Sorry I missed blogging yesterday! Since I had the day off, I was out and about all day long! I had a great time though. I ran some errands with the bf and Arlo, including a visit to the vet where the pup got his rabies shot. I was so so mad at us for making him go through that, so we had to promise him a trip to the park afterward. We finally bought Arlo a leash too. He may have been happy about going for a nice long walk at the park, but he was totally PO-ed that we made him use the leash. Arlo did make a new friend who is a chihuahua mix a bit larger than himself. He always loves meeting new dogs.
We also went to a barbecue last night at the bf’s friend’s house, where we enjoyed some black bean burgers on whole wheat buns with mustard and lettuce. (I forgot tomato!) They were absolutely amazing as always. We also brought a salad to share, which was enjoyed by everyone. I even brought my Annie’s Goddess dressing with me, and quite a few people tried it and really enjoyed it! Our friend, John, the bbq host, also tried one of our black bean burgers and said that he thinks he might have to go buy some for himself! I love introducing people to delicious, healthy, vegan food!
Something else has also changed in my life since the last time I posted. I finally tried the Fitnessista’s amazeballz! All I could say was, “Ohhhhh myyyyyyy Gooooooddddddd!” They are absolutely, well, amazeballz! I was super scared that they weren’t going to turn out well, because we only have plain protein powder in the house right now, instead of vanilla, but they really were fantastic.
- 2T protein powder
- 2T shredded coconut (I used sweetened, instead of the unsweetened that the recipe calls for, because it was what I had on hand from a while back.)
- 2T almond butter
- 1T honey (The recipe calls for pure maple syrup, but I didn’t have any. I know some people will argue that honey isn’t vegan, but I am not that nitpicky. It isn’t a high cholesterol product and it isn’t a direct animal product.)
- 1/2t pure vanilla extract
- 2T cacao nibs
- pinch of cinnamon and sea salt
The original recipe calls for it to be mixed in the food processor, but to save dishes, I mixed it with a spoon until it had a consistent texture. Then, I just rolled the mixture into 2 balls and devoured them. We are lucky that there are actually pictures to show of the beaut’s.
Amazeballz are definitely going to be a regular part of my diet.
How to Start on Your Path to Health
I know tons of people who have the desire to begin leading a healthier lifestyle, but don’t know where to begin. I have decided to do a series of posts, designed to help make heading in that direction a bit easier.
Today I will cover Beginning to Add Healthier Elements to Your Diet. So many diets focus on eliminating items from your diet, whether it be carbs, fat, calories, and whatever the craze of the year may be. I prefer to begin any lifestyle change by ADDING and SUBSTITUTING instead of eliminating.
One excellent place to start is with beverages. You know that soda and high fructose corn syrup are bad for you, so why do you continue to drink them??? You can get caffeine from coffee or tea, which both contain antioxidants, and very few calories. You can get your sweet fix from fruit, or stevia, or agave syrup (both now available in most local grocery stores). A big change I made in the beginning of trying to live more healthily, and trying to save some money, was taking a mug of tea or coffee from home, instead of buying a sugary, expensive latte everyday. It also helps out the environment, since you aren’t using a disposable cup every morning. I’m a huge tea fan, since there are so many different types and flavors to try out. Lately, I’ve been sweetening most of my tea with Truvia, a brand of stevia sweetener. I’m also a huge fan of green tea with a wedge of lemon squeezed in. 🙂
I can never emphasize enough how much better you will feel all the time if you add extra fruits and veggies to your diet. Drink a green smoothie for breakfast. Make a veggie-based dish from a good cookbook. Try eating salads for lunch or dinner. Try different ways of cooking veggies, like steaming, roasting or stir-frying. You should try to make at least half of each meals out of veggies. This will also save you on calories, if that’s a concern for you, since veggies have less calorically dense than other foods.
An important group of foods to begin exploring is plant-based sources of protein. It seems that everyone is always concerned about getting enough protein if they eat less or no meat. Beans, legumes, and soy products tend to be some of the more popular meat replacements. I’m a huge fan of vegan soups and chilis, which you can find at the grocery store, or make at home. I always have a box of Amy’s soups from Costco in my pantry, so I can grab one if need be. I also keep cans of black beans, kidney beans and garbanzo beans around at all times, because they get used so often. I also keep dry lentils around, because they cook quickly compared to most beans, and are great in soups, chilis and may other dishes.
There are lots of soy meat-replacements, but I tend to avoid those, since they are so processed. However, they can be great for transitioning away from a meat-heavy diet. Tofu and tempeh are two popular soy-based choices, and can be adapted to fit many different recipes and flavors. A good vegan cookbooks can give you some excellent ideas for preparing meals with tofu and tempeh.
While you’re trying out the meat replacements, go ahead and try out some dairy replacements. There are tons of dairy-free milks to choose from, including soy, rice, almond, and coconut. I tend to rely most of almond milk, however, because I enjoy the taste and texture. I also enjoy rice milk, and you can actually buy a case of Rice Dream at Costco. I haven’t had a chance to try coconut milk yet, so I can’t give my opinion on that one.
Also, the best vegan cheese you will ever try is Daiya, which comes in cheddar and mozzarella flavors. They also have a new pepper jack flavor coming out soon that I am especially stoked to try out on nachos and quesadillas. I currently use the cheddar frequently for nachos, and I’ve heard that it even makes good grilled cheese sandwiches, but I have yet to attempt those. The mozzarella is great for pizza. You can find Daiya cheese at health food stores, and I’ve also been able to find it at Fred Meyer grocery stores.
Grains are an important part of a healthy diet. Many American’s only eat white bread, white rice and white pasta. This is terrible for you, and, in my opinion, so tasteless! There are so many more exciting grains out there that you can use! When buying bread, WHOLE wheat flour should be the first ingredient listed on the package. You should also look for brown rice and whole grain pasta. Other fun grains are quinoa (which is a complete protein), buckwheat, wild rice, millet, and amaranth. You can use these like you would use rice in a dish, to switch up your nutrient profile and food experience.
For the ice cream lover out there, you also have many options that don’t force you to give up that sweet, cold, creamy deliciousness. One of my new favorite products is Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss ice cream. Especially their dark chocolate ice cream bars. They are soooo creamy you completely forget you aren’t eating the real thing, and the flavor is to die for. You can also find many sorbet flavors that contain no dairy. I’m a huge fan of mango sorbet. Banana soft serve is another option that has become a craze throughout the blog world. It’s basically just frozen bananas thrown in the food processor and processed until smooth and creamy. You can also add other fruit or chocolate to change the flavor, but plain banana is also great. Choosing Raw has a great post on making banana soft serve.
I hope this guide helps you begin your journey towards health! And that it helps you to explore new foods that you might never have tried otherwise! The point right now is to begin trying new things before you have to go out on a limb and get rid of old things. Try this for the next week, maybe trying one new item each day. Maybe add a green smoothie in one morning, a vegan version of one of your favorite recipes on another. Try making a taco salad with black beans instead of meat. There are so many different foods to try that your possibilities are endless.
By the way, I got my butt outside to go running again this morning! I wrote a few days ago that I was having trouble with motivation, but I set my alarm an hour early this morning, laced up my running shoes and did a quick, easy 2.5 miles across the bridges by my house. It felt amazing, of course. It may not have been much, but it was something, and any purposeful sweating is a good thing in my book.
I hope you all have a great Saturday night, and I will see you in the morning!