Monday, August 10, 2015

Plant-based Pad Thai

Everytime I post pictures online of what I've made, I get many requests for the recipes! I realized today that while I thought I've been posting them online, my bog posts have just been saved to "draft"! I'll have to check and see why tis is happening, but in the meantime....


This is a recipe I got from the Forks Over Knives recipe app I downloaded from the app store. I recommend it. Its only a couplw bucks and its worth it!

I would have shared the link to the recipe, but this particular recipe isn't on their website!



I made this dish two weeks in a row; it was delicious, and the first time it stayed at someone elses house, so I wanted to make my own!  

After having made it once, I wanted to make a few changes to the recipe.  I found there wasn't quite enough sauce the first time (although I didn't use all the right ingredients... ).  I also wanted to add more vegetables and some tofu. 

 I know I didn't plate it like you're supposed to.  I assumed this would be the best way for me to keep it for the next day. Otherwise I feared the noodles would all stick together.




Quick and Light Pad Thai

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 2 Thai red chiles
  • 2 tbsp unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1½ tsp tamarind paste
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • 1 cup bok choy
  • ½ cup snap peas
  • ½ cup carrots
  • 1 8 oz pack flat brown rice Pad Thai noodles
  • ¼ cup scallions
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 2 tbsp Thai basil
  • ½ juiced lime
  • 2 tbsp peanuts

Directions

Roast the peanuts in a skillet on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Crush into small bits using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, wrap the peanuts in a cloth or paper towel so that they cannot fall out, then smash them lightly into small bits, using a spoon or a ladle. Set aside for later.

Place the cauliflower in a pan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, and cook until the cauliflower is soft when poked with a fork, 4-5 minutes. Drain the water and let the cauliflower cool.

To make the peanut sauce, place the cauliflower, tomato, garlic, ginger, chiles, peanut butter, tamari, vinegar, and tamarind paste in a blender. Blend into a sauce, and transfer to a large saucepan for later.

Steam the bell peppers, bok choy, snap peas, and carrots, one or two types at a time, until they are crunchy yet soft (about 10 to 15 minutes total for all of the vegetables). Set aside for later.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or follow the instructions on the package. Drain and quickly run under cold water to prevent the noodles from sticking.

Meanwhile, heat the peanut sauce on low, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add all the vegetables and cook briefly, until they heat through. If the sauce begins to thicken, add water, a few tablespoons at a time.

To serve, place the rice noodles on a platter or individual plates. Top with the vegetables in peanut sauce. Garnish with the scallions, cilantro, basil, and crushed peanuts. Squeeze some lime juice on top and serve hot.










If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it! Post a picture and show it off!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pizza with Creamed Spinach

I have a contendor for you for Meatless Monday! (For me its Meatless Daily!)  Pizza with Creamed Spinach. What a yummy pizza! It almost tastes like spinach dip on bread!


I got the recipe from the Forks Over Knives phone application (it's not on their website), but here is the recipe online. Whats listed below is how I made it (For instance, I dislike sundried tomatoes so I left them out!)

Pizza with Creamed Spinach

Ingredients:
1 12oz. pack firm or extra-firm silken tofu (I used regular - not silken)
1 10oz. pack frozen spinach
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp dried dill
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 pizza crusts (I made them at home, rolled to 12-in rounds)
1 cup kalamata olives

Steps:
In a blender, puree the tofu until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lay a clean kitchen towel or several layers of paper towel on the counter and place the thawed spinach at the bottom of one short end. Roll the spinach in the towel and, holding it over the sink, twist either end of the roll to squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can. Unroll and set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and cook, stirring occasionally. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to keep the onion from sticking, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and dill and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the pureed tofu and the spinach, along with the nutritional yeast. Cook to warm through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

Place the dough on large baking sheets (I baked my pizza dough about 10-12 minutes at 350F before taking it out and topping them). Divide the spinach mixture evenly between the crusts, and spread it to cover the crusts evenly. Top with the chopped olives (I didn't have red onion so I ommited it).

Bake until the edges are browned slightly and the pizzas are warmed all the way through, about 15 minutes. Slice and serve.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Black Bean Burgers


After posting several pictures on Facebook and Instagram of my black bean burgers, I've been asked for the recipe by a lot of people. Here it is!  I took the recipe from the Forks Over Knives website and changed it a little bit. They turned out a little dry after I changed the recipe, so next time I make it I will add some liquid. Try adding a couple tablespoons of water! 

I topped by burgers with sautéed mushrooms and onions and always have a side of some sort of vegetable, in this case it was Brussel Sprouts, my favorite!


Please tell me what you think!!




Burger:
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp tomato paste
½ c chopped onion
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c quick oats (or regular oats put through the blender a little)
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease it if you eat oils) and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, mash black beans with a fork until mostly pureed but still some half beans and bean parts are left. Stir in tomato paste, onion, garlic, salt & pepper until well combined. Then mix in oats. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into thin patties with your hands.

Bake for 7 minutes, then carefully flip over and bake for another 7 minutes, or until crusty on the outside. Slap into a bun with extra condiments and eat! (I ate without a bun!)

Note: If you only have rolled oats, chop them up in a food processor or blender so they are smaller and more like instant oats, otherwise burgers may fall apart after baking.



Topping:

Portobello mushrooms (2 whole or package sliced)
1 small onion sliced
 

Instructions:

Heat pan, I use a cast iron frying pan, the add some water and cook the mushrooms and onions until they are a consistency you like. Add more water as it evaporates. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Side:
Brussels Sprouts, sautéed in water with some salt and minced garlic.





Have you ever had purple sweet potatoes? They're DELICIOUS! you must find them! Try them! 

Peel or don't peal the potatoes, slice, sprinkle with salt then bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes turning half way through.




Black bean burger topped with potobello mushrooms & onions served with red quinoa with edemame, tomatoes & pickles.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Processed Almonds - Not for me!

I'm not here to say this product is bad, but to tell you about what I experienced when I recently ate these almonds. 

I bought these Blue Diamond almonds several months ago, back before I changed my diet but I put them in a cabinet and completely forgot about them until recently. I wouldn't buy these today for two reasons: they have added sugar and they are made using oils (and whatever Corn Maltodextrin is)... two things I've since cut from my diet. 

But I found them, and while I could have given them away, I thought that it'd be "okay" because it was just this one time and in the long run what's the big deal?!

I'm very curious what they put in these products, what the food industry puts into their "processed" foods because I had planned to only eat a small handful and ate at least two or three (or more). And I couldn't stop!  I haven't eaten compulsively since before my cleanse so this was scary. What if I started eating like this more than just this once?!

I don't know if I have an addiction to sugar so I physically couldnt stop or if the oil they use has some properties in it that make it addictive or if it was the corn maltodextrin, but I don't plan to try these almonds again! I have nothing against the Blue Diamind brand, I purchased a pag of their "Whole Natural" almonds which has ONE ingredient: almonds. 

Other than maybe two or three times, I haven't had anything with added sugar or any processed foods in months! I'm very proud of this accomplishment and I'm not mad at myself for eating these almonds!   I have said it before, it's all about forgiving yourself, it's about learning what works and what doesn't. I learned something about myself that day: I cannot eat those almonds because I will turn into a compulsive eater! 

With every journey we take, with every new thing undertake, we learn things about ourselves and that's awesome! I always tell my students that making mistakes is a good thing because that's how we learn, and I whole heartedly believe this. 

Have you learned something about yourself lately? What was it?! I'd love to hear your story!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Progress

Years ago when I revamped my blog, it included a change in name: Honestly Ani.  I may not be the best at many things, but I am honest. Some people might tell me I'm sharing too much on the Internet, but honestly, who cares? I'm an open book and always have been. Why am I making this statement? Well, because I'm going to be very honest in todays' post. I'm going to share things I don't normally talk about, not because I'm ashamed or trying to keep secrets, but because I try to be positive and optimistic and I don't like to dwell in the negative. 

When I changed my diet so drastically, I didn't do it for no reason, I was unhappy with the way I was eating, what I was eating and I was unhappy with my body. I've been battling with depression since at least high school, but if I think back, I'd guess it was since before. Everyone experiences depression differently, for me two of my worst habits were not wanting to move or do anything and eating foods I normally stay away from, foods that are "bad" for me. Anyway, to keep this preamble short, I'd been battling deep depression from about September until I finally sought out help in December. During that time I stopped going to the gym and I ate poorly. Sometimes I'd even go out of my way to make poor food decisions. After months of this, I finally had enough. There were countless days in December where I'd research on the Internet for something, anything that sounded like a food plan I wanted to try. I knew I didn't feel right, I didn't know what I wanted but I knew I wanted something else. 

Cut to, as I said before, hanging out with my brother who put on a documentary I loved but was not yet ready to listen to previously. Now I was ready. As I've said before I did reaearch in the diet (noun, not adjective or verb) and called my doctor to tell her about it and request a prescription for a blood test. I had promised to post the results o this blog but I hadn't yet... Partially because I was embaressed, partially because I forgot. 

So my doctor tested for what looks like everything but I'll highlight a couple items below, things that are normally concerns, and things that are stereotypically concerns for vegans (when I have a fluke blood test we can really compare) - the numbers in parenthesis are the normal range as listed by CLP: 

January 26, 2015 - Fasting

Glucose (65-99)
92

Sodium (136-145)
143

Calcium (8.7-10.5) 
9.8

Protein, total (6.3-8.3
7.0

Cholesterol, total (<200)
277

Triglycerides (<150)
136

HDL (>39)
62

HDL ratio (0.0-5.0)
4.5

LDL (<130, <100 is Optimal)
188

B12 (243-894)
487

Vitamin D (30-100)
28 


Originally I had planned to have a blood test in 4 months, but my job had free health screenings where they just did a couple tests: blood pressure, weight/BMI, cholesterol, glucose. Check out the results...

March 11, 2015 - Non-fasting

Glucose (fasting 70-99; non-fasting <140)
94

Cholesterol, total (<200)
184

HDL 
48

HDL ratio
3.8


My non-fasting glucose is under where it should be if I were fasting! It wasn't high before, but still. But the really big news is that my total cholesterol fell 93 points!!! This felt unreal. I couldn't believe. I didn't trust it. But how can they test my blood and tell me a number that isn't actually true?? It had to be true. 

I went to the NY Veg Food Fest on Saturday (in my way there now!) and saw a lot of interesting people talk about plant-based nutrition. One person in particular caught my attention, Dr. Michelle McMacken. I spoke with her afterward because I had all these questions and no one to ask! I told her how I'd been plant-based for 7 weeks and about my blood test and the new one last week. I asked her if it was normal for the cholesterol to drop so quickly, and mentioned that my HDL also dropped. She told me yes, it's totally normal for it to drop so much and she told me not to worried about my HDL. She talked about how HDL is only a problem if you're a carnivore, people on plant-based diets don't need to worry about that. 

Que more dancing and singing and jumping over the moon! Who knew I'd be so healthy and loving every minute of it! 

She, and the other speakers, had so much great information which I will post I. A subsequent blog entry ... But alas, I must be on my way because it's about time to get off the train. 

Have you made some progress recently that's keeping you motivated or maybe you're struggling with something? Let me know! I'd love to eat and help if I can!




Sunday, March 8, 2015

Struggles with Eating Enough

Who knew that eating enough calories would be something with which I would struggle?  I've been trying to track my calories for the last 3 weeks or so and while I can't always count the exact calories in my foods, I do guess a bit. I use the MyFitnessPal phone application to track my weight and calorie intake. I search for what I'm eating and sometimes there is something similar in the database that I log. Would I rather be exact? Yes, but I am fine with approximations since I'm not in fear of over eating in calories.

I started my journey on January 26th with a 10 day cleanse. During that time I lost 10.6 pounds, but I figured that I would gain most of that weight back once I started eating again, well I thought I would (again, let me state that I wasn't trying to lose weight with my cleanse!). My friend Michele pointed out I wouldn't gain much since I was going to be eating a whole food plant-based diet and she was right, I actually only gained a pound back.  It has been 6 weeks since I started this journey with the clanse and I've lost an amazing 22.2 pounds thus far. It's actually shocking. I didn't realize I was losing so much until I told a friend about a week ago how much I'd lost and she was so excited for me. It made me realize wow... okay, that's kinda big.

Losing so much weight so fast wasn't my goal, but its actually pretty heady. Especially if you have food issues.  I find myself in battle with myself at time, the restrictive part of my brain wants to see how long I can go without eating, how much weight can I lose? I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not eating in this manner to lose weight, I'm eating in this manner to be the healthiest version of myself! Weightloss just happens to be a sideffect!

Anyway, I've been trying to count my calories as best as I can to enure that I am eating enough calories and honestly, I am never eating enough calories!  I average 1,100 calories most days and on good days up to 1,300-1,400 calories. I really shouldn't be eating less than 1,600 calories (or so I thought) so I decided to talk to Kasia about this and possibly my doctor if I can get to her. I wish I could go to see Dr. Fuhrman, it would be awesome since he's a proponent of this way of eating. Kasia first said that yes, I am losing weight too fast, but upon some thinking, she didn't think 1,200 was dangerously low. She stated most doctors will okay 1,200 calorie diets for people trying to lose weight, and since I am not at my ideal weight, I was fine.

I will keep trying my best to keep eating! I haven't had anything processed or filled with unnatural [added] sugars since I started (other than the occational evoo - I can't control foods I don't cook!) and I feel great! I feel like I can do this forever... I've actually gotten to a point where the smell or sight of meats grosses me out (honestly, that happened quick for me, like I said previously, I flipped the switch in my brain when I made the desicion to do this).

Although I'm still not eating enough, I'm not beating myself up about it, I'm not eating crap to build the calories when I get to the end of the day, I just go on and tell myself hopefully I'll do better the next day. If you don't meet your goals after actually trying, you can't beat yourself up over it... just plan to try again the next day. If you're having the opposite problem as me, and you slip one day or one meal and eat too much or the 'wrong' foods, just vow to do better at the next meal and the next day. Don't just give up!

What have you been struggling with lately?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tofu Scramble Recipe


One of my favorite things to make for breakfast is a tofu scramble. It's a great meal because theres so many veggies and its delicious! The other reason why this is so good is that you can use any vegetables you want to make it.


I've made this a couple times since I've gone plant-based and I've made it with different veggies every time.







Think about what vegetables you want to add; I start with chopped onion, saute in water, then slowly add vegetables little by little starting with the ones that take longer to cook to showerer to cook. If you use mushrooms, add them in after the onion becuase mushrooms release water as you cook them.

If you're going whole food plant-based like me, or just watching your intake of oils nad fats, you just add a little water as it evaporates.

I normally add the chopped tofu last, unless I'm adding leafy greens like I did here with spinach and kale. I added the leafy greens last as they only need a minute to wilt just a little and turn a bright green!

Once I've added the tofu, I add my seasoning: salt, pepper, other spices...






Tell me this doesn't look delicious!

My mother thinks I'm crazy for cutting out even oils from my diet. "But oil is good for you!" If you're following the plan that the doctors all talk about in the documentary Forks over Knives, also known as a Whole Food Plabt-Based Diet, then that means no processed foods. Oils, all oils, are technically processed, whether you think they're 'healthy' or not.

If you try it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What is a Plant-Based Diet Anyway?

I've had some questions lately about what it means to be on a plant-based diet. For ease, I just tell people I'm eating a Vegan diet, but that's not entirely true.

While it's true that I'm not eating any animal products, I'm also not eating processed foods. I really have made a huge change in my diet: absolutely no animal products, no refined sugar (really, no sugar... I've cut it all out), and no processed food.



What does that mean? It means that if I want pizza, I will be having cheeseless pizza. I know, I know, you're thinking, "But they make vegan cheese, you can eat that! It's vegan!" Yes, you're right, it is vegan... but how much processing did they have to go through to make that cheese?  Personally, even when I've given up meat for lent (its a religious thing...) in the passed, I never ate foods that tasted like meat products: No fakon, no tofurkey, no fake cold cuts... It's just not something I've ever been interested in because it might make me want the real thing, plus if I'm giving it up, why would I want to taste it.

In the past I've considered going Vegetarian and Vegan, but never thought I could or would. I've said that I've watched the movie Forks Over Knives before, but for whatever reason I wasn't ready... this time I was ready. I like what it says about the human diet; I like the results the couple of people on the documentary had; I like the studies they quoted; I liked the doctors they spoke with. It all made sense to me.



So, what else is different between being Vegan or being Plant-Based? Well, besides the food, vegans are vegans because of ethics and tend to be very passionate about animals and animal rights. They won't wear anything animal related or tested on animals: clothing or cosmetics. There's nothing wrong with that and, unless they're a crazy PETA advocate, I respect vegans for their decisions. While I've chosen to stop eating all animal products for purely health reason, I don't begrudge animal eaters.


A lot of people have told me, "I could never do that, I love chicken," "Life without cheese, I don't think so!" "Wait, you don't eat bacon anymore?" Will this be easy? No. My mother and I were invited to her neighbors for dinner last night and Mom was making a fruit plate, to which she added a stick of Cracker Barrel Extra Sharpe Cheese. I took it in my hands and looked at her, "This used to be my favorite brand and cheese!" to which she flatly responded, "Well, now you can't eat it." I know I can't eat it, but a SMALL part of me was jealous of them at dinner. Which, by the way was duck, the salad had cheese in it... but she made a side of beans and didn't put cream in the soup that was for me, and even her baked potatoes, she saved two halves with no butter for me. I had some beautiful fruit for dessert, and I was happy!




I didn't feel deprived. If you're going to do something like this, or really whatever you do that is new and different, you have to have your heart in it. It has to be a decision you make consciously and then you can do it. Kasia said to me last night, "Well you can have cheese once a week, there's nothing wrong with that." But I told her I don't feel deprived, I don't actually want it (She's so cute, she gave me a big hug and said she's so proud of me). I'm in this whole heartedly and I can't currently imagine going back to eating meat and dairy. That being said, its not even been a month just yet, so its still early, but I'm happy!  So if you're thinking This is too hard, maybe you're not ready! Or even better, Dr. Esselstyn said it best, "Some people thing the 'plant based whole foods diet' is extreme. Half a million a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn into their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme." 

Have you ever made a big change in your life where people have thought you're crazy or that you're being extreme? What was it?

Till next time!