Yes. Another New Diet.

>> Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm eating protein like it's my job, people. Which, actually, it sort of is. As my mileage has increased with my half marathon training plan, I haven't been doing the best job keeping pace nutritionally. Instead, I was going back to my usual sugary + carb-loaded mainstays and riding the whole wave of sugar HIGH, sugar CRASH.

Eggs in the morning help.

You know, I had been eating brownies for lunch and the like -- when I should be eating this stuff instead. It happens. More than I'd like to admit. (Yes. I never learn.) But I keep it real on this space. I eat tons of healthy, delicious foods and write up simple recipes. That's true. But I also eat tons of crap. For whatever reason, I haven't been able to find balance for the long haul. Still.

After writing about my diet multiple countless times on the blog and getting a variety of reactions, I want to keep it all a bit more neutral this time around. No, I didn't lose those extra pounds that were irking me the last time around . . . I lost a few, the weather continued its downward spiral, and I gained them all back in comfort foods. As well, life has gotten so much busier with the house stuff, work stuff, and other stuff -- the number on the scale just isn't as much my priority right now.

Drinking water is!

I fit in my clothes (yeah -- a bit tighter, but still can wear them). Energy, though, definitely is where I'm focused these days. It seems like when the clouds parted and the sun finally came out, I found that my energy funk wasn't as winter-related as I thought. I found myself sitting inside one warm afternoon not really wanting to venture outside (it definitely looked like one of those sad commercials -- cue depression speculation, but I assure you -- I'm not depressed!) . . . and then I realized I hadn't had any water to drink and that my breakfast was inadequate.

You know. Rookie mistakes. And I'm no rookie.

I think what I struggle with most with my eating is just employing all the tricks and techniques I know work, but in the long-term. I'm at least a few of you can relate. It's like I know what to eat and what to do, but after the novelty wears off . . . the sticking power is gone. I also have so many vices!

Knowing that I'm gearing up for pregnancy number two has really kicked my butt into gear. I want to get my nutritional stores up for the demands of a future pregnancy and to benefit a future baby, but also for my own quality of life.

Basically, I'm giving myself this last attempt to eat well before I seek professional help. Yup. I do think if I can't get my energy levels up and eating habits stable, I'd like to have someone tell me what to do for my specific body/activity level. I'm no expert, and most of us aren't -- so I think it might be worthwhile. My own confusion and frustration for fueling an active lifestyle on a vegetarian diet definitely shows.

This time around, though, I definitely feel different going in. I think it's because I've just told myself "this is it . . . you need to figure it out once and for all." At least I think that's why it's different. I feel additional motivation because of all my failed attempts. I see people able to stick with their plans all around me, so why not ME? Why not NOW?

We'll see what happens. As always, I love sharing bits and pieces of what's going on in my life on the blog. I'll continue to share those tasty recipes I'm mixing up (they've been getting healthier, have you noticed? The metamorphosis is happening!). You might also notice a bit of a shift as I work to bring out the full nutrition in my meals -- all while trying to keep it on budget. I'm actually excited to stop eating so much homemade pizza (but don't worry -- that's not totally going away!).

What this all means for you is more recipes, healthier recipes, more exploration of new foods, and more commentary from -- perhaps -- a similarly minded person trying to wade through those murky waters to better nutritional health.

// My favorite recipe so far? 

Yesterday's (first) lunch! I've been eating smaller, more frequent meals to see how that's working for keeping sugars stable. I can't begin to describe how awesome this bowl tasted. Please try it and let me know what you think!

Whisk together:

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt + 1 tablespoon cocoa powder + 1 teaspoon maple syrup + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth. Then top with 1/2 cup granola (I used PBJ from Nature Box) and sliced strawberries.

Nutrition (depending on granola used): 387 calories, 46 carbs, 12 grams fat, 32 grams protein, 26 grams sugar.

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Spinach Zucchini Pesto with Walnuts

>> Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Continuing with our zucchini theme this week -- I bet you didn't think I could possibly have another pesto recipe up my sleeve. Pesto has definitely become my favorite spread over the last several years. And ever since I discovered I could make it without any cooking or basil or whatever else I used to use with more traditional recipes -- I've been mixing it up weekly.

This is a great recipes to make with leftover zucchini and spinach!

Use up veggie leftovers in this zesty pesto!

What you'll need . . . 
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 1-1/2 cups grated)
  • 1/2 cup spinach (you could sub in other greens, like kale, too)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • water to achieve desired consistency
Method . . .
  1. Put all ingredients -- except water -- in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Then add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

* Vegans can experiment with using nutritional yeast to substitute. I would have done it, but we're out + have some parmesan leftover.

In all, this recipe mixes up about 2 cups of pesto. We used ours in some delicious Pumpkin Pesto Rolls last night. Today we might use the rest atop pizza. It's tasty spread on sandwiches, in French toast, and so on.


Vegan + Gluten Free Zucchini Burgers
Vegan Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Pesto + Avocado Sauce (Video!)
Pumpkin Pesto Rolls
Garlic Scape + Swiss Chard Pesto, 2 Ways
Steamed Pesto Dumplings
Pesto Pizza Dough
Baby Kale Pesto
Walnut Basil Pesto
Basil-Pesto French Toast
Pesto French Toast, II -- with Avocado Butter
Pesto Quiche with Oatmeal Crust
Pesto Garlic Knots
Pesto Portabella Sandwiches
(Pesto) Smothered Mother

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Zucchini Burgers // Vegan + Gluten-Free

>> Tuesday, April 15, 2014

See a trend? I can't promise I'll be able to swing it every week -- but I'm trying to offer up some tasty recipes that make use of the same ingredients in different ways. And I also like if I can make meals and treats using ingredients primarily purchased at Aldi.

Yesterday was delightfully vegan Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.


Makes 6-8. Vegan. Gluten-Free. Delicious.

What you'll need . . .
  • 1-1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 white onion, diced or grated
  • 1 can beans (I used white beans) -- drained + rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons flaxmeal
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower kernels
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika + chipotle seasoning (or other spices)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Method . . .
  1. Pulse the beans in your food processor a few times. Alternatively, you can roughly mash with a fork. You want them mushy, but not pureed like hummus.
  2. Then combine all ingredients in a large bowl. You can use a big spoon or even your hands. Just mix until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Then take palmfuls of the "dough" and form 6-8 patties. 
  4. Place patties on a plate (wax paper is optional) and refrigerate for an hour or more to help firm up. I actually found the burgers we left in the fridge overnight did better.*
  5. Then heat some olive oil in a fry pan on your stove top and cook on both sides until browned.

* Since this recipe doesn't have flour or oats or any other type of grain, it is a bit mushier when cooked. However, if you don't press the burgers down flat while cooking, they keep their shape nicely. Worth it for a true veggie burger sans fillers -- IMO.

Slap between slices toasty bread.

Top with salsa, avocado, or whatever else you desire!

Maybe some Baby Kale Pesto?

Much to my surprise, salsa and mustard make a winning combination! I love these burgers because they are light and seedy. I don't know what it is, but I have a thing with seeds lately. So, feel free to substitute any ingredients you have on hand.

* means VEGAN

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