Friday, April 27, 2012

Breakfast. Just Do It.

Ah, breakfast... the most important meal of the day. The meal where we have so much opportunity to set the course for the day and the meal where most people fail miserably. A cup of coffee is not breakfast. A greasy, heavy, processed McAnything is not breakfast. A sugary puff of pastry and cream is not breakfast. A bowl of factory created, sugar coated cereal is not breakfast.

A soda is not breakfast!

Breakfast is 'breaking the fast' that your body has been on for 6 to 10 hours while you were sleeping. Your body repairs and restores itself overnight and when you awaken, it's important to add in the best fuel possible for your day.

If you use the wrong kind of fuel - refined grains, sugar, fat and caffeine - you will sabotage your body for the rest of the day. You'll end up tired, unable to focus, have digestion issues, headaches, and cravings.

You'll also overeat all day if you load up on junk stuff.

If you use the right kind of fuel - whole grains, fruits, veggies, plant proteins and natural stimulants (like spirulina) - you will be energized and focused. You will feel amazing!

Step 1 - Drink Up!

The first thing you should do is have a big glass of ice water. This gets the body started slowly with digestion. Water is very important. Sometimes I have iced decaf green tea. I do what I call 'enriched water' every morning. I mix up barley grass juice powder and spirulina into my water or tea. Google them to find out how great they are for the body. They are my coffee equivalent. They nourish every cell in my body. I can feel it. I'm just not the same if I skip that.

If you want to have something hot, choose green tea. (again, I prefer decaf and unsweetened) or a mug of miso soup in the morning is beyond amazing. Try it sometime.  Just warm up a cup of water and add a couple teaspoons of white miso. It's comforting and delicious. I also like to add a little no chicken bouillon to mine.

I know many people can't live without coffee but it would be good to try and cut back to one cup in the morning. I won't lecture you on coffee but I think most people know more than a cup or two a day is a problem. That is especially true if it's loaded with cream, sugar, syrups and whipped cream. Those drinks have the same calorie count as a meal.

Step 2 - First Breakfast

Yes, I eat two breakfasts every day! The Hobbits know what they are talking about! I love to eat and when you follow a whole food, plant based diet, you can eat all day long and never worry about your weight and never have guilt. I am usually up by 4:30 or 5 in the morning so I have my enriched water and then between 6:30 and 7:30 I will have my first breakfast. I almost always have a plate of fresh fruit.

Fruit is digested quickly and easily so it allows my body to warm up and get going. I shoot for 3 servings but I might have more depending on my hunger. I always have a red grapefruit cut into sections and then I have whatever is in the house! A handful of berries, a champagne mango, a bunch of grapes, cherries or kiwi. I usually use a banana at my second breakfast.

Step 3 - Second Breakfast

My second breakfast falls between 9 am and 10 am everyday and I almost always have oatmeal. 1/2 cup old fashioned oats combined with 2/3 cup water and microwaved for 2 minutes. I add in 1/2 to a whole diced banana, a dash of cinnamon and a scant handful of walnuts. That is usually as sweet as I need it unless I've had sugar in the past 24 hours and then I might add a teaspoon or two of sucanat (a natural brown sugar).

Once in awhile I wake up with some craving .. if that happens I may go off course and get crazy and have a salad or soup or bean burrito or roasted veggies at 10am. If my body wants it, it usually gets it. It's important to listen to what your body is asking for. If you suddenly want a salad - there is a reason. I will eat anything at any time of the day. I am not bound by any rules. If I can have pancakes for dinner than why not a BLT for breakfast?

I Can't Eat That Early!

I know there are people in this world (like my husband) who have trouble eating in the morning. I'd suggest making the effort to get a little something in your belly that is whole and healthy.

Minimalist ideas:

- one fruit serving .. just a banana!
- a slice of whole wheat toast or english muffin half with nut butter
- hot cereal like Malt O Meal or oatmeal
- 3/4 cup any plain whole grain cereal like Grape Nuts or Shredded Wheat w/ nut milk
- a glass of datorade (4 dates blended with 10 oz of water poured over ice)
- an apple with a handful of nut
- shake made with nut milk, plant based protein powder, frozen fruit and flax seed

Workin' For The Weekend!

I think we all live for the weekends, even if our own personal weekend falls on Monday and Tuesday (I'm looking at you, retail and restaurant workers!) and sometimes you want a big old breakfast! I personally try and have my big old breakfasts at dinner time but to each her own!

You have to be careful with big old breakfasts because too much fat, too much sugar and too much food can put you into a coma that has you beached on the sofa for the day! (unless that is what you're going for!)

Some ideas:

- traditional English breakfast with crusty bread, baked beans, soy or seitan sausage, sliced tomatoes, and roasted veggies really hits the spot!
- tofu scramble with tempeh bacon, fresh fruit, hash browns and whole wheat toast.
- pancakes with fresh fruit, nuts and homemade syrup (recipe below!)
- vegan cinnamon rolls with gooey frosting

Recipe: Pancakes & Blueberry Syrup

My husband wasn't a huge pancake fan until we made these. I think because they are vegan, they are lighter and fluffier and just really tender. We try and do Pancake Fridays each week.. sometimes we don't but when we do, he cooks the pancakes. The dogs always get silver dollar sized ones with the leftover batter but they skip the syrup. I like mine with fresh berries, walnuts and maple syrup. My husband likes his with my homemade blueberry syrup, which contains no HFCS like the ones at the store!

I'd suggest mixing up the batter and letting it sit for about 20 minutes before cooking it.

Kim Barnouin's Pancakes
from Skinny Bitch Everyday Cookbook

Makes 8 pancakes


1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tbsp evaporated cane juice (sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp canola oil

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
Whisk together the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until smooth.
You know how to cook pancakes.. so cook 'em.

Shelly's Blueberry Syrup

1 cup frozen blueberries (or fresh)
1/8 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 tsp lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until thick. I like to smash up some of the berries. It's really yummy served warm!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recipe: Shelly's Thousand Island Dressing

One of my favorite salad dressings is Thousand Island.  You can probably find a few vegan ones at retail but they usually have high fructose corn syrup in them or weird ingredients. Homemade is better and you can't get any easier a recipe than this one! Cut it in half if you only need enough for two small salads or one big one!

This is also delicious on veggie burgers as a special sauce.

* Feel free to share this recipe but I want it to link back to my blog. Thank you!

Shelly's Thousand Island Dressing

1/2 cup Vegenaise or Just Mayo
2 Tbsp ketchup (HFCS free, please)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp agave
2 tsp pickle relish (sweet or dill, your choice and get HFCS free!)
1 tsp minced onion (I use dried and it's fine)
1/8 tsp salt
Few grinds of pepper

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Preconceived Notions

"Preconceived notions are the locks on the doors to wisdom" ~ Merry Browne

A preconceived notion is an opinion formed before you are given true and adequate evidence.

My Grandmother is almost 83 years old and even tho I've been vegetarian since 2003 and a vegan since 2010, she is still astonished when I bring her vegan food that tastes good. She is very often surprised that I could make something taste good that doesn't involve eggs, butter, milk, chicken or cheese.

She tells people that I make cookies and cake without eggs and that it's good. She makes it sound like a miracle. It's rather interesting considering she lived through The Depression. I see recipes for 'depression cake' which is made with no eggs or milk (hard to come by back then) and yet, people find it odd these days to cook without animal ingredients.

When my grandmother was growing up and when she had her own family, eating out was something you did on a special occasion. I know people who only had soda when they went out once a month and now people drink that poison by the gallon on a daily basis. Home cooking was the norm and now home cooking is something people only force themselves to do on holidays.

It frustrates me when people just dismiss foods that are free of animal products as being bland, dry, tasteless and somehow inferior or that vegans give up the wonders of culinary magic simply because we refuse to use unhealthy animal ingredients. I've had people refuse to try something simply because it's vegan. I really don't understand that.

I've had people ask me 'is it real?' ... yes, my food is real. I don't eat imaginary food. I realize they want to know if it's animal derived. For them, real is 'normal' and not 'weird' ... people that know me think my food is 'weird' but it isn't. I love food. I don't eat bland, gross, tasteless or crappy food.

I wish people looked at plant based foods as an opportunity to step outside their comfort zone and experience something new... even tho it isn't new. My food is clean. It's not processed and it doesn't contain chemicals or hormones. My food is fresh and whole. My food is what people have always eaten.. what people now consider 'normal' isn't .. it's fake and made in a lab or bred for slaughter.  It is not naturally from the earth.

As a vegan, I eat a more varied diet than I ever ate as a meat eater. As a vegan, I have discovered foods from around the globe that I never even knew existed. As a vegan, I now know there is more than one kind of flour and that there are tons of different grains. As a vegan, I eat desserts that are actually good for me. You can't even imagine the feeling of eating something decadent and delicious without any guilt whatsoever because your dessert has protein and no cholesterol! You don't get that with a 'traditional' dessert.

I've made brownies with black beans and no one could tell. I make french silk and peanut butter pies with tofu and no one knows until I tell them. I make my desserts with whole wheat flour, unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup and evaporated cane juice, and I replace eggs with things like pumpkin and applesauce and the only thing people know is that it's moist and flavorful. I use almond milk instead of cow secretions and Earth Balance vegan 'butter' instead of dairy butter and it tastes better!

One time, a hardcore meat eater was telling me how he'd never eat tofu as long as he lived while he and his entire family (including the kids) were enjoying slices of my french silk pie made of tofu.

He was pretty shocked when my husband told him he just ate tofu.

I also get frustrated at people who tell me they don't like something even tho they've never tried it. That happens a lot with brussels sprouts and tofu. I know that people were brought up to think that they need to have a slab of flesh on their plates and that vegetables are what you have to eat to get your dessert.

That saddens me.

Just because we've always done it doesn't mean we should continue to do it. Slavery went out of fashion and I believe that some day, eating animals will be looked upon as savage and wrong.

I'd like us to get back to eating at home. I'd like to see families sitting down and enjoying a meal. I'd like to see kids get involved in choosing new ingredients to try and finding recipes. I'd like to see people grilling veggies over the summer and serving them up with a delicious veggie burger. I'd like to see people enjoying cooking and baking again. I'd like people to eat food that nourishes them and energizes them and gives them health and vitality instead of slowly killing them.

Going plant based isn't giving things up.. it's gaining better health, a smaller waistline, reversing and preventing disease, and finding that food can be enjoyed even if it's good for you!

"Challenge your preconceptions or they will challenge you!"

Note: the photo on this post is my yummy TBLT sandwich. It's made with tempeh bacon and Vegenaise (dairy free mayo) .. it's delicious. Even my husband loves it and he still eats meat.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tips for Going Plant Based - Plant Based Travel (Part 2)

Part 2 - Your destination & eating in someone else's home

The first thing I do when I get off the plane is head for the nearest grocery store. If you can get to a Whole Foods that is even better but for the sake of this article, I'll talk about what you can get in an average grocery store in small town America.

In general, you probably won't be able to whip up fancy meals like you do at home and you probably won't have access to your usual appliances like rice cookers and Vita Mix blenders. I have every kitchen gadget known to man so I'm really working blind in someone else's kitchen!

You need to shop wisely and shop smart. You need to buy items that work together to create various meal components that are quick and easy.

I usually don't take trips that are more than 3 days and 2 nights so I'll do my grocery list based on my average trip. You'll need to adjust it accordingly.

First off, you can assume that the people you are visiting have normal condiments like ketchup, mustard, olive oil or canola oil, salt, pepper and basic spices plus a few pantry basics like peanut butter and old fashioned oatmeal but anything else you may need that is more exotic - you will need to buy.

Keep in mind that this is the time to buy the prepared and packaged items like pre-cut lettuce and pre-sliced mushrooms. Don't take over someone's kitchen completely by having to do prep work unless you are very comfortable doing so.

Here is my basic grocery haul for a trip:

bagged greens
grape or cherry tomatoes
green onions
shredded carrots
sliced mushrooms
ripe avocado

red grapefruit
bananas (they should be as ripe a you like them for immediate eating)

Tofurky deli slices
extra firm tofu

whole wheat bread
flour tortillas
pre-cooked brown rice
plain corn chips

black beans
vegetarian refried beans

prepared hummus
nutritional yeast
Bragg's amino acids or soy sauce
maple syrup

old fashioned oatmeal
peanut butter

Meals you can make:

oatmeal + diced banana + maple syrup = breakfast

oatmeal + peanut butter = breakfast

tofu + nutritional yeast + mushrooms + green onions = tofu scramble

kiwi + red grapefruit + grapes = breakfast

whole wheat toast + peanut butter = breakfast or snack

tortilla + peanut butter + banana = snack

black beans + brown rice + salsa + avocado = mexican rice bowl

tortilla + refried beans + salsa + nutritional yeast = burrito/taco

tortilla + Tofurky slices + shredded carrot + chopped tomatoes + lettuce + hummus = wrap

corn chips + hummus = snack

tortilla + tempeh or garbanzo salad (see recipe below) + avocado = wrap

whole wheat bread + mustard + Tofurky slices + vegenaise = sandwich

lettuce + assorted vegs + soy sauce + nutritional yeast = salad with salad dressing

mushrooms + green onion + zucchini + brown rice + tofu chunks + soy sauce + olive oil = stir fry

corn chips + refried beans or black beans + salsa + nutritional yeast = nachos

brown rice + cinnamon + maple syrup = dessert

grapes or a banana = portable snack

garbanzo bean salad (see recipe below) + whole wheat bread = sandwich

avocado (make guacamole) + corn chips = snack

apple + peanut butter = snack

hummus + veggies = snack

Tempeh Recipe Salad

My friend Morgan has this delicious recipe for tempeh salad. You can eat it straight out of the bowl or in a wrap or even on top of a salad. I make mine much more simple- the marinated/pan fried tempeh, shredded carrot, a little dill, a chopped green onion and a dollop of Vegenaise.

Garbanzo Salad Recipe

Much like a tuna salad, this garbanzo salad can be made with whatever you have. Mash up the garbanzos with some carrot, green onion, nutritional yeast, and a little Vegenaise or hummus and you have a sandwich and wrap filling and a salad topper.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shelly's Chickpea Salad

I adapted this recipe from Josh's 'Chick Spread' recipe at My Vegan Cookbook.  He has great recipes so I encourage you to stop over there. I just changed it to fit my personal tastes and to work with the ingredients I always have on hand.

You can use this like you would a chicken or tuna salad. On bread or in a wrap as a filling, a scoop on top of a tossed salad, used as a dip for veggies or smeared on crackers. 

The chickpeas are a great source of protein and the walnuts give you good fat! Feel free to sub in other veggies in you hate carrots. Relish would be good in this too. Experiment!

* You are welcome to share my recipe but I want you to link to my blog, please.

Shelly's Chickpea Spread
1 15 oz can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup raw walnuts (or you can sub in smoked almonds or sliced almonds)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 onion, chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp seasoned salt (or regular salt), plus more to taste if needed
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp no chicken bouillon (optional but it makes it taste really good!)
1/2 c shredded carrot

Combine all ingredients (except carrot) in a food processor and process to your liking.You can get a flaky tuna type texture or as smooth as a hummus, your choice! Then fold in the carrot.

Note: you can also add a tsp or two of vegan mayo along with the carrots if you like it creamy.