Vegegan journey continued with a recipe….



I have made it almost through my first month of being vegetarian.  As mentioned in my last post, this has been a journey that began years ago as I gradually began to eat less chicken and turkey.  I had to change my thought process first which to me determines your success in any changes you make in life.  Going cold turkey is not always the best option because it can lead to failure.  Anyhow, cutting out beef and pork was much easier because I completely omitted beef when I was a teenager and only consumed pork on occasion.  I have been met with some challenges recently but did not give in.  Some challenges were sticking to vegetarian options while traveling, dealing with detox breakouts (Ugh!!), and resisting the urge to indulge in meals with chicken.

When making lifestyle/diet changes it can be easy to fall off when traveling.  I traveled to my hometown of Washington, DC last week, visited and stayed with family, and ate out a lot.  Fortunately, when eating out I had more vegetarian options and I love fish so I was able to fill up on my protein by consuming different types of fish.  So, I was good.  I slacked a little with the veggies and fruit compared to what I usually eat on a regular basis but overall I did well.  The real challenge came when I stayed with my mom for a few days.  Her husband made barbecue ribs which looked and smelled divine but I could not get the picture of how that poor pig was slaughtered and tortured for those ribs.  Don’t jude me.  This is one of the tactics that I use to stay focused.  So, I made  oriental flavored ramen noodles (only used half pack of the seasoning to reduce sodium intake) with added spinach and mushrooms.  I did not need to add anything else.  It was not the healthiest but the point is I refrained from eating meat.  Breakfast and lunch were easier as I already have not been a fan of meat with my breakfast.  We also ate lunch out which gave me more options.  I could do better with vegan meals but like I said before, this is a gradual process and my primary goal is to transition to vegetarian while considering vegan options as I go.

With that said, I have had challenges but mostly triumphs for the past 3 weeks.  I think I need to work on limiting carbs because it is easy to fall into the trap of overconsumption of carbs while eating a vegetarian diet.  You are learning how to maintain your diet while eating to a point of satisfaction/feeling full.  That can be hard to do when you are new to this and need to explore options.

Speaking of exploring options, as I considered what to cook for Sunday dinner yesterday I saw a recipe for roasted chicken with root vegetables which was so pleasing to the eye.  My stomach was longing for the fulfillment and my tongue longed for the taste of the combination which seemed like a perfect match.  So satisfying but I continued to look on and found this recipe for a stew made with root vegetables, kale and beans (white cannelini beans to be exact).  My husband wasn’t too interested as he was preparing a roasted chicken for himself and our daughter.  After smelling the aroma and seeing the finished product his disinterest turned to “I’ll eat the chicken tomorrow and eat the stew tonight”…lol…Our nine year old daughter enjoyed it too.  A delicious and filling vegetarian meal was had by all including the hardcore meat eater aka my husband.

I did tweak the recipe a bit.  First, I omitted the crumbled pieces of toast added to the stew.  I’m not a fan of soggy bread.  So, we kept our toast on the side.  Next, in place of 10 oz of squash I used 1 parsnip, 1 rutabaga, and 1 white potato.  I also did not use dry beans.  I used canned cannellini beans (white kidney beans).  I skipped the first step and moved on to Step 2.  I then added two tablespoons of olive oil to a 5 quart pot over medium heat as suggested.  I added the minced garlic, celery, and onions to the oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, italian seasoning and crushed fennel seed (I only used suggested measurement in recipe for the fennel).  When the veggies were softened and aromatic I then added 4 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of water (because I didn’t have 5 cups of chicken stock), the pureed beans, the rest of the canned beans, the parsnip, rutabaga, potato, onion and kale all chopped to bite sized pieces.  I let this cook on medium low for about an hour.

The only extra step I took was to season with a little more oregano, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning to taste after the last ingredients (including the liquid) were added.   I didn’t drizzle anything on our toast.  We had some italian bread sliced in the freezer and just toasted it to have on the side with the stew. That’s it!  You can use this recipe as is or tweak it to your liking.  Either way, I think it will not disappoint!  If you try this recipe and/or have any questions let me know in the comments!  I hope it is as satisfying to you as it was to myself and my family.  Enjoy!


For the Love of Fruit!!!

There have been some fruits that I just did not eat because I was not familiar with them or did not have the desire to eat them in general. Mangoes, blueberries, and raspberries fit that description. Also, avocados!! I LOVE avocados!! I’ll share my recipe for avocado toast eventually but let me focus on the subject at hand. While we’re on the topic of loving food, speaking of fruit…mangoes and blueberries are in heavy rotation in my home. It took me years to start eating them regularly. I stuck with what I knew which usually consisted of apples,oranges,bananas and strawberries. When we lived in NC there was a strawberry patch where we used to pick our own strawberries. Seriously, NC had the biggest and sweetest strawberries I had ever seen!

Here in Massachusetts they have so many farms where you can pick your own fruit too. Of course the options depend on what is in season. Recently, my family and I have discovered apple orchards and a few other farms which allow you to pick your own fruit. Thus far we have picked our own apples, blueberries,and raspberries.

Here are a few pics from our fruit picking excursions:

Now I am so used to eating fresh fruits that I don’t care for the ones in the grocery store as much…lol…It is a big difference in the quality for sure. The apples are crisp and the colors so vibrant. After tasting fruit right from the trees and bushes I felt no need to purchase any from the store anymore. The blueberries and raspberries are so sweet and plump! We pick about a quart and freeze most of them so they last longer. I’ve used the berries to make popsicles, put them in my oatmeal, and made homemade blueberry pancakes. Homemade pancakes with fresh blueberries is just heaven on a plate!!

With that said, I have begun to explore new things more as I have gotten older especially when it comes to foods. It can be challenging at times because some foods have an acquired taste but once you find out what works best for you things fall into place. I’ll continue to share my experiences and lessons learned as I have been on this healthy lifestyle journey. Until then, I highly suggest you check out any local farms that may have pick your own fruit. Not everyone can appreciate the experience but I find it relaxing, fun and it beats picking fruit in the grocery store. Kids love it too! If not, look into local farmer’s markets or Amish markets that sell fresh produce.

Quinoa for breakfast anyone?

As I try to incorporate healthier options to my daily meals especially breakfast (most important meal of the day), I have learned to kick up my oatmeal by adding quinoa. Over the past year, I have mixed quinoa in my oatmeal to add more protein to my breakfast as this was my pre-workout meal. I needed the extra protein for that energy boost 😉 I usually add bananas after I add the oatmeal to the quinoa/water/almond milk mixture for added sweetness. Then, I add blueberries (frozen or fresh), top it off with banana slices and cinnamon and it leaves me satisfied until lunch.

With past failed attempts at trying my hand at plain quinoa for breakfast as a porridge sans the oatmeal, I tried it this a.m. determined to get it right. I’ll be rock climbing (actually the rock climbing wall; no real deal rock climbing for me) with friends and my family for the first time today. So, I figured it would be a good idea to get an extra boost of protein.

I was inspired by a post I saw on where she shared a recipe from here. I left out the coconut flakes because I don’t care for the texture of coconut. I just added what I like using the recipe as a guide. Aside from organic quinoa, my quinoa breakfast bowl consisted of fresh peaches we got from a local farm in the Boston area and was spiced up with cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg , sliced almonds, dried cranberries and a splash of almond milk for added creaminess. The results:
2015-09-06 10.48.33

This is progress for yours truly who at one time did not even know how to pronounce quinoa (I pronounced it “Kwi-no-a”)…lol…Now, I have incorporated it into our meals as a side dish and as breakfast with oatmeal or solo. It can be challenging for some to try new things especially when it comes to food. Later this week, I’ll be composing a list of tips on how to incorporate new foods into your daily or weekly (whatever you choose) meals based on my personal experience.