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Friday, May 25, 2012

Whats cookin?

Cooking ahead has been one of my latest endeavors.  Make it easy to have as many ingredients at the tips of your fingers for the healthiest choices to happen....right?  It's always when we are hungry and our brains are all "ohhhh, I don't know.....YOU pick!" that things run a muck and what could have been a healthy meal becomes pastry or chocolate or whatever you might pull out of a box or bag that you didn't make yourself.

So I gave up meat a while ago right?  Started to feel even better.   ...funny how you don't realize that you can feel better until you do....  So then I watched all those food documentaries....Food Matters and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. I also watched Engine 2 Kitchen Makeover recently and have been seeing stuff about this diet (in terms of nutrition lifestyle not "I'm going to do this for a few months to lose weight" diet) that this Texas firefighter has written about and researched in test groups.  Go figure that he's the son of the doctor who conducted the China Study mentioned in Forks Over Knives.  He and his family have been eating this way for years and he has lived and intimately known the benefits.  So he is sharing what he knows in very practical down to earth terms.

I feel like I kind of fell into it naturally.  Processed food has been out for quite some time. I took meat out a few months ago. Quit the coffee and gradually ended up reducing dairy to the point where I kinda don't need or miss it - except for those few drops in my black tea...mmmm.

So here I am, eating "plant strong" and feeling better than I realized that I didn't feel.  My energy has started to return and my mind seems clearer, sharper than it has in a long, long time.  I am so much more productive...its kinda crazy.  Though most of my productivity has been in the kitchen.  I don't quite have this cooking ahead thing down to a smooth science terms of planning exactly what I'm going to make and thinking ahead about how much of it I'm going to make.  So I've spent about 3 days in the kitchen this week.  I'm trying to expand my cooking horizon.  Its really learning all over again.  It didn't take much thought to just throw things together before but now....for takes time to really think about not only what to cook but how to cook it.  I'm the only one in the house that is skipping the animal that means I need to make sure that the rest of the family has things that are appealing to them.  Dude hates beans....unless its a green one, his nose is turned up in the most disgusted manner at just the sight of them.  Mr has been fine but is oh so tired of the mexican themed food.   Generally that spice palate is incredibly easy to throw together and I love it.

I've been avoiding the whole label of "Vegan".  Cuz I'm not.  "Vegan" has this more political, environmentalist, fist shaking, yoga doing, save the animals and don't eat anything that casts a shadow, hippy vibe about it.....that it's way more than just about food nutrition.  I'm not a vegan, I just eat like one.  I love my leather boots and I love the leather jackets that I hope to fit back into by fall.  I believe that the cutest of farm animals are generally the tastiest and bacon is still meat candy and I'm sure I will forever call every pig I see, Bacon.   But my body functions better with a vegan diet.  My mind actually works better on a vegan diet...that in and of itself is the greatest blessing.  I still have pain issues and probably always will.  To think...clearly and freely is something that so many people take for granted.  While my brain will never return to the beauty it was at 15 before my car accident, it is a true source of joy to be aware enough, clear enough, to realize that I AM thinking more clearly and quickly.  What a gift the Lord has given us in FOOD!

Clean, God designed, natural food.  For that reason, I will promote eating this way.  Think of the canary that miners brought into the tunnels with them.  The bird was tiny and oh so sensitive to unclean air.  If that bird dropped over they knew they needed to get out of there.  Think of me as the canary in the tunnel of the food world.  Stick to the good stuff.

So what have I been making while spending all this time in the kitchen?
Grilling up tons of peppers and onions.
Peppers and onions have become a wonderful staple.  They grill up and keep so well.  I chop them a bit smaller and put them on rice, salads (who needs dressing with that kind of flavor?), wraps and sandwiches.  
Method: chop peppers and onions of choice (I used green bell and a combo of red and sweet yellow onion),  place a big sheet of heavy aluminum foil on the grill (enough to fold in half so its double layered), lightly spray with olive oil spray or your favorite spray oil to help with sticking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, garlic powder (crushed garlic tends to burn really easily).  If you want to add more zip, try chili powder, chipotle powder, oregano and squeeze a lime over the top near the end.  SO YUM.

Pico de Gallo
Fresh chopped tomatoes, green pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, onion, lemon/lime juice and a bit of salt. SO good!  Put that on salads, wraps and rice bowls.  So fresh, so good, we run out so quickly!
Veggie burgers.
Not something I thought I'd like but wanted to try.  I know that I can't eat the processed ones from the store so I found a recipe...where else but on Pinterest.  These are so easy and so good.  The original recipe calls for what else but chili powder and a mexican flavor.  The first time I made them I followed the directions.  The second time I changed the seasoning a bit and used, garlic, onion, thyme and parsley (all dried). It was wonderful!  Smelled like meatloaf even before I cooked them! YUM.

I have made Vegan Enchiladas with sweet potato and black beans that I am totally in love with. Sorry no pictures.  Make them, you too will fall in love.  I honestly have yet to make the avocado cream sauce simply because I can't get past the amazing filling to even think that it could get any better.  BUT here's a tip: inside your enchiladas, put a little brown rice, some of those grilled peppers and onions and the enchilada filling....and die happy....and healthy. :)

This week I made Banana Oatmeal Cookies to have for breakfast. My alteration was to use diced prunes instead of raisins and I added walnuts. Again, awesomeness. SO yummy and the crunch of the walnut is the perfect addition.  

Last week I even tried non-dairy frozen banana based ice cream.  It turned out wonderful and creamy.  I made strawberry.  I think this could be tweaked to suit your individual sweet tooth and the flavor changed in many ways.  

There are still SO many things to try!  Its all so exciting and a tad overwhelming at the same time but when you feel this good - and over 4lbs falls off without doing a dang thing to make it happen - it is amazingly worth it.  In time I know that I'll figure out a new rhythm and not have to spend so much time in the kitchen. Until then....I think I'll be there a lot.  I really need to find things that Mr will like and mix flavors up a bit for him.  As of now he's not joining me in this Engine 2, vegan, no animals in my food diet adventure BUT he has said "if you make it, I'll eat it".  He loved the enchiladas by the way.  Apparently he forgot there was no meat in them until I reminded him....they are that good.

Have a wonderfully long weekend and I'll keep you up to date on how this is going.  I can't believe there are only 2 weeks left of school....I'm not sure I'm prepared for summer yet!

Blessings for a luxuriously long recharging weekend, filled with memories and fun!
the Mrs.

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