Monday, November 19, 2018

Health Made Simple, Days 46-49

I'm back with my LAST WEEKEND RECAP on Health Made Simple! My 8-week, whole foods-based meal plan will end this Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving. But going forward, I'm hoping to continue eating this way most of the time.

I actually didn't take many pics of my food on Day 46 (last Thursday) because most everything I ate was leftovers from the day before — same smoothie, same snacks. I did make new dishes for lunch and dinner, but I totally forgot to photograph my lunch (quinoa tabouli). Oops! I managed to remember my dinner pic though. This was the Pasta with Tofu & Broccoli from Health Made Simple. I used edamame/mung bean pasta. The sauce is just a splash of almond milk and some nooch, plus onions, broccoli, and cubed tofu. I added sriracha! Pretty good.

I enjoyed that meal, but I was kinda sad that I ate it. After dinner, I had to oversee press night at Today & Always, our plant-based cafe at Crosstown Arts. We had lots of samples out for the press to try, and I wanted to eat dinner first in case there wasn't enough left for me. Turns out, we had more than enough food so I was having serious FOMO watching everyone else eat. I ended up snacking a little too much on that stuff, even though I wasn't at all hungry. Oh well.

On Friday, I had my usual morning bootcamp (fueled by dates and walnut butter) followed by white rice and a fruit smoothie (cherries, banana, vanilla, spinach, walnuts).

I have a fruit bowl every week day on Health Made Simple, but I was low of groceries Friday. My fruit supply had dwindled down to a few sad grapes. Luckily, Today & Always sells fruit bowls at breakfast, so I grabbed one (pineapple, strawberry, grape) to snack on at my desk.

Lunch was leftovers of that pasta, and afternoon snack was black bean dip and carrots. Dinner was a quick Orange Tofu Tahini Wrap before heading to my friend Andy's house for game night (we played Cards Against Humanity and drank some holiday beers). This wrap was a repeat from earlier in the plan, and I really liked it! It has baked tofu, tahini dressing, pickled onion, mandarin oranges, lettuce, and red cabbage.

I woke up early on Saturday morning and made the Easy & Awesome Tofu Scramble from the HMS plan. I added mushrooms (not in the recipe) and served with toast/Earth Balance.

For lunch, I wanted to go really light because I was going to our annual vegan Thanksgiving potluck at 4 pm. A fruit smoothie sounded perfect. But I was still out of fruit, so I stopped by Juice Bar in Crosstown Concourse for a Blue Chocolatta Smoothie (banana, blueberries, almond butter, raw cacao, and pink salt). 

That fueled me through a grocery trip (yay, I bought fruit!). And then when I returned from the store, I snacked on one of my grocery treats — Miyoko's Vegan Roadhouse Cheddar Spread on Wasa Rosemary Crackers. I'm sticking to mostly whole foods at home, but this cheese is made with whole ingredients, like cashews and nooch. And the crackers are whole wheat. Score.

Then it was time for the potluck! Our friends Nicole and Vaughan have hosted the annual vegan Thanksgiving for YEARS. I would never miss it! I made the Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese from Health Made Simple, and it was a big hit. Here's a glance at some of the savory offerings — tofu quiche, Daiya mac (yes, there were two kinds of mac!), vegan tamales, tater tot casserole, falafel and tabouli, and Jennifer's famous Big Mac dip on crackers.

Here's my plate number one!

And plate number 2!

And don't forget dessert. There were Stephanie brownies, apple pie, pumpkin spice mini muffins, and — not pictured — Shay's famous pumpkin chocolate bread. Also, Nicole made the BEST vegan oatmilk hot cocoa with vegan Reddi Whip. 

Dessert plate!

This was definitely way more food than I'm used to eating on the meal plan, but hey, it's Thanksgiving. And the meal plan is focused on your "most of the time," which is definitely not this. Ha! I felt very stuffed after this, but it was worth it. Here's one table of guests after we all filled our bellies.

And here's me and Shay (who didn't make it into the group shot).

I had another party on Sunday! Tis the season. But first, I had a healthy breakfast of Avocado Toast!

Our friend Don of Lulu's Food held his last vegan pop-up brunch of the year at Fuel, so of course, we couldn't miss that. I joined nine of my friends there at 11 am for Don's Brekky Mac (breakfast mac & cheese with tofu scramble and shiitake bacon mixed in).

And then at 3 pm, I went to my co-worker Caitlin's house for a holiday party! This was an oyster and citrus party, and since I don't eat oysters, I was able to keep things light by snacking on a mound of fruit! Check out this spread of fruit! I tried several new to me things, like persimmon, longan fruit, rambutin.

I made butternut squash hummus for that party, but I'm saving the recipe for a separate post tomorrow!

And finally, I'll end this massive post with Spiked Apple Cider. Caitlin's husband Stephen made the tastiest hot apple cider, which we spiked with spiced rum (of course!).

A fun and food-filled weekend! And I don't even feel guilty for indulging because this plan is teaching me to have a healthier attitude around food!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Health Made Simple, Day 45

Wednesday went as most Wednesdays go! Except with SNOW!!! It never, ever snows in Memphis in November and not much all winter. But yesterday, we had our first snowfall! Naturally, there was excitement in the air all day. 

But before the flakes fell, I had a chance to scarf down a cashew cookie Larabar and take my usual Wednesday morning spinning class at the Y, followed by my favorite Health Made Simple post-workout snack — white rice! And then I had my breakfast of a Green Cherry Smoothie with banana, cherries, spinach, and flax.

Morning snack was fruit (the last of the cantaloupe with plum slices). And lunch was that Cowboy Chili I'd left in the office fridge the day before. This is a Health Made Simple recipe from last week that I froze in portions — kidney beans, hominy, purple hull peas, and collards. Topped with avocado!

I skipped my afternoon snack because my post-work plans were cancelled. Because SNOW! I'd planned to leave work at 5 and then come back at 6 to watch our Crosstown Youth Theater kids perform, but their play was moved up to early afternoon to beat the snow. When I left the office around 5:30 pm, this is what I found on my car. 

It didn't snow much more than that, but it was still pretty cool. And the whole city shuts down at the first flurry, so I knew it was best to stay home after work and get cozy in my PJs. I enjoyed this warming meal of leftover Baked Potato with Roasted Veggies and Pesto, plus a salad with hemp-cashew Italian dressing.

And then at the end of the night, I made another warming cup of hot chocolate with coconut whip (but this time, I spiked it with a little vegan vanilla almondmilk liqueur — full review of that coming soon!).

I'll check back in early next week with the last Health Made Simple weekend recap!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Health Made Simple, Day 44

Another day on Health Made Simple come and gone! Tuesday morning started with a quick apple cinnamon date bar, and then I went to bootcamp my gym downtown. After my workout, I had — you guessed it! — white rice. I've been eating a small bowl (about a half-cup) of white rice after every workout, and it's working well for recovery carbs.

My breakfast was a mango smoothie with mango, banana, spinach, and walnuts, but I forgot to take a pic. Morning snack was black bean dip and whole wheat crackers, but I failed to take a pic of that too. The bean dip recipe was from Health Made Simple, and it's basically like hummus but with black beans (it has tahini!).

I brought my lunch to work — leftover Cowboy Chili — but when I saw one of the daily specials at Today & Always (the plant-based cafe at Crosstown Arts, where I work), I changed my plan! Chef Raymond made Cajun Tofu Sandwiches with Vegan Caesar, and it just looked SO GOOD. Raymond is a master at seasoning and texturing tofu, and sandwich on house-baked spent grain bread with wilted mustard greens and remoulade aioli was just perfect. Plus, it was pretty whole foods-y, aside from the bread and aioli.

But it was back to the plan for the rest of the day. I had my afternoon fruit bowl (satsuma, grapes, cantaloupe) as I prepped dinner at home.

And then finally, dinner was ready! Baked Potato with Roasted Veggies and Pesto!

I put a baked potato in the Crock Pot before I left for work, thanks to a tip from my co-worker Madelyn. You just rub potatoes with a little oil and salt, wrap in foil, and cook in the slow cooker for 7-8 hours on low. And it was JUST PERFECT. I'm always too impatient to bake them in the oven. And even the air fryer takes too long for me with baked potatoes.

But the veggies — zucchini, squash, bell pepper, portabella, and broccoli — were roasted in the air fryer. I tossed with a smidge of oil and some salt and pepper and air-fried for about 10-12 minutes. They were perfect. The pesto, an HMS recipe, is oil-free and made with basil, spinach, walnuts, garlic, miso, and nooch.

It was sooooo cold last night, perfect hot cocoa weather. And I'd been dying to try my new turmeric-infused dark hot chocolate mix from my November Goddess Provisions box. This is a coconut sugar-sweetened hot chocolate that you mix with just a small portion of hot water for a cute little tiny drink. Look, two pics in the same spot in my house in one post! Unicorns!

They recommend topping with coconut whip, and I just happened to have some Reddi Whip Coconut Whip in the fridge. A perfect evening treat while I worked on my homework for my Goddess Self-Care course. This week, we're doing a self-care deep dive to learn what areas we can improve on (for me, that's sleep, meditation, and connection to nature).

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Health Made Simple, Day 43

Yesterday, my 43rd day on the Health Made Simple whole foods-based meal plan from No Meat Athlete, started with a little extra sleep! Paul and I had stayed up a little too late Sunday night watching Netflix. Actually, he stayed up too late, while I fell asleep on the couch, but I still didn't feel rested. When my alarm went off at 5:30 am for yoga, I decided to re-set it for 6:30!

When I finally did roll out of bed, I had a Triple Berry Banana Smoothie with a frozen berry mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, plus banana, spinach, and walnuts.

On Week 7 of HMS, we're on our own for breakfasts and snacks, and they're still providing meal plan ideas for lunches and dinners. It's a way to ease us off the plan and help set us up for success. The idea with the meal plan is to help you adjust your "most of the time" to eating this way even after the plan is over. But I love having smoothies on week days, so I plan to keep that up. I'm just combinng the fruit in my freezer in whatever way pleases me now.

Morning snack was Veggies & Oil-Free Hemp Dijon Dressing (a hemp-cashew "honey" mustard dressing that I'd made for snacks and salads for the week). I had planned to eat this at my desk, but I ended up having to run a work errand around 10:30 am (my usual snack time), so it was a car snack instead!

For lunch, I'd planned to eat my leftover mushroom and black bean tacos from Sunday night, but Paul really wanted to meet me at Crosstown Concourse (where I work) for lunch. How could I say no to a workday lunch with my boo? We opted for Next Door American Eatery in Concourse because they have some super-healthy things that fit well into my eating goals (plus, Today & Always — the plant-based restaurant at Crosstown Arts — is closed on Mondays).

I had the Roasted Veggie Bowl with red quinoa, broccolini, bell pepper, cauliflower, and mushrooms and topped with cilantro-tahini dressing. Sure, it had more oil than any recipe in Health Made Simple, but it's not "my most of the time" so that's cool. I love that this meal is helping me find guilt-free balance.

Afternoon snack was fruit (apples, grapes) at my desk.

And for dinner, I finally had those leftover Smoky Mushroom & Black Bean Tacos and a salad. I had a meeting right after work, so it was nice to have a quick dinner to re-heat!

I had a small glass of red wine at my meeting, and when I got home, I had a larger glass of my dad's peach wine! A pretty great day of eating if you ask me!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Health Made Simple, Days 39-42

Can y'all believe I've been on a meal plan for 40-plus days?! I'm sure you're all bored with it now, but I'm feeling so great! And don't worry — only two weeks left. Here's a recap of the whole food, plant-based meals (and some not-so-whole indulgences) I ate on Health Made Simple over the weekend.

Thursday morning started with a couple Emmy's Organic raw coconut macaroons and a little walk-run outside. I still can't run for very long on my foot, but I have a 5K coming up in a few weeks so I'm trying to test my foot on walk-runs. I miss my long runs SO BAD, y'all. After my workout, I had some white rice, and then I had a Kick-Ass Meal Shake (banana, walnuts, greens powders). 

Morning snack was celery and raw almond butter. For lunch we had a staff meeting at work, and that always means we have SO MUCH FOOD. I took a pic of my plate, but it's disappeared off my phone somehow. We had roasted veggie sandwiches, salad, tomato soup, and vegan peanut butter bars from Muddy's Bake Shop. I indulged in the white bread and dessert with ZERO guilt.

I had fruit as my afternoon snack (even though I was still full from lunch), and then for dinner, I had No-Chicken Noodle Soup from the Health Made Simple plan. This has lentils and whole wheat pasta with veggies and vegan chicken broth.

Friday morning started with an apple cinnamon date bar and a bootcamp workout at my gym, followed by more white rice. Breakfast was a raspberry banana smoothie, and morning snack at my desk was fresh fruit. Lunch was leftover no-chicken noodle soup, and I had baked corn chips and salsa in the afternoon.

And then it was time for another indulgence! My friends and I had dinner plans at Imagine Vegan Cafe. I could have ordered something really crazy like the "fish" dinner (fried Gardein fish, hush puppies, and fries), but instead I chose one of their healthier options — the Portabella Sandwich and Steamed Broccoli. This has portabella strips, vegan white cheese, and roasted red peppers. I tried to order it on wheat, but they accidentally brought it out on white bread. I decided that was a sign from the Universe!

On Saturday morning, I got up early and made the gluten-free Health Made Simple Whole Grain Pancakes with berries. I topped them with a little Reddi Whip coconut whip because why not? On HMS, they talk a lot about your MOTT (most of the time) and believe it's perfectly okay to have a little not-so-whole foodsy garnish (like vegan cheese or whipped topping!).

I went to yoga at 10 am and had a small snack-sized banana smoothie afterward. And then for lunch, I thawed some Black Bean Tortilla Soup that I froze last week. This was an HMS meal last week, and I purposely made extra to save for an easy lunch!

Afternoon snack was fruit, and then for dinner, I made Lisa's Tempeh & Rice Gumbo from HMS (Lisa is HMS co-organizer Sid Garza Hillman's wife, so this must be her recipe!). Very good! But I'll say, as a Southerner, this was not gumbo! It was Cajun-seasoned tempeh & rice soup. To be gumbo, you need a roux, but this was oil-free. But still very, very tasty. The tempeh was marinated in Liquid Smoke and maple, like bacon!

Later that night, Paul and I went to our friend Nicole's birthday party. And there was Vegan Chocolate Cake baked by my friend Stephanie (aka Poopie Bitch to any PPKers). I never pass up a chance to eat Stephanie's cake. Enjoyed every bite! I also had a vodka/key lime La Croix cocktail and a Sierra Nevada Tumbler brown ale. Plus, a few bites of veggie sushi!

Sunday morning started with a bowl of Steel Cut Oats with blueberries (hence the color), banana, strawberries, and walnuts.

Morning snack was fruit (cantaloupe, grapes), and lunch was leftover tempeh & rice gumbo. In the early afternoon, Paul and I went to Crosstown Brewing Co. where we had a couple beers (dry stout and raspberry gose for me!). 

We went home after that, and I got to work on dinner while snacking on baby carrots and oil-free dijon hemp-cashew dressing. Dinner was Smoky Mushroom Tacos (mushrooms, black beans, chipotle pepper). I loved them, but they were too spicy for Paul's heartburn issues. More for me!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Health Made Simple, Days 37-38

Tuesday morning on Health Made Simple (the whole food, plant-based meal plan from No Meat Athlete) started as most mornings do — with a snack and a workout. I had these Medjool Dates dipped in Raw Walnut Butter before my bootcamp class.

And after class, I had some post-workout carbs — White Rice with Soy Sauce & Toasted Sesame Seed.

Breakfast was Sid's Kick-Ass Meal Shake (named for HMS co-organizer Sid Garza Hillman). This has banana, chia seed, hemp seed, and lots of powders. I didn't have all the powder add-ins called for, but I used the ones I did have (dulse, wheatgrass, greens powder, and maca).

Morning snack was Cut Veggies & Tahini Dressing (no pic). And then lunch was leftover Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta and Steamed Kale (also no pic but it looks the same as in my last post). I enjoyed my lunch during Church Health's Noontime Nibbles cooking demo series.

Church Health is located inside Crosstown Concourse (the building where I work), and they provide healthcare to the working insured. They have a new free weekly cooking series in their teaching kitchen, and the first one was vegan! I had to show my support! They made a sweet potato and black bean chili and mini pumpkin corn muffins. I had samples of each after I finished my lunch. So good. I'm definitely making these muffins for Thanksgiving.

Afternoon snack was fruit! My little selenite heart is photo-bombing. I always keep crystals on my desk at work.

Dinner was Cowboy Chili (made with blackeyed peas, kidney beans, collards, and hominy) over brown rice. The recipe suggested topping with cashew cheese, and I had some leftover butternut squash-cashew cheese from the pasta the night before. Yum!

The next day, Wednesday, started with an apple cinnamon date bar and a spinning class at the Y. Then I had more white rice. Breakfast was another raspberry-banana smoothie (no pic), and morning snack was fresh fruit. Oh, and I just happened to walk past Today & Always, our cafe at Crosstown Arts, and our baker had made Vegan Sunbutter & Jam Hand Pies! Not on the plan, but who cares? Had to try this. I split it with my co-worker Madelyn.

Lunch was leftover cowboy chili, and afternoon snack Crackers with Beet Hummus (topped with cukes and radishes).

For dinner, I used the last of last week's baked, oil-free falafel balls to make pita sandwiches (stuffed with beet hummus, tahini, lettuce, and tomato). Terrible photo, but I was hungry! And as you can see from the kitty nose on the right, Polaris was too (he's trying to steal my food!).