Kickstart Your Vegan Diet

If you need help getting started with a vegan diet, here’s great news.  Some of the most well-informed, well-respected vegans in the country are pulling together their resources to bring you recipes, research, meal plans, and cooking tips.  It starts September 3 with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.

I did the kickstart in April, and it was just what I needed.  It’s free and informative.  I tried new recipes and got to see what a healthy, plant-based, whole food diet looks like breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Check it out if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get healthier or drop a few pounds.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Why didn’t I know this sooner?

There is such a thing as rich, vegan ice cream that isn’t as expensive as shoes?  Check out this recipe from vegnews.com:

Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

By Hannah Kaminsky | August 6, 2012

Conjure the rich sweetness of hot cocoa in a frostier form with this tempting ice cream treat.

Calling any sort of ice cream “hot” is a bit of a misnomer, but forget the temperature connotations and consider the decadent, wintery drink on its own. Rich, bitter chocolate coats the tongue while fluffy, gooey marshmallows add lightness and balance the whole concoction brilliantly.

Makes 1 quart

What You Need:
2-1/2 cups chocolate non-dairy milk
1 ounce unsweetened baker’s chocolate, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon maca powder (if unavailable, substitute malt powder or barley malt syrup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped vegan marshmallows

What You Do:

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm chocolate milk. Add chocolate, whisking occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Meanwhile, in a separate dish, combine sugar, cocoa, arrowroot, maca, and salt, and stir well to evenly distribute.

2. Slowly sift dry ingredients into milk, whisking vigorously to break up any clumps that may form. Continue to cook gently, stirring every few minutes, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened in consistency. Remove from heat, then add vanilla. Let cool to room temperature before moving the base into the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.

3. Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, adding the chopped marshmallows in the last 5 minutes. Transfer ice cream into an air-tight container. Place in freezer for at least 3 hours before serving, until solid enough to scoop.

Photo: Hannah Kaminsky

Fashion for the First Time–or, How do I buy clothes before I’ve lost those last 10 pounds

This post has nothing to do with being vegan or fit, except for the fact that after more than a year of trying to be both vegan and fit my weight has stabilized and I need to invest in new clothes.  I used to buy clothes whenever I lost weight, but I knew somewhere deep down that my weight loss was temporary so I never spent much money on them. Now, I have all these odds and ends pieces that have survived through the years.  Seriously, I have a sundress that I bought in 2001 to wear to a wedding when I dropped to 155 pounds for about 2 days.  (I know 155 sounds huge to some of you out there, but for me, it was my goal weight.)  I still have that dress and I still wear it occasionally.  It fits again and has for two years.  But, as you can imagine, I don’t always feel my best wearing an eleven-year old dress to work.

I have maintained a healthy weight for over two years now.  And, yeah, I’d still like to lose 10 or 15 more pounds, but I’m not sure if I will ever be disciplined enough to.  It’s time to invest in some clothes and quit making excuses.  That part, I’ve settled in my mind–I will buy clothes to fit the size I am right now.  The second part, what clothes?, is proving to be harder than I expected.

I need clothes that work for a soon-to-be-forty, minor executive.  I’m not that important, but I should dress in line with the important people I work with.This isn’t bad, but I doubt that I’d like wearing horizontal stripes.  I do like the mismatched patterns and the length of the skirt.  I would probably have to tone down the shoes and lose the ankle strap.  I would also like a splash of color.  I get sick of black pretty quick.  (I’m a redhead that doesn’t look good with black by my face.)  However, being a redhead means that I look like a cartoon character if I have too much color.This outfit is cute.  Again, I like the length of the skirt and the visual interest in the belt, but it’s too much color and too casual.  And, please, those shoes would look hideous on me.  (Can you say fat gladiator?)  The blouse isn’t very tailored either.  Of course, tailored isn’t always great.This, for example, is awful.  I couldn’t wear anything this straight in a million years.  I’d be pulling at the buttons to keep them from puckering and worrying constantly that muffin top would make an appearance above these low-rise slacks.  Unfortunately, when I shop for work clothes, this is what too many stores have to offer.This is better.  There’s room for boobs and hips under this dress, it has color but not busy-ness, and it manages to remain tailored and feminine.  The problem is that it’s boring.  This reflects no personal style or flare.  It’s plain.  Maybe I could throw a jacket over it and switch out the belt, but that’s part of my problem.  If I were to buy a dress like this I’d have just what I have now–a piece of a pulled together look, but not the whole thing.

Well, I haven’t solved anything in this post, but thanks for letting me talk it out some.  If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  If you have pictures, I’d love to see them.  I really need ideas.  (And, remember, I live in South Carolina so it’s as hot as armpits around here and pretty conservative.  I can’t get too fancy or too layered.)

So True

If only I were taller…

What to do with produce before it goes bad

There are few things I hate more than buying a bunch of fruits and vegetables  and finding them pushed into the back of the refrigerator 2 weeks later rotting and turning to mush.  Many of my most well-intentioned eating plans have ended just that way.  Here are a few tips for keeping up with your produce.

1.  Know what’s in season and plan meals accordingly.

You’re going to go to the grocery store in summer and see tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers dirt cheap in the summer.  Make sure you plan your meals to include lots of these ingredients.  This is the time to have homemade salsa, cold pasta salads, black bean salad (see yesterday’s post), and other such creations.  Likewise, you’re going to see winter squash, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables later in the summer.  If you match your meals to the seasons, you will lessen the risk that what looks good in the grocery store has no use at home.  As an added bonus, changing your meals with the seasons builds variety into your diet.

2.  Hang a list on your refrigerator of the produce you bought and what you plan to do with it.

A magnetic pad with a couple suggestions might keep you from forgetting that there’s a quart of strawberries in the bottom drawer.  As an added bonus, the kids might remember to eat some too.

The green sheet is my plan for the fridge. Now I’ll be reminded of what produce I need to eat.

3.  Have a few go-to recipes that use up lots of ingredients.

The other night, we made pasta and sauteed vegetables for the simple reason that we needed to use up lots of produce.  I had peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onions and broccoli that were all looking a little rough.  We sliced off the ugly parts, ran the remainder through the slicing blade on the food processor, and ended up with a butt-load of vegetables for sauteeing.  The keys to making it good are don’t overcook them and be generous with the seasoning.  I seasoned ours with garlic powder, salt, pepper, an Italian blend, and a few drops of hot sauce.  Also, I sauteed in red wine instead of oil.  It made for a good Sunday lunch and a couple of good lunches at work too. When I ran out of pasta, I spooned the reheated mixture into pita bread.

For fruit, try a smoothie.  The key to a good smoothie is a banana–it makes it creamy.  Whenever a banana starts to turn brown in my house, we peel it and put in a plastic bag in the fridge.  For your smoothie, add whatever fruit you have on hand.  The other night we used a half bag of frozen mixed berries, cantaloupe, pineapple, a half an orange my son didn’t want to finish, and enough soy milk (or fruit juice) to cover it in the blender.  I froze the leftovers and ate them for breakfast.  It was like having ice cream for breakfast.  All our fruit goes into the freezer when it starts to get mushy or overripe.  It makes a great smoothie that way.

Off to the Farmers Market!

Easy Black Bean Salad

This salad is so delicious.  We ate it as a side dish one night, for lunch the next day, and as a snack with crackers on day three.  It’s super good for you, totally vegan, and comes together in about 10 minutes.  Great for hot summer days.

This is what you need. I got this out of the Forks Over Knives book you see in the background.

Black Bean Salad

2 cans of black beans, rinsed well (if you don’t rinse them well, they’ll turn the salad grey)

1 large tomato, diced

1 bag of frozen corn

1/2 red onion, diced

the juice of 1 lime

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Mix all the ingredients and serve!  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

It makes a great side dish for anything grilled.

 

 

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