at trivia

Exercise log: Walk with my parent's dog around the neighborhood

 How I feel:  I weighed myself this morning to find that I was one pound down from last week. That makes 9 lbs total since I started the 6-week Eat to Live plan.  I'm happy with this progress, but I think what shows even more of my success is my appearance. I feel like I can feel the fat melting off the many places it has been hanging on to, and the muscle underneath developing and showing through with each trip to the gym.  My husband Kevin even has said that, while he always thought I was skinny (thanks dear), he is noticing that I seem "smaller", like somehow my bones are shrinking me to be leaner.  I'm hoping that is not the case, and that my fat I have been holding on to for too long is coming off.  That reminds me of this picture I saw the other day (source unknown):
So, over the next week I have two BBQ's that I am going to.  One tomorrow for work, and another for our friend Dannielle as I mentioned above.  For BBQ's my go-to food to bring is always my hummus (recipe here).  It is great because it is healthy, but on the "approachable healthy-side" for most people.  Since a large part of hummus is tahini (sesame seed butter), and buying it in the jar generally costs up the ying yang, I decided to try to make my own.  Here is how I did it:

Homemade Tahini
  • 2 cups unhulled sesame seeds
  • 1-3 TBSP sesame or other oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the sesame seeds on a cookie sheet and shake to evenly spread.  No need to stray your pan, the sesame seeds produce their own oil. (In a toaster oven, toast at 400 and do 1 cup at a time). 
  2. Toast for 8-12 minutes until the some of the seeds turn a very light brown.  During toasting, make sure to take out the pan and lightly shake to move the seeds around.
  3. Once toasted, immediately scoop into a food processor with a small amount of oil.  Process and scrape the sides periodically.  It will take a few minutes to go from seeds, to crumbles, to liquid-y tahini.  Be patient!
  4. Store the tahini in an airtight container in the fridge and use for dressings, hummus, or spreads. Yum!
Amy's Notes:  Like I said above: be patient with the tahini!  It will come together.  I don't have too heavy duty of processor (although it is quite loud and I was worried the neighbors might come knocking to see who was running a chain saw), and mine was able to get the job done with about 8 minutes of processing.  This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of tahini, which is about how much comes in a jar at my local grocery store (for nearly $7 a jar!).  When buying the sesame seeds in the bulk section, I was able to get 2 cups of seeds for about $2.  That's over a 70% savings!  

What sorts of foods do you make at home to save money, or avoid preservatives and other additives?


Weekend and the Start of Week 3

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Mine seemed to go a bit too fast, unfortunately.  Since I missed posting my daily logs, today I will have the logs from Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and today.

Saturday: Day 6, Week 2
Food Log: 
  • Breakfast: 1 apple
  • Lunch: lentil chili with polenta jalepeno biscuits
  • Dinner: Dr. Fuhrman's Rainbow Potato Salad, whole wheat bread with chive hummus (recipe coming soon), and corn on the cob
  • Extras: 2 beers with dinner, 3 beers in the evening
Exercise log: Nada... let's call it my rest day

How I felt: On Saturday I just felt like being lazy, lazy, lazy!  All I did in the afternoon was hang out on the couch with Kevin and then make the potato salad and chive hummus for the BBQ that evening.  My friend Stephanie (check out here blog here) hosted the BBQ at her house to have friends come and help her finish a very mighty bottle of beer from Rogue brewery.  It was about three times the size of a champagne bottle, I estimate.  To avoid eating too bad of foods, I brought my own corn on the cob to put on the grill, as well as Dr. Fuhrman's Rainbow Potato Salad, and a new creation of mine: chive hummus (recipe coming soon once I polish off this first batch!).  After the BBQ Kevin and I headed up north of Spokane to our friends' new house to play some games.  Overall, I think I did better eating this Saturday than I did the last, although there were plenty of temptations.

Sunday: Day 7, Week 2
Food Log: 
  • Breakfast: none, we slept in
  • Lunch: peanut noodles and veggies
  • Dinner: Dr. Fuhrman's Rainbow Potato Salad, 2 slices Dave's Killer Bread with chive hummus
  • Extras: watermelon, 1 Dr. Fuhrman brownie
Exercise log: Does housework count?

How I felt:  On Sunday I felt like in the evening, I just ate to eat.  I even had so much watermelon in the evening to feel painfully full.  At least it was watermelon that got me to that point and not something that doesn't mostly consists of water.  All the same, I know I shouldn't eat past the point of being content.  Gotta work on that!

Monday: Day 1, Week 3
Food Log:
  • Breakfast: watermelon
  • Lunch: Dr. Fuhrman's Rainbow Potato Salad, kale salad massaged with avocado and lemon juice, and 1 apple
  • Dinner: brown rice with Indian red lentils, kale, and onion
  • Extras: watermelon for dessert

Indian red lentils with kale and onion over brown rice
Exercise log: Work softball game

How I felt:  I felt happy with my food choices for the day.  My "exercise" wasn't too extraneous, but our team did end up winning.  Because we had our softball game in the evening, I didn't get around to making and eating dinner until nearly 9:30.  From a girl who grew up in a house that served dinner at 5 P.M. sharp, this threw off my grove a little.  I ended up not being able to go to sleep until nearly midnight and felt a bit sluggish the next day for that.  I guess we learn from our mistakes.

Tuesday: Day 2, Week 3
Food Log:
  • Breakfast: watermelon, 1 banana
  • Lunch: brown rice with Indian red lentils, kale, and onion; 1 banana; 1 apple
  • Dinner: 1 slice Dave's Killer Bread with chive hummus, 1 apple
  • Extras: 2 beers

Exercise log: 20 minutes on an inclined treadmill, push-ups, sit-ups, stretching

How I feel:  I was proud of myself that I made it to the gym after, let's say, not my favorite day at work...  Let me explain: I am the party coordinator for all of the events around the two offices I work at.  On Thursday, we have planned a Spring BBQ to boost ccamaraderie and enjoy the decent weather we have been seeing.  To prep for this, I made my shopping list and.... cleaned out the grill.... that hadn't been touched in over a year, and it didn't seem like it had ever been cleaned.  I am not normally a squeamish person, but while cleaning this, I gagged several times and nearly threw up twice.  As I worked on cleaning the scum from burned meat of the past off of the grill, I got to thinking that if this black tar was created on the insides of this grill after a year or two, think of what a lifetime of eating these meats does to the inside of someone.  Certainly not black tar, but I'm sure just as greasy plaques inside of their arteries.  I can say this for certain: I will never eat any sort of grilled meat again.  At least that unpleasant activity reaffirmed why I am doing this 6-week Eat to Live Challenge.
How I felt about that nasty grill....
I just want to say, thank you to all who have been following, or partially following my progress.  It means a lot to me to have an audience to keep me accountable and are so encouraging.  I'm sorry that this post is a bit lack luster, but like I said earlier: my recipe for chive hummus is coming soon, and it is crazy good!

How was your weekend?  Do you find it harder to stick to your health goals over weekends or holidays (especially as we are getting into BBQ and picnic season)?


Kale Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

Hello all!  Very sorry I wasn't able to post my daily log yesterday.  My day was jam-packed with errands and a lot of fun.  First, I woke up and did some household chores before my mom and I were to have a girl's outing.  My mom ended up canceling, unfortunately, because she is a substitute secretary at a local school district and had accidentally gotten signed up for a shift when she had thought she had marked out for the day.  Bummer!

I then stayed around the apartment in the morning doing a bit more housework and rearranging the living room.  Feng shui anyone?  I also finally hung up some pictures that had been sitting in the corner since we moved in over a month ago :/.  After that, I made Kevin lunch and brought it to him at work since when he went to make it himself this morning his deli meat had gone bad (I think that's a sign he should go Nutritarian with me, don't you?).

After making Kevin his lunch and I made myself a green smoothie to-go (see below).  Once I brought Kevin lunch, I went to run some errands for the rest of the afternoon.  This included getting a new screen protector put on my iPhone, getting a birthday present for a friend, going to a local spice and vinegar specialty store, trying to get Rip Esselstyn's newest book My Beef With Meat (which I decided to probably just get on my kindle iPad), going to spend a gift card at a novelty store, and getting some things at Target.

At Target I was browsing the clearance clothes rack and decided to treat myself to a new dress to wear out last night since I have been well at sticking to my 6-Week challenge.  I posted the picture on Facebook to the group Dr. Fuhrmans Eat To Live - Nutritarian Plant Based Diet.  I got a lot of great responses and encouragement from the group.  Later, when my mom had seen the picture online, she told me she was so surprised that that was me and that I was looking so great.  Thanks mom, for always being my #1 Cheerleader :).  Here is that "progress" picture:
After running errands, I did a small workout (more about that in my daily log below), then got ready for our fun evening out... you guessed it, in my new dress that is one size smaller that I would have been two weeks ago!  First, we parked at my work that is by the Spokane Arena, and walked across the Downtown Riverfront Park to go to dinner downtown at The Steelhead Bar and Grill.  It is an upscale gill that makes great fresh food. 

Normally, while eating out, I would try to get a salad, but all of their salads here had meat included.  I know I can ask for no meat, but I'm always worried that I will still get charged the meat price for the salad even though I ask for it off.  I don't think that's fair, do you?  Instead, I ended up ordering a portobello sandwich with a side salad.  It was a big sandwich, but this ended up being my lunch and dinner, so the portion worked out perfectly.

After dinner, we went back across the park to the arena for a Spokane Shock indoor football game. Since Spokane doesn't have its own NFL football team, we have the Shock instead, which is essentially  a team with fairly professional-grade players on a field about a quarter of the size of a normal football field.  That means lots of action, lots of scoring, and lots of crowd fun!  My dad was able to score us ticket is one of the suites through his work, so we got a great view!
During the game they had a raffle toss where you donate $5 to a local charity, and you get 6 small footballs (think tiny stress-ball size) to attempt to throw into a car that drives slowly around the field with its windows down between the 3rd and 4th quarter.  The balls that make it in get put into a raffle to win half of the money from the proceeds.  From where we were seated, this is nearly impossible, but we gave it a shot anyways.  I threw two of them, Kevin threw three, and one we gave to another guy in the suite that is a client of my dad's.  It turns out that the client had thrown the ball down to the lower seats, and someone has picked it up and tossed it in.  We surprisingly won the raffle!!!!! We ended up walking away with over $300!

Luckily, that night we were also going to the casino for a friend's birthday.  No big money was won, but we did have a lot of fun.  We didn't get home till later in the night, so there was no blog post, and I will report my weekend log on Sunday or Monday.  Now, my daily log, and make sure not to miss my smoothie recipe below!

Food Log:

  • Breakfast: Kale Orange Creamsicle Smoothie (recipe below)
  • Linner: Portobello sandwich on a focaccia roll and a mixed greens side salad
  • Extras: 2 beers at the casino
Exercise Log: 1 mile outdoor run, abs, push-ups 

How I felt:  Yesterday I felt very confident and happy. For the first time in a long time, I felt good about how I was eating and my body image.  At no point during the day was I temped to eat any SAD (Standard American Diet) foods, although there were plenty around.  Today (Saturday) will be a bit more of a challenge, as I am going to a friend's BBQ in the evening.  Instead of grilled meats, I'm opting to bring two corn on the cobs to grill for myself. Yum!  Hopefully the BBQ will have a couple of healthy sides.  I did hear that someone was bringing hummus!  Now on to my recipe....

Kale Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 handfuls of chopped kale
  • 3 small oranges, peeled (about 1 cup or so)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)
  • Several ice cubes

  • Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more ice to achieve the thickness you desire. 

Amy's Notes:  
This was the perfect serving side for a meal on the go.  For this, I used cashews and water because I didn't have any non-dairy milk, but you could easily substitute 1/2 cup+ for that portion of the recipe.  Also, feel free to leave out the kale if you want more of a traditional orange creamsicle taste.  The great thing about this recipe is the oranges are sweet enough that extra sweeteners (dates, stevia, etc.) are not needed.  I put my smoothie in a to-go water bottle since I was running out the door to Kevin's work.  Green smoothies are great for a meal on the go!  Enjoy!

How often do you enjoy green smoothies?  


Day 4, Week 2

I am happy that today is my Friday!  At my work we have every other Friday off as a company-wide initiative to save on energy and gas.  Yay for being environmentally friendly AND giving me some three day weekends :).  Since tomorrow is my day off and my mom is back in town, we are planning on spending the afternoon together and going to check out a spice store close by.  I'm hoping to find some Indian spices I have been looking everywhere for!  Perhaps some new spices tomorrow will bring inspiration for a new recipe post.  But for now, on to my daily log...

Food Log:

  • Breakfast: 1/2 small watermelon
  • Lunch: whole wheat crackers, small cup of leftover chili, kale salad with cucumbers and ginger dressing
  • Dinner: thai tofu lettuce wraps, a bite or two of creme brulee
  • Extras: 1 beer, 1 Dr. Fuhrman brownie

Exercise Log: Be prepared to be proud of this blogger...
  • 20 minutes on the treadmill, jogging for one mile and walking the rest of the time
  • 5 minutes solid of ab workouts
  • legs and hip flexer workout
  • squats and lunges
  • 5 sets of 5 pushups

How I feel:  I'm happy that I was finally able to get my booty to the gym!  Positive talking is where it was at!  Yesterday I said, I will go to the gym, and I did not let myself down.  In the end, I felt great for sweating out some of my thoughts and stresses, and it was nice to feel my muscles warm and working.  As for eating today, I feel like I did pretty well at sticking to it, even though I had dinner out with some girlfriends tonight.  In the past I maybe would have ordered a pasta or pizza from the restaurant we went to, but instead, I ordered an appetizer of lettuce wraps.  Not only did this keep my check costs down, it kept my portion of food at a reasonable level.  Although I could tell the food was way over-salted, I was happy to have so much lettuce to offset it with.  Overall, I feel like I need to get more fresh fruits in, but I am needing to go to the grocery store to stock up tomorrow.  Perhaps I'll take a walk over to a local fruit stand about a mile from our apartment.  Exercise and fresh fruit?  Doesn't get much better than that!

What is your motivation to get yourself to go to the gym?  Do you find it a chore?  How do you feel when you are done?


Day 3, Week 2

Wednesdays mean trivia night!  Every week we go to a local sports bar called Flamin' Joe's with family and friends for trivia.  Flamin' Joe;s is well known in the region for their spicy wings.  Generally, our team does fairly well (at least 3rd place), but this week we were shy of placing by about 5 points.  Darn!  My mom and sister-in-law just got back from their cruise vacation and were able to muster up some extra energy to still join us at trivia tonight.  Besides wings, Flamin' Joe's has tons of different foods, most of them fried, unfortunately.  In past weeks, I would have allowed myself to eat fried chips or fried potato bites, since they are technically vegetarian, but I am in a better mindset this week to know not to touch the stuff!

Today was actually filled with several temptations.  First of all, I refilled the M&M jars at work, then I set out the Costco cookies for the office, this time away from my desk and in the kitchen.  Then, in the evening, when having dinner with my family, my dad brought us each out a little cup of real mint ice cream.  It was such a nice gesture from him to my mom to give her a treat when she got home like she had been having on the cruise, but to me it was a bit torturous!  Luckily, someone else happily snagged up my portion of the ice cream (thank you!), so I wouldn't be tempted.  Then, later in the evening at Flamin' Joe's, our table ordered a basket of fried chips.... with spicy seasoning, which made it smell delicious!  Again, I said "No thank you", and stuck to my goals.  Yay me!

After the 6 weeks is over, I hope to be less tempted by things I shouldn't eat.  I think at this point it is less that I really want those things, and more that I am reaching for them out of habit.  Hopefully soon I will have better habits, such as reaching for a piece of fruit, that are easier to stick to.  Now on to my daily log....

Food Log:

  • Breakfast: 1/2 small watermelon, 1 banana, 1 apple
  • Lunch: salad with baby romaine lettuce, chickpeas, red onion, celery raisins, apples, and cilantro curry almond dressing; carrots and hummus
  • Dinner: Indian Chickpeas and Curry, Whole Wheat Vegan Naan, sweet curry kale salad, watermelon
  • Extras: Guacamole and chips snack before dinner, 1 beer at dinner, 2 beers at trivia
Exercise log:  I'm starting to think I shouldn't even include this in my log.... Ok, so I did nothing today, but I will come home from work tomorrow and go to the gym before my evening out with some girlfriends.... I will!

How I feel:   I am feeling so much more awake lately!  I have noticed my energy levels gradually increasing over the last two weeks.  And when my mom got back from her vacation today, she said that it seemed like night and day for how I am now, and that is a great thing!  Before the start of my 6-weeks on Eat to Live, I was very sluggish and tired all the time.  I had had issues with migraines starting from "TMJ" pains, but I haven't gotten the hint of a migraine since starting last Monday.  All I can say that if this is just the start of the benefits of truly committing to Eat to Live, I can't wait to see how I feel after 6 weeks!

What health issues have improved or seemed to disappear with a healthy change in your diet?  Does this give you more incentive to really stick-to-it?


Whole Wheat Vegan Naan

& Day 2, Week 2
I am officially down 8 lbs from my starting weight!  I know I shouldn't go off of my weight day-by-day, so I will wait till next Monday to check it again.  It is just so encouraging to see such progress!  This week so far I have eaten at least one salad as a main meal a day, and I plan on continuing this for the rest of the week.

My mom and sister-in-law get back tomorrow from their cruise, and I offered to take care of making dinner for the family so that my mom didn't have to worry about grocery shopping or cooking right away.  When she called the other day while in a port, and I let her know I would take care of dinner she asked, "Can you just cook for us forever?!"  Haha, that would be fun for the first few weeks, then become quite a job!  I think I'll stick to cooking as my hobby, mom :). 

For tomorrow night I am making one of my favorite FAVORITE dishes: Indian Chickpeas and Greens.  I'm making a double batch for dinner, and with it we always have rice (probably pink Madagascar rice), and naan bread.  The chickpeas and rice are nice and easy to make, but the naan takes a bit of time and care.  I decided to make my double batch of naan tonight and share the recipe with you.  It is not salt, oil, or sugar free, but for how much it makes, it isn't very much per serving.  And my recipe is vegan and 100% whole wheat.  But first, my daily log...

Food log:
  • Breakfast: 2 bananas, 1 apple
  • Lunch: bit of leftover Kale Mac N Sweet Potato Cheese, small cup of leftover chili, 1 apple
  • Dinner: 2 smaller naan breads, and a salad with baby romaine lettuce, chickpeas, red onion, celery, raisins, apples, and cilantro curry almond dressing (inspired by this recipe)
  • Extras: Dr. Fuhrman Brownie in the afternoon, 1/2 mini watermelon, Dr. Fuhrman Brownie after dinner
Exercise log:  Ok, this is almost embarrassing that I am so bad at getting my butt to the gym.  I always originally plan on going when I get home from work, but then I see a bunch of chores that need to be done, and before I know it, it is in the evening and time for dinner.  Can we count housework and cleaning as exercise?

How I feel:  I had my first real tempting moment of the 6-weeks so far.  My coworker goes to Costco about once a month to get supplies for both of the offices I work at.  She generally gets coffee creamers (I've quit!), M&M's for the front desks (which I have learned to tune out), and a big box of cookies (this was the difficult part).  For the Spokane office she set the cookies right at my front desk to make sure those who wanted one would see it.  At first, the sight of it didn't bother me, but the second someone cracked them open and that very slight smell came my way, I had to start pep talking myself into not even thinking about it.  In the end, I walked away without a cookie, but came straight home to have a Dr. Fuhrman brownie.  I wasn't necessarily hungry when I had it, but it is loads better than if I were to cave and have a SAD cookie.  In the end, I can say I'm proud of myself and have one less food demon to face in the future.  Once I say no once and make a better choice, I know I can do it again!

Now on to the naan...

Whole Wheat Vegan Naan
Single Batch (suggested):

  • 3/4 cup warm water (at least 100 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar (raw, natural, and organic if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cups whole what flour, divided
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Double Batch (pictured):
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water (at least 100 degrees F)
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sugar (raw, natural, and organic if possible)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4-6 cups whole what flour, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1.  In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar.  Cover with a towel and let sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.  If, after 10 minutes, the yeast mixture hasn't become foamy, your yeast may be too old of your water too cold.  Start over and try again if this is the case. 
foamed yeast mixture
2.  Whisk together the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside.
3.  Next, whisk into the yeast mixture the coriander (or cumin), salt, and 1/2 of the oil.
4.  Stir in 1 cup (2 for double) of whole wheat flour and the baking powder.
5.  Next, add the milk and vinegar mixture to the mixer.  Mix until well combined.
6.  Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough comes together, but is still sticky.
7.  Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand, adding more flour to reach the correct constancy of firm and not sticky but still moist.

8.  Prepare a boil coated with the remaining oil and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for at least one hour, until it has doubled in size.

9.  Once the dough has risen, punch it down (Kevin's favorite part) and lightly knead it again.  Heat a skillet or cast iron over low medium heat and keep at a low temperature throughout cooking.

10.  Cut the dough with a pizza cutter into balls just smaller than your fist.  Roll them out with a rolling pin to be around 1/4 inch thick.  Try not to use extra flour to do this, as it will make the final naan a bit floury and gritty to eat.
11.  Place flat down in a preheated skillet and cook on each side for 45-60 seconds, until each side has lightly browned, with bubbles browning a bit more than the rest.
12.  Cook each in the same way and stack them on a plate together to stay warm and moist.
13.  Serve with your favorite Indian recipe or use like pitas with dip. They can nicely be reheated in the microwave, oven, or stovetop. Keep leftovers in a ziplock bag for up to a week.

Amy's Notes:
I made a double batch for the bigger dinner I'm prepping for tomorrow, and so I could have extra leftovers, but I would suggest doing a single batch till you get the hang of it.  I have a KitchenAid stand mixer and for this recipe I use the whisk attachment at first, then the dough hook once the first flour has been added.  It is NOT necessary at all to have a mixer, this could easily be done my hand (my mom does this).  Regardless of whether you have a stand mixer or do it all by hand, make sure to knead it by hand when adding the final amounts of flour.  Actually touching it by hand will help you better gauge how much extra flour is "kneaded" (hehe), and doing it the old fashion way just works best.  My double batch ended up making 24 naan, so a single batch should make around 10 or 12.  I tend to make mine very thin (yeah, so I can eat more), so you may end up with more or less. Enjoy!

Have you ever tried naan?  What is your favorite thing to eat naan with?

This post was entered into Healthy Vegan Friday hosted by the following lovely bloggers:
Carrie @ Carrie on Vegan:  http://www.carrieonvegan.com/2013/05/17/healthy-vegan-friday-recipes-upcoming-vegan-event/
Katherine @ Green Thickies: http://www.greenthickies.com/healthy-vegan-friday-43/
Gabby @ The Veggie Nook: http://veggienook.com/2013/05/17/healthy-vegan-friday-43/


Weekend and Day 1, Week 2

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. We spent ours helping some friends move on Saturday, then going boating with my dad on Sunday. A slight tan was achieved!  Today unfortunately brought tons of rain and much colder temperatures. That means.... Chili for me! Here are my overdue logs for this weekend as well as today's.

Food log:
  • Breakfast: 2 bananas, 1 apple
  • Lunch: carrots, multigrain chips, hummus
  • Dinner: egg flower soup, basil fried rice with veggies
  • Extras: 2 beers in the afternoon, 3 beers in the evening

Exercise: Helping our friends move, 1.25 mile dog walk

How I felt: I felt like I tried my best with being healthy while being away from home and eating out. I made sure to drink lots of water over the course of the day, since it was so hot. For dinner the Chinese restaurant we went to had no options for salads, so o had to settle for a veggie fried rice. I could tell that there was more salt and more oil in the dish than I would have liked, but you do what you can. I held off by eating a little less than I normally would, volume-wise. Overall, not the best day, but more motivation to do better the next day. 

Food log:
  • Breakfast: 1 apple, 1 banana
  • Linner (late lunch): 2 small breadsticks, 2 slices whole wheat pesto pizza with light cheese
  • Late dinner: leftover basil fried rice
Exercise log: Day of boating at the lake. 

How I felt: This day was a lot of fun, so fun, that I really didn't think of food. I know, weird!  I don't know about you, but I seem to always be thinking about food. It was so nice to have an afternoon to just enjoy myself in the sun, and to not think of what my next meal would be, or when it would be.  When it was time to eat, I realized that, I wasn't necessarily hungry or "starving", but that I was needing nutrients. That was a good way to feel. At this point I was looking forward to Monday and consuming more veggies and fruit than I had over the weekend. All of the grains and not enough plant fiber made me a bug backed-up. 

Food log:
  • Breakfast: 2 apples, 2 bananas
  • Lunch: romaine salad with cannellini beans, cucumber, red onion, broccoli, TJ's Goddess Dressing, and 2 mandarin oranges
  • Dinner: bowl of chili made from leftover lentils, polenta slices
  • Extras: dessert of Dr. Fuhrman's Fudgy Black Bean Brownie (if you have a subscription to Dr. Fuhrman Member Center, find the recipe here)
Exercise: Stretching in the morning and evening

How I feel: Today I feel great!  I am feeling like I am craving salads more and more.  When I got home today, I spent part of the evening trying new recipes that have caught my eye recently, like the Dr. Fuhrman's brownies, and these baked jalapeƱo polenta squares. Both recipes turned our pretty well, but I think the brownie recipe is the only one I will be making again. The brownie was my first real dessert other than fruit that I often eat for dessert. I have to say, wow it tasted rich! This made me want to eat it slowly and savor the square of brownie that I had. In the past I may have chowed down two or more pieces and end up feeling guilty about it. Not this time around! I am being happy about every good choice I make and knowing that I am doing my best. 

How does positive thinking change your success in achieving your health goals? What does negative thinking do?

Oh, and here's a funny pic I thought you all might enjoy...


Day 5, Week 1

Happy Friday!  I was so ecstatic to find that when I weighed myself this morning, I was down 7 pounds from where I started this week!  I realize that a lot of this could be water weight, but seeing progress like that is definitely the encouragement I needed over the weekend.  Here is my log for today:

Food log:
  • Breakfast: 1 cup fresh pineapple, 1 banana, 1 apple
  • Lunch: romaine lettuce salad with cannellini beans, chickpeas, broccoli, red onion, and a bit of Trader Joe's Goddess dressing; 1 apple
Mmmm! Vegan Rueban!

Exercise log: Today I had to work late and didn't get time to exercise.  More energy to do things tomorrow!

How I feel:  Like I said above, seeing the difference on the scale this morning made me feel so encouraged.  I had a stressful day at work, and it just seemed like one thing after another went wrong.  On a normal day in the past, I would have let my stress translate into bad food choices.  I would think that since my day was so hard, I shouldn't have to cook.  Instead, today, I looked forward to nourishing my body with healthy food and to make my cooking time more of a relaxing meditation time for me.  

Since my mom is still on vacation with my sister-in-law, I went over to the house to make dinner for my dad and myself (Kevin came along with sausages of his to cook up).  My dad requested Vruebans, which is my version of a vegan rueban sandwich.  Find the recipe for the Vrueban here, and the accompanying Vegan 1000 Island dressing here.  

Tomorrow Kevin and I are going to help some friends move into their new place.  It should still be a lovely warm day, so I'm sure we will break quite a sweat.  I'm happy to help so I can get in some much needed arm muscle toning!  I'm planning on packing a few snacks for tomorrow since we will be gone for most of the day and I don't want to be temped into eating anything that we might get to-go.  I may not be able to fit in my log tomorrow, but I hope you guys have a lovely Saturday!

What are your go to to-go snacks for when you have a busy day away from home?


Kale, Mac N Sweet Potato Cheese

This is day 3, week 1 of my Eat to Live 6 week challenge, and I am feeling pretty great!  I have noticed that my usual "time of the month" pains and woes are much less than they usually are, and for that, I am so grateful.  Here is my daily log and a recipe at the bottom: Kale, Mac N' Sweet Potato Cheese.

Food log:
  • Breakfast: 2 apples
  • Lunch: Dr. Fuhrman's Warm Lentil Salad, 2 slices of gf bread with hummus
  • Dinner: Kale, Mac N' Sweet Potato "Cheese" (see below)
  • Extras: 1 beer
Exercise log:
  • Cardio: 30 minutes stationary bicycle
  • Body weight exercises: calves, abs, back, core
  • Stretching: 5 minutes before and after
How I feel:
I'm happy that I was able to get in some exercise today. I know because of that I will sleep a lot more soundly tonight, yay!  I have noticed that I really really felt hungry for lunch today. Once I took that first bite, it was so delicious!  Looking over my food for the day, I feel like I did not get in as many fresh fruits as I had hoped for.  I'm hoping to find some time tomorrow to crack into a pineapple I have been saving up.  Yum!  Tonight, I found some time to cook and needed to use up a sweet potato I had had in my produce basket for a while, as well as the rest of the tofu package I used for my last recipe post. What resulted was Kale, Mac N' Sweet Potato Cheese.  Hope you enjoy! (Please note, since I am posting daily, my pictures are not being edited, and these are the best ones I could do on my iPad at the time!)

Kale, Mac N' Sweet Potato Cheese

  • Pasta:
    • 1 cup dried macaroni noodles per person
    • 1-2 cups chopped fresh kale
  • Sauce:
    • 1 sweet potato, baked and peeled
    • 6 oz or 1/2 package silken tofu
    • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

  1. In a boiling pot of water, begin to boil the macaroni. 
  2. In a high speed blender, blend together all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy.  If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add non-dairy milk one tablespoon at a time. 
  3. Once the pasta has become nearly al dente (with 3-5 minutes left to cook), add the chopped kale and stir.  Frequently stir the pot until the pasta is fully cooked. Drain the kale and pasta in a strainer. 
  4. Return the kale and pasta to the pot and drizzle on the desired amount of sweet potato "cheese" sauce for the entire dish.  Return to the stovetop on low heat.  Remove from heat and serve once the sauce has become hot. 

Amy's Notes:
This dish actually came together very quickly.  For the noodles, I used rice macaroni that I had gotten from the bulk bins at the grocery store.  To be honest, they are not my favorite on their own, but this sauce definitely makes them worth eating.  I would suggest that you use a whole wheat pasta instead.  When I made this, I used about 1 cup of kale per one cup of macaroni.  I found that this was a little less kale than I desired, so make sure to overestimate for the greens, they tend to shrink down!  If you don't have kale on hand, you can always use another dark green like collards, mustard greens, or spinach.  Keep in mind that lighter greens like spinach will take much less time to cook in the boiling water.  For the sauce, I have experimented with making several different types of vegan "cheese" recipes including those that are nut base, some that use corn starch to thicken, and some with pretty interesting ingredients.  I found that this has been my favorite one so far.  The sweet potato and tofu add the right thickness and color, while the spices add a great, but subtle kick to it. 

What types of vegan "cheese" sauces have you tried making at home?  Which ones have been your favorite?

This post was submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday.  Thanks to one of the hosts, Carrie from Carrie on Vegan for giving bloggers such a fun stage for recipe creativity!
(Backlink: http://www.carrieonvegan.com/2013/05/10/healthy-vegan-friday-recipes-my-favorite-submissions/)