A First For Everything

If I had to guess, I would say that most people reading this have never had Brussels sprouts. I hadn’t either, until today.

Tonight I made Creamy Cruciferous Risotto with Bulgur Wheat (instead of brown rice), a recipe that I found while searching FatFree Vegan Kitchen. I was looking for something quick that would use up the last of my cabbage. This was perfect because it was simple, fast and I had all the ingredients, including the Brussels sprouts.  I just happened to have some left over from my fast. You might be thinking, “wasn’t that a while ago?” Yes, it was. I guess Brussels sprouts keep well. They’re a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage. The World’s Healthiest Foods website has a lot of good things to say about the health benefits of eating them. I guess that’s why some of my vegetable juice recipes included Brussels sprouts juice. Continue reading “A First For Everything”

Stuff I Eat

Here are some pictures of stuff I’ve eaten lately that were just chilling in my phone.

imageThis is one of my favorite snacks. Apple with mashed banana & almond butter

 

imageGrilled “cheese” & tomato sandwich with steamed broccoli

 

imageBlack bean chili salad

 

imageRoasted Peppers Stuffed with White Beans with spinach and an eggplant recipe from one of my cook books. It may look like mush, but it was good

 

imageTahini Penne (Whole Wheat) with Broccoli and Lemon

 

imageScrambled spinach and tofu on double-fiber toast

 

imageArugula salad with tomatoes, carrots and tofu topped with pomegranate vinegar

 

imageNorth African Chickpea and Kale Soup

Weigh-In: Ichi

So today was my first weigh-in and I’m proud to announce that after one week of dedicated effort, I’m down about 3 lbs. I’m not sure what my exact loss is cause of the difference in clothes weight, but the trend is downward so I’m happy.

Overall, I had a pretty busy week and I don’t know if I really want to set the expectation for every week to be the same cause I am tiiiiirrrred. I don’t want to overdo it and burn out, which I have a tendency to do.  So I’ll probably take it a little easier the next couple days. Plus I think I did something to my leg either working out or in African Dance class cause something aint right….

I had a couple of thoughts this week about my weight loss goals. The first is my fear of hitting a plateau before I reach my goal. I should be okay because my goal isn’t too far-reaching, but I also know that I’m pretty close to my ideal weight, which is slightly less than my goal weight. The closer you get to an ideal weight for your body the harder it can be to lose weight. So I would get very frustrated if I were to hit a plateau something like 2 lbs away from my goal. I guess I can’t worry about that now, but it is something that was in the back of my mind.

I also started to see how it affects my social life. Not that I become anti-social (not more than usual at least), but I tend to shy away from social events that revolve around food. Unfortunately, this seems to be about 97.65% of most social engagements. Even if I want to go and am willing to deal with the temptation, oftentimes it seems as though my not eating makes others uncomfortable. I don’t know if people think I’m judging them or they just don’t like people just watching them eat. Or maybe I’m projecting my own discomfort. I don’t know, either way it makes for a somewhat awkward situation for me. But I don’t wanna be an outcast so I need to figure something out.

Time to Get My Weight Loss On!

If you read my post about my goals for this year, you know that one of my goals is to lose some weight. I initially wrote 5 lbs, but I think I will shoot for 10 lbs instead. When I lost weight last April, my goal was 10 lbs and I reached a loss of 20 lbs, 5 of which I’ve regained. So initially I just wanted to lose the 5 lbs that I put back on, but I think I should aim a little higher this time.

My plan is simple:

  • Keep a weekly journal of my progress
  • Workout at least 3 times a week
  • Keep the calorie intake to about 1200 per day
  • Have consistent weigh-ins

That’s what I did before and it worked so I’m hoping that repeating the same process will yield favorable results.

I’m actually really glad that I did keep a journal. It’s nice to be able to go back and re-visit the successes and struggles that I faced, and overcame, while striving toward my goal. It was also nice to get comments here and there from people who had faced or were facing the same issues.

The working out piece is pretty obvious. If I’m trying to lose weight by burning fat, well then I gotta get to burning. In its simplest form, weight loss is a numbers game. One pound of fat provides about 3500 calories of energy (as related to food and weight). So the goal is to healthily create a difference of 3500 calories per each pound I want to lose. Cardio workouts burn lots of calories and strength training builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat.

The most important aspect to creating that calorie deficit is limiting the amount of calories I consume. This is why my goal is about 1200 calories a day. According to the references I’ve read, I likely burn about 1500 calories in a typical day, not including strenuous workouts. So if keep my calorie intake to about 1200, that’s a difference of 300 calories in one day. I wouldn’t want to go much lower than 1200 because I’d risk entering starvation mode. But at that rate I’d still lose a pound in about 12 days. So even if I didn’t want to do any exercise, if I just limit how much I eat I’d lose 5 lbs of fat in about 2 months (but I’m impatient so I will be exercising). Of course other factors come into play, what it is that I’m eating, metabolism and probably some other sciency stuff. But I’m not too worried about the other factors because I know that I have a healthy diet and I don’t have much direct control over any of those unknown factors, especially since they’re unknown (to me).

The last piece, the weigh-ins, is mainly to hold myself accountable. I weigh myself almost every morning (hey, the scale is right there), but when I have my weigh-ins, I will be posting my current weight so there’s more motivation for me to actually be making progress. And I found that it’s best to do it after the weekend so during the weekend I’ll be less tempted to not work out or binge cause I know my weigh-in is coming up.

So that’s my plan. Monday will be my first weigh-in. Pray for me!!!

(BTW:  if you’re interested in losing weight as well, let me know so we can do it together and encourage each other along the way. It helps!)

Mango Breakfast

When I went to the fridge this morning, guess what I found…. a MANGO! I had completely forgotten that it was in there. I had full intentions of making a smoothie with it until I realized I didn’t have a banana to smoothie it with. I ate my last one yesterday. Blast! So I had to figure out what else to do with my surprise mango.

Getting my inspiration from the Lunch Mango Cucumber Noodles dish on Raw on $10, I just cut the mango in chucks, added some chunks of cucumber, squeezed some lime juice over it and seasoned it with red pepper flakes, parsley flakes, Onion & Herb Mrs. Dash and Extra Spicy Mrs Dash (which is not all that spicy really).

It came out pretty good, although next time I have mango and cucumber, I’ll cut the cucumber into smaller pieces. The cucumber didn’t stand well on its own. The mango is really the star of this simple dish.

Bloody Cabbage???

I failed photography in high school.

I know that has nothing to do with what I ate tonight, but I just wanted to point that out because I feel guilty sometimes for not having the photographic skills to make my food look like more than a blob. In this case, a red blob.

Okay, so with that said you may be wondering what the heck my red blob is. It’s cabbage… and stuff. Despite the lack luster picture, it was pretty good. I was quite proud of myself because I just threw this together after coming home from the gym starved. My parents used to make cabbage a lot when I was growing up, so this is basically a dish I’m pretty accustomed to, with a few additions. I bet you’re wondering why it’s red. It’s cause I added beet. 🙂 I had some beet root left over from my juice fast and I didn’t want it to go to waste so I added it.

Here’s everything that’s in there:

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, coarsely julienned

2 celery stalks, chopped,

1  beet, grated

1/4 head of cabbage, chopped

3 oz extra firm tofu, cubed

1/2 cup organic low-sodium vegetable broth

1 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos

Black Pepper

Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash

Red pepper flakes

Dried parsley (don’t ask why, just felt like adding something else)

Putting it together was pretty simple and straight forward. I used an olive oil cooking spray to sauté the onions, carrots and celery. Then I added the beets and cooked a little longer, till it looked like the carrots were getting soft. Then I added the cabbage, tofu, veggie broth, the Liquid Aminos, and all the seasonings and cooked somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes, I wasn’t really paying attention to time. It was just long enough to cook the cabbage. Then I put it in a bowl and ate it (stopping halfway through to take a picture).

I’m trying to come up with a cute name for it, but…. I got nothing…. Oh well, I’ll just call it dinner.

Operation Fit-the-Shorts-I-Bought-Last-Summer is a GO!

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Right now it’s cold, rainy and windy, but I’ve lived in Southern California long enough to know not to fall for it. Next week it’s gonna be in the upper 80s and soon it’ll be beach weather. I am NOT ready.

Last summer, after I lost a bunch of weight I went out and bought shorts. Not new shorts, just shorts. Before I lost weight, I didn’t own any shorts. I was really uncomfortable with my legs. Sad thing is, I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was with them. I just always covered them up. I didn’t even realize that I didn’t own shorts until I wanted to show off my new legs. I’m still not entirely comfortable with my knees though, I think they’re a little funny looking, but my friends say I’m silly for that….

Anyhow, in preparation for the coming months I went shopping today. When I came home, I tried on what I bought with my shorts and found that they were a little…. snugg. So it’s time to drop this extra “winter weight” and get back to loving my legs. How do I plan to do this? By eating more, working out more and keeping track of my caloric intake. That’s how I did it before so it shouldn’t be difficult to lose the few pounds I’ve gained since my birthday, then some.

When I say “eating more” I definitely mean more vegetables. During these winter months, I’ve been pretty heavy on the grains and have been neglecting raw vegetables. Overall, I haven’t been eating as much as I should, nor have I been working out as much as I should. I think it’s fairly safe to say that most people go into a figurative hibernation during the winter when it comes to staying active (as is evident by how empty the gym is during the colder months). This is completely understandable, who wants to go outside when it’s all cold and wet? Well, far be it from me to act like I’m any different. So it’s back to the gym with me.

And while calorie counting is not an exact science and is quite annoying at times, I believe that it is an effective tool in changing unhealthy habits. Many of us are unaware of 1) about how many calories we should be eating in a given day and 2) about how many calories we do eat (and drink) in a given day. After learning the former, calorie counting helps one keep track of the latter. Another added bonus of calorie counting is that since it’s much easier to log simple fruits, vegetables and grains than complex (often high calorie) meals, calorie counting promotes eating better. So for the next some-number of weeks, I’ll be logging everything I eat and drink. Sounds fun, don’t it?

I find that it’s easier for me to use an online site to keep track of everything. More specifically, I use CalorieCount. I initially chose this site over similar sites such as LiveStrong or MyFitnessPal because I liked the format better. They’ve since changed the food log format and though I’m not very fond of the changes, I already have an account and a profile, so CalorieCount it is for me. Eh, I may switch to another site. Who knows. Point is, I’m going to keep track of how many calories I eat day-to-day.

Hopefully, it doesn’t take too long to get to the point where I can’t wait to show off my legs again and can actually fit the shorts that I bought last year. Past experience being any indication, it shouldn’t take more than a few weeks of dedicated effort. So, here goes nothing – actually, I think I’ll start tomorrow. I still have some Girl Scout cookies that are calling me…..

Faith, Food and Fasting

Today marks the end of my first week-long fast. Why was I fasting? Well, I’m glad you asked. As I have mentioned before, I recently came out of a period in my life that was very challenging and I needed cleansing on a physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual level. To me, the logical step was to fast.

Many people may equate fasting with starving yourself, but that isn’t what it is at all. There are countless sites and books that discuss the physical benefits of refraining from eating for short periods of time. Personally, I read Juicing, Fasting and Detoxing for Life by Cherie Calbom. This book talks about everything the name implies. I found it to be quite helpful.

But more importantly to me, fasting is a practice that, though not commanded in the Bible, is seen throughout the Bible. I truly believe in the same way God gave us the gift of the Sabbath as a means of rest and regeneration, He also provided fasting as a means to draw closer to him. Most of us are aware of the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness, but the Bible records many incidents of fasting, both on an individual and national level. A good number of these references can be found on this site. I encourage you to take a look at the different areas in the Bible where fasting is discussed.

On a more personal level, my favorite woman of the Bible fasted:

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

– Esther 4:16

You see, the fate of her people fell on her shoulders. Esther was Jewish and there was a decree to kill all the Jews in the land. She was safe because she was one of the king’s wives, but her uncle came to her and asked her to petition the king in order to spare her people. In going to the king, she faced death because when she went to him without being summoned he could have had her killed. But he didn’t. She found favor with him and he granted her request. I figure if fasting is what a woman as courageous as Esther did before risking her life, there’s gotta be something to it.

So throughout my fast, I spent plenty of time with the Lord, reading, praying, listening, crying. I used my Bible app to provide daily focus points as I fasted. I also read Get Healthy Through Detox and Fasting by Don Colbert, which also provided focus points and helped tie the spiritual and medical aspects of fasting together. I also found a wealth of information about fasting on FreedomYou.com.

If you’ve never fasted before, I encourage you to look into it. You may be thinking, “there’s no way I can go without food for a week.” That may be the case initially, so start small; start with one day. You’d be surprised at how easy it is once you stop focusing on eating and place your energy on something else, especially while on a vegetable juice fast, which is what I did (I’m not at the point where I’m okay with the idea of a water fast). Pray on it. The Spirit may lead you into a fast as he did Jesus.  Just a note though, plan to spend the first and the last day of however long a fast you decided to do alone. And when you break your fast, don’t go too far from a bathroom, trust me. Lol….

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to share my experiences with you. In the meantime, here are some pictures of some of the especially tasty juices I made throughout my fast:

The first thing I ate were three blood oranges I bought at the market the second day of my fast. When I saw them, I thought to myself, “as soon as I’m done, I’ma tear these oranges up!” And that’s exactly what I did. And I enjoyed them quite throughly. Yes. I. did.

Random List of Things I Love to Do

  1. Nap at the park
  2. Drive at ridiculous speeds while singing at the top of my lungs
  3. Eat
  4. Study God’s Word
  5. Watch live performances
  6. Sleep in the bathtub
  7. Swing on the swings
  8. Cry to sad music when I’m sad
  9. Read while taking a bubble bath
  10. Attend sporting events
  11. Nap at the beach
  12. Watch/talk about/pretend I’m part of Grey’s Anatomy
  13. Swim with the fishies
  14. Color with crayons
  15. Ride a bike
  16. Watch romantic comedies/Disney movies/action movies/Will Smith
  17. Star gaze
  18. Float around in the pool
  19. Take long, leisurely walks
  20. Feed the duckies
  21. Listen to the rain while drinking hot tea/chocolate
  22. Dance around my apartment

It’s the little things…..

Food and Friends

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I love my friends, I love my food, why not combine the two?

For the past few weeks, a few of my girlfriends and I have been having our ladies night. This week it was my turn to host so since I love food, I wanted to cook something for them. What ended up happening was even better: we cooked everything together!

We made kale with tomatoes and falafel sandwiches. The kale recipe was one that I got on the Whole Foods Market website and wrote about a little while ago in this post. Calina, in the pink, was in charge of preparing the veggies and chopping the tomatoes (which she would have done faster if she could chop and talk at the same time).  Shawnte was in charge of the falafel. They came out really good (once I let her use more oil). We used a falafel recipe from Allrecipes.com, with just a couple alterations.  We replaced the bread crumbs with ground up oatmeal and replaced the egg with 1 tbsp of flaxseed meal combined with 2 tbsp of water. To get a good consistency for the falafel, we had to add more oatmeal than the amount of breadcrumbs the recipe called for, maybe about  1 1/2 cups, but I didn’t measure.

To top the meal off we had whole wheat pita bread, garlic hummus, both from Trader Joes, and sparkling cider.

Calina wasn’t thrilled with the falafel, but really like the kale. And Shawte really liked the falafel, so overall I’d say the meal came out good. More importantly though, we had a great time cooking together, so it was a great night!