Vegging out.

So this week continues my on-going quest to insert more vegetables into my life. Having recently passed the one year mark on this operation, it’s time to step up the game. My body understands the difference between healthy and unhealthy now, finally, and it’s time to escalate to the next level. I’m marking the occasion with a juice cleanse! 

Honestly part of it is to initiate next level status, but part of it is because I have been having frequent headaches and other illness-y symptoms recently and I want to get out whatever toxins are making me sick. To prep for a juice cleanse, the juice company recommends taking a few days to work your way into it, which means a mostly vegan, gluten-free, unprocessed diet. I’ll talk more about this later but I wanted to set the stage!

I don’t mind eating mostly produce at all, certainly not just for a couple of days, but my body gets annoyed if it doesn’t have what feels like a real meal. And, I figure three days of nothing but cold-pressed juice is coming up, so I don’t really want to eat a whole bunch of vegan soup leading up to that. So I thought about meals I’ve made in the past that are solid food, warm and almost entirely plant-based. I really love spaghetti squash so I decided to think about something like that.

zucc marinara
Zucchini Marinara

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The Lazy Girl’s DIY Sushi

Do you ever get on kicks where you could eat the same food every day? Given how many times I’ve blogged either curry or oatmeal, it should not be a surprise that this happens to me fairly frequently. Currently, my food addiction is sushi. Specifically, sushi rolls. I know there are plenty of other kinds, which I also like, but give me a couple of maki rolls and I am good to go. The complimentary flavors, the mix of textures, the vast assortment of possibilities. YUM. I’m into it.

The good news is that it could be a lot worse, nutritionally speaking. But as foods go, it’s so elusive. It’s the kind of thing that is really better at a restaurant. A lot of the ingredients can be hard to find and it is a bit of a production to prepare. But then the restaurants have problems too. White rice. Lots of fried ingredients. Lots of sugar. Insane amounts of sodium. In and of itself that wouldn’t be a deal breaker because there are plenty of things on the menu to sustain a fairly healthy meal. The biggest problem is that it is expensive. It’s hard to get enough to eat at a sushi place for less than $25.

So I decided maybe I could figure out a way to make something at home. At first I thought about learning how to make actual rolls, but I ran into a couple of problems before I even got started. First, a lot of the ingredients are not the easiest to find around here. Let alone supplies like a bamboo mat. I’m sure I could find things at Whole Foods or similar places, but the weather is bad this week and it’s a little bit of a drive. Plus, if I’m going for cost-effectiveness, buying all kinds of exotic supplies kind of defeats the purpose. The second problem was that even if I did spend the time and effort getting everything I needed, I’d have to actually do the dicing and shaping and rolling and all that stuff. In the ever eloquent words of Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m not great at dicing, and my touch is not particularly delicate, so I just envision crafting the rolls really poorly.

But then it occurred to me, I probably had nearly all of the necessary basics, or acceptable substitutes, and if it’s really the ingredients I like the best, why not just throw them all into a dish together, burrito bowl style?

The result was a very lovely “sushi salad”.

Sushi Salad OR the Lazy Girl's DIY Sushi Roll
Sushi Salad OR the Lazy Girl’s DIY Sushi Roll in a Bowl

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Diversifying My Vegetable Repertoire

This week, as promised, has been a huge improvement! I’m finally getting over my passive attitude toward fitness. That means, in addition to more (and better) workouts, I am back on an active search for new vegetable-heavy recipes to try. Nutritionists suggest the majority of your calories should come from vegetables, but since vegetables have the least amount of calories of any food group, it is a bit of an algebraic conundrum. I mean, an ounce of spinach is 10 calories. That is hard to work with when I also should really not eat fewer than 1400-1500 calories per day after workout. So it’s a challenge! Find ways to incorporate more vegetables!

One way I incorporated more vegetables this week was with a super delicious Moroccan salad featuring harissa, a semi-spicy red pepper paste…it almost has the consistency of a red pepper pesto. I had it on a salad at a Moroccan restaurant a few months ago and have been meaning to buy a jar ever since. It’s available at higher end grocers like Fresh Market and I’ve also seen it at Crate & Barrel/Williams Sonoma sort of places. Maybe you have a more diversified local supermarket than me and it’s available there for you as well!

I have always liked Moroccan Carrot Salad, which usually features orange and raisins, and I thought it would be interesting to combine the two Moroccan food-things with which I am most familiar. I looked up some recipes for the carrot salad online and found a few that were all variations on a theme, and I went from there.

moroccan carrot salad

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Amping Up

Wow. As of today, it has been eleven months since I started this journey, which is terrifying for reasons related and unrelated to my weight loss program. But as the one-year mark nears, I am both proud of the progress I’ve made and positive lifestyle changes I’ve implemented, but also a little disappointed that I didn’t accomplish more.

So, it occurs to me, maybe I need to engage in phase two. Honestly, I never considered that there should be a phase two until a week or so ago. I spent last year in a state of recovery. I was so out of shape, so down and out–physically and emotionally, and in such a destructive relationship with food, I needed time to remember not only how to be healthy but to feel healthy. Walking a couple of blocks no longer sounds like a chore. (Yesterday, I went for an hour long walk just because it was nice outside.) Taking the stairs isn’t a last resort anymore. And I’m back to my root opinions on food, so most junk food grosses me out, and vegetables aren’t a chore but rather a requirement in my day.

Those are basic goals that I didn’t even consider because they seemed so obvious. But really they did take a long time to fully accomplish. And, of course, there were setbacks. Moving. The holidays. Maintaining a social life with my naturally skinny, junk food loving friends that is still conducive to my body’s needs. These have been significant hurdles that took time to master. In fact, mastering them (or not) is pretty much a weekly struggle.

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Yet another delicious fruity breakfast recipe.

Well, getting back into clean eating mode has proven a little more difficult than I expected. Mostly because it’s freaking freezing outside and who wants to eat a cold salad when there’s a windchill of negative 10? Someone, maybe, but not me. Soup is a great alternative, but eating it every single day gets old real quick.

So the trick, which I am far from mastering, is eating clean, energy dense foods that are still warm and satisfying. Mac and Cheese only satisfies one of these goals it turns out. I’ve had a couple of successes though.

My greatest accomplishment so far this winter is definitely a Banana-Berry Baked Oatmeal, which has received rave reviews and requests for more. I’ve made it twice.

Here's the first batch.
Here’s the first batch.

Continue reading “Yet another delicious fruity breakfast recipe.”

A dear John letter to junk food

Dear Carbs,

Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure how to say this. It’s been so great seeing you over the holidays. These last three weeks have been really great. You are so sweet, so deep. I’m always surprised how much I discover I’ve missed you when we get back together like this. You really are truly delicious.

This time when we reunited though, things just got so intense. I started approaching you in elaborate ways I never considered before. I mean, I baked! I made Mac and cheese from scratch, all for you! The black and white cake balls were truly inspired. I loved the chex mix so much I made it twice.

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But I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been apart for so long, and I’ve learned to live happily without you, or if it’s because our reunion had been so intense, but…and I’m so sorry, I just can’t do this anymore. You make me feel bad. And worse, you make me feel bad about myself. I can feel so good when I’m with you, but a couple hours later I’m overwhelmed by how crappy you’ve made me feel.

Frankly, it’s just not healthy. This isn’t how relationships are supposed to work. I can’t keep this going with you when I know you’re just going to encourage me to make decisions that will hurt me in the end. No matter how much I love you, I have to put myself first. We can’t keep doing this. It’s not healthy and it’s time for me to move on. But I do truly wish you the best.

Take care of yourself,
LJ