Top 10 List for Weight Loss

Start your day the right way.

My Top Ten List (in no particular order)

1. Our body needs a “balance” of healthy fats (Minimum of 10-20% of total calories), complex carbohydrates (55% of total calories), and complete proteins (less than <35% of total calories).  (Percentages from WHO and The Institute Of Medicine)

Examples:
a. Grapeseed Oil, Walnuts, Flax Seeds, and Avocados are examples of healthy fats.
b. Brown Rice, Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, are examples of complex carbohydrates.
c. Quinoa, Soybeans, Hemp-seed, and Chia are examples of complete proteins (contain all 9 essential amino acids and must come from food).

2. If you choose to eat meat, think of it as a condiment. Most people exceed their protein requirements by as much as 50%.

3. Do not eat after bedtime. Give yourself at least 12 hours of not eating. Your body needs time to do things other than digest food.

4. Begin everyday with at least 20 ounces of room temperature lemon water.  I add half a lemon and a pinch of sea salt.  You wake up dehydrated and water helps flush toxins, stimulates your metabolism, and increases blood flow to the brain.  The lemon helps keep your body alkaline and the sea salt helps you retain the water.

5. Stay far away from processed man-made foods. Processed foods are high in calories, fat, salt, and sugar. And are low in vital nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

6. Eat organic. This is one of my absolutes. Organic food is grown in nutrient rich soil, making the plants strong and disease resistant. In other words, they do not need pesticides, artificial fertilizers or fungicides.

7. Eat whole foods. While juicing can be a good way to get the vital nutrients, you lose the fiber that is necessary for regulating blood sugar and cleansing the digestive system.

8. Sometimes a simple change in perspective is all that is needed. Think of the word “diet” as a noun and not a verb. Dieting as a verb implies restriction. Instead, say, “These are the foods I have in my diet.” Do not say, “I can’t have that, I am dieting.”

9. As much as 80% of weight loss begins at the plate, not the gym. While exercise is vital to a healthy lifestyle it’s not necessarily vital for weight loss.

10. Healthy eating is a lifestyle, and it takes time to accomplish. Small changes lead to big changes. The key is to keep making those changes.

Mushroom Wellington

This recipe is an adaptation of two recipes that each had something that I needed!  “The New York Times version” had butternut squash, wine, and cheese, but it wasn’t vegan.   The “Delicious Everyday” recipe had the ONIONS!  But it didn’t have the butternut squash, white wine, or the cheese!  Trust me on this.  Also, it was her beautiful photograph that inspired me to make this amazing dish!  I have included the link to the cheese that I am making.  If you have a Whole Foods nearby, or are lucky enough to have access to Kite Hill or Miyoko’s Creamery cheeses at your local grocery, then by all means, go for it!

Mushroom Wellington

Vegan-Mushroom-Wellington-recipe
Photograph Via “Delicious Everyday”

SQUASH:

  • 1 small butternut squash (1 1/4 pounds or 18 oz), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (You can buy fresh pre-cut in many groceries!)
  • 4 Tbsp Vegan Butter
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ⅛ tsp smoked sweet paprika or regular paprika
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, or more to taste

ONIONS:

  • 3 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

MUSHROOMS & SPINACH:

  • ¾ pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300 g baby spinach (10 1/2 Oz)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 (14-to-16-ounce) package puff pastry
  • 1 cup crumbled vegan goat cheese (go here to make your own) http://www.landsandflavors.com/basic-almond-cheese/
  • Vegan egg wash (see below)
  1. Preheat a very large skillet over Medium-high heat; add 2 tablespoons butter (the other 2 Tbsp will be for the mushrooms). Add the squash in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. (If squash won’t fit in a single layer, cook it in batches). Stir and continue to cook until squash is golden, 7 to 10 minutes more. Stir in the syrup, thyme, paprika and 1/4 tsp salt; cook one minute. Scrape mixture into a bowl.
  2. Place a large frying pan over a low to medium-low heat. Add the ½ Tbsp of olive oil followed by onion and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Keep an eye on the onions to make sure they don’t burn.
  3. Remove the onions from the pan and return the pan to the heat. Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from the baby spinach from the pan and leave to cool.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium and melt the remaining butter in the skillet. Stir in garlic, cook 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and ½ tsp salt. Cook until mushrooms are soft and their juices evaporate, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until the mixture is dry, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pepper and parsley. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, unwrap the puff pastry. Cut into 2 “5-by-15-inch” rectangles. Spread onions, mushrooms and spinach on each pastry rectangle, leaving 1/4-inch border. Spoon the cheese crumbles over the mushrooms. Spread the Dijon mustard over the mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper. Then spoon the squash over the cheese, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border (it will look like a stripe of squash lying on a bed of cheese and mushrooms).
  6. Brush the exposed borders of dough on each rectangle with wash. Fold the long sides up to meet in the middle and pinch together to seal; pinch the ends, too. Transfer the pastries to the baking sheet and turn them over so that the seam is face down. Brush the tops with more wash. Bake until they are puffed, golden, and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

VEGAN EGG WASH

  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup

Cashew Béchamel | Basic White Sauce

This is one of the best béchamel sauces in the whole entire world. Who says you need dairy to make a good sauce?   Not me!  Besides, this is way better than ANY dairy based sauces I’ve had.  It’s easy and delicious, and makes enough to have leftovers to freeze! Yep, you can freeze this bad boy! What’s better than satisfying a craving for a Creamy Mushroom Alfredo (it’s a “thing” for me) and knowing that all you have to do is sauté some mushrooms while waiting for your pasta to boil! Grocery store Alfredo sauces be damned! This, my friends, is the real deal.

Basic_B_chamel_3_HD1280.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Rouxbe School of Cooking

Preparing the Cashews

• 2 cups raw cashews

• 4 to 6 cups warm water

Step 1:  In a medium bowl, soak the cashews in water for 3 to 4 hours to soften. Strain, reserving the cashews and discarding the liquid.

Step 2: Preparing the Sauce

• 1 cup onion, diced
• 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 tbsp onion granules
• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (literally, just a pinch… Too much can alter the flavor)
• Pinch of white pepper (Can use black pepper in a pinch) 😉
• 2 tbsp olive oil (optional if you choose to use oil in this dish)
• 1 tsp sea salt (optional, but I recommend)

Method

First, gather and prepare your mise en place.

If choosing to use oil:

Heat the pan to low to medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and sweat for at least 5-8 minutes to bring out the flavor until translucent. Then continue by adding the garlic and sweat for an additional couple minutes.

*For no oil sauté:
(It is easier to sauté, rather than sweat with no oil, so this process may give the onions a bit of color.)

Heat the pan to medium to high heat. Be sure the pan is heated properly (water test). Add the onions to the dry pan and continue to stir well until the onions begin to turn translucent and stick. Try to keep the onions from browning, adding a little stock or water if needed. You can add the garlic to the onions or add directly into the blender as shown in the video. Remove from heat.

Transfer the cooked onions and garlic into the blender.

To finish the sauce, add the cashews, the remaining vegetable stock, white wine, garlic, nutritional yeast, onion granules, nutmeg, white pepper and salt (if using). Blend on high speed until smooth. Add more liquid if you choose to have a thinner consistency.

***Recipe: Courtesy of Rouxbe Cooking School

Tahini Free Roasted Garlic Hummus

Simple-Hummus-Without-Tahini-5
Adapted from The Wholesome Dish

I love hummus, and my husband has crowned himself the king of hummus.  He makes it all the time.   And his hummus is forever changing.  It’s usually a product of his current culinary whims. Sometimes he adds fresh dill from our garden. Sometimes he adds a nice smoked paprika that we found at our local Indian Grocer. But he is always upping the ante.  For me, I like a simple traditional hummus.  Its simplicity is what makes it good, and I feel like why mess with a good thing? But there are times when you HAVE to change it up.  Like the time I was out of tahini.  Or like the two months I decided to give up all cooking oils.

This recipe does it all.  It is sesame free and oil free.  The creaminess of this recipe comes from the aquafaba.  What is aquafaba you ask?  It is the water that you normally drain from the can of beans, and it’s amazing!  We vegans use it all the time as a sub for eggs in vegan baking. The starchy liquid is a great binder directly from the can, but what really makes it magical is that it whips and creates foam. Aquafaba is therefore able to trap air; giving items structure at the same time it delivers a fluffy crumb and lift.  You can even make meringues!  In hummus, it adds a flavor and a creaminess that can’t be beat!  It’s the perfect sub for both the oil and the tahini!

Feel free to add whatever spices, or beans you want!  That’s the beauty of hummus, it can be as simple as whatever you have on hand, or as complex as you want it to be!   You can use it as a dip for veggies, or thin it out with a little bit of water and use as a dressing.  We love it on top of our Buddha bowls!

This is a keeper.


“Tahini Free Roasted Garlic Hummus”

  • 2 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans, drained but save aquafaba)
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic (buy it pre-roasted at Fresh Thyme)
  • ¼ cup aquafaba from chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp parsley (dried)
  • 1 ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • Mix all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. Add more aquafaba if you find that it’s too dry. Season to taste. Chill for a few hours, taste again, and adjust seasonings if necessary.  You can use olive oil in place of the aquafaba, but it won’t be as creamy, and you’ll save yourself about 240 calories!

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    Vegan Lobster Bisque

    There are some things that a girl can’t live without.  I have decided that one of them is this recipe.  I love all things bisque, chowder and seafood.  However, since seafood isn’t on the table anymore, (all puns intended)…I had some work to do.  This is the result of that work. And I have to say, this recipe has truly been a labor of love.

    There are some options for the Kelp Powder since it’s not likely in your pantry.  You can use pulse Nori Seaweed Sheets in food processor or blender (you can find them everywhere, even Wal-Mart), Dulse flakes (at most high end groceries, or amazon)  or you can also just buy kelp powder.  Kelp can add a powerful nutrient boost to smoothies, and it also goes well mixed in salad dressings, or sprinkled on top of vegetables.

    Cosmopolitan magazine even loves Sea Kelp!  “Sea kelp is a natural source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium. In fact, it contains the highest natural concentration of calcium of any food – 10 times more than milk.”

    If you try it, leave me a comment below!

    VEGAN LOBSTER BISQUE

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    • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight, or boiled for 10 minutes)
    • 1 cup vegetable broth
    • 1 tablespoon kelp powder
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 2 cups of onion, minced
    • 2 medium carrots, diced
    • 4 large celery ribs, diced
    • 4 medium garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 5 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 2 cups dried Lobster mushrooms (soaked and diced)
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon thyme
    • Pinch of cayenne
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus minced leaves and tender stems for garnish
    1. Soak cashews overnight, or boil for 10 minutes. Add to blender with 1 cup of vegetable broth, kelp powder, and cornstarch. Blend until smooth, this will take a few minutes. Set aside. Soak the Lobster mushrooms, according to package directions.  (Reserve ¼ cup of the rehydrated mushrooms for garnish).
    2. Add olive oil to a large stockpot, and heat on medium. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots to the pot and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, until softened.
    3. Stir tomato paste into vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Add white wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add broth, cashew cream mixture, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, reduce to low heat and cook for about 10 minutes.
    4. Remove bay leaf. Purée the soup with an immersion blender, or purée in batches in a blender until smooth, returning soup to the pot. Add diced mushrooms and simmer for 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are thoroughly heated through.
    5. Add salt & pepper to taste. Garnish and serve immediately.

     

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    Best Ever Vegan Ranch Dressing

    When I began my plant-based journey, one of the first things I needed to find was a good Ranch Dressing.  I know, I know… But I’d be lying if I denied my love for Hidden Valley!  However, consuming pus laden cow’s milk is gross. And artificial ingredients like Calcium Disodium EDTA, and other nasty fake things like maltodextrin, and monosodium glutamate are not even an option.   I had tried many recipes, but was never fully satisfied. So I finally decided to create my own.  This Ranch is delicious and has impressed even my most diehard dairy loving peeps!

     

    RANCH

     

    • 1 cup vegan mayo (I like Just Mayo)
    • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg’s with the mother-shaken well)
    • 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
    • 1 Tbsp Dried Dill
    • 1 tsp Black Pepper
    • ½ tsp Salt
    • ½ tsp Onion Powder
    • ½ tsp Garlic Powder

    Mix all ingredients together and use enough water to thin to desired consistency.  Let sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can develop.  Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

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    To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals-Benjamin Franklin

    fasting

    “In 2016 Yoshinori Ohsumi, won the Nobel Prize in “Physiology or Medicine” for his discoveries around something called autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components.”(1)

    The word autophagy originates from the Greek words auto-, meaning “self”, and phagein, meaning “to eat”. Thus, autophagy denotes “self eating”. Autophagy is the body’s internal recycling program – scrap cell components are captured and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or build new cells. The process is crucial for preventing cancerous growths, warding off infection and, by maintaining a healthy metabolism, it helps protect against conditions like diabetes.

    One of the best ways to induce autophagy is through an “Intermittent Fast, or IF.” It takes a lot of energy to digest food and certain foods more than others. Our digestion rate is based on several things like basal metabolic rate and what we’ve eaten. But in general meat and fish can take as long as two days to fully digest. The proteins and fats that meat contain are complex molecules that take longer for your body to pull apart. By contrast, fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber, move through your system in less than a day. In fact, these high-fiber foods help your digestive track run more efficiently in general.

    The breaking down of all food (among other things) creates oxidation and free radicals in the body. Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to living cells and tissues in a process called “oxidative stress.” The vitamins and minerals the body uses to counteract oxidative stress are called antioxidants.

    intermittent-fasting-for-weight-loss-and-wellness-food-can-wait-42-638

    According to Functional Medicine Dr. Stephen Cabral, the benefits of intermittent fasting are as follows:

    1. Weight loss. We are talking about a natural weight loss, where your body actually taps into body fat to lose weight.
    2. Lowered blood sugar levels. Lowered blood sugar decreases insulin, which in turns helps to decrease things like cortisol, estrogen, etc. Also decreases midsection fat.
    3. Speeds up metabolism. Who doesn’t want a faster metabolism?
    4. Promotes longevity (10-20% longer life). By allowing for processes of natural detoxification, and reduction of inflammation to occur.
    5. Better control hunger signals (Hunger vs. Cravings). An empty “stomach,” is true hunger (4-5 hours after last meal). A craving is usually a blood sugar issue.
    6. Improves detoxification because the body is now a scavenger for free radical’s and allows time for the liver to cleanse the blood.
    7. Improves brain energy/clarity because extra energy goes to your brain instead of your stomach. Shown to improve conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease.
    8. Improves your overall immune system by killing existing cancer cells, necrotic tissues, and cancer cells just starting out. It kills sick cells, microbes, and also helps prevent premature cell death.
    9. Lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation, because you do not have as many free radicals in your body. Most all diseases are related to inflammation in the body.
    10. Helps clear up skin based issues like acne, psoriasis, and eczema that are caused by dirty blood, yeast overgrowth, and bacteria.

    So how do you do an intermittent fast?

    I prefer a once a week 24-hour fast, and here’s why. A simple 24-hour fast lasts from dinner-to-dinner, or breakfast-to-breakfast, whatever you like. For example, I eat a light dinner around 6 pm on Sunday evening and then I fast until the next day’s dinner at 6 pm. In this regimen, I do not actually go a full day without eating since I am still taking one meal on that ‘fasting’ day.   I have a plain, “Daily All-in-One Support Shake” for breakfast and another for lunch. I also drink at least 8 glasses of water and several cups of green tea throughout the day to help my body “feel full” and push all of the toxic waste out of my system. I begin every day (and have for years) with a smoothie for breakfast. So every day from dinner to lunch I am doing an 18-hour fast.

    If a 24-hour or 18-hour fast is too much, then a simple 12-hour fast can be a great way to start. Essentially, you stop eating after dinner and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning, making sure there is at least 12 hours between meals.   This simple 12-hour fast can help regulate blood sugar, burn fat, and improve mental clarity.