tempeh time

I don’t know what’s worse.  Cleaning the lazy Susan or finding a bag big enough for my army of spices.

But I do know one thing. 

There’s nothing lazy about this Susan.

A green smoothie can fix almost any cleaning job.  Frozen mango, banana, spinach, flax and coconut milk.

Cleaning out the fridge means finding 5-month-old Amy’s BBQ sauce, TJ’s curry simmer sauce and three bottles of half-full Heinz ketchup.  Complete with high fructose corn syrup and all.

It also means finding a use for eggplant, basil and tempeh.  Hmmmm.  What to do, what to do.

Coconut Basil Tempeh

-serves two

  • 1 8 oz. package tempeh
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 3-4 tbsp packed torn basil
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • coconut oil
  • garlic powder
  • sea salt to taste

Prepare marinade by whisking together coconut milk, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, basil and ginger.

Slice tempeh into 1/4 inch slices and place in marinade.  Stir to ensure pieces are evenly coated.  Marinade in refrigerator for at least and hour and up to overnight.  I marinated mine for about 3 hours. Don’t throw away the extra marinade!

While tempeh is marinating, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut eggplant into cubes.  Spray a baking sheet and spread eggplant onto sheet in an even layer.  Spray with oil again and sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder.  Roast for about thirty minutes.

Once tempeh is done marinating, heat oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Cook tempeh for about three to four minutes on each side. Flip once browned.

Serve tempeh over a bed of eggplant. Garnish with fresh basil.  Drizzle with a bit of soy salt and a spoonful of marinade.  Sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder.

The fresh basil and spoonful of coconut marinade really put this over the top.

Happy Monday!

what’s for breakfast?

I’ve been getting lots of questions about breakfast, so today I thought I would show you a day in the life of my beautiful break-the-fast.

I know you guys want something easy, so this four ingredient shake is darn near perfect.

Part 1:

Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake

  • one sliced RIPE frozen bananna
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (from the carton, not can)/organic cow’s milk 
  • 1-2 heaping tbsp  peanut butter
  • 2 ice cubes
  • optional: 2 tsp ground flaxseed, baby spinach
    the goods

Using a blender, blend until smooth and creamy.  I used 1/2 cup coconut milk, but when I want a thick, soft-serve consistency, I use 1/4 cup.  I chose to add the flax and skip the spinach this time.

pre-blend

Have you ever had the RPAC’s delicious peaut butter banana shake?  I have, and it is AMAZING. But I’ve had the 600 calorie price tag, too.  My version has no added sugar and WAY less calories 🙂

thick n' creamy

I usually like something sweet AND something salty in the morning, which explains my next choice.

Part 2:

Spinach and Artichoke  Cheezy Toast

Toast bread.

Spread with yummus.

Sprinkle with nooch (nutritional yeast.

Nooch has some pretty impressive stats.

Nutrients

 

Per 1 heaping tablespoon

Calories

60

Total Fat

1 gram

Carbohydrate

7 grams

Fiber

4 grams

Protein

8 grams

Sodium

5 milligrams

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

640% Daily Value (DV)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

560% DV

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

280% DV

Vitamin B6

480% DV

Folic Acid

60% DV

Vitamin B12

130% DV

Selenium

30% DV

Zinc

20% DV

Now walk your little behind into Whole Foods and get some.  You can read more about it here. I sprinkle it on everything from popcorn and toast to pasta.  Try it on scrambled eggs or anything else you want to cheese-ify. Buy it in the bulk bins or go crazy and buy a whole package.

Now I’m off to Aab for the best Indian food in town.  They have a ridiculously good lunch buffet.


Happy eating!

Spinach and Artichoke Hummus

First I tell you to make a green GLEEn smoothie.

Then green brownies, green cheese, green eggs and ham…

Not exactly.

What’s next? Green hummus?!

Maybe.

Spinach and Artichoke Hummus

-makes about 2 cups

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 6 oz. jar quartered, marinated (in oil) artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup organic baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp oil from artichoke jar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • pinch of sea salt or to taste

    the goods

  1. Remove all the artichokes from jar and place in food processor.  Add 3 tbsp of the marinated oil from jar. 
  2. Combine all other ingredients except spinach in food processor and blend until relatively smooth.
  3. Add in spinach and blend until smooth and creamy ( a few minutes).
pre-spinach

I won’t judge you if you eat the garnish.

In other news, my blog has almost 2,000 views! That makes me a VERY happy hummusapien!  So keep reading, and even better, tell a friend about Hummusapien!  Or two…or three…

And check out the Humbelievable Recipes page under the About page.  Get cookin’! 

Lastly, today I got a question from a reader:

“I am trying to eat breakfast every day because I didn’t used to in the past…But I am SO hungry all morning when I do!  Why?”

My response:

“Eating breakfast is essential to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  It starts up your metabolism so you can burn calories all day.  Sumo wrestlers don’t eat breakfast in order to gain weight…enough said!

Lots  of times I eat breakfast at 7:30am, so by 10:00 or 10:30am, I’m hungry again, and that’s ok.  It may mean I didn’t eat a satisfying breakfast, but that’s not usually the case.  I always eat about every 3 to 4 hours, so my body is used to this pattern, good breakfast or not.
 
Back in the day, I usually would eat some Grape Nuts, Cheerios or Trader Joe’s Bran Flakes with soymilk for breakfast.  I learned quickly that cereal doesn’t keep me full for more than an hour.  Boxed cereal is very processed, doused with sugar and then fortified with the vitamins and minerals lost during processing.  Not ideal.
 
So what’s the solution?  I usually have a green smoothie or oatmeal for breakfast. It always involves nut butter for extra protein. And I pack a banana or a Larabar to eat around 10:30 when I’m hungry again.  For the green smoothie, just slice and freeze a ripe banana over night, then in the morning, blend the banana with 1 or 2 tbsp peanut or almond butter, 1 cup of milk, a couple handfuls of baby spinach, and any frozen fruit you have on hand.  You can add cocoa powder, too if you want.  You won’t taste the spinach and it’s a great way to get your greens in.  Sometimes I add 1/4 cup of rolled oats or oat bran as well for extra protein and fiber.
 
For oatmeal, it’s better to make your own because instant oats are more heavily processed and have lots of added sugars and flavoring.  Cook one serving according to the package and add a sliced, ripe banana while its cooking.  This will sweeten the oatmeal. Try adding some ground flaxseed for extra fiber. When it’s done, top it with 1 or 2 tbsp of nut butter.  If you need it sweeter, add 100% pure maple syrup. You could also stir some egg whites into your oatmeal for extra protein.
 
If you’re thinking that you don’t have time to make oatmeal in the morning, then make a batch in the beginning of the week.  And you could always heat this stuff up in the microwave too!  Also, the smoothies really don’t take long to make.  I allow myself 35 minutes to get ready in the morning, and that includes making and packing my smoothie or whatever breakfast it is.  We all have time to be healthy.
 
Sometimes I really want toast in the morning.  I buy Ezekial 4:9 break–it’s sprouted wheat, and one of the healthiest breads out there with no hidden crap.  It’s always on sale for $2.79 at Whole Foods (in the frozen section) and I just saw it at Kroger for the same price. So no excuses that eating well has to cost a ton! Don’t forget to freeze it or refrigerate it because it has no preservatives.  I toast two pieces of this bread and slather it with peanut or almond butter, a sliced banana and cinnamon.  Each slice has 4 g of protein and 3 g of fiber, so with two slices and toppings (you can make a sandwich), you’re taking at least 12 g of protein 9 grams of fiber.
 
My breakfasts usually have at least 300-400 calories.  But this works for me.  It helps me eat less during the day and stay focused.  Eating 90 calories of refined carbohydrates isn’t the way to start of your day (ahem, special K bar).  Look for a good amount of fiber, protein and healthy fats. 
 
And remember…eating breakfast isn’t extra calories…it’s the energy you need to make it through your entire day!  So make it count.”
 
Do YOU have a question? Email me at hummusapien@hotmail.com and I’ll answer it on the blog!
 

Who ate all my yummus?

Thai Broccoli Slaw

My man Trader Joe is up to no good.

source

First he steals my Saturday afternoons. 

Then he steals my heart.

Then my bank account.

What’s next…my soul?!

TJ’s recently came out with their own almond milk, so it shouldn’t surprise me that they had a coconut milk in the works, too.  This unsweetened milk is divine in smoothies, and the sweetened one would be perfect for cereal.  Coconut is extremely healthy because of its medium chain fatty acids, which unlike other saturated fats, are minimally stored in your body as fat.   In an effort to not talk your ear off, visit livestrong for more details.

Coconut milk AND coconut oil. Oh em gee.

So, what do you do with these lovely ladies?  Well, you can start off my buying the Peas and Thank You cookbook and making her Thai Veggie Burgers.  I cooked these delicious burgers in coconut oil (which is an ideal high-heat cooking oil) and let me tell you– there were no words to describe this crispy, coconutty thai veggie burger.  You should probably just buy the book and taste for yourself. 

with squash sauteed in coconut oil and sea salt...but something is missing...

Then I topped it with my Thai Broccoli Slaw and took it to a whole other level.

Thai Broccoli Slaw

  • 2 cups organic broccoli slaw
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaping tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • sea salt to taste
  • cilantro and crushed peanuts (optional garnish)

    the goods

  1. In a medium pan, heat oil on medium heat.  Add broccoli slaw and sautee for 5-7 minutes, seasoning with sea salt to taste.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth.
  3. Remove pan from heat and pour sauce over slaw.  Stir and quickly pour mixture into serving bowl.  The sauce will stick to the pan if it is heated for too long, but be sure to scrape this off because it is nutty and delicious on top of the slaw 🙂
  4. Garnish with crushed peanuts and cilantro (optional), serve and enjoy!

up close and personal

Still don’t feel like thai veggie burgers and slaw? That’s a little weird. Ok, then try coconut oil instead of butter in your next baking recipe.  Or use it to make the bestest butteriest stovetop popcorn.  Or slather it all over your legs as a natural moisturizer after your shower.

If you don’t bake, eat popcorn, or shower, then make “soft serve” by blending 1/4 cup coconut milk, a chopped and  frozen RIPE banana and 1 tbsp cocoa powder. Throw in a teaspoon of coconut oil if you’re feeling tropical.  

Who cares  if you don’t bake or pop corn?  

So what if you don’t shower?  

But no soft serve?? Come on now.

save a cow, eat a vegetarian

 Two chums were talking at a ballgame and one offered to buy the other a hotdog.

“No thanks,” came the answer. “I’m a vegetarian. I mean, I’ll eat a little white meat, but…”

“Oh, I understand. Hey, I’m no cannibal. I mean, I’ll eat a few white people, but…”

Save a Cow, Eat a Vegetarian

This site is hysterical.

Now let’s talk broccoli.

My dad said he could eat these as a snack during the football game.

He also said that they could be served as an appetizer with some sauce for $7.95.

We all know I could serve him a sock topped with feta and he would think it was the best thing since sliced bread. But hey, he despises feta, so I decided to make him game day broccoli, bbq tofu and garlic pita bread instead.

Game Day Broccoli

  • 2 big bunches of broccoli
  • low-sodium soy sauce
  • garlic powder
  • sea salt
  • canola oil spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and liberally spray with oil.

3. Chop broccoli into individual florets and place onto baking sheet.  Spray with oil.

4. Season liberally with sea salt and garlic powder.  Drizzle with low-sodium soy sauce and toss to coat.

5. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the whole house smells like broccoli.  Serve with other roasted veggies and watch the big game.

**Other roasted veggies: I did the same process for the squash and eggplant, except I sliced the eggplant and cut the squash into chunks.  I omitted the soy sauce for these.  You can roast these at 375 or 400 if you’re in a hurry. Roast until nice and soft!

Don’t be afraid of  my good friend, tofu.  It’s way more scared of you than you are of him.  Broiling tofu gives it a great chewy texture that will make you forget about all the times you cursed yourself for trying tofu.  Thanks Mama Pea for teaching me how to LOVE tofu again!

Broiled BBQ Tofu

it tastes better than it looks, i promise!

-serves 2-4

  • 1 lb. extra firm organic tofu
  • at least 1 cup of your favorite bbq sauce

*I made my own bbq sauce, but you can really use any marinade you want, even salad dressing!

  1. Drain tofu for at least thirty minutes or overnight. (Place between paper towels with a heavy object on top).
  2. Slice tofu into slabs and place in a Tupperware.  Cover with marinade and toss a bit to ensure even coating.
  3. Marinate in fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat broiler.  Place tofu on a greased baking sheet and pour on any extra marinade.
  5. Broil for five-six minutes on each side.

My mom used to make the most amazing garlic bread with Alladin’s whole wheat pita.  It’s light, crispy and delicious. She used butter and sprinkled it with shredded parmesan.  Here is the veganized version 🙂

Garlic Pita Bread

  • 4 whole wheat pitas
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance margarine or organic butter
  • garlic powder
  • sea salt
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Slice pitas in half and then separate pockets, forming four halves out of each whole pita.
  3. Lay pitas on a cookie sheet and spread with Earth Balance. Season liberally with garlic powder and a bit of sea salt
  4. Broil until golden brown.

***

“How many vegetarians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

“I don’t know, but where do you get your protein!?”

I couldn’t resist.

GLEEn smoothie

I love Sue Sylvester.

I also love six-year-olds.

“Did you know one of the Glee people left the show?”

“Really? Which one?”

“The boy who thinks he’s a girl!”

Ohhhh right. Now I’m even more excited to see the Glee movie in 3D today with the kiddies.

In other news, I was recently blessed by the smoothie gods with my brother’s $15 Target blender. I know, big spender. I’m borrowing it. Borrowed perhaps without the intention of returning it.  Add it to the list of why I adore Target (ahem, cheap Amy’s burritos and chocolate larabars).

take that, Vitamix!

I love starting the day with a green smoothie.

I love ending the day with a green smoothie.

Like two nights ago when I drank one during my new favorite movie, The Help (which was amazing).  I was in a huge rush, so I threw everything in sight in this baby blender and called it a night.  When my friend from class saw me at the movie drinking it, she looked at me like I was crazy.

“What is that?!”

“A green smoothie. Try it. I swear you’ll love it.”

Gulp.

“Wait. That’s so good!”

I know, I know.

Gleen Smoothie

-serves one or two

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk/soymilk/organic cow’s milk (I don’t measure the liquid, so start with less and add more if necessary)
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1-2 tablespoons almond butter/peanut butter
  • 1 sliced  and frozen RIPE banana
  • 1/4-1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or unfrozen, but frozen gives a creamier consistency)
  • 1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2-3 ice cubes
Blend and enjoy!

the goods

pre-blending

drinking on the go!

Now go see Glee in 3D.  Because I know you love Sue, too.

hamburger hammocks

Say hello to my little friends.

Oh Whole Foods 365 Organic, how I love thee.

To me, mustard is much more than a condiment. It is a triscuit topper.  A baked beans’ best bud. It steals the spotlight from the hamburger.  Every hummusapien knows that.

I know some weirdos people prefer cheeze whiz or whipped cream as their go to squirtable “condiment”…

But let’s be real.  Mustard blows them out of the water. And so do pickles.

When I eat burgers/hotdogs (or their veggie counterparts), I care way more about the ketch and mustard than I do the meat.  If you offer me a plain burger tempeh, I’m not havin’ it.  

What the HECK is tempeh (tem-pay)? It is a FAB source of vegan protein.  It’s made from fermented soybeans, rice, barley and millet. One serving has a whopping 20 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber.  Did I mention the calcium and iron? Bam.

So today when  three of my favorite foodie friends greeted me in the fridge, I decided that it was up to me to create a recipe that gives them the spotlight that they deserve.  These taste like a cross between sloppy joes and a hamburger with all the yummy condiments mixed in. So come out of the shadows, my friends!  It’s time to shine.

Hamburger Hammocks

-serves two

  • 1 8 oz. package tempeh
  • 1 tsp coconut/canola/olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • ¼ cup ketchup (look for one without high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp worstechire sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp Frank’s hot sauce
  • heaping ¼ tsp chilli powder + more to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat oil on medium heat in a large skillet.  While oil is heating, crumble tempeh in a food processor  (or by hand) until it reaches a crumble.  Set aside and saute onions, garlic and salt until translucent (about five minutes). 

2. Add in tempeh and saute until golden brown (adding more oil if neccesary), about seven-ten minutes.  Roughly tear spinach and stir into tempeh mixture.

3. Prepare sauce by combining the remaining ingredients.  Pour over tempeh and stir until heated through.  Season with salt and lots of pepper.

**Serve on whole grain buns with pickles, or rolled up on pickle slices, or straight up in a bowl sandwiched between pickles.  Don’t forget about the pickles, people!

Hamburger hammocks all the way.

Straight up.

with extra mustard, obviously

Do you want some mustard with that?

trish takes on chicago

Hi foodie friends!

This past weekend I went to Chicago to visit my best friends who are lucky enough to be interning there this summer.  We rode there in style, mega-bus style.  I thought the 6 1/2 hour drive wouldn’t be so bad, since last time I did it I finished not one, but two of the Twilight books. And it was broad daylight. But this time, it was more of a red-eye drive.  We left Cleveland at 1:00am and got to Chi at 6:15am.  Let me tell you, riding the mega-bus at night is no walk in the park.  Even with my ever-so-addicting-BFF-earplugs, I could not sleep.

$1? Really? More like $90!

i’m addicted to CVS earplugs

 It didn’t help that the mega-bus website failed to mention that they don’t believe in heat.  Are you sure the tickets said Chicago?  Because something tells me we’re going to Antarctica.

One decaf Starbucks coffee with soymilk and stevia later, we finally arrived in Antarctica Chicago, the city that never sleeps.  Go figure.

Ok, so NYC is actually the city that never sleeps. But who’s counting?

* * *

The girls took us to Yolk for breakfast. Not the place to go if you’re vegan, as you can tell from the name .  (Unless you’re one of those vegans that maybe eats eggs once in a while, but that doesn’t ring a bell.)  They did have a tempting veggie burger, but it was 7:30am….ew. I split the iron man omelette because it was about the size of my head. Don’t you love when restaurants charge $2 to split something? I sure do.

the iron man: egg white omelette with sliced mushrooms, avocado, tomato, onions, green pepper and salsa

Lunch was great, mostly because it was right next door to the love of my life,  Trader Joe’s. E.leaven was a cute cafe with sandwhiches, salads, breads and pastries.  I got the bean burger, which, according to the oh so credible fella at the restaurant, was made of “pretty much fava beans, chick peas, some other kind of beans, and corn flakes.”

I asked for fruit instead of chips, but of course they still gave me the chips, meaning I ate both the fruit AND chips.

Uh, Corn Flakes? Are you sure you didn’t mean whole wheat breadcrumbs?

Ok, fine.

We saw Chicago’s sights, shopped stared at clothes we couldn’t afford, talked about seeing the Bean but didn’t actually see it, and then…for the first time, I ate a….

CUPCAKE. This is no normal cupcake.

Love at first sight bite.   Sprinkles cupcakes are like delicious cupcakes on steroids.  I love the pristine look of the place–simplicity at its finest.  I feel like I’ve been lied to my whole life.  I had never had a real cupcake before Sprinkles.  Let me tell you, it was worth the wait.  Hands down, best cupcakes I’ve ever had.  Lemon coconut, red velvet (and a vegan version!), dark chocolate, cinnamon sugar, black and white, pumpkin….but my fave was pumpkin and dark choco 🙂

Does that justify spending $42 and then some on cupcakes because we tried to use a gift card that was redeemed six months ago?  Yes.

Does that justify  us eating twelve cupcakes in one weekend, mostly after waking hours? Uh, duh.

SO WORTH IT.

V FOR VEGAN!

Going out at night in Chicago was SO fun.  Add in three best friends?  That’s a recipe for perfection right there!Foodwise,  lunch the next day was  at Oak Street Beach.  It took maybe three days for the food to come, but the veggie tacos minus cheese/sour cream were delish.  

black beans, roasted corn, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole

After a less than 20% tip, the gals and I headed to the beach to snooze.  We then walked to Navy Pier to stare at McDonald’s 50 cent cones and then settle for Starbucks iced coffee instead, obviously.

Dinner consisted of TJ’s spinach and romaine with cucumbers, tomatoes, edamame, and TJ’s champaigne viniagrette. And a hundred handfuls of TJ’s popcorn.  Nothin fancy.

Fast forward to the next day when we downed Chipotle  like we had never seen food before.  I’m addicted to Chipotle’s guac.  And the fact that it’s free with a veggie bowl is like a gift from God.

nothing unusual

So, you may be wondering, who is this  Trish chick?  Trish is the muscle spasm in my back that tried to ruin my day.  It’s this painful little bugger on my scapula that likes to act like she’s gonna go away and then come back and kill me again.  I’m not quite sure why I named her Trish, but it stuck.

Bottom line, Trish was not invited to Chicago.  She sure  knows how to rain on my parade.  Darn you, Trish!

Anyways, dinner that night was DEEEEELISH. We  put on our birthday suits and headed to Kinzie Chophouse.  I didn’t get steak, but hey, my salad was pretty unreal. 

nicoise salad: arugula and radicchio with haricot verts, endive, capers, kalamata olives and potatoes in a shallot vinaigrette

I highly reccommend this place! They make a darn tasty salad, so I imagine that the steaks aren’t bad, either.

My last fabulous meal was at Eleven City Diner. I really love this place–tons of options and a great atmosphere.  

 The veg options on the menu ranged from salads to veggie burgers, but I really wanted something better than a salad with raw vegetables on top.  I wanted to go out with a bang.  So I got the new Balsamic Magic Shroom Burger and it was GREAT!  I know you wouldn’t think that a mushroom could taste that meaty, but let me tell you, this thing really blew me out of the park.

oven roasted balsamic portabello mushroom, pesto, lettuce, tomato, sesame bun, pickle, fries

I already miss Chicago like crazy.  There were tons of vegan/raw restaurants that I wanted to go to, but most of them were far from where we were.  Next time I visit Chicago, I would love to go to one! 

Till then…let’s just hope that Trish doesn’t come anywhere else that she’s not invited.

i have a confession

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been to Organic Energy twice in two days.

Is that normal?  I don’t know.  I don’t care.

 Speaking of twice, I’m blogging twice in one day to catch up on all the eats we’ve missed.  Yesterday was my first day back in sol-town after being in Minnesota.  I had some seriously deelish eats.  No new recipes, though, since I’m leaving for Chicago tomorrow 🙂  And you better believe that’ll be a fabulous food recap!!

The mumsy and I went to my favorite restaurant, Organic Energy (of course) for lunch (twice).   It’s always so hard to decide what I want!  They have unreal salads, rice/noodle bowls, and sandwiches, but best of all are their soups and specials.  Everything is so fresh and homemade. My fave.

I’m doing this thing where I force myself to get something new every time. So this time was the Ganesh Rice Bowl– chickpeas, carrots, spinach, red curry sauce, sprouts and brown rice.  This was soooo good.  Very filling.  The sandwiches always come with a little sampling of black bean salad or whatever salad they have that day, and since I didn’t order a sandwich, I had to ask for one of these babies.  And I was so glad I did.

the side dish of all side dishes

Black beans, red onion, bell pepper, cilantro, zucchini, carrot, you name it!!! It has a dressing of some sort…cumin, olive oil, lime juice I’m guessing?  Hey Tom, if you’re reading, help me out here!!  To. die. for. 

I also asked for two more creamy cilantro dressings to take home because hey, I could eat that stuff with a spoon.  Would you like some salad with that dressing ma’am?

Mumsy got the Greek Isles Salad– feta, red onion, peppers, tomato, cucumber, romaine, organic chicken, and creamy cilantro dressing–DUH.

greek isles salad

I can’t remember a time when my mom didn’t ask for a side of pita break, “toasted, please.”  In OE style, it was whole wheat, obviously.  But this pita bread wasn’t just yo mama’s pita bread.  It’s crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside, perfect texture, and so darn tasty.  I’m determined to find out the brand and then hoard it.

 
If it wasn’t embarrassing enough that I went in there twice already, I then proceeded to order some soup for dinner, so I could grace my belly with three OE meals in a row.  Lucky belly.  I ordered the black-eyed pea soup with collards.  It was loaded with corn, carrots, onions, some kind of grain (cous cous maybe?), collard greens and black eyes peas.  It was so flavorful and truly hit the soup spot.  I love how OE always has at least four homemade soups, and they always change! 
 

Later in the day I ran for twenty minutes at 6 and 7 and was super tired by the end.  I haven’t worked out this summer as much as I should, so I figured that my endurance had gone down.  Then I realized that I was on an incline of 2 the whole time, which made me feel a bit better. I also used my workout as an excuse for why I ate like a truck driver and dinner time. Dinner just kept getting bigger.

bowl o' grapes, leftover black eyed peas and collards soup, spinach salad with roasted almonds and creamy cilantro dressing

Then I was still hungry, so I had a chocolate chip brownie larabar for dessert. Tear it open, put it in the microwave for 15 seconds, and you have the yummiest, healthiest “brownie.”  Keep in mind–this ingredients are dates, chocolate chips, cocoa powder,  walnuts and almonds, so take it with a grain of salt.  The chocolate chip cookie dough ones are also amazing.  Larabars are a great intro to my rant about reading ingredients…

Then, I was still hungry, so I made a PB & J.  Natural peanut butter and strawberry jelly on a  toasted Trader Joe’s whole wheat cinnamon raisin english muffin.  YUM!

Then my friend Natski gave me a mani/pedi FO FREE. It was beautiful 🙂

charged-up cherry. no, those aren’t my nails.

Day #2 at Organic Energy was darn tasty as well. I ordered the Eggless Crepes, filled with potato and green been curry with sambar and coconut basmati rice.  It was superb.  I actually just finished the leftovers (it was huge) and I drizzled it with, you’re never gonna guess…

 
Creamy cilantro dressing.   No picture because my computer is taking forreevvvvverrrrr to upload and I’m getting cranky about it.
 
Anywho, I really want to take a second to talk about reading labels.  First of all, before I forget, get the Fooducate app.  It allows you to scan bar codes of items and then gives it a grade based on its healthfulness.  I love it because a) they have lots of  TJ’s stuff and b) they say that the only thing worth an A would be from a farmer or grown in your backyard.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.
 
I read this article and I strongly encourage you all to read it as well. It’s called “Beware of less than nutritious products from reliable health food brands.”
 

 

Read the article.  Now.

 

If you thought fiber one brownies were too good to be true, you were right.
 
What’s the diff between multi-grain and whole wheat? Unbleached enriched wheat flour (aka white flour) versus whole wheat?  Read the label.  If your box of pasta says multi-grain, it’s not 100% whole wheat.  Heck even if it does say whole wheat, it may only contain it, not be 100%.  If you’re looking for whole wheat, it better be the first ingredient (since they are listed by weight) and it better be the only kind of flour.  Get out of here, enriched wheat flour.  You kinda suck.
 
I am a firm believer in reading the ingredients before I buy anything.  Except apples and banners and all other fresh produce (unless it’s bagged or in a can with funky preservatives and sugary syrups) because GUESS WHAT?
 
 They is what they is.  Nothin’ in an apple but an apple.
 
You may read the label of a larabar and see 23 grams of sugar.  If you only read the nutrition facts, you would probably steer clear of that sugar laden devil.  But if you read the INGREDIENTS, you’ll see that there is no sugar, agave, brown rice syrup, evaporate cane juice, or whatever–the sugar comes from the dates. In other words, the bar is sweetened with fruit that won’t spike your blood sugar like crazy.  If the first ingredient were agave nectar, then I wouldn’t buy the bar. 
 
If an apple had a label, it would say something like 16 grams of sugar.  HOLY COW! I could have a scoop of ice cream for that!  But keep in mind that this isn’t added sugar.
 
Be wary of claims on packaged foods.  If it’s boasting about all the fiber and protein it has, then it probably isn’t that great.  You don’t see avocados bragging about their healthy fatty acids, do you?
 
Read every book by Michael Pollan.  The guy is a genious.
 
It’s not as hard as it sounds.  If it comes in a box, read the ingredients.  It doesn’t matter if it has ten grams of protein and six grams of fiber.  Because guess what?  The other day I looked at the label of a can of “all white meat” chicken noodle soup and saw soy protein hiding as an ingredient.  You better believe that it’s GMO and you better believe that the protein isn’t coming just from “all natural” chicken.  Companies spend millions trying to convince us that their product is healthy. Don’t fall for it.
 
Look at Land-o-Lakes butter.  The regular version has two ingredients: cream and salt.
 
You may have picked up the light version, thinking it’s better because the front says less fat and calories.  There are about fifteen  ingredients in the light version, and a few that you can’t pronounce unless you’re majoring in chemistry. Butter isn’t naturally “light.”  You have to mess with it and add chemicals to make it that way.
versus
 
I’m really not trying to hate on Land O Lakes; I’m just trying to make a point. Lite isn’t always better.  Lite lemonade, for example, usually just has an artificial sweetener.  Light and Fit yogurt?  Well, have you ever wondered how it’s so much lighter? You guessed it–aspartame (an artificial sweetener).
 
So, read the ingredients my people!! Or you don’t know what the heck you’re eating.
 
 
________________________________________________________________
P.S.  I am NOT a registered dietitian (yet); these are just my personal views 🙂 
 
 
 

Gettin’ jiggie in Bemidji

Hola chicos! It’s been too long.  Sorry about the lack of blogging…this weekend I traveled to good ol’  Bemidji, Minnesota for Nikki’s family reunion.  Let me tell ya, Minnesota ain’t so mini.

 On the plane, there wasn’t much shut eye and there wasn’t much peeing, but there was lotsa noshing. Snackies for the five hour plane ride were a given.  I munched on Trader Joe’s 100% whole wheat pretzels, some Larabars, apple crisps, and some nanner.

BAAAAACK up.  I should probably mention the humbelievable snack that Nikki Lu had waiting for me when I got to her house the night before we left.

like coming home to warm apple pie, hummusapien style

 Kale and black eyes peas (beanz n’ greenz) with some sorta sauteed zucchini. Plus a peach the size of my head.  The girl knows me too well.

Breakfast was delish, made by Nikki’s mom. 

oatmeal with whole flax seeds, dried cherries and raisins WITH a smoothie

The oatmeal was awesome, and the smoothie had about every fruit known to man in it: grapes, pineapple, banana, blueberry, raspberry, etc.

We stopped at Mall of A-murrr-ica for some Nordstrom Rack fine dining.  Wasn’t the healthiest, I must admit. I got an arugula salad with sweet corn, tomatoes, balsamic and shrimp, skip the cheese.  I don’t usually eat fish, but if I picked a veggie option on the menu it would have been literally just veggies (no beans, legumes, tofu, NADA), so I opted for the protein.  Good thing I did, since a chicken dinner night on the trip led me to finding a VERY vegetabley dinner.

vegan? I doe HEE hoe (Rat Race anyone?)

Eating well in Bemidji was tough at times, I must admit.  Luckily, we found a few hot spots, including a mini farmer’s market and a fabulous little cafe called The Cabin Coffeehouse & Cafe.  How did I find a healthy eating joint in the middle of mini soda? Well, I googled “healthy food Bemidji” of course! And looked what popped up!  A cute little cafe with tons of vegan options as well as meaty ones for the rest of the gang.  Perfecto.  We went there a couple of times throughout the trip to satiate the crying/trying vegan inside me.  The first time I got the vibrant salad, and by large, they meant XXXXL. It was a hugh jass salad for real.  Gigantenormoushuge.

field greens with shredded carrots, red onion, tomatoes, grapes, raisins, cucumber, sunflower seeds and almonds with Bragg's ginger sesame dressing

Other good eats from the Cabin Cafe included a tempeh wrap with marinated tempeh, lettuce, tomato, onion and hummus on an ezekiel wrap.  It hit the spot but was a pretty ugly sandwhich, so no picture.  I also had some root vegetable soup and an iced coffee with soymilk and stevia.   I was SO proud of Nikki when she ordered the…

It was awesome.  I also loved this place because the kids menu choices came with carrot sticks, tortilla chips, and 100% fruit juice.  Very impressive.

The Farmer’s market eats weren’t too shabby either.  They had loads of fresh zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, gluten free baked goods, and pickled asparagus.

teeny tiny

 We may or may not have ate our weight in raspberries.

We also tried a gluten free blueberry muffin, made with almond flour and sweetened with only fruit/fruit juice. It was super moist..meaning it had a good bit of oil to make up for the lack of refined sugar, but it was deeelish!

And that’s Minnesota for ya!

Anywho….current eats: TJ’s whole grain pretzels with YUMmus.

Current read: Skinny Bitch

Have you read Skinny Bitch? If you haven’t, you should.  I’m not gonna lie–in a way, it changed my life. I first read it back in Hilton Head last year, when I told my friends, “It’s really interesting, but I mean I would never be a vegetarian.” I remember saying it with such confidence.  Oh the irony.

A couple months later, in Israel, I became “vegetarian.”  I still ate fish once in a while, though.  And I may or may not have enjoyed a bit of turkey on Thanksgiving.  But during the year, I never ate chicken/pork/red meat.  And fish was very rare. Forgive me, veggie gods!! 

Next thing I know,  I’m swapping cow’s milk for almond milk or soy milk, butter for Earth Balance, making my own hummus, and exploring the world of vegan cooking in my little college apartment.  I even found the love of my life, a man named Joe.  Trader Joe.  Good thing my roomies love vegan chocolate chip zucchini muffins.  And good thing they don’t notice the difference when I sub unsweetened applesauce for oil.  Sneaky sneaky.

Now I can’t live with out vanilla unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter, baby spinach, bananas, hummus, black beans, quinoa, tofu and Amy’s.  Who would have ever thought?  Not me.

I’ve learned that you never know where your passion will take you.  I always loved nutrition, but now I study it, live it, breath it every day as I discover more and more about being the healthiest I can be.  Yes, I ate pan-fried walleye in Minnesota.  Yes, Nikki and I shared (and finished) a large cheese pizza a couple weeks ago at 2 am.  And yes, if I go to Jeni’s ice cream, you better believe I’m gonna eat it.  I’m not the perfect vegan/vegetarian, but I’m not living for a label.  I eat cleanly 95% of the time, and when I don’t, I have no regrets.