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Friday, May 28, 2010
I love Tex Mex food (almost as much as I love a good margarita) and actually I've found that homemade Mexican inspired cuisine can be both healthy and vegan :) As much as I enjoy cooking, when I finally get home around 7:30-8pm after work, long commute, and working out-I'm often exhausted and just want to eat without much fuss or energy. Therefore I'm always on the prowl for yummy healthy and fast recipes/meal inspirations. And I present to you Lazy Gal's Mexican Black Bean Soup based on this recipe from the Happy Herbivore.
- 15.5 oz can black beans
- 16 oz jar salsa
- 4 oz can of green chilies
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 cup water
- Place all ingredients into medium sauce pan
- Blend using immersion blender
- Heat then eat!
This yummy soup is quick, easy, and healthy. If you don't have an immersion blender, heat the ingredients on the stove then transfer sections to your blender or you can leave it chunky. Makes about four servings (depending how much you want to eat at once).
I ate this paired with one of my Mexican fiesta salads:
Spinach, yellow summer squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, silken tofu blended with salsa (fabulous dressing)
This meal is both satisfyingly delicious and very healthy (key after a good workout) with ample amounts of protein (tofu and black beans) plus a gazillion veggies. Blending silken tofu with salsa (and other liquids-I've done balsamic vinegar and Bragg's liquid aminos) creates a great salad dressing filled with protein!
Do you have any quick recipes for those busy night when you don't feel like cooking??
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Now I might be a horrible vegan BUT my brothers and father are not about to eat my tofu hot dogs. So when I cook for my family, I often cook meat and other animal products. But I do my best to make healthy meals that my brothers and father will enjoy. For my meat eating readers here is one of my favorite recipes to make for the boys: Pizza Biscuit Casserole
- Fat free or low fat refrigerated biscuits
- 1 (or 2) jars favorite pizza sauce
- Fat free or low fat mozzarella cheese
- Ground beef (turkey, soy crumbles, etc)
1. Open biscuit dough and cut into quarters and place in a 9x13 dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cover entire bottom of dish.
2. Pour jars of pizza sauce over cut up biscuits.
3. Add ground beef (browned)
4. Top with mozzarella then bake at 375 F for 30 minutes or until the sauce bubbles/the cheese has melted.
Voila! Very simple and quick casserole that's a crowd pleaser. My family loves pizza but this casserole puts a new twist on the pizza pie. I round out the meal with some green beans sautéed with garlic plus I make my brothers pick a piece of fruit too (typically banana or strawberries). This can be incredibly "healthified" by using ground turkey or soy crumbles and fat free mozzarella plus if you're a vegetarian you can use soy crumbles and you've got a yummy vegetarian main dish. On nights when I cook for my Dad and brothers I will just whip up something else for me to eat that's vegan friendly.
Do you ever make multiple meals to please every member of your family? And if you are a vegan/vegetarian do you ever prepare meat or animal products for the non veggies in your life?
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I've been in a massive food rut for the past couple of weeks. It's been salad after salad after salad. And while I absolutely love and adore massive amounts of veggies, I'm getting bored of the same meal. So one of my coworkers told me about Bragg Liquid Aminos which he told me has a similar taste to soy sauce/tamari. I decided to research the importance of amino acids in a healthy diet. According to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the University of Arizona, amino acids are the building blocks of protein and proteins regulate almost all cellular activity (aka we could not live without protein). Humans can only produce 10 of the 20 essential amino acids necessary for human life. Therefore, humans must consume the other 10 essential amino acids EVERY SINGLE DAY from food because humans do not store amino acids. Plants have all the necessary enzymes to produce all essential amino acids therefore the soybean based Bragg liquid is an excellent source of non animal meat amino acids. With this knowledge, I marched off to Whole Foods and purchased a spray bottle of Bragg Liquid Aminos to create a fabulous stir fry with these other ingredients:
Tofu Shirataki Noodles, frozen stir fry vegetables, baby spinach, 1 serving lite firm tofu, and Bragg Liquid Aminos
Which became this:
I love me some aminos :) I spritzed some Bragg Liquid Aminos on my veggies, tofu, and noodles. I did not miss sodium packed soy sauce plus I definitely consumed the 10 amino acids that I can't produce plus the extra 6 aminos that I can produce. I hope my proteins are happy!
Now I can eat a bowl of oats and banana every single day especially with some chia seeds and dark chocolate dreams (it's like dessert for breakfast). But I've been getting hungry less than an hour later. I drink plenty of water (and coffee...trust me, don't come between me and my coffee) so I don't think hydration has been the problem. So I decided to experiment with protein powder so I searched my blogs and discovered on Jarrow Brown Rice Protein Powder from the Fitnessita:
I added 2.5 T (55 calories, 12 grams protein) plus 1 tsp chia seeds to my oatmeal mixture along with a huge banana for some fructose sweetness and potassium. I'll keep y'all posted how the protein powder effects my morning hunger.
Do you ever fall into a food rut and how do you climb out? Any suggestions for filling additions to my oatmeal?
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I'd like to thank you all for your wonderful comments, emails, texts, etc. I shared my story and my struggle to open a window into some of the "hidden" truths in food blogging. Personally, when I read certain blogs, I allow myself to feel like a failure for not eating kale (24/7) or train for marathons or owning a Vitamix. I love the fresh taste of a spinach smoothie but I NEVER feel full after drinking one. I mainly wanted to share my story to "clear the air" and help anyone struggling with food/body image (etc) realize that he/she is not alone. I struggle almost everyday to love my body. So please if you are struggling, remember that a number is just a number and beauty flows through all of us whether we use Stevia or Splenda in our coffee. Again thanks :) And if you have more questions for me, please email me or comment on one of my posts.
If I could write songs, I'd write my own Ode to Joy to the wonderful Open Kitchen Bistro in Falls Church. What makes Open Kitchen so amazing:
If I could write songs, I'd write my own Ode to Joy to the wonderful Open Kitchen Bistro in Falls Church. What makes Open Kitchen so amazing:
- Wonderful/friendly service who doesn't look utterly confused when you state that you are a vegan and really don't want another salad
- A menu with items that are vegan and/or easily veganized
- Gorgeous decor and patio-perfect for the crisp Spring night
- Pot of tea for $3.50
- Vegan (and non vegan) cooking classes
On a beautiful Spring night here in the lovely DC metro area, my friends and I decided we needed a good meal ASAP preferably in VA so we could all drive with outdoor seating and a restaurant where vegan food would not be a salad without the cheese and meat. And Open Kitchen Bistro seemed the perfect restaurant. I started with a chamomile citrus tea that arrived in this:
(my own teapot...adorable)
And for my meal I had this:
Vegan Zucchini and Basil Soup
Quinoa Vegetable Medley
I absolutely loved the soup! The accent of basil with the pureed zucchini left me wanting another bowl or two. I gobbled the soup up in 3 seconds and then started analyzing the quinoa vegetable medley which upon first sight disappointed me. I thought that a vegetable medley would include more vegetables than a couple pieces of carrots and onions (which I love but do not agree with my poor tummy). Then when I took my first bite, my suspicions were confirmed. The quinoa and veggies had no flavor. I'm a spice girl (lol...I'd be Garlic Spice) and the quinoa just tasted boring and bland to my overly seasoned tastebuds. So instead of eating dull quinoa I decided to snap pictures of my friends' meals (which I didn't sample as nothing about them were in the neighborhood of vegan).
Herb crusted Tuna Burger with side salad and homemade chips
Both dishes smelled wonderful and both of my friends were in love with their dishes. Since I didn't enjoy the quinoa, I didn't eat it (why waste my calories) so my friend V. took them home for her lunch the next day. However I'm planning on returning soon to sample some of the other vegan options including a cauliflower steak...yummm :) And Open Kitchen also offers vegan cooking classes. I'm going to attend a Vegan Indian cooking class later this month. Though the quinoa disappointed me, I LOVED Open Kitchen because of the great service, numerous options, and decor (sorry no pics this time). I will definitely be back soon!
Has anyone ever had difficulty ordering food at restaurants? I hate when my family wants to go to steakhouses for dinner. I've even hidden a PB&J sandwich in my purse to supplement the iceberg lettuce I always get served.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
*Warning: this blog post will address some very personal issues regarding weight, weight loss, etc. So if you are sensitive to this subject please skip this post*
As a food blogger and avid reader of numerous health/food blogs, I've decided that I need to be completely honest in regards to my body image, my health, and my mental attitude in regards to food/exercise. As I mentioned in a previous post, I've lost over 100lbs over the past four years yet I didn't mention my obsession with food and exercise. It's nearly impossible for me to remember a time in my life that I didn't struggle with body image. I struggled with being overweight for most of middle and high school even though I swam regularly and ate fairly healthy for a teenager. I could never be that teenage girl who could eat french fries and still be thin. The idea that I couldn't eat like my friends completely boggled my mind until I joined Weight Watchers after my freshman year in college when I discovered that all metabolisms are not created equal.
Though I weighed my heaviest in high school, I faced the most emotional trauma in middle school. I had a girl cut my hair and write nasty things in school notebooks because she thought I was fat even though I fell within the healthy range for my height and age. By the time I reached high school I still struggled with weight by constantly being on a diet in public while eating ice cream and candy in my bedroom increasing my emotional dependence on food. By my senior year, I weighed close to 200lbs (190lbs according to my physical at the beginning of my senior year) yet I would eat salad for lunch then come home and eat an entire bag of Starbursts. I overcompensated my unhappiness by allowing "friends" to walk all over me because I felt unworthy of friendship or love because of my weight.
I graduated from high school and started attending Virginia Tech where I began heavy drinking on the weekends and daily ice cream trips to one of the dining halls. Unlike numerous colleges, Virginia Tech is known for having fantastic food. So after one semester (and my senior year of high school) I had gained another twenty five pounds. I would go through phases of unhealthy eating then crying to my best friend about how I hated my body and being fat. Finally she told me she didn't want to hear me complain anymore until I did something about being overweight. That day I went to the gym in my dorm and told myself I would do at least 30 minutes of cardio. I spent the entire semester working out and loosing almost 10lbs just by exercising. That summer my mother and I joined Weight Watchers and I began my journey to learning how to eat to live not live to eat.
Fast forward to present day, I'm a vegan (with occasional soda indulgences) who exercises 5-6 days a week. You'd think I'm much healthily than the girl who joined Weight Watchers almost five years ago but unfortunately I'm not. At 5'4, I weigh (fully clothed and having eaten several meals) only 110lbs, 89.4lbs of muscle and my body fat is only 14.9% (the minimum healthy body fat percentage for women under 40 is 20%). Because my body fat and weight are so low, my metabolic age is 12 (and I'm 23) which has caused some other complications since I'm physically 12. My bone mass is 4.8lbs which is barely considered healthy 110lbs and under (healthy is 4.3lbs though if you weigh over 110bs you should have 5.3lbs of bone mass). In fact the only healthy number is my percent body water which is 62.6% which means I currently receive all my minerals, nutrients, etc. As a matter of fact, my iron level is incredibly high for a twenty something female due the massive amounts of spinach I consume on a daily basis. My biggest problem is I eat the right foods I just don't eat enough of them.
I've transitioned from eating food for comfort to being terrified of what food will do to my body. When you've lost any amount of weight, the idea that you have to gain weight and actually eat fat is terrifying. After dieting for five years I can't shut up the inner voice in my head that's mentally counting calories and freaking out over highly fattening foods even ones that are good for you like avocados, nuts, etc. I can't handle hunger when I get hungry because I have no fat reserves. I've allowed myself to become so hungry that it hurt to thiuk. It makes me feel like a hypocrite to blog about healthy eating when I know I'm not healthy.
Slowly I'm working on my food issues and trying to listen to my body cues. I've had cycles of binge eating where I'd blindly eat half a jar of peanut butter in a matter of minutes not realizing that I ate that PB because my body NEEDED that fat. But with the help, love, and support from my family and close friends, I'm working on being okay with eating and loving my body. I have to eat when I'm hungry, eating is not a reward for intensive exercise. It's okay that I'm hungry and it's okay to eat when I am hungry especially if I'm eating healthy and nutritious whole foods (and I don't have to eat a salad for every meal). My body loves me and now I need to learn to love my all of body. I'm going to take it one day at a time realizing that some days will be better than others but I've wake up every morning appreciating my body and what it does for me.
If you struggle with body image or weight loss or another type of "eating disorder" please contact a health care professional or a close family/friend for help. I've shared my story because I hope I can help someone who has struggled like me. You are NOT alone. The National Eating Disorders Association website has numerous resources for individuals struggling with ED or friends/family members who believe that a loved one is struggling with an ED. Or if you would just like to talk to someone feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some pictures that document my "weight" story over the past couple of years:
My senior year of high school (Spring 2004-195lbs)
My junior year of college (Spring 2007-160lbs)
My senior year of college (Spring 2008-140lbs)
Spring 2009 (120lbs)
Spring 2010 (110lbs)
Right now I'm trying not to focus on a specific number but my body. When I'm no longer metabolically 12 and my body returns to one of a woman, I know I'll be at a healthy weight.
Again, I've shared my story because like many other girls, women, and even men, I struggle everyday with loving myself and loving my body. I want you to know that you are NOT alone in your struggles. And you ARE beautiful regardless of numbers or pant sizes. Food is not your enemy, it's necessary for life. If you're struggling with body image or food or exercise, please contact someone (even me) if you want to talk about it. As corny as it sounds, the first step is always admitting/realizing you might have a problem and then talking about it with someone close to you.
And since I've been so mean to the poor girl in the pictures I've shown you in this post, I've apologized because I'm still that girl with a little less body fat but with the same beauty, intelligence, and integrity that I've always had.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
It's almost Friday...THANK GOODNESS!! Any exciting plans for the weekend?
Thank you all for the positive feedback from my last post. I think that like every single woman (and some men) I struggle with maintaining a positive self body image. It's difficult when the girl on the treadmill is sprinting twenty thousand times faster than you or your friend maintains her "perfect" figure while still eating chocolate or you're in the fitting room trying to find a pair of pants that actually fit you. In those situations, I have to mentally check out for a few moments and focus on my body and realize all the wonderful things my body does for me. I might not run as fast as the girl on the treadmill next to me but my body carries farther and faster than I ever thought possible. I might just have to take Stacy and Clinton's advice and start getting my pants tailored or wear dresses every day :)
I don't maintain my "girlish figure" with pounds of chocolate but my body adores all the fruits and vegetables and oatmeal that I eat every day.
LOL...I couldn't resist :)
Speaking of wonderful food, since my new conversion to veganism (two weeks on Sunday), I've been becoming more adventurous in the kitchen. After searching my favorite blogs I discovered an interesting recipe from one of my favorite vegan blogs: Happy Herbivore. Here's an ingredient teaser...
Any good guesses???
I made Lindsay's Mock Tuna Salad. But since I'm only so ambitious I altered her recipe to my tastes and lack of desire to make yet another trip to the grocery store (as in some days I've gone to Whole Foods twice due my lack of proper planning).
- 15 oz can garbanzo beans
- 1 large carrot
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 T yellow mustard
- 1 T soy sauce
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Place in food processor and pulse until no whole beans remain.
- Remove skin from carrot and shred using a cheese grater (perfect for grating veggies)
- Mix carrot and garbanzo beans. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Refrigerate for a couple hours to let flavors intensify (or eat right away like I did). Makes about 4 1/2 cup servings.
Here how I ate one (or two...) of my servings:
"Tuna salad" on a whole grain La Tortilla shell with a massive pear and massive salad...yuuuuum.
Do you ever alter recipes? I try to make recipes with ingredients that I have and sometimes the results are quite comical but I still eat them mainly because I hate wasting food. Also have you ever tried the "mock" meats, etc?