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I am not a person who likes to plan.  I like to look at what I have in my kitchen, do some research, see what others have done, and create something original.  Unfortunately, that just isn’t practical for everyday, so I decided to give the Happy Herbivore meal plan a try this week (and managed to get my mom to do this with me!).  The meal plans can be purchased here, they are $5 for a week’s worth of meal planning, and they have everything you need to get started: a shopping list, a calendar, the recipes, and lists of ingredient substitutions if there is something you don’t like.  Here’s what we thought:

Pros:

  • VARIETY: We loved the variety of foods we ate.  This was number one for me.  As you can see in the pictures below, we ate the rainbow all week!
  • EASY: so easy to make, no complicated/fancy skills required
  • FAST:  these recipes are not time-consuming.  Because we washed and chopped most of our veggies right after purchasing them, the recipes never involved more than 15 minutes of prep. time!
  • FILLING: they left us full and satisfied, never thinking about the next meal!
  • LOW CAL: my mom and I both feel so much lighter after this week.

Cons:

  • One day all three meals had quinoa in it… however, in the intro. to the meal plan, she did say that you can swap meals, as all the lunches and dinners are 400 calories and the breakfasts are 300 calories.  So there is freedom to swap things around, which we did!

Here are all the meals we had this past week!  We did not take pictures of any our snacks, but those are part of the meal plan as well.

Day 1:

Apple Jack Smoothie w/ grapefruit… also, 1/2 an orange not pictured. The smoothie really tastes like Apple Jacks!

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Mexican Stuffed Potato: I made this at my boyfriend’s place and forgot to bring guacamole and salsa, so I just used “food for lovers” vegan queso instead.

Day 2:

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Tropical Taco Salad

Teriyaki Noodles: this was a warm pasta dish made with teriyaki sauce and cantaloupe. Unusual, but somehow we thought it worked!

Day 3:

PB Cup Quinoa w/ Plum… yum!!!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Pilaf: with raisins and greens, this was yummy.

Caribbean Bean Bowl: sans beans and quinoa b/c we served it with the mushroom dish in my last post

Day 4:

Oatmeal Cookie smoothie: another smoothie totally delivers on its name

Island Quinoa Bowl

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

Day 5:

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal: we both LOVED this!

Tropical Teriyaki Salad

Smashed White Bean & Avo Club

Day 6:

1-minute French Toast and cantaloupe

Black Bean & Corn Tacos: on some of our recipes we had so much filling we had to add another tortilla to hold it all!

Pasta Fagioli without the beans

Day 7:

Breakfast Potato Tacos

Veggie Club with Carrots and Cucumbers

Thai Peanut Bowl

Now on to week two!

While I’ve been on my retreat, I’ve been staying at the True North Health Center.  It’s a pretty unique place… they do water-only fasts (I’ve met people who are doing 30 and 40 day fasts!) and they also have people come just to eat healthier.  The food they serve is oil/salt/sugar/gluten free (and vegan!)… so pretty much a lot of salad, soup, whole grains, and steamed veggies.  Very clean.

I just had my exit interview with Dr. Klaper, and thought I’d share his nutritional recommendations:

BREAKFAST: Fruit, with or without oatmeal (“real” oatmeal, not instant)

  •  I really like doing smoothies when I’m eating healthy, but he recommended against that.  He said it’s an unnatural dose of food that you wouldn’t eat if it were in it’s whole form, it spikes your blood sugar, and just isn’t ideal.  So I’m going to only have them occasionally.

LUNCH AND DINNER:

  • FORMULA FOR EACH MEAL:  Salad + Soup + Steamed Greens
  • salad… as large as you like, with vegan, oil-free dressing, flavored vinegars, or lemon juice.
  • soup… he was very specific here:  on Saturday morning, buy and chop your favorite vegetables from the market.  Later that night, fill a crockpot half full of water.  Add half the veggies and your favorite spices, putting remaining veggies in the fridge.  Add 1/2 cup (soaked and rinsed) lentils, beans, quinoa, rice, etc.  Fill to near top with water, place lid on, push button, go to bed.  Keep crockpot on low for 2-4 days, (use a wide mouth thermos to bring soup to work) and then on Tues. night, freeze the rest in containers for “instant meals.” Repeat the process with remaining veggies on Tuesday night.
  • steamed greens… kale, chard, broccoli, collards, spinach, asparagus, etc. Rinse and tear pieces and place into a steamer basket. Steam over hot water for 3-6 minutes. Serve with squeezed lemon juice, no-fat salad dressing, etc.

extra protein: legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils, etc.), walnuts (omega 3’s), pumpkin seeds (zinc), etc.

extra calories: grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet), potatoes (“new” potatoes are best), yams (or other “yellow” vegetables like carrots or squash)

dessert: apple slices, strawberries, 1/2 banana, cherries, a few grapes

Then, go for a walk! Get your legs moving every day… he recommended a recumbent bike if you watch a lot of TV.

supplements: Also, if you’re vegan, he recommends you take vitamins B12 and D.  My vitamin D was a little low (even though I live in Phoenix!) but he suggested I go on morning walks this summer and have my levels checked again in September to see if that fixes it (without supplementing).  He said if it’s over 30 mg/dL, I should be good for the winter.

what NOT to eat: oils of any kind, dairy, processed carbohydrate (pastas, breads…occasionally is fine), meat (he said if you have to have meat, he recommends people eat no more than 3 oz of grain fed beef or wild-caught salmon 2-3x per week).

The past year has been rough on me.

I can’t point to any traumatic events, but sometimes it’s the smaller ones you’ve got to watch out for. They slowly build up and leave you feeling… sad.

So this summer, I gave myself a pretty generous, long-overdue vacation… three weeks! I needed time to rest, time to think about my next steps, and time to pray.

In a few days, the vacation will be over and I’ll be back to the scheduled life. Since I believe food is a big part of my emotional and spiritual health, I’ve created this blog to help me track that journey. I’ve also created a few challenges for myself, a sort of cooking bucket-list that you can view here.